Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hanging with Friends

I arrived safely in Chicago not too worse for ware after the 33 hour train ride. The first night in Chicago wouldn't have been complete without a trip to Bob Chinn's Crab House. It is literally the best seafood in America. I am a huge fan of steamed crab legs drenched in butter and there isn't a better place to get it then Bob Chinn's. If you are ever in Wheeling, IL it is worth your while to make a visit. The garlic bread is dripping with olive oil and garlic (deliciously sinful) and the crab, fish, shrimp, and all the fresh seafood is flown in from the coast daily. It is the ultimate treat for seafood lovers.

After a meal at Chinn's, there is only one option, go to bed. My mom, her best friend, Janet, and I all headed home and immediately curled into bed. The next day we were starting our road trip. We head to my old stomping grounds Bloomington, IL. That is where I moved from and where some of my best friends are. We arrived in time for lunch at my favorite resturant Rosie's Pub. They have the most delicious flat bread, sandwiches, quesadillas, and my ultimate favorite Cobb Salad ever! Another great spot to stop if you are in the area. They do a great dinner menu and have an excellent chef!

I stay over with my best friend and fellow foodie, Mike. After lunch we take off to a new fancy grocery store and get lost wandering up and down the aisles in awe for about an hour before we decide on our menu for the night. We decide to cook Flank Steak Pinwheels, Roasted Root Vegetables, and serve it alongside a green salad and store bought bread (you can't always bake everything from scratch). Then Mike finished it off with something that I will just call Chocolate from Heaven. It is chocolate, with chocolate, laced in chocolate topped with fresh whipped cream. For a chocolate lover this is a dream come true. Consider me delighted!

My friends came, we had dinner and got to catch up. And by catching up, I mean they spend most of the night making fun of me, poking fun of me, and then laughing at me. What can I say they're my closest friends and I have to keep them that way because they know WAY too much about me. I think we all have friends like that. The friends who hold a mirror up and make sure that you never forget where you come from. Those are the friends that I will always cherish.

Flank Steak Pinwheels

Flank steak
Bunch asparagus spears
Smoked gouda cheese slices

Steak Rub

Dry ingredients

4 tbsp. Onion powder
4 tbsp. Garlic powder
4 tbsp. Paprika – Spanish
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
1 tbsp. Sugar


¼ cup Olive oil
1 tbsp. Lime juice
¼ cup Rice wine vinegar

Mix all dry ingredients together to create a dry rub and rub over the flank steak. Reserve any remaining dry rub for next time. Place steak in a zip lock bag. Add the liquid ingredients and seal. Marinade the steak for 6 hours or overnight. We used a vaccum sealer machine to lock in the marinade and only had to marinade for 4 hours.

To assemble, remove the steak from the zip lock back and pound the steak until abouit 1/2 thin using a wooden or metal mallet.
On one side of the steak, place 3 slices of smoked gouda cheese and 4 asparagus spears. Roll up the steak around the cheese and asparagus and secure with large wooden skewers. Place on a hot grill set at high and seer each side with grill marks.  Leave one side of the grill on high and move meat to other side of the grill and let it roast for 20 minutes to cook center. Let sit for 10 minutes and then slice making beautiful pinwheels! It is beautiful and delicious.

Roasted Root Vegetables

3 red skinned potatoes; chopped with skins on
4 carrots; peeled and chopped
2 rutabagas; peeled and chopped
2 sweet potatoes; peeled and chopped
5 clove garlic; minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. dried mustard
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
1/2 cup parmesean cheese

Mix all ingredients in a large roasting pan leaving off the parmesean cheese. Place in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Sprinkle the parmesean cheese over the potatoes and vegetables and cook for an additional 5 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve immediately!

Chocolate from Heaven

1 stick butter
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cpocoa Powder
2 tbsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. grey salt
1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
1 tbsp. butter

Mix 1 stick of butter, flour, sugar, and cocoa together to make a cookie batter. Add the vanilla and grey salt to add a little extra bite. Melt the chocolate chips and tablespoon of butter in a double boiler whisking constantly until smooth. You can also use the microwave heating in 1 minute intervals stiring in between until smooth. Mix the melted chocolate into the batter. Smooth on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups of heavy whipping cream

To make the ganache pudding. Boil the butter and cream together in a sauce pan over medium heat only until it begins to bubble. Once it starts bubbling, remove from the heat. Pour the hot cream and butter into a bowl with the chocolate chips and mix together until the chocolate is melted and consistency is smooth like butta.

Pour the ganache into serving dishes and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow it to set up.

To serve, pull the ganache from the fridge, break cookie into little pieces and crumble over the ganache. Top with fresh whipped cream (or store bought if you feel like it). To make the fresh whipped cream, chill 2 cups whipping cream in a metal bowl, add 1/4 cup sugar (or splenda) and 1 tbsp. vanilla. Whip vigorously with a mixer until enough air incorporates to make it fluffy.

If this dessert doesn't curl your toes, I don't know what will. Serve with the fresh whip on top and enjoy!

Mental Health Benefit: Sitting with old friends, laughing, and sharing memories is one of the best things that I can do for my mental health. My friends also help keep me grounded by reminding me of all the mistakes I have made, all my mis-steps, and stupid things I have done along the way. My mother taught me was that when you don't know what to say 'Oooops' is the perfect anecdote! No one is perfect and true friends are the ones who speak the truth no matter how hilariously stupid it is. At least we can all laugh about it!

Wishing you laughter and fun with your friends tonight!

~ Your Hot Mess on the Road!


Anonymous said...

Those are great pics.. and although we were laughing - it was WITH you, not at you! We love you too much! Jon and I haven't had that good of time in a while. He is even excited to try some of the recipes now! Miss you! -cris

Hot Mess Cooking said...

I miss you too wifey! I am so glad to get Jon on board. Stay tuned for some healthy southern style food coming your way! All love, Abby