an mcu journey: all the ants and all the meats

after a brief hiatus, we are back on our mcu journey, and this weekend phillip picked the eats while dave and jenn picked the flick. as always, let’s start with dinner.

phillip said he was in the mood for burgers, so we decided to try wayback burgers. when the boys brought dinner home and we unwrapped our meals, i was at first very excited. the double patty burger was loaded with all the classic burger toppings and even real strips of bacon. i chomped down on my double bacon everything in ravenous fashion and at first thought, “wow, this is what a classic burger should be!” dave and phillip had the same, and even though we all three ate our entire meals, we decided at the end they weren’t as satisfying as we had hoped. jenn was also underwhelmed, not even finishing her classic burger. the bacon on both the burgers and the bacon cheese fries was not nearly crispy enough, and overall it was as though it was too much of a good thing. if there is a saving grace here, it was the mac’n’cheese bites. those were pretty fun. oh, and dave’s watermelon-pineapple frozen margaritas. those kinda saved the day.

the better news from this mcu evening is that the movie was a hit! we dove into the world of ant-man, a new mcu movie to me, and i really do not think i could have been more pleased. paul rudd? love him. michael pena? never seen him in a movie i didn’t like. the super extra shrinking and enlarging and honestly ridiculously silly parts towards the end? totally okay with it all in this film! i feel like this movie embraced its quirky side and could not have cast the characters better, in my expert mcu opinion. although it felt like it dragged there a little in the middle, it was worth the two hours to watch that gigantic thomas the tank engine and his googly eyes at the end. am i right?

despite the polar opposites between the meal and the movie, the rankings are now a little shook up and getting interesting!

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. burger 21
  3. jerusalem bakery
  4. armando’s caribe
  5. wayback burger
  6. lon u

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. ant-man
  3. captain america: the first avenger
  4. thor
  5. the avengers
  6. iron man 2

an mcu journey: bitter bad guys and lots of rice

our next movie was our first sequel of the mcu with iron man 2. dave and jenn had declared ahead of time their disdain of this sequel, and even before seeing it myself i could partly understand where they were coming from. i mean, hardly ever is the second in a series as good as the original. having seen iron man 2 now, though, what is my review? generally speaking it certainly was not as good as the first but definitely could have been worse. ah, see that little rhyme-y rhyme i did for you there?

was that opening scene with the scantily-clad iron man dancers super extra? oh yeah. was tony stark’s vomit-inducing ego even more disgusting in the second movie than the first? i’d say so. and was pepper potts a little whiny? i’ll give you all of that. but did things like don cheadle and tony’s vulnerable humanity and that pretty parrot make up for it all? almost. i liked that in this film there were two villains looking to take down iron man, and they increased the thrill and suspense, even if just a little bit.

as for dinner that evening, i’d say it was solidly mediocre, kind of like the movie. we ordered delivery from lon u. i actually didn’t mind my sesame chicken, white rice, and broccoli, but the rest of the group seemed underwhelmed with this go round of asian american. phillip ordered the chicken fried rice, one of his favorite dishes, and he barely put a dent in it. in fact, he was sneaking bites from my bowl instead! i did try his and agree it was pretty flavorless. but guess what? later that weekend i reheated some of it, and somehow it tasted better than before. strange, yes? do you think there’s some science behind why some dishes taste better the next day? maybe that’s lon u’s secret and we just don’t know it…

we are close to finishing up phase one of the mcu and are on a roll with these reviews! here is how the rankings shake out five movies and restaurants in.

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. burger 21
  3. jerusalem bakery
  4. armando’s caribe
  5. lon u

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. captain america: the first avenger
  3. thor
  4. the avengers
  5. iron man 2

an mcu journey: big egos and big burritos

last week dave, jenn, phillip, and i settled into the comfy sectional sofas to watch the avengers. they told me i’d probably be inclined to like it because some of the characters i have already met come together in this film. honestly, though, i was underwhelmed. to start, i spent the first 40 minutes of the movie just trying to understand what was happening. everyone’s voices were so low, we are thrown right into the middle of a crisis, there is a new monster army that loki decides to “befriend,” and it took me several minutes to understand that the glowing rock thing had a name. but then again, this is the marvel universe, so why shouldn’t it have a name!

as the storyline progresses, the collision of each hero’s ginormous ego is no surprise, but i did find the moments between tony stark and bruce banner quite tender. anyone else? speaking of bruce, i found it highly convenient that on the ship he cannot control his rage but suddenly can when they are in new york city and he needs to use his powers for good. sure, whatever you have to do to make it work, i guess…kind of like hawkeye’s uncanny accuracy with his fancy arrows. my favorite (and least favorite) scene is when agent coulson decides to get in on the action. i think i was saddest about his death more than anything else in the movie! maybe he’ll reincarnate and show up in another film? i wouldn’t put it past this series.

generally it was fun to see all the heroes come together and use their forces against a common enemy, but it is starting to feel like every movie will be loki scheming a new plan to take over earth and someone trying to stop him. time will tell!

now, the only thing bigger than the avengers’ egos were the size of the meals we ordered from armando’s caribe for dinner. phillip and dave had steak quesadillas, and they were so full of tender meat and cheese that the tortilla could barely hold itself together. jenn had a stuffed burrito that made my mouth water, and i decided to try the media noche. it was basically a classic cuban sandwich but on sweet egg bread instead of cuban bread. i did like it but have had better dishes there (such as the tilapia tacos or the seared tuna, which is to die for). although not a new restaurant, at least i tried something new! and that is something.

four movies in, about a million to go. here are the rankings!

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. burger 21
  3. jerusalem bakery
  4. armando’s caribe

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. captain america: the first avenger
  3. thor
  4. the avengers

an mcu journey: spoiled sons and pineapple on pizza

movie three in our journey was thor. similar to iron man, i had seen thor once before, but that was forever ago, and all i remembered was lovesick natalie portman and that big robot thing that shot a big laser thing out of its face. so, yes, it was time to rewatch it and actually absorb the story and understand how it fits into the bigger picture.

my honest review? thor left much to be desired, and even though chris hemsworth is unbelievably ripped, here are my biggest gripes:

  • thor’s storyline felt incredibly basic: spoiled son doesn’t get his way, so he starts a fight he can’t finish and gets put in timeout to learn a lesson. that’s it.
  • loki’s “origin story” was quite interesting, and he could have risen above his past but decides instead to also be selfish and cranky and take it out on everyone else. come on, loki.
  • the camera angles. why were so many of the camera angles at an awkward, tilted angle? do you want me paying attention to the movie or my easily triggered nausea?

once the movie finished and i gave my honest review, dave actually pulled up this video from the honest trailer series on youtube that perfectly sums up the movie and my feelings about it.

the good news is that our dinner was leaps and bounds better than the movie. phillip was in the mood for pizza, so dave and jenn picked up a couple pies from gordo’s pizza up the street. we had a supreme and then something with chicken, bacon, and pineapple. now, i’ve never been one to crave pineapple pizza. in fact, i’m probably one of those folks who never gave it much thought, but after those couple of slices, i just might be a believer! there’s something almost indescribable about warmed, sweet pineapple next to salty chicken and bacon and gobs of cheese. seriously!

so, let’s get to the rankings, shall we? after three movies and three restaurants, here’s where things stand. see you next time!

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. burger 21
  3. jerusalem bakery

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. captain america: the first avenger
  3. thor

it’s doughp, yo!

like many folks these days, i have taken the opportunity to seize moments i couldn’t otherwise. like deep cleaning the house. or really tackling the yard work. or ordering stuff just because i want to. this post is related to that final category. 🙂

as i have alluded to previously, i am a sucker for a good marketing campaign. the p’zone and cheez-it pizza squares by pizza hut? tried ’em both. the shaqaroni by papa john’s? had it just the other week. the famous popeye’s chicken sandwich? devoured it. the list goes on and on. truly. just ask any of my family and friends. my latest foodie adventure, though, is a little on the sweeter side with edible raw cookie dough by doughp.

the reasons i wanted to try doughp included…

  1. the founder’s name is kelsey. that honestly should be enough reason.
  2. it’s cookie dough. i like cookies. i like dough. ’nuff said.
  3. and there’s a good cause behind each purchase.

oh, and i had a sweet-ass bogo coupon from my favorite daily newsletter morning brew. that had a little something to do with it, too.

regardless of why i was motivated to place that order, how was the dough? was it as doughp as i wanted it to be? in a few short words, yes, it was.

we ordered the self control cookie dough box and at first did just eat the dough by the spoonfuls right out of the containers. the general consensus (between phillip and i) was that the dough was tasty and the different flavors were fun, but i wasn’t getting ready to smack my mama over it.

it then dawned on me that we should probably bake the dough and see what we thought of it then. oh, honey, was that just the best idea we’d had all day? i think so. i’ll be honest, i loved doughp SO much more when baked. i’m talking a junk ton more. the first batch we underbaked slightly, so they were warm and ooey and gooey right out of the oven. the second batch we let go a little longer, and each crispy bite was still delicious.

phillip’s favorite was “i need smore” while i could easily put away a whole tub of “cookie monsta” myself, and i definitely recommend the variety pack if you want a little, yes, variety. lawlz.

so, if you’re in the mood to treat yo’self and do a little something good at the same time, go order some doughp right away. as far as i see it, your satisfaction is guaranteed. 🙂

mozzarella!

earlier this month i wanted to plan a little date night in for phillip and me and was inspired when my coworker sue told me about a creamery in pennsylvania that offers mozzarella-making kits and instructions.  no sooner were the words out of her mouth than i had placed my order for a pound of our very own curds.

you want to know the most interesting thing i learned about making mozzarella?  that once you have the curds, it really doesn’t take long at all!  rynn takes you through the mozz-making process step by step in an adorable online video you get access to once your curds arrive.  to echo her suggestion, i highly recommend pouring yourself a drink, kicking back, and simply watching the process first before diving in to make your own.  rynn is charming and entertaining and informative all at the same time and really does give you deep insight into cheese and, of course, mozzarella.

once we felt prepared, we inched our aprons and shred our curds and boiled our water and sprinkled our salt and got to work.  the process, again, really isn’t too difficult, and i ultimately think the most important step is getting your water hot enough.  i don’t know that ours was because our mozz balls were a little lumpy and not as smooth as i think they could have been.  however, it was still a fun time watching those curds clump together and then pulling them with the spoon for that picturesque waterfall effect.  i mean, i think they look pretty good for first-timers!

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so now that we had our fresh mozzarella available, how did we enjoy it?  well, we sliced up one of the balls and enjoyed it on its own, and some things just taste better when you make them yourself.  next up that night were individual pizzas with our lovely mozz plopped on top.  each bite was super cheesy and super delicious.  then, we paired the mozz with some fresh tomatoes, basil, and vinegar for a little caprese salad.  how gourmet!

if you like cooking and you like cheese, please order yourself some curds and join in on the fun.  it was a delightful evening in and almost makes me feel like i’m right in italy alongside the experts.  almost.  🙂

daily harvest

for several months now i have been reading an e-newsletter from a group called morning brew.  a free newsletter like this is, of course, to a degree supported by advertisements, and a sponsor they’ve had recently is daily harvest.  i’ve seen their commercials on tv and after several weeks finally gave in and ordered our first box.  yes, i am okay that i gave into the marketing overlords’ motives.  and yes, this is one of those times it was worth it.

why do i suggest giving daily harvest a try?  because they make it easy to get your daily dose of fruits and veggies.  because they have all sorts of smoothie options.  because everything really is ready within minutes.  because they also have bowls and lattes and flatbreads and soups and snack bites.  the reasons could go on and on.  phillip and i have our third box arriving this week, and we’ve loved just about everything we have tried.  wait, is this a daily harvest commercial?  i think it could be.  just look at all the yummy treats we’ve enjoyed!

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if you’d like to get your own box delivered and begin your healthier-eating routine, let me know.  i’ll shoot that referral link your way.  😉

quarantine calories

i feel like most folks are doing a handful of things with their time these days:  working (if lucky enough to do so), cleaning, hobby-ing, childcaring, and eating.  among all those things, the last one might be the most fun.

over the past two weeks, we’ve been hosting phillip’s sister natalie and her doggie wyatt, and as a household of individuals who love food, we have been fortunate to support some local businesses and adventure into some new recipes together.  today’s post includes mouthwatering photos of all our eats.  get ready to drool!

nat and wyatt.

our first stop after picking up natalie and wyatt from the airport was zaxby’s.  natalie doesn’t have zaxby’s up in nyc, so it was definitely a homecoming meal.  oh, and in case you want a pro tip, check out this recipe to make your own zax sauce.  it’s super easy and worth the minimal effort, i promise.

hhhnnnggg, homemade zax sauce.

the next night, phillip and natalie were together to celebrate their 32nd birthday!  aw, it made my heart so happy.  we started with a specially delivered dinner from alessio’s restaurant & pizzeria in norcross.  from the lasagna and garlic knots to the tortellini cardinal and the chicken francese, it was quite a feast, and i don’t doubt we’ll go dine in once we can.  and, no birthday is complete without a cake!  thank you, publix, for the fudge and strawberry filled chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.  🙂

the mornings were definitely prime opportunities for some tasty treats over the past several days.  from whipped coffee (i promise this trend is worth the work)…

to avocado toast…

to simply done donuts

to dirty horchata

to mimosas…

cheers!

and finally chrissy teigen’s banana bread.  it was some good eatin’.

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we didn’t leave dinner out at all.  we became kroger recipe experts, first with their arugula, goat cheese, and olive pasta salad.  i couldn’t keep natalie away from it, lol!  on Easter sunday we also tried out and really enjoyed their pork & peach tacos with ginger brown rice.

alongside the tacos we chowed down on my favorite corn dip.  i don’t know where on earth i got this recipe, but i’m glad i have it.

our tex-mex dinner that day had been preceded by a monkey bread breakfast and a deviled egg snack.  om nom nom.

in addition to trying out several kroger recipes, we also busted out the blue apron cards and loved the pork burgers with potato wedges and beef and rice bowls.

beef rice bowl and those pickled radishes. yum.

at some point over the past several days, i also whipped up this spicy pasta salad by ree drummond.  anything with gouda in it just makes my heart sing.

the evening was, of course, always an opportunity to nosh and also spend some of our hard-earned dollars at the nearby establishments.  we had mcdonald’s on our anniversary, freddy’s on thursday just because it was thursday, noodles from lon u on friday because we were craving pad thai, and marco’s pizza on saturday because who doesn’t love some ‘za.

and of all the sweet treats we had for dessert, i think phillip’s homemade ice cream sundaes were my favorite.  ❤

so, have you discovered any tasty recipes you’d like to share?  or have a local restaurant you think we just must try?  let us know and, above all else, stay safe.

p.s. i realize that many people out there are not currently in a position to splurge on food and groceries or even acquire the essentials.  if anyone out there needs a helping hand, i hope we can either assist or that you are able to find what you need right when you need it.  let’s keep everyone in mind these days, especially those severely impacted by everything that surrounds us.

and she made pasta

i’m sure many of us are trying to occupy our suddenly copious amounts of free time, and i am no exception, especially since i have a week of pto coming up.  i’ve already done a little tidying and organizing, but the other night i got a flash of inspiration to make my own pasta dough.  sure, why not!

with flour in the pantry and eggs in the fridge, i set off to follow this recipe by gemma stafford.  i’d perused a few sites before settling on her approach, and i’d be lying if i said her charming smile and accent weren’t a couple of the deciding factors.

i grabbed my ingredients and cleared off the counter and got to work at about 10:30 on friday night.  i’m not in charge of when inspiration strikes!  i just answer when it calls.  🙂

the kneading itself wasn’t particularly difficult, but it did take some patience and those few splashes of water like gemma recommends.  i also should have probably let the eggs come to room temperature, but i was flying by the seat of my pants here and couldn’t wait.

the dough did come together nicely, don’t you think?  once all wrapped up, it sat overnight in the fridge.

now, when it came to rolling out the dough and getting it prepped for cooking, i definitely should have let the dough rest out of the fridge for a bit.  the first half that i rolled out was a bit tough and had me breaking a sweat!  the second half was more pliable and, i think, ended up thinner than the first.  this is called the “living and learning” process.  i lived it and i learned for next time.

i will say it was extremely satisfying to cut up the dough into noodles once it was ready.  look at that happy little pile!

i boiled up a big ‘ole pot of salted water and cooked the noodles for only about two minutes.  remember, because it’s fresh pasta, it doesn’t need too long.  per gemma’s recommendation, i topped our bowls with butter, pepper, and a healthy showering of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  my review?  it was a delicious saturday afternoon snack.  the pasta really was divine, and i can imagine with a homemade sauce on top it would be that much more enjoyable.  sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that bring a smile to your face.

bon appetit!

chestnut flour – who knew

over the past couple of years i have investigated (and tried my fair share of) gluten-free baking recipes.  it is not out of necessity but rather curiosity, as gluten-free treats tend to have a lackluster reputation.  the good news is that gluten-free baking has come a long way, and the most creative bakers out there are getting inventive with alternative baking ingredients so that the gluten-free brownie you see in the bakery’s case doesn’t taste like cardboard.

my coworker george recommended i check out the book alternative baker, as his wife swears by its recipes.  i quickly placed my order on amazon and once in my eager hands, i started at the beginning to read all about the author’s outlook on alternative ingredient baking and how to use the book.  alanna taylor-tobin presents her recipes in a welcoming manner and includes charming backstories to each which, to no surprise, i just love reading.  i have put my own baking skills to the test with near perfect success on several recipes, and although i’d like to take the credit, i must give it to alanna.  she has meticulously tested different ingredients in different amounts over and over again to ensure that the recipes in this book will make anyone come across like a seasoned baker.  and besides the fact that they taste incredible, my treats have always come out looking exactly like her pictures.  exactly.  i mean it!  there might be nothing more satisfying, at least today.  🙂

in a recent baking mood, i came across a recipe for loaded chocolate chip cookies that required chestnut flour.  i looked high and low at the local grocer for chestnut flour with no luck and then resorted to calling the specialty food stores in town.  still, no chestnut flour to be found anywhere in the greater atlanta area.  not ready to give up, i went back to the recipe, which actually referenced two suggested brands of chestnut flour.  next thing i knew, i was in contact with sandy bole from ladd hill orchards in sherwood, oregon who so kindly helped me order one pound of chestnut flour.

with the primary ingredient in hand (thank you again, sandy), phillip and i got to work toasting pecans and chopping chocolate and sifting flour.  the dough came together nicely, don’t you think?

nothing better than cookie dough.

we patiently waited 15-18 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking.  the smells from the oven were cozy and warm as the cookies baked to perfection.  once slightly cooled, we took a gooey bike, taking in the rich chocolate, tart cherries, crunchy pecans, and nutty chestnut flour.  here is one of the best parts about these cookies (and most everything in this cookbook), unless you tell someone they are gluten-free, they should have no idea because the quality, flavors, and combination of ingredients is so thoughtful and delicious they have no reason to believe otherwise.  the bonus?  you learn about new options, and if you are not learning, you are not growing.  🙂

so, here is what you need to take away from this post:

  1. gluten-free baking is not scary or difficult.  with the right ingredients, you’ll be a booming success.
  2. this cookbook is incredible.  please.  go order it.  now.
  3. for all your chestnut product needs, give ladd hill orchards a ring.  they couldn’t be kinder.  tell  them alanna taylor-tobin and kelsey davis sent you.

next up from the cookbook?  i’ll try my hand at some rich chestnut brownies and am betting they’ll be a hit at book club this month.