Friday, April 24, 2015

Buffalo Bleu Cheese Chicken Dip

After seeing a few Buffalo Chicken pics come up in my Facebook feed today, I thought about Buffalo Chicken Dip. I tried to recall what was in the dip recipes I have seen in the past and I looked through the cabinets and fridge to see what I had on hand. This was the result and it was uber yummy! A nice warm dip to enjoy on a chilly night at home.

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast (I had some Market Day diced chicken breast that I had thawed sitting in my fridge)
3/4 cup of Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce (or a little more if you like it really hot)
1/2 cup bleu cheese
8 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. Trader Joe's Swiss and Gruyere shredded cheese
Ranch dressing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine shredded chicken, hot sauce and bleu cheese in a bowl. Spread cream cheese onto a baking sheet or casserole dish. This was just for a quick snack and home. I'd definitely use a prettier baking dish if making it for a party.

Pour chicken mixture over cream cheese. Sprinkle shredded cheese blend over chicken. You could use any kind of shredded cheese here, but this Trader Joe's mix is one of my very favorites.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with ranch dressing.

Serve with tortilla chips or crackers or spread on crusty bread.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lawry's Signature Steakhouse Marinade

While running through the grocery store last week, I figured I'd pick up some small steaks to make on the grill for dinner since the weather was warm and mild. I got some small round steaks. Then a couple aisles over as I grabbed some marinade for chicken, I noticed Lawry's Signature Steakhouse with Worcestershire sauce marinade. It was on sale, so so I thought I'd give it a try.

It's billed as one of their 30 minute marinades. Mine ended up marinating in the fridge for about 40 hours. When it was done it had a nice layer of flavor added. It is also recommended for burgers and it seems it would be a nice addition if you're looking for some added flavor. The marinade can get mixed in directly to the ground beef or brushed on as it grills.

***No compensation was received for this post and opinions are 100% my own. :)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Miller Pizza Station

On visits to 18th Street Brewery with a buddy, my husband has ordered pizza from Miller Pizza Station, which is right across the tracks in Gary's Miller section and he would come home telling me how great this pizza was - and not even bring home a slice for me to try! For over 30 years they've been serving up pizza from their location on Lake Street.

I recently made it out to 18th Street Brewery with my husband and we ordered a sandwich at the brewery (previously no food was served there so many patrons would order the pizza to bring in and enjoy with their beer,) but since I'd heard how good the pizza was I couldn't head home without some. So, we ordered a pizza to go and I can see what all the full is about. It had a very crisp crust, which I love, fresh veggies, zesty sausage and mounds of gooey cheese.

Should you find your self in Northwest Indiana stop by 18th Street for a brew and grab some pizza from Miller Pizza Station!

Miller Pizza Station
622 S. Lake St.
Gary, IN
219- 938-7071

Friday, April 10, 2015

Blue Chip Brewfest is coming soon!

Time is running out to get your tickets for the Blue Chip Brewfest! This 5th annual event will include about 50 breweries offering over 250 different brews inside the Blue Chip Casino and in an expanded area with a climate-controlled tent.

I had a chance to sample some brews, meet some brewers and taste chef-prepared pairings at a recent media preview. Here's a peek at some of what you'll find at the fest! For more info and tickets, visit 

And a shot of some of the brewmasters!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Northwest Indiana introduces Savor the South Shore Restaurant Week

Chicago Restaurant Week is a big deal to foodies. It’s a stretch of days in the wintery slow season when some of the finest dining spots in the city offer special menus to entice new customers into their doors. Deep discounts allow diners to try out some great upscale spots that can be quite pricey when ordering from the regular menu. It’s also just a great time to peruse menus and find places you have never heard of.

Source: South Shore CVA

In Northwest Indiana, the first ever Savor the South Shore Restaurant Week is underway, lasting for two weeks. It began on April 6 and will run through April 19 with about 30 participating restaurants offering three-course prix fixe meals.

No matter your taste, you’ll find something on the list. It includes steakhouses, barbecue, Mexican, upscale Asian, Irish, a farm to fork experience and many others from casual to gourmet.

This list shows those who opted to participate as of April 2 and a handful more signed on after this list was put together. For a complete list and to see menus, go to

Participating restaurants include:

54 Main Bistro, Hobart
Asparagus, Merrillville
Bombers BBQ, Munster
Bub’s BBQ, DeMotte
Cabela’s Black Oak Grill, Hammond
Ciao Bella, Schererville
The Crown Town Grill, Crown Point
El Taco Real, Hammond
The Farmhouse Restaurant, Fair Oaks
Freddy’s Steakhouse, Hammond
Jack Binion’s Steakhouse, Hammond
Jordy N Jax BBQ, DeMotte
Lucrezia Ristorante, Crown Point and Chesterton
Mirage Grill, Merrillville
Miller Bakery Café, Gary
Sage Restaurant, Valparaiso
Spire Farm to Fork, La Porte
The Steakhouse @ Majestic Star Casino, Gary
Surefire, Valparaiso
Teibel’s, Schererville
T.J. Maloney’s Authentic Irish Pub, Merrillville
Timbrook Kitchens, Munster
Vaps Street Food, Valparaiso
Venice Italian Steakhouse, Dyer

White Rhino Bar & Grill, Dyer

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter buffet at Lansing Country Club

Probably every year since we got married, I have made a ham and a bunch of side dishes for Easter dinner. I often made desserts, too, and made colored eggs into deviled eggs. 

I'm married to a firefighter who in the 13 years he has been on the department has worked more than half of those Easter dates. So, the years that he worked on Easter, I'd usually make our big dinner the day before or sometimes the weekend before or after so that we could still celebrate and have a big meal together. Then I'd often spend Easter day with the kids at their grandparents or sometimes my sister's house while he worked.

So, this year Easter once again fell on my husband's shift day and when a friend, who is a member of the Lansing Country Club, mentioned that there would be a big Easter buffet that was open to the public, I figured I would take advantage of that and skip cooking that day. Then I realized that for the first time ever that my husband's work day fell on Easter he had the opportunity to take a vacation day that day (usually he doesn't have enough seniority to be off on the holidays, but miraculously one of the senior guys passed it over when the vacation requests went around!) So, my husband would actually get to be home for Easter.

I considered canceling reservations and going ahead with cooking a big meal at home, but really going somewhere where someone else would cook sounded really nice. So, I kept the reservation and we all went to the country club for Easter brunch. Whatever little twinge of guilt I had for not cooking disappeared when I took a look at the buffet and realized that brunch would be way better than anything I could have cooked at home.

Among the buffet choices were an omelet station, champagne fountain, bacon, sausage, corned beef hash, pancakes, french toast sticks, hash brown casserole, beef medallions (delicious!), perch, lemon shrimp (amazing!), ham, chicken, deviled eggs, a big salad bar, a huge dessert table and more. Prices were reasonable at $23.95 for adults and $12.95 for children ages 5 to 14.  

There are a few days a year that the club is open to the public for a brunch buffet. The next date will be the Mother's Day Buffet on May 10. Be sure to call and make your reservations - (708) 474-9102. They also open to the public on Tuesday nights for "Fiesta Night" and for the Friday night fish fry.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Figure Eight Brewing: Valparaiso, IN

While attending a media preview event last week for the Blue Chip Brewfest at the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, I had the opportunity to try beers from about a dozen different breweries and meet brewmasters and reps from the breweries. One of them was Tom Uban of Figure Eight Brewing in Valparaiso.

Figure Eight started five years ago in Valparaiso and the brewpub offers a full food menu along with their beer menu of six year-round beers and 30 seasonal varieties. Uban said it is a family-friendly place serving lunch and dinner where they also craft their own root beer.

At the event I tried out the Lost Saint Saison, which Uban described as "A light, crisp Belgian-style that is sessional, brewed with coriander, grains of paradise, white peppercorn and locally made honey.   It was paired with a fabulous Gorgonzola Bacon Confit Lettuce Cup. I'm a big fan of Belgian-style beers and, of course, I was almost as interested in the food as the beers and loved this pairing.

Figure Eight Brewing will be at the Blue Chip Brewfest on April 11. Click HERE for tickets. They'll also be one of three Valparaiso breweries featured at the Valpo Beer Rally on May 1. For tickets, click HERE.

Figure Eight Brewing 
150 Washington St.
Valparaiso, IN
(219) 242-2857

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Stephano's Pizza: Lansing, IL

Years ago, my friend Mary Lynn and her family owned a great little pizza place in town called Stephano's. And sadly, she moved and the business was sold. The changes were obvious immediately and I was sad I couldn't get my favorite pizza just the way I liked it. Well, a couple owners later, I'm again pleased at what I order. The pizzas are very good and they have a ton of other items on the menu. Although I like veggies on my pizza - and they do a good job of distributing fresh ones on their pies - the kids seem to like them more plain. This recent one was simply sausage on half and pepperoni on the other half. The sausage is good. Really good.

I also love that when I order a side salad, I get this monster! So often when you order a side salad at a pizza joint, you get a boring, chintzy serving of browning iceberg lettuce - and if you are lucky a tomato wedge and a cucumber slice. Stephan's salads are the container would barely close huge. Lots of lettuce. Lots of veggies. Lots of croutons. And lots of cheese. They get an A+ for sure in the side salad department. :)

For more info, go to

Stephano's Pizzeria
3155 - 191st St.
Lansing, Il
(708) 895-6611

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Twisted K-8 Brewing: LaPorte, IN

So last week I went out the Blue Chip Casino for a preview event for the upcoming April 11 Blue Chip Brewfest, a huge annual event that now covers the Stardust Event Center as well as an added climate-controlled tent.

One of the best parts of the event was chatting with reps from the breweries and discovering how many there are that are close the Chicago area. I'm familiar with a few, but the number of breweries in Northwest Indiana is growing faster than I can keep track. One newer location that I was introduced to at the event was Twisted K-8 Brewing, which is pretty close to the casino.

Twisted K-8 is a brewpub with a nice roundup of snacks and sandwiches that are good beer fellows. So, if you aren't as much into beer as the others you're with, it sounds like it is definitely worth the trip for a foodie, too. The Ultimate BLT would probably be a nice choice. It's described as having "an unnatural amount of bacon" on toasted beer bread. I was a little giddy to see that they use Fair Oaks cheeses, too! Fair Oaks cheese is amazing!

I see they also have a chocolate stout pie in limited quantities, which could be enough to lure a chocolate lover like me to the counter. Stouts are really growing on me. Their 2 Cream Stout was one of two beers they were sampling that night. I didn't get a chance to get back to table to try it out, but I did get a taste of the Jackelope IPA, which the chef at the Blue Chip paired with their Ultimate Jalapeño Poppers. Good call!

The place is fairly new. They celebrated their first anniversary in December and I'm sure they'd love to have you come out and do some tasting of your own. If you go, tell them the Chicago Foodie Sisters sent you!

You can also catch them at the Blue Chip Brewfest on April 11. For more information, visit

For more on Twisted K-8, go to

Monday, March 30, 2015

Green salad with goat cheese and dried fruit

I love salads and have in recent years graduated from the typical iceberg lettuce with cucumber and tomato that I grew up on. It's one of my favorite parts of dining out -- trying a new salad or peeking at the menu to see what kinds of combinations they're using. I've come to appreciate the mix of sweet and savory items, the soft with the crunchy, the aromas created by such fresh ingredients.

So, for a weekend lunch I stood at the stove making quesadilla after quesadilla since all five kids and and my husband were home. Then I took a look in the fridge to see what I had that could go in a salad. It was time for a weekly shopping run so not that much to choose from, but I had enough for a nice salad of:

romaine lettuce
organic pea shoots (Trader Joe's is the only place I've ever seen these)
broccoli microgreens
baby carrots
gold raisins
dried cranberries
goat cheese

I would have liked to have added some kind of nuts for a little crunch, but the croutons helped.