Game Night! – CAH & the Return of #FrozenFoodFridays!

Greets, mortals!  Let’s start things off with a thank you to those of you that may have joined the game night crew earlier tonight as we dusted off the card table and streamed one of our favorites, Cards Against Humanity.  As always, it was whack, inappropriate, borderline-aneurysm-inducing (Editor’s Note: well, for him, anyway) fun.  For those that couldn’t join us live, don’t despair, my marvelous minions – just look below!

Now, normally that might be enough to call it a night – oh but I told you last time, old EWE has decided he wants to start ramping things up around here again.  Sure, I may not be able to post as OFTEN as I might like – but when I do, dammit, I’m going to make damn sure it was worth it.  So I have reached WAY back to find one of my most beloved segments from early in the blog’s life, dusted off the mothballs (Editor’s Note: or, in this case, freezer burn) whatever – I present to you the return of #FrozenFoodFridays!

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So, if you know me at all, and you think I’m going to find anything wrong with this dish, all I can say is hahahahahaha!!!

So, let’s get the negatives out of the way right off the bat, shall we?  Devour frozen meals have a completely godawful marketing department.  I mean, a balls-out, what-the-shit, genuinely horrific messaging campaign marked their entrance into the marketplace, and only got marginally better with their recent Deadpool 2 tie-in commercial campaign.  I loved that movie, but it didn’t influence my frozen dinner purchasing.  The commercial itself was entertaining as hell though, I’ll give them that.

The problem with all of this fancy packaging, 6th grade “food you wanna fork” (seriously, that is their slogan – if my eyes rolled any harder they would fall out) marketing campaign, and Deadpool licensing agreement is that it all leads to increased cost to you at the register.  When purchased at regular price, Devour frozen meals are some of the most expensive per ounce frozen meals you are going to find in the standard frozen food section of the grocer’s freezer, without venturing into specialty areas such as gluten free or the like.  However, this is where the good news begins because the meals are quite often not at regular price recently – more and more often, they are on sale.  And if you can find them while on such a sale, take full advantage of it, for you will not be disappointed.

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Look at this…LOOK AT IT!

I’ve not been fortunate enough yet to have sampled all of the wide variety of Devour meals, in particular the new sandwiches – but what I have had so far has been universally fantastic.  Painless preparation – heat, stir, heat again, let stand, stir and enjoy.  And as you’ve probably noticed above, they have one dish in particular that combines lasagna, alfredo sauce, Italian sausage, and bacon – four of my favorite things to eat in one scrumptious meal.  Devour frozen meals definitely get a thumbs up from me!

That’s it for tonight folks, as old EWE is hearing the siren song of his sheets and blankets – but with luck maybe I can be back before the weekend is out!  Until then, kiddos! – EWE

 

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#FrozenFoodFridays – Malevolent Moogle Request Edition

Greets and welcome to the weekend, humans!  I hope that the evening finds you well, or if you live in the U.S., at least finds you not dying in a natural disaster.  The South is underwater, the West is on fire…but hey, let’s not worry about climate change, it’s all just a bunch of lies spread by the Chinese, right?  Sure.  Tell me – when Trump Tower is suddenly not above sea level anymore, can that stuffed lion you had your kid riding on in your horrifically gaudy family photo be used as a flotation device?  Probably something you should think about at this rate.

I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for my newly-remodeled alma mater, The University of Akron School of Law, along with my BFF and fellow law grad Malevolent Moogle.  MM, in the blunt and forthright manner that is one of the primary reasons I value her friendship and advice above all others (this is the same person who once told me “oh my god, you are fucking flypaper for crazies!”), complimented my recent blogging work while lamenting that it had been some time since the last entry in #FrozenFoodFridays.  And so, without further ado, I welcome you to the latest installment in the now-quite-irregular ongoing series, #FrozenFoodFridays – Malevolent Moogle Request Edition!

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Not Pictured: Malevolent Moogle immediately after this was taken chasing me around like a maniacally laughing madwoman, attempting to decapitate me.

Now, one of the reasons that I put the weekly #FrozenFoodFridays to bed for a while is because I simply hadn’t been able to try as many different frozen foods, even using my extremely malleable standard of what can even remotely involve the term “frozen food.”  However, I am pleased to say that I have lately come upon a new product in the freezer section of my local Giant Eagle: Healthy Choice Power Bowls!

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Focused on a blend of high-protein meats, grains, and greens, these quick fixes come in four varieties, all of which I’ve enjoyed quite a bit – although frankly they had me sold at Korean BBQ.  Just microwave them according to the times in the instructions (I advise sticking to the lowest recommended time, and even then I’ve had some of them come out kind of overcooked and dry, but only rarely), then stir and enjoy.  The Korean BBQ is a bit spicy, but the rest are just flavorful, and the portion size is actually perfect to leave you not feeling still hungry but not overfull either.

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And with that, our #FrozenFoodFridays has come to its end!  But my night is far from over – I need to get some new material written for the open-mic stand-up I’ve been doing lately, and I want to get some more progress made in Mario x Rabbids as well as Final Fantasy XIV, and maybe read a little bit before I completely crash and shut down.  But let it be known – my promise to Malevolent Moogle to bring you a #FrozenFoodFriday came first! – EWE

Sorry – I’m Not Dead Yet

I’m not going to apologize for being absent for a while, mostly because I’ve had pretty good reason.  I will say that I have greatly missed communicating with all of you – but I’ll try to make up for it a bit by filling you in on some of the reasons for my absence.

First off, as some of you may have noticed from the godawful fucking heat and humidity, it’s summer!  This has meant that my two little evil-mages-in-training have been on a break from their studies and been wanting to spend time under the burning flame ball in the sky, like this:

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DEAR GOD, WHY?!?!

But since not just MY family, but ALL SORTS of people are ALSO much more active during the summer months, my work as a public defender has been extremely busy as well – and the ratio of incompetent/insane clients has gone WAAAAAY up.  Let me tell you just exactly how mentally draining it is when you are trying to explain to someone that murdering ducks is, in fact, a crime, and they are fervently telling you that it’s ok because the five-faced devil told them to do it…

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Because listening to this guy is just a fantastic idea.

And just in case increased work, increased time with the younglings, and caring for my feline overlord Zero while gaming and reading wasn’t enough, I decided upon advice from my little sis, the absolutely hilarious Kate Quigley, I decided to try making people laugh the old-fashioned way – so I’ve started doing some open mic nights at local bars and coffee houses and doing a little stand up.  Well, I suppose some might call it stand up…for me, it’s kinda just group therapy, where I get to talk about my issues and not bill my insurance!

Of course, it can’t all be upside – about six weeks ago, my fibromyalgia went into (I thought) a flare up.  It happens from time to time, based on weather and pressure changes, and normally I just grit my teeth and within a few days it is back to its normal level of constant-but-not-totally-debilitating pain.  But this time…it didn’t.  After two weeks, I contacted my doctor, and she gave me a significant injection of steroids due to the fact that my fibro meds were having no effect.  If it was fibro alone, the steroids would likely have made it worse, but if they helped, then there might be more going on.  Well…they sure as hell helped at first.  For about two days, I was Superman.  For two more, I was, you know…normal?  But then I was right back where I was before the shot.  Now I was going on a month of mind-numbing pain, and my doctor was out of normal options, so I am currently scheduled and waiting to see a rheumatologist in September.  Needless to say, going through all of the daily activities I described above while wracked with physical pain is…tiring.  So many are the day I have come home and couldn’t even find the energy to game or read, let alone write to you all.  So I would perform my ritual worship of Zero and collapse into bed, where he would then sit on my chest in an effort to comfort me (or kill me, I’m not entirely sure).

But take heart – all is not lost!  First, I am finding time to engage in some reading and gaming, so I will have some opinions on those fronts coming soon!  Look forward in particular to my review of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, as it captured me even harder than the original PS2 game did, and that was one of my favorite PS2 RPGs.  And now, if I can FUCKING REMEMBER TO HIT RECORD, I can even now and then provide you with some footage from my open mic stand up gigs – you know, in case you don’t have enough to mock me for yet, irritating mortal fleshbags (Editor’s Note: That’s not nice; they’ve always been very supportive.)

EWE and Editor Return

So before I go, I wanted to give you one last thing – a bit of the old and the new all in one.  You see, I have not been able to do much experimenting in my kitchen of late – but I have needed quite a bit of caffeine.  And so I wish to recommend a particular purveyor of pure coffee goodness – Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, in my own hometown of Canton, Ohio.  Now, while I fully understand that many of you cannot travel to their actual location (which is a goddamn shame, because it is fantastic), you CAN order their absolutely amazing coffee right through their site to be shipped to you!  I in particular recommend the Blueberry Crumble – and by “recommend” I mean “until you have tasted this, your pitiful, meager lives are wholly incomplete.”

So with that, humans, I bid you adieu for the time being.  But lest you forget, as always, if you are a Trump supporter, I suppose you have something notable you can attest to – it took 240+ years for America to progress to the point that it had this past January, and it has taken Trump only six months to set it back in many ways to before it was ever founded in the first place.  Congratu-fucking-lations. – EWE

Switch Quick Hits, FF XIV Update, and a Sweet Treat

Hello again, kiddos!  It may seem to have been a while since I was last with you, but worry not – I’ve been busy putting together all sorts of fun for you since I spoke with you last.  And a big part of that has been to sample several of the titles on my Nintendo Switch.  So what do I think of the initial batch of take-anywhere titles?

Binding 1

For those unfamiliar with The Binding of Isaac, you control the titular Isaac – a terrified, naked toddler who is trapped in a nightmarish hellscape after his mother tried to murder him, trying to escape and combating the horrors there by weaponizing his tears.  So, yeah…it’s fucked up.  Not bad, mind you – in fact, it’s one of the best twin-stick shoot-em-ups that I’ve played in a long time – but clearly the minds that concocted this scenario are in serious need of some therapy.

Binding 2

There are a couple of things that stand out here.  First of all, this came is brutally difficult.  In true bullet-hell fashion, shit is flying everywhere all the time, and you will die, a lot.  And permadeath is in full effect – you die, and that cool gear you’d been racking up is gone.  But this is somewhat offset by the second thing that stands out – the randomly generated maps and powerups lead to near-endless replayability, and keep you coming back over and over.  For anyone that has played this on PS4 or PC, you already know this – but here is where the Switch gimmick shines through, letting you take poor, abused Isaac with you wherever you go.  So long as high difficulty doesn’t bother you, a definite recommendation.

Shovel 1

Next up, we have a modern-day love letter to classic games.  Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove collects the original Shovel Knight game, and adds the two expansions, Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment, all in one package.  For fans of classic 8-bit and 16-bit action/adventure games, picking this up should be a no-brainer.  And since I’m incredibly old and a fan of those types of games, there was no question that I would want to be able to take the heroic Shovel Knight and his quest against the Enchantress and the Order of No Quarter on the go with me.

Shovel 2

Fantastic platforming and action are the order of the day, beginning with the original Shovel of Hope base game, and just being further refined and perfected in the two subsequent expansions.  A well written and witty story are the icing on the cake.  In particular, the newest expansion, Specter of Torment, is just a joy to play, incorporating all of the feedback received and improvements that indie developer Yacht Club made since the release of the original game.  If you like pure gaming goodness, get and play this game.

Setsuna 1

Another love letter to the past, I Am Setsuna was developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, a studio set up by Square Enix with a simple mandate – make games in the vein of the beloved 16-bit RPGs of yore.  For their first effort, they chose a very good game to look to – the seminal SNES classic, Chrono Trigger.  I Am Setsuna, from a gameplay perspective, is a RPG that you’ve played before.  Turn-based active-time battles, combination Tech attacks, spells and abilities learned from equipping magici- er, sorry, spritnite…but again, all distilled and refined from years of experience into their purest form.

Setsuna 2

What sets I Am Setsuna apart from the predecessors that it emulates is a heartfelt, emotional story and a beautiful, haunting piano soundtrack, both of which you will remember long after you’ve completed the game.  It isn’t the longest RPG you’ll ever play, but this feels more like a trimming of fat and padding that has become all too common in many modern games, rather than anything missing from Setsuna.  Square Enix has gone on record that it intends to strongly support the Switch, and this is a tremendous first effort toward that goal.  Highly recommended.

Zelda 1

Ah, here it is – the one everyone wants to hear about and talk about.  And for good reason – Breath of the Wild is without doubt a tremendous game.  Beautiful, artistic, breathtaking – all of those adjectives definitely apply.  The visuals and score are absolutely stellar.  Story is a timeless (pun completely intended) Legend of Zelda tale, and at the same time turns that classic formula in some surprising new directions.  It is most definitely the star of the Nintendo Switch launch lineup.  BUT…is it for everyone?

Zelda 2

Here is the thing – Nintendo’s latest magnum opus is a game that requires something that has become a lost art among many modern gamers – PATIENCE.  It is almost intentionally trying to frustrate you.  You can only carry a handful of weapons, and they are going to break after only a few solid hits against your enemies – probably in the middle of a fight.  There is a huge open world to explore – but many times it will feel too big, too empty, as you struggle to determine how to get to your next quest objective.  You can climb any surface – but if you run out of stamina, which seems to disappear as if Hyrule were located in the Bermuda Triangle, you’re going to take a long, fatal fall.  And even if you get to the top of that mountain, I hope you’ve brought some cold weather gear or food, otherwise, you’re going to freeze to death.  These are all elements of many of the survival games that have come into prominence among hardcore gamers in recent times, but those same elements are likely to completely frustrate gamers who just want to play a Zelda game, rescue the princess, destroy Ganon, and all that.  Do I recommend it?  Yes I do.  Do I enjoy it?  Yes, I do…when I am in the right mood.  It isn’t a game you can just pick up and play for a few minutes – you have to have a good chunk of time to devote to it in order to feel like you’ve accomplished anything.  So be warned – while a great game, this isn’t a Zelda game like any Zelda game you’ve ever experienced before.

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So, you may ask, “EWE, that’s all great, but you still seem to be gone a lot lately?  Has your personal life improved?”  Well, there are a few answers to that – the first being WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YO- Ahem, sorry, I mean, I suppose it depends on what you mean by “improve.”  If you mean, have I finally turned the head and won the heart of my maiden fair…no.  No I have not.  So thanks for reminding me of that.  Assholes.  BUT, if you meant spending time with cool people and having fun – well yes, because I’ve fallen headlong back into Eorzea with my beloved summoner, appropriately named Evil Wizard.

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Currently, I’ve been trying to power through story content in an effort to see most, if not all of it before the new expansion, Stormblood, drops this June.  I’ve managed to get to level 47 on my main class (as I said, summoner) while only minimally indulging in my normal penchant for leveling absolutely EVERYTHING there is to level equally (also known as OCD to normal people).  For the first time in a long time in an MMO, I am very pleased with the community and player base.  Long ago, I was a member of an absolutely fantastic World of Warcraft guild and community, with people that I loved playing with and interacting with even outside of the game.  Alas, due to complicated personal circumstances, it became best for them that I step away.  I quickly found that I disliked most of the player base outside of my friends, and left the game.  Since then, I’d never quite been enchanted with a player base in an MMO – but FF XIV just seems to have a predominantly kind and encouraging community.  There will always be exceptions to the rule – but by and large I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game.  More updates to come – I’m currently trying to get to level 49 so I can continue to wage my personal war against the Garlean Empire!

oatmeal raising cookies

Last, but not least – you didn’t think I’d let you leave hungry, did you?  Silly humans.  Have some chewy oatmeal raisin cookies!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 1/2 cups old-fashined rolled oats
  2. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1/2 cup raisins (or craisins)
  4. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 6 tbsp butter, room temp.
  7. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  8. 1/4 cup sugar
  9. 1 large egg
  10. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, raisins, baking soda, and salt.  Mix together and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar and mix until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.  Slowly add in the oats mixture, mixing until combined.  Use a tablespoon to drop the dough onto two baking sheets, placing each cookie about 2 inches apart.  Place in oven and bake approximately 12 – 16 minutes, until cookies are golden brown but still soft.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Pour a glass of milk – and if you’re me, add some Kahlua – then enjoy your dessert!

And with that, you’ve reached the end of this bit of my ramblings, mortals!  Thanks for sticking around, and see you all again soon! – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Out-of-Town Seminar Edition

Salutations, children!  This week was a bit different for me – I spent the last two days traveling to Columbus, Ohio for a CLE (Continuing Legal Education) seminar.  While there, I was treated to something so delicious, it merited a very special edition of #FrozenFoodFridays.  So tonight, I’m not giving you a recipe – I’m telling you about an entire location, and one that you should make every effort to visit if possible: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant.

Schmidt's

My party and I stopped here after dinner for some dessert – and boy were we not disappointed.  The coconut cream pie was delicious.  The German chocolate cake ala mode was also quite good, and officially makes this conform with #FrozenFoodFridays, although I’d have preferred if the cake was warm rather than room temperature.

German Chocolate ala mode

But the absolute masterpiece, and Schmidt’s claim to fame, is their cream puffs.  Dear sweet baby jeebus, the cream puffs.

Cream Puff

Let me put it to you like this – this place put me into such a food coma that within ten minutes of returning to my hotel room, I had intended to boot up my computer and spend the evening writing this entry LAST night – but instead completely passed out and slept soundly the entire night.  IT’S THAT GOOD!

People, I know #FrozenFoodFridays is typically something you may be able to replicate in your own home.  But some things are just too good to not experience in their original glory.  Schmidt’s desserts are a perfect example of this.  If you are ever, EVER remotely near the Columbus area, do yourself a favor and drop by!  You’ll be more than glad you did. – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Better Late (And Drunk) Than Never Edition

Greets, kiddos!  Yeah, I know – it isn’t Friday.  But in fairness, I started to plan this on Friday – it just took me a few extra days to work the kinks out and get some other matters attended to.  So, I’m still counting it as #FrozenFoodFridays, and to hell with anyone that wants to argue the point!  Now, I’ve noticed that two particular types of treats seem to appeal to most of you moreso than the rest – sweets, and alcohol.  I knew there was something I liked about all of you!  I’m kind of glad I haven’t set you all on fire…yet.  Anyway – I decided to once again combine these two favorites of yours, mine, and anyone who has any taste whatsoever, in a way that I hadn’t tried before.  This resulted in something very special – I give to you EWE’s Boozy Buckeyes!

buckeye-booze
The ability to make just about any flavor liquor is one of humanity’s only positive traits.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups creamy peanut butter (maybe more depending on how mixing goes)
  2. 1 cup butter, softened
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 5 cups powdered sugar
  6. 1/4 cup peanut butter vodka
  7. 1/4 cup chocolate liquor
  8. 3 cups dark chocolate chips
  9. 1/8 teaspoon coconut oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt until it is well mixed.  Slowly add the powdered sugar, continuing to mix as you go.  When it is all well mixed, add the booze.  Continue mixing until thoroughly combined.  If the mixture is too thin to scoop into balls, add additional peanut butter to thicken.  Once combined, scoop into 1″ balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.  Freeze for 30-40 minutes.

While the peanut butter balls are freezing, combine your dark chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl and melt in 30-second bursts, stirring between each burst.  Once the peanut butter balls are set, insert a toothpick into the center of each ball and use to dip the ball into the chocolate bowl – but make sure to leave the top of each ball exposed so it looks like a buckeye, otherwise you’ve missed the entire point!  Return the chocolate covered balls (HA!) to the baking sheet and return to the freezer until the chocolate has set.  Remove the toothpick and keep these refrigerated until ready to serve.  Or, if you’re me, remove the toothpick, reflect on the pathetic state of your life, and eat the entire fucking tray while drinking the rest of the peanut butter and chocolate liquor combined in a glass and mixed with your tears.  Either way, enjoy! – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Return of the Sweets Edition

Hello, humans!  I just couldn’t let another week go by without letting you into my kitchen for everybody’s favorite part of this blog – I mean, aside from my rampant nihilism – #FrozenFoodFridays!  Now, as an extra special treat this week, this delicious treat will both satisfy your sweet tooth and your booze craving – and I made it up completely myself!  Which will be evident by 1. the actual picture of it I took, and 2. the relatively vague measurements I give for the recipe.  So here, without further ado, is EWE’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter Beer Bread with Bailey’s Irish Glaize!

Bread Ingredients:

  1. Self-rising flour (3 cups)
  2. Brown sugar (1/3 cup)
  3. Vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon)
  4. Honey (not too much, just to taste)
  5. Hershey’s chocolate syrup (again, to taste, but the more the merrier)
  6. Genesee Brewhouse Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter (12 oz – and obviously any chocolate beer can work)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well until a rich brown dough is formed.  If you overestimated on the flour, you can add a little more beer/chocolate syrup/honey to make sure everything gets absorbed.  Place dough mixture in 9″ loafpan and make sure it is evenly distributed and smooth out the top.  Place in oven and bake for 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool while making the glaize.

Glaize Ingredients:

  1. Powdered sugar (1 1/4 cups)
  2. Bailey’s Irish Creme liquor (2 tablespoons, at least)
  3. Heavy cream (2 teaspoons)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until smooth.  For a slightly thinner (and far more potent) glaize, add a few more splashes of Bailey’s while mixing.

Place the bread on aluminum foil and lightly drizzle the top with honey.  Then pour the glaize over the entire top of the bread.  Finally, drizzle lightly with some Hershey’s syrup.  And I know what you’re thinking – how the fuck does this fit with #FrozenFoodFridays, right?  Here’s how – slice and serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!

And there you have it, kids!  Next time you’re massively depressed and can’t decide between getting shitfaced or pigging out on sweets, remember – EWE says, why the fuck not both?! – EWE