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Some weeks, despite best intentions / goals / resolutions / shoulda-woulda-coulda’s, Salad Monday slips through the cracks. Last week, it was altogether canceled. The startling number of doggy bags in our fridge made it clear that Salad Monday would have to make way for Leftovers Night(!). This week threatened to bring more of the same. After being lavished with a delicious meal at our friends’ place on Monday, our routine salad night was postponed until Wednesday. But, Salad Wednesday is better than no salad night at all, no?

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But, before I go acting all virtuous about Salad Wednesday, I should probably disclose a rather incriminating fact: this salad involved salami. And smoked mozzarella. It was basically an excuse to eat an antipasto platter for dinner.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Smoky Baked Mac

February 28, 2008

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That tangle of gooey, cheesy, smoky baked macaroni that you see there just might be my husband’s favorite thing about me. It allows me to wield an influence over him that, frankly, borders on unfair. He practically swoons when I offer to make if for him. And, I say “for him,” intentionally. While I like pasta as much as the next gal, I don’t have the weak-kneed reaction to oozy baked mac that so many others (Kevin clearly included) do. So, I typically make this for him when I’m going to be out of town or just out for the night.

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I mean, the whole absence makes the heart grow fonder thing is great and all. But when mere absence alone won’t do, I can always rest assured that a saran-wrapped dish of ready-to-be-baked-off mac in the fridge will do the trick.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Mini Turkey Meatloaves

February 27, 2008

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It’s my belief that, by and large, people of my generation don’t really do meatloaf. It’s not that we have anything against eating our meat in less-than-natural shapes. Many of the proteins of our childhoods came in a shaped fashion: nuggets (as in the “Mc” kind) and sticks (fish), for example. And while I may have outgrown these shapes, I still enjoy meatballs and all manner of burger patties.

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But the loaf? Not so much. This comes as a great shock and disappointment to my parents, who eagerly anticipate very regular meatloaf nights—a tradition they hatched pretty much the instant both my sister and I moved out of the house. While my parents’ love of the loaf form, along with the comfort food craze a few years back, make it clear that a segment of the population adores meatloaf, I’ve just had a hard time getting all that excited about it.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Enchiladas: Step-by-Step

February 26, 2008

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I’m afraid I’ve been putting the cart before the proverbial horse. I’ve been going on and on about the peripheral elements of our Friday night fiesta: the drinks, the side dish and the dessert. Okay, I’m not sure that the margaritas and key lime bars qualify as peripheral, but still. All this time, the elephant in the room (while we’re using figures of speech) is the enchiladas that anchored our fiesta feast.

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You can add these to the growing list of recipes on this site that involve a too-fun-for-words assembly line (see: pot stickers, lasagna, calzones …). The elements of the assembly line in this case of enchiladas are (1) a sauce (here, I used a roasted tomatillo sauce, spiked with peppers, onions, garlic and spices); (2) tortillas (I opted for corn, over flour); (3) a filling (the tomatillo sauce appeared here, too, but a thickened version of it that enveloped shredded chicken and spinach); and (4) cheese (crumbled queso fresco, here, but I’m sure that shredded Monterey Jack or white cheddar would have been delicious as well). Once you’ve got the assembly line, er, assembled, the rest is a breeze.

(Click “more” for the step-by-step pictorial.)

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After growing up in Minnesota and traveling only so far as Chicago for college, I didn’t expect that my early undergrad days would involve a language barrier. But barely hours into the orientation backpacking trip, I was informed that I said the words “bag” and “boat” wrong. I can only imagine the hilarity that would’ve ensued had I busted out a “yah, sure” or an innocent “you betcha.”

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Many of my other speech idiosyncrasies, according to my new fellow collegians, involved food. Not only did I pronounce several words “wrong” (e.g. bagel), but I also had downright hysterical words for some foods. For instance, the “casserole” is a foreign term in my homeland, where we make hot dishes (which involve at least two cans of cream of mushroom soup per 9×13 inch pan). And then I really had my new friends in stitches when I told them about the great Minnesota treat: bars.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Cure For What Ails You

February 24, 2008

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My relationship with grapefruit has been a bit contentious lately. Sure, it’s there for me day in and day out when I supreme it into ruby red wedges that perk up my morning yogurt. But it utterly failed me when I dusted off our ice cream maker on one of the shortest days of the year in hopes of a bright-as-the-summer-solstice sorbet. I quickly rectified the sorbet debacle with a foofy brunch salad that involved champagne vinegar, fennel and, of course, grapefruit. And it was fine and all. But, little did I know, all along, all I really had to do was add booze.

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Yes, these grapefruit margaritas—perfectly tart, tangy and tequila-y—were just the showcase for the most on-again/off-again citrus fruit of my winter. And they transformed what might have been a quiet February Friday night in into a fiesta. Good thing, because our Saturday night concert plans—tickets to which involved much Craigslist finagling and transportation to which involved a CTA bus ride across town—were canceled “due to illness,” according to a flier taped to the venue’s front door. Perhaps the band wasn’t getting its daily intake of Vitamin C. Might I suggest that these grapefruit cocktails would be just the remedy?

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Senior Moments

February 23, 2008

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Lately, I seem to find myself saying “You know you’re old when …” quite a bit. Take this week, for instance. We had an inordinately full weeknight social schedule. Between our Monday night dinner party, Thursday night Family Dinner and a concert on Tuesday, it was quite a week. To top if off, we had reservations on Friday at a new restaurant in our neighborhood and another concert slated for Saturday night. Apparently, we forgot to consult the month (it’s February, after all, and all I want to do is hibernate next to a blazing fire at home) and our age when we made all these plans.

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We probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at a rigorous life of leisure such as the one I’ve just detailed back in college or in the months that followed. But, these days, it was just too much. So, we canceled last night’s reservations and planned a dinner in. A fiesta in, I should say.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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