Thursday, August 11, 2011

They own 'em all

Boka Restaurant Group owns every amazing restaurant right now. Girl & the Goat, GT Fish and Oyster Bar and Perennial Virant, which is in my neighborhood. They are soon opening up Balena in the old Landmark spot.).

Bottom line, these people know what they are doing! I decided to go on a culinary tour for my birthday this year. Double-date dinner with my sister, her husband and my boyfriend involved Virant's local specialties like beef loin and carnaroli rice. That menu looks better and better every time I look at it. Here's a pic from that evening c/o Larisa (send me your blog deets!)

The following day I hiked over to GT Fish for birthday lunch with LC and Morgan where we had their infamous lobster roll (nothing to write home about) fish tacos and tuna poke.

I really enjoyed it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I couldn't possibly go to bed before midnight last night.

I was running around hanging things up on the wall (see new prints from CB2 finally hung up!), cleaning and I couldn't possibly let my sister and brother-in-law's (and, well, his mom's) garden-fresh veggies go to waste. Did you get all that?

My sister's husband created a raised flowerbed and his mom planted a bunch of veggies when he was out of commission due to a broken leg (ice hockey is as dangerous as it seems). They have grown several beautiful tomatoes, perfectly-shaped cucumbers, various herbs, zucchini and eggplant even!! It looks amazing, and is fun for the kids to pick the veggies. Sure a few have been eaten by some animals, but a swift toss of those across to the other flower bed and we're back in business with the unharmed veggies.

Larisa and Mike kindly donated these tomatoes and cucumbers to their younger sibling and I made this colorful, fresh salad for lunch today (standard "everything" salad: EVOO and lemon dressing, almonds, cubed gouda, yellow peppers, spicy pickled peppers...whatever else I had in the fridge).


Thank you for sharing!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Spicy Shrimp Salad With a Side of Humility

I guess I know what's for dinner at some point this weekend! What a delicious recipe. I miss watching hours of Mark Bittman videos. What he did here is revisit an old video and just update the recipe. Why reinvent the wheel?

I think this is an interesting approach because it shows how Mark Bittman has repositioned himself in the market and how he's not afraid to admit his past wrong doings (promoting large amounts of shrimp which are harming the ecosystem). I hope I can also:
  • evolve in my career
  • reposition myself to be better than I was a few years ago and
  • be able to look upon my past as a learning experience and admit my wrong-doings
Enjoy the recipe and this food for thought. And of course, check out the comments!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Aphrodisiac Snack: The Health Edition

I'm really enjoying a pre-dinner "aphrodisiac snack." Sliced, fresh Stanley's/Driscoll's strawberries along with way-expensive Whole Foods cheese. Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper made with sheep's milk. The link provides great ideas for what else to do with this cheese:
  • Serve with mushroom and rosemary polenta.
  • Shave over cantaloupe, mint and prosciutto salad.
This site has some interesting information on why sheep's milk may be more tolerable for those that are lactose intolerant Or instead of reading all that, you can believe the theory that if it's more expensive (believe me, it was) than it's better.

All I know, is that snack was simple and delicious. Healthy and fulfilling. What's your favorite healthy snack?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy New Year @ Perennial Virant

I'll be 27 in a few minutes and this birthday feels very different than others. I'm in a relatively new house almost decorated, certainly cozy. I'm starting a new job on Monday. I feel like I'm ready to ring in the new year!

My new year resolutions:
  • Get into a place with decorating where I don't think about it every weekend (ever day...)
  • Spend as much if not more time with my family and friends
  • Stick with my new full-time job and new activities (Chicago Council on Global Affairs)
  • Buy my first piece of art
  • Plant a decent looking garden out front
  • Eat good food (doing this right away by eating at the new Perennial Virant on 7/7 @ 7:15!)
Can't wait!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Nothing in the Fridge

Was just thinking to myself how there's literally nothing in my fridge and nonetheless was able to make this salad with what was left. Sometimes you just gotta work with what you have:

Salad Ingredients
  • avocado
  • tomato
  • red onion
  • almonds
  • cut up chicken I sauteed a couple of days ago
  • sugar snap peas
  • yellow pepper
  • baby spinach
Dressing (blended in mini food processor)
  • garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • brown mustard
  • agave nectar
Now gotta deal with the issue of "nothing to wear" as I desperately need to go purchase some gum :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Ants Will Not Go Marching One By One - Hurrah!

The reality of some of the beautiful houses in Chicago is that they are home to more than you, but also ants and spiders. They might be living in the perfect eco-habitat, but the problem is the perfect habitat will at times be your house when the Chicago weather acts up.

I faced our minor pest-problem head on and YouTubed it per the advice of my bug-killing consultant, Igor Kogan.

All the videos said "make sure your house is clean and then hire [insert name of guy doing the video]." Thanks Bob from Utah, but that's not much help.

So I went to my local Home Depot where the friendliest sales person hooked me up with the pest control trifecta: bug-barrier spray (they also offered a more eco-friendly option for people with dogs and kids, but I wasn't messing here), wood-colored caulk to seal any holes and the caulk gun. Awesome.

Igor lovingly let the spiders out of the house and then sprayed various areas of the window sill. I then cut off the top of the caulk with the caulk gun and sealed the gaps in the window that might have been causing the problem.

So far, no pests and I couldn't be more proud that we solved the problem without calling parents or pest control ($$$). Hurrah!

I'll admit the caulking job isn't perfect, but it's certainly good enough and way better than pests.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Picking the Menu

Do you like hosting? I've only hosted a handful of time... I love it but haven't perfected it yet.

My last happy hour for 15 coworkers was right after work, so I only had a half hour to pull everything together. I kept the menu simple and it came out very nicely:


  • Shrimp sauteed in olive oil, butter, crushed garlic and fresh ginger
  • Veggies (kept it colorful with red peppers, sugar snap peas, carrots) for white bean hummus dip
  • Three varieties of cheese served with crackers
  • Fruits
  • Chocolate covered haystacks
  • Nuts and dried fruit
  • Gin & tonic w/ limes
  • Beer
  • Red and white wine
Prep was simple since it only included chopping and sauteing.

This week, I'll have another opportunity to host. This is what I'm thinking for the menu:
  • Whipped Feta with veggies (Martha's Recipe)
  • Chicken wings
  • Boiled potatoes with fresh herbs (dill, cilantro, chives and garlic)
What's your go-to party recipe?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Green City Market

The outdoor farmer's market season began a while ago, but I went to my first farmer's market this past Saturday. Green City Market located on Lincoln and Stockton, about a seven-minute walk from my house was everything, everyone said it was. Totally met expectations, and for those of you that know me, that's hard to accomplish!

Cafe Ba Ba Reeba's Tim Cottini taught a large crowd the basics of a Tortilla Espanol and then provided free samples, which I couldn't wait around for because there was too much to see (plus I did the math, and they did not divide that tortilla into as many pieces as there were salivating people).

I walked around and bought sunflower spelt break from Crumb, prepared goat cheese and veggie quiche from Floriole, swiss chard and red & yellow tomatoes from different vendors and goat cheese feta from Nordic, among other delicious, fresh items.

Tonight, I get to enjoy my farm fresh dinner: sunflower spelt bread topped with yellow tomatoes, goat feta and red onions. Delish!

What do you love to get at the farmers market?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Health & Wellness

The chicken came out pretty great, but wasn't worth the work (see last post). On to newer things!

I'm trying to be healthy...this is apparently harder than you'd think. According to Dr. Raby at the Raby Institute for Integrated Health, this involves "avoiding inflammatory" foods:
  • dairy from cows
  • caffeine (drink green tea instead)
  • oranges
  • wheat/gluten
  • sugar
  • alcohol
  • peanut products
So I went gangbusters at Stanley's and bought a ton of veggies and a bunch of healthy protein (fish and chicken) at Trader Joe's.

On tonight's menu was a vegetable soup made from the chicken stock in the last post's recipe. I added all the veggies that only had a day left in them: asparagus, celery, carrots, beans (dry pinto beans that I boiled for two minutes and then soaked with a lid for one hour per package directions), salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and water to make a decent amount of soup. I then topped with roughly chopped, fresh cilantro, scallions and finely shredded Manchego cheese, made from sheep's milk. For a side, I had a small bowl of Jiminy chips - sweet potato variety.

It was healthy, easy-to-make and delicious!

*Image c/o delrandall

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner: comments are no longer being accepted

Ya sure? How about one more comment from your biggest fan?

Dear Mark Bittman,

I love you. I really do. You’re a nice Jewish boy who frequently pays homage to your grandmother in your old Minimalist videos. I agree with your opinions on food, you’re popular and social-media savvy, and while I’ve never tasted your food made by you, I have both licked my computer screen and tried to recreate what you’ve made; both very delicious.

So why, why did you do this to me? I respect you so much. I listened to you as you raved about your amazing chicken on MSNBC and clearly alerted your audience that it would only take about two hours to make the most magnificent contemporary roasted chicken of our lives.

So I tried it. I “butchered” the 4 pound Trader Joe chicken taking it apart step-by-step saving every last piece so as not to be wasteful. I proceeded to take off the skin and heat it in the oven for thirty minutes to make “Chicken skin croutons" or as one commenter pointed out, “don't you mean gribenes” (thank you fred red bank from New Jersey). I then made homemade “quick chicken stock,” cleverly adding one more cup of water to make more stock to be used at a later date (any ideas for what?)!

That’s when things went horribly wrong. My poor gribenes (I prefer this term, as it hides what this product actually is) started to drip past the drip pan causing a big ole mess in the oven which I needed to clean setting me back a half hour. Then my paranoia started to set in as I pondered whether I was properly handling raw chicken and cleaning all my utensils.

The chicken has finally gone into the oven, which is step 4/5 and I am exhausted.

Stay tuned to gather whether this was worth the ordeal. It already smells good, so who knows?


*photo c/o New York Times