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Archive for the month “December, 2012”

Peanut butter and pickle burger, Stack’d Burgers & Beer, Shady Side, Pittsburgh


Stacked Burgers & Beer, December 2012

It all began with a New York Times review about the glories of peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. Calling a “pb & p” the combination that “shouldn’t work” but does, this article lauds the “vinegary snap of chilled pickle” that “cuts, like a dash of irony, against the stoic unctuousness of peanut butter.”

Of course, said one of my roommates, a former chef, when I asked him his opinion on this food item. Pickles are sweet, just like jelly. Why not?

Then it continued with the cult trend of peanut butter and hamburgers, a combination that I noted for the first time at 551 West in Lancaster, PA, a restaurant that serves a burger of peanut butter and jalapenos. “I refused to ruin a perfectly-good burger with peanut butter,” I told my roommate, but he responded that beef and peanut butter make sense together, like peanuts sautéed in beef pad thai.

Dash of irony indeed.

I caved on both accounts — peanut butter and pickles, peanut butter and burgers — at Stack’d Burgers & Beer in Shady Side, Pittsburgh, where you can build your own burger with a seemingly endless combination of condiments and toppings, including (but not limited to) Fritos, Thai chili sauce, pesto aioli, and chili. My roommate had a point: my burger with creamy peanut butter and bread-and-butter pickles was moist and meaty — the nutty saltiness of the peanut butter made the beef more savory, while the peanut butter’s sweetness blended with the sugary pickles. The vinegar cut through the whole mess in the same way a good mustard or ketchup does.

My only complaint would be that I would have preferred the peanut butter to be spread on thin, like mayonnaise, so that the flavor complimented the meat instead of rivaling it, but I apparently didn’t mind too much — I ate the whole thing, licked my fingers, and still dove into the heap of tator tots that the Pittsburgh City Paper calls “as good as, or better, than those you remember from your childhood.”

Next up to try: a peanut butter burger with grilled pineapple.

Stack’ed Burgers & Beer
728 Copeland St., Shadyside
Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 682-3354

Sunday-Wednesday, 4pm-12am
Thursday-Saturday, 11am-1am

551 West Restaurant
551 W. King Street
Lancaster, PA
(717) 208-3658

Peanut butter blossoms, a Christmas Eve tradition

Peanut butter blossums

Peanut butter blossoms, December 2012

Who needs cherry, chocolate, and chili biscotti — my feature Christmas cookie from 2011? Or this year’s vanilla cookies sandwiches with a maple-espresso frosting? These peanut butter blossoms are still my favorite, being the only venue in which Hershey’s kisses are worth the hype. And the only cookie that my siblings used to routinely make on Christmas Eve. And the only cookie that my dad would scamper into the kitchen to help make — at least for the Hershey’s kisses part.

TIP: Bake the cookies for a few minutes extra after setting the kisses for extra-creamy chocolate.

– 48  HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolate
– 1/2 cup shortening
– 3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
– 1/3 cup granulated sugar
– 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
– 1  egg
– 2 tablespoons milk
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– Additional granulated sugar

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
  2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each
    cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
    About 4 dozen cookies.

Reprinted from

Friday Photo: The color of a Christmas play

December 2012

December 2012

When I think about celebrating Christmas, I think of wrapping gifts while streaming radio, baking peanut butter blossoms with my sister, and attending school plays like this one, built on homemade crafts, glitter, Elmer’s glue, and construction paper.

Friday Photo: Garland in the rain, Pittsburgh

Garland in the rain

Strip District, Pittsburgh, December 2012

A rainy day, a bare street, and silver water dripping from the tips of the garlands as the Strip District fades into dusk. I expected this sight to be somber, not festive, but somehow, I sensed the holiday more clearly here than I have anywhere else in Pittsburgh to date — the deep gray of the day contrasting the garland into a brighter green, a rain-splattered hand-written sign, and the cherry red bows gleaming brightly despite the twilight.

Friday Photo: Tröegs Brewing Company, Hershey

Troegs Brewing Company, Hershey, November 2012

If you’re brainstorming for places to visit with out-of-town relatives, consider Tröegs Brewing Company in Hershey, Pennsylvania, recently named Mid-Sized Brewery of the Year by the Great American Beer Festival.

In the tasting room, sample Tröegs’ famed Mad Elf Christmas ale brewed with honey, cherries, and a spicy Belgian yeast to put yourself in the holiday spirit while noshing on goodies from the Central Pennsylvania-inspired Snack Bar menu, such as the bratwurst and red potato salad sandwich, $8, or the local artisan cheese plate with honey, jam, and toast, $11.

Go behind the scenes with a self-guided or guided brewery tour (free, or $5 for a 45-60 minutes plus a tasting and commemorative glass, reserve online); then browse the gift shop for T-shirts, local delicacies, glassware, cases, six-packs, and more.

Snowed in or out of town? Click here for a full list of Tröegs events organized by state or here to find which brews are being poured near you.

Tröegs Brewing Company
200 E. Hersheypark Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 534-1297

General Store Hours:
Sunday: 12-5pm
Monday-Saturday: 11am-8pm

Tasting Room Hours:
Sunday-Wednesday: 11am-9pm
Thursday-Saturday: 11am-10pm

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