buttery lemon cream cheese coffee cake: two ways

IMG_0093Miss Fats has spent the last six months on a breakfast baking experiment.  She’s never been much of a morning sweets baker (except for a scone here or there), but her coordinating duties have called for a plethora of breakfast baked goods.  Each week, she’s been trying out essentially a new recipe (though there’s been a couple of lazy repeats) and in the past week she hit a high: lemon cream cheese coffee cake.

Diptic (1)She tried this recipe out two weeks ago as a muffin and it was a huge hit.  So when last Saturday demanded a breakfast sweet for a brunch crowd, she went for it in giant coffee cake form.  This recipe is adapted from one that’s been making the rounds on pinterest and the original can be found here.  Miss Fats has made a couple of adjustments that are crucial when switching between the cake and muffin.  Just follow these tweaks and soon you’ll be in tasty lemon heaven.

IMG_0079Buttery Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake Muffins:
adapted from coffee crumb cake with lemon cheesecake filling
makes 12 large muffins

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened (must be soft!)
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt

1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
healthy pinch of salt

1/4 cup butter softened to room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs sugar
1/3 cup flour
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with liners or grease.  Make the filling: cream the cream cheese and sugar on high until they are well incorporated.  Add the egg yolk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest.  Mix until well combined.  Note: this step can easily be done ahead of time and the filling stored in the fridge.

2. Make the cake:  cream the butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla and beat until well incorporated (may look a little grainy but it will come together).  Carefully add the flour, baking powder and salt, mixing until incorporated.  The batter will be VERY thick.

3. Assemble the muffins: spoon about 2 tbs of cake batter into each muffin tin, doing your best to spread it across the bottom.  Add about 2 tbs of the filling on top.  Finish off the tops with the remaining batter.  This was a little difficult.  Miss Fats had to use her fingers to make sure the cake batter covered the top of the filling (if it doesn’t quite cover and there’s some filling squishing out of the top: do not worry).

4. Make the topping: mix the flour, sugars and salt in a small bowl.  Add the butter and using your fingers, break up the butter into small bits to create a crumb-like texture.  Sprinkle a generous amount of the topping over each muffin.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out relatively (may have a bit of cream cheese filling on it) clean and the tops are crispy and golden.


So you’ve basically got the recipe for this in coffee cake form, however Miss Fats recommends a couple of changes:

  1. Use the same filling recipe Miss Fat’s has listed above, but double the lemon.  The original recipe makes way too much that can’t really fit in the middle given the thickness of the batter.  Plus eff lemon extract: use a real lemon!
  2. Multiply the cake recipe by 1.5.  You need more cake batter than both the muffin and original call for: 9×13 is a damn big pan!  Plus this makes for a thick and delicious cake.
  3. Follow all the instructions as listed above: the only change is the assembly (which is actually easier in cake form).  Spread half your batter into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan, followed by all your filling (Miss Fats recommends leaving a 2 inch boarder around this spread), and finally the rest of the cake batter.  Use those fingers to cover the delicious filling.  Using the same topping recipe, spread all over top.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes.

IMG_0151Miss Fats was a total failure documenting the filling action, but she hopes you’ll just trust her and go make this crazy tasty recipe.  Plus its a way better surprise when you take that first bite into a hot coffee cake muffin.  Just you wait.

IMG_0098Monster muffin reminded Miss Fats of a creamy blonde kitty.  So here’s a little guy to go with your morning cake:



Sher-A-Punjab = Share a pile of chicken!

Miss Fats is pretty sure there’s no such thing as a bad Indian dish (this is not to say that there are not poorly executed Indian dishes), but that makes it pretty hard to choose what you want when you go out for dinner. This is why she has been such a huge supporter of Indian buffet for years. Unfortunately, buffet usually equals lunch, and the best of Chicago’s Indian restaurants are way the fuck far away from Miss Fats: and as much as she’d like it, driving forty five minutes for a mid week lunch just doesn’t happen. However Miss Fats made the greatest discovery of all time last week: INDIAN DINNER BUFFET SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. Sher-a-Punjab is located on Devon, a stretch of West Rogers Park that is littered with Indian and Pakistani options. There’s so many options up there that Miss Fats has basically just been hopping about, trying one place after another. And everything has been good. Really fucking good. But Sher-a-Punjab’s dinner buffet has officially risen to the top of Miss Fats’ list.

Downside of Indian? Terrible food porn. Curry never looks that good in photo form. Therefore Miss Fats added laser cat to emphasize the tastiness, despite appearances.


M: So one of the greatest cuisines in the world has to be Indian. Miss Fats does not understand how so much flavor and crazy crazy spice is able to make it into every single freaking dish. Seriously, Indian Food? You make bland LENTILS taste that goddamn good WITHOUT meat fat? Sher-a-Punjab’s buffet contained a huge assortment of meat curries and veggie dishes along with yummy yummy sides like samosas, dosas and probably a couple of other “osa” items Miss Fats shoved on her plate. Her approach to these things is to always try everything. She just throws down a scoop of every option out there on the first round. She never has any idea what she’s eating but who cares when you have toasty chewy naan scoop of steaming Indian goodness in your mouth?
J: All Miss Fats knows is she wanted some palak paneer, and that definitely happened. Let Miss Fats take you on a journey through the magical rainbow of Indian dinnner:
SAMOSA (these actually weren’t that great, but then Miss Fats noticed one of the 700 waiters carrying a huge bowl of super hot fresh samosas over to the buffet so she shamelessly went back and got a new one. SHAMELESS, PEOPLE. MISS FATS EATS FOR YOUR SINS. Or something.


M: Miss Fats’ experience with Indian Buffet is that the naan can really be hit or miss (usually WHO CARES BECAUSE YOU GET AS MUCH AS YOU WANT). But Sher-a-punjab kindly brings you a heaping pile of FRESH, HOT naan to your table when you sit down. Chewy, bready, crispy bit naan heaven. Not to mention they were super good about making sure that naan stack was to our liking: they just wanted it to keep on coming.
J: Miss Fats probably should’ve signed a Naan-disclosure agreement about the egregious bread consumption that occurred, but what fun would that have been for y’all? It should be embarrassing, how much naan she ate… but you know Miss Fats. SHAMELESS.


M: Now this is really the spectacle of Sher-a-Punjab. Along with the fresh naan, you’re brought a sizzling platter of tandoori chicken to your table. Yep. You show up: they bring the meat platter. Miss Fats is really more of a curry person, but she is never going to turn down a sizzling platter of spiced meat. This tandoori chicken was pretty good (especially when dipped into her curry mess plate), but wasn’t her favorite dish of the night. She could take it or leave it. But since she doesn’t even need to make that choice, obviously she’ll take it.
J: Hey Sher-A-Punjab, Miss Fats just met you, and you are crazy, you brought a giant pile of hot bright red chicken… she’ll eat it… maybe. Dude, seriously, this was just SILLY. Miss Fats had a bite, cause it was there, but there’s just no sane reason for this much chicken to ever appear on your table while you are trying to p0wn the shit out of a buffet. DO NOT DISTRACT MISS FATS WHEN SHE IS ON A MASALA MISSION.


M: Oh second round. Yep, Miss Fats went back for more. Hey, you’ve got to pick your favorites once you’ve sampled the spread, people. Clearly she was into that brown one, that red meat one and some veggie and chickpea biznas. However this picture is deceptive and frankly exposes a HUGE mistake made on Miss Fats’ part. Perhaps she was just too hungry and her brain was off, but Miss Fats’ number one rule of Indian buffet? NO RICE. That’s right. Absolutely no rice. It just takes up belly space that could have been filled by more curry or naan. Let’s be real people: rice doesn’t really have any flavor and is just a vehicle for curry awesomeness. So skip that useless carb ride and just load up on star curries.
J: Agree to disagree. The logic here is sound, and this advice SHOULD be followed. But Miss Fats has a serious carb problem and there’s just no way she will ever be able to not put a big spoonful of rice on her plate if there is a big spoonful of rice to be had. And oh, there were big spoonfuls. And then there was big spoonful of rice pudding. Some people are addicted to drugs. Some people are addicted to gambling. Some people are addicted to reddit (which is understandable, because there is foodporn AND kittyporn there!). Miss Fats is addicted to CARBS.


M: Obviously Miss Fats was uncomfortably full after that curry attack. (She blames the critical rice mistake. Amateur move!) Like that was going to stop her from getting some rice pudding though. She topped off her bursting gullet with a little sweet creamy dessert action. She wishes she could really remember what it tasted like but at this point she thought she might die. Indian buffet win.
J: Alanis Morrissette said it: “Thank you India.”

fat ginger cat ate too much rice

                          WALK AWAY FROM THE RICE, FRIENDS.

Oh man, Miss Fats forgot to mention that after tax, you will pay a grand total of $11 for this meal, so put that on your plate and eat it!

Roasted Eggplant, Chickpea, Goat Cheese and Wilted Spinach Salad


Miss Fats has been doing a damn good job of getting out to show you all the tasty eats across Chicago.  However this has resulted in her feeling a bit like this:


Miss Fats needed some veggie love to combat some of this ice cream bloat, but  does not believe in dainty salads.  So she turned (again) to the hearty winter salad.  This time she wanted some spicy Mediterranean flavors and tangy goat cheese action.  The result: a warm eggplant, chickpea and spinach salad.


This combo of ingredients sounded excellent to MIss Fats, however she is also damn lazy when it comes to dishes and many components.  So she condensed this recipe to use only one bowl and two baking dishes (or really only one if you have a baking pan bigger than hers).  You’re going to see her make some strange moves, but bear with her.  It’s damn good and less work.

Roasted Eggplant

Roasted Eggplant, Chickpea, Goat Cheese and Wilted Spinach Salad:
inspired by Roasted Eggplant and Smoked Almond Salad
4-6 servings (depending on if you have it as a side or big salad meal)

2 large eggplants, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tbs olive oil + 1 tbs divided
1 tbs white vinegar
1 tsp paprika + 1/2 tsp divided
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 lemon
couple of pinches of hot red pepper flake (optional)
1 large bunch or bag of prewashed spinach
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
goat cheese
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lay the diced eggplant out onto your baking sheets and salt.  Allow to sit while you make the marinade.  Combine 2 tbs of oil, 1 tsp of paprika, garlic, vinegar, coriander and cumin in a large bowl.  Using a paper towel or dish towel, blot off any of the extra water beaded up on the eggplant.  Toss eggplant in the marinade and spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they’re not sticking.

2. In the same big bowl, throw in the chickpeas, remaining oil and paprika and a bit of salt and pepper (yeah, just let it hang out in that marinade residue).  Toss to coat.  Distribute into a single layer on a baking pan.  Once the eggplant has been roasting for 20 minutes or so, throw the chickpeas into the oven.

3.  Once you’ve hit that 40 minute mark and your eggplant is looking tender and slightly crispy, take the baking sheet out of the oven and just heap the raw spinach on top.  I know. It sounds weird and technically this spinach should be wilted on the stove or whatever.  But just do it: it’s fast, easy and allows the spinach to steam slightly in the spicy aromas of your roasting fest.  Stick your weird pan of eggplant and spinach back in the oven for about 10 minutes or until your spinach has essentially halved in sized (or more if you like your spinach more well done):

IMG_0121IMG_0126See so easy! No extra pans!

4. Remove chickpeas from the oven and squeeze the lemon over top.  Listen to that sizzle.

5.  Serve up by layering a big pile of your spinach, couple of scoops of eggplant and chickpeas.  Crumble that tasty goat cheese over top.  Drizzle with additional olive oil if you’d like.

chickpealemonThis salad has a lot of flavor and Miss Fats recommends just throwing down a heaping portion for a healthy lunch or stuffing all the components into a pita pocket with a little greek yogurt for a more substantial, sandwich version.

Salad2Enjoy your veggie break, readers.  Because Miss Fats will be back with more indulgent food attack.

Blah Blah Blabla, Cafe Spiaggia

Miss Fats apologizes for the delay on this restaurant week review.  They have been BUSY eating (clearly).  The second spot Miss Fats hit last week was the famous Cafe Spiaggia.  There were obviously a lot of warning signs to prepare Miss Fats for disappointment with this one: Gold Coast location, famous reputation, tourist spot, and fancy Italian (this shit should be rustic, cheap and delicious always.)  However, looking at the menu and lunch price, Miss Fats decided to give it a go.  BIG MISTAKE.

Here’s what they were promised:
Three-Course Lunch Menu

Olive -Nocellare, Gaeta, Alfonso, Torremaggiore,orange zest, pickled fennel

Gran Farro – cannellini beans, farro, pancetta
Fegato – chicken liver mousse, cranberry, arugula, crostini
Bocconcini – mozzarella di bufala, apple mostarda
Rucola – arugula, Capriole Farm goat cheese,balsamico

Salmone – Faroe Island salmon, Tuscan beans, shallots, fingerling potatoes,
fennel, Brussels sprouts
Gnocchi – wild boar ragu,Parmigiano Reggiano
Polpette – meatballs, tomato sauce,polenta,Pecorino Romano
Cappellacci- butternut squash, sage,Parmigiano Reggiano,brown butter

Zeppole – Italian style fritters, vanilla sugar, rasberry compote
Sorbetti – passion fruit, lemon-lime, pear
We were offered a menu with SEVEN differences from the original. When your menu only has 11 items on it… nice work, jerks.

Yeah. Looks pretty damn good huh?

Well here’s what they got:
1. NO OLIVES. WHERE WHERE THE OLIVES? We wanted the olives. They were not there.
2. NO CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE. Miss Fats wanted the chicken liver mousse. It was not there. NO GRAN FARRO. NO MEAT BALLS AND POLENTA.

RESULT: The most apathetic restaurant review ever.

IMG_1825Bread – parmesan crisps & foccacia

M: Fine. Fluffy bread. Crispy cracker.  Eh.
J: Miss Fats put this in her mouth. It was food. The top of the foccacia was super super salty.

IMG_1845Bocconcini – mozzarella di bufala, apple mostarda, thyme

M: Ok. The moz was pretty damn good. But who should really get credit for that?? Miss Fats thinks the buffalo. Not the chef.  Eff that apple thing; too sweet. Give me more cheese.
J: The cheese stands alone. The cheese stands alone. Hi ho the buffalo, the cheese stands alone. The cheese SHOULD have stood alone. It was hanging out with a bad crowd, Miss Fats swears it was some sort of carmelized syrup pear slice sitting on top. Not her cup of tea. Also, ARUGULA NEEDS TO GET THE EFF OUT OF HER LIFE. In general.

IMG_1846Ribollita – purgatory beans, Tuscan kale, Savoy cabbage, San Marzano tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano

J: This wasn’t actually listed as a soup on the menu, so Miss Fats thought they were getting some kind of interesting vegetable concoction. They received what amounted to a bowl of canned soup. Like, the good kind, though, the chunky ones that cost $2.50. You know.

IMG_1847Cappellacci – Chioggia squash, brown butter, chestnut honey, Parmigiano Reggiano, sage

M: Standard vegetarian pasta.  Vegetarians seriously get shafted.  There was also a problem with the filling to pasta ratio.  By the end of the meal, the edges of the cappellacci became hard and gross.  No good.
J: Miss Fats doesn’t even really remember eating this. ? Vague memory of it being too sweet and tasting exactly like every time she’s ever had butternut ravioli, ever.

IMG_1848Gnocchi – wild boar ragu, Parmigiano Reggiano

M: Pretty good. At least these were REAL gnocchi.
J: This was the second time Miss Fats had wild boar ragu, the first being at Erbaluce in Boston. They did it better.

IMG_1849Trota – ruby trout, Tuscan beans, fingerling potatoes, fennel, padron peppers, shallots

M: Trout deserves a shout out.  This shit was GOOD.  After their poor fish luck, Miss Fats was worried about their sea friends.  However this fish was incredible. Perfectly cooked and covered in a lemony sauce that made the dish.  If this had been it, the review would have been outstanding.  Miss Fats apologizes to you, trout, because it’s not your fault you got overshadowed by lameness.  You deserve a serious award.
J: Fish luck fish luck! Miss Fats falls asleep dreaming of fennel fields. All the accessories that came with this fish were superb. Actually, now that she’s looking at the description, this dish didn’t have any peppers. It did BYOB… Bring Your Own Brusselssprouts… Miss Fats was sharing this and they each got a whole QUARTER OF A SPROUT. Oh you menu lies. This fish was delish.

IMG_1850Bomboloni – Italian doughnuts, poppy seed sugar, apple cinnamon compote

M: Miss Fats rarely disses on fried dough.  But a doughnut should NOT collapse when you bite into it.  This was completely devoid of the chewy, yeasty bready goodness that makes a doughnut.  Fail.
J: And then there were some fried ball sugar thingies sitting in applesauce, which Miss Fats would have been really happy to see… had they been served some crispy latkes. Uhhh. Uh. Uhm. Whatever.

IMG_1851Sorbetti + Gelati – passion fruit sorbet, chocolate gelato, cinnamon rice milk sorbet

J: The chocolate gelato tasted like chocolate gelato. The passion fruit was bright and sour and wonderful and Miss Fats ate every last drop! The cinnamon rice milk sorbet was also awesome, or maybe it just seemed that way after this super mediocre meal. Suck a floppy cappellaci, Cafe Spiaggia.
Shout out to the passion fruit and cinnamon rice milk.  Miss Fats is out.

Brunching at Nightwood + Sunday Sundaes at George’s

Team Miss Fats hasn’t spent much time in Pilsen, so they were excited to venture into this neighborhood to get their brunch on. (Though they fully recognize this brunch is a NOT a representation of Pilsen’s excellent Mexican restaurants.  THEY WILL BE BACK FOR MEXICAN BREAKFAST. DO NOT WORRY.)  Nightwood has been at the top of their lists for a while, but is way far out of their price range.  But per Miss Fats’ style, brunch is always an option.

And what could make Miss Fats more excited?  Surprises.  Nightwood does not have a set menu and changes their options every week, so they only had a vague idea of what they were in for.  Look at the super cute hand written menus:


Miss Fats thought listing just “fried skin” (what animal? who cares.) as an ingredient was pretty dope.  Game on, Nightwood.


Bacon butterscotch donut

J: Having had an extremely unpleasant experience with the Maple Bacon Manhattan at The Southern, Miss Fats avoids bacon in places where bacon shouldn’t go. Actually, Miss Fats generally never eats bacon, and doesn’t understand why it’s such a thing. (Go ahead, lose all respect for Miss Fats as a person right now. Go ahead!!! She’s used to it.) This wasn’t half bad though. Except when her “better half” dropped the last bite on the floor. Doof.

M: Miss Fats is just going to say it: this is the best donut in Chicago.  (Maybe even one of the best things in the city.) Hands down.  Fuck. No words. SALT. SWEET. CRISPY. SOFT.  Miss Fats isn’t even sure how to go about describing this incredible treat.  It was literally the most heavenly contrast between the soft, fluffy cake center and crisp tender outside that was smothered in butterscotch glaze.  Don’t even get her started on the crispy bacon goodness. BEST.  This is the stuff of dreams.  Which turned into a nightmare when she dropped the last bite:




Chocolate cherry cashew donut

J: This was a pretty great donut. There wasn’t really a detectable cherry flavor, it was more like the very very distant memory of a chocolate-covered cherry. Both of the donuts came with three tiny donut babies. Free baby donuts! Miss Fats really likes when food comes with extra food, like how when you order a Bloody Mary you get a free surprise snack. Sometimes it’s celery, sometimes it’s cheese-stuffed olives, you never know! Sometimes you order a donut and you get donut babies! The only bad part about the choco donut is when Miss Fats dropped one of the cinnamon-sugar babies on the floor. Doof. (see above if you want to cry again.)


M: Again: donut bliss. Miss Fats is such a huge fan of donuts she’s not sure this is even a fair subject to discuss.  And what’s basically the only thing Miss Fats loves more than fried dough? CHOCOLATE.  So obviously she was all over this shit.  Usually chocolate donuts are a little too sweet with their glaze, but this shit was filled with the tastiest, perfectly salted ganache.  She agrees with the other Miss Fats, however.  No cherry.  She wishes they had just omitted the flavor from the description or thrown a heaping spoonful of tart cherry preserves right on top.


Hello! I am cherry sales-kitten and I can help!


Wood-grilled Butcher + Larder Polish sausage, sauerkraut, neon relish, peppers & onions, runny egg

M: This was Nightwood’s cracked out version of a polish sausage complete with Chicago’s token neon green relish.  Miss Fats seriously struggled to get this monster into her mouth, but once she did, she was all about it.  The sausage was so tasty: perfectly tender and full of porky flavor that wasn’t over powered by spices (sausage often has too much fennel seed for Miss Fats).  Obviously this paired well with the sauerkraut and runny egg: two ingredients that cannot fail.


Pure joy.

J: What M actually said about this dish was, “I’M INTO YOU,” while pointing at it with her fork. Miss Fats forgot the sausage came with all that sauerkrauty gloop. Not a huge fan. It overwhelmed all the other flavors. Stupid bossy sauerkraut. But look at that eggsplosion! Best!


Bagel sandwich – Rushing Water’s smoked trout cream cheese, slaw, bacon, an over-easy egg and tots

M: This was a very tasty bagel sandwich.  The crispy bagel (Miss Fats needs to eat more bagels) and crunchy bacon were paired with mustardy sauciness and (always appreciated) runny egg.  Despite fully enjoying this dish, Miss Fats is disappointed to report the lack of smoked trout flavor.  She is ALWAYS excited about the prospect of smoked trout (there may not be a better smoked fish) and could not wait to get her salty-fishy cream cheese on.  However the shmear fell short: little-to-no fish flavor.  Still a damn good sandwich, but she was all excited about that trout! Guess Miss Fats’ fish luck ran out.

J: The fish luck didn’t run out! We just transferred some of it for ultra convenient parking spaces and ice cream luck. The bagel sammy was better than the sausage, but Miss Fats had to remove some of the bacon, because you just shouldn’t do surf n turf n egg like this. TOO MANY ANIMALS. It was too much!!! Miss Fats got spoiled with the ginorm serving of smoked fish they received at Jam, so the cream cheese did seem lackluster in comparison. None of this really matters though, because have a look at these breakfast potatoes….


tater tots

M: Ok these tater tots deserve a post all in their own.  Miss Fats could probably spend a full twenty minutes describing these to you.  Supposedly tater tots are a “food trend” now, but team Miss Fats has been munching on these suckers since birth.  Well maybe not these gourmet tots.  Nightwood’s tater tots were perfectly soft and tender inside and crazy crunchy deliciousness on the outside.  BALANCE. (Insert nonsense food talk about texture.)   This shit celebrated that potato.  Though Miss Fats will continue to order tater tots whenever she enters a bar, she will always remember just how good a tot can be.  And then probably run home and make a rez for brunch at Nightwood.

J: New plan is to contact chefs from Nightwood, Little Goat, and Jam, and have them make a mashed potato out of the Jam potatoes, then apply a Nightwood crispy filter and tempura fry them like Little Goat. It would be the best. The. Best. Ever. These were so so so so so ridiculously crispy. Each entree came with three of these golf-ball sized tater gems, but Miss Fats would have happily eaten a pile of these on their own, maybe with some different dipping sauces. #dreams
Oh yeah, and the fine staff at Nightwood kept our coffee cups FULL. So they get 10/10 coffee points from Miss Fats. Which is important. Coffee points are better than brownie points.


Miss Fats wanted to take a nap after this, but instead WAS AWESOME AND WENT ON MORE ADVENTURES.

Cut to Andersonville.  (Don’t ask why we made this jump.  Just know that some serious appetite was created in the process. Aka sitting in traffic listening to Top 40 and wishing we were at the Chinese New Year parade.)


George’s – A new instant favorite for Miss Fats! George’s offers more options and amazing flavors than anywhere else around, with super cute chalkboard drawings & vintage photos with funny captions. And a photo of a raccoon eating ice cream with a bear or something. Yes please.


How Miss Fats felt after they conquered George’s.


coconut, birthday cake, horchata ice cream

J: This was a greedy combination of three flavors. Miss Fats could not decide between these three, pistachio nut, “Kitty Kitty Bang Bang” (a cheesecake ice cream with raspberry ripple, Oreo and chocolate chunks), and a raspberry soy ice cream that looked pretty darn yums. Unfortch, George’s doesn’t offer a size option for “Insane Gluttonous Food Bloggers Who Think They Can Justify Eating ALL The Ice Cream Because They’re Going To Write About It Later,” so Miss Fats had to choose.
The coconut would have been great on its own, as would the horchata, they were both subtle, rich, and got lost in the birthday cake wonderfulness. Miss Fats is a big fan of super tacky ‘party cake’ flavored ice cream, this was just like, THAT, but made out of REAL food ingredients. And had windex-blue swirlies in it! George’s horchata flavor was maybe a little bit too subtle for us, the cinnamon rice-milk gelato at Cafe Spiaggia really hit a better balance with their spices. Overall, Miss Fats found everything they tried at George’s to be better than Baume & Brix’s Fish Cream. SHOCKING!

IMG_20051 scoop Heaps of Love: oreos, pecans, caramel, chocolate ripple, cookie dough in vanilla ice cream; 1 scoop Yippie Skippie: peanut butter cups, caramel ripple, and more crack Miss Fats cannot remember; topped with hot fudge and peanut butter

M: Miss Fats fears she may have just given you a sugar attack just by listing those ingredients.  This was literally the most indulgent chocolate-cookie-peanut butter-caramel crazy time that Miss Fats has ever had.  It was someone gave her free reign and asked her to list all her favorite sweet treats and shoved them into a sundae.  She’d like to think that her six year old self dreamed this one up, but let’s get real: this is pure adult Miss Fats.  Not even child Miss Fats would have even gone this far.  And boy was that good.  While picking flavors Miss Fats was faced with her usual crisis: top with hot fudge or peanut butter??  She asked the kind woman at George’s which to do, and she made the reasonable rec to go with fudge… and THEN TOPPED IT WITH BOTH.  WIN. It was like every spoon full was a new treat: Miss Fats spent most bites exclaiming what new discovery she’d made.  This sundae is purely for chocoholic professionals.  Beware of choco-salty-sweet flavor explosion.

Hey, it also turns out it was the one month anniversary of Miss Fats! Four weeks ago Miss Fats was enjoying/taking unprofessional photos of some sundaes on a Sunday… and Sunday Sundaes was born. Miss Fats didn’t realize this till they were deep in the middle of today’s ice cream divertissement and had a bit of deja vu. Yay Team Miss Fats!!!


cat art from the Andersonville Galleria, where there were no treats. but that’s a story for a different day…

Fried and Fresh Life Advice

Miss Fats has to spend a lot of time reading.  So when she comes across some excellent life philosophy that combines her love of film and food, she has to share:
(Feel free to commence I rolling)

“we can declare that in the films of Ozu, tofu is no privileged cuisine…one of the characters in Late Autumn does declare that as he gets older, he crafes nothing so much as hijiki, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, dried diakon, and tofu–fresh and deep-fried…Ozu’s world is never one to be reduced to some simple dichotomy between everyday simplicity and the richness of ceremony.  On the table at the pub where old friends from high school or university gather, whisky and sake bottles line up next to each other, along with bottles of beer, complementing a cornucopia of mea-centered Western cuisine vegetable-centered Japanese cuisine.” -Hasumi Shigehiko, “Ozu Yasujiro”

Miss Fats feels we should all embrace this little life advice: eat all foods (see all films).  Fried and fresh.  Except for deep fried sushi. Never. Ok Miss Fats needs to go eat some sushi now. Good bye.

galentines part 2: JAM + Bang Bang Pie Shop

Miss Fats did galentines RIGHT.  Newly mobile, team Miss Fats got themselves up to Logan Square. the inaccessible [at least from where Miss Fats lives] mecca of hip[ster] food in Chicago.  Top of their list: Jam and Bang Bang Pie Shop.  Since they rarely make it this far north, Miss Fats was NOT going to let this opportunity got to waste.  4 course brunch, followed by pie dessert/dinners to-go. Get ready for some serious eats.

IMG_1933Appetizer: half order of the “waffle of the day-” thyme waffle, with double fried chicken breast

M: Holy shit chicken and waffle.  This waffle is HANDS DOWN better than Longman & Eagle (famous for the bougie chicken and waffle).  They’re very lucky they don’t have to compete daily with this one. The chicken was so juicy and tender, and the waffle crisp and light. Despite being a bread/fried object, it was not heavy, dry or oily, like most waffle/chicken combos.  Instead all you got was pure flavor explosion and texture delight.

J: Chicken isn’t usually this dope. JAM took chicken as far as chicken can reasonably be expected to go, and then they put that radness on top of a reaaaaally nice waffle. Waffles are usually way denser than this one, which is NOT what you want with a chunk of fried cluck. The drippy was some kind of tomato syrup (?), there were some tomato-y things on top, and when all the flavors got together it was a SUPER AWESOME PARTY TASTE!!!

IMG_1934Second Course: Smoked Salmon, Potato-Leek Pancakes, Poached Eggs, Béarnaise, Salsify Slaw

M: Smoked salmon might be one of MIss Fats all-time favorite foods.  There is nothing better than a salty, soft piece of fatty smoked salmon.  And Jam paired this already indulgent ingredient with béarnaise and eggs, resulting in the go-to combo of creamy sauciness and salty fish.  While the salmon was absolutely satisfying and they did not skimp on the portion, the star of this dish was the potato-leek pancake: perfect salt, perfect crisp, pure potato bliss.

J: Skimp’s a weird word. Remember when Miss Fats ate Fish Cream? That bad fishflavor memory became fish dust in the fish wind, thanks to this ultra-pile. Omigod, it was so cute. Look at those poached eggs! There are few things more delightful than breaking the yolk on a perfectly poached egg. Okay, there are about 60,000 more delightful things, five of which are:


but it’s still pretty fun to smoosh an egg.

IMG_1935Third Course: Egg Sandwich, Pork Shoulder, Ricotta Salata, Plum Preserve, French Bollo, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

M: Ooey-gooey porky mess.  out of control. This was the best kind of hot mess, people.  The oozing eggs soaked into the tender pork and bread creating a sticky mess that you could not wait to get into your mouth immediately.  Miss Fats favorite part was the ricotta salata, which provided the perfect salty, cheesy contrast to the rich meat and egg yolk.  Now there was no way Miss Fats could finish this monster, but boy did they enjoy trying.  Nice work, Jam.  Oh and a serious shout out to those potatoes: you were so good soaked in yolk.

J: These POTATOES, people. Breakfast potatoes usually suck. They’re there because they take up space and are cheap, and peeps usually don’t put a lot of effort into them.
It’s kind of an All About Eve situation with this sammy though. Mr. Eggypork got UPSTAGED by his taterfriends. Don’t get Miss Fats wrong, it was a WONDERFUL SAMMY, but these potatoes, man, these potatoes. Can Miss Fats just add that their waiter Brandon literally said, “you guys are my heroes!” when Miss Fats apologized for not being able to finish the whole thing. Brandon: “You not only got a whole other entree, you got a half order of chicken and waffles, AND a dessert pancake, and you STILL got further into this sandwich than most people.” Miss Fats Wins. Every time. Brandon also laughed at Miss Fats and had to bring them extra napkins because their hands were totally covered in egg yolk and gloop.

IMG_1937Dessert: Maple Pancakes, Meyer Lemon Custard, Indian Sugar Brûlée, Citrus Rind Conserve

M: Where to begin with these? Miss Fats was promised the “weirdest pancake you’ve ever had.”  She’s not sure “weird” is the right word, however.  More like mouth orgasm pancake.  Such tart lemony custard, crispy bruleed sugar and tender tender pancake.  dfsksfjslsdfnsdfkieng.  yep. words dissolved.  just like that buttery custard. WIN.

J: Yeah, no words. Gonna use someone else’s words, to paraphrase good old e.e.:

i carry this bite with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my pancake;and whatever is not eaten
by me is your doing,my darling)


Following this meal, Miss Fats was borderline ill. But there was pie to be had. So off to Bang Bang Pie Shop they went.

IMG_1946Check those steamy windows and super cute interior.

J: Omg, it was steamy cause hot boys were inside! And hot pie!

M: Having read reviews before hand, Miss Fats ordered the Meyer Lemon Custard Pie, Chocolate Chess Pie and a Biscuit to-go.  They were very lucky to have gotten their hands on one of these coveted biscuits: apparently they stop serving them after 2 pm, however it being Valentines day, they had extras (probably just for Miss Fats.)  The real draw of the biscuit was the Jam and Butter Bar.


M: Yeah, gurl.  You know you want all of that.  While loading up on jams and butter to-go, Miss Fats was trying to figure out how to split the pies as they parted ways. Overhearing their flustered dilemma, a wonderful (adorable) pie man offered up Miss Fats a couple of extra (sizable) pie scraps of each!! PIE WIN.  Little does he know, he gave them the greatest valentine ever.


M: Miss Fats hereby owns the rights to future pie boy missed-connections screenplay. DON’T ANYONE GO STEALING IT.

IMG_0076M: Miss Fats started with this infamous biscuit.  She smothered the buttery, fluffy pastry in the homemade blueberry jam and cherry preserve.  Despite being hours old at this point, it was still flakey, soft, tender and moist.  This biscuit is PERFECTLY salted.  A rare quality for a biscuit, which usually is a sad side to some over-oily salty meal.  NOPE. This shit shines all on its own.  Miss Fats was particularly into the combo of the tart cherry preserve and salty crisp biscuit top.

IMG_0077M: Miss Fats is a huge fucking chocoholic.  So naturally she went home with the large slice of chocolate chess pie.  This was essentially a brownie with a pie crust.  The cakey center was fudgy but tender and not too sweet.  Yum Yum.  One little critique is that she’s not sure what was happening with the caramel sauce.  Supposedly this bad-boy has some caramel goodness in the bottom that was oozing out the sides.  However she could not taste this!  Disappointing.  Mostly because she could see all that amber sauce but couldn’t taste it.  Additionally, the crust was a bit too crispy.  Frankly, Miss Fats didn’t need it.  When she tasted it separately, of course it was delicious, but she’s not so sure it added anything to this pie.  The filling was star.

IMG_0074M: Not the prettiest picture.  But hey, that shit was FREE.  No complaints.  This meyer lemon custard pie was near pastry perfection.  Miss Fats has always been wary of fruit pie because it often borders on too sweet for her.  She just has never really understood why delicious fruit needs so much extra sugar.  But this lemon custard was amazingly tart and creamy.  The well-salted crust provided the right crispy texture against the fluffy filling.  mmmmmmmmm fluffy tart filling.  Yeah meyer lemon rind, you get in my mouth too.

J: Miss Fats is lazy and tired from the long hard day of eating all the food and so this is her 2 cents by way of altered song lyrics:

Chocolate chess pie you are making me crazy
I’m in love but I’m lazy (sort of the Beatles)
When you cut it, cute pie boy, save me a slice
Your chocolate pie, I declare, it’s sweet and nice  (sort of Led Zep)
Taste so good make a grown man cry
Sweet lemon pie, yeah (sort of Warrant)
You’ll be my lemon pie until the day I die, I hope that’s a long time,
cause I don’t wanna die and live without my Meyer lemon pie – (sort of Of Montreal)


J: Oh yeah, Bang Bang had Bacon. In a jar. Just in case you’re still hungry, or something.

M: Miss Fats didn’t even SEE this! Double win, Bang Bang.

This Galentines/Valentines was right near the top of best all time.  Miss Fats felt and looked EXACTLY like this at the end of the day: (this is a happy cat, people)

PudgeTheCat_valentineImage courtesy of Pudge the Cat.

Sleepy kitty needs a pie nap.

galentines part 1: affordable fetes from miss fats


image courtesy of Michelle Taylor

Happy Galentines everyone! Miss Fats is a HUGE supporter of this made-up holiday.  She doesn’t need any excuses to brunch or celebrate with girlfriends, but whatever, she’ll take it.  Since Miss Fats remains technically single this year (though obvi her better half of Miss Fats is her real valentine), Galentines is getting a double feature: february 13 AND 14.  So for all you out there looking to share galentines (or valentines) with friends, Miss Fats is sharing some ideas for budget entertaining.

This past weekend she hosted two little get togethers: a larger dinner celebration for a friend, and a valentines cookie decorating dinner party.  Since she’s in grad school, budgets are tight. However Miss Fats is obsessed with a deal.  And both of these parties were a steal.  (She hopes her excessive enthusiasm for thriftiness doesn’t cheapen the experiences for those readers out there who might have attended one of these shindigs!)  Now, none of this is Martha-style, but both parties are fun, casual ways of providing guests the opportunity to play with their food while you don’t have to do all the work.  Now put your hostess hats on and get the partay started (sorry, that just happened).


Gyoza Making Party: 12 guests, 2 hours prep (3 including dessert)

Yeah, Miss Fats just wanted to give you a taste of just how epic gyoza party is.  We’re talking way too much food, satisfied guests and activities: all for about $30.  Yep. That’s right: $30. For 12 people. INCLUDING dessert.  For a party of this size it will require a bit of leg work, but this is easily scaled down depending on the number of guests.  Miss Fats is going to give you the run-down for the gyoza and sides, and for the dessert, you can head on over to Monday’s post.  So here’s how you do it:

Shopping List:

  • Round gyoza wrappers. This can be a little tricky to find, but for the most part, grocery stores (Whole Foods or fancier places) will carry them.  The ideal spot to find these, however, is an asian grocery store.  They’re dirt cheap (about $1.50) and can easily be frozen/hoarded. For 12 people, Miss Fats used 3 packages of about 40 wrappers. (FEAST)
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 package of firm tofu
  • 1.5 lbs of ground pork
  • 1 large ginger root
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • About 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbs sesame oil
  • Ingredients for Obachan Spinach (Miss Fats quadrupled this recipe)
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • Any assortment of dipping sauces you’d like. (Miss Fats likes to keep it simple: she just mixes half white vinegar and soy for her gyoza dipping sauce).



Basically, get ready to spend at least an hour chopping. Miss Fats recommends turning on your favorite tunes and entering into a mental chop zone.  For lazy people out there, you can purchase things like shredded cabbage to make your live easier, though this will up the budget a bit.

Essentially all that needs to be done pre-guest arrival is chopping up and mixing together all the ingredients to make the filling.  This can even be done the day before (which Miss Fats almost prefers because it gives the yummy pork and tofu time to hang out in the flavorings).  For this past weekend’s party, Miss Fats opted to do both vegetarian and pork gyoza.  This means chopping everything up and simply dividing the ingredients between two giant mixing bowls.  Thinly chop the green onion and shred the cabbage (Miss Fats probably used about 4/5 of the large head of cabbage).  Grate in about 2 inches of fresh ginger into each bowl. Roughly chop the tofu (do not worry about this- it will look like crap) and throw all of it into one of mixing bowls).  In the other, dump in the pork.  Divide the soy, and sesame oil between the two bowls (this does not need to be exact by any means) and mix!


Store your filling in the fridge until guest arrival.  Meanwhile, make that Obachan Spinach, and about 30 minutes prior to guest arrival, begin the rice.


Party Activities:

At your dining room table, set up your big bowls of filling, wrappers with small spoons to go around, a couple of trays or baking pans to put the gyoza on, and a few bowls of water.

Now it’s time to teach folks how to fill.  Miss Fats thinks that this blog did a much better job documenting the process, so she asks you to head over there for instructions.  While peeps are hard at work, you should set up a couple of nonstick frying pans and a steamer if you have one, on the stove. For a crowd this size, Miss Fats highly recommends as many cooking pans as possible.  It seriously speeds up the process.

To pan fry the gyoza, heat some canola or vegi oil to medium high in a nonstick pan.  Once the oil is hot, place the flat side down and allow to brown (about 1-2 minutes).  Pour about 2 tbs of water into the pan and immediately cover with a lid.  Reduce heat to medium and allow the gyoza to steam through (about 7 minutes for the pork, less for the tofu).  (Just break one of those bad boys open to make sure they’re all cooked.) Repeat this process until your giant trays of gyoza are all done! (This is exactly why Miss Fats recommends also using the steamer.  That shit has three levels and doesn’t need to be attended to. Plus then guests get even more food options.)

To serve these up, Miss Fats just sent them out on some large trays and allowed people to grab what they wanted, along with the big bowls of rice and spinach.  Now there’s a rule to this party that Miss Fats fully believes in upholding.  There can be NO LEFTOVERS.  You and your guests did all that work, and frankly, those gyoza aren’t that great the next day, so get your fat pants on and FINISH them.


Cookie Decorating Party: 5 guests, 2 hours prep (plus 1 hour a day prior)

This delightful little holiday-themed get together was a fun way for Miss Fats to share her love of baking with her friends, while indulging in some much-needed child-like crafting and nostalgia.  This party was basically part two of last week’s card crafting sesh, and this time it was Miss Fats’ turn to host.  For dinner, she kept it light with a hearty winter salad of brown rice, baby spinach and roasted sweet potatoes.  This allowed for maximum cookie consumptions during decoration.  The budget for this party came to about $30, which when you compare to the gyoza party, is not as much of a deal.  However this could easily be subsidized by asking folks to bring along sprinkles and candies. (Sprinkles ate up this budget.)  Miss Fats also recommends spreading the prep over two days, because the sugar cookie dough or even the baked-off cookies can easily be stored over night.

Shopping List:

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • About 2 tbs honey
  • About 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 2 lemons
  • Feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (for all recipes)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups flour (plus extra for rolling)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Any assortment of sprinkles
  • Ziplock bags


Day Before: make cookie dough and bake cookies

The day before the party, Miss Fats recommends just banging out these easy cookies.  Her favorite recipe is an old-school dough from an ancient copy of Joy of Cooking.  She will share it with you below:

Sugar Cookie Cuouts

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour

1. Beat butter and shortening on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar, baking powder and a dash of salt.  Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour.  Divide dough in half and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out your dough on a floured surface to about 1/3 inch thick.  Cut out your hearts and bake for about 8 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies), or until edges are ever-so-slightly golden.

Store these in an airtight container for the next day.


Day of Prep:

With all that pesky baking out of the way, all that needs to be done is the salad and frosting.  About an hour before the party, cook the brown rice.  Then work on the following components:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes:

3 diced sweet potatoes
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 inch grated ginger
2 tbs melted butter
2 tbs honey
1 tbs curry powder
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk honey, ginger, butter, oil and curry powder together.  Add potatoes and onion and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast for about 30 minutes or until they are tender and browned.


Juice of 2 lemons
Zest of 2 lemons
2 tsp honey
About 2 tbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Whisk together all the ingredients.  Add warm cooked brown rice and toss to coat.

To serve up this salad, lay down a bed of the baby spinach, followed by about a 1/3 cup of the brown rice, a couple of heaping spoon fulls of the potatoes, and finally top with a little feta.  Pretty, heathy and delicious.


Ok ok, so far this party sounds pretty contained and bougie, right?  Well Miss Fats doesn’t do under-indulgent, prim and proper.  Not to mention, this valentines day themed party was seriously lacking chocolate.  So, because this meal was looking too healthy, Miss Fats decided at the last-minute, to throw together some salted double chocolate chip cookies for snacking (got to keep the energy up).


Unfortunately, these were not factored into the budget because Miss Fats literally had all the ingredients on hand (obvi.)  She used Martha’s double chocolate chip cookie recipe , added salt, and simplified them by refusing to use more than one bowl.  Simply skip a couple of steps by melting the chocolate and butter together in the microwave, and moving directly to step 2 of the recipe.  Once the batter is done, sprinkle a little kosher salt over top.  Miss Fats also recommends allowing the dough to sit out on the counter for about 30 minutes to firm up: she found her second batch to be a lot fluffier once it had sat for a bit.


Chocolate and Salt: literally one of the greatest combos in the world.

Now after enjoying your salads and cookie apps, Miss Fats recommends stepping away from your guests to make the buttercream frosting.  This will take you literally 5 minutes.


Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup butter (2 sticks), soften to room temp (VERY IMPORTANT)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
food dye (optional)

optional: make your frosting chocolate buttercream.  All you need is 1/4 cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled

1. Beat the butter on high for about 2 minutes until fluffy,  and light in color.  Scrape down sides.  Sift in the sugar in batches (so as not to make a huge mess), beating to combine each time.  Add the vanilla and salt.  Beat to combine. Optional chocolate: remove about 2/3 of the frosting into other bowls.  Beat in melted chocolate into the remaining frosting.

2. In separate bowls, divide your frosting and mix in whatever colors you’d like.  Miss Fats kept it simple with white, pink and chocolate.  To make little pastry bags, distribute frosting into ziplock bags and simply cut the tip off of one corner.

And now it’s decorating time.  Miss Fats kept it simple my throwing down some paper bags to protect the table and allowed people to just have at it.


So much craft delight, with treats to take home.

IMG_0049Clearly Miss Fats’ friends are not the most adept pastry chefs, but it’s about the experience, people. Plus they all taste damn good.

Miss Fats hopes this inspires you to celebrate with your girlfriends today.  In the very least eat a waffle or watch a chick flick.

Miss Fat Tuesday

Miss Fats showed up to work today and was rewarded! WIth a giant box of paczki (pronounced “punchkey”). Turns out Fat Tuesday is also a special day when Catholic Polish Midwesterners eat a lot of Polish jelly donuts right before Lent. Miss Fats APPROVES of this tradition. She proved it by eating the apricot one. Paczki are poofier than regular donuts, and have just a wee little bit of filling. Plus they’re called PUNCHKEYS, so you get to say PUNCHKEY a lot when there are PUNCHKEYS around, and that’s fun.SAMSUNG

Half an hour later, another co-worker showed up with MORE paczki! This bunch was from Glazed and Infused… Miss Fats isn’t sure if the chocolate heart shaped one was a true paczki or just a fun chocolate heart shaped jelly donut, but she sucked it up and ate it anyway. It’s a hard-knock life.SAMSUNG SAMSUNG SAMSUNG

Happy Valentines Day. If only all the hearts Miss Fats breaks bled raspberry jelly.

Since Fat Tuesday got off to such a good start, Miss Fats decided to keep the awesome coming by collecting on a bet she won over the weekend. The bet was the loser buys lunch and the winner chooses where, so Miss Fats also received a delicious giant Sam sandwich from Lucia’s on North Ave. The Sam is always kind of hard to eat due to its size, but the bread has roasted tomatoes stuck to the top of it and that is an awesome thing. She also had a bowl of chicken noodle soup because IT’S FAT FREAKING TUESDAY!!!!! And 2 sugar free Lifesavers! Shit got cray! Miss Fats hopes some of you out there also learned about the wonderful world of punchkeys today!SAMSUNG