Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

I missed Thursday thoughts last week because we were in Texas! We finally made a trip to Dallas to visit SIL and while in Texas, we also went to San Antonio. I'll write more about our trip later. I'm still tired from the trip, plus I seem to have caught a slight cold, plus all I can remember right now is how hot it was for the first week (95+ degrees/feels like 103+) then it plummeted to the low 50's/feels like 47 with 35 mph winds and we were freezing because we'd only packed clothes for 95 degrees.

I guess we missed fall in Pittsburgh since it was 87 when we left and now it's in the 40's?! The furnace has been running and I had to dig out the sweatshirts and warm socks.

What We're Eating:

  • Our first night home, we met a friend who was in town for dinner at Downey's House. I had a Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich and SP had a Reuben.
  • The rest of this week is grilled chicken & salad.
  • Dessert: Donut Holes from Market District. They're just OK.

What We're Watching:

  • Everything. Twelve days away means shows really piled up on the DVR. It'll take a while to catch up.
  • Streaming-wise, we're caught up on The Great British Baking Show and are anxious to get to Season 3 of Glitch and Season 5 of Peaky Blinders plus this weekend Watchmen on HBO starts.
  • HBO-wise, since we have to stream it through Amazon because of their stupid spat with Dish, we're behind on The Deuce, we forgot about Succession so we have all of Season 2 to watch, plus we need to catch up on Bill Maher and John Oliver.
  • We're enjoying Stumptown and The Unicorn, two new shows.
  • SEAL Team is back! 
  • Supergirl is back and Batwoman started but we haven't watched any of the episodes yet.
  • I got caught up on Grey's Anatomy and HTGAWM just in time for new episodes tonight.
  • I am three episodes behind on This Is Us.
  • What else? We are caught up on The Rookie, which is still fun. We are not caught up on Young Sheldon, Evil, Emergence, and I forget what else. We wanted to give Evil a second chance even though the first episode was a little too creepy for me. Emergence has received decent reviews, and I like Allison Tolman, so we want to give it a try, we just haven't had time.

What I'm Reading:
I have three library books and a pile of magazine but I've been too tired/sick/busy with other things. There's a lot of laundry and ironing after vacation!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Grasshopper Pie

I have always liked chocolate and mint. I remember sneaking Andes Candies from the guest candy dish on my mom's Card Club nights at our house. I also remember my parents drinking Grasshopper Cocktails when I was a kid and letting me have a tiny sip and I loved it. So when I saw that The Perfect Pie from America's Test Kitchen had a Grasshopper Pie recipe, I had to buy the cookbook. And then we had to make it, our first pie from the cookbook.
Of course that meant buying Creme de Cacao and Creme de Menthe. Plus gelatin. And chocolate wafers. The cookbook calls for a crust made from ground creme de menthe Oreos but I wasn't sure about that. I've never really liked Oreos, particularly the cream filling. I decided to use the chocolate crust from this recipe: No Bake Chocolate-Raspberry Cream Pie.
Butter sugar, and chocolate chips melted together and then combined with crushed chocolate wafer cookies. No baking required.
The grasshopper green filling is quite a few steps!
Soften gelatin, then cook the gelatin-cream-sugar. Whisk eggs, temper the gelatin mixture into the eggs and cook like a custard for ice cream. Stir in the liqueurs, refrigerate for a while, stirring occasionally. Whip heavy cream until you get soft peaks, whisk some of it into the gelatin mixture, the fold in the rest. Then spread into the crust.
A beautiful cool mint green. I love the color, I love the minty smell.
We had a lot of filling and didn't want to waste any so ours is probably a little over-stuffed. It's so good. Cool, minty, light, a chocolaty crust. It got better as the week went on. We made our pie on a Sunday and ate a bit every night, finishing on Friday and it was fine.
It's a good thing we really liked this pie because we now have two bottles of liquor to use! Maybe we can try making a Grasshopper Cocktail, too. We'll definitely be making this pie again.

Recipe here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Rice Salad

Over the summer I got tired of my usual lunch: toasted English muffin with roast turkey & Swiss cheese. I decided to try a rice salad so I looked up a bunch of recipes and ended up making my own version. It was rice, spinach, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and kalamata olives with a lemon-olive oil dressing. It was good but it could have used some fresh herbs, which I kept forgetting to wash and chop in my haste to eat lunch each day. And maybe some fresh lemon zest.
It was a nice change from my usual. Next time I'd make more of an effort to add the fresh herbs or at least some dried herbs and fresh lemon zest and maybe try a vinaigrette dressing instead of just lemon & olive oil. Maybe add some carrot or roasted red pepper. But as a first effort, this was pretty good, and it made lunch really easy for the week.

My version:

Rice Salad
about 1.5 cups uncooked rice
kalamata olives
cherry tomatoes
about 2 c fresh spinach
1/4 c lemon juice
1/3 c olive oil
salt & pepper

Cook rice (we cook ours in a rice cooker). Fluff rice, add spinach, and toss so that the spinach wilts a bit. Let rice and spinach cool. Once cool, add as much/little tomato, chopped cucumber, and olive as you want. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Pour over rice salad. Toss salad. Season with salt & pepper.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Gâteau Breton with Apricot Filling

This post has been a long while coming: Gâteau Breton with Apricot Filling. It's the cake that SP picked for his birthday cake this year. The birthday that was last February! I have no idea why it took me so long to share this one because the cake was delicious.
We didn't use a dark rum. It was a gold rum. It worked just fine.
The California apricots were a bit difficult to find but we finally tracked them down at Trader Joe's.
We like that it's a one layer cake but you do have to pour in half the batter, then spread on your apricot filling, then the other half of batter. Then score the top with a fork.
It's a pretty cake.
Since it was his birthday, I put the cake on my great-grandma's cake stand but I didn't put candles on top. It didn't seem right to poke candle holes into this cake.
It's a little bit of work with pureeing, cooking, chilling, freezing, and baking but the results are worth it. It was delicious. Rich, buttery, tender with a slightly sweet fruit center.
Recipe here.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Usually this Moist Chocolate Bundt Cake is our go-to chocolate cake but I printed a recipe from America's Test Kitchen for Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake, we made it over Labor Day weekend, and now we're not sure which cake we like more!
This one isn't quite as dark and spongy but in some ways it seems more decadent.
The yummy flavor isn't just from the chocolate. There's also instant espresso, sour cream, light brown sugar (not white granulated), vanilla, and five eggs. It's easy to make, just be sure to thoroughly coat the bundt pan with the butter-cocoa mixture so that the cake doesn't stick.
Both cakes have been big hits with our friends. Maybe next year we'll have to make both for a side by side comparison and see which is liked more? 

Recipe here.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

It's finally fall but it doesn't feel like it. Ugh. I really dislike hot & muggy. Also, it's fall, so evil bugs should be gone, but nope. I spent 10 minutes outside after dark talking to a neighbor and was rewarded with 3 mosquito bites on my feet. I don't just get a little red dot of a bite. Nope. Mine swell to the size of quarters. And then sort of scar, even when my scratching is minimal. Grrrr.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We're looking forward to starting the new seasons of Glitch and Peaky Blinders on Netflix.
  • HTGAWM. Really? They're going to kill that person? Noooo! Also, I'm confused already by all the convoluted lies, cover-ups, maneuvering, etc.
  • Grey's Anatomy. Meh. I think the Meredith commits insurance fraud story is stupid because we already know there are special assistance funds for such situations. 
  • We watched The Unicorn on CBS and laughed a lot/enjoyed it. I'm a big fan of Walton Goggins from The Shield and Justified.
  • We also gave Evil a try since we like Mike Colter (Luke Cage) but it might be a little too creepy for me. Then again, I like Michael Emerson a lot. We'll see.
  • We've been watching Halloween shows on Food Network. A pumpkin carving one, the baking competition. I love this time of year.

What I'm Reading:

  • Lethal Agent, the latest Mitch Rapp novel (it's #18). It was good but I miss Vince Flynn. 
  • Magazines! But so far I haven't found the fall issues too exciting.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Downey's House

Everyone has a local, go-to place for dinner, right? A place where they know your name, know what you're drinking without even asking, know what you always order. A place where you run into your neighbors, where you can get the latest local gossip. For us, that place is Downey's House on Route 60/Steubenville Pike. 

They have live music on Saturdays (I'm not sure about other days). There's an outdoor, covered area. There are lots of TV's for watching sports. It's very casual and friendly. We always get fresh iced teas and SP gets whatever is seasonal and on tap. This past Saturday there were 12 beers on tap and he had a Sam Adams Halloween/Pumpkin beer (I know nothing about beer, I only half listen when he orders).

We always start with this:
Fried Zucchini - "An old family recipe from The Main Hotel! Long, thin strips of zucchini hand-breaded and fried to a crispy golden brown. Served with spaghetti sauce, or have our homemade horsey sauce." Usually they are served as flat planks but this past weekend they were rolled into spirals, which I kind of prefer. We were hungry and we ate all of them. We always squeeze the lemon wedge over them and order the marinara sauce plus our server always brings sprinkle cheese so I sprinkle even more cheese on top.
They are known for their Rolls, which we almost never order because while delicious, they are a lot of bread/carb and we both try to be careful. This time, SP ordered the Spinach Rolls - "stuffed with Annie’s secret recipe spinach mix and cheese." They also have Pepperoni, Italian, and Chicken Bacon Cheddar Rolls, all served with your choice of spaghetti sauce, ranch or garlic ranch for dipping. I didn't eat any spinach rolls because of garlic, but I have tried the other three kinds and all are delicious.
Often I order the Meatball Hoagie topped with sauce & provolone cheese and I choose the side of pasta. The meatballs are so good and it's huge. I get 2 meatball hoagie meals plus a pasta lunch! I also frequently order Philly Steak & Cheese (sirloin steak, Provolone cheese, onions and peppers on a hoagie roll). Lately I've been ordering BBQ Bacon Chicken Sandwich (grilled chicken with bacon, cheddar cheese, onion straws and a side of BBQ sauce). Sometimes I get regular fries, sometimes sweet potato. It's yummy, lots of bacon and cheese and onion straws.

SP loves the Seafood Chowder and almost always orders Grilled Salmon (served on a mixture of sauteed zucchini, spinach, roasted red peppers and topped with feta cheese). There also are burgers, pizzas, pastas and tasty mozzarella sticks.

We are always too full for dessert and always take home part of our meals.

We like Downey's House a lot. The food is yummy. Service is always friendly. Sometimes it can be slow, sometimes fast, it all depends on how busy they are, and when they've been really busy/slow, we've seen the owner going around and explaining/apologizing for long waits. We always sit in the dining room so I have no idea what the outdoor area is like.

If you're in the area and looking for tasty food, definitely try Downey's House.