Friday, May 29, 2020

Spinach-Red Pepper-Provolone Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

This stuffed pork was supposed to be Tricolore Stuffed Pork (Spinach, Provolone, Roasted Red Pepper) but we didn't have loin, we had tenderloin. So we followed this tenderloin recipe (Pork Tenderloin Roulade with Pancetta, Pear, and Cheddar) but stuffed with the filling from the loin recipe.
I really like the cooked spinach-roasted red pepper-provolone picante mix of flavors.
As always, our filling oozed out a bit.
It was yummy and a lot faster to put together than I expected. I think I like everything chopped really small and stuffed in tenderloin better than rolling up a bigger loin. Our cheese really oozed out when we made the loin. Next time I'd make some extra filling for on the side. I like a good sized bite of filling with every pork bite!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

It was maybe two weeks ago on a Saturday that I bundled up in a scarf and winter jacket in 40 degrees and then this past weekend it was 85+ degrees. At least we know our a/c works. Our poor little brick oven house got up to 78-79 degrees inside.

SP's company made Friday a holiday as well as Monday plus he took a vacation day so he had a 5 day weekend. What did we do? Nothing. I don't think we left home. Not that anything is open. He played video games. He planted some herbs and veggies in the garden. We cooked. Sat on the deck. Drank strong cocktails. Slept late. Baked. Grilled. Did laundry. Napped.

What We're Eating:

  • Ribs, Macaroni Salad, Grilled Green Beans
  • Grilled Chicken, Grilled Zucchini
  • Dessert: Strawberry Cream Shortbread

What We're Watching:

  • We watched Season 2 of Dead to Me (Netflix). I loved it! What a way to end the final episode! Wonder how next season will go?!
  • Killing Eve (BBC). One more episode to go!
  • Marvel's Agents of SHIELD is back for the final season (finally). Old viewing habits die hard.
  • We finished all the seasons of Agatha Raisin on Acorn TV. I enjoyed it. It was silly fun, which is what I need more of given the news these days.
  • More silly fun: We now have HBOMax and yesterday I got sucked into watching the first few episodes of Friends. It was nice to slip back to the comfy blanket of 1994, before coronavirus, before this idiot of president, before there were fights about wearing face masks, before people screaming about whether to kill/save grandma or kill/save the economy.
  • We finally finished the last couple episodes of Batwoman but I'm not sure we'll keep watching since Ruby Rose left.
  • We're watching Amy Schumer Learns to Cook and Worst Cooks in America (both on Food Network).

What I'm Reading:
I finished The Other Einstein. It was good, it was a work of fiction, but based on actual real research.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mocha Cream Pie

Last week we made Mocha Cream Pie from The Perfect Pie. It was easy to make and really good.
For our crust, we chose Foolproof All-Butter Single-Crust Pie Dough, also from The Perfect Pie. We made the crust dough the day before we made the pie. Our crust turned out a bit better than the one for the Raspberry Chiffon Pie, but we still had one area where the edge sank a bit. Oh well.
The filling is like a pudding, but no eggs. It's cooked and then cooled before being poured into the baked pie shell. It's smooth and rich and delicious. We used the smaller pie pan (not the deep dish) this time and it turned out to be too small to hold all the filling. Next time, we'd use the deep dish pie pan.
We didn't make our own whipped cream. Homemade whipped cream is not meant for storage in the refrigerator and it takes the two of us 4-5 days to eat a pie. SP topped his slices with Reddi-Whip and I topped mine with Cool Whip. I find that Reddi-Whip starts melting too quickly for my taste. I prefer the stability of Cool Whip. Plus, it takes me back to my childhood. We skipped the candied coffee beans.
I really liked this pie. I thought the coffee-chocolate filling had the perfect ratio of coffee and chocolate flavors and it was rich and decadent but not too overwhelmingly sweet/rich. SP liked this, too, but overall he prefers fruit pies. This is a Make Again pie.

Filling: Mocha Cream Pie
Crust: Foolproof All-Butter Single-Crust Pie Dough

Friday, May 22, 2020

Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms, Mascarpone, and Mustard

Pennsylvania is in a phased re-opening and we're in the "yellow phase" which means we're still supposed to stay at home and some stores are able to re-open, but restaurants and salons cannot re-open. So life for us is still pretty boring, which is probably why we've been baking bread every week and eating a lot more pasta than we usually eat. Recently, we tried a new-to-us pasta dish: Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms, Mascarpone, and Mustard from Giada's Family Dinners.
We didn't use fettuccine. We used casarecce. This meal is easy to make. It's a nice twist on regular chicken marsala, adding the mustard and mascarpone. At first we liked it, then we weren't sure, but in the end, we decided we liked it a lot especially because it's a nice twist on a dish we cook a lot (so much that I was getting tired of it!). Usually we use a lot more mushrooms, but life during coronavirus with curb-side pick up means you don't always get exactly what you want. We received about a pound of mushrooms, which is what the recipe calls for, but we did purchase more mushrooms from another store. We sauteed the additional mushrooms and added them to the leftovers for a much mushroom-ier dish. We like mushrooms a lot!
Recipe: Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms, Mascarpone, and Mustard

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

The past week has not been great, for reasons that will not be written about on the blog. That means there's not much to write about! Still in the yellow phase. Still working from home. Still doing curb-side pick ups. 

One bit of excitement: we cleaned the oven for the second time in 8.5 years. 

What We're Eating:

  • Chicken Piccata with rice & green beans
  • Pork Tenderloin stuffed with red pepper, spinach, provolone; roasted cauliflower
  • Dessert: Mocha Cream Pie

What We're Watching:

  • We finished Seasons 1 & 2 of Agatha Raisin and have 1 episode left in Season 3. Trying to finish before the free trial ends!
  • Birds Of Prey And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (movie). What a fun movie! Gleeful violence.

What I'm Reading:
Still reading The Other Einstein.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Deli Rye Bread

My lunch bread this week is Deli Rye Bread from Bread Illustrated. It doesn't use a starter like some of the other rye bread recipes from America's Test Kitchen. It also doesn't bake in a loaf pan.
We did have to buy caraway seeds and rye flour. The caraway seeds were easy to find. We bought the rye flour at Sunny Bridge Natural Foods in McMurray. They're doing curb-side pick up.
It's bread. Make the dough, knead, let it rise, shape, let it rise, bake. The usual process. I've been toasting the bread for my lunch sandwiches. It's really good. I love the flavor of the toasted crust.
Recipe: Deli Rye Bread

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

American Sandwich Bread

This is the lunch sandwich bread from a couple weeks ago, the same week we baked a loaf of sourdough. It's American Sandwich Bread from Bread Illustrated.
Our dough hook is finally seeing a lot of action!
We really like our old linen kitchen wall calendars for covering the dough. They don't stick to the bread and there's no struggle with plastic wrap.
Time to shape and place in the loaf pan:
Let it rise again and then bake:
It came out golden and baked through, but the top middle didn't rise to a nice dome shape, it sort of sank. I guess we didn't shape it properly?
It was still tasty. Basic white sandwich bread. It's excellent toasted or grilled, slathered in butter or filled with lunch meat/cheese. I didn't eat any as just a slice of bread. I don't really like plain, white, fluffy sandwich bread. If it's toasted or grilled, it's fine. But plain? Eehh.
Recipe: American Sandwich Bread

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

Some Thoughts:

  • SP actually went into Costco and shopped the other day. It's great that Costco requires customers to wear masks, but masks aren't very effective when worn as chin cradles.
  • Tomorrow Allegheny County moves from red to yellow. As far as I can tell, this doesn't mean much, Or maybe it just doesn't mean much for me. I still won't be able to go to the salon to get my hair colored and cut.
  • What the heck is wrong with people? I think COVID-19 has erased manners and good will to mankind from some people. People freaking out at Red Lobster. People fighting/breaking arms at Target. People demanding boycotts of Costco for requiring masks. Threats of violence over mask requirements at restaurants in Oklahoma. People freaking out & harassing employees over ice cream in MA. People saying they won't follow government plans and will open anyway.
  • So, between those kinds of stories and the stories about the current administration's handling of the pandemic, the tweets, the things they say to the press, the things going on at the Justice Department... well, it's all pretty depressing. Often, I feel sad, despair, hopelessness. I'm not sure that November 3 will bring relief.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • Agatha Raisin on Acorn TV. We finished season 1 and started season 2.
  • The new season of Worst Cooks started. It's a celebrity season, which we usually do not enjoy as much, but also, the people aren't as bonkers and we're not wondering where the heck they found the contestants.
  • HTGAWM ends tonight. I enjoyed it much more in the beginning. Things have gotten so messy and muddled and crazy. Is Annalise really going to die? Is Wes back from the dead? I hope we get a recap at the end of who killed who and when and why and where!
  • Station 19. Not sure I like this new storyline about Andy's parents. 
  • I finally watched the latest Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker. It was OK. 
  • I also watched Bad Boys for Life. Not as good as the original two, but decent entertainment one afternoon.

What I'm Reading:
I'm anxious for the library to reopen. The books I want to read are not available in eBook format in the catalog. Meanwhile, I finally started reading The Other Einstein.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Bagel Bread

This week's lunch bread is Bagel Bread from Cook's Country October/November 2018. Yes, we've had this on our "Make" list for a year and a half. Thanks to the virus we finally had time, we just had to buy some ingredients.
Specifically, we needed Everything Bagel seasoning. We decided to make our own, so we needed more poppy seed plus onion flakes and sesame seeds. We decided to omit the dried garlic. 
The stand mixer makes kneading the bread super easy!
Then it gets to sit in a warm place until the dough rises to the lip of pan, about 1 hour. We didn't take any photos of the next step: boiling the bread. According to Cook's Country,"Boiling the risen, not-yet-baked loaf in a solution of water, baking soda, and corn syrup helped the bread achieve a lovely brown crust and gently set its exterior so that when the dough continued to rise in the oven, it had a tight, chewy crumb. Making slashes across the top of the dough allowed steam to escape as it baked and expanded, and coating the dough with a homemade “everything” topping brought it to a place of bagel-like bliss." It was a little stressful handling the dough, lowering and then raising it from boiling water.
It definitely has lots of everything seasoning. I keep finding seeds and flakes all over the house! They coat all sides of the bread.
It's a beautiful golden color. And, it tastes like a bagel. It has the chewiness of a bagel.
The pretty, bagel-like interior. Dense & soft, just as promised.
Worth the extra effort of boiling it and struggling to carefully remove it from the boiling water without dropping it and/or mangling it on edge of the pot or on the grates. I've been toasting two slices for lunch, spreading on a bit of cream cheese plus my turkey and cheddar for a delicious sandwich. Really tasty.

Recipe: Bagel Bread from Cook's Country October/November 2018

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Spicy Lamb Bolognese with Creamy Spinach Polenta

This past weekend we made a beef & lamb bolognese sauce but we didn't serve it over pasta. We served it over polenta. I wish we could take credit for this yummy idea but we cannot. We saw Giada make it on her Easter episode of Giada Entertains. Her presentation was much prettier than ours! We've wanted to make this ever since we saw the episode back in April.
First, the bolognese. We forgot to add celery to our curb-side pick up. Oops. But then we had to drop something off at my parents' place, so I asked mom if she had any celery, and she did, so dad brought it out to us when he claimed his bag of stuff from the trunk of the car. We also forgot to actually check our carrots, so we had to use one soft, brown, disgusting carrot that was in the veggie bin. Life during COVID-19. If things were "normal" I would have sent SP down the hill to the store for fresh veggies! Or maybe we should make the effort to actually look at the veggies in the bin and not just whether or not they exist/are identifiable in the bin?

As usual, we omitted the garlic. Since I don't like spicy, we also omitted the Calabrian chili paste and decreased the amount of red pepper flakes. We used a pound each of the beef and lamb, so more than the recipe uses.
The polenta. Delicious. Creamy. Cheesy. It has parmesan, mascarpone, and pecorino. So good!
The polenta, spooned onto a plate.
Burying the polenta under the bolognese!

This is really good. Really good. I ate it with a spoon. SP used a fork. I barely taste our scaled down red pepper flakes, which is good for me! I'm sure SP would like more spice, but he can sprinkle some on top his serving. I like the spinach in the polenta for extra veggie. Definitely a make again meal.

Recipe: Spicy Lamb Bolognese with Creamy Spinach Polenta

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

We're still in the red. Stay Home. Avoid people. My emotions are all over the place.

Last Saturday I left the house for the first time since March 7. Going out on the deck doesn't really count. I put on jeans, not sweats, and real shoes, not slippers. It was weird. We did some curb-side pick ups (beer, food) and also drove around the city, the parks, etc. It was good to get out on a nice spring day but it also made me sadder because it made me really miss and long for meals at restaurants, spontaneous stops in coffee shops, spur of the moment trips into tea shops/bakeries, etc. So I'm not sure if getting out was good or not so good for my mental health.

I miss life three months ago.

On the other hand, neither of us much wants to enter a store so we're still doing curbside pickups. We got rid of our old deck furniture in January because it was in terrible, terrible shape, figuring we'd find new stuff in March. Nope. The tiny indoor bistro table/chairs set in the sunroom is now "take outside when we need to" furniture. I no longer have any interest in shopping for new furniture.

Of course the one year we plant flowers in early May, the cold temps and frost warnings immediately show up. Sigh. We never bother with outdoor flowers/herbs until Memorial Day but this year, a friend's son was selling flower flats as a fundraiser, ready on May 2, so we bought some and planted them on Sunday. The weather from now until Saturday afternoon might kill them.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • Deadwater Fell. It was good but sad.
  • Killing Eve. Oh my gosh! I sort of saw that ending of episode 4 coming but was still shocked! Halfway through through season 3.
  • Dark Waters (movie). Kind of predictable/formulaic but still good. Based on a true story.
  • Just Mercy (movie). Also kind of predictable/formulaic but still good. Based on a true story.
  • We started Agatha Raisin on Acorn TV and like it so far.
  • Spring Baking Championship. We always enjoy seeing what the bakers create. I liked all three finalists.
  • What's left of our usual shows ended this week/end on Sunday (Batwoman, The Rookie, SEAL Team).

What I'm Reading:
I started a Ken Bruen book but I just don't think I enjoy his style of writing. I find myself not picking it up the way I constantly pick up other books. I might just quit.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

One of this week's baked breads: No-Knead Sourdough Bread. Inspired by Make Your Own Mini Sourdough Starter With the #Quarantinystarter Project, SP has been lovingly caring for his very own jar of starter. The twice daily water & flour feeding ritual was driving me a little nuts. I'm not sure why. Maybe the constant flour residue on the counter?! It finally reached the point that he could bake bread.
He made sourdough bread. I was skeptical. The best sourdough is from San Francisco. Could that jar with the science experiment really make something resembling sourdough bread? Turns out, yes. It's not quite as good as from San Francisco, but it's tasty enough that now I am torn on whether I like this bread or the English muffin bread more for my lunch sandwich.
Golden brown, chewy, tangy, holey. Yum!

Starter: Make Your Own Mini Sourdough Starter With the #Quarantinystarter Project
Bread: No-Knead Sourdough Bread

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

English Muffin Bread

We are really enjoying the extra time we have during Stay Home/Quarantine to bake bread. We never seemed to be able to find bread baking time during "normal" time. Now we're baking bread at least once a week. Last week's bread was English Muffin Bread from Cook's Country.
Milk, heated to 120 degrees then combined with flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda:
Let it grow:
Divide between two loaf pans (greased and dusted with cornmeal):
Cover the loaves and allow the dough to rise:
Ready to bake:
Golden brown and at 200 degrees:
We thought this bread was excellent. It really did taste like an English muffin. It's really good warmed/toasted and slathered with butter as a side with dinner. Also it makes an excellent sandwich bread for lunch sandwiches.
We'll definitely make this bread again. Maybe not until after we've tried baking all the other breads on our list (the list is pretty much everything in Bread Illustrated) but I think I like this bread better than my usual English muffin for lunch sandwiches.
Recipe: English Muffin Bread