Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category

30 Recipes for the Holidays!

Well, Dining at my Desk Readers, I did it. This is the first year I’ve actually created a blog post for each day in December (though have tried valiantly since 2010), and overall, yes, I’m exhausted, thank you for asking. From the beginning to the end, we’ve had soups, side dishes, breakfasts, cookies, ice cream and even a mashed potato and fried chicken cake, but the recurring theme throughout all the recipes is they came from members of Chicagogrammers.

What is Chicagogrammers, you ask? It’s a group of Instagrammers based in Chicago, and it’s free and easy to join. I founded Chicagogrammers with my amazing blog wife, Chrissy, of The Hungary Buddha Eats the World, and this post wouldn’t be complete without a humongous THANK YOU shout out to her and her amazing organizational skills, follow-through and creative powers. She’s just the best. Next big thank you to all of our truly outstanding and inspiring members. While I highlighted the food bloggers here, it’s important to note we have a wide array of lifestyle, fashion, travel, parenting and beauty bloggers we count as members. We’re Chicago-based Instagrammers, bloggers and influencers, and I think 2017 is going to be a great year for us!

Ok, now down to business. I’m here to recap all 30 days of these insanely delicious recipes, so get ready for a feast for your eyes!!

Drunken Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

(1) Drunken Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream: Comes to us from none other than co-founder Chrissy of The Hungary Buddha Eats the World. Boozy ice cream ranks right up there on my personal scale of top foods I want to eat either separately or combined. Enjoy!

Gluten-free Cranberry Oat Bars

(2) Gluten Free Cranberry Oat Bars: These little dandies are from Marie at Lady Ace Kitchen. They’re for all of you people who can’t tolerate or just don’t like gluten, which I’m convinced is people who only like eating desserts.

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(3) Maple Bacon Sweet Potatoes: Ok, technically if we’re counting this as a Chicagogrammer, that’d be me, because these were served to a group of bloggers at a Morton Salt event, which was QUITE tasty. These were seriously some of the best potatoes I’ve ever eaten.

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(4) Rosemary Shortbread Cookies: Oh, these sweet little savory cookies come to us from Ellie of the breathtakingly gorgeous blog, Hungry by Nature. Seriously, visit her blog RIGHT NOW. It’s worth soooo many drools. Hi, Ellie!

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(5) Lambrusco Sangria: If you all haven’t heard of The Kittchen, pull yourselves out from under your rock and say hi to Kit, the wonderful blogger who also founded our lean, mean blogging machine The Windy City Blogger Collective. She’s in her kitchen all the time whipping up goodies and treats, and this sangria looks particularly delish if I must say so myself.

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(6) Perfectly (Gluten Free, Paleo) Fluffy Pancakes: Another fabulous blogger, Katie of Personally Paleo, gives us the recipe for her super fluffy gluten-free, paleo pancakes. I’m personally not paleo, but her site is full of awesome recipes for those who are!

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(7) Fried Chicken, Cornbread, & Mashed Potatoes Layer Cake: Hmmm. As of most of my recipes of the day, I never got around to making this…cake, but I really, really want to. This crazy concoction comes to us from Caitlin of Public Lives, Secret Recipes. Another amazing blog to check out when you have a minute!!

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(8) Herb-Roasted Squash with Quinoa & Cranberries: Meet Anne of ASquared. Anne and I actually go back a ways in our (other) professional lives, so it’s always fun to give her a little shout and love, and she’s loving us right back with this delicious quinoa dish. Ok, after January 2, this is going on our dinner menu forever!

Cream Cheese Pineapple Pepper Dip

(9) Cream Cheese, Pineapple & Green Pepper Dip (Dorothy’s Dip): Oh, this one I ACTUALLY MADE, can you believe it?! It’s from a new friend, Alana the blogger behind the fabulous party blog, The Jolly Hostess. A combination of slightly strange ingredients comes together in this dip to, as Tim Gunn would say, make it work. This is the easiest dip, and is so good!!

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(10) Crab Rangoon Pull Apart Bread: Oh, this was a HUGE hit on Instagram, and still not quite certain why we haven’t made it yet… It’s like, all my favorite things – carbs and cheese and faux crab. It’s from Alison of Rosie Discovers, another fantastic blogger who’s also a member of Chicagogrammers!

Little Lemon Snow Bites

(11) Little Lemon Snow Bites: Ok, here’s another recipe I actually had blogged about before. These little cookies are so refreshing – sweet and tart, and everybody loves a cookie with a filling. Plus candy is an actual ingredient, so that’s pretty exciting!

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(12) Smores Cereal Bars: I love Smores, and these cereal bars look like no exception to the kinds of goodies I love most. Michelle from Honest & Truly, gives us another lip-smacker of a recipe. She’s got tons of other recipes on her blog, which are a good mix of naughty and nice for your new year’s resolutions!

Beef Ragu

(13) Beef Ragu: Hyam of My Midwest Kitchen brings us this complete winner of a recipe. Meat stew over polenta? Yes, we’re into that! This will also be going in our winter lineup for sure!

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(14) Immunity Soup: This recipe is part of quite a long blog post recapping some of the events we went to this fall. One of my favorites was the opening of True Food Kitchen in River North, and to celebrate, I included Dr. Andrew Weil’s cleansing soup recipe. Seriously, January, I’m looking at you.

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(15) Gingersnap Icebox Cake with Cranberry Mascarpone Whipped Cream: Omg, whoa. By far the most beautiful cake EVER, this icebox cake is from Danielle, a registered dietician who blogs at The Every Kitchen. Obviously this is a health food. Definitely check out her blog when you get a  chance – the pictures are stunning!

peppermint brownies

(16) Peppermint Brownies: These luscious holiday treats are from the lovely Christine of Lattes, Life & Luggage. Her blog is filled with great recipes, book recommendations and travel musings, and she’s an awesome member of Chicagogrammers!

Spinach Herb Lasagna

(17) Spinach Herb Lasagna: One of my personal favorite blogs is Make it Like a Man, where Jeff shows us how to make stuff, you know, like a man. If Main Squeeze were to make this, it would be a man making a manly meal for a very dainty and refined lady. Hmmm, I wonder where he would find one of those.

Salted Caramel Eggnog

(18) Salted Caramel Eggnog: Yay!! This boozy treat is from Maris of the fabulous food blog In Good Taste. Maris is a wonderful person and her blog matches her personality – it’s just truly great. Be sure to take a look when you get a chance!

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(19) Funfetti Cookies: Basically there’s nothing I love more than cookies that mostly come from a boxed mix. Using prepared ingredients make things go a lot faster in the kitchen, and these look simply so good. They’re from Lephan, of the awesome blog Macarons & Lavender. She’s another fabulous Chicagogrammer I met this year!

Creamy Butternut Squash and Crab Bisque

(20) Creamy Butternut Squash and Crab Bisque: This is a unique one, because it comes from Kate of The Ginger List, an Instablog. So delicious and creamy, obviously crab is the perfect accompaniment to a butternut squash soup.

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(21) Caramelized Onion Dip: Ooo, yum. Just looking at this dip makes me want to eat it ALL RIGHT NOW. It’s from Kathryn of Foodie Girl Chicago, just another fabulous blog from a fellow Chicagorammer.

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(22) Cranberry Pear Spinach Rice Pilaf: This looks SO fresh and delicious, and I can’t wait to make this in the new year! This rice medley is from Maggie of The Love Nerds, and I’m really hoping to meet her in the New Year!

Classic Basil Pesto

(23) Classic Basil Pesto: Really, it doesn’t get much better than a simple pesto sauce on pasta…or anything. Kelly of Chicago Supper Club gives us the perfected version of this classic sauce.

Pecan Meltaways

(24) Pecan Meltaways: Again, sometimes the simplest cookies are the ones we keep coming back to over and over. Joelen of What’s Cookin’ Chicago brings us the recipe for these simple, delicious treats.

Smore Brownies

(25) Smores Brownies: Ok, I might have a real thing for smores. Obviously they are a great love of my life. Bringing us this gorgeous brownie recipe is Kelsey of With a Little Grace.

Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese

(26) Apple Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese: If you haven’t had bacon jam yet, you might want to rethink your life choices, and then start slathering it on your grilled cheese. Thanks for the great idea, Annie! Annie is the inspiration behind this grilled cheese and the fantastic blog, The Brazen Gourmand.

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(27) Chocolate Blueberry Basil Smoothie: Oh January 1, you’re looming right around the corner, but Erin of Erin’s Inside Job reminds us that you don’t have to give us chocolate if you pair it with fruits and herbs!

Tiramisu

(28) Tiramisu: Ooo, yeah. Pretty much the best dessert you can get in an Italian restaurant, and just a delicious choice anytime, Mrinalini of Mrinhearts brings us this scrumptious looking pudding.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

(29) Cauliflower Pizza Crust: Yes, January looms very large, and in the new year, we’re going to be eating a LOT more pizza on veggies crusts. Here to save our (considerably larger after the holidaze) butts is Jenn of Leasing Happiness.
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(30) Cheesy Skillet Meatballs in Arrabbiata Sauce: Yeah, these are a whole skillet of yums. Brought to us by Allison of Life’s a Beacham, these little round balls of love are gluten-free and full of cheese! My favorite!

Ok, there you have it! 30 recipes from 30 awesome Chicagogrammers! Hope you enjoyed the drools as much as I did. Here’s to a fantastic 2017 – enjoy this weekend with your friends and family, and I”ll see you back here in January!

 

 

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Aloha, fellow blog readers! Thanks for following along, even though it’s been a minute since I’ve truly sat down to write a long post. Thanks to my number one (or possibly only) fan, my Mom, for always saying things like, “I sure wish you’d blog soon so I have something to read.” Point taken, yes, bloggers need to blog occasionally, and to my other loyal readers (still probably just Mom) – don’t worry, Mom has plenty of other available reading options, but I figure it IS time to let you know what I’ve been up to this fall, including three very memorable events: The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce Dinner Crawl, Tony & Tina’s Wedding & the opening of True Food Kitchen.

The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce Dinner Crawl

Let’s start with the Dinner Crawl, shall we? In September, the fabulous Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce reached out to me to see if I had any interest in attending their Fall Dinner Crawl. Let’s just say I had a high to quite high level of interest, and before long, I’d secured two tickets for Main Squeeze and I to crawl along the Knife Route, which included the following restaurants:

The Pasta Bowl  |  Urbanbelly  |  Dove’s Luncheonette  |  Dimo’s Pizza  |  Feast Restaurant  |  Goddess & Grocer  |  Urban Icing  |  Coast Sushi Bar |
Red Door  |  Club Lucky

Excited didn’t even begin to cover how…excited…I was to be a part of this extravagant food tour of Bucktown/Wicker Park. While some of these are old favorites (Coast Sushi, anyone?!?!), a few were new to me, so that made the anticipation level even higher.

The gist of the crawl for any of the routes is that participating restaurants offer at least two small menu portions for crawlers to sample. Participating restaurants can also pair this with drink deals, but alcohol is not included in the price of the ticket. Please note the price of the ticket alone is WELL worth the money, as we got to try so many different restaurants and left totally stuffed. But, naturally, we also participated in the drink deals at most (all) of the restaurants.

First up on our tour was The Pasta Bowl. I’d been to their location on Clark, but had actually never made it to their Bucktown/WP shop, which opened about two years ago. I was slightly nervous about making The Pasta Bowl our first stop, because there was a long night of eating ahead of us, and I felt pasta would be A TRAP!!! so that I wouldn’t be able to eat as much as I wanted to, which was everything at every restaurant. We were greeted quickly, and served a lovely mini caprese salad, and YES!, a plate of pasta. The pasta was their signature dish, Farfalle Pollo, with grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic-buttered mushrooms, plum tomatoes, basil, parmesan, and their world famous house cream sauce.

The Pasta Bowl Chicago

The Pasta Bowl in Chicago

I vowed to eat only a few bites of it. I knew it was a trap.

…I ate all of it…and wished I could have had more. Damn, I’m the worst at dinner crawls.

Next up on our crawl was Dove’s Luncheonette. Have you been to Dove’s? It’s fantastic, but expect a wait during busy times, like brunch and weekends, as it’s pretty small inside. Despite being packed for the crawl, we managed to be seated immediately, and were served two delicious items. I wish I could tell you with 100% certainty what these items were, but it’s been awhile, and I’ve (of course) lost the evening’s menu.

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This was some type of zucchini/squash combo with a mole sauce. Yum!!

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….annnnnnnnd the torta with ham and cheese, pickled onion in a spicy sauce. Yes, I was beginning to feel stuffed.

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What to do when you’re feeling stuffed? Have a beer with your fried rice at Urban Belly, of course!! This was an exciting foamy treat!

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Continuing the drinking over at Feast, we tried the Mini Pimm’s Cup (how have I not had a Pimm’s cup before?!). It was outstanding!! We also had caprese skewers and salmon dip on rye baguettes.

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Then we went to Dimo’s and had the Mac n’ Cheese pizza. Cause calories be damned!

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And scarfed down some buffalo tots at Goddess & the Grocer…

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At this point we were supposed to go to Red Door and Urban Icing, but we were running out of time. We made the executive decision to unfortunately skip those two, and instead went to Coast where we were absolutely delighted to find that my FAVORITE SUSHI ROLL OF ALL TIME from Coast, my FAVORITE SUSHI RESTAURANT OF ALL TIME, was being featured. The White Dragon from Coast is easily one of my most craved foods ever!

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Last on our stop, but certainly not least, is neighborhood favorite Club Lucky. I could barely look at food at this point into the crawl, but Main Squeeze happily tucked into a giant plate of pasta, potatoes and chicken. Sigh.

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All in all, we had a ball on the dinner crawl, and we’ll DEFINITELY be doing it again next fall! Hope to see you there!

Tony & Tina’s Wedding

Next up on the list of must-see events is Tony & Tina’s Wedding. No, not just a random couple’s wedding we were invited to, Tony & Tina’s Wedding is an Off-Broadway completely interactive theater experience where the guests (audience members) participate in the wedding (play). We went on a Friday evening a few weeks ago and had a COMPLETE BLAST. We truly felt like we’d been to a wedding afterward!

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Here’s the scoop – Tony and Tina are two fictional Italian-American lovers from Queens, determined to be married in spite of more than a few crazy family members and friends. You, the audience, are invited to their big, dysFUNctional wedding, complete with church service and reception. The wedding service takes place at Resurrection Church in Lakeview, and the reception is at “Vinnie Black’s Coliseum,” just around the corner on Belmont. To be clear – Tony & Tina’s Wedding is a comedy in every sense of the word, and pokes fun at many Italian stereotypes. From Tina’s indomitable mother, to Tony’s spitfire “mother-in-law,” you run the gamut of big personalities. Tony & Tina’s wedding runs into February, and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Oh look, here I am, dancing with Tony!

Oh look, here I am, dancing with Tony!

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True Food Kitchen

Next up – the opening of True Food Kitchen in River North. I was extremely lucky to have my parents along with me for their friends and family opening, and the extremely gracious and attentive staff made sure we tried a wide selection of their amazing, healthy menu. For those that aren’t familiar with True Food Kitchen, it’s a restaurant concept from Dr. Andrew Weil, as my Mom would say, the guy who helps make the shoes she wears (Vionics, for people with plantar fasciitis). He’s into clean, healthy eating and a proponent of the anti-inflammatory diet. True Food offers a wide variety of paleo friendly and gluten-free dishes, prepared with anti-inflammatory ingredients. Their slogan is “Honest food that tastes really good,” and yes, trust me, everything is SO fresh and amazing! Below is a brief sampling of what we had, and it is all OUTSTANDING. Mom and Dad loved it just as much as I did!

True Food Kitchen

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Ok, so now on to a recipe for today. Let’s end with a clean-eating soup from Dr. Andrew Weil. Just tuck this one away for the new year, if, like me, you’re basically on the pro-inflammatory diet for the next 2 weeks…

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Immunity Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 2 1/2 pieces astragalus root  (about 15 inches total)
  • 10 cups mushroom stock
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or low sodium soy sauce
  • Salt
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • ½ cup chopped scallions1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the shiitakes, carrots, astragalus root, and Mushroom Stock. Bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
    2. Add the tamari and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed. Add the broccoli florets and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.
    3. Remove the astragalus root pieces. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the scallions before serving.

And one last note – do this!!

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It’s obvious if you’re reading this that you know I’m a very famous food blogger. So famous, in fact, that I’ve been invited (after 6.5 long years of blogging) to be a co-hostess of a very exciting event in Chicago. You should assume that I was invited because of my fame and notoriety, and most definitely not because I’m friends with the organizer.

What is this event, you might ask? Why, let me share the details below:

Cookie Chocolate and Cheer Invitation

Whoa, look at all those actually notable co-hostesses. Big League. Anyhow, YOU should come to Cookies, Chocolate & Cheer at The Freehand Hotel!! Why? Well, perhaps you love cookies, or perhaps, like myself, you love complimentary cocktails. But the easiest (and best) reason of all why you should come – all proceeds benefit Chicago’s Youth Outreach Services, an amazing organization that helps at-risk teens secure a brighter future. $20 for cookie decorating, cocktails AND to help a great local organization? It’s a no-brainer! If you can come, get your tickets now!

Ok, so now that we’ll be seeing each other in short order, perhaps you’d like one of my very favorite cookie recipes. It’s actually a blast from the past on the blog, hailing all the way back to December 2010. Whoa.

These little lemon snow bites are honestly a favorite, one that I don’t always make, but always are delicious. Since I’ve unearthed the recipe, I may as well go ahead and make them again this year! Please note, I had to borrow some images from Munchin Munchies, because although I’ve made these cookies, I’ve never actually taken (decent) pictures!

Little Lemon Snow Bites

Little Lemon Snow Bites

Ingredients

1  17.5ounce package sugar cookie mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1/4 cup crushed lemon drops
2/3 cup lemon curd
2/3 cup frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil; set aside.
Prepare the cookie mix according to package directions.  Stir in crushed lemon drops.  If necessary, cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until it is easy to handle.
2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Place balls 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven for 7-9 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned.  Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.
3.  For filling, in a small bowl, stir together lemon curd and whipped topping.  Spoon 1 rounded teaspoon of the filling onto the bottom sides of half of the cookies.  Top with the remaining cookies, bottom sides down.  Press together lightly.  Sprinkle tops of cookies with powdered sugar.  Makes about 24 sandwich cookies.
To store:  Place filled cookies in a single layer in an airtight container; cover.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days of freeze for up to 1 month.

Little Lemon Snow Bites2

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Imagine turning your house into a restaurant for one night…literally. For some of us with beautiful showpiece kitchens and separate dining rooms, perhaps it wouldn’t be so difficult. For those of us in otherwise (quite) cramped Chicago quarters, it might be next to impossible. But perhaps you were provided with a local chef, all the right ingredients, the right amount of time to prepare your meal, beautiful dishes and servingware, tables and seating, and a staff to run food and pour drinks… Let’s just say, with enough help, anything is possible.

 

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Turning her home into a restaurant, very much quite literally, was Cara, our host for Morton Salt’s Next Door Chef in Chicago. Cara opened her doors to local chef Jason Vincent (Giant, Logan Square) and his crew, along with the team from Morton Salt to transform her home from the place you hang your hat, to a chic pop up restaurant known as Cara’s Place, serving a three course dinner for one night only.

Lucky enough to score an invite, my trusted companion (blog wife), Chrissy and I walked in, definitely not knowing what to expect. Had my own home been turned into a restaurant, you would have seen me likely semi-clothed, running around putting the finishing touches on outfit, hair and makeup, with a Monica Geller-esque bedroom holding all my worldly possessions out of sight of my guests. Something would almost definitely be on fire in the kitchen, and more than likely, I’d be swearing like a sailor and sweating profusely.

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None of that happened at Cara’s. We walked into an elegant scene that truly looked like a restaurant, a hostess greeted us and directed us to the bar, and I happily obliged, picking up the specialty cocktail of the evening, the Salty ‘Rita, prepared with gin instead of the standard tequila and served straight up with a rim of Morton’s Kosher Salt. Perhaps you know this salt – it’s the one in the blue box, and famously known for THE salt that rims margarita glasses. Yes, it’s amazing, and yes, the gin Salty Rita was certainly salty, but also very delicious. Oh, and Morton Kosher Salt – it’s NOT just for rimming your glasses.

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After mingling for a bit with some fellow familiar faces, we were seated for dinner service. The table was beautifully set, and we were lucky enough to eat dinner with Cara’s mom! We learned a bit about Cara, our elusive hostess, who at this point I assumed was trying desperately to squeeze herself into proper dinner attire while smearing eyeliner all over her lids. Oh wait – no, that would again have been me preparing a three course meal for a bunch of foodie strangers.

Still no sign of Cara, but ah! dinner was about to start. The first course was Brussels Sprouts with pears and pecorino cheese with a ginger almond dressing, finished with Morton Coarse Sea Salt. Don’t worry, this dish was as absolutely phenomenal as it sounded. It was the perfect way to start dinner, and the Rosé that accompanied the rest of dinner was the ideal drink accompaniment.

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The second course was somehow even better than the first, with a theme made for Thanksgiving. We were served roasted and brined turkey (yes!), spicy rice (yes!!) and the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever tasted (YES!!!). The turkey was beautifully plated, served over the spicy rice with the sweet potatoes on the side. The turkey was brined in Morton Kosher Salt, and the breast and thigh were rubbed with spices and more kosher salt. Served with a creamy cilantro sauce on top, and the spicy (oh yes, it was spicy) rice underneath, it was the perfect blend of mild and spicy, yin and yang. Kosher salt stole the show, as both the spicy rice, made with Thai chili, peanuts and cilantro, and the sweet potatoes, made with bacon, maple syrup, anchovy, parmesan and sour cream were also seasoned with the coarse salt. I just need to take a moment to bask in how absolutely delightful the sweet potatoes were – I’ve honestly never tasted anything like them, and I’ll be sure to post the recipe for you asap!

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After our second course we were full, but come on, I’ve always saved room for dessert, and was happy to find a giant (hey, like Jason Vincent’s restaurant!) chocolate chip cookie, dusted with kosher salt. Thin and crispy isn’t my idea of a great cookie, but somehow this thin cookieseemed to magically disappear. So much for saving any sort of calories on this meal. Maybe I’ll rethink my perspective on thin and crispy cookies.

During our dessert course, Cara came out from behind the kitchen doors, along with our executive chef for the evening, Jason Vincent. Cara couldn’t have been more welcoming, and a put-together and polished At Home Chef, unlike yours truly. They answered our questions, and while Chef Jason admitted that Cara had a lot of help, he also said they truly worked together to create the dishes. It took time to create and set up, but in the kitchen, they worked as a team.

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This whole experience made me stop to think that salt is one of those funny things that isn’t ever really the star of a meal, but it HAS to be there in order to be done right. A key phrase in our household growing up was “I didn’t add very much salt to this, so make sure you add it yourself.” But topping your dish with salt at the end just can’t compare to when salt is added during cooking, or adding a sprinkle of coarse salt at the end. Morton Salt not only makes kosher salt, which is preferred by chefs, and was certainly the salt star for our experience at Cara’s, but they also have coarse sea salt and fine sea salt. Both kosher and the coarse sea salt add texture to a dish when sprinkled on top, and fine sea salt dissolves quickly, making it perfect for blended meal elements, like soups, sauces and marinades.

If you can somehow be as calm, cool and collected as Cara, you can go to MortonSalt.com/NextDoorChef to download your own hosting kit complete with recipes and how-to steps to add that extra something to your meal. BONUS – for added fun, see if you can spot me in the video here:

And, hey, if you do host your own “Next Door Chef” party or have a recipe idea for using Morton Kosher or sea salt, post your photos using #NextDoorChef.

Dinner at Cara’s made me realize two things: 1) that I need to get myself over to Giant, Chef Jason Vincent’s restaurant in Logan Square, and 2) I somehow WILL recreate those sweet potatoes. Main Squeeze is going to be truly delighted to learn they take anchovies – he LOVES them and will gladly eat any leftovers right out of the can. Oh, and a bonus 3) I’m going to make myself a BIG margarita with extra Morton Kosher Salt.

* I was compensated by Morton Salt for this post. All opinions expressed here are my own.

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Hey guys and gals! Tomorrow night marks the 5th Annual Wicker Park Bucktown Fall Dinner Crawl! Main Squeeze and I are super stoked to be going for the first time this year, and for all of our fellow Chicago neighbors, come join the fun! It’s a great excuse to bust out your good spandex as you make your way from restaurant to restaurant, stuffing your face with all sorts of delicious goodies. There are still tickets left for the Knife and Spoon routes – listen to this amazing lineup of restaurants:

Knife Route:

The Pasta Bowl

Urbanbelly

Dove’s Luncheonette

Dimo’s Pizza

Feast Restaurant

Goddess & Grocer

Urban Icing

Coast Sushi Bar

Red Door

Club Lucky

Spoon Route:

5411 Empanadas

Smoke Daddy

Harvest Moon

Taus Authentic

Fatpour Tap Works

Takito Kitchen

The Fifty/50

Mr. Kite’s Chocolate Shop

 

Tickets are $35 and are available in limited quantities, and can be purchased here. In addition to all the awesome food you’ll get to try, if you’re a social media aficionado, get your Instagram on along your designated route and tag #BestBiteWPB for your chance to win a $150 gift card to the restaurant that served the best bite in the winning picture!

Looking forward to making new friends and gaining 5 pounds! (ps – if you’re wondering, we’ll be on the Knife route, and I’ll be posting Instagram updates along the way!)

 

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Windy City Smokeout Logo

Last year was my first time attending The Windy City Smokeout – and it was AWESOME!! It’s this giant 3 day country music and bbq fest by the Chicago River. There’s tons of bbq vendors from all over the country, and plenty of beer and country music. The headliners this year include Phil Vassar, Chase Rice, Big & Rich, Billy Currington, Maren Morris & (my fav!!) Old Dominion. It’s coming up next weekend, July 15-17, and trust me, you definitely want to go. Plus, I can get you discounted tickets to the Windy City Smokeout – today only!!

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Today only, you can get tickets to the Windy City Smokeout for $75 instead of $110. Just use promo code “DINING” when adding tickets to your cart. It’s a little tricky, so pay close attention:

  1. Get your tickets here: www.windycitysmokeout.com/tickets
  2. BEFORE adding tickets to your cart, add promo code DINING in the promo code box, and click on the arrow in the promo code box.
  3. $75 3 day discounted tickets will show up as an option underneath. Choose these :)
  4. Enjoy the heck out of the fest!!

If you’re still in doubt, check out this awesome video from last year’s Smokeout:

You can follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more updates and awesomeness!

Pertinent details: Windy City Smokeout | July 15-17, 2016 | Music schedule | 560 W. Grand, Chicago, IL | Tickets (don’t forget to use DINING for $35 off!)

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