Not on the Menu: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Remember in my meal planning post how I said you have to leave some room for flexibility, and sometimes you don’t stick to your plan entirely? Here’s an example of how that happens.

On Wednesday when I got to work, the baby had a very runny nose. On Thursday, both of her parents and I woke up with sore throats, and the poor little kiddo was all congested and cranky. I knew I needed to stop in the grocery store on the way home to get stuff for the lasagna I plan to make at some point over the weekend, and on a whim I also decided soup would be a good idea to combat this cold. Also, the other day Julia and were talking about how I’d somehow gotten to through nearly thirty years of life without ever having the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup combo. So I did a quick search on Epicurious and got this tomato soup recipe before I shopped, and last night we had a pretty tasty (and easy) dinner.

I followed a recipe without making too many adjustments, and, well, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. [I added an extra can of tomatoes and extra celery.] It was a yummy soup, but it was lacking in pure tomato flavor. If I make it again, I might try a different recipe all together, or leave out the cloves and the extra celery and possibly the milk.

The grilled cheese, on the other hand? Stellar. I used seedless rye bread and sharp cheddar cheese, and in an effort to sort of recreate the amazing one we had at Sprout, I added thinly sliced granny smith apple and caramelized shallots. It was superb, if I do say so myself. [And clearly I do, because here I am, saying it.]

Happy weekend, please go grill some cheese of your own.

Tuesday night is craft night.

Generally, this means that a handful of us get together and work on whatever sewing and/or crafty projects we are currently working on. Of late, this has been largely focused on wedding-dress-making, and with the wedding and honeymoon actually happening this month, we have had the past couple weeks off. So, despite this being the final Tuesday of July, it was our first craft night of the month.

Here’s what we accomplished:

Fine Art Trifecta: Eating, Drinking, and Discussing.

That’s right – pretty much nothing. At least in terms of crafting. As it turned out, I (Cindy) was not the only one interested in socializing but completely unmotivated to actually craft last night. So, when Greta showed up toting two bottles of three buck Chuck and dark-chocolate-covered-almonds-with-sea-salt just as I pulled the slightly-too-melty brie with farmers’ market sun gold tomato preserves out of the oven… the mentality went from “Maybe we’ll start making shit when Greta gets here” to “Fuck it, let’s eat, drink, and talk.” Which makes this post totally allowed on the food blog. Except, of course, that we failed to get any pictures of the actual food. But trust me when I say Brie + Sun Gold Tomato Preserves + Crushed Almonds = Delicious. [In case you’re wondering about those Sun Gold tomatoes, they’re orange, they look a lot like apricot, and don’t really taste much like what your brain says is tomato. But they’re delish nonetheless. And really, really good on baked brie.]

Tonight, we experimented with Red Snapper, which neither of us had tried before. It was a tasty piece of fish, accompanied by rice, and topped with tomatoes, shallots, kalamata olives, and thyme. We did take pictures, but they didn’t turn out very well – funky lighting or something, but here’s a shot anyway:

Red Snapper with Thyme, Tomato, and Olives (Click for recipe)

Guess I’ll have to do some learning about photographing food. Tasted good though. Up tomorrow is a Zucchini “Tagliatelle” with mint, cucumber, and lemon which sounds pretty good. Hopefully I’ll do better with the camera so we can share.

farmers’ market inspiration

On Sunday afternoon, we made our first trip ever to the Glenwood Sunday Market, the weekly farmers’ market here in Rogers Park. Yes, we’ve lived here for two years already, and never been. Bad us. But, give us a little credit for finally getting our butts in gear.

We headed over intending to buy some produce for a nice, meatless dinner. However, as we arrived fairly late in the day, most of the veggies and all of the fruits had already been purchased. Which was sad. But – we did get a nice little bunch of garlic scapes. And we discovered a few different vendors selling local, grass-fed meat. We have some ideas in the works for later this week with that stuff, but tonight we bring you our inspired, veggie dish:

Seasoning and Grilling the Tomatoes

Dinner is served: Pan-Grilled Tomato and Feta Salad with Lemon-Parsley-Garlic Scape Dressing and Green Beans… (Click for recipe)

…accompanied by Fried Chickpea Patties – which, for the record, were much tastier than they appear. (Cindy’s creation)

We also plotted a quick and delicious dessert – some fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream!

Whipped Cream  – Cindy’s recipe, everything is approximate/to taste: Whip 2 cups heavy cream, 2 tablespoons sugar (your choice granulated or powdered; I prefer granulated), and 1-2 teaspoons vanilla in a standing mixer with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Swipe a fingerful and make sure it’s good before feeding to others!

(How to eat fresh strawberries and whipped cream – straight from the bowl.)