5 dishes to warm you up this winter

Check out my guest blog post on Lace and Lacquer!

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Katelyn, from Attention To Eattail, provides five dishes to make this fall or winter in Chicago. 

1) Chicken Pot Pie

To me, this is the definition of a comforting dish during the colder months. Its something that is always, always better in its homemade version rather than in a restaurant. Check out my version of Ina Garten’s individual chicken pot pie on my blog. It’s so much better to have one all to yourself… 🙂
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2) Pumpkin Bread

I know pumpkin is probably the most popular fall flavor… everyone always starts posting pictures of pumpkin spice lattes before the leaves even begin to fall! Personally, my favorite way to consume this perfect fall flavor is in a piece of warm, freshly baked pumpkin bread. Spread some butter on a piece and just try not to eat another! I like this recipe from Food52 for a great homemade way…

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Kale, Arugula and Red Onion Quiche

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Wanna know my favorite thing about quiches? They’re one of the only egg dishes that makes for a fantastic leftover. Wanna know my other favorite thing about quiches? They are great for breakfast, lunch, dinner AND snacks! Feel free to play with the ingredients in this recipe, its meant to use your favorite combinations. I like an artichoke, feta combination and a caramelized onion, sausage and sage quiche too. A rule of thumb is to keep the filling ingredients (minus the cheese) to three or less. This way, it doesn’t overpower the egg mixture and make for a chewier quiche. The recipe below is a healthy version of a quiche. Most recipes use heavy cream, but I substituted skim milk in this one which came out healthy and delicious. Enjoy!

Kale, Arugula and Red Onion Quiche

1 store bought pie crust, defrosted

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups of kale, stems removed and roughly chopped

1 cup of arugula, roughly chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano

1 cup skim milk

3 eggs

1 pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 350. Add your olive oil to a large saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Add kale, arugula and onions, cooking down for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute and a half. Season with salt and pepper and set aside, off of heat. In a separate bowl, combine cheese, milk, eggs, and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine. Once cooled, add the kale, arugula and onion mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange your pie crust in a  greased pie pan, trim the extra edges and pour in egg mixture. Cook in oven for 20-25 minutes until eggs are set.

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Mason Jar Pickles

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I’ve become a huge pickle lover this summer. After I tried some homemade pickle spears at a Sunday market in Chicago, I decided to make my own. I bought some pickling spice at The Spice House and immediately went home to make these sweet and spicy homemade pickles! Adjust the sweetener or Serrano chilies for a sweeter or spicier version.

Mason Jar Pickles

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup water

2 tablespoons honey

1.5 tablespoons salt

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon pickling spice

2 large cucumbers, slices 1/4 inch thick

1 small onion, sliced

2 Serrano chilies, halved

Combine all ingredients except for cucumbers, onions and chilies into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for two minutes. In a large jar layer the cucumbers, onions and chilies, leaving about a half an inch of space at the top. Pour the brine over the vegetables and stir to remove air bubbles. Let cool until it is room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. Enjoy 24 hours later for all flavors to meld.

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Tango Sur and Chimichurri Avocado Bruschetta

This week, my dinner club and I went out to Chicago’s favorite spot for Argentinian food, Tango Sur. Before I went, I spent a while stalking the menu as I usually do, but  this one was particularly hard to narrow down my choices. I had more than 12 things I wanted to try! The one thing I KNEW I had to try were their empanadas. Thankfully, I got to try a few different ones: Spinach and cheese, ham and cheese and beef. For me, the ham and cheese topped the charts. Dipping it in the accompanying chimichurri sauce, the whole empanada was gone in about 30 seconds!

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While everyone at the table went with the the filet served with spinach mashed potatoes, I went a different route and got a chicken dish. It was HUGE but so delicious that I ended up eating the whole thing. The chicken was called Suprema a la Napolitana and was served breaded and fried and topped with ham, mozzarella and tomato sauce. 

El Filet:

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Suprema a la Napolitana:

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While I literally had nothing left on my plate at the end of dinner, I did get to bring something home with me. The delicious chimichurri! We asked for extra to dip our potatoes in and WOW, that stuff is delicious. The next night I decided to make an appetizer with the amazing sauce: Chimichurri Avocado Bruschetta. This is a super easy recipe to make if you already have pre-made chimichurri like I did. If you want to go all out and make your own, I certainly encourage it! You can find a great recipe for homemade chimichurri: here.

Basically all you do with this appetizer is toast some sliced baguettes, chop some avocados, toss those with the chimichurri and top on the sliced baguettes. It’s simple, elegant and delicious!

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Enjoy!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Spicy Cajun Remoulade

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Fried green tomatoes are one of my favorite dishes from the South. Every time I go to visit my brothers down in Nashville I always make sure to get an order! These green tomatoes came from my Mom’s suburb-of-Chicago outdoor garden and were just as good as the Southern fried ones! Also, since these were picked fresh off the vine, they were twice as delicious. I like my fried green tomatoes spicy so this recipe kicks up the heat! If you aren’t into spicy-ness tone down the sriracha, hot sauce and Cajun spices a tad. This dish is a great for a starter before dinner and even substituted for regular tomatoes for a tasty twist on a BLT. Enjoy!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Spicy Cajun Remoulade

For the Spicy Cajun Remoulade

½ cup low fat mayonnaise

½ cup light sour cream

½ tablespoon sriracha

½ lemon, juiced

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

Salt and pepper

Combine the ingredients of the remoulade, stir until combined and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the Fried Green Tomatoes

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 egg

1 1/2 cups skim milk

1 tablespoon hot sauce

4-5 Fresh green tomatoes

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Cajun seasoning, for sprinkling

Combine Cajun seasoning, cornmeal and flour into a bowl and toss to combine. Set aside. Combine egg, milk and hot sauce and beat until combined. Set aside. Slice tomatoes into ½ inch slices. Dip each slice into egg/milk/hot sauce mixture until well coated. Then dip each slice seasoning/cornmeal/flour mixture until evenly coated. Heat ½ cup vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add tomatoes, flipping once, about 2 minutes per side. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and serve hot with the Spicy Cajun Remoulade.

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Strawberry Basil Lemonade

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Who doesn’t love a tall glass o’ lemonade on a hot summer day? It is definitely one of those cravings that lasts all summer long. For this recipe, I went off of a post from my new favorite food website, Food52.com. It combines lemonade with the sweet flavor of fresh strawberries and the subtle peppery flavor of basil. It turned out to be a really delicious and satisfying drink. I think it would make for a great cocktail too! Just splash in some vodka and bring it out to the pool with you for a cool-off cocktail!

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Recipe taken from Food52.com

1cup sugar

3 cups quartered fresh strawberries

20 medium basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 1/2cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put the sugar in a heatproof bowl or cup and pour 1 cup of boiling water over it. Stir to dissolve and let cool. Combine the strawberries with the basil and 1/4 cup of the sugar syrup in a blender. Puree until smooth.

To make the lemonade, fill a glass with ice and add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the strawberry puree, 1/2 cup cold water, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar syrup, depending on how sweet you like it. Stir well and serve right away.

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Enjoy!

Swiss Chard Tacos with Radish-Mango Salsa

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Healthy version of a taco anyone? This Swiss chard taco was the first dish I made this summer from a visit to the farmer’s market! Since I moved to Lincoln Park, I am much closer to Green City Market, one of the largest farmer’s markets in the city. It was the first time I’ve been and it turned out to be a really great one with tons of local farmers and vendors. Upon overhearing a fellow shopper ask for a chocolate croissant and get denied, I learned that this market does not sell or use any ingredients from anywhere further than 500 miles. Since chocolate is grown past 500 miles from Green City Market, it’s not sold there at all! Pretty cool, huh?! Unless you are craving a chocolatey breakfast treat like that guy. I did, however, get myself a regular croissant and was more than pleased.

In my hour and a half of wandering, I made three purchases: Swiss Chard, Radishes and some Carrot Habanero hot sauce, all of which I used in my cooking last night!

Here is the mountain of beautiful chard I got to choose from:

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And here is what I happily brought home:

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I have always loved radishes but I’ve never cooked with Swiss Chard before. I have heard over and over again that it is a delicious summer ingredient to feast on. Acting on my Mexican food craving I decided to make some healthy tacos out of it. They turned out to be really delicious and fresh-tasting.

Swiss Chard Tacos with Radish-Mango Salsa

For the tacos…

1 bunch Swiss chard

1 large yellow onion, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup vegetable broth

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Spinach tortillas

Feta Cheese or Queso Fresco

For the salsa…

1 bunch of radishes, sliced into discs

1 mango, diced

2 tablespoons minced onion

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 garlic clove, minced

1 lime, juiced

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Start by heating oil in a pan over high heat. Turn heat all the way down to low and add onions, stirring frequently until golden brown. Add the garlic during the last couple of minutes until cooked through. Remove onions and garlic and add Swiss chard to the same pan, turning up to medium-low. Add the vegetable broth and cover. Let cook for about 10 minutes until wilted. Add onions and garlic back into pan and stir in red pepper flakes, cumin and salt and pepper. Serve in a warm spinach tortilla and top with the radish-mango salsa and the feta.

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Enjoy!

Mercadito

While I still have a lot of Chicago Mexican restaurants to check off my list, I think Mercadito will always hold the crown as my number one. They have my all-time favorite taco on their menu (the camarón featured below) and some of the most unique margaritas I’ve ever tried. I also devour their awesome mango guacamole each time I’m there! While Mercadito is a little on the expensive side, you are sure to never leave hungry as these tacos are certainly belly-fillers. Here is what I got the last time I was there for dinner, but their menu has so many options and you can never go wrong with what you order!

We started off with a duo of their house-made guacamole. Choosing the Traditional, that had tomatillo pico de gallo, jalapeño, garlic, key-lime, cilantro and the Mango with jícama, chipotle, pico de gallo were two very wise decisions!

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I’ve been trying to work my way through their cocktail menu, so each time I go I try a couple different ones. The last time I went I got the most unique margarita I’ve ever tried called the “Smokey Pablo” which reminded me of a blueberry barbecue sauce– very different! This time I went with two that were more refreshing. The first was the V-9  which had pineapple, greens, ginger and lemon. It was quite tasty.

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The second margarita I tried was their Pera Te which had black tea infused tequila, pear, lime juice and agave nectar. While I didn’t like this one as much as the V-9, it was still enjoyable!

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For dinner we did what most people do when they come to Mercadito- share the tacos to try as many as possible before getting stuffed! The first to come out was the Estilo Baja with beer battered mahi-mahi, some spicy aioli and mexican-style coleslaw. YUM.

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The next taco we ordered was my personal favorite, the Camarón. I mostly like this because of the always cooked-to-perfection tender pieces of shrimp and the really spicy sauce they drench this taco in. It is heaven on a homemade tortilla!

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The last taco we got was on special that night and incorporated some Italian flavors, which I can never say no to! This was a meatball taco with mozzarella, basil and cherry tomatoes. I’ve never had anything like it, it was so so good! And it was a good thing we ended on this one because it was the most filling out of all of them.

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If you are ever craving some never-fail-delicious Mexican in Chicago, Mercadito is the way to go!

Veggie Burgers

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So I finally moved out of my East Lakeview apartment in Chicago and into my fresh, new, love-the-location Lincoln Park apartment! One of the BEST things about my new place is the size of the kitchen. All this extra counter space made me especially excited to cook my first meal. I decided to make some veggie burgers and start off healthy! I adapted this recipe off the blog Oh She Glows and they turned out to be quite the delicious dinner.

Veggie Burgers

1/2  cup red onion, diced

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chopped spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 eggs

1 cup oats

1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup grated beets

1 can of black beans, rinsed

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and  chopped

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

Salt and black pepper, to taste

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté the onion, garlic and spinach in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet for about 3 minuets. Place all ingredients except spices into a large mixing bowl and stir well. Season the mixture with the spices and salt and pepper. With wet hands form the dough into patties and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for a total of 30 minutes, flipping once. Serve on toasted buns with your choice of toppings. I went with pepperjack cheese, avocado and BBQ sauce! Enjoy!

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Hawaii Trip

I just returned from my week’s trip to Hawaii! The week went by so fast but it was one of the best vacations I have ever gotten to take! We stayed on the island of Oahu in the Waikiki area of Honolulu. We went surfing, sailed, went on a snorkeling adventure and a waterfall hike, relaxed by the beach and had some awesome meals. I ate my heart out with the fresh seafood and I got to try some local dishes that I’ve never had before. Here are some of the highlights:

Taking shade from the hot sun under some palm trees at the Waikiki Beach

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The beautiful Hanauma Bay where we went snorkeling

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Our sail trip. We saw some dolphins and sea turtles and took a dip in the middle of the ocean

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Monoa Falls Hike

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This blended coffee was called the Kona Mocha and had coconut and hazelnut blended into it. This was the first thing I had in Hawaii and I went back three times to get it again.

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Tuna Poke was one of the best foods I ate in Hawaii. The fish was really fresh and delicious that I ended up ordering it four different times! I think my favorite was the first one shown below that we got as an appetizer at a sushi restaurant called Daraku Sushi.

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Another local dish that I tried was the Acia Bowl that had blended and frozen acia berries, granola and fresh fruit. I ate this on the beach for breakfast on my last day and regretted not trying it earlier!

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Another great breakfast we had was at a local diner. We got the Coconut Pancake special which was tasty and tropical and quite filling.

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 The purple yam tempura that we got at Suntory Sushi was something I hadn’t seen before and was delish.

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Another great meal was the fish quesadillas with fruit salsa that we got from a Mexican place called Cha Cha Cha. The place had a wall of hot sauce that I was obviously intrigued by considering my large obsession with the condiment.

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But by far my favorite meal was the amazing Udon we had for lunch at Marakume Udon. This place had a line out the door everyday so we knew it had to be a must try. It was a little cafeteria style restaurant that served various hot and cold Udon noodle dishes. You could even watch the fresh noodles being made while standing in line. The dish that I ordered was called Ontama Udon and was served in a hot broth with a poached egg, scallions and tempura bits. We also got a variety of different tempura to go along with it.  We got the asparagus, sweet potato, pumpkin and mashed potato tempura and was served with a sweet dipping sauce. The place was also very cheap; the noodles were only $5.25. A must go if you are ever in Waikiki!

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And finally I have to pay homage to the tropical drinks we enjoyed. From the top left: Blue Hawaiian, Sea Breeze, Mai Tai and Lava FlowImage

Hawaii was such a great trip!! I cannot wait to go back one day in the future!