Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend we met L for lunch at Aladdin's in McMurray. We hadn't been to Aladdin's is a long time so it was extra tasty. SP had a salad with chicken and I had the Sfiha (seasoned ground lean beef sautéed with diced tomatoes, onions, roasted pine nuts, and herbs folded into a pita pie and topped with cheddar and scallions) appetizer, which was enough for lunch for me.
Earlier in the morning we had stopped at Bethel Bakery's North Strabane location to purchase yum yums to celebrate the blog's birthday:
There were a lot of special treats this week. SP brought home these goodies Monday evening:
They were an anniversary treat. We ate them Monday night even though our anniversary was Tuesday.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • Bosch Season 4 on Amazon Prime. Love the show! I have read all the books. SP hasn't, but he likes the show a lot. We blew through the new season from Friday-Monday and now are ready for Season 5.
  • The Americans - 6 more episodes!
  • Tonight is the series finale of Scandal. I'm a little relieved it's ending although I will miss it. I thought it went off the rails a bit a couple seasons ago, a little too crazy, but this season has been better. I'm curious to see the fallout from revealing/testifying about B6-13. I can't decide if I want them all arrested and punished or to walk away free and clear.

What I'm Reading:
Since last Thursday, nothing. I have 2 library books and 4 magazines.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary. SP took a vacation day and we enjoyed a "date day." We went to the Heinz History Center to see American Spirits: The Rise & Fall of Prohibition exhibit. It's a very good exhibit and we recommend it. I enjoyed reading every poster propaganda piece against booze! There is a lot of other great stuff to see, too. After we finished, we walked over to Gaucho Parrilla Argentina for a late lunch/early dinner. It was our first visit and we were looking forward to trying it because we'd heard so many good things about the food. It didn't disappoint.

Here's what we ate:
I chose the Cerdo plate, small portion: roasted pulled pork, caramelized onions, spicy Dijon mustard sauce, toast, salad (greens, carrot, radish, grape tomatoes dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar). The small was a bit too much for me, although to be fair before I tackled it, I ate some other food. It was delicious. I really liked the salad dressing. The pulled pork mixed with the onions and sauce was so darn tasty.
We tried an order of Provoletta, basically a lovely piece of grilled provolone with some fresh oregano atop toast with arugula/olives off to the side. Grilled cheese = one of my favorite things.
SP had the Catch of the Day sandwich: red snapper. He added bacon. It was huge and he ate all of it, save a bit of the bread, and he said it was delicious.
Of course we tried some Empanadas. They're Argentine pierogies and I love pierogies. We tried 2, pork and chicken. I think the chicken also had a bit of chorizo.
Inside the empanadas. These were delicious. A tasty, flaky, substantial dough pocket. Both fillings were good. I could make a meal out of just these empanadas.

Gaucho is BYOB with no corkage/glass fees but since we went between 2:30~3pm, we didn't BYOB. SP had fresh iced tea and I had hot tea because even though it was April 17, it was windy, cold, snowy, and I was bundled up again.

I had heard about the long lines and wait for Gaucho. Happily, maybe since we went during the work week after lunch time/before dinner time, there were only 2 people ahead of us in line. That gave us time to study the enormous chalkboard menu. We ate across from the order area because there are about 6-7 steps up to the other dining area but it does look like if we went outside and up the street, there is a side door for level entry to the "upper" dining area. After you order, you find a seat - or maybe they seat you, I'm not sure, I just went right to an empty table on the main level while SP paid. It wasn't busy and I was in a wheelchair, so maybe that's why no one said anything to me about just going to a table. It didn't take too long for our food to arrive. The employees who cleared dishes from our table and refilled our beverages were all very nice. Nice is kind of a bland adjective, maybe what I mean is they seemed pleasant and happy to be working there and like they enjoyed their jobs. It's always a plus when the employees seem to like their jobs and interacting with customers.

We'll definitely be back.

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pasta with Spinach, Ground Sausage, and Ground Beef

This recipe is a Giada recipe from a Giada Entertains episode a few weeks ago in which she hosted a 70's themed party. She said the inspiration for this Italian Helper was Hamburger Helper. I've never eaten Hamburger Helper but I remember the commercials with the talking oven mitt. I guess since my mom didn't work, she didn't take too many short cuts for dinner, or maybe my dad wouldn't have eaten the short cut food. My brother and I were never given different, special, kid-friendly food for dinner. We always had to eat what mom & dad ate. So Hamburger Helper wasn't in our house.
This recipe uses ground beef and sausage plus pasta, spinach, tomato puree, and lots of cheese (parmesan and mascarpone). It's really easy to make.
It's sort of a one pot meal since it is made in the same skillet in which the meats are browned, but the pasta is cooked separately so I guess it's a two pot meal - or rather, a skillet and a pot meal.
It smells great and tastes even better. Lots of beef, sausage, and tomato flavor. A little creamy from the mascarpone, a little sharp/salty from the parmesan. I didn't really taste the spinach, but I like that it is there for the veggie. I think next time we'd add more spinach. This time, we had some spinach on the side as a salad, too.
Definitely a make again meal. Easy, quick, tasty, comforting - the best kind of meal.

Recipe here.

*Note: personal preference, we omitted the shallot & garlic and instead used onion

Saturday, April 14, 2018

9 Years

It has been 9 years since I started this blog. I'm surprised I've stuck with it this long! I do like having a place with all the recipes we've tried plus comments and photos. We frequently refer back to the blog when we're cooking/baking. I also like being able to refer back to what we ate and our thoughts on restaurant meals.

I don't have any special blog celebrations planned, but maybe SP will treat me to some Yum Yums from Bethel Bakery? We'll be in the area...

Thank you to everyone who reads.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

I just spent the afternoon with the official Critter Dude. He didn't see any entry points for my slithery visitor last month. Yay? He said he's never before had a call about a snake in March. He was surprised. Especially after he didn't see any entry points (there was one wee possibility that he caulked but he said it was unlikely) and after he saw no evidence of mice. Yay, no mice. Yay, no other critter evidence. But nonetheless, there was a snake, and no one knows how it got inside, not even the Critter Dude, and so I'm not feeling especially reassured. He floated the idea that it got inside last fall and was inside all winter. Fabulous. Not reassuring.

What We're Eating:

  • Parmesan Breaded Chicken with arugula salad
  • Farro Salad
  • Dessert: Lemon Bars

What We're Watching:

  • The Americans is so good! Really enjoying the final season.
  • Something weird happened with AMC and our guide because we almost missed the last 2 episodes of McMafia. It's not quite as good as some shows we've watched, but we're still enjoying it. I just wish AMC hadn't switched it to 11pm and that our satellite provider could offer a correct guide. The last couple episodes weren't marked as new, so they weren't being picked up for recording. I went in reset it to record new and reruns. It's not the first time the guide has been messed up. It seems to be happening a lot lately.
  • The new season of Bosch stares on Amazon tomorrow and I am super excited. Of course, we still haven' watched Jessica Jones, and we're behind on "regular" TV. But... Bosch! Love the books and show.

What I'm Reading:

  • Still making slow progress on the magazine pile.
  • I read As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti. This book grabbed my interest more than I expected and I enjoyed it much more than I expected. It's set in a desert town where, upon turning 18, each resident can enter a "wishing cave" and make a wish, though there are rules (for one, it cannot impact anything/person outside the town), and the wish always come true but of course, there are consequences. It was thought provoking, making me wonder what I would have wished for at age 18 and how I would have worded my wish. I told SP about the premise of this book and he was intrigued, not enough to read it, but we had a discussion of wishes and wording, etc. The books has several "levels" from everyday teen issues to difficult & heart breaking family issues to the ethical dilemmas that wishing can create.
  • I also read The Gate Keeper by Charles Todd. It's the second Ian Rutledge book I've read and I enjoyed it. It's kind of refreshing to see crimes (murders) solved back in the early 1900's, before all the advances like DNA and fingerprinting and databases and all the electronic device tracking.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Walnut Grill (Robinson)

Several weeks ago, we went to Walnut Grill in Robinson. We've dined there before, but it had been a while. We didn't have reservations but we were seated within 5 minutes. Here's what we ate:
As always, Loaded Tater Tots (four cheese alfredo, smoked gouda, candied jalapeños, bacon). As you can see, we like these so much that I forgot to take a photo until they were nearly gone. Cheesy deliciousness.
We shared Strawberry Salad (field greens, balsamic marinated strawberries, goat cheese, candied almonds, balsamic reduction). It's good, though I find the balsamic a tad strong/sweet.
SP's entree: Caper Flounder (light lemon caper cream sauce) with the vegetable mix of the day. He likes lemon and capers a lot, so this was a great choice for him.
His other side: cole slaw, which I helped eat.
I chose California Turkey Wrap (roasted turkey, candied bacon, greens, tomato, avocado, honeycup mustard, goat cheese, wheat wrap). This was very good although I don't like wheat wraps. I figured I'd give it a try but I don't think I'll try wheat wraps again. I mentioned to SP that wheat wraps tasted kind of bland and cardboard like. He agreed - but he's the one who always wants wheat wraps and scolds me for my white wraps! And he finds them bland, too!
I chose sweet potato fries for my side. I didn't eat them since I was full from tater tots, salad, and half a wrap. We ate them for lunch the next day.

Happily, there is again fresh brewed iced tea. The last time we were there, it was fountain tea - boo. We like Walnut Grill and are glad it's an option so close to us in Robinson. I'm sure we'll be back.

Walnut Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, April 9, 2018

Union Standard

It has been a couple weeks since we dined at Union Standard. It's been open for over a year, but this was our first time there and it did not disappoint. We especially liked that there is an elevator to the second floor, which means we were able to sit there and not be restricted to the first level. Also, lots of natural light through the large windows.

Here's what we enjoyed:
Drinks: Mellon Square Cocktail for him (gin, chamomile sabona, dolin blanc, orange bitters, cardamom tincture) and Folie a Deux Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, CA for me.
To start: Warm Potato Bread (cultured butter, apple butter, goat butter). Oh my gosh this warm bread was delicious, especially with the 3 butters. We wiped the plate clean and wanted more.
We shared a salad: Endive & Asian Pear (speck, smoked pecans, sherry vinaigrette, Goat Rodeo Chevre). This was different than the salads we usually order. I liked the salad even though I find endive just sort of meh. The other components are what made it yummy.
Entree for him: Bacon Wrapped Monkfish (Carolina Gold rice, toasted pecans, braised greens, black eyed pea vinaigrette). He said this fish was delicious and he ate everything on his plate.
For me, Sea Scallops (ember roasted beets, cider glazed carrots, benne, lemon, granny smith apple, celery). My scallops were delicious. I was a little full from the bread and salad and I wanted dessert, so I couldn't/didn't eat many of the carrots/beets (beets not being a food I really enjoy) but I did eat all the scallops, lemon, and apple. It was a very pretty dish in person although my photo makes it looks a little bit like a crime scene of red-pink splatter. Trust me, it was beautiful in person.
Decaf coffee for me.
Shared dessert: Vanilla Dutch Baby (lemon ice cream, apples, candied pecans, honey). Really good. We quickly devoured it, scraping the pan clean.

We both enjoyed our food. Service was good. I felt bad when I asked for specifics on the lamb dish because as soon as our server went to check, I remembered that we were having lamb the next day and then leftover lamb for several days during the week, so I knew I wouldn't end up ordering it. Oops.

We'll be back - especially for that potato bread and Dutch baby.