Thursday, October 27, 2016

Win Tickets to America's Baking and Sweets Show

Anyone who has a sweet tooth (who doesn't?) will enjoy making the rounds at North America's first and biggest baking and sweets show coming up November 11 - 13, 2016 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center near Chicago. The theme of the three-day event is "Peter Pan" and attendees will be enchanted by the magical world of baking and sweets at this year's event.

Take time to explore and shop the exhibitor booths which cover baking, baked goods and the endless category of sweets. A number of hands-on classes and demonstrations will happen throughout the weekend (be sure to get tickets soon as many sell out quickly) led by prestigious chefs and baking gurus from around the world.

Beside baking experts and authors and hands-on and demonstration classes, you'll find a family zone, wedding cake competition, theme cake competition and products and services. Show officials have partnered with the Illinois chapter, based in Chicago, of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition with the color teal being incorporated into wedding cake entries.

Among the celebrities that are part of this years event are Elise Strachan, renowned pastry chef and creator of the My Baking Addiction brand with a following of over 10 million around the world; Sally McKinney, food blogger at Sally's Baking Addiction and cookbook author; Emmy-Award winning television producer Rusion McDonald; artisan bakery owner Sarah Owens; television host and cookbook author Shauna Server; pastry chef and former owner of Aigre Doux in Chicago Malika Ameen and Chef Nicolas Jordan.

Patrons of the 2016 America's Baking and Sweets Show will also have a chance to win this year's grand prize of a Bosch dishwasher.

Discounted tickets can be purchased in advance through the show's website, Tickets can be purchased for individual dates or for a three-day pass as well as for individual instructional hands-on/demo classes. Kids 12 and under are free, so it makes for a great family outing. It's also perfect for a girls day out.

The folks at America's Baking and Sweets Show are generously providing some tickets for us to give away to our followers. We'll be giving away two tickets to a winner who comments on this blog to let us know their favorite dessert. A random winner will be chosen on October 31, the biggest sweets day of the year. Post your comment by 11:59 on Halloween to enter. We'll also be giving away another set of two tickets on the Facebook page, so keep an eye out and double your chances by following and entering there as well.

Halloween Witch Hat Cookies

Looking for a fun, crafty recipe to make with the kids or to serve at a Halloween party? Here's a cute one using the Cookie Chip, a flat thin cookie that also is free of artificial flavors, colors, GMOs and preservatives. The chips are available at Target and retail for $3.99.

-Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Chips
-Hershey Kisses
-Peanut Butter Cups
-Orange Frosting (to attach and decorate)

Stack the peanut butter cup (wide-side down) on the Cookie Chip, then place the Hershey Kiss on top using frosting to hold in place and decorate. Place on top of a marshmallow with frosting dots for eyes and nose.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Michelin Announces 2017 Bib Gourmand Restaurants

Foodies recognize the significance of the Michelin stars. If you're in the dark, check out the movie Chef to get an idea of the weight it holds to the worlds top chefs. And while those top restaurants that are fortunate enough to earn a spot in the MICHELIN Guide Chicago 2017 would be on any foodie's bucket list, the cost of an experience at one of those establishments makes a visit unlikely. For the working class who want to dine regularly on good, quality food prepared by experienced intense chefs in a creative atmosphere at a reasonable price, this is the list you want to pay attention to.

Below is the press release that reveals those Chicago restaurants that are Chicago MICHELIN Guide 2017 Bib Gourmands and there are three new Chicago spots joining the repeat recipients.

CHICAGO, Oct. 26, 2016  Michelin today announced the restaurants that have earned the designation of Bib Gourmand in the seventh edition of the MICHELIN Guide Chicago 2017.
The new edition of the Guide includes nearly 300 restaurants across Chicago’s vast, diverse and eclectic neighborhoods. The Bib Gourmand selections include three new restaurants: The Bristol in Bucktown and Wicker Park, Dos Urban Cantina in Logan Square and San Soo Gab San in the Anderson, Edgewater and Uptown. 
The Chicago Bib Gourmands represent more than 50 locations across the city and surrounding neighborhoods. Newcomers to the list are standouts in an already exciting dining scene. The Bristol has long been a favorite of the Michelin inspectors, but this year’s visits discovered the food was seasonal, sensible and fresh with a quintessential neighborhood vibe. Dos Urban Cantina’s story has roots in another great Chicago Mexican restaurant, Topolobampo. Two husband-wife teams—Chefs Brian and Jennifer Enyart and Michael and Erika Rotolo- have brought ambitious contemporary Mexican cuisine to a well deserving neighborhood. San Soo Gab San, regarded as one of the top Korean BBQ spots in Chicago, also offers an array of delicious stews and soups.
Michelin’s famously anonymous inspectors dine their way across four cities in the United States ― New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. ― but apply the same rigorous standards and practices to each of their evaluations and they always pay their bills in full. The Bib Gourmand list represents restaurants that offer great food for good value at locations the inspectors favor most. These restaurants typically serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (excluding tax and gratuities). This year’s Guide also includes 69 restaurants that made the $25-and-under list and represent even better value for good food.
While the renowned Michelin stars remain the most celebrated international distinction in the MICHELIN Guide, the Bib Gourmand is a highly desired honor among restaurateurs and one that is recognized by the many people who seek quality food at a reasonable price.
The 2017 Michelin stars for the Windy City will be announced on Wednesday, Nov.  2. 
Chicago MICHELIN Guide 2017 Bib Gourmands

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

From the Inbox: Free Scary Face Pancakes at IHOP on Halloween

Just thought I'd share this cool nugget of info. IHOP is featuring Scary Face Pancakes this month, but they are free on Halloween for kids 12 and under. Read on for more info:

Ghoulishly good times are back at IHOP® RESTAURANTS with The return of FREE Scary Face Pancakes FOR KIDS ON HALLOWEEN
On October 31st Kids 12 and Under Can Enjoy a Free Scary Face Pancake from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. 

To celebrate Halloween, on October 31, kids 12 and under can dig into Scary Face Pancakes for FREE from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. at participating restaurants. IHOP encourages children and families to create a monster masterpiece from a hot-off-the-griddle, world-famous Buttermilk Pancake topped with whipped cream, a strawberry nose and served with a side of OREO® cookies and candy corn.
Participating IHOP Restaurants in the United States. 
For close to six decades, IHOP has been the leader in bringing guests a freshly made breakfast served any time of day, every day, as well as unique, made-to-order limited time menu items. Scary Face Pancakes offer families a fun and unique dining experience this Halloween season. 
MONDAY, October 31, 2016 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM
For more than 58 years, IHOP has been a leader, innovator and expert in all things breakfast, any time of day. The chain offers 65 different signature, fresh made-to-order breakfast options, a wide selection of popular lunch and dinner items as well as meals under 600 calories.  IHOP restaurants offer guests an affordable, everyday dining experience with warm and friendly service.  As of June 30, 2016, there were 1,695 IHOP restaurants in 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam as well as Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and the Philippines.  IHOP restaurants are franchised and operated by Glendale, Calif.-based DineEquity, Inc. (NYSE: DIN) and its affiliates. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Urban Accents Introduces Pumpkin Simmer Spices

We've moved into the season of pumpkin spice. It's everywhere. Latte. Pie. Doughnuts. And Urban Accents has created some new products for pumpkin spice lovers to add their favorite flavor to savory dishes.

The new Mexican Chili Pumpkin Mole, Indian Coconut Pumpkin Curry and Moroccan Apricot Pumpkin Tagine sauces provide an easy way to make a comfort meal of stew or chili.

While the sauces help to make a 30-minute meal, I decided to try a jar in the crock pot and the results were splendid. I put one jar of the Moroccan Apricot Pumpkin Tagine in the crock pot with some baby carrots and four boneless, skinless chicken breasts on high for two hours, then I moved to low for about 2 1/2 more hours. The chicken was so tender and loaded with flavor. I popped a bag of frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's in the microwave and had a delicious meal in front of me with pretty much no work at all.

Head over to to check out the new line of sauces and peruse their other products. Some of my favorites are the pizza seasonings, corn on the cob seasonings and the Chicago Steak & Chop blend. They also have their turkey brine & rub kits available for the holidays. Last years I used it for my Thanksgiving turkey and it was the best turkey we've had yet.

*** I did receive a product sample for the purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Olive Theory Pizzeria

The Chicago Foodie Sisters were invited recently to try out Olive Theory Pizzeria in Downers Grove for lunch. Olive Theory is a build-your-own pizza place where you can order a customized 11-inch pizza with anything on their ingredient buffet. Only one ingredient - prosciutto - has an upcharge. Other than that, you get unlimited toppings on your pizza for $7.99. You can also build your own pie-sandwich, which is similar to a calzone or build a salad. There are more than 45 sauces, cheeses, meats, veggies and finishes to choose from.

The eatery is cute and casual and a great place to grab a quick meal as pizzas cook in about 3 - 6 minutes, depending on the number of toppings, in a traditional brick oven. Since you can customize, it's also a great spot for a family meal so that you can get a plain cheese one for those picky eaters or load it up for a preschooler with an affinity for olives and ham. There are high chairs, booster seats and organic milk boxes to make it inviting for little ones.

While there's been a trend in recent years in the opening of casual spots focusing on individualized, quick pizzas, this one is family owned with one location and with a dedication to personalizing service so that every customer gets exactly what they're looking for and that ingredients are as fresh as they can possibly be. There are no preservatives used and the regular and whole wheat crust is hand-rolled fresh on site daily. A gluten-free crust option is also available that comes from an outside vendor to ensure that there is no accidental gluten crossover.

The pie-sandwich is a unique item that you can build that is a crust that is folded over, yet isn't completely closed as a calzone would be. There are three pie-sandwiches on the menu  and what really makes it stand out is the unique crunch that you get when the crust is brushed with Garlic Oil and seasoned with their signature Poseidon's Blessing spice mix - a blend of parmesan, oregano and sea salt.

Our creation - "The Big W" Pizza!
Five house pizzas are the menu, but it's so much fun to create your own based on what you like best. Becky and I made our way into the kitchen to check out the process and build-our-own. This is our perfect pie - we call it "The Big W" (what can we say, we are HUGE Cubs fans!) It was made with a regular crust brushed with garlic pesto and classic red sauce, then topped with mozzarella, provolone and feta with sausage (finely crumbled just they way we love it) and mushroom, baby spinach and tomato.  It was then drizzled with garlic olive oil and sprinkled with Poseidon's Blessing. We have a private party coming up to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Olive Theory and the 5-year anniversary of the Chicago Foodie Sisters food blog and this creation will be one of the items on the menu.
Owner John Kwok presents our custom made pizzas

We'd love to meet some of our followers and would like to invite one of you to the party to try out some of Olive Theory's menu items for yourself. If you'd like to attend, comment on this blog or on our Facebook page under the post with this blog entry. If there's more than one comment, we will randomly pick a winner and notify you asap with event details.

Oh, and can't forget to mention that they also have dessert pizzas - and we couldn't leave without giving one a try. We opted for the Chocolate Banana, which was delicious with a layer of Nutella, fresh bananas and whipped cream and a dusting of powdered sugar. They also have an Oreo Crumble variety and one with peanut butter and M & Ms.

Olive Theory has the motto, "Eat Well, Do Good" and they have a 1/10 Pledge, donating one pizza for every ten that you buy to charitable organizations that want to give back. The "theory" at Olive Theory is "to inspire and empower individuals through the love of food, learning & philanthropy." It's refreshing to find a place that is dedicated to giving back to the community it serves and you can feel good that your purchase does more than feed yourself.

So, if you're a pizza lover or looking for a casual spot to grab a quick lunch to go, keep Olive Theory in mind. And don't forget to enter to win an invite to our joint celebration by commenting on this blog post or on our FB post about Olive Theory.

Olive Theory Pizzeria
1400A Butterfield Rd.
Downers Grove, IL 

***We did receive a complimentary meal for the purpose of a review. We were not compensated for this post. All opinions are our own.

Friday, October 14, 2016

From the Inbox: Munster Ale Fest returns this weekend

Fall beer fest season is winding down and the Munster Ale Fest is a great place to spend one last Autumn day outdoors tasting the best craft brew in the Midwest. Brewfest Partners does a great job in organizing brew fests in the Chicago area and all over the Midwest and beyond. Get your tickets to do some sampling!

Join us Saturday, October 15, 2016 in Munster’s Centennial Park to enjoy unlimited samples of craft brews from Indiana and across the Midwest. Support your local craft heroes and try some new brews from 1pm – 4:30pm (VIPs enter at noon). Unlimited 3oz. samples of delicious beer and cider included with GA and VIP tickets, food available for purchase. Live Entertainment from Zydeco Voodoo. VIPs enjoy the fest one hour before the crowd, and get exclusive brew samples and snacks.
Additional information can be found on our website at
Tickets are on sale now! 

VIP ticket holders enter the park early at 12 PM 
General Admission ticket holders enter at 1 PM
Event ends at 4:30 PM

General Admission Ticket ($45) Includes:
  • Commemorative pint glass
  • Unlimited sampling

VIP Admission Ticket ($80) Includes:
  • 1- hour early admission
  • Commemorative pint glass
  • Unlimited sampling, including exclusive brews
  • Access to VIP Lounge featuring: snacks, unique one-off beers, private restrooms 

Designated Driver Ticket (with GA = $15, with VIP = $25) Includes:
  • Unlimited soda and water
  • Commemorative pint glass
  • (VIP DDs also get snacks, early entry with VIP ticket holders and access to VIP Lounge, must be purchased with VIP ticket)
DDs must be 21+ and cannot consume alcohol at the fest. DD tickets must be purchased with GA tickets.

Event area will be gated. No one under 21 admitted (including babies in strollers). No one will be admitted without valid photo ID.
All Designated Drivers must purchase DD tickets and cannot drink at the festival.
No lawn chairs admitted. No dogs or other pets permitted on fest grounds.
No alcohol permitted outside of festival grounds.