Friday, January 31, 2020

Crunchy Pork Chops with Asiago & Prosciutto

Since I received a couple new cookbooks for holiday gifts, I've been spending a lot of time in January reading cookbooks, re-reading cookbooks, and making a master spreadsheet of all the recipes we want to try/were ripped out of magazines/are in cookbooks. It's nerdy, I know. A spreadsheet with many tabs, the recipe name, source/location, notes if we've made it, notes if it calls for ingredients we don't usually have on hand, etc. One recipe I came across again, one that's been on the try list for a long time, is this one: Crunchy Pork Chops with Asiago & Prosciutto. It's in The Science of Good Cooking. We finally tried it and oh my gosh these were so good!
They're a little labor intensive. Brine the chops for up to an hour. Make homemade breadcrumbs (so worth it).
Pat the brined chops dry, top with asiago, wrap in prosciutto. That got a little tricky. The prosciutto kept tearing.  
The torn prosciutto made things difficult because you still have to dredge in flour, coat in the batter (egg whites, mustard, flour), and coat the chops in the breadcrumb mixture (bread crumbs, chopped shallot, thyme, parsley, parmesan). The batter is thick.
SP persevered and we had four beautiful chops on the rack, ready to bake.
A baked pork chop. Crispy breadcrumbs. You can see the prosciutto on the side.
You can see some melted asiago oozing out on the right corner of the chop.
A peek inside. These were juicy chops. Crunchy bread crumbs. I like that the prosciutto was wrapped around the entire chop and not just placed on top because it meant each bite had a wee taste of prosciutto. We both really enjoyed these so they are on the Make Again list.

We served these chops with roasted cauliflower. Also, for us, these chops were huge, so we each ate half a chop for dinner with the cauliflower, so we had four dinners from this recipe. We roasted two heads of cauliflower to give us enough for four dinners.

Crunchy Pork Chops with Asiago & Prosciutto Recipe here or here.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

I have all sorts of thoughts for Thursday Thoughts during the week and then when it is time to write Thursday Thoughts, my mind is blank and I can't think of anything to say.

This Sunday is Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl. I know that whether or not Phil sees his shadow has no bearing on when winter ends, yet every year I hope for him to tell me we'll have an early spring. As for the Super Bowl, I suppose we'll watch, but we're not all that interested. At least the Patriots are not playing.

What We're Eating:

  • Roast Chicken with Cheesy Rice & Broccoli Casserole
  • Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese
  • Dessert: M&M's, paczki

What We're Watching:

  • Barry on HBO. We finished both seasons 1 & 2. We really liked it! Laughed a lot. We're looking forward to season 3.
  • Worst Cooks in America - it was entertaining to watch them make crepes. Also, Alton seems pretty darn mean to his team. I'd be scared of him.
  • We went to see the movie 1917 this past weekend. It was excellent. And it made me cry.
  • I flipped through the Grammy Awards. I'm old. I barely recognize the artists and I do not like a lot of the music.
  • We're still enjoying Manifest but deep down I still fear that the show will leave the viewers with no sense of closure/answers.
  • We watched episode 2 of His Dark Materials. I'm still not on board but SP is. I can't seem to follow it, which might be because I'm not really paying attention. 

What I'm Reading:

  • Magazines
  • Cookbooks


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Marbled Blueberry Bundt Cake

I was gifted a copy of The Perfect Cake and I am so excited to try some of the cakes even though one cake is too much for us to eat before it gets stale. The first one we tried: Marbled Blueberry Bundt Cake.
Ready to go in the oven! Look at those swirls!
In spite of spraying the pan, which means every nook & cranny was greased, we lost some cake when we removed it. So sad. So glad we weren't making dessert for guests.
This cake is yummy! Great blueberry flavor. The blueberry swirl is a homemade blueberry jam you make from sugar, frozen blueberries, lemon zest & juice, and fruit pectin.
The cake itself is the usual cake ingredients plus buttermilk, lemon juice & zest, cinnamon.
We kept it in the refrigerator in our cake keeper. That meant the cake was too cold when we wanted dessert, so we started quickly warming it in the toaster oven. Slightly warming the cake made it so darn good with our evening tea. Slightly warming the cake also meant that it seemed to stay fresh 6-7 days for us.

Definitely a Make Again cake.

Recipe here.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Chicken Florentine

The Mouse Battle has prompted a lit more purging and cleaning out in areas other than the basement. That's how SP found an issue of Cook's Country from 2017. The issue with the Pimiento Mac & Cheese recipe. And the issue with this Chicken Florentine for Two recipe. A Chicken Florentine recipe that serves 4-6 is in The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook Season 7.
It's easy to make. Lost of spinach. It doesn't look like a lot because it's cooked, but it was 12 cups of spinach. A light cream-chicken-water stock sauce, some grated parmesan, lemon zest & juice, shallot. Garlic if you want. Yum!
This was all we ate for dinner but we both thought that in the future, we'd add a bit of rice or slice of bread. The chicken stayed juicy because it was poached in the liquid. Be sure to drain the spinach well after sauteing it.

Recipe for 4-6 here.
Recipe For Two here.

*We made the version that serves 4-6 because Cook's Country posted it via Instagram not too long ago (and we wanted three dinners for the week). When SP sheepishly handed me the long lost magazine, I realized the recipe I'd just printed was in it, albeit a version for two (so one dinner). The two versions are slightly different. "For Two" uses just cream & stock."For 4-6" uses water with the cream & stock, which made for a thinner looking sauce than the "For Two" photo in the magazine shows.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Yard (North Fayette~Robinson)

The Yard is one of those places that my opinion differs depending on the most recent visit. Sometimes it's really tasty, other times it's just so-so. They have an extensive beer menu, the iced tea is yummy, and depending on the day, the grilled cheese is either yummy or so-so. We went a couple of weeks ago and it was a so-so visit.
SP chose The Big Che-bowski (Cheddar, Smoked Gouda, Over Easy Egg, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Tomato). We always have the tomato soup because grilled cheese dipped in tomato soup is yummy. He decided to make his dinner healthier by getting a side salad.
I chose Fried Green Tomatoes (Cheddar, American, Fried Green Tomatoes, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Chipotle Ranch, Arcadian Greens). I almost always get the tater tots, which SP then steals off my plate, but that's OK because there are a lot of tots, too many for me.

Sometimes I find the bread more toasted/dry than grilled/buttery. Sometimes I think a grilled cheese should have more cheese. I've had the macaroni & cheese as a side and one time it was just mac & cheese, another time it was spicy as if hot sauce or too much cayenne was added and I was not pleased so I've never ordered it again. Sometimes I think the sandwich looks too small but then I cannot finish it so I guess it's not, but maybe for someone with a huge appetite it is?

We always have great service. Last time it seemed really loud inside, but it was very busy and we went later than we usually do. It's the service, beer, and always decent food that keeps it in our rotation of "near home" places. Some people think we have a zillion options here in Robinson, but there are an awful lot of chain restaurants and we don't especially enjoy those places anymore. We much prefer the service, food, and atmosphere at the local places (The Yard, Burgatory, Downey's House, Central Diner).

Previous Visits (We've gone many times but it looks like I've only blogged about The Yard once):
January 2019

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Cafe io

Cafe io is one of our favorite restaurants. We dine there frequently, so much that I haven't blogged much about them since our first time there 4-5 years ago.. It's where we usually pick for our birthday dinners with SP's family. It's casual, service is always great, food is yummy. We went there last week for dinner and didn't order our usuals! SP had a beer & iced tea, I had iced tea. Here's what we ate:
French Mushroom Soup (mushrooms, onions, house made croutons, parmesan cheese, mushroom broth). SP loves soup and it was a snowy/rainy cold day, so he enjoyed this. I liked the cheese on top.
Crispy Green Beans (tempura green beans, horseradish dipping sauce). These are so good. I couldn't stop shoving them in my mouth.
SP ordered the Grouper special. They had the branzino special, too, and he usually orders that, but this time, he chose grouper with asparagus and I forget what it was all perched atop.
I decided to try something besides a sandwich. Shrimp and Polenta (sauteed shrimp, crispy parmesan polenta, zucchini, crimini mushroom, spinach, white wine tomato sauce). Garlic was not specifically mentioned in the description. I asked and she said yes, in the marinara. Since I wasn't looking at the menu, I didn't remember it said white wine tomato sauce and I was thinking marinara like what is served with the polenta appetizer and that doesn't bother me. So I ordered this. It was delicious but it did indeed have garlic. I made the mistake, I took the risk. I saw garlic, I had to pick off garlic, I tasted garlic, and my stomach started feeling weird, so I took must of it home and ate it at home just in case I had my usual garlic intolerance reaction. The shrimp were excellent, perfectly cooked. I love the crispy polenta.

I didn't get as sick as I have in the past, probably because I picked off a lot of the garlic bits and avoided the spinach, but that night I had terrible heartburn, indigestion, garlic burps, tummy bloating, tummy rumbling. I felt terrible and I was cursing garlic all night. When we went to bed I was sure I was going to end up puking, that's how ill I felt.

But it was tasty.

We brought home dessert but I didn't take photos. A blueberry cheesecake & a chai cupcake. Yummy!

In spite of my stupid risk-taking meal, we still really like Cafe io in Mt. Lebanon.

Previous Visits:
November 2019
June 2019
February 2018
February 2016
October 2015

Friday, January 24, 2020

Sienna on the Square

It's the weekend! For us, that means dinner out on Saturday. The first Saturday of this month, we dined at Sienna on the Square and did not order our usual meals! Here's what we enjoyed:
Rose and chardonnay.
Arugula Salad (maple whipped chevre, slow cooked beets, almond brittle, basil vinaigrette). The beets were hidden under the pile of arugula.
Sea Scallops (fried brussels sprouts & prosciutto risotto, pickled cauliflower relish). Both our dining companions ordered and loved these scallops.
I see only one fish, monkfish, on the menu but this looks like salmon, so I think SP had a special? Salmon special? With butternut squash and orzo. He ate it all and enjoyed it but if I ask him what he ate, he won't remember!
I chose Gnocchi (roasted zucchini & mushrooms, prosciutto, pepperjack mousse, oregano). This had a bit more of a kick than I remember from the version I ate over the summer. This winter version was yummy, too. The pepperjack mousse is so good.
Chocolate Cake for dessert. It was a light & spongy cake. Really good.
After dinner cappuccino.

As always, we enjoyed our meals at SotS. It was the first time our dining companions had been there and they really liked it, so that made us happy.

Previous dinners at Sienna on the Square:
August 2019
June 2019

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend was Pierogie Weekend. We made 88 pierogies. Every year we get faster at rolling, stuffing, sealing, boiling. Maybe soon we won't have to make them only when we have a 3 day weekend-?!

We also made a Poached Pear Tart that used an entire bottle of wine and had so many steps it took nearly all day to make. At least it tastes good. So it was worth it.

We also ate some of the worst looking green beans ever from Market District. So many of them had black spots or were wrinkly. Terrible. I've been so disappointed in Market District lately.

What We're Eating:

  • Pierogie, ham/kielbasa, green beans/broccoli
  • Chicken Florentine
  • Dessert: Poached Pear & Almond Tart

What We're Watching:

  • Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. It was interesting, beautiful, had terrific performances. At first it seemed too meandering and pointless but then how the stories came together at the end was great. 
  • We watched the first episode of His Dark Materials and I am not a fan. SP wants to keep watching. He might have to do so without me.
  • Regular TV is back, so we've been enjoying Modern Family, Stumptown, Batwoman.
  • Tonight Grey's Anatomy comes back! I'm so sad that Karev left the show.
  • Station 19 is back, too, and while I enjoy it, I'm not all that attached to it. But I do want to see what happens with the car crash into the bar.
  • This Is Us. It makes me cry all the time. But it's so good. 

What I'm Reading:
Magazines.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

Ten dead mice, $500+, hours of cleaning, and many swear words later, we seem to have emerged victorious in the Mouse Battle. We spent a lot on new plastic storage bins, including ones big enough for the Christmas tree and for the mantle garlands. The garage door people put on a new seal with metal in it so hopefully if the jerks try to chew/claw in again, the metal will deter them, stop them, at least break their stupid little mouse teeth.

The Mouse Battle might be over, the Mouse War is probably just on another break (hopefully we ended the war but realistically there will be another battle, maybe not in a month, maybe in 2-3 years, but there will be another), but the Mouse Rage is real & constant.

What We're Eating:

  • Salad. Beer Batter Bread.
  • Crunchy Baked Pork Chops with Asiago & Prosciutto served with roasted cauliflower.
  • Dessert: paczki, leftover holiday candy

What We're Watching:

  • We've been watching Season 2 of Succession. I still think every character is horrible but I'm enjoying it more than season 1. We have 2 more episodes.
  • Modern Family & Stumptown have been back from break. Modern Family still makes us laugh a lot. We'll be sad to see it end. 

What I'm Reading:

  • Liars' Legacy from Taylor Stevens, the second in the Jack & Jill series. It was really good if, at times, confusing in the beginning. It took me a bit to remember everything from the first book.
  • Magazines. I have not been enjoying a couple of the food magazines so I think I might cancel them/not renew them. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Picnic Cafe

The Picnic Cafe has been in Dahlonega for as long as we've been visiting my brother there, so at least 14 years or so. It a great, casual place to grab breakfast/lunch and a treat. Over our holiday trip, we went several times for brunch. Here's what we ate this time:
Trio of Salads: Chicken, Pimiento Cheese, Ham Salad served with toast points and fruit. It's hard to see the ham salad on the right. It didn't stay in a round scoop. It's different from ham salad I've eaten. Usually, we buy Portman's Ham Salad and it's ground fine, mixed with mayo and some pickle. This ham salad was chunks of ham, chunks of hard boiled egg, mayo, and some pickle. It was different, but I really liked it.
Sausage Quiche with sides of pasta salad and fruit. This was good, although I think it was reheated a bit too long since some parts were a bit dry/hard.
Pimiento Cheese BLT with tomato sup and potato salad. I like their potato salad, too, because it's different from ours. A bit of pickle, a bit of pimiento/red pepper (?), and super creamy from mayo~egg.
Chicken Salad Sandwich with tomato soup & fruit.

It was tasty. It was definitely an indulgence to have this multiple days in a row and yes, we felt a little guilty at all the mayo, fat, and salt. We tried to balance it out with the fruit!

Previous Visits:
November 2018
December 2014
June 2009






Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Spirits Tavern

We went to visit my brother in GA for Christmas. That gave us the chance to visit some of our favorite places where they live, like Spirits Tavern. One night, my parents took everyone out to dinner at Spirits. Here's what we ate:
Fried Green Tomatoes (green tomatoes lightly breaded and fried, served with homemade white cheddar pimento cheese & drizzled with a bacon gastrique). Last time, we didn't have a chance to try these and I was sad because fried green tomatoes and pimiento cheese are two of my favorite things. We carefully dismantled the tower and dug in. It was yummy.
SP chose the Augusta sandwich (white cheddar pimento cheese & green tomato chow chow) with chicken, not a burger. He said it was good.
I chose the sandwich I'd been thinking about for the past thirteen months: The Rude Awakening (cage free fried egg, white American cheese, hickory smoked bacon, & a crispy hash brown) with tater tots for my side. So good.

Some ate burgers, some ordered the fish sandwich, which was enormous, but all enjoyed their food. Service was friendly and good in spite of it being a very busy evening with a lot of large groups. We also enjoyed the trivia game, and listening to the other bar patrons play trivia. There were some serious trivia game people there!

Previous Visits:
November 2018







Monday, January 13, 2020

Cheddar Cheese Coins

This is the only photo I have of the Cheddar Cheese Coins we made a couple weeks ago. They didn't last long! They were posted in America's Test Kitchen's Instagram feed one day last December along with a link to the recipe.

These crackers are yummy! Cheesy and a nice flavor from the paprika & cayenne. They're easy to make and a lot fit on the baking sheet so it doesn't take too long to bake them. Just make sure to bake them long enough so they're crispy & like crackers. Ours were baked enough but could have used a bit longer to get even crispier. There's also a version that uses sesame seeds and poppy seeds and gruyere instead of cheddar - I want to try that next.

Recipe here: Cheddar Cheese Coins

Friday, January 10, 2020

Atria's

I've always liked Atria's but ever since the one in Robinson closed, we rarely, if ever, dine there. It has been years since we dined there. A couple of weeks ago, we met SP's family at the Atria's in McMurray for dinner. Here's what we ate:
To start: Sherry Crab Bisque. We both have always really liked this soup. I didn't want a cup for myself, but I happily shared SP's bowl and the soup was as yummy as we remember.
SP chose a Scallops special for his meal. They were huge, nicely seared, atop peppers and some kind of wilted greens. He said they were good.
I chose Chicken Madeira (Pan-Seared Chicken, Mushrooms, Madeira Wine Sauce, Smashed Redskins, Grilled Asparagus, Mozzarella). This was really tasty. The sauce is delicious. The potatoes were yummy, too.

At first I was sad that my old favorite of penne in a creamy tomato sauce with spinach was no longer on the menu (it hasn't been for years, I just have very good memories of that dish!), but the Chicken Madeira is so good that I forgot all about pasta. Our server was friendly, checked on garlic for me, kept beverages filled. The only issue was that there wasn't any napkin-wrapped silverware on the table, not even when the soup arrived, and that's when we all realized we needed napkins.


Previous Visits:
October 2015 
October 2012
March 2011
March 2010
September 2009

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

I had good blog intentions. And then, I didn't. As I said to SP last night, I don't want to quit the blog, but I don't really want to keep doing it.

Since December 30 we've been engaged in a Mouse Battle. When we put the holiday decor away, SP discovered chew marks on some cardboard shirt gift boxes that were stored in a basement closet. The boxes had not shown signs of chewing just two days earlier. Further investigation revealed mouse mess. I had almost forgotten about Mouse Danger because we haven't had any since the first year we moved in and back then, we had cats so the cats handled them. Eleven years later the mice are back. There is much mouse rage.

  • We emptied out the closet & the furnace room/closet and bleached/Lysol-ed the heck out of them.
  • Many large, plastic storage bins were purchased and all holiday decor transferred from Bankers Boxes to plastic bins.
  • Anything not in a plastic storage bin was tossed out. Sleeping bag, air mattress, leftover carpet from when the basement was re-carpeted. Gone.
  • Fresh traps baited with peanut butter were set up. 
  • Critter man came, investigated, and said the little monsters chewed/clawed through the rubber seal/weather stripping around the garage door - which we just replaced 15 months ago. They had access from the garage to the house through some gaps in a wall. He sealed all the gaps he could find.
  • We have the garage door people coming tomorrow to replace the chewed/clawed stuff.
  • So to recap, we critter proofed our home but the monsters chewed through the proofing and invaded. The invasion will cost us $400+ not to mention hours of cleaning & disinfecting.  
  • No ideas on how to keep them from chewing/clawing through in the future.

So that sums up 2020 so far.

What We're Eating:

  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Dessert: Marbled Blueberry Bundt Cake

What We're Watching:

  • Silicon Valley, Season 6, HBO. The last season was as funny and cringe-worthy as the previous ones and the series had a good ending.
  • Catherine the Great on HBO. We've watched three of the four episodes and it's been interesting.
  • The Irishman on Netflix. So long - 3.5 hours. We watched it over 2 nights. It was good, if familiar. 
  • Manifest is back. The first episode was pretty good. I hope it can tell a story and not end up a drawn out, meandering mess while NBC tries to figure out if/how long to renew it.
  • A new season of Worst Cooks in America with Anne Burrell & Alton Brown. Where do they find these people?! I cannot imagine being as clueless as they are in the kitchen. 

What I'm Reading:
Galway Girl from Ken Bruen. This is my first Jack Taylor novel and maybe I should have started with the first, not fifteenth. I liked it, and yet something made me not like it. The writing style, maybe? It's very clipped - ? I can't come up with the right words, so here's this description of Bruen's writing:

The bluntly poetic cadence of his writing, his self-destructive characters, the unsparing violence,
and, of course,
writing everything
in stanza like lists,
and short, muscular
declarative sentences. 


Source: Why The F*ck Aren't You Reading Ken Bruen?

Friday, January 3, 2020

Graze on Main (Wytheville, VA)

We decided to take two days to drive to GA for the holidays. We stopped in Wytheville, VA, the point at which we must decide whether we are going via Asheville or via Charlotte to our final destination. Both have their pros/cons. We had dinner at Graze on Main, the restaurant in the Bolling Wilson Hotel.
We started with holiday cocktails. Plum Manhattan (bourbon, plum nectar, bitters) for him, Poinsettia Mimosa (vodka, cranberry syrup, Cava) for me. Both were excellent.
I really wanted the Pimiento Cheese Croquettes for an appetizer but there is garlic in them so we shared the Pork Belly Hoe Cakes (First Lady Wilson's hoe cake, spiced apple butter, turmeric gastrique). They were yummy, and filling. I would've liked a bit more apple butter.
For his meal, SP chose Grilled Salmon (topped with raspberry beurre blanc; served with parsnip puree and shaved vegetables, cauliflower steak, and fingerling potatoes). Even before he told me it was yummy, I knew because he pretty much inhaled his food and licked the plate clean.
I chose Grilled Chicken Mornay (mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and pimento cheese biscuit). This dish was yummy. The chicken wasn't dry, the sauce yummy, the biscuit had a nice pimiento flavor, the potatoes were really tasty (I do not usually like mashed potatoes) and the vegetables were nicely cooked and seasoned. It was a lot of food and I couldn't finish it.
Dessert Special: Peach Ice Cream with peach sauce. We were traveling with a whole lot of homemade holiday cookies plus car snacks but we still wanted to order a little sweet treat. Nothing really appealed to me and normally I do not like ice cream when the weather is cold, but I know SP really likes peach, so we ordered the special. It was good but I was so full I had no problem letting him eat 90% of it!

This was a nice place for dinner on our drive south. If we take two days again, we'd definitely dine here and probably stay at the hotel, too.