Welcome to my blog. My blogging journey began about in August 2009 as a photo-a-day blog which has since transitioned to combine my love of good food and photography. Today, using as many local and fresh ingredients as we can, my boyfriend and myself spend time researching recipes, making our own adaptations, cooking, taking photos, eating, and finally reflecting on all or part of the above listed process here. I hope you take the time to not only read and look at our photos, but please cook some of the recipes yourself. You are invited and encourage to leave feedback as we continue our culinary journey!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pork Chops with Porchini Mushrooms and Potatoes

I usually cook pork chops with a veggie or two, but with this recipe Daniele took that to a new level.

He began by soaking some dry porchini mushrooms in warm water and slicing 1/2 and onion and 3 small potatoes. He cooked the onion and a garlic clove in a pan in a little bit of olive oil, and when cooked, he added some potatoes and the pork chops. After the pork chops cooked a bit, he added some cooking wine and the porchini mushrooms as well as some of the water the mushrooms were sitting in for a bit of extra flavor. Finally, a bit of spices (mostly salt and pepper). Cook for 20 minutes and then enjoy. Simple and tasty. :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stuffed Green Peppers

This is a recipe Daniele and I will make sometimes when we feel we have a lot of vegetables sitting around the house that we need to use up before they go bad. There are few hard and fast rules in this household, but one of them is NEVER, and I repeat, NEVER waste any food. (And another would be always recycle, when possible!).

So, this is a good recipe to use with what you have laying around. Sometimes, we substitute the green peppers for zucchini. As a disclaimer, you may have noticed that D and I have been cooking a lot of "use what you have around the house" recipes lately. It's because we've been busy: D has been teaching a summer course for some students at the University, I've been in the midst of a full time job search, and we've both been doing some traveling. Actually, D is in Japan for the week at a math conference, but luckily I have some backlog of recipes to post. Also, next week I will be visiting my grandma so I might have a recipe of two of hers to share and I am scheming to cook some chicken cheese enchiladas for the night Daniele returns from Nagoya!

So, back to the stuffed peppers.
2 green peppers
1 tomato
1 onion
1/4 leek
1/4 lb ground beef
olive oil
bread crumbs

For this recipe we halved two green peppers and steamed them for about 5 minutes to make them a bit soft. In the meantime, we sliced tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and leeks. We also used 1/4 of a pound of ground beef.

Begin by cooking the onions and leeks with some olive oil. After 5-10 minutes, add the ground beef. When cooked, add tomatoes and onions and also a bit of cooking wine. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley.  Finally, add bread crumbs to absorb the moisture of the mixture.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the four green pepper halves in a dish and fill with the cooked topping. Slice cheese and top the green pepper with some cheese. Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden. Enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Homemade Fries

I haven't posted in about a week--don't worry its not because we haven't been cooking or because I've lost interest in my blog. Instead, this is merely because I haven't had time to post!

Earlier this month, when Daniele and I were in the Grand Canyon, we ate at a wonderful fast food joint in Flagstaff called Diablo Burger. This was seriously one of the best hamburgers I've ever eaten in my life. But, the french fries were equally excellent. I tend to be picky when it comes to fries so this compliment is huge. I do not generally like fried food----which often causes me to have a stomach ache.

I'll just add a couple of other things about Diablo Burger---which provides fresh and LOCAL products. So they provide not only tasty products, but also show a concern for the environment. Fantastic! Before I share my recipe for homemade fries (which isn't much of a recipe, actually), I'll post my photo of the fantastic hamburger which D and I shared in Flagstaff.

As we were eating the burger above, we were analyzing the spices on the fries, and tried to immitate them in our own creation of french "fries" (which actually, we baked.( This is what we came up with:

Slice 5-6 yukon potatoes into small strips. Place olive oil in a large pan. Add 1/2 potatoes, sprinkle generously with rosemary, pepper, and salt. Add the rest of the half and add spices again. Sprinkle with olive oil on top. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, stir the fries so the ones that are on the bottom are now at the top of the pan, and bake again for another 25 minutes. Serve with Ketchup.

Our fries below are served with a Salmon Burger from Whole Foods.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Homemade Pizza

Two weeks ago, Daniele and I had very me friends over and made homemade pizza, using his mom's recipe. It was our first time making the crust from scratch, and it turned out excellent if I say so myself.

To make the crust you will need: 2 lbs flour, salt (1tbs), 1-2 tbs of sugar, 2 cubes of fresh yeast, 1 cup hot water (approximate), olive oil (to taste). Put the flour in a large bowl. Mix the yeast, sugar, and hot water together and let sit together before adding to the other ingredients. Now, mix all of the ingredients together gradually; if the mixture seems too sticky add flour, if the mixture seems too dry add water. Let the crust rise for 1 hour.

While the crust is rising you can prepare your toppings by cutting into small pieces. We used multiple combinations of the following: sausage, mushroom, anchovy, onion, yellow pepper, and mozzarella cheese.

After the crust rises, spread thin covering an entire baking sheet. Add tomato sauce (cans of crushed tomatoes). The crust should be completely covered in sauce. Then, add your favorite toppings, and sprinkle oregano and olive oil on top with the pizza. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Watch carefully so the crust does not burn. Serve with Parmesan cheese (and also maybe a few beers), and enjoy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Holy Guacamole!

D and I went to a low-key party at one of his friend's places last weekend. Instead of bringing beverages, I opted to bring something else...the perfect summer dish...guacamole and tortilla chips.

4 ripe avocados
1/2 small white onion
1 roma tomato
lemon juice
1 large ziplock bag

Peel 4 avocados and take out the seeds, place in large ziplock bag and close. Crush. Slice onion and tomato into the smallest pieces that are humanly possible. Also add to the ziplock bag. Add 1/2 teaspoon (or more, to taste) of cumin, and salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Continue squeezing and crushing the bag to mix the ingredients together. When finished, cut off one corner of the bag and squeeze into a bowl. Refrigerate for one hour before eating, and serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New York City Restaurant Week

I'm back from NYC and extremely grateful for the short time that I was able to spend with my best friend who lives there.

During my stay, we participated in NYC Restaurant week and celebrated Amanda and my birthdays. Amanda's birthday is June 20 and mine is July 27, so we often have one celebration together when we are able to see each other.

The restaurant was the fanciest I had ever eaten at in my entire life, and had an excellent view of NYC. The restaurant is near Columbia University in New York and is appropriately called Terrace in the Sky.

Course 1: Corn and avocado soup (which I may try to imitate and make myself sometime this week)

Course 2: Steak, Chicken, or Fish

Course 3: Chocolate Crem Brulee or White Chocolate Guava Tart

Added bonus: The View

Monday, July 12, 2010

Heineken Pasta

This recipe is another one that I learned from the master, Raffaele Montella. Daniele and I regularly use wine in our pasta sauces, but I never would have thought to use beer as the base for a sauce without the input from the cooking genius, Raffaele Montella (native of Naples, Italy).

Raffaele and I lived together in the International House of Chicago, and nearly every evening he would develop a new dish to share with residents of the house. I often served as his sidekick, assisting with cutting vegetables, stirring sauces, and most importantly: doing the dishes. During that time, this is a recipe would request him to make quite often.

Just as an aside, I not only want to share this recipe below in this blog entry, but also the fact that I leave tomorrow to spend a few days with my best friend in New York City. You might see a blog update while I am there, but don't be surprised if there are no new updates for the next four days. But, be looking for some New York style food updates when I return, and possibly some Amanda and Laura cooking adventures!

The Heineken Pasta recipe I am sharing below is slightly different than the authentic Montella recipe. Raffaele also adds one or two spoons of BBQ sauce to his version to enhance the flavor. He also ONLY uses onion and bacon. I have added a few vegetables to the recipe which I had laying around the house. Here is my version:

Heineken Pasta
4 strips bacon
1/2 medium white onion
1 can Heineken
olive oil
Parmesan cheese
tagliatelle (egg pasta)

Begin by slicing the onion into small pieces. Heat up some olive oil in a pan, and add the onion. While the onion is cooking, slice a few (5-10) stalks of asparagus and a tomato. Also cut the bacon into small pieces. After the onion is cooking for a few moments, add the asparagus and bacon to the recipe. Add a couple spoonfuls of Heineken, but not too much, to ensure the bacon cooks thoroughly.

While the bacon is cooking, you should start boiling some water in order to cook the Tagiatelle.

After the bacon is cooked, add the tomato and also between half and a full can of Heineken to create the sauce. Let some of the liquid evaporate and cook for at least 10 minutes on a low heat so that the taste folds into the vegetables and bacon.

When the sauce is almost finished, add the Tagiatelle to the boiling water and cook per instructions on the box. Mix the pasta and sauce together. Serve with Parmesan.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vamos Espana!

No sporting celebration is complete without the food from that region. Although Daniele is rooting for the Netherlands in this year's World Cup final, I am strongly supporting Spain because of my strong connection and ties to the country. Needless to say, D is not allowed to eat any of my Spanish tortilla this time around....

We are having a few people over, and only Spanish fans are allowed to eat my wonderful tortilla, this time with a bit of pancetta on top.

Vamos Espana! Puedes hacerlo! Vamos a ganar! (Dice Paul el Pulpo)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Salmon, Quinoa, Avocado and a Book

This recipe is a culmination of other recipes I've had in this blog at an earlier date. However, I thought it made a nice photo. Spending a hot, sunny afternoon in front of the air conditioner with a piece of salmon and some quinoa was ideal. Enjoy the photos and look back in the history to find the recipes. Expect some stellar updates in the next couple days which could possibly include pizza made from scratch. Yum!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Squash and White Bean Saute

I mentioned last week that D and I both purchased loads of zucchini from the grocery store, therefore assisting us in creating innovative ways to cook zucchini and summer squash. I found this idea from a google search and adapted it slightly for our needs.

Even though I was tired of eating zucchini by the end of last week, I liked this recipe so much that I purchased the ingredients again. Easy, tasty, healthy, and makes great leftovers. 

Summer Squash and White Bean Saute
olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 medium zucchini
1 medium summer squash
1 can white beans
1 medium onion. 
1 tbs lemon juice
parmesan cheese
1 tomato

Start by slicing the zucchini and summer squash. Also cut the onion and tomatoes. Start cooking the onion and garlic cloves in a pan with some olive oil. After 5 minutes, add the zucchini and summer squash. Also add oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, cook 2-3 bacon slices.

When the vegetables are crisp, add the tomatoes, beans, and lemon juice. Also cut the bacon into small pieces and add. Cook for 3-5 more minutes, remove from heat, and stir in some parmesan cheese.

Enjoy hot or cold.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sandwiches around Arizona...

Daniele and I are back after our trip over July 4th in Arizona. The trip was fantastic. I'm a little bit worn out, but excited to show off some photos, tell everyone about the trip, and also get back to cooking. As I told Daniele, I am sad to be back in Chicago, but happy to be eating something for lunch other than a peanut butter or salami sandwich!

We spent most of our trip hiking, climbing, swimming, and resting. During our hikes, we brought a packed lunch and ate it wherever we were. Here are some photos of our lunch locations.

Day 1: Top of Cathedral Rock.

Day 2: A few miles deep into the Grand Canyon

Day 3: We were exhausted after our first two days hikes, and had brunch in Flagstaff.

Day 4: Montezuma's Well

Since this blog has a food theme, I'm not going to stray from that topic, but you can see some of the other photos from the trip on my facebook page. Now, back to the cooking!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Strawberries with Limoncello

Nothing says summer like strawberries and limoncello. This tradition started for me two years ago, when I lived in a dorm with the all-too-wonderful Raffaele Montella. He taught me of this wonderful Italian delicacy, and now, when the weather is hot and the mood is right, I often treat myself and guests to this after-dinner alcoholic feast.

To make, simply slice up strawberries, add lots of sugar, and pour on limoncello to your liking. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours before eating so the strawberries soak up the limoncello taste. Raffaele would be proud that I am carrying on his Italian tradition here in Chicago.

This entry is simply for photographic purposes. Strawberries are pretty and make for a good subject. But, enjoy, and maybe for July fourth, add some blueberries to the recipe in order to make a patriotic version of this summer treat.

Expect a haitus. Daniele and I will be visiting the Grand Canyon for the next four days and obviously, will not be cooking with the exception of the PB&J sandwiches we will pack for lunch. But who knows, maybe I can do some entries on the "traveling PB&J sandwich" when I return. See you on the flip side!