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Cheesy Caprese Potatoes.

Caprese Potato Casserole

Serves 5-10.

Ingredients:

  • 10 small Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced pancetta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt/black pepper

Begin by boiling the potatoes for about 20-30 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add your onion and pancetta. Cook for 10 minutes or so and then add in the grape tomatoes. Continue to cook for about 5-10 more minutes until all ingredients are lightly browned and the tomatoes have softened. Once the potatoes are soft and break apart easily with a knife, drain the excess water and return them to the pot. Use a knife to do a rough chop of the potatoes (as shown below) and then add in the onion, tomato and pancetta mixture to the pot along with the sour cream, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil. Season with salt/black pepper and mix well. Put the mixture into a greased baking dish and top with a small handful of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes until browned and bubbly.

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Cheesy Chicken.

Parmesan Baked Chicken

This chicken dish is a version of one that my mama Helene used to make when I was growing up that we used to call “Helene’s Special Chicken.” It’s a very simple and easy dish but it has a ton of flavor. Pair it with veggies, potatoes or even slice it up and add it to a fresh green salad! It’s just so good. Yum!

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups plain bread crumbs
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • salt/black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Begin by breading the chicken breasts. Coat them in egg, then coat them in bread crumbs. Add olive oil in a large pan on the stove. Add just enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil on medium/high heat, and when the oil is hot, add two of the chicken breasts and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned. Then repeat with the other two chicken breasts. Put the browned chicken breasts onto a non-stick cooking sheet and season with salt and black pepper. Top each chicken breast with 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese. Cover the sheet in aluminum foil and cook in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and cook for 10 more minutes uncovered.

A Glamorous Downtown Sushi Spot.

Friends Sushi (www.friendssushi.com) is a great downtown sushi spot. My friend Jenny and I went on a sushi date to Friends Sushi a couple of months ago. It’s on Rush Street right off of Michigan Avenue, but it was surprisingly calm for lunch despite our close proximity to the Magnificent Mile. The interior is quite modern and posh, we felt like we were transported somewhere else. The service was prompt and friendly- go figure! They have a huge menu with tons of different types of creative roles. I highly recommend it if you’re a sushi lover.

Vegetable Tempura: Lightly friend sweet potato tempura. This roll is simple, sweet, crunchy and delicious. You can’t go wrong.

Summer Roll: Yellowtail, jalapeno, cilantro and a touch of lime. This was light and tangy with a bit of heat. My favorite!

Friends: (top) king crab, shrimp tempura, cream cheese, sriracha sauce, green apple topped with unagi, avocado, tempura crumb, red tobiko, creamy wasabi sauce and unagi glaze. This is their signature role. It’s quite complex with a lot of flavors. It’s definitely a heavier roll, but still really yummy!

Crispy Creamy:  (bottom) Shrimp tempura, avocado, asparagus, scallion, cream cheese, wasabi tobiko, spicy sauce topped with parmesan cheese, tempura crumb, creamy wasabi sauce and unagi sauce. This is another more complex roll but was full of different flavors and textures that all complimented each other very well.

Can you handle it: Salmon, chili oil, avocado, cilantro, jalapeno, spicy sauce, japanese pepper topped with unagi, mango, spicy mayo and unagi sauce. Jenny and I both like spicy foods, so this was a must for us. We loved it! Lots of heat but great tastes, too.