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SUNSETS CHICAGO STYLE

I spent this past weekend visiting my daughter, Jodi and her boyfriend Neil. While Steve had a seminar, we galavanted around the city, making most of the little time we have together.

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Vitamin D Room at the Summerhouse

Visiting Chicago, or any city for that matter, with Jodi is always an experience! Some people take the time to smell the flowers, but with Jodi we take the time to….(just a little photo journey of our time together)…..

 

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CAPRI AT THE RITZ

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This beautiful display beacons you as you enter the restaurant and wait for your table….

Lunch was an assortment of creative and healthy salads. The most amazing was the cauliflower with jalape√Īo and parmesan pesto.

 

 

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This little number kept calling to us….and we succumbed. Well worth it!
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We then embarked on a Chicago sunset cruise. It was a little cloudy, but with the little cocktail lounge on the ship, it made for a lovely evening…followed by....

 

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this….amazing lobster roll dripping with huge chunks of lobster on a buttery grilled bun….oh my!¬†

MINI LOBSTER ROLLS WITH HERBED MAYO

Makes 15 rolls

FOR THE ROLLS

  • 2 ¬†lobster tails, thawed if frozen (8 oz. each)
  • 3 ¬†cups water
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (zest reserved)
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 5 hot dog buns, sliced length- wise and cut into thirds
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE MAYO

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. each minced celery, fresh chives, tarragon, and¬†parsely¬†
  • 1 ¬†Tbsp. minced shallots¬†
  • 2 ¬†tsp. fresh lemon juice¬†
  • 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  1. Combine water, juice of 1 lemon, and 1 tsp. Old Bay in a large sauce- pan. Insert steamer basket in pan, bring water to a boil, place the tails in steamer, and cover.
  2. Steam tails 8‚Äď10 minutes until shells are red and meat is cooked. Remove tails from pan and cool slightly.
  3. Cut shells lengthwise with kitchen shears. Chop meat into chunks. Preheat broiler with rack 5 inches from the element.
  4. Mix mayonnaise, celery, chives, tarragon, parsley, shallots, 2 tsp. lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. Old Bay, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a bowl. Fold in lobster meat.
  5. Brush rolls with melted butter and broil until toasted, 1‚Äď2 minutes. Spoon filling onto toasted rolls and garnish with reserved lemon zest.

Then, of course, on our way to the airport, we HAD to stop for the one and only Shake Shack burger! A delicious patty of perfectly cooked beef topped with cheese and a FRIED CHEESE PORTOBELLO STUFFED MUSHROOM!!! One bite into this massive deliciousness is what I think heaven would be like as the lava fountain of cheese oozes out with each bite….ok. I’m done…ūüėč (Shake Shack…put it on your bucket list!) People say the secret’s in the sauce, but I say its in the mushroom!

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It’s hard to believe that a little food stand in NYC made its way to major cities with lines blocks long

Here is a

FAKE SHAKE SHACK HACK RECIPE FROM SERIOUS EATS! (It has everything but the portobello.)

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INGREDIENTS
8 ounces beef sirloin, trimmed of gristle, and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 ounces well-marbled beef chuck, trimmed of gristle, and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 ounces well-marbled beef brisket, fat cap intact, trimmed of gristle, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 Martin’s Sandwich Rolls
4 tablespoons Shack Sauce (recipe follows)
4 leaves of green-leaf lettuce, clipped
8 center-cut slices ripe plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
4 slices yellow American cheese
Sauce Ingredients
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
4 slices kosher dill pickle
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
DIRECTIONS
1.
Place feed shaft, blade, and 1/4-inch die of meat grinder in freezer until well-chilled. Meanwhile, place meat chunks on rimmed baking sheet, leaving space between each piece and place in freezer for 10 minutes until meat is firm, but not frozen.

2.
Combine meat in large bowl and toss to combine. Pass meat through grinder twice. Form into four disks, about 2-inches tall, and 2.5-inches wide. Refrigerate until ready for use.

3.
Open buns but do not split hinge. Brush lightly with butter, then place under broiler or in toaster oven until golden brown, about 1 minute. Spread 1 tablespoon Shack Sauce on top half of each bun (for true authenticity, squirt out of squeeze bottle into three lines, three passes on each line). Place 1 leaf lettuce and 2 slices tomato on top half of each bun.

4.
Using wadded-up paper towel, rub inside of heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet with vegetable oil, then place over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Season beef pucks on top side with salt and pepper, then place, seasoned side down, in skillet. Using back of heavy, flat spatula, press down on beef pucks firmly to form 4-inch round patties, being careful not to let it stick to bottom of spatula. Season top side with salt and pepper. Cook until crisp brown crust has formed, about 2-minutes.

5.
Carefully scrape patties from skillet, and flip. Top each patty with 1 slice American cheese. Cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute longer. Transfer patties to burger bun bottoms, close sandwiches, and serve.

6.
Shack Sauce: Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth, scraping down sides of blender with rubber spatula as necessary. Makes about 3/4 cup sauce.

Cheers to sunsets, birthdays, and just about anything you want to toast to….burgers, lobster…anything. Thanks for stopping in and I hope you enjoyed todays read.

xo Laura

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SUMMER SALAD OBSESSION!

IMG_5326Balmy summer nights and all of the wonderful fresh produce have made me hungry for a variety of savory dinner salads. This whole obsession began with Steve, my husband of ten years this month! Steve decided that WE¬†are getting a little chubby……(we???), so he would like to have salads for dinner. Most salads aren’t exactly low cal and diet friendly, however, loving fresh salads and vegetables (we could easily be vegetarians except for and occasional big ass burger:) I accepted the challenge!¬†

Last night, Steve and I were having a refreshing cocktail on the deck while I grilled the chicken to top our Greek Cobb Salad. So light and flavorful, it was a hit! I plated it on an oval serving dish and we each had our own side. I am not a big egg fan, and Steve isn’t a big cucumber fan, so we each had our own side of the dish! It was perfect! So perfect, in fact, that we ate to the middle and he took the middle for lunch today:)

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On Pinterest this morning, I went a little wild in the salad department. I counted 21 pins on my SALAD BOARD! I decided to hold off until I had time to try a few of the recipes. 

Here’s the favorites!

Greek Cobb Salad

Serves 6 servings 

 

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE, WHISK:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. each fresh lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • FOR THE SALAD, TOSS:
  • 12 chicken tenders, seasoned with salt and black pepper (11/4 lb.)
  • 4 pitas (6-inch), brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and black pepper

Chop:

  • 5 cups chopped hearts of romaine (about 1 head)

ARRANGE:

  • Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush grill grate with oil.
    For the vinaigrette, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, 3 Tbsp. oil, garlic, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. For the salad, toss tenders with 2 Tbsp. vinaigrette, then grill, covered, until cooked through, 3 minutes per side. Transfer tenders to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Chop tenders, then toss with any residual juices. 
  • grill heat to medium.
    Grill pitas until marks appear,
    1 minute per side. Cut pitas
    into 6 wedges.
    Arrange romaine in a large serving dish. Arrange eggs, tomatoes, feta, olives, red onion,  cucumber, chicken, and pitas on same dish; drizzle vinaigrette over the top.

I am ALL OVER this one for tomorrow night from  Pinterest!

BUFFALO CHICKEN SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE CILANTRO RANCH DRESSING (Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings)IMG_5334

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Does this look amazing?????

INGREDIENTS

Buffalo Chicken Salad
1 recipe Buffalo Chicken (see below), sliced or chopped
1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped (about 8 cups)
Fresh corn kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup matchstick carrots
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large avocado, chopped or sliced

Blue Cheese Cilantro Ranch
1/2 cup real mayonnaise (I use lowfat)
1/2 cup sour cream (may sub Greek yogurt with a pinch of sugar)
3 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup cilantro, packed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons dry parsley
1 teaspoons dry chives
1/2 teaspoons dry dill
milk (as needed)

An easy shortcut would be to use purchased ranch dressing, seasonings & blue cheese crumbles.

Garnish
Blue cheese crumbles
freshly squeezed lime juice
bacon crumbles (optional)

Easy Croutons
1/2 loaf garlic/herb French bread
olive oil

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Buffalo Chicken: Prepare Buffalo Chicken according to directions (see below)
Blue Cheese Cilantro Ranch: While your chicken is marinating, add all of the dressing ingredients to your blender and chop then liquefy until smooth, adding milk as needed to reach desired consistency. Chill until ready to use.
Croutons: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cube bread into bite size pieces and add to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Spread bread in an even layer onto baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden.
Assemble: If not expecting leftovers, add all of the Salad ingredients to a large bowl and drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with blue cheese crumbles and croutons. If you are expecting leftovers, toss all of the salad ingredient together in a large bowl except avocados. Garnish individual servings with avocados, croutons and dressing.

 

BUFFALO CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS
2-3 chicken breasts (approx. 1 pound), pounded thin
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Buffalo Marinade
1/4 cup Frank’s Hot WINGS Sauce for more heat OR Frank’s ORIGINAL Hot Sauce for less heat
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Buffalo Glaze
Reserved marinade (in directions)
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
INSTRUCTIONS

Whisk together all of the Buffalo Marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Measure out 1/4 cup and add to a shallow dish or freezer bag, along with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chicken and toss evenly to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator 2 hours up to overnight.
To the remaining marinade, make your Buffalo Glaze by whisking in 1 tablespoon honey and 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
STOVETOP DIRECTIONS
Let chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned (or blackened if you prefer) on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Brush chicken with desired amount of glaze – for more heat, more glaze; for less heat, less glaze.
GRILLING DIRECTIONS
Let chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
Meanwhile, grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450¬įF.
Grill chicken undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 155 degrees F.)
Remove chicken from grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Brush chicken with desired amount of glaze – for more heat, more glaze; for less heat, less glaze.
NOTES
*The chicken is flavorful but not very spicy without the glaze. You can completely customize the heat of the chicken by adding more or less glaze. The more glaze the spicier the chicken
*Try tossing the chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce – amazing!
*Chicken is incredible on sandwiches, in wraps, salads, tacos, etc.
*Total time does not include marinating chicken as this time will vary per individual.

I hope you enjoyed today’s read and have a chance to try these amazing main course salads. I always aim for little fuss, and great flavor, so these two have definitely nailed it!

Don’t forget to check out todays shopping!

Cheers! Laura

IT’S AMAZON PRIME DAY! CHECK IT OUT!

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WALKING TACOS

You know, I have never heard of a walking taco until I was on a recent visit to Lubbock, Texas. The airport was an experience in itself. 

I had heard that everything in Texas is big, but I just didn’t have a clue exactly what that meant. Surrounded by belt buckles, leather accessories,  Jumbo Texas Fly Swatters, 61qYNzwytXL._SL1200_and cowboy hats of every shape, size & color, I encountered a FRITO PIE STAND!  wild-game-chili-pie

The guy at the stand looked up at me, smiled a crooked smile and announced in his very southern, southern, drawl, “Get your tastebuds ready to buckle up, Little Lady!  What can I get ya?”

Eyeing the spicy chili, jalape√Īos, and coleslaw, and knowing I was about to board a small plane, I began to rethink my lunch choice. I imagined those poor people around me as my stomach began to rumble and thought better of it.

 “Wellllll,” I politely answered, “I have a flight, so I’m not sure I have the time to eat.”

“I’m happy to fix that!” he pressed on. He proceeded to open a small bag of fritos, and piled on the chili, onions, coleslaw and sour cream, put a fork on top and said, “There you go! On the House!” I graciously took the bag, tipped the guy, and thought to myself, “I need to at least taste this…..” AMAZING!

My Steve LOVES fritos and chili, so I knew he would love this. I hurried back to the stand and asked the guy to make me a few to go, which he was more than happy to oblige!

What happened next is….a Laura story……

Entering the plane, I put the bag of frito pies to go in the overhead bin, making sure the bag was tied tight at the top. Sitting next to me was a young man dressed in a crisp white dress shirt and jeans. As he was telling me about his recent job interview, mid sentence he sniffed his sleeve.  He apologized for his smell, as he had been in the same shirt all day, and had nervous sweat during the interview. This poor guy thought he had B O and he was SO relieved when I told him that it was my fruit pies in the overhead bin! I offered to share one, which he declined, but told him if the plane gets delayed, we will have food!

 

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BUFFALO CHICKEN FRITO PIE

Ingredients
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups rotisserie chicken, 1‚ÄĚ pieces
1 teaspoon season salt
¬Ĺ cup frank’s hot sauce or siracha
¬ľ cup cream
¬ľ cup butter
¬Ĺ cup Mexican cheeses
1 bag FRITOS¬ģ Original Corn Chips (do not portion)
3-4 tablespoons ranch dressing
¬ľ cup tomatoes, diced into ¬ľ inch pieces
¬ľ cup green onions, chopped into ¬ľ inch pieces & sliced jalape√Īos
GOES GREAT WITH…
FRITOS¬ģ Original Corn Chips

Instructions
Add broth and chicken to sauté pan, then season with salt.
Heat until broth is reduced by a little more than half
Add hot sauce and cream, then let reduce
Add butter and half the cheese, and incorporate.
Pour FRITOS Corn Chips into a bowl and top with chicken mixture and remaining cheese.
Drizzle with ranch dressing, then top with green onions, sliced jalape√Īos  and tomatoes and serve immediately.

 

WALKING TACO

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 ea white onion, diced
2 tbsp garlic, chopped
2 bottles light beer
2 tbsp corn oil
3 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
3 tbsp light chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
32 oz ground tomatoes
1 cup water
Salt and pepper

FOR GARNISH:
2 2 oz bags FRITOS¬ģ Original Corn Chips
Sour cream
Shredded Vermont cheddar or mexican shredded cheese
Scallions & prepared coleslaw & sliced jalape√Īos
GOES GREAT WITH…
FRITOS¬ģ Original Corn Chips

 

Instructions
1. Saute Onions and Garlic in oil.
2. Add all ground meats and beer.
3. Cook, until all meat is cooked through.
4. Add spices, Tomatoes, Water, and beef base.
5. Let cook for minimum of one hour over low heat.
6. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.

TO PLATE THE DISH (or fill the bag):
1. Open snack size bags of FRITOS Corn Chips 
2. Ladle hot chili on top.
3. Garnish with sour cream, coleslaw, sliced jalape√Īos cheddar cheese and scallions. Top it with a fork!

Hola & thanks for swinging by today! Check out these deals from Amazon and try your hand at these amazing walking tacos! You won’t be disappointed.

Until next time, Adios! Laura

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EASY & FLAVORFUL MEALS…Winner, Winner #Chicken Dinner!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Have you ever wondered where this phrase comes? Amazing Siri seems to know all of the answers. Apparently, years ago in Las Vegas, the price of a bet at the roulette wheel was the same price as a chicken dinner. So, yep! Here’s a little known fact¬†from a lesser known person!

So,¬†today’s recipes are two winner, winner, chicken dinners! Easy, yummy and the way a Monday meal should be!

ROASTED CHICKEN & POTATOES with FENNEL

This one dish dinner takes about 10 minutes to prepare and fills your kitchen with a wonderful aroma! Serves 4

                                                                                                    TOSS TOGETHER:

  • 1 1/2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed & sliced
  • 1 C. shallots
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts tossed with olive oil & seasoned w/ salt & pepper

COMBINE:

  • 3/4 C. fresh bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/2 C. shredded Parmesan
  • 2 T. fresh thyme
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  1. Preheat oven to 425*
  2. Toss potatoes, fennel & shallots with olive oil, salt & pepper
  3. Transfer to an oven proof skillet or baking pan.
  4. Roast 40 min.
  5. Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, thyme, & olive oil.
  6. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. Roast 10 min. more.
  8. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

MOM’S CHICKEN

This flavorful chicken dish is sooo easy to prepare, and the savory, crispy parmesan crust  holds in the moistness of the chicken.
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  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • milk
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • beer or wine (white, rose or red)
  1. Dip Chicken in milk.
  2. Roll in Parmesan cheese.
  3. Bake 450* 30 min.
  4. Pour 1 T. wine or beer on each piece.
  5. Reduce heat to 375* & bake for 20 min.

 

SUNSETS SHOPPING

In a perfect world, I would have a complete set of All Clad pots & pans, and Le Creuset Casseroles. But, filling in here and there works too!

Here are some of my favorites for the kitchen! Click the link for more info.

Le Creuset 20-piece Cookware Set

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All-Clad 700508 MC2 Master Chef 2 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Cookware Set, 10-Piece, Silver

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All-Clad 410810 NSR2 Stainless Steel Dishwasher Safe Oven Safe Nonstick 8-Inch and 10-Inch Fry Pan Set, 2-Piece, Black

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