A Girl & Her Food: October 2011


Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

Girl cooks her husband’s favorite squash. After two years of marriage, I still need to produce satisfying and impressive meals. With an early fall harvest, spaghetti squash is available at the Farmer’s Market or at your local grocery store.  This recipe only takes about 15 minutes of prep time. It’s healthy, sustainable, and easy to prepare!

1 medium spaghetti squash, cut lengthwise
1 pound medium to large sized wild caught shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon plus an extra 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon plus an extra 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil and season squash with salt and pepper. 
Place cut side down in a baking dish. Add some water and roast until tender for about 45-60 minutes. 
Let the squash cool.Meanwhile, heat your skillet. Toss shrimp with 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice season with salt and pepper.Sauté until cooked through for about 8 to 10 minutes.

If squash is cool, begin to scoop seeds from squash and with a fork,       scrape flesh into a bowl.Add shrimp, lemon juice,and 1 tablespoon oil to bowl. Toss to combine ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, parsley, and serve! 

A Girl & Her Food


Garlic Mashed Turnips

Have you ever heard this story as a child?

The Giant Turnip 

An old man planted a turnip. The turnip grew to be enormous. 
The old man started to pull the turnip out of the ground. 
He pulled and pulled, but couldn't pull it out. So he called the old woman over.
"All right – said the grandmother – I’m coming".

The old woman took hold of the old man, the old man took hold of the turnip, they pulled and pulled, but couldn't pull it out. So the old woman called the granddaughter over.
"All right – said the granddaughter – I’m coming".

The granddaughter took hold of the old woman, the old woman took hold of the old man, the old man took hold of the turnip, they pulled and pulled, but couldn't pull it out. So the granddaughter called the dog over.

"All right – said the dog – I’m coming".

The dog took hold of the granddaughter, the granddaughter took hold of the old woman, the old woman took hold of the old man, the old man took hold of the turnip, they pulled and pulled, but couldn't pull it out. So the dog called the cat over.
"All right – said the cat – I’m coming".

The cat took hold of the dog, the dog took hold of the granddaughter, the granddaughter took hold of the old woman, the old woman took hold of the old man, the old man took hold of the turnip, they pulled and pulled, but couldn't pull it out. So the cat called the mouse over.
"All right – said the mouse– I’m coming".

The mouse took hold of the cat, the cat took hold of the dog, the dog took hold of the granddaughter, the granddaughter took hold of the old woman, the old woman took hold of the old man, the old man took hold of the turnip, they pulled and pulled--and finally pulled out the turnip!

If not, this is a children's fairytale story from Eastern Europe. 
With Turnips taking over the Farmer's Markets, I "pulled" them too! This is a healthy low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes. 
It's a quick and easy side dish. 

1-2 cups of peeled and cubed turnips
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil 
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Cook turnip cube in boiling water for about 15 minutes or until soft.  Drain turnips. Place turnips back in pot, add garlic, olive and salt and fresh ground pepper. Mash all the ingredients together.  If needed, you can use a food processor.  

A Girl & Her Food 


A Girl Eats Out: Maude's Liquor Bar

My girlfriend, Lisa, was visiting me from NYC. We headed for a late night dinner and drinks to 
Maude's Liquor Bar. The kitchen is open 'til 12!  

We started off with the a sparkling cocktail St. Germain Fizz and followed by a stirred Bijou.  
The drinks literally tasted like vintage rive gauche or old world meets new world Paris. 

We both loved the decor and ambiance. 

 Thanks to my Mother, Elizabeth, for our countless trips to Paris together. j'adore french food!

Eat this:
Pommes Frites
Steamed Mussels- 
To die for! Make sure to dip bread. 
Blackened Brussel Sprouts
 ( Lisa and I swoon over Brussel Sprouts) 

A GIrl gives it 4 forks (out of 5)

Maude's Liquor Bar
840 W. Randolph 
312.243. 9712

Eat & Enjoy!
A Girl & Her Food 


Pomegranate, Radish & Avocado Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Winter is  creeping up around the corner, I am not looking forward to the end of my weekly trips to the Farmer’s Market.  However, I will try to enjoy it while it lasts.  And this week I picked up organic lettuce & radishes which can be used to make a delicious and flavorful salad. 

 Its healthy, cleansing, nourishing, and a great way to start my week.  Its perfect for a Meat Free Monday lunch! If you need protein feel free to add chicken, fish or shrimp. 

Pomegranate, Radish & Avocado Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

For Citrus Vinaigrette:
1-2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
Juice of 1-2 small oranges
¼ teaspoon grated orange zest
2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

For Salad:
1-3 cups of favorite greens
4-5 radishes, sliced
½- 1 ripe avocado, sliced
Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
Trader Joe’s Pomegranate Seeds package)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together rice-wine vinegar, orange juice, & orange.
Slowly whisk in olive oil.
Season vinaigrette with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Taste to check the acidity. Add another squeeze of orange or lemon/lime. 
Let your own palate be your guide!
Toss all your prepared ingredients in a bowl.
Drizzle with the vinaigrette & serve!


the essential 38

 Earlier this month, the  Eater published a list of the 
"38 essential Chicago restaurants".  
What's your number?? Mine is 20. 
For someone like me, who loves to eat out often and be the first on the restaurant scene, I was pretty shocked how few of the restaurants I have been to! A lot of the restaurants on the list are on my must-try list. I list below some notable restaurants that I'm pretty surprised didn't make the list. What do you think?

1. Anteprima
2. Avec
3. Urban Belly
4. Hot Doug's
5. Kuma's Corner
6. Irazu
7. The Bristol
8. Lao Sze Chuan
9. Purple Pig
10. Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar
11. Smoque BBQ
12. Ceres' Table
13. HB Home Bistro
14. DMK Burger Bar
15. Longman and Eagle
16. Bonsoiree
17. Nightwood Restaurant
18. Girl & The Goat
19. Piccolo Sogno
20. Hemas Kitchen
21. Ruxbin
22. Demera Ethiopian
23. Sun Wah Bar-B-Que
24. Pho Xe Tang/Tank Noodle
25. Lula Cafe
26. De Cero Restaurant
27. Glenn's Diner
28. Coalfire
29. Big Star
30. Tac Quick
31. Davanti Enoteca
32. Arami  
33. Chizakaya
34. The Publican
35. Lillie's Q
36. Maude's Liquor Bar
37. Vincent
38. Chicago Cut Steakhouse

 I'm surprised the folowing weren't listed:

NEXT (waiting to win the lottery)
GT Fish & Oyster  

eat out & enjoy!
A Girl & Her Food 

A Girl Eats: Gemini Bistro

For an early Friday night dinner, A Girl and her husband headed to Gemini Bistro in Lincoln Park.  I used my OpenTable app and made last minute reservations.  We were really excited as this was on our list of restaurants to try, but I would say we were not that impressed.

We got there just in time to order from their prix fixe menu, which ends at 
6:30 pm.  With the prix fixe, you choose from a few options for three courses for $32 and for an extra $25 you can receive wine pairings. As it is kid and family friendly, many families were eating around us, especially when we left at 8:30pm.  The atmosphere was chic but casual. I was confused and disappointed why fake votive candle were used. 

I was drinking the Girls in the Vineyard Cabernet. A Girl loved it! 

Sorry, I did not take pictures of the food given how dark it was in the restaurant.

Steve ordered an appetizer that is not included in the prix fixe the
Seared Sea Scallops
Brown butter, lemon, capers, brioche croutons

Our waitress brought the sea scallop special with risotto and not what we ordered, which ruined Steve’s dining experience.

Steve’s Prix Fixe choices:
1st Course
Creamless Tomato Soup
Mini Herkimer cheddar grilled cheese

It was simple and hearty, but tasted like Campbell’s Soup.

2nd Course
Free-Range Chicken
Crispy skin breast, braised thigh, mashed potato, mushroom ragout

We were recommended this chicken from the waitress.  Usually, chicken isn’t our go-to protein at restaurants. Surprisingly, it was juicy and delicious.

3rd Course
Apple Crisp
Cinnamon streusel, maple pecan gelato, thyme caramel

It was simple and a perfect fall classic.

A Girl’s Prix Fixe Choices:

1st Course
Yia Yia’s Salad
Tomato, cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese, croutons

Anyone who loves Greek salad as much as this girl should try it. The preparation of salad was unique, perfect quantity of all ingredients
(no feta lacking) and delicious.

2nd Course
Steak Frites
Grilled hanger steak, maître d’ butter, bordelaise, fries

This would be A Girl’s last meal. After several trips to France and dining in Brasseries all over the States, I thought it was quite average.  I prefer my pommes frites long and thinly sliced and my steak not overdone.

3rd Course
Crème Brulee
Vanilla bean custard, caramelized sugar, hazelnut biscotti

So full after 2 courses and wine, there was only room for a couple spoonfuls to try. It was good.

After hearing so much about Gemini Bistro, we were disappointed. 
It was good, but not great. We felt we could have made all the dishes at home. The price of the food is relatively high. Our tab was $150 with the prix fixe. However, if you are looking for a kid-friendly spot with a good meal, I would recommend it.

girl gives it 2 forks (out of 4 forks)

Gemini Bistro 
2075 N. Lincoln Ave

Eat Out & Enjoy!
A Girl & Her Food


A Girl Eats: Sabatino's

For years, A Girl drives past Sabatino's on her way to her Grandparents. The parking lot is always full and seems like a hidden gem offering classic Italian cuisine.  It is on her list of restaurants to eat.  One night she sees an episode covering Sabatino's on Check Please! and decides it is time for a date night with her husband at the restaurant.  The place is classic, with an old school piano lounge, tuxedo clad host, and dining room that features private and intimate coves.  A perfect setup for families and couples. You feel like Tony Soprano will walk in. 

What A Girl ate

Upon being seated, you receive pizza bread and a friendly 
welcome from the owner, Enzo. 

Bresaola over Arugula

Sausage and Peppers (not on menu)

Homemade Gnocchi

Vitello alla Toscana

*all entrees come with a soup and salad


Bananas Foster that is prepared at your table 

Sabatino's is a great value, we paid $75, tab included a bottle of wine, a very full belly, & leftovers.

A Girl gives it 3 forks (out of 4 forks)

4441 West Irving Road 

Eat Out & Enjoy! 
A Girl & Her Food


Roasted Parsnips

A Girl bought some parsnips at the Wicker Park Farmer's Market, as hearty root vegetables (butternut squash, turnips, carrots, etc) are in season now.  I recommend this dish for lunch, dinner or as a side. 

1-1 1/2 pounds of parsnips, scrubbed, peeled, and cut into wedges
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs 
( A Girl picked herbs from her garden- chive and parsley) 
1 tablespoon sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a baking sheet or pan, toss and coat the wedges with olive oil
Season with sea salt and ground pepper
Roast for 40-45 minutes until tender with crispy edges
(Toss once or twice and make sure to check on them)
Remove and add the fresh herbs of your choice and season to your taste preference!

A Girl & Her Food

Butternut Squash Bisque

A Girl LOVES this fragrant and creamy soup in the fall and winter months when its in season. As you may know, I love to cook and eat what's local, organic, and in season whenever possible.  

The recipe below is a great lunch or dinner on Meat Free Monday, or feel free to serve it up at Thanksgiving. It's super easy to make and it's HEALTHY! 


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2-3 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash 
(I used one squash)
1 quart of vegetable stock or chicken stock 
1 1/2 cup of cubed sweet potatoes
1 1/2 cup of cubed apples
1 teaspoon paprika 
1-1 1/2 tablespoon fresh chopped chives and plus some for garnish
Sea Salt
Fresh ground pepper


In a large saucepan or dutch oven with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. 
Add the onions and cook for about 5 miuntes or until soft.
Add the squash, sweet potatoes, apples, stock and paprika and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for about 35 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
Before the next step, let the soup cool down. You don't want to burn yourself!
Pour the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Return the soup into saucepan or dutch oven.
Season with sea salt, pepper and more paprika to your taste preference.
Reheat the soup if needed.
Stir in the chives just before serving and garnish.

homemade teriyaki grilled chicken with soba noodles

A Girl loves teriyaki sauce. Teriyaki is easy to make with a few ingredients-soy sauce, mirin & sugar.  Why buy it in a bottle?  A Girl decided to do a twist on teriyaki.

1 package of Empire Kosher Organic Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/4 cup  San-j's nama shoyu (you can use soy sauce)
2 tablespoons of mirin
2 tablespoons of local honey (I used my Father's locally grown raw honey)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro (optional)
1 teaspoons of chopped scallions cut on the diagonal for garnish (optional)

In a saucepan combine nama shoyu, mirin, garlic, ginger & cilantro over medium high heat. Once it boils, turn the heat down, and let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and let it cool down. A Girl recommends making this beforehand. Once the sauce is cool, use it as a marinade for the chicken.  Marinate the chicken with the teriyaki sauce for 30 minutes, 1 hour or up to overnight. Make sure to leave some extra teriyaki sauce to drizzle over grilled chicken before serving.

Heat your grill or cast iron grill pan.  Grill chicken for about 3-4 minutes per side.  Adjust grill time according to thickness of chicken breast. The best method to check is cut into it, making sure the juices are clean. Remove from grill. Plate it. Drizzle the grilled chicken with extra teriyaki sauce and garnish with scallions.

A Girl served the grilled chicken over cold 100% buckwheat soba noodles and a side of bok choy with garlic & ginger.

A Girl & Her Food

A Girl Eats Out: Davanti Enoteca


Steve and I headed to Davanti Enoteca, in Little Italy, for dinner. 

Be prepared to wait, I guess we were lucky because we were seated right away.

We decided to walk on the wild side and ordered a bottle from Davanti's unusual but exceptional list a 2008 Salviano "Turlo" Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot from Umbria.

Ricotta + honeycomb 

A Girl could eat buckets of it. 


Truffle egg toast + fontina + asparagus 



cacio e pepe

We ate this dish everyday in Rome last September, it's a Roman staple.  
We had to order cacio e pepe because we haven't seen it on a menu since Rome, it wasn't our favorite dish but I would recommendation trying it. 


polpo con rafano

We finished off with formaggi + salumi 

A Girl gives it 4 forks (out of 5 forks)

Eat Out & Enjoy!
A Girl & Her Food 

Davanti Enoteca
1359 W Taylor Street