Recipe: Acorn Squash Bowls
Acorn squash is in season right now and I found them for $0.69 cents at the store, why not take advantage! Since Thanksgiving, I have been trying to eat lighter and this dish is perfect for a weekday meal. I find that acorn squash isn’t too sweet and it takes on whatever flavor you combine it with, which makes it very versatile! For a vegetarian version, I think soy chorizo would be great in these.
Although the acorn takes 30-35 minutes to cook, the rest of the dish takes minutes to prepare. It could be a good idea to cook the squash the night before and just prepare everything the following day. Check out my Instagram page for more photos here.
Prep time: 40-45 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
- 2 medium acorn squash, halved down the middle, seeds removed
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Cooking spray
- 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 4 sausage links
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 cups chopped kale
- 1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
- Optional- red pepper flakes
- Heat oven to 375°. Cut a thin slice off round side of each squash half to create a stable base. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; coat with cooking spray.
- Place squash flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil; bake until golden and tender, 30-35 minutes.
- Remove from oven and set aside.
- Heat broiler.
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 teaspoon oil. Add sausage, onion, garlic and chicken stock. Cook 5-7 minutes.
- Fill squash bowls with sausage and kale mixture. Sprinkle panko and parmesan
- Broil until panko is golden, 2- minutes.
Recipe: Egg Muffins with Turkey Bacon and Kale
This simple breakfast is easy, will save you time and toddler approved. Noah didn’t even taste the kale. You can freeze them in an air tight bag and you will have breakfast for the week. Enjoy!
- 10 large eggs
- 1/3 c. milk
- 1 c. reduced fat cheddar or Mexican cheese
- handful of chopped kale
- 6 oz. cooked turkey bacon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- Optional: chives
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large glass mixing bowl, combine eggs and milk and whisk well.
- Stir in 3/4 c. cheese, cooked turkey bacon, kale, salt, and pepper.
- Divide mixture evenly among 12 greased muffin cups. Fill in 1/2-3/4 way.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until centers are set and muffins are beginning to brown.
Recipe: Easy Appetizer- Honey Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Bruschetta
- 1 loaf French bread
- 1 package (8-11oz) honey goat cheese or goat cheese
- 15 slices paper-thin prosciutto
- Handful of pitted dates, chopped (I like Sunsweet)
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Pistachios and balsamic (optional)
- Cut loaf into thin 1/2″ slices.
- Brush both sides with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Arrange on a foil lined baking sheet. Place under broiler for a 2-2 1/2 minutes until slightly toasted. Flip and repeat on other side.
- When bread is toasted, spread with a thin layer of goat cheese. Add a slice of prosciutto and top with chopped dates.
Recipe: Easy Beef and Broccoli
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided in half. One half in a gallon Ziplock bag
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
- 1lb boneless round steak or 1 lb chuck steak, cut into thin 3-inch strips
- 8 ounces mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 4 cups broccoli florets or 1 bag of frozen broccoli
- 1 small white onion
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1⁄3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- In a ziplock bag, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water and garlic.
- Add beef and let it coat the meat thoroughly.
- In a large skillet or wok over medium high heat, stir-fry beef in 1 tablespoon of oil until beef is cooked thoroughly; remove and keep warm.
- Stir-fry broccoli, mushrooms, and onion in sesame oil for 4-5 minutes in the same skillet or wok.
- Return beef to pan.
- Combine soy sauce, red pepper flakes, ginger and remaining cornstarch and 1/2 cup of water until smooth; add to skillet or wok.
- Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
- Serve alone, over rice noodles, cous cous, cauliflower or brown rice
Recipe: Skinny Pumpkin Bars
- 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’t 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)
- ¾ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars; mix until creamy.
- Add eggs one at a time; beating and scraping bowl with each addition.
- Add egg whites; mix until fluffy.
- Add applesauce and pumpkin; mix until all blended together
- Add dry ingredients all at once and mix until thick consistency.
- Add in mini chocolate chips.
- Evenly spread into prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool and enjoy 🙂
Chicago Gourmet Recap: 5 products I discovered
Chicago Gourmet is one of those events I had been wanting to attend for a long time. I finally had the opportunity and was thrilled to be among the best chefs, restaurants and brands in the world. Lucky for me, it was extra special because Chicago Gourmet was celebrating their 10th anniversary.
The week long event is thrown by the Illinois Restaurant Association along with the title sponsor Bon Appetit magazine every year in Millennium Park. It brings together renowned chefs, restaurants and wine and spirits. There are tastings, book signings, cooking demos, and wine and cocktail seminars throughout the event. It is truly a “foodie” experience.
This was my first year attending and it will not be my last. I sampled everything from Thai food, types of honey, wine, sliders, charcuterie, truffle mac & cheese and so on. I left discovering so many products I fell in love with. Even a few from brands I have never heard of.
In no particular order, below are my top 5 favorites from Chicago Gourmet.
1. Loacker– These chocolate wafers literally melt in your mouth. Don’t think I have tasted anything like this before. I tried two flavors, Dark Chocolate and Cocoa and Milk. The Cocoa and Milk is incredible and highly addicting. It happens that this flavor won 2017’s product of the year. Learn more about it here. Loacker started in 1925 and started off just as a small confectioner in Europe, to a globally known brand with products in more than 100 countries. Wherever you can find these, grab a few bags. You will need more than one.
2. Chloe Wine– I had seen Chloe Wine in several stores like Mariano’s, Binny’s, Target, etc. but for some reason, never tried it. The bottle is super feminine and beautiful and so was their exhibit. I was drawn to it. I sampled a few of their wines, but the Prosecco stood out. I tend to never drink it, usually too sweet or acidic for my taste, but this is different. This wine has notes of peach, green apple, and overall filled with citrusy flavors. I loved it and this will be a staple in my fridge from here on out.
3. National Honey Board– Honey doesn’t seem like it would be something to stand out, but I was so impressed by the various flavors and pairings I sampled at their exihibit. The four flavors we tried were orange blossom, blueberry, buckwheat, and alfalfa. It was paired with fruit, cheese and crostinis. I loved the buckwheat, such a unique flavor, lots of molasses and not too sweet. With the holidays coming, this would make a great appetizer to serve. You can find where to buy it here.
4. Martins Potato Rolls- This rolls are soft, buttery, potato rolls that are so versatile and DELICIOUS. They were served with pulled chicken, but could be paired in so many different ways. I don’t know why I hadn’t discovered them before. I have now used them to make sandwiches for Noah and sloppy joes. After looking them up, there are some really creative recipes, even using the rolls in a dip or crostinis. Lot’s of Sunday Funday options. You can find them here.
5. Barilla Ready Pasta– I have been using at lot of Barilla products lately, specifically their veggie pasta. But I am always a little weary of food products that are instant or made within 90 seconds in the microwave. They tend to have so much sodium and preservatives. I tried the Barilla Ready Pasta and not only is it good, it is definitely different than other “instant” products. Made in the microwave in 60 seconds, it is all natural, zero preservatives and non-GMO with 210 grams of sodium. There are 3 ingredients: fully cooked pasta, a dash of olive oil and sea salt. It is great for lunches on- the-go or for mom’s in a hurry.
Here are some other fun outtakes from the day!
Until next time…
Recipe: Chicken Eggplant Stir-Fry
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes Total: 40 minutes Serves: 4
• 1/2 large eggplant, sliced into rounds
• 1/8 teaspoon salt 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves , cut into cubes
• 2 green peppers
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
• 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 4 cups spinach
1. Sprinkle salt evenly over both sides of eggplant slices; set aside for 5 minutes. Cut eggplant into cubes.
2. Cook and stir chicken, garlic, and soy sauce together in a large skillet over medium heat until the chicken is nearly cooked through
3. Stir mushrooms and black pepper into the chicken mixture; continue cooking until the mushrooms brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Heat olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Cook eggplant and eggplant in hot olive oil muntil lightly browned; add to skillet with the chicken.
5. Stir spinach through the chicken and eggplant mixture; cook and stir until the spinach wilts, 2 to 3 minutes.
Recipe: A Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte
• 1 cup of milk (for dairy free-almond or coconut milk)
• 1 Tablespoon canned pumpkin or without added sugar (I like Trader Joes)
• 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1/4 cup of coffee or espresso
• 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
• Heavy cream or coconut cream for whipping (optional)
1. Blend all ingredients except for cream or coconut cream in a blender until smooth.
2. Heat and Simmer: Heat the mixture by simmering for about 5 minutes until hot. Stir constantly.
2. Optional: Top with whipped heavy cream (or coconut cream) and a dash of cinnamon and enjoy.
It took about 10 minutes to prepare. Enjoy!
Old is New Again: The Berghoff
My parents grew up going to The Berghoff in downtown Chicago. Most Chicagoan’s probably have. I used to go as a kid, but the last time I was there, I was in high school. In fact, I thought for the longest time it was closed. Recently, I had the opportunity to dine and tour the restaurant and was so impressed. Not only because of the history, but the revival of the menu. The Berghoff is known for their German food like Weiner Schnitzel’s, bratwursts and giant Bavarian pretzels. Of course, those dishes are legendary, but there are new additions to the menu that are more modern and appealing to a younger generation. More contemporary dishes that even include certified gluten-free options. But first, let me tell you about the history and how it all began.
The Berghoff has been around since 1898, and is rich in Chicago history. Herman Berghoff posted right outside the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893, similar to a pop-up cafe. His success from that, is how he made enough money to bring his family to Chicago and open his cafe.
During the prohibition, the bar remained opened by selling a “Near Beer” which contained less than 0.5% alcohol. This made it possible for Herman to sell and stay open. After prohibition ended, The Berghoff was issued Chicago’s first Liquor License. Chicago has honored this every year and they will always receive the first license.
The Berghoff had a separate men’s only bar until 1969, when Gloria Steinem demanded service and this ended the male-only streak.
Now for the food. We sampled a lot of everything, some classic dishes and contemporary ones. I also had the opportunity to meet Chef Matt and Chef Javier. Their love for not only the food, but their passion for working at the restaurant shined through. They have been at the restaurant for years and are dedicated to making great food. Chef Matt went into detail on how everything is made in house. With a bakery and 4 kitchens in the 50,000 square feet space, everything is made on site. That is something unique and many Chicago restaurants can’t claim. To take a closer look at the behind the scenes in the bakery, look here.
With all that being said, my top 3 dishes are:
3. Red Velvet Cake- I am not usually one for dessert or sweets in general, but this red velvet cake is fluffy with the right amount of sweetness. Served with a side of vanilla ice cream, this dessert will make anyone go out of their way to dine here.
2. Braised Short Ribs- This is fantastic. Melts in your mouth good. Served with a side of mashed potatoes and topped with fried onions. The textures are just right. Perfect comfort food during the cooler months.
1.Butternut Squash Lasagna- Layered with diced butternut squash and Manchego, then topped with grilled asparagus and glazed walnuts, it is outstanding. The combination of the sweetness from the squash with the cheese is perfect. It is light enough to eat year-round and vegetarians should go crazy over it. Definitely a stand out dish.
The Berghoff is also known for Oktoberfest. This runs from September 7th- October 7th. With live music and food specials, it will put you in the mood for the fall festivities ahead.
Whether you are from Chicago or here to visit, The Berghoff is a must stop for great food and some Chicago history.
Until next time…
Recipe Review: Brown Sugar BBQ Chicken from Delish
My husband recently was having a rough day at work and I wanted to prepare a meal for him that I knew would make him feel better. He loves BBQ and Bourbon, so I found Delish’s recipe, Brown Sugar BBQ to make sandwiches. It is made with Bourbon, so I knew this would be the right recipe. You can find it here Recipe Here.
This is a 6 hour slow cooker recipe with just a few ingredients. In fact, I had everything in the fridge, with exception to the coleslaw. In all, it took me around 10 minutes to prep. I LOVE finding recipes that are easy, but still fun and interesting to try.
- 2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 c. barbecue sauce, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1/4 c. bourbon
- 1/4 c. Italian dressing
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 Slider buns
- Coleslaw, for serving
- In a slow-cooker, add chicken breasts, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, bourbon, Italian dressing, garlic powder and paprika. Season with salt and pepper.
- Toss until well coated, then cover and cook on high, 6 hours.
- Shred chicken and serve on buns with a drizzle of barbecue sauce and a spoonful of coleslaw.
I used all the ingredients and followed the directions exactly. As for the ingredients, I would skip out on the salt. Since it is fairly salty enough and it is not necessary. I was also not going to bother heading to the store for the one ingredient I was missing, the coleslaw. But, this is a must! The combination makes the entire sandwich. For the Italian dressing, I used a generic brand, but would use Wishbone next time. Just because I feel like it is the best and it might have made a difference.
For the directions, I followed them, but at 5 hours, I thought it was done and was tempting to stop it. But don’t! That last hour changed the texture of the meat and I am glad I waited. They turned out perfect! The meat melted in your mouth. It was sweet and tangy from the BBQ sauce and smokey from the bourbon.
Definitely one of the best meals I’ve made in a long time. It’s really easy, but not quick meal you can jput together Takes time and Noah might have to wait to give it a try!
Easy Meals: Frontera Foods
If you have been following me on Instagram, then you know I’m obsessed with Rick Bayless’s Frontera Skillet Sauces. They are so easy, surprisingly don’t have a lot of sodium and DELICIOUS.
Go try it and let me know what you think!
I am no chef, will never claim to be one. But as soon as I had my son, cooking kind of became part of motherhood, whether I liked it or not. I have learned throughout the past year different recipes that are EASY, FAST and a bonus if it’s kid friendly. Below are some recipes I have been whipping up this summer. Enjoy!
- 1 pound tri-colored spiral pasta
- 6 tablespoons McCormick salad seasoning mix
- 1 (16 ounce) bottle Italian-style salad dressing- I love Wishbone
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cucumber- chopped
- 1 (2.25 ounce) can black olives, chopped
- 6 ounces of Feta Cheese
- 1/2 cup of Kraft Olive Oil Mayo
- Salt and pepper to taste
Makes 6 Servings
- Boil water in a large pot of salted water, cook pasta until al dente, rinse under cold water and drain.
- Cut cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes and olives (I have to cut real small for my son)
- In a salad bowl, combine the pasta, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and olives. Pour dressing over salad and add the Mayo last.
- Toss and refrigerate overnight or a few hours (at least 3 hours)
Pico de Gallo
I am not going to lie, this is my husbands recipe. He makes it at every get to together we have and now is requested. It’s super easy and perfect over tacos or as an appetizer. I LOVE it with shrimp tacos, and we add it to Noah’s quesadillas chicken tacos.
- 6 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (you could use 1/2, but we like spice!)
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 pinch ground cumin, or to taste
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Makes 12 servings
- Stir the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, garlic, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. This is key to this recipe. The longer is sits, the better!
- Serve with blue corn tortilla chips or on tacos.
Grilled Spicy Lime Shrimp
This can be made on skewers or for tacos. We prefer tacos, because everyday is like Taco Tuesday in our house 🙂 Note- Noah has yet to try shellfish, so this isn’t Noah approved just yet. Adapted from The Recipe Critic.
- 1 pound of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Juice of one large lime
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, olive oil, garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. Pour into a resealable bag and add shrimp. Toss to coat and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the grill to medium heat. Put the shrimp in grilling basket or on skewers and place on the grill. Grill on each side for about two minutes or until no longer pink.
- For shrimp tacos, top with pico de gallo (see above) or sliced avocado. Flour tortillas work best.
Sweet Potato Steak Fries
My son loves anything sweet potato! Mashed, fried, baked, etc. These are a great way to get in a craving, but still keep it lighter (somewhat).
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1×3-inch wedges
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 onion
- Aluminum Foil
Makes 4 servings
- Place sweet potatoes and all ingredients in tin foil. Wrap them up so no edges are shown.
- Grill in tin foil for 10 minutes, then place on the grill until a crust forms on the outside. We like ours crunchy, so we leave it on until the crust is almost burnt.
I’d LOVE to hear any feedback!
Until next time..
I love a good ramen place, but recently, this city is being overcome by them. I feel like there is one every few blocks, it makes it hard to find one that stands out. So many places skimp out on the noodles and protein and it is just a bowl of salt. So when Fab Food Chicago invited me check out Jinya Ramen Bar at 553 W. Diversey Pkwy in Lakeview, I jumped at the chance to try a new place with hopes of it being great.
Walking in, I was pleasantly surprised how much bigger it was from the outside. They have a small bar and a semi open kitchen. I always love this characteristic in a restaurant. Who doesn’t like to see how their food is being prepared? It has a small, neighborhood vibe with young people and families eating.
Once seated, we got the full description of how the noodles are made. It is much more of a detailed process than I ever realized! They use FUGI water to boil the noodles. Once they are ready, they are aged for three days to maximize the flavor. The broth is simmered for 10 hours with whole pork bones, chickens or vegetables to create a flavorful experience. I was intrigued after this.
To start the meal, we tried their new summer items. We had the Pork Chashu (slow braised pork) & Kimchee and Salmon Tacos, Takoyako (octupus balls- like a donut with octopus inside), and Poke Bowl. My favorite was the tacos. I loved the flavors and thought they were perfect summer. It was like something I could eat at a festival in the summer heat. The Pork Chashu had a smoky flavor and was cooked perfectly, it melted in my mouth. As the Takoyako, I am not much of an octopus fan, but the other guests LOVED it.
Now, the RAMEN! I was torn between the Cha Cha Cha- for garlic lovers or the Spicy Chicken Ramen and asked for a recommendation. The manager suggested the Spicy Chicken Ramen. It is their most popular dish with the option of getting mild, spicy, or hot. I went with this. It had chicken, spinach, spicy bean sprouts and green onion. It was DELICIOUS. Not too spicy, salty and the noodles were thick and flavorful.
The chicken and veggies had a lot of spice, but not overpowering. The broth wasn’t too watery, almost a thicker consistency. Needless to say, I devoured the entire bowl.
To top all this, we had a dessert. Blockheads shaved ice cream pops and OH MY GOD. Amazing. I have been googling on where I could find them in the city! So good. If you find, PLEASE let me know!
The entire meal was fantastic and I later learned they are BYOB with a $5 corking fee per person, which makes it even better. Parking might be difficult, but there is lots of public transportation in the area.
Let me know what you think.
Until next time..
Quest for the Best *Thin Crust Only
There are a few things that can get me out of the house during winter hibernation or away from my summer Netflix and Chill; pizza, wine and maybe a manicure. If I’m desperate enough.
There are so many good places in Chicago to eat a good slice, but I can’t stand deep dish. Except, maybe when I’m hungover. Or pregnant. One of those happens more than the other. But really, I’m a thin crust kind of girl. I have narrowed it down to just three, but there are so many more options in the city.
In the heart of Lincoln Park, Pizzeria da Nella has not only amazing pizza, the outdoor patio for the warmer months is a hidden gem.
It is very family friendly and easy to bring Noah. Their kids menu includes a Mickey Mouse pizza and butter noodles. Their menu is extensive and they have more then just pizza and salad.
My favorite starter here is the avocado burrata and for pizza, the Diavola is nice and spicy. Their pizza is a true Neapolitan with a burnt, bubbly crust. It’s the right amount of chewiness without the toppings sliding off, because nobody wants that.
Tip- Margherita Mondays $7 dollars and they are opening a location in Hyde Park.
With two locations, Coalfire Pizza pizza is Lakeview and West Town, this pizza is best known for their whipped mountains of ricotta and perfect burnt crust. It’s a thin, cracker like crust, just the way I like it. They have some unique pies like Lasagna, Honey and Salami, Veal Meatball and Pistachio Pesto, a little something for everyone. There are vegan options too. They use all locally sourced ingredients and serve Bang Bang pie dessert. It’s a win, win really. Tip- They also have an al fresco dining option.
Another pizza fav of mine is Sono Wood Fired
in Lincoln Park. It is a cozy, ideal date spot with dim lighting, oil candles and friendly service. Their pizza is wood fired and the best seat in the house in by the open kitchen and oven. Pizzas are delicious and the crust is to die for. The Soppressata Divola with wood-fired onions is the right amount of spice. The White Sausage and the Mushroom pizza are also my go-to’s here. I also LOVE their brushette as well and even have a flight you can choose from. They serve a weekend brunch, which includes a Salmon Pizza. Tip- The specials are fantastic.
SUNDAY: 1/2 off bottles of wine & Industry Night 25% off for our restaurant industry friends
TUESDAY: $10 Pizzas and Pastas
WEDNESDAY: $6 Antipasti & $8 Specialty Cocktails
THURSDAY: Wine Flights $10 & Wine Flights and Bites $20
There are SO MANY amazing options across the Chicagoland area. I would love to hear some of your favorites!
Until next time..
Margaritas in May
If you know anything about me, I enjoy two kinds of drinks: a glass of Cabernet and a mezcal margarita with salt. But margaritas can be overly sweet, watered down, or just really, really bad. Whether it is Cinco de Mayo or a warm day in Chicago, a margarita is the perfect cocktail to sip on. To help you get your buzz on, I have rounded up a few of my favorite marg’s around the city.
Big Star– This might be the most obvious choice, but their margaritas are really tasty. Either by the pitcher or glass, I prefer the Big Star mezcal rather than the Classic. The classic is made with blanco tequila, which doesn’t give the smoky taste. They have an amazing patio and it’s perfect for the warmer Chicago months, and of course, let’s not forget their tacos.
Masa Azul– This Logan Square Mexican and cocktail bar is a little gem that might have the best margaritas in the city. Seriously. Their margaritas are that good. With almost 20 cocktail options to choose from, all ranging from $6- $12 dollars, lots of tacos (especially vegetarian options), this is my top 5 favorite Mexican places in Chicago. This is a bold statement, considering my husband’s discerning taste. With such a variety of options, there might be a margarita for everyone.
The two margaritas I recommend are the Prickly Pear with mezcal joven and prickly pear and Where there is smoke…. This has mezcal joven with a Serrano Chile. Smoky with a little spice. Pair it with their guacamole = perfect summer meal.
Crio Bar and Restaurant– Located in Lincoln park on Clybourn Avenue, this Latin American gastropub has some really flavorful margaritas, yummy food and drink specials throughout the week. On Tuesdays, Margaritas are only $6 dollars.
I have two go-to drinks here. First, the hibiscus marg is a delicious combination of sweet and spicy. Second, they have a version of a Moscow mule, made with mezcal, which is unique.
Plus, for all you instagrammers, the mural and flower wall make a great photo opportunity.
These are just a few places, but Chicago is full of so many amazing places. Let me know!
Until next time…
Top 5 BYO Spots
BYO (bring your own booze, beer or wine) is one of those great restaurant qualities that so many seek out when dining. When I lived in New York City in my twenties, I couldn’t believe that there weren’t any BYO options, especially since everyone I knew was on a tight budget. Chicago has an abundance of BYO options ranging from casual to upscale dining. I have rounded up a list of my favorite spots throughout the city.
Sushi Mon – Located in Lincoln Park, this BYO sushi restaurant has a wide variety of sushi rolls, sushi bowls, pressed sushi and an impressive list of veggie rolls. My personal favorites are the Godzilla, V6 and Sparking rolls. The service is friendly, prices are great and delivery has always been excellent too. Go check it out and tell Bat I sent you 🙂 Sushi Mon
Ruxbin– For a night out for an upscale dining experience, Ruxbin is the spot. Located in Noble Square, it is small, intimate and a great setting for a date. The cuisine is American with a hint of Asian with dishes ranging from hanger steak (my favorite), octopus, and pork belly (my husbands favorite). They have an interesting menu concept that I really like. Every day they offer 5 dishes, for the table , $85/person. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday they offer 3 dishes, for the table — $55/person. Additional dishes are $12–$15/person. This is set up so you can try a little bit of everything on the menu. Go make reservations and bring a bottle or two (no corkage fee!). Ruxbin
90 Miles Cuban Cafe– My family has been coming to 90 Miles for years now for their traditional Cuban cuisine. We have celebrated graduations, anniversaries and birthdays here. It is huge, has an outdoor seating option and the decor all make foCGL Foodr a fun dining atmosphere. The empanadas and ropa vieja are not to be missed, some of the best I have ever had (sorry mother-in-law!). The service is top-notch, especially since there are many large groups at time. They take reservations and it is definitely recommended. In addition to being BYOB, they have a sangria and mojito mix, so bring wine or rum they will make you a killer sangria or mojito. 90 Miles Cuban Cafe,
Home Bistro Chicago– The first time I dined at cozy and quaint Home Bistro, was on a date (with my now husband years ago) when we first started dating. Located in Lakeview, with a constant changing New American menu, along with no corkage fee, this is the ideal date night spot. They have an option for a prix fix on Wednesdays and Sunday brunch. For parties of 7 of more, they have a family style prix fixed menu at $45/person. They take reservations and are highly recommended. Home Bistro Chicago
Caro Miro- For our very first Valentine’s Day (7 years ago…), we came to the Italian BYO Caro Miro and have gone several times since. Located in Ravenswood, this cozy, neighborhood spot has homemade pastas with huge portions, big enough to share. The pesto filled gnocchi is the best and chicken parmesan is also delicious. There is not a corkage fee, but if you plan on sharing, there is a $4 sharing fee. They recently expanded their dining room and take parties to up to 80 people now. Reservations are taken for parties of 4 or more. Bring your appetite and a bottle or two for some delicious Italian food. Caro Miro
There are plenty of BYO restaurants to choose from in Chicago and a little something for everyone. Get those appetites and bottles poppin’. 🙂
Until next time…
My Favorite Places for a Cocktail or Two
With this beautiful weather Chicago has to offer lately (for February, it’s near short of a miracle), I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite places to grab a glass or wine or cocktail. Not in any order, below are some fun places for any day of the week, date night, solo or with the whole family.
London House (Date night/solo)
Just there views alone are breath taking. Like seriously, amazing views of downtown Chicago. They have a great cocktail list and an extensive mezcal list, which is my favorite. They also have a 3 course Power Lunch menu for $20 dollars (a legit steal for downtown). It’s a three course meal from their lunch menu. This is great for date night, out of town friends, have a ladies night or solo. I went during the day on a Tuesday and had he rooftop to myself. Either way, the views and cocktails are top notch.
Bar Cocina (Sunday Funday/Friends) Heading up north, this taco spot has a year round patio. Brunch outside or ice skating during the winter, it’s a year round spot for great cocktail with your friends or family. Their Bottomless Brunch for $39.95 with Chef Stations and Drinks is a must. Their biggest selling point is their year round patio, which isn’t too common for a bar/restaurant. With large couches, heat lamps and plenty of space, the day could be spent here sipping away!
Parson’s (Sunday Funday/Family)
Head to Humboldt Park and sit outside (in winter, it is an ice skating rink) with the entire family. The chicken, hush puppies and slushies are my personal favorite. There is so much room for strollers and doggies, that you could spend hours eating and drinking. My kind of place.
J. Parker (Date Night/Friend/Parties)– With some of the best views in Chicago, this rooftop is located at the Lincoln Hotel in Lincoln Park. They now currently have a year round roof, so enjoy it any time of the year.
Chicago is a place for eating and drinking so there’s so many more. Let me know what you think!
Some of my other favorites are the mocktails at Santa Monica House, Big Star and Dark and Stormy slushies at Chop Shop.