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Neapolitan Pizza in Chicago: Spacca Napoli

30 Oct

Looking for some solid Neapolitan-style pizza on Chicago’s north side? Spacca Napoli is a good option.

We started off with a grilled vegetable plate – a generous amount of grilled eggplant, red and yellow peppers, and zucchini.

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The grilled octopus was alright. It came as a a couple large pieces, so it was bit more challenging to eat than most other presentations I’ve seen.

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The pizzas are where Spacca Napoli shines. The Neapolitan-style pizzas are all sized to suite one person. They are so good you probably won’t want to share anyway. There are many options, including a couple of daily specials.

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The disappointment of the night was the Peaches Vesuvio we ordered for dessert, which was I suppose more of a misunderstanding than anything. I thought that the peaches would be fresh, but they are not. The menu says “Peaches (Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio)”, meaning they are jarred peaches from the national park in Italy. Though they may have originated from Italy, they tasted like run-of-the-mill canned peaches from around here…I expressed my disappointment to our server, and he graciously took the dessert off our bill.

Info: Spacca Napoli Pizzeria, 1769 W. Sunnyside Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640 USA
Spacca Napoli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Hearty Harira Soup

28 Aug

Meaty soups are good all year round, summer included. Or in my case, I was feeling under the weather, and a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup left me incredibly disappointed – I didn’t recall supermarket chicken soup being so…bland, yet tinny. So I decided to make this harira soup and set it to cook in my slow cooker overnight, so I could awake to its hearty aroma. You can also make this soup over the stove.

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This recipe calls for boneless lamb, but I got a nice 0.86 lb hunk of lamb shoulder with a large bone in the middle. I cooked with the bone in the soup – just remember to remove it before serving!

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup dried red lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • ¾ cup celery, diced (about 3 ribs)
  • 28oz canned tomatoes, chopped, with juice
  • 5 cups chicken stock or water
  • ~ ¾ lb boneless lamb rack or shoulder, cut into 1-centimeter dice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp tumeric
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • pinch saffron threads
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 4 Tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro

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Directions

  1. In a large pan, sautee onion in olive oil until soft, about 2 minutes.DSC02305
  2. Add lamb, and cook 2-3 minutes until lamb pieces are seared.
  3. In a large (6 quart or larger) slow cooker, add chickpeas, lentils, celery, canned tomatoes, chicken stock and water, sugar, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger.  Add the onions and lamb.
  4. Stir lightly to combine.Harira soup
  5. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
  6. Add lemon juice, spinach, and saffron threads. Stir.DSC02307
  7. Serve, with chopped cilantro.

Makes about 3 quarts

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

10 Jul

A couple years ago, I had the best chicken tortilla soup ever at Iguana Cantina in Aruba. I’ve been trying to imitate that recipe ever since. I’ve tried many recipes, sampled other tortilla soups stateside, and nothing has ever come close. There have been soups that were too thin, too brothy, too tomatoey… but alas, I have finally got something as delicious as Iguana’s version!! Here’s a super healthy, thick, flavorful, chicken tortilla soup that’s gluten-free and made without cream! (Insert happy dance here).

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs), cut into large pieces
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped  
  • 2 red or orange bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 30 oz cannelini beans (two 15 oz cans, drained and rinsed)
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • Optional toppings: corn, avocado, sour cream, tortilla strips

Directions

  1. Sautée carrots, celery, bell peppers, onion, and garlic until fragrant and soft. Put into slow cooker.DSC05839
  2. Sautée chicken pieces until brown on all side, about 3-4 minutes. Add to slow cooker.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the slow cooker (except those marked “Optional toppings”)
  4. Cook in the slow cooker 8 – 9 hours on LOW or 4 – 5 hours on HIGH.
  5. Remove chicken and place in a separate bowl. Shred the chicken.
  6. Puree the rest of the soup using an immersion blender, or in a blender.
  7. Return chicken to the soup. Add corn if desired.
  8. Ladle into bowls, and serve with diced avocado, sour cream, or tortilla strips if desired.DSC05842

Slow Cooker White Bean and Sausage Soup

5 Jun

Having enjoyed a really yummy white bean and sausage soup in the beer garden at Stone Brewery in San Diego, I was inspired to try making my own (I’ll have a review of Stone Brewery soon). Stone makes their sausage in-house but I don’t quite have the time for that, so I just used store-bought mild Italian sausage. If you enjoy a little more of a kick, try medium Italian sausage, or something even spicier! Using a high-quality chicken broth is key, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. I used Trader Joe’s chicken broth. 

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Ingredients

  • 16 oz. Great Northern beans
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large carrots (or 4 small carrots), diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 6-7 cups kale leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • ¾ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 5 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, cut into small pieces

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients into a 6 quart slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours.

Yes, it’s really that easy. Serve and enjoy this savory soup! Goes great with a beer while relaxing on a patio too 🙂

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