Category Archives: dinner

Ben Makes Me Dinner – Take 1

While I love to cook and share dishes from my kitchen, from time to time, Ben will come home, surprising me with the makings for dinner.  (Who doesn’t love that?!) A couple of weeks ago, he made some delicious bruschetta and Italian-marinated grilled chicken salad.

Bruschetta

  • Favorite fresh bread, sliced and toasted
  • Sliced grape tomatoes
  • Onion, chopped
  • Garlic, minced
  • Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced

Assemble the tomatoes, onion, and garlic on top of the toast. Top with a slice of parmesan. YUM!

Italian-Marinated Grilled Chicken Salad

  • Chicken Breast
  • Favorite Italian Dressing
  • Lettuce (I prefer arugula, spinach, or a mix)
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Onion, sliced

Place chicken breast and dressing in a plastic bag and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. (The longer the better.) Grill chicken until cooked (about 7 min on each side when cooked on my stove). Meanwhile, add lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion in a bowl. Slice chicken and add to bowl. Enjoy!

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Restaurant: Gilt Bar

Until a couple weeks ago, I had never been to Gilt Bar, but always wanted to go. It’s has rave reviews from everyone who visits; it has even been written up in the New York Times. So when I was able to go several weeks ago, I was estatic! My friend and were lucky enough to sit right near the most gorgeous chandelier (pictured in the NYTimes article).

Neither one of us had ever had steak tartare, so we decided to order it as it sounded delicious! It was completely divine. the steak was served with an egg yolk that we broke and mixed with it, along with grilled bread and a delicious dijon mustard sauce. I’m salivating just thinking about it!

For our main courses, Becca ordered the pork belly (yum! notice that she can’t wait to get it back in front of her because it smelled and looked so good)

…and I got the braised short rib.

I’m a sucker for a braised short rib and this dish was really amazing. The meat was so tender that you could cut it with a fork and the gravy on the top of the meat was so succulent. I cannot wait to return to Gilt Bar!

Gilt Bar
230 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654-4908
(312) 464-9544
www.giltbarchicago.com

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Risotto Fritters

I love weddings. More specifically, I love appetizers at weddings. In October, my cousin Gretchen got married and had phenomenal food and appetizers at the reception. Some of my favorite appetizers were the risotto fritters: little golden brown square nuggets of cheesy rice bliss.

Using the leftover risotto from my earlier batch, Ben and I decided to make our own (slightly larger) fritters. I would recommend making them out of plain cheese risotto instead of the mushroom asparagus if you want smaller fritters. But both are delicious.

Ingredients

  • Day-old (at least) risotto
  • Bread crumbs mixed with salt & pepper
  • Oil for frying (we used canola)

Shape the risotto into the size and shape you want. We used a 1/4 measuring cup lined with plastic wrap. Coat the ball in the bread crumbs.

Fry until golden brown on each side.

Top with cream cheese or sour cream for a truly decadent treat.

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Mushroom Asparagus Risotto

I love risotto. There’s something so homey about it. It really warms the soul. A couple weeks ago, I found some nice looking asparagus and decided it was time to try my hand at risotto again. I’ve made risotto several times, but am still searching for my favorite recipe, a recipe that I whole-heartedly love. This time around I decided to add some mushrooms for a meatless wonder. It was quite yummy.

Ingredients (adapted from La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy from Accademia Italiana della Cucina)

  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 5 cups broth
  • 1 cup mushrooms (I used a Woodland Medley of dried mushrooms that I rehydrated)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (I used about 20 stalks)
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese

Heat approx 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and saute the onion until nearly browned. Add the mushrooms & asparagus.

Once the onion is browned, add the rice and toss to coat in oil. When the rice is translucent, add the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until the rice is al dente (“tender, but not mushy”).

It will be approximately 20 minutes. Grate cheese over the risotto and serve.

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What I love about quinoa

Quinoa has been getting a lot of love lately. And for good reason. It’s high in amino acids, protein, and fiber. Plus it’s gluten-free. I always have some quinoa in my pantry ready to pair with anything from a filling breakfast, to an elegant dinner, to use when emptying the fridge of leftovers.

It’s easy to prepare since it requires 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer 10-15 minutes until all of the water has been soaked up and the germ separates from the seed. Use how you see fit.

Quinoa Breakfast Parfait

The slightly nutty flavor of quinoa brings a savory edge to this yummy breakfast treat.

  • Quinoa, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Your favorite fruits (blueberries & strawberries for me!)
  • a pinch of cinnamon

Combine and enjoy! Add some milk if you prefer a cereal variation.

Quinoa for Dinner

Mustard Marinated Chicken on a bed of quinoa

Quinoa with Leftovers

One of my favorite ways to enjoy leftovers is to make a batch of spaetzle (german egg noodles) and add last night’s Indian, Thai, Chinese etc. for a lovely leftover creation. In an effort to be more versatile I realized that quinoa would be a great substitute for my spaetzle.

Just cook the quinoa as listed above (or as the box indicates) and add to your favorite leftovers. I find that it works best with dishes that have a lot of sauce as the quinoa will soak it up.

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You tell me. What should I cook next?

What are you interested in reading/learning/cooking/tasting? Tell me. I just may cook it!

If you don’t see what you want me to cook next, let me know in the comments!

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Guest Post! Scavenged Dinner-Leftover Wine Pasta Sauce

As some of you know (or perhaps have guessed by this point), Ben and I both LOVE food…and we love to cook together. He is a pretty great cook and is phenomenal at whipping up meals out of the food that’s left in the fridge when we haven’t had a chance to go to the grocery store. That being said, he made a great dinner on Tuesday night for himself (I had book club) and was so sweet to put together a lunch “to-go” container for me for the next 2 days. It was some of the best pasta sauce that I’ve had. He offered to guest post about it, so without further ado…

On my ride home on the bus I realized that I wanted to make dinner so I picked up a jar of pasta sauce from the Seven-Eleven between the bus stop and Annie’s apartment. The jar of Ragu was the only thing that I bought to make this sauce. I bought the only jar that they had which was a plain type of sauce, I think basil and tomato.

A note before going further: I don’t really measure anything when I cook and I recommend you to do the same. I cook to taste. I add and add until I think it tastes or looks right. This does make for mistakes and recipes not coming out the way that I thought they would, but I believe that I makes me a better cook because I can learn from my mistakes.  So please forgive me for my vague recipe.

I started the water boiling for the pasta. (Every kitchen should always have some kind of pasta.) It doesn’t matter the type of pasta. This was soccer-shaped pasta that we got in a gift bag at a wedding.

I put a medium pot on the burner on medium-low. While the pot was heating up, I took one slice of thick cut bacon that I had in the freezer and cut it up into very small pieces. I used scissors to cut it because it was difficult to cut while frozen. I put the bacon into the pot and let all of the fat melt.

I grabbed some not so good looking Kale from the fridge and using my hands ripped it into small pieces throwing out the mushy bits (in total I used about a cup of kale). I turned up the heat on the pot and added the kale. (I did not add any salt because I was using some of my home-cured bacon which was a bit salty, but if you are using less salty bacon I would recommend adding a pinch of salt here.)

I added some dried minced garlic, dried parsley, and dried basil. I sprinkled each of them. Add as much of each to your level or preference of each of the flavors. I was heavy on the garlic, light on the parsley, and used a healthy dose of basil.

I let the kale get nice and fried and let the bacon get just a bit crispy. You will know when it is right from the smell. I ran into an issue here because I needed something to sweeten up the sauce. My original thought was to use honey because it was one of only a couple items left in the kitchen to eat. (If you try this with honey, please let me know how it goes).

I had a bit of luck here. Annie had previously been home and she had a glass of Gewurztraminer, a sweet aromatic wine that Annie is very partial to. She left it for me to finish and I decided that this would be sweetening agent that I needed. I added enough wine to cover the bottom of the pot with a decent layer to de-glaze the pot. This got up all the good flavors that were crusted to bottom of the pot. I let the wine sizzle of a minute or two then turned the heat down to low.

I added the pasta into the boiling pot at this point. I also added some of store-bought sauce to the sauce pot at this point. I added only enough to give it the desired volume of sauces. I think I used about half the jar. When the pasta was al dente, the sauce was warm and ready to eat.

I was really suprised at how well it came out. I think it was one of the best “scavenged dinners” I have ever made. In fact, it was a lot better than some of the nicer dinners I have ever made. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Jar of regular pasta sauce
  • 1 slice of thick cut bacon
  • Dried minced garlic
  • Dried Parsley
  • Dried Basil
  • Kale (Fresh would be best)
  • A glass of half drank Gewurztraminer
  • 1 lb of pasta
  • Kosher salt

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