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What's for Dinner #356 - The Tail End of March Edition! [through March 30, 2015]

So after an incredibly stressful day yesterday, jerk chicken quesadillas did not sound emotionally satisfying enough. So they turned into nachos instead. Chips spread out on a baking sheet, topped with cheese, then the chicken, onion, pepper mix and broiled until melty. Avocado, salsa and sour cream on top. A very large rum and diet Coke alongside.

Tonight will be turkey burgers with feta, kalamatas and oregano mixed in with the ground turkey. Topped with roasted red peppers and green onions. Fries and EJ has requested steamed peas. So that's WFD - more rum for sure. Hopefully a less stressful weekend, although I'm still waiting on a resolution to the very shocking discovery I made yesterday. Fingers crossed for the "right" outcome.

What's for Dinner #356 - The Tail End of March Edition! [through March 30, 2015]

Had a nice visit with the SD last night - got to hear all about her spring break trip to Florida. Well, maybe not ALL about it. :) And she inhaled the ma po tofu and I sent her home with some frozen stuff - which makes us both happy!

After she went back to the dorm, I sauteed up some peppers and onions which I added to the (chopped) leftover jerk chicken. That will be stuffed into tortillas with some cheese for jerk chicken quesadillas. Fusion dinner! Will serve them with avocado, sour cream and salsa. Easy dinner for after tai chi and yoga and while watching basketball!

What's for Dinner #356 - The Tail End of March Edition! [through March 30, 2015]

SD texted yesterday and is sick of dorm food - so she's coming for dinner tonight. She requested ma po tofu and eggrolls. So that's WFD. I bought a bunch of fresh strawberries, so thinking I'll do shortcake for dessert. Easy and quick so she can get back to the dorm and study! :)

What's for Dinner #356 - The Tail End of March Edition! [through March 30, 2015]

Mazel Tov on your birthday, jpr! And good luck with the soup and fish!

Mar 24, 2015
iowagirl in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #355 - The SPRING Edition! [Through March 24, 2015 ]

Last nights jerk chicken was really good - and the potatoes and green beans were the perfect complement. One of our favorite simple dinners! I made a rum cream fudge cake for dessert (in staying with the Jamaica theme!).

Tonight is tai chi (EJ) and yoga (me) so it's an easy dinner of frozen spinach and ricotta ravioli's, tossed with pesto. Green salad on the side. And wine.

What's for Dinner #355 - The SPRING Edition! [Through March 24, 2015 ]

Oh no! Not a good way to usher in spring! Hope you're back at it again soon!!

Mar 24, 2015
iowagirl in Home Cooking
1

What's for Dinner #355 - The SPRING Edition! [Through March 24, 2015 ]

Nice save!!! Looks wonderful!

Mar 24, 2015
iowagirl in Home Cooking
1

What's for Dinner #355 - The SPRING Edition! [Through March 24, 2015 ]

After a fun weekend of celebrating EJ's new job with friends (last night we were treated to New Orleans style BBQ shrimp with lots of good bread, a wonderful salad of oranges, cucumber and fennel and a fresh fruit tart), we woke up to about 1/4 inch of snow, sleet and icy stuff. Did someone forget to tell Mother Nature that it's officially spring?

So in an effort to thumb our noses at winter's last gasp, we're doing jerk chicken, roasted new potatoes and sauteed green beans with garlic and lemon tonight. So there.

What's for Dinner #355 - The SPRING Edition! [Through March 24, 2015 ]

Oh no, Tcamp! Hope you are well on the road to recovery!

Mar 23, 2015
iowagirl in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #355 - The SPRING Edition! [Through March 24, 2015 ]

Looks delicious and pretty! Good vibes on the job prospect!!

Mar 23, 2015
iowagirl in Home Cooking
1

What's for Dinner #355 - The SPRING Edition! [Through March 24, 2015 ]

Happy, Happy to the man - and have a great weekend of celebrating!

Mar 20, 2015
iowagirl in Home Cooking
1

What's for Dinner #355 - The SPRING Edition! [Through March 24, 2015 ]

Last night was takeout pizza as EJ and I tried to watch March Madness and instead stressed over his job interview this morning. Tonight - we celebrate because he got the job!!! Not sure what that entails, but I've thrown out a couple of his faves as possibilities: Steak and blue cheese, Paul Prudhomme's smoked gouda chicken, our riff on choripollo (cheesy chorizo and chicken wrapped in tortillas). Huh, looking at that list, it's apparent that his favorite food is cheese! There will be libations! Happy Weekend to all!

What's for Dinner #354: The Green(ing) Edition [through March 20, 2015

Tonight we're going to use up the rest of yesterday's fresh bread to make the Tuscan white bean and tuna sandwiches from epicurious. One of our fave sandwiches - EJ loves it even though there's no mayo, which is sacrilege in his mind when it comes to tuna! I think I'll do some roasted sweet potato wedges on the side - something warm sounds better than just chips! Guinness to drink, Blackhawks on the tube.

What's for Dinner #354: The Green(ing) Edition [through March 20, 2015

We're still recovering from vacation and this is a pretty crazy work week for both EJ and I so tonight is TJ's butternut squash soup, which I'll heat with an habanero in it. Garlic sourdough toast on the side. Easy, tasty and sorta healthy!

We did eat loads of good jerk, curry and rice n' peas in Jamaica last week though! And a wonderful escovitch fish at our favorite beach bar. Sigh - wish I was still there!

Your most cherished food memories...

My Dad just takes regular old chicken and grills it until it's almost done, then starts slathering it with Big Daddy's (has to be Big Daddy's) BBQ sauce. The sauce and skin gets all crispy and charred. No one else in my family feels the same way about it, but I honestly just love it. And he is sweet enough to still stand outside in the 100 degree Kansas City heat and humidity to make it for me. And in the recipe book my Mom created for me and my sister, the entry for BBQ chicken reads simply: Fire up the grill. Call Dad.

And popcorn for Sunday dinner was a family tradition. We'd have our main meal of the day midday - usually fried chicken or pot roast or pork roast - and then Mom could take a break for dinner. And the apples made it healthy, right? It was always brought downstairs in a huge, yellow popcorn bowl on a big wooden tray along with four smaller bowls, that we could all fill as many times as we wanted.

Mar 17, 2015
iowagirl in General Topics

Your most cherished food memories...

I absolutely love this thread - so many of my childhood memories are about food and the people I love!

My Dad's bbq chicken - still my absolute all time favorite meal. No one makes it like he does and it truly tastes like love to me!

Sunday night dinner was always popcorn (stove-popped, of course) and for a real treat, usually around holidays, we had real butter on top. Watching Wild Kingdom with a big bowl of popcorn and fresh apple slices and my one weekly Coke.

My paternal grandma's kolaches - poppy seed for me and my dad, cherry for mom and sister.

Eating dinner with my paternal grandpa every Wednesday night for a couple of years after my grandma passed away. We lived in the same town and it was our date night. In the beginning, he would make dinner for me - which was always an adventure. Asparagus omelets and bratwurst pizza are two that stand out, but then as he got older I started bringing in food for us (he liked to eat at 5 and I worked until then so my cooking for him was pretty tough). We would eat and talk for hours. And we always had butter pecan ice cream for dessert.

Traveling to Canada (from Iowa) with my maternal grandpa when I was 10 to stay with him and my grandma in their summer cabin. We stopped at a supper club on the way and I remember that tiered relish tray, the popovers that seemed like magic and the best steak ever - and my grandpa being so proud that I hate the whole thing!

What's for Dinner #352: the pre-Daylight Savings Time 2015 Edition [through Mar 8, 2015]

So last night's General Tso's Tofu was ... ok. I really, really liked the texture and flavor of the tofu - marinating, tossing with a bit of cornstarch, and baking is a really great way of getting that crispy/chewy texture. The sauce was bland though - EJ thought it was missing some of the sweet flavor that is typical of General Tso's and I think it needed more garlic, ginger and chili paste. Will definitely try this again and make some tweaks. It was good enough that EJ did eat all of his broccoli though!

We leave at o dark thirty tomorrow morning, so tonight is clean out the fridge night. Our choices are leftover pasta, leftover tofu and salad. We won't go hungry and tomorrow night will be jerk chicken on the beach!! Rice and peas and cabbage salad on the side and lots of rum!

What's for Dinner #352: the pre-Daylight Savings Time 2015 Edition [through Mar 8, 2015]

We are trying to clean out the fridge for vacation next week, so last night was freezer gloop - that turned out to be tomato sauce. I sauteed some Aidell's mystery sausage - also from the freezer - some peppers, onions and garlic and added the sauce. Threw in some oregano, basil and parm rinds and let it simmer while I marinated some tofu for tonight's dinner and the pasta cooked. The last sub roll was turned into garlic bread and the last chunk of mozzarella was grated over top. Not bad for a cobbled together dinner!

Tonight I'm trying a recipe from Vegetarian Times, General Tso's Tofu. The tofu is marinating in mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic and will be sprinkled with cornstarch and baked till crispy on the outside. Then tossed with a sauce made up of more mirin, rice wine, sesame oil, sambal oelek, ginger, garlic, tomato paste and veggie broth, thickened with more cornstarch. Steamed broccoli and brown rice. Healthy, pre-vacation food - that I hope also tastes good!

What's for Dinner #351: the Wishing & Hoping Edition [through Mar 2, 2015]

EJ had a hankering for Chicago style pizza last night, and since we have no viable options within a 3 hour drive, I looked up recipes and found one for Lou Malnati's. Sooooo - we made the dough, grated the cheese, pre-cooked the sausage just a bit and added some oregano and garlic to the diced fire roasted tomatoes. It was actually pretty spot on - and with a few tweaks will be perfect! We need to let the dough rest longer, get better flavored sausage, and add a bit more seasoning to the tomatoes. The dough recipe made enough for two pizzas (we halved the recipe) so there is another try in our near future - may try pepperoni this time. At any rate, it was a ton of fun, and pretty successful for a first try!

Not sure about tonight, as EJ may be in trial tomorrow and if that's the case, he'll be working and will just grab something quick for dinner. Otherwise, I'm craving Asian or Mexican - need something spicy to counteract the NEXT snow, ice and cold coming through. It is March, right? Right?!

What's for Dinner #351: the Wishing & Hoping Edition [through Mar 2, 2015]

Oh no, nothingswrong! I hope that this ends up being a minor setback for you! Sending happy, good vibes your way. And the chicken parm does look pretty darn good!

Mar 02, 2015
iowagirl in Home Cooking
1

What's for Dinner #351: the Wishing & Hoping Edition [through Mar 2, 2015]

So EJ decided that since our Italian subs on Tuesday were so tasty and emotionally satisfying, we needed to reprise that meal. And since he is going through some job angst, I'm letting him pick what sounds good to him. Plus, it was super easy! And tonight we're heading out to our fave watering hole for some live music and will most likely eat there. So the salmon will wait for tomorrow - we're spending the day prepping for our vacation next week, so a nice dinner (with wine!) will be the perfect end to a busy day!

What's for Dinner #351: the Wishing & Hoping Edition [through Mar 2, 2015]

Wishing and hoping you have a perfectly spectacular March - you (and your East Coast brethren) have definitely earned it!

Fun Girls Weekend In Chicago! Trip Report

Actually, the giardinera was in a cup on the side and there was not any actually on the sandwich (see the attached photo). My husband is originally from Chicago, and I've eaten a few Italian beefs (I like mine hot and NOT wet - soggy bread, ugh!). This really was an enigma to us ...

I guess the moral of the story is to order pizza at Gino's and Italian beef at Portillo's or Al's. :)

Feb 27, 2015
iowagirl in Chicago Area

What's for Dinner #351: the Wishing & Hoping Edition [through Mar 2, 2015]

Ha! Well of course! We are pretty corny here in this state!

What's for Dinner #351: the Wishing & Hoping Edition [through Mar 2, 2015]

We got about 8 inches of snow yesterday/last night, and it's -10 windchill. I'm not sure we'll ever completely thaw! We had a college bball game to attend last night (Hawkeyes win!) so dinner was quick black bean tacos with lots of jalapenos and chipotle garlic salsa. Hit the spot, but EJ said it got "boring." Hmph.

In preparation of the bad weather, I stopped at the Co-Op and bought salmon for dinner tonight. We'll have jerk salmon, hasselback potatoes, roasted rainbow carrots and purple cabbage slaw. And wine. It's Thursday after all!

Oh - and we did have chips with the Italian subs on Tuesday. Along with french onion dip. And it was SOOOOO good!

What's for Dinner #351: the Wishing & Hoping Edition [through Mar 2, 2015]

That sounds like a perfect night of eating, drinking, and entertainment!

Feb 26, 2015
iowagirl in Home Cooking
1

Fun Girls Weekend In Chicago! Trip Report

Mom, Sis, Godmom and I decided to converge on Chicago for a girls weekend and to celebrate Mom's bday. They flew from KC and Minneapolis (crazy cheap airfare!) and I drove from Iowa. I got amazing Priceline rooms in the most perfect location and we were off! Their flights got in early Friday morning and I didn't arrive until about 3:30 where I rescued them from the TGIFriday's they had converged on for "happy hour" while waiting on me. Their excuse was that it was one block from the hotel and it was cold. That was the last bad eating/drinking decision they made!

We went to Gino's for dinner - Sis and I split a small pepperoni, mushromm and green pepper. Mom really wanted Italian beef - it looked wonderful, but was so darn spicy it was almost inedible. Not sure what they heck they did to it, but it was HOT - we think it was something they put on the bread, because the meat that had not touched the bread was fine. Odd. Moral of the story - stick with pizza at Gino's! I also tried a new to me beer - a black IPA called Wookie Jack. It was perfect with the pizza and just right for the cold weather!

Saturday we slept in then had "brunch" at the Grand Lux Cafe where I had some of the best blueberry pancakes I've ever had. They were fluffy, not to much blueberry, and the syrup was this buttery mapley stuff that I would have been happy drinking! Sis and I split those and an egg white omelette which was fine. Godmom had traditional eggs, hashbrowns, meat and Mom had Eggs Benedict which were perfectly done. A great place to shore up for a day of shopping on Michigan Ave.

Mom wanted Italian for dinner, so we ended up at Coco Pazzo Cafe. Started with the mozzarella salad, which was better than I anticipated. the cheese itself was really good and they had roasted the tomatoes so they actually had some flavor in the dead of winter! We also shared some calamari. I ordered the pasta of the day, which was by far the best choice of the night. Homemade mushroom ravioli with a black truffle butter cream sauce and pine nuts. It was creamy, rich, vevelty comfort food and with a portion big enough that everyone got some! We pretty much shared everything - other entrees were rigatoni with sausage and peas in a creamy tomato sauce, spaghetti with tomato, garlic, olive oil and chile flakes and roasted veggies over polenta. I thought all the pastas were good. The veggies were meh - asparagus, portobello, zucchini, summer squash and peppers none of which are exactly in season over a disk of polenta that had little to no flavor. Not my favorite, but it was Sis's dish and she was happy with it. Tiramisu with four forks for dessert. I'd go back for pasta for sure.

Sunday morning Mom really wanted her Chicago dog fix, so we headed to Portillo's for her official birthday "breakfast". I had the Maxwell Street polish and cheese fries, which I really needed after staying out way to late with Sis the night before!

After Portillo's we wandered over to Eataly - and spent the next hour or so drooling and wishing we had more stomach room. What a fun place! We did take some desserts with us to have for later - a blackberry semifreddo, a triple layer chocolate thing and a limoncello cake. The semifreddo was the best in my opinion - Mom liked the chocolate.

Dinner was Godmom's pick - her fave Chicago restaurant, Lawry's. I had never been and truly it was the best prime rib I've had. The tableside theater was pretty fun and it was a great old school experience. Sis and I shared a meal, which comes with salad, mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding - we added a lobster tale, sauteed mushrooms and asparagus with Hollandaise. Medium rare prime rib. It was all perfectly fine and was a fun experience.

We then headed to a showing of the First Wives Club which was entertaining enough to keep us all awake after that meal! Great weekend of food, laughter and girl time, even if it was subzero temps all weekend. Can't wait to come back!

Feb 24, 2015
iowagirl in Chicago Area

What's For Dinner #350: The Robins are Back So it Must be Spring Right? Edition [through Feb. 25, 2015]

EJ wanted more than just salad last night, so it was breaded chicken breasts and past with creamy pesto. Roasted garlic sourdough, toasted, on the side. To up the veggie quotient, I added a bunch of halved cherry tomatoes to mine - they were getting a bit wrinkly and needed using. There was wine.

Tonight we both have a craving for cold Italian subs so EJ will head to the deli for the good ham, and salami, some aged provolone and good bread. We'll construct them with some chopped lettuce, mayo and some oil and vinegar whisked with some oregano and basil. Probably the salad that we didn't have last night on the side. Or chips!

What's For Dinner #350: The Robins are Back So it Must be Spring Right? Edition [through Feb. 25, 2015]

Wonderful weekend of eating in Chicago with my mom, sister and godmom! They flew in from KC and Minneapolis (crazy cheap airfare!) respectively, and I drove from Iowa. They landed much earlier than me and when I got there at about 3:30, I rescued them from the TGIF that they had landed at for happy hour! That was the last of the bad food choices for them!

Friday night was Gino's East for pizza (pepperoni, mushroom and green pepper). Mom wanted to try the Italian beef there and it was so spicy it was almost inedible. Couldn't figure out what they heck they had done to it, but the heat appeared to come from something they put on the bread. I tried a new beer - a black IPA called Wookie Jack - that I loved and was perfect for the arctic temps!

Saturday morning we slept in and then had brunch at the Grand Lux Cafe - some of the best blueberry pancakes I've eaten - to shore up for a day shopping on Michigan Ave. Mom wanted Italian for dinner, (and it was her birthday weekend!) so we went to Coco Pazzo Cafe. I ordered the best dish which was the pasta special. Homemade mushroom ravioli with a black truffle butter cream sauce. Garnished with toasted pine nuts and parsley. Yum! We stared with the mozzarella tomato salad, which was very good since they roasted the tomatoes, bringing out some good flavor in the dead of Chicago winter! Finished with tiramisu and four spoons.

Yesterday, Mom's actual birthday, we went to Portillo's for an early lunch so she could get her Chicago dog fix. I had the Maxwell Street polish (grilled polish with grilled onions and mustard) and cheese fries which is just what I needed after staying out til very late with my sis the night before.

We went from Portillo's to Eataly, and wandered around in awe for a while. Picked up a couple of pastries for later and drooled over pretty much everything else!

Dinner was my godmom's pick - her favorite place in Chicago. Lawry's. I had never been and it really was the best prime rib I've ever had. And the tableside service was very fun. Then we went to a showing of The First Wives Club on Broadway in Chicago which was good enough to keep us all awake after our big dinner! Back to the hotel after for more girl talk and pastries, then off to bed since we all had early departure times today. It was a great weekend, but tonight I'm eating salad.

What's for Dinner #349 - the Sub-Zero-For-Some Edition [Old]

Tonight is the Batali "hero" redux from the freezer as I want to get to a yoga class and then come home and try to get the house spit shined before I leave EJ for a girls weekend in Chicago. He's having a friend of ours over, so we'll clean tonight so he can spend Saturday cooking. I took the pepper mixture and the sausages out of the freezer last night, and will stop to get new bread. The mozzarella and parm are still in good shape. Assemble the sandwiches, pop them in the oven to get warm and melty while I vacuum! Small green salad on the side. Either wine or Appleton to drink ...

Tomorrow we have a basketball game to go to, so another freezer meal before hand - the Renaissance lasagna will be thawed and gently reheated. More greens - they're good for ya, ya know!

Then it's off to Chicago with my Mom, sis and GodMom - lots of laughing, drinking and eating will ensue. Plus some shopping and a showing of the First Wives Club. Very excited!