On Brunch Recommendation: Gather

Per my previous post on Gather, we did indeed venture that way again on Sunday to partake in their brunch! Now, I know that seems a little out of character for me since I am not the biggest breakfast person (minus my weekday morning smoothies), but when I see Biscuits & Gravy AND Chicken & Waffles on the menu, game on! Normally, I’m a Mimosa or straight Champagne partaker when I have ventured to the rare breakfast/brunch, but since Gather is known to have a really outstanding Bloody Mary, I thought What the heck? And boy was I glad that I did! I will admit, I didn’t finish it because it was just a little too much for me personally, but boy was it one of the best Bloody Mary’s I have ever had! (The only other notable Bloody Mary that I would recommend is from The Bristol, where I also indulged in a fanastic homemade Cinnamon Roll and their Chicken n’ a Biscuit!)

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When it came time to ordering, Frankie ordered the Biscuits & Gravy (with a couple sunnyside ups) and I ordered the Chicken & Waffles! Both plates were incredibly beautiful—again, Gather is solid on making their dishes almost inedible—but the smell was just the thing to shake off the last little bit of Saturday night’s sluggish haze. My chicken was incredibly crisp and juicy (not to be mistaken for greasy, which it was not), and surprisingly light! I’ve had a number of Chicken & Waffles at various restaurants in Chicago, but normally, about halfway through, I feel really full and can barely finish my plate, but the breading was almost like a tempura rather than a full-on flour/breadcrumb, so it wasn’t as filling or dense. The other thing I appreciated was that the bacon & chive belgian waffle wasn’t very heavy or overly sweet, so I got through about 3/4 of it before I got full! And then there was that little thing that put the dish over the top for me: whipped roasted garlic crème fraiche and smoked parmigiano to really highlight nutty savory notes amid the semi-sweet waffle and fried chicken! A real winner for sure!

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Frankie’s Biscuits & Gravy were also really yummy (he gave me a bite and dipped it in some of the yolk from his egg, which is about as much egg as I’m trying to eat on as much of a semi-regular basis as I can), but definitely on the heavy side and not a dish that could be finished in one sitting. The pickled and crispy onions provided a really lovely note of freshness and difference in flavors and textures to help combat the richness of the dish. Overall, the brunch was quite delicious and might be one I’ll repeat again in the future when I’m craving chicken and waffles again! YUM! —Cooking Maggie

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Gather: 4539 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625

The Bristol: 2152 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647

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On Restaurant Week [Lincoln Square] & a local Recommendation: Gather

Last week was restaurant week in Lincoln Square, and when there’s this kind of an opportunity in my backyard, naturally I was going to take advantage of it! On Wednesday, Frankie & I decided a date night was in order and visited Gather, which had been on our to go list for quite some time! Now, I know their brunch is supposed to be killer, but I was definitely blown away by the delicious meal we had, and no doubt we will go back for dinner again!

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The menu included a three-course meal, and a shareable dessert, but I’ll be honest, we were so full from sharing five plates (one of them had mushrooms so I couldn’t eat it) that we took the dessert home and I ate all of it later that weekend because Frankie isn’t a pumpkin fan. Not that I’m complaining! It just means more for me! Yipee! But I’m getting ahead of myself! Let me just say that all these plates, GORGEOUS! The first course was Burrata for me and an Endive Salad for Frankie (with a beautiful, pearly poached egg on the side). The burrata was creamy and played well with the tartness of the apple, and the endive salad (without a bite of egg for me) was really fresh and crisp, but had great bites of rich fattiness through the potato croutons and guanciale.

 

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Burrata

 

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Endive Salad

For the second course, I ordered the char because, that was the only mushroom free option, and Frankie had the tagliatelle, which he said he enjoyed, but might not order again because he was never the biggest mushroom fan to begin with. The Artic Char was really soft and moist, but the skin was uber crispy, which I really loved! And the colors were OUTSTANDING! You can’t really tell in the photos because we were seated in a darker part of the outdoor area, but the fish looked SO beautiful on the plate, floating between the little pearls of crunchy buckwheat and bright beet purée! It was a work of art, like it actually could have been something I would find in nature! Ugh! I almost didn’t want to eat it…but I did and I’m glad because it was delicious!

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Tagliatelle
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Artic Char

And finally, we ended the meal with Chicken Two Ways for Frankie and Short Ribs for moi! The seared breast was juicy and the fried thigh was crunchy, and both were incredibly tender and tasty! Plus, those broccoli bites were just downright delicious, perfectly roasted and browned (and brown food is good food)! My short ribs = RICH, but incredibly comforting! The only part I kind of pushed to the side was the hazelnut streusel—I know I’ve mentioned this before, but super sweet with super savory is not a mix I really like because the sweet tends to overpower my palate—but everything else worked so well together, and the gorgonzola was a nice way to break up the richness of the meat, not to mention the mustard kohlarbi helped add some freshness to the heaviness of the dish. I mean, it was a CHUNK of meat!

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Chicken Two Ways

And the reason there is no picture of the pumpkin cake? Well, as I said, we were pretty full after dinner, so we got it to go, and then because Frankie didn’t want any, I ate it all when we got home after I had digested a little bit…and it was delicious, the cake was super moist, but I overpoured the maple bourbon caramel on top of the cake, which made it just a little too sweet for me, but there are worse things! Overall, completely delicious and if you haven’t been to Gather yet, GO GO GO! You won’t be able to get everything on this menu, but if you go for dinner, you can definitely munch on the burrata, the artic char (with different pairings/presentation), and the half chicken (also with different pairings/presentation)! Brunch is for sure on my radar in the very near future (listed as one of the best Brunches in Chicago by Thrillist and Chicagoist), so stay tuned for a possible second recommendation for Gather! —Cooking Maggie

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Short Ribs

Gather: 4539 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625

On Chicken & Dumplings

It’s officially Fall, and my body was immediately gravitating toward the warm and comforting, and one of my all-time favorite things to eat is Chicken & Dumplings! To kind of kick off my eager anticipation for the arrival of Smitten Kitchen’s new cookbook (WHICH CAME TODAY ACTUALLY! AHHHHHHH!!!), I thought I’d try her recipe out! Naturally, we weren’t disappointed in the slightest!

The chicken was super tender & juicy, the dumplings were hearty, and the stew as a whole was comfort to a tee, like curl up on the couch with a good book and thick blanket kind of comfort (which is exactly how I ate it). The one thing I think I would do differently next time though would be to add some carrots to it for a little color and additional freshness, but of course, I think that’s why this recipe is the perfect starting point! Plus, IT HAS LEEKS IN IT!! My favorite! I don’t think I actually would have thought to have included leeks in this dish before now, but I don’t think I’ll ever make it without them again!

Some Cooking Maggie Notes: I used boneless skinless because the ones I had purchased last week and froze beforehand that were bone/skin on were still frozen, so I ventured over to Gene’s and their bone/skin on were also frozen, so I went with boneless skinless out of ease! And because I halved the recipe (because there are only two of us eating here), I didn’t have enough chicken fat/residual juice to make the full amount of dumplings. So to ensure that there wouldn’t be a lack of that hearty dumpling essence—which is actually my favorite part of this dish—I included some handmade gnocchi from Gene’s Sausage shop, which had a similar density to the dumplings so you couldn’t tell the difference between them and it didn’t impact the flavor of the stew either. I did consider making dumplings without chicken fat, but worried the consistency/flavor wouldn’t match dumplings I made earlier.

With the drop in temperature, this dish is the best way to get your home smelling and feeling like Fall, and how can you go wrong with a smitten kitchen original?! (Answer: You can’t.) —Cooking Maggie

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Chicken and Dumplings from smitten kitchen

On Pork Katsu

Out of the frying pan and into the fryer, this cooking chick is serving up something new and different this time around! Pork Katsu (Tonkatsu if you want the traditional Japanese name), otherwise known as breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet.

While I do have a strong pull towards Asian cuisine from my time living in Asia, I haven’t really pushed myself to make anything traditionally Japanese, and I felt like doing something…different. As it so happened, about a week ago, NY Times Cooking featured their rendition of Pork Katsu with Pickled Cucumbers and Shiso that looked too yummy to pass up! Shiso isn’t something I could really find that at my local grocery store, though I’m sure the specialty Asian markets have them available, so instead I opted for a Thai basil that I found at Mariano’s, which I think worked just fine.

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Now, I don’t cook with pork on a frequent basis, and it had been a while since I put my frying skills to the test, but honestly, this dish was a walk in the park! The recipe recommends a few types of cuts, but in the end, I chose center-cut, thin pork chops (which you can easily find this at your local grocer at either the butchers’ area or pre-packaged near all the other meats) because they were already the right thinness, so no pounding necessary! The only thing I had to do to the meat was remove the small piece of bone on the edge, but with a paring knife, it was quick & easy. Then, you flour-egg-panko bread each piece, fry it up, slice it, and serve! EASY, and the extra egg wash ingredients weren’t overwhelming nor were they so subtle they weren’t noticeable post-fry! The Worcester sauce and tomato paste add a really lovely tang to the meat, and really play up the salty crunch of the panko!

And then you have the cucumbers, and this little salad was almost a one and done kind of dish. Minimal, yet flavorful. Salty, yet sweet, with a bitter hint to balance it all out! Fresh, crunchy, and if you can’t find Kirby cucumbers, then seedless cucumbers will work fine, or your basic cucumbers too, but you’ll need to cut them up a little more than with the seedless ones, which are smaller in general! All in all, this whole meal took about 30 minutes to make, and even though the pork was fried, it was light and juicy, and the cucumber side salad added a huge note of freshness and tang! A great weeknight meal we will for sure be returning to! —Cooking Maggie

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Pork Katsu with Pickled Cucumbers & Shiso from NY Times Cooking

On Engagement Photos & Recommendations: Daisies

After a long week, and a really long 48 hours of constant rain and flash flooding, the highlight was getting to take our Engagement Photos at iO Chicago, where Frankie has spent many a month training & performing, and I have spent many a night as an audience member! It seemed fitting, and doesn’t Tuggs look the most adorable?! But we were incredibly excited for this day, which has been on the books for over a month and a half! (Thank you Cage + Aquarium & Hadassah for such an amazing experience!)

Afterwards, to really celebrate and have a moment to highlight the occasion, we ventured over to Logan Square for dinner at Daisies restaurant, and WHAT an experience that was! So much so, I couldn’t WAIT to get this out because it was THAT good! But the main thing I appreciated the most was how far out of their way they went to accommodate my mushroom allergy. Above and beyond. Below is a menu created just for me that highlights the dishes that either included mushrooms, or would have potential cross-contamination, which has more recently started becoming a real problem. I have never had a restaurant do this for me before and the courtesy they showed just set the tone for our meal in the best way possible. Once we placed our entire order (3 starters, 3 entrees, and a dessert), we awaited our first dish!

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That being said, I didn’t want Frankie or Carly (who was kind enough to be our Tuggs handler during the shoot) to feel limited in what they wanted to try! So, the two of them decided to order the Onion Dip (the potato crisps were fried in the same oil as the mushrooms), and the staff were kind enough to bring me a small serving of the dip with Publican seeded crisp (which had a great balance of savory and sweet, without being too hard or bland, as some whole wheat crackers can sometimes be, but anything from the Publican is naturally going to be delicious)! Again, above and beyond. And the dip was perfectly salty and sweet, really light, almost whipped, and was a total conversation stopper. Oh, and Frankie/Carly mentioned that the potato crisps were perfect, but when they look as fresh as they did on that plate (which was totally clean when they came with the other dishes).

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Starter #2: Zucchini a la Plancha, which was surprisingly smoky, but in the most delightful way, and the bite to it was incredibly subtle. And the crunchiness of the pine nuts were a great texture variation! A fantastically warm dish for the changing season!

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Starter #3: The “Overpriced” Tomato! The heirloom tomato was rich, buttery, and perfectly ripe, plus tomato and a little salt is like the best thing ever! But the star of this dish was the Publican Sourdough bread underneath of the tomato, and it was out of this world! The bone marrow (basically just a rich, luscious, buttery fat) was liquified, the bread was then toasted in it, topped with balsamic, and then topped/basted with a little more marrow. It melted in our mouths, and it was also the first time that I had been exposed to bone marrow! If I see it on the menu again, I might just try it in its more traditional form (roasted in the bone)! This was not overpriced for the party in your mouth that you get!

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Bonus Starter: Butternut Squash “Fall” Salad! Shaved butternut squash, parsley, Parmesan cheese, toasted local pecans, and pumpkin seeds, topped with a brown butter lemon vinaigrette. For a raw salad, it was so complex and flavorful, the butternut squash wasn’t fibrous, the nuts (just slightly toasted) added a really lovely nuttiness, and the parm was the perfect amount of tang and richness! Topped with the brown butter vinaigrette, it just enhanced everything without overpowering the delicate freshness!

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Entree #1: Catch of the Day, which was Perch breaded with Rice Krispies! Shocking, I know, but Frankie & Carly said it wasn’t overpowering or too sweet, but rather was a light crispness and kept the fish very moist. Now, I couldn’t eat the fish, but Frankie and Carly both agreed that it was light and flaky! Going above and beyond again for me, not only did they bring out the normal sides with the fish, but served up a small portion for me as well on a separate plate (preventing cross contamination since I couldn’t eat the fish). The creamed corn was sweet and herbaceous, and though I normally don’t really like dill, I’d eat this every day because having the dill cooked down a little makes it less overpowering, and the parsley/spring onion take it to a whole new level.

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Entree #2: Amish Chicken. Now, I thought the best chicken I’d had was at Income Tax, but not anymore. The new best bite of chicken is here, at Daisies. That skin was unbelievably light and crispy, and the chicken was so tender. I did feel though that the brat wasn’t entirely equal to the chicken, but still a really yummy bite, but that chicken though? MM MM SO GOOD!!!

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Entree #3: Stracci. So the great thing about Daisies is that all of their pasta is handmade in house, and they have gluten free options as well! And the pasta, was light, rich, but not overly filling like some pasta can be. A light decadence if you will. The lamb was super tender, not very gamey, but the broccoli leaves were a new one for me, never having the leaves of a broccoli before, and it was like eating fresh mint, which always pairs well with lamb anyway. A solid fall dish for sure!

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Dessert: Kahlua Cake with Blueberries. And finally, because when you go big, you get desset. The cake was incredibly soft, airy, and very moist, even without the Kahlua shot, which we did throw on there to get more of that coffee flavor. The berries added a really lovely freshness, and the glaze was not too sweet like some glazes can be. It was the perfect compliment to the cake, and a fantastic way to end the meal.

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And if you can believe it, even though we were sharing everything (well, almost everything) between the three of us, we definitely didn’t feel like we were stuffed. We were simply…full. Full enough to take a nap, but not so full as to be uncomfortable in any way, and what a wonderful feeling that is, to actually get the perfect amount of food! And every bite was so delicious! If you haven’t checked out Daisies yet, you should. It’s become a spot I plan to return to at least once a month so as to make sure I stay on top of all their seasonal menu changes! Oh, and did I mention that Daisies supports locally grown produce and ingredients?! Could this place get any better?! Probably, which is why I will be going back again, and again, and again, and I bet you’ll do the same once you try it! —Cooking Maggie


Daisies: 2523 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647

On Honey Cajun Shrimp

So, I know honey and lime screams more summer beach dinner than fall, but this shrimp is SO yummy I’ve now made it twice in the last four weeks, and most likely may make it again after it snows because it’s just so flavorful and finger licking good! And I’ve also figured out a tip that will make clean up a BREEZE after cooking it.

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The thing I think I like the most is that this dish surprised me in the greatest way possible. Normally, I don’t prefer eating a meal that is sweet and savory at the same time (normally), and tend to veer more towards savory over sweeter main courses, but this dish may be the exception to my rule. It’s perfectly balanced between the tartness of the lemon, which helps cut the sticky sweetness of the honey, and the Cajun spice adds some depth with spice and those earthy savory notes I like so much.

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And if you don’t have a grill, which I don’t, that’s okay! What I’ve used instead was a cast iron skillet (the first time, but never again, despite the amazing char it gets on the shrimp) and your basic non-stick skillet. I prefer the skillet for cooking this dish mostly because the honey likes to stick to the bottom of the pan while you’re waiting for the shrimp to get that really wonderful charred crust on it, which on a cast iron skillet means using water and a little soap to break it up, which I really dislike doing because then that adds more time afterwards for re-seasoning the pan I’ve basically just stripped. With the skillet, I added the shrimp individually rather than dumping the bowl with the remaining sauce/marinade, which prevented there being too much liquid in the pan (which meant it would take longer to get the crust and end up burning most of the marinade) so my shrimp got that crust and a quick soak in warm soapy water got all the sticky remains off the pan in no time! I also threw the remaining marinade in about 30 seconds before I was going to take the shrimp off the heat and serve it up with some rice and vegetables.

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In terms of the dipping sauce, I honestly don’t think the shrimp needs it, though it does add that extra bit of tang to it, but I did sprinkle the shrimp with a little fresh parsley though, which I think adds a nice note of freshness to it! Super easy to make, and incredibly tasty! I definitely recommend it (and I also recommend checking out RasaMalaysia’s Panda Express Copy Cat Chow Mein, which is another one of my favorites from her)! —Cooking Maggie

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Grilled Honey Cajun Shrimp from RasaMalaysia


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On Banana Cake

Fall = Baking Fever! I know I’ve really dropped the ball on the baking challenge I had set for myself at the beginning of the year, but with Fall officially upon us, all I want to do is fill my kitchen with warmth and the smell of baked pies and cake!! Basically, I want my home to smell like BAKED GOODS GALORE!! So, to start off my baking fever, I started with something a little on the healthy side! BANANA CAKE!

I’ve been on a banana binge now that I’m doing breakfast smoothies (two recipes on the way, I promise!), so I definitely had a handful lying around to put to some good, delicious use! I love Banana Bread, but I wanted to push the envelope a little more and do something I hadn’t tried before. I used this recipe specifically because it came with a video, which for the baking-challenged such as myself, was VERY helpful for me in knowing what was the right consistency and there was a really helpful note regarding baking time because all ovens are different with cooking time.

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The cake was delicious, but after a bite, realized it could have used a few more minutes to bake (I only baked for 60 minutes, and the toothpick came out clean, but wasn’t as brown on top as I would have likes, whereas 65-70 would have put it to perfection), and I should have whipped/mixed my batter just a little longer so it got more air into it (the cake was a little on the dense side). But overall, amid the lessons I am still learning about baking—which is okay because I do like to learn new things every time I make something new—this recipe is easy to make and pretty hassle free (especially if you cheat and use store bought icing instead of making your own, which I did because I was baking at night and after a long day, sometimes those little outs are the way to go)! Plus it looks really pretty! More baking to come, especially a funfetti cake, strawberry cream scones, and more cheesecakes! Not very fall, but baking nonetheless! — Cooking Maggie

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The Best Banana Cake from Spend with Pennies

On Roasted Chili-Lime Cod

With the change in weather now in full effect, the sweaters have come out, the scarfs have been arranged, and there’s usually a cup of tea in my hand while I’m cooking in my comfy pants (oh yes, I am more or less cooking in my yoga pants and pjs because I like to be comfortable when I cook, and it’s not like I’m in front of the camera). And even though the fall makes me itch towards Chicken & Dumplings (smitten kitchen just revisited her recipe for it and it has LEEKS in it! Oh my gosh I can’t wait to make this soon soon soon!) and Baked Apple Streusel (a recipe I made for the first time on a whim during my first fall in Chicago, so worry not, a delicious recipe to satiate anyone’s fall craving is coming to a kitchen near you). And I’ve also been craving fish, oddly enough.

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Sure, Fall doesn’t scream “FISH,” but sometimes you need a break from the rich and heavy stuff for a moment, bring back some freshness to the table, so I turned to Cod fish, a white flaky fish with a seriously mild taste that can be easily applied to a ton of different flavor profiles (think of it almost like chicken). Cod can be fried (like chicken), it can be stewed (like chicken) or curried (like chicken), and it can be baked/pan seared (like chicken). I know fish can be scary, and believe me, it still sometimes scares me when I get the courage to try cooking with it, but with the right combination of spices and sauce, it’s something else! And so I tried a Roasted Chili-Lime Cod recipe from Fashionable Foods (topped with a lime butter sauce that was SO tasty) with wild rice (from a box because you shouldn’t feel you have to make EVERYTHING from scratch when a little help goes a long way) and roasted cherry tomatoes in olive oil, garlic, thyme, and basil!

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This cod dish is incredibly bright and vivacious on the plate, a dish that brings everything to life on your palate, and the spice does help kick things up a notch as well. It’s fast and easy to whip up all the ingredients in a bowl, and if you want things to get interesting, sub out the regular olive oil with a complimentary flavored oil. The oil I used (and is pictured) is actually homemade chili oil that my friends got as a gift from their wedding officiant. He gave them a ton of jars, and they were kind enough to share one with me, so I thought, what better way to accent and highlight the brightness of the spices than with a little kick to the oil that’s being absorbed into the fish? And then to top it off with a lime butter? That tang of citrus helps cut the spice a little too, not to mention that butter just makes everything better!

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I thought to pair the fish with tomatoes (just to add an extra note of bright acidity to the plate since the fish is pretty mild and the spice mix is pretty powerful on its own), and while fresh tomatoes on their own with a little salt on time is just a great way to feature the ingredient, I wanted to make use of the oven while I had it on anyway. I threw the tomatoes into the oven when I was letting my fish refrigerate, and took them out when the fish was done cooking, so that both components could be served together, piping hot from the oven! And they were so succulent and slightly sweet, but robust and juicy! These little tasty nuggets are just as easy to throw together as the fish, and pair great with chicken or pasta, in addition to fish, and you can let them cool longer to serve over top a salad as well! You can’t go wrong with this side, and you can also change up the herbs you’re using to make things interesting like subbing fresh for the dried (though I think those have a greater tendency to burn rather than bloom and develop into something more) or adding in some parsley instead of oregano. Maybe even throw in a sprig of rosemary!

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Hoping the start of your Fall is as deliciously scrumptious as it is in my kitchen! —Cooking Maggie


Roasted Chili-Lime Cod from Fasionable Foods


Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 18 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried Basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried Thyme
  • 2 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F, line a baking sheet with foil, and spread out the halved cherry tomatoes all over the sheet.
  2. Sprinkle minced garlic evenly over tomatoes. In a separate small bowl, add the basil, thyme, and oregano, then sprinkle the mixture overtop of the tomatoes, trying to cover all of them with a little bit.
  3. Pour olive oil over tomatoes and top with salt & pepper (sprinkling from farther up, think close to your forehead, will make it easier to cover all the tomatoes with enough of the seasoning.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time till they look wrinkled, but not burned. Let cool for two minutes, then serve with fish, chicken, pasta.

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On Broccoli Cheese Soup

It’s finally the beginning of Fall in Chicago! While I love the heat and warmth of summer, 80 degrees in late September is just a little ridiculous, and besides, who doesn’t like sweater weather and bundling up in big, fluffy blankets with a hot cup of cocoa or tea precariously balanced between knees and long-sleeve covered hands, steam rising to warm your cheeks while outside, the leaves are changing to flaming reds and burnt oranges, falling slowly to the ground that crunches beneath boot covered feet. The piles of leaves that will appear in between the trees, raked together to be ruined by excited children, then raked again to have the same thing repeated. Fall is something I’ve learned to appreciate more as an adult rather than as a kid, because in Hong Kong, there is really only spring, monsoon summers, and chilly, snowless winters, with no real transition in between, no “real” fall. But now that I’m back stateside, I get to experience the changing of the closets and breaking out the boots with great vigor and enjoyment (yes, I’m that person who could spend HOURS reorganizing my closet in various ways till I’m satisfied with the outcome).

And with the changing of season, my craving for soups reemerges from its summertime hibernation, and what better way to start than with a piping hot bowl of broccoli cheddar soup! Now, I’ll admit, I have never made this at home or from scratch before, though obviously, there is broccoli and cheese involved, but then it becomes a matter of do I use all cream, or a combination? White or Yellow cheddar cheese? Other veggies like carrots? Potatoes? And so on my questions ranged, and so, to be a responsible home cook, instead of winging it, I decided to start with another’s recipe and take it from there, and where better to start than one of my favorite blogs ever: Smitten Kitchen! [Oh, and did you guys here that she’s got a new cookbook coming out in a few weeks?!?! I’m so incredibly excited about it that I promise I will be cooking a dish from her book every day the week I get it so I can get my personal take on it up on the blog ASAP!]

Now, her recipe is actually a really good one, and her process for getting to where she did is incredibly enlightening in terms of where I can take the recipe next. The amount of cheese in here is perfect, even though she didn’t mention whether she used yellow or white cheddar, but I think that allows for dealer’s preference, which I appreciate! And for the record, I used white cheddar because I think it gives the soup a better color, but that’s just my opinion. However, for me (& Frankie, because he always has suggestions that tend to mirror my own thoughts), it was too runny and the immersion blender didn’t get the soup to the consistency that I prefer.

I tried it the way Perelman prefers it because, when I’m out at restaurants and order it, the consistency & preparation is out of my control, and sometimes I don’t mind chunks, and other times I like it smooth. But when making the meal at home on your own, you have the power to really hone in on your personal preferences, and frankly, I just didn’t know what I was going to like until I made it, which is why I love to cook! The experimentation is exhilarating as you start to learn more about your palate and preferences when you try new things.

So, when I make this again, which I absolutely will, I do plan to instead use 3 cups of veggie broth instead of 4 (though keeping it near by to add more moisture in later) and I’ll be using the blender for sure, which is one of the options provided in the recipe, leaving some of the smaller pieces of broccoli set aside for post-blending to still have some of those broccoli chunks in it. I also plan to stick with my white cheddar, and use a mixture of 1/2 cream to 1/2 milk for the base of the soup (so you still get a little bit of that richness).

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But obviously, Deb Perelman knows what she’s talking about and if you too are in the mood for a little broccoli cheddar soup, definitely try this out on your own (making the adjustments you think would be best for your preference, because everyone has particular tastes on viscosity and texture when it comes to soups)! It’s definitely one of those hearty soups that really brings the spirit of Fall into the kitchen! —Cooking Maggie

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup by smitten kitchen

Cooking Maggie Notes:

  1. I used 1/2 cream, 1/2 milk, but Perelman mentions you can do a variety of combos as well (1/2 cream, 1/2 broth / 1/2 milk, 1/2 broth), so adjust to your preference of how rich/heavy you want your soup to be.
  2. If you like it a little on the runny side, then use the full 4 cups, but if you want a thicker soup, then I would start with 3 cups and keep an extra cup in reserve to add a little later.
  3. If you like your soup chunky, the immersion blender is going to be the way to go, but if you’re like me and want a smoother soup, then I would use the blender. Save some of the chopped up broccoli for after blending so you still get some serious broccoli bites in there too if that’s what you like!

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