Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Making Lunch Classy

Ah, sandwiches. The great lunch standby since the Middle Ages (I looked it up. You're welcome).  

I'm convinced that one of the most important elements of the sandwich is the sauce you use. Plain old mayo is fine, but let's face it, not something that makes anyone get too terribly excited. And since I do especially love to find excitement in my lunch, I thought I would share with y'all a couple of my favorite aioli spreads. 

A good aioli can totally transform a boring sandwich into something truly crave-worthy. And make you feel a little classier when you're brown bagged lunch transforms from "turkey sandwich" to "Roasted turkey with a basil lemon aioli and fresh lettuce on wheat bread." 

If you have fancy shmancy olive oils (such as truffle oil), use those. It'll make the aioli even better. 

To make my basil lemon aioli, I use just a few simple ingredients: mayo (not miracle whip; that's gross), olive oil, basil and a lemon. 

I also love a good zesty sauce on my sandwich so sometimes I use: mayo, olive oil, horseradish, seasoned salt and chili powder. 

I put all the ingredients for each aioli separate small ramekins.

Then just whisk it with a fork. 

Done! Yay for saucy goodness! 

Slather it on your sandwich and enjoy your lunch!

Store any leftover aioli sauce in a sealed container in your fridge for up to two weeks. 


Basil Lemon Aioli

1/4 cup mayo
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil (1 tbsp. if using dried)
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a fork or whisk until well-combined.


Zesty Chili Aioli

1/4 cup mayo
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. horseradish
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a fork or whisk until well-combined.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Chicaaaggooo! Chicago.

Hey there!

The husband and I just got back from a fabulous trip to Chicago, sans kiddos. In the past seven years, we've only traveled without our girls a couple of times and when we did, we were either on a work trip for Khale or going to visit family. So, needless to say, we were pretty darn excited about this trip.

And it didn't disappoint. We had a bit of an issue leaving Denver and had to fly standby which got us to Chicago later than we had planned but we made the most of it and went out to a fun Irish pub before crashing in our suite.

Breakfast on the patio of the suite. I may have made corny jokes about our view being "suite." 

After breakfast we hit up the Art Institute. Khale and I both love a good museum and this was by far our favorite part of the trip (even though he had been there before). There's just something amazing about being a room filled with 15 paintings by the masters, each worth millions of dollars, that is just kind of impossible to top. 

After the museum we had lunch at a fabulous Cuban sandwich shop - Cafecito. Khale got the Jerk sandwich and I ordered the Ropa Viejo. Then we decided we had to share because they were both so so good. 

We also visited the bean. It was cool but kind of a buzz kill after the museum. 

Later that night, we went to Quartino for dinner and tried their duck prosciutto, bread, olives, cavatelli, veal skirt steak and fresh zeppole with dark chocolate for dessert. Along with a few adult beverages. 

So delicious! The fresh pasta, fresh ricotta and zeppole made it spectacular. 

We also visited the Field Museum. Also really cool. Their Egyptian exhibit was my favorite. 

For lunch that day we just grabbed beef hot dogs from the vendors outside the museum. Because it felt like the right thing to do. 

We went and saw a show at Second City (where many comedic greats got their start). I wish it lasted longer than an hour because it was darn hilarious. I about died laughing at a few sketches. 

After the show, we had dinner at the Girl and the Goat. Also known as the highest rated restaurant in Chicago on Yelp. We ate an epic amount of food because we couldn't help but feel the need to try it all: bread with garlic aioli, braised beef tongue, goat empanadas, duck tartare, wood-fired chicken and goat wontons. But y'all, if you ever make it out there, you simply have to get the chicken. It's insane. I'm going to be dreaming about (and trying to recreate) it for a long, long time. 

We also grabbed brunch our last day in Chicago at Sunny Side Up. Best brunch I've ever had - and I like my brunch food! Our server recommended the stuffed french toast and croque madam. So that's what we got (with only a minor substitution of turkey sausage for the ham) with our coffee. 

The only thing I regret is that we were too full to get cronuts from their coffee shop below. I'll have to hunt some down (or make some!) in the near future because I've heard they're delightful. 

Anyhow, that's the recap of our trip! I'll be back later this week with a recipe. :) 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How to: Caramelize Onions

One thing you really should know about me is that I'm a lover of anything caramelized. Caramel ice cream, salted caramel sauce, caramelized (or what I like to call properly "seared") steak, and caramelized onions. Just to name a few.

Caramelized onions sound fancy shmancy and taste incredible so sometimes it's assumed that the whole process is labor-intense and complicated. Today I'm here to tell you that it's not. It's actually pretty easy. Also, whenever I make them to go on a steak or potatoes (or just to eat, ahem!) I never find myself waiting for them to be finished - they always cook up beautifully while I'm preparing the rest of the meal. 

First up, surprise! you'll need onions. 

Melt butter in the bottom of a skillet, add in peeled and sliced onions. 

Note: the thinner you slice your onions, the faster they will caramelize. I usually cut mine anywhere from 1/8" - 1/4" thick. 

Then add red wine, brown sugar, garlic, salt, pepper and dried parsley. You could also use oregano, basil, rosemary, etc. Whatever makes you happy in the herb department. 

Then you just cook it over medium heat, stirring often (but not constantly) until they turn a lovely brown color, like so:

It only takes about 15 minutes to cook them down like this. And if you do it while cooking the rest of your dinner, it'll seem like a cinch and not at all time consuming. 

Then you have the difficult decision of eating them straight out of the pan or acting like a grown up and serving them as a BFF for another dish, like couscous.  


Caramelized Onions

3 yellow or white onions, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. red wine use your favorite!
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. dried herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary or parsley)
pinch of salt and pepper

Place a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter within. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, but not constantly, until the onions have reached a medium brown color. This should take about 15 minutes. 

Serve on top of steak, potatoes, salad, beans, couscous, etc.