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!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Porcini Mushroom Pasta

In the mood for a quick meal, Daniele decided upon pasta with a porcini mushroom sauce.

To prepare the sauce, hydrate a generous handful of dried porcini mushrooms in warm water for ten minutes. Melt a teaspoon butter in a skillet and add porcini mushrooms and a few splashes of white wine. Keep the sauce warm on a low setting.

Cook the pasta. Use the extra water from hydrating the mushrooms as a part of the water you will cook the pasta. When the pasta has almost finished cooking, add minced fresh parsley to your mushroom sauce.

Serve the pasta and sauce together, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Beef Chili

I was never a huge fan of chili, but yet, when the weather starts turning cold I always get excited about that very first batch. I have featured three different types of chili on this blog: vegetarian chili, white chicken chili, and turkey chili. I took note of these three types and realized that I had never made for Daniele just a traditional, beef chili. I knew that needed to be the first chili of the season.

I am also excited about making a couple other chili spin-offs this fall/winter including: Moroccan Beef Chili with Chickpeas and Raisins, Black Bean Chili, and maybe even Tequila and Lime Turkey Chili.

But for now, back to the traditional version:

Beef Chili
  • 1 slice sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 pound+ ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz can tomato puree
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tabelspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced can chipotle chili in adobo sauce
Begin by mashing the bread and milk together in a large bowl, and mixing in the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. 

Heat oil in a skillet and add the onions, chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for ten minutes. Add in beef mixture until cooked, approximately five minutes. Stir in one cup of tomato puree. Transfer to slow cooker.

Stir remaining tomato puree, diced tomatoes, beans, soy sauce, brown sugar, and chipotles into the slow cooker. Cook for 8 hours on low.

Serve warm. Top with shredded cheese and sour cream.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Fall has arrived which means cooler weather is here and it's time to bring out the crockpot! I always get a bit excited at the beginning of what I call 'soup season' because in this time period there are so many wonderful and creative ways to use fresh vegetables in soup. I could make a soup every day during the fall and winter months, and no two soups would be the same! But, the best part is that I don't have to make a soup everyday, because when I start making soups in the crockpot I have lunch leftovers for Daniele and myself for at least a few days. Oh, so wonderful.

I began "soup season" with a curried cauliflower soup. Something a bit different than what I'm used to when it comes to soup, but according to Daniele this soup was a great success (and quite easy to make).

Curried Cauliflower Soup
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspooons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
Microwave the onion, oil, curry powder, and ginger in a bowl for five minutes.

Stir broth and cauliflower into the slow cooker. Cover and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 6-8 hours on low.

Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Feel free to do this in small batches. Stir in the cream and add additional chicken broth if needed. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

So easy! It's great. More soups are on the way...including a tortilla soup I will be making this week and a couple different twists on chili.

I apologize for the poor-quality photo. Admittedly, this is not a very photogenic soup. But that doesn't mean it didn't taste great!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Nile

If you live in Chicago and know me very well, you have probably heard me speak of my favorite restaurant in Hyde Park: The Nile.

While you may not be impressed when looking through the window at the plain walls and cafeteria-like tables, don't let the decorations discourage you from entering. Even though this is a Mediterranean restaurant with an almost entirely Asian staff, do not be deceived. They know how to cook their Mediterranean dishes, and even 'Check Please' agrees: voted best Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago.

The Nile may be one of the few places left where you can go with two people, split a meal, pay less than $20, and still have leftovers for the next day. Oh, and it's also BYOB.

My suggestions are as follows:
  • Appetizer-Hummus
  • Yellow Lentil Soup (one comes with the meal, and we always order one extra)
  • Main course-chicken shawarma (I always get extra Greek yogurt because they have the best here)
It's awesome, and worth a trip from wherever you live in Chicago (or wherever you are staying when you happen to be visiting Chicago). And they're friendly, too. (In case you leave your camera sitting on the table they will collect it for you and hold onto it until you figured out where you lost it. Not that I've done that before or anything!)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Zucchini Fritters

A few weeks ago, this caught my eye on my favorite foodie blog, so we decided to give it a go.

We made the recipe as written on smitten kitchen, but we left out the onion. My pictures didn't turn out as well as her's but, the dinner was still delightful. Since you can read the exact recipe on smitten kitchen, I will only summarize here.

Basically, you're going to take two shredded zucchini (better to shred instead of put on the regular setting in the food processor, as I made the mistake of doing) and drain the water. Mix the dried (and salted) zucchini with an egg, pepper, flour, and baking powder. Heat some oil up on your skillet, and cook the mixture kind of like you would cook pancakes. Serve with sour cream or greek yogurt and lemon zest. I also think tomato puree would be good to top this off!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wedding Preview

Over Labor Day weekend, D and I traveled to St. Louis to take care of some of the wedding details. We had a wine tasting, cupcake tasting, and food tasting. Everything was great. Here is a preview of what is to come...

Wine tasting:

Cupcake tasting (kudos to my brother for engineering these fantastic cupcakes!):

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Feta, Olive, and Lamb Meatballs

I'm back! The past month and a half has been busier than expected. I've been putting in a lot of hours at work and as the marathon creeps closer and closer, training has picked up intensity and I've found myself with not a whole lot of time for cooking and blogging. Although entries will probably be sparse for the next month or so, don't worry, the blogging will continue!

Also, vegetarians, do not grow weary. I realize that in my absence, Daniele turned this blog into something meat-centric. And my lamb meatballs are not going to help with that! What can I say? When you are running 30-40 miles a week your body needs...protein in a way that garbanzo beans and peanut butter just can't cut it. As someone who has strong vegetarian tendencies myself, don't worry, I'll bring the vegetarian back! (coming up: zucchini fritters and cauliflower curry soup).

I also haven't forgotten about my dear friend, the crockpot. She'll make a comeback, too, especially since we're inching closer to fall which means...time for soup!

Alright, on to the recipe.

Feta, Olive, and Lamb Meatballs (borrowed from allrecipes.com)
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green olives
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Preheat your oven's broiler on the normal setting.

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Roll into balls and place 2-3 inches apart on a baking sheet.

Broil 3-5 inches away from the heat for about 10 minutes (or until browned on top). Flip meatballs over and broil for 10 minutes on the other side.

You can see how much Daniele hated this one (as he scrapes every last drop of the meatballs off of the baking sheet and into his mouth).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


And this is the last of my recipes for now, I'll handle back the blog to Laura after this. But before that happens, here you have another easy and fun meat dish to make.

  • 1lb minute steak (or other very thin beef, or veal) 
  • 1/4 lb prosciutto 
  • parmesan 
  • sage 
  • oil 
  • salt 
  • pepper 
  • cooking wine 
  • wooden toothpicks
You will need some very thin meat, beef will do, or veal, or even chicken breast, as long as the slices are thin enough. You want to cut it into roughly rectangular strips, say about 5x2 inches (but feel free to adjust to the shape and size of the meat you have).

Lay down the meat and lay on top of it one or two slices of prosciutto and some parmesan cheese which you'll have cut into small slices (I guess shredded could do too, if you only have that). You can make a variation by substituting your favorite kind of cheese.

Roll up the meat and secure it with the toothpicks, paying attention to try to close up the sides, otherwise all the cheese will leak out when you cook them.

If you have fresh sage, you can stick a leaf on each roll.

Heat up some oil in a pan, and put the rolls in, turning them so that they brown for a couple of minutes. Add salt, pepper, dry sage if you didn't have any fresh one (or some other kind of herb, depending on what you have around) and a little bit of cooking wine or water. 

Cover with a lid and cook the Involtini for 10-15 minutes, they will probably be done once you see a little bit of cheese leaking out.

That's it! Serve right away, together with their delicious cooking juice.