Last week we had the wonderful time visiting with family in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving. I give great thanks for this, even if the drive is 8+ hours to get there. It is wonderful to be able to see our family and share meals and good conversation – catching up on events that we have missed because of our location vs. theirs, seeing our niece and nephew now as adults and growing in their careers. (Course, that can make me feel old as well, but I love seeing them grown up and to see where God is taking them!)
Have you ever been to Pittsburgh? Well, if not, then you should plan a trip sometime to see it, but I would suggest the summer more than the winter, as you may find it enjoyable to walk many places! The city has such a feel to it that is unique to itself. Like most big cities, they have their “pockets of awesomeness”, and I’m not just talking about ethnicity, like a little Italy, etc. I’m talking about locations such as the Strip District, North/Southside (ahem, pronounced NorSide – all one word, ha!), Oakland, Shadyside, and then outer suburb areas where our family lives which is all tied into this amazing city. Pittsburgh is partially home to me not just because of my husband’s family that resides there, but it is home to where my husband and I met at the University of Pittsburgh. (Go Pitt!)
When we journey to Pittsburgh with the kids,we try to make each experience a little bit different by visiting different museums. All things we couldn’t take advantage of as a poor college student! This trip, we made it to The National Aviary, and it was definitely worth it! If you love birds, this will be right up your alley of places to see. It is mostly indoors, so it’s a fine place to see especially when the temperatures are not favorable outside. My favorite room to visit, and my family agrees with me on, is the Finch Room. It’s a place of peace, and you can hang out right with the birds as they zoom around the same room you share with them. I wanted to grab a cup of coffee and sit on their park bench and rest there for hours.
The other favorite of ours is the Strip District, aka “foodie heaven.” It is a place that is packed full of wonderful shops and eateries. We always stop at Wholey fish market (known as Wholey’s) to look at the hundreds of fish, and see the train on the tracks above our heads that has probably been running for.ev.er. The kids love this place and it’s energy, as well as they awesome lunch that feeds our hungry stomachs when we go there. Afterward, we shop the Steeler’s clothing at the vendors outside, and drool over all of the dessert vendors options as well. What a feast of choices the vendors offer!! Lastly, we hit up Penzey’s Spices and restock on items we have run out of each year. Which leads me to my food post, Zesty Shrimp and Orzo.
I didn’t know what to call this hot mess of a meal, but it’s good. And my hubby makes this one, so it’s flavors change each time. We have two spice companies that I want to mention because they are my favorite choices. First, you just heard of Penzey’s. They have a wide variety of great spices from all over the world, but we went with the Forward blend to add salt to our dish. Also, I’d like to thank Chef Troy (located here in Charlotte, NC) for his wonderful spice blend which he has labeled Back Rub which is full of a few spices including, coffee, cocoa and chili! This meal was paired with a lemon orzo salad that I had picked up at Fresh Market. The fragrance of the lemons balanced the zest of the shrimp and it was a beautiful combination of flavors.
Zesty Shrimp and Orzo
- 1 lb. shrimp, uncooked and cleaned
- 1 lb. of Fresh Market Lemon Orzo Salad (or make it yourself with lemon, oil, spinach, tomatoes and pine nuts)
- Chef Troys Back Rub blend
- Penzey’s Forward Spice
- Garlic (A LOT of it, chopped)
So what’s the deal? No measurements you say? Nope, this one you can play with, as my husband doesn’t cook by measuring. It’s a shake or two here, a few more, and boom! You got yourself a meal. Basically, melt the butter, add the chopped garlic, cook up the shrimp with the seasonings, and prepare the orzo salad on a plate. If you need to make the orzo salad, do it ahead of time to allow the lemon to infuse throughout the pasta. Plate your food, and it couldn’t be simpler. If you don’t like all of those spices, just make a scampi and it changes the meal entirely.