Date Night Log: Another Confession

Date Night Log

Date Night went on a brief hiatus for two weeks (April 19 and April 26) because of traveling and Muffin’s birthday.  It makes me wonder how date night will work out when we travel up north this summer.  I think we will end up prorating date nights a bit.  It’s easier in the summer because Josh never has to get up as early as I do, and I won’t be teaching this summer.

We did have a date on April 12, however.  We watched the second Percy Jackson movie with popcorn…which was a case of datus interruptus because Muffin kept coming in (usually at the scarier parts).  He was still awake in his room (after much bribery…err…convincing) at the end of the movie.  The movie was good, but again I want to reiterate how important it is to choose a movie you’ve seen before for date night.  Instead of snuggling on the couch, we spent much of the movie (when we weren’t cajoling Muffin to go back to his room) trying to remember the first movie and wondering (aloud) what was going to happen next.

Last night, we definitely played it safe on the movie front.  We sat down with some of the candy purchased on sale at Albertson’s (peanut M&M’s and SweetTarts) and one we’ve seen a lot…Pink Panther 2 (with Steve Martin…Ahmburrrguer).  For once, I didn’t fall asleep…but Josh did.  This may have something to do with the fact that I did take a nap yesterday, and Josh didn’t.

I think we should start taking pictures of date night, so that we have a visual memory of date night (and I have a graphic other than the Date Night Log one above).  My only worry is that it will be a series of casual selfies of us on the couch.

No…we aren’t in a rut…really.  I’m planning something special for the May 24th date.  (As in…I will be out of school by that time and have a day to devote to planning).

How have your date nights been going?

Date Night Log: Possibly the Most Prosaic Date to Date

Date Night Log

Erm.  We seem to be on a roll lately although I should have seen this coming.  When reviewing some of the Good Eats episodes recently, I may have caused Josh to select the main entertainment for last night’s date.

There are several (obvious and casual) references to Monty Python in Good Eats episodes.

I think it may have been my fault, as well, because I suggested that we do dishes by hand as part of a couple bonding experience (since the dishwasher tablets don’t seem to want to dissolve and therefore several rounds of dishes have come out on the other end of the dishwasher experience unclean).

So, we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Well, sort of.  After washing the dishes and shopping most of the day and Muffin not taking a nap and a long week at work preparing for testing, I fell asleep before the movie was halfway over.  Which means that I may have made it farther in the movie than I ever have before.

I’m actually going to have to bug off because I think we are going to re-watch the parts that I still haven’t seen.

Yay to medieval-ness!  Even parodies of medieval-ness!

Happy dating, everyone!

Date Night Log: Josh’s Long-Anticipated Medieval-like Feast and a Robin Hood Double Play

Date Night Log

Date Night Log:  Saturday, March 30, 2014

Medieval (like) Feast and Robin Hood (and Robin Hood)

This, if you will remember, was the date night that Josh requested way back in January.  The one that he requested when we first sat down to discuss an actual weekly at-home date night.

The plan was to watch a medieval movie (or two), such as Robin Hood, and feast the evening away beforehand.

After much research (some of which doubled for research for my students for world history), I decided on a menu:

Opening and closing course:  cheddar cheese slices (Cheese was provided at medieval feasts as both the first course and the last course as a digestive aid.)

Potage:  A brothy, vegetable and barley soup.  I cheated and bought a can of Campbell’s beef with vegetable soup (Do you know how difficult it is to find a straight up veg soup in a can without pasta or rice?).  It was okay.

Roasted Fowl:  I waxed poetic about them here.

Poached Pears:  Again, see here for the recipe.

Beverages:  apple juice (Muffin), beer (Josh), and a shiraz wine spritzer (me)

As an historian, I know we received definite minuses for serving with plastic spoons, serving the poached pears with ice cream, and who knows what else (the spritzer).  I did offer a finger bowl for each of us to dip our fingers in (much needed after the chicken) scented with bergamot oil (I couldn’t find my rosewater).

During dinner, we watched the Disney cartoon of Robin Hood for Muffin’s benefit.  He had a lot of difficulty understanding that a prince could be bad (Prince John) or that a sheriff could be bad as well (the Sheriff of Nottingham).  Trying to explain medieval mores and politics to a Muffin is not an easy task.

The feast seemed to go over fairly well.

After supper, we began the arduous process of attempting to watch the version of Robin Hood with Russell Crowe.  I paid Josh back in spades for this movie; let’s just say that Richard does not meet his just desserts in the movie the same way he did in real life…historically. And I might have mentioned that a few dozen times during the movie.  It didn’t help that Muffin kept interrupting the movie.  That version of Robin Hood is definitely not Muffin-friendly.  I did like the portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine, though.  She’s probably my hero of the medieval era.

I think Josh wants to do medieval night again.  I think we should watch The Princess Bride for it.  Or Lion in Winter.  I think Josh would prefer Lion in Winter to The Princess Bride.

How did date night go for you this week?

The Recipes for Date Night (Roasted Fowl and Poached Pears): The Spring Cleaning New Recipe Challenge

New Recipe Challenge

I am going to do another date night post, but I figured I would include the recipes that I cooked as part of a separate challenge post.  Both recipes I had my doubts about, but turned out superstar! fabulous (think the Molly Shannon skit and movie–I feel like doing that superstar! move after eating both).

I will explain the rationale behind each tomorrow in my date night post, but here is the lusciousness (as it seems date night is in two parts):


Roasted Fowl

Adapted from Wired.com’s Geek Mom

6 chicken legs (but this recipe would rock the clock of any chicken parts–yes!  it’s that good)

olive oil

fresh rosemary leaves/needles, minced

basil, dried

oregano, dried

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

(I am not listing amounts for the seasonings because I put a random–nearly equal–amount of each in a bowl and sprinkled and rubbed my heart out)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Give the chicken legs a shower in the sink and path them dry with paper towels.  You want them as dry as possible at this point.  Think kale leaf dry.  On second thought, forget the kale chip disaster all together.

Rub the chicken legs with a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle with the seasoning mixture (I did roughly a teaspoon of each).  You want them to be really seasoned.

Line your half-sheet pan with foil.  Spray it with non-stick cooking spray.  For an aromatic touch of whimsy, I placed a spring of rosemary in the center of the pan.  Place the drumsticks in the pan.  Bake for 45-55 minutes (or longer), turning halfway through so that more sides become golden brown and delicious.  The chicken is done logistically when the juices run clear.  Remember that dark meat is cheaper and more forgiving heat-wise than chicken breasts that tend to dry out fairly quickly.

Serve warm or cold.

Verdict:  This chicken was loved by all.  I would love to try it with thighs (my favorite selection of chicken) next time.  Date night spoiler:  this tasted VASTLY BETTER than the chicken I had that time at Medieval Times (although Josh insists we need to take Muffin).


Zert!

Red Wine Poached Pears

Adapted from:  About.com

5 peeled, cored, and sliced pears (I used Anjou), fairly ripe (but not necessarily to the point of eating out of hand)

1 1/2 cups red wine (I used an Australian Shiraz that I purchased on clearance at Albertson’s for $2.99–a $10 wine!  Yay!)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

zest of one lemon (small)

2 tablespoons lemon juice (I used two small Sunkist lemons)

2 teaspoons vanilla (although I wonder what a vanilla bean would have done to this)

2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground

Combine all ingredients, except pears, and bring to a boil.  Once the wine mixture is boiling, turn heat down to a simmer and add the pears (two pears at a time).  Simmer until they turn a shade of red that makes you happy (10-12 minutes before turning them and cooking for an additional 8010 minutes).  Remove pears and let them cool.  Boil the wine sauce until the liquid is reduced by half.  Avoid the overwhelming dictate by your taste buds to down the entire contents of the wine sauce.  Take a taste (to make sure it’s yummy).  Take another taste.  Ignore the voices telling you to down it all.  Pour sauce over pears and serve over ice cream.  Make sure that you spoon extra sauce on the ice cream and pears because that’s the best part.

Verdict:  I want to bathe in the sauce.  Seriously.  Or make sorbet from it.  Its siren’s song is calling me now.  Josh liked it over ice cream, but he felt that the taste of the poaching liquid was too strong by itself.  Whereas I could guzzle the sauce all down.  It might be good as a soda.  Or as a topping for the Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Mug.  Or by itself.  Really it’s worthy of anything.  I think it could do wonderful things to ham, in fact.  Did I mention that I ❤ the sauce?  It makes me happy.


So, date night spawned two great, repeatable dishes (even in different contexts).  I consider that a success!

Date Night Log: Chill Date Night in Prep for Next Week’s Big Date Night

Date Night LogDate Night Log:  The Proposal plus movie snacks

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I’m starting to feel as if date night is getting a bit repetitive.  Trying not to feel that way, but just sayin’.  We’ve done movie nights very frequently (Of course, we also have a lot of movies to watch that we haven’t watched yet…that are in our library…or on Netflix…or on Amazon Prime).

For this movie night, we dug out (or rather pulled down) the air popper, popped some popcorn (well, Josh did), laced it with butter (again, Josh), sprinkled with salt (Josh), and cracked on some pepper (me!).  Trust me, the pepper made all the difference.  I’ve eaten popcorn laced with  Tony’s before (lots of popcorn laced with Tony’s before), but this took things to a gourmet level.  We also served some of the Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars and Coke.

Now, I can see the allure of going out to movies (especially with what I’m about to tell you), but what self-respecting theater is going to let you show up in your jammies (Josh had worked all day, was on call, and so we did a dressing down), cuddle on the couch with your favorite blue fuzzy blanket, and serve Salt and Pepper Popcorn (with real butter), peanut butter bars, and pop with a bottle to place at your feet for refills?  Uh, none.

Let it be noted that we had an invader who stole food during our date.  A little red-haired one who answers to Muffin.  Who stole one of Josh’s peanut butter bars before being persuaded to go back to sleep and keep Daisy company.  I guess that will be one advantage to a movie theater.

I chose The Proposal while Josh was digging the air popper from obscurity (actually above the cabinets…a location I can’t reach even with a chair to stand on).  For us, The Proposal is very timely.  Any couple that has ever had to struggle with the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) during the course of their relationship needs to see this movie.  Preferably 3-5 years after said struggle when it’s fresh enough in your memory to make it poignant and relevant but not so soon in your memory that you still become angry and want to throw things at the screen.  I’ve been there, done that.  Sent a box of files to their offices two-inches thick for the fiance visa.  Check.  Paid through the nose for the privilege of having our relationship scrutinized.  Josh and me check.  After two-and-a-half years of marriage had to prove (and re-prove) that Josh and I are gainfully married.  Check.  Note:  this came during the time I was pregnant with Muffin and just after (before the birth certificate arrived).  And an apartment where you co-habitate, by the way, is not proof.  A car in both of your names is not proof.  (In case you ever find yourself in that position).  However, a snarkily worded letter explaining that yes, I just had a child with the applicant, and no, you can not see the birth certificate because even though my son may soon cut his first tooth (slight exaggeration here), I am not privy to his birth certificate is, I guess, proof.  I have the hospital birth record that I am sending to you as well as a note from my doctor detailing that yes, this is my husband’s child (the shock of red hair on my son’s head at birth should tell anyone that), and that my husband attended EVERY doctor’s appointment during the pregnancy.  I went on to say in the snarky letter that if they could get the office in Louisiana to issue the birth certificate faster, that would surely be a weight off my mind, but that since I was waiting for the state bureaucracy to work so that I could send it to them in order to help the federal bureaucracy work, then they could see a copy of my son’s birth certificate.

Whenever I think of this, I wonder:  what about those parents (one of which is a Legal Permanent Resident, a green card holder to the uninitiated) who are 1) unable to bear their own children or 2) (shocker of shockers) of the mindset to not have children right away?  Honestly, if I were in the first camp, I would have become very upset at the mention of offering that as proof.  If I were in the latter group, I would be offended that my job is to be a baby factory to satisfy the salacious desires of a worker in the USCIS office.

Maybe 3-5 years isn’t enough to move beyond the anger and frustration of dealing with the USCIS.  Hmm…check back with me in 3-5 years to see if I’m over it yet.

Moving on.  Anyway.  Great movie.  Bullock and Reynolds.  Lots of funny moments.  Betty White thanking the nature spirits.  Great fun.

Of course, it should be noted that we have seen this movie before.  I am fully on the theory that date night movies should be movies we’ve seen before.  The Catching Fire date proves that.

Anyway, I thought I should include a recipe in this post to show that I’m not angry at the USCIS anymore.  Or at least for you, my lovely readers’, benefit.

New Recipe Challenge

Le Pop-Corn du Sel et Poive (Salt and Pepper Popcorn…the French makes it sound more gourmet…and I have no idea if it is translated correctly)

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels

4 Tablespoons butter (or beurre) (half a stick, eighth of a pound, according to Josh), melted

1/2-1/4 teaspoon sel (or salt) (to taste)

plenty of freshly cracked black pepper (at least 1/2 teaspoon) (or poive)

Pop the popcorn in your trusty air popper (or on the stove top in a covered pan with an appropriate amount of oil).  Pour butter over the popcorn.  Toss to coat.  Sprinkle on salt.  Toss to spread.  Crack on some pepper.  Toss.  Crack on some more until it is full of peppery goodness and the oils from the pepper form this yummy elixir in your mouth when you take a bite.  Then, if that happens, get your head examined because you have OD’d on cracked black pepper.  Step away from the pepper.

Enjoy with The Proposal, peanut butter bars, Coke, and your date while snuggled in your favorite fuzzy blue blanket on the couch.

Maybe some of the butter didn’t get entirely melted…

Date Night Log: “Another” Movie Night and a Movie Treat

Date Night Log

Date Night Log:  Saturday, March 15, 2014

Catching Fire and Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars

From the beginning of the week on, it appeared that my plans for date night (bowling with 2 L bottles) was going to be subverted for something else.  Let me first preface this by saying:  I teach English and reading (in addition to social studies!) and have for nine years.  And I have not read any of the Hunger Games trilogy.  My husband, who doesn’t usually read fiction (but reads a lot of techie stuff and nonfiction), devoured all three books of the trilogy in less than a two-week span prior to the first movie coming out (on DVD).  So, when the first movie came out, we watched it.  He had already tried to get me to read the books, had in fact left them downloaded on the tablet, reminding me that I needed to read them.  They are on my TBR (to be read) list; they just aren’t at the top.

Dystopian literature bugs me.  It makes me angry.  It makes the the Libra in me who requires justice and balance to rail in horror and disgust.  When I read literature, for fun, dystopian literature is not my first choice.

Catching Fire came out recently.  I was trying to break the string of movie night date nights (although we do have a lot of movies that we have collected over the years that beg watching) and decided that, if we are going to watch a movie for date night, just as we did last week, we are going to make a snack to go with it.

On the meal plan for this week (to be posted Monday), I am making a slow cooker honey garlic chicken recipe that I found on the Six Sisters’ Stuff blog.  And just as I seem to need a time sink, I continued to look at all of the recipes in their recipe index.  I know.  But I consider it meal plan research.  And I did A LOT of research yesterday.  Fifty-one pages worth.

In doing that research, I found the weekly snack to make since we sped through the racks of Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies.  Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars.  And they are just like we used to have in the cafeteria before “everyone” became allergic to peanuts and peanut butter.  And they used ingredients I already had.  Bonus!

Therefore, when I finally dug my head out of the sand and realized that we were going to have ANOTHER movie night date night, I figured this would be a great snack to have.  And they were.

The recipe says that the recipe serves 30, but I cut them into 72 brownie-size bars.  They are very rich, so I think I can probably only eat half of one in a sitting.  I used my half-sheet pan that we had picked up at the restaurant supply store in Baton Rouge.  Pioneer Woman has proclaimed them indispensable in the kitchen, and I have to agree.  With the frosting, it makes a PAN FULL!

A few things to note:  when making these the next time (and there WILL BE a next time), I will melt the cup and a half of peanut butter in the microwave before spreading it on the hot bars.  I think that will make it easier to spread (and result in less tearing of the bars).  Also, I might double or 1 and 1/2 times the frosting.  If you click the link above, you can find the recipe (the Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars link) as well as several other recipes to drool over.  Anybody who has several slow cooker recipes and lots of buffalo chicken recipes gets my vote for great recipes.

Here’s how the snack looked:

I also refrigerated these overnight (this is shortly after I put the frosting on so it was still very liquidy) and brought some to my mom who was very excited when I said I was going to make these.  She remembers them from the cafeteria where she used to teach (at the school, not the cafeteria).  To me, they tasted spot-on, but she was concerned about the use of oatmeal; she didn’t remember an oatmeal texture.  I did use quick oats where the recipe called for not quick oats, but they still turned out just fine.

And then came time to watch the movie:

This is a movie that proves that movie night doesn’t work if you haven’t seen the movie before.  Since Josh had read the books, I kept bugging him with “Is he going to live?  Is she going to live?  Who does Katniss end up with?  Why is that going on?”  It was not a relaxing experience for him, to say the least.

But we did enjoy the treats!

Muffin took one with him to bed with a Sun, in an attempt to (bribe him) keep him from interrupting date night.  This recipe is DEFINITELY Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

Date Night Log: A Date Night Surprise

Date Night Log

 

Date Night Log:  Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dinner, a Nearly Double Feature, and Dessert

So, date night was going to be making cookies and watching a movie.  Then, we went shopping to Sam’s and Kohl’s with my parents.  And Muffin’s nap started at 3:30.  By now, many people realize that means that Muffin is (pretty much) out for the night.  So, date night actually included dinner, movie, baking cookies, and watching a movie.

For dinner, I had what I will now call a Blue Rocket Burger.  Josh used his burger press to again grill beefy pork burgers (the beef-pork mixture makes for such a yummy patty).  He also grilled asparagus and sausage that we had purchased from Sam’s that he plans to use in his lunches this week.

The Blue Rocket Burger, asparagus, sausage, and potato salad (purchased on sale at Albertson’s).

Anyway, I call it a Blue Rocket burger because it has blue cheese on it as well as Arugula (purchased on produce markdown at Brookshire’s for 99 cents and also called rocket).

After dinner, Josh crushed the corn flakes for Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies (the Joanne Fluke/Hannah Swensen mystery series/Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder recipe).

He put on Naked Gun on Netflix that we watched while I baked the cookies.  I made them smaller this time, so they made a lot.  I think the next time I make them, I will roll them out in balls and freeze half to bake again later.

I put a few on a plate for us to share.  We attempted to watch Robin Hood:  Men in Tights, as well, but we fell asleep partway through (plus, Muffin woke up after that one began, so it turned out to be not a date part of date night).

The date night dessert

Yes, Daisy joined us for date night.

Date night was fairly successful.  Lesson learned from this date night?  Take the opportunity where it finds you.  Like when Muffin is sleeping.

How has date night gone for you, lately?