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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The Gift Guide for Every CHICAGO FOODIE on Your List

Copy of Red Illustrated Gift Guides Blog Graphic

holiday gift guide, chicago brand, social sparking wine. gift, wine, holidays1. Social Sparking WineРThis sparkling sake is a local Chicago company and makes the perfect gift for all your holiday parties. Especially for any foodie hostess. Buy a case, stick a bow on it, and your gift is done! You can get 15% off using the code socialchristine when you purchase them online here. If you stock up for the season and spend $49 dollars, shipping is free!

2. State of Illinois cutting board B00FDN70CUmakes a cute gift to either use in the kitchen or for display. They are usually really expensive, but I found this one on Amazon Prime for $15.99. You can find it here.

3. Chicago Pizza ToursРIf your foodie friend likes to get out and explore, Chicago Pizza Tours is great way to experience the city and the best pizza around town. They offer different types of tours great even for your out of town guests. Use the code holiday2017 and you get 15% off any ticket or even gift certificates (the gift certificate still has the same full value) Book here.

4.B0153GD6EC  This Chicago flag apron makes a great gift for men and women that love two things: Chicago and food. Available on Amazon Prime for $28.99. You can find it here.

5.¬†¬†Bumble and Bustle-¬†¬†Who doesn’t love a cute coffee mug right? These mugs make the perfect gift (I own two!) and there are a lots of options to choose from. Best part is the owner is right here in Chicago. You can get 10% off using the discount code GOODLIFE10.

Holiday gift guide, Chicago mugs from a local chicago company

6. Old Town Olive Oil РDid you know most olive oils in stores are actually filled with canola oil? I learned that a few months ago after a visit to old town olive oil make a great gift, local chicago company, gift guideOld Town Oil.  You can sample lots of different kinds (my favorite is Tuscan Herb) and they bottle it right in front of you. They have sampler boxes with 2-4 bottles that make the perfect gift for every foodie and chef in your life.

7.¬†Chicago Food Planet–¬† Offering various tours around the city, taste the diverse food and drink of Chicago as a neighborhood food expert offers a local’s perspective of the city. It’s really quite an experience to eat and drink at the best places around the city. From now until the end of the year, you can book a private group tour for 15% discount. A great options for family and friends outings of 8+ people looking for a private¬†food¬†& beverage experience.¬† Private tours can be booked directly at 312-932-932 ext. 5.

8. For any Chicago pizza lover, this shirt is perfect. And who doesn’t love pizza? Available Chicago pizza lover shirt for women, chicago pizza, gift guideon Amazon Prime for $11.50. You can find it¬†here.

9.¬†Chicago Wine Candle–¬† This local candle company has¬†been¬†working up with local bars and cafes around the Chicago land area to receive used wine bottles. They have unique scents likeCocktails champagne, bourbon (personal favorite), sangria and wine. They also started candle making classes. You can find more information¬†here.

10. Saving the best for last. Every true Chicagoan knows how we eat our hot dogs. You can find it
here.
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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

 Recap: Taste Talks

Taste Talks is a 3 day national series filled with seminars, tastings, dinners and parties. It is an intimate way to bring amazing chefs, restaurants and influencers together to engage in conversations through Q & A, demos and sampling. I was fortunate enough to attend the conference on Saturday and the cookout the following day. More about this event on Chicago Taste Talks.  Read more at Travel & City Adventures

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. Read more at Restaurants & Recipes

Quest for the Best *Thin Pizza 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. Read more at CGL Food

Getting Fresh Retro at Rhyme and Reason

Between sports bars and brunch spots, it’s difficult to stand out on Division Street.¬†But, Le‚ÄôQoinne Rice and Zafer Genc are doing it with¬†Rhyme or Reason, 1938 W. Division. Their 70’s themed interior, menu from Chef Chris de la Cueva, and live entertainment, all help bring a fun, retro vibe to the Wicker Park area.

Plush rugs, velvet couches and mirrors sets the mood for the 70’s eatery with shareable food and innovative cocktails. The mural around the base of the bar is by Jas Petersen, a Chicago visual artist and painter, which surrounds the circular bar. With an open kitchen, large windows, and an outdoor patio with seating up to 75 people, this is a perfect spot to spend the warm summer months ahead.

The Tuesday through Friday dinner menu has a touch of comfort food like fried oysters, lamb meatballs, wings, burgers and poutine, while the weekend brunch has some of my favorites.

On the brunch menu is a delicious edamame toast, an upgrade from avocado toast. For those who enjoy a little heat, the fried chicken and donuts topped with fresno chili is the perfect choice. Their Bloody Mary comes with a slice of house smoked bacon and mini grilled cheese sandwich. It’s like a meal before the meal or a side for your drinks of choice.

The $1 oysters as well as the bottomless mimosas for $18.95 with orange, hibiscus and grapefruit juices are more reasons for Rice’s and Genc’s Rhyme or Reason to be one of your favorite brunch spots too.

During happy hour from 4pm to 6pm, Tuesday through Friday, $5 dollars gets you bites like lamb sliders, fried oysters and the West Town pizzette. Wash it all down with Prosecco on tap and a glass of Retro Fruit Punch.

Tuesdays are special community giveback to Chicago Public Schools. CPS receives a donation of 15% off all sales.

Rhyme or Reason’s music scene is live Friday and Saturday and ranges from local funk to soul and disco. During the week, the vinyl only DJ booth is coolest and brings a unique quality to the venue.

Le’Qoinne Rice and Zafer Genc opened the business in February 2016 and have been friends for years. Rhyme or Reason reflects their relationship, coming from opposite backgrounds, but managed to develop a relationship and now business.

Whether you stop by for food, drink or music, you’ll find there is both rhyme and reason.

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Taking Risks as a 30 something-year-old. Finally

My entire life has been pretty much planned out since I can remember. As a child, I laid out my clothes, packed my lunch, and even put the toothpaste on my toothbrush (crazy, I know) every school night. I knew what college I wanted to go to by Sophomore year of high school. I knew (roughly) when I was going to get engaged. I have been at the same job for ten years. And my son was a scheduled c-section (an entirely other sensitive topic in itself though). With all that being said, every event has been plotted, revised and schemed with perfection.

But now, as a 32 year old, I am finally taking some risks and it feels so good. For some time now, I have wanted to start a blog. I love food, telling stories, giving advice and most importantly, helping others. But I never had the courage to act on it. In fact, I have written this blog post twice because I kept deleting it, too afraid of what could happen. But now, I can say, I am OVER what others say.¬† I am a mom, wife and have a loving family and with lots of friends. All these people support me, sometimes more than I even realized. I am learning that it doesn’t matter what others say, you are living your own life day in and day out. No one else. Failures are lessons learned. And I truly believe everything and everyone in your life is for a reason. This is one lesson I wish I could go back in time and tell my 25 year old self.

It has been almost a week since I have gone public with The Chicago Good Life and I couldn’t be happier. The support I am getting is amazing and I am so excited what the future holds. I am also making some big career moves as well and there is a still a lot unknown. But that is okay and I will learn. I will continue to build confidence and take steps to being a happy me. And listen to a lot of Beyonce ūüėČ

So thanks for following and I can’t wait to share my adventure with you! Please reach out with comments, questions, or please, any ideas you would LOVE to see here on The Chicago Good Life.

Until next time…

~xoxo~

Christine