It’s official! We’re going to have an early Spring! I heard just this morning that Punxsutawney Phil saw no shadow so winter is over or soon to be over. (It was then also independently verified by our own Woodstock Willie.) I’m not quite sure how any of this works but regardless I’ve got a good feeling about February. January was relatively mild in Chicago which is a welcome change from the past couple of years (I’m looking at you January 2014) but I still found myself having a hard time being motivated to make a healthy & tasty dinner at the end of the day. This is where the Grain Bowl really shines! It comes together quickly and can be adjusted based on what you’ve got on hand. No runs to the store required.
There used to be a little family owned Mexican spot on St. Charles Road called Tierra Grill that was the best Mexican food in the area hands down. Like seriously good, authentic food made fresh to order. I heard they also had the best margaritas but sadly they lost their liquor license before I had a chance to try them. Obviously I would order tacos, enchiladas and elotes on the regular but I often had the hardest time choosing between these classics and their tequila salad. I know, I know. Salad? Over enchiladas and elotes? But seriously there was something magical about the tequila dressing that made it the most addictive and satisfying salad I’ve ever eaten. They’ve been closed well over 5 years now but the thing I still find myself missing is the tequila salad. (more…)
The key to perfect roast chicken? Don’t over think it. Many things in life can be made easier with this simple mantra. I mean obviously life is complicated and there’s a lot of decisions and worries – Should I buy a home now? Should I go back to school? Am I working towards something meaningful? Do my new glasses make me look like a hipster? Am I wearing too much flannel? (Wait, am I turning into a hipster?!) – you get the idea. I don’t trivialize life’s complexities with this mantra but I find putting in the time, doing the work and then letting go is all you can really do. Being overly in your head isn’t good for anyone but I know getting out of it isn’t necessarily easy. I find focusing on what’s important and recognizing what I can and can’t control gives me clarity and puts my mind at ease.
Don’t over think it – this is not a life changing revelation but if you can get out of your head and start really experiencing, breathing, and letting go you’ll be surprised at how it can change your outlook. Alright….that’s probably enough life coaching for a food blog so back to the task at hand – roasting a chicken. I think sometimes people are intimidated by it but really it’s quite simple. The most important thing is to start with a quality bird from a local farmer. This will make your end result so much better without you really having to do anything. I’m all about getting street cred for an amazing dish when all I did was pick the right ingredients. (more…)
Last weekend I had a fantastic time at a friend’s pot luck. He founded the Meat Revival Society, a local meat co-op focused not only on supporting sustainable farmers but also on educating its members to become better, more confident cooks. The Society emphasizes the importance of using the entire animal which is right up my alley! The point of this particular pot luck was to improve our braising and stewing skills- perfect for the dismal February we’ve had. I was a bit uninspired that week but Sheila had a great idea and we fully embraced the task at hand. We ended up searing and slowly braising short ribs with caramelized onions for 5 hours which filled the house with comforting heat and heavenly aromas. Our short rib meat loaf was a big hit and I’ll definitely be posting it here soon!
It was a small gathering and we found ourselves among welcoming people who became fast friends. It was so refreshing to sit down at the table and have truly meaningful, in-depth conversations over a delicious, home-cooked meal! The night went by too quickly but I am happy to have made new connections with such intelligent, open people.
Being inspired by the pot luck I turned to my favorite braised dish – carnitas! I love this dish because it’s so simple but yields big, tasty results!