Sunday, June 3, 2012

One Girl Cookies

I recently took a vacation to visit my family and escape the NATO craziness in Chicago. While I was in Omaha I went to one of my favorite places, The Bookworm in Countryside Village. My Mom and I love the bookstore and the coffee shop, Village Grinder, attached to it. I ended up buying a couple of books this time around (support your local independent businesses!!). One of the books I purchased was a recipe book called One Girl Cookies from the bakery in Brooklyn of the same name. Today I made the recipe that made me want to buy the book...Apricot Jam-Filled Almond Butter Cookies. Apricot and butter...Y-U-M! My apartment smells like butter...and the cookies taste wonderful. The book is filled with great recipes with wonderfully simple ingredients. My next recipe to try will be: Honey Apricot Granola.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sprinkles' 24 hour Cupcake ATM

My friend S. sent me an email this morning with this link. Coming this Summer to Chicago's Sprinkles, a 24 hour cupcake ATM. The current Chicago location is on Walton at Rush streets in the Gold Coast near many late night cocktail lounges. If the ATM is at this location, I'm sure it will be hopping around 2 a.m.!

Not pictured: Was in the West Loop neighborhood yesterday morning and bought a delicious latte from this not-so-new coffee spot, La Colombe Torrefaction on Randolph Street. Line to the door when I was leaving...


Monday, February 13, 2012

Would You Like a Cocktail with Your Music?

Found this lovely site and thought I'd share. Type in what you're listening to or what you want to listen to and Drinkify will give you a cocktail suggestion and a song sample of the musical artist you typed in. Too much fun.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New York State of Mind

Some friends of mine just returned from a trip to New York City...which got me thinking that I haven't been back since June, 2010. I think a trip to New York City is definitely in order for 2012. Here's a mini flashback to the eats enjoyed on that 4 day weekend trip in 2010!

From top to bottom: Eleven Madison Park, we devoured the Four Course menu and enjoyed added extras sprinkled throughout the four courses, like these mini macaroons | Fatty Crab in the West Village sharing Fatty Sliders| Brunch (of course) at Balthazar, the scrambled eggs in puff pastry | The view from my friends' apartment balcony | Sharing the amazing and delicious, mediterranean menu at ilili restaurant, one of the largest restaurant spaces I've ever seen in New York |


Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's a Boy!

Check out the adorable and yummy cupcakes from a good friend's baby shower this weekend. I tried the red velvet cupcake with fondant monkey face at the baby shower...delicious...right down to the fondant. Cupcakes in attendance: chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, vanilla cake with butter cream frosting, red velvet with cream cheese frosting and cookies and cream cake with frosting to match. South Indian cuisine was served for the appetizers and lunch...delicious as well! At the end of the shower we were all asked to fill a blue polka dot bag of candy from a blue themed candy buffet. Various glass vases were filled with blue rock candy suckers, blue M&Ms, blue vanilla flavored Tootsie rolls, white chocolate covered pretzels with blue drizzle, It's a Boy! suckers and blue saltwater taffy. There were even leftover cupcakes for us to take as well...a vanilla with butter cream frosting made the trip back to my apartment. Tasted even better the next day!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back to ino

Foursquare says i havent been in a year,  seems too long. I opted out of my standard truffled egg toast for bruscettas and a fontina egg asparagus breakfast one.  Its good but I still recommend the truffled egg toast.  A mimosa,  a prosecco and a free bartender prosecco made up for the ordring deficiency.  Ino is still all about daytime chilling in the village w snacks read truffled egg toast always and several glasses.  Caw!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Dirty Swede

No, I'm not talking about myself and the 1/4 of my family heritage. I'm talking about ONE of the many awesome "steamed sandwiches" at Chicago Bagel Authority. It's in the Lincoln Park neighborhood right near the Armitage Brown Line stop on of course the wonderful shopping street of Armitage. CBA is one of my many favorite places to eat in Chicago and if you've been to Chicago to visit me and I haven't taken you there...I'm a bad hostess. Back to the eats...The Dirty Swede is filled with turkey, cream cheese, bacon, colby, smoked cheddar, lettuce, tomato, sprouts & mayo on an onion bagel. I got this little gem after one of my "Fit for a 5K" classes I took back in January/February/March that my friend/personal trainer M. taught at DePaul. So, I basically cancelled out that 1/2 hour of running and 1/2 of strength training for this yummy sandwich. It was worth always is. Check out their HUGE menu here. Oh and my favorite thing for dessert there is this yummy treat made up of Coco-Puffs cereal and Golden Grahams cereal held together by melted a deconstructed s'mores...holy crap it's good.

Speaking of M....she's really the reason I was inspired to put this post up this week. I was going through her wedding photos online from back in June...and it appears that after the wedding ceremony at our church in the Lincoln Park neighborhood...she and Andrew stopped at the CBA for post-wedding ceremony steamed sandwiches...I love it. Of course if it was me I would have made my new hubby walk a few more blocks to Sweet Mandy B's for dessert!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Traveling Cupcake: Milwaukee Day Trip (Sneak Preview)

Well, for the life of me, I can't get the "Read More" or "Continue Reading" to work for me and I've got waaaay too many photos too post. So for now, until Broccoli and his magic HTML powers return from holiday, here's a tiny preview of my day trip to Milwaukee last Saturday. S. had the brilliant idea to take Amtrak and get out of town for the day and head up north, only an hour and a half away, to Milwaukee! I had never been and had wanted to check out the Milwaukee Art Museum ever since Calatrava put his mark on it. I had also heard from many friends that there were some great spots to dine and drink at. We managed to squeeze in three of the recommends 2 in the awesome Third Ward neighborhood: Water Buffalo (pre-museum snack while dining on the riverwalk), Harbor House (post-museum and pre-dinner Spotted Cow beers) and Milwaukee Ale House (dinner before heading back on the train to Chicago). The beers above (photo credit to S. and his iPhone), we happily enjoyed in the amazing sunny and warm weather from the top terrace of the Milwaukee Ale House overlooking the river. Stay tuned...


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Midnight in Paris in Chicago

Two Fridays ago I met S. for a movie and then dinner in what I thought was always the Lincoln Park neighborhood, but I now see by the banners in S.'s photo above that we were actually in Lakeview East (Really Chicago? Above Diversey Ave. is Lake View East?). Anyway, we met after work at Landmark Century Centre Cinema to catch "Midnight in Paris." It's a great movie and will make you want to book the next flight out of wherever you are to Paris. The movie did a great job of making you fall in love with Paris, the food, the people...all of it, all over again...and supplied a good story too. After seeing a movie with Paris as the main character, we were craving French food. Thank goodness right across the street is La Creperie. It was too cold to sit outside so we sat in the dining room between the main dining room and the patio. We started with the assiette de fromages (a monthly selection of 3 cheeses) and then we each had savory crepes. I had the poulet au champignons (chicken in an herb cream sauce with sauteed button mushrooms) and he had the poulet & fromage de chevre (chicken breast with roasted tomatoes and goat cheese). Unfortunately, there was no room for dessert that night...but It's such a cute little spot to go to after a movie, in Lake View East(?).


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another Summer in Chicago...this Time with a List

And so it begins...another summer in Chicago. Though it's still chilly today, at least it's sunny. Somehow with the sun, the food and drinks in this town taste so much better. I've been hanging out with friends the last few days and we've been talking about new places to try now that summer is here. We seem to get into a food rut and get complacent about where we all go. We tend to always spend at least one of the weekend nights at D4 or Default as I've grown to call it. I love's got great food AND great cocktails and it's a big space for the city. But it's always good to try something new and explore. So, I've decided to make a list of spots to either visit for the first time or visit again and try another menu...say, brunch vs. dinner.

1. Maude's Liquor Bar (West Loop...always, always packed...)
2. Doughnut Vault (River North...though, really should I stand in line for 2 hours for a donut?)
3. GT Fish & Oyster (River North...I need to make friends in Chicago that love seafood as much as I do for this dinner.)
4. C-View (Streeterville...Marcus Samuelsson's C-House Restaurant lives on the bottom floor of the Affinia Hotel, but the rooftop bar C-View is the last on my list of rooftop bars to try in the city.)
5. Urban Belly (Avondale...New in 2009...but still have not made it west to try it out.)
6. Hot Chocolate (Bucktown...This is one of those spots I've had dinner and dessert many times, but have always wanted to try the brunch.)
7. Sunda (River North...This spot has been open for awhile...but have never gone.)
8. Bistro Campagne (Lincoln Square...Opened in 2002...French bistro...yum.)
9. Hot Doug's (Avondale...I would be in big trouble from my blogmates if I left this off the list.)
10. The Bristol (Bucktown...I've had dinner there a few times, but never the brunch.)

*Photo from last summer on the patio of The Purple Pig...probably my #11 to go back and enjoy.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Homemade ravioli- first attempt

After a morning at our favourite farmers' market, we were inspired by the fresh sheep ricotta we bought at the Highmark Farms table so C and I decided to make something neither of us had ever made before: spinach + ricotta ravioli!

Following a recipe from The Silver Spoon, I took charge of the dough-making and C was in charge of sauce and filling. Unfortunately, since there was no pasta machine at my place, I got a good arm and core workout rolling out the pasta dough.

Now here's where you'll notice our novice pasta-making skills. We kind of miscalculated the spacing of the filling on the strip of dough, and the first batch of ravioli were so large such that they covered the entire palm of my hand. They were pop-tart shaped ravioli! The subsequent batches were smaller, but after ingesting 3 of the pop tart ravioli, no surprise I was full. But the filling was really delicious and the fresh sheep ricotta was super creamy.

 Hopefully our next ravioli project will produce smaller, more delicate edibles. And in the meantime I'm going to pick up one of those cute ravioli cutters with the scalloped edges and ask C to bring the pasta machine over so I'm not huffing and puffing for my meal.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dad's Birthday & American Thanksgiving

I went to see my parents in Omaha for Thanksgiving...American style. I arrived the day before Thanksgiving, which was my Dad's Birthday. We celebrated his birthday with dinner at Zio's Pizzeria. We all started with a house dinner salad. Dad added HIS favorite, anchovies, to his salad. Mom and I did NOT. We shared the 3 cheese bread and then moved on to our individual slices of New York Style pizza...Y-U-M! If that wasn't enough...we arrived back at my parents' house and Mom surprised my Dad with cupcakes (2 chocolate with chocolate frosting, vanilla with vanilla frosting and a red velvet) from Jones Bros. Cupcakes (above). The graphic designer in me loves their fabulous logo, package and menu design and lovely web site. Oh and yes, they taste soo good, especially at the store with their coffee. But as always, those who know me best know that nothing beats Sweet Mandy B's cupcakes.

Thanksgiving dinner was delicious as always (No photos we ate too fast!). This year we had filet mignons from where else, but Omaha Steaks. They were a gift to my Dad from a vendor who happens to be a Canadian, a T.O. resident in fact! We also had mashed potatoes, King's Hawaiian rolls and I made the ever-so-tough to make green bean casserole. And of course for dessert, Mom's amazing Pumpkin Pie.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Flour Tortillas

I got an early Christmas present from Prosecco—a tub of Pork Lard! In return I promised to post everything I make with this delicious gift.

First up, Rick Bayless' Flour Tortialls. I saw him make this recently on Mexico - One Plate at a Time. It looked so simple and delicious I had to try it.

Topped with Mexican Black Beans, Chimichurri sauce, scrambled eggs, avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime. Awesome!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

To make and eat now

While out in the eastern townships over the long weekend, I brought home two bags of peaches and cream corn (among many other eat-able, drink-able items). And inspired by the gorgeous shots of fresh corn pesto pasta on Lottie + Doof, I knew that this exactly what I wanted to eat. I mean, duh, corn pesto… seems so obvious, why didn't I think of this before?

I didn't have tagliatelle or fettuccine, so I used a skinnier egg pasta, which was still fantastic. My photo isn't as pretty as Tim's from Lottie + Doof, but here it is:

And to drink? I finally opened up a bottle of Cab Sauv that my friend Bo brought me from a trip to Israel. Corn from Quebéc, basil from my balcony, wine from Israel. A nice combination indeed.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tomato sauce weekend, the 2010 version

Thanks to an unusually warm (some might say sweltering) summer, the annual tomato sauce-making weekend came early this year. Last year we did them in September, but this year Uncle Luigi set August 28 as the day we would turn 10 bushels of San Marzanos into sauce.

Last year, there were only 5 adults and 2 kids (sporadically) working. But this year, one of Uncle Luigi and Aunt Marisa's sons came over with his wife and 3 kids who were all willing and ready to help so the tomatoes were all sliced and milled pretty quickly. After that, it was just the processing of the jars and waiting for them to cool down.

C just informed me last night that the final tally was 206 jars! Uncle Luigi was exceptionally proud of the fact that on average, 1 bushel of tomatoes produced 25 jars, which is about 3 more litres than last year's yield.

If you'd like to re-live our tomato weekend, enjoy the slideshow below.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Holy crap, I'm in trouble. Sprinkles Cupcakes opened on Monday in my neighborhood. It's a lovely and very welcome addition to the Gold Coast. Last night on my walk home from work I tried to stop in and buy a cupcake, but the line was down the block...even at 6:30 pm. They close at 7 pm Monday through Saturday. So tonight again on my way home, I stopped in. The line was much shorter and v. fast. The building is such a great and colorful design inside and out. The staff there is v. friendly and happy. Must be all the sugar... After examining every flavor available today...I bought a red velvet cupcake (left) and a vanilla (right), of course. I devoured the red velvet and saved the vanilla for tomorrow night. The red velvet was heaven and the cake was so moist!

Not to worry, I am still hopelessly devoted (I craved Sweet Mandy B's cupcakes ALL THE WAY from Toronto) to Sweet Mandy B's...still the best cupcake, hands down. But Sprinkles is conveniently on the way home from work, close to my favorite brunch/lunch/snack/dinner place, Feast and around the corner from Sarah's Pastries & Candies. I'm in trouble. I L-O-V-E my neighborhood.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Eat Drink Chicago

Chicago is a great city. Spending a long weekend with Cupcake, eating and drinking our way across town, was as much fun as the last time we did it.

Above: We got major props from the bartender at Frontera Grill when we ordered guacamole and a round of margaritas for dessert. That's how we roll. Holla!

When we arrived, Cupcake took us to a great spot across the street from our hotel called The Purple Pig. Double bonus—we sat next to five local chefs who were on a food tour... we quickly made some new friends. They insisted we share their wine and snacks. By the end we'd sampled the entire menu and only had to order a few dishes of our own. This one was awesome—fava beans, egg and crispy pancetta.

Grilled bread and chicken liver pate with crispy sage leaves.

This one was awesome! Chopped pig's ear with crispy kale, pickled cherry peppers and fried egg. Spicy!

Fresh strawberry soft serve with balsamic drizzle. You know you want it!

A spicy breakfast at Xoco, another Rick Bayless spot. A bit too much bread for my taste, so I just grabbed a fork and enjoyed the filling of this chorizo-egg torta.

Grilled fish at Frontera Grill.

The favorite stop of the weekend—Big Star Taco! We were too tired to walk around in the heat shopping so we camped at the bar for the afternoon sampling tacos, guacamole, beer and tasty Mexican Coke (cane sugar instead of nasty corn syrup). It goes really well with $3 whisky shots. Big Star, I love you... let's make it work... even if it's a long-distance thing.

Partied out and relaxing before heading to the airport. We headed back to The Purple Pig to relax on their outdoor patio. Grilled bread with whipped feta and cucumber. So good!

Purple Pig's house made sausage with kale and grapes.


Ketchup & Coke

Not really... but when I saw the bartender make this from a distance I thought he was pouring ketchup over ice, adding some lime juice and planning to crack a can of coke over the whole thing. Turns out he was making a Michelada, which is beer and hot sauce. Fusilli was brave enough to order one and she claims it was quite refreshing. I haven't include the reaction shot I took when she had her first sip. It wasn't the face you make when sipping a refreshing cocktail... more like a glass of hangover medicine.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Paella Party

I was lucky enough to be gifted a precious petri dish of saffron, transported across the ocean by a generous friend a couple of months ago. So of course the first thing that pops into my head is: paella! By happenstance the following week, I found a paella pan on sale for $10 at a kitchen outlet store and the idea for a paella party was born. I know that traditionally Spanish paella is made with rabbit and green beans, but I opted for the seafood version this time: Littleneck clams, squid, jumbo tiger shrimp, haddock, peas and some chopped up kale (I had it laying around in my fridge so I just tossed it in). And what's a paella party without sangria and good friends? Check! If you're going to make paella, don't forget to keep it on the stove just a bit longer so you get that delicious crispy caramelized soccarat on the bottom. Here's the recipe I used, in case you want to have your own paella party this summer, enjoy!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Guess What's Coming to my Neighborhood!

YAY! Sprinkles Cupcakes!! I love the exterior design of their stores and cannot wait to taste their many flavors of cupcakes. I hope they bring this with them too.


Friday, June 11, 2010


Its been a while, rabbit pappardelle at hearth new york, zow.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010


It's Rhubarb season! Enjoy it while it's fresh!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

A night at the Publican

A wish I've had for the past year has finally come true. I finally had the chance to eat dinner at the fantastic pig-centric Publican last weekend. Join me in re-living this happily over-stuffed evening, won't you?


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gotta love the ricotta

In the past couple years, I've become quite fond of ricotta cheese. And when I was on a liver cleanse last month, it was one of the only cheeses I was allowed to consume since cow dairy was prohibited. I think it's because ricotta's made from whey and most of the milk protein gets removed during production, so technically it's not really a cheese; it's whey cheese.

I was exposed to ricotta more through C and his family. His mother likes to have it at the table when she serves a rice sidedish, and though nobody else in the family does this, she enjoys a scoop of ricotta mixed into her rice. Then C made me pasta once that was just tossed in a mound of ricotta and drizzled with olive oil. He said that it's a typical Roman dish. C's mother often makes cakes containing a lemony sweet ricotta filling and at Easter they make little pastries also filled with sweet ricotta. But my favourite way to have ricotta is very simple and no-nonsense: slathered on bread or in this case, rye cracker, and drizzled with honey, and I'm not talking about no Billy Bee honey. This snack is like a little piece of heaven– crispy, creamy, airy, delicately sweet. I was lucky enough to pick up fresh, homemade ricotta at my farmer's market. But turns out, you can make your own ricotta easily enough at home. I haven't tried yet, but it's definitely on my to-make list.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Last night's dinner

This was not made by me but thoroughly enjoyed by me. Prepared by Maurizio, C's cousin, we had brisket with gravy, rice and beans, a crispy non-mayonnaisey coleslaw and fantastic potato salad. You too can enjoy Maurizio's homecooking very soon with the launch of his ready-to-eat organic dinners, prepared using locally sourced meat. Check it out here.


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Queen and Beaver

I've been on a liver cleanse for the better part of 21 days. No coffee, no alcohol, no dairy, no wheat, no fruit except for organic bananas… you get the idea; basically nothing that tastes good. So now that I'm OFF that cleanse, I had a hankering for a good old fish and chips (plus my mom sent me some birthday dinner cash!).

Last night, C and I decided to take a hike over to The Queen and Beaver on Elm street. A definite pain in the you-know-what to find parking, but well worth it. We were both craving fish and chips but each started with something different. I had the salad with Stilton, poached pear and walnuts. Nice big, fresh leaves of radicchio, butter lettuce (I think) and endive with just the right amount of dressing. And C had the smoked salmon special appetizer that came with a little mound of minced beets. I was lucky enough to have a taste of the salmon and it was fantastic… smoky, melt-in-your mouth delectable.

The fish and chips was just the right amount of food. A light, crispy batter that wasn't oily or greasy and the fish was perfectly cooked. Add some thick cut fries and homemade ketchup (Normally I am a ketchup hater, but this was so good! Not too sweet like regular ketchup), with a cider to drink and I'd say that's a swell Saturday night, chilling out, end-of-liver-cleanse-meal. Oh, and on the way home, we stopped for a Jager on the rocks at the Gem.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oyster mushroom harvest

 I grew oyster mushrooms in my living room. Crazy, right? I must admit, it was a bit creepy when I first spotted the little fungus nubbins poking through the plastic bag containing the bail of straw in which mushroom spores are embedded. And awed and amazed when with each passing half day the mushrooms kept getting larger and larger. And just this past weekend, they were large enough to harvest! The instructions that came with my mushroom kit said to twist off gently so as not to disrupt the surrounding environment, but the whole mushroom family came off together and didn't want to be separated when we tried to remove them individually. Sadly, I'm on a liver cleanse until April 6 so this harvest was bequeathed to C's mother. I trust she will make something delicious with them and here's hoping for a few more harvests so I can sample them for myself!