Friday, February 28, 2014

Goodies from Calumet Bakery

Every Saturday morning when I take my son to bowling league, we pass the Calumet Bakery. And once in a while, I get a request to stop for a chocolate long John or a smiley face cookie and I say yes.
Here's some of the goodies from our last stop:

The boys love these big sugar cookies. Sometimes they have a different look, like at Halloween when they resemble a jack-o-lantern or at Easter when they are frosted in pastels.

My husband likes the poppy seed coffee cake.

Once in a while I pick out a kolacky for me. This one is cherry, which is my favorite.

And the boys like the doughnuts there, particularly the Bavarian creme and the long Johns.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chicken Orzo Soup

Chicken soup. Is there anything more comforting? No, I don't think so either. The majority of the time, I add noodles to my chicken soup, but once in a while just to mix it up, I'll add some rotini or farfalle or rice or tortellini or a variety of other starches. When I made this batch, I noticed I had a small bit of orzo in an opened box in the cabinet, so I threw that in and it was a nice departure from the usual noodles.

6 chicken bouillon cubes
12 cups of water
Italian seasoning
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 baby carrots, sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
1/4 cup of orzo

Boil cubes in water until dissolved and add chicken and vegetables. Boil for about 20 minutes and reduce to a simmer. Once chicken seems cooked throughout, remove and cut up. Add seasoning and continue to simmer, returning chicken to pot. Add orzo. Continue to simmer about 10 minutes or until orzo is done.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From the Inbox: Sunday Suppers in March at Azzurra

From the inbox this week, get a taste of Italy at March's Sunday Suppers.

Discover the Flavors of Sicily at Azzurra's Sunday Suppers in March

This March, Azzurra (1467 N. Milwaukee Ave) invites guests' taste buds to take a trip to the Mediterranean Sea with the restaurant's new Sunday Supper menu focusing on classic cuisine from the Italian island of Sicily. Every month the restaurant highlights a different region of Italy at Sunday Supper with a homemade four-course, family style feast made from fresh, seasonal ingredients. March's mouth-watering family-style menu includes:

Antipasti Misti
Assortment of Crostini with Black Olive Pesto, Caponata, Local Soppressata and Citrus Salad

Choice of  
Ziti with Roasted Cauliflower & Peppers, capers, preserved lemon and bread crumbs or 
Homemade Cavatelli al Pastore with sausage, tomato and sheep's milk ricotta

Choice of Pork Braciole, rolled pork filled with prosciutto & caciocavallo or
Cous Cous Trapanese made with Sicilian cous cous and assorted seafood

Homemade Cannoli

Reservations can be made online or by calling the restaurant at (773) 278-5959. All dishes will be served family-style and participation of the entire table is required. Available for dine-in only. 

$23 for adults
$12 for children 8-12
Children 7 and under eat free
Full à la carte menu will also be available.  
1467 N. Milwaukee
(773) 278-5959

Every Sunday in March
Reservations can be made between 5:30-9:30 p.m.  

IHOP hosts a Pancake Party!

This morning, my friend Pat, who you can find on Facebook as "Sweet Treats to Eat,"and I attended a Pancake Party at the Cicero IHOP location. The Party was to help promote National Pancake Day, which will be held at IHOP locations around the country on March 4 to raise funds for children's charities.

At the party was Latin singer Diana Reyes (what a beauty!!) and the family of Giovanni Valdovinos. Valdovinos is the adorable little poster guy for the Chicago area National Pancake Day events. His photo is on promotional materials at local IHOPs. 

The 7-year-old has been a patient at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Hospital in Chicago since he was a baby. Giovanni has been treated there for several difficulties, including hip dysplasia, and has endured 18 surgeries. His family is grateful for the treatment he has received at the hospital.  "It's one of the greatest hospitals," said Giovanni's mother, Evelyn Torres. "It's like a second home."His mother said that he spent most of his first year at the hospital.
The event was held to raise awareness of IHOPs initiative to aid kids like Giovanni through National Pancake Day, a longtime event where diners are treated to free pancakes and invited to make a voluntary donation that will go toward the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. All proceeds from Chicago area locations will go to Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, where Giovanni has been a patient.

Even if you don't make it to IHOP on National Pancake Day, you can stop by and purchase a balloon that you can add your name to and make a donation that way. Suggested donation for the balloon is $1, but you're free to give any amount.

Take a peek through the pics from the event below.

Giovanni took a turn flipping pancakes!

Reporters from Telmundo and Univision were there to help spread the word about National Pancake Day.

Got a quick pic with David Miranda from Univision Chicago.

You can purchase balloons to help support Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.

Giovanni and his mom, Evelyn, talk to Latin singer Diana Reyes.

A quick pic with singer Diana Reyes.

Cub Scout "Race Day" Cake Contest

Each year at the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Dinner, the pack has a cake contest. There are some pretty elaborate cakes at this event. Each year there is a theme. Some themes in the past have been "Winter Olympics," "The Outdoors," "Monsters" and "Italy."

Here's my little guy with the cake he made for the day.

Scroll down and take a look at the rest of the cakes. There are some very creative and very labor intensive entries!

Onions of Idaho and Eastern Oregon

I attended a recent event at Kendall College celebrating products of Idaho. While potatoes automatically come to mind, onions are another common crop in the state as well as Eastern Oregon as the Snake River Valley's climate makes for some perfection in produce.

We sampled some products made with Spanish Sweets that come from that region of rich volcanic soil, making it ideal for growing onions that are mild in flavor and large in size. With state-of-the-art storage facilities, they're able to bring these delicious veggies to the consumers year round.

We tried a carmalized onion quiche appetizer that was quite good along with some of the best French Onion Soup I've ever tasted. For more info, visit

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Food Network to debut celebrity Chopped

For fans of the show "Chopped," there's a celebrity version coming up. Check out the details:


Chopped Tournament of Stars premieres Sunday, March 9th at 9pm ET/PT on Food Network

Five Episode Competition Featuring Celebrities Competing in the Chopped Kitchen for Charity

NEW YORK – January 23, 2014 – With a $50,000 grand prize for charity on the line, celebrities from different walks of life compete in the ultimate Chopped Tournament of Stars, premiering Sunday, March 9th at 9pm ET/PT. The five-part competition series, hosted by Ted Allen, includes four celebrities going head-to-head each week in themed episodes over three rounds: appetizer, entrée and dessert - each featuring mystery ingredients within the Chopped basket. Featuring sports stars, comedians, actors, and for the first time, veterans from Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, the celebrities are judged by a rotating roster of Chopped regulars, including Maneet ChauhanAmanda Freitag, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc MurphyChris Santos and Geoffrey Zakarian, to determine which celebrity will advance each week to face off in the finale on Sunday, April 6th at 9pm ET/PT, with a chance to win the grand prize for the charity of their choice.

“This tournament brings together the most diverse, talented group of celebrities we have ever had compete in the Chopped Kitchen, “ said Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President Programming, Food Network. “With $50,000 on the line for their charity, these celebs fill the kitchen with action, drama and comedy as they do everything they can to be the victor.”

Additionally, if you ever looked in your fridge, hoping for inspiration to strike, never again let the question “What’s for dinner?” stump you. On April 8th be the first to learn tips and secrets for combining pantry staples into exciting meals in The Chopped Cookbook: Use What You've Got to Cook Something Great, from Clarkson Potter. By showing how to spin your favorite ingredients into 188 fun, doable, and delicious recipes, the culinary masterminds at Food Network set you up for mealtime victory every night.

Premiering Sunday, March 9th at 9pm ET/PT
“Sports Stars!”
Four famous athletes bring their fierceness and passion to the Chopped Kitchen for a five-part $50,000 celebrity tournament! With the charities they are playing for in their minds, the competitors open the first basket to find a scary ingredient – alligator. Then in the entrée round, the celebs must cook with some strange eggs and some tiny limes. The final two sports stars that make it to the dessert round put their athleticism and enthusiasm into making a great final dish that includes crystallized ginger and wafer cookies.   
Competitors: Brandi Chastain, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Greg Louganis, Charles Oakley
Judges: Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy, Geoffrey Zakarian

Chopped is produced by Notional Entertainment.

Knockwurst from the Brat Stop

Some people travel and pick up t-shirts or keychains on the way. Mine are more often edible souvenirs.

Our most recent road trip was up to the Kenosha, Wisconsin area. Of course, you cannot visit that state and not come home with cheese, so we have always popped in to either Mars Cheese Castle or the Brat Stop for cheese to bring back home.

We had decided to stop and have dinner at The Brat Stop on Super Bowl Sunday before heading home and after dinner I had to do some shopping. As far as foodie souvenirs, much of the cooler space there is filled with cheeses. There are also sausages and I was happy to find knockwurst.

My father-in-law was a German immigrant who introduced me to German cuisine. There were a couple German restaurants and delicatessens we would visit with him. One thing he would always pick up was knockwurst and bratwurst. I'd bring it home and steam it and I love the garlicky flavor and smooth texture. He passed away last May and I miss him terribly. And any kind of German food always has me thinking of him.

By the way, if you are a fan of German food, there is an outstanding German restaurant in Kenosha called House of Gerhard. I visited one time a few years back one of my boys and I think the schnitzel there was the best I have ever had.

My Brat Stop knockwurst was fantastic, paired with my favorite spicy mustard from Drier's Meat Market in Three Oaks, Michigan, some fingerling potatoes from Schwan's and a scoop of leftover quinoa. :)

To learn more about foodie stops in the Kenosha area, visit

Monday, February 24, 2014

From the inbox: Fleming's three course filet and lobster pairing for $39.95

Here's something I had to share. I love good food, but I really love good food at good deals. So, here is one you won't want to miss. Only $39.95 for an 8-oz. filet and and 8-oz. lobster tail. Make those reservations!

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar Brings Back its Iconic
Three Course Filet & Lobster Pairing
This seasonal favorite is now available at all Fleming’s Locations for a Limited Time

WHAT:                             Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar’s popular Filet & Lobster combination returns from February 26 through April 13 at all Fleming’s locations. Guests can enjoy a tender, 8-oz. Filet Mignon and a sweet 8 oz  Lobster Tail with drawn butter, plus a starter course, all for only $39.95. (Excludes tax and gratuity)

WHO:                                Guests who reserve online or inquire about the offer at the restaurant are invited to enjoy this three-course prix fixe menu for $39.95 (Feb. 26 – April 13).

WHERE:                           Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar - All locations
                                          Feb. 26, 2014 – April 13, 2014
To find a location near you and make reservations, please visit

OPPORTUNITIES:          Guests begin the experience with a Pan Seared Scallop over goat cheese polenta followed by a choice of the New Wedge salad with crisp iceberg lettuce, grape tomatoes, red onions and crumbled blue cheese and bacon or the French Onion Soup baked with gruyere and parmesan cheeses. This culinary treat continues with a generous 8-oz. Filet Mignon paired with an 8oz, broiled lobster tail served with drawn butter.
The Filet & Lobster option is not on the regular menu. It can be reserved online and is only available upon request.

ABOUT:                           About Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Nationally acclaimed Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar offers the best in steakhouse dining – Prime meats and chops, fresh fish and poultry, generous salads and side orders — with a unique wine list known as the Fleming’s 100®, which features more than 100 wines served by the glass. In addition, the Fleming’s WiNEPAD™, winner of the 2013 Hospitality Technology Breakthrough Award, is a proprietary, custom web-based application on an iPad that helps Guests easily navigate the restaurant’s extensive wine list. Fleming’s was launched in Newport Beach, California, in 1998 by successful restaurant industry veterans Paul Fleming and Bill Allen. Today, there are 66 restaurants nationwide, including the latest additions, recently opened in Beverly Hills, Palo Alto and Las Vegas. Fleming’s is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including Wine Enthusiast’s annual Award of Distinction and Wine Spectator’s annual Award of Excellence. For more information about Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and the Fleming’s 100®, please visit

Shrimp wrap on whole wheat tortilla

One night for dinner last week, I had thawed out some shrimp to have shrimp cocktail with dinner. Then someone requested tacos, so I made some ground beef and pulled out some tortillas and hard shells for the kids to make their own.

This is what I had for my dinner:

whole wheat tortilla
three cooked shrimp with tails detached
shredded Swiss and gruyere blend
pea shoots
cocktail sauce
chipotle sauce

Sunday, February 23, 2014

10 Potato Recipes for National Potato Month

I'm a HUGE potato fan and potatoes are a frequent side dish on our table. February is National Potato Month, so I'm sharing 10 different ways you can use potatoes. Below you'll find 10 previous posts of dishes that have utilized potatoes. I know there are a million more ways to use them and I'll never stop experimenting! Click on the name of the dish to go to the full recipe. Feel free to visit our Facebook page and share your favorite potato recipes there!

Farmer's Market Potatoes

Easy Seasoned Potato Wedges

Loaded Potato Soup

Cheesy Bacon Potatoes

Grilled Quick Potatoes

Ham, Potato & Veggie One Pot Meal

Baked Potato in a Bowl

Bratwurst Bake

Loaded Egg Scramble

Gooey Grill Potato Packet

Loubie's is now Round the Clock

Almost a year ago, a nice breakfast place opened up in town called Loubie's. There was another location in Hammond and it was a spot where you could get breakfast or lunch. I'd visited a couple times for breakfast. You can read those posts here and here.

In November, both Loubie's locations became Round the Clock Restaurants. There are several locations in Northwest Indiana and the owners of these also own locations in Schererville and Highland. So, the restaurant is now open all day, seven days a week. Breakfast is served round the clock along with lunch items and dinners. One my most recent visit I tried out a Reuben, one of my favorite sandwiches and theirs gets a thumbs of from me. Now that I've tried breakfast and lunch, I'll have to try out something from the dinner menu on my next stop and I'll let you know how it is. They also have three soups served daily and since I really like soups, I'll have to pop in sometime to try it.