Category Archives: lunch

In search of bolognese

Today we venture south to Bologna, a medieval looking city with a center that’s more Chicago State Street than Little Italy.

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Bologna is referred to in a number of ways. La Grassa (the fat one) celebrates the first bolognese sauce that originated in the city. La Dotta (the learned one) refers to the university that was founded in 1088. And La Rossa (the red one) illustrates the red terracotta medieval buildings with their miles of porticoes and apparently some left-wing politics as well. (source)

We arrived by train and after checking out our very modern accommodations at Hotel Metropolitan, ventured out to check out the open markets.

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We quickly realized there were far less tourists in Bologna than Venice and after an hour or so roaming the streets surrounding the main piazza, far more American retail stores.

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We stopped for lunch at an outdoor cafe near the museum and had our first really memorable meal of the trip. Perhaps not as much as this kid who enjoyed a foccacia sandwich larger than his entire torso. Bon Appetito!

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Matt enjoyed a tagliatelle with bolognese and I had a salad with poached egg, asparagus and peccorino cheese with a side of bread and wine, naturally.

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That afternoon, we boarded the San Luca Express for a ride along the portico that led up to the Basilica Santuario della Madonna di San Luca overlooking the city. We had originally planned on walking the trip but after hearing it would take two hours to walk the world’s longest portico, we both decided riding was the best decision of the day.

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If the views from the top of the city weren’t breathtaking enough, a walk inside the basilica will do it.

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It was at the top of San Luca that we had our first aperitivo on the trip. Partially pictured: the tiny round teeter-totter that was the seat at this quaint pizzeria.

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Our stop in Bologna was quick, but we were grateful to experience the University town before heading down to Florence for the next few days and falling even more in love with this beautiful country.

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Ciao!

Honey Cornbread Muffins

I learned an important lesson this week while making cornbread muffins.

Don’t over-think things. Simple is best.

Who says the best lessons aren’t learned while baking anyways?

A few weeks ago I made a cornbread crumb cake that was delicious albeit a little time-consuming.

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And yesterday I cooked up a batch of vegetarian chili and was looking for a quick corn muffin recipe to go along with it. Let’s avoid getting into the details as to why I felt the need to make chili when it was 96 degrees outside and focus on the fact I discovered a quick and simple corn muffin recipe in the process, shall we?

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I scanned several recipes, knowing I didn’t want to mess with anything vegan, jalapeno or healthy on this particular day when I settled on this one. Wouldn’t you know it turned out way better than my other more complicated attempts and it took half the time.

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Honey Cornbread Muffins

-adapted from The Neely’s via Food Network. Makes 6 muffins. Double recipe for 12. 

  • 1/2 C cornmeal
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 TBL baking powder
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 stick butter, melted
  • 2 TBL cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In a liquid measure, whisk melted butter, egg, milk and honey.

Add wet ingredients into wet and stir until just combined.

Fill silicone baking cups or paper-lined tins 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve with butter or extra honey.

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Enjoy!

 

Summer Corn Chowder

Happy Back to School Day to all the parents out there! All too often we celebrate the fresh starts, new classes and that whole importance of educating our youth when in reality we should be celebrating the fact you just survived three months of 24-hour parenting without the assistance of teachers. So let’s take a moment to pat you on the back for making it through. And another one for the kind teachers who are going to take over from here for you.

I remember my first day of sixth grade like it was yesterday. We had just moved to a new neighborhood and not only was I starting a new school, but I was starting public school for the first time after attending a Montessori school since I was two. I was nervous, but I had a great set of friends and a brand new coordinating Limited Too top and shorts to wear with my Birkenstocks so there wasn’t much that could cramp my style. We snapped first day photos that wouldn’t be developed for weeks, took turns guessing who would be in our homeroom and waited for the bus to show up.

The bus never came.

My first day of sixth grade didn’t happen because some high-schooler slashed the bus tires of nearly the entire fleet. So we settled for an extra day of summer break and a few quotes in the local newspaper. Perks of having a former reporter in the family I suppose.

This recipe has little to do with Back to School time but it would be a good one to add to your rotation as a quick go-to dinner. It doesn’t require the time a lot of soups take and it’s light enough to enjoy even in the summer heat. I used shrimp in this version, but you could add crab or remove the seafood altogether if you have a picky eater in the family.

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Shrimp and Corn Chowder
-adapted from Cooking Light

  • 4 slices Canadian bacon, diced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 TBL thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 2 1/2 C low-fat milk
  • 1 1/4 C unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 tsp Penzeys Forward seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/2 pound uncooked fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 (12-ounce) package frozen sweet corn

In a small prep bowl, set aside two tablespoons of chopped green onions.

In a dutch oven, cook Canadian bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove and place on paper towel to absorb extra grease.

Add green onions, thyme and garlic to pan and saute for 2-3 minutes. Spoon flour over onion mixture.

Add milk and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

Add seasoning, salt and red and black pepper.

Add 3/4 of the corn and half Canadian bacon pieces to the broth. Cook until corn is heated through. Using an immersion blender, cream corn and bacon to thicken chowder. Once pureed, add remaining corn and shrimp. Cook for another 5 minutes or until shrimp is done.

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Garnish chowder with remaining bacon and green onions.

summer_corn_chowder_three

 

Enjoy!

Panzanella Salad

Considering I’m a true adult now and all, I figured I should start expanding my salad repertoire and get a little fancier.

Just kidding. I just had some rock hard bread that I didn’t want to go to waste.

Truth is I love carbs as much as the next runner gearing up for a big race, but when it comes to my salad, I’d rather have a side of bread to accompany it than to have it mixed in. But this. This crunchy, grainy goodness is worth a try.

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Panzanella Salad

  • 1 C mixed greens (arugula, spinach, etc)
  • 2 C cubed day old bread (I used half of a loaf of Trader Joe’s multigrain ciabatta)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 C cucumber, sliced
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 TBL feta cheese
  • 2 TBL thinly sliced red onion

Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 2 TBL champagne or cider vinegar
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced (can sub garlic powder)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

In a large bowl, combine mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, red onion, basil and feta. Set aside.

In a skillet or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bread cubes and toss until crispy and brown.

Whisk vinaigrette in a small bowl.

Toss all ingredients together and let sit for 10 minutes or so to let flavors combine.

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A great lunch for a warm summer day. Enjoy!