Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. Last weekend we had our first grilled burgers of the season. Regular beef burger with barbecue sauce, cheese, tomato, and mustard. Tasty, quick, and easy.

2. We finished watching Daredevil. I really like the show and am looking forward to Season 2.

3. Our yard guys finally came and mowed. The jungle is tamed. Sadly, they mowed only half the strip between our driveway and the neighbor's driveway. I understand they probably thought that only half of it is ours, but we actually own the entire strip, and even if we don't own the few inches right against the neighbor's driveway, we've always mowed the entire area. So SP had to break out the lawnmower anyway, just for a bit. We emailed the lawn guys so hopefully next time, they'll do the entire area.

4. I like spring because it means no more winter for a while. I don't like spring because of allergies and bugs. My allergies have been awful this year and last week I got a sudden nosebleed that took 25 minutes to stop. Then we discovered that the wasps started building their nest early, right by the front door, and the ants are returning. We've already sprayed for bees/wasps and set out new ant traps and sprayed around the house. The bug battles have begun.

5. I know I said my allergies are super awful but it could be that I am getting sick. I can't tell right now. I've been having a lot of sinus pain and pressure and tingling in my nose. I've also had several nosebleeds since the 25 minute one, but fortunately, they didn't last as long. And my throat has been raspy. And my eyes tired. So it could be either. Allergy season can end now, please, and thank you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Butcher & the Rye, Revisited

It's taken me a while to get to this post. At this point, it has been nearly a month since we dined at Butcher & the Rye after seeing Beauty & the Beast at Heinz Hall.
This time, despite trying to make reservation 2-3 months in advance, we could only be seated at the communal tables in the front. I don't have a huge problem with communal tables, but I am not really a fan of them. I don't like people listening to my conversations and I'm not a fan of being able to hear everything the other people at the table say. Also, they are not especially wheelchair friendly. The communal tables have long picnic table like benches and the table ends are solid wood, not open where I could roll up and tuck my legs under. So when we arrived, the hostess seemed a little unable to figure out the logistics of everything (even though we had specified in the reservation that one person was in a wheelchair) and had to get help from someone else. The end result? The entire huge communal table had to be pulled out from the wall and the bench slid down toward the wall, leaving a gap on one side of the table large enough for me to fit in.

Yes, they made the effort. Yes, it worked. But honestly, such "scenes" do not make me happy because I feel it draws too much attention to me in the wheelchair and frankly, I hate it. For this reason alone, I'm not sure we can return to Butcher & the Rye. Even when we tried to make a reservation 2-3 months in advance for after Phantom of the Opera (which we ended up having to cancel because of weather) the only tables available were the communal tables. This seems a little absurd, but, whatever.
It's a shame because we really like the food and cocktails. We both chose a featured cocktail for our beverage. SP chose the punch and I chose the Southern Belle.
The Southern Belle was really, really tasty! As in I finished it in under 5 minutes and "had" to order another cocktail.
For my second drink, I chose Salinger Sling (Woodford Reserve, Grand Marnier, coffee bitters).
As usual we ordered the Roasted Brussels Sprouts (brown butter, dill, parmesan, lemon aioli). The presentation is different from what I remember (I think they used to be served in a bowl) and they had more of a dill flavor, which we both really liked since dill is one of our favorite herbs.
We tried a new-to-us dish: Cauliflower (roasted farro grain, romanesco, baby carrots, pine buts, brown butter, harissa yogurt). I was worried this would be too spicy for me, but it wasn't. In fact, I couldn't stop eating it! One of the best dishes I've had.
Another usual order: Mac N Cheese (taleggio, fontina, goat cheese, cheddar, parmesan). As usual, delicious and creamy and cheesy.
A special of the day: Oysters.
I don't eat oysters. SP does and he said these were delicious.
He also enjoyed his usual Pig Candy (pork belly, apple kim chi, miso caramel, cilantro) while I enjoyed my usual Sunday Gravy (lamb neck, tomatoes, olive oil, ricotta, warm country bread.
For the first time, we tried dessert. I really wanted the S'mores dessert, but I knew I couldn't eat it all myself and as soon as our server mentioned the Meyer Lemon Cream Cake, I knew I'd never convince SP to pass up the lemon cake for s'mores.
Fruit caviar, hibiscus dust, matcha sorbet, meringue, grapefruit gel. This was excellent, lemony. I loved the fruit caviar, popping those little caviar eggs in my mouth! The grapefruit slice was so paper thin it was see-through.
Our food was yummy, our server was good, I just wish they'd figure out a better way to accommodate wheelchairs. We never seem to be able to get a table in the area where we sat the first few times we dined at B&tR (even though it was up a step, we can do it, and SP has told them that when he calls) and I'm really not a fan of the communal table set up. Plus, we're old and having to sit on a picnic bench isn't super comfy for SP's back!

Butcher and the Rye on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 27, 2015

Quick Glazes for Grilled Chicken

This is another find from me reading and ripping apart all the old Cook's Illustrated magazines! In the September-October 2008 issue there were several recipes in the article for Quick Glazes for Grilled Chicken. The Apricot-Mustard Glaze sounded interesting, so we decided to try it. The article also had recipes for a Hoisin-Sesame GlazeIndonesian Peanut Glaze, and Barbecue Glaze.
All the glazes are super easy: place all the ingredients in a blender and blend. Brush the glaze on the grilled chicken towards the end, when the chicken is nearly done. Serve extra glaze alongside chicken.
This was a really nice change from our usual grilled chicken flavors (salt & pepper, whatever barbecue sauce is in the refrigerator, or Penzeys Northwoods seasoning). It's not too sweet and has a nice fruity flavor from the apricot preserves plus a tangy flavor from the two mustards.
It's also tasty on vegetables. And we think it would make an excellent pretzel dipping sauce. For now, it's my favorite sauce/glaze for grilled chicken.

Recipe here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pasta with Prosciutto & Peas

This year our anniversary was on a Friday. Since it was a workday, we didn't want to try to go out to dinner after SP got home. Instead, we decided to cook something a little special and a little indulgent and that also happened to be easy & quick & super tasty: Pasta with Prosciutto & Peas.
The recipe is in the March & April 2015 issue of Cook's Illustrated. It had a lot of my favorite foods: pasta, prosciutto, parmesan & gruyere, plus a cream & butter sauce. Yum! I was pretty excited to try making this dish at home (we've had it out a couple of times and really enjoyed it).
Surprisingly, we had almost every ingredient already. We splurged on some of the pricier prosciutto from the Market District counter and it was sliced wonderfully thin, see through thin. We also picked up a few packages of DeLallo dried egg fettuccine. The CI article said that dried egg pasta is a good substitute for fresh pasta and this particular fettuccine is one of our favorite pastas. Sadly, we cannot always find it at MD.

SP grated the cheeses in the morning before he went to work. I sliced the prosciutto, chopped the shallot, measured the cream and butter, and got the water boiling so when SP got home, we could start cooking the sauce in a skillet and dump the pasta in a pot of boiling water right away. It took 10-15 minutes after he got home to get this delicious dinner on the table.

This is one of the tastiest pasta dishes we've made. It's also one of the quickest and easiest. We couldn't stop eating it and definitely ate more than we probably should have! Al dente pasta, sauce clinging to the noodles, the pop of sweet pea, the salty prosciutto and creamy bite of cheeses - definitely a make again dish.

It reheated nicely the next day for lunch. I reheated it in the oven in a small glass dish for 10-15 minutes.

Our version (we scaled it down):
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1/2~1 tbsp butter (we had a bit more than 1/2 tbsp on the butter dish, so we used it all)
  • half a shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • one package (8.8 oz) DeLallo dried egg fettuccine
  • generous 3/4 c frozen peas
  • generous 1/4 c grated parmesan
  • generous 1/4 c grated gruyere

Slice about 5/6 of the prosciutto into strips. Mince the other 1/6. Melt butter in a skillet and add shallot. Cook until the shallot starts to soften. Stir in the heavy cream and minced prosciutto. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until cream reduces a bit. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1-2 cups cooking liquid and drain pasta. Return pasta to pot and add cream mixture, peas, and prosciutto strips. Add some of the reserved pasta liquid and gently mix everything together. If needed, add additional pasta water. Season with salt & pepper. Enjoy.

*This should be enough for 3 servings.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto

This year for our dinner out to celebrate our anniversary we chose Monterey Bay Fish Grotto on Mt. Washington. MBFG recently underwent a $2 million renovation. Not only did we read about it in various newspapers and on blogs, but we heard all about it from my parents. They live in the same building as the restaurant so they had a first hand view of the renovation action. The restaurant just re-opened a few weeks ago. Neither of us had dined at the old version of MBFG, nor had either of us ever dined in the space when it was Christopher's (long, long ago).

Our reservations were for 5:30 pm and sadly, we were about 15 minutes late thanks to traffic from the Parkway West closure. Grrr. Fortunately, the couple we were joining for dinner arrived on time. We used the valet to park ($6) and rode the elevator up, enjoying a terrific view of the city. Sadly, we were not seated next to a window, so we didn't have the best view, but it wasn't "no view." I could see bits and pieces of Heinz Field, the UPMC Building, and PPG.
A celebratory bottle of 2009 Bjornstad Cellars Chardonnay (Russian River Valley in CA). Normally, we do not order an entire bottle of wine because we cannot drink it all (we were sharing this time) so I do not know what an entire bottle usually costs, but after looking at the list of bottles of chardonnay, I think it's safe to say you can expect to spend quite a bit on a bottle here at MBFG ($75+). There are some for less than that, but... I'd be curious what the retail price is on these bottles.

Our bottle ended up being decanted because there was some sediment in it, and even after decanting, there was still some sediment, which was a bit disappointing given the cost of the wine.
To start, we shared an order of Calamari with scallions, red & yellow peppers, and mango-cilantro sauce. This is some of the best calamari I've had. Definitely in the top 3 that I can remember (one other being in Mystic, CT and the other in Monterey, CA). Not at all tough, rubbery, or chewy. Just soft and lightly breaded and just so good.
As soon as the special soup of the day was mentioned, I knew SP would order it: She-Crab Soup. When it arrived, there was a mound of crab in the center of the bowl and the soup broth was poured over the crab. This was one of the best she-crab soups we've ever had. I tried just a couple of bites. There was a bit of a peppery spiciness, but it was so flavorful, not just cream flavored and a generous amount of crab.
Krim Tomato Salad (artisan greens, krim heirloom tomatoes, cucumber-sour cream sauce, balsamic vinaigrette). I was a little nervous because it's not tomato season, but this was a flavorful, ripe, juicy tomato. The cucumber-sour cream sauce was cooling and creamy and the greens crisp, chopped small, and lightly dressed. Really good.
House Salad (mixed greens, heirloom teardrop tomatoes, parmesan crisp, carrot, passionfruit vinaigrette). The salad was a nice size, definitely more than I could eat so I'm glared SP & I shared. It was very lightly dressed, which I liked, and everything tasted fresh. Not a limp, soggy, hanging out in the chiller for too long salad.
I knew SP wanted to try MBFG because he loves fish. I was a little surprised by his fish of choice: Grouper prepared Monterey style (chargrilled with kalamatas, artichokes, tomato, onion, mushroom sauteed in marsala wine sauce). He said he chose grouper because the accompanying vegetables appealed most to him. SP said the fish was nicely prepared, moist, a nice char, and the tangy olives and artichokes and marsala sauce were really good.
I chose Jumbo Shrimp (stuffed with their signature crab cake, lobster thermidor sauce). The shrimp were tasty, stuffed with a generous amount of tasty crab cake filling that was a lot of crab and little filler. I like that the lemon garnish was grilled. The sauce was quite tasty, too, rich, but there wasn't a lot of it so it wasn't overpowering.
Dessert time! We shared 3 desserts. One was Angel Food Grilled Cheese Sandwich (caramelized angel food cake, cream cheese filling, seasonal berry compote, vanilla ice cream, toasted sweet and salty almonds). This was very good. I really liked the caramelized sides of the angel food cake, a nice, sweet crunch, but still soft angel food cake, and the creamy cheese in the middle.
Blueberry Shortcake (lemon pound cake, blueberry compote, vanilla cream custard, whipped cream, tuile cookie, blueberry coulis). Delicious! I really liked the crispy swirl of tuile cookie. Not too lemony. SP's favorite of the desserts.
Pineapple Upside Down Bread Pudding (warm pineapple crème cake, sour cherry compote, cinnamon ice cream, pineapple chip, dark rum sauce). I didn't try this one because I do not like pineapple very much, but it was a big hit with everyone else. Now that I am re-reading the description, I wish I'd tried the cinnamon ice cream. Oh well!
We ended up with a fourth dessert because of a wee mix up. Instead of the Blueberry Shortcake, the Rocky Road (moist chocolate marshmallow walnut cake, chocolate ice cream, walnut praline cookie, chocolate fudge sauce) arrived. Our server said to just go ahead and enjoy the mistake, so we did. Everyone thought I would order this because of the chocolate and marshmallow, but I didn't because of the walnut. I'm not a fan of nuts with my chocolate. Also, I fear such chocolaty desserts these days. They are usually too rich and too decadent and I feel kind of icky after eating them. 

Despite the rich appearance, the cake was actually pretty light. It was definitely moist and chocolaty. Thankfully, it wasn't drowning in sticky sweet fudge sauce. The marshmallows were small but light, moist, & fluffy, not hard and dry.This ended up being my favorite dessert! 

Overall, I really liked MBFG. For us, it's a special occasion restaurant. If you eat the way we ate (wine, appetizer, salad, entree, dessert) it's a pretty pricey meal, so not an everyday (or every weekend) meal. The food was very good. The service was above good but there were a few small hiccups. At first, the wrong bottle of wine was brought to our table (a Pinot Noir instead of Chardonnay), then there was the sediment in the wine (it was fine, it tasted good, but I wondered if it really should have been replaced by a fresh bottle; I'm not sure what proper wine etiquette here is), and the wee dessert mix up (but free 4th dessert - whoo!). It's soothing inside, the chairs looked comfy and were cushioned, not hard wood, and the view is fantastic. 

Definitely a place we'll go again for a special occasion.

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy Anniversary, SP!

Today is wedding anniversary #5! It seems like it was just yesterday that we got married at Old St. Luke's Church on a breezy & chilly day. 
No special plans today. SP is at work. He'll come home, we'll eat, and then crash on the couch. So exciting! Originally we planned to go away over our anniversary, but then we changed our minds. Instead, we'll be celebrating with dinner out on Saturday. The past couple of years, we've enjoyed our anniversary dinner at Arlecchino and while I really like it there and want to go back, we picked somewhere new this year. More details on that meal later - it's a new-to-us place! 

 Happy Anniversary, SP!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. Yesterday morning we were shocked and saddened to hear that an idiot driver drove through our favorite donut place, Better Maid, AKA the pink house donut place. I've always worried a bit when we pulled off to the side of the Steuben Street and SP crossed the street to get our donuts because that stretch of road seems to have a good number of idiot speedy drivers.

Sadly, two people were injured and the building is so badly damaged it must be torn down. SP & I hope everyone is OK and that the donut shop can re-open soon, not just because he's a great guy and it's his livelihood but because we're selfish and we want yummy donuts again!

2. It finally feels like spring. Actually, it feels a bit like summer, at least in our house. A couple of days this week it got warm enough/sunny enough outside that inside the thermostat said it was 77 degrees. Warm! So we ran the a/c for a bit right before bed. I feel kind of lame, it's only April, but it sure was nice to get the stuffiness out of the house & be able to sleep.

3. Our new yard guys have been here a few times. They've cleaned up the yard, trimmed stuff, edged, mulched, and started work on cleaning up the woods. It feels so nice to have the yard looking nice in April instead of August (looking at you, old yard guy who never showed up until it was almost fall).

4. My mom came over earlier this week and helped me spring clean. We cleared out the glass cabinets in the kitchen and washed everything inside and washed the glass. We washed the glass on the French doors between the dining room & sunroom. And mom washed the sunroom windows & screens and glass deck doors. It looks so much nicer and cleaner.

5. Over the weekend SP and I removed the glass tops from the sunroom wicker tables and cleaned both sides. That was the first time that's been done in 7 years! It's amazing how dirty they were underneath (the tops are regularly cleaned, but not the bottoms).

So the sunroom is ready for warm, sunny weather. We've been spending our evenings in there. It's quiet because it's in the back of the house, and it's bright with light yellow walls, and you feel kind of cut off from the rest of the house so it feels kind of like you're on a mini vacation from things.

6. We started watching Daredevil on Netflix. We're really enjoying the show but the violence sometimes gets to me, like the bowling ball scene and Russian guy & the car door scene. We've watched 5 episodes so far.

7. Justified ended, so I'm sad, but better to end on a high than go out on a low, overstayed its welcome note. And what an ending! I thought it was a great end and that it really did come full circle. I will miss Raylan & Boyd.

8. The Americans season ends next Wednesday. I won't write anything spoiler-ish, but I'm looking forward to seeing how several things get resolved, or if they even do, because there's a lot going on, just like in Game of Thrones. The first hour of this season flew by on Sunday and I was left thinking, wait, is that it?! There's so many stories to follow in GoT. It seemed like things were just getting started and then the episode was over.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Blog Anniversary - Grandview Bakery Cupcakes

Today is the anniversary of the day I started this blog! It's been 6 years! I cannot believe it's been that long. I cannot believe that I am still photographing all our food and writing about it! It has become second nature. Well, usually. Sometimes we'll got out somewhere or sit down for dinner in the kitchen and I'll start to eat and SP will stare at me until I realize that I forgot to take photos!

Who knows how much longer I'll keep doing this. As long as it's enjoyable and not a dreaded chore. 

So I'm celebrating with cupcakes! Not really. My mom came over yesterday to help me do some spring cleaning. Over the weekend, she and my dad had dad's cousin and his wife over for dinner. There were a lot of leftover dessert items, so she brought over some cupcakes for us. The cupcakes are from Grandview Bakery on Mt. Washington. I've never tried anything from that bakery, so I was excited to try these red velvet cupcakes.

They were a tasty dessert last night while we watched Daredevil on Netflix. The cake was surprisingly still moist even though dad bought them last Saturday morning, so they were 2+ days old. The frosting was not too sweet nor was it grainy. I'd like to try more baked goodies from Grandview Bakery. Since mom & dad now live on Mt. Washington, perhaps they should frequent that bakery and bring treats to us?! That would be nice.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Vegetables with Warm Vinaigrette

Every few weeks I vow to focus on the vegetable part of our meals and make it more exciting. That lasts one week and then we're busy with chores and the meat or pasta becomes the focus of the meal and vegetables become a sort of afterthought. We still eat them, lots of them, but if they're not already in the main dish, they're simply & quickly roasted or steamed or sauteed in oil. They're still tasty, but they aren't WOW! tasty. This past weekend I was back on the "make the vegetable more exciting" bandwagon. I even presented SP with a recipe ripped out of the April 2015 Food Network Magazine: Spring Vegetables with Warm Vinaigrette.
These are definitely WOW! tasty. They'll be even tastier when we have fresh dill & parsley. For now, we settled for dried herbs. This is a little time consuming because the veggies have to be blanched then sauteed, but the blanching can be done in the morning and the veggies kept in the refrigerator until it's time for dinner. It doesn't take very long to heat the veggies and vinaigrette in the skillet (probably 5-10 minutes). The white wine vinegar & Dijon vinaigrette with the dill & parsley are a very tasty combination on the crisp-tender asparagus and carrots.

Definitely a make again vegetable dish.

Recipe here.

*Notes: Instead of baby carrots, I sliced regular carrots into sticks, like I do when I make a veggie & dip snack tray. We used a half a small onion, diced, instead of spring onions and omitted the sugar.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. It's already time for another Thursday Thoughts. How can that be?!

2. I won the March Madness basketball bracket against my parents and SP! If only Duke hadn't won.

3. Last week I got to watch the dead tree come down. This week, I got to watch the new yard guys start to clean up the yard. I was shocked at how many leaves they blew out of the yard - someone slacked off last fall on the raking! They were only here for a couple hours and there is still lots to do, but so far I am impressed with their quote & questions response time and arrival to do the work time. We just told them the quote looked good & to come do the work last week and they're here already. I'm trying to not get too excited because there is still a lot to do, so we'll see when they get back to do more work and when they finish.

4. This week we watched The Theory of Everything, which is a very good movie, but I was a bit disappointed. I kind of wanted more from it.

5. We recently finished Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Just in time for the return of Game of Thrones.

6. This week I read Breaking Creed from one of my favorite authors, Alex Kava. I like the new series/character, Ryder Creed, and hope the next book is available form the library soon. I put it on reserve. Meanwhile, I decided to read a couple books by Steve Berry. I have read a few of his books, but not all, and not in order, so I decided to start with the first Cotton Malone novel and finally read them all in order.

7. Googer stopped by and helped SP get the deck table up on the deck. We're ready for outdoor dining. Except that the tables and chairs are filthy so someone (hi SP!) will need to give them a good cleaning. The current forecast calls for a sunshiny Sunday with temps in the 60's, so I am thinking we need to grill and eat outside.

8. I reserve the right to change my mind on outdoor dining. My spring allergies are awful. Lots of sneezing. Sinus headache. Sleepiness. If it's breezy, I'll probably want to eat indoors to avoid pollen getting all over me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bocktown Beer & Grill

A few weekends ago, when Z was in town, we got together with her for dinner. It was just the 3 of us. Sometimes it's nice to have dinner with just 1-2 people from SP's family instead of everyone. When it's everyone around a restaurant table, there are way too many people to get to talk to everyone. We found that often, we would end up seated at the end of the table away from the visiting family and/or family we did not see very often and therefore would not get to really visit with them. When that would happen, we always left wondering why in the world we rearranged our schedules and made an effort to be available for a 4 pm dinner, which is not at all convenient for us.

Fortunately, Z eats at a reasonable hour: 6 pm. We wanted to stay in the Robinson/North Fayette area and we left the final decision up to Z. She chose Bocktown. Despite living so close, we had not been to Bocktown in a very long time. It's the same as we remember, same menu, but there is one difference: they no longer offer fresh brewed iced tea. Restaurants not offering fresh brewed iced tea really bothers me. Offering unsweetened pre-made, pre-packaged tea is not the same. It looks different. It tastes different. It is not good.

We all knew as soon as our 3 iced teas arrived that it was fake tea. We all sent it back. Z & SP changed to diet soda (and SP got a beer). I decided to stick with water since I do not like soda. It's too sweet and the bubbles bother my stomach.
Z started with a salad, SP had his usual She-Crab Soup, and I decided to try the Creamy Tomato Soup. I liked how creamy & tomato-y it was and that it wasn't super chunky, just a few chunks of tomato.
Z chose a gouda sauce topped chicken for her entree. It looked delicious, with mashed potatoes and a vegetable. SP had a special of the day, a venison meatloaf with a raisin sauce on top, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable. Meatloaf does not photograph well, so no photos. My meal also did not photograph well (see above photo). I got my usual Bocktown meal: the Bocktown Burgher, but with chicken instead of beef, topped with BBQ sauce, cheese, bacon, onion straws - yum! It did seem a little messier than it used to be, maybe the sauce is different? Maybe a little thinner? I ended up with my hands covered in sauce.

My other complaint: the front windows face west, so the setting sun was shining in, right on the right side of my face. It was uncomfortable. I thought they had blinds, but when I asked our server if they could lower the blinds a bit, she said they didn't have blinds. This surprised me. I refrained from putting on my sunglasses and instead just squinted and kept my head turned at an awkward angle until the sun sank low enough behind some shelving that it was blocked.

It was great to see Z and to get to really talk to her about her new life in MD and new apartment and how her husband is doing in his new job. Our meals were as tasty as we remember but please bring back the fresh brewed iced tea and get some blinds!

Bocktown Beer and Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 6, 2015

Monday Musings

1. I'm kind of tired from a busy weekend and over-indulging in food and drink. So I'm having trouble focusing enough to write a real post.

2. Yesterday was Easter. Since we saw SP's family 3 out of 4 weekends in March, we celebrated Easter with my parents. It was a repeat of last year's meal and it was delicious. The best part was being able to grill the leg of lamb. In warmth. And sunshine.

3. In fact, it was so warm and sunshiny that by 8 pm, the thermostat said the temperature in the house was 76 degrees! It hasn't been that warm in the house since last September. The oven probably contributed to that, too.

4. I'm feeling old. We drank 2 bottles of wine with my parents on Easter and the day before, I had cocktails at Butcher & the Rye. After those drinks and over-eating 2 nights in a row, I haven't slept well for 2 nights now and I feel blah.
5. I can't stop admiring the empty space where the dead ash tree was. It was covered in grapes leaves and looked awful with the dead vines so it was so nice to watch it all come down.
It's like the aftermath of having those dead trees in the front yard removed last September: Suddenly, I see a whole bunch of stuff I want removed. Clean it up, create some space, make it less jungle-like. If only having trees removed wasn't so costly.

I am still amazed at how much stuff the previous owners planted, how much died/got sick, and how much we've had to spend on having the dead/sick trees removed (hemlock, crabapple, ash, birch - all dead/dying in our yard).
SP walked a bit down the hill and took a photo of the stump left behind.

6. I know the trees we've had removed were all dead/dying, but I still feel a twinge of guilt over chopping them down, like I'm killing nature, but then again, the dead trees could fall and hurt someone or my house or car, so... Never mind. No guilt.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chicken Pad Thai from Parmesan Princess

Today’s post comes from Terri Dowd of Parmesan Princess as part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on The Food Tasters where I write about our trip to Independent Brewing Co. in Squirrel Hill.
Thank you YumYum Pgh for having me as your guest blogger today! Today’s recipe is Italian. April Fools! It’s Asian…and totally fabulous! 
So I guess I love all noodles…and Pad Thai has been one of my favorite dinners to order out for a few years.  I knew I had to figure out how to make it at home. Sorry P.F.Chang’s!!
The secret is the sauce. A delicious combination of sweet brown sugar and soy with a hint of spicy from the Sriracha sauce. Similar to preparing linguini clams, the trick is to coat the noodles without a saucy finish. Don’t worry if there doesn’t seem to be enough sauce, a little goes a long way. 
Because of a few small shortcuts, this recipe can be prepared in under 30 minutes. For example, I use a store bought rotisserie chicken and chop the breast meat. 
Don't count out a store-bought, delicious rotisserie chicken when making soups! It adds great flavor while cutting down on cooking time. 
My recipe isn’t absolutely authentic- sans fish sauce , tamarind, and the other ingredients nobody has in their pantries! But Shhh! It tastes the same!!

Chicken Pad Thai
(Feeds approximately 4)

  • 8 oz. dry pad thai noodles, or wide rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 squeeze Sriracha sauce
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, remove skin and chop breast meat 
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro/parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted salted peanuts/ pine nuts

  • Soak/cook noodles according to noodle package. 
  • Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan.
  • Add chopped garlic until golden.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and Sriracha.
  • Add eggs and cook, scraping constantly until “scrambled” with garlic.
  • Add soaked or lightly boiled noodles to pan.
  • Pour soy sauce mixture over noodles, mix constantly. Separate noodles and break up eggs. Cook for 1-2 mins. until noodles are soft.   
  • Top with chopped chicken, peanuts, and cilantro. 
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