Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday July 7, 2012
I refuse to believe that it is in fact the first week of July. I have never wanted a summer to last longer than I have this year. Yes, I know this sounds like something a child would say. What thirty-something adult would say this, especially in light of the drought and dessert like weather we are experiencing. But here I am and every morning I wake up in this seventh month of 2012 I am dreading the return of the school year.
In a perfect world, ie: imaginary…… I wake up every morning, write for a few hours, make my kids a wonderful breakfast and get them off to school. No hustle because their backpacks and lunches were packed the night before. Their shoes are exactly where I left them when I set them out. I drop them off at school early, because I am the first in line.
My house is immaculate and all of the laundry is done, because I had time to tend to it all throughout the day. Dinner is ready when everyone arrives home from work and school and afterwards I can sit down with the kids to tackle their homework. The kitchen is clean and our night is wide open to spend time together. Later after they all have slipped into a restful sleep I can blog my heart out feeling no guilt because they are all in bed……..
Then I woke from my stupor and realized that the only way to make all of this happen was to hit the pavement and start getting my name out there. I have a few fun projects coming up that I will share in the coming weeks but last weekend was one of the best I have had in years. Who would have thought I would not only have spent the weekend eating incredibly good food, but also meeting a few food icons in the process?
I was asked by Verizon Wireless to visit Chicago and test out a few of their new gadgets in my kitchen. I was more than happy to, so I decided to extend my trip a few days so my husband and I could spend some time in the city, alone.
Right off the bat, after arriving at The Hard Rock Hotel on Michigan Avenue, I knew I was in for a treat. Our room was fantastic and the view of the city was amazing. I headed to my meeting with 16 other food bloggers and walked in a room with a very special guest. Jaden Hair of cookbook and Today Show fame was our guest speaker. She is also the creator of Steamy Kitchen, a very successful food website. More importantly she is a mother and wife so she has really gotten the balance thing down pat.
She not only spoke to us about how to promote our writing but also spent time with me one on one to talk about my writing, where I have been and what I needed to ‘tweak’. It was so exciting, I am sure that I hardly uttered one intelligent word in the few minutes I spent with her. Afterward we were whisked away to secret dinner that was set in the grassy courtyard of an old convent. It was surreal and set like the pages of Food and Wine magazine. Twinkling lights, incredible food and good conversation. Just what the doctor ordered.
|Strawberry mint Juleps to greet us made by the chef of Clandestino Underground Dinner Parties, Efrain Cuevas|
|Raspberry branches as the centerpiece…marvelous|
|Two Brothers beer to accompany each course of food|
|garden beds lined with bowling balls, a unique touch|
|Cauliflower Ceviche -my favorite all night|
|This former convent in Pilsen, a suburb of Chicago, was the perfect setting for this mystery dinner|
|Smoked, spicy grilled shrimp over a zest jicama slaw was a great course, one that I am trying to duplicate ????|
The next night my husband and I ate our way through the heart of Chicago. I am not much of a shopper so for me the real treat was hitting all of the hot spots that my culinary professional friends in Chicago suggested. We ended our day by dining at The Purple Pig. If you are ever thinking of taking a trip to the city for even a day, The Purple Pig is worth the drive. From the chorizo stuffed olives to the chicken skewers with Tzaziki, there are NO wrong choices.
|Spring Pea and bacon|
|Chorizo stuffed olives|
|Chicken skewers with Tzaziki|
Sunday morning we were asked to have breakfast at the local institution Ina’s. Ina Pickney, to me that is, is the iconic Chicago restaurateur. She called me on Saturday and extended an invitation to dine with her head chef Seana. My husband and I were only to happy to oblige her request. I am still in a bit of shock that she called me. We arrived at her place in what is one of the most interesting and booming areas in the West Loop to the star treatment. Walking right to our table, when the wait was over 45 minutes, tasting plate after plate of their house specialties and sharing this meal with my husband was a memory I will not soon forget. It was so exciting to sit with the chef and talk about ingredients, combinations, critics, local events and just eat. I walked out of there with a handful of recipes and a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into developing an award winning restaurant.
**I will be sharing a few of Ina’s special recipes in my next post **
Some memories are made in events or destinations. Mine are often interlaced with food and sharing a meal with the ones you love. This makes the determination to achieve my goals that much stronger and even though I am busy and always running around like a crazy woman this weekend put all of my hard work in to perspective.
After coming home I created a similar version of Ina’s famous fritatta. The one I had there (yes I ate eggs), had a layer of roasted veggies and some really incredible goat cheese. I used what I had on hand and it turned out just fine. Breakfast with an open mind. Flexibility and finesse, two words that are descriptive of my new friends I made this weekend and how I need to live my life. Served with a side of fun.
Easy Breakfast Fritatta
10-12 large eggs
2 C of cooked pasta, leftover angel hair is what I used
1 C total of cheese of your choice, I used cheddar and mozzarella
1/3 C of half and half or 2% milk
salt and pepper to season
nonstick spray 9 inch deep pie dish
Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
Prepared tomato sauce-I used 1 small can of Red Gold tomato sauce with a TB of Italian Seasoning and 1/4 tsp of garlic powder.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a pie dish with non stick spray.
In a bowl whip the eggs with the half & half. Add kosher salt and fresh pepper to season.
To the dish add the cold leftover pasta as a base. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over this and then top with remaining cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until the center is firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until just slightly warm to make cutting easier. Cut into wedges and serve on a puddle of red sauce.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product ???? ALL opinions are my OWN!