Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:
My parents came to see our new place (can we still call it “new” after being here for 5 months?) last weekend. We had a nice visit and enjoyed showing them our sites, including the lake. It was too windy to linger long, but the water was a gorgeous shade of turquoise blue that day. Much different than the previous time we were there, when it was white ice as far as the eye could see.
Trader Joe’s “Mandarin Orange Chicken” (from the freezer section) comes highly recommended by gourmand friends of my parents. We tried it this week and also loved it. Not only does it taste as good as what you would get from a Chinese restaurant (possibly better, depending on the restaurant), but it’s also ridiculously easy to prepare. Just bake the chicken in the oven (or fry it in oil if you’d rather), heat the sauce, toss them together and serve over cooked rice. Because the sauce was a little sweeter than we like (and we can never leave well enough alone), we added a bit of soy, sriracha and sesame oil to make it perfect.
Dan got a new phone last week (it’s suspiciously coincidental the way a phone tends to wear out in terms of battery and function, riiiiight around the time a brand new model of the same phone comes out, isn’t it), and Sprint threw in this little Samsung tablet for free with his phone purchase. Since Dan already has his beloved iPad, this latest technology treat is all mine. It’s a fun device, handy for times when I want easy Internet access and a screen bigger than the one on my phone but don’t feel like hauling around my laptop.
We have a new favorite local “fast food” restaurant: Olive Mediterranean Grill. The food is fast because it’s pre-made, but it’s also crazy fresh, delicious and healthy. Our go-to lunch is the “OMG Plate” with hummus, tabbouli, Mediterranean salad and spicy chicken kabob. They also make their own pitas onsite. So good.
Are olives a food group? If not, I personally think they should be. I could incorporate olives into just about any dish and be happy (except for Asian food, that would be weird). Their briny flavor complements all kinds of main ingredients, including chicken, fish, beef and vegetables. My love of these little fruits compels me to try pretty much any recipe calling for olives, including this one, which was even more compelling because it also calls for pancetta (Can you tell I’m a fan of all things salty?) The olives and pancetta are enhanced by their Mediterranean food friends olive oil, garlic, thyme and oregano; the red pepper flakes add a nice kick; and all of the components combine to elevate otherwise bland roast chicken to a flavorful new level. The only change I would make is to add more olives. Just kidding. Not really.
Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week (more pictures than words, since my parents are currently visiting and we are enjoying our time with them):
Great time in Brooklyn last weekend visiting our adorable, sweet nephews and their awesome parents.
Oyster snack break at the genius, amazing food situation that is Smorgasburg.
We’ve wiped down the chairs and swept off the patio — spring is here! (We’re ignoring the weather forecast of light snow predicted for next week.)
We’re big fans of the mussels in white wine cream sauce with sundried tomatoes at this place.
- Google has a tool for comparing foods that gives you a side-by-side comparison of the nutritional value of two different foods at a time. In the Google search engine, type in “compare Food A and Food B” (obviously, type in the names of the actual foods you want to compare), then click on the bottom arrow to expand the table. It doesn’t necessarily work with all foods (for example, it didn’t work with “compare chicken sausage and pork sausage”), but it’s pretty handy for a quick look at the foods it does recognize.
- We recently ran out of a delicious raw milk cheddar cheese we had purchased at a local food conference, but I was very happy to see that they sell it online. We want to buy a lot of it (it’s that good!), which prompts the question whether you can freeze cheese? No, according to this post. Only if you intend to use it for cooking, according to this one.
- It’s not the most user-friendly interface, but “Prevention” magazine compiled a list of the 100 “cleanest” packaged foods and put them in various categories (breakfast, lunch, dinner, grains & pasta, condiments & dips, gluten-free, vegetarian, diabetes-friendly, etc.) The easiest way to navigate the list is to click on one of the categories (found in the blue bar next to the round “Eat Clean” logo), then scroll through the slide shows to see pictures of the products.
- Spring is here, our local farmer’s market will be opening in a month, and we’re looking forward to trying some new smoothie recipes with locally-grown produce now that the weather is finally warming up.
Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:
We were out and about on a blustery day last weekend and ended up having a late lunch at a great little bar & grill called Norton’s in Highland Park. It was freezing out — we have learned that they don’t call Chicago the “Windy City” for nothing; the wind can often feel like tiny ice fists punching you in the face — so we lingered long enough after lunch to watch the dining area empty and the bar fill up with locals in the early afternoon.
Although the wind and its tiny fists of fury kept it from really feeling like 60 degrees, we finally had a day of spring-like temperatures last week! Borrowing my brother’s Minneapolis mantra: we can make it to June, we can make it to June…
We’ve mentioned our recipe for ponzu fish as a favorite before, but it is worth repeating that this is one of the best fish dishes we’ve ever had. You really should try it.
Here’s to a wonderful weekend! We are off to spend some time with two of our favorite small people, spoiling them to our Aunt & Uncle hearts’ content.
Mark Twain probably said it best: “New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.” For us, one of the foods that most epitomizes The Big Easy is crawfish etouffee. Done right, it’s rich in a subtle yet complex way, with a nice amount of heat and a silky, comfort-food texture. And the fact that this Cajun specialty is made with the small crustacean also known as a “mudbug” gives the dish a gritty undertone evocative of Post-Katrina New Orleans. (“Gritty” in the conceptual sense, as in moxie or determination. If yours is literally gritty, then your crawfish probably weren’t cleaned properly and maybe you shouldn’t eat them.) There are a lot of different etouffee recipes out there, but this version seems to be the most authentic homemade interpretation of one of New Orleans’ most sinfully delicious favorites.