Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

  • I think my cold is getting worse. Even my mom said I sounded worse when she called this morning. Grrrr.
  • Thank goodness we are not hosting Thanksgiving this year. Thank goodness all we are responsible for is pie. I do not think my stuffy and drippy nose plus aches plus messed up from medicine stomach could handle a meal for 16 people like last year.
  • The clear sign I'm sick: lack of interest in dessert. Actually, in any food. I can't even muster enthusiasm for turkey devonshire or lasagna or braised lamb right now. 
  • We just changed our sheets, but we'll be changing at least the pillow cases again this weekend. Stuffed nose = mouth breathing = drool at night. Also, once the medicine wears off, my nose starts dripping. I woke up to drool and nose drip on my pillow today. Yep. I am quite a catch right now. SP is one lucky guy.
  • I just got the new Michael Connelly novel (The Burning Room) from the library. I've had it for 2 days and haven't started yet. Unheard of. I devour the Harry Bosch novels. I really want to start reading it, but every time I settle into my recliner and open the book, I fall asleep. I'm still on page 1, word 1.
  • I cannot wait for Shonda night tonight! For some reason, I thought last week was the fall finale of HTGAWM and I kept waiting and waiting to see who killed Sam but then... disappointment as I realized I was wrong and had to wait one more week. But tonight is the night!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In the Kitchen

I don't know if it's because I'm sick, or if I'm bored with the blog, or tired of lugging the camera around and photographing everything, or if it's that we have not gone anywhere/cooked anything new and exciting, but I have no food photos, nothing new to blog about. Here's where we've been eating and what we've been whipping up in the kitchen:
  • My birthday dinner, on my actual birthday, was at Park Bruges. I enjoyed my usual Sauteed Chicken and Tarte Flambee. SP had his usual mussels. 
  • This past weekend, my birthday dinner with SP's family was at Central Diner & Grille. This time I tried the Monte Cristo sandwich. It was HUGE. Delicious challah french toast with lots of ham & turkey and melted Swiss. I got a side of onion rings and for dessert, raspberry-almond cake. SP had a daily special, leg of lamb with roasted potatoes and a salad. We still really like this place. The food is good, huge portions, reasonable price, friendly owner and servers, and close to home.
  • It's meatloaf week! We made it on Sunday. We never follow a recipe for meatloaf. We never make it the same way twice. This time we used 1.25 lbs ground beef and 0.75 lbs ground pork with panko, egg, mustard, Worcestershire, diced onion, and chopped mushrooms. This is one of the tastier versions - it stayed moist and flavorful, probably because of the addition of onions and mushrooms. SP slathers his with ketchup and mustard. I add a little mustard on top. Alongside the meatloaf, we are having a frozen biscuit and steamed broccoli. I didn't take photos because it's dark out by the time we eat dinner and because I've found that meatloaf is one of those foods that never photographs well. 
  • Our other meal this week is Dirty Risotto, which we've made many times. We always add the pancetta now (we didn't the first few times) and we now buy Ricci's sweet sausage for the sausage. We also use way more red pepper and mushrooms than the recipe calls for. The arborio was a little crunchy the first night, but when I reheated it the second night, in a casserole with the lid on for 30-40 minutes, the crunchiness was gone.
  • Last week I asked for Turkey Devonshire as a birthday treat and SP agreed (while grumbling). We cooked a turkey breast then sliced it and added tomato to the sandwich. I think I might actually like this better than lasagna - toasted white bread, bacon, turkey, tomato, creamy cheese sauce, paprika - yum!
  • The other meal last week was Coq Au Vin. We are still using the Joy of Cooking version, with 3 cups of red wine. And, of course, extra mushrooms.
  • A couple of weeks ago we made baked chicken breasts seasoned with herbes de provence and a salad with carrot, cucumber, tomato, black & green olives, and goat cheese. The other meal that week was simply apple-ham-cheddar panini.
This coming weekend is going to be a 'no cook' weekend -- which is kind of exciting. Even though we both enjoy cooking, sometimes it seems like more of a chore than fun hobby. We don't need to cook on Sunday (we have some lasagna in the freezer that we'll eat for Sunday dinner) because on Monday, we'll be cooking with family in town from TX and we'll eat those leftovers on Tuesday for dinner. Wednesday we're having dinner at SP's parents' house and Thursday is Turkey Day at my parents' place. Mom told me she's sending us home with leftover turkey and stuffing for Friday.

Hopefully, my cold will be better by this weekend and we can try a new-to-us restaurant for dinner. I'm not counting on that, though. It's Day 4 of the cold and I'm actually feeling a bit worse than I felt yesterday - ?! Stupid cold.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Blues

It's a gray, chilly, rainy, and possibly snowy Monday. Some people love winter and cold temperatures and snow. Some have no opinion. But others, like me, don't like any of it. I am a firm believer that it should not snow until mid-December. So this November snow of the past couple of years... yuck. This earlier, colder weather making my 2 broken hips and broken femur and other joints ache... ugh.

Colder, snowier weather means the return of cold season. From 1994 until 2004, my working years, I had the flu once, maybe 2-3 colds, and one bout of the stomach flu. Otherwise, I was pretty resistant to evil germs. Even though I rode the trolley to/from work, I managed to avoid germs.

But since 2004, since I broke my femur, since I've been in the wheelchair, since I've not been working, since I do not get out every day, I've lost my resistance. The tiniest, weakest germ makes me sick.

I was a good girl. I got my flu shot.

But guess what? I'm sick. For the third time in 2014. The arsenal of cold medicine is out. Good thing (?) we were so sick last March and bought all that medicine. I guess someone at Kohl's or the mall or at the doctor's office made me sick. I have a scratchy, sore throat. My nose is stuffed and also drippy. And I ache. Everywhere. I am so annoyed. By my count, I now get 2-3 colds a year. Mine last longer and are much worse than the ones SP catches.

So. Winter. Cold and snow season. Cold and flu season. I do not like it. I'm starting to wonder which warm weather year round office SP can transfer into ASAP.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday Thoughts - Resolution!

1. After 3 months and 8 days, my billing issue with UPMC seems to be resolved. Finally.
  • Last week, I did end up paying the amount due in full because in the end, I'm too much of a goody-goody to let something go to collections.
  • After last week's Thursday Thoughts post, I spent another 2 hours on the phone (one call alone was 67 minutes). That same day, SP spent about 45 minutes trying to resolve this issue on my behalf.
  • Yesterday I got a call from UPMC and guess what? They're going to refund the payment because, guess what? The form I asked them to fax way back in September, the form that numerous reps told me was not the issue despite both my insurances insisting it was, THAT FORM WAS THE PROBLEM. The entire problem was in fact exactly what my insurers told me in September - the reps at UPMC just refused to accept that someone at UPMC messed up. The doctor's office may have never even had me sign it, or it got lost when it was sent to billing, or billing lost it/filled out the paper work incorrectly because, guess what? They CANNOT FIND ANY EVIDENCE OF THE FORM. There is no patient liability. They cannot bill me.
  • Coincidence or sexist? The issue got resolved only after SP's one and only call to the final UPMC rep we dealt with. I know I have a soft, quiet, young, little girl voice, but... I'm not a dummy. SP didn't say anything I hadn't already said. Or did he just get lucky and get the one and only capable rep?
  • Now I just have to make sure the refund actually shows up on my credit card.
2. Speaking of UPMC, I had an early morning doctor appointment today. I got my flu shot, so now my arm hurts. In the same arm I had blood sucked out, so that poor arm has lots of band-aids/bandages. My blood pressure is still good (thanks to the medicine). And, best news ever:

I LOST SOME WEIGHT!!!!!! So you know what that means?

 Apple Donut from Better Maid, AKA The Pink House.
We finally got home a little after 11 am (after an 8:45 am appt!) and I ate lunch and then I ate my donut treat. It was sooo good!

Also, no guilt over more birthday cake tonight.

3. My mom and I went shopping on Veterans Day. We first went to Kohl's and gosh was it a mad house. No parking. Lots of people. It was like Black Friday or the mall during the holidays. It was awful. We stood in the check-out line for 20 minutes. Then we went to the mall. That was only slightly better.

Thanks to time spent shopping, I am already sick of holiday stuff. It was a sunny 70 degree day, and yes, it was November, but the holiday music really got to me.

4. I read one of the 4 National Geographic magazines!

5. I was having some eye discomfort. Watery eyes all day long, possibly allergies. Lots of that eye gunk stuff. But also dry, tired eyes. So SP suggested eye drops. He has to put the drops in because I cannot do it. I hate having drops put in my eyes. It's kind of comical because I'm trying to keep my eye open, he's hovering over me, taking aim and preparing to drop a cannonball into my eye and telling me to not squirm but the prospect of that drop smashing into my eyeball has me squirming. The first couple of times, well, let's just say I had Visine running down my cheeks. We are slowly getting better at this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Where We Ate: Geneva, NY

We haven't cooked/baked anything new & exciting, so I'm diving back into the vacation restaurants. After 2 days in Corning and 2 days in Ithaca, we headed north to Geneva. We arrived late on a Sunday and wanted somewhere near the hotel so we headed to The Crow's Nest. Supposedly it has a great view of the lake, but it was dark when we arrived for dinner. Here's what we ate:
SP tried the Manhattan Clam Chowder. He loves the Manhattan version.
Calamari. These were yummy, lightly dusted with a rice flour mix. All rings of calamari.
Poached Pear & Goat Cheese Salad. Mixed greens, red wine poached pears, goat cheese, candied walnuts, red onion, raspberry vinaigrette. This was another excellent salad.
We shared the Fisherman's Platter with shrimp, sea scallops, and haddock dusted with the rice flour, served with fries and cole slaw. I think we ordered sweet potato fries instead of regular fries, but we received regular fries. We didn't bother trying to fix it.  It looked prettier when it arrived - we started dismantling it and then I remembered I had not taken a photo, so we put it back together, sort of! It was good. Sadly, halfway through, I got my second sudden, awful nosebleed of the day. So I had to sit there with my head tipped back and tissues stuffed up my nose. That kind of killed my appetite, so SP ate the majority of it.
After stopping the nosebleed and relaxing a bit (it was a bad nosebleed - it took close to 20 minutes to stop) we decided to share Chocolate Mousse for dessert.

Our server was wonderful and friendly. She kept checking on me and offering tissues. I would like to go back for lunch, when we can enjoy the view of the lake.

The Crow's Nest on Urbanspoon

Our second night in Geneva, we also wanted a restaurant near the hotel. Parkers Grille & Tap House was within walking distance, but since it was windy, chilly, and threatening rain, we drove. It's a cozy pub atmosphere inside. We were seated near the front windows, which was nice. Here's what we ate:
I'm pretty sure this is the Spicy Zucchini Soup (with sausage) that SP ate.
Meanwhile, I nibbled at our basket of fried goodness: fried mozzarella, fried pickles, fried macaroni & cheese, plus chips & salsa served with a variety of dipping sauces.
We both ordered Hot Melts. I chose ham with the bacon, tomato, and cheddar with sweet potato fries on the side.
SP chose turkey for his Hot Melt and for his side, green beans.

It definitely wasn't a very healthy meal, but it was yummy and comforting, just what we needed on a chilly, sprinkly evening. I remember the sweet potato fries being really, really good. Service was fine. Our server kept our iced teas filled (SP also had a beer).

Parkers' Grille & Tap House on Urbanspoon

Both restaurants were fine - nothing really sticks out in my mind and nothing makes me think, hmmm, must return if in the area, but if we are in the area again and trying to figure out where to go, we'd return to both.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pumpkin Roll

A couple of weekends ago, we needed a quick and easy dessert. We were having guests for dinner, but we were also pretty darn busy and rapidly running out of weekend time. So I did what I always do: the Friday before, I wasted a few hours on the computer looking up dessert ideas. I ended up suggesting Pumpkin Roll to SP. He quickly agreed because he likes pumpkin and it's not too often that I suggest a non-chocolate dessert.
So I mentioned that I spent a lot of time trying to find a dessert idea. Once we agreed on Pumpkin Roll, I went back and spent more time looking for the perfect recipe. I found one, printed it, and we made the cake the morning of the dinner. And of course as soon as we pulled the sheet of sponge cake out of the oven, I remembered, hey, we have a delicious Pumpkin Roll recipe already in the recipe binder from TXSIL. Whoops. She's made it for us and she gave me her recipe. It's in my dessert binder. But I had completely forgotten about it.
Next time, we'll have to make her version. Meanwhile, this version was a big hit. Soft, spongy, light, pumpkin with spice flavored cake. Smooth cream cheese filling. A non-chocolate dessert I'd happily make again.

Recipe here.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Birthday Thoughts

1. Today is my birthday. It feels like any other Saturday. I am lounging in my jammies. SP is out doing errands. I ate a banana for breakfast and an English muffin sandwich for lunch (like I do every day). Birthdays in your 40's are just not as exciting as those in your teens or 20's.

2. SP got me a birthday cake from Bethel Bakery. I wanted to slice into it after lunch, but he gave me a look so I'm not-so-patiently waiting for later tonight.

3. The birthday "festivities" actually started last Sunday when I used my Big Burrito Birthday Coupon at Casbah for brunch.
I changed it up a bit this time. Instead of my usual mimosa, I ordered a bellini. I ordered the usual arugula salad but for my entree, instead of the braised lamb on sourdough, I ordered the brioche French toast with bacon. It was fabulous. Cinnamon swirl brioche, apple compote, bacon, and fruit.

Of course I ordered dessert even though I was full. We shared the s'mores dessert: salted caramel ice cream, chocolate cake with marshmallow filling and graham cracker crumbs on the side, and a marshmallow on top. The most delicious dollop of a marshmallow ever - it seemed like it had a creme brulee sugar shell and there was a lovely crunch when we started divvying it up. Best marshmallow ever.

4. We ate so much last weekend at Grit & Grace and Casbah that all week we ate baked chicken breasts seasoned with herbes de provence and salad for dinner. I think 2 nights we had a healthy brown bread, rosemary ham, provolone, and apple panini. Dessert was a piece of the leftover Halloween candy (we had only 1 trick-or-treater).

5. We're trying to eat smaller meals during the week because from now until the end of the year, the weekends are filled with lots of dining out and holiday parties plus the holidays themselves - all the pies at Thanksgiving and cookies at Christmas.

6. Tonight I'll be over indulging at Park Bruges. Then there will be cake. And maybe leftover Halloween candy.

7. Then this week when I have my annual check up, they'll weigh me and I'll be horrified and I'll realize that in my 40's, it's much easier to gain weight and much harder to lose it than it was for me in my teens and 20's. And I will be sad. But that won't stop me from making SP stop at Better Maid for donuts.