Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My cookies were gobbled up!

My turkey cookies were a hit this Thanksgiving! I definately need some more practice in the kitchen though. At my current pace (3 dozen cookies baked and iced in... 4 hours!) I will never be a force to be reckoned with in the cookie world. Must. Learn. To. Decorate. Faster.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Soup's On

I bought this soup at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights, IL. It had been setting in my cupboard for awhile now. Even though it sounded tasty, I'll admit, I was apprehensive. I found nothing else to inspire me food-wise last night, so this soup got its chance.

My initial impression? Salty! But mmm... tasty. Very tasty. Very, very tasty. I would have eaten it all, but at 44% RDA of sodium per serving, I controlled myself. This soup was like gourmet ramen.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This little piggy had acorns...

The most delicious meat in the world is pata negra (or black hoof in Spanish and Portuguese) from the Black Iberian pig. Pata negra is a type of jamón ibérico de bellota, ham from free-range pigs that roam oak forests along the border between Spain and Portugal, and eat only acorns (thanks wikipedia!).

Jake and I tried pata negra while visiting the Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park, IL. Wondering how much this fine ham will set you back? We found it for $160.00 per pound. Our 6 or so thin slices rang in at $10.00. It's very worth it though if you're a foodie-type and enjoy prosciutto.

Pata negra is the best prosciutto you can imagine. It's texture is very similar, but it is so much more deliciously oily. The thin slices exude a rich oil as a result of the acorn diet. Definitely something to try if you have the chance!

[Image from su-lin]

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Can't Decide What To Eat?

I just saw a commercial on tv for the Nintendo DS game The Cooking Guide: Can't Decide What To Eat. Are enough people willing to go consult their game console when they feel indecisive about their next meal? The concept is cool, but I can't imagine the people that would actually use this even have a DS to begin with.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An apple a day...

On October 4, Jake and I traveled up to Oriole Springs Orchard with Joe and Melissa to pick some apples and pumpkins. Tasting an apple straight from the tree is so much better than an apple bought in a grocery store. There's a certain crispness... juiciness.. and satisfaction that the fruit came straight from the source. Although we were too late for Honey Crisp (a great apple we found - but also missed last year at the orchard), we picked a bushel and a half of other tasty varieties. 

Afterward we drove down the road to the cider house where we tried these fresh donuts. They were so good! We sampled an apple cider shake and were just in time to get an unexpected taste of homemade apple wine made by the orchard owners. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

And the beet goes on...

Fresh beets! These beauties were my first attempt at roasting beets. I washed them, trimmed the greens and any long roots, and placed them in some tin foil on a baking sheet. I sprinkled them with some kosher salt and covered them with another piece of foil, making a pocket. They cooked at 350-400 for about 45-50 minutes - I don't recall - just until they were tender. After they cool the skins slip right off, and you have delicious beets! 

Next time I think I'd have kitchen gloves or something when peeling them. My fingers were an interesting brownish-red color for a a day or two. 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Snap, crackle, marble pop!

Ramune is a brand of pop from Japan. It's sold in Codd-neck bottles and sealed with a marble that is held in place by pressure from carbon dioxide. To open it, you push the marble into the drink, where it rattles as you drink, or you catch it on two little nodes to prevent the rattling. Very cool. I have yet to try it, but I saw an ad for it in World Market and found it really interesting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Night

What were you doing when the historic announcement was made that Barack Obama will be our new President? I was in the kitchen, making Obama cookies.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tasty treats

Happy Halloween! Jake and I celebrated last night by making a bunch of donuts with his family. In total we made four different kinds: pumpkin, apple, vanilla, and chocolate. Yum! Of course Jake spruced up the frostings... the white is white chocolate with chambord and the other is chocolate cognac icing. What a tasty treat.

About 5 years ago I decided to start a tradition of making creepy finger cookies for Halloween. This year they continued to impress. Here's a picture of my handiwork from one of the first few years of making them...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Malt O' Momma Milk

Ben and Jerry's makes a wicked Cherry Garcia ice cream. I'd say it's probably my favorite in their line-up, despite the fact I haven't ventured to try that many others. It's that good.

What ISN'T good is
this. I hope I'll never see "Malt O' Momma Milk" hit store shelves.

Think you have the knack for delicous ice cream combos? Make your own!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bakin' with Bacon

From the good home-cookin' Bacon and Eggs to the fast food industry (the Bacon-ator!) to the finer Bacon-wrapped scallops - Bacon is everywhere. And now it's in my bread.
I found this Bacon Onion Bread in the bakery at my grocery store and figured it deserved a chance. Can bacon be bad? I wouldn't say it was the best thing ever, but definitely not bad. Just... different. It's not everyday I eat bread with bits of bacon in it. And that's probably a good thing.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I heart cake!

You know what's really great? When your boyfriend comes over after work and brings you a big slice of red velvet cake. Mmmm mmm!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Teriyaki Salmon

This past Saturday was Jake's night off so we went to Whole Foods for a treat. The result? A delicious homemade meal! Teriyaki Salmon, fresh cooked spinach, and penne/farfalle and prosciutto with an heirloom tomato salsa. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Congratulations on your weeding

Cake Wrecks is a great blog for two reasons. 

1. I love cake. check. I really love cake. 
2. The mistakes are funny, the misjudgments amusing. 
[Image from Cake Wrecks]

Monday, September 8, 2008

The All-Thyme Wurst Robber

Apparently a robber entered some Fresno, California, farmworkers' home, stole some money, rubbed spices on one guy in his sleep, then proceeded to hit the other guy with an 8" sausage before fleeing. Yes, this was an actual event.

In light of the sausage weapon, here's a pic from our very own sausage making event last year. Of course, Jake was at the reigns of this project, but his sister and I were very good sous chefs.

[Image from April 3, 2007]

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


C routons are
R eally quite the
nly food that
U sually taste great and
T ake the place
f chips when I

eed a
S easoned snack.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Food Pairings

I've spent many hours considering interesting flavor combinations, so I was really excited when I stumbled upon the Food Pairings website. Click here for a brief history of food pairing and how to use the Food Pairing charts. Basically the flavors that make up the complete food item are broken down and then matched with foods that share similar flavor components.

Select an ingredient
(banana shown) then read the chart to see what foods share a flavor component with your selection. The foods are grouped by category and the closer it is to the center ingredient the stronger the similarity.
[Images from foodpairing.be]

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tacos, anyone?

Growing up we always knew if Mom went grocery shopping, we could expect frozen pizza or tacos for dinner that night. Looking back, it's sort of sweet just how predictable Mom's grocery shopping trips were.

Last week I found this picture that a friend drew for me a few years ago. Every time I see it I can't help but laugh. This is my college friend "Bonfig" and me playing Bocce Ball. The Sun has the right idea (and yes, I loved using the word uber)!

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'd love to live in a Carl Warner world...

Who wouldn't want to live on the edge of the great Prosciutto River? This is just one of many amazing "fotographics" by London-based photographer Carl Warner.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fish and Fennel

I felt the urge to make myself something healthy for dinner, so I cooked a salmon steak with a touch of lemon. In the background is my side of sauteed onion, apple, and fennel (with garlic, parsley, and a squeeze of lemon juice - quickly becoming my fave side dish - jake tipped me off to it), rosemary portabellas, and herbed goat cheese on crustinis. Not too shabby for a quick meal. It's amazing how much better good food makes you feel. Half of the salmon steak was enough for a meal, so hurray for leftovers!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Supreme supreme

Supreme - (su-PREMM) v. to remove the skin, pith, membranes, and seeds of a citrus fruit and separate its wedges. Also as noun, a wedge of citrus fruit.

After watching Jake concoct so many salads with orange supremes, I decided to try my hand at it. I did fairly well I think! I mixed these with some roasted beets, and apples for a fresh little taste treat.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Camping coulis

Most people would associate hot dogs, brats, and potato chips with camping food. While at the cabin up in Wisconsin this past weekend, I helped Jake make this meal of noodles with gremolata (parsley, garlic, and grated lemon peel) and pork chops from a local farm, served with a mango coulee and balsalmic reduction.

After dinner snack was Beet Carpaccio with orange supremes, goat cheese, and balsalmic reduction.

Dessert was homemade bread pudding with fresh peaches and a butter topping.

Yes, this is considered just another everyday meal. Aren't I lucky?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Indian Garden

247 E. Ontario Street, 2nd Floor

Chicago IL 60611

Friday marked my first taste of Indian food. I'll admit I was a bit apprehensive, but one our interns at work is from India and she was a great help in explaining her native cuisine. She suggested I would really like Murg Makhani (Chicken pieces roasted in a clay oven & then folded into a creamy tomato sauce). In one word - delicious! I loved it! It wasn't spicy, but had just enough 'pep'. I also tried some of her rice dish, also great. I'm sure our carry-out food was toned down from her usual meals, as she said her family's food is generally much hotter. Regardless, it was fun to try a new cuisine!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The garbage on Food Network

Literally. I mentioned Rachel Ray's "Garbage Bowl" in a previous post, but I didn't know it was actually sold at stores! I was passing through the kitchen/cookware aisles at Kohls last week and caught glimpse of a goofy looking bowl. Since it was orange, I had the fleeting thought that it'd be funny if it was a Rachel Ray garbage bowl. Not actually seeing the garbage bowl before on her show, I was amazed to see that it WAS the Garbage Bowl. What?! Pay $20 for a garbage bowl? What sense does that make? I understand paying for a garbage can - people don't have 13 gallon buckets setting around in their cupboards... but bowls? Wow.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

Salmonella is no laughing matter. However... I can't help but find a tiny bit of humor in the warnings about the tainted tomatoes. Does anyone remember the cartoon "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!"? There was a movie as well, but I believe the cartoon was around in 1990 or so. Classic.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Wedding Shower to Devour!

Congratulations to the "Bride and Groom"-to-be!

Jake jumped at the opportunity to cater the wedding shower for his brother and future sister-in-law. After much planning - including numerous conversations revolving around millions of food ideas - the food turned out amazing. It was great that Jake recruited some top-notch Sous Chefs to aid in the kitchen that weekend, and during the shower (yes - this is a nod to Sous Chef K and myself).

Guests were dazzled with an impressive spread - all homemade and from Jake's heart:

Olive Medley in olive oil, lemon peel, fennel, and garlic
- gaeta, kalamata, picholines, niCoises, arbequinas, moroccan oil cured, and green olives.

Cheese Platters, Fruit Platter, Vegetable Platter

Hors d'Oeuvre Trio

- Pepper-crusted filet with chive flower butter

- Whiskey-glazed ham, mustard butter, sour pickle

- Cucumber and curry butter

Faux Sushi Due

- Amaretto fig gelee, marscapone in risotto with prociutto wrapper
- Asparagus, portobello, and goat cheese in truffled risotto

Mesculn Basket - baby salad greens in homemade bread bowl
- served with bleu cheese crumbles and candied almonds

California Chicken Salad sandwiches

Pulled Carnitas sandwiches
slow roasted chili-rubbed pork shoulder cook with oranges
- served with cilantro pesto and pineapple salsa on mini hawaiian roll

Cucumber Mint Shrimp

Goat Cheese Crustini

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The latest in Fast Food

White Castle: As I was driving by a White Castle I noticed their sign about new Flavored Chicken Rings. This seems very unnatural and a little bit disturbing.

McDonald's: Ronald has added chicken to his menu. While I find the Southwestern Chicken Sandwich to sound quite boring, I've heard from a few people that it is actually pretty good. I don't understand why a person wouldn't just buy the Value Menu Chicken Sandwich? I think the Southwestern only has the chicken and two pickles... ?

Another recent change for the Golden Arch is the elimination of Trans-Fats in a number of their products. I read an article about how they made the change a few weeks ago but didn't advertise it to the consumer. Basically, it sounded like they wanted to make the change to appear as if they are striving for healthier fast food, yet they don't want to compromise their image or lose customers who enjoy artery-clogging goodness.

Wendy's: The Frosty has been an old favorite of many folk - the classic chocolate ice-cream-like "shake" thick enough to require a spoon. Wendy's will now also offer the new Frosty Shake - that can be consumed with a straw and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. I can't help but feel disappointed. I'm sure the new drink and flavors (chocolate fudge, vanilla bean, and strawberry) are tasty, but why couldn't they just keep it simple? What was wrong with offering just the original Frosty?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cakes On Walnut

114 N Walnut Street
Champaign, IL 61820

Delicious! We stopped here after walking around Champaign and eating at Cowboy Monkey (cool place, not so cool food). The cupcakes were delicious! Jake and I shared a salted caramel cupcake - so moist - and the creamiest, buttery frosting. Yum!

Jake noticed they had Dry Soda as well. He had read about it in a magazine article, so we decided to try the Rhubarb soda. Wow - completely awesome. It was really interesting - the dry texture made an interesting mouthfeel. It was refreshing and light; I felt kind of like I do after eating sushi. Currently there are only three locations in Illinois where you can purchase Dry Soda, and low-and-behold - Cakes on Walnut was one of them (the other two are in Chicago). Although it's still new and a bit pricey, I definitely recommend trying it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

E-V-O-Oh you have to be kidding me!

I can't honestly say I'm a big fan of Rachael Ray, but to each their own. I do, however, draw the line when a ridiculous expression by a "food celebrity" is added to a dictionary. EVOO apparently made the cut and as of 2007 is now included in the Oxford American College Dictonary. I'm speechless. Personally, I think this idea belongs in the G.B. (oh.. that's Rachael's abbreviation for "garbage bowl").

Monday, May 5, 2008

Smoke Daddy

1804 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL 60622


For those of you who haven't yet been wowed by Smoke Daddy in Wicker Park, you're really missing out! They offer delicious homemade BBQ sauces that rival my favorites from other establishments. The ribs are amazing - and the mac 'n cheese is great! The price is reasonable as well - a full order of Rib Tips with 2 sides is just $14.95.

Great causal bar atmosphere and super food makes Smoke Daddy's my favorite BBQ spot in Chicagoland.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dinner In The Sky

Literally. No bathroom, no floor. Eight hours of nothing but the horizon to distract you from your food while 50 meters above ground.

Dinner In The Sky delivers - and the food looks pretty delicious- just don't drop your fork. Of course, all this fun doesn't come without a price. The basic meal will cost you $11,000.

If you'd like a little extra mood setting (think piano, violin, etc), your cost doubles. Although, there is something to be said for a grand piano in the sky...

[Images from Dinner In The Sky]

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ain't that sweet!

I challenge you to a Candy Bar Quiz!

Try to beat my score - 14 out of 20 correct.

Friendship is like whisky, the older, the better...

"Jen's Imajen Juice" has been born! I received the announcement from Maker's Mark yesterday, including the history behind my American white oak plank barrel. (click on each image to read)

My barrel information

Jen's Imajen Juice has been born!

You're probably wondering, "what the heck?" Well, in my "Sign up for everything free in 2007" spree, I came across the Maker's Mark site that allows you to sign up to be an Ambassador. I have to admit, they have some very nice mailings. When I signed up I put my name on the waiting list to have a barrel branded with my choice of name - and yesterday it was born! Now my baby gets to settle in for a nice 6-7 year nap.

To be honest, being an ambassador is kind of fun. I've gotten some nice gifts from Maker's Mark - for Christmas, my birthday, my "ambassador anniversary": Metal shaker, metal cup, party napkins, a maker's mark stamp and wax seal, address labels, etc.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sugar, sugar...

Jake's latest dessert creations:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Baba Pita

1032 W. Lake St
Chicago, IL 60612

Today was my first taste of Lebanese food. This was a welcome change to the greasy chinese take-out we got last week for lunch.

The Victuals:

Beef Shawarma Plate
Grilled, sliced marinated beef served with onion, rice, salad, hummus, pita bread & tahini sauce.

Shawarma (SWHWAR-muh) - usually a sandwich made with shaved meat
hummus - blended chickpeas
tahini - sesame seed paste, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley

The Verdict:

Fresh, satisfying. The salad was great - resembled mesclun with other fresh veggies added. The beef was good, if not a wee-bit overcooked. The rice was cooked perfectly with a touch of dill and a few fava beans I think. I can't say that I was a big fan of the hummus; I've had flavored hummus before and it was ok, but I can't do plain hummus. Sadly, they did forget my tahini sauce but I was able to try a taste of a co-workers - yum! Pretty good overall.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The King has gone too far.

Burger King has entered the chip aisle with two new flavored potato snacks: Ketchup and Fries and Flame-Broiled.

If I "had it my way" I'd pull these snacks from the shelves. Oddly enough, the only place I've seen them so far was a big display near the checkout aisles in Menards (of all places!). Number one, any type of snack that advertises yummy ketchup flavor is just... weird. Secondly, if you're craving a hamburger, do you really think you'd grab a bag of these? "Mmmm... I could really use a great hamburger. Oh wait - I think I'll eat some burger-flavored potato snacks instead. They'll really hit the spot!"

Yes, there are some parts of a fast food meal that make a good chip. Cheese? Definately! Pickle? Yes! Veggie? Sure! Salt/Vinegar? Of course! Juicy burger? Not a chance.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We Fondue, do you?

It was a retro fondue pot kind of Valentine's Day. Jake surprised me with the idea to fondue at his house (BEFORE he knew if he still had a fondue pot!). We had quite a few tasty veggies and thinly sliced pieces of aged beef to fondue in some rosemary-garlic infused oil. Dessert consisted of quite possibly the best chocolate ever with fresh fruit and angel food cake.

Fondue - from the French "fondre" (to melt); past tense "fondu" (melted)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Watermelon Carving

J's first fruit carving. This is a small watermelon he carved based on traditional Thai fruit and vegetable carvings. The aesthetic appeal is just as important in Thai cuisine as the balancing of flavors; Food should please the eye as well as the palate.