April in Chicago

GranolaWhen Andrea and I came back from breakfast on Sunday, Keith was in the kitchen making granola. His combination of oats, nuts, seeds, and my favorites, dried cherries and coconut, is absolutely delicious. Such a great snack. Thank you Keith!

LettuceExactly seven days after planting, I awoke to see lettuce sprouts on our balcony. I can see that I went a little overboard with the number of seeds planted, but I am beyond excited to see some growth. Here’s to hoping more appear this week.

Elaine'sI drink coffee now! That’s right, after 27 years (and realizing how much sugar is in my beloved chai lattes) I am drinking coffee 3-4 times a week. Keith is thrilled about this because he loves trying new coffee shops. A few weeks ago we went to Elaine’s in Hotel Lincoln. Delicious lattes. We are hoping to try some of these this summer.

However, we have yet to take our first bike ride of the year. This past weekend would have been perfect, but we were busy with our visitors. I am monitoring the weather for this weekend. Perhaps we’ll take an Easter bike ride?

Our Weekend

EK PicI read a tweet Saturday that said, “When it’s nice out, you can’t beat this city.” I wholeheartedly agree. After a harsh winter, this weekend was a welcome reprieve full of warm weather, sun, and grateful residents enjoying Chicago en masse. A weekend with this kind of weather would have been wonderful by itself, but Keith and I were lucky enough to enjoy it with visitors. We had a great time with Andrea, Tori, Elana and Jen. You ladies are welcome here anytime!

Happy Friday!

GirlsHappy Friday everyone! It is shaping up to be a GORGEOUS weekend in Chicago, and best of all, these crazy girlies are coming to visit us! Andrea and her three roommates are driving to Chicago as I type, and we are so excited to show them around.

Have a great weekend with your friends and loved ones!

Our week in recipes

MagazineLast week I picked up a copy of Bon Appetit at the airport. I was in need of some new recipe inspiration, and it did not disappoint! Here are three meals we made this week.

Veal Piccata with Sautéed Green Beans

Veal finishedThe magazine had a section on how to best bread and fry meat cutlets, and Keith requested veal piccata when I told him I wanted to try the technique.

  1. Pound meat to 1/4 – 1/8” thick. (I just purchased scallopini from the butcher)
  2. Pay meat dry and liberally season with salt and pepper
  3. Dredge cutlet in flour, shaking off any excess
  4. Dip floured cutlet in a beaten egg, allowing excess to drip off
  5. Firmly press each side of the cutlet into bread crumb mixture to coat evenly. Note – I used a combination of fresh and store bought bread crumbs. The article suggested using pretzels and almonds as well.
  6. Working in batches, drop cutlets into half an inch of hot oil. To determine whether the oil is hot enough, drop a few breadcrumbs into the mixture. They should sizzle and pop
  7. Brown cutlets for 1-2 minutes on each side, remove and set aside

Veal prep Veal fryingOnce I removed the cutlets from the frying pan, I followed this recipe to make the piccata sauce. I served the veal with green beans sautéed in olive, salt and pepper, with a little lemon zest.

Linguine and Clams with Almonds and Herbs

Pasta finishedWe don’t cook much pasta. Keith used to make me garlicky, cheesy pasta with egg yolks, which is a tradition I should encourage him to resurrect. But these days, our pasta at home consists of Annie’s shells and white cheddar. Delicious, but not the most interesting or filling. Here’s a different option. We halved the recipe. This serves four.

  • ½ cup unsalted, roasted almonds, coarsely chopped (you can see in the photo below I chose to roast char my almonds stove top. Lack of planning on my part)
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped chives
  • 2 Tbsp. fine chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. plus ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • ¾ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 lb. littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 12 oz. linguine
  1. Mix almonds, chives, parsley, and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside
  2. Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened, about two minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half, about two minutes.
  3. Add clams and increase heat to medium-high. Cover pot and cook, shaking occasionally, until clams have opened, 5-8 minutes. Discards any clams that don’t open
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving one cup pasta cooking liquid
  5. Add pasta and ½ cup cooking liquid to clams and toss to coat. Cooking, tossing and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Note – I only used ½ cup cooking liquid since it seemed saucy, but once the pasta was in our bowls, all the liquid had been absorbed. I’ll be adding the full cup next time.
  6. Serve immediately topped with reserved almond-herb mixture.

Herbs and almonds Herbs Clams

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Pizza

Pizza finished

Pizza time! The recipe was for a galette, but I decided to make a regular pizza crust. I did take inspiration from the whole wheat dough, and used a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour.

Pizza Dough

  • ¾ cup warm water
  • ¼ tsp. yeast
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  1. Activate yeast by mixing with ¼ cup very warm water
  2. Combine flours, olive oil, remaining water, and yeast water (when frothy), mix and knead gently until combined
  3. Place in a bowl, cover, and let rise 18-24 hours

Pizza

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 oz. maitake or crimini mushrooms. Note – we used shitake. I couldn’t find maitake and Keith is not a huge fan of crimini
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch large Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into bit sized pieces. Note – I just removed the stems, the ribs wilted down just fine
  • 1 cups mixed fresh herbs (such as flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, dill, and/or chives). I used parsley and chives since we had them in the house
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Flaky sea salt
  1. One hour before baking, place pizza stone in the oven and pre-heat to 500 degrees
  2. Season ricotta with salt and pepper, side aside
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, sautéed mushrooms with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a small bowl
  4. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic for 30 seconds, add chard in batches and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside
  5. Roll out or hand-toss dough to desired thickness. Spread ¾ of ricotta mixture onto dough, top with chard and mushrooms, and dollop the remaining ricotta on top of the pizza
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes on pizza stone
  7. Remove from oven, top with mixture of herbs, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and serve

In full disclosure, I originally forgot the lemon zest, and when Keith tried the pizza (having never read the recipe), he said, it was good but could use some lemon. Such a discerning palate! I was so impressed and completely agree. It was much better with the lemon zest and juice. If you want to make a galette, the original recipe can be found here.

ToppingsPizza prep

Out of the recipes I tried, the pizza was my favorite. It seemed very seasonal to me, with hearty mushrooms and chard, but fresh herbs on top. I have also been gravitating more towards vegetarian dishes recently. Plus, the whole wheat crust was great. This will be our default pizza crust going forward. The linguine with clams was my second favorite, mostly because I am not a huge fan of veal. Keith liked the veal though. All of the recipes were fairly simple and quick, perfect for dinner after work!

Tissues and Tea

Tea and tissuesKeith and I are usually pretty healthy, but so far, 2014 has not been kind to us. We have been under the weather with colds, coughs, and congestion. Nothing serious, thankfully, but it’s enough to be annoying. Plus, our colds have been lingering. This week I have a cough that keeps me guessing whether or not I’ll have a voice each time I speak. It’s been really fun answering phone calls at work.

Aside from our recent trip to Istanbul and the accompanying long flights, I can’t think of anything we’re doing differently this year. We get plenty of sleep, eat reasonably healthy (though I’m sure there’s plenty of room for improvement), and exercise. I purchased extra fruits and veggies this week in an effort to kick these colds once and for all, but in the meantime, it’s lots of tissues and tea here in the Petersen household.