Where I live, people are pretty opinionated about their Italian beef, so just to be clear, here is what I like in a good Italian beef sandwich: I like my beef very tender, to the point of falling apart. I’m not into the sliced pieces, that are then put back in the gravy. No, thank you. I want teeny little shreds of meat that are completely coated in the jus, times a million, in my sandwich. And it has to be insanely flavorful, both the beef and the jus, with lots of herbs and spices, not just a brothy gravy that tastes beefy and not much else. Big garlic flavor is a must, and if you can manage to somehow brighten up the whole thing with some fresh herbs, more power to you. Oh, and you can’t just put a couple of packets of seasoning and soup mix in it, because that stuff is bad for you, haven’t you heard? If you are on the same Italian beef page as I am, this recipe is for you. Continue reading
This doesn’t happen very often, but I had a very hard time deciding what to call this salad. I know, I know. You just call it what it is. But this salad isn’t just what it is. It morphs. Hmmm… maybe the “magical morphing salad” would have been good? This is one of my favorite things to throw together for a quick lunch, but it’s also one I make a lot to go with simple dinners. Also, for parties sometimes.
But the confusion doesn’t end there. If I don’t have nice crispy, sweet apples, I’ll use pears instead. I don’t always have goat cheese in the fridge, so a lot of the time I’ll use feta. Pecans are often replaced by walnuts, and the spring mix becomes arugula whenever I can find it. Avocados only make it in sometimes. You know, when they’re not still hard as rocks on my kitchen counter. Continue reading
In my humble opinion, if life gives you an opportunity to celebrate with pastry, then by all means, do it! Even if it’s not your tradition, even if it’s not that big of a deal… why would you pass up an opportunity? That’s how I feel about Fat Tuesday. I don’t think we’ll be doing much Mardi Gras celebrating this year, but I’ll be damned if I pass up the opportunity to eat some cake to mark the day. Enter King Cake.
The problem with the King Cakes I’ve had is that they’re not particularly good. They just kind of taste like coffee cake with the fake fruit filling. It’s really not shocking, seeing as we’re so far north, so they’re not exactly “authentic” and I think the only ones I’ve had came from grocery stores. Recipe for disaster. The other problem with King Cake is that it’s traditionally covered in colored sugar or icing. And you know how I feel about food coloring… wait, do you know how I feel about food coloring? I don’t much like it. But both of those problems are both easily solved when you make it yourself. And so, to the kitchen I went. Continue reading
Like any born-and-bred Chicago girl, I think I handle winters pretty well. I expect cold, and I’m rarely disappointed. I even try to revel in the beautiful snowy landscapes and the wind whipping across the prairie behind our house. Overall, I think I keep a pretty good attitude about it.
Until March, that is. Despite pretty much all my past experiences of Chicago winters, I stubbornly continue to believe that winter will be over as soon as March 1st rolls around. March= spring! Yay! Well, you can imagine the disappointment this sort of delusional thinking tends to breed in a person’s mind. The current forecast for tomorrow, March 1st, currently stands at 23 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, with the possibility of 3-5 inches of snow, as well. I don’t think the tulips will be popping up quite yet. At least not until the layer of snow and ice a foot thick melts. Sigh. Heavy sigh.
As I’ve been trying to transition our little family away from processed convenience food, and towards whole, nutritious foods, there have been a few things that I’ve, admittedly, conveniently overlooked. There are just certain things that you know are bad, but you have a feeling that 1)it’s going to be a hard sell to get your family to try something different and 2)the amount of effort that it will take to change it will be too much. And then, some things have that, “But… but… but…” factor, as I like to call it. As in, “But… but… but… I really like normal ketchup!”
(Before you say anything, yes, I’m completely aware of the irony of the brand of vinegar I used for this. Har har. Be careful or I’ll get belligerent and try to make my own vinegar!) Continue reading
A funny thing starts to happen when you’ve been writing a food blog for a while. You’re always wanting to share the new interesting thing that you tried- something other people will find exciting, too. But in doing that, I realize that I start forgetting that the recipes I use over and over again, my go-to weeknight meals and family favorites, get largely neglected. I take them for granted, and it doesn’t often occur to me that there are people out there that don’t make them.
This recipe, for one. It’s something that my mom has been making as long as I can remember, and it’s been passed on to so many friends, neighbors, etc. that I’m sure this recipe’s made it halfway across the world. We always called it Chicken Diablo, but in researching what Chicken Diablo actually is, I’m pretty sure it’s not even close to being that. It’s basically chicken breasts baked in a buttery honey-mustard sauce. See, doesn’t that sound so unexciting? Not exactly blog-worthy. Except that it is. Continue reading
This tuna melt has been eye-opening in so many ways. Did you ever think you’d hear someone say that about a tuna melt? Let me explain.
Up until college, I’d never had a tuna melt. Just never had one. I’d had plenty of tuna salad sandwiches, and many a grilled cheese, but no tuna melt. Then one day, my college roommate made one for herself for lunch and I thought, “Hey, that looks good.” So I made one. It was, in fact, good. Like a tuna sandwich, but obviously better, because of the melted cheese. Since then, I’ll make one every once in a while, the same way I’d make myself a peanut butter and jelly every so often. Sometimes, it just sounds really good, but it’s never exactly mind-blowing.
You may have noticed by now that I love interesting salads. There’s a bit of a running joke in my family that I always casually offer to bring a salad to a gathering, or “try to make us all healthy”, as my mama puts it. True, salads are healthy, and I love the way they round out pretty much any meal. But I also love how they can be so many different things. They can be a side or a main dish or an appetizer. They can be light, or rich, or spicy. Delicate or hearty. They can be complex or simple. And many times, they can be unexpected and exciting.
Like many people of my generation, I grew up with the idea that salad meant those lettuce-carrot-cabbage combos that came in a plastic bag, to be covered in either ranch or bottled Italian dressing to make it taste good. If we were really lucky, my mom would get one of those Caesar kits. Before you think this might be disparaging to my mom, here is the disclaimer: my mom was (and is!) a fantastic cook. She made us a delicious home-cooked meal every. single. night. And there was always a salad. Being a mom myself now, I know how impressive that is. Not only that she cooked us a gorgeous dinner every night, but in a nod to good health, made us eat salad, to boot. Continue reading
Mayonnaise is divisive. People love it; people hate it. I love it, slathering it all over sandwiches and burgers, and dipping my fries in it. I’m one of those people. But I’d like to make a bold assertion: If people were making their own mayonnaise, at home, there would be very few people who can withstand its charms.
Because homemade mayonnaise is a whole different species than the stuff you get in a jar at the store. Yes, even the good quality stuff. (Oh, Ina Garten, I love how you make this stipulation, without fail.) Homemade mayo is creamy and smooth, without the greasy mouthfeel you can get with storebought. It’s flavor is fresh and bright, without being overpowering. It’s mayo like it’s meant to be.
See… he’s not allowed to “not like” foods. I mean, technically, he is… but I don’t take it well. I feel the need to take up that banner of that food and convince him that he really does enjoy said food, if only he had it prepared the right way, or in the right circumstances, or from the right source. It starts innocently enough. He says, “You know, I’ve never been a big <insert food/ingredient here> fan. I just don’t like it.” Me: “WHAT?!?!”