Friday, March 16, 2018

Connie's Pizza

Connie's Pizza is a classic in Chicago. The first time I tried it was at Wrigley Field when they were supplying pizza to the ballpark (they're no longer serving at Wrigley, but you can now find their pizza at United Center, Allstate Arena and McCormick Place). Wrigley Field was the only place I had enjoyed Connie's Pizza until I set out on a foodie field trip on the south side one day and made Connie's one of the stops. Other than trips to see the White Sox play - or to park outside the ball park to hop on the red line - I really hadn't spent any time in Bridgeport. I'm quickly learning that it's a great foodie neighborhood that doesn't get quite as much love as it deserves.

Loved the building, which appears older than it really is - and that's by design. It's meant to give the feel of an early industrial building of the city. I was told by staff that Jim Stole traded in a beloved Oldsmobile in 1963 to get the business started and the current location on Archer Avenue was built in 1985.

Connie's has become known for their deep dish pizza, but the menu includes much more - thin, original pan, stuffed, Sicilian pan and gluten free as far - as pizza goes. Most versions are available in small single person 7" pizarella sizes, too, which is nice. The one above is a pizzarella-size of a traditional Italian sausage deep dish. It's by far one of the best pizzas I've had (and I've had a lot of pizza) and it's easy to see why Connie's is a Chicago favorite.

I also had to try out the thin crust, so we ordered a thin specialty pizza - the Italian Beef and Giardiniera. If you think that combo is good on a sandwich, try it on a pizza.

If you are craving some good pizza - thin or thicker - Connie's will definitely make you happy. But...I just need to stress that sometimes you need to get outside the pizza box and try other things on the menu, as well. They've got some wonderful specials, like these sausage stuffed mushrooms that were drizzled with a really good balsamic.

I also decided I would try some pasta, so I ordered their signature dish - Tortelinni alla Connie's. That alfredo sauce was pretty amazing. Like I wanted to lick the bowl when I was done amazing. So, if you've been there and stuck to the pizza - give this pasta a try. You will not be disappointed.

I finished off with the Ice Box Cake - you can't go wrong with layers of chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, bananas, graham crackers and whipped cream.

So, whether you want some good old Chicago deep dish, a sandwich, pasta or other Italian specialties, Connie's is definitely worth the trip.

Connie's Pizza
2373 S. Archer Avenue
Chicago, IL

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tap House Grill

The newly opened Tap House Grill in Wheeling, attached to the Ramada, joins eight other locations in this casual, fun franchise. The original opened in 2006 in St. Charles with the intent to serve "Addictive Food. Creative Brews." The place definitely lives up to their motto.

Drunken Shrimp
There were two-plus pages of about 40 different beers on tap. You'll find some of the big producers along with some of the most recognizable craft breweries in the region - Goose Island, Lagunitas, Founders, Half Ace, Boulevard and more. There are also some good ones from across the pond - I tried a really delicious Banana Bread Beer by Well's Brewery in the UK. They also carry Teigl Radler fruit beer from Salzburg, Austria and a Witbier I adored from France - Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc, which was very light and fruity. In addition to the many beers, the first four pages of the menu are filled with craft 

cocktails and wine. I was also quite excited to find Sprecher's Root Beer on draft at Tap House Grill. I got hooked on it years ago during a trip to Milwaukee when we toured the Sprecher Brewery and tried all their sodas in the tasting room after the tour. Outside of Wisconsin I have only found it bottled, so that kind of made my day.

The menu has plenty of sharable that are perfect for hanging out and sampling beer with friends. We tried the Cheddar Stuffed Bacon (beer battered and deep fried), the Drunken Shrimp (marinated in pale ale), the wings with exotic sauce (which was sweet and tangy with a touch of heat) and the Provencal Wood-Fired Flatbread with tomato, zucchini, summer squash, roasted peppers olive tapenade and goat cheese. 

After that we moved on to splitting the 1-LB BLT, which comes on toasted Hawaiian bread with a zesty  boursin mayo on the side and came with a choice of side - we opted for tater tots. It was a nice, big classic sandwich that hit the spot. It was hard to choose an entree since the menu is pretty large. The list of burgers had several that I wanted to try. 

If you're one who likes food challenges, you may want to head there to try the "King of the Kobe Burger" Challenge. Finish the 1 1/2 lb. burger with 1/2 pound of cheese and 1 pound of fries and you win a t-shirt. There's also a nice selection of sandwiches, which includes a crispy beer-battered chicken melt, a grilled skirt steak, a BBQ pork and one my all time faves - a Cubano. There are 11 varieties of the flatbread pizza, which is a nice appetizer or meal for one.

Other tantalizing entrees include tacos and 5 cheese mac n' cheez. There are some nice salad options and lower calorie meals, including grilled tilapia, roasted garlic hummus and chicken and rice soup. There's also a few house specials you might want to dig into - beer-brined chidden, grilled ahi tuna, fish & chips and more.

Don't slip out the door without trying the awesome House-Made Kit Kat for dessert. It's the perfect rich, sweet, chocolaty, crunchy end to the meal. 

House-Made Kit Kat
Keep an eye on the Facebook page for special events, like an upcoming St. Patrick's Day party, Hoops and Wings Madness and Easter Buffet and daily specials that include Wings-Suds-Spuds on Monday with 10 Wings & Fries for $5.99 with select $3.75 beers or Tuesday Burger Night with Signature Angus Burgers for $5.99 an others.

The restaurant is also located next to Chicago Executive Airport, so if you're into aviation it's a nice chance to watch a few smaller aircraft take off and land on good-weather days.

Tap House Grill
1090 S. Milwaukee Ave.
(847) 215-1210 

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

Monday, March 5, 2018

Buona Beef Now Open in Flossmoor

I was excited to attend the opening last week of the 22nd Buona Beef location on Crawford Ave. in Flossmoor. Buona is a brand that is synonymous with Chicago Italian Beef. The Buonavolantos family still runs the company that started in 1981 in Berwyn. Started by their father, Joe, with a recipe created by mom, Peggy, their five sons worked their way up to each holding a critical role in the company. Being a mom of five sons myself, it makes me love this family and this business even more.

The company continues to grow and being a south suburban gal, I was very excited to have locations opening closer and closer to my home. I'm looking forward to the opening of the Schererville, Indiana location later this month. Without one in my neck of the woods all these years, I've been left to get my beef fix at my half-dozen or so treks to the Friendly Confines each season to see the Cubs play or by purchasing Buona Beef in the freezer section at Aldi. 

While the Italian Beef is definitely the superstar of the company, I try to make a point to also try out another menu item when I have been at their restaurants. This was my second time trying their pizza - last time I got an Italian beef version and this time I tried the supreme. With all the good pizza joints in Chicago, this might not be the first place you'd think of for getting a pizza, but you should keep it in mind when the craving for a pizza pie hits you. A nice crust, quality ingredients and awesome sausage (my method of judging a good pizza) make this one to add to your rotation. Also keep an eye out for occasional specials of $5 for classic pizzas and $6 for premiums. I also tried out their Original Chopped Salad, which was a bit different from any chopped salad I've had before as this one has pasta in it. It was unusual, but a pleasant surprise and the portion was huge. 

If you somehow have managed to never in your life have tried Buona (which seems next to impossible), do yourself a favor and get to one of their new locations - in the last few months they've also opened in Oak Lawn and Streeterville. And mark March 27 on your calendar if you're in Northwest Indiana as they'll be bringing their beef to Hoosiers for the first time. 

For more info, visit

Monday, February 26, 2018

Lynnie Que's at Lansing Airport

We are lucky that in the community of Lansing we have an airport. I've been there many times over the years for various functions and sometimes it's fun just to watch on a nice day as planes take off and land. A building on the airport grounds once housed an Irish pub, which has since closed and the space was vacant for a long time. Last year the second floor location became home to a restaurant again. You can now enjoy a meal or a cocktail at Lynnie Que's Airport Bar and Grill and watch the airport activity through the full wall of south windows. The owner, Lynnie Cartwright, who has decades of restaurant experience, operated a carry-out and catering location just a block north before moving to the airport. She still has a concession trailer that is all over during festival season.

My husband likes that they carry a good variety of craft beer. I love the chicken dumpling soup that I've been getting for years that is just the ultimate bowl of comfort. On a recent visit hubby ordered a special - the bourbon glazed chicken, which was falling off the bone and accompanied with fries, cole slaw and a super moist and zesty jalapeño cornbread. Other favorites are the cheddar jack mac, corn souffle and sloppy joes. There's a full menu of casual cuisine - ribs, reuben sandwiches, wings, pulled pork, meatloaf and more.

The restaurant features a new list of specials each week as well an ongoing specials, like $3 cheeseburgers on Wednesday and $5 appetizers on Thursday. You'll find live entertainment at least twice a week, free bingo on Saturdays and other fun events, like paint nights and holiday parties. Stop in - or fly in - sometime to enjoy a pint and a sandwich and watch the planes go by.

Lynnie Que's
3249 Glenwood Lansing Road
Lansing, IL
(708) 474-7837

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Make Mondays Breakfast for Dinner Days with Krusteaz

Did you know that February is National Hot Breakfast Month? Having a hot breakfast daily is often overlooked - and substituted with cold cereal and breakfast bars in the spirit of saving time. Starting the day with a balanced meal is something that I often need to be reminded of since I get working immediately and more often than not skip the morning meal altogether.

I'm a hot breakfast person, though. I can't remember the last time I had cold cereal, I have no problem passing up doughnuts and pastries and breakfast bars are what I eat in the car when I need something in my tummy. When I take time for a hot breakfast, I want a big hearty meal that will fuel me up for the morning and early afternoon - with carbs and protein along with some fruit. I also enjoy breakfast at all times of day and my five kids have always been fans of having breakfast for dinner.

I thought that there probably was a National Breakfast for Dinner Day because there seems to be a food holiday for EVERYTHING. I couldn't find anything, though, so I'd like to make this announcement right now, so pay attention. 

I, Carrie, of Chicago Foodie Sisters, hereby declare Mondays as Breakfast for Dinner days. Eating breakfast for dinner one night a week gives busy parents a break on complicated food planning for the day (flipping pancakes couldn't be easier), it's more economical than a lot of other dinner meals and it usually has a short prep time. Mondays are always such a blah day, too, where you're easing back into routine after the weekend. Krusteaz has been our go-to brand for years for pancakes and waffles and I was excited when I was contacted asking if I'd like to help them promote National Hot Breakfast Month. One tip from my experience is to go ahead and prepare an entire box at one time, freezing some of the pancakes or waffles so that they are ready to go for an easy breakfast or dinner at a later time.

So, with the product that Krusteaz sent we've done some breakfast for dinner meals once a week. The first week we had a big egg scramble loaded with veggies with ham and toast. We love waffles and two of our other breakfast-for-dinner nights were waffles. The first one was a dinner of basic waffles with blueberries and maple syrup, bacon, sausage, grape juice and tea. 

The next one was chicken and waffles. It's one of my favorite all time dishes. I love it for breakfast, brunch and dinner. I matched it with some baked crispy chicken tenderloins that I got from Schwan's. My boys had hot sauce on it, but I stuck to traditional syrup.

The third time we'd had a late lunch at it had been a salad of greens with chicken breast. So, since the late lunch was healthy and light, dinner was an indulgence and really more of a dessert. We had pancakes topped with this delicious Belgian dark chocolate spread called Leckko that I had received and syrup and had some bacon on the side. It's not something you could eat every day, obviously, but that night it worked and it was delicious.

There are so many possibilities for breakfast for dinner and we've done a lot of them - French toast, steak and eggs, waffles, pancakes, crepes (both savory and sweet), breakfast casseroles, breakfast sandwiches, eggs benedict, banana and zucchini bread, chiliaquilles, avocado toast, biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos. Make Monday your "Breakfast for Dinner" day and start making a list for your monday meals. It's a delicious way to make dinner time a tad easier and often less expensive.

***I received sample product for use in creating this post. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

S'mores Dip

Prior to Super Bowl Sunday my husband was looking around for recipes to make that day. He loves cooking in cast iron, so he perused the Lodge website and found this recipe. He missed the stop of putting butter in the bottom of the pan, which I assume is to keep the chocolate from sticking. It turned out fine without it, but if you're afraid clean up may be an issue, use a little melted butter before moving on. After all, if you're going to be dipping into a pile of marshmallows and chocolate, the few extra calories from the butter won't matter much.

What you need:

2 12-ounce bags of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 bag of marshmallows
graham crackers

Using the 10 inch skillet, cover the bottom with your chocolate chips and then top with marshmallows. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes at 450 degrees or until the marshmallows have a nice golden brown color. Remove from oven and serve with graham crackers for dipping.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Banana Split Bites

I got a sample in the mail of this yummy Belgian dark chocolate spread called Lekkco and my mind wandered thinking of what I might want to do with it. We always have Nutella on hand here, but the kids use it mostly to spread on graham crackers. So, there's a ton of possibilities of items you can dip into it or spread it onto - pretzels, animal crackers, apples and other fruits, nuts, cookies.

I had one lonely banana on my counter and tried to think of what else I could add to it. My son was cleaning out a drawer in my kitchen that had all kinds of stray packets of ketchup and sauces and I noticed a packet of chopped peanuts from a McDonald's ice cream sundae...which made banana splits pop into my mind. I didn't have any strawberries on hand, but I did have some strawberry preserves. These yummy little bites were the result.

1 Banana
Lekkco Belgian Dark Chocolate Spread
Strawberry Preserves
Chopped Peanuts

Cut into bite size pieces and serve.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Visit Jimmy's Charhouse Elk Grove for Chicago Northwest Restaurant Week

Chicago Restaurant Week is winding down, but that doesn't mean that the fun and deals are all done. The Northwest suburbs have a restaurant week of their own and it's just a couple weeks away. Chicago Northwest Restaurant Week runs February 23 through March 4. The 10-day event includes more than 40 participating restaurants - and there are some really good ones! From some of the best upscale chains to casual fare to fine dining, there's something for everyone.

We recently had an opportunity to dine at Jimmy's Charhouse Elk Grove in Elk Grove Village, which is one of the participating restaurants for Chicago Northwest Restaurant Week. 

The restaurant had a large menu, which made it pretty hard to decide on what to try, but we were impressed with everything we ordered. We started with an appetizer of saganaki because when you can get a plate of flaming cheese delivered to your table, why not? Cheese is one of my biggest weaknesses and when it's melted and drizzled with lemon then served with fresh pita bread, I just can't resist.

We also tried the Mediterranean Shrimp - sautéed in olive oil, fresh garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, imported feta and fontinella cheese, which was amazing.

Next came our soups and salads. I opted for a wedge salad that was super crisp with some amazing bleu cheese crumbles and large pieces of crispy bacon and served with a house-made bleu cheese dressing that was fantastic. Hubby went for a bowl of French onion soup. I'm normally not a fan of onion soup, but one bite of this and I just couldn't stop. That melted gruyere got me hooked.

And yes, we kept going. My entree was a petite filet to which I added a horseradish crust along with a bernaise sauce, a loaded stuffed potato and sautéed fresh vegetables. It was as good as steaks I've had at some of the top steakhouses in the city. Perfectly cooked to medium. I savored every bite.

Hubby opted for a pork chop and lamb chop combo with a side of mashed potatoes and veggies. I sampled both and each one was amazingly tender.

There was also one other thing on the menu that caught my eye and I just had to try - the Chicken Al Forno Pasta, which is on the menu as one of their signature specials. It's a half wood-roasted chicken with rigatoni pasta, marinara sauce, fontinella and parmesan cheeses that's baked in the oven in an oversized skillet and could easily feed two adults and probably a hungry kid, too. It was so gooey and packed with flavor and one of those meals that leaves you longing for that taste for weeks after you've dined.

The current owner, Tom Sizopoulos, took over about two years ago and eased into things slowly, getting to know the neighborhood and the customers. The first thing he was interested in doing was upgrading the food quality. Some subtle menu changes were made, keeping with the favorites and best selling menu items and adding a few of his own or modifying others. For example, the shrimp cocktail was elevated to a Mexican version the he said is more flavorful and has nicer presentation.

He said they use a sea salt blend in the kitchen that they make themselves. The portions are big and everything is made from scratch. Seafood is fresh and wild-caught. Sizopoulos emphasized that they don't skimp on anything.

The changes have been well-received and soon they'll be changing over to a new name, Avenue on 53.

Among the popular dishes that will remain on the menu are lamb chops, ribs (which are smoked in-house), steaks, wood-roasted chicken, Mediterranean Shrimp (which he said is a signature item of theirs that you can't find anywhere else.)

Some other notable things about Jimmy's Charhouse: 
They have a daily happy hour from 3 - 6 p.m.
They offer private rooms for large groups with a special buffet package or cocktail menu.
They have live entertainment on weekends.

For more information, visit

Oh, and we definitely couldn't eat another bite following dinner, but were sent home with molten lava cake. It was staring me in the face as soon as I opened the fridge the following morning - and I'm not ashamed to say that I made it my breakfast.

Keep Jimmy's Charhouse in mind if you're considering dining out for Chicago Northwest Restaurant Week and be sure to visit in the coming weeks when the name change and new menu are complete.

Jimmy's Charhouse
1180 W. Devon Ave.
Elk Grove Village, IL

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

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Skillet S'Mores Dip

As we were planning for Super Bowl Sunday, hubby pulled up an e-mail he had received from Lodge Cast Iron with some recipes. He loves his cast iron cookware and was anxious to do some cooking in it for the big day.

One of the recipes he picked to make was a super easy dessert that has just 4 ingredients. He actually used 3 because he forget to melt the butter in the skillet before he put in the chocolate. Anyway, it's super easy and super yummy. And it looks so impressive when cooked just right - with a beautiful layer of brown to the marshmallows.

Here's what you need:

1 tbsp butter
24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
10 ounces marshmallows
graham crackers

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

Place the 10.25 inch skillet in the oven for 5 minutes. 

Remove skillet form oven and melt butter in skillet, covering the cooking surface evenly. Oops..he forgot this step. I suspect it just makes cleaning easier. As of right now we still have half a pan covered and in the refrigerator, so I don't yet know what clean-up will be like. We might be having big regret about forgetting the butter when it's cleaning time. 

Pour chocolate morsels in the skillet covering the bottom and top with marshmallows. I didn't realize I got the mini chips. They melted nicely. Next time I am tempted to get some peanut butter or butterscotch chips to blend in for a different flavor.

Bake 7 - 10 minutes until marshmallows are toasted. 

Remove from the oven and serve using graham crackers to dip.

Hubby managed to pull them out with just the perfect hint of golden brown and the dipping was fun - pulling strings of gooey marshmallow and chocolate up high above the pan. 

We made another recipe from Lodge for Super Bowl Sunday and I'll share that soon. For more cast iron cooking recipes, visit their website at