Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
It's very simple. I measured out & combined the dry ingredients first:
- 1-3/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup pure canned pumpkin
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup chopped nuts (which I omit)
Back to the food. We opened a bottle of Coppola Sauvignon Blanc and sipped and savored while preparing a tasty dinner. When we make homemade macaroni & cheese, we use the macaroni & cheese recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, page 160 (yes, I know the page number). Our BHG cookbook is an old version - we each had a copy of it when we moved in together, each copy was lovingly worn and torn. Mine was held together by rubber bands so I think we tossed my copy and kept SP's copy. It's an older, paperback version, not the more current 3-ring binder style version.
The recipe is very simple: cook elbow pasta; make sauce of milk, butter, flour, onions, cheese; add elbows; dump into casserole; bake until bubbly. We always add tomato slices on top.
Yesterday, we also added homemade bread crumbs. We're still trying to finish off a few freezer items, one of which was a loaf of Wonder bread. Neither of us will eat Wonder bread. It was bought, along with grape jelly, back in July for visiting niece/nephews, but unfortunately, no one ate any Wonder bread so we were 'lucky' enough to have an entire loaf!!! First we planned to make stuffing out of the bread but then we decided to toast the slices and grind them in the food processor to make bread crumbs.
We sprinkled some of the homemade Wonder bread crumbs on the mac & cheese and then put the rest of the breadcrumbs into the freezer.
To go with our mac & cheese, we made a small ham:sauteed kale with onions:and green beans (from the freezer!): What a tasty dinner! A very simple yet satisfying meal.
After dinner, we cuddled up on the couch and watched Amazing Race. We love the show! The tasks are sometimes so funny - like watching them try to herd the ducks or last season when contestants had to move huge wheels of cheese down a hill and there were lots of shots of runaway cheese wheels!!! We don't have a favorite team yet, but we have 2 non-favorite teams: the muscle-y lawyer & his wife and the female poker players.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Our first sign this might not be a great evening: our server stood at the far end of the table for six to take our drink orders. We were puzzled why she stood with the empty seats between her and us. Did we look like we had cooties? SP asked for the beers on tap selection since we didn't see a beer menu on the table, no list printed on the menu, and no separate beer list inside or on top of or between the menus. She looked surprised, puzzled, told him they had 'lots maybe 20 on tap' and looked like she didn't want to deal with this question. SP was trying to think of a beer (he doesn't really like the 'usuals' like IC Light, Bud, Miller, etc.) so finally our server recited several beers and he chose one.
We ordered provolone sticks to start.I had been sort of craving cheese sticks all day. There are 5 in an order (only 4 in the photo because SP grabbed one before I got a photo!) and a large bowl of marinara in which to dip them. They were tasty - not the best ever but not the worst ever.
For my meal, I opted for the Cheese & Pepperoni Calzone (and asked for no garlic butter to be brushed on top) over the Hickory Chicken Sandwich. I sort of wish I had chosen the chicken. The calzone was huge. A monster. A monster oozing enough cheese to clog my arteries/cause a heart attack on the spot. Enough cheese that even I, a cheese lover, was a bit appalled and disgusted.I started cutting into the behemoth. It took me a while to find the pepperoni. It was floating on a cheese avalanche on the opposite side of where I started my attack, so it took a while to reach it. This was an OK calzone. I wish I'd ordered the chicken sandwich or the chicken with veggies calzone. It was just a little too huge and too cheesy. I brought half of it home and left about one third of the other half on the plate.
Meanwhile, SP ordered the Buffalo Chicken Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette.It was disappointing. The greens looked nice on top but under the top layer was iceberg lettuce. The other veggies were mostly sauteed onions & mushrooms. He missed the part of the description that said fries were in the salad, so he was annoyed and picked them all out (yes, this is his fault, not Rockefeller's). And his chicken was just OK.
All in all, disappointing. Although it was entertaining to listen to the football fans cheer & groan for Pitt and yell their comments, the food and atmosphere just don't warrant another trip. We decided that Rockefeller's is in the same category (bar/food/beer) as Gullifty's, Bocktown, and Sharp Edge, and we'd much rather go to one of those places. We'd spend the same amount of money and have a better meal. We were a little annoyed with ourselves for not going into the city in the damp, chilly, wet weather because even eating at Paris 66 would've cost the same (actually, according to the 2 bills, Paris 66 would've cost less) and been far tastier and far healthier.
Oh well. Better luck next weekend!
First stop, the DMV. It was time for me to get a new photo license. It was the first time I've ever had to wait at the DMV to get my photo license!! SP was laughing at me because he doesn't remember ever not waiting and I was a bit grumpy about the wait! It wasn't too horrible, maybe 10-15 minutes.
Then we were off for fun! We went to see The Informant! We arrived early for the movie, so we had some time to waste. We stopped at the nearby Starbucks for iced tea (SP), a decaf latte (me), and a slice of pumpkin loaf - and then we smuggled it all in! Shh! Don't tell anyone! I am not a fan of soda, popcorn, typical movie food. The latte was tasty & warming and the slice of pumpkin loaf was deliciously pumpkin-y and moist. Yum!
I really enjoyed the movie, although it took a while for me to sort out what was really going on! Matt Damon does a terrific job.
Somewhat humorous side note: we were in the exact same theater as when we saw 9 and again there was a SNORER. Something about that particular theater room... But at least it wasn't quite as loud nor did it go on for the entire movie!
After the movie, we decided to get dinner at Sesame Inn. We went to the one in McMurray. I haven't been to Sesame Inn in many years - probably 6-7 years. We were seated right away and our water glasses filled. SP asked for tea and they brought a pot of oolong tea, which SP loves. Oolong isn't a favorite tea of mine. SP also asked for fried noodles and they brought a plate - I love fried noodles. They didn't last too long!!!We started off by sharing an order of fried pork dumplings and SP had a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup. There were 6 dumplings and some tasty soy dipping sauce. The pork was cooked (I ate dumplings at one Chinese restaurant, they weren't completely cooked, and I got very, very sick so well-cooked dumplings are very important to me!). The dough seemed a bit thick, but the exterior was nicely crisped and the dough part not too doughy. These were tasty dumplings. SP enjoyed his soup. I thought it smelled gross!!! Probably the spices since the menu indicates it is a hot & spicy dish. For our main course, we shared orders of Double Delight (shrimp & chicken sauteed with vegetables in a rich brown sauce) and BBQ Pork Lo Mein.
The Double Delight was delicious! There were lovely chunks of red pepper, zucchini and mushrooms as well as the baby corn. I would definitely get this again.The Lo Mein noodles were tasty, too, but not as tasty as other lo meins I've eaten and I couldn't help but wonder if the noodles were real Chinese noodles or regular vermicelli-type noodles. There were terrific large slices of mushrooms and long shreds of carrot - very nice - and it wasn't greasy like some lo meins I've eaten. Just not sure I would get the lo mein again.The fried noodles, dumplings, and Double Delight are are tasty and I'd definitely go back for those dishes!
After we got home, we changed into our jammies and curled up on the couch with hot tea and Milano cookies. We watched Battle for Terra, which was just an OK movie. I was tired enough/full enough and the movie 'boring' enough that I nodded off at one point. The creatures were a little disconcerting because they moved as if they were swimming in water, yet they didn't live in water.
We also watched the premiere episode of Flash Forward which we both found really intriguing and will continue to watch. Kind of like Lost with the present day & future scenes and trying to put the puzzle pieces together.
We didn't waste any time - we sampled the brittle right away! Our brittle flavors were Chai Tea & Cashew and Fleur de Sel & Peanut. I have never been much of a brittle fan but SP likes it. We tried the Fleur de Sel first and I thought it was OK while SP made 'yum' sounds. Then we tried the Chai Tea with Cashew. Oh my gosh. So yummy. I was making 'yum' sounds! The chai flavor was amazing. Mmm yum! All brittle should be chai tea brittle!We used our Baggu today when we went out - it's a gray and rainy day here in Pittsburgh and I had an eye doctor appointment. We had the newspaper to read at the appointment, mail to drop off, my purse, my glasses (which I wear only for reading/sewing and which didn't fit in my purse) - lots of stuff so I grabbed Baggu and tossed everything in and it was terrific! SP is out grocery shopping right now and I think he took the new Baggu plus his old not-so-pretty bags!!
So many thanks to Joy for the terrific gift bag!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Last night he made a casserole of roasted veggies: delicata squash, beets, leeks, onions, and the purple carrot, all from the CSA box. He sprinkled them with olive oil, salt, and fresh CSA sage. The beet was pretty cool looking:He also roasted the seeds from the delicata squash:
For the salad, we used lettuce, tomato, sweet pepper, and carrot from the CSA plus the toasted squash seeds. Non-CSA ingredients were almond slivers, green olives, and a sprinkling of parmesan. We used a bottled dressing - Ginger Sesame. It's an OK dressing.
In addition to all those veggies, we ate leftover roast chicken and rice. Tasty!After dinner, we watched Wolverine. It was better than we expected! Lots of cool super-hero action. We also watched a new TV show Modern Family, which was pretty amusing, and we watched the new Man V Food in Philadelphia. Adam ate a 5 lb cheesesteak sandwich! That was kind of gross! He also ate a tasty looking Italian roast pork with broccoli rabe sandwich.
We got to bed on the late side - I feel bad because about five and a half hours after we curled up in bed, SP was getting up to get ready for work. He went in early, again, hoping to avoid any G20 issues. I'm not going to talk about G20, but PittGirl - er, Ginny at That's Church - summed up my thoughts on yesterday's Greenpeace stunt on the West End Bridge (scroll down to #2).
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Yesterday I finally pulled out the 'Mighty Samurai' cross-stitch. I've been avoiding it since I started it in late June. I did maybe an one inch square section and got annoyed: my pattern paper kept falling off my magnetic board, I was 'attacked' by the fabric outside the hoop (it's a large cross-stitch), I kept losing my place - it just didn't seem to be going well and I was very frustrated. Me frustrated is not a pretty sight!!
Also, most of the stitches are combinations of 2 colors of floss, which takes longer to thread since you have to pull one thread from each of 2 floss bundles. Not to mention that since often the 2 bundles of floss are very, very close in color, if I am not extra careful, I confuse the bundles and then spend a lot of time worrying which one is 'very light dusty purple' and which one is 'light dusty purple.' I was annoyed and frustrated at all the combined colors. Additionally, there will be stitching with gold metallic thread (I don't like stitching with metallic threads) plus there will be beading and there will be all kinds of stitches, not just cross-stitch, half cross-stitch, & backstitch but also French knots, lazy daisies, couching, cording - things I don't think I am very good at!!!
Basically, it's taken me a while to get motivated enough to really focus on this one and to not be daunted by it!
On our trip to Michaels, I got 2 new cross-stitch tools. I've been wanting these for quite a while. First, a stand for my magnetic board: No more trying to prop the board against my knee or a mug or a pillow. A real stand. I am very excited about this. It makes such a huge difference! No more having the pattern fall onto the floor!! I can't believe it took me 4 years since I started cross-stitching to get one of these! Here it is, with the magnetic board and pattern on it:My second new tool: A small, adjustable booklight! I was having trouble with the lighting in the living room - despite having 2 lamps on, I still didn't seem to have enough light and the lamps seemed to cast shadows from my hand in just the most annoying spot on the fabric! The living room window provides lots of fantastic natural light, but that is also the problem with the living room window!! The window gets all the afternoon & evening sunshine shining through, so we need to keep the blinds closed for several reasons: to keep the sunshine out to keep it from getting too hot in the house (there is a very noticeable difference in temperature between the front and back rooms of the house in the afternoon & evening), the sun shines in at certain angles that cause you to squint and reach for sunglasses, and it's so bright that you cannot really see the TV picture if you're watching TV. My new little gadget is terrific!! I can keep the blinds closed and not get too hot or squint and wear sunglasses indoors while still being able to see the cross-stitch fabric holes!As you can see I now have more than 1 square inch stitched although there's still a very long way to go! I'll be lucky to finish this by the end of the year (the big ones usually take me 4-5 months).
Yesterday afternoon was a very successful afternoon of stitching. There was just one small 'oops' moment. I keep a tea mug that I got in Japan on the table next to me when I stitch. I keep little bits of excess floss in it and I keep scissors in it so that I always know where the scissors are (I have a habit of somehow having the scissors disappear in my lap or fall down the sides of the chair or fall onto the floor). Of course, this system only works of you always remember to put the scissors in the blue Japan mug. At one point, I was looking around for the scissors, patting my lap, smushing my hands down the sides of my chair, and generally getting irritated because I couldn't find the scissors. One pair had already bounced onto the floor out of reach (I was too lazy to move to retrieve them) and now my second pair was MIA. Suddenly, my eyes locked in on my tea mug. The mug filled with yummy, freshly brewed Blue Lady tea. And I had a bad feeling.
Oh yes. I did. I put the scissors in the wrong mug. I dunked them in tea.
Good thing I have a third pair of cross-stitch scissors in the cross-stitch supply box next to the chair...
"A long oblong-shaped squash with a cream colored, green striped thick outer skin and a golden fine-textured inner flesh. Considered as a novelty squash, its size may range from 5 to 10 inches in length with an average weight of 1 to 2 pounds. This squash can be baked or steamed and served as a side dish seasoned with butter and herbs, providing a sweet nutty flavor with a creamy smooth texture. Available year round, delicata squash are best during August to October and can be kept for 7 to 8 months. It is also known as potato squash, a sweet potato squash or a Bohemian squash."
We enjoyed the green beans with our roast chicken and rice dinner. As usual, I made a pot of brown rice for SP and a pot of white rice for me. SP sauteed the green beans in olive oil and lemon juice. The chicken was rubbed with salt and lemon and stuffed with lemon. It took about one hour and twenty minutes for the thermometer to register 170. Here it is, ready to go in the oven:And here it is, all cooked and ready to enjoy:Chicken, rice, and green beans - yum!Plus, leftovers for tonight!
After dinner, we curled up on the couch and watched the premiere of 'Castle,' which aired Monday evening, but we were busy Monday night and didn't start watching the 'Heroes' premiere until 9:30 pm and that was a 2 hour premiere, so we decided to just watch 'Castle' on Tuesday (thank goodness for the Dish DVR!).
'Heroes' was OK, I'm sort of 'meh' on it now. There wasn't a recap and I couldn't remember where the story left off so I was confused for the first half hour!! Then I got confused about where each character was, and then I got confused about Peter's powers, and then I got annoyed because the Claire/window/roomie thing was so predictable and because I don't like what they've done with Hiro's character - sometimes he seems like too much of an immature child. Overall, good to get back to it and see where it goes, but...
'Castle' was fun!! It's not a very deep show, but it is light & funny and Nathan Fillion is great! Plus, since I love mystery books, I love the real life author guest appearances - last night Michael Connelly was a guest at the mystery writer poker night and I love his Harry Bosch books - in fact, Castle even mentions Harry Bosch in the episode!
Of course there was hot tea and (store bought) cookies for dessert while we watched TV!
Monday, September 21, 2009
- 1 and 1/2 cups milk (instead of water)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups white flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp parsley
- 2 tsp yeast
We left it in the refrigerator overnight and around 5 pm on Sunday I got out the bowl of dough. This made enough dough for 2 pizzas. When SP got home, he shaped half the dough into the pizza crust - he didn't use a rolling pin, just his hands. Notice that this time, we sprinkled lots of cornmeal on the pizza paddle so that the dough wouldn't stick like the last time we made pizza with homemade crust!!
Our sauce was the Classico Plum Tomato sauce. The cheese was mozzarella. The toppings were chopped red pepper, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and capacola.We sprinkled some parmesan on top of it all, slid it onto the pizza stone, and baked it at 450 until the cheese was melted and beginning to brown.
This was a tasty pizza with very tasty toppings. My complaint: I much prefer a white crust, not whole wheat. SP & I often have this discussion. He likes whole wheat pizza crust, whole wheat pitas, brown rice, brown bread. I like white flour, white pitas, and white rice (I do actually really like brown bread). It's like our oil discussions: he likes using peanut oil for sauteing veggies and other cooking, he even used it in blueberry muffins once. I don't like peanut oil, not even for sauteing veggies, and I flipped when he used it in the muffins. They didn't taste very good. His defense was that peanut oil is a vegetable oil. I said that if a baked good recipe calls for vegetable oil, then you use vegetable oil, not a vegetable oil like peanut oil. Peanut oil doesn't taste good to me (and here he would argue that it doesn't really have a taste, but I can sense a difference between veggies or chicken tenders cooked in vegetable, olive, canola, or peanut oil).
Back to the pizza. It just doesn't taste like pizza to me with whole wheat flour in the crust. Healthier, maybe, but a truly yummy pizza, no. We are going to have to take turns on pizza crust or start making 2 crusts each time we make pizza, one for each of us!!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
The point is, G20 gave us a one-day weekend so everything - fun, chores, errands - had to get packed into one day. To kick off our one day weekend, on Friday night we went to Walmart. Whoo hoo do we know how to have fun! Unfortunately, reality is that Walmart is a good place to pick up tea, english muffins, some of my yogurts, shampoo, etc., at lower prices than at grocery stores/drug stores. We try our best to amuse ourselves at Walmart and laugh at stuff to make the experience less horrible. In addition to spotting a candidate for People of Walmart (high black boots with fuzzy tassels, short shorts, tiny tee, and a long scarf billowing about), we did find this:I just can't imagine cannoli from a kit in Walmart being tasty. It's an insult to cannolis everywhere. Cannolis are one of my 'more favorite' desserts and this just seems wrong!
Yesterday we were out almost all day - a whirlwind of appointments, shopping, errands, and chores. I visited with my friend L at Panera while SP was getting his hair cut. I sampled the cherry-vanilla bagel - yum! It's almost, but not quite, good enough to replace my usual asiago cheese bagel. After SP had his bagel and some soup, we set off on errands. We went to Michaels, where we picked out mats and a frame for my finished cross-stitch (the Tuscany & wine bottle & cheese one). It will be ready for pick up in October. I also got a stand to hold my cross-stitch patterns upright and a little clip-on light to help me see better since I finally picked up the 'Mighty Samurai' again and it's tiny, tiny cross-stitches and I need bright light to see what I'm doing!!
We also exchanged our broken pizzelle maker for a new one & we stopped at Portman Farms for tasty Boar's Head lunch meat & cheese. We love the Boar's Head deli stuff but Giant Eagle doesn't carry it, so whenever we are out in Peters, we stop at Portman's on the way home so we can have a week of extra tasty lunch meat/cheese. The Cracked Pepper Mill Turkey lunch meat - ohhhh sooo good. Here's a photo of it: Lunch is going to be sooo good this week!!!!
We also managed to do 3 loads of laundry, sweep the deck, fix the grill (it wasn't staying lit and wasn't getting hot - at last, we can again grill), and observe that some critter knocked over the palm tree in the driveway and presumably the same critter not only munched all the leaves on our 4-5 hosta plants out front (which amazes me because they were the scraggliest, brownest things) but also actually dug up one of the hosta - in the area we just paid someone to pretty up and freshly mulch. So our pretty new mulch is wrecked and out plant uprooted. Grrrrr. Critters stink. Here's the tipped over palm tree - looks like some critter head-butted it out of the pot:SP also made pizza dough for tonight's dinner. He made it in the bread machine and now it is my duty to get it out of the refrigerator right around when the Steelers game starts today. Mmmm homemade pizza dough.
We got there right around 6, maybe a little later, and were seated right away. First thing I always notice: the silverware. The ends of each piece are elephant trunks!! It's very cute and appropriate, my only complaint is that it makes the silverware a bit heavy on that end - I seem to have a bit of trouble using my silverware because of the weight on the ends!!!!
To celebrate, we each ordered a drink. SP chose the Lychee wine. I chose a glass of Arrogant Frog Viognier/Chardonnay. I like frogs, too, so that influenced my decision, plus Viognier is one of my favorite wines, so it seemed to make sense! SP liked his Lychee wine; I didn't like it. Way too sweet for me. I liked my Arrogant Frog wine though it seemed more Chardonnay than Viognier and I am not a fan of Chardonnay. The Lychee wine is in the small glass. Silk Elephant is a very good place for us to dine. There are many BE-friendly tapas while SP can happily indulge his desires for spicy curries and coconut/chili/garlic flavors. To start, we shared 2 tapas: Silk Elephant Rice Wrapper Rolls (cucumber, lettuce, carrots, cream cheese, crabmeat in a rice paper wrap served with a sweet chili sauce) and Chicken Kabobs (chicken, onion, carrot, green pepper on a skewer served with sticky rice and a sweet & spicy dipping sauce). We both love these 2 tapas. I don't dip in the dipping sauces, but SP does. The chicken kabobs remind me of yakitori in Japan. Yum!!For dinner, I ordered 3 more tapas: Thai Crab Crowns (crab rangoon), Steamed Shrimp & Crabmeat Dumplings, and Shrimp & Pork Toast. I always get the same tapas when I am there. These are my favorites. The crab crowns are not too greasy and the cream cheese-crab interior is so deliciously smooth. The shrimp & pork toast is covered with sesame seeds - yum! And the dumplings have a lovely sesame-soy-ginger dipping sauce.Last night SE offered a special tapas: crispy eggplant. We ordered the crispy eggplant the last time we were there and it was delicious. Sort of like fried zucchini, only eggplant strips!
SP ordered a curry for dinner. I don't remember which one - I do remember that on the menu, every curry had a little red chili pepper next to it, so I skipped the curry section! He ordered coconut rice, too. He really enjoyed his curry & rice and said it definitely had a kick to it, the kind of kick that builds over time. He drank a lot of water, including my water!!!
Our server was very good. Friendly but not too friendly and attentive but not too attentive (or not attentive enough!). This is one of our favorite places to eat, so we'll definitely be going back.
For an after dinner treat, we walked a few blocks to Te Cafe. I've already raved about Te Cafe on this blog. It was pleasantly not-too-crowded and as usual the tea people were very friendly & helpful. SP had a pot of Cherry Rose tea. I chose Cream Earl Grey plus a cinnamon biscotti. I love cinnamon biscotti!!! We sat and relaxed and sipped tea and talked for awhile - very nice.
After we got home, we checked the college football scores (Pitt won!), watched a bit of WVU-Auburn (Auburn won - yea!!!), and watched some recorded TV. Then it was bedtime and before I knew it, SP was waking me up, kissing me good-bye, and departing for work.