This week I only cooked a few dinners. We were in Chicago for a long weekend so I was away from the kitchen for a bit. When we got home there was very little in the fridge, so I had to make due with a few staples from the freezer. The first dinner I made was kibbee and rice. Veggie kibbee of course. We love love love kibbee in our house, and we always pair it with rice. When we became vegetarians I knew I was going to miss kibbee. It is traditionally made with lamb or ground beef…not very veggie friendly. My Dad actually modified his kibbee recipe using our ground beef substitute (“Morning Star Farms veggie crumbles”), and now we enjoy veggie kibbee any time we want! My “brother from another mother” Jim also made a version of veggie kibbee using red lentils, and it was delicious! If you haven’t ever had the pleasure of eating kibbee, you should definitely check it out. Growing up it was a staple at dinnertime. My Sito and Jido used to make it all the time. As a kid, I loved it raw. As an adult, and as a vegetarian, I cannot believe I ever ate raw meat, but I did…and I loved it too. Anyway, I made veggie kibbee and rice for our first dinner home. I didn’t unfortunately snap any pictures of the dinner. My brain must have still been in Chicago. ☺ Here is a link to a recipe for kibbee http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1926,146188-233206,00.html We actually spice it a little different, but this recipe is close.
The next dinner I made was veggie chicken burgers with garlic-rosemary mayonnaise. I saw this recipe on “Giada at Home”, and knew that I could modify it to be veggie friendly. In the actual recipe, Giada uses ground chicken. We don’t have a veggie friendly ground chicken substitute, so I had to improvise. I used 4 “Morning Star Farms Chik Patties” as my alternative to the ground chicken. I microwaved the patties, and then I pureed them in my “Magic Bullet.” Then I just followed the recipe like Giada indicated. The resulting burgers are DELICIOUS! I especially loved the garlic-rosemary mayonnaise. YUM. We actually had a bit of the mayo left over, so I used it on sandwiches that I ate for lunch. It is a very easy recipe, and I will definitely make these yummy burgers again. ☺ Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/chicken-burgers-with-garlic-rosemary-mayonnaise-recipe/index.html
On our third night home, I made pasta primavera with lemon basil sauce. Right before we left for Chicago, and I literally mean twelve hours before we left for Chicago, our neighbors came to the door with a few bags full of fresh veggies from their garden. They gave us tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, and eggplant. I was grateful, but I immediately panicked as I knew that by the time we got home, most of the veggies would be past their prime. While we away, Dan’s Dad came over to feed the cats. So we sent the majority of the veggies home with him. We did keep a few things, and those are the veggies that I used to make the pasta primavera. I used a yellow squash, a zucchini, an onion, tomatoes, and a red bell pepper. To season the veggies, I used herbs de Provence, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Then I oven roasted them in baking sheets until the veggies were tender. I also made a pot of pasta, so we could serve the roasted veggies on top. I have made this dish before, but we only graded it a “B.” I may have mentioned before that we grade all the meals that I make, so that I remember how my family felt about the dish. Anyway, in the past this recipe had only gotten a “B.” In the attempt to bump that “B” to an “A”, I decided to make a lemon basil sauce to add the noodles before topping with the roasted veggies. The result? Delightful! In fact, the grade increased from a “B”, to an “A+.” I found the recipe for the lemon basil sauce in a cookbook that I own titled “Skinny Italian.” Yes…I bought it before I knew what a mean-spirited person the author actually is. That said, despite all her “mean girl tendencies”, that crazy mama can cook. I love love love this cookbook, and to date every recipe that I have made from it, has received an “A.” This sauce also received an “A.” In my opinion, the sauce added a really interesting and yummy lemony flavor to the veggies, and it enhanced the pasta as well. Paired together, the veggies and the sauce made this pasta dish amazing. I will never make pasta primavera any other way. I mean c’mon…don’t fix it if it ain’t broke…ya know what I’m sayin? Sorry. I was channeling my inner Jersey girl, and I guess I got carried away.☺ Here is the link to the recipe for the sauce: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/skinny-italian Also, here is a link to a recipe for pasta primavera: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/pasta-primavera-recipe/index.html
I mentioned above that we went away to Chicago. We had a fabulous trip. The kids had never been to Chicago, and Dan and I hadn’t been to “the windy city” since 1994. So we decided to go before the summer ended. The trip was actually my 40th birthday present. We postponed the trip until this summer to avoid having to pull the kids out of school, and to increase the chance that we’d have nice “walking weather.” Well it worked. The weather was awesome, and man oh man did we walk. We literally traversed miles and miles of Chicago’s streets. As a side note, I think it’s funny that Dan and I are both 40 (actually he is 41 but who’s counting haha), yet we have more stamina and perseverance than the kids. What happened to that endless font of energy and enthusiasm that kids are known for? How is it that a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old called it quits before their 40-year-old parents? Dan and I are kind of broken when you consider all of our afflictions and aliments. The kids are pretty healthy, so what gives? Anyway, we managed to get everywhere we wanted to go. We did ride in a taxi or two, so the kids didn’t pass out from exhaustion, but all in all, they did pretty well. While in Chicago, we had some pretty great meals. In fact, every meal I ate was great! Our first meal in Chicago was at Navy Pier’s food court. I didn’t actually eat dinner that night, but Dan and the kids liked their meals. We had breakfast twice at “Mei’s Kitchen.” They have a breakfast buffet every weekend, and the restaurant was located on the first floor of our hotel. We ate there more out of convenience than anything else. On our last day in Chicago, we ate breakfast at “Yolk.” This was the best breakfast of the trip. From the first sip of my orange juice, I was in heaven. I got this really yummy cheesy egg and tomato bagel sandwich. The best part was the pesto sauce they put on the sandwich. OMG… absolutely delicious. Dan got a breakfast combo that included french toast. The french toast was the best that I have eaten in years. Ryan got pancakes that we equally amazing, and Victoria got a Belgian waffle that was yum-a-licious! It was by far the best breakfast of any kind that we’ve eaten at any restaurant. We would definitely visit “Yolk” again, and we highly recommend it for breakfast.
We ate lunch at various places. Our first lunch in the city was at “Ed Debevic’s.” Actually “Ed Debevic’s” was the second lunch stop of that particular day. Allow me to explain. Ryan, as I have mentioned multiple times in the past, is an extremely picky eater. We checked out the menus of the restaurants where we planned to eat, to ensure that they served “Ryan friendly fare.” Well “Ed Debevic’s” does not. So before we went to eat lunch at Ed’s, we swung by “Noodles & Company” aka Ryan’s Mecca. I mean a whole restaurant dedicated to pasta dishes…could it get any better for Ryan? In a word…no. I didn’t actually taste his pasta, but Ryan swears that the noodles he ate were the best ever! After Ryan enjoyed his bowl of noodles, we went to Ed’s so the rest of us could get lunch. Dan and I got veggie burgers, and Victoria got a grilled cheese. The burger was really yummy, and I enjoyed it a ton! For dessert, we all got sundaes. The world’s smallest sundaes to be exact. The food was good, and the ambiance totally added to the experience. The kids thought it was a riot. I’d recommend “Ed Debevic’s” to anyone who wants a yummy burger, and a few laughs…not to mention the world’s smallest sundae.☺ We also had lunch at Shedd Aquarium’s “Surroundings Cafe.” The cafe features food made with organic locally grown ingredients, so it was totally up my alley. I got a really yummy vegetarian minestrone, Dan got a grilled veggie panini, Victoria got macaroni and cheese, and Ryan got a peanut butter sandwich. The kids meals came with fresh veggies and the best applesauce I think I have ever eaten. We all enjoyed our lunches and would definitely eat there again.
We only had one real dinner while in Chicago, and it was at “Gino’s East.” We were determined to try authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza, so we went to “Gino’s East.” We saw the restaurant while having lunch at “Ed Debevic’s” the day before as “Gino’s East” is right across the street. We were pretty hungry, and totally didn’t expect the 45 minute wait for the pizza. In the interim we ordered toasted ravioli and we all loved it. Ryan of course didn’t eat it. He did eat pasta, and said it was good. Not as good as the pasta at “Noodles & Company”, but good. When the pizza finally came to the table, it was totally worth the wait. YUM with a capital Y. It was like nothing I’d ever had before, and it was heaven on a plate. As we waited for our pizza, we read the signs posted in the restaurant that advertised that their pizza could be delivered anywhere in the United States. Dan and I scoffed at the notion of ordering pizza all the way from Chicago. Well honestly after eating it, I may consider doing just that. It really was that good. It goes without saying this pizza was fantastic, and I’d recommend “Gino’s East” to anyone visiting Chicago.
On the way home we stopped at a place called “The Chocolate Garden.” We saw signs all along I-94 advertising “The Chocolate Garden”, and according to the signs the Food Network, Elle magazine, and USA Today, all gave rave reviews. Well even without the glowing recommendations, I was going to stop by. I mean come on…the chocolate garden…hell yeah! So we stopped and bought some chocolate truffles and all I can say is “…mmmmmmmm.” I have never had truffles like these before. They were fudgey and decadent and delicious. If you are ever in Coloma Michigan, I highly recommend you visit the store. Here is a link to their website:http://www.chocolategarden.com/
I hope you try the recipes. If you ever get the chance to go to Chicago, I highly recommend you go. It is a great city with a ton to do and see…and definitely a ton to eat! ♥