Friday, September 20, 2019

Amish Cinnamon Bread

Last fall, we decided to subscribe to Cook's Country. Somehow, the December/January issue arrived after the February/March issue and then we went on vacation and it was Easter and suddenly summer and I forgot about the recipe for Amish Cinnamon Bread that was in the delayed issue. I finally remembered it when I was flipping through past issues and we finally made it.
It's easy to make. It makes two loaves. And it's tasty.
It's like making muffins. Whisk together the dry ingredients
Grease & coat the pans with cinnamon-sugar.
Whisk together the wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry & combine.
Pour into loaf pans and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake until done.
The cinnamon-sugar makes a terrific crackly crust on top the loaves. Sweet & crunchy.
I couldn't wait to cut into a loaf. We wrapped one in foil and put it in the freezer. Then we dug in to the other loaf.
Coating the pans with the cinnamon-sugar mixture gave the bottom and sides a nice sweet, slightly crunchy crust. The top was crunchier. The inside was moist and tender thanks to the milk & vegetable oil. It has a lovely cinnamon flavor. It was so good. Good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacking.

We controlled ourselves and enjoyed a slice each night for dessert. Some nights the slices were fat, others they were skinny, but our first loaf lasted for 6 dessert nights (though on the 6th & final night we shared a fat piece). This week, we've been enjoying the loaf from the freezer. It froze nicely. We have been taking it out each night, about an hour before we want to eat it, and cutting off the amount we desire, then putting the rest back in the freezer. It was much easier to slice right out of the freezer than we expected, so we decided that in order to maintain maximum freshness, we'd keep it frozen and slice off what we wanted each night.

Definitely a make again bread/dessert.

Recipe here.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

This morning I got to see a friend I haven't seen in a really long time - and she brought us two dozen fresh eggs from her chickens! Looks like we'll be making quiche/frittata/omelettes in the near future.

We cleaned last weekend. Ugh. But we do just as good a job as cleaning people who charge $$$. It's just... ugh. Cleaning.

What We're Eating:

  • Grilled shrimp with salad
  • Grilled chicken with salad
  • Pasta with sauce we froze over the summer and salad
  • Dessert: the second loaf of Amish Cinnamon Bread (it was in the freezer)

What We're Watching:

  • Unbelievable on Netflix. So good. And anger inducing, how the PD treated Marie. We've watched 6 of 8 episodes and will watch the last 2 tonight. The true story is here.
  • We watched Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix. It was a lot more interesting than I expected. I like that she traveled to one location and focused on an ingredient. Salt in Japan, Olive Oil in Italy, Citrus in Mexico, and then her home for Heat.
  • We watched Godzilla: King of the Monsters. What terrible dialogue. Plot? Um, OK, a pretty basic and a little crazy plot. The point of the movie? Watching Godzilla, Mothra, Ghidorah, and Rodan fight each other. There was some crazy giant spider, too, and nuclear explosions and some Orca device that could communicate with the monsters (Titans). Don't ask too many questions. Don't think too much.
  • We're trying to finish the final season of Kimmy Schmidt when we have a short amount of time (not enough time for an hour long show). But I'm not enjoying it and want to just write it off. SP wants to finish the last 7 episodes.

What I'm Reading:

  • Magazines! New food magazine with fall recipes!
  • The Perfect Pie. I see pie baking this weekend!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Park Bruges

Last Saturday's Dinner Out was at Park Bruges in Highland Park. Lately I've been trying to make sure to get some restaurants we haven't been to in a while. Dork Alert: I actually have a spreadsheet of what we eat each week (cooking & dining out). It's to jog my memory, get dinner ideas, see what we have eaten during a certain season in previous years. I was a little horrified to discover we hadn't been to Park Bruges since April 2017! That's well over a year! And as I always say, that's really sad, because we like it a lot. So time for a new blog post on Park Bruges, which really is one of our more favorite restaurants.
They still serve fresh brewed iced tea that tastes like Earl Grey - so good. SP also ordered a Bell's Draft.
I was so excited to see that the Classic Tarte Flambée (emmenthal, rosemary ham, créme fraiche, caramelized onions) is back on the menu. At least, I'm pretty sure it went away for a while. There was a similar tarte, but it just wasn't the same, I think it had bacon. I love this tarte flambée. Gooey cheese, crisp flatbread, salty rosemary ham, gorgeous, sweet, perfectly caramelized onions. Yum.
SP ordered Moules Frites. How shocking. He chose the Green Curry Version (fresh cilantro, basil, crispy shallots).
Also shocking, I got the Chicken Milanese (herb panko breading, arugula, artichoke, fennel, tomato, shaved parmesan, lemon vinaigrette). It's a huge piece of chicken, so I had lunch the next day. I love a good breaded, fried chicken. I also liked the artichoke and fennel in the salad.
Dessert: Lemon Roulade (lemon sponge cake with lemon cream and blackberry sauce, whipped cream).This was yummy. I think we've had it before. I was hoping they'd have the Apple Tart, but it's still a bit early for that (I asked!).

I was pretty excited to see that a couple of the nearby curb cuts have been repaved in the past year+ which makes for a more smooth/less rocky & concrete chunky roll for me. The food is still yummy, and yes, we still order the same dishes. The iced tea is still Earl Grey which makes me a very happy girl. Servers are still friendly and helpful, even on a Saturday evening when it seemed our server was taking care of every table in our "half" the restaurant.

As I always say, we must go more often! Perhaps the Apple Tart will serve as an incentive to return in the next couple months.

Previous Visits:
April 2017
October 2016
July 2016 (no post)
July 2015( no post)
March 2015
November 2014
April 2014
October 2013
March 2012
September 2011

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Walnut Grill

Several weeks ago our Saturday Dinner Out was at Walnut Grill. It was a last minute decision, so we were happy we were able to be seated right away without a reservation. We sat outside on the patio area. I had iced tea and SP had beer. Here's what we ate:
Loaded Tater Tots (four cheese alfredo, smoked gouda, candied jalapeños, bacon). They were tasty, but they don't seem as good as when we first started going to Walnut Grill.
Lightly Crusted Atlantic Cod (potato, horseradish-herb crust, Old Bay rémoulade, chilled lump crab relish). He had a side salad and cole slaw.
Baked Meatball Bucatini (house made meatballs, marinara, mozzarella, provolone, asiago). The two biggest meatballs I've ever seen.
I feel like there could have been a bit more pasta for the amount of meatball. Also, a long pasta like bucatini seems like a poor choice given that two huge meatballs are plopped right on top. It was very difficult to eat the bucatini, to get a twirl, to get it out from under that weight. I ended up splattering my shirt with sauce. It was good. I took at least half home and had two lunch meals. I also ate a side salad.

We have a like-don't like relationship with WG. Service can be good, or not good. Allergies aren't always taken seriously (in my opinion). I've had some servers just say, oh there's garlic in everything or oh, yes, I love garlic so nothing is too garlicky in my opinion. Drinks aren't always refilled. Food isn't always served hot (our tots were lukewarm). SP once ordered Lemon Caper Flounder and there were only 3 capers. SP's dad once ordered Wild Mushroom Chicken and was disappointed because on that visit he received only 2 mushrooms and a teaspoon of sauce instead. The worst was earlier this summer when we were seated outside and no one ever came to our table. After 20 minutes, we just left, telling the hostess on the way out why we were leaving.

We want to like WG. But it's so hit or miss and we almost always leave disappointed.

Previous visits:
June 2019 (no post)
May 2019 (no post)
April 2018
March 2016
November 2015

Monday, September 16, 2019

Grilled Brats & Beer

Labor Day Leftovers 2019 
Grilling season is coming to an end, unless you like grilling in the dark, or in cold weather. Sometimes we grill into late October, and sometimes in February on an unusually warm day, but usually by early October we're done grilling until early April.

The past two weeks I've been noticing the earlier & earlier sunset. It was just a couple weeks ago that we grilled these Grilled Brats & Beer for our Labor Day gathering.* This is the second year we've made them for friends. Even I like them and I'm not usually much of a brat person. There are only two photos. We were busy hanging out with friends! And then eating! In fact, these photos are the leftovers, which we reheated and ate during the week.
Photo from Labor Day 2018
Lots of onions, mustard, and beer. We used Yuengling beer. We also left out the caraway seeds because this is the only recipe we'd ever use them and we didn't want another one use spice in the drawer. These are easy to make. Grill the onions and brats, then transfer them to a disposable 13x9 aluminum grill pan on the grill in which the beer-mustard sauce has been mixed. Simmer the brats & onions in the sauce for around 15 minutes, remove the brats and grill until lightly charred. Meanwhile, simmer the sauce and onions for about another 5 minutes.
Labor Day Leftovers 2019
I really like the beer-mustard-onion sauce. I don't eat my brat on a bun, or with the onions, just on a plate with sauce to spoon up. These are really good. Try them before your grilling season ends. These would be good at a tailgate gathering, too.

Recipe here.

*We also grill sweet & spicy Italian sausages and a bunch of green & red peppers, so there are 3 kinds of sausages for our guests.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

It's been a long week. Only one more day until the weekend. I think the week has seemed so darn long because I've been an anxiety filled mess. Since last November I've been dealing with hearing a pulsing sound in my right ear and doctors discovering a carotid dissection. Since March, I've had little panic attacks every time my eyes were tired/blurry, every time I couldn't find the word I wanted to say, every time my head hurt, every time we hit a pothole. I had the follow up CT scans yesterday.

I had to be there at 7:30 am. To normal people with normal jobs and kids and such, that doesn't sound early, but to our household, that's super early since we usually go to bed around 1 am and I sleep until 8-8:30. So departing at 6:45 am was rough. And also not enough time thanks to traffic. How are there so many car accidents during morning commutes?

As usual my veins were tiny, hidden, difficult jerks. The left arm was uncooperative so she took it out and re-stuck me in the right arm, which was more cooperative, but now I have puncture marks and bruising on both arms.

Result of the CT scans: I still have the carotid dissection. It looks like it may have healed a bit. But not completely. It likely will never heal completely. It may or may not be the cause of the ear pulsing (they think the tear is too low to be the cause) but if it is, and if it never heals more, then I will experience ear pulsing the rest of my life, deal with it. If the cause of the pulsing is something else, well, no one seems to have a clue, just deal with it. Take an aspirin a day the rest of my life. And pay attention for signs of stroke. Return in one year for repeat CT scans.

I'm not yet 50 years old and I have been terrified of having a stroke since 15 years ago when I had to go to a rehab facility after hip replacement surgery and was around people recovering from strokes and it TERRIFIED me. I cried then, and still do now, at how cruel a stroke can be.

So for the rest of my life I will have ear pulsing and stroke fear. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that concept. And I'm trying to accept that I have yet another life-long problem that I did not in any way cause and that cannot be fixed, there's no way to fight or fix my health issues, and I now have to live with even more uncertainty.

What We're Eating:

  • Grill rotisserie chicken with vegetables
  • Vegetables: Green Beans and Tomatoes with Feta, Tomatoes with Mozzarella, Tomatoes & Cucumber
  • Dessert: Amish Cinnamon Bread

What We're Watching:

  • We finished watching Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and are now looking forward to Season 3 in December.
  • We're watching Great British Baking Show on Netflix. I felt bad for the poor boy who just couldn't seem to bake anything right in the first 2 episodes.
  • We're finally finished Season 2 of The Deuce and soon will start Season 3, the final season. We were losing interest during Season 2 and then Dish & HBO had their spat and we lost HBO so we couldn't watch the end of Season 2. When we decided Dish & HBO weren't going to work out a deal, we subscribed to HBO through Amazon Prime but we never felt like catching up on The Deuce. I guess the start of Season 3 and knowing there are only 6 episodes made us decide to give it another try. The break was good because we really enjoyed the last 3 episodes of Season 2.
  • I watched Bad Times at the El Royale and enjoyed more than I expected. Chris Hemsworth shirtless is always nice. Seeing Dakota Johnson get shot is nice. Something about her bugs me, probably because she appeared in those dreadful Fifty Shades of Grey movies, not that I watched them, but I have seen small snippets when flipping around and good grief are those movies (and books) awful.

What I'm Reading:

  • I read Desperate Creed by Alex Kava. It was just OK. When I finished it, I wondered what the plot was. Usually there's a mystery to solve, a killer to catch, but this time it seemed to just be about the usual characters surviving a horrible tornado outbreak in Alabama. There wasn't a mystery/case to solve. so I suppose I was disappointed because usually I love Kava's books.
  • I also read A Dangerous Man from Robert Crais. I like the author a lot, especially the Elvis Cole & Joe Pike books. Much more satisfying read than Desperate Creed.
  • I started another Smithsonian! At this rate, I might finish them before a "year since delivery."

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Last weekend's Saturday Dinner Out was at Mercurio's in Shadyside. We hadn't been there in a while and we wanted gelato while the weather was still warm. We shared a half carafe of the house white wine. Here's what we ate:
We always start by sharing Insalata Della Casa (spring mix, grape tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, crostini).
We always order two pizzas to share and take the leftovers home for lunch the next day. This time we shared Capricciosa (tomato sauce, artichokes, olives, cooked Italian ham, mushrooms, mozzarella) and Lasagna (tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, oregano, ricotta).
Gelato for dessert:
Mint Chip and Black Cherry Bordeaux. Two of my favorites. We shared.

Mercurio's is still my favorite place for pizza. Plus their gelato is yummy. I always think I should try a new flavor, I always debate several flavors, there was tiramisu and mocha chip and blackberry, too, but in the end, I always go for the above flavors.

Previous Visits:
February 2019
April 2018
January 2017
March 2016
June 2015
September 2014
February 2014

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Olive Oil Cake

We made this Olive Oil Cake a year ago but I never wrote about it, mostly because the photos weren't good. We made it again for this year's Labor Day gathering and made sure to take photos in the daylight by the window. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated.
The cake has a lovely crunchy, sugary topping.
It has a moist, light lemony interior.
It's an easy cake to make, although it does use a springform pan. The cake was a huge hit with our friends at both Labor Day gatherings so I guess we'll have to bake it every year now?! Or for at least as long as we host a holiday weekend gathering with friends.
We also like that it makes one 9 inch layer of cake. If we make it just for us, we can eat it before it gets stale. For gatherings, it's not so big that we cannot make (or shouldn't make) a second dessert.

Recipe here.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Fresh Tomato Galette

Even before September started it seemed like everyone was done with summer and embracing all things pumpkin spice. I like pumpkin spice, but not until October. Any earlier than that and I have pumpkin spice rage. Especially right now since we're still getting tomatoes in our garden. Not many, and we only planted cherry tomatoes, but we're still getting them.

This tart is from a couple of weeks ago. It's the Fresh Tomato Galette from Cook's Country August/September 2019. I love tomatoes and tomato tarts. These tomatoes are from the farmers' market and they were really juicy. 
I wanted to try this tart because it wasn't a puff pastry one like the other tomato tarts we've made. The dough is easy to make and since it's a galette, it doesn't have to be rolled into a nice round circle. Just an approximate circle. You can make it look round when you fold up and crimp the crust edge. This tart is delicious and it keeps for 2 days. The layer of gruyere on the bottom helps keep it from turning soggy because it acts as a barrier between the crust and the tomatoes. The Dijon mustard adds a nice bite of flavor. We omitted the garlic, used just a little sliced shallot, and since our basil plants are not doing well, we used only the thyme and added a bit extra to make up for no basil. I actually prefer the flavor of tomatoes with thyme right now, it's a nice change of pace from the usual, sometimes a little boring tomato-basil combination.

Definitely a make again tart.

Recipe here.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

It's time for another Thursday Thoughts. When I think about what we've watched and what I've read in the past week, well, there's not much! Life has been pretty busy.

Last Saturday we both got our hair cut (and I got mine colored). After that, we met a friend for lunch at Aladdin's. I wish we had an Aladdin's in Robinson. I guess we'll just enjoy the one in Peters when we're in that area. After lunch there was shopping and house cleaning, followed by dinner at Walnut Grill, followed by baking. The cleaning and baking were because we were having friends over on Sunday for a Labor Day Weekend cookout.

Sunday was busy with having friends over. We made two cakes, a veggie and dip tray, macaroni & cheese, and grilled bratwurst in a beer-mustard sauce plus some sweet & spicy Italian sausage and a bunch of onions and peppers. Friends brought more snacks and dips and treats. It was a good day of drinking & eating & seeing friends.

Having a gathering Sunday afternoon/early evening meant that Sunday night and Monday were busy cleaning up plus doing regular weekend chores like lots of laundry & cooking dinner for the week.

Tuesday I had an early morning doctor appointment. I was so tired in the afternoon that I napped for nearly 3 hours! So there wasn't a whole lot of TV watching or reading in the past week.

What We're Eating:

  • Leftover Labor Day food (brats, sausage, mac & cheese) plus salad
  • Chicken Salad with Garden Salad
  • Dessert: Leftover desserts (Olive Oil Cake, Chocolate Bundt Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookies)

What We're Watching:

  • We finished Season 1 of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and started Season 2. We've watched 7 of 10 episodes in season 2 and are still enjoying it. The Yom Kippur dinner scene was hilarious as was the drunk artist on the bar scene.

What I'm Reading:
Just this morning I started another Sharon Bolton book, Sacrifice. So far it's good, but creepy, and making me remember an exhibit at the museum years ago about bog people.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019


The first time we went to Hofbräuhaus, we didn't enjoy it. It was years before we gave it a second chance. The second time, we liked it much more, despite the craziness of Oktoberfest. Remembering that Oktoberfest means too many people and long waits, but wanting to enjoy the outdoor area before winter arrives, I suggested we go there sometime soon. That suggestion turned into going that weekend (which was two weekends ago at this point) and we had a tasty dinner outside.
SP had Dunkel. I had iced tea. They have good iced tea.
We shared Giant Pretzel Combo (huge soft pretzel served with “Obatzda” Cheese, Sweet Bavarian Mustard, and their Signature Homemade Bier Cheese). Last time I loved the obatzda cheese but this time there was a lot of onion in it. I don't remember onion, and neither did SP, so I was a little disappointed because it was too onion-y for me this time. But the mustard and beer cheese are tasty.
SP enjoyed Bavarian Jägerschnitzel (Pan seared Pork Cutlet topped with a Burgundy Wine Mushroom Sauce, Frizzled Onions, and Smoked Bacon, served with German Potato Salad and Fried Cabbage). He liked it. I tried a mushroom and thought it and the sauce were tasty.
I ordered what is probably going to be my usual: Bauern Schnitzel (Breaded Pork Cutlet fried crisp and golden brown, topped with Black Forest Ham, Swiss Cheese, and their Signature Homemade Bier Cheese, served with German Potato Salad and Fried Cabbage). Pork schnitzel is one of my favorite foods. Top it with ham cheese, and beer cheese sauce, and I'm a very happy girl.

This time was the best visit yet, not just because we were seated outside right away (no crowds, no hour long wait), not just because the food was tasty and the service good, but we also remembered to not push me too far under the outdoor table (to avoid smashing my knees on a metal bar). It was also a nice evening, only in the mid-70's and a slight breeze. We just might have to start going to Hofbräuhaus more than once a year.

Previous Visits:
Sept 2018
June 2009

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Fresh Peach Cobbler

Peach season is almost over here. Maybe it is over. We didn't go to the farm market last weekend, so I'm not sure if they are still selling peaches or not. When we went 2 weekends ago, we bought a huge crate of local peaches. We made a peach pie. We ate them for breakfast. And when the pie was gone, we made cobbler. Specifically, Ina Garten's Fresh Peach Cobbler from Cooking for Jeffrey.
I loved the cinnamon topping and the biscuit topping. The peaches were delicious, too, but this was one of very, very few cobblers that actually has a tasty (to me) topping.
I think our filling was a little wetter than it should have been. but it was still delicious. This is definitely a make again recipe. It would be even tastier if we topped it with vanilla ice cream, but we didn't have any, didn't feel like making any, and honestly, the cobbler alone was enough of a dessert.

Recipe here.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

I'm a little fuzzy today from allergies. I gave in & took an allergy pill so now all I want to do is nap.

This weekend is Labor Day, a 3-day weekend (yay!) that, in my mind, marks the end of summer (boo!). At least it'll be September which makes all the pumpkin spice overkill slightly more tolerable.

What We're Eating:

  • Grilled Lamb Chops with Rustic Tomato Tart, Corn on the Cob, Grilled Zucchini
  • Grilled Flank Steak Quesadillas
  • Dessert: Peach Pie, Peach Cobbler

What We're Watching:

  • We finished Mindhunter Season 2. I really like the show. I hope Netflix gives it a Season 3.
  • We started The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon. I don't know why we put off watching it for so long. We're hooked! It'll take us a while to get through the first two seasons since the episodes are 45-60 minutes each so we watch 1-2 a night. It's hilarious.
  • The Pittsburgh girl was eliminated from Worst Cook's last episode. I was surprised Bobby kept the other girl who seems to always be a hot mess but I guess being a hot mess isn't as bad as serving under-cooked fried chicken.

What I'm Reading:

  • Awakening from Sharon Bolton. I was hooked, I really wanted to know what had happened in the past and who was behind all the present day snakes, yes, snakes, but yikes was I creeped out and flashing back to this horrible day in March 2018 and now I'm back to looking around & checking for unwanted visitors and jumping at shadows. It doesn't help that a few weeks ago SP told me that the mouse trap in the garage did its job. Gross. We had mice when we first moved in, 11 years ago now, and we got rid of them (thanks cats) but we keep fresh traps just in case, especially since the cats are gone.
  • I finished a Smithsonian Magazine! Whoo! Down to six!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Pat-in-the-Pan Buttermilk Biscuits

We're been enjoying our subscription to Cook's Country. There are a lot of recipes I want to try. I don't think we'll ever find enough time. We did try a new biscuit recipe from the June/July 2019 issue: Pat-in-the-Pan Buttermilk Biscuits. They were really easy and really tasty and filling.
The recipe calls for cake flour, for extra fluffiness, but the article says you can substitute all-purpose flour. We used cake flour.
Mixed with butter, baking powder & baking soda, salt, and buttermilk, and the final result is this:
Nine delicious, fluffy, filling biscuits.
Super quick & easy, too. They might not be quite as easy as Easy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits because you do have to use your fingertips to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients whereas the drop biscuits use melted butter with the buttermilk but you have to scoop and drop the drop biscuits onto a cookie sheets while with these pan ones, the dough just gets dumped into the baking pan, patted into place, and baked. I'm not sure which is easier, but they're equally delicious. We'll definitely make these again.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Lamb Burgers with Mint & Feta

Sadly, grilling season is coming to an end. This past weekend we grilled lamb chops but several weeks ago we grilled lamb burgers and they were really tasty. We mostly followed this recipe from Saveur Magazine: Lamb Burger with Mint, Feta, and Balsamic Onions.
The parts we didn't follow: no balsamic onions, no ground ancho chile in the burgers, and we didn't crumble the feta, we cut slices from the block (we buy it at Costco). I really liked the warmth and spice from the cinnamon, cumin, and paprika against the lemon zest zing and the bits of chopped fresh mint.
We made six burgers. To re-heat, I put them in the toasted oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
These were great burgers - tastier than beef burgers. Hopefully we'll get to make them again before it gets too cold.

Recipe here.