Thursday, October 30, 2008

I like Vampires

I enjoy the supernatural, especially vampires. I like ass-kicking vampires, vampires with consciences, interviews with vampires, parting gang vampires. But I’m not sure I understand the hype behind teenage vampire romance stories. The Twilight series of books is a best seller, the basis of a new motion picture and some say the series will be/is the next Harry Potter. I just finished the first book in the series and I’m not that impressed. Was it an easy read? Yes. Did it kept my attention? Yes. Was the story line unique? Yes. Did it live up to the hype? Nope. Will I read the the other two books in the series? Probably.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Winter has officially begun. I am pretty sure I saw my first snowflake today.

On a side note: The baking/cooking master now has her Masters Degree! A big congratulations to Ms Sophisticated Pie M.S. It was lovely seeing you this weekend. I am so lucky to have you as a friend.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It’s getting cold and I’m getting a cold...

... and that means it is the perfect time for a spicy soup. I am currently coming down with the same funk that Mike is recovering from. Therefore, last night was the perfect night to cook up a big pot of soup, relax and watch college football (poor hokies and their lack of offense). Since my taste buds are kind of cattywampus as a result of the stuffy nose, I wanted something with a little more flavor than your plain old chicken noodle. There is no one to turn to but Bobby Flay if you are ever looking for something with a little spicy southwestern kick. I know some people don’t like him because they think he’s arrogant and kind of an ass. But hey, he is a native New Yorker, what do you expect? I think I would be cocky too if I could create dishes as well as he can. Regardless, I’m a big Bobby fan (I get that from my father). Anyway, the Roasted Cauliflower and Green Chili Soup from his newish Mesa Grill cookbook is wonderful. In the book, he suggests serving it with a blue corn-goat cheese nachos of sorts, but tonight Mike and I were looking for something heartier to accompany the soup in order to make it a fuller dinner. We finally decide to grill up some chicken quesadillas. The dinner really hit the spot!.

Roasted Cauliflower and Green Chili Soup

2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 poblano chilies, roasted and pureed (we ended up using 5 small poblanos from the farmers market)

To roast chilies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rub a small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, place in the oven on a baking sheet, and rotate until charred on all sides (this can also be done on the burner of a gas stove or on a grill). This will take somewhere between 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the roasted peppers in a paper bag, and let sit for 15 minutes to allow the skin to loosen. Then peel, halve, and seed before throwing the pepper flesh into a food processor. Add a small splash of water and puree.

Meanwhile, toss the cauliflower florets in approximately 3 tablespoons olive oil and place in a baking dish, salt and pepper and cover with foil. Make sure to puncture the foil to allow for some steam to get out. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. Transfer the cooked cauliflower to a big soup pot and add chicken broth. Let simmer for 15 minutes. In batches, carefully, puree the the cauliflower and return to the pot. (At this point the recipe says to strain the soup, but that seems like way too much work and mess for me to deal with). Bring pureed soup to a simmer, adding more water or broth to reach desired consistency. Whisk in the cream and the poblano puree to taste. Since poblanos are a mild pepper, they add more flavor than heat to the soup so don’t be too worried to add a lot of the puree.

Abbie and Mikes Grilled Quesadillas

1 chicken breast
1/2 tablespoon ancho chili powder
bit of olive oil
half a red onion
splash of balsamic vinegar
Goat cheese
Corn Tortillas

Sprinkle the chicken with a small amount of the chili powder and grill. In a small saucepan, over med to low heat, saute the onions in the olive oil. Once onions are really soft as a splash of balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional minute. The vinegar will add an extra layer of sweetness. We decided to make more of an open-face quesadilla because the goat cheese doesn’t make quite as good cheese glue as other gooier cheeses and the prospect of flipping the quesadilla sandwiches seemed grim. To put the open-facers together, put a small amount of olive oil on one side of a tortilla, so it doesn’t stick to the grill. Then, crumble goat cheese on to the tortilla and add some sliced grilled chicken and the red onions. Place on the grill or a few minutes. These guys turned out pretty tasty and folded in half nicely for easier eating. However, next time I would add a thin layer of cilantro mayonnaise for some added creaminess and consistency. Overall, I think we came up with a pretty good side for the soup! Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Some people run 26 miles, others walk 8

Sunday was the Chicago marathon. Inspired by the beautiful weather and the insane runners, Mike and I decided to walk. We ended up walking about 8 miles south of our apartment (map). One of the things I like about Chicago are the diverse neighborhoods that, together, make up the city. And there is no better way to get to know a neighborhood than meandering through the streets.
We began our journey by walking through the Loyola campus on our way out of Rogers Park. Since we got kind of a late start, we needed to stop for lunch pretty quickly. We had our first stop at a diner in Edgewater. Mike has a true love for somewhat sketchy dinners that give you the feeling that you've been transported back in time when you enter them. I humor this love. Standee's was tasty and my steak sandwich definitely gave energy to trek onward.
Crossing the border into Andersonville we happened upon the Senn High School, my mom's school. It is a very beautiful building/campus but from the stories that my mom has told me, it wasn't always such a serene environment, at least not for her.

Chicago has some really neat architecture. You can see influences from all over the world just by walking down the street and looking at different buildings.
Onward from Andersonville, we passed through the north side's mini Asia-town. This area is not as impressive as China town, but not much is. For some reason I really like the Uptown area and I can't wait to see what happens to the big Uptown theatre now that it has new owners. Next stop Lakeview-Wrigleyville. Along Halstead, this area is more commonly referred to as Boystown. Notice the Hancock building peaking out from behind the corner building.
In Lincoln Park, we stopped for nourishment at a cool little coffee/tea/sandwich shop called the Bourgeois Pig. I have a feeling that if I lived anywhere near this place while I was taking classes, I would have spent a million hours here.
Next stop, quick peep into Crate and Barrel and CB2. Small world, we ran into my cousin and her husband. Lauren could not, or maybe did not want to, believe that we had walked that far when we could have just driven or taken the CTA.
To round out our day, we had dinner at Goose Island and had a pint or two of good Chicago beer. I really do love Chicago and I can't wait for more long walks with Mike.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I got macaroons

I got homemade birthday macaroons in the mail from the one and only Ms. Sophisticated Pie. I predict that they will be gone before my actual birthday.

The macaroons also came with a very cute card (left). It plays a royal fanfare of sorts and then applause when you open it. For the rest of the weekend, I'm going to carry the card with me and use the music to announce my entrance to every room. Good idea? doot-da-da-dooo, doot do da-da, doot-da-da-dooo.

In other news, Mike and I are celebrating my big 26 tonight by going to a new wine bar that opened up about a block from our place and then going to a new theater that's two blocks from our place to see Taj Mahal. Today is a good day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

soup's on

I'm no Sophisticated Pie, but I made a tasty soup for dinner tonight and wanted to share the recipe. Yesterday, in addition to the mini pumpkins I also got a couple of beautiful squashes. I've made this recipe a few times and it's always good for a cool fall day.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
Vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chicken broth
water, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Arrange the halves cut side down in roasting pan that has been lightly oiled. Bake squash in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until very tender. Set aside to cool. When the squash is completely cool, scoop the flesh from the skin. While the squash is baking, cook the onion and the ginger in the butter in a saucepan, over moderately low heat, for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened, Add the broth and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, covered. Add the squash pulp to the sauce pan. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, in batches, and puree until smooth. Add enough water to achieve the desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste. Return the soup to the sauce pan and cook over moderate heat until it is hot. Garnish each portion with the heaping teaspoon of low-fat sour cream.

I also like to garnish the soup with toasted seeds. To roast the seeds rinse them a few times with cool water. Let seeds soak for a few minutes in salt water. Spread the seeds out onto a baking sheet and put in oven with the Squash for the last 10 min of baking.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I love the fall but I love pumpkins even more. Today I bought the most incredible little pumpkin at the farmers market (left). He is almost perfectly round, he can easily fit in the palm of my hand and he was only fifty cents. Walking back to lab from the market I wanted to stop everyone I saw and show them how cute my pumpkin was. I hope this picture of my new little pumpkin brightens your day as much as it brightened mine.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

home, sweet home.

Our new apartment from the front to the back. We still have a lot of pictures to hang and a few things to buy here and there but I think that our stuff mixed together pretty well. let me know what you think! Click the pictures for bigger images.

Living room/Sun room

Guest bedroom/Elizabeth's RoomDinning RoomKitchenBack deck
Back garden/Parking
Hope you enjoyed the tour, now come visit.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


So it seems that it is physically impossible for my frisbee teem to win the first game we play on any given day Saturday. I really think that we, as a teem, need a few beers in our collective system in order to really be competitive. However, we are almost always golden by the second game. Todays second game we were leading by a significant margin, and so it was determined that we would switch up positions. Not playing any sport as a kid, my athletic self confidence is pretty low and therefore I really wasn’t interested in doing much more that my usual stay out of people’s way and try to make a few cuts to the disk. So, anyway, long story short, I was totally peer pressured to be one of the handlers (kind of like one of two quarterbacks for the team) for a couple points. I did alright. It was fun. I had a few good throws and my team was proud. So I guess i might not be quite the athletic dolt that I though it was. A little less of a sports wallflower. Go team!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Go Cubs Go?

This is a pictorial representation of one of the reasons Mike doesn’t like the cubs. With fans like this guy, home field advantage might not really be an advantage. We can only hope that going to LA may actually help the cubbies. Good luck tomorrow boys.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Experimentally Insane

A great man once said, and I paraphrase, that ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' I say this man never did experimental research. I just wish that I was insane because I keep on doing the same experiment over and over again and can’t for the life of me get repeatable results.