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!

Image

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:

Image

Suprema a la Napolitana:

Image

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!

Image

Enjoy!

Swiss Chard Tacos with Radish-Mango Salsa

Image

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:

Image

And here is what I happily brought home:

Image

Image

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.

Image

Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

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

Veggie Burgers

Image

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

6f4684fab85b11e2974122000a9e2969_7

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!

d3e9b65cb85b11e2bec722000a1f8c33_7

01da795cb85c11e2890322000a9e48f1_7

Egg Salad

Image

I hope everyone had a great Easter Sunday! I know I did, and I am still stuffed from the second helpings I had at Easter brunch! Now that Easter is over and all those dyed eggs remain, I thought I’d make some egg salad. This is a healthy version using mustard, lemon juice and very few egg yolks so you can feel guilt-free for lunch!

Egg Salad

10 hard boiled egg white

2 hard boiled egg yolks

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 tablespoon minced red pepper

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

Salt and pepper

Chop the hard boiled eggs. Stir in the two types of mustard and the lemon juice. Add the onions, red peppers and Old Bay seasoning and stir until well combined. Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve on pumpernickel bread with lettuce.

Image

Little Goat

An hour wait? No problem! As long as I get to try Stephanie Izard’s new restaurant Little Goat. Located across the street from her now famous Girl and the Goat, this place is set up diner style, but with Izard’s own flair planted on the design and menu items. All traditional foods you’d find at any average diner come with a spin at this place. Think pork and toffee milkshake or sloppy joes with goat meat. Everything we ended up ordering was a-maz-ing, I just wish we had the stomach space to try more!

Image

Image

Image

“The Little Goat” Coffee was rich and creamy and made with steamed goat’s milk.

Image

The spiced apple pancake with cream cheese butter and oatmeal crumble was just….decadent!

Image

Gluten free sourdough pancakes for my gluten free friend!

Image

“Los Drowned” with braised beef, avocado, buttercase cheese, pickle and spicy mayo on a hoagie. This came with a delish au jus type dipping sauce.

Image

Of course had to get the side of mac and cheese with breadcrumbs for the table! No complaints, no complaints at all.

Image

And last but not least was my order: Chicken Cordon Bleu with breaded chicken, ham, brie cheese sauce, kraut, and pickled peppers on a homemade potato bun. Even though this was probably the messiest sandwich I’ve ever had, so messy a fork and knife were definitely necessary, every bite was so well balanced and tasty that the mess stopped mattering. I loved it all.

Image

You can really tell that Stephanie puts her heart and soul and creating each and every dish. This is a place where you can really taste the passion!

Balena

So glad I finally got to try Balena in Lincoln Park! I have been meaning to try this place for a while, so 5 friends and I went to check it out last week. Chris Padel, the restaurant’s head chef, was in the running for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant; that’s some serious stuff! Balena was also nominated for Best New Restaurant in the Chicago Foodie’s Bible- Time Out Chicago. I always trust the food writer’s opinions in that magazine and that was the big reason I was so tempted by this restaurant’s tantalizing menu.Image

Image

Balena means “whale” in Italian, and after feasting on these delicious menu items, I think we all felt pretty whale-like…(but well worth it).

We started with two pizzas. The first, and all around favorite of the two, was the Spicy sausage pizza with red onion, tomato and mozzarella. The crust was so fresh and all of the ingredients melded perfectly together for a cheesy, spicy, warm slice.

Image

Image

The second pizza was the brussel sprout pizza with pancetta, pecorino and red onion. It had a salty/lemony flavor with the crisp leafy texture from the sprouts. Still a really good pizza, but nothing compared to the spicy sausage which was scarfed down by the table within 10 minutes. The brussel sprout pizza had two slicing remaining. The winner was clear.

Image

Everyone got their own pasta dish for the main course. I like how the pasta dishes weren’t humungous like most Italian eateries. I was happily able to eat every last bite of mine. The most popular dish at the table was the Tagliolini Nero which was an ink pasta with crab, sea urchin and chili. Three people at the table ordered it! This dish reminded me exactly of the pasta I ordered at RPM Italian and I have to say, RPM take the cake on that one. Everyone at the table really enjoyed Balena’s Tagliolini Nero, for me, it was my least favorite.

Image

I ordered the Orecchiette based off of the waiter’s heartfelt recommendation for it. I was very impressed! This dish came with kale, lemon, chili and toasted breadcrumbs that added some great texture on top of the creamy sauce. I only let one person at the table take a taste and I ate all the rest!

Image

The last thing I tried was the Rigatoni with pork ragu and porcini mushrooms. Mushrooms are probably the only food I do not enjoy so I poked at the pasta and pork sauce which was really delicious.

Image

Everyone really enjoyed their dinner at Balena, I hope to go back soon and try some more of their amazing-looking pizzas!

Chicago Restaurant Week – Frontier

We went to another Chicago restaurant week spot last Wednesday – Frontier! This place’s menu caught my attention right away because of the interesting and exotic types of food they offered. And also because their restaurant week menu featured a gourmet s’more, one of my all-time favorite desserts. This place was in the Wicker Park area of Chicago, a bit of a trek from where I live, but definitely worth the distance. Going with three people was perfect because we all ordered different things to cover all the options on the menu. Here is what we ate and enjoyed:

Kangaroo Chili (told you it was exotic!) This was served with marrow bones, cheddar cheese and creme fraiche. Who knew kangaroo would be this tasty?

Image

Antelope Meatballs with gouda and gnocchi. Probably my least favorite of the appetizers, but at least I got to try antelope once in my life. It had an “interesting” texture to say the least.

Image

Duck tacos…phenomenal! Hoping more of my future tacos can include duck.

Image

Some of the other appetizers options on their regular menu included some crazy dishes such as gator ribs, elk shepard’s pie and duck heart.

Moving onto the entrees….The first is what my friend ordered. The wild boar with sweet potato puree, campfire marshmallow, and blackberry BBQ sauce. Yum!

Image

My other friend tried the banana leaf salmon with black rice. This was awesome and tropical/coconutty tasting. and my second run in with black rice in one week…no complaints!

Image

The entree that I ordered was the Amish chicken and this was to.die.for. Every component from the bourbon sauce on the chicken to the creamy 5 cheese mac and even the watercress salad was amazing. The entire table agreed it was the best part of all our meals.

Image

And to highlight the mac and cheese one more time since it was THAT good.

Image

Last but certainly not least was the Gourmet S’more with a homemade graham cracker, honey marshmallow and bourbon chocolate. So tasty but definitely strayed from the familiar taste of a campfire s’more.

Image

Image

I would (and already have!) recommend Frontier. The place has some really good food and I will make my way back there in the near future to try some more. They even offer a whole roasted pig for $500! If my dream of winning the lottery comes true I’ll treat you all to that pig and more at this place.

Chicago Restaurant Week – Union Sushi + Barbecue Bar

Image

Chicago Restaurant Week is upon us! That wonderful time of year when many restaurants in the city of Chicago gather their favorite menu items and put the choices on their pre-fixed menus. $22 for lunches and $33 or $44 for dinners. It’s a great way to try some of the great places to eat for a more affordable price. Two of my friends and I went to Union Sushi and Barbecue Bar on Friday night for the perfect start to February. Between the three of us we got to try almost every item on their Restaurant week menu…here are the highlights!

Some silky smooth miso soup.

Image

Truffled tuna with avocado and wonton chips.

Image

Black pepper shrimp. Had a really good punch of heat in each bite.

Image

And my favorite of the appetizers was the Cobia Carpaccio. How pretty is this?! It was very citrus-y with grapefruit and orange flavors that really made the dish taste fresh and awake.

Image

One of the main courses we tried was the Surf and Turf with beef, jumbo shrimp and sweet potato cream

Image

And we also got the sushi platter with the Black Rice Tuna roll and the Shrimp Tempura roll. Both were awesome and I loved trying black rice sushi for the first time.

Image

Here is J from the lifestyle blog Lace and Lacquer enjoying her sushi.

Image

For dessert we enjoyed a “Killer Yuzu Pie,” which was much like a key lime pie, as well as a Pumpkin Mochi Cake that had cream cheese ice cream, caramel and pumpkin brittle.

ImageImage

Go here. It’s real tasty.

Dose Market

Last Sunday I headed over to the River North Art Center to attend Dose Market. It was my first time there but I already cannot wait to go back! I had so much fun wandering around and looking at what each vendor had to offer. And the best part about this market? The free samples! I got to try some great bites and discovered some new eateries that I didn’t know Chicago had to offer.In addition to the yummy bites there were many vendors selling gorgeous jewelry, clothing and purses. The next Dose Market in on 12/9 and I will surely be coming back to get some unique holiday shopping done! Here are some of the highlights:

Green Smoothie and Around the World Smoothie from Loop Juice:

Salted Caramels from Truffle Truffle:

Sweet Corn Cake, Beer and Bacon, Confetti and Fleur de Sel Caramel Cake Truffles from Lizzie’s Bake Shoppe:

Bacon Cheddar Biscuits from Uptown Soda Bread Co.:

Some delicious homemade butter from Fayette Creamery in Wisconsin:

My Purchase! Amazing Raspberry Jalapeno Preserves from Thornburg and Company:

aaaand my favorite non-food-related spotting in the market were these cute clutches! They remind me of an upscale version of a brown paper bag 🙂 I like it in the black

If you live in the Chicagoland area do not miss out on Dose market! Its a great way to find some hidden gems in this wonderful city.