Thursday, February 25, 2021

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts:

  • It's nice to have so much sunshine the past couple of days. It melts the snow and warms the house. 
  • Unfortunately, it also means my allergies are flaring up. Ugh. I'm a stuffy, snotty, snorty mess.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We finished The Kominsky Method (Netflix). We enjoyed it. It's funny and we like that the episodes are about half an hour. It wasn't a huge commitment to watch 2 seasons.
  • Worst Cooks in America. I can't decide which worst cook I want to win.
  • WandaVision (Disney+). Oh my gosh last week's episode was so good. 
  • This Is Us still gets me teary. 
  • We couldn't figure out what to start watching next last night, so we started Weeds (Netflix). We only watched the first 2 (or maybe 3?) episodes, and we like it, but I don't know if we'll stick with 8 seasons even if each episode is only half an hour.
What I'm Reading:
  • Undone, the 3rd Will Trent book. What a creepy villain! Not that anyone deserves what he did, but his victims weren't very nice, either. Not many likable characters in this one!
  • The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, the same author who wrote The Devil and the Dark Water which I read back in December. I liked The Devil & the Dark Water so I decided to try The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It was really good even though at times I didn't fully understand/follow the plot. From Good Reads: 
"Aiden Bishop knows the rules. Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others. With a locked room mystery that Agatha Christie would envy, Stuart Turton unfurls a breakneck novel of intrigue and suspense."

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Orange Chocolate Custard Pie

We are slowly working our way through The Perfect Pie. We'll never try all the pies, just the ones that catch our eye. Like this Orange Chocolate Custard Pie that caught my eye and made me think of the days when I'd devour a bag of Orange Chocolate Milano Cookies.
There are several steps to making this pie. The first is the crust. SP carefully crimped the crust and added pie weights and yet it still sank in a couple places. Oh well. That's how you know it's homemade, right?!
Next is to cook the orange custard. Once it's made, you divide it in half and flavor one half with melted bittersweet chocolate. The chocolate layer is the bottom layer of the pie.
The orange custard goes on top the chocolate. We stopped here because it's just the two of us and it would take us a week to eat the pie. The official recipe calls for the pie to be topped with an Orange Whipped Cream and then dusted with chocolate shavings. The orange whipped cream wouldn't keep for more than a day, so we skipped it.
This pie is delicious. If we made it for guests, we'd include the orange whipped cream, but I didn't feel like it was missing. Lots of chocolate and orange flavor. It's a rich chocolate layer, but not overly sweet. So creamy. The orange layer is like a creamsicle. So good. We will definitely make this again.

Recipe: Orange Chocolate Custard Pie



 

Monday, February 22, 2021

White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Sauce

As usual, except for dessert, we did nothing special for Valentine's Day. This White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Sauce was in Cook's Country Feb~Mar 2021. It looked so pretty I decided we had to try it. SP agreed because it was a dessert with fruit, his favorite kind.
It wasn't too hard to make. We divided our mousse into 4 champagne coupe glasses, just like in the magazine, and let them chill. I liked, but didn't love, the mousse. It made me thirsty! Also, it seemed more like pudding than mousse, so that was disappointing. But the white chocolate with raspberry is an excellent combination (just like with these White Chocolate Raspberry Bars).

I like the flavor combination a lot, so I might try this again. I'm not sure what I'd do different to make it more mousse-like and less thirst inducing. It was much better the second day, so maybe we just need to give it 24+ hours in the refrigerator. It looks really pretty and it's always fun to eat dessert from a coupe glass!










 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts:

  • I'm grateful we are not in Texas right now. SIL and her family are doing OK (they're outside Dallas). At least they're from the NE so they know how to cope with cold weather and snow/ice. They won't end up with burst frozen pipes because they know it's a risk and how to prevent it. 
  • It's pretty darn cold here, too, and snowy. SP just got the walkway and driveway chiseled free from a layer of ice and now everything is again covered in snow with more snow to come. How many weeks until spring?! 
  • One of our nephews went to his state wrestling championships and finished fifth in the state as a sophomore so we're proud of him. Another nephew has been accepted to 5 or 6 colleges and received a scholarship to one of them so we're proud of him. Lots of nephew bragging!

What We're Eating:

  • Breaded Chicken Tenders with macaroni and cheese and steamed broccoli
  • Prosciutto~Mushroom~Pea Risotto
  • Dessert: White Chocolate Mousse with raspberry topping; Orange Chocolate Custard Pie

What We're Watching:

  • We started WandaVision on Disney+. I'm enjoying it much more than I expected. We've watched the first 6 episodes. The final three will be released over the next 3 weeks, one each week.
  • We also started The Kominsky Method (Netflix) and have watched half the first season. It's funny so it's nice to be laughing since the last few shows were more serious.
  • Our current weekly (sort of, the pandemic seems to be messing with continuous new episodes) shows: The Rookie, Worst Cooks in America, SEALTeam, Young Sheldon, The Unicorn.
  • We also caught up on all the accumulated episodes of America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country on PBS.

What I'm Reading:

  • Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke, the second in the Hannah Swensen series. They're OK books, quick reads.
  • I started Undone from Karin Slaughter, the third in the Will Trent series. I'm not very far into it but it seems like it's going to be creepy and disgusting (the villain).

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts:

  • Ugh the stupid groundhog said 6 more weeks of winter and he seems to be right since there's been a lot of snow this week and it's really cold. Or maybe it's my house. Every year the house seems colder. I suppose it could be that we're turning into the kind of old people who are always cold, spend winter in FL, and wear a winter coat, gloves, and a scarf when it's 60 degrees? Except we will never be snowbirds in FL and we don't really wear all that in 60 degrees (well, maybe a scarf for me if there's a bit of a breeze). We almost always have a blanket covering us whether we're on the couch or in the office. Bring on spring please.
  • Today is a very exciting day for us. We hope. But I can't say why just yet. Sorry to be vague.
  • Also vague: sometimes being an adult is so hard with all the decisions and responsibilities and worries.
  • This weekend is Valentine's Day. Who cares? Not us. We'll be cleaning the house and trying to stay warm. We have no special dinner plans, not even special take out, and will be following our usual no cards/no gifts policy.
  • The amaryllis blooms are gone. Now I guess we just wait a year for more?

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • C.B. Strike (HBOMax). We watched all 4 seasons and enjoyed them. It's a British crime drama base on the Cormoran Strike novels. There are 4 seasons, each season based on a book, but for some reason in HBOMax the first 3 seasons (The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, Career of Evil) are listed as Season 1 with 7 episodes and Season 4 (Lethal White) is Season 2 with 4 episodes. I hope they make a season 5 for the 5th book. I've enjoyed all the books and we both thought the show was quite good.
  • Watching the C.B. Strike show took up most of our tv time this past week. We watched our usual other shows that are actually airing new episodes (The Unicorn, SNL, Home Again with the Fords). 
  • We're also slowly catching up on Cook's Country episodes on PBS.

What I'm Reading:

  • A Gift of Bones and Game of Bones (#19 & #20) in the Sarah Booth Delaney series from Carolyn Haines. I'm on the library's waiting list for #21.

Friday, February 5, 2021

M&M Cookies

Last weekend we made the M&M Cookies from Cook's Country Dec-Jan 2021. We had high expectations since we made both the Snickerdoodles and the Rugelach from that issue and both were delicious. We agree that these M&M Cookies are really good, the best of these three cookies.

They're easy & quick, making 16 large cookies. Everything is mixed, well, whisked, by hand. That was SP's job!

These are soft & chewy, buttery, just a bit salty. These are a Make Again cookie and they will replace the M&M Shortbread Cookies as our go to M&M cookie.

Recipe: M&M Cookies


Thursday, February 4, 2021

Thursday Thoughts

Not many thoughts this week:

  • The groundhog said 6 more weeks of winter. Of course it did. After we got 3-4 inches of snow and now it's getting darn cold. Just when I'd started thinking this winter hadn't been too bad.

What We're Eating:

  • Pork Roast stuffed with Bacon, Apple, Gruyere served with twice baked potato and roast cauliflower
  • Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Sauce served with sauted green beans
  • Dessert: M&M Cookies

What We're Watching:

  • The Spy (Netflix). This is a 6 episode series based on the true story of Eli Cohen, an Israeli who was a spy in Syria for 4 years.
  • We watched Home Again with the Fords on HGTV. It's fun to see Pittsburgh on the show and last night's renovation was a house/area very near to where my grandparents lived.

What I'm Reading:

  • I finished Bone to Be Wild (#15) and then read Rock-a-Bye Bones, Sticks and Bones, and Charmed Bones (#16, #17, #18). 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts:

  • Last weekend we got paczki from Party Cake and they were yummy. 
  • A friend just lost her husband to COVID so that stinks.
  • It's so nice to wake up and look at the news and not expect a total poop show. Certain other politicians are leaving steaming piles of poop all over, but at least the leader is not pooping all over.

 What We're Eating:

  • Roast Chicken with tossed Salad. All week. 
  • Dessert: Leftover cookies, candy

What We're Watching:

  • We finished The Valhalla Murders (Netflix). It got better as it went on.
  • We have one more episode of The Flight Attendant (HBOMax). We are liking this much more than we expected and finding that the story is much more interesting than we expected.

What I'm Reading:

More of the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries. Bonefire of the Vanities, Smarty Bones, Shorty Bones, Booty Bones, and I'm partway through #15 Bone to Be Wild. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Hot Cocoa Cake

Last weekend we made Hot Cocoa Cake from The Perfect Cake (America's Test Kitchen). I'd been wanting to make this cake since last winter plus we had some leftover marshmallow creme.
It's easy to make, it just takes time. Even prepping the cake pans takes time: greasing, flouring, putting a parchment round in the pan, greasing that. The cookbook shows a 3 layer cake (8" layers) but we have 2 9" layer pans, so we decided our cake would be 2 9" layers. The nice thing for many of the cakes in this cookbook is that the recipes for vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, etc., round layers are for 3 8" or 2 9" layers, so no worries about having too much/too little batter. You need to have everything measured out ahead of time before you start mixing. The chocolate, cocoa, and hot water mixture needs time to cool a bit. Eggs need separating. Butter needs to be chunked and added chunk by chunk. You use both the whisk and paddle of the stand mixer. 
The cake layers need to cool before assembly. The marshmallow filling is easy but can be annoying since marshmallow creme is sticky! Once the marshmallow creme is combined with gelatin, butter, and vanilla it's much easier to work with. The frosting is so good, just whipping cream, cocoa, and white chocolate.
The cake is delicious and moist. Whenever I've made a cake that calls for buttermilk, it has never been dry and disappointing. I love the marshmallow filling. And that frosting - I think I could just eat it like pudding. I like that no powdered sugar was involved. Even SP really likes this cake and he's not usually a chocolate cake and marshmallow person!

To make it pretty, ATK tops it with large marshmallows and a dusting of cocoa powder. I didn't want to be eating that much marshmallow so we planned to just go without. Then we found a mostly used package from the last time we make Rice Krispies Treats so we figured we'd put them on top to make it prettier, especially for photos. They look fine, but in reality, the marshmallows with a use by date of Sept 2020 were hard and stale and revolting, so after taking photos, we plucked them off and tossed them!

We'd definitely make this cake again.

Recipe here: Hot Cocoa Cake

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts:

  • The dark, oppressive, angry, orange force is gone. It's so nice to see nice people in charge, people who laugh, who seem happy, who seem to care about more than themselves.
  • I didn't watch the inauguration but I did watch the clip of the nation's first-ever youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman. Amazing. Beautiful words that brought me to tears.
  • Ted Cruz, a TX twit tweeting about the Paris Climate Agreement and Pittsburgh. Huh. Eff off Cruz. You tried to get our votes tossed out and accused our state of election fraud and now you're saying we will lose jobs if we join the Paris Climate Agreement? News flash: we are no longer a smoky steel city and haven't been for some time. Also, Pittsburgh has been supporting the Paris Climate Agreement for the past 4 years in spite of Orange Blob's actions.
  • Bernie with his gloves and parka. The memes. Love them.
  • Non-inauguration thought: At Thanksgiving we received an amaryllis. At first, we had only a pot of dirt. We let it hang out in the dining room and ignored it. Then one day, we discovered it had started growing and eventually, we had this:

It made us think of a celery stick topped by an artichoke. We moved it into the living room and a few days later, we had this:

It bloomed beautiful flowers that make we yearn for spring but when I look out the window, I see the wind and snow remnants.
At least the amaryllis cheers us up.

What We're Eating:

  • Chicken Breasts with Mustard-Cream Sauce, Duchess Potato Casserole, Steamed Broccoli
  • Ham-Asparagus-Swiss Quiche
  • Dessert: Hot Cocoa Cake

What We're Watching:

  • Lupin (Netflix). Such a fun show! We both really enjoyed the five episodes of Part 1 and are looking forward to Part 2.
  • Marcella (Netflix). We finished Season 3. I don't know if there will be a season 4, but I guess the ending could be a good ending to the show or a cliffhanger for a fourth season - ? Season 3 was pretty good.
  • We started The Valhalla Murders (Netflix). The show is from Iceland/set in Iceland, so once again we are reading subtitles. We've watched half of the episodes and so far like it. 
  • Worst Cooks in America. Now that it's episode 3, it's less crazy, ridiculous, annoying. Things have calmed down a bit. We have the same favorite contestant and the same most disliked contestant so we'll see how they fare.

What I'm Reading:

  • Wishbones, Greedy Bones, Bone Appetit, Bones of a Feather (Sarah Booth Delaney book #'s 8, 9, 10, 11) by Carolyn Haines. It doesn't take long for me to read these books and I enjoy them.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Thursday Thoughts

No deep thoughts. Maybe just some bullet point thoughts:

  • Last weekend we got the first paczki of the season from Bethel Bakery. They were delicious! 
  • We got Saturday take-out dinner from Burgatory. I got my usual custom creation chicken but instead of chips I got salad! It was a really tasty salad.
  • SP got a new computer, or rather, ordered a whole bunch of parts to create a new & improved computer. He's busy putting everything together.
  • We got a new lasagna pan! After we made it on Sunday, of course. As we were making it, we were talking about how we don't have a good lasagna/13x9 pan because the metal ones are a little rusty, the white one had rounded edges which makes for a sad because it's smaller piece of lasagna, and the glass ones we're always worried will shatter. We've never had a glass baking dish shatter but figure it'd be our luck to have it happen on lasagna. So we treated ourselves to the Le Creuset Heritage Rectangular Casserole in Artichaut color (a pretty green). It arrived today.

What We're Eating:

  • Lasagna
  • Salad with shrimp
  • Dessert: paczki, holiday cookies, holiday candy

What We're Watching:

  • We're almost done with season 3 of Marcella on Netflix. Two more episodes.
  • I finally caught up on This Is Us, the last 2 episodes. Of course I cried at both. Randall's birth mother's story in particular made me sad cry.

What I'm Reading:

  • The Haunting At Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright. It was good and definitely held my attention but the conclusion of the 1928 story, well, it didn't seem complete, and as for the current day story, it was a little too optimal.
  • A Time for Mercy by John Grisham. I always enjoy his plots but all the legal/trial stuff gets boring to me. This one also had an unsatisfactory ending. Or maybe depressing ending? Not sure, but I have so many questions!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Thursday Thoughts

My thoughts aren't on anything but what happened in DC yesterday. We were glued to the TV and news. Yelling at the TV. Unbelievable yet believable. Thirteen days... please let normal return. I do not like waking up each day wondering what fresh pile of poop there is.

What We're Eating:
  • Breaded Pork Chops with roasted cauliflower
  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Dessert: holiday cookies and candy
What We're Watching:
  • The season 2 finale of His Dark Materials. It ended as more of a cliffhanger than I expected.
  • The Rookie is back and I'm glad they quickly resolved last season's cliffhanger but it's just sort of meh.
  • Another season of Worst Cooks. The first episode is always funny because they make their signature dish. This time, a lady made carbonara with mayo. Another pushed spaghetti through hot dog slices and then boiled them. 
  • The New Mutants (movie). Not as bad as we expected. Not as good as we would have liked.
  • Marcella (Netflix). We finished season 1 and started season 2. I was ready to quit halfway through season 1, but then I got interested again. Marcella has great instincts as a detective but personally, she's a mess and not very likeable. You want to blame her for her marriage failing but her husband is even more unlikeable. Such a jerk.
What I'm Reading:
  • The Crow Trap: The First Vera Stanhope Mystery by Ann Cleeves. It was good but took a while to really grab my attention. I'm not sure Vera is a very likeable character.