Tortellini with Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic

Here is the first of some step-by-step prep photo posts. Let me know what you think.

This meal was prepared from pantry supplies and so the measurements are eyeballed, and timings are based on guessing and tasting.

Peel 4 cloves of Garlic

Roughly chop the garlic.

Drain a jar of sun-dried tomatoes. (Save the oil.)

Roughly chop the tomatoes.

Heat the oil from the tomatoes in a skillet.

Saute the garlic.

Add the tomatoes to the skillet.

Add about 1 Tbsp of dried basil, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add a "single-serving" bottle of white wine and simmer.

Prepare 1 lb. of tortellini according to package directions.

Continue to cook sauce until liquid is reduced about 50%.

Drain the pasta.

Add the sauce.

Toss and serve.

Posted by Sean at 4:55 pm (Edit)

Skyline Chili

TBWITWW and I went to Skyline Chili tonight. We wanted something quick, and it was a block from the hotel, plus as an Ohio institution, we thought it would be good to try. I got the Bean Mix Burrito Supreme, and Nicole got the Coney Bowl. We weren't terribly impressed. I think it's a style difference more than anything, but it doesn't taste like we think Chili should. The spices do hint at the original chef's Greek heritage, and if you think of it as a Greek beef stew sort of thing, rather than Chili, it's quite good. Overall we enjoyed it.

Posted by Sean at 2:36 am (Edit)

Szalas Restaurant

We first heard about Szalas Restaurant on Check, Please!. It sounded like good food and a lot of fun.
We went there last night for dinner, and it definitely was worth the trip. (Although, we would strongly recommend making a reservation, which we did not do.) Because we did not have a reservation, they told us it would about 45 minutes to get a table (we arrived at about 7:15) They told us we could wait at the bar, or if we prefered, we could actually eat at the bar. We decided to wait for a table. We each got a glass of Franziskaner Weissbier, a mild and refreshing German Weissbier, which was served with a slice of lemon (as is customary). The flavor of this one opened up more once it had warmed just a bit. We ended up waiting just over an hour for a table. (We suspect we may have gotten forgotten by the host as we were in the back corner of the bar. The bartender made sure we got seated though.)

The table we got was built from a sled, and was quite cozy. We were given a plate with potato bread, a soft cheese (goat?) and lard with bacon bits. The cheese was very good. For an appetizer, we ordered the Breaded Ship Cheese, which consisted of two rounds of soft cheese with a firm rind, breaded and fried. It was served with a fruit based sauce that was, at the same time, sweet and tart. We each ordered soup as well. I chose the Sauerkraut Soup, which had small portion of ribs in it, and was delicious. Nicole got the soup of the day, which was a fairly thick barley soup. This was very tasty and a bit of a surprise as, generally neither of us is a big fan of barley soups. (Why she ordered it, she can't say.)

For entrees I ordered the Highlanders Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and Nicole ordered the Hunter's Stew. The cabbage rolls were filled with an excellent pork and beef mixture that was hearty with just enough spice. They were served on a potato pancake and covered in a fantastic mushroom sauce. The Hunters Stew was a combination of sauerkraut, sausage, bacon, pork and onion in a tomato sauce. It was quite good although a bit salty, and the sausage was the best part. With the appetizers and beer, we filled up quite quickly, and had enough left to take home for lunches.

The service (other than the wait for the table) was very good, although like many ethnic restaurants, speaking the same primary language as the staff would have been to our advantage. (I have trouble understanding accents.) The atmosphere was fun, and the people watching was fantastic. They also had live traditional music and dancing, which was fun without being distracting.

Szalas Restaurant is at 5214 S Archer Ave in Chicago.

Posted by Sean at 2:51 pm (Edit)

Lamplighter Inn, Palatine

Tonight we were visiting our friends who just bought a house in Palatine. (Happy Freakin' Birthday Katie!). Rewired some stuff, put together some furniture, waited for the women-folk (who have jobs or something) to get home, then went to dinner at Lamplighter Inn. It's a relatively small restraunt, decorated in a train wreck motif with decent bar-type food and a very nice server.

Nicole got the Italian Beef and Sean got the Gyros Sandwich. Both came with fries and a pickle (as all sandwiches do (and should)). The fries were thin cut and crispy, but not so thin and crispy as to be like those shoestring potatoes that come in a can, or so that they steamed themselves and wer mushy by time you got to the bottom of the pile. The Italian Beef was spicy (as if it had had hot peppers, but there were none in evidence) but very good. The au jus was also a bit spicy (and also good). The Gyros sandwich was served on a roll, rather than the traditional pita, and the meat was cut fairly thick. There was a good amount of meat, and the cucumber sauce was very good. Service was attentive, and although the server spilled a bit on Nicole when serving, she was clearly more upset about it than we were and immeadiately grabed some club soda to help clean it up. (She also advised against ordering coffee, apparently they only brew it once a day.) The sandwiches run between about $5 and $7.

If you're in the area and need a quick meal, this is not a bad choice at all.

Posted by Sean at 3:26 am (Edit)


Amelia's is a mexican restaurant that opened a few months ago at 46th and Halsted. We've been there mutiple times and the food is excellent.

Two of the three times we've been there we have gotten a small bowl of chicken rice soup (chicken, carrots, celery, rice, and broth) and chips and salsa before we ordered. The salsa has great flavor and texture with just the right amount of heat.

For appetizers, we have tried the guacamole, choriqueso (chihuahua cheese and chorizo), and ?????. Appitizers run $5-9 apiece and easily serve two.

For entrees, we've tried the chicken taco salad, vegetarian platter (sufffed poblano pepper, cheese enchilada, and avacado tostada), a garlic butter shrimp dish, burito frito and chicken fajitas. Entrees run between $7-20 depening on wether or not you get a dinner and or seafood. All of them have been fantastic and very filling. Nearly all the dishes come with rice and beans, and most would be worth the price even without.

We have not tried any or the desserts and, as of today, they still do not have thier liquor license. We will definitely be going once they get it to try their margaritas.

As an added bonus, they bring a carafe full of ice water with a slice of lemon. No need to ask repeatedly for more water. The service is attentive without being overbearing, and the food is quick to the table.

This neighborhood doesn't have very many restraunts in walking distance, but this one is one we'd go to regularly even if we had many more to choose from.

Posted by Sean at 9:53 pm (Edit)