July 17, 2010

Pita Crave

Pita Crave is fairly new in the area, and is about a mile from my place. That being said, it is an easy dinner-saver or lazy-saver. :)
We started getting their combo platter at first, but realized that we really just love the shwarma. Now we get the shwarma platter.
Their meats are delicious and flavorful. The falafel are crispy on the outside, perfectly almost creamy on the inside. The rice... oh the rice. It's so buttery and nutty, I could eat plates of it.
They also have a little "sides" bar if you like pickled veggies. They have pickled beets that are a delicious crunchy addition to your meal.
If you want lebanese sweets, they have little sweets packages (from a bakery in the city) filled with various kinds of baklava and cookies.
I will say, a negative point, goes to the pita they have. They're dry and paper-like. Thank god they have delicious rice, so I don't even take their pitas anymore!

Grill 59
19 S Sutton Rd
Streamwood, IL 60107

cPe 2010

Thank you IKEA.
IKEA Schaumburg
1800 E McConnor Parkway
Schaumburg, IL 60173

cPe 2010

Replicating Xoco's Breakfast Torta

If you don't already know from my constant ramblings about this, I love Rick Bayless... yes, him, but mostly his food. In my personal blog, I talked about my love affair with his newest restaurant, Xoco. (see post)

The hubby and I have been a few times now, but one of my favorite things on the menu is abreakfast item - the open-faced torta.
It's a half torta roll, slathered in a spicy tomato broth, a poached egg on top and a few toppings like green onions, etc. I thought... how hard could it be to replicate this at home? Turns out it wasn't so hard, even if the overall flavor was my version of Rick Bayless'.

Tomato broth ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon smoked paprika*
1 teaspoon adobo spice mix
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt/pepper to taste
* spice amounts can be increased or omitted, but we liked it spicy.

1. Melt the butter and saute the onions until translucent
2. Add the chicken broth and tomato paste, stirring to combine
3. Add the ketchup and spices; lower heat to medium and simmer
4. Season with salt/pepper to taste

Assembling the Torta:
1. Turn your oven broiler to low and toast your torta halves (or use a plain toaster)
2. Once toasted, pour some of the broth onto the roll and allow it to soak in a bit.
3. Add a poached egg on top of this and pour a little bit more sauce.
4. Garnish with whatever you have available - we used thinly sliced green onions, slices of spicy chihuahua cheese and avocado slices.

I guarantee that once you try this easy recipe, you'll add it to your brunch repertoire as well.
Buen provecho!

cPe 2008

Fancy Bread Pudding

Does the title sound healthy enough for you? :-p

Bread pudding is a dessert that I will forever love. I grew up with my Mom, Aunts and Grandma's constantly whipping up some bread pudding for a quick dessert and sugar fix. It is definitely a budget-friendly dessert as well, and if you're like me... you can have it as a breakfast treat as well ;-)
The traditional way my Mom used to make this pudding is by using slices of bread, buttering each slice, and spreading apricot jam onto each slice, then cutting it up into cubes. Add the same custard mixture (recipe below) on top and add raisins (if you like them). It's still my favorite way to make bread pudding.
However, as more ingredients become available and our palates evolve little by little, we've added various things into our basic bread pudding - everything from different fruits to nutella (nutella makes everything better), but I had never tried marshmallows in mine and thought I'd give it a try. The result was absolutely delicious and a recipe I'm glad to share with all of you because I know you'll love it too.

Basic Bread Pudding Ingredients:
1 loaf of italian bread, slices then cut into 1" cubes (you can use regular white bread too, but i like the texture italian bread gives)
2 tablespoons of melted butter
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups of milk
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
pinch of nutmeg

My additions to this recipe:
1/2 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup of mini marshmallows

1. Heat the oven to 350C
2. In a casserole dish, spread out the bread cubes and drizzle the melted butter over it, then sprinkle your (optional) additions and mix to even out.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients
4. Pour the custard mixture over the pudding, making sure to get to all pieces of bread.
5. Bake for approx 30mins, or until a quick inserted knife comes out clean.

Traditionally, we have warm custard with our pudding, but you can add a dollop of fresh whipped cream or ice-cream. Enjoy!

cPe 2010

Tomato Bisque

Sometimes our bodies crave comfort foods, and this Tomato Bisque is certainly one that my body craves. Not only is it one of the easiest recipes I've ever tried, but even paired with a delicious bacon/cheese panini, the bisque tastes so luxurious that it becomes the main star of the meal.
2tbs butter
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1 large can of peeled, tomato (halves, whole, doesn't matter)
1 cup of veg broth
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 ts nutmet
salt/pepper to taste

1. Melt the butter in a pot and saute the onions until translucent
2. Add in the can of tomatos and let it boil for a half a minute or so
3. Add the cup (or more) of veg broth and turn the heat down to medium
4. Let this simmer, while breaking up the tomatoes*
5. Using a handheld blender, blend this mixture until smooth
6. Turn it down to low heat and slowly add the cream and nutmeg
7. Taste and season with salt/pepper

*if you want it SUPER easy/fast, use marinara sauce or tomato soup itself
That's it! This made about 4-6 small soup bowl servings, which is a great way to prepare lunch for the work week or to entertain a dinner party!

cPe 2010