Foodie Itinerary: Chicago, IL

Chi-town, the Windy City, Chicagoland, Second City, New Gotham (God, I love the new Batman movies!)...whatever you call it, Chicago is an exciting city.  Especially in the summer and fall before the frigid lake breeze starts to pick up.  So we considered ourselves pretty lucky when I had a business trip to Peoria, IL scheduled for late September... weekend trip to Chicago, anyone?  Definitely!

I actually haven't been to Chicago more than quick stop overs in years, but my Grandfather lived there and I have lots of friends who have lived there for extended periods of time so we had lots of good recommendations and resources when planning this trip.  Christian's never been to Chicago at all, so it will be excited to explore it together.  We only have 2 1/2 days so it will be a quick trip, but we're packing as much in as we can!

Of course, please leave me a comment if you think we're missing out on any must-eats or must-sees from our itinerary below...
Weekly Menu: September 25 – October 1, 2011
Sunday: In Austin - Michelle's Wedding!
Monday: In Austin
Tuesday: In Austin
Wednesday: In Peoria, IL for work
Thursday: In Peoria, IL for work
Friday: In Chicago
Saturday: In Chicago
I apologize...but you're on your own this week!  As you can see from above I'm traveling all week.  Of course, all of this travel means lots of good eating and exploring.  I've posted/will post our itineraries for both Austin & Chicago, so take a look here on the Gastronomic Globe Trotting page. If I'm missing anything you would recommend in either city I'd love to hear about it so I can try to add it in.    I'll add updates to each itinerary post when I return to let you know which ones were winners and which I would recommend you skip if you're heading to either city yourself sometime soon.

In the meanwhile, I hope you have a wonderful and tasty week...my menus will be back next week.  This week, feel free to use a menu from the past by scrolling through the menu archives, or try your hand at making a menu of your own.
Foodie Itinerary: Austin, TX
 

Austin, Texas...boy have we heard great things about this place!  But until now, we haven't had a chance to get there so we were super excited when we found out that our good friend Michelle was getting married there.  So excited that we decided to take a normal quick wedding trip and turn it into a 5 day trip so we really have time to explore.  As usual, I've tapped into my fellow T-Bird network and done my usual research to create the itinerary below.  Not surprisingly, there's a big focus on BBQ and music which sounds like a fun vacation to us!

We're leaving on Friday 9/23 so if you think we're missing something big from our trip leave a comment and let us know!  As always, our itineraries are meant as starting guides, but totally flexible in nature so we can swap things around and abandon others completely once we land and start talking to locals...
Weekly Menu: September 18-24, 2011
Sunday: Porcini Parmesan Ravioli with Spicy Sausage Tomato Sauce (DIY)
Monday: Leftovers: Wild Mushroom Risotto (from last week)
Tuesday: Grilled Salmon with Bulgar and Roasted Rapini with Tomatoes (DIY)
Wednesday: Turkey-Jasmine Rice Meatballs with Baby Bok Choy
Thursday: Leftovers: Meatballs & Bok Choy
Friday: TRAVELING!  First night in Austin
Saturday: In Austin
So, we didn't quite make our 7 nights without eating out last week, sad and pathetic, I know.  But that means we have some risotto leftovers to use up this week.  We also have some leftover porcini paste from the risotto recipe that I want to use up so we're going to use it for a ravioli filling...totally DIY, so if it turns out any good I'll share the recipe!  But basically I'm just mixing it with mascarpone, Parmesan, salt, pepper & fresh parsley.  Put it inside some homemade pasta sheets and slather it with a sauce using some leftover spicy turkey sausage we have and canned roasted tomatoes.   The meatball recipe is one of our favorites that we've been making for years...healthy & delicious!
Slow Cooker Orange Chipotle Pork Loin

This recipe is from one of my favorite new cookbooks, "Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever" and since it's a bit newer most of the recipes aren't online.  Usually that's not a problem and I can find similar enough recipes to link you to, but with this cookbook I haven't found that to be true so I'm sharing my adaptation of this recipe directly.  What I love about this particular recipe is that it has minimal ingredients, is super easy and lends itself naturally to a leftovers dish that is different than the original dish (we make orange chipotle tacos with cabbage & all the fixings for leftovers).
Weekly Menu: September 11-17, 2011
 
Sunday: Slow Cooker Orange Chipotle Pork Loin with Polenta, Roasted Carrots & Brussel Sprouts
Monday: Grilled White Fish with Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes (DIY)
Tuesday: Eggs in Purgatory with Artichoke Hearts, Potatoes & Capers
Wednesday: Leftovers: Orange Chipotle Tacos
Thursday: Leftovers: Eggs in Purgatory
Friday: Wild Mushroom Risotto & Roasted Red Pepper Spinach Salad
Saturday: Leftovers: Risotto
I love fall...the weather, Christian happy that football is back and the food that it inspires me to make.  Warm, soul satisfying dishes.  So that's what this week is about, the return of fall.  A new slow cooker meal to start the week off, our favorite roasted veggie side with our standard Monday fish dish, a hearty vegetarian egg dish and then a slow-cooked and deeply flavored risotto.  All while being pretty darn healthy if I do say so myself (even the risotto only has 2 TBS of butter!).  And you'll notice we don't have an "eating out" night built in as we usually do...we're trying to cut back for the next couple of weeks since we have trips to Austin & Chicago at the end of this month where we'll do a lot of eating out...but feel free to bump one of the dishes to next week if you don't need all 7 meals.  Enjoy!
Tantalizing Tomales Bay

Tomales Bay on the Pt. Reyes National Seashore is one of our favorite day trips.  We first discovered it when training for a 340 mile, 5-day bike ride from Eureka to San Francisco about 2 years ago and immediately fell in love.  It's only ~40 miles from San Francisco (although with all of the curvy, country roads it takes about 90 minutes to get there) but feels a lifetime away from the city life.  Amazingly beautiful scenery, relatively untouched wildlife and some of the best Bay Area gastronomic treats around!

 

Typically when we head to Tomales Bay, we pack an empty cooler and make our first stop in the town of Pt. Reyes Station...home of Cowgirl Creamery, Bovine Bakery, Marin Sun Farms and many other well-known Bay Area food treats.  This is the perfect place to pick up all of your picnic fixings to go along with those delicious Tomales Bay oysters you'll be adding to your bounty a bit further down the road.  If you haven't been to Pt. Reyes Station before, beware...you'll have a hard time making it out of this adorable town and onto your next stop!  

Weekly Menu: September 4-10, 2011
 
Sunday: Tofu & Veggie Stir-Fry (DIY)
Monday: Labor Day BBQ!  see below...
Tuesday: Leftovers: Stir Fry
Wednesday: Julia’s Salmon en Papillote with wild rice & salad
Thursday: Eating Out: Suz’s Birthday at Zuni Cafe!
Friday: Orecchiette with Rapini & Sausage
Saturday: Leftovers: Orecchiette
Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone!  While most of the country is sad that summer is over, those of us in San Francisco are celebrating Labor Day knowing that our summer is just about to start...clear skies & warmer weather are hopefully just around the corner for us.  If we get at least one good enough BBQ day in the city this weekend, Christian and I will be making one last round of summer corn on the cob and Blue-Cheese stuffed burgers topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms  out at Chrissy Field on the waterfront near our house.  If not, we'll just move the BBQ indoors onto my cast iron grill pan! What are you doing this weekend?  I love to hear the different food traditions from around the country for this classic American holiday so if you're having a celebration share your menu for all of us to see...