Friday, September 30, 2016

Eli's Golden Apple

A group of former co-workers and I get together on occassion for breakfast and one of the ladies suggested Eli's Golden Apple in Crown Point for one of our breakfast get-togethers. I don't get out to that area too often, so it was nice to take a drive out there where I pass fields and silos and cows (I took the Route 41 drive rather than the expressway.) 

The casual spot has a large selection of menu items. My friend selected a salad and I went for the Eggs Benedict Florentine (with my eggs scrambled.) I'm kind of a sucker for anything covered in Hollandaise sauce. The place got a definite thumbs up for me and I'd definitely stop again if I make my way out again to that land of corn fields and silos and cows. :)



Eli's Golden Apple
101 E. 107th 
Crown Point, IN
(219) 663-7060
elisgoldenapplerest.com

Monday, September 26, 2016

Aunt Sally's

If you're from the south burbs, you've likely at some point visited Aunt Sally's for breakfast. For decades they've been serving up hearty breakfasts to hungry (sometimes hungover) diners with all the classic plates that you love to eat early in the morning.

While my sister was in town recently, I met her and my mom there and I got a simple plate of eggs and hash browns and toast. But my mom ordered eggs benedict - which was delivered as a HUGE portion with the biggest pieces of Canadian bacon I've ever seen.

Aunt Sally's is worth a visit if you're in the mood for a plate of steak and scrambled eggs, an omelet, some French toast or a big stack or buttery pancakes to fill you up before you start your day. They are open through lunchtime.


Aunt Sally's 
1215 Burnham Ave.
Calumet City, IL
(708) 868-2620

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Journeyman Distillery

Journeyman Distillery is a spot we have visited often on our trips up to Three Oaks, Michigan. In the past we have sat in a small bar area at lunchtime to have a cocktail or a flight. It had been a bit since our last visit and this time we were pleasantly surprised to see how the place has expanded. The Journeyman has grown by adding space from the old Featherbone at the north end of the building and creating a very large restaurant, The Staymaker at Journeyman Distillery. We had actually just finished lunch not much before our visit and we had anticipated just drinks, but when I looked at their menu and saw the beet salad, I had to have it. :) Beets were heaped on a pile of greens with gobs of goat cheese and pumpkin seeds with a light viniagrette.

With my salad, I simply had a ginger ale. Hubby tried a couple of the signature drinks  the Greyjoy and the Chain. I look forward to revisiting to do more menu sampling! The place looks amazing, by the way, and now has plenty of room for groups small or big.



Monday, September 19, 2016

Nancy's Pizza

There are so, so, so many great pizzerias in the Chicago area. Whether you like classic thin or a thicker crust or a Chicago-syle stuffed pizza, there's no shortage of spots to find it - whether you're in the city or out in the burbs.

One pizza that I have found that I love, but that I can't get in the south suburban area where I live is Nancy's Pizza. So, when I'm visiting my sister in Woodridge, we often place an order for pizza from Nancy's. It's everything I love in a pizza - a thin, crispy crust, a perfectly seasoned sauce, lots of gooey cheese, some goo dsausage (and lots of it) and fresh vegetables.

To find a Nancy's location, go to nancyspizza.com.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Metropolitan Brewing's Krank Shaft

Our house became the outdoor hangout over the summer. Most weekend nights and even plenty of weeknights, there was a fire going and lots of extra kids (besides my 5) hanging around the outdoor bar and patio. There were usually late night burgers or bratwurst or graham crackers and marshmallows and hershey bars were pulled out.

Over Labor Day weekend, I went to peruse what was in the garage fridge. Some stouts. Some ciders. Some hoppy IPAs. Some Lime-A-Ritas. Some wine. But, I decided to go with a Krankshaft Kolsch from Metropolitan Brewing out of Chicago. I had tried it earlier in the summer on a beer cruise at Navy Pier and it's a light, smooth, slightly citrusy variety that just screams "Summer" and "Chill Out," so I popped one open and that's what I did. Good Stuff. And at 5% ABV, even a lightweight like me can enjoy a couple.



Saturday, September 17, 2016

Smoked Cheddar Spinach Burger on Pumpernickel

My 13-year-old has found a sudden interest in cooking on the grill. I'm so glad. Years ago, he loved cooking. He told me that when he grew up he wanted to be a chef. And then it faded. And it was years before he cooked a meal again. But the past week he has been grilling all kinds of items. The other night he made dinner. He added aged smoked white cheddar on top of the seasoned burgers. A little spinach on top on soft pumpernickel and we had a pretty delicious sandwich.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Thai San: Darien, Illinois

Us two foodie sisters don't get together for extravagant meals out as much anymore since foodie sis Becky has had little ones. Our trips out these days often involve the kids or are a quick get-together on lunch break from work.

We recently had a fun day together as I went up to visit with two of my boys and we all decided to head out to lunch and to the library together. Then we ordered dinner and ate again. It was fun. For lunch, we went out to Thai San. We've gone there several times before - sometimes for a meal made at one of the hibachi grills. But, at lunch time on a weekday, it's just a quick bite. Here's some of what we enjoyed this time:


Hot and sour soup
Egg drop soup
Orange chicken and fried rice
Chicken chop sued with fried rice
Broccoli beef with fried rice
Egg rolls
My 17-year-old with my niece - foodie sis Becky's little girl. 
Cantaloupe smoothie! I LOVE these!


The company was lovely. Here's me with my adorable niece. :) She's about 9 months old now!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Extreme Street Eats Food Truck

Don't you just love food trucks? They just roll up, open the window and you have a mobile restaurant right in front of you. The variety of foods you can get from food trucks is extremely diverse - I've gotten breakfasts, desserts, sandwiches, beverages, steak, potatoes, ice cream, turkey legs, salads and more from food struck windows.

Recently, while attending the Homewood Hopfest, I checked out a new one, Xtremre Street Eats. The name totally fits as you can get such things as a hot dog dipped in funnel cake batter and topped with powdered sugar, maple syrup and bacon or lobster mac and cheese fries or a burger topped with nutella glazed bacon on a glazed doughnut.

If you see them out and about, check out the eclectic offerings that go from mild - like cheese fries or a plain ol' hot dog to the ridiculous.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Urban Accents Argentina Steak Rub

I've yet to find an Urban Accents product I don't like. As we were throwing some steaks on the grill recently, I reached for some Argentina Steak Rub, a South American chimichurri blend from Urban Accents. 

Hubby brushed the steaks with olive oil, then applied the seasoning and rubbed it in. A bit later we had a nicely seasoned t-bone with just the right amount of zip - a nice departure from the basic steak seasoning that usually goes on the meat before it hits the grill. For more info on where to find this seasoning and to peruse their other products, go to urbanaccents.com




Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Screamin' Sicilian Pizza

It's not often that I'll recommend a frozen pizza because there are just so many good neighborhood pizzerias to choose from and because making a grill pizza is so easy. But, I recently tried out some Screamin' Sicilian Italian Combination Pizza and this is one that I would definitely buy. I had a sample as we visited the Homewood Hopfest and Screaming' Sicilian had a truck as you entered the event. I really liked the slices of Italian sausage and the generous portions of cheese.

Visit ScreaminSicilian.com for info on where you can find their pizzas.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Eating like a kid at Chipotle

I get frustrated at the oversized serving at many restaurants and even though it's been a long time since I was a kid, I often prefer to order a kids' meal so that I get something with more true portions and less of the food - and fat and calories and carbs and sodium and cholesterol than I want. I can always get an adult size meal and pack up the rest to take home. And I often do. But reheated stuff usually isn't as good as when it's fresh.

One of my favorite spots for a kid meal is Chipotle, although what I get in a kids' meal seems to be inconsistent. One time I'll order it and they give me two tacos, plus chips and rice and beans without asking me what I want. Then I'll go another time and they won't give me guac, even as a meat substitute and I have to pay extra for it. And one time they said I could only get three items with the tacos, so I got meat and cheese and lettuce and that was it. They wouldn't add any rice or pico or sour cream. So, I never am sure what I'm going to get, but it's much more a suitable serving size and it includes a drink and the price usually ranges from $5 - $6, rather than $9 to $12.

Panda Express is another spot where I like to grab a kids meal. It's $5 and a perfect portion. I've also ordered kids meals at Meatheads where I get a little meathead with fries and a drink. I usually add avocado to the burger and it's around $7.

Got any other good suggestions for me on mini size meals?


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pokro Brewing Co.

As I was working on a recent article for a regional paper that I do freelance work for, I got in touch with the owners of Pokro Brewing, Joe and Robyn. As a craft beer aficionado, I knew I'd have to head in to try out some of their beers after learning more about the place. I was, of course, also intrigued by the food. There are a few Polish items on the regular menu and they also have a Polish Night once a month where there are several more plated Polish dishes available.

Hubby was fond of the Psychotic Squirrel Imperial Brown Ale (7.1%) and I enjoyed my Angus English Specialty Ale (7.6%)

I also tried out the potato pancakes and the pierogi, which I really liked. I got a potato and cheese, a spinach and a potato and kraut. Pretty tasty. A couple weeks later I was at a concert down the street in Griffith Central Park with my dad and mentioned the pierogi that they serve at Pokro. I called as the concert was ending and asked if they could make me a dozen to go. Ten minutes later I stopped and they were ready and waiting. I also got one of the beeramisu desserts, which was phenomenal!

Pokro Brewing Co.
311 N. Broad St.
Griffith, IN
219-924-7950
pokrobrewing.com



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Designer Desserts

I have never been into the actual Designer Desserts store, but I have tried their cupcakes at various festivals and markets from their cupcake truck. I just had to share some pictures of these amazing cupcakes they made for my future niece's wedding shower. One of these days I'll stop by the place while in the Valpo area - and if you are, I would definitely recommend stopping.

Designer Desserts
57 W. Lincolnway
Valparaiso, Indiana
219-465-0008
designerdessertsbakery.com


Friday, September 9, 2016

Garden Fresh Basil

For many, many years I used nothing but dried basil. But I discovered in recent years how easy basil is to grow. We've been growing it outdoors for some time now. It needs little maintenance and really not a lot of water - I am terrible about neglecting the garden, but it seems to grow fine just on the rain water it gets. And it seems to do well in a shady spot in the yard, so even without a lot of sunlight it grows good. I snip off a few leaves when I need them. New leaves soon grown after and when I'm making a pizza or bruschetta or some pasta and want some fresh basil, it's right there.

Of course, you can also grow it in your home, but that doesn't seem to work so great for me. Like I said - I forget to water. I also have only one window in my kitchen and it faces north against another home, so it's not a great source of sunlight. But I may give it another try in the fall/winter and so how long I can keep it alive. :)



What do you use fresh basil for? Where do you grow yours?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Lunch at La Voute

It's been a little over a year since the La Banque Boutique Hotel opened in downtown Homewood, Illinois. Located just a few steps away from the Metra station, the hotel is located in a former bank building, thus the name La Banque (French for "the bank.")

Inside the hotel is this lovely bistro, La Voute, (translation: the vault) named for the original vault that sits in the dining room with a signature from then FBI head J. Edgar Hoover. I had been to a media preview just before it opened and everything I tried was beyond good. Way beyond good. The starters and entrees were all fantastic and the desserts are such beautiful works of art that you feel guilty digging into them. I recall that the scallops were some of the best I've ever eaten.

I was excited to get invited to come back and enjoy a meal at La Voute and the timing was perfect. My sister, Pam, also an intense foodie (there's four of us sisters) was visiting from Arizona. She's been out there a couple years now and boy do I miss the days of going out for a bite to eat together. She used to live in Geneva, Illinois and before that Elmwood Park, Illinois and there were so many good restaurants around both places that I remember. So, when we were making plans to get together during her visit, I was happy we'd be able to experience lunch at La Voute together.

We started with a beautiful cheese and charcuterie plate with some fantastic cheeses, figs, champagne grapes, stone ground mustard, homemade strawberry rhubarb jam, liver, proscuitto, liver mouse, pork and veal loaf, mushroom and cornichons with some greens and crostini. Paired with wine, this could have easily satisfied both of us for lunch, but on we went to the next course any way because I knew everything would be amazing.

Our wonderful server, Kim, helped us out when we couldn't decide on a wine. She brought both a Hahn 2014 Chardonnay and a Alois Lageder Dolomiti 2015 Pinot Grigio. I ended up having the chardonnay with the charcuterie and the pinot grigio with my entree, both great suggestions.








We settled on two of the lunch specials. Something new to the menu are a variety of seasonal offerings in lunch portions for just $12. One we ordered was a salmon and sea bass entree with long grain rice and a mix of other salted vegetables. The other was a pork tenderloin over some very flavorful potatoes.



Really, we should have stopped there, but...how do you pass up dessert at a place like La Voute? From the media preview I'd been to there was one dessert I remembered very well - the signature gold bar. And it's what I'd most recommend because you just have to experience it once. Trying to describe it, I know doesn't do it justice, but it is a very rich layered bar that is almost too beautiful to eat.



Pam went with the Opera Cake, which was amazing. Me? I went with one of my all-time favorite desserts, creme brûlée and it did not disappoint.

This place is such a gem and was so needed in the south suburbs, where we are heavy on casual eateries, but lacking in fine dining and more upscale cuisine. You really feel like you're dining on the Gold Coast or in River North when you're dining at La Voute. Hotel restaurants often get overlooked if you're not a guest there, but this place is definitely worth seeking out even if you're not heading there for lodging. 



La Voute Bistro & Bar
(inside La Banque Hotel)
2034 Ridge Road
Homewood, IL 
(708) 798-6000
lavoutebistro.com