on chicago skyline.

3:34 PM Sian Mei Yeoh 0 Comments

this weekend was a ball of fun. i have to say both days were mostly spent sleeping and recharging myself since i've been only sleeping averagely for 5 hours during the weekdays. so i was a lot more cranky throughout the week that even i'd call myself miss crankers. but the highlight this weekend was probably the bbq fun at christina's place in downtown chicago.

christina and i have had plans to go to her apartment for pot luck for the past year but never got to it. however, this weekend we finally had a plan going and it definitely didn't hurt that it was a pretty nice spring day. it was warm under the sun but cold in the shade type of deal. the next thing we had to plan was what food we were bringing. she suggested that she was gonna do the burgers and grilled asparagus and i was gonna bring the side dishes.

i had trouble deciding what side dishes i would bring that might go well with burgers. putting on my thinking cap, (gosh what a nerdy corny statement! lol) i came up with three side dishes: citrus salad with fennel, artichoke balls and pasta salad. the citrus salad is a recipe by giada de laurentiis which i have tried once before. i thought the combination of tartness and sweetness from the grapefruit and orange paired with the licorice flavor of fennel and then the slight crunch from the walnut would be refreshing on a spring day bbq. thank goodness the grapefruit was slightly sweet and tart and wasn't bitter like the one when i first tried the recipe last year. there was supposed to be basil in the recipe but i had to leave that out cos i couldn't find fresh basil in two grocery stores....(like wth right?) 

artichoke balls and pasta salad were both ryan's mom recipes. ryan is a sucker for artichoke and his mom even warned me to watch him while he helped me roll out those artichoke balls because if i didn't, it may all disappear before it even got to christina's place.. lol. the artichoke balls had grated parmesan cheese and italian breadcrumbs in them and it seemed that it was a hit with everyone. the pasta salad dressing was a simple concoction of louisiana remoulade sauce combined with house italian dressing where the ratio is to personal taste. i added sauteed onions for the slight sweetness to counter the bite of the horseradish from the remoulade sauce and as a personal touch and healthiness, i added a brocolli slaw with the cooked rotini pasta. the pasta salad was addictive - i couldn't stop taking servings after servings of it. what i like about these dishes is that i could make them a day in advance since they were both supposed to be served chilled.

before we got started on the grill with our burgers, we were starving since we got there half hour late. (i blame the fresh basil) christina and lyle made homemade ranch sauce which was yummy goodness served with cucumber and carrot sticks. they also served cheese (cheddar and mimollette) and crackers as appetizers too. the mimolette cheese (aged 12 months) had a bright orange hue to it and takes on a nut-like flavor.  not long after, we went to their sun deck to grill some burgers for our exciting lunch :)

while the chefs were busy grilling i was taking photos of the breath taking view from the sun deck.

the food smelled so delish while we waited for the food to be done. we were so starving at this point that i wanted to eat the food straight from the grill. we initially wanted to sit by the sun deck to enjoy the view but it was a tad chilly outside so we went back to her apartment but not without filling the hallway and the rooms we walked through with the yummy aroma of freshly grilled burgers, enough to make anyone hungry.

the burgers were so good and so was the bun. the bun was soft and toasted to perfection. the cheddar cheese was slightly melted and i loved the crust and grilled marks on the burger patties (most flavor!) as well as the moistness inside. i've always loved grilled asparagus and this time it wasn't any different. juicy with a slight smoky flavor and christina did a great job flavoring them with just enough salt, pepper and freshly squeezed lemon juice. we were pretty stuffed by the end of the meal and i think we could have fed another 3-4 ppl with the leftovers we had. lol.

they were also in charge of the dessert although i offered to make brownies from the brownie mix. instead, they bought my favorite-st desserts of all time - tiramisu! i was eager to give it a try to see how it measures up to my current fav from maggiano's even though i was filled to the brim.  omg omg! i think we might have a winner here! lol. i want to say that it's better than the one i get from maggiano's but it's a very tight race. i'd have to try both of them side by side to compare but this tiramisu they purchased from fox & obel was fantastic. it had a sharp espresso flavor but it's balanced well with the sweetness from the cream. i guess the only thing i could pick on it is i thought it might be better with more lady finger to balance the textures a lil bit.  but <3333

although we were exhausted at the end of the event, we had a ton of fun, tasty food, bright sun and semi-warm weather - what more can we ask for? :)