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!

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!

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!

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!

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

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

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Gluten free sourdough pancakes for my gluten free friend!

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“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.

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

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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.

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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!

Good Eats of the Winter

Although the dreary March we’ve been having in Chicago doesn’t make me feel like Spring is near, it is indeed approaching! I am so excited for the warm weather to start showing up! Winter isn’t my favorite season, but I did enjoy quite a lot of taste bud pleasing meals and treats. Here are some of my favorite eats of this winter.

Breakfast Pizza at Tavern on Rush. So yummy! I am a huge proponent for runny yolks and this pizza was covered in it after we dug in.

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My roommate and I made this Toffee Bark for our Friendsgiving party. It was a huge hit! check out the recipe here: Chocolate Graham Toffee 

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Bruschetta Platter. I made this for our appetizer on Christmas day! Layer on the olive oil parmesan dip then pile your toast high with the balsamic tomatoes!

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Fried Egg Sandwich from Dunlay’s on Clark. One of my favorite brunch places in the city. They also have a great veggie burger!

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Jalapeno Popper Dip that I made for the Superbowl. I used the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. It turned out spicy and warm and delicious. I will definitely use this recipe again!

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Veggie Quinoa with Goat Cheese. Healthy and satisfying.

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Table-side Gaucamole at Adobo Grill. I love this Mexican restaurant in the Old Town area. This gauc is so fresh and we asked for it extra spicy.

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Homemade Kuma’s Corner Burgers! Arguably the best burgers in the city of Chicago. The first one is The Iron Maiden with avocado, cherry peppers, pepper jack and chipotle mayo. The second one is The Mastadon with cheddar, BBQ sauce, Bacon and fried onions.

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The Breakfast Burrito at The Bongo Room in Wicker Park. This had guacamole, scrambled eggs and a bunch of cheese stuffed inside. YUM!

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Can’t wait to eat my way through Spring now….

Greek Chicken Skewers and Tzatziki Sauce

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When I studied abroad in 2009, my favorite place that I got to visit was Greece. I never thought I’d love any kind of food more than Italian, but the food in Greece really rivaled it! I ate my heart out from everything from the gyros to the fish to the flaming cheese. Now I have a bunch of favorite Greek restaurants that I frequent in Chicago (my favorite is Avli in Winnetka), and love cooking with Mediterranean flavors since its always healthy and flavorful. Here is a really easy dish that’s low in calories but high in deliciousness!

Greek Chicken Skewers and Tzatziki Sauce

For the chicken…

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3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, grainy

1 red onion, cut into 2-inch pieces

Directions: Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, herbs and mustard until well combined. Cut chicken into 2 inch cubes and let marinade in lemon/garlic/herb mixture for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.  Once marinaded, Preheat oven to 350 degrees and  begin to skewer chicken and onions, alternating between one chicken cube to two onion slices. Place in greased baking dish and bake in oven for about 15 minutes and turn to other side. Bake for another 15 minutes or until cooked through.

For the Tzatziki…

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2 cups of fat free Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and minced

2 tablespoons fresh dill

Directions: Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve the meal with warmed pita bread and enjoy!!

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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?

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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.

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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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Truffled tuna with avocado and wonton chips.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Go here. It’s real tasty.

Individual Chicken Pot Pies

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The first thing that comes to mind when I think Chicken Pot Pie is season 8 of Top Chef, when Carla Hall literally almost had a joyful heart attack upon learning that she’d be cooking chicken pot pie in that episode. She was going on and on about how she was going to cook that pie with so much love packed inside. Needless to say it bordered on the edges of hilarious and crazy…but she won!  And in a way she was right, chicken pot pie is one of those home-goodie kind of dishes that definitely makes a difference when its cooked with care. I went off of Ina Garten’s recipe in this post but used the store bought pie crust to cut down on the time. I liked the fact that each person got their own mini pot pie. It turned out delish and was certainly satisfying!

Individual Chicken Pot Pies

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

5 cups chicken stock

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 stick unsalted butter

2 cups yellow onions, chopped

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 cups carrots,chopped

1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

1 package of prepared pie crust

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil the chicken breasts until cooked through, a little more than a half an hour. In a saucepan heat the chicken broth and add the chicken bouillon cubes until dissolved. In a large, deep skillet melt 1 stick of butter then cook over medium-low heat until onions are translucent, about 10-15 minutes. Add the flour and cook over low heat for two minutes, stirring constantly. Next, add the chicken stock and stir until smooth. Add carrots, peas, cooked chicken and parsley. Mix well.

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Spoon mixture into oven safe bowls. Place on cookie sheet.

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Cover with pie crusts and slit 2-3 small holes at the top for venting. Whisk one egg and white are combined. Brush the top of the pie crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

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Dig in and ENJOY!

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Nutella Cookies

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I just love Nutella. When I studied abroad in Italy, I discovered my deep love for this creamy, chocolaty hazelnut spread. I used to put it on anything from  baguettes to bananas. Basically anything is delicious if it is topped with Nutella! Here is a simple chocolate cookie topped with Nutella to make it the perfect sweet bite.

Nutella Cookies

1 cup of flour

1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup of butter

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Nutella, to top

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. In a separate bowl stir together the butter, eggs and vanilla extract. Add to dry mixture and mix until well combined. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and arrange on a greased cookie sheet, 1 inch apart.

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Press thumb into center of cookie to create a dent that will hold the Nutella.

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Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

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Take a spoon and top the cooled cookies with a heap of Nutella.

Enjoy!

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