Monthly Archives: February 2013

Cooking with Kelli

Since moving to Evanston, my friend Kelli and I have been taking turns hosting themed cooking parties. Kelli is a vegetarian so I love being able to test out different vegetarian recipes that I normally wouldn’t be able to do with Patrick.

Here is Kelli in action last week making black bean soup:

Kelli Stirring

She just got a new mobile kitchen that we tested out for the first time on Sunday.

Mobile Kitchen

The other nice thing about cooking in her kitchen is that we always have moral support from her frog, Polly (sp?).


We also had these newly acquired daffodils to brighten up our cooking experience. ¬†One of the flowers was broken when Kelli purchased it, but it’s nothing a little Scotch tape can’t fix ūüôā


Last Sunday marked the 6th time we’ve cooked together (I think) and for some reason I’m just now getting around to blogging about them!

Just recently, we started designing our meals around themes. ¬†Last Sunday was South of the Border, and before that it was Sunday Brunch. ¬†Here are the recipes from our last two cooking adventures. ¬†I’ve included links for all the recipes, which we found over Pinterest. ¬†We ended up eliminating the cilantro and substituted vegetable stock for chicken stock. ¬†I encourage you to experiment with your own preferences.

South of the Border

Tofu Tostadas Рa great way to experiment with tofu!

Tofu Tostadas


Here I am holding up a tostada, just because.

Monica with TostadaTofu Tostadas

Black Bean Soup Рdelicious and healthy!  We reserved about 1/4 cup of the black beans for texture and added it later to the pureed soup.

Black Bean Soup

Mexican Rice Рyour classic recipe.  The secret is to blend Rotel tomatoes and onions together before cooking the rice so you get flavor in every bite.


Sunday Brunch

Tomato, Kale, & Feta Baked Eggs¬†– I can’t stress enough how delicious this dish is… and easy!


Waffle of Insane Greatness¬†–¬†I think the name is a bit of an exaggeration but the waffles were still good. ¬†I’m still searching for the perfect waffle recipe, so if you have one, please send away!



Power Protein Smoothie¬†–¬†extremely healthy and delicious! ¬†The secret is the silken tofu (I know, I was totally skeptical, too, but you have to try it) and the flax seeds give it a nice texture as well.



Morning Star Veggie Sausages Рa great way to round out the meal and add some more protein

Veggie Sausages

Fruit Salad Рwe basically just started grabbing what looked like the freshest fruit in the store and threw it together to create this colorful spectrum.

DSC_0065Fruit Salad

You’ll have to let me know if you end up trying any of these recipes. ¬†So far we haven’t made anything we haven’t liked! (Knock on wood).

Kelli and I currently have a Pinterest party with our friends Jenn & Lauren in the works and another Comfort Food themed get-together, so stay tuned for more recipes!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Celebrate Good Times

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! ¬†And¬†Happy Belated Mardi Gras! ¬†And for all the Catholics out there, Happy Belated Ash Wednesday! ¬†And I suppose I should also add¬†Happy Belated Chinese New Year¬†(in Korea, known as Seollal)!

Wow that’s four¬†completely unrelated celebrations in one week. ¬†How do we manage?

In honor of these holidays, this past week (and thus, this blog post) was jam-packed with fun-tivities, which unfortunately did not include moving back into our apartment (I remain optimistic for next week), but fortunately involved a lot of good food and friends.

One of the more exciting developments for me can be summed up here:

Me with new camera

We got a new camera! ¬†It’s the¬†Nikon D5200 which was just released in the U.S. this past January. ¬†As much as we love our Nikon D40 (which came onto the market circa 2006…), it was time for an upgrade. ¬†I plan to write more about this in an upcoming post, but you can see some of the photos taken with our new camera here.

Backing up a bit…

Last Saturday, Patrick and I celebrated an early Valentine’s Day dinner at The Stained Glass here in Evanston. ¬†I pass this restaurant almost daily since it’s only a block down the street from us, so it was great to finally check it out from the inside as an actual patron and not just as some estranged passerby glancing inquisitively into the windows as I rush to pick up milk from CVS.

While the candlelit atmosphere was ideal in setting a romantic mood, it was not so ideal for photo-taking, so I only have this one underexposed photo to show for it: Stuffed Artichoke

Much unlike this photo, the baked artichoke was phenomenal. ¬†Probably my favorite of the entire meal. ¬†We also shared the crab cake appetizer and the Cider-braised Short Rib entree which was surprisingly quite massive — imagine one rib large enough to feed the both of us with leftovers! ¬†Not your average short rib.

The next morning on Chinese New Year, we celebrated with a quintessential American brunch¬†at Walker Brothers with our friends Shindo & Haruka. ¬†I keep hearing how amazing this place is and I’m now going to add to that buzz.

They are known for their pancakes, particularly their gargantuan apple cinnamon pancake, but since Patrick’s complex taste buds do not include a predilection for cooked fruit, we ordered this German Pancake instead, which was equally as fun and gargantuan:

Dutch Apple Pancake

You could fit a good-sized baby in that thing. ¬†In fact, I bet it would double as an excellent cradle. ¬†What respectable baby wouldn’t want to take a nap in there?

On top of its versatility, what surprised me most about this pancake was how light and airy it was. ¬†It was also probably a week’s worth of carbs but who’s counting anyway? ¬†If you’re looking to satisfy a pancake fix (or perhaps celebrate Chinese New Year), this is your place!

On Tuesday, when Mardi Gras rolled around, we celebrated in style with a masquerade themed pub crawl in Lakeview (which was also a birthday celebration for our friend Chris-Happy Birthday!). ¬†Here’s me and Haruka — notice our matching winter coats — and our friend Jim photobombing in the background. ¬†I was a huge fan of Haruka’s peacock mask. ¬†As you can see, I went all out with a $3 mask from Party City and couldn’t quite decide if I was supposed to be channeling Cat Woman or Zorro.


That night we made it through¬†Mystic Celt¬†and¬†Southport Lanes¬†before going home to bed… (hey, it was a work night!) ¬†I started the night out with a Seabreeze, and then later copied everyone around me and upgraded to a Hurricane, which I found out is a traditional New Orleans cocktail consisting of fruit juice, rum, and grenadine (yum!). ¬†Although in some ways the Hurricane seems a bit¬†too appropriate of a drink to represent New Orleans considering what happened with Katrina…

The following night, we had a special visitor in town:  Uncle Mike!  He was in Chicago on business and we coerced him to drive an hour up to Evanston to see us.


Since it was Ash Wednesday, we enjoyed a lovely Japanese meal at Kansaku, our favorite sushi restaurant in Evanston.  Just like Jesus and his disciples.

Patrick ordered the Vegetable Udon…


I went with my favorite standbys: the california roll and the crab crunch.


Uncle Mike ordered the sea bass, which was definitely the most aesthetically pleasing dish on the table.


Thanks for coming, Uncle Mike… it was great catching up!

Dinner with Uncle Mike

On Valentine’s Day, Patrick had to fly to California for a job interview, so my friend Kelli was kind enough to step in as my Valentine that night. ¬†Actually, we completely forgot it was Valentine’s Day when we first made plans and somehow we were able to find a table without a reservation!

We ate at Blind Faith Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant in Evanston.  They have a great selection of food there, ranging from Asian to Mexican to veggie burgers with sweet potato fries.  I ordered the teriyaki tofu fried rice bowl which I highly recommend.  But even more so, I recommend their desserts.

Kelli ordered the Vegan Chocolate Cake which has inspired me to try more vegan desserts:


And I ordered the peanut butter chocolate cake, which was like a Reeses peanut butter cup in cake form.  It came with raspberry sorbet on the side, which is actually quite the winning combo (think peanut butter and jelly).


After a week of festivities, I decided to wind the week down on a bit of a quieter note. ¬†Patrick is still in California so last night I decided to stay in. ¬†I suppose living in a hotel does have its advantages, one of them being…

room service

… room service! ¬†Some of my coworkers are convinced that staying in a hotel means I order room service every night, but this is actually only my second time in four weeks.

I ordered the Soup of the Day, which happened to be Black Bean Soup,


the Caprese Salad,


and the chicken quesadilla.


The best part was that I didn’t even have to do the dishes. ¬†When I get my apartment back, I’m going to try setting my dirty dishes out in the hallway and see what happens.

Hope you all had an equally enjoyable week. ¬†Next week appears to be a little less hectic on the holiday front, but I’m sure we’ll still find something to celebrate ūüôā

Apparently President’s Day is on Monday. ¬†Hmm.. what can we do in honor of that?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,