A Squared: Welcome Summer & Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Welcome Summer & Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day weekend!
Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 5.26.12

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed some of the lovely summer weather that we had here in Chicago.  I also hope you took a moment to quietly thank the men and women that have served our country, sacrificed their lives, and kept us safe for all of these years.  I'm so grateful for the sacrifices that you all have made and continue to make for our country, our safety, and our freedom.  Cheers to all of the men and women of our armed services-- and especially to my [not so] little brother Tim! 

Besides being a weekend for reflection and gratitude, Memorial Day weekend also seems to be the first real weekend of summer-- the kickoff to grilling, beach, vacation, and wedding season-- and this year's holiday weekend did not disappoint.  The majority of our friends took off for the weekend, so Alex and I had plenty of quality time this weekend, which was nice since we are about 2 weeks away from the start of some serious summer travel.  It was great to just enjoy our city and each other for 3 days.  Here's a little sampling of our holiday weekend in pictures...


 I started the weekend off by being a really good wife and joining Alex at the Bottom Lounge for a Red Jumpsuit Apparatus concert on Friday night.  Aside from the parental chaperones we were some of the oldest people there, so that was interesting.  These are the times when I miss Ted (Alex's eternal concert buddy) the most!  We went out for a late night bite afterward at which point Alex was already sick of my photographic documentation.  See above for proof.

 
After our late night on Friday, we got a late start on Saturday.  It was kind of a hazy overcast morning-- the perfect kind for being a little lazy.  We stopped by Bull & Bear for a late brunch/early lunch and then wandered around the city for the afternoon outrunning the rain during another City Walk.  We ended the day with dinner and margaritas at Taco Joint in Lincoln Park.  I'm not sure why we have never been there before-- especially since Alex could eat Mexican food every day-- but it was awesome!  We'll be back soon for sure. 


Sunday was HOT.  We managed to make it to the beach, but only for a few hours before I basically felt like I was suffering from heatstroke.  I also came back with a freaky stripey sunburn too.... looks like I will be rocking some crewneck shirts this week until that starts to fade!  We were so exhausted after the beach that I actually came home and napped.  Very out of character for me.  And then I was so famished that I forget to photograph our grilled dinner-- shame on me.  I did manage to snap a photo of the desserts that we picked up at Fox & Obel the day before though.  A milk chocolate hazelnut and a key lime tart-- yum!


On Monday we made the mistake of venturing out to the outlet mall.  And hold the phone-- it was Alex's idea.  He had a list of things he finally decided he needed to stock his closet with so we drove out to the west suburbs and did some shopping.  I was proud of the restraint that I showed (as I normally go a bit crazy at the outlets) and only picked up a few things-- including a fab new chunky mint green necklace at the J. Crew factory store.  Whenever we go out to west suburbs (which doesn't happen all that often) we like to stop in at DMK Burger Bar for lunch.  The food is great and Alex worked on the design of the restaurant, which always makes the trip a little extra special.  And I just love a good bison burger.

We ended a great Memorial Day weekend with-- what else?  More grilling!  Alex made some barbecued chicken and I made a side dish that I wanted to share with you all.  One food that always reminds me of summertime is potato salad-- and not that creamy mayo-filled kind.  My Oma used to make a delicious and super simple German-style potato salad with red onion, parsley, and a simple oil and vinegar dressing.  It's seriously the best potato salad I have ever had and it's almost impossible to eat the typical American kind once you're used to Oma's.  Since I have never been able to recreate it perfectly, I put my own almost French-style spin on it for Monday's dinner and turned it into a Dijon potato and green bean salad.


Potato & Green Bean Salad

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 lb. baby red potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. fresh flat leaf parsley, rough chopped
  • 1 Tbs. vinegar *I'd recommend apple cider, red wine, or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add potatoes and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes (give or take up to 5 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes).  Drain the potatoes and cool completely.  Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices and set aside.  Tip: The cooler the potatoes, the easier to slice so sometimes I like to boil the potatoes the day before or earlier in the day and refrigerate them before slicing.

Separately, bring another pot of water to boil.  Add the green beans and cook for 3-4 minutes until the beans turn bright green, but are still crispy.  Drain the green beans in a colander and rinse with very cold or ice water.

In a large bowl, whisk together Dijon, vinegar, oil, pepper, and salt.  Add sliced potatoes, cooled green beans, sliced red onion, and parsley to the bowl and toss gently to coat.  Add any additional salt or pepper to taste.  Set the salad aside until it has reached room temperature-- it always tastes better this way.

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