Category Archives: Cooking

Frozen Friday: Trader Joe’s – Potato Pancakes | Brand Eating

Found this post about these amazing frozen potato latkes that my neighborhood Trader Joe’s was sampling last week. I grabbed a box and made them for breakfast today! Frozen Friday: Trader Joe’s – Potato Pancakes | Brand Eating.

Frozen Friday: Trader Joe's - Potato Pancakes | Brand Eating

You have to try them! (with applesauce and sour cream, of course)

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Easter Trip to DC (Recap)

I spent my Easter weekend in DC with my cousin Cheryl this year. She’s the amazing food genius behind The Neurotic Baker blog. I have the pleasure of helping her with a few of her creations and being the live-in taste tester for a weekend. I swear I almost moved in with her after she made the vanilla whoopie pies below. Enjoy the recap…

Brunch at DGS Delicatessen… The Potato Latkes and Crispy Pastrami were TO DIE FOR. The bottom pic is the DGS Reuben, which was good, but I wished I had ordered the pastrami sandwich because I just couldn’t get enough of it!

Then we took a trip to Horace and Dickies… after seeing a line down the street everytime we passed by this Man vs Food approved spot, we couldn’t take it anymore. The fish was AWESOME and the “atmosphere” was as memorable as they come. We took our “sandwich” – four filets and 2 pieces of white bread – and camped out next door at the Hookah lounge’s outdoor seating area.

H & Pizza was my first DC meal, and the pizza I chose was the Farmer’s Daughter. The egg yolk was a great touch!

FARMER’S DAUGHTER –

Spicy Tomato, Housemade Mozzarella, Hot Sausage,

Farm Eggs, Spinach, Parmesan Reggiano, Red Pepper Chili Oil

Breakfast at The Diner was prety good… except the “grits”. They called it grits on the menu but it was weird, thick grains, and super creamy. The creamy part was fine but the big grains was a little awkward. Either way, the food was overall pretty good. We tried to get mimosas, but the waiter reminded us that it was only 8:30 AM and drinks don’t start until 10. Hey. I was on vacation! No judgement.
A couple of scenic shots from the city and the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial that I finally got to visit at the National Mall!

My cousin Cheryl is also the MASTERMIND behind Edith and Ethel – home of the most AWESOME oatmeal raisin cookies in the world!! Her blog http://neuroticbaker.com/ is where I now go for most of my “impress your man” recipes… so far its working too! LOL! We spent most of the day on Sunday baking – whoopie pies, cupcakes, a cake, oatmeal raisin cookies… it was a post-Lent dream!! Everything was tasty but my favorite, hands down, were the Vanilla Whoopie Pies with rhubard filling or lemon-ginger filling.

Healthy Eating–Chicago’s Raw Food Network

I love McDonald’s – and I’m not just saying that because they pay my salary. The filet-o-fish, with a small fry and water is my usual choice, but sometimes I branch out and get a cheeseburger (no pickles, no onions) or Chicken Selects or the Crispy Chicken Club sandwich… or (gasp) a McRib when they are available. I have always been a fast food junkie (see pics below for evidence of my early love affair with Ronald McDonald) and realistically, deep down inside, I believe I always will be.

Old pics 20110073Old pics 20110074Old pics 20110078

That being said… my love for eating out and my distaste for working out, means I have to focus on one very important word – BALANCE. That’s right. I am one of those “eat what I want” people. But now that I’m 30 and my metabolism is about 75, when I eat out, I aim for smaller portions of fried (yummy), creamy (heavenly) and high fat foods (more fat usually tastes better)… and then I balance them with larger portions  and more frequent “meal swaps” with entrees and snacks that are of fruits and vegetables.

This year I decided to kick it up a notch and learn about Raw Food diets. No, I’m not leaving the work of meat and heat… but I was interested in learning more about food options and their benefits. So I went to Chicago’s guru of raw foods – Karyn Calabrese. Karyn owns 3 restaurants in Chicago, one of which is the city’s first raw food restaurant. You heard me. A menu full of uncooked items that will trick even the smartest of foodies. Poor Bobby took me to Karyn’s Raw Café for lunch, not believing me when I said there is no cooking – as the menu sounds like any normal boutique restaurant in the city. I ordered the “Ravioli” and he ordered the “House Salad”.

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Basil Scented Ravioli

Half moon shells (turnips) filled with macadamia whipped crème dressed with an Italian olive marinara sauce $14

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Karyn’s Famous House Salad

Shredded Cabbage, Hearts of romaine, red onion, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus sunflower sprouts, candied walnuts, and teardrop tomatoes caesar dressing on the side $12

 

The flavors were interesting. In some ways its all tasted like “salad”, just varying types of salad.  Overall it was good (though quite pricey) and we could “feel the benefits” as our stomachs digested all the healthy veggies shortly after.

We went on a Saturday afternoon and the atmosphere was nice and calm and the presentation was very pretty. We stayed after our lunch for a 2.5 hour presentation by Karyn herself on her lifestyle as a Raw Foodist/Vegan/Entrepreneur. It was interesting to say the least. We were able to try a few food items, and I’d just say, I’m not converted and only liked 3 of the 6 items. While those three items were really good, when we left, I was starving and begging for a carb. Bobby wouldn’t satisfy my requests to stop and grab a Big Mac, he felt it was too soon after we had educated ourselves, so we went by his spot and made some of the healthiest tacos you’ve ever seen. I’m definitely interested in checking this place out again, but it seems like I might have to save up, cause that lifestyle is NOT CHEAP!

My item of the day, since we’re talking about food, is the Cuisinart Pressure Cooker. I can hear you know… “What the heck is that???” (Ok, if you’re not saying it I am). I have no idea what this thing does but it looks AWESOME. The geek in me wants this on my kitchen counter now. I have never cooked most of the things it claims to be perfect for (gnocchi, pot roast, short ribs) but I bet if I had one I’d be a roast queen in no time!

cuisineart pressure cooker

Catering to my inner (imaginary) Puerto Rican side

I am the product of two Black parents…. but I swear there has to be some Latin in my blood, based on the way I obsess over the food. Here in Chicago, we have a number of places that claim to have the best JIBARITOS, and after trying out a few, we’ve found our A+ spot – Papa’s Cache Sobroso in Humboldt Park (with the jibarito originator “Borinquen” pulling a close second for the sandwich, but taking #1 for mofongo in Chicago).

For a while, Bobby and I were making regular trips for their tender, tasty rotisserie chicken dishes (with Spanish rice and tostones) and the wonderful jibarito sandwiches. The prices are what we call EXCELLENT for date night (dinner for 2 can easily come in under $20 and you’ll be full when you leave). This is a pic of our standard meal – a steak jibarito with Spanish rice. The sandwich comes with cheese (“white” or “yellow”), lettuce (which I remove), tomato, and mayo. Instead of bread you get all of this smashed between two perfectly fried garlicky plantains. Here’s a pic from our last trip to Papa’s…

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After a few regular trips, it got me to thinking…. can I channel my inner imaginary Puerto Rican and make this dish myself??? Hmmm…..Why not try??? The hardest part was the research on cutting and frying the plantains… oh, and seeing the amount of oil that I had to use. LOL (don’t ask for nutritional content on this sandwich, I have convinced myself it doesn’t exist). In the end, my version came pretty close visually and the flavor was really good!!! I’ll definitely have to add this to my successful recipe list!

Plantains frying in the skilletSandwich openedFinished meal - great presentation :-)

The item of the day, since I’m in a cooking mood, is something I have no room for in my kitchen but sure plan to get one day….. A couple of years ago my cousin found a great recipe a while back for potatoes au gratin that included Jarlsberg and Raclette cheeses (both of which were expensive and difficult to locate among the abundance of cheeses in Whole Foods). This was the BEST side ever. Half of the fun was in making it, and I had the job of potato slicer. In my kitchen this would be dreadful, with my somewhat dull knives and shaky hands. But in her kitchen I learned about a “mandoline” (a.k.a. “slicer”)… talk about amazing!

I don’t recall the brand she had, but it was similar to this one by Oxo, featured on the William Sonoma website:

oxo madeline slicer

Based on my past experiences (and the line on my pinky from the stitches that I got after slicing an avocado the wrong way) I think this may be a good idea to go with my mandoline, whenever I get it… the cut resistant glove from Microplane. Great invention indeed:

microplane

If I don’t see you before then…

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!

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