Did anyone keep up with last month’s resolutions? Did you even make resolutions? I ate mostly vegetarian and vegan, with the exception of Restaurant Week and that burger I had on January 31st because I was feeling iron deficient. But who cares about last month, anyway — it’s a new month!

This month, we’re blessed with an extra day. Leap years are always fun, because it adds a little extra flavor to February. It also gives you an extra day to try some new things, or make your way through this month’s list of goodies.

The goodies on the list this month include a fair amount of veggies (maybe I acquired a good habit last month), some breakfast, spicy hot chocolate (because February = Valentine’s Day = chocolate, I guess), and cake. Allow me to also gently remind you that Valentine’s Day is Friday the 14th, and if that is something you celebrate, you should get your act together and make a plan.

Ban Chan + Bibimbap Ingredients | Green Onion Market

Image: Bibimbap in a black plastic bowl sits on a gray table. A top view of the bowl shows spinach, bulgogi, lettuce, sprouts, carrots, and a fried egg. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Alright, here’s your romantic dinner idea: A homemade bibimbap bar. Take a look at last year’s article about the bibimbap cooking class at Japan House — that’s where I’m getting my inspiration. Green Onion led the class, and the grocery store sells marinated and uncooked bulgogi, various ban chan (side dishes), as well as any other ingredients you’ll need to put together your romantic bibimbap dinner.

I did this recently when some friends came over. Instead of trying to make myself crazy with trying to recreate things you’d get at a Korean restaurant, I just went to Green Onion and picked up a bunch of things that looked good: pickled radish salad, fish cakes, seaweed salad, pickled radishes…there are a whole bunch of things. If you’re not sure where to start, just ask. The employees are super friendly and helpful.

Green Onion Market
2020 S Neil St
Champaign
Su-Th 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
F + Sa 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Breakfast | Stango Cuisine

Image: Two rectangular beignets sit on a round, white plate. The beignets are fried and golden brown, and powdered sugar is generously dusted on top. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

As you may have seen, I visited Stango Cuisine for dinner during Restaurant Week. The food is so delicious, and I keep telling myself to go for breakfast. This it the month I do it. Seriously. The breakfast options are more or less exclusively American, and include things that Midwesterners like, like skillets. I’m personally quite interested in the pancake sandwich ($8): baked ham and two buttermilk pancakes, topped with two country fresh eggs.

Stango is the perfect place to grab breakfast either before or after you do your market shopping on Saturday.

Stango Cuisine
140 Lincoln Square Mall
Urbana
T-Sa 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Su 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Veggie Fried Rice | Peking Garden

Image: Veggie fried rice at Peking Garden is served on an oval, white plate. A silver serving spoon is nestled in the side of the rice. The rice is brown and various small, chopped vegetables are mixed in. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Image: Veggie fried rice at Peking Garden is served on an oval, white plate. A silver serving spoon is nestled in the side of the rice. The rice is brown and various small, chopped vegetables are mixed in. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Peking Garden has not really been my go-to Chinese takeout restaurant. There’s no real reason for this; I discovered other restaurants when we first moved here, and old habits die hard.

But I think I’ve been wrong in my approach, because the food I’ve had at Peking Garden has been great. On a recent dine-in visit, my hubby and I shared an order of veggie fried rice (among other things), and it was absolutely delicious. There were actual veggies in it, something that can’t be said for other veggie fried rice in C-U. The dish was incredibly savory and most enjoyable.

Peking Garden
206 N Randolph
Champaign
T 3:30 to 10 p.m.
W-M 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Spicy Hot Chocolate | Bossa Nova

Image: A mug of hot chocolate at Bossa Nova Cafe sits on a gray wood table. The ceramic mug is gray-green, and a swirl of whipped cream sits above the rim of the mug. The whipped cream is garnished with small pieces of chocolate. Photo by Jessica Hammie.Image: A mug of hot chocolate at Bossa Nova Cafe sits on a gray wood table. The ceramic mug is gray-green, and a swirl of whipped cream sits above the rim of the mug. The whipped cream is garnished with small pieces of chocolate. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Remember, just a few paragraphs earlier when I said “February = Valentine’s Day = chocolate”? Well, here’s your chocolate. You could even take a date to get some hot chocolate. I prefer the spicy hot chocolate at Bossa Nova; the little bit of heat cuts through the richness of the chocolate and makes the drink more interesting and sophisticated. I do think that Bossa Nova could make the drink a little hotter, temperature wise, but on the other hand, it’s nice to be able to actually drink your beverage when it’s served to you.

Make sure you opt for the whipped cream, because it’s essential to hot chocolate, and way superior to marshmallows (don't @ me).

Bossa Nova
1 E Main St
Champaign
M-F 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sa 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tres Leches | Rick’s Bakery

Image: A slice of tres leches cake from Rick's Bakery. The wedge-shaped slice is two layers of yellow cake, between which are sliced strawberries and whipped cream. The top of the cake is covered in a thick layer of whipped cream. The cake is in a plastic carry out container, and there is milk pooled at the bottom. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Image: A slice of tres leches cake from Rick's Bakery. The wedge-shaped slice is two layers of yellow cake, between which are sliced strawberries and whipped cream. The top of the cake is covered in a thick layer of whipped cream. The cake is in a plastic carry out container, and there is milk pooled at the bottom. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Have you tried this cake? It’s one of my top-two favorite cakes in C-U. It’s got the milks, obviously, plus a few slices of strawberries between the layers. I love this cake. It’s delicious.

Rick’s Bakery
124 W Main St
Urbana
M-F 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sa 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Top image: Bibimbap in a black plastic bowl sits on a gray table. A top view of the bowl shows spinach, bulgogi, lettuce, sprouts, carrots, and a fried egg. Photo by Jessica Hammie.