Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pasta Makin'

Marinated Pork Chops, Homemade Summer Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil and Onions and Garlic Bread

Maple Bourbon Grilled Thick-Cut Pork Chops:
I took this recipe from I added roasted garlic and used whiskey instead of bourbon. The chops turned out wonderfully moist and tangy.

Summer Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil and Onions:

I made the pasta sauce that I took from a cooking class with Chef Hugo Amano at the Chicago Botanical Gardens.

  • 1 red onion, thinly shaved
  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1/4 c of red wine vinegar
  • 1 handful of basil
  • 1# pasta
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Place onions, tomato and vinegar in a bowl and toss. I also added some lemon zest for a little extra freshness, Cover and keep refrigerated for 2 hours if possible. When pasta is cooking toss basil into tomato mixture. When pasta is done drain it and toss the hot pasta with the cold onion and tomato mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Served with grated Parmesan cheese.

Fresh Pasta:

  • 8 oz all purpose flour (about 2 cups)

  • 1tsp salt

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 5 large egg yolks

  • 1 T olive oil

Combine flour and salt in bowl. Make a mound with an impression in the middle. Put eggs, yolks and olive oil in the middle of the impression. Break each yolk by poking it with a finger, then in a circular motion begin to incorporate flour from the side of the mound. Continue until all the flour is incorporated. Turn out onto tabletop and knead by hand until dough is smooth and elastic. The dough can now be rolled through a pasta machine, or wrapped in plastic and placed in the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes or so. Proceed according to what sort of pasta you would like.

Tim pictured here rolling out the dough.

Cutting the dough into fettuccine like strips.

The final product....Next time I would lay it out to dry a little or cook right away. I left the dough in a ball like this for about 10-15 minutes and when it cooked it was hard to get it unclumped.

Yummy garlic toast. Took a baguette, sliced it and drizzled with olive oil. Grilled and then rubbed it with garlic. Wonderful and light.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Chicago Day #2 and #3

Day Two- Chinatown, Greek Town and Shedd Aquarium

JP and I took the L everywhere around Chicago. It was great cheap and on time transportation. It makes me think that someday when the LRT in Minneapolis can actually connect suburbs and cities we might actually be able to get rid of our car.
This was a beautiful welcome sign when we entered Chinatown. It was great exploring the shops...I was getting low on shoes and was able to purchase two really neat pairs. I also got a great print for our living room wall. Stopped for a small snack of veggie dumplings, crab won tons and pork pot stickers.

After Chinatown we took the L to Greektown. We weren't really sure where it was so we ended up walking a few blocks before we hit a great little eatery. We were both so exhausted that we ordered a beer and just relaxed. We bought two bottles of wine from the restaurant that had been directly imported from Greece. Then we walked over to this bakery for some sweets. Pictured above are some of the great items we bought there.

That night we went to here jazz music at the Shed Aquarium. This happens every Thursday. It's $10 to get in and most of the exhibits are open. The jazz was great and truly complimented the atmosphere. The coral reef was my favorite part...amazing colors.

This is what Chicago looked like as we were heading back into the city to our hotel. JP and I walked along the water's edge to Navy Pier and then cut back in. What a beautiful night.

Day Three-Taste of Chicago and Pizza

JP and I got to The Taste around 11:00 on Friday. We headed right to the cooking tent and watched a little cooking demonstration by the chef from the Chicago Botanical Gardens. The shot above is right off Lake Michigan.

Our first "taste" was a fried plantain and steak sandwich with garlic mayo. Wow! Talk about amazing... It was one of the best mini sandwiches I've ever had. We also tried some mango chutney fries.

After The Taste JP and I took an architectural boat cruise with some of JP's friends. Then we all headed to Pizzeria Due. Talk about a packed place...We waited about an hour for pizza and a seat, but man was it worth it. I seriously think it was the best deep dish pizza I've ever had. A friend had told me to go to Gino's East, but it was the 4th and all places were packed so we just stuck it out.

Thursday and Friday were both long and wonderful days. I think we walked a minimum of 6 miles a day around the city. It was hot and humid, but that didn't keep us down. We were two crazy ladies on the town.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dessert #2 and #3 TC's Birthday Cake and Tartlettes of my favorite things in life. Honestly, my grandmother used to bake me a cherry pie for my birthday ever year and I would eat it for breakfast the next day as a special treat. I have to preface this with the fact that I have a knack for making sweet treats, but I don't like eating them. I'm more of a salty/savory gal like my mother. The cherries above came from Afton Apple Orchard I order them every year usually 10 lbs of tart cherries and 10 lbs of blueberries. Afton Apple Orchard is where Tim and I got married last year.
Last night we had friends JA and DMW over for dinner (yes, the pasta dinner more details later) and DMW is a vegan so I attempted to throw something together as a treat. I decided since I had all these fresh berries (most of them I will make jam out of) that I would make little tartlettes. To make the crust I used the following: 1 c flour, 1 c oatmeal, 1/2 c brown sugar and I would estimate 1/2-3/4 c of oil. I smooshed all the ingredients together with a little cinnamon and pressed them into muffins tins. I baked them at 350 for about 10 minutes. When the crust were semi-cool I spooned the filling mixtures in: 1 c berries (I used cherries and blueberries) 1ts vanilla, 1 Tb sugar, 1 ts cinnamon. By the way these are all rough estimates because I had to think quickly. Bakes the tartlettes another 10 minutes and let cool. Since Cool Whip is actually vegan we topped the tartlettes with that instead of whipped cream.
Here's a recipe I found on The recipe is from Ice Box Desserts by Lauren Chattman.
Pop-Art Raspberry Icebox Cake
27 Chocolate Wafer Cookies (I used mint cookies)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate melted (I used semi sweet chips)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 Tbl cold H2O
112oz bag frozen raspberries
3/4 c sugar
2 cups heavy cream chilled
2Tbl framboise (I used Chamboard)

  • Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap wrap. With one cookie at a time spread the cookie with melted chocolate and place 3 of them on the bottom and long sides of the pan. Place pan in freezer.
  • Sprinkle gelatin over cold H2O and let soften for 2 minutes

  • Combine raspberries and sugar in pan and cook till sugar dissolves, stir in gelatin and let cool to room temperature.
  • Combine heavy cream, raspberry liquor and vanilla in large bowl and whip until stiff peaks. Gently fold in cooled raspberry mixture.
  • Remove pan from freezer pour all , but 1/4 raspberry mixture into the pan. Insert remaining 18 wafers into mousse, arranging them vertically in three rows of 6 so they are lined up with the chocolate wafers on the sides of the pan. Spread the remaining mousse over the wafers and smooth.
  • Cover with plastic and freeze until completely set, overnight and up to one week.


  • I didn't let the cake set overnight. It was in the freezer for 10 hours.
  • The cookies were hard to cut, but the mousse was awesome. Next time I will leave out the cookies and top with berries and mint.
  • I couldn't find chocolate wafers anywhere so I used mint cookies instead. That might have been part of the cutting process, but I thought vanilla wafers (which are readily available) would "pop" out as much.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

2nd base

Okay so you caught me....Instead of coming home from kickball to make pasta I went to get burgers and beers with the kickball gang. It was beautiful when we got to the field. It had just rained so the temp dropped and it was nice and cool. We were playing the #1 ranked team in the league and we knew it was going to be a tough game. The minute we started playing it began to pour. And rain on a kickball field can be very treacherous. We had three players slide (including me of course) and two of them got hurt sliding (thanks to the fact that I wore pants I wasn't one of the two). Once it stopped raining it got super hot out. So we were all wet and sweaty by the end of the game. Twoer made some great catches and the sliders did a great job, but when it came down to it we lost 4-3. Check out or scores so far.

CGA Roundhouse Kicks
WON, 8 - 5

Barker's Beauties
LOST, 1 - 3

We Heart BOB!
WON, 10 - 6

The Original Kick THIS
WON, 5 - 4

Balls Out
LOST, 4 - 3

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pasta Personal Challenge #1

Last night I finally broke down and bought a past roller/cutter from Cooks of Crocus Hill. I had a gift certificate that someone generously gave me rand decided to use the rest of it to get this little present I've been pining after for some time. The picture above is one of the things that sent me spinning....good ole' Martha. I found this picture and a recipe for pasta making in my most recent Living Magazine. Tonight when I get home before kickball I'm going to start the process let's see what happens. I'm going to attempt the beet past shown above. Now let's just note that I haven't ever made past before and most people start with just basic recipes, but I say why not try the hard stuff. Life's more interesting that way. I'll take pictures and post later. Plus, I need to continue sharing my Chicago adventure. Wow, I'm way behind in my blogging. Too many hot summer nights and drinks...that's what happens.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dessert 1-MC's Birthday Cupcakes

Yesterday I decided to make cupcakes for MC's birthday. I got the recipe from Amy Sedaris' cookbook for vanilla cupcakes. I made the batter and dyed it yellow. Why yellow you ask?--well it's one of MC's favorite colors. Why cupcakes you ask? I decided this yesterday (without telling anyone of course) that I was going to make desserts for Molly's birthday every year. Last year I made a white cake with raspberry filling between the layers and green frosting. The cake, although very good, basically leaned like the Tower of Pisa because it was so hot and humid that day that the frosting wouldn't stay on the cake and kept ripping parts of it off as I was frosting it.
Since I only have a 6 cup cupcake/muffin pan I decided to pour the batter out in the cupcake shells while I waited the 20 minutes for each group to bake.

I made homemade butter cream frosting and dyed it pink. Well, I was actually going for red, but lacked the amount red dye to make it happen. And once again pink is my signature color.

While the cupcakes and frosting were cooling I decided to take the rest of the frosting I had and dye that purple so I could add little purple dots to the cupcakes.

Finished product. They definitely turned out super cute. The actual cupcakes themselves weren't as moist as I like them. Next time I'll take them out of the oven a little sooner. I think everyone enjoyed them...

Plus they go great with PBR right??? We had a great night bowling and having fun. So what if white sand beaches entice me to go swimming in the mighty Mississippi. It was the result of the champagne I tell you. The night ended around 4am. What a party. Miss MC had a real blast.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Food Entry 1-Pesto

Last night as I was making our dinner (pictured above) of grilled marinated chicken over salad, corn-on-the-cob and a cocktail of raspberry vodka and tonic I decided to make pesto. While JP and I were in Chicago we went to the botanical gardens by Evanston (story to come later). We just happened to be in time to take a cooking class with a guy who worked with Alton Brown (Good Eats-one of my favorites). He demonstrated how to make and cut your own pasta (my next challenge), how to make pesto and a great summer tomato and onion pasta sauce. Here's my journey....

Step 1: Roast the pine nuts, strip the basil, and pop the garlic
Step 2: Blend garlic, basil, pine nuts, parm and olive oil. I also added a little lemon

I froze some of the pesto in ice cube trays to use later--pictures above of the pesto just made and in trays and picture below just pulled out of the freezer.

Finally, I made a pesto pasta with roma tomatoes sauteed with garlic and olive oil and then added the pesto. Finished with freshly grated parm.

I thought the sauce turned out great although my ratio of basil to pine nuts might have been a bit off. I don't mind the nutty taste, but others might. Aften dinner I finished making MC's birthday cupcakes (to be featured later). Tomorrow postings of that and TC's birthday ice box cake.
Let me know what you like and dislike. I'm testing this idea out since I've seen it on a couple of people's blogs before. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fake Day One---Chicago

Dinner Wednesday night of sushi and noodles....

We drove down Tuesday night and stayed at my cousin Lynn's house in Milwaukee. Wednesday we woke up and drove into downtown Chicago and checked into our room at the Homewood Suites. The room had a kitchenette, living room, bedroom and bathroom. We got comfortable unpacked and decided to start walkin the town. We walked along the river for a while and then stopped to get a beer at a cafe.

Later we walked to Navy Pier (picture above) listened to some music and just relaxed. Later on the way back to we picked up some sushi and noodles and cocktail makins' and headed back to our room. We had a light super and then left on the L to JP's friend's BG and his girlfriend L's place north of Chicago. We got there around 6:30 and traveled by car to Evanston. There we met L's sister and her boyfriend. We sat lake side for some of the best fireworks I honestly have ever seen. We then went to Wrigleyville for some late night snacks of fries and pie a la mode. It was a great little punk diner with veggie food and a great atmosphere. Overall day 1 ranked at an A+. JP and I were exhausted and fell into bed at the end of the night.
Stay tuned for day 2!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pursuit of What???

Last night we got home and Tim made dinner. It was hot out so we just had sandwiches and some grilled veggies. As we were eating dinner we watched the movie "The Pursuit of Happiness." I have to say that the movie made me so depressed. STOP reading if you haven't seen the movie and don't want know what happens.

First of all this guy is running around trying to make a life for his family selling image scanners back in the 80's that he has spent their whole life savings on. For some reason at that point he cannot sell any and his wife is hysterical because she is working two shifts and he can't sell one. Sometime later in the movie he's interning at this brokerage firm and has to sell the scanners to eat. For some reason he is able to sell them at that point in his he was so determined to sell when they had nothing, but when his wife was frustrated and just burnt out he didn't have the same kind of "get up and go." Then his wife leaves him and his child to go to NY for a better life. What does that say about marriage---well honey when you're busting your #$% to bring home money for us to eat I'll just try to sell a couple of these scanners but I won't try too hard until I'm on my own and really want this new career.

Let's just say that I have a hard time watching sad movies, the Olympics at tense points, even reality TV when someone is getting voted off. 3/4 of this movie was sad and depressing. The end was the only happy part and then you only get to see him accept a job with the brokerage, you don't get to see him spending QT with his kid in their new home or any of those feel good parts of life. So I cried....basically through the whole thing. Yes, you could call me just sappy, moody or whatever, but I just don't like sad movies.

Tonight we'll watch something more happy.....and I won't wake up with swollen eyes.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Ohhhhhhh TV

So I haven't yet started working on my pictures and thoughts from the Chicago trip, but they shall come soon. Yes, we had a great time besides some minor road bumps. We were like two sisters who are in high school daring each other to do dangerous things....more to come on that.

The big news is while I was gone Tim (ohhhhh so wonderful husband of mine) threaded the cable wire from the basement to our bedroom. This means I can actually watch some of my favorite shows with out sweating to death. Since we only have one AC unit and it's in our bedroom. This was a fabulous surprise....I did a little happy dance for it. I've begun to have a deep appreciation for the years of cooking shows I missed (I haven't had cable since I moved out of my mom's house 10 years ago). Bottom line is Tim got some major brownie points with me. The house was clean, the flowers and garden grew a foot (I swear I'm not exaggerating) and dinner was made. It kinda makes me sick how cute he is sometimes.

Back to work was fine...they guys are always great. It's so nice to come back to any easy start.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Gettin' Ready

Chicago it's almost here. Tomorrow my friend JP and I leave for our whirlwind trip to Chicago. We'll drive down Tuesday to Milwaukee and stay with my cousin LW overnight. And then...Chicago!! More on that to come later.
Had a great weekend. Friday hung out with the Gacek clan. Had dinner and then hung out in the backyard with SS. Tim and SS built a garden fence. CG and Tim played ladder golf. SG and I held the twins and got a ton of bug bites. But it was all worth it for a wonderful night outside. We closed the evening with the German (original) version of Settlers of Catan, which Steve found at Savers and kindly donated to our game collection. MS and her friend Toni showed up later and the ladies talked while the boys played.
Saturday I met Teresa for coffee in the am. Then I picked Ms. Eleanor up for some auntie time. She spent some time with us smiling and cooing. I got some great pic of her that I'll post later. Saturday evening we went to MW and RW's house for a BBQ. We were the first ones there and last ones to leave. After numerous games of ladder golf and crochet we ended the night with a handy game of Frisbee.
Sunday woke up at 11. Yes, that's right friends, Sarah Dallum slept in. An occurrence that normally never happens to this vibrant creature. Once every three years when the moon is full the SD creeps into a hole of sleepiness and her husband wakes up first. Crazy! Most people wait their lifetimes to see it. Anyways, I woke up and Tim was downstairs playing Zelda. I gardened for most of the afternoon. We were supposed to go to the beach with the Suss/Christopher clan, but would have cut it close with our plans for dinner at J&D's. So, I finished gardening and we went over to J&D's for a splendid dinner of homemade pesto, salad, and strawberry shortcake. It was a beautiful evening so beautiful that we totally lost track of time and stayed till 10.
Today I feel like I could have used a couple of extra hours of sleep, but this week will be pretty quiet in the office so I'm not too worried.
Chat more later.