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/

Wanderlust Wednesday: Venice Beach

I want to change things up a little bit here at Eat Play Chicago LA. Instead of writing a blog post about the very beautiful Venice Beach, I decided to make a little photo montage. Instead of writing about the uniqueness of Venice Beach , and describing the different kinds of people from different walks of life that visit, I wanted to show in video format instead. I paired my video with a funky background music that I think will set the tone of the whole scene. Please enjoy!

-Jaja (@theforevertourist)

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

Wanderlust Wednesday: California Missions Series: #7 Mission San Juan Capistrano

Today, we feature the 7th California Mission: Mission San Juan Capistrano

 

Hello everyone! For the second mission in this series, I’m going to share my trip to Mission San Juan Capistrano, about 60 miles south of Los Angeles. Located in 26801 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, CA., this mission is the 7th mission built by the Spaniards, and 19th mission geographically from the north.

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The mission was founded in November 01, 1776. It will celebrate its 240th year in Nov 1, 2016. It was named after Italian saint, St. Giovanni da Capistrano. San Juan Capistrano is also home to the oldest building in California still being used today – Father Serra’s Church built in 1782. Serra established 9 missions and The goal of the mission was to be self-sufficient, that is why livelihood was taught. Farming was the main industry, and animals were raised as well.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is known all over the world for the legend of the return of the Cliff Swallows, told by Father O’Sullivan from the 1920s. Every year, the mission celebrates the legend on Swallows Day on March 19th.

Here is an excerpt of the story of the Cliff Swallows from Chapter 10 of Capistrano Nights: Tales of a Mission Town.

“One day several years ago,” He said (Father O’Sullvian), “I was passing the new hotel at the west side of the town plaza, and there was the proprietor out with a long pole smashing the swallows’ nest that were under the eaves. The poor birds were in a terrible panic, darting hither and thither flying and screaming about their demolished homes.

“What in the world are you doing,” I asked.

“Why,” said he, “these dirty birds are a nuisance, and I am getting rid of them.”

“But where can they go?” I continued.

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” He replied slashing away with his pole, “but they’ve no business here, destroying my property.”

“Then come on swallows,” I cried, “I’ll give you shelter. Come to the Mission, there is room enough there for all.”

“Sure enough they all took me at my word, and the very next morning they were busy building under the newly built sacristy of Father Serra’s church.

(Credit: Website)

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Entrance to the Sacred Garden
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The four Mission Bells

 

 

Bells were crucial to everyday life at the mission. They signal meal times, start of work and religious services, births, funerals, etc. Fun fact: These four bells were all named. Biggest to smallest: San Vicente, San Juan, San Antonio, San Rafael. Not everyone can ring the bells at the mission. Only a privileged and chosen few were assigned this task. On this bell wall, the two smaller ones are still the original ones used from the past. The two larger bells are replicas of the original bells. The two bells fell and cracked when it fell from the 1812 earthquake.

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These two large bells hanging low are the original of the large bells. Since its restoration after the earthquake damage, neither gave out clear tones. They currently sit at the footprint of the ruined bell tower.

img_6206Pictured is an area inside Serra’s Chapel, also known as Father Serra’s Church. This chapel is the only existing structure to date where it has been documented that Father Serra celebrated mass.

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The mission desperately needed a bigger church for everyone that lived at the mission. For ten years, they used the adobe chapel and it no longer served the purpose as there was not enough space. It took nine years to complete the Great Stone Church. But sadly, only six short years after its completion, the tragic earthquake on December 08, 1812 fell to shambles, killing 40 people that attended mass that tragic day. The church was never rebuilt, the priests made no attempt at rebuilding and the ruins from then on served as a symbol to remember the loss of their community.

 

Each mission has their own rich history, their own personality, and that makes me certain that as I go through visiting each one of them, I know that it will really be a learning and enjoyable experience. As much as I enjoy capturing the beautiful scenery of the missions, I also enjoy the reading and the research that I do, because I learn more about their rich history and all the fun facts in between. Go visit a California Mission today and tell us about it!

-Jaja (IG: @theforevertourist)

Resources: Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission San Juan Capistrano,