Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My new endeavor


Can I? Should I? Will I?

The first
I was thinking an Italian style one. Roasted tomato, garlic, basil and mozzarella .

The Second
Asparagus and feta. A tad boring perhaps but pish posh!

The third
Canadian Bacon, cheddar cheese, & Broccoli
I want to call it the All American but the cheese is from England, the bacon is from, well, Canada & broccoli is originally from Europe, most likely Italy.

The Fourth.
A mexican style for the husband. Chorizo, black beans, onions, queso fresco or Chihuahua cheese, avocado & slasa on top...YUMMERS!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just a test
My first post

So a couple of lists

This is a list of restaurants that I must try in 2010.
The Bellyshack

Places YOU should try
Hot Chocolate
The Publican
The Bristol
Urban Belly

And I must go here

Friday, December 18, 2009

Am I a foodie?

Foodie is an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink. The word was coined in 1981 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, who used it in the title of their 1984 book The Official Foodie Handbook.

A fan, aficionado, or supporter is someone who has an intense, occasionally overwhelming liking and enthusiasm for a sporting club, person (usually a celebrity), group of persons, company, product, activity, work of art, idea, or trend.

Now I guess I've become somewhat of a food snob over the past year or so. I am not exactly sure how it happened but ever since I've been with my husband, a devoted Kraft macaroni & cheese fan, I've had someone who was willing to take me to new restaurants around Chicago and someone who, with or without his permission, became my new recipe tester.

Now don't get me wrong, I still love Burger King, Taco Bell, Chipotle, the Buffalo Chicken Strips from Ruby Tuesday's and even the occasional cheeseburger meal from McDonalds (that usually follows a night of heavy ale-filled indulgences) but something has changed. I prefer quality over quantity.

Have you seen the commercial where the couple goes to the fancy restaurant that they've been waiting for forever to get into and when they sit down and get their meal the husband looks at it and says "It's like elf food." Yeah those are the places a prefer. Why? Because although the portions are small, you usually are going to leave more satisfied than if you went to Old Country Buffet.

When I was little my parents loved those restaurants that had like 97 things on the menu. I hated it because they only cooked two things well and chances are I would never be able to guess what those two things were and I got stuck eating fried mushrooms and stale pecan caramel rolls. As an adult, I've come to the learn the importance of quality. Take The Bristol for example. The burger there is about as big as my fist and yet, it is one of the most delicious burgers I've ever had in my life.

Also, with the obese country that we live in, maybe it's time we start choosing quality over quantity. Just because it's bigger doesn't make it better!

AND isn't being a foodie a good thing? I mean, at least I am not one of those people who spends my whole life without ever trying an egg because I have some preconceived notion that they are going to be terrible. Or one of those people who live off of nothing but hot dogs, chicken fingers, fish sticks, microwaved popcorn, and pizza rolls because they are too scared to step one foot out of their comfort zone and try something that can't be cooked in a microwave.

Food is sustenance. I get that, but it can also be an adventure. Some people go skydiving, bungee jumping, rock climbing or diving with the sharks. I prefer sitting down and eating a plate full of...well something new.

So am I a foodie? I'd say yes, yes I am.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This better be the best damn lasagna ever.

So I work out now. Yeah. 4 days a week.

Yesterday I was having dinner with the ladies. Correction. We were making dinner and I had the main course. It started out as spaghetti but quickly morphed into lasagna. Now I get out of work at 5pm, my work out class was at 5:30pm for 30 minutes, dinner was at 7:30pm and I had to pencil in a Jewel run as well. Plus shower and get ready. I am strapped for time but all is well until I realize...


Two of the friends don't eat meat (forgive them please) so I had to make it vegetarian. Now I strongly dislike carrots, bell peppers & whatever filler veggie in my pasta sauce. So I decided to add a mushrooms & spinach.

Now I measure NOTHING so deal with it.

Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna with Smoked Mozzarella
A package of oven ready lasagna noodles (seriously, they don't get mushy & hold form better)
Ricotta cheese (whatever fat content you like)
Smoked Mozzarella
Whole Milk Mozzarella (you can do shredded, but I got a ball and shredded it myself)
Marinara Sauce (I used two large cans of crushed tomatoes, and seasoning. Make it how you like it! I like mine sweet and spicy)
Spinach (I bought a bag of fresh spinach that is organic and amazing!)
Mushrooms (Your choice. I forgot the kind I used but they were excellent)
Garlic (pre-chopped, fresh, whatever your little heart desires)
1 Egg
Spices (the usual, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, etc)
Nutmeg (SURPRISE!)

Make your sauce. However you like it. Seriously, this is YOUR lasagna and tomato marinara sauce is super simple and delicious so make it how you like it. I usually make mine the night before because I am awesome.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Shred your mozzarella's if they aren't already. Mix them together.

In a bowl add the ricotta. If you have a large container just half, but if you have one of those tinier ones throw all that crap in the bowl. Add the egg, some basil, a little salt and pepper, and a sprinkle or two (or three in my case) of the nutmeg. Mix that shit up.

Now add some olive oil to a large skillet. Heat it up. Toss in the minced garlic and then add the spinach. Let it cook down a bit and move to a dish. Throw in your sliced mushrooms and heat those suckers up as well. You know, until they are a little tender. Set aside off heat.

In a baking dish (you know the size) lay out the noodles (I had 4 noodles on the bottom. They expand to fit the dish so don't worry) and cover in the sauce. Then add a little of the cheese mix.
Then add another layer of noodles. Now spread the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles. I plop down a couple of dollops on each noodle and then shmeer together. On top of the ricotta spread out the spinach and mushrooms. Add ANOTHER layer of noodles. Top that with sauce, and the mozzarella cheese mixture. Also toss some Parmesan cheese on that sucker. Cover in tin foil and bake for about 30 minutes.

After thirty minutes remove the tin foil, and bake an additional 10 or 15 minutes.

Serve it up!!!

I liked it. The husband liked it. My friends ate it all so...yeah. SUCCESS!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Garlic & Parmesan Monkey Bread

Ever since I visited The Bristol here in Chicago and had their DELICIOUS monkey bread I have been obsessed with making my own.
I first created a cinnamon and sugar Monkey Bread that I got off of and LOVED IT! It is perfect for breakfast with a huge glass of milk. But I wanted something a little more savory.
While a friend was visiting from out of town I was making dinner (Lemon Zest Risotto with Bacon) and I wanted some bread to go with it. I grabbed left over biscuit dough from the fridge and came up with this.

Garlic & Parmesan Monkey Bread
1 tube of Buttermilk Biscuit Dough or whatever NON-flakey biscuit dough recipe you use
(I prefer making my own biscuit dough. No hydrogenated oils, but this works too)
3 1/2 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan
2 Tablespoons of Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons of Butter

Preheat the over to 350 degrees

Open the tube and cut each biscuit into quarters. If you are making your own roll the dough into a tube shape and cut into pieces that are about an inch.
Get a LARGE muffin tin (you will use about 4 or 5 holes) or 3 ramekins. Make sure you oil the tins so the dough doesn't stick.
Place three or four of the pieces in the bottom of each cup/hole.
Sprinkle about half of the parmesan and garlic over each.
Place 4 pieces on top and cover in the remaining parmesan & garlic.
Melt the butter and spread over the dough

Put in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

Serve Warm

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Steve's Deli

My boss Lisa has been hell bent on finding an authentic Jewish Deli here in Chicago. She says she's tried a few, but nothing comes close to the places she grew up with in the Detroit area. When Steve's Deli arrived this past year we were both pretty excited to check it out. And it was almost as good as the places she's knew as a kid.

Steve's Deli
354 W Hubbard St Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 467-6868

This place is pretty fantastic. When you walk in you are greeted with an array of deli meats, cheeses, kosher friendly salads and different Jewish staples such as Potato Latkes (which I highly recommend) and Fried Kreplach. To the left you have a dining area that resembles an old-school cafeteria minus the long communal benches and to the right is the deli area followed by an in store grocer where you can purchase bagels, Vernor's Ginger Ale and many other take home items. But I have to say, the main reason Steve's is great is because of their over-stuffed deli sandwiches. Served on crispy rye, pumpernickel, pita, lavash, Kaiser roll, or onion roll, these sandwiches will fill you up! Try the Hot Pastrami & Hot Corned Beef Combination or the Hot Corned Beef & Chopped Chicken Liver Combination (my personal favorite!). And, before you leave, head on over to the dessert fridge and grab a MASSIVE cupcake or slice of cheesecake to go.

Scale 1 - 10: 6 (it's great food but can get REALLY pricey)
Price: $$ 1/2 (for two sandwiches, three potato latkes, one cupcake and one slice of cheesecake and two drinks = around $50.00...yikes!)
Date: If you are in a relationship. If you are just starting out no! It's not very romantic, and you might scare someone stuffing that much corn beef in you face.
BYOB: nope
Specials: Not really, but the menu is huge so you will have something new to try everytime
Carry-out/Delivery: Yes/No

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Urban Belly

I've recently discovered that a large part of my day is dedicated to finding restaurants. I ask my boss, Lisa, if she's tried anything new or heard anything good about certain eateries. I force my husband to take me to new places all the time when he would rather hit up the regular spots. Although, I think he's realized that we won't really have any "regular" spots anymore, since one of my favorite things in life is trying a new place to eat. Here in Chicago, new restaurants open up daily and trying to stay on top of it is time consuming and expensive, but if you read enough reviews and menus and sift through the pile of new "hot spots" you can really find some quality places to spend a good evening.

One place I found was

Urban Belly
Located at 3053 N California Ave in Avondale/Logan Square (773) 583-0500

There are a couple of reasons why this Contemporary Asian restaurant is one of my favorites. First, the menu. When I walk into a restaurant and I see that the menu only has a few items, I usually feel confident about my future dining experience. I've discovered that when given 20 options in each category (20 types of chicken, 20 types of beef, 20 types of sides...well you get the picture) it's rarely a good meal. Chef Bill Kim has created 5 dumplings (try the Duck and Pho Spices), 4 rice dishes, 6 noodle dishes (my favorite, the Soba Noodles with scallops) and 4 sides. There aren't even 20 things on the menu! To me, this means that the chef took his time picking which items would make the cut and created something delicious in each bowl.
My second reason for loving Urban Belly is the communal dining. I was a little hesistant at first, but my husband and I sat down, we had another couple at the end of the table and we still felt alone. It's great! Instead of feeling crowded like at other restaurants where you all get your own table, here you don't feel like your personal space is being invaded, which, I know sounds completely opposite, but I guess going into a situation where you know you might be elbow to elbow with a stranger is easier to deal with than going in thinking you will have a protective bubble around you at all times and then being brutally disappointed when the lady next to you starts talking about her dog's bowel movements.

Urban Belly is amazing! Order things for yourself, or order things to share. The portions are huge and worth every penny.

Scale from 1-10: 7.08 (GREAT place! Maybe not for everyone, but most)
Price: $$ (with two entrees and an appetizer it's about $35.00)
Date: YES! Maybe not a first date but a 4th or 5th
BYOB: Indeed
Specials: Yes
Carry-out/Delivery: Yes/No

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Places to Eat

I've decided that I am done trying to talk politics, pop culture, sports, etc. I am going to start talking about food.

That's right, food.

So what is food. Well, here you have a very direct definition of what food is:
  • any substance that can be metabolized by an animal to give energy and build tissue
  • any solid substance (as opposed to liquid) that is used as a source of nourishment; "food and drink"
  • anything that provides mental stimulus for thinking
What this definition leaves out is that food has the ability to bring people together, tear people apart, make people cry, make them laugh make them angry, make their days better or worse, make them happy or sad. FOOD IS AMAZING! I believe that if the leaders of the world could sit down for a 10 course meal, a couple of beers and a few deep discussions the problems we face today could disappear. Seriously, who can get heated while eating delicious Creme Brulee or Crab Cakes? NO ONE!

So with that said I am blogging about food. I am going to talk about restaurants you should try (mostly, if not all, in Chicago), recipes you can whip up, things you should stay away from and ideas for parties and what not.

So here you go!

To start out I recommend Chicago's very own...

Butterfly Sushi Bar/Thai Cuisine
Located at 1421 W Chicago Ave (312-492-9955)

This is probably one of my favorite restaurants. I will say that I used to hate it, but now I seriously love it. Their rice dishes are a little, well, bad (ha!), but they have the BEST Panang Curry I have ever eaten in this city. The sushi is fresh, the staff is fantastic and the crab rangoon is my favorite. People expecting high-class, super fancy, "I only eat sushi where Japanese people eat sushi' may not find this enjoyable, but don't let those folks keep you from checking this place out. Come here with friends, a date or order in for a movie night. Everyone will find something that they enjoy.

Cost: $ (Thai) $$ (Sushi)
Date Place: Yes! If you can get a table, if not they deliver (Damen, North, Polk and Lake Shore)
On a scale of 1 - 10: I give it a 5.75 (better than most places, not as great as others, but still a solid place to enjoy a delicious meal)