Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. We have our first tomatoes from the garden! I'm so excited because I love tomatoes.

2. This week we are again having quick & easy dinners, not blog-worthy dinners. We grilled some chicken breasts (seasoned with Penzeys Northwoods Seasoning) and some bone in pork chops (seasoned with Lawry's Seasoned Salt). Our vegetables for the week are from our garden or from Simmons Farm: tomatoes with balsamic, grilled zucchini, sauteed green beans, corn on the cob. No bread/rice/pasta -- just meat & veggies.

3. Texas SIL and her family were here last weekend. It was great to see them. She brought us some of her Cranberry-Orange Biscotti - yum! They arrived Saturday and just rested here at the house. They were tired after driving from TX. BIL slept for a while out on the deck. I was so surprised because it was so darn hot & muggy but they said it was cooler than TX! Sunday & Monday they spent the days with other family and on Sunday, we all met at Central Diner for a big family dinner.

4. The nephews had chocolate chip pancakes for dinner at Central Diner. They are particular about their food and it was hilarious to see their faces when the pancakes arrived with a huge mound of whipped cream on top because whipped cream is a no-no! The eldest simply shoved it off. The younger looked positively horrified and froze. Thank goodness grandpa came to the rescue!

5. We finished watching Sense8 and against my wishes, I ended up really enjoying it & really caring about the characters. So I guess we have another show to watch, if and when it comes back for season 2 on Netflix.

6. I finished reading The Girl on the Train and read The Informationist. I liked The Girl on the Train but I figured out how it would end halfway through the book so after that, it was just reading to see if I was right (I was). I liked The Informationist a lot, so there's another series to add to my reading list.

7. I haven't watched any of the Netflix DVDs we have had for 2+ weeks.

8. The magazine pile grew with the arrival of new issues of Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Pittsburgh Magazine.

9. I haven't picked up my dragonfly cross-stitch in months and I am seriously doubting I'll ever finish it because I just have no desire to pick it up.

10. The sunflowers are blooming! I love their yellow faces.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Blackberry Lime Sorbet

A couple of weeks ago we made Blackberry Lime Sorbet from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. Lots of blackberries and limes with water and sugar, churned into sorbet.
It's sweet and tart and fruity and a little icy but delicious and cooling on these hot days. The flavor has mellowed a bit and gotten tastier over time. It also has gotten icier and harder. I usually mash mine up with a spoon before eating it.
It's also a pretty color.
This might be my favorite sorbet of the ones we've tried making.

Recipe here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. Today I had an early morning doctor appointment. Ugh. But my post doctor treat was an almond bear claw from Mediterra. Delicious! Sadly, no photo because we split it and SP cut it in half and started eating while I was washing my hands and then I started tearing into it because I was so hungry and then, well, it wasn't worth photographing the last bite.

2. This week's dinners are nothing new & exciting, just yummy. Two evenings were pasta salad and the other 3 were grilled shrimp & beef kebabs with grilled veggies (zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, green pepper). The zucchini are from our garden. So far, we've been able to have 3 zucchini from the garden.

3. SP wanted to watch Sense8 on Netflix. I reluctantly agreed. It took a while to pull me into the story, probably 3 episodes, but now I can't wait to find out what happens next. There are still things that bug me but overall, I'm enjoying it.

4. I finished reading Hunky and enjoyed it a lot even thought there seemed to be a lot of misspelled words, incorrect grammar, and other things I would not have expected from a published book. Maybe it was self published? Without spellcheck or proofreading? I am now trying to read The Girl on the Train, which is due today but will probably not be returned today since I'm only on page 10. Unfortunately, I've allowed the library book pile to get out of hand because I was distracted with things other than reading. There are 2 other books due in 8 days. And I have another request ready for pick up.

5. Texas SIL and her family are en route for a visit. Driving from TX - yikes! It's 18-19 hours of driving (according to Google Maps). We're looking forward to seeing them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rack of Lamb

Last week, my dad called. He had a computer issue, didn't want to talk to me about it, wanted to talk to SP about it. SP told him he'd stop by over the weekend to take a look. Then my mom called and asked if we'd like to stop by Sunday afternoon and then stay for dinner. We said, sure. She said she was going to make rack of lamb.

We've not yet tried making rack of lamb ourselves although SP always looks at it in Costco. We've been wanting to try it, but always choose the leg of lamb or lamb chops instead. For rack of lamb, my mom salts & peppers it, sears the rack in a skillet, and then cooks it in the skillet in the oven according to the directions on the package. She gave one rack about 20 minutes for rare (for dad & SP) and the other rack 25 minutes. The 25 minute one was perfect for me. It was delicious! Maybe a bit fattier than the lamb chops, but the meat seemed a bit more tender. We definitely will have to try these at home.

She also made sauteed green beans with crumbled bacon and caramelized onions:
 And bought some dinner rolls from Bethel Bakery. I love their dinner rolls!
There also was a salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and olives with poppyseed dressing. For dessert, she bought lady locks from Bethel Bakery.

Even though we spent the morning in a frenzy of activity, doing laundry and grilling some meat & veggies for dinner during the week and then cleaning up, it was nice to relax in their apartment on Mt. Washington and enjoy the view of Heinz Field and the Science Center and all the boaters on the rivers. It was nice to be served a delicious dinner and not have to clean up anything. Nor did we have to take anything. Not even wine. Just show up, fix a computer, and eat. That's a good Sunday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

BRGR Revisited

Last Saturday, the day got away from us. We ended up sitting at home for quite some time, waiting for something to get done before we could leave. It was 4:30 pm before we finally got out the door. I wanted to check out some stuff at South Hills Village Mall so we headed that way. When we got to the Route 19 & Ft. Couch intersection, I checked No Wait, just to see what the BRGR wait was because I do not like Red Robin or mall food court food, our last trip to that Eat'N Park was less than satisfactory, and there just aren't many restaurants in that area I like. There was no wait, so since it was 5 pm, we decided to have a bit of an early dinner to avoid any future wait.
We were seated right away, ordered iced teas and a beer for SP, and he decided to have a bunless Bison burger with bacon, cheese, onion straws, tomato and a lettuce wrap. He said it was tasty. I thought it looked kind of small, especially compared to Burgatory
Since I didn't want to leave any potential leftovers in a hot car or tote them around the mall, I opted for 2 appetizers instead of a sandwich. First, Pork-N-Tots (confit pork over crispy tater tots, gravy, smoked gouda cheese, green onions). These were good, juicy shredded pork, but I didn't taste any smoked gouda and neither did SP. Lack of smoked gouda flavor was disappointing.
My other appetizer choice: Grilled Cheese Bites (provolone, applewood smoked bacon, truffle aioli, tomatoes, pickle chips, on grilled Texas toast, served with a side of tomato fondue). We both were disappointed in these. They were less cheesy, less bacony, and more pickley than we remembered. 

Overall, I was disappointed. The first two times we went to BRGR at the Galleria, we had greats service and enjoyed our food. The last 2-3 times, we've had so-so service and less tasty food. Two visits ago, there were long waits to order, to get our food, to get the check. This time, our food arrived quickly and we felt rushed. Our server dropped off the check without checking to see if we wanted dessert. The burgers still look kind of small and sad without any fries/chips next to them like at Burgatory. You can get fries as a side for an extra cost. The fact that SP was willing and able to help eat a grilled cheese bite and some tots tells me his burger didn't fill him up.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. I'd been hearing about these Leona's ice cream sandwiches for quite some time and of course I wanted to try one so I put it on a list of Summer Stuff To Do. Since I made the list and placed it on the kitchen counter where we see it every single day, we've accomplished 2 of the 10-15 things on the list. Leona's is one of the accomplishments. SP has brought home a Leona's several times now, stopping on his way home from work and putting it in a freezer bag. Above is the raspberry ice cream with snickerdoodle cookie one. We've also tried a vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookie and a raspberry lemonade ice cream with sugar cookie. All have been tasty if a wee pricey ($5.50 for one). To be fair, it's huge and I could never eat one all at once so I get 2 desserts from one. And, they're supposedly lactose free, which is nice for my sometimes lactose/ice cream sensitive tummy.
2. Sadly, Better Maid has not reopened since some stupid driver crashed into it so I did not get a donut treat the day of my doctor visit last week. I did, however, whine a bit about no donut and then tell SP over & over how in the last year I've lost some weight and how I was eating lots of fruit for breakfast and lots of veggies with dinner. He got the hint and swung by Mediterra on the way home to get me a cinnamon bun treat. Huge. Cinnamony. Delicious.

3. We watched Kingsman: The Secret Service. It was a lot of fun! We both really enjoyed it and laughed a lot which was nice after last week's serious movies.

4. True Detective Season 2 seems to be not positively reviewed by viewers and critics. I do not think it's as good as last year but we are still enjoying it. I thought the last 10 minutes of last Sunday's episode were great, especially the detectives' reactions after the *not gonna say it because of possible spoiler* ended. We immediately rewatched the last 10 minutes, debated bad guys and manipulators and motivations, and then watched the end of another exciting Pirates game.

5. In the past week, I finished reading Radiant Angel by Nelson DeMille and read The English Spy by Daniel Silva and have moved on to Hunky: The Immigrant Experience by Nicholas Stevensson Karas. I am really enjoying Hunky. It's based on his family history, which is similar to one branch of my family: ancestors from an area that has been Austrian, Hungarian, Polish, Ukrainian over the years and who immigrated to Pittsburgh to work in the steel mills.

6. The Pirates! My gosh! The last 2 wins against the Cardinals were exciting extra inning wins.

7. I have no idea why my allergies get so bad from mid to late July, but here we are in mid July and they are awful. I thought it was the stupid mimosa/formosia trees, but we had them all removed and it hasn't helped. Yesterday my eye was twitching and when I watched it in the mirror, I was freaked out by it. I'm sneezing all day long and using lots of tissues. This morning, I pulled on my shirt and I guess the pressure against my nose triggered a nosebleed that dripped on the clean shirt. Grrrr. The bridge of my nose and that whole sinus area hurt to even touch right now. I took some sinus medicine so hopefully that'll help.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Breakfast Casserole

We've been wanting to try a breakfast casserole for quite some time and over the 4th of July holiday weekend, we finally did. We used this Mix & Match Breakfast Casserole recipe as a guideline.
The nice thing about breakfast casserole is that you can put it together the night before, then bake it the next morning and have a fantastic dish for brunch plus, in our case, dinner, too. We used Cellone's Italian Bread and put tomatoes, broccoli, sausage, and cheddar cheese in ours, plus fresh basil and parsley. Since our bread was fresh, we toasted it in the oven for a bit (like when we made panzanella).
We also halved the recipe and used a glass 8x8 pan. It didn't seem like there was enough egg custard mixture, so we ended up using a couple more eggs. It still didn't look like enough, but we let it be. Next time, I would sprinkle the herbs in with the bread and veggies/cheese/meat instead of mixing them into the custard because even though I chopped them, they didn't ooze along with the custard mixture throughout the casserole but instead got stuck and clumped on top, which wasn't especially tasty.
This was tasty, but the tomatoes did make it a bit wet even though I seeded them and patted them dry. I'd make it again, maybe with bacon, asparagus, and mushrooms next time.