Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Green Eggs & Bacon with Spinach Pesto

We are currently trying to get our health back on track and eating Paleo most of the time seems to work best for us to do this. And the reason we both believe Paleo works best for us is because when eating Paleo we never feel like we are dieting or missing out on great tasting foods. 

Some people find Paleo breakfast the most challenging especially if you are not a big egg eater. I have to admit prior to starting Paleo about 5 years ago, really the only kind of eggs I liked was scrambled or hard fried. 

Now any egg, any way makes the cut. We definitely eat a lot of eggs around here and we feel incredibly fortunate because a good family friend starting raising her own chickens a few years ago so now we get farm fresh, organic eggs delivered to our porch once a week. It's a great treat.

But we have found that mixing up how we prepare our eggs on the weekends really helps breakfast be something to look forward to. And this recipe, a play on green eggs & ham, was a great one to get us out of bed on a lazy Sunday morning. 

We first started by whipping up a quick spinach pesto. Now it's Paleo pesto so no parmesan cheese and walnuts instead of pine nuts but trust us you won't miss them and the drizzle of pesto over the eggs definitely brings a zesty addition to this dish.

We started by plating with a layer of spinach sautéed in coconut oil and garlic first. 

Followed with a layer of crispy bacon topped with two sunny side up fried eggs and then drizzled with our yummy spinach pesto. We added a few slices of avocado to balance out the textures.

This was a great and satisfying breakfast that met our Paleo parameters. Whether you are following a Paleo lifestyle or not we highly recommend this breakfast dish. It's likely you might even just have all of these ingredients in hand too, we did. 


Green Eggs & Bacon with Spinach Pesto

2 cups fresh spinach leaves, well-washed and stemmed
1⁄2 cup fresh basil
1⁄2 cup walnuts toasted
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into food processor and process to a fine paste.
Taste and adjust seasonings and transfer to a glass container and top with a thin coat of olive oil to prevent the top of the pesto from discoloring.
Keeps for weeks in the refrigerator.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Parmesan - Crusted Halibut in Crazy Water

After what seems like weeks and weeks of heavy, not so healthy eating we decided not to calorie splurge for Sunday dinner this week which we usually do. During the work week we try to keep it relatively healthy, always for breakfast & lunch and mostly for dinners. But on the weekend we have  the time to cook and when we cook all day to make a meal it's usually not focused on being a healthy one. Just being honest.

But this past Sunday we both felt a need to keep it a bit lighter. We looked back in one of our favorite recipe resources, our collection of Cuisine at Home magazines (they are still one of the only cooking magazines we get that doesn't have their recipes available online.) We found a recipe we had marked as one we wanted to cook from a December 2008 issue that we had never got around to actually making. Perfect.

Parmesan-Crusted Halibut in Crazy Water with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Orzo sounded like a long title but absolutely right up our alley. We love halibut and the fact is in the winter we don't eat nearly enough of it. Crazy water sounded a bit interesting, after reading about the recipe we learned the recipe is based on an Italian recipe and it's called crazy water because the broth is made with wine, water, fragrant herbs, and veggies. Didn't sound too crazy for us. 

Luckily our favorite fish market nearby, Metropolitan Market, had some really good looking halibut. It was previously frozen given the time of the year but it looked and smelled about as fresh as we'd be able to find. 

The recipe starts with smearing the halibut with some store bought pesto (I also found some freshly made pesto at Met Market) and then creating a Parmesan and panko crust that goes on top of the pesto. 

Evidently to make the true Italian version of the recipe the halibut would poach in the "crazy water" but in order to keep the Parmesan crust crispy in this recipe we baked the halibut in the oven separately from the broth. And this absolutely was a great call. That crispy crust eaten with the savory, briny broth was fantastic.

It really was a deliciously, flavorful meal. All of the components played perfectly off each other; the kalamata olives, lemon juice, roasted red peppers contrasted with the crispy, pesto flavored sweet halibut. 

We enjoyed our wonderful Parmesan crusted halibut with an oaky  Walla Walla 2013 Waterbrook Reserve Chardonnay.


Parmesan-Crusted Halibut in Crazy Water with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Orzo 

Makes 2 servings : Total Time about 45 minutes

1/4 C panko crumbs
2 Tblspns grated Parmesan cheese
Minced zest of 1/2 a lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
4 tspns purchased pesto, divided
2 halibut fillets, 1-inch each (4 0z. each)

For the Crazy Water:
1/4 C minced red onion
1 tspn minced garlic
1/4 tspn red pepper flakes
2 tspns olive oil
1/4 C dry white wine
2 1/2 C water
1/2 C halved grape tomatoes
1/4 C dry orzo pasta
1 tspn sugar
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 C coarsely chopped zucchini
1/2 C jarred roasted red pepper, cut into strips
1/4 C halved kalamata olives
2 Tspns chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 450; coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Combine panko, Parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl. Spread 1/2 pesto on each piece of halibut and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Press panko mixture onto pesto side of halibut, spritz crumbs with nonstick spray, then refrigerate until ready to roast.

Saute onion, garlic, and pepper flakes in oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat for the 'crazy water.' Cook until soft, about 3 minutes, then deglaze with wine. Simmer until nearly evaporated, then stir in water, tomatoes, pasta, sugar, and thyme. Cook until orzo is tender, about 9 minutes.

Roast fish while orzo simmers. Cook fillets until crumbs are golden and flesh flakes easily with a fork, 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Add zucchini, red pepper strips, and olives to crazy water; simmer just until heated through. Off heat, stir in parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. To serve divide broth between 2 shallow bowls, top each with halibut fillet, and garnish with lemon wedges. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Our Favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup

When I've been sick a few days nothing sounds better than a bowl of hot & spicy soup. And for us there really is nothing more comforting than a good chicken tortilla soup. After 4 days of a sore throat, stuffy head and deep cough it was time to bring on this comfort and make some soup.

We just returned from Chicago where we spent 4 days eating, eating and eating some more. 

Frontera Grill's Bar
And visiting Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill is almost always a Chicago must visit for us. If you've frequented our posts you might know G is somewhat of a Rick Bayless fan and a lot of  our meals are inspired by his flavors. 

We make chicken tortilla soup several times a year. And each time we take a trip to Mexico we try as many different restaurants' tortilla soup as we can to build our palate so we can attempt to bring those same authentic flavors home to the soup we make. 

We've made many different versions of tortilla soup but Rick's process of toasting dried chiles and then frying them to reconstitute the flavor has become one of our favorites. This time we decided to mostly wing our own version of the soup but to definitely include his process for building the flavor of the broth with the toasted chiles.

Most recipes you find will call for you to fry strips of corn tortilla. We've adapted a "fryless" method to avoid both the mess frying and the extra calories that we never really need. 
We use a pizza cutter to cut thin strips of corn tortillas. 

Then place them on a sheet pan and bake them in a 350 degree oven. Tossing them every 5-8 minutes until they are browned & crispy. They provide the same crunch and texture in the soup that fried tortillas do.

We first de-seeded some dried chiles and toasted them in a dry pan on the stove. And then saute them with onions, serrano chile and garlic in olive oil before adding them with a can of fire roasted tomatoes in the blender to create a puree. 

Then we saute the chicken and put it aside and add the puree back to the dutch oven and reduce it until it's thick and rich and finally add the chicken stock.

Then we create our own bowls of soup with the variety of toppings. As they do in Mexico we always start first with the first layer in our bowl being a cubed, fresh, slow melting Mexican cheese like Queso Fresco or Panella. Then of course followed by chicken either cubed or shredded. 

This time we actually added some cooked lentils to add some additional protein and texture. 

We then add broth, chopped avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips and a squeeze of lime. Sometimes we'll also add Mexican crema but not always.

The toasting of chiles followed by sauteing them and pureeing them with the fire roasted tomatoes really does help build a great depth of flavor. This time I added 1 serrano chile as well to increase the spice since I was all stuffed up.

The lentils probably aren't authentic at all, at least we've never had them in a tortilla soup in Mexico, but since we've been making this for almost 15 years we are at a point that we are trying to create our own favorite version. This one might go on our the top 3 list.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

Makes 8-10 servings depending on serving size

Soup Ingredients:
2 dried pasilla ancho chiles (or whatever dried Mexican chiles you prefer really), seeds removed and torn into small pieces
1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 minced serrano chile, seeds removed
8 cups chicken broth
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
1 lb chicken breast, cut into small chunks
1 cup cooked lentils (optional)

fresh lime wedges
corn tortilla strips made from corn tortillas (see notes within the post)
1/2 cup cubed 
avocados (1-2), pit removed and diced
fresh cilantro leaves

Toast the chiles in a dry skillet over medium heat) until they are soft and fragrant. Set aside on a cutting board to cool.

Saute diced onion, garlic, serrano and toasted chiles in olive oil until soft and translucent 5-6 minutes. 

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked onion, chile and garlic to a blender with the can of fire roasted tomatoes and chiles. Puree all of the ingredients together until very smooth.

Cook chicken in dutch oven, season with salt, pepper and chipotle powder, when cooked through and set aside.

Return the soup pot to high heat. Once pot is very hot, add the pureed tomato chile mixture all at once--it should sizzle immediately. Continue to cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens substantially--for about 5-6 minutes--once it is ready, it should resemble the thickness of a loose tomato paste.

Add the chicken broth to the pot and combine thoroughly using a spoon or whisk. Reduce the heat and allow the broth to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste.

Over low heat, add the lentils and chicken. Stir occasionally until chicken is just cooked through (this should only take 2-3 minutes). Finish the soup with lime juice.
Serve hot with toppings (or alternatively, place toppings in empty bowls and pour soup directly over them).

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cheesy Shrimp & Grits

Hey, have you ever been scrolling through Twitter and see a delicious Cheesy Shrimp & Grits dish that a friend has posted and is eating that makes your mouth water? Well that's exactly how this dish came about. 

After seeing our friend's post we immediately knew we had to make this dish and make it tonight. We were out and about doing some errands but I googled some recipes and found one by Martha Stewart that we decided to give a try.  We pretty much had everything we needed to make it so we only had to pick up a lemon and some green onions.

The spicy shrimp were perfectly flavored and had just enough heat to make them wonderful. Our grits turned out a bit too lumpy and not as creamy as we'd of liked them to be but we can fix that by adding some more broth next time. 

This dish hit the spot.


Cheesy Shrimp & Grits (adapted from Martha Stewart) 

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne, pepper
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons red or green chiles, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Cheese Grits
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, green parts only, sliced on the bias
4 slices Maple-Glazed Bacon


Place shrimp, 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and pinch of black pepper in a medium bowl; toss to combine.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place shrimp, celery, shallots, and chiles in an even layer in skillet and let cook for 1 minute, without stirring. Turn shrimp and add wine; let reduce to 2 tablespoons, about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and simmer until it begins to thicken, about 1 minute more. Stir in butter until completely melted; add lemon juice.
Divide grits evenly between 4 serving bowls; top with shrimp and sauce. Garnish with cilantro and scallions; top with a slice of maple bacon and serve.

Cheesy Grits 

2 cups stone-ground grits
2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock, plus more as necessary
2 cups milk
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


Place grits in a large bowl; add 4 cups water; stir (light bran will rise to the top); and drain.
Bring chicken stock and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When liquid begins to boil, slowly whisk in grits; cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
Stir in both cheeses until melted and well combined. If grits seem a little too thick, add more stock to loosen. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Chicken Ramen with Crispy Chicken Skin

Lately we've developed a pretty healthy craving on a regular basis for a good homemade ramen. Yes, both of us individually as college students consumed our fair share of totally unhealthy packaged ramen dishes. It kind of makes me swell just thinking of it but what can we say those college days were lean.

We've tried a few different recipes with some mild satisfaction but really we learned making a good broth isn't a quick or super easy endeavor. 

We adapted a few different recipes we found to make the best ramen and broth we've made to date. We started with bone in, skin on chicken thighs. Both the bones and skin really add to the flavor of the broth so we feel this is what made all the difference with this ramen. 

Somewhat mistakenly the skin really stuck to the bottom of the pot and tore away from the chicken. The skin started getting all crispy and we both immediately thought that crispy skin will make a great topping and it did.

Once the chicken was cooked we removed the chicken from the pot and started our broth. Adding onion, ginger and garlic and chicken broth with some dashi seasoning. We also added a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil as well.

While the broth simmered for about 45 minutes we sauteed the broccolini and mushrooms, shredded the chicken and cooked the ramen. And soft boiled the eggs.

Now it was time to assemble the ramen. We started first plating the noodles.

Followed by the broccolini.

And then the mushrooms and chicken.

Finally the broth, eggs and toasted sesame seeds and crispy chicken skin. It was our first time actually making soft boiled eggs. I think they went a minute or two too long, next time we'll cook them a bit less. 

We can't emphasize enough how essential the crispy chicken skin became, we highly recommend using it. We also believe it was the remaining stuck skin at the bottom of the pot that really added the rich essence to the broth. 


Chicken Ramen with Crispy Chicken Skin

2 Tblspns olive oil
1 lb. Bone in, skin on chicken thighs
1 white onion, chopped
Salt & pepper
3 Tblspns ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced 
4 cups chicken broth
2 Tblspns dashi powder
2 Tblspns soy sauce
2 Tblspns sesame oil

1/4 lb oyster mushrooms
1/4 lb shitake mushrooms
1/4 lb broccolini
4 green onions, diagonally chopped
2 eggs
2 packages ramen noodles
2 Tblspns toasted sesame seeds
Crispy chicken skin

Cook the seasoned chicken thighs in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a dutch oven. As the skin starts to cook pull the chicken away from the skin and let the skin crisp up. When chicken is cooked through remove from pot and finish crisping chicken skin. Pull out as much chicken skin as you can and drain on paper towel and season with salt. 

To pot add onion, ginger, garlic, broth, dashi, soy sauce and sesame oil. Bring to boil then lower temperature and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

While broth cooks saute' mushrooms and broccolini until down but not over cooked. Cook ramen and soft boil eggs.

To large bowls divide noodles. Top with veggies and chopped chicken. Divide broth. Top with eggs, crispy chicken skin and toasted sesame seeds. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy 2016

Yes, we've become or have been for some time now those boring or smart people that no longer venture out on New Year's Eve. 

We could say it's because we just spent 7 glorious days of travel to Chicago and Southern Illinois and we are just plain jet lagged. But the truth is even if that wasn't the case we'd still choose to stay in. It was probably 6 years ago that we finally just said, "No More!" 

So for new year's eve we had a perfect evening spent with our bully girl. We made a cozy fire, cooked some of our fave dishes and watched some cheesy movies, finally snuggling in to bed just before midnight. Truly low key, truly quiet and uneventful but utterly perfect for what we wanted of our celebration to welcome a new year.

We wish you all a very Happy 2016 filled with food, friends, family and to be surrounded by those that you love!

New Year's Eve 2015 Menu:
  • Spicy Shrimp Cocktail
  • Steamed King Crab Legs with Red Peppered Butter
  • Green Salad with Holiday Pear, Blue Cheese & Pecans
  • Steakhouse Steak with Roquefort Chive Sauce (Ina Garten's Steakhouse Steaks Recipe)
  • Smashed Potatoes
  • 2010 Fidelitas Ciel Du Cheval Cabernet Franc