Dining

Off The Hook – Warrendale

AKA – my epic birthday dinner.

Yesterday was my birthday.  And my birthday used to be my most favorite day of the year.  The thrill is gone.

Well, not entirely.  I still love the excuse to get together with all of my favorite people.  And the excuse to indulge in a truly decadent meal.  This year, Jerry took me to a place I’ve been wanting to try for a while, Off The Hook.

As you can imagine, it’s a seafood restaurant.  And if you’ve ever been to Monterey Bay, you’ll know exactly what you’re in for.  Off The Hook is the brainchild of MB’s former owners.  The menu is very similar and just as delicious.

After we were seated, the waitress came to our table to review the specials.  “They are baking some fresh bread but while we wait, let me tell you about our features this evening…”.  Excuse me?  You had me at baking bread.

Here’s the low down on our meal:

Fresh baked, herb rolls – hot, herby and amazing

The Combo Appetizer (2 Jumbo shrimp, dusted in Cajun seasoning and seared on a white hot skillet. Served with orange horseradish marmalade, a skewer of bite size pieces of tuna, salmon & swordfish marinated in a ginger soy sauce and finished with a Ancho Chili aioli and a signature Jumbo lump crab cake served with Remoulade sauce)  – the star of this was the Ichiban skewer.  That fish was so flavorful! Even a fish hater would like it.

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Jenny: French Onion Soup – That massive mound of cheese covered some of the best FO soup I’ve ever had.  Tons of flavor but without the saltiness that sometimes overpowers it.  And did I mention massive amounts of cheese.  It was really good.  I could’ve ended dinner right there.

Jerry:  Caesar Salad – Jerry opted for no anchovies.  And he said it was decent.

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Lobster Whipped Potatoes – allow me to repeat…Lobster. Whipped. Potatoes.  These were insane. The sides are served family style and this could feed 4 people easily.  The lobster was perfect and the potatoes were whipped with at lease 5 lbs of butter.  So creamy and rich, I only had a small portion of them.  But they were worth every calorie.

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There was really no reason for me to eat another bite.  But we both ordered entrees…and it was my birthday, soooooooo….

Jenny:  Halibut Parmesan StyleCoated with Parmesan cheese, sautéed, with a white wine, lemon and black pepper cream sauce

Jerry – Black Grouper with Chorizo and cream – char grilled chorizo sausage with sautéed fennel and onions and smoked paprika cream

I win!  I win! Jerry’s Grouper was good but it paled in comparison to my Halibut.  At this point I was so full that I only ate a quarter of it.  But that fish was unreal.  It was light (surprisingly) and flaky, but moist.  Just perfect.


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And because it was my birthday, I got a free dessert.  Crème Brulee for the win!  Bourbon vanilla bean custard, torched to perfection.  Yes, yes it was.   

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The food was outstanding but really, really heavy.  They supposedly have a great happy hour with 1/2 priced appetizers and 1/2 priced wine/beer/cocktails.  We easily could have split the Appetizer combo and each had a salad…and been completely satisfied.  Next time.

It was a great birthday!

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Weekend

Weekend Wrap Up

What a fabulous weekend!  Mother Nature finally threw us a bone and we were blessed with lots of sun and temps in the mid-70s.  It was glorious.

Friday – Date Night

After work, I took a trip to Pier 1 to browse (I have a gift card from Xmas burning a hole in my pocket) and was very pleasantly surprised.  I don’t think I’ve stepped into a Pier 1 in 10 years but I’m so glad I returned.  They have great furniture in addition to all of the home decor things I remember.  Like these dining room chairs.  Love the red one!

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Then it was relaxing Friday night at home with Taco Pasta (so glad to have you back in my life!) and the Walking Dead.

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I resisted the Walking Dead for a long time.  The Zombie phenomenon is SUPER annoying to me (ranks up there with Wizards, Vampires and Hobbits…bleh!).  But the story line is great and Jerry & I are totally sucked in.

Saturday – Pedis and Bowling

I started my Saturday with Run Club.  It was horrible, miserable and I hate running more than ever (spoiler alert…I quit run club).  Then I met my Mom in Murrysville at Alluring Designs for pedicures.  It took a belt sander and jack hammer to work through the calluses on my feet (I’m looking at you Run Club) and the end result was short of a miracle.  My feet are beautiful! (There is no picture because really, who wants to look at my feet.)

Saturday night was bowling at Pines Plaza.  I haven’t been bowling in years…and I’m actually not horrible!  I had 2 strikes in a row!  Then i got cocky and only knocked down 1 pin the next round.  But it was super fun and I’m looking forward to going again.  And the shoes…not gross and kinda cute!

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Sunday – North Park and Pizza

Jerry, Jacob and I started our day at North Park.

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This guy loves car rides!!

There was some sort of race at NP so we took the loop around the swimming pool. It was 45 minutes of outdoor bliss and we left with one tired pup.  A tired dog is a good dog.

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Sunday afternoon was spent hanging out with my favorite nephew

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and my favorite niece.

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My Dad & Anna and Jerry & I had a little pre-Easter, pre-Jenny’s birthday celebration at Kevin & Katie’s house.  There was pizza (yum!) and cake (yum!) and the Master’s (boooooring).  It was a fabulous afternoon.

Jerry & I rounded out the night with more Walking Dead (we’re in the middle of Season 2 and it’s SO good!).  Looking forward to a short week….YAY!

Lot 256

House Progress

Well they are moving right along on Lot 256!  It’s so exciting to watch the progress.  One day we have the first floor…

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and the next week we have a second floor!!

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omg, omg, omg…I seriously squeal like a little pig every time I see something new!  It’s pretty embarrassing.

The whole building is moving right along.  Ours is an end unit, and the last to be completed.  Booooooo!

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Here’s our living room wall…hanging out on the crane.

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I can’t believe how quickly things are coming together.  We may actually make our projected move in date…June 30th!!

Favorites

Friday Favorites #1

Here are some things that had me smiling this week…

Sunshine!  Ahhhhhhhh, oh how I’ve missed the blue skies and temps above 40.  This past week has been beautiful and Spring Fever is hitting me hard!  Jacob is loving the new neighborhood!

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Workouts  I’m back in the groove.  I suppose I should say thank you to Run Club for giving me a swift kick in the butt (don’t get cocky Running…I still hate you).  But this week I’ve welcomed BodyPump, BodyCombat & long walks back into my life.  And I’m cleaning up my diet (bikini tankini season is right around the corner!)…feels good to be out of the winter funk.

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New Hair Products

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The new line up of products:

Moroccan Oil Strong Flexible Hold hair spray – This gives perfect amount of hold without weighing my hair down.  Plus I love the smell.

Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo & Conditioner – I’m taking a break from my favorite Pantene Repair and Protect duo and giving this stuff a shot.  So far, so good.

Suave Keratin dry shampoo – I’ve tried a bunch of dry shampoos and this has been my favorite.  It gives my hair some body on day 2 and doesn’t leave that horrible white powder all over my head.Alterna Caviar Seasilk Oil Gel – completely eliminates the frizz and leaves my hair silky smooth

I also adore this Kenra Platinum Blow Dry Spray (not shown), which has pretty much changed my life.  It cuts my drying time in HALF and also offers protection from all the heat I use.

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Speaking of heat, my beloved Super Solano dryer bit the dust after 6-7 years.  Whaaaaaa!  I loved that dryer.  I bought this BaBliss Pro TT as a replacement and must say that I’m loving it so far.

30 Rock 

I watched the first few seasons years ago and absolutely loved it!  I’m not sure why I stopped watching but I’m picking up in Season 4 and it’s better than I remembered.  I laugh so hard, I cry and find myself identifying with Liz Lemon more times than I should admit.

Howard Stern

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It’s all Howard. All the time.  And he knocked it out of the park on Wednesday with two amazing interviews.  Danny Trejo and Rob Lowe…they are the coolest.  But not as cool as Howard.

Dining

Casa Reyna

Jerry and I take our Mexican food very, VERY seriously.  Personally, I could eat Mexican 3, 4, 7 times a week.  It’s probably the combo of cheese, spice and soft tortillas that get me.  But oh, guacamole…you have my heart.

We regularly hit up many of the Mexican restaurants the city has to offer…Emiliano’s, Gran Agave, Steel Cactus, Mad Mex, Yo Rita, Las Palapas, Round Corner Cantina, El Campesino, Patron…goodness, that’s a lot!  And not to mention my all time favorite…Cozumel in Greensburg.

So you can imagine how excited we were to try a new (to us) Mexican restaurant in the Strip District…Casa Reyna.

Reyna Foods is a well established Latin American grocer located on Penn Avenue. They have their own chip, tortilla and tamale factory!  And if you’re shopping in the Strip at any point in time, most likely you’ve passed their food stand in front of the store…the amazingly delicious smells almost knock you over!  And about 9 months ago, they opened Casa Reyna.

We started off with a salsa sampler with housemade corn chips.  The Casera salsa and the Tomatillo Verde were both terrific.  Nice kick but not too hot and as fresh as could be.  And the chips…the best I’ve ever had.  Seriously.

We didn’t want to eat a ton b/c we were going to have an early (ish) dinner.  So Jerry got 2 fish tacos and I got a chicken quesadilla & we split our meals.  I know.  Boooooring.  But stick with what you know, right?

Both were delicious.  The chicken was perfectly seasoned and so flavorful.  The fish was mild and flaky (just how we like it).  And Jerry has decided that they are the smartest people on the planet.  The fish was nestled inside a hard blue corn tortilla which was wrapped in a flour tortilla.   Brilliant!!  He gets so annoyed when he’s eating a crunchy taco and it falls apart everywhere.  This way, you get the crunchy fun of the hard taco shell and you don’t make a huge mess!!

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Our waiter pointed out that the tortillas were being made about 10 feet away from us.  I peered through a little window and there they were!  Tortillas being churned out while we dined.  No wonder everything was so amazingly fresh.

Casa Reyna…we love you.  And we’ll be back soon!

Cooking

Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice

I don’t love Chinese food.  There, I said it.  When Jerry and I are going out to eat and we’re trying to decide a location, he always throws out a Chinese restaurant first.  And I immediately shoot it down.

Jerry: “You hate Chinese food!”
Jenny:  “No I don’t, I just don’t love it.”
Jerry:  “No you hate it…just admit it”
Jenny: “I don’t hate it.  There are simply WAY more things I’d rather eat other than Chinese food.  Like pizza.  Or Mexican.  Or sandwiches.  Or pasta.  Or salad.  Or chicken wings. Or pizza”

Maybe I just don’t like the way I feel after I eat it.  It’s always super salty (and I LOVE salt) and I’m hungry again 15 minutes after I eat it.

Then Jerry declared on Friday “I’m getting Chinese food this weekend and you can either come with me or you stay home and find something to eat by yourself”.

Hmmmm, ok.  “Well how about I make us a nice stir-fry at home?  And I’ll make some healthier fried rice”.  (Jerry only ever gets fried rice when we get Chinese food.  Or Thai.  ONLY fried rice.  So he really doesn’t love Chinese food either…he just loves fried rice).  He reluctantly agreed…although he looked very defeated.

So I went on my favorite healthy foods blog, Skinnytaste, and there it was…Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice. And I had all of the ingredients on hand.  Done and done.

Note:  I find it is really helpful to stock up on a bunch of Asian ingredients to keep on hand.  You drop $30 in one shopping trip, but then you always have them to whip up a quick dinner and don’t have to run to the store for one thing.  My staples are soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, asian fish sauce, thai garlic chili paste, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce.

I roasted up a big batch of veggies (season with toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, salt & pepper, 425 for 15 minutes) to go with it.

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All I can say is WOW…it blew us both away.  I cooked up some brown rice earlier in the day so the whole thing came together in 20 minutes or so.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, but my sesame oil was just plain and it turned out just fine.

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I may actually like Chinese food after all.

 

Jenny

The first rule of Run Club…

Is nobody talks about Run Club.

Well, I’m mainly not talking about Run Club because I have, once again, determined that I HATE RUNNING!  I want to like it. I really, really do.  I see those girls, jogging along, high on endorphins, happy as can be…

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Yeah, no.  This is not me…

I’m miserable the entire time.  My feet hurt, my face is beet red, my lungs burn and I curse the entire time.  But I want to run a 5k.  Cross it off my bucket list.  I’ve signed up with Mojo’s Couch to 5k program which will wrap up on May 24th with the Band on the Run 5k.

I’m also doing this plank-a-day challenge from The Fitnessista.  I hate planks almost more than running but my abs are the weakest part of my body.

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So there you have it.  I’m getting back in gear and getting this old body back in shape.  Swimsuit season is right around the corner!