Friday, November 17, 2017

Kinfork BBQ & Tap in Schaumburg

I recently had an opportunity to swing by Kinfork BBQ & Tap, located at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg to try out a few of their menu items. Upscale bbq has been a foodie trend in recent years and just when you think you won't find anything surprising or particularly impressive in the bbq arena...you find a place like Kinfork.

There were couple of things I found here that I wouldn't have expected to be on the menu...and was really excited when they were. One was hushpuppies. There are a few stories that accompany the origin of the hushpuppy...one being that it originated in New Orleans in the 18th century where it was a creation of French nuns and called croquettes de maise. Another story claims its roots to come from hunters making it at fish frys and cook-outs to "hush the puppies" who would beg for food. I seldom find it on restaurant menus in the Chicago area and when I'm really desperate I'll grab some from the Long John Silvers drive thru, although they always leave me feeling disappointed because I know they can be so much better. The version at Kinfork really blew me away. So crunchy and yummy....especially when dipped in their amazing jalapeño lime ranch sauce!



The other item that I have almost never found in our area is fried cheese curds. When I saw them on the menu, I knew I had to try them. Travel north of the border into Wisconsin and these beauties are everywhere - and done right. Once you hit that Illinois border, you're hard pressed to find a fried cheese curd anywhere. In a pinch, you can grab some at Culvers...but if you've enjoyed them in a pub in Wisconsin along side a frosty mug of brew, it's just not the same. These are definitely the best ones I've had south of the Wisconsin border and they just may be able to beat out some venues in the Badger state in a fried cheese curd throw down. They are made of Wisconsin white cheddar and are beer battered and served with chili aioli. 



I could have eaten those two appetizers and left a happy camper. But, wait...there's more. So. Much. More.

First, let me clue you in on these lovely cocktails we enjoyed with Ole Smokey Moonshine. I sampled the Front Porch Punch, which uses a blackberry moonshine, the Peach Smash and the Electric Lemonade, a tasty but potent little beverage featuring the 100-proof White Lightening. I couldn't pick a favorite. I say, line-up your driver and have them all. ;)





Being the mac and cheese freak that I am, I honed in on the loaded mac and cheese. I knew I needed to try some of the meat, but this cheesy dish was just calling my name. And I'm so glad I didn't ignore that calling. It was phenomenal. So gooey and warm and delicious. It was covered in smoked cheddar, sharp cheddar, white American and pepper jack cheeses with pulled pork, crispy onions and scallions. It is a huge serving - but totally shareable if you're like me and want something else as your entree but just can't resist. Just dig in and put some on your plate and pass it on. And I love that this is one of the quick dishes on their special weekday "Hot Fresh Fast" Lunch Menu that is available from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, designed to have you in and out in 30 minutes.



Ok, on to the meat...you didn't think I'd go to a place known for their barbecue and skip the meat, did you? No way! We did a triple combo - you basically get to select three meats that are seasoned with an 11-spice rub and slow smoked for about 12 hours over hickory and oak. The combos come with cornbread, jalapeño coleslaw and a loaded baked potato.



Our combo included the smoked andouille links (definitely don't miss out on these!!!), the baby back ribs and the beef brisket (OMG good!) There was nothing I tried that I wouldn't order again.


  
I almost forgot to mention that they also brought out a sampling of some of their popular appetizers, which included burnt ends, crispy pork wings and some of the bourbon bbq and the dry rub wings (those were two of the six wing flavors available.) My husband was excited about these. I am not a big fan of wings and usually skip them over, but these made me want to eat wings again. I really loved the bourbon bbq sauce, but the dry rub wings were also really fantastic. This place seriously has some of the best appetizers of any casual spot I've been. 



Oh, and if you weren't intrigued enough by the kind of mishmash of fun dishes from different regions - the Wisconsin curds, the New Orleans hushpuppies, they also do Nashville Hot chicken, pounded and breaded in house and tossed in sauce.

The pub-chic spot is inviting with some nice private event spaces. They also offer off-site catering and have a nice list of options on their "Little Grillers" kids menu - the usual kid favorites like grilled cheese, chicken tenders, mac and cheese and cheeseburger sliders, but also some not so common kid fare. Where else can you go and find baby back ribs, pulled pork sliders and seared salmon on the kids' menu (and at just $7 with side, beverage and a free ice cream bar?)

If you happen to be heading to Woodfield Mall to do your holiday shopping, make this your mid-day lunch stop or the place to unwind after your day is done. Or...if you're like me...plan out where you're eating and then do your shopping around it. :)

Kinfork
5 Woodfield Mall
Schauburg, IL
847-610-3958
KinforkRestaurant.com

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

Friday, November 10, 2017

From the Inbox: Wingstop Doing Test Delivery with DoorDash in Chicago


 Some exciting news for Chicagoans who love Wingstop!



Wingstop Expands Delivery Test to Chicago with DoorDash

Made-To-Order, Hand-Sauced and Tossed Wings, Fries and New Sides Now Available For Delivery

DALLAS (November 6, 2017) – Wingstop Restaurants Inc. (NASDAQ: WING), the award-winning wing concept with more than 1,000 locations worldwide, today announced that it is expanding delivery tests of its made-to-order, hand-sauced and tossed wings, fries and new sides in Chicago, following a successful trial in the Las Vegas market, earlier this year. On-demand restaurant delivery platform DoorDash, which was one of the partners in the Las Vegas test, will serve as Wingstop’s exclusive delivery partner in Chicago.

“Our successful delivery test in Las Vegas supports what we have been hearing from fans around the country, and seeing in the restaurant industry as a whole: today’s guests want to enjoy the food they crave, from the brands they love, in the most convenient way possible,” said Charlie Morrison, President and CEO of Wingstop. “We were extremely pleased with the results from our Las Vegas test and are excited about the possibilities that our Chicago delivery test will bring.”

“We’re proud to be expanding our partnership with Wingstop to the Chicago area,” said Toby Espinosa, Head of Business Development at DoorDash. “Wings continue to be one of the most popular items on DoorDash and we’re excited to be adding one of the country’s favorite wings restaurants to our growing platform.”

With extensive suburban coverage, the Chicago market is home to 50 Wingstop restaurants and will see exclusive menu offerings in addition to delivery services. All test locations will offer guests new side-order menu items including mac-and-cheese, fried corn, and two new options for hand-cut fries: Louisiana Voodoo fries, and Buffalo Ranch fries.

Wingstop locations in Las Vegas have sustained a 10 percent increase in sales during the Company’s first delivery test in that market, which launched in April of this year. Since then, Las Vegas Wingstop locations continue to offer delivery through DoorDash. Based on the success of the Chicago test, additional markets may be added in 2018.

About Wingstop
Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Wingstop Inc. (NASDAQ:WING) operates and franchises more than 1,000 locations across the United States, Mexico, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. The Wing Experts’ menu features classic and boneless wings with 11 bold, distinctive flavors including Original Hot, Cajun, Atomic, Mild, Teriyaki, Lemon Pepper, Hawaiian, Garlic Parmesan, Hickory Smoked BBQ, Louisiana Rub, and Mango Habanero. Wingstop’s wings are always cooked to order, hand-sauced and tossed and served with a variety of house-made sides including fresh-cut, seasoned fries. Having grown its domestic same store sales for 13 consecutive years, the Company has been ranked #3 on the “Top 100 Fastest Growing Restaurant Chains” by Nation’s Restaurant News (2016), #7 on the “Top 40 Fast Casual Chains” by Restaurant Business (2016), and was named “Best Franchise Deal in North America” by QSR magazine (2014).  Wingstop was ranked #88 on Fortune’s 100 Best Medium Workplaces list in October 2016. Follow us on facebook.com/Wingstop and Twitter @Wingstop.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Stuffed green pepper soup

As the last of the green peppers were being harvested from the garden, I had to make some soup. Here's what went in this pot:

2 tsp. Better than Bouillon Beef Flavor
8 cups of water
1 pound browned ground beef
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 can seasoned, diced tomatoes
3 diced roma tomatoes
Italian seasoning to taste
1 Trader Joe's microwave brown rice packet

Add Better than Bouillon to water with seasoning and bring to a boil. Add peppers and continue to boil for about 10 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and add tomatoes. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes. Prepare rice as directed in microwave. Add ground beef and rice and simmer for another five minutes. Enjoy!


Monday, November 6, 2017

Designer Desserts

I've been in Valparaiso, Indiana several times over the past couple months and finally was able to make it in to the Designer Desserts store front in Valparaiso. I had tried their cupcakes at parties and festivals, but hadn't been to the actual bakery.

One you discover Designer Desserts, it is love at first bite. There's a huge selection of gourmet cupcakes. I couldn't even begin to pick a favorite.

Designer Desserts also opened a second location in Schererville a couple months ago. I was happy to hear that since it's much closer to home. For more information, visit designerdessertsbakery.com.


Friday, November 3, 2017

Toast & Jam: Schererville, IN

I've been to Toast & Jam on a couple of occasions and loved it, so as I was on a work assignment in the area last week, I decided I'd stop for some breakfast. Their portions are huge and everything is fresh and delicious.

They have a nice selection of loose leaf teas and I opted for one called "Pearalicious" along with an omelet of ham, tomato, spinach, broccoli and provolone cheese with potatoes. I usually get whole wheat toast with their homemade jams, but decided to get pancakes as that's the other option so I could take them home for one of the kids. Like I didn't have enough already, I got a side of crispy bacon. It was a ton of food and half was enjoyed for breakfast and the other half went home for lunch the following day.

Toast & Jam is a little off the beaten path in the middle of a residential area, but worth seeking out.

Toast & Jam
7311 Mallard Lane
Schererville, IN
(219) 769-0000
toastandjamcafe.com






Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hearty Fall Chili

Chili is one of those perfect fall comfort foods and it's something that is really never identical. I use the same basic ingredients, but sometimes it varies depending on what I have on hand, in the garden or leftover in the fridge. Here's the latest batch and what was in it.

1 1/2 pound ground beef
2 cans seasoned diced tomatoes
2 cans mild chili beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1/2 onion diced
1/2 cup diced fresh mushrooms
1/2 of a medium green pepper, diced
Garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes
Paprika
Cajun seasoning
Dried basil
Oregano

Brown ground beef and drain. Add all seasonings to taste and onion and green pepper and canned tomatoes. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add canned beans, mushrooms and simmer for about 15 - 20 more minutes.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Specials for Veterans at Area Restaurants for Veterans Day

A number of eateries around Chicagoland are offering free meals or discounts for veterans on Veteran's Day as a way to show thanks for service and sacrifice. Take a look at the list below to find out some places to take your favorite veteran to enjoy a meal together:


SafeHouse Chicago
In honor Veteran’s Day, SafeHouse Chicago, 60 E. Ontario, will be offering veterans 50% off their entire order on November 11. While the spy-themed restaurant pays homage to both real and imaginary spies, like James Bond, they also make it their mission to honor those who have served, and are currently serving, our country. In addition to hosting various events throughout the year that support the armed forces, SafeHouse Chicago has an interactive “Wall of Honor” in the restaurant space where patrons can read stories about real-life heroes and their sacrifices.


Veterans Day BOGO Special at Hakka Bakka
  • Saturday, November 11 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Buy-one-get-one FREE Kati Roll, Rice Bowl or Salad Bowl
In recognition of Veterans Day on Saturday, November 11, Hakka Bakka will offer a dine-in special featuring buy-one-get-one FREE Kati Rolls (whole wheat wrap), Rice Bowls or Salad Bowls with proof of U.S military I.D.*


*Limit one free menu item per U.S. military ID (Active-duty/Reserve/National Guard/Retired/Veteran or other proof of military service). Free item requires purchase of an entrée item of equal or greater value and is to be collected by the valid ID holder only. This offer cannot be combined with other coupons, promotions or special promotions. Conditions apply.

1251 W. Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
872.802.3968
www.hakkabakkarolls.com



Veterans Day Special at MAK
  • Saturday, November 11
  • 50-percent off for Veterans
In recognition of Veterans Day, MAK will offer veterans 50-percent off all orders. This includes active, former or retired military and is for dine-in only (one per veteran/active military personnel, per order, per visit, per ID).


MAK offers the dynamic flavors of traditional Chinese cuisine with a healthy and modern twist using recipes handed down from generations. The menu features bowls, wraps, soups and more, incorporating proteins and starches while using ingredients that are locally sourced, and meats that are naturally raised, and hormone, steroid and antibiotic free.


1924 W. Division
Chicago, IL 60622
773.772.6251
Ben's Soft Pretzels

Ben's Soft Pretzels will be offering a free JUMBO pretzel to veterans at participating locations.

The company recently raised funds for Veterans throughout the month of October via the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund for National Pretzel Month. Since 2015, the company has raised more than $90,000 for the nonprofit. THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE 2017 TOTAL YET! 

Discount for Veterans Day at Roanoke
  • Saturday, November 11
  • 20-percent off for all Veterans
Roanoke Restaurant in Chicago's Loop will offer a 20-percent discount to all veterans on Saturday, November 11. This includes active, former or retired military with proof of I.D.


135 W. Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60602
312.940.3760

Free Veterans Day Meal at Tuscany on Taylor Street
  • Saturday, November 11
  • FREE lunch or dinner entree (up to $40 value)
Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants would like to thank veterans for their service by offering them a FREE lunch or dinner entree (up to $40 value) on Saturday, November 11 at all Tuscany locations (Chicago, Oak Brook and Wheeling). The offer is available for dine-in only to active military and veterans with proof of I.D. Reservations are recommended.


1014 W. Taylor St.
Chicago, IL 60607
312.829.1990
www.tuscanychicago.com


Veterans Day Discount at Weber Grill Restaurant
  • Saturday, November 11
  • $25 off meals of $50 or more
All veterans and active duty members who visit Weber Grill Restaurant in Chicago's River North will receive $25 towards their meal of $50 or more.*

Available November 11, 2017 only. Dine-in only. Must mention offer.


539 N. State Street
Chicago IL 60654
312.467.9696
https://www.webergrillrestaurant.com

Free Veterans Day Meal at Tuscany in Wheeling & Oak Brook
  • Saturday, November 11
  • FREE lunch or dinner entree (up to $40 value)
Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants would like to thank veterans for their service by offering them a FREE lunch or dinner entree (up to $40 value) on Saturday, November 11 at all Tuscany locations (Chicago, Oak Brook and Wheeling). The offer is available for dine-in only to active military and veterans with proof of I.D. Reservations are recommended.


Oak Brook:
1415 W. 22nd St.
Oak Brook, IL 60521
630.990.1993

Wheeling:
550 S. Milwaukee Ave.
Wheeling, IL 60090
847.465.9988

Applebee's
Over 1,800 Applebee's locations are participating in a free meal for veterans on November 11. Check with your location location to see if they are a participating location. Offer good on November 11 only.



Not food related, but...


Classy Cuts                                                         

Classy Cuts (708-858-6056) located at 3365 Ridge Rd. Lansing.  Classy Cuts will give free haircuts for Veterans on Saturday, November 11, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.                                                                                                 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gayety's Chocolates & Ice Cream

I love this sweet little gem that we have in downtown Lansing. Gayety's Chocolates & Ice Cream has been in business for 97 years. It originated in Chicago in 1920 and they still make their treats in small batches with high-quality ingredients. The candies are dipped by hand, not machine.

One thing that I love about Gayety's that I can't find anywhere else in the area is that they make fresh whipped cream. My usual when I stop is the Mini Muddle Sundae, but on my most recent visit with two of my sons and the girlfriend of one of them, I decided I'd get a banana split. You can get a mini strawberry banana split or a mini hot fudge banana split. I couldn't decide, so I paid a little extra and got both. The hot fudge is amazing.


My son loves the Blue Moon ice cream, so he got a couple scoops on a waffle cone with sprinkles. The other two took advantage of "Happy Hour," which occurs each weekday afternoon when you can get milkshakes and malts for half-price.

If you have not yet tried Gayety's, it's definitely worth a little bit of a drive to check it out.


Gayety's
3306 Ridge Road
Lansing, IL
800-491-0755
gayetys.com 

**There is also a location in Schererville, IN








Sunday, October 29, 2017

Miss Dottie's Pound Cake

I recently came across a post on Instagram for Miss Dottie's Pound Cake and I knew I'd have to give it a try. Is there anything better than freshly-baked pound cake? Miss Dottie was kind enough to send samples for the Chicago Foodie Sisters to try and I was instantly smitten from the first bite.

I was able to try Miss Dottie's traditional pound cake - the Original Signature Pound Cake, which was amazing, as well as a newer product, Dark Chocolate Marble Pound Cake - also absolutely delectable. But what blew me away the most was the Luscious Lemon Pound Cake. It was life changing. I have never tasted anything like it and I still find myself craving a slice often.


Miss Dottie does her baking right in the Chicago suburbs and you can taste her Luscious Lemon at K'Tizo Tea in Wheaton or at a number of local artisan markets. If you can't make it there, be sure to check out the online shop where you can order mini loaves up to large cakes that serve 16 - 18. With the holidays just around the corner, Miss Dottie's Pound Cakes would make a fantastic gift or be a perfect dessert to serve to guests.

You can taste the difference in the ingredients, which are all top-quality with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Miss Dottie uses only natural ingredients and if you look at the ingredient label, the first one listed is "Love," which I love. :) 

Besides the fact that this is truly one of the best desserts I have ever had in my life, I adore the company for something else they do - and that's that they ship off their goodies to troops serving over seas. It is something near and dear to my heart as throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan our family would send packages and my son started a Samples for Soldiers program where he'd collect sample-sized toiletries to send to different units. I also initiated an Adopt-A-Solier program with the PTA at my son's school and oversaw it for many years. We were lucky enough to have some of the recipients of our packages come to visit the school when they were home on leave. I know it is something little that means so much to these brave men and women serving so far from home.

Miss Dottie's Pound Cake donates a portion of each sale toward sending her cakes to troops and there's also a "donate" button on the website where individuals can help further by giving money to help buy ingredients to make it possible to send even more goodies to our military members serving overseas.

To place your order, visit MissDottiesPoundCake.com.

Cheesy Ham Panini


After coming back from the Grilled Cheese Meltdown with lots of cheesy inspiration, I decided to make some paninis for lunch. I always love sandwiches with lots of melty, gooey cheese. Here's what was on this one:

Turano Italian Pane
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Goat Cheese
Arugula
Mozzarella Cheese
Smoked Ham
Tomato
Provolone Cheese

So, that's the order I placed them in on the bread. I used my T-fal Optigrill and placed it on there - no butter on the bread - for about 4 minutes and this is what I had: