September 2012 | chicago foodie girl


Andersonville Dessert Crawl

There are so many things I love about Andersonville: the adorable shops, the fabulous restaurants, the blend of the old Swedish community with the new, and of course, the fantastic festivals. While Midsommarfest is definitely one of those not-to-be-missed summer staples and the Dinner Crawl will leave you stuffed with all sorts of deliciousness, I think my favorite festival of them all is the annual Dessert Crawl. It takes place late September/early October and always seems to happen on one of those absolutely perfect autumn days. There's really nothing like eating yourself into a sugar coma with friends while strolling through Andersonville on a lovely fall day. :-)

The seventh annual Dessert Crawl took place yesterday and as usual, it did not disappoint. They changed things up a bit this year by offering a choice of three routes rather than the normal two - while it made the decision of which route to take even harder than usual, ultimately it turned out to be a good move as it thinned the crowds out a bit. After much ooohing, ahhhing, and deliberation, Diana and I finally chose the Ice Cream route, as Diana was fixated on the Vanilla Panna Cotta and I couldn't get the idea of chocolate Kahlua soup out of my mind. We were only a stop or two into it when we both declared that we had made a brilliant decision - this was definitely the best Dessert Crawl yet!


Recipe: Pumpkin, Black Bean & Poblano Tacos

Can you believe it's already mid-September? While I'm definitely happy to see the summer come to an end, it feels like the last few weeks of it have just flown by! It has still been fairly warm (high 70s/low 80s) around here during the daytime, but there is a lovely hint of fall in the air once the sun goes down and the temperature drops. The 60-something degree temps are actually supposed to start creeping into the daytime hours starting tomorrow - yay!

I'm also seeing signs of my favorite season popping up in various places around the city: quite a few trees have tinges of yellow & orange around their edges, the back-to-school aisles at Target have all been converted to a host of Halloween goodies, and pumpkin displays have started to take over the farmers' markets. Despite the fact that I currently have a massive nasty cold and I haven't slept more than two hours for the last two nights in a row, I can't help feeling giddy at the thought of the awesomeness autumn brings! :-)

Today's Meatless Monday dish is a nod to the upcoming season and one that highlights my favorite flavor of autumn: pumpkin! These tacos are incredibly filling, thanks to the black beans and pumpkin, and strike the perfect balance of sweet/heat/crunch. If you prefer, you can easily convert this recipe into one for quesadillas and you can use the optional Creamy Pumpkin Seed Dressing (it's so good!) or some fire-roasted tomato salsa for dipping.

Pumpkin, Black Bean & Poblano Tacos
Makes 4 servings (2 tacos each)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 poblano peppers, chopped (approximately 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
Salt & black pepper, to taste
8 corn tortillas, warmed

Radish Slaw
1/2 cup shredded/julienned fresh radishes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced

Optional toppings:
Queso fresco, crumbled and/or Creamy Pumpkin Seed Dressing (recipe below)

1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté oil, poblanos, chili powder & cumin for 2 minutes.

2. Add pumpkin, beans, salt, and pepper and then sauté another 3-5 minutes, until heated.

3. Make slaw: Combine radishes, cilantro, and lime juice.

4. Spoon 1/4 cup warm pumpkin mixture into each warm tortilla. Top with radish slaw and optional toppings.

Creamy Pumpkin Seed Dressing
Makes 12 Tablespoons

1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds, toasted & cooled
1/4 cup canned diced fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon minced fresh jalapeño or serrano pepper
1/2 avocado
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt, to taste

1. Grind the pumpkin seeds in a food processor into a coarse powder.

2. Add tomatoes, jalapeño, avocado, lime, and salt and blend until smooth. Add water if the dressing is too thick.

*recipe via Dawn Jackson Blatner at The Chopping Block 


Recipe: Añejo Smash

Welcome back to Thirsty Thursday, aka my favorite day of the week! :-)

Despite the shortened work week, Thirsty Thursday really could not come fast enough. After spending Sunday and Monday cuddled up with my giant grading pile (5 writing assignments x 120 students = ridiculousness), I managed to start off Tuesday morning by locking my entire bag (which held my keys & wallet) in my car at the train station. F-ing hell!! In my sixteen years of driving, I've locked my keys in my car two other times - once was shortly after I got my first car (I dropped my keys on the floor as I was getting out of the car & didn't realize it until I had already locked/closed the door) and the second time was earlier this year. Yes, I did the exact same thing on Tuesday that I did a few months ago - I threw my keys in my backpack (in the passenger seat) and locked the doors as I was getting out of the car. I didn't even realize what I had done until I walked around to the passenger seat to grab my bag. Whoops. So not cool... especially considering I was thirty minutes from my house & in the 'burbs. Ugh. Thankfully, I have awesome colleagues and some really fantastic students in my classes, so at least the entire week wasn't a total loss after all of the drama.

This week's pick is a drink I recently tried for the first time and fell in love with the moment the first sip passed my lips. As I've mentioned in the past, while I am a fan of the fruity cocktails, I also have a major love for minty drinks. The Añejo Smash is fruity, minty, and slushy - it's like a tequila version of a lemony mint julep (i.e. delicious!). While it's massively strong, it's also quite refreshing. It's the perfect end-of-the-week/end-of-summer/Democratic National Convention drinking game drink!

Añejo Smash
1 & 1/2 oz. Añejo Tequila
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
3/4 oz. agave syrup
6-8 fresh mint leaves
4 lemon wedges

1. Combine tequila, Grand Marnier, agave syrup, and lemon wedges in a shaker with ice.

2. Shake, then strain into a rocks glass packed with crushed ice.

3. Garnish with mint leaves.
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