‘Mac It Up

Macaroni shouldn’t always be associated with cheese. In fact, in our house, it’s given fair treatment as other pastas we cook with. Tonight, I made my meaty macaroni that’s chock full of vegetables, italian sausage, ground beef and parmesan cheese. In fact, I used my previously made bolognese sauce (which I made & froze) and added some additional vegetables (green pepper, mushrooms, chopped basil & 1 plum tomato) to help “wake it up.”
Here’s my recipe for Meaty Macaroni, where my bolognese sauce takes center stage:

1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup baby carrots, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 large tomato
1 can diced tomato
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 lb ground beef
1 lb italian sausage, casings removed
spices: garlic/onion powder, salt, pepper, italian seasoning, oregano, sugar

In a pan, saute garlic and onion.
Add & brown the beef & sausage.
Add browned meats to crockpot.
Add remaining ingredients to crockpot.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
Adjust seasonings to your taste.
Use sauce in lasagnas or your fave pasta dish. Tonight I tossed it with cooked macaroni and added grated parmesan cheese for a filling meal.
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‘Mac It Up

Macaroni shouldn’t always be associated with cheese. In fact, in our house, it’s given fair treatment as other pastas we cook with. Tonight, I made my meaty macaroni that’s chock full of vegetables, italian sausage, ground beef and parmesan cheese. In fact, I used my previously made bolognese sauce (which I made & froze) and added some additional vegetables (green pepper, mushrooms, chopped basil & 1 plum tomato) to help “wake it up.”
Here’s my recipe for Meaty Macaroni, where my bolognese sauce takes center stage:

1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup baby carrots, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 large tomato
1 can diced tomato
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 lb ground beef
1 lb italian sausage, casings removed
spices: garlic/onion powder, salt, pepper, italian seasoning, oregano, sugar

In a pan, saute garlic and onion.
Add & brown the beef & sausage.
Add browned meats to crockpot.
Add remaining ingredients to crockpot.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
Adjust seasonings to your taste.
Use sauce in lasagnas or your fave pasta dish. Tonight I tossed it with cooked macaroni and added grated parmesan cheese for a filling meal.

Soggy, Wet & Drunk

After getting caught in a downpour this afternoon in the Argyle neighborhood of Chicago. Over some sweet and creamy mango ice cream bars, we sat in our car contemplating our dinner options. Rather than hitting up the numerous Thai and Vietnamese restaurants surrounding us, we headed home after being inspired to cook up some Thai food. With some veggies yearning to be used in my kitchen, I went to work and made Pad Kee Mao, also known as “Drunken Noodles.”
Drunken noodles (or Pad Kee Mao, ผัดขี้เมา) is a Thai noodle dish similar to Pad See Ew, but with more flavor. It is made with broad rice noodles, soy sauce, garlic, and usually meat, sometimes bean sprouts, and various seasonings. Chili and thai basil adds to its well known spiciness.

We thought we had enough heat to deal with, so I made Pad Kee Mao without chili tonight. No one knows where the name of this dish comes from. Some believe it is called drunken noodles because it’s an excellent hangover cure. Others believe that it is so hot that the eater has to be drunk to be able to stand it, while some are sure that it’s because one becomes drunk trying to drown out the heat with alcohol. Still others believe that the name comes from the wide assortment of ingredients the dish contains: The chef is drunk enough to throw in a bunch of vegetables and spices without thinking it over. The most probable explanation is that this is one of the only foods available on the streets of Thailand late at night and in the very early morning, the times when drunken partyers are looking for something to eat. It is very possible that the extremely “wobbly” noodles themselves give the dish its name.

Here is my recipe for Pad Kee Mao, but you’re welcome to use various other vegetables you have on hand:

1 pkg flat rice noodles in “shards” or sticks
water to cook noodles
thai basil leaves – whole or chiffonade
assorted veggies such as:
sliced fresh mushrooms
sliced green & yellow bell pepper
2 plum tomatoes, wedged
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, sliced
2 eggs scrambled
1 large chicken breast (or your choice of meat)
cooking oil

Sauce (combine the following in a bowl):
1/2 cup oyster sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice

In a pot, boil water and cook noodles until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
Drain noodles and set aside.
Prep veggies for stir frying.
In a large wok or skillet, heat oil to cover pan.
Add garlic and onions until it sweats.
Add peppers and mushrooms; cook until softened.
Add tomatoes and cook until softened.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Add oil if needed and fry up scrambled eggs.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Add oil if needed and stir fry chicken.
Season with salt & pepper if you’d like.
Combine all ingredients in pan and add sauce.
Toss until thoroughly coated with sauce.
Garnish with whole or chiffonade basil.
Serve hot.

Soggy, Wet & Drunk

After getting caught in a downpour this afternoon in the Argyle neighborhood of Chicago. Over some sweet and creamy mango ice cream bars, we sat in our car contemplating our dinner options. Rather than hitting up the numerous Thai and Vietnamese restaurants surrounding us, we headed home after being inspired to cook up some Thai food. With some veggies yearning to be used in my kitchen, I went to work and made Pad Kee Mao, also known as “Drunken Noodles.”
Drunken noodles (or Pad Kee Mao, ผัดขี้เมา) is a Thai noodle dish similar to Pad See Ew, but with more flavor. It is made with broad rice noodles, soy sauce, garlic, and usually meat, sometimes bean sprouts, and various seasonings. Chili and thai basil adds to its well known spiciness.

We thought we had enough heat to deal with, so I made Pad Kee Mao without chili tonight. No one knows where the name of this dish comes from. Some believe it is called drunken noodles because it’s an excellent hangover cure. Others believe that it is so hot that the eater has to be drunk to be able to stand it, while some are sure that it’s because one becomes drunk trying to drown out the heat with alcohol. Still others believe that the name comes from the wide assortment of ingredients the dish contains: The chef is drunk enough to throw in a bunch of vegetables and spices without thinking it over. The most probable explanation is that this is one of the only foods available on the streets of Thailand late at night and in the very early morning, the times when drunken partyers are looking for something to eat. It is very possible that the extremely “wobbly” noodles themselves give the dish its name.

Here is my recipe for Pad Kee Mao, but you’re welcome to use various other vegetables you have on hand:

1 pkg flat rice noodles in “shards” or sticks
water to cook noodles
thai basil leaves – whole or chiffonade
assorted veggies such as:
sliced fresh mushrooms
sliced green & yellow bell pepper
2 plum tomatoes, wedged
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, sliced
2 eggs scrambled
1 large chicken breast (or your choice of meat)
cooking oil

Sauce (combine the following in a bowl):
1/2 cup oyster sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice

In a pot, boil water and cook noodles until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
Drain noodles and set aside.
Prep veggies for stir frying.
In a large wok or skillet, heat oil to cover pan.
Add garlic and onions until it sweats.
Add peppers and mushrooms; cook until softened.
Add tomatoes and cook until softened.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Add oil if needed and fry up scrambled eggs.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Add oil if needed and stir fry chicken.
Season with salt & pepper if you’d like.
Combine all ingredients in pan and add sauce.
Toss until thoroughly coated with sauce.
Garnish with whole or chiffonade basil.
Serve hot.

Ravioli Raves!

It was a lazy day off for me today and to keep up with the spirit, we had homemade ravioli that was sleeping snugly in my freezer. I’ve found making homemade ravioli was a great way to use up leftover meats & veggies and the ravioli we had tonight was no exception.

Tonight, our ravioli was filled with grilled steak, caramelized onion and blue cheese. To finish the meal, I made a rosemary balsamic cream sauce garnished with sliced green onion.Here is my recipe for the rosemary balsamic cream sauce. You can use this over chicken, pork, steak or even your favorite pasta for something different and flavorful.

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-2 springs rosemary
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
pinch of kosher salt
few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

– Combine all ingredients except cream & butter in a medium saucepan.
– Bring mixture to a low boil and reduce heat to low.
– Allow mixture to reduce by letting it boil on low for 25-30 minutes.
– Mixture should thicken enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
– Allow the mixture to cool, as it will thicken even more.
– In a saucepan, pour reduced sauce through a sieve to remove big spices.
– Allow sauce to boil and add cream.
– Stir & take off heat.
– Slowly stir in butter.
– Pour sauce over meat as a finishing sauce or over pasta.

*The sauce is best made in advance for the flavors of garlic and rosemary to infuse the sauce.

Ravioli Raves!

It was a lazy day off for me today and to keep up with the spirit, we had homemade ravioli that was sleeping snugly in my freezer. I’ve found making homemade ravioli was a great way to use up leftover meats & veggies and the ravioli we had tonight was no exception.

Tonight, our ravioli was filled with grilled steak, caramelized onion and blue cheese. To finish the meal, I made a rosemary balsamic cream sauce garnished with sliced green onion.Here is my recipe for the rosemary balsamic cream sauce. You can use this over chicken, pork, steak or even your favorite pasta for something different and flavorful.

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-2 springs rosemary
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
pinch of kosher salt
few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

– Combine all ingredients except cream & butter in a medium saucepan.
– Bring mixture to a low boil and reduce heat to low.
– Allow mixture to reduce by letting it boil on low for 25-30 minutes.
– Mixture should thicken enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
– Allow the mixture to cool, as it will thicken even more.
– In a saucepan, pour reduced sauce through a sieve to remove big spices.
– Allow sauce to boil and add cream.
– Stir & take off heat.
– Slowly stir in butter.
– Pour sauce over meat as a finishing sauce or over pasta.

*The sauce is best made in advance for the flavors of garlic and rosemary to infuse the sauce.

Devon-A-Thon!

Today, a local Chicago food community hosted an outing focused on Indian & Pakistani food & culture. We did a small walking tour of our own along Devon Avenue, hence the term “Devon-A-Thon!”

Here in Chicago, Devon Avenue is synonymous with the South Asian community. Devon Avenue is a street that is rich in culture and caters to people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Croatia, and many others. Sections of Devon Avenue have been given secondary names in honor of the people that inhabit the respective areas. Devon Avenue also goes by the names of Gandhi Marg, Mohammed Ali Jinnah Way, and Golda Meier Blvd. Here are some places that we visited along with a few pictures of interesting (and delicious!) food finds:
Patel Brothers Grocery Store
2542 W. Devon

Patel Brothers is a well known grocery store on Devon. It has amazing stock of spices, unique flavored ice creams, many frozen indian & pakistani foods as well as quite a few ethnic ingredients I’m anxious to learn more about. I plan on visiting there soon after more research on the cuisine, ingredients and culture, and perhaps trying my hand at more authentic recipes.

Sabri Nihari Restaurant
2511 W. Devon

Sabri Nihari is a wonderful Pakistani restaurant. The food was so good, I’m thrilled that I live near by to stop in more often. Here are some of the things we ordered with some unpictured – it was too good I forgot to pull out the camera!:

Vegetable Samosas
Handmade flaky golden pastry, stuffed with potatoes &
special mixed vegetables which were deep fried.
Onion Kulcha
A variation of a naan bread that has minced onion & spices.

Chicken Charga
An outstanding dishes of Punjab, Pakistan
deep fried whole chicken marinated with secret spices.
Frontier Chicken
Boneless pieces of tender chicken cooked on low flame grill
with tomato, onion, green pepper, ginger, garlic, cilantro & organic herbs.

Vegetable Pakora
Lightly battered vegetables, fried to a golden finish.

Sabri Nihari

Tender beef which has been cooked with a flavorful & rich gravy

Kahari Gosht
Tender goat that is cooked with ginger, garlic,
tomato and chili powder in a traditional pot.

King Sweets
2308 W. Devon
For dessert, we hit up King Sweets, which is a very interesting sweet shop filled with various Pakistani sweets. I wasn’t familiar with many of their offerings but the folks there were kind enough to allow me to sample quite a few to determine which I liked. They were all good but here’s the sweet stuff I got to enjoy to myself along with pictures of all their goodies!
Carrot Halwa
… tastes like a dense carrot cake
Jalebi
… made from deep-fried, syrup-soaked batter & shaped into a large,
chaotic pretzel shape. It can be served dripping warm or cold.
It has a somewhat chewy texture with a crystallized sugary crunch.
Galub Jamun
…a popular Indian/ Pakistani sweet dish comprised of fried dough
(made of condensed milk solid and very little flour)
in a sugar syrup flavoured with cardamom seeds and rosewater or saffron.
I got one that was filled with an almond paste… yum!
Kalakand
…a concoction of cheese curds, pistachios, sugar, butter, and cardamom
Ajamari Kalakand
…made of nuts, pure Ghee and milk

While on our leisurely walk, there happened to be a Hari Krishna parade! I love how Chicago is so culturally rich and this definitely added some color and fun to our walking tour!

After the parade, we hit up a Cuban grocer & restaurant. Shortly after I headed home since it was within walking distance. I’ll save the Cuban grocer/restaurant for another time dedicated to cuban cuisine.