Chicago Dog

It’s Memorial Day and you’re having a cookout. Chicago Dogs are the way to go. Pretty simple to make, but hard to get the ingredients if you live outside of Chicagoland. Luckily, I had bought the sport peppers and neon green relish when I was in Chicago back in March.

Chicago Hot Dog

Hot Dog (all beef)
Bun (poppy seed if you have it)
Tomato Slices
Diced Onions
Sport Peppers
Neon Green Relish
Dill Pickle Spear
Yellow Mustard
Celery Salt

These are my favorite hot dog, because they are more toppings than hot dog. You can barely see the hot dog in that picture!

Panna Cotta w/Red Wine Syrup

Panna Cotta [recipe] is a really easy dessert to make that will impress people. It has five ingredients (cream, milk, gelatin, sugar, and vanilla) and takes very little time to actually cook (though several hours to set in the fridge). I didn’t follow the recipe precisely, mainly because I didn’t have the right amount of cream or any skim milk. But those ratios aren’t that important. The cream is for the flavor and the consistency due to the presence of fat, and the milk has much more water than fat which is necessary for the gelatin to dissolve. As long as the gelatin dissolves, you are good.


The critical ratio is how much sugar you have in the dessert, but you can vary this to taste and taste the panna cotta before it sets. You can always add more sugar as necessary. Once the cream/gelatin mixture is finished cooking, and then I poured it into individual cups to set in the fridge. It has gelatin in it, so it takes about also as Jello to set.

Now on to the really fun part: wine syrup. I used a red zinfandel. There’s no definitive recipe of wine syrup online, but I used 1 cup of wine to 1/3 cup sugar ratio (3:1 wine to sugar ratio). I’ve seen a 1:1 ratio for some recipes, but I don’t want the sugar to over power the wine, which becomes sweeter once you reduce it. The hardest part I’ve found with the syrup is getting it to the correct consistency. It’s not hard to overcook it caramelizing the sugar, and you end up with wine candy.

Wine syrup goes great on a lot of things, so try a few things…like chocolate.

Balsamic Vinegar Chicken

After I got done with my first quarter of grad school, I finally got some time to cook something. I didn’t make anything too crazy for my first post to #illcookforyou. Just some balsamic vinegar chicken [recipe].  The chicken is just browned with onions and garlic.  The mushrooms are added last (you want to sauté those last because they expel water).  Toss in some balsamic vinegar and thyme.


You might notice those purple things at the bottom of the plate.  Those are purple potatoes.  Supposedly blue and purple foods are good for you because they are high in antioxidants.  I can’t vouch for how healthy these are for you, but they taste very similar to red potatoes and look crazy.  Those were roasted with EEVO, onions, a ton of garlic, and some lemon juice.


And to top it all off…parmesan cheese.  I might be making more things with parm later this week.


Spicy Chicken Bowl

I’ve been on a self imposed cooking/only salad making hiatus… it sounds horrible doesn’t it?! I thought so too, so the hiatus only lasted a week or so. In order to break free from the salad eating kick that I was on I decided to mix up a Spicy Chicken Bowl after being inspired by this Fish Taco Bowl recipe. My variation turned out to be a pretty quick and easy dinner that I can recreate and mix up any time I’m in a pinch. Plus, the end result looked and tasted pretty damn good, so that’s always a plus/keeper in my book!


The original recipe calls for rice and fish, but I decided to substitute Red Quinoa and Chicken for a little healthier dish*. (I have never really been big on rice to begin with–the quinoa substitution was right up my alley, and fit in the ‘healthy’ zone that I was trying to work in.) Other than that change, I basically followed the recipe to a T, give or take a few changes, I’ve got a recipe for y’all to make it all make sense.

Once you’re done cookin’, the key part of this whole bowl is to remember: It’s all about the layers! (Quinoa) Layers, (Veggie) Layers, and (Chicken) Layers!**


*I also ran out of Chili Powder (GASP!), so I used my all time favorite Mexican seasoning: Tajin. I LOVE this stuff. I literally use it on everything I can possibly think of: chicken, fish, pork, veggies, pastas, fruits… you name it, I’ve used Tajin on it!

**One thing to note, this recipe is so easy to cater to the tastes of others: My boyfriend is not a big fan of onions or peppers, or Mexican food for that matter (sad face), so for his bowl I chopped up a little lettuce and used this as the second layer as opposed to the veggie mix. The boyfriend loved it! Now I’ve got a easy recipe that satisfies both of us :)