Social Atom-Familiarity breeds comedy in the Sirens' 50-minute show of short improvised scenes: instead of building on characters or narratives, the ten-woman group explores permutations of a single human relationship suggested by an audience member. At the show I saw, to-be, current, and former sisters-in-law were presented in love triangles, as estranged siblings, and at family yard sales. The interpersonal theme suits the players' personable style: they invent names for one another during scenes, closely bookend the stage if they're not performing, and punctuate the evening with anecdotes from real life. Together for seven years now with few changes in personnel, the Sirens have a great time--and that positive energy really rubs off. " Through 6/30: Fri 10:30 PM, Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-509-6433, $8-$12. --Ryan Hubbard, Chicago Reader, Critic's Choice
Keep reading! I promise this isn’t some gross recipe for how to re-heat a can of pork and beans. THIS is a lesson on fridge raiding. As I looked in longingly wishing there was sugar-free fat free chocolate mousse, Cornell BBQ chicken, fresh tomato salsa, and sweet corn with herb butter, I found ½ roasted pork tenderloin, ½ bag of baby spinach (on it’s last leg), nub of parmesan, and wilting basil. All of these things would have been “past due by tomorrow” but today I had my chance to resurrect them. I would make something new out of leftovers! (Trumpets sound in my head as I think this; if my husband were here he would not hear the trumpets). What I came up with can also be made vegetarian by leaving out the pork (obviously) and substituting veggie broth or water for the chicken broth.
Stars of the Show (Leftovers)
½ pork tenderloin (already enjoyed on a roll as a sandwich)
½ bag baby spinach (already enjoyed as a salad and with scrambled egg whites)
very small block of Parmesan (about to be just the rind and perfect for soup or sauce)
10 or so basil leaves (already enjoyed on whole wheat pizzas)
4 ounces whole-wheat pasta (or any kind)
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup water
1 teaspoon “Better than Bouillon” (or combine these as ½ cup of broth)
red pepper flakes
Can you tell I bought a big pack of chicken thighs and I live alone right now? ...pause...
This can be made on it's own, but it uses up all the left over ingredients from the Coconut-Curry Mashed Sweet Potatoes and the French Chicken Thighs. Use up your food!!!! Don't be one of those people that throw away food from 6 months ago (mk). You waste your time, money and Tupperware! Get creative you lazy piece of s...wiss cheese!
1/2 onion, sliced
2 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup chicken broth (or water and 1 tsp. bouillon)
2/3 c. light coconut milk
1/4-1/2 tsp. red curry paste
1 1/2 c. frozen chopped spinach
1 medium sweet potato
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
If you have a left over baked sweet potato use that, if not wash it and poke it a few times with a knife, then microwave on high for 5 minutes. Heat some cooking spray in a skillet with a lid or a large sauce pan with a lid. Sauté the onion for about a minute then push them to the sides of the pan; turn up the heat to medium high. When the pan is hot again add the chicken thighs. Generously sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Cook each until they are brown and crusty on both sides (about 3-4 minutes each side). Turn the heat down to medium low, add the broth and rub up all the nice chicken bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the curry paste (make sure and incorporate it all) and the coconut milk. When it begins to boil add the spinach, stir, cover and cook about 5 minutes. Add the Sweet potato and cilantro and cook for a few minutes uncovered to thicken the sauce. I eat this with a green salad with Trader Joe's Cilantro dressing, but you could also have it with some rice.
My friend Meagan came over to my house the other night, to cook, drink, and bitch. Two gals in their thirties who want to have babies and new jobs getting super drunk, it was very productive and wonderful. We cooked food. We drank almost 3 bottles of wine. We learned a lot about each other, I think. I made two of my favorite side dishes and some fish we won't mention for too long because I screwed it up. But the side dishes did I mention those, two of my favorites. The mashed sweet potatoes I first served at Easter a few years ago, my husband came up with the idea and I took care of the recipe (he takes the credit, that's fine). And the broccoli, I’m obsessed with it these days; I eat it about 4 times a week. It satisfies all of my cravings, sweet, spicy and garlicky at the same time. And for WW crazies like me they are both low points but feel like cheating.
Coconut-Curry Mashed Sweet Potatoes
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 5-6 inches)
1/3 cup light coconut milk
1/4 tsp. red curry paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Wash the potatoes, then poke them several times with a knife or fork. Microwave for 8-10 minutes on high. Let the potatoes cool then scoop out and discard the skins. Mash the potatoes with a fork, add the coconut milk and carefully blend the curry paste making sure it gets incorporated. This curry paste stuff is VERY SPICEY. You only need a little, start with just a touch and add more if you like, you want to mix it well so that it doesn’t bite you in the ass later. Add the cilantro and mix well. The potatoes will be lumpy but that's a good things, feel free to whip them or play around with how much coconut milk you use.
Sweet Chili Broccoli
2-3 cups broccoli, frozen or fresh
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. sweet chili sauce
1/2 - 1 tsp. spicy garlic chili sauce
Sauté the garlic with some olive oil until soft and golden over medium heat. Add the broccoli and stir fry for 5-8 minutes until for tender. If you want the broccoli softer or if you are using frozen add 1/4 cup of water or chicken broth to steam it and cover the pan. Before serving toss broccoli with the chili sauces, adjust them to your taste.
It's true! I'm human, American, I love pizza. But I gave up a dairy for a while (I still don't eat too much) and boy does that make you miss pizza and going out for pizza. Have you heard of Mary Lou Henner? Remember sexy gal from Taxi? She now writes health books and other stuff based on her "body makeover", vegetarian, non-dairy life and raising non-dairy kids. I have a feeling she's kind of coo-koo but she's a TV and movie star so I have to believe she has something interesting to say, and besides famous people's books always have great pictures from their ugly high school years and that gives me hope. I picked up one of these books on the Borders sale rack (I'm cheap this is documented) and the 30 days before I turned 30 I decided to make a few "changes." I cut out dairy and caffeine. My doctor had recommended that I cut out dairy to help my allergies, was he crazy? Oh wait, he wasn't it worked. Despite that fact that so many people are lactose intolerant it's pretty freaking hard to find soy cheese available at your corner pizza place (in
Crusts I have used:
Boboli (regular and whole wheat)–both are good, I prefer the whole wheat, it actually tastes fresher, for pizza crusts they’re a little pricey
Rhodes (freezer section)–good old fashioned white bread tasting, great for stromboli and calzones too, defrosting does take some pre-planning but you can have the dough in your fridge for a few days
Pillsbury (refrigerator section)–not my favorite but in a pinch it’s okay, it tastes like a stretched our biscuit
Trader Joes (refrigerator section)-I tried their “boboli-like” crusts as well as the pizza dough they sell in regular and whole wheat. I prefer the doughs, both are good but obviously the whole wheat is better for you. The crusts are fine and cheap, but drier than Boboli.
1 1/2 c. frozen chopped spinach
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced (half moons)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. lemon zest (optional)
1/2 c. tomato sauce (optional)
10-15 kalamata olives, chopped
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough
Preheat oven and pizza stone (if you are using one) based on the dough/crust's directions. In a skillet cook the onions and garlic with a little cooking spray and a generous pinch of salt and pepper over medium heat until they turn golden brown and start to caramelize. Add the frozen spinach and lemon zest, cook until just heated through and any liquid has evaporated. Stretch the crust to about 18" round/oval shape. Sprinkle the heated pizza stone with corn meal and place the dough on it. Top the dough with tomato sauce if you like or olive oil. Spread the spinach mixture and sprinkle the chopped olives and feta evenly. Top everything with another dash of salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Bake about 10-15 minutes (follow product directions).
Southwest Chicken Pizza
¾ c. Barbeque Sauce
2 c. cooked chicken, chopped
1 c. red pepper, diced
½ c. cooked or canned corn (optional)
½ red onion, diced
1/3 c. cilantro, chopped
1 ½ c. grated soy cheese (I like a blend of Mozzarella and Cheddar) or Asiago
Thin Crust Boboli Pizza Crust (I like Whole Wheat)
Preheat oven. Top the crust with chicken then bbq sauce, spread around to coat all the crust and chicken. Sprinkle on the cheese then the peppers, corn and onion. Bake for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle cilantro after cooking because it tends to dry out if it’s on top, or blend it with the sauce and chicken first.
This is in honor of every woman who somehow falls in love with a French guy. He might be short, hairy, have crazy teeth, smoke instead of breathe but if he’s the real deal, shipped from France, we’ll fall for him. When I was about 24 my friend Nico came to me to ask would I consider marrying his friend so that he could stay in the country. He showed me a picture and told me he was a chef (hello I love to cook!). I said, “I’d only consider it if he paid for my grad school.” Well he did consider it and I had to meet him. Luckily he was unbelievably gorgeous. But you see I knew I had a funny Irish American guy waiting out there for me… somewhere…whatever the French dude was broke and full of promises.
This recipe takes me back to that time because my friend Nico cooked a lot with wine and I never really had. I remember some Sherry being in our pantry for 19 years but I never remember anyone cooking with it.
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
1/3 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup water or broth
Red pepper flakes
In a skillet heat about two teaspoons olive oil. Sauté the onions and mushroom over medium heat until they are getting soft but not too done. Move them to the edges of the pan, add the chicken thighs and sprinkle each generously with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook about 4 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown. Add the wine and let the alcohol cook off for a bout a minute. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium/low. Cook for another 4 minutes or so then remove the lid and add as much of the water or broth as you like (I used 1/3 cup because I like a little sauce but if you want it drier don’t use any). Serve with Rice or Risotto.
A note on chicken thighs for the other Weight Watcher Point whores like myself, I know they have more fat than chicken breast but the advantage is the intense flavor and the portion control. Some chicken breasts are a ½ pound or more each. Each chicken thigh is just about 4 ounces or less and 3-4 points. Just go for it you whimp.
May 5th through June 30th. Fridays @ 1030pm
The Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted
Tickets $12, Reservation line 773 509 6433
A relationship comes in many forms and Sirens takes on ALL of them in their newest improvised long form. Social Atom explores an audience-suggested relationship to reveal the infinite permutations that one relationship can take in different lives and contexts. Professional and personal relationships collide, people meet in unlikely places, boundaries get crossed. Through fully-formed characters, some personal anecdotes from the cast, and Sirens’ usual quick wit, Social Atom reveals the normalcy and the absurdity of human social interaction.
Chicago Reader"This is comedy for the NPR set: smart, sexy, engaging, and very, very funny. "-Jennifer Vanasco read moreTime Out Chicago"[Sirens] had me laughing for weeks"-Novid Parsiread more