Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hot Giardiniera Focaccia from Produce Depot

I have posted before about Produce Depot. It originated in Dyer and there is now a second, larger location in St. John. I love to stop for veggies and fresh herbs from the cooler. I've yet to try the soups, but I hear they are wonderful. They also make bread fresh daily.

On my last visit I grabbed some of this awesome looking giardinera bread. Unfortunately, I grabbed hot instead of mild. I had a few bites and while it was very flavorful and soft, it was a bit too much for my wimpy taste buds. My son finished it off. Next time I'll have to make sure I grab mild. I thought the price was also quite reasonable as there were two loaves in the bag for $2.20. When I've picked up focaccia at farmer's markets in the area I know I've paid at least $2 a loaf.

I look forward to trying more of their breads in the future. While writing an article on the new St. John location for a regional newspaper, I got a tour of the bakery and it smelled wonderful in there as they were baking up all kinds of goodies.

Still savoring that taste of zucchini blossoms

I'm getting so excited at the sight of the zucchini thriving in the garden. The other day I noticed the flowers and it reminded of a meal I had last summer at Niche in Geneva with stuffed zucchini blossoms. They were one of the most succulent foods I have ever eaten. I've never seen it on a menu before or since then.

I'll have to look into it and see how they are prepared. Perhaps I'll attempt to duplicate it if I can. Or perhaps I'll have to make a return to Niche when it appears on the menu again. Here's a post from that dinner - take a look at the dish I'm talking about -

Strawberry sweet pockets

When you pick strawberries, you have to use them FAST. They don't last long. So, I whipped up some tasty little desserts to try out.
1 tube crescent dough, with dough separated (to make 8)
3/4 cup of strawberries, halved
Whipped cream cheese
Lay out crescent dough.
Spread Nutella or sour cream on each one.
Top with strawberries and roll dough closed on all sides.
I sprinkled sugar on the ones with cream cheese and cinnamon on the ones with Nutella. It made for a tasty little dessert and allowed me to use some of those sweet strawberries at their peak.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Artificial sweeteners may have more risks than benefits

Free range beef. Steroid-free milk. Pesticide free produce. Non GMO products. Concerns over food products are present today that didn't exist generations ago. As the decades have passed, we've moved from the self-sustaining families growing their own foods and raising their own meats to our diets coming from packages in grocery stores. Many of the discoveries and inventions in the area of food that were once thought to be great progress it turns out have caused plenty of harm in exchange for convenience.

It's true that if you're searching for negative, you're going to find it. And it's true that you can find something bad in almost every food we consume. And it's true that you can't believe everything you read. But, with all that in mind, there are a lot of bad things out there that Americans are eating every day.

One thing we stay away from completely in our house is artificial sweeteners. My husband claims to have a myriad of symptoms when he consumes them, from feeling jittery to ringing in his ears. I haven't found reports that show those links, but it is funny how he'll say he doesn't feel good and then when we'll go back to read the label of something he ate that day, it almost always has an artificial sweetener of some kind in it.

Then there are the other more serious side effects, like the links to cancer. I hate how manufacturers sneak it into so many products. I really have to pay attention to labels. And I don't drink soda often, but when I do, it is NEVER diet soda. I recall during my third pregnancy when I was on the borderline of a gestational diabetes diagnosis, my doctor advised me to drink nothing but water (and small servings of milk.) She specifically warned me NOT to drink any diet sodas or anything with artificial sweeteners. She didn't say that it was bad for the baby, but said that there wasn't enough medical research to prove that it was safe and didn't want her patients taking that risk. Anyway...just sharing a few bits of info on artificial sweeteners and the dangers to consuming them, coming from some pretty reputable sources.

Strawberries and Blueberries in Lemon Creme

This simple dessert is one of the yummiest things I've had in a while. I saw this post  from My Turn For Us blog in my Facebook feed and I couldn't wait to give it a try.

It had just five ingredients and I had fresh strawberries on hand that we'd just picked and blueberries in the freezer from our last picking, so I was eager to try it. She had a super yummy photo posted with it that made it too hard to resist.

So, I whipped some up:

1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
zest from one lemon
1 cup of strawberries
1/2 cup of frozen blueberries (I put in microwave on defrost for about a minute, which softened them up and made a little juice that mixed in well with the yogurt.)

Her recipe called for low-fat yogurt and low-fat cream cheese, so that's a way to trim a few calories if you wish to do so. I used what I had on hand, which happened to not be fat-free or low-fat.

Place yogurt, cream cheese and lemon zest in blender. Scoop into serving dishes and top with fruit.

Thanks so much to Evelyn at My Turn for Us for introducing me to this easy, delicious dessert that I know I'll be whipping up again soon! She also noted in her post that it is great for 4th of July with those vibrant colors!

Waldo Cooney's Chicago-style stuffed pizza

I am first and foremost a fan of thin crust when it comes to pizza - the thinner and crispier the better. Chicago is really know more for deep-dish or stuffed pizza. There are several places in and around the city that serve up a great pizza pie - Giordano's, Gino's East, Sanfratello's, Arenello's and others. The closest to us that has a good stuffed pizza is Waldo Cooney's, which has several Chicago area locations. This stuffed cheese pizza is from the Lansing location. And yes, it IS as good it looks. This was my son's birthday dinner request when he turned 19 last month.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Barcito Kicks off July Amigos of Pintxo Events

Hi foodie friends. Just posting another press release that popped up in my inbox today. Looks like a great event that benefits a good cause. And I'm a big fan of Alpana Singh from her days as a host on Check! Please.

Barcito Kicks off July Amigos of Pintxo Events

On Monday, July 1st, Barcito Chef/Partner Ryan Poli and the bar's mascot Pintxo,welcome acclaimed industry guests Alpana Singh, Master Sommelier and Proprietor of The Boarding House and Meg Galus, the Pastry Chef at Park Hyatt Chicago and NoMI, for a memorable Amigos of Pintxo event. The amigas will showcase their unique perspective on the stand-and-eat bites for which Barcito has become known.


The guest chefs will share signature snacks and music playlists, while attendees enjoy all they can eat pintxos for $25 per person. Barcito's selection of beers, kegged cocktails and wines are also available for purchase.

Amigos of Pintxo takes place every other Monday from 8 to 10 p.m. A portion of the sales from this year's series is donated to Pilot Light - a collective of culinary arts professionals whose mission is to enhance children's perception of food and nutrition by implementing food education programs, both working directly with schools and acting as a catalyst for community organizations.

Upcoming guest chefs and dates include:

July 15:Jared Van Camp of Nellcote and Chris Macchia of The Florentine 
July 29:Doug Psaltis of RPM and Ned Elliot of Foreign and Domestic (NYC)
August 5:Jose Garces and Cory Morris of Mercat a la Planxa

All are welcome to attend and seating is available on a first-come basis.

About Tavernita and Barcito
Owned and operated by Mercadito Hospitality, Tavernita and Barcito are located in the heart of Chicago's popular River North neighborhood at 151 W. Erie St. Featuring the cuisine of Chef/Partner Ryan Poli, the restaurants' menus offer a mix of American dishes with Mediterranean influences and an innovative beverage program showcasing creative selections from around the world and unique kegged cocktails. Designed to encourage sampling and sharing, the menus have something for every taste and are brought to life in distinct spaces expertly designed by Seed DesignBarcito presents a stand-and-eat tapas experience with an array of wine, beer and signature cocktail selections.

Tavernita is open seven days a week. Lunch is available Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served Sunday through Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. The Lounge at Tavernita is open Saturday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Weekend brunch is served Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit Tavernita's  website,Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Barcito is open Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Friday through Sunday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. For more information, visit Barcito's website and Twitter feed.

About Mercadito Hospitality
Mercadito Hospitality has grown from its first New York City restaurant location in 2004 to become a renowned restaurant group specializing in Mexican, Latin American, Spanish, and American cuisines. The popularity of the group's restaurants can be attributed to Partners Alfredo and Felipe Sandoval, innovative culinary interpretations created by Chef/Partners Patricio Sandoval and Ryan Poli, and its joint venture with renowned consultants Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci - the Tippling Bros - who bring inimitable flavor profiles to the group's beverage programs.

The group owns and operates five acclaimed concepts. Mercadito, the company's flagship concept, includes two locations in New York, as well as Mercadito in Chicago and Mercadito in Miami. The team also owns and operates Double A, an intimate, exclusive cocktail lounge located beneath Mercadito in Chicago. The group opened its second Chicago restaurant, Tavernita, in January 2012, followed by Little Market Brasserie at the Gold Coast's Talbott Hotel in January 2013. The group's newest concept, Tippling Hall, will open in Chicago's River North neighborhood summer 2013, offering globally-inspired comfort food, an expansive beverage program, and late-night dining. For additional information, please visit:  

Round Barn Brewery & Public House announces 4th of July events

Found this in the Inbox this morning. Looks like a good time!


What's on Tap: Celebrate Fourth of July at Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery and the soon-to-open Round Barn Brewery & Public House in Baroda, MI 

Round Barn Brewery & Public House: 9151 First Street, Baroda MI 49101. 800-716-9463.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013. 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST.

We couldn't miss an opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July during Baroda's famous fireworks show.  Although our doors won't be officially open, we're throwing a party in the parking lot of the latest Round Barn outpost.  Rock out to the tunes of Alligator Blackbird from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST and enjoy hotdogs and brats under the stars. Entry fee is $5 and 100% of proceeds will be donated to the Baroda Fireworks Fund.

For more information and updates about the Round Barn Brewery & Public House, visit us onFacebook.

Round Barn Winery: 10983 Hills Road, Baroda MI 49101. 800-716-9463
Saturday, July 6 - Sunday, July 7, 2013. 1:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. EST.

As the nation celebrates the anniversary of our independence, you can also celebrate the local brewing revolution! Mark your Fourth of July weekend calendar with a trip to Michigan's Wine Country. Perfect for the entire family, stop by the Round Barn Winery, Brewery & Distillery onSaturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7 for the annual REDS, WHITE & BREWS festival. 

With eight craft brews on draft, true hopheads can tip back refreshing micro-brews while soaking up the sun, picnicking to live music all weekend long and watching live brewing demonstrations.  Also on hand will be award-winning wine, Round Barn sangria and DiVine cocktails, all complements to grilled favorites from the Café. Hayrides, cornhole and bouncehouse for the kids, too!  

The Fine Print
  • Live music provided by: Everyday People at 1:30 p.m. and Mr. Blotto at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Top Secret at 1:30 p.m. and Alligator Blackbird at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.
  • Case discounts and drinks specials including DiVine Vodka Slushies to cool off on a hot summer afternoon.     
  • Grab a fresh grilled burger, brat, hotdog or chicken sandwich at the Round Barn Cafe to complete a perfect vineyard picnic.
  • Lawn chairs & sun umbrellas permitted but no coolers, outside food or beverages.
  • Free Parking and Free Admission. 
# # #

About the Round Barn:
Round Barn specializes in award-winning wines, handcrafted micro brews, vodka, rum and bourbon.  In the winemaking business for over twenty-five years, Rick and Sherrie Moersch have built a thriving family operation with their two sons Chris and Matthew.  Their secret of success is based around a spirited, educational and unintimidating atmosphere featuring quality service and products. Visit  or find us on Facebook.

Jimmy K's Pizza, Lansing, IL

I was so sorry to hear yesterday that we were losing another good restaurant in town. It's a pizza place called Jimmy K's. I heard through the Facebook grapevine that they were closing for good this weekend, so I had to seize the opportunity to order pizza from Jimmy K's one more time. I got a small taco pizza, which I'd never had before, but my son requested. I also ordered a medium pepperoni for the other boys and a medium pizza with the stuff that hubby and I like - sausage, mushroom and green peppers. It was nice to have it one more time and I'll really miss it because it was probably the pizza place I ordered from most often. If you want to get one more taste, they are still open for business today and Saturday.

Stop and visit some other Chicago foodie blogs

I've enjoyed getting to meet a few other food blogger and food writers as I've been out at events and I love stumbling across new food blogs and Facebook pages of fellow Chicago area foodies as I'm just scrolling around. I thought I'd introduce you to a few others that have links to this great city. Check them out...and tell them the Chicago Foodie Sisters sent you.

Chicago Foodie Girl -

Chicago Food Hores - (Chicago Food Hores on Facebook)

Momma Cuisine -

Tales from a Middle Class Kitchen -

Two Moms, A Little Time and a Keyboard -

Chicago Food Authority -

Windy City Food Reveiw -

Table For One -

Sweet Treats to Eat -

Big Guy Barbecue Chicago -

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It's time to try out the new summer menu at Seasons 52

One of the most exciting things about the change of the season for foodies is the introduction of new flavors. Seasons 52 is a restaurant chain with locations in Schaumburg and Oakbrook that offers the best display of flavors of the seasons. I love eateries that use the freshest ingredients and I'm never disappointed at Seasons 52. I'm excited about the new summer menu. Read the highlights in the press release below:

Seasons 52 Introduces New Summer Menu
New Dishes Include Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio and
Plainville Farms Turkey Skewer Highlight the Best of the Season

ORLANDO, FLA. (June 24, 2013)  – Seasons 52, the highly acclaimed fresh grill and wine bar restaurant, introduces its new seasonal menu featuring offerings perfect for summer, including heirloom tomatoes, basil, corn and watermelon.  The new seasonal offerings, which include appetizers, entrees, side dishes and a signature Mini Indulgence, will be available through mid-September. 

The Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio begins with heirloom tomatoes, such as Purple Cherokee, Golden Jubilee, and Brandywine varieties. Picked at the peak of ripeness, they are finely sliced and gently tossed with extra virgin olive oil, crumbled goat cheese and fresh basil.  A drizzle of 15-year aged balsamic vinegar provides the finishing touch to this showcase of summer flavors. 

Seasons 52’s search for the finest turkey led to Plainville Farms where six generations of experience and gentle farming practices have resulted in turkey unrivaled in flavor. Capturing the flavor of backyard barbecues, the Plainville Farms Turkey Skewer is basted in a house-made Zinfandel barbecue sauce and grilled over wood-fire to perfection.  It is served on a bed of farro grain accented with grilled peppers, corn and green beans inspired by the classic Low Country dish Hoppin’ John.

Highlights of the summer menu also include:
·        Fig and Goat Cheese Flatbread featuring Laura Chenel chevre, smoky bacon and aged balsamic vinegar
·        Grilled Flat Iron Steak Salad with corn, plum tomatoes and blue cheese topped with a cumin-lime vinaigrette
·        Grilled Corn on the Cob topped with chili, lime and cilantro
·        Summer Berry Cheesecake Mini Indulgence topped with fresh blueberries and raspberry and blueberry sauces
“Our summer menu captures the essence of the season,” said Chef Cliff Pleau, Senior Director of Culinary at Seasons 52. “We have taken inspiration from the farmer’s market, backyard barbecues and global cuisines to create food that is better for you and new dishes to share with you.”
To complement the summer menu, Seasons 52 introduces several new house-made beverages: lemonade, sparkling raspberry lemonade, and ginger agave soda. Master Sommelier George Miliotes has also added Zardetto Prosecco to the award-winning wine list.
Miliotes recommends the Strawberry Kir Royal as an ideal summer cocktail.  The seasonal cocktail combines Zardetto Prosecco with Prairie Organic Vodka house-infused with summer strawberries and a touch of agave nectar.

Seasons 52 changes its menu four times per year with weekly fresh features that capture the flavors of the season.  The seasonal menu offerings, as with all dishes offered at the restaurant, feature techniques such as wood-fire grilling and brick-oven cooking that bring out the natural flavor of dishes, allowing guests both the freedom to indulge and the ability to eat sensibly. 

About Seasons 52

Seasons 52 is a fresh grill and wine bar featuring a seasonally inspired menu and an award-winning international wine list designed to excite and surprise the palate.  Evoking the fresh appeal of the farmer’s market, we strive to feature the freshest ingredients at the peak of ripeness and prepare our dishes through natural techniques like wood-fire grilling and brick-oven cooking.  The result is a promise that no menu item is more than 475 calories.  From our signature flatbreads and popular Mini Indulgence desserts to our international selection of 100 wines, including more than 60 offered by the glass, guests feel both the freedom to indulge and the ability to celebrate living well.  Seasons 52 currently operates 31 restaurants in 15 states across the country.  For more information, please visit, like us on Facebook at or follow @Seasons52 on Twitter.   

Friday Night Supper Club at Chicago Firehouse

Often when you dine out, meals are good, but not great and the decor is decent, but not incredible and the service is so-so, but not impeccable. Chicago Firehouse is not one of those places. It's where you expect to be impressed and then expectations are exceeded.

Being married to a firefighter, I was delighted when I stumbled across it years ago online and we dined there with a fellow firefighter and his wife. It was one of the best meals I've ever had and one of the best dining experiences and it remains one of my very favorite restaurants.

If you haven't tried it out, now is the time. See blow for the Friday Night Supper Club special.

Summer cocktails carry-out farm-to-table concept

I've found lots of cocktail recipes and photos popping up my inbox this week and boy, am I getting thirsty. This e-mail talks about the new J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar and how the cocktails incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables that are plentiful this season. Take a look below, sounds like a great place to stop for an after-work cocktail:

This summer, Chicagoans are in for a refreshing treat at the recently opened J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar (749 N. Clark St.) with the restaurant's in-house hydroponic garden being in full bloom and providing fresh, in season ingredients. The mixology program at J. Rocco, which is overseen by the seasoned Kristianna Cross focuses on incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables and hand-picked herbs from the restaurant's hydroponic garden, to offer fresh flavors, in line with Chef Steve Chiappetti's "honest Italian" cuisine concept. From the hand crushed watermelon in the Parasole, the house-made strawberry-rhubarb grenadine in the Agrodolce, and the rosemary syrup in the Calabreeze, the flavors of each craft cocktail revolve around the seasonal produce and flavorful herbs, offering a variety of vibrant concoctions to accompany Chiappetti's hearty Italian fare.

Designed and installed by Arash Amini of FarmTower Co. (, the living wall was purposed to bring food production to the site of consumption - providing a flat form for zero-food mile diets, better-than-organic cultivation and year-round harvests. While the herbs produced by the living wall, including rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, basil, mint and more, are used by Cross to freshen up cocktails all year long, summertime is the perfect season to enjoy light, herbaceous flavors.

Cross, who has been a vegan for three years, says limiting her diet to only plant-based ingredients has opened up an entire universe of different spices, fruits and vegetables from around the world. She uses this knowledge and applies it to the cocktail program. Cross approaches mixology with a DIY attitude, making her own ginger ale, grenadines, bar cherries, sour mix, limoncellos and more. "Classic cocktails are classic for a reason," she believes, "they have a history in our culture, even if just a memory." She loves taking classic cocktails and giving them a modern, fun twist with fresh ingredients.

The summer cocktail menu at J. Rocco is as follows:

Pepper-infused vodka, limoncello, fresh oj, housemade grenadine

Peach puree, vanilla bean syrup, prosecco

Mandarin vodka, cranberry juice, ginger syrup, macerated mint

Don q anejo rum, meyer lemon, watermelon, basil

Rocco Highball
Smooth ambler old scout straight bourbon whiskey and house-made ginger ale

Koval rye whiskey, lemon/lime juice, strawberry-rhubarb grenadine

Scarlet Harlot
Breckenridge bourbon, meletti amaro, blood orange and brandied cherries

Comb 9 gin, Campari, grapefruit juice, rosemary syrup
J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar is open seven days a week, Sunday through Thursday from 5:00pm to 10:00pm and Friday and Saturday from 5:00pm to 1:00am. Valet parking is available during all hours of operation. Reservations are available by or by calling (312) 475-0271.
About J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar
J. Rocco, in its entirety, pays homage to partners' Joseph Frasca and Chef Steve Chiappetti's Calabrian heritage, and all of the relatives who have enriched their lives over countless, memorable meals. The experience and dynamic cooking style of Chef Chiappetti (Rhapsody, Mango, Viand and Costa d'Oro ) are now brought to life on what he describes as an "honest Italian" menu - where pure and seasonal ingredients star in a showcase of genuine, bold flavor. Chef Chiappetti's menu of regional signatures includes nearly ten house made pastas, pizzas, enticing entrées hearty soups and several meatball preparations, complemented by robust Italian wines and fine cocktails. A true farm-to-table experience stems from Chef Chiappetti's family background of Chiappetti Meats, with multiple generations of butchers on both parents' sides, plus an expertly installed hydroponic garden where he hand-picks lettuces, herbs and other items for the freshest flavor possible. J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar's two-level space in River North includes an 80-seat dining room on the first floor, including the traditional Italian family table and bar seating for 12, plus an extended bar area on the second floor ideal for imbibing, light bites and socializing.

Wine Enthusiast's Mango Chic Cocktail of the Month

I get tons and tons of e-mails in my inbox each 400 - 600 a day, so it has to be something important or urgent or something that really catches my eye to get me to spend a few minutes looking at it rather than clicking the "delete" button.

I do spend a bit of time looking through the recipes, press releases and food blogs that come my way in the form of e-mails. This cocktail shot stopped me long enough to read through the recipe from Wine Enthusiast Magazine of their cocktail of the month. Click below for the recipe. Looks so refreshing, doesn't it?

Mango Chic

Johnson's Farm Produce

For the past few year's, we've gone out in early June (last year it was late May) to pick strawberries. We always go to Johnson's Farm Produce in Hobart, IN where we hit the field to fill some buckets. And, I admit, I always have to have a little taste of a warm juicy one right off the vine. Oh, boy!!!

Anyway, if you haven't done fruit picking with your family, it's definitely a worthwhile outing. Fun times, super ripe fruit and it saves you a bit of money by picking your own.

Spinach Fritters

Lately, I have seen a large number of recipes for fritters - black bean fritters, zucchni fritters, spinach fritters. I glanced at one from Dish by Dish called Spring Onion and Spinach Pancakes and worked from there, modifying it with what I had on hand and for the quantity I wanted. Here's her post:

1 1/4 cup spinach, cut into strips
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh chives
dried oregano, basil, garlic salt, pepper to taste

In separate bowl, beat 3 eggs, a dash of allspice, about 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tsp. olive oil and 2 tbsp bread crumbs.

Mix bowls together and heat skillet. Add olive oil to skillet. Spoon out batter and add to hot skillet. I sprinkled a little more bread crumbs on after they were in the pan. The rest of dinner was almost done, so I made a small batch of 6.

My friend, Judy, had dropped off some fresh chives, mint and sage, so I used the fresh chives and sage in this dish.

I also topped it with a dollop of sour cream with fresh chives stirred in.

I think in the future, I'll do more spinach and less egg and I tasted more egg than anything else, but overall not bad, especially with the sour cream and chive on top.

This was hubby's plate, a fritter with a grille chicken drumstick, some green beans with sliced almonds, a veggie mix made on the grill and a tomato with oil and garlic warmed on the grill - and a glass of strawberry lemonade. I had my fritter along side a bagel pizza and tomato as I only eat white meat chicken.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pancakes come in many flavors

With our bounty of recently picked strawberries, I made a big batch of pancakes and made some topping.

1 cup sugar
Juice squeezed from one lemon
2 cups diced strawberries

Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes. And scoop over pancakes.

I also made some blueberry pancakes topped with maple syrup and some chocolate chip pancakes topped with chocolate syrup.

Hasselback Potatoes

I've seen Hasselback potatoes posted on Facebook quite a few times. I did a little research and learned that this style of baked potato originated in Stockholm, Sweden as a specialty served at the Hasselbacken Hotel.

Most recipes I've seen have been for baking them in the oven. I only had a few minutes to spare, though, as my husband made burgers on the grill. So, I improvised and sped up the process a little.

5 Yukon gold potatoes (fan-sliced - do not slice all the way through)

I put them in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. I removed from the microwave and added:

1/2 cup three Cheddar cheese shredded blend
2 tsp. bacon bits

I gave the plate to hubby and told him to put the plate on the grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese. It worked well. Here's what they looked like when they were done. I wish I'd had a bit more time to distribute some of the cheese and bacon between the slices.

I topped mine with some sour cream and fresh chives and had it along with a loaded cheeseburger and some peach iced tea with mint...a lovely lunch!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rosebud Restaurants Celebrate the Chicago Blackhawks

There's been quite a hubbub in the parts over a little hockey victory last night. :) Our Chicago Blackhawks pulled it off in Boston last night to win the Stanley Cup. There was a lot of celebrating in and around the city last night. I got this e-mail in my inbox today that Rosebud Steakhouse and it's affiliated restaurants are celebrating the win in foodie fashion over the next few days. Check it out!

(Chicago, IL)—In celebration of the Chicago Blackhawks winning the 2013 Stanley Cup, select Rosebud Restaurants are offering up a Hawky special that is sure to please all fans! Served from this Tuesday until Sunday, June 30th, Carmine’s, Centro Ristorante, Rosebud Prime and Rosebud Steakhouse will be offering a Prime, 36 ounce, 21 day aged, Broiled Tomahawk Steak ($60). Guests can wash it down with a refreshing Blackhawks Berry Mojito, concocted by Rosebud Mixologist Trudy Thomas, that features Mt. Gay Rum, Crème de Mure, Blackberries, Raspberries, Fresh Mint and is topped with Prosecco ($10). For more information on the Rosebud Blackhawks specials please visit or call the participating restaurants: Carmine’s (312.988.7676), Centro Ristorante (312.988.7775), Rosebud Steakhouse (312.397.1000) and Rosebud Prime (312.384.1900).

The iconic Rosebud restaurants are known for their first-class food, exemplary service, and sophisticated aesthetics. The Rosebud Restaurant Group was founded by legendary Chicago restaurateur Alex Dana, beginning with his first restaurant in 1973. In the 40 years since, Mr. Dana has expanded the famous establishment to include more than a dozen acclaimed restaurants around Chicago. Visit the website at, keep up on events by following Rosebud Restaurants on Twitter at or check out the restaurant’s Facebook page at

Peach iced tea with fresh mint

I'm very much enjoying the addition of fresh fruit to beverages this season. Sun tea is a common beverage in our house in the Spring and Summer months. I simply use this one gallon clear pitcher I got from Pampered Chef, put in 3 to 5 tea bags, fill with water and place out in the sun. My kids like it sweetened (as do I), so I usually add about 1 1/3 cups of sugar and mix it up. Sometimes I use flavored tea bags, but this batch was straight black tea. So, I infused some flavor with peach slice and a little peach juice and added some fresh mint leaves to the top. How refreshing!!!!!

Georgie's Pizza in Three Oaks, Michigan

If you read this blog often, you've figured out that we spend a lot of time in Three Oaks, Michigan. If you put "Three Oaks" in the search bar on the blog, you'll see that a lot of places come up. We make it up there often in the summer and even in the off-season we like to go up for the day just to have lunch and get away from the busy burbs. Perhaps one day we'll call Michigan home...after hubby retires (He only has 9 years and one month to go - not that I'm counting or anything.)

On one of our visits, we chatted a little with the owner of Georgie's Pizza. It turns out he's a guy from Chicagoland who decided to bring his pizza making skills to Southwest Michigan. I've had the pizza a few times and it can definitely claim to be "Chicago" pizza. So often when we travel, the pizza is mediocre at best once you're out of Chicagoland. In this case, it's made just like you'd get at a pizzeria around Chicago, made by someone who has lived here. And since the area is frequented by many Chicagoans, they know the difference. Georgie's is true Chicago pizza, so if you're spending time in Michigan, this is where you want to go for a taste of home.

I'm a fan of veggies and sausage on my pizza, but this is a picture is of a pizza I grabbed for the kids as we were hanging out in Dewey Cannon Park, which is right behind Georgie's. We noticed another family sitting at a picnic table eating a pizza. Soon the kids were asking for pizza, so we hung out a little longer and ordered some pizza and garlic bread.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mom & Dad's 50th Anniversary Dinner at J.J. Kelley's in Lansing

My mom and dad recently celebrated their 50th anniversary at a local spot called J.J. Kelley's. I've posted about this place before. The food there is AWESOME. I haven't had anything there that I haven't liked and I've tried everything from appetizers to sandwiches to soups to fish and shrimp to chicken entrees. For the party I knew I wanted to have something different than the traditional fried chicken, beef and mostaccioli family style menu and the owner, JoEllyn was very accommodating.

Here was the line-up for the party.

Broccoli cheese soup

Garlic bread

A nice salad of greens and veggies with Italian dressing.

Fresh mixed veggies. So good!

Potato wedges

And lemon chicken with angel hair pasta.

My sister ordered this adorable cookies from her friend Cheri.

We're so happy we were able to gather the family to celebrate our parents 50th. Aren't they cute?

Light Pepperoni and Veggie Pasta

My boys really like mostaccioli, but I'm not a huge fan of it. The past few times I've made it for dinner, I reserve some noodles for myself before soaking the rest in pasta sauce. I saute some spinach in olive oil and add some seasonings and tomatoes. It just feels lighter this way and I like it much better. That's what I did with the most recent batch. Here's the specifics.

1 1/2 cup spinach
Olive oil
1/4 cup fresh mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon garlic (I keep a jar of minced garlic in my fridge)
1 cup of petite diced tomatoes (I used canned)
Fresh basil and thyme
2/3 cup of cooked pasta
3 slices of sandwich pepperoni, diced (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan
Fresh parsley

Heat pan and add oil. Saute spinach, mushroom, garlic together in pan. After this step, I remembered that I had fresh herbs in the garden and chopped up some fresh basil and thyme and added it to the pan with a 1/2 can of petite diced tomatoes.

Toss in cooked pasta and add pepperoni. I don't usually add any meat to this, but my son was disappointed that I hadn't made meatballs with his mostaccioli, so I appeased him with some chopped up pepperoni. I had a little extra, so I added it to my dish. Once it is warmed throughout, transfer it to a plate and top with freshly grated Parmesan. I happened to have a wedge of 15-month aged (I guess that's not exactly fresh, is it? But you know what I mean, right?) Argentinian Aged Parmesan in my fridge that I'd picked up on a recent day trip in Michigan. Then I garnished it with fresh parsley from the garden.