recipe: ratatouille

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Well, I couldn’t find the solo picture I took of the ratatouille I made a while back, so this should suffice for now. The photo does show a baked chicken alfredo right beside the ratatouille. You can guess that it was a pretty hearty dinner that cold winter night.

This vegetable dish has been a favorite of mine to cook lately, so my fiancé pretty much expects it almost weekly, if not bi-weekly. Occasionally, I’ll add some 1-inch size chicken in the dish if we’re not eating it as a side. I’ve also played with the amount of each vegetable, sauce, and seasoning to my liking.

It doesn’t take too long, so it’s nice to have it as a go-to when I’m really exhausted from work. Hope you guys enjoy as well!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large eggplant, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 green zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
15oz can of tomato sauce — I like Contadina’s extra thick & zesty (or use real tomatoes)
3-4 sprigs of basil, chopped

1. Heat a large skillet with the olive oil on medium to high heat. When oil is hot, add the eggplant. Stirring frequently, cook until soft and slightly brown.
2. Lower heat to medium then add onions, garlic, and bell peppers until soft. Continue to stir frequently.
3. Add the green zucchini and yellow squash towards the end. I like for these two to have a little crunch, so if you want the same, don’t cook it for too long.
4. Slowly add the tomato sauce and stir as you do so. I don’t always use the full can, depending on how many vegetables I have on hand.
5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
6. Remove from heat, add chopped basil, and stir.
7. You’re done! Enjoy.

restaurant review: cento

I had one of the best birthday meals to date this year. My sweet fiancé took me to this great new Italian restaurant in downtown and it became an immediate favorite. Check out my Yelp review and photos below.

Yelp Review: 10/14/2014


Probably one of my favorite birthday dinner to date. Walking in this place, you can sense it’s a wee bit different than the usual Italian fare around Madison. Dressy? Yes, please.

My fiancé took me here for a birthday dinner after we’ve been driving past it the last couple of months. We thought, why not? So we got dressed and headed here for some Italian.

We started off with the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with spicy sausage and piquillo pepper sauce after reading other Yelpers’ reviews. Small, but tasty! There’s literally like a burst of flavor once you bite into it. I expected it to be really just a bacon flavor, but I was wrong. The sweet and salty was a perfect combination in this little plate. The piquillo pepper sauce would’ve made for some good bread dip also.

They were out of gnocchi tonight (?!?!?!?) and it almost felt like it was meant to be. I LOVE gnocchi and always seem to steer towards that dish at any restaurant, so it forced me to try something else. First world problems over here.

We opted for the smaller versions of two pastas: 1) agnolotti with pumpkin, sage, walnuts and parmigiano reggiano and 2) black tagliatelle with lobster, prawn, mussels, lobster sauce and fresh horseradish. The agnolotti was so soft and the parmigiano reggiano wasn’t as strong as I’ve experienced. I was hoping for more pumpkin because that actually was my favorite part of the dish. Go figure. The black tagliatelle dish (aka squid ink pasta, y’all) was oh-my-gee seafood heaven! My fiancé wasn’t a fan of it because it was too fishy for him, but this Filipino girl felt at home. It was a very rich dish–that lobster sauce was very creamy. Overall, the pasta dishes were no disappointment. It’s definitely worth it to get 2 or 3 of the smaller pasta dishes to be able to try them all out. Or that could just be me.

We also got a pizza (sweet italian sausage, bocconcini, broccoli rapini, tomato sauce, garlic and chili flake)–very thin, not too crunchy, but very good. It wasn’t out of this world, but it was a good introduction to their pizza selections. My fiancé’s main dish was the pollo al mattone with salsa verde, arugula and lemon–the chicken just looked so pretty with the skin roasted into a perfect brown (I felt weird typing that?) and the arugula was a good balance to the simple flavoring of the chicken.

My birthday dessert was the the cherry chocolate truffle cake with gelato–LOVE. The fiancé isn’t a huge dessert person but he really enjoyed this and actually ate more of it than I did. The cherry was a good choice too–I was weary at first but it really made the dish.

Overall, a very satisfying dinner. The service was great (oh! Chanel/Shanell? was our sweet server) and I was greeted happy birthday several times. Felt pretty special! So glad this place exists.

122 West Mifflin
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 284-9378

recipe: chicken enchiladas

Chicken EnchiladasI wanted to do Taco Tuesdays but it turned into an enchilada night instead. My boyfriend has been asking me to make more Mexican food, so I guess this is my first tackle. My ultimate goal is to make some chicken mole, so watch for that sometime.

This entire meal ended up filling 2 pans with 4 tortillas each. We’re definitely gonna have some leftovers and I don’t mind!

8 normal sized-tortillas
1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs OR 3 large chicken breasts
2 cans of red enchilada sauce, 10oz each
2 cans of diced green chiles, 4oz each
1 lb can of refried beans
2 cups of 4-cheese Mexican cheese
green onions or cilantro
sour cream
salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F
2. Cook your chicken if it’s not already cooked. When done, shred it with your fingers or with forks
3. In a big bowl, combine the chicken, 1/2 can of your enchilada sauce, 2 cans of diced green chiles, 1 lb can of refried beans, 1/2 cup of cheese
4. Add a dash of salt and pepper and mix well
5. Spray your pan with cooking spray or spread a thin amount of oil in the pan
6. Spoon your mixture into the tortilla and roll
7. Line up your tortillas until they fill your pan
8. Pour the rest of your enchilada sauce on top
9. Place in the oven for 25 minutes
10. Add the rest of your cheese and let it cook for an additional 5 minutes
11. Serve with sour cream, green onions or cilantro