President-Elect Barack Obama on "Check Please!"

Celebrate the upcoming inauguration by tuning into the January 16th episode of one of my favorite PBS shows, Check Please!, which has local people (just like you and me!) reviewing and sometimes arguing over their favorite restaurants. Barack Obama will be discussing his trip to Dixie Kitchen in Hyde Park, so don't miss it!

More info HERE.


Steve's Morsels

Steven Powell
Age: 27
Occupation: Road Warrior Consultant, soon to be Chi-Warrior Consultant
Resides in: Bucktown/Wicker Park, Chicago

1. Favorite band with some sort of food in its name:
I’m currently listening to old Bad Brains, and I believe brain is eaten in some parts of this world we live in. Other than that, I really like MF Doom’s album “MM..Food.” It’s got everything you need to know.

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
I’m a fan of tomatoes in August. Growing up, I used to go to the farmer’s market on Division St with my mom and pick out the bestest, reddest, ripest tomaties we could find. Once home, you toast 2 pieces of bread, put a light layer of mayo on each, put some tomater slices in the middle there, and top the tomatez w/ some S&P. Et, voila. Summer tomata sangwich. Simple and very yum.

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of ice cream for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That is an unfair question.

4. Favorite food show:
Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” is awesome. It combines food, travel, and exploration in one witty insightful package. I’d love to have a show like that some day.

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am drunken feast:
Some nights, ANYTHING will do, including the ramen noodles at the top of the pantry that have dust on the packaging.

For nights when that won’t cut the mustard, I dig the magnificent Pasadita Super Burrito! It comes standard with beans, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, onion, rice, cilantro and guacamole. Just add steak and their amazing roasted poblano salsa (it tastes like firey butter) and you’re ready to roll. And then pass out.

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
I’m usually forgo the side dishes at steak houses because I’m focusing on the huge steak I just ordered. So, I’ll say that my typical steak house order is something like appetizer: oysters or tomato/onion/bleu cheese salad, and main: filet mignon or a nice NY strip. Medium rare always.

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
Tough call. There are so many great choices in Chicago! We’ve got what everyone stereotypically thinks of when they think Chicago food: the best Ribs at Fat Willy's, (Stuffed) Pizzas at Chicago's and Steaks at Gibson's.

In the way of fine dining, I dig Kiki’s Bistro. In the way of fine Mexican dining (without the typical price tag), I like Maiz Anojitos Y Bebidas.

8. How do you take your coffee?
Black. In the summertime, Iced.

9. Top 3 condiments:
- Hot chunky salsa (that sounds gross)
- Ketchup (my traditional pick)
- Mom’s mint sauce for lamb chops

10. How do you like d'em apples?
Baked, topped w/ cinnamon and served w/ vanilla ice cream. Nuff said.


Mom's Morsels - Holiday Edition

In honor of the holidays, my mom's submitted to the morsel quiz! I've added a few holiday specific questions so grab your eggnog, cozy up to a fire (or radiator) and enjoy!

Mama Fitz
Age: 54
Occupation: Director Leadership Programs/McKinney Chamber of Commerce and Asst. Editor for McKinney Living Magazine
Resides in: McKinney, Texas - the center of the universe, as John Rattan always tells me!

1. Favorite holiday song that mentions food:
The Christmas Song - you know, "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
Asparagus - toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic - grill or roast. Yummy!

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of holiday pie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Apple-Cranberry, I think.

4. Favorite food show:
Anthony Bourdain's show - can't remember the name right now - and Iron Chef America

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am post-holiday meal snack:
A chocolate covered fresh raspberry with a nice sip of Baileys

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
Caesar Salad

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
In McKinney, my fave spot to have a drink and meet friends would be the bar at Rick's Chophouse. So fun and the bartenders and servers are so attentive - is it bad when the bartenders know you by name? A really great atmosphere! For food...I don't eat out much but love San Miguel's for Mexican and Spoons Cafe for casual.

8. How do you take your coffee?
Strong, touch of Splenda and 1/2 & 1/2 - brew it directly into the cup and get that great crema on the top. Marvelous!

9. Top 3 condiments:
Olive oil, kosher salt, salsa

10. How do you like d'em apples?
A great, tart crunchy Pink Lady apple - cut and cored - with peanut butter spread on it

11. What's your favorite holiday food?

12. Do you own the Amy Grant Xmas CD? Be honest!
Okay, okay...I have TWO!!! But I have others, too, so don't hold Amy Grant against me!

13. Eggnog, mulled wine, apple cider, all of the above or other?
Hot Buttered Rum - I make the BEST!

14. Give us an example of a Texas holiday meal, from start to finish!
Well...I'm not a true Texan but have lived here about 20 years. Christmas Eve is usually chili and oyster stew - leftover from my mid-western roots. I remember as a kid going to my Grandma Hansen's house every Christmas Eve. My Aunt Grace, who lived with Grandma, had a bottle of Mogan David(wine) in the refrigerator. After chili and oyster stew we always had my Grandma's Danish Tea Ring (she was Danish - came to America on a boat at age 16 by herself - amazing!) But, as she got older the tea ring kept getting drier and drier - no one complained.

Fast forward to Texas: Last year we did a Mexican feast catered by San Miguels with some of our own touches: Mexican Cheesecake with Salsa & Chips and Guacamole, Cheese Enchiladas, Chicken Enchiladas, Tamales, and Beans and Rice. Dessert: can't remember but I'm sure it was wonderful. I just remember relaxing with a Bailey's at the end. Holidays - always hectic but wonderful - what better times than sharing food and family!


Sunday Night Taco Bar

Sunday night, after a few (5?) bloody marys, I decided I wanted to host a build-your-own taco bar! Chris, Kiersten, Lindsay, Steve, Rufus and Smash joined me in putting together some delicious Mexican food. Much success!


Twisted Sister Bakery

After working for a rock n' roll agency for the past 4 years that specializes in heavy metal (ROCK!), I had to stop in to Twisted Sister Bakery, when I strolled by it on Saturday afternoon. I walked into a cozy shop, filled with holiday decorations, the smell of vanilla, and most importantly, lots and lots of sweet treats! (and sadly, no Slayer playing on the radio).

And while I am someone who would rather have an extra slice of cheese than a piece of chocolate, the cupcakes looked so good - so perfect - that I just had to try the seasonal Caramel Apple Cupcake. All I can say is YUM. Not too sweet, the cupcake was the perfect fall flavor for a rainy Saturday. (wait, is it winter? whatever).

And to top it all off, I got a call from the bakery today. I had dropped off my business card in an effort to win their weekly "1/2 POUND OF COOKIES" giveaway and I won! Looks like I know what Steve's getting for Christmas now...

Twisted Sister Bakery is located at 1543 N. Wells St in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood.

Some May Say I'm Having a Hard Time Accepting Winter...

That's right - it's our grill, after today's massive snowfall. Shish kabobs anyone?


Lindsay's Morsels

Lindsay Zehra
Age: 27
Occupation: Commercial Real Estate Mogul-in-Training, Perpetual Class Taker and Cabbage Lover
Resides in: East Village, Chicago

1. Favorite band with some sort of food in its name:
The Cranberries

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
I love greenbeans. I love them prepared just about any way, but a good chilled flat bean with olive oil, tomatoes, and garlic is good.

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of ice cream for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Strawberry - no doubt.

4. Favorite food show:
When Animals Attack!

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am drunken feast:
So, I'm in the cab directing him to Addison & Lincoln. Gaging by the speedometer, I can project our ETA at Burrito House. Usually my order takes somewhere between 5-7 minutes, so I pick up my skinny Samsung phone and within seconds I find, on speed dial, the number to the late night joint. I call - they know me - my order is in.

The cab stops. I casually walk into the House and pass by the 20 or so people waiting in line to order. They glare with jealousy. I smirk. "Here's your burrito & guacamole, Lindsay", Juan says. He's my favorite.

It's amazing. I eat most of the guac in the cab on the way home, leaving just about a third as a treat with my burrito. Ahh. bed time.

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
Broccoli [Ed. note - seriously?!]

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
Cousins Turkish restaurant on Broadway. Tell them Lindsay sent ya!

8. How do you take your coffee?
If it's iced coffee then I just want SKIM Milk.
If it's hot coffee, sometimes I like a little cream & sugar.

9. Top 3 condiments:
I love salt.
I love mustard.
I love horseradish.

10. How do you like d'em apples?
As a Granny Smith


Tasty Tasty Starfruit Rap

I'm in NYC this week for work (yes!) but last night, I got an email from Peen with a lyrical ode to one of my favorite new places, Starfruit. Located at 1745 W. Division in Ukie Village/Wicker Park, the colorful and bright shop offers frozen kefir, which is a treat similar to frozen yogurt that apparently has positive effects on your health - from increasing energy to aiding with digestion. The first time I tasted it, I was a bit turned off by the distinct sour-ness of the kefir but now, I'm hooked. I need it on a daily basis. It's a real problem because at about $3.50 a pop, I'm going to be dipping into my truffle fund very soon here. But there's something about ordering a frozen treat in the dead of winter that makes me really feel like I'm showing winter who is boss! Anyway, here's the rap. Enjoy!
yo -
I've got this hankering ...can't you see
It's a fresh little icy delicacy

I dream about it during the day
I dream about it at night

I once was caught sleepwalkin' with this place in sight

I was walkin' east on division and right past Wood
I knew that I was close cuz I was in Lindsay's hood

I looked to my left and I looked to my right
Booo yah bitch, it's Chicago's rip off Tasty Delite

I walk on in and order up my fav
Plain vanilla yogurt with some strawberry

I also add some granola to make myself better
And then I walk out all sad because I spent all my cheddar

I take a little bite and I take a little sniff
and before I even know it my Starfruit's gone in a jiff

It was worth all my money and it was worth all my time
Go get some for Lindsay, Shannon and don't...forget mine!


Smitty's Morsels

Age: 109
Occupation: Bounty Hunter and Super Band Manager
Resides in: Silverlake, Los Angeles

1. Favorite band with some sort of food in its name:
Does Iron & Wine count? [Ed. note - sure!]

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
Swiss chard, sauteed with garlic and onion and served over toasted sourdough bread with an egg over easy! [Ed. note - WHOA]

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of ice cream for the rest of your
life, what would that flavor be?

Moose Tracks

4. Favorite food show:
Top Chef, although the Barefoot Contessa is a close 2nd

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am drunken feast:
Great question. It's Macho Nachos (to share) and a Guaco Loco from San Loco if I'm out in NY, carnitas quesadilla from the taco truck on Alvarado in LA, and frozen veggie dumplings or grilled cheese if I'm cooking for myself. But whatever it is, it just can't be fried chicken (against the rules)!

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
Creamed Spinach.

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
In Los Angeles it's Elf Cafe -- great ambiance, wonderful food, great people -- and it's all veggie! When I lived in Chi, I splurged once or twice on that restaurant MK in the West Loop. Yummy. But for eats on the cheap (and veggie), can't beat the black bean burger at Earwax.

8. How do you take your coffee?
Iced, with soy milk

9. Top 3 condiments:
This is so hard because I love all condiments equally! But by volume consumed, I'd go with:
• Salsa
• Sriracha
• Peanut Sauce

10. How do you like d'em apples?
In a dumpling please!


Beer-Braised Burnt Cabbage with Parmesan

I headed over to Lindsay's house tonight for a little bad-TV watching and decided to bring over a head of cabbage that needed to be cooked soon, (yes, I am the best kind of visitor, I bring cabbage!) and I know Lindsay loves the humble vegetable. In the middle of Ty Pennington, Behind-The-Scenes, our tummies started to growl and we decided to put together some dinner. She worked on the salad - spinach leaves, chopped hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, beets, and crumbled goat cheese. My job was the cabbage. I wasn't sure what to do with it so I heated up some olive oil, chopped it into strips and dumped the veggie into a wide saucepan. I started poking around her fridge to see how I could spice this up and found Parmesan cheese and of course, some beer. Jackpot!

Beer-Braised Burnt Cabbage with Parmesan
Head of green cabbage
White vinegar
Parmesan cheese
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
A bottle of good beer (or Miller High Life if you have champagne tastes)

1. Heat olive oil in a large pan, chop the cabbage head into strips, and drop into the hot oil
2. Stir until coated with oil, add a cup or so of white vinegar, a little water, a few pats of butter and cook for about 15 minutes, until the cabbage is starting to soften. Add a few tablespoons of Parmesan.
3. Pour 3/4 of a bottle of beer into the pan. The cabbage should be almost covered by the beer. Cook until the beer is almost totally evaporated.
4. Turn the heat up and stir often, cooking until some of the cabbage begins to char. Add a few more sprinkles of Parmesan, if you so please, and serve to hungry friends!
A meal fit for bad reality-TV addicts!

Zach the cat ate our leftovers. Wait, there weren't any leftovers, duh!



Please click here for a flash cartoon made by my talented pal Lindsay. It stars my friend Nic & I and our...love child? Just do it, you won't be sorry. Turn on your speakers. Music by Phillip Roebuck. (you'll need to have Flash player installed)


Food and Drink Tattoos

Here's mine...

Know anyone else with food or drink tattoos? A dancing cupcake perhaps? A Greek salad (my next tat) across their bicep? Maybe an hunk of cheese on their shoulder? (If someone's done that, they are my hero) Tell them to send me a pic! And check out the food tattoo Flickr page here


Pizza At Home

My friend Smitty had the opportunity to travel to Jordan and Israel earlier this year. I was so jealous. I'm obsessed with traveling to that part of the world - ever since I spent 4 weeks studying in Morocco in college, and last August, a week in Turkey. But alas, my wanderlust will have to wait until I'm rolling in some more dough. So I lived vicariously through her gorgeous pics and that was just fine. But last week, a little box arrived at my house, from Smitty herself, with some gifts from Jordan! There was a sea salt mixture for bathing (ahhh), handmade artisan olive oil soap and a bag of herbs described as "Thyme Extra". Exactly what the "extra" was, I had no idea. But it was delicious and the perfect accompaniment for something cheesy and gooey....pizza! I worked up a plan - caramelized onions, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, and thyme extra!

I got whole wheat dough from Trader Joe's for 99cents. Such a deal! Being a true pizza artist, I tried to form the dough into the shape of Ohio.

Caramelizing the onions, a little red wine was added at the end to deglaze the pan and add richness.

Seriously yummmm. 100% yumness.


Carbomb's Morsels

Age: 27
Occupation: Writer/Rock Authority
Resides in: Ukrainian Village, Chicago

1. Favorite band with some sort of food in its name:
The Village People did a "punk" song called "Food Fight," on the Renaissance album - there's also a track called "Big Mac" where you can hear them begging for a commercial in 1981. I know that wasn't the answer to the question. Obviously, it would be the Ponys.

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
I eat broccoli for dinner about 3 times a week with just chopped onions and garlic, extra virgin, balsamic vinaigrette and s&p. But nothing beats corn on the cob in the summer.

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of ice cream for the rest of your
life, what would that flavor be?


4. Favorite food show:
Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am drunken feast:
When the Patriots lost the Super Bowl, I was in NYC and very sad. So I drank a lot at some speakeasy that you had to ring a doorbell to get into with some other NE buddies. Which lead to downing scores of oysters at Blue Ribbon Brasserie. There are only a few things I miss about NYC, but being able to eat amazing oysters and drink delicious wine at 3am with a bunch of chefs who've just gotten off their shift is pretty much the tits of 2am gorging...

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
Another cut of steak. Or bernaise.

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
In terms of shear repeats, I probably go to Handlebar once a week and love it. Or Udupi Palace - the best vegetarian Indian food in the city.

8. How do you take your coffee?
Iced and black

9. Top 3 condiments:
French mustard, Vinaigrette dressing, cheese

10. How do you like d'em apples?
With a phone number from a hot British girl, obvs.

North Carolina On My Mind

I took my first trip to the mountain town of Hendersonville, NC on Wednesday for a Southern Thanksgiving. I guess I didn't realize that North Carolina was so southern, and being a Texas girl myself, it was nice to be back in the land of y'all and thanks darlin'. Besides the vernacular, the food was hearty and plentiful.

Pickled eggs, en mass. I was curious, but not curious enough to buy any. Next time, North Carolina...next time.

A trip to Waffle House! When growing up in McKinney, at our local Waffle House, the "USE" was always busted out of the "HOUSE" part of the sign, so the sign usually said "WAFFLE HO". Ah the memories. If you're wondering, I had my hash browns smothered, covered, diced, and capped.

Uncle Dave checks the gas on the deep fryer. About 30 minutes later, an entire turkey went into this sucker. For the most part, I stayed away from it, as I had visions of a massive turkey explosion in my head.

When traveling in the U.S., gas stations are the best place to find local flava. Oh yea, I said it! Check out these Deep Fried Peanuts. While they were pretty gross, I think if they had been freshly fried, this could have been a nice snack.

In honor of the day of food, we played a great new game called Foodie Fight. It's like Trivial Pursuit, but created by someone who was really hungry. While we quit early (when dessert was served) I could tell I was on my way to a win!

If this doesn't say family time, I don't know what does. John makes the creepy excited face over a tin of stuffing. (finger appearance courtesy of John's brother, Will)

Chedda' & chive mashed potatoes. Ingredients = yukon golds, butter, cream, butter, cheddar cheese, chives, butter and cream.

The evening of Thanksgiving, we rolled ourselves over to Steve's aunt's house and had a bonafide bonfire. We even told ghost stories. For some reason, a lot of them revolved around Cincinnati. Who knew Cincy was so scary?

On our flight back, we took a wee little plane and here I am, nervously smiling. It was like being in a flying mini van!


For The Love of a Turkey

So I just adopted a turkey. Well, not really. It's not like the lil Gobbler is coming to live with me and my other farm animals. I just "sponsored" one, so that instead of ending up on Grandma's table, it lives out its life on a California farm. I mean, who can resist a face like this, right?

Here's what Farm Sanctuary has to say about their program:

For a one-time $25 adoption fee, you will receive:
•A special Adopt-A-Turkey certificate with color photo of and fun details about your new friend
•A Farm Sanctuary membership for one year,
•A one-year subscription to Sanctuary, our quarterly newsletter.

Find out more HERE! Gobble! And Happy Thanksgiving!


Chicago's Caterers: An Interview with Fig

Chicago's own Justin Hall and Molly Schemper run Fig Catering out of a commercial kitchen in the Pilsen neighborhood, and focus on small event catering services for groups from 2-100. Here, I speak with Molly about the business they founded based on 3 little words - "For Intimate Gatherings. (FIG, duh!)

CV: When did you decide you wanted to work in food?

I don't know if I made a conscious decision to get into the foodservice business. I grew up in a restaurant (that was owned by my parents and uncle) and worked in restaurants/catering in high school/college. I went on to get my degree in advertising and worked at a branding agency for 4 years. I left that position to take a job on a private yacht as a crewmember/personal chef; I didn't necessarily know it would be a full time move into the food business until I started FIG.

CV: How did you meet your partner, Justin?

Justin and I met while working together at Poag Mahone's, a bar and grill in the Loop. He was working in the kitchen and I in the front of house.

CV: What is Fig's "food" philosophy, or to use a Top Chef buzz word, point-of-view?

I think our culinary point of view is that food should satisfy and bring people together. Our food is not overly fussy or dependant on intricate techniques or ingredients. It is good food, done well.

CV: What are you favorite restaurants in Chicago?

My favorite is Topolobampo or Frontera Grill. I love Rick Bayless' exuberance and passion for food.

CV: What is challenging about running a catering company in Chicago?

I don't know if Chicago contributes to the challenges of running a catering business, but the hours and low salary make it most difficult.

CV: What are you goals/plans for '09 for Fig?

The goals for FIG in 09 are to continue to grow (obviously) and to hone our focus. We removed prepared meals from our repertoire and will be focusing on dinner parties/intimate events.

CV: What is your favorite part about running a catering company?

Participating in other peoples' special events and helping them to enjoy those events a little more.

CV: What are some of Fig's specialty dishes or items?

I always struggle when people ask what our "signature" dishes are because our menus are always changing and evolving. As the pastry chef, currently I've been excited about making caramels, candy and chocolates.

CV: I know you're located in Pilsen, a neighborhood known for great Mexican food. Why did you choose Pilsen and how has it affected your business?

We actually chose to live in Pilsen before we chose it as our place of business. Once we realized what a great neighborhood it was, both for diversity and food & location, we found the perfect spot to open our kitchen. Because we don't have walk-in traffic some of the most important factors were low rent and accessibility to expressways.

CV: What tips would you give someone who is interested in working in catering or started a food business?

Start off slow and grow into it. Make sure you have experience in both the kitchen and business sides of the operation (or, at least, get really good advice and guidance)!

For more information about Fig or to hire them for your next special event, click here. And read Molly and Justin's blog, all about their life running the business HERE!


Peen's Morsels

Welcome to the first week of CV's new mid-week feature, Morsels. Say it 5 times fast and it starts to sound funny. Morsels will contain bits of food wisdom and interviews with some of my favorite people. Enjoy these little bites!

Age: 27
Occupation: Barber
Resides in: Ukrainian Village, Chicago

1. Favorite band with some sort of food in its name:
Blind Melon

2. Give us your favorite vegetable and how you like it prepared:
Chayote (it's Mexi) in stewed soup. (Ed. note - Chayote is a type of Mexican squash)

3. If you could only eat 1 flavor of ice cream for the rest of your
life, what would that flavor be?

I love Pistachio but...really Jamoca Almond Fudge makes my dreams come true. I like the nuts!

4. Favorite food show:
This is a tough one. It's a tie between Mexico, One Plate at a Time with my man, Mexican wannabe Rick Bayless and Check, Please! Alpana Singh is muy sexy.

5. Please describe your ideal 2 am drunken feast:
First of all I get in at 4 am. 2 carne asada tacos, with onions and cilantro, 1 vegetarian taco from Allendes on Lincoln and a baked apple pancake from Clarke's. I'd be slurping on some Tamarind Juice and a Budweiser.

6. Favorite steak-house side dish:
A nice Shiraz. Oh...u mean food - - sauteed spinach with garlic and mushrooms from Gibson's.

7. If you live in Chicago, give us your favorite restaurant here in
Chi-town. If not, share with us the number one spot in your city
It used to be Demon Dogs but now it's Ignotz....hidden Italian gem in Pilsen. That's right, Italian in Pilsen

8. How do you take your coffee?
Black but on the weekends a hint of cream and sugar

9. Top 3 condiments:
Limes, Cholula hot sauce, and brown mustard from Gray's Papaya

10. How do you like d'em apples?
Huh??? In a warmed strudel atop honey yogurt (earwax cafe yo)


Dobrou chut! (Czech for "Hope it Tastes Good!")

Steve and his family recently took a trip to Prague. I made him promise to get some good food pics, as I was curious what people in Prague ate.

Salmon in dill sauce

Baked potato with finely chopped raw garlic and cottage cheese. A favorite of Steve's

Vegetarian sausages(!) with mustard. Apparently these were not very good, although with my love for fake meat, I'm pretty sure I would have liked them.

Young lamb steaks with Bilberries. Bilberries are similar to blueberries and in fact, often referred to as European Blueberries. Some people believe they improve vision, especially night vision

The mystery dish - Steve can't remember what this was. I'm thinking some sort of potato.

A ham roll. Yes, ham roll. While a roll of ham sounds unappetizing to me, the artfulness of this plate is impressive.

Carrot and apple salad

A salad of tomatoes, lettuce and lots of raw garlic. I think their use of the pungent bulb should be saluted!


Soup + Bread = Winter Soul Food

Carbomb is back with some more kitchen adventures! This week, creamy tater soup and home made bread. Wow!

Jeff and I went to the Trader Joe's as we do every other week or so to stock up on the essentials and they had packages of trimmed leeks, which I had never seen before. Leeks are delicious but kind of unwieldy and a pain in the ass to clean so this seemed like the perfect time to pick up some pre-cleaned leeks and make a potato leek soup.

I'd been sitting on a recipe from a fantastic chick named Abbey. Jeff and I went to Detroit for Columbus Day weekend (one of my top 10 favorite holidays) and one late night after many beers, Abbey wrote down her recipe for bread. It's a basic but key recipe and she threw a whole bunch of herbs she had recently harvested from her garden and it was super savory. So I figured, cold, icky Chicago night, a missed episode of Lost and some 30 Rocks to watch, let's get cooking.

1. Combine 1 packet of yeast, 1 cup of bread/all-purpose flour, 1 coup of whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon of applesauce (I used some homemade apple butter I made after an apple picking extravaganza), 2 teaspoons honey and 2 teaspoons salt in a bowl.
2. Mix in 3 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 cup of hot water and work into a nice ball.
3. If you want to go the herb route, before you mix the wet and dry bunches together, get some basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, dill - whatever you like, chop roughly and throw in a food processor just until the greens are broken into tiny pieces. Then just work the herbs into the the dough.
4. Leave the dough alone for 40 minutes to rise.
5. Open a bottle of wine and watch Lost.


6. After 40 minutes punch down the bread, lop it into an oiled 9x5 bread pan and let it rise for 30 more minutes.
7. Perhaps play some parcheesi or bones and pre-heat your oven to 450.
8. After that lump is all full of air, bake for 10 minutes at 450 and then lower the heat to 350 for another 30 minutes.

1. Into a large pot put 6 potatoes (peeled and cut into large pieces), 4 of the leeks (if Trader Joe's hasn't cleaned them for you, soak in salt water to remove grit) halved, 3 stalks of celery you've chopped up, 1 medium quartered onion, a bay leaf and 2 quarts of veggie stock.

2. Get that cooking and let it boil until the potatoes are soft.
3. Chop up 4 more leeks and mix 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted butter together to make a roux.
4. After the potatoes are soft, toss in the rest of the leeks, the roux, 1 cup of milk/half n half/cream, a handful of thyme and whatever other herbs you have lying around from the bread and salt and pepper.
5. Let that work for a while to let the new leeks soften a bit. When things look creamy and good, take the pot off the heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes. If your blender is as crappy as mine, it will take approximately that long to get the thing up and running.
6. After the soup has cooled a bit, blend that mix together until smooth, I had to do mine in batches. After it's all creamy, throw the bay leaf back in and put it back on the heat for 20 minutes.
7. At the end, I added some Parmesan cheese to give it a bit of a kick, some chopped chives and pepper.

It was delicious and there are plenty of leftovers, which we like for nights we don't have 2 hours to cook. If you do not like leftovers, just cut the soup recipe in half. But who doesn't like leftovers?

Bread dough looks a lot like brains. muh hahahahaha

Fresh Herb Bread


Hot Toddys, For The Dogs

On Sunday, freezing cold Sunday, Peen, Steve and I decided to take Rufus to the dog park for some exercise. He looooves the dog park. Sometimes it takes 30-45 minutes to catch him when it's time to head back home. He never wants to leave. So we decided to come prepared and make up a batch of hot toddys to take with us, to keep us nice and toasty while running after the dog.

Apparently, the term hot toddy, which refers to any sort of whiskey or strong spirit, served warm, usually with lemon and sugar, originated in the 18th century and was created to make the taste of a strong scotch more appealing to the women folk. All I can say is it worked!

Here's my hot toddy recipe. I recommend taking a jug of it to the dog park and laughing away the Sunday blues.

Shannon's Hot Toddy
Jack Daniels or Jim Beam
2 lemons
Black Tea

Mix equal parts whiskey and hot black tea
Add the juice of 2 lemons, a few tablespoons of honey to taste, and a pinch or two of cinnamon. Serve warm and keep away from the dogs!

A tired pup, post dog park


A Rappin' Good Time

The rapper is back! Please welcome Peen back for this ode to her Mexican vacation. If we could all be so lucky!

I'm bustin' out this rap as you can plainly see
about a little trip I took with homegirl Pixel and her hubby "Gadget D"

We went down south...for about a week or so
To the tropical paradise ...my hometown...that's Mexico

It was a rainy rainy start and we had nothing left to do
but to stock up on the Mezcal, Tequila, and domestic Sol brew

We went to the Mexican Walmart ..cuz that's where the playas shop
bought some eggs, some bread, some liquor, and a crazy tamarind lollipop

We would drink all day and wait for the sun to come out
and when it did...drinks up at the pool bar THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' BOUT

There was a mad list of drinks we could order by the water
Pixel says "Gimme one Banana Monkey and two ice cold cheladas. 3 shots of Sauza" Do I want limes? "Homie don't even bother!"

After drinkin' all our drinks and sippin' on the shot
we had to order lunch and this is what we got

Tacos....breaded shrimp the most delectable kind
Smothered in creamed cilantro, orange juice and lime

Garnished with cold tomatoes and shredded lettuce that was so fresh
Deaner D ate 'em up so fast his new trunks were made a mess

After eating our feast and feelin' all right
We would proceed back to the quarters to get more drinks in our system for the night

Mexico o' Mexico how I miss your mojitos and your shrimp taquitos
I love your cenotes, your music, and your beautiful speedos.