Carb Friday!

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Date Night Dinner

After a long, frigid and especially lazy weekend, I felt the need to do something proactive that didn’t require much time outside. Although the constant Facebook posts and Chiberia hashtags make me cringe most of the time, I have to say I have never been more ready to wear shorts. And I don’t even wear shorts. Seriously, who invented winter? I am only exaggerating slightly when I say that I allot an extra half hour of time in the morning just to put on my winter gear. I miss the days when the ice was actually melting and it was in my margarita glass.

On Monday night I had two friends over for dinner, one who specifically wanted me to teach her how to make an impressive meal for a date night. She admittedly has a short list of cooking skills and I thought this Chicken Cacciatore from Skinnytaste was the perfect option. Naturally, I modified it and made it even healthier than it already was. Bridesmaid Diet 2014 is on and cooking is the best way to stay in line. Of course, I am not going too crazy and I allow myself small indulgences on the weekend. When Doughnut Vault posts that they are out of chocolate glazed on a Saturday, there is no chance I have anything to do with that.

I started modifying by choosing chicken breasts instead of thighs. Even though I am a woman who believes in equal rights, I always choose white meat chicken. Obviously any kind of chicken parts would work, so pick what you like best. Instead of putting the vegetables in with the par-cooked chicken, I took the chicken out of the pan and let the vegetables cook in the pan without the chicken for a few minutes. Once the vegetables were soft, I reintroduced the chicken to the pan and added the sauce. I swapped out the whole wheat pasta for baked spaghetti squash and dinner was ready! It turned out great and I think it would be even better with the addition of capers or olives.

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My friend did a great job asking me what I was doing while she texted and watched The Bachelor. I see a budding sous chef career in her future. It looks like she may have to stick with Rice-A-Roni and Spam for her date night, but I personally find a man who likes Spam sexy.

Not Your Bubbe’s Brasserie

Brendan Sodikoff may officially be my hero. At 34-years-old, he has managed to develop a slew of some of the most popular restaurants in Chicago, which I can confidently say all have the same vibe. They are all dark. They all have rehabbed vintage furniture. They all have hip crafted cocktails and some sort of liver or marrow on the menu. Clearly, he is an entrepreneurial trendsetter and I am in awe of him.

Three days ago I turned 31. That is three years younger than Sodikoff. You probably figured that out on your own if you excel at subtraction. I have my own classroom with an unlimited supply of smelly markers (lemon is my favorite) and I tie an average of 45 shoes a day. I guess you could say Sodikoff and I are equally successful in our careers.

My oldest brother and I are very similar, not only in regard to our desert dry senses of humor, but also in our opinions of restaurants. Even though I heard and read some negative reviews about Sodikoff’s latest restaurant, Dillman’s, my brother declared it a restaurant made specifically for him; thus, made specifically for me as well. Dillman’s is part Jewish delicatessen, part speak-easy and part European brasserie. For lack of better wording, it is just so freaking cool.

In a previous blog, I noted that I am a bit choosy about my dinner dates, as I am adamant about sharing, particularly at a new place. Luckily, these two friends were game for sharing and since they had both already been there, it was that much better.

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I don’t even like potato latkes, but these were exceptional and demolished within 30 seconds.

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Raw kale with toasted almonds, quinoa, parmesan and mint

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Shaved Brussels sprouts with pecans and golden raisins

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The best chopped liver I have ever had. My second favorite is at Gilt Bar.

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Cauliflower gratin with parmesan and bread crumbs. Have you ever had a bad gratin? Me either.

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Roasted squash with bourbon glaze and sage

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Foodie matzo ball soup

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Toasted mocha coconut pie. No words.

As you might have predicted, I will definitely be going back to Dillman’s. I just moved to the neighborhood (score!), so it is safe to say I will be bringing visitors, friends and neighbors alike to this happy place.