Supper Club Saturday

“Whenever I eat here, I feel like I was at my friends Mom or Grandma’s house…”

Greek Islands

200 South Halsted

Chicago, IL

 

I originally started coming here when I was at UIC (that’s the University of Illinois at Chicago for those who aren’t local).   Whenever I ate there, I felt like I was at someone’s house eating something their Grandmother just made.  The food was rich and full of flavor, and everything was so fresh.  From previous experience, after being in business for several years (or more), sometimes the taste changes (and sometimes not in a good way).  So now, the question is: “Will Greek Islands be the same?”

We started with the Saganaki.  Yes, its very cliché, but its one of the first things I tried from here, and it’s a classic.


Next, I created my own combo of moussaka and stuffed tomato.


Hubby had a combo of gyro and baked chicken.

After one bite of each, it was confirmed, a done deal, the last nail being hammered into the coffin…
After a taste of each dish, you can taste the freshness of the ingredients, I was still reminded of my friend’s Mother/Grandmother, so yes, this place still has it.

I also forgot that this place imports their olive oil straight from Greece (another explanation as to why everything is so good!)

Hopefully you will get to try for yourself!

Cheers!

–Maeven

Meal Prep Monday: Grilled Salmon & Quinoa

“When pressed with time, it can be hard to pull together meals for the week. Luckily, the store had some pre-marinated salmon portions on sale and I took advantage of that…”

When pressed with time, it can be hard to pull together meals for the week.  Luckily, the store had some pre-marinated salmon portions on sale and I took advantage of that.


I bought two filets marinated in maple dijon and two filets marinated in teriyaki, then placed it on the grill.  It only takes about 5 to 10 minutes (or longer if it’s a bigger portion).


For the quinoa, it’s a half cup of quinoa to one cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Total cooking time was 20 minutes.  Halfway thru I added the butternut squash, and for the last few minutes, I added the spinach and the cranberries.  Remove from heat.  Let it sit for about five minutes.


Divide the quinoa and salmon in containers for the week and refrigerate.


See? Easy peasy!

Enjoy!

– Maeven

Meal Prep Monday: Beef Brisket

 

So I felt adventurous and wanted to make an attempt at beef brisket.  I found two different recipes that sounded good and, when I couldn’t decide on one, I just combined the two.

First, I brought together the following ingredients:

2 lbs Kosher Beef Brisket
Salt/Pepper

12 oz can/bottle of beer

Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon BBQ Sauce

1-Onion (chopped)



Second, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  I put salt and pepper over the brisket.  Take a baking pan and line with foil (because this gets messy).  I combined the beer and the BBQ sauce together and coated the brisket with it.  Pour in the chopped onions and cover it with foil.  Roast in the oven for three hours total.  At two and a half hours, remove the foil.
When finished, let the meat rest before slicing.

Pair with a side of vegetables, such as baby broccoli or roasted root vegetables.

FYI this came out very tender and flavorful!  Definitely making this again!  I hope that you enjoy this as well!

-Maeven

Recipes:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/57264/simply-the-easiest-beef-brisket/

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/beef_brisket/

Weekly Meal Prep: Stuffed Acorn Squash

The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are changing – Fall is definitely in the air.  While everyone seems to be feigning over everything pumpkin-spice, I’m feigning over the other gourds: acorn squash, butternut squash, and kabocha, to list a few.  I was so excited to try this recipe.

I took acorn squash, cut it in half and cleaned out the inside.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper, then placed in a dish with some water.  It will go in the microwave to be nuked for 8 to 10 minutes.

While that is cooking, saute the shallots and garlic.  Add the ground pork and stir until its no longer pink.  Add the seasoning and the spinach.


Once the acorn squash is done, remove it from the microwave.  Place the pork and spinach mixture in the squash and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes to an hour.

After it was done and cooled, I cut each in half (for one-fourth of the squash) and placed it in a container.  I accompanied each with some roasted vegetables or sliced tomatoes.

This was SO good that, if I come across the kabocha squash that the original recipe called for, I would make this again in a heartbeat!
Have a great week!

-Maeven

Recipe: http://nomnompaleo.com/post/2441966687/pork-and-spinach-stuffed-kabocha-squash

Meal Prep Monday:  Pressure Cooker Beef and Bone Soup

“One of my favorite soups for when the cooler weather hits…”

With the change of weather, people all around are sniffling and sneezing.  I couldn’t afford to get sick either.  So, other than taking a bunch of Vitamin C every day, and drinking my green tea, I made one of my favorite soups.

I tried getting oxtails for this, but the store did not have any at the time.  So, I bought some short ribs, marrow bones and beef shanks for the protein.  I also picked up a bag of soup vegetables that included carrots, potatoes, celery, parsnips, an onion, and a turnip.  I also diced some garlic cloves.

I set my pressure cooker to saute so I can brown the meat (it adds more flavor).  While that was heating up, I seasoned the meat with salt and pepper.  I also smothered some tomato paste onto the marrow bones.  The marrow bones add more flavor and richness to the broth.

I melted a tablespoon of coconut oil (or you can use olive oil) in the pressure cooker, and then added the meat.  Once the meat was browned, I added the garlic and chopped onion.  Once the garlic and onion became glossy, I added the beef broth (for more flavor).  I set the pressure cooker for 35 minutes.

At this point, let it cool completely, place the inner pot into the refrigerator until the fat solidifies on the top.  Once it does, remove the fat and reheat the pot in the pressure cooker.  I set it on saute for about 20 minutes.  Once the broth returns to liquid, add the rest of the vegetables and a bay leaf.  Then reset to Pressure cook for at least 30 to 45 minutes.

Ideally, you would let the flavors marry over a day or so.  If not, its still alright – its still yummy!
-Maeven

Ingredients:

4 cloves of garlic

1 chopped onion

1 turnip, cubed

2 parsnips, cut

3 small red potatoes, cleaned and diced

2 celery stalks, cut

1-16 oz can of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

1-32 oz container of beef broth

2 bay leaves

This meal was inspired by the following recipes:

http://nomnompaleo.com/post/34093639615/pressure-cooker-porcini-and-tomato-beef-short-ribs

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/toasted-garlic-beef-stock

Supper Club Saturday: Nando Milano Trattoria

“You had me at fresh pasta!”

Nando Milano Trattoria

2114 W. Division St

Chicago, IL 60622

 

This last month was pretty stressful for me, which ended at exactly 1:30pm CDT on Friday, September 30th (not like I was counting down the minutes).  So what do I do when I want to relax (other than sing-along to a Backstreet Boys song on my drive back?)  This girl got her hair done and treated herself out to dinner!

My hairdresser living in UkranianVillage, and I knew that, regardless of where I went, I wasn’t going to be disappointed.  So, I looked on Yelp and I found this gem: Nando Milano Trattoria.  They had a lot of good reviews and, when I looked at the menu, I saw this:

House-made pasta…whaaaat?!

That sealed the deal for me as I have a weak spot for fresh pasta.

Was I their first patron of the day? Yes. Did I care? No (especially since I didn’t have a lunch that day, this gal was starving!)

I started with the Polenta Ghiotta, which was an organic crispy polenta with mushroom, cheese fondue and a creamy porcini sauce.  The polenta was firm and not soggy with that perfect crisp on the outside.  It absorbed the cheese and porcini sauce beautifully.

Next, I went with their (fresh-made) Orechiette Special that had a ground wild boar ragout in tomato sauce.  The wild boar was not gamey at all and it was tender.  (Sometimes with the wild game meats, they can be gamey and/or chewy or tough – this one wasn’t).  If you have ever had fresh pasta, you know how good it can be – you taste the freshness of the eggs and flour, which was what the orecchiette had.

I was asked if I would like dessert.  Technically I was full, but I wanted to hear what they had.  I heard their tiramisu, their cannoli, their profiteroles…and then I heard bombolone.  When I asked what their bombolone was, it was described to me as a donut filled with Nutella and, before he could even finish the sentence, I said, “I will have that!”

It was so beautiful, it was almost a shame to eat it.

So for Nando Milano Trattoria, with this meal, it was not only fresh, delicious and flavorful, but you had also brought me comfort and soothed me after a rough few weeks. Thank you, it was a pleasure, indeed!

Bring your children, bring your husbands, bring your wives to Nando Milano Trattoria!  You will be graced by, not only their authentic and flavorful meals, but by their wonderful and friendly staff as well.

-Maeven

Nando Milano Trattoria

Web: http://www.nandomilano.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/NandoMilanoTrattoria

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NandoMilanoTrat

Google+: https://plus.google.com/115699584016998212434

Meal Prep Monday: Salmon Rice Bowl

“This dish is so versatile, there are a variety of ways you can put together a rice or grain bowl…”

Growing up, I was raised on rice.  Nowadays, I don’t eat it as much anymore, but I get a craving for it once in a while.  This dish is so versatile, you can substitute the rice, the vegetable or even the protein.

I started by making my rice.  Most of the bags will say that the grains are pre-washed or “no washing/rinsing required” but that step is so ingrained in me that I still clean my rice first.  Instead of the sushi rice that I used in this dish, you can use brown rice or quinoa, if desired.

While that is cooking, I can relax for a moment before working on the vegetable – basically any would do.  From spinach, to asparagus to mushrooms and edamame, the choices are endless.  I chose spinach, that I sautéed in toasted sesame oil.

I then took some roasted seaweed and cut it into strips or pieces so I can lay the protein on top.  I had some smoked rainbow trout that I wanted to try with this.  I could have also used fish (i.e. salmon), chicken, beef, pork or tofu for this as well.  Place the protein on top of the seaweed and voilà – you have yourself a rice bowl!

Similar recipes include:

http://www.panningtheglobe.com/2014/04/18/teriyaki-salmon-rice-bowl-spinach-avocado/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/christinebyrne/bowl-me-away?utm_term=.tp3L4deZe#.bux0dzBZB

https://www.pinterest.com/explore/rice-bowls/

As you can see, there are a variety of ways you can put together a rice or grain bowl!

Enjoy!

-Maeven