Happy Hour Adventures tonight 1st one ” Check Please!”

 

Cafe Ba Ba Reeba HappyHour

As a single person I never did any serious happy hour bar food and drinks because it wasn’t something I did. Now, after I’ve been married for 10 years and with three kids I decided it’s time to enjoy some happy hour time in the city I love Chicago! Tonight we checked into Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. 2024 N Halsted St, 60614 Chicago. We sat down at the bar and ordered two red sangrias, and some $1 pintxos and  $3 tapas. It was my first time at this lettuce entertain you restaurant in about 12 years. I haven’t had a reason to come back until now for their Happy Hour deals. We got there with just about 30 minutes before Happy Hour ended so we had to order food immediately and get enough to fill our tummies. We ordered mostly everything offered on the Happy Hour Menu, but the tapas we liked best were the garlic potato salad, chicken empanadas and for their Pintxo I liked the deviled bacon mustard egg and their Laughing Bird Shrimp With Pork Lardo it was tiny and tasty. The bird shrimps were so tiny but the flavors were all there a little grilled flavor with a bit a fat. I ate like two of them and had some chicken and ham croquettes which I thought were okay. Happy Hour was enjoyable I think the next time I go here I would be careful how much I ordered because you can easily go over because it is tiny dishes you feel that won’t fill you up but they do. So when you do these tapas remember that you can probably about three total and be pretty filled. The pintxos people get tiny bites one at a time just order the Pintxos that you really like and eat it twice should be enough to satisfy a hungry stomach. I feel if someone comes out of a happy hour hungry you can always pick up a dessert on the way home somewhere else.

 

In conclusion Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba a fun happy hour time great red sangria and I enjoyed the tapas and pintxos. I would return with friends to enjoy more tapas even a full on dinner.

 

 http://www.cafebabareeba.com .

Drunken Noodles ( pad kee mao)

 

IMG_20140712_171445

 

 

Last week we were dining at a Thai restaurant in Sevierville Tennessee.  The restaurant was called ” Thai Basil” I know what you are thinking  Thai food in Tennesse what we’re you thinking right? But the Food was very good and the service was excellent.   We were on vacation in Piegon Forge TN and need a break from the food around us. I really wanted to stay away from eating any kind of Asian food in Tennessa basically because I feared the worse Asian food ever, but I caved in on the last day we were there because I couldn’t take anymore southern comfort food. Southern comfort food is more like comfort my big fat thighs. As much as people love their fried chicken and biscuits I can’t do that all the time. I needed me some good Asian food and Thai Basil was my answer and I thanked my husband for suggesting it.

At Thai Basil we ordered the typical Thai specials, panang curry with chicken, pad thai chicken, pad see ew and we ordered the drunken noodles. I loved their drunken noodles it was full of flavor and color with the bell peppers and onions and noodles. I asked the owner how his Mama made the dish but it was a secret. But I got a few hints how it was made and so I took a crack at it.

A lot of ingredients involved in the whole dish but I felt i came to a close second to the dish. Thai Basil beat on flavor and color. But as a person who isn’t Thai I gave it a good shot and would work on mastering this dish again.

My version of ” Drunken Noodles”

Ingredients

4 packages of prepared ramen noodles ( cooked and water drained)

1 small red bell pepper sliced

1 small green bell pepper slice

slice celery

1 yellow onion sliced

Fresh Garlic minced

Ginger thinly sliced

( about 1-2 tsp of each roughly)

light soy sauce

dark soy sauce

fish sauce

oyster sauce

hoisin sauce

 

You can always add chicken or beef to this dish but I made mine vegetarian because it’s just easier. I don’t remember what type of meat was in the drunken noodles when we ordered.

Procedure:  Step 1 – Make sure your ramen noodles or whatever noodle you decided to use . My suggestion is a quick and ready to cook noodles is best. This is suppose to be hassle free dish almost like a fried rice version with noodles.

Step 2 – Heat up a wok on medium high heat and hopefully if you have all your vegetables sliced if not get those thing prepared now. Add a little cooking oil to the wok and allow it to heat it up it takes no more than than 1 minute.

Step 3 –   Turn heat up on high and stir-fry the veggies all of them onions, bell peppers  you can add other veggies too like celery or thinly sliced carrots. If using meat you have to cook meat first before the vegetables. At this time add the minced garlic and ginger.

Step 4- After the veggies have been cooked add the noodles and sprinkle in the soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce and hoisin sauce a little at a time and taste it over and over until the flavor suits you. Turn off Eat and serve it up.

Asian Outpost – Making their lettuce wraps

 

lettucewrapingerdients

As you all know I went to Asian Outpost recently and decided if I liked a dish enough I will try to learn how to make it. I really liked the lettuce wrap dish we had as an appetizer plate. It is a chicken based dish wrapped with romaine lettuce. I thought the flavors were simple but delicious. The textures were soft and a bit of a tiny crunch comes from the pinenuts. I really think anybody can do this at home. The next big question about this dish is how did it cost to make it and how much did I pay for it at the restaurant.

 

Asian outpost price for it $ 8.95 they did the cooking and I got to eat it for $ 8.95.  The portions were small and they let you know it’s a small plate. Appetizers tend to just be starts and snacks right? So they were on the money with that one although sad thing is you’d have to double up on the orders if you want to feed a family of four or more and that can being double the price.
At Home – Estimate total cost of making this dish $15 most of the ingredients I already had at home so I didn’t count it into the cost of what I had purchase to make this dish. If I did count the ingredients at home I would estimate it to be $20. I increased the portions 10 folds we had it more of a side dish for dinner rather than an appetizer plenty for all to eat. It is not a cheap dish to make if you had to buy all the ingredients because you don’t have it on hand. However, I did make a larger portion of the dish.

 

Ingredients : Tell you was most expensive with $ signs

1 head of Romaine lettuce washed and dried ($0.99)

Black Fungus Mushrooms ( Wood ear mushrooms) ( soak these in water for about 10 minutes)

1 can Water Chestnuts ( optional) SKIPPED IT

Pine nuts $$ ( paid $5.25 for a tiny bag)

4-5 pieces Dried Shiitake Mushrooms ( soaked them in water for 20 minutes)  $2

Chicken ( marinaded it) $4

1 small onion

1 tsp Oyster sauce

1 tsp Hoisin sauce

 

Method of cooking : It’s a stir-fry dish.

Here are my results the flavors were on the money.  It was easy to make and anybody can do it.. You need to make sure you marinade the chicken at least 2 hours in advance, I did it over night. I always believe that in order to stir-fry you must marinade your meats and allow it to soak up flavors for several hours.  The rest of the ingredients need to diced up into little slivers. In this recipe.  Using a wok or frying pan you add some oil heat it on high. Stir fry need to be cooked on high heat and you can turn down the heat as the meat is fully cooked through and then toss in the other ingredients to cook along with the meat. You can place a lid to speed up the cooking but only for 1 or 2 minutes.

I actually forgot to use water chestnuts which was fine because I don’t care for water chestnuts. I would try to add it next time to see if it made a difference.  However, I love the dish as it was. Also you can probably leave out nuts if you’re allergic or substitute it with unsalted cashews. I think you try to make it yourself. It taste great wrapped  fresh romaine lettuce. It is gluten-free and very yummy.

 

LettuceWraps

 

 

FairPlay is Fair Game for Everybody 2200 S Western Ave Chicago, IL

 

Face it when you walk into Fairplay grocery store it’s fair game for everybody. Their produce is cheap but you have to use their produce right away after you buy them. I like the prices on their shelves items but again depending on the time of month you shop prices and vary greatly. I am attracted to Fairplay because their array of frozen pizza and fries are endless. They stock the frozen foods like nothing else I’ve seen in other grocery stores. I do believe today we went at the wrong time of the month.

Fair play has raise their prices  on everything at the end of the month. Hmmm I wonder why that is the case? Things like frozen free pops, that you get warm but you freeze at home in your freezer were $1.69 for package are $1.99 this week. My husband wanted a deli sandwich but the lady who handles the deli counter isn’t very friendly. Customer service is lacking at this Fair play. I say when I got there I like to check out cheap deals for cake box mix, mayo and meats today I guess I went on the wrong day. Honestly, we go into Fairplay knowing we won’t enjoy shopping there it’s a place to get food items for a cheaper value. So we think unless it’s not Link card week.  I headed it to Pete’s Market after purchasing a few items.

Dollar Tree 3145 S Ashland Ave Chicago, IL 60608

 

O Dollar Tree O Dollar Tree I don’t know where I’d be without thee?

Never under estimate what you can get at the Dollar Tree store. I go there at least three time a month to let the kids shop for something fun with their allowance. I  stock up on my party table cloth, plastic table clothes and cleaning agents. I like to also pick up dog treats for our yorkie-poodle, Bogart. If I am feeling in a mood for snacks plenty to pick up almost too dangerous for me because I want the pretzels and chips. I have also been able to get last minute greeting cards for and birthday balloons too. They are have short waiting time for balloons than the Party city that is in the same plaza. I feel the dollar store has more to offer for a just $1.00 per item.

I have also been the big dollar tree store up in Hodgkins IL where they sell frozen foods and some refrigerated grocery store foods. They have a larger selection of kid’s activities and party supplies. It is very impressive stock on products you didn’t know you can get just for $1.00. My kids get excited when we head to the dollar tree it.  I’d encourage anybody who doesn’t shop at Dollar Tree stores to give it a try you can get some helpful household items for just $1 and it does the job. I know not everything we buy for $1 is durable that is why  I only buy items I know I will end up using and tossing out after one or two uses.

Asian OutPost Located @ 1315 S. Wabash Avenue Chicago

AsianOutpostMe   They are open for both lunch and dinner. Monday through Wednesday they open at 5:00 p.m. til’ 10:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday they are open at 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. It was an exciting day tonight because we met up with some friends to dine at Asian Outpost a restaurant my husband I have been wanting to try for some time now. We brought our kids and met up with some close friends who made reservations for us. The place had a organic Asian style decor going for it Immediately when you get in you see that they have a herb garden bed with all sorts of fresh herbs they are growing, I am assuming they use it for their cooking? The art work is both modern and rustic Asian art and furniture. The lighting is soft and I love that because it gives you a warm feeling. The dining room is roomy you can have a group dinner there and not feel cramped. Now onto the important part the food!

Tonight we allowed our friends to order food since they have dined there before and I was open to try anything since I didn’t much about their menu. At Our table we had, as Appetizers they call them small plates Lettuce wraps ( small plates) Pork Belly sliders Sushi  Spicy Crab Roll House Specials Salt & Pepper Crusted Tofu Chicken with Spicy Nutty Noodles Mom’s Ginger garlic fried Chicken Ramen Tonkotsu Miso

 

Let’s start off with the small plates they are small plates you get small portion of the chicken, water chestnuts and mushroom filling with 4 large size lettuce leaves. The pork belly sliders were big but you only get two of them. You can cut them up and share it with four other people but if you want one to yourself you’d have to double the order. Both small plates were delicious. I liked the lettuce wrapped it reminded me of something my Aunty Teresa makes during the winter months for a Chinese Holiday. The pork sliders were amazing I could eat two more of those and be happy just eating those guys. We also had a sushi roll the spicy crab roll it was delicious I liked their sushi roll. However, it’s sushi I wouldn’t be able to afford easily on our budget so it was a splurge for us.

Next we had the salt & pepper crusted tofu, it was tasty I liked it. I tasted like your typical salt & pepper flavors well-known all throughout Chicago’s Chinatown restaurants. I felt theirs was less oily and the flavors stood out. I believe it’s something I can replicate in my kitchen. We then had Mom’s ginger garlic fried chicken sweet and crispy chicken. The chicken was juicy and they give you a honey sweet sauce to pair with the chicken and it was very yummy I liked it. Then we had the spicy nutty noodles, it seems like they used spaghetti noodles to stir fry with mushrooms and chicken. It was delicious and yes spicy. Finally we get to the ramen. It wasn’t the last item we dined on but it the last thing I want to talk about in this review. We had the Tonkotsu it has pork and pork boned broth and the miso based ramen. It was good but not that best I’ve ever had. I probably wouldn’t go back for ramen. The soup wasn’t  overally salted like other ramen places I’ve had but it wasn’t salted enough in my opinion. I felt the noodles didn’t have a fresh texture. They could be cooking and making handmade noodles but I didn’t get that taste or texture when I was eating the noodles. It isn’t a waste of time to try the Ramen perhaps other diners would enjoy it. I didn’t care for the Miso at all, it wasn’t to my preference I almost prefer the Ramen miso at Macy’s Takashi Yagihashi “Ramen . I find their broth to be super salty and noodles to be just okay. I wanted to like Asian Outpost’s ramen but that was the the disappointment I have with them. I would return for the great selection on cocktails and wine. I enjoyed their small plates would have more of that pork sliders and lettuce wraps. There are other dishes I would like there too but I find the prices to be fair for the area they are located in and for us as a family we’d go there with friends and out of town guest.

Lettuce wraps

Lettuce wraps

Check Please! To these Restaurants in Chicago and beyond.

 

The foodie in me is finally coming out in full bloom. I have decided to finally write a consistent blog post about that latest and greatest eats that I’ve  conquered and share my reviews with the world. My recommendations, hopefully will help you as the consumer to make wiser decisions on where you decided to spend your hard earn money. Along the way  I will also try to post recipes if I think I can make a version a dish I liked at the restaurants as well. This should be fun culinary experience both as a home cook and a diner. Won’t you come on the journey with me?

Cupcake World here I come

 

chocolateganacheWho doesn’t love cupcakes?  I haven’t met anybody who doesn’t love eating cupcakes. They can be chocolate cupcakes or vanilla cupcakes with some sort of fun and festive flavor of frosting. In Chicago we have so many different bakeries dedicated to making outstanding cupcakes. I love  “Sprinkles” and ” Molly’s.” But as much as I love their cupcakes I don’t love dishing about $45 for a dozen of cupcakes. It would put a giant whole in my pocket if I wanted to always buy cupcakes whenever I felt like eating them or getting them for a friend’s celebration. So I took on the task of making homemade cupcakes by looking up recipes from different websites and making slight adjustments to the recipe to fit my needs. I have had so many ups and downs making cupcakes. I have so far decided if I can learn to master a great Italian Buttercream, and learn to make a moist chocolate and vanilla cupcake I will be happy. So far this that two months that I haven’t taken up the task success is mine!

 

I like using Martha Stewarts website for Italian buttercream and King Arthur Flour for some of vanilla  cupcake recipe. I also use Portillo’s Chocolate shake cake recipe to make moist chocolates cupcakes. I know Portillo’s uses box cake mix, but HEY I’m not ashamed of it. The truth is if it gives you a consistent product that makes you and your guest enjoy  good fluffy moist cupcake who care’s if it’s from box cake mix right?

 

 

Onions you’re not gonna make me cry!

 

Onions, make me cry. But cry no more folks.

Who likes to cut onions? I hate it. It is a chore that I don’t take lightly. I store all my onions  in open box on a shelf in my kitchen. So, when I am  preparing to use one or two of them for a recipe I stick the onions in the refrigerator over night or that morning. A  cold onion prevent less tears or almost no tears when cutting it. Also I do my best not to take in the smell of the onions. I’ve gotten really good at holding my nose and breathing through my mouth when cutting onions. It is important to dice properly and carefully. I never like to rush through any type of cutting for fear of losing a finger tip or two. Happy onion cutting!

 

 

Turkey Burger World

 

The most healthiest recipe I do because I love fat.

The most healthiest recipe I do because I love fat.

In my world there are two things I love red meat and good draft beer. However, since ground turkey meat is healthier than red meat I decided to venture into making turkey burgers. When it is cold out or too rainy your grilling options are out the door. Don’t worry because  you can still make great burgers indoors. I take a frying pan make the patties sear them on both sides  until it is brown, and place onto a sheet pan and bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes on 425 degrees. I love a juicy plump burger. For me none of this flat burgers with thin sheets of meat I want a meaty burger. I also use a scale and weight each burger patty to be about 5.3 oz each.  If you look at the size if your buns and they look bigger than your burger patties you need to round them out more to the size of the bun. If you don’t want to do that you can always cut the bun to be the size of the burger patty. You’re eating at home no need to fancy looking buns right?

 

Turkey Burger Recipe

3 lbs of ground turkey meat ( makes about 12 burgers)

1 cup of cooked Quinoa ( I use my rice cooker to cook it)

1 zucchini ( diced small)

1 small spanish onion or white onion ( diced small)

2 garlic cloves ( minced finely

1 large egg

1 0z of Parsley ( flat or curly finely chopped)

1 TB of Olive Oil

Salt

White pepper

Olive oil for searing

 

Procedure

Preheat the oven at 425 degrees

Step 1)  Take everything you need for the Burger recipes place all ingredient onto the counter to have it all set out for usage.

Step 2)  Take a big bowl and place the ground beef into the bowl. Mince and chop all veggies add it to the bowl. Turn your pan on medium high heat.

Step 3)  Take a big bowl and place one egg, garlic, the quinoa, add olive oil and salt and pepper. I like to be generous with salt and pepper. Use your hands and mix well until all the ingredients are combined.

Step 4)  Add some oil live to lightly coat the pan. Then have on the side in a small bowl salt and white pepper mix. You want to add a tab bit more seasoning onto the burger patties before they go into the frying pan.

Step 5) Using a scale if you have one, scale the burgers to the size of your buns. For me I do about 5.3 oz for small buns. You can take the same amount and round it out a little more to fit your bun. You can go to 6 oz burger it will take a bit longer to bake in the oven.

Step 6) Make patties sprinkle the top of the burger with salt and white pepper place season side down and then season the top part. Depending on the size of you pan you can cook about 3 patties at a time. Sear for only about 2 minutes on each side place onto a sheet pan and bake for about 22 minutes. It should come out pretty juicy.

Options: If you like cheese turn off the hot oven place cheese on top of the patties. Then place the sheet pan back into the warm oven and allow it to melt takes about 1-2 minutes. I like using swiss cheese but you can use whatever cheese you like on it. I also like to use pretzel or wheat buns for my burgers but whatever you like its fine too. Happy Eating!

 

Delish Burger you might abandon beef burgers.

Delicious Turkey burger you might abandon beef burgers.