Breakfast in Chicago

Generally, and specifically other than dinner, our dining in Chicago was more a matter of convenience (or acquiescence to the kids) than planning.

Thus, our first morning, we simply dined at the hotel — which was fair enough:  I had their continental breakfast which was constructed of a sticky muffin, an english muffin and a very generous amount of assorted fruit, of which Will ate all but the pineapple and a couple slices of apple!

The kids had pancakes.

The other two mornings we went to Eggsperience Pancakes & Cafe that conveniently just opened two blocks from the hotel.  The restaurant is very bright and cheerful with a huge menu and the service was extremely friendly and lightning fast.

I tried the Portobello and Asiago cheese omelet and the spinach, onion and mushroom crepes. 

I failed to capture a remotely respectable picture of the omelet but it was delicious, if huge! 

I thought the crepes were a bit too sweet for the veggies though the accompanying Hollandaise sauce countered that reasonably well.

The kids had pancakes  — not just pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes with little mini white and dark chocolate chips sprinkled on top.  They thought the pancakes were so good they ordered them both days.  Ari also ordered hash browns to look at and Jared ordered the left page of the menu siding his with eggs, hash browns sausage and toast.

Jen will have to share her breakfast experience since I was too full and opposite to see or try her food.



The Crew Cuisine is Getting Out There!!

Well, our pictures aren’t good enough *yet* for Tastespotting or Foodgawker – but we did manage to get on to TasteStopping.  Check us out here:

(oh and just so you know what you are looking for – it’s our ravioli and heart cookies….and no, I don’t know who Casey is or why the post says ‘posted by Casey’ – just a glitch in their system!)

Be My Valentine

I thought it would be fun for the kids to take in cookies for their Valentine treat this week.  My sister thought it would be fun for my niece to do the same.  And since I was making a bunch of cookies, what’s a few more!

And then this week hit, and I realized we had religion classes, science olympiad practices, packing for our trip to Chicago at the end of the week…..on top of homework and oh yeah, we are suppose to get 10 inches of snow dumped on us tomorrow!  So, I purchased pre-cut cookie dough….threw some sprinkles on it and called it a day.  Ok, well not quite a day…..I will package them neatly with a red ribbon garnish.  Ok, now done.

Ravioli on a whim

We decided we wanted to make something special for super bowl sunday dinner because we like to eat and we think we’re special. 

Planning is not one of our pronounced attributes and we have eschewed shopping of late (and especially on a sunday evening),  so as the sun began to set we were left blankly bobbing at the limited options:  A few potatoes, a few sweet potatoes, a few onions, a bit of parsley.. 

Necessarily, we kneaded a noodle.

For the filling, we thinly sliced our last four little onions, mashed two huge yams and minced four cloves of garlic.  Isn’t it odd that people principally possess the pernicious predilection to ply onions into those pesky little squares?  I hate cutting onions into little squares.   Empirical evidence exposits thinly sliced onions have a far finer flavor, anecdotally…  So sqaure onions are herewith banished and forthwith they shall be thinly or also thickly sliced depending on my demeanor, much, likely, to the irritation of everyone else as, certainly, is this confusing, wayward obloquy.

After settling down with a glass of Concannon Merlot and The Be Good Tanyas, I bronzed the thinly sliced onions (annoying, isn’t it?), adding the garlic for the last couple of minutes.

The Concannon Merlot is not nearly as good as their petite syrah (is there a more underappreciated variety?);  the The Be Good Tanyas are always good.

Bronzed onions and garlic were flung with the smashed yams, dashes of cayenne, parsley, about a tablespoon of crunched tarragon and a large-ish pinch of sea salt.

The noodle was a bit tricky, sticky, mandating multiple presses but eventually enough additional flour was worked in (I suppose) that it became more manageable.  However, I had a brief panicked flash back reminding me why I avoided making noodles for so long — my first effort resulted in a gooey, gummed up disaster and the few ravioli that did survive to pot exploded into a stew.  (A little seasoning, veggies and voila!  Wonton soup!)

All but one of these survived and we sautéed the finished fodder in a glaze contrived from a half cup chardonnay, quarter cup orange juice, a few slices of olio, two minced cloves of garlic and about a half teaspoon ground tarragon.  We reduced the glaze for about 5 minutes and I added around a quarter teaspoon corn starch to tighten it up a touch.

Neighbored with broccoli and posed with a pinch of pretty parsley:

I thought the orange juice and tarragon in the glaze made it too sweet and tarragonny but Jen thought it was fine as designed.

The ravioli themselves were fantastic and best of all there are leftovers.  So in a couple days we will have a ravioli redux and try a slightly different sauce.

A pseudo sausage won’t protect you from a tofu tumble

One of my favorite blogga’s was raving, a few weeks back, over a breakfast patty she had discovered that, said she, almost made her feel guilty it tasted so much like real sausage.

She talked them up so, and posted such pretty pictures I decided to make a batch last Tuesday while Jen and the two older kids were out.

It was a rather arduous ordeal (likely the result of cooking with a two-year old) but we had a lot of (messy) fun.

William very, very slowly added the ingredients to the food processor and whirred it all to mush.  As we spatula’d the result into a bowl I was doubtful the end product would be very good.

Nevertheless we pressed patties onto a cookie tray and flung them into the oven, then, turned to amalgamating their accompanying gravy.

The result:  Pretty darn good — keeping in mind, of course, that blogga’s a vegan and her idea of what meat tastes like is a Morningstar Farms breakfast patty, not a Jimmy Dean.

We have enjoyed these over the past week, both for breakfast

and as a tasty lunch:  Heated and served over a bed of spinach or wrapped in lettuce sans gravy with a little honey mustard dressing.

Click here for the pseudo sausage recipe.

A tofu tumble for two, generically

1/2 container diced firm tofu

1 small, thinly sliced onion

4 sliced mushrooms

1 chopped green onion

A small handful of spinach

2 finely chopped green olives

2 diced cloves garlic

A couple dashes ground cayenne

A few Dashes of tamari

Slice and dice:

Saute the onion until it starts to brown then add the tofu.  Once the tofu starts to dehydrate and brown a bit add everything up to the spinach.  After sweating the veggies a bit, add the spinach, cook down and serve.


Iron Chef Michigan – Battle: Lasagna

On Saturday night, we celebrated February birthdays in our family.  Lauren and I were tasked with each making a lasagna for the dinner.  While both were very very good, they each brought their own uniqueness to the dinner.  The Crew’s lasagna consisted of homemade noodles – that the boys were in charge of and also did not contain meat.  Lauren’s was the meat lasagna and *gasp* store bought noodles.

Both were immediately gobbled up with just a small amount left for a midnight snack.

You couldn’t pick a winner since each had distinct qualities.  I call it a ‘Tie’

Who Doesn’t Love a Chunky Monkey?

When I was pregnant with Jared, I craved Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream.  I couldn’t understand why it only came in a pint size….I mean seriously, this pregnant woman would’ve downed a gallon at a time.  And that is why I still carry baby weight and Jared is 8 years old.  But that’s another story for another time.  Or maybe that’s just a story I will keep to myself.

Today I stared at 4 squishy bananas in the basket and thought it was such a waste to throw them out.  But I just couldn’t fathom making banana bread.  It sounded so ‘blah’. And so I was this close to just tossing them away.  But my food processor was calling out to me.  My fancy new one with the dough blade was just begging to be used.  So I went to TasteSpotting and searched bananas.  And what to my wandering eyes did appear – Chunky Monkey Biscotti!  This appealed to me in several ways.  Well, ok 2 – the catchy name and the fact that it was biscotti…..that hits home with this Sicilian.

I made a batch this afternoon and then bagged some up and shared them as early Valentine treats with the family.

The recipe comes courtesy of Sugar Plum.

Chunky Monkey Biscotti

(Recipe from Sugar Plum)
Yields: approx. 30
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter   (*I used natural creamy PB – and it was just fine!)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melted chocolate for dipping, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a large cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk in sugar and chocolate chips until combined.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together banana, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla until well combined.  Stir in dry ingredients until well combined.  Divide dough and shape into three (9 x 2 1/3–inch) logs on cookie sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes; cool 5 minutes before transferring logs to wire racks to cool an additional 15 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board and cut rolls diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Place, cut sides down, on baking sheet.  Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees; bake 10 minutes.  Turn cookies over; bake an additional 15 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool).  Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire racks.

Dip in melted chocolate if desired.