Getting Cheesy: National Cheese Lover’s Day Party

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love cheese? It is one of my favorite things to eat and create some really fun dishes with. Since cheese is always such a hit, I decided to throw a cheese party for my friends (and for my son because it’s his absolute favorite). And why not a MAC N’ CHEESE BAR?! I have a few vegetarian friends and this would be perfect. Everyone can customize their own mac n’ cheese bowls and we can celebrate National¬†Cheese Lover’s Day!

Setup

Since the holidays, I have been kind of entertained out. Over doing the dishes, the clean up, etc. I also have a toddler running around, so something fast and easy is preferred. I decided to minimize the dishes and use Solo Cup Products to make my clean up easy and less complicated. They are completely disposable, recyclable and really durable. I knew this would be the best option, but still keeping my party looking right.

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They have write on cups¬†that are perfect to label all the toppings. It looks clean and organized in your setup. Everyone can make their own mac n’ cheese¬†bowls with lids Whatever they don’t finish, the bowls serve as to-go plates. Lastly, the¬†paper plates¬†serve for meat and cheese platters. It’s perfect and fuss-free.

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

Mac n’ Cheese Bar

And for the best part: the MAC N’ CHEESE. Honestly, you could make it from scratch or get a pre-made box. Whatever makes your life easier. From scratch, I like recipes like¬†this.¬†But you can grab a box and totally add in your own ingredients. I took a box of mac n’ cheese, added mild cheddar cheese, bread crumbs and baked it at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. It turned out DELICIOUS!

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

Toppings

Cheese is so versatile. It can be paired with so much. Here are the toppings I used:

  • hot dogs
  • salumi
  • bacon bits
  • cheeze its
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • jalapenos
  • green onion
  • cubed cheese

National cheese lover's day party using solo products

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

Extras

The more cheese the better right? For an appetizer, I made a meat and cheese plate with salami, cheddar and pepper jack cheese with pita crackers. Really, anything would work; spinach artichoke dip, cheese dip, etc.

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

For the drinks, the best wine to pair with macaroni and cheese all depends on how fancy and cheesy your mac and cheese is. With a regular, old-fashioned recipe, you might just want a simple glass of white wine. An unoaked Chardonnay might be your best bet for an original recipe or even a dry Riesling. If you got a little fancy and added truffles to your recipe, champagne pairs perfectly. No wine drinkers? Cider pairs well with cheese too.

A party that will please everyone with an easy clean up? To go cups already set!

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Doesn’t get better than that!

Until next time,

Christine

This post was sponsored by SOLO cup however all opinions and experiences are my own!

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Top 5 Kid-Friendly Brunch Spots

(See collaborating post here with Fab Food Chicago)

One of my favorite weekend activities to do in Chicago is to try different brunch spots around town. But after I had my son, my brunch requirements changed. I didn’t want to stop going, but needed to find accommodating places. A children’s menu with lots options (or at least something kid friendly on the menu), good service and a welcoming atmosphere are all qualities I look for now. With so many brunch places in Chicago, I have narrowed it down to the top 5 kid friendly brunches in the city.

Stella Barra

Located in Lincoln Park, Stella Barra is connected to Summer House and serves an All You Can Eat Chef Inspired Brunch for $19.95 for adults and kids under 12 eat free. There are so many options for the adults and children. They have pancakes, French Toast (my son’s personal favorite), house made cinnamon buns, biscuits and gravy, chilaquiles (this is a must) yogurt parfaits and so on. Mimosas and Bellini’s are $5 dollars as well. The service has always been great; giving children crayons, coloring menus and very accommodating on seating. There is also stroller parking in front and lots of dining space. Great food and service really make this place kid friendly. They also take reservations.

Stella AYCE brunch- kid friendly brunch

AYCE Brunch-Photo @StellaBarra

TIP: They have an outdoor patio in the back with lots of seating for large groups.

Location: Lincoln Park || 1954 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 634-4101

Cornerstone Café

With two locations, Lincoln Park and Logan Square, this diner is the first brunch we ever brought our son to. This casual café is an easy diner to bring children of all ages for breakfast or an early lunch. It is a great value, friendly service and have breakfast and lunch served daily. 

Friendly brunch spots at Cornerstone Cafe

Brunch-Photo @tjs_grams

They open at 7am and you can find lots of children and families there. They are very accommodating with seating and strollers and will make you feel right at home. They have plenty of sweet and savory options, with delicious pancakes and French toast for children and a variety of omelette options for the adults, all large portion sizes. Their corned beef hash and sweet potato fries are great options for brunch too. Service is fast, friendly and the food is all worth checking out. They do not take reservations, so I recommend going early.

TIP: The Logan Square location is BYOB.

Location: 

Logan Square || 2753 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 235-1155

Lincoln Park || 2200 N. Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 270- 4343

Knife and Tine

Knife and Tine was a place I was initially hesitant to bring my son. It is small and rather intimate, but I cannot say enough about their service and willingness to work with you and your children. And of course, the food. I have been several times with my son for happy hour, dinner and brunch, and each time, the food and service go beyond expectations. I have even dined by myself with my son and they have been extremely helpful. They will help you with the stroller, seating accommodations, and even give your little ones a box of Legos, stickers and crayons with coloring sheets. For the adults, the shrimp and grits with scrambled eggs is amazing. It is made with white cheddar and apple smoked bacon. For the children, they have banana pancakes, French toast, grilled cheese and other fun dishes. The food is incredible, service is very good every time. They also take reservations.

Pumpkin spice French toast#knifeandtine #breakfastlover #frenchtoast #foodlife #pumpkinspice

Pumpkin Spice French Toast-Photo by @tymtrouble

TIP: They have delicious coffee cocktails.

Location: Lincoln Park ||1417 N. Fullerton, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 697- 8311

Wishbone

This Lakeview and West Loop Southern comfort restaurant is great for any meal, but the perfect place to bring your family for brunch. The crab cake benedict, red eggs and their biscuits are delicious. Definitely don’t skip the biscuits, they are some of the best I have ever had. You can also ask for a side of honey.

For children, my son loved the strawberry pancakes. He devoured them. There are other options like eggs, grits and mac and cheese for children. All the portions are large and easily could be shared.

The service is friendly, fast and accommodating. There is lots of dining space for you and your family. They do take reservations, but only for parties of 6 or more on the weekends.

om nom nom nom ūüôĆūüŹĺ Belgium waffles are my favorite, halleloo lordt.

Belgium Waffles-Photo by @mochiibear

TIP: One Free entree from the Kids menu for every regular adult breakfast (must be ordered by 9 am)

Location: 

Lakeview ||3300 N Lincoln Ave||, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 549-2663

West Loop ||1001 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL || P: (312) 850-2663  

Kingsbury Street Cafe

This Near North Side upscale diner has extremely good food, innovative dishes and fast service. The menu has items like lemon pancakes, shrimp egg white frittata, and salmon hash. One of their most well known dishes is the Piggy Moo Cluck Sandwich, which is eggs, ham, bacon and cheese served on ciabatta bread. It’s amazing and not your average brunch sandwich. They serve some really delicious coffee and brunch cocktails to accompany the food.

Friendly brunch spots with my son at Kingsbury Cafe

Lemon Pancakes-Photo by @TopChicagoEats

For the children’s menu, it isn‚Äôt extensive, but they have typical items like pancakes and chicken fingers. However, many of the items on the adult menu could be shared with children, even for the pickiest eaters. My son and I shared the lemon pancakes and we both loved them.

This cafe is great weekend brunch with a fun, lively vibe with a little something for the entire family. It does get very busy on the weekends. I would highly recommend reservations.

TIP: They sell pastries to go.

Location: Near North Side||1523 N Kingsbury St||, Chicago, IL || P: (312) 280-1718

Until next time,

Christine

Back to the Basics: Grassroots Eatery

There are several places to eat on Southport Corridor in Chicago. But there isn’t one that can truly claim they are farm-to-table. And to be honest, that terms gets thrown around so much now. But what does it actually mean? At¬†Grassroots Eatery¬†at¬†3747 N Southport Ave, they are a neighborhood eatery serving American contemporary farm-to-table dishes. Everything is sourced from local and Southwest Michigan Farms. All the produce and protein is hand selected by the owner at places like¬†Kaminski Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan and produce from¬†Frank Farms in Berrien, Michigan. Additionally, they grow their own herbs, tomatoes, and kale. There is nothing more farm-to-table than that.

Some stand out dishes on the dinner menu is the pork chop. It is a 10 oz organic, Iowa raised pork chop served with roasted sweet potatoes and pickled Red Haven peaches.

Pork Chop at Grassroots Eatery on Southport

Pork Chop

Or the cheeseburger from Kaminki Farm that is 14 day dry aged house ground beef with a tomato jam and apple smoked bacon. One of my personal favorites is the buffalo cauliflower and house-made mac & cheese with an option to add mushrooms, bacon or lobster. Absolutely fantastic.

Mac & Cheese at Grassroots Eatery on Southport

Mac & Cheese

Buffalo Caullflower from Grassroots Eatery on Southport in Chicago

Buffalo Cauliflower

They also serve several local beer, spirits and wine. The Pinot Noir from Dablon Winery (learn more about this winery here.) is delicious and the Smoke & Spice cocktail with mescal and jalapeno was perfect.

Smoke & Spice Cocktail from Grassroots Eatery on Southport

Smoke & Spice Cocktail

What I also like about¬†Grassroots is the kids menu. Too many times have we dined with Noah and the only options are either cheese pizza or chicken nuggets. Not nutritious for him at all. What’s unique is they are offer the same organic and free range food like the regular menu. Even the cheeseburger on the kids menu is a 14 day aged ground beef patty. Best part, all kids meals are $6 dollars.

They serve weekend brunch that includes $15 dollar bottomless mimosas and $5 dollar bloody mary’s. Other specials during the week are 1/2 price bottles on wine on Wednesdays and a daily 3 course pre-fix menu for $27 dollars.

Avocado Toast- Brunch Menu at Grassroots eatery

Avocado Toast- Brunch Menu

Chicken and Waffles- Brunch Menu at Grassroots Eatery on Southport

Chicken and Waffles- Brunch Menu

It is definitely a place you can take your family, head to brunch with friends or out on a date night (a great location because it is attached to Mercury Theater and next to the Music Box). Try getting back to the basics and enjoy a true farm-to-table meal at the approachable Grassroots Eatery.

Let me know what you think.

Until next time,

Christine

Making a Turkey this Thanksgiving? I have something for you

My husband and I have had been cooking a turkey for years.  Either for Thanksgiving or with our friends for Friendsgiving. We have tried several turkey brines and made our own seasoning, but this Gournet Turkey Brine Kit from Urban Accents is our favorite.

Image of Turkey Brine Kit from Urban Accents. This kit includes everything you will need to make a delicious turkey on Thanksgiving!

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Photo from urbanaccents.com

It makes our life a little easier too. It comes with everything you need like all the spices, the bag and step by step instructions. You can still roast, deep fry or grill your turkey and this brine tastes great. Best part?  Urban Accents  is a company right here in Chicago. You can order it on Amazon for $12.95 or find it at Whole Foods.  Makes your Thanksgiving that much easier!

Enjoy!

Christine

 

 

When I dip, you dip, we dip

Sunday, November 5th, I threw a party with my friends April from¬†The Tipsy Housewife¬†and Alex @Sassyconfetti. Not just any kind of party. It was a dip party with 30 plus food bloggers. When I mean dip, like the appetizer. Which who doesn’t love? Can you just imagine how good the dips actually were from these bloggers?! DELICIOUS. We compiled the recipes for the 30 amazing dips that were entered into Sunday’s First Annual¬†#TipsySassyGoodlife¬†Dip Contest. These recipes are definitely perfect for the holidays coming up.

Chicago Cubs | Pumpkin Party at Park at Wrigley

But first, how did we even come up with this whole idea. To be honest, we just met a few months ago through the Instagram world and hit it off. At the J.W. Marriott one night, we spent the night discussing our love of food, wine, our families, and Chicago with a few glasses of wine (maybe more…) and the Dip Party was created!

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Chicago Cubs | Pumpkin Party at Park at Wrigley

In just one month, we invited 40 of our favorite bloggers and had 8 sponsors to provide with some seriously awesome swag. We work fast.

It was so amazing to see how much creativity and dedication went into each dip. We were totally blown away. I hope you get a chance to check out some of these bloggers and even try some of their recipes.

Chicago Cubs | Pumpkin Party at Park at Wrigley

Sponsors: 

1.¬†SOLO¬†(yes, we played dip bong. Don’t judge us. And has great Holiday plates and bowls this season)
2. Goose Island (1800 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago) (tasty beer that goes down sooooo smooth)
3. Salonv Aveda (best salon in the city. Seriously. If you need a place to prepare for the holidays, go! My whole family has been going for years)
4. Revolution Brewing (Christmas Ale is second to none!),
5. Goddess and Grocer (Chardonnay paired well with so many of the cheese dips)
6. Crazy Beautiful Wines (Loca Linda might be my favorite rose now)
7.¬†KOVAL Distillery¬†(alone or with bloody mary’s is a perfect combo)
8. SuckerPunch Gourmet (best bloody mary mix and spicy garlic pickle combo).

And special thanks to Angie Garbot photography for snapping these beautiful photos.

Chicago Cubs | Pumpkin Party at Park at Wrigley

Tipsy Sassy Good Life Fall Dip Recipes 2017

Now for the dipsters and their Instagram Accounts: 

@bahcallmemaybe¬†‚Äď Cannoli Dip

@afoodiegoescleanish¬†‚Äď Poor Man‚Äôs Caviar

@lookatlindz¬†‚Äď Savory Pumpkin Hummus

@marymangia¬†‚Äď Hot Sausage Beer Cheese Dip

@suckerpunchgourmet- SuckerPunch Gourmet Garlic Original Pickle and Green Tomato Salsa Dip

@treatjazself¬†‚Äď Chocopumpdough

@alyssazeet_¬†‚Äď Cranberry Salsa

@appetite_4_adventure¬†‚Äď Trio of Fall Dips: Hot Cheesy Roasted Brussels Sprouts Dip, Warm Butternut Squash and Cheddar Dip, and Ooey Gooey Cheesy Cranberry Dip

@pantrygrubs¬†‚Äď Pomegrante & Pecan Brie Dip

@angelagarbot¬†‚Äď Sweet Potato Spread

@miyahara_eats¬†‚Äď 10-Minute Kabocha Dip

@foodandbevylover¬†‚Äď Caramelized Onion & Mushroom Dip

@katie_carrico¬†‚Äď Turkey Dressing Dip

@roxypopzchicago¬†‚ÄstBeet dip with Delicata squash chips

@thesavvygourmand¬†‚Äď The Holiday Pineapple

@sadiehill¬†‚Äď Sweet Potato Pico De Gallo

@thejollyhostess¬†‚Äď Chipotle Pumpkin Salsa

@kykyeats¬†‚Äď Cranberry Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip

@westloopsoul¬†‚Äď Butternut Squash Hummus

@chicagofooddork¬†‚Äď Cranberry Cheesecake Dip with Candied Pecans

@chieats¬†‚Äď BLT Dip

@msnataliejane¬†‚Äď Bacon Beer Dip

@lbell414¬†‚Äď Caramel Apple Dip

@flos_favorites¬†‚Äď Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

@feyginphoto¬†‚Äď The Feygin Guac

@andreasculinarypassport¬†‚Äď Trio of Tapenades

@thedomesticdivamd¬†‚Äď Cheesy Squash Dip

@jacksonsdecree¬†‚Äď Underseasoned Guacamole

@tefo921¬†‚Äď White Cheddar, Pumpkin and Sage Dip

@sharbear06¬†‚Äď Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Fundido

If you like the dip recipes and you’re on Instagram, make sure you check out and follow all their accounts. They are seriously the best.

Until next time (or next party!).

Christine

5 things to take your Turkey Day to the next level

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, there are a lot of things we need to do. Whether it is cooking, creating the right place setting or finding the perfect hostess gift, Thanksgiving can be overwhelming. I have rounded out some great recipes and fun gift ideas to make your Turkey Day a little more enjoyable with your family and friends.

Beet Bruschetta with Lavender- Vanilla Honey Drizzle

IMG_0156 (1)I don’t know what says more than Thanksgiving than beets. It’s like a must right? So why not take those beets and turn them into something fun that everyone would like?! This recipe is from the Ryanne, the blogger at¬†Pineappple Expression.¬†Her stuff is always amazing and under 40 minutes, it is sure to be a serious crowd pleaser.

Prep and Assembly time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes Prep
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 French baguette loaf of bread
  • 1 (5.02 oz) small package of Boursin Cheese (garlic and herbs flavor is best)
  • 1 medium sized red beet
  • 1 package of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lavender
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • kosher salt

Directions:

  1. First, preheat the oven to 375F.  Peel and slice the beet into 1/4 slices.  Place the slices on a roasting pan and toss with a light drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a few sprigs of thyme.  Roast the beets for 30 minutes, but flip after 15 for a more even cook.  When the beets are done, pull from the oven and let them cool.
  2. While the beets cool, slice the bread as you would for bruschetta.  Coat lightly with olive oil and place in the oven under the broiler for a maximum of 5 minutes.  The slices should still be soft, but have a nice golden color to the tops.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the honey, lavender and vanilla bean (scrape the insides out to produce the black flecks) along with the apple cider vinegar.   I love this combo!!
  4. After the beets have cooled, chop into cubes as evenly as you can.  1/4 inch on each side.  First cut into strips, then rotate the knife as you move through.
  5. To assemble the toasts, use a butter knife to spread a layer of Boursin cheese onto each slice of bread.   Next, crumble on a small mountain of the roasted beets.  Using a spoon, drizzle a little bit of the honey mixture over the tops of each toast.  Sprinkle with some coarse kosher salt or flaky sea salt on top.   For more pizzazz, use the sprigs of thyme to garnish the plate.
  6. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Wine Bottle Labels

Whether you are bringing wine or serving it, these Thanksgiving themed labels would get a good laugh from all your guests at the table. A set of 4 is $8.89 and available on Prime. Perfect for all wine lovers. Find them here.

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Skinny Pumpkin Bars

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Whether a pre-dinner snack or a dessert, these pumpkin bars are delicious.¬† They are not overly pumpkin and the chocolate chips are a great addition. My son devoured three in one day (he’s 20 months) and I am not going to even tell you how many I ate…..

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened (I tried margarine. It doesn‚Äôt taste the same)
  • 2 eggs and 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 (15oz) can All Natural mashed pumpkin (I like Trader Joes and Aldi)
  • ¬ĺ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

IMG_0900

 Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt; set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars; mix until creamy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time; beating and scraping bowl with each addition.
  6. Add egg whites; mix until fluffy.
  7. Add applesauce and pumpkin; mix until all blended together
  8. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix until thick consistency.
  9. Add in mini chocolate chips.
  10. Evenly spread into prepared cookie sheet.
  11. Bake 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  12. Cool and enjoy¬†ūüôā

Thanksgiving T-shirt- Turkey, Wine and Feeling Fine

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Ok, I know this technically doesn’t go on the table, but how cute is this t-shirt? And pretty¬†accurate right? Thanksgiving is about turkey, wine and RELAXING. It is available for men and women.

It is $17.99 and available on Prime. You can find it here.

Thanksgiving Party Boxes

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I really like these party boxes for either your adult guests or a nice addition to your kids table. It can be filled with candy from a candy bar, leftovers or desserts to go, it is a cute way for your guests to leave with something special from the day.  For a set of 12, it is $11.04 and available on Prime. You can find them here.

However you are celebrating, I hope you have a blessed day with friends and family, because in the end, that’s all that matters.

Until next time,

Christine