Sunday, January 9, 2011


My blog has moved to: - FOLLOW ME THERE!

I've been in the process of giving my blog a face lift for a while, and it's finally done (mostly). The best part is that my title 'Runner Foodie' will now match my blog URL address! It's the same blog with all of the same previous posts, but I will continue my posting there. Please check it out and leave nice comments :)


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Anniversary at Spiaggia

After 11 wonderful days in MN, Bryan and I drove home to Chicago on Sunday January 2nd, which also happened to be our one-year wedding anniversary! We had dinner reservations at Spiaggia that I had been excited for for months! Spiaggia is located at the top of Magnificent Mile, across the street from the Drake Hotel and looks out onto Lake Michigan. Tony Mantuano, the executive chef, was on Top Chef Masters and I can say after finally eating his food that he is a genius! They have hosted a load of famous chefs and celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts and President Obama. After I read about all of the online hype, I knew we had to go there for something BIG. And our anniversary was perfect. We were literally blown away at how good the food was!

They brought out a complimentary truffle plate for each of us, which was absolutely incredible. We had cocktails first and then wine with the main course. For the first two courses, we ordered a couple of small plates and then enjoyed our own entrees:
Wood-roasted pancetta wrapped rabbit loin and rabbit sausage with tomato, Taggiasca olives and fried sage.
Potato gnocchi with ricotta sauce and Savini black truffles.
Bryan: Wood-roasted prime ribeye, chanterelle mushrooms, pickled red pearl onions and wild watercress.
Me: Wood grilled veal chop with sweetbreads, cipollini onions, dried Pugliese cherry tomatoes and arugula .
They also brought out a complimentary platter of pastry desserts for us to enjoy. We didn't order dessert because we had our wedding cheesecake to return to (which by the way, freezes extremely well)!

All of the dishes were incredibly delicious. The gnocchi, in particular, was to die for. There were points where we were silent because we were so engrossed in how good the food was. Our whole experience was absolutely amazing. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants to have a fancy schmancy dinner at some point while living in Chicago!

Chicken Dumpling Soup

So, what do you do with the leftover chicken bones and pieces? Make soup of course! This is another recipe from my childhood that doesn't really have a recipe. Basically, you make your chicken broth with the chicken bones and leftover pieces and add a little salt and pepper. After that has boiled for a couple of hours, you debone the chicken and add the meat pieces to the broth and discard the bones. You can add a variety of vegetables, but I grew up adding chopped carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, turnips and rutabaga. Let those simmer for about an hour and season with some rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

Last up comes the dumplings, which are also made up, and are little pieces of chewey goodness. Start with 2 eggs and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and blend together with a spoon. Add a little milk and flour bit by bit until it is thick and just stays on the spoon. It is hard to know when it is exactly right, and it just takes some practice. It took me a lot of adding and mixing before it looked right to me. Then you can test one dumpling to see if it has the right consistency. Dip a spoonful of batter into the simmering soup and it will fall off the spoon and into the bottom of the pot. When it floats, it is done and you can ladle it out of the soup and cut it in half to test whether or not it is done. You might need to add more flour to thicken or more milk or egg to make it thinner. Once the batter is right, add the rest of it to the soup by spoonfuls. Once all the dumplings are floating, the soup is ready to serve!

Grilled Chicken

Sometimes you just need to have a simple meal. That's where this grilled chicken came into play for me. The beauty of it is that there is really no recipe to follow. I grew up eating grilled meats often and I just sort of knew how to do it. Basically, you want to season the chicken before putting it on the grill and I used some flour, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and some liquid smoke (the secret ingredient according to my dad). It turned out very well too! We used organic free range chicken pieces from Trader Joe's, and it tasted great! Served with a side of mixed greens with dijon balsamic vinegarette and a dinner roll. So quick and easy!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Snowy Minnesota!

We're spending Christmas and New Year's in Minneapolis with Bryan's family and a great amount of friends that we know from St. Olaf College.  So far, it's been great and it's only going to get better!

Minnesota has great winters! There have already been large snowstorms this winter, and last night another 4 inches came down! It's so beautiful!

We even got to bring Dimitri along! He is such a great traveler too! At Bryan's parents' house, he gets to experience new and exciting things like running up and down stairs and watching squirrels outside the window. In addition, he got to go play in the snow this morning (every cat needs to experience snow at least once)! He has set foot in snow only once before on our 10th floor balcony when Chicago had it's first substantial snowfall, but this time we were able to give him a little bit more freedom.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Over the weekend, Bryan and I went to try this new Moroccan restaurant, Marrakesh. We are lucky enough to live on Randolph, otherwise known as Restaurant Row. There are countless restaurants just to the west of us and so many are on our list to try. We try to space them out so that we don't go broke! It helps when there is a Groupon available, which was the case for Marrakesh!

I have actually been to Morocco! Sadly, it was for only one day. While I was traveling with my orchestra around Spain, we took a short trip across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier. It wasn't nearly enough time to experience the city but it we tried very hard to pack in as much culture as we could. We did eat some amazing food and I was really excited to try some again!

Our date night occurred late on Saturday night after Bryan had a very long day of studying and I had been busy all day, so we were quite ready to relax. By this time in the evening, ginormous, heavy snow flakes were falling outside and we felt very cozy in the little restaurant. We ordered some red wine and falafel for an appetizer which was very good. For the main dishes, I ordered lamb kabob and Bryan ordered beef barkouk. The accidentally messed up our order, so we ended up getting one dish late. I think about 4 people including the manager came out to apologize to us, but we honestly weren't that upset. It ended up turning out just fine because it was like we had ordered  courses, so we split each one individually and didn't mind at all. The food was absolutely incredible. They served us traditional Moroccan mint tea after our meal, which was incredibly delicious. I think we will definitely go back to this restaurant, even taking into consideration the mess up. It was a great date night!

Butternut Squash Soup

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited to a fabulous Cookie Exchange party hosted by one of my great friends Adrie. The idea is that each person brings a batch of cookies and everyone gets a few of each batch. So you come with one kind of cookie and leave with a colorful plate full of different kinds of cookies. I brought my spritzer cookies! It's perfect for those of us who are busy and don't have time to make twelve different batches of cookies at once, but have a sweet tooth large enough to eat them all!

A huge plus was that she made us lunch!! I absolutely loved that butternut squash soup that I was craving more the next day and I have been wanting to learn how for a little while now! I decided that it was necessary that I make some, even though I didn't really have the time to do it and we ended up eating at 9pm on a Sunday. I didn't care - I wanted to eat that soup again!!! I don't have an immersion blender, so I used my food processor which actually worked out really well and was super easy.

This flavors in this soup are so simple and delicious. The butternut squash is the main star, but it's accompanied perfectly by honey crisp apples, onions and curry. The mascarpone cheese is the perfect addition at the end that makes the soup instantly creamy. Like Adrie, I also served it was small chicken salad sandwiches. YUM!

Butternut Squash Soup
from Adrie 

2 butternut squash
2 honey crisp apples, peeled and cubed
2 medium onions, diced
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
6 cups vegetable broth
1 container (8oz) mascarpone cheese
2 tsp salt

1. Cut squash in half and scrape out seeds. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 degrees for about 40 min. or until you can fork through easily. Scrape out golden flesh and set aside.
2. In a large pot, melt butter and sauté onions until tender. Add apples, brown sugar and curry powder. Cook and stir until curry is fragrant.
3. Add squash and broth. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 15 minutes or until apples are soft.
4. Remove from heat. Blend in flood processor until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Repeat with the rest of soup.
5. Return soup to stock pot and stir in mascarpone and salt until completely incorporated. Return to simmer
and remove from heat. Garnish with sour cream and chives if desired.