Meal Prep Monday: Trader Joe’s Lemon Rosemary Chicken

It’s been a while since I had made anything with Chicken.  I had also read a LOT of good reviews for Spatchcocked Lemon Rosemary Chicken from Trader Joe’s. So, I decided to try it out.

The directions were pretty straight – forward. Heat up the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the chicken in a shallow baking pan. Roast for 60 to 75 minutes, as directed. 

When finished, I let it cool enough for me to handle.  I deboned the chicken (because they look at you funny if you go full-on Cave(wo)man in the office cafeteria).  I then placed some steamed asparagus with a medley of sweet potatoes. Bam! All done!

I hope that you found this easy,  too!

–Maeven

Wanderlust Wednesday: Morro Bay, CA

“Morro Bay is a great place to spend an extended weekend to relax and unwind…”

With the holidays here, we are either being visited by family or visiting family ourselves.  For this Thanksgiving, we went to visit family in California – mostly to help with house maintenance, but we did find time for some fun.

My husband had told me of when he used to drive from Monterey, CA to Morro Bay for clam chowder.  He described it as the best clam chowder that he has ever had.  I had been to Boston (albeit a long time ago as a teenager), but from what I had remembered, the clam chowder there was pretty good as well (the best, in my book).  Challenge accepted! We took a day trip from Fresno to Morro Bay to check out this infamous clam chowder.

 On our search for clam chowder…

When we arrived, it was pouring rain.  I was a little sad because I wanted to take a walk onto the pier and take pictures of the bay.  Since we would be sitting down for our meal, I was hoping that, by the time we finish, the rain may let up.  We decided to eat at Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant.  My husband had the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and fish and chips.  I ordered some raw oysters, clam chowder and a side salad.

With the first bite of the chowder, you can taste the freshness of the clams – and there was a good number of them in the soup, too!  I mean, I’ve had other clam chowders that were more like cream of potato with maybe a hint of clam juice (i.e. NOT clam chowder).  With this chowder, you can tell its CLAM.CHOWDER.  I even had a bay leaf in my soup portion (now I know ONE of the ingredients – haha!)  For the bread bowl, it was kept warm and moist from the chowder itself and was delicious as well as functional!   


The fish (in the fish & chips) as well as the oysters were fresh (no fishy smell or aftertaste).  Even my Mother-In-Law, who is not a “fish person” liked the fish & chips.  How amazing is that?!


By the way, yes, driving all that way for chowder was really worth it, too!

There are a number of dockside restaurants that one can choose from.  We just happened to go to Tognazzini’s by chance.  From what I saw on Yelp for that area, a lot of the dockside restaurants had really good reviews as well.

When we had finished our meal, the rain had become nothing more than a light sprinkle and eventually stopped.  After purchasing some salt-water taffy (next door to the restaurant), we took a walk out onto the pier.

Of course, there was Morro Rock, which gave the town and bay it’s name.  The rock, itself is a volcanic plug and is connected by a causeway to the shore, making it a tied island.  It is also protected, so climbing the rock and disturbing the wildlife is prohibited.

Speaking of wildlife, they seem to think that this is a popular hangout as well.

I also learned that this is a good area for hiking, paddle-boarding, boating and wine-tasting (to name a few of the activities available here).  This would definitely be a great place to spend an extended weekend to relax and unwind.

Have you been here also? Share your experiences below in the comments section!
Want to learn more?  Click on the links below and maybe plan your next stay there!

http://www.morrobay.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morro_Bay,_California

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morro_Rock

http://www.morrobaydockside.com/

–Maeven

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

Meal Prep Monday: Grilled Balsamic Skirt Steak & Grilled Marinated Vegetables

“Meal prep can still be done when short on time, just have the marinade do the work for you.”

I’ve been running short on time lately, and sometimes I don’t have all the time to get my meals ready for the week.  When I have days like that, I turn to marinades, because they do the work for me.

I find that either skirt steak or rib eye can work with this recipe.

After gathering all the ingredients, place in the zip-top plastic bag.  Add the steak and turn the steak(s) within the bag to ensure that the marinade completely coats the meat.

Depending on the thickness of the steak, I have left it in the marinade overnight in the refrigerator.  After having it in the refrigerator, be sure to leave it out for at least 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.

Time to grill!  This can be done with your outdoor grill, or indoors using a grill pan. Just 2 to 3 minutes on each side (or until preferred temperature will do!)

When done, tent with foil and let stand for 5 minutes.  Slice steak into strips.

For the vegetables, I turned to Trader Joe’s and got this:

According to the directions, they can be defrosted in either the refrigerator or in the microwave.  When done, pair with steak in container.

My mouth is already watering over this!  I hope you have a chance to make this for yourselves!  Have a great week!

-Maeven

Recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-balsamic-skirt-steak

​Supper Club Saturday:  90 Miles Cuban Café (Lincolnwood)

Local restaurant instantly transports you to the island of Cuba through food, drink and sound.

This week I had some drama with my phone where the only solution I had to fix it was to do a factory reset.  I thought that if I had to do that, I might as well get a new phone.  Well, across the way from the store where I was at, there was 90 Miles Cuban Café.  They have Flamenco and Paella night every Thursday night there.  I had gotten there in the late afternoon, and by the time I was done, it was dinner time (since when did it take SO long to switch phones?) Needless to say, I followed the sounds of the music, and my nose to the wonderful smell coming from 90 Miles Cuban Café. 

Let me just say that a bar that includes cats (well, pictures anyway) is a bar that I am an instant fan of.

Usually I get a mojito, but since it was a work night, I opted for a glass of red sangria.  Besides, didn’t someone say that a glass of red wine with dinner was good for your health?  

Sure, Flamenco and Paella are more Spanish in origin, and this is a Cuban Café, but it doesn’t mean we have to be exclusive.  One of the styles of music that I love to listen to is Flamenco, and I was very excited to see the dancers too.  There were some children in the audience, and the dancers invited them up for a lesson in Flamenco as well.  

I had ordered the Tuna Ceviche and Masas de Puerco appetizers, followed by the Churrasco.

For appetizers, the ceviche and pork medallions were of pretty good size.  

I barely had room for the Churrasco!

Needless to say I had taken home leftovers (or as I like to call it, my lunch for tomorrow!)

If you are ever curious about their desserts, one of their items, the Trés Leches Cake is enough to share with two to three people. However, it is so devine that you may want to keep it for yourself!

Overall, I did like the interior and the layout.  The food was fresh and pretty tasty.  I would definitely recommend this place.

-Maeven 

Web: http://www.90milescubancafe.com/

Facebook: 90MilesCubanCafe

Twitter: @90MilesChicago

Instagram: official90milescubancafe

Meal Prep Monday: Smoked Salmon Wraps and White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes

“This week I ended up with a LOT more tomatoes than I usually get. I wanted to find a dish that would allow me to utilize them…”

This week I ended up with a LOT more tomatoes than I usually get.  I wanted to find a dish that would allow me to utilize them and not have them go to waste.  I substituted them for the canned diced tomatoes in the recipe (link below).

First I cleaned and prepped my ingredients.  I am a big fan of “Worst Cooks of America” on Food Network.  Not only does it bring up my self-esteem when compared to the contestants during the first week or so of the show, but the chefs show them some techniques to slicing, dicing and mise en place.

First, I wilted the chard in a saucepan.  Once that was done, I drained the water, squeezing as much of it out of the leaves.

Then, in another saucepan, I heated up the oil.  Once it was warmed, I added the garlic, red pepper, and sautéed them until the garlic was browned.  Next, I added my tomatoes, followed by the beans.  After letting the mixture stew for several minutes, I put in the cooked chard and mixed them together. Season to taste.

Next, I started on the wraps.  Of course, I got my ingredients ready.

I forgot about the cucumbers for the recipe, but I did get my hands on some pea shoots, so I used those instead.  Start with the tortilla and smear it with cream cheese.  Next, add the smoked salmon.  For the herbs, I used sliced shallots and dill.  Lastly, I added the pea shoots.

It reminds me of a pizza!

Roll it up and slice it into fourths.

I packaged them separately as I plan to reheat the stew, and the wrap is intended to stay cold.  

Enjoy!

-Maeven

Smoked Salmon Wraps: http://ohmydish.com/recipe/smoked-salmon-wraps/

White Bean Stew: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/quick-white-bean-stew-swiss-chard-and-tomatoes