Sunday, April 17, 2011


When it has been cold and rainy for days, sometimes the best thing you can do is get out of the house. We braved the blustery winds and met a couple for dinner in a little town close to home. Having been to this restaurant a few times, I had always wanted to check out the Mexican market next door to it. Do you ever wander down the aisles of the ethnic foods in the supermarket? I love doing that, wondering how everything goes together to make a meal foreign to me. Well, I had a blast in this little market.
Soon I had my little basket loaded to the brim with tamales, peppers, cilantro, chipotle sauce and chorizo sausage. In the meat section I ordered some beef riblets and a big cut of flank steak. In my head I was putting together a Mexican feast for dinner today.

Emily is gong to cook the riblets very slow in the crockpot in a sweet and spicy sauce used for tacos. She has become quite a cook and relies heavily on recipes printed out from the Food Network. I am going to marinate the flank steak for a few hours and then stuff it with sausage, poblano peppers, cheese and cilantro. Then I'll come up with a spicy sauce to pour over it. Pictures of our fiesta to come, and recipes if you want {if you trust me, I'm not using any}.
Surprisingly, the restaurant next door to the Mexican market is an Italian Trattoria. The restaurant, Island's Cafe, is named after the town, Blue Island, just a short drive from the south side of Chicago. It's a cosmopolitan mix of Italian and Mexican ethnicity. It also has some fabulous antique stores that I always mean to stop into one day.
The pictures get dark here, I'm still not that great at taking pictures in low light. You can see how small and intimate the place is. We went with another couple and had a great time. I had veal scallopinni on a bed of sauteed spinach and cheese. Oh, heaven. And I forgot the picture.
Here is The Husband and me, happy for a dinner out. We really had a good time.
And yesterday I received a little gift from Home Depot... rototiller. If it weren't so wet out, my garden tilling would be underway. But we have to wait several days until the ground dries. I never thought I could get so excited over a machine. And The Husband is excited that he has something to till the beach with. I'll refrain from showing you pictures of the progress of my seedlings, but they are growing like mad. Soon I can put them in bigger pots.

I hope all of you are having a great weekend. Did you do anything fun? I'll let you know how this dinner turns out here in Kitchen Stadium, and I'll take some pictures. See you next week! :-)


Connie Eyberg Originals said...

I never knew people tilled beaches? I'm a midwestern farm girl, so it never came up. Looks like you had a wonderful dinner with friends. Sounds great. Hope your experimental dinner turns out yummy. Enjoy your day! Connie

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

An intimate restaurant needs intimate lighting and so.... Intimate looking pics will be taken there. Just as it should be. :-)

Oh baby, look at that rototiller! Wow I wish we had one of those. Super!! But I doubt I'd be able to run one. It would likely run away with me, after rotill-ing me into the ground first! "How to grow "Aunties"! Easy!!! ,-)

Enjoy your recipe experiments. Have fun, which I'm sure you will.

Gentle hugs,

Unknown said...

Your dinner sounds like its gonna be YUMMY! I'm also very excited for your garden. Very official to be rotatilling the soil! Can't wait to see everything growing. I love to watch the progress each and every day at home. first the leaves, then the buds, flowers and then the veggies or fruit. At 17 I never thought in a million years something like that would excite me. Haha!

Terra said...

Your dinner you will create sounds delicious and I like those little markets too, and all the goodies you bought there.

Yvonne - Frl. Klein said...

Dear Jane,
the restaurant looks great, and you dinner sounds very delicous!
Have a wonderful new week,

Lynn said...

Looks like you had a great night out Jane! Have fun in Kitchen Stadium, I look forward to hearing all about it:@)

Shirley said...

Hi Jane, I am taking a little "me" time to read a few blogs. The weather has been a little crazy, but today we are at 62 and cloudy. Yesterday we went to watch our 6 year old grandson play soccer. It is so much fun to watch. Very windy and chilly, but they had fun as well as us. Today we took a drive and stopped at the Walmart in Atchison, Kansas. They are more friendly then ours at home. Have a great day. Your Missouri Friend.

The Fajdich Times said...

Glad you enjoyed your night out. I am interested in hearing about the dinner you will be making with the Flank Steak. That sounds yummy! Your new Rototiller is great.....can't wait to see what your garden will produce this summer:)

Julie Marie said...

Hi Jane, what a fun night out you had!... that little market looks so cute and I can't wait to see the pics of all the yummy goodies you and your daughter are cooking, mmmmm!... the restaurant next door sound good too! (I must be really hungry right now!)... the photo of you and your hubby is so cute... so glad your tiller came!... it really is invigorating to be out there, tilling away in the soil, and dreaming of your delicious veggies you are planting!... our weather is still the pits... one day, perhaps Spring really will arrive in Centerville!... xoxo Julie Marie


One of the first things my husband and I like to do when we travel to a new country is ~ check out the grocery stores. Always fun.

Glad you found something fun to do this blustery weekend.


Renee {Shabby, Chic and Charming} said...

What time is dinner? LOL, it sounds scrumptious!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane!! Oh, that looks like a great little market place! Sounds like you know what you're doing gathering up all of your food supplies! :)
Congratulations on your new little toy too!
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

xinex said...

I love your picture with Al, Janie. It looks so sweet. Your dinner sounds so good. Too bad I don't live closeby or I will gatecrash for sure...Christine

Sissie's Shabby Cottage said...

Hi Jane,
It is fun to go through some of those stores and pick up different things for cooking. I hope your Mexican dinner turns out yummy!

Love the pic of you and hubs.


Anonymous said...

Hi Janie!

YUM! Looks like a great night. You guys are so cute together.

That's the best part of life...trying new things! I love to shop in Ethnic stores and get ideas for new recipes. Rick Bayless has a recipe for flank/skirt steak that we just love. You have my mouth watering. Hope you guys have a great dinner!

I need a rototiller desperately. We have raised garden beds now. I'll have to show the hubby your post :) Hope you get some nice weather to get out and use it.

Love your sweet posts! Have a great rest of the weekend!

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Hi Jane,
Oh does that look like a fun night out!
And the pic of Al and you is simply adorable!
I can't wait to see the feast your creating too. I miss that it's been nothing but illness, hospitals and babies around here.
I need to plan some adult time!
Can't wait for summer and hopefully getting to come see you two!

Jeanne Henriques said...

Jane, I love that you have a rototiller and that you are so excited about it! Well done!

Your dinner sounds are so lucky to have those ingredients at hand. We went out to dinner at the local pub and I am absolutely stuffed but I have to say, after your description of your meal,I thought I could eat just a little bit more!

Best wishes Jane for a wonderful week...

Jeanne xxx

Lori said...

I cannot wait to hear how your dinner turned out as it sounds very yummy! Love little restaurants like that one Jane ~ they usually have the best food!

Brenda Pruitt said...

You two look so happy! I'm glad you got your tiller!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Well, it sounds like you accomplished much more than me this weekend, Jane! We had rain yesterday, too, and I took a nap. Today was spent with the granddaughter and daughter. I guess it's good to have a weekend without anything going on every once in awhile!

Olive said...

Oh I get excited about machines too! Our rain really did not happen and we need it badly. I have been watering the flower garden today. We had supper with friends last night. Yesterday we went to garage sales and Friday I went to estate sales. Today I planted a bunch of rescue plants. Now I am terribly tired. Have a great week♥O

Vicki said...

I love that you are so excited about your garden. I hope I learn something good following along! I have a great relish for flank steak made with cherry peppers, roasted peppers and vinegar. It was originally a weight watchers thing and we went with it. Now a family favorite. I should email it to you.

PAT said...

Sounds like a wonderful time Jane!

Lynne said...

What a yummy post! I imagine that you have some amazing restaurants in the greater Chicago area. I love when they combine ethnic flavors...we don't have much of that out here...but it's big in cities like Chicago, NYC and LA.

Better yet...How about the yum fest at your place! I'll be watching for the photos!

Have a lovely Sunday evening!
{with love}

Susan EvelynAndRose said...

Oh Jane, your Mexican fiesta meal sounds like it will be yummy. I'm in awe of you to be able to whip up your own recipe for a meal. My cooking skills are lame.
What a fun night out you had, despite the chill!
Enjoy that rototiller!
- Susan

Melanie said...

I can't wait to hear how your mexican dinner turns out! Stuffed flank steak? Sounds amazing!

NanaDiana said...

Ohhh...what a great weekend- dinner out and a rototiller-what more could anyone ask?! Do you have any zebra mussels on your beach? We have a beach full of them again this Spring. We actually crunch them up..and then we rake our beach area...but we have tons of rocks this year. UGH!!!

Glad you had a good weekend, Jane. I did too...spent it in Stevens Point at Destination Imagination with the 8 year old granddaughter that made it to the state level. Just like American Idol...her dream stops here! Have a good week- Diana

Ann-Marie ~ Brambly said...

The dinner sounds wonderful and the restaurant looks very charming. I love the market!


Stacey said...

Now I think that's a great idea to spend a little time in an ethnic grocery store. Never have done that. Your dinner sounds wonderful!

My poor son is so ready to come home from Chicago. He finishes in two weeks. He says it's still cold and he's had enough! He can come home to the warmth and wind. We had gusts up to 60 mph on Friday!

Robin@DecoratingTennisGirl said...

You dinner out looks wonderful. Love the pic of you two! I love how your rototiller is inside the house, but Janie, wait to start it up outside the house, lol! I have never been to Blue Island. Sounds neat!

Theresa said...

Sounds like a fun dinner and shopping next door! I would love to have recipes... I DO trust you:)

Our garden is planted! We have an antique rototiller but she still works! Gardening is fun!

Have a blessed day my friend! HUGS!

Low Tide High Style said...

I love wandering in ethnic food stores, so many new sites and smells! Your planned meal sounds delicious and yes I would love the recipes! And your dinner at the Italian restaurant looked wonderful too!

I'm so jealous of your rototiller, we still need to get ours. And my sweet peas are coming up!

Have a great week, and your blog looks so pretty!!!

Kat :)

Karen said...

YUM! I have never been one to try recipes for Mexican food. We have so many awesome Mexican food restaurants around here in So Cal that I've never tried.
And you crack me up getting excited over a tiller. I would be too! Isn't it fun?
Have a great week!

Penny said...

Looking forward to hearing about your Mexican feast! I just got excited about a new vacuum cleaner so I can appreciate your love of the rototiller.

Tricia said...

Sounds like a good weekend! I love Mexican food so I can't wait to see how your little feast turned out.

I can tell you are so excited about your garden Jane! I don't have a vegetable garden, just my flowers...I'd be feeling pretty excited about those if it would ever get nice out :)


Debbie said...

Hi Jane! Wait until I tell hubby about tilling the beach! Great idea!
What a great tiller....I still need to use the snowblower here.
I LOVE the pic of you and The Husband!!! Looks like you had a fun day, inspite of the weather.
Hugs to you.

SmilingSally said...

Italian food in Chicago . . . what can be better than that?

Happy Easter, my blogging buddy!

Hearts Turned said...

Looks like a wonderful weekend, Jane! Love Mexican markets--we have a lot of them where we live...nothing better than a home-cooked Mexican meal!

Glade you got your rototiller--ain't no stopping you now!

Have a beautiful day, my friend...


Shellbelle said...

I love ethnic markets and that looks like a GREAT one. It's so nice to try new things and yes, to cook without a recipe! Can't wait to see how everything came out, I'm sure it was delicious.

Now, as for your new toy, kudos! They make life so much easier — faster and doesn't break your back. Now are you really going to be the one doing the rototiling? If so, pictures please. lol

Designs on 47th Street said...

Hi! I'll have to ask my daughter if she's ever heard of this restaurant and market. My husband is a huge gardener and tilled his garden spot before the rains set in. He has several things planted. I am another who has never heard of tilling a beach! I'll anxiously await to see what you plant and the results!

Burlap Luxe said...

Thank you girl for commenting first on my Giveaway! and then again on my Shelter post, the wire cage was an inspiration to me from the shape of a simple dented tin pan :)

Love all the fun over here and will have fun getting to know you!
With all the rians in Sunny California we had this year I so need a rototiller to up root the weeds around here :)

Have a beautiful inspiring week!

Nancy's Notes said...

What a fabulous market place! It does look like you and your hubby had a wonderful evening!


April said...

We went into a Korean food market awhile back and it was a real eyeopener. They had LIVE eels in a big tank and the entire place smelled of fish...BLECH! Needless to say...we haven't been back since! Too much for my nose and eyes to handle! :) The thoughts of your dinner is making my HUNGRY!

April said...

Oops! I meant to say *me* hungry.

Tammy@Beatrice Banks said...

Your dinner sounds yummy! Girl, you are getting into some serious gardening stuff now. Gotcha a rototiller! Woo hoo!

Mary Ann Pickett said...

That feast sounds FANTASTICO (hope that is a word in Spanish). My husband LOVES ethnic markets...a bonus for me. Fun post.

Marianne said...

Ah a new powertool! Those are the best days. I sometimes dream of a rototiller too, but my garden isn't big enough to justify one.
Glad you had such a nice weekend. Hope the week is just as good for you.

Evi said...

this market looks like a lot of fun. The dinner must have been yummy.
I also love the Food Chanel...Ina Garten being my favorite.
Don't have to rototill but I would love to have Spring to finally get some garden work done.
Wishing you and your family a happy Easter,
hugs, Evi

Lynn @The Vintage Nest said...

did you really have to describe that Mexican food so fabulously?? Now I am starving for something good unlike what I have been eating the last six weeks. I am so hungry for something tasty. Even at my brunch last weekend I refrained and only ate the salad and fruit. I wanted a cupcake so bad!! You must tell us more about tilling the beach. Didn't know people did that. Just talked to my son and he says the weather up there is till crappy. Warmer days are coming I promise..xo

Maryrose said...

Hi Jane
Looks like a fun evening out...can't wait to see your fiest dinner. Your plans sound delish.
Happy pic of you and the husband too. Very cute.

Unknown said...

What a lovely gift, makes gardening so much more fun to have a 'tiller. Anxious to see your garden, & what she grows ...

Have an EGGS-TRA blessed Easter ~

Knitty said...

Your trip to an ethnic market reminded me of an unexpected trip to what we thought was a local grocery chain in another state. Hubby and I were there with a business associate who is the pickiest eater I have ever seen. The trip to the store was to buy soft drinks and snacks for our motel rooms as the guys were going to be working there for 5 days.

The minute we walked into the store, I knew it wasn't a major chain. The picky eater didn't pick up this right away, in fact he didn't seem to notice until we walked past the meat counter where a goat's head was one of the offerings.

All I will say about exiting the store is that I didn't know that man could move that quickly.

Sue said...

In our last town we had a wonderful Mexican market. I used to go there all the avocados I've ever had! I also loved their cheeses...yummy! I can't wait to see your pictures of your feast.

My Grama's Soul said...

I think every lady on the planet should have her OWN rototilla-what!!!! LOL LOL

Give me the Mexican food go ahead and work in that soil!! Teeheee



The Summer Kitchen Girls said...

Hey ya Jane! WAS spring-y on Friday & Saturday...and we have lots of spring flowers up - so spring is KIND of here! We had a quick trip to New Jersey to be with my husband's family for a 70th birthday party for his Aunt...NYC was sunny on Sunday & Monday...but we drove all the way home in RAIN today - yulk! Glad to be home though! Your Mexican meal sounds fab....we ate lots of Italian (being that the relatives are ALL Italian!) on Sunday for the birthday party we sat down at 2:30pm to start eating, and finished at 7:30pm - how is THAT for a meal? sure was good though:)
Have a sunny (hopefully) day tomorrow Jane!

Picket said...

Sound like a great night out and the dinner you are fixing up sounds it smells good! lol Ohhh girl I love to hear a tiller fire up! I have daddy's old one...many a memory tied to that baby! Happy Easter to you and yours sweetie....Picket

stefanie said...

oh, I love your rottitiler!!!! nothing better than fresh soil!

The Charm of Home said...

Your tiller is marvelous! I could put this to good use! Looks like a wonderful time at the market and dinner! Have a lovely Easter!

Nancy said...

I l.o.v.e. the picture of you and your husband - you guys are so adorable! Just read your mexican food post - that sounds fabulous, too. Love Corona cerveza! I used to get cases of it in Mexico and keep it in our old Dr. Pepper machine. My diet is off this week - starting again strict on Monday. Have a wonderful Easter. xoxo Nancy

Anonymous said...

Morning, Jane! I want to wish you and your family a wonderful blessed Easter!
be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)