Monday, June 27, 2016

Life Lately

Life has been insane for the past 27 days. I actually can't believe what I'm about to recap has happened in the past 27 days. 

The Move:
27 days ago, on June 1, Brian and I were still living in San Francisco in our cute, little apartment on Pacific Avenue. Tiny and expensive, but cute. Well, a storm came around noon when our packers arrived and began disassemling our lives, box by box. They packed all our stuff and loaded it onto the van in about 9 hours. A very, very exhausing 9 hours. Both for them and for us. Around 10pm, we had only a few things left: a couple of suitcases, a few dozen cases of wine, sheets and pillows, a cooler full of snacks for the road trip ahead, and an empty apartment. We said goodbye to our California home and hit the road.

The Roadtrip:
Day 1: San Francisco --> Sacramento
We only made it a few hours, out to Sacramento. Enough to get us out of the city and feel like we were really on our way to Chicago. 

Day 2: Sacramento --> Salt Lake City
This was our first real day of driving across the country. So, we did this road trip in a very hurried fashion. There was no sight seeing to be had. Brian had a job to start on Monday, and we were still in California on Thursday. We chugged along and made it to SLC by Thursday night, where we stopped to visit one of my BFFs, Kelsey and her family. 

Day 3: Salt Lake City --> Omaha
The drive got decidedly less beautiful on this leg. From California to SLC, it was all mountains and beautiful landscape. Nebraska got a little flatter. We put in a good 13 hour day, binging on country music and Serial (roadtrip equivalent to Nexflix binging). 

Day 4: Omaha --> Chicago
We made it. Brian had already found an apartment for us, so when we arrived in Chicago, we had an empty home to welcome us. But fear not, we had a pull-out couch and TV delivered, so we were basically all set. My parents also happened to be in town that weekend to help move my sister into her new apartment. It felt like home immediately. So many friends and family around to welcome us back to our favorite city.

Well, I was in Chicago for 14 days before I had to leave. In those 14 days our movers came and dropped off our stuff. We unpacked and organized everything (Brian is the king of making things fit into a new place when we move). I continued my job in a new office and Brian started a new one. Our friends threw us welcome back parties. I'm sad to say there was very little time for us to relax and take it all in (so far). 

So after 14 days, we got on a plane and headed south to Charleston South Carolina for Brian's friend's wedding. The wedding was on a Tuesday, and when we originally made the plans we were thinking we'd be traveling from California, so we had made a trip of it. We got a cute little AirBnB right on the beach, and relaxed, got burnt and ate lots of fish for 3 days before the wedding. It was a cute little beach wedding with pizza food trucks and smores. So much fun. Then, Brian and I had to part ways. Brian back home to Chicago, and me on a plane to Ireland for work.

OH! And the Cavs won while we were in Charleston. Woot!

Here I am in Dublin. So tired, and getting over a bout of pink eye. What adult gets pink eye?? Probably an adult that needs to sit still for a few days. Anyhow, I'm in Dublin for 10 days for work. I got here last week, and I leave on Friday for home. I spent this past weekend exploring Dublin and made a trip out to Howth, which is a little Fisherman's town about 30 minutes north of Dublin by train. It was a good and relaxing weekend, as I was pretty much on my own. I think this is the one time I'm thankful I wasn't with anyone else so I could go at my own pace. 

What's next?
4th of July festivities next weekend, and then the biggest event of the summer. We're heading back to Medina because Eileen (my sister) is getting married on July 9. I cannot wait to get back home to be with the family and start the celebrations! Stay tuned!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chicago Bound & Pork Chili Verde Burrito Bowls

You probably saw on Facebook, that Brian and I are moving back to Chicago. Brian got a job offer from GrubHub, and we hopped on the opportunity to move back to our roots, the Midwest.  Yay for the hubby and yay for moving back to Chicago!

While we are super excited to be back near so many of our good friends, my sister, and close to Ohio, it's going to be pretty sad to leave California. I'm going to post a "memorial" to our past two and a half years here later this week. 

But, before we leave I'm doing the last of cooking in our tiny, inconvenient, dishwasher-less, garbage disposable-less kitchen. (hello San Francisco rent market!) For such a small kitchen, it's been great. A lot of good recipes have come from our San Francisco kitchen. Here's one more for the books.

I've made about every variation of this recipe. It's good every single time, and so hard to mess up. You could slow cook it in the crockpot, using practically the same method. And honestly, who doesn't love slow cooked pork (okay maybe if you don't eat pork make this with chicken instead)?

Pork Chili Verde (Pork in Tomatillo Sauce)
makes 6-8 servings

3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder/butt (tied with string)
10 tomatillos (husk removed, rinsed)
1 yellow onion (diced)
5 cloves garlic (diced)
1 poblano (stem & seeds removed, diced)
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
spices (garlic powder, cumin, green chili powder, coriander)
1 lime (juiced)
grapeseed oil
salt and pepper

Take the pork shoulder out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for a good hour. 

Pat the pork dry. Sprinkle all sides with a good amount of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil can get really hot without burning. Add the fattiest side of the pork down in the oil and let sizzle for 3-4 minutes. Repeat on all sides (there are 6 sides typically - top, bottom and then 4 sides). Remove from heat to a plate.

Lower heat to medium and add onion, garlic, poblano, salt and pepper. Let cook for 5 minutes. Chop tomatillos into quarters and toss into the pot. Add the can of green chilies, a few dashes of garlic powder, cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt and pepper. Let cook for 5 more minutes.

Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat. 

Using an immersion blender, blend the tomatillo mixture while still in the Dutch oven. Add additional chicken broth if it looks too low or very thick. Taste and add salt as necessary. Now, drop the pork back in and turn on low heat, so that the sauce barely simmer. 

Let the pork simmer on the stovetop for 3-4 hours, until the pork is falling apart. Mine took about 3.5 hours, and I had a 3 lb butt. 

Once falling apart, remove pork to a cutting board to shred, and remove any large, unpleasant hunks of fat. Also make sure to remove the string!

Once shredded, return to the pot and keep on very low heat until ready to serve. 

To make the bowls, assemble Cilantro Lime Rice (recipe below), shredded lettuce, chopped red onion, fresh cilantro and Greek yogurt/sour cream to make a delicious Verde Pork Burrito Bowl.

for the Cilantro Lime Rice
makes 4-5 servings

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 shallot (minced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 lime (juice + zest)
1 cup cilantro (chopped, no stems)

In a sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic and a dash of salt. Let cook for 3-5 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add rice to the pan and mix to coat in oil. Let the rice cook for 2-3 minutes.

Now add in the broth, lime juice and lime zest, and probably a pinch more salt. Bring to a boil, and lower to a simmer immediately. Cover and let cook 15-20 minutes. Check after 15 minutes to see how the rice is. Add a tbsp of water if there isn't enough moisture. 

Once the rice finishes cooking, add the cilantro and taste. Adjust salt as necessary. The rice shouldn't be sticky!
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Asian Quick-Pickled Cucumber Sticks

One of my all time favorite snacks is the trusty dill pickle. I've always got a jar in my fridge half eaten. My favorite grocery store brand is Mt. Olive. I love them.  Get a jar next time you're out.

This quick pickle recipe is so yummy and quick to make for a snack. I love buying those little bags of Persian cucumbers. My mom introduced them to me a couple of years ago and I've been buying them ever since. I buy them at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, but I think you can get them at most grocery stores. They're so flavorful and don't have a lot of slimy seeds in the middle.

Asian Quick-Pickled Cucumber Sticks
makes snacks for a few people

3-4 baby Persian cucumbers (or 1 English cucumber)
1 drop toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 lemon (juiced)
1/2 tsp granulated garlic powder
1 tsp dried dill weed
1 tsp black or white sesame seeds

Slice up the cucumbers first. Remove the ends, and slice into sticks. If you're using the baby cukes, cut in quarters. For an English cucumber, time the ends, slice into thirds, and then cut into sticks.

Toss the cucumbers in the toasted sesame oil, sesame oil, miring, rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic powder, dill weed, sesame seeds and salt. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Sticky Chipotle Ribs

It's almost summertime, and it's time for a new ribs recipe. Brian said that this was his favorite BBQ sauce ever, so I think you should give it at try. 

Disclaimer: it is not a BBQ sauce for the faint of heart. It's spicy as heck. 

Sticky Chipotle Ribs
makes 3-4 servings

1 rack of baby back ribs
1 chipotle (from adobo can)
1/2 cup adobo sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup chicken broth (low sod.)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Take ribs out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking them to come to room temperature. 

Make the Chipotle BBQ sauce. In a blender, puree the 1 chipotle with the adobo sauce. Transfer to a small sauce pan and turn heat up to medium. Add remaining ingredients: brown sugar, honey, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and taste. If too spicy, add more honey. If too sweet, add a dash more adobo sauce until it fits your taste. Let simmer for 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

Coat the ribs in salt and pepper and then slather with BBQ sauce. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet. Add about 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of the baking sheet. Place the ribs on top of the wire rack and cover with foil. Pop into the oven for 4 hours (at 225 degrees). After 4 hours, remove the foil and let cook until the ribs are falling apart, basting with BBQ sauce every 15 minutes. Right before you remove them, turn on the broiler for 3-4 minutes to crest them up. 

Remove and let cool for 10 minutes covered in foil. Cut ribs into 2s or 3s and serve with extra BBQ sauce. You could finish these on the grill for some extra texture and crunch. 

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