A couple months ago, Apolinaras and I spent a long weekend in Chicago. I was scheduled to give a seminar about my lab’s research at the AACR conference at McCormick center, and Apolinaras tagged along to keep me company. Apolinaras and I went to college and grad school in Chicago, respectively, and lived there for 11 and 7 years each. It’s where we met, fell in love, and began planning our future together, and in many ways, it still feels like home to me. While Boston has some nice qualities, I’d move back to Chicago in a heartbeat!
I spent a lot of time getting ready for my talk and preparing for another presentation I had the day we returned to Boston, but we did manage to take a nice stroll on Michigan Avenue by our hotel and enjoy all the gorgeous tulips (my favorite flower!) and visit the beaches by Lake Shore Drive. We also shared almost our meals with friends and old colleagues throughout the city and suburbs. It was so great to catch up with everyone!
The foodie highlight of our trip was visiting Moody’s. Apolinaras’ old condo was walking distance from this neighborhood pub, and we used to go there all the time. In the winter, they have a huge barrel of peanuts by the front door and you’re encouraged to throw peanut shells on the floor. I almost always took a handful for the road on our way out and would inevitably find my jacket pockets full of peanuts the next morning. They also have roaring fireplaces, and it’s just such a cozy environment with people from all walks of life. In the summer, there are no peanuts because the squirrels get to them since they open up a gorgeous beer garden. The drinks are super strong and cheap, and all the food is really delicious, especially their juicy burgers and sizeable salads.
When we walked in the door, I was tickled to see nothing had changed. The owner was still behind the bar in the same spot he always used to stand, my beloved onion rings tasted exactly the same, and the menu was identical to what we remembered. Actually, there was one change – they now take credit cards!
Ahh, Moody’s has the best onion rings I’ve ever had. We actually brought some home with us on the plane and I still enjoyed them the next day when they were sort of soggy. Then I couldn’t get onion rings out of my head and decided it was about time I try to make some at home. Now, I knew there was no way I could replicate the deliciousness of Moody’s golden fried onion rings, so I decided to bake mine instead and give them a special pizza twist.
I coated my rings in Greek yogurt and then a panko/cornmeal mix, which worked perfectly. Then I topped the baked onion rings with strips of mozzarella string cheese and popped them under the broiler until the cheese melted and dipped them in marinara sauce – yum!
Pizza Onion Rings
1 6-ounce container plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup panko
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 large yellow onion, cut into 3/4-inch thick rings (I used the 16 largest rings and used the middle part of the onion for another dish)
6 mozzarella string cheese sticks, torn into 4-5 strips per piece
1 cup marinara sauce
Heat the oven to 425°F. Place Greek yogurt into a shallow bowl and mix until smooth. Place panko, cornmeal, oregano, basil, and salt into another shallow dish and mix well. Place each onion ring in the dish with the yogurt and coat all sides of each ring with yogurt. Then place each ring in the dish with the panko coating and use a fork to cover each ring well with the coating on all sides. Place covered onion rings in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 425°F for 35 to 40 minutes, turning each onion ring over once halfway through baking, or until onions are tender and coating is golden brown. Remove from oven and heat oven broiler. Place rings of string cheese strips inside the top of each onion ring. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, watching very carefully, or until cheese is melted; arrange cheese as needed to stay on each onion ring and serve immediately with marinara sauce on the side. Makes 4 servings of 4 onion rings each.
Nutrition: 301 calories, 11.0g fat, 2.9g fiber, 21.9g protein per serving
Cost: $1.45 per serving