About Johanna

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Chicago/Aurora, IL, United States
I am just like so many busy moms out there. I want to create great meals for me and my family where the food brings us together at the end of a long and hectic day. I want to empower moms to feel like they are able to make Great Everyday Meals by using simple, accessible, and inexpensive ingredients and basic cooking techniques. It’s more about family and less about slaving away in the kitchen cooking. I have been a restaurant industry professional for about 10 years and have a great passion for cooking. I will share tips, recipes and techniques that I have learned to arm everyday cooks with the foundation to simple yet great tasting cooking! Johanna M. Cook

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dinner Date...Bistro Campagne

Wow, motherhood and a career has got me so tied up lately that I haven't had the time to add any new posts to my blog. So, here I am again finding the time to quickly enter in my thoughts while the kids are busy watching Spongebob Squarepants. I have recently changed companies and back with Panera Bread as a manager. Panera is a great company to work for. Great, freshly made breads and pastries that I can be proud of, close to home, great work/life balance, everything that I can ask for in a restaurant company at this point in my life (in my family's lives). Now, I actually have the time to visit restaurants that I've wanted to visit with my husband!

Our last dinner date was in Lincoln Square, a neighborhood where we used to live in Chicago and love so much for it's charm, family friendliness and far enough proximity from the hussle and bussle of downtown, yet close enough for a 20-30 minute (and scenic) Brown Line ride on the L.
We visited a small and quaint French bistro called Bistro Campagne. The wine list is small, all French, of course. The menu concentrates on organic and local ingredients. Chef Michael Altenberg focuses on simple and classic French faire and is a bit of a celebrity in the neighborhood. Almost every other table were asking if he was in the restaurant as they were being sat. My husband and I wanted to meet him, but forgot to as were indulging in each other's company, wine and food!

Our first course, we ordered the mussels in white wine, very classic. It was good. I've had my share of mussels and what I love about this preparation is the abundance of garlic, white wine and shallots. The sauce was great and the bread it came with was awesome to dipping and soaking all the juices. I thought of also ordering the roasted bone marrow as I L.O.V.E the richness and melt in your mouth goodness of a great bone marrow, but decided not to. Maybe next time. For our main course, my husband ordered the sauteed white fish. The portion was perfect, not too big, not to small, and the presentation was simple and elegant. Marvin absolutely loved what he ordered and was extremely satisfied. I ordered the roasted braised rabbit. This was the very first time I have ever tried rabbit and I was soooo happy that I had a great experience! This rabbit was adorned with a FABULOUS mustard sauce, roasted potatoes and brussell sprouts. It was tender, not gamy at all and delish. I would definitely recommend that entree to anyone. Of course, for dessert, we ordered a creme brulee. It was perfect, it better be, being that this was a French bistro. I love creme brulee, simple and awesome.

All in all it was a great evening. Marvin and I needed time alone to just chit chat and be ourselves, not Mama or Papa, just Marvin and Johanna on a dinner date.

4518 N Lincoln AveChicago, IL 60625-2103(773) 271-6100
Reservations @ www.opentable.com

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pork Loin Leftovers

So, it's my day off and I have so many things to do. I have to tackle the pile of never-ending laundry, go grocery shopping with kids in tow, clean up the house as best as I can and make dinner. Thank God when I woke up this morning, I wasn't nearly as nauseaus as I normally am being 3 months pregnant =).

Yesterday, I roasted a pre-marinated lemon-garlic pork loin with potatoes and green beans. There's almost half of it leftover and I KNOW that the kids and hubby are not going to eat it again, especially because my husband ate it for lunch also. As I was out and about all day doing my list of chores, I thought....PORK LETTUCE WRAPS!! Genius. And this is something anyone can do with leftover chicken, beef, or shrimp.

Pork Lettuce Wraps

*Boston Lettuce
*2 small carrots
*1 white onion
*1 can of bamboo shoots
*Garlic gloves ( as little or as many as you'd like)
*1 TBL of fresh ginger
*1 bunch of scallions
*2 TBL of vegetable oil
*1 tsp of smooth peanut butter
*1 TBL of rice wine vinegar
*2 tsp of soy sauce

Carefully tear the lettuce and wash each leaf, patting it dry with a paper towel. Dice the carrots, onion and scallions. Mince the garlic and ginger. Cut the pork loin in to 1-2 inch strips and drain the bamboo shoots.

In a hot pan heat the veg oil. Saute the carrots, onion, ginger and garlic, until the onions are translucent. Add the sliced pork loin and heat through. Add the rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. Create an open area in the middle of the pan and add the peanut butter, mixing it with the liquids in the pan, and then incorporating the pork and vegetable mixture. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the bamboo shoots and scallions. Cook for 5 minutes.

Scoop about 1 TBL of the pork and vegetable mixture in a lettuce cup and ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why Blog?

In the sea of bloggers, wanna-be writers and critics, etc, why did I decide to create this blog well...about myself?

I am yet at another turning point in my life. I am expecting my third child and a working mother with an "average" American family trying to make it in this world. As my husband and I anticipate our new baby's coming next year, I am reflecting about what changes have happened in my life since I graduated high school. I remember being such a foodie even before the term was even invented. Growing up in an Indian-Filipino home and living in San Francisco, I knew and learned a lot about food at an early age. My girlfriends and I used to save up our allowances to go out and eat in the coolest places. When we all started to get jobs, we went to the hottest restaurants in town to check out the scene. We lived for it, I live for it. Getting older, I ended up in the restaurant industry, it was so exciting to be a part of what I loved every single day. Then motherhood came.

As a mom with 2 kids, I don't exactly have all the time (and money) in the world to spend checking out the newest and hottest restaurants in town anymore. My cooking style has evolved from elaborate meals to 20-minute meals (take that Rachel Ray!!!). But my love of food, the feeling it brings to people, the importance of how it is an vital part of living is still in me. I wanted a place where I can share my cooking ideas, recipes, restaurant tricks, and experiences to people, and I have found that maybe, blogging might be a great way to do that...maybe even therapeautic. We'll see what happens.