Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Unreal Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat Bar

I got a box of Unreal Candy in the mail to taste and review and I had a really hard time keeping my kids away. One is a bigger chocoholic than I am and can totally sniff out any bit of chocolate within a mile.

So, since there were two of each variety, I let him be my taste tester. When we tried out the Unreal chocolate caramel peanut nougat bar, he immediately compared it to a Snickers bar, but said he liked this one better, noting that it had better flavor and more nougat.

At first bite, I knew it was different. It does have a different texture, but that didn't make a difference to me. I liked that it just tasted and seemed more natural. The chocolate looked a little dull, but I took that as a good thing. It didn't have that shiny layer that gave it a waxy appearance. I would definitely reach for an Unreal over the common candy bars. Unreal is uncommon and that's what I love about it. Knowing that better quality ingredients are used, I feel better about eating it when I'm craving a sweet treat.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Kraft Fresh Possiblities Tour Visits Chicago ~ related giveaway

Last week I posted about the Kraft Fresh Take product. I fell in love with the cheese and breadcrumb mixture that I used to coat some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It was delish! The outside was crispy (without having to fry it and use lots of oil!) and the inside was juicy. I'm someone who usually purchases things that I like when they go on sale and then I stock up. I commented on that blog post that this is something I wouldn't think twice about paying full price for. And I meant it. It was really good and so easy to have everything in one bag for the prep, which meant pretty much zero effort for clean-up. I did try to duplicate it on my own, but it wasn't the same.

The folks at Kraft got in touch with me after that post went up to let me know that the Kraft Fresh Possibilities Tour is in the area this week. One Wednesday, May 1, they'll be at the Walmart Super Center at 8331 S Stewart Avenue in Chicago from 10:00am - 2:00pm. And for the south siders, like me, there's also a tour stop just over the Indiana border at 1100 5th Avenue in Hammond at 3 p.m. on the same day. Head on out to check out the food truck for the Kraft Fresh Take Possibilities Tour and pick up some coupons and recipe ideas and try out samples. Get more tour information at www.tryfreshtake.com. They'll be at several more locations around the country in the next few months.

Images courtesy of Kraft.com

Kraft Fresh Take is a meal kit found in the dairy section that contains fresh, natural Kraft cheese, unique spice blends and breadcrumbs that go into a "Fresh Take" bag that serves as the mixing bowl, which minimizes clean-up. It's easy and convenient to make such dishes as Smokey Mesquite Chicken Tenders, Awesome Artichoke Dip or Handmade Four Cheese Meatballs.

Here's a list of the great varieties of flavors in the Fresh Take product line:

·         NEW! Smokey Mesquite BBQ: Colby, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses combine with seasoned breadcrumbs, onion, cumin and garlic for a smokey taste that barbeque lovers can’t resist.
·         NEW! Classic Four Cheese: A blend of shredded Colby, cheddar, Monterey Jack and mozzarella come together with breadcrumbs and spices to create the cheesiest of toppings.
·         NEW! Spicy Chipotle Cheddar: A blend of cheeses come together with onion, chipotle chili and paprika for a spicy blend perfect for adding a little kick to your meal.
·         Italian Parmesan: For a classic Italian meal, add this blend of parsley, garlic, onion, Parmesan and mozzarella to chicken, pork or fish.
·         Cheddar Jack & Bacon: Savory herbs, bacon, Monterey Jack, cheddar and provolone cheeses pair perfectly with chicken, pork and fish.
·         Southwest Three Cheese: A blend of garlic, cumin and red chili pepper combined with Colby, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses creates a zesty Tex-Mex meal with chicken, pork or fish.
·         Rosemary & Roasted Garlic: This blend of rosemary and garlic with mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan and Romano cheeses is a perfect seasoning for pork and adds delicious flavor to chicken and fish, too.
·         Chili Lime & Panko: A mix of chili peppers and lime with Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses spice up fish and complement chicken and pork.
·         Savory Four Cheese: This blend of feta, mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan cheese crumbles with roasted garlic and onion will create a savory burger or classic meatloaf oozing with cheese.

Kraft also is giving me two $10 Walmart gift cards to give away to Chicago Foodies Sisters fans. So, take a minute to enter the raffle below and spread the word about the tour and the giveaway! The raffle continues until the end of the day on Friday, May 3.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Friends don't let friends leave without dessert

I had a recent lunch meeting with some gals from a club I'm in as we finalized plans for an upcoming dinner we sponsor for veterans. On my way out the door, I grabbed some Schwan's ice cream cones because I always hate going somewhere that someone is offering food and not contributing something. I should have known that dessert was already in the plan.

Rosalie started us off with chips and a spicy cheese dip. Then followed with various sandwiches (I had turkey and cheese on a croissant), potato salad and cole slaw. Then just as we were about to get down to business, she pulled out this marbled pound cake, fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

China Chef: Lansing, Illinois

My second oldest son's favorite food in the world is orange chicken. Until he showed such a fondness for it, we really didn't eat Chinese food very often. When we did it was from the same local place we always order from, J's Peapod, which I love. But we haven't tried out other places in years.

For the past couple years I worked as a newborn photographer in a hospital, which required me to transfer any cash collected into a money order, so there is a place on Torrence Avenue that I'd stop at to do that when I needed to. One day when I stopped in there I decided to walk down a couple doors and order some lunch at a place called China Chef. The food was all good and just as expected and I discovered a new favorite beverage, a cantaloupe smoothie.

Soon I was heading over there with my orange chicken-loving son to get some for dinner. With my large order, they threw in a box of green tea bags and wished me a Merry Christmas (this visit was in December)

We have returned another time since then and again enjoyed the orange chicken. I love that they serve a little bit of broccoli with it. you can see it peeking out from underneath.

Throw in some fried rice and we are all happy campers. If you're a fan of Chinese food and are heading along I-94 through Lansing, stop off at Torrence Ave. south and you'll find it just a block down on the east side of the street.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pemberton's Candies

At a vendor event this past winter for a service organization that I'm part of, I perused the many tables of products offered by various vendors. I knew I couldn't pass a candy table and not give it a try. Pemberton Candies had this amazing toffee that I really enjoyed and wished that I'd bought more as soon as I took the first bite.

There was a couple sitting behind the table selling their 6 ounce bags and boxed package. I figured it was a retired duo making it up on a small scale in their kitchen. I was impressed that they seem to be up on the technology that makes it easier to spread the word about their product. They have a website, www.pembertontoffee.com where you can order the products online and there is also a Facebook page for the company. It could very well be that it is just the two of them cranking out candy from their kitchen, but everything from the packaging to their marketing gives an impression of professionalism. The candy sells itself, but it's nice to see the effort made in getting their product out there.

They are out of Lockport, so if you happen to see Pemberton Candies and any area events, be sure to try some English Toffee. And if you don't, consider buying some online as a special gift for someone. I guarantee it will put a smile on their face!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

After Easter deviled eggs

I've said it before and I'll say it again. My deviled eggs aren't pretty. I know they aren't. A batch of eggs is sometimes gone in less time than it takes them to boil, so it hardly seems worth spending the time for a huge effort on presentation. Even in peeling the dozen and a half eggs we had colored for Easter, they still didn't last long. These were done with the basics - mayonnaise, yellow mustard and spicy mustard. I also added hot sauce to a few for my hubby. Then sprinkled with some Hungarian paprika. No one complained about the taste - or the look. :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jay's Potato Chips

Each time I see Jay's Potato Chips, it takes me back to a day in second grade when our class had the good fortune to hop on a bus for a field trip of the Jay's Potato Chip factory in Chicago. I seem to remember it sitting just along I-94 with big signs visible as you'd drive.

Unfortunately, Jay's filed for bankruptcy in 2007, but fortunately the products are still made by Snyder's of Hanover. The chips were first produced in Chicago in 1927 when Leonard Japp, Sr. began selling them from a truck. The name change came during World War II, when after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, the negative connotation of "Jap" caused the name to change to Jay's to avoid a slip in sales.

I can still buy them in stores all over Chicagoland, but it makes me sad to know they aren't made here anymore in the same factory where I watched them being made on a line and then left with my own little bag of chips and a Jay's pencil. Those were the days!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Last week, my 9-year-old son and I were at a local restaurant. We saw the village's former fire chief (my husband's former boss) who asked my son if he was going to be a firefighter like his dad. Out of our five boys, this one is the only one who isn't intent on going into a dangerous career (my oldest is currently a firefighter, the next one wants to be a police officer and the other two want to be military men.) He told the former chief that he didn't want to be a firefighter, he wanted to be a chef. Every time the commercials come on television for the Le Cordon Bleu Cooking Institute, he says that's what he wants to do. And he tells me that he wants to have his own restaurant and that I can come eat there for free every day. :) He's only 9, so only time will tell, but I love his interest in food and cooking.

Anyway, our friend, Paul was sitting at the table with us at the restaurant and heard my son talking about wanting to be a chef. Paul, who is Hispanic, told him that his daughter makes chilaquiles at home and that it's an easy dish that kids can make. After that, my son Brandon, kept asking me to make them with him. I kept telling him I had to get to the store for some ingredients, but that we'd make them soon.

Finally, after a couple days of him hounding me, I finally got everything we needed and we made them as Paul directed.

1 package corn tortillas (I cut into strips with kitchen scissors)
Olive Oil
About 8 ounces of salsa
jalapeño (optional)
1 tomato, diced
2 green onion stalks, diced
 6 - 8 eggs
4 ounces Chihuahua cheese
Cooked meat (optional)

Add olive oil to hot skillet and add tortillas to pan, toss until they crisp and move to a plate covered with paper towel. You can also go an extra step to make them crispier and lay them on a cookie sheet at put them in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. I used my biggest skillet and had to do three batches.

Return tortillas to skillet with salsa. I also added some jalapeno for my husband after I scooped some out for myself. My taste buds are wimpy and I can't handle jalapenos. Paul's instruction included adding the egg right on top at this point. However, I'm not a big fan of runny eggs, so I cooked the eggs separately to fry them.

Lay out your tortilla and salsa mix on the plate, top with egg. At this point I also added some chicken that I had cooked in the crock pot with salsa since I was serving it as a dinner meal and knew the men at the table would be wondering where the meat was. I glanced at other recipes online and found some that add ground beef or pork.

Add your tomatoes, onions, cilantro and cheese to top of plate. I understand this is a common breakfast meal in Hispanic cultures, but I could certainly see it becoming a regular item on our dinner menu.

This made enough to serve 6.

Kraft Fresh Take

While convenience products are often shortcuts that entail sacrificing taste and quality for quickness, that's not the case with Kraft Fresh Take. Even if I whipped up the breading on my own, I think I'd like this better. The cheese and breadcrumb mix added a layer of flavor that really tasted fresh and a crunchy texture that was a great coating for the tender chicken. I know that when I picked this up, it was on a special sale offer that was greatly reduced from regular price. This is one of few products I think I'd purchase even at full price. It was that good!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Love my Price Kensington Teapot

There's this charming place in Dyer, Indiana that I love called Foodie's MarketCafe. The food is always wonderful and I love looking through products in their two little store areas. In one of them I spotted some cute teapots made by Price Kensington. It was just before Christmas and I urged hubby to get me one. He obliged. He had the boys wrap it for me and I put on my best surprised face. I've been making a pot periodically and sharing with the boys.
I also pulled down this beautiful teacup and spoon that my former boss gave it to me. Until recently, it had only sat on a shelf to be looked at and never used. And to give you an idea of how long it was there. It's from the job I left in 2002 and my boss gave it to me sometime prior to that - probably around 2000 as either a birthday or secretary's day gift. He always gave nice gifts to the ladies in the office and we really appreciated his thought and generosity. I'm glad I finally dusted it off and used it. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Trader Joe's

I posted a little bit after my first visit to Trader Joe's in Batavia. I was happy while shopping there and finding some great products and fresh produce.  Now that I've had a chance to actually use a lot of them, I really wish there was one closer. I've heard that one will be coming to Munster, Indiana in the near future, which isn't far for me. I saw some postings on Facebook about the deal a few months ago, but in doing some online searches, I can't find anything to confirm it. I sure hope it is true. Here's a look at some of the items I picked up on my visit:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Aldi's Olive Oil

I've posted a few times before on specific Aldi brand products that I've been really happy with. With prices so low, I'm often really pleasantly surprised by the high quality of many items. Here's one..this Extra Virgin Greek Olive Oil adds great flavor to dishes. I've used it in sautéing vegetables, meats and other foods and this oil is up there with the very expensive ones I've tried. I'm hoping this is one that stays on the shelves for a long time.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Love My Lazy Susan

While visiting Shipshewana just after Christmas, we did a little shopping. It was actually the first time we'd shopped there. The other visits entailed stops at the water park and not much more. It was nice to drive around and see the charming little town all decorated for Christmas with buggies everywhere.

I picked up this Lazy Susan in a furniture store. I believe it was around $55 originally and I got it on clearance for around $28. It's durable and I'm sure will last a long time. I love it!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Paprika Mustard Sesame Chicken

Around Christmas I made this easy and delicious chicken dish that I'd found on Mia's Domain. It was an instant hit with the family, especially my husband who loved the bit of spicy mustard. Had to share this one again because it was fantastic! Next time I'll make a double batch because it doesn't last very long!

6 to 8 chicken breast tenderloins
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp quality paprika
1/4 cup tbsp Drier's mustard with horseradish (You can purchase this online at driers.com for $4.50 a jar)
2 tbsp jarred chopped garlic
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Combine everything but chicken and sesame seeds in a large Ziplock bag, seal and shake lightly to mix. Add chicken. Seal and shake lightly to coat. Layer on cookie sheet and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake at 375 for about 10 - 12 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 10 minutes or until chicken browns.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jelly Pancake House: Dyer, Indiana

How did I not post on this place immediately after I was there? Well, it's been a couple months, but my dear friend, Michelle, and I made a visit to Jelly Pancake House in Dyer for breakfast. Once in a while we get together for breakfast or lunch. Our usual spot is Baker's Square for breakfast and we've also gone out to Scrambled Diner in Dyer. One day I noticed this pancake house called Jelly as I was driving down US 30 in Dyer. I was convinced it was brand new because I take that route quite often and had never spotted it. Turns out it had been there a while and I'm not very observant when I drive.

With a name like Jelly, it was no surprise to learn that they make their own jelly there. They brought out three samples - a strawberry, a pepper jelly and I think the third was raspberry. All got a thumbs up.

I went for a Western omelet with potatoes. Very tasty and totally a two meal plate. I took half home for lunch.

Michelle got eggs, ham and potatoes with some toast.

I'd like to revisit sometime and this time maybe I'll buy some jelly to take home, too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cabot Cheeses raise the bar

We've had this unofficial motto here at Chicago Foodie Sisters:

"Life is too short for cheap cheese, chocolate or wine."

I'm thinking I might even get a shirt with that on it. It's true. Those are three things we consume that are can be superb, but are not quite worth the calories if they aren't good quality. Really, once you've had good wine, it's hard to be content with that which lacks the care and quality of the better varieties. If I'm going to savor some chocolate, I want it to be good quality chocolate, not a waxy candy bar with a shine that seems to scream "Eat me, even if I am covered with chemicals!" When I enjoy cheese, I have to pretty desperate to consume a spongy no-name brand or a processed version that lacks texture and taste.

My taste buds sang when I tried out some of the flavors that arrived in a care package from Cabot Cheese. It included a sharp light, extra sharp, Vermont sharp and my personal favorite, the SERIOUSLY SHARP! I used some in recipes, but mostly I cut off a chunk here or there and placed it atop a whole wheat or pita cracker and enjoyed. This is the smoked bacon cheddar, which was packed with flavor! I'm hooked on Cabot and will be seeking it out in my local grocery stores.

If you share my philosophy on cheese, be sure to try out Cabot. Cabot is a creamery that is a 1,200-plus farm family dairy cooperative with memebers in New England and upstate New York. Cabot's cheeses have won awards including "World's Best Cheddar." Visit the website, www.cabotcheese.coop for more information.

* Cabot did provide product for the purpose of a review. Opinions are my own.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dove Chocolate Discoveries Sea Salted Caramel

Sea Salt Caramels are a decadent and popular treat as of late. I got my first taste of them after I ordered them from a Dove Chocolate Discoveries vendor at a local fundraiser. They were very pricey so I was expecting them to be out of this world. And they were amazing...I'm just not sure I like the very salty taste of the sea salt along with the chocolate. To me, it kind of interferes with the chocolate taste. I enjoyed them, but think I just may prefer the taste of the pure chocolate. However, I'm glad I gave it a try. It's definitely a quality product and a special treat.

Grabbed a couple mixes, too, and can't wait to make them. ;)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

London Broil Panini

Just sharing another creation on the panini maker. Pane Turano bread, London broil, spinach and cheddar with a little aioli - mayo mixed with lemon juice, garlic and freshly ground pepper. :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tyler's Tender offers good food for grown-ups, too

I've posted before about my experiences at Tyler's Tender in Schererville, Indiana. It's a cute little train-themed eatery with a huge counter with stools and a train that delivers your food to you. There's also a train ride and model trains. Lots to entertain your little choo-choo fans. But, I'm also a fan because it's a place I can take the kids to that has more than just pizza and hot dogs on the menu. There are plenty of options for the kid meals and the regular menu has a great selection of sandwiches and salads.

It's also a great place for a birthday party. I've had a couple parties there for my youngest son. Oh, and there is a little arcade that has my favorite game - skee ball!

I went to Tyler's Tender recently with my youngest son and met my friend, Christa, and her adorable little girl.

Here's what I had - a delicious wrap with steak and bleu cheese and their awesome homemade fries.

Christa had a panini with sweet potato tots.

Here's the meals being delivered right to us.

 My little guy enjoyed his chicken nuggets and chips.

And another adorable and happy customer. :)