Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Party Recipe Ideas

I can hardly believe that it is that time of year again. I have such a love-hate relationship with it. Of course, it is an honor to be invited to so many gatherings, but at the same time, all of the celebrating can get downright exhausting! Here is a list of simple recipes that can be made if you are like me and don't like showing up to parties empty-handed or if you are going to a potluck and want to bring a crowd-pleaser.

Persimmons have just come in to season and I could not be more excited. This simple appetizer of roasted persimmons wrapped in bacon is a simple combination of sweet, savory, and tart.

Roasted Persimmons Wrapped in Bacon

It's just hard to resist food wrapped in pork. I dare you to eat just one of these Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp

A few years ago, it seemed like every food blogger in America was making Ina Garten's parmesan-thyme crackers. These savory shortbreads are perfect on their own, but would also be great with a spinach dip.

Spiced Candied Walnuts are great for a salad, but also make the perfect party snack.

Spiced Candied Walnuts

Sweet potatoes are loaded with health benefits. One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is roasted and topped with a creamy, herbed, goat cheese.

Roasted Sweet Potato Discs with Herbed Goat Cheese

And for something sweet, why not this festive, and incredibly delicious, Blushing Pom Holiday Cheesecake. Tart pomegranate juice mixed with a smooth and creamy cheesecake makes a dessert that is impossible for your guests to resist.

Pom Cheesecake

However you celebrate the season, I wish you good times filled with family, friends, and of course great food. Cheers!

One year ago: Spiced Candied Walnuts
Two years ago: Great Los Angeles Walk 2010
Three years ago: Cannoli
Four years ago: Dumpling Noodle Soup

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Edzo's Burger Shop - Chicago Dogs and Burgers

In my short time in Chicago, I have had some amazing meals at places like GT Fish and Oyster, Longman & Eagle, and most recently Balena, but I've also had equally great "low-end" meals at the various hot dog and burger stands all over the city. The proliferation of these stands all over the city have inspired me to start a new feature on this blog highlighting some of those better stands and the fare they sling.

First up is Edzo's Burger Shop. A couple of months ago, I randomly decided to spend a day in Evanston just to see what was there. Before a self-guided tour of the Northwestern campus, I visited Edzo's for a hefty lunch. Even on a weekday afternoon, the line was out the door, but the service is fast and efficient. I started with a locally-made Filbert's grape soda.

Grape Soda

At Edzo's, you can order a smashed griddle burger or a thicker char burger. For this first visit, I went with a single griddle burger ($3.89 plus $.75 for cheese) topped with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and American cheese. The burger has been smashed on the grill  so it gets crispy edges. It's flavored well and comes with a lightly toasted bun that doesn't overwhelm the thin patty.

Edzo's Burger

I figured that since I was already splurging with a burger, I could indulge further with truffle fries ($5.49). These hand cut fries are flavored with truffle salt and Parmesan cheese in every bite. The portion size is great for sharing.

Truffle Fries at Edzo's

By a happy accident, I was given garlic fries ($3.99). They were loaded with bits of garlic and full of flavor. Also worthy of sharing.

Garlic Fries at Edzo's

Edzo's is proof that an inexpensive meal does not have to be low quality. I appreciate their attention to detail and the energy the spend sourcing good ingredients. I'm definitely going to be visiitng again when their Lincoln Park location opens up.

Edzo's Burger Shop
1571 Sherman Ave.
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 864-3396

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Farfalle with Sausage and Pumpkin

Farfalle with Pumpkin and Sausage

Somehow, pumpkin has become the new bacon. I’m not sure how or why, but it seems that the second Labor Day was over, every food blogger in the history of the world started blogging pumpkin recipes. That may be a tad overdramatic, but to be honest, I was and still am overwhelmed by the volume of pumpkin recipes invading the interwebs over the last couple of months. I have certainly been guilty of this in the past, but I didn’t really want to contribute to the oversaturation this year…until now. This is one of two pumpkin recipes I have made recently. I won a giveaway on Mango & Tomato and was sent a couple of boxes of pasta. The spaghetti went quickly in one of my favorite easy recipes, but I wanted to try something a bit different with the farfalle which is not a type of pasta I use often. This dish is total comfort food, but not unhealthy. There is the slight sweetness of the pumpkin and cinnamon and a gentle heat from the red pepper flakes. The sage is not overpowering rounds out the flavor. The spinach added a bit of green and more would certainly be welcome. I’ve been sort of obsessed with Romano cheese lately, but if you don’t have it, Parmesan works well.

Farfalle with Pumpkin and Sausage

One year ago: Brunch at The Churchill
Two years ago: SugarFISH
Three years ago: Albondigas
Four years ago: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Farfalle with Sausage and Pumpkin
(Adapted from My Kitchen Addiction)

Makes 4-5 servings

10 ounces farfalle pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
Kosher salt to taste
12 ounces sage pork sausage
1/2 teaspoon diced fresh sage
1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup finely chopped spinach
3/4 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for serving

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and season lightly with salt. Cook until the onion has softened a bit, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage and use the back of a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meat. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the sausage is browned and cooked through.

Add the sage, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon to the pan. Cook for one minute. Add the pumpkin puree, spinach and wine and cook for 2-3 minutes until everything is warmed through and combined. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Add the pasta to the pan and toss to combine. If the mixture looks dry, add the reserved pasta water to the pan a little bit at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Serve the pasta topped with Parmesan or Romano cheese if desired.

Printable Recipe

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