Friday, January 30, 2009

A Very Tasty Dinner

Dinner last night was amazing, not only because we watched A Very Colbert Christmas (yes, a month late...) but also because we made Roasted Winter Squash and Parsnips with Maple Syrup Glaze and Marcona Almonds. And it was good! We made it a bit healthier by using 2 tablespoons "butter" and 1/3 cup maple syrup instead of 1/2 cup. Plus, we used regular slivers of almonds. Since it was easier.

It took a while to cook - I cut up the squash and parsnips before my aerobics class - and The Pedant made the glaze and cooked them. But it was well worth the wait. The squash was soft and tender and caramelized. It was so tasty. The perfect comfort food. So good we ate all of it (8 servings! HA!). Granted, we were very full afterwords.

Tonight's Dinner: Tempeh au Vin from the new Vegetarian Times. The verdict tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Short Update

I have to catch up on a lot of blogging.

Before anything else, I want to say that taking day old beer-flavored black beans from Mark Bittman's cookbook and folding them into scrambled eggs with feta cheese is super-tasty. You should all try it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Coconut Milk Night!

For dinner last night there was a theme - coconut milk. The Pedant saw that at the Teet last week there was a sale on mangoes. Now, I love mangoes. And, while doing a project started over the week off I had of organizing recipes we've amassed over the year (VT, internet sites) in a binder, I printed out a Mark Bittman recipe for Savory Mango Soup (Mangoes, milk, coconut milk, yogurt, ancho chili powder for big, bold flavor). An excellent way to utilize the sale. Plus, a few months ago we made a tofu asparagus stir fry (that uses, you guessed it, coconut milk!) from a weight watchers cook book so we decided to work off of a theme.

The mango soup was good - not perfect, but we used fat free milk and yogurt which made it a bit less creamy. I think it will be even better when mangoes are actually in season. The tofu was good and we made it very spicy. TP suggested adding curry next time to kick it up.

On a different note, I made myself a snack for work yesterday - Greek Yogurt, honey and almonds. It was delish. Not uncommon at all, but really tasty. This will be made again, never fear!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chicago Part II

This is a week in the making, but here it is...


Dinner was a lovely meal at Andalous. We all ate too much, but it was very good. Sister had the Chef's Chicken (the sauce was very, very good). Cousin R had the Andalous tagine and I had the Vegetarian Pastilla, which was really great. We rolled ourselves out of there for martinis at the Kit-Kat Lounge, a bar in Cousin R's neighborhood. They have martini specials on Sundays, so we each got one (their list is was difficult to choose!). I can't remember what everyone got, but I got the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle martini which was really wonderful. We had talked about going to a blues club, but we were all tired and very full so we went home.


Our last day! We had bagels to go at a local "NY diner" which were OK by non-NY standards. Sister and I spent the day at the Art Institute and seeing the Bean before meeting up with Cousin R for lunch at Whole Foods (we were all over big, heavy meals and their salad bar is pretty exciting) before heading off to the airport. Dinner was on the plane - a purchased Potbelly sandwich. Not terrible, but not the best thing ever. I'm a subway girl.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


So I am here with my Sister visiting our Cousin R in Chicago for the long weekend. It has been a wonderful vacation so far (we have about 23 hours left) and are really enjoying ourselves so far. We've also eaten some superb food. A quick rundown.

Breakfast was eaten in the airport. I enjoyed some oatmeal from Starbucks which was a bit less thick than I prefer, but really tasty with the brown sugar packet. I would totally enjoy it again for a meal on the run.
The plane ride was uneventful and I landed in beautiful Chicago. Cousin R picked us up and we went to the supermarket for sustenance (100 Calorie Lorna Doones, grapes, Baked Lays, carrots, spinach dip) and then off for deep dish by the slice. The restaurant, the Art of Pizza, seems to be pretty well known for its deep dish and it should be - it was delicious. Cousin R got pepperoni, Sister got sausage and peperoni, I got mushroom and spinach. I now know why Chicago is famous for deep dish. It was SO GOOD. Warm, cheesy, gooey, doughy and wonderful.
After a quick stop in Cousin R's apartment to put on long underwear and a second pair of socks, we headed out to Lincoln Park for a stop at an amazing chocolate shop, Vosges. We sampled some of the toffee they had and then bought some bars and truffles. I'm sure The Pedant will explain more another time...
After a walk around the area, we headed to Lincoln Square for dinner at Chelsea Grill. It was really tasty - an eclectic menu that was not very expensive. We shared homemade potato chips with sea salt and fried goat cheese for an appetizer. Fried goat cheese is just super. Gooey and well toasted. For dinner, Sister had the burger with homemade fries and Cousin R and I shared the roasted vegetable and goat cheese sandwich and the Macaroni and Cheeses. It was great. The sandwich had chunks of veggies as opposed to slices which made it even tastier. The mac & cheeses was really decedent.
We went to Old Town to kill some time before seeing Second City (which was so amazing and really funny!!) and ate dessert - bread pudding recommended by the hostess and worth it! - at Bistrot Margot. They seemed to have a problem when Cousin R asked for a hot chocolate and I asked for a mocha. It seemed to throw them off (sister's espresso was no problem...) but they managed and it was tasty.

Brunch was in Wicker Park where we were joined by Cousin I. We ate at Hot Chocolate which was just wonderful. We each, of course, got hot chocolate. Sister and I both had their half and half - half dark chocolate, half espresso and one FULL taste. Rich, a little bitter, tasty. Cousin R enjoyed her Mexican hot chocolate. Cousin I really liked her dark, which was 72% dark chocolate that, as she rightly put it, tasted like liquid brownie. We then shared the sweets plate, with banana bread (which was actually quite good and not so banana-ey), croissant filled with duck and pear (I got an end so I didn't have to worry), mini scones, and a homemade donut. Very tasty. For the meal I got the market scramble with queso fresco, spinach and mushrooms. It was amazing. Perfectly cooked, not overly cheesy. Sister and Cousin R enjoyed sharing a ham and egg sandwich and Cousin I enjoyed her fresh ricotta and egg sandwich. We rolled ourselves out and enjoyed walking and shopping.
Cousin R, Sister and I are realizing with some snacks and Austin Powers (a favorite!) before a dinner out and jazz (an update later!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Fun Facts

What I learned last night:

1) It is very hard to get the last bits of mayo out of a squeezy bottle of mayonnaise.

2) A Wusthof chef's knife, properly honed, will easily cut through the side of a squeezy bottle of mayonnaise.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Another Food Tip From Someone Smarter But Wiser

Smart Balance spread does not emulsify into salad dressing. I tried to convince myself that it did, but I was smart enough to toss it before it touched salad.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Diced Tomatoes = Improv Food Awesomeness

I have now improved two improvised meals with diced tomatoes, and I come sharing my newfound wisdom.

1) "Real America" Tuna a la Tomato

As everyone knows, left to my own devices, I eat horrible things. This is why, since we had a coupon long ago, a box of Tuna Helper stood on our shelf in the pantry. I decided to make it for at-work lunches.

After a horrible experience with Hamburger Helper and Morningstar Farms Grillers (tastes like a very bad idea), I resolved always to add other things to "Helper" meals so that they have some taste and nutritional value.

This time, on top of Costco canned sliced mushrooms, I added a can of diced tomatoes, as well as the sauce packet.

The result: not bad. The diced tomatoes turned a plain cream-saucy dish (I used skim milk) into something closer to an Italian pasta. Definitely edible.

2) The Pedant Succeeds With Goat Cheese

Today, the Sherbs and I managed to find ourselves with an unplanned dinner, so I promised to make something. I had in my head the Amateur Gourmet's blog post about a penne alla vodka recipe from Lydia Bastianich, the Sherbs's favorite WETA Create food personality.

It was, of course, horrible with cold and rain outside, so we didn't want to buy anything. Which meant that we had no cream and no vodka.

However, after an excellent risotto last week, we had some leftover goat cheese. This was the inspiration.

I started with a can of Muir Glen diced tomatoes, which Cook's Illustrated considers the best brand of canned tomatoes, and a can of Hunt's diced tomatoes with random junk in it, which Cook's Illustrated did not rank highly but was on sale when I was stocking up on emergency pantry goods at the Teet (did you make out like a bandit on triple coupon weekend? We did!). Added to that the remainder of some vegetable stock, a healthy dump of garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and grated parmesan, not to mention more canned mushrooms, and it started to seem like sauce.

Then, in went the cheese and two small spoon scoops of low-fat sour cream. It creamed up just enough for true tastiness when we added the Barilla Plus rigatoni (I was too lazy to reach back further on the shelf for penne). The Sherbs and I both liked it a lot.