Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Celebrity Sighting of the Week Wednesday

So something happened today that blows all of the possibly good cheap wine we've had this week out of the water. We were going out to dinner tonight to celebrate our friends Seth getting into the MFA Ceramics program at SAIC (congrats Seth!!) And since that coincided with restaurant week here in Chicago, where you can go to some great restaurants and have a prix fixe menu for only $32, we decided to go out to a great otherwise-unaffordable restaurant with Seth and his wife Shauna.

Seth's choice was One Sixty Blue, one of the restaurants here in town a certain celebrity sports player in town owns. The food was supposed to be great (and it was). And we were having a great time bringing up random facts about this celebrity at our table when, guess who walks in the door? THE OWNER HIMSELF... MICHAEL JORDAN!!!!

Some thoughts. He's tall, he's got huge hands, he was wearing Nikes, he was with his daughter, he was on his cell phone practically the whole time, and I made eye contact on the way back from the bathroom but then got embarrassed and looked away immediately.

Needless to say, it was pretty awesome. The Bulls kept beating the Suns back when I cared about the NBA, but I always loved to watch MJ, who didn't? (I harbored deep resentment for John Paxson and his three pointer though.) The man is a legend. And we ate dinner next to him. Good night.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday - Sorta

It's Wednesday! Cheap wine of the week day always brings a smile to my face. Though this week it's cheap beer of the week day. As I've mentioned, we're not drinking as much wine nowadays, so my options for this are being limited. Luckily, when Jake and Nicole were in town we went to Goose Island Brewery with them here in Wrigleyville and got to do a beer tasting. They do four tastes for $6, so between the four of us we tasted every beer they offered, with a couple doubles. It's quite fun to support our local brewery, and it's an added bonus that they make some really good beers.

Now, I'm still somewhat of a beer wimp. I like hefeweizens and wheat beers, though I can appreciate a more full-bodied beer, I just couldn't drink a whole glass of one. But we have so many friends who really like beer and who are really into it, so I want to expand my horizons. And Brad's getting to the point where he's really enjoying beer as well, so this was a great thing for us.

I can't remember the name of my favorite beer of the night, so I'll share with you Brad's favorite of the night. We present: Goose Island Nut Brown Ale.

It's a little too chocolate-y for my taste, but Brad (and Nicole) liked the little coffee flavor and some of that chocolate-ness. One of my favorites was the Sahti, and the Honker's Ale is always good. So, if you happen to be in town, you should 1) let us know, and 2) go visit Goose Island... preferably with us.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hey friends, Happy Celebration of Love Day! Just for today, some lovely little ranunculus to enjoy

For this week's recipe wrap-up, just a couple good things to share.

A basic herb-encrusted salmon over rice that I love to make. I use Mrs. Dash Original Blend, throw it all over the salmon and pan sear the salmon till it's done. For the rice, I like to use chicken stock and I also add some Mrs. Dash to tie the flavors together. Sometimes I completely change my mind and use curry, but this was a Dash kind of night.

The other meal of the week was a really yummy, simple pasta dish. I had leftover roasted chicken to use up and we hadn't had pasta in a really long time. I used this Chicken Bolognese recipe, only swapped out the ground chicken with the diced roasted and used shells instead of penne.

Here's the sauce simmering away

And here's the finished product, mmmmmm!

I hope you've had a wonderful Valentine's with a friend, a spouse, a love, or your dog (or a combination thereof). Happy eating!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday

Except it's Thursday. Oh well. I was a little busy last night going to a switched-day small group and then eating one of the best dinners of my life. I think that deserves an extra day's worth of time on the blog. (As far as dinner goes, we ate at avec, a really amazing restaurant here... it was incredible. I ate pureed fava bean crostini, and amazing cheeses, and figs. I also ate salami and pork and ham. Taste sensations. I'm beginning to rethink my life-long no red meat eating. Morally, as long as the meat is grass-fed or sustainably farmed, I think I'm turning my mind around toward it. We'll see...)

Anyway, to the cheap wine of the week. Brad and I have cut back considerably in the last couple weeks so we're not trying as many wines anymore. But luckily, the one red we did try this week happened to be cheap and good. So it wins.

Actually, it was really good. We both very much enjoyed it and it was on sale for $7.99! The Red Diamond 2007 Cabernet.

It was really smooth, light but not watery, great flavor, and $7.99 people! $7.99! Really, this was our best Cheap Wine of the Week find in a long time. It gives me hope for us to not be shrinking our wallets too much while not sacrificing good taste. So, our hat's off to you, Red Diamond. Nicely done. Nicely done.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dessert Recipe Wrap-Up

So I still haven't been doing much cooking this week. I'm going to cop the resting-up-from-the-crazy-week excuse, even though it's true. But I did manage to bake some desserts this week.

One was a really yummy chocolate chip banana bread. I found the recipe on this blog, which took some searching. (PS, this blogger knows her stuff about food, but is a little crude/harsh/over-sharer, just fyi) I thought chocolate chip banana bread was common thing. But most of the recipes I found either added nuts, which is not my favorite way to do banana bread, or didn't add buttermilk, which I think is a key component. But this one worked out really well, albeit with an extra 10 minutes of baking. (Note, I was inspired by my sisters-in-law who baked really good banana bread over Christmas and I've been craving it ever since.) This was delicious, and as an added bonus it got rid of like half of the black bananas in my freezer!

My other contribution was some chocolate chip cookies for a super bowl party we went to. For Ryan and Vera's wedding, a bunch of friends got together and set up a massive cookie table. (See this NYT article that inspired it all.) So I baked a ton of cookie dough for Faircakes (a family recipe that's amazing) and for these NYT chocolate chip cookies, which I'd made before and loved. There were a couple problems, though. 1) I made WAY too much dough. Probably like 15 dozen cookies worth. 2) The recipe calls for a really long bake time that I have had a problem adjusting to make the cookies work out correctly. So the ones at the wedding were a little brown and crispy, though they still tasted good.

Well, using two of the four rounds of extra dough I have, I made another attempt at the cookies yesterday. I cut the cooking time down to 14 minutes for each batch, and it was much better. I think I'm going to try 12 minutes next time and I think that'll be just about right. Also, don't forget the sea salt. Just a few sprinkles on top add a great texture and flavor.

Someday I'll get more actual food up! Till then, some sweets just in time for Valentine's Day! Enjoy!