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Friday, December 31, 2010

2011, Here You Come!

Dear 2010 ,

you were an exceptional year. there were certainly some highs and lows but for the most part you were very stable. this year was filled with plenty of cupcakes, veggie pizza, dagwood sammiches from chicago diner, lattes, brunch dates, turkey toms from jimmy johns, plenty of guacamole, lovely bottomless cups of frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit, smoothies, endless bags of potato chips, bowls of candied yams and mac & cheese, and a constant spin on the elliptical at the gym. {you didn't think I could get away with eating all that without a reality check at the gym. ha} not to mention the many awesome trips throughout the U.S. including louisville, savannah, atlanta, nashville, and los angeles! {oh, the memories}

in spite of the high taxes, crappy weather, and whatever else that can make you go blah, getting to know the city of chicago again has been surprisingly a blast. from all the walks and all the eye candy in the great neighborhoods i adore to finding hidden treasures whether it be in my next favorite foodie place to eat or a thrifty boutique housing the glorious styles of clothing that take my breath away. oh and how could i forget, i got a new set a wheels this year. what a blessing that has been. every time i get in that truck, i give thanks for continuing to put in hard work on a daily in exchange for the blessings that have come my way.

enough of my chatter {ha} here's a look back on 2010 in photos:

cupcakes...did i say this already but i love love love 'em!

i love a green smoothie! next fave flavor on the 2011 agenda: pumpkin smoothies

this picture was taken from my sister's party at rumba in late january.



all the brunch in its glory! getting hungry right about now:)


shopping my butt off!

told ya i had a million cups of frozen yogurt!

road trippin' it! aaaaah, nature.

so this past summer, we (mom, sis, niece, and moi) took a bomb trip to the south stopping in nash-v, atlanta, savannah, and south cack-a-lackee! fun freakin' times were had! one of the best moments of 2010.


pit stop for pancakes in tennessee

!!!!!!!!


can't take a trip to savannah without heading to lady & son's


what's hilton head if one didn't go to the beach!

this past october, our family celebrated grandmother's 75th birthday with a surprise party. oh she was pretty shocked. yet another memorable moment.



that following weekend after her party, i had my first experience with cali:

LA, that is!!

2010, i gotta say you've been pretty amaze. i look forward to what 2011 has in store for me...BRING IT!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Praline Pumpkin Cake with Whipped Cream Topping

Need I say more:

Havarti & Blackberry Preserves Grilled Cheese

Man, with a little inspiration from Giada in the latest Real Simple mag, who knew I could throw this number together:

This was so easy. I heated some olive oil in a non-stick pan, sprinkled some basil and thyme in the olive oil, and laid a slice of bread atop my little oil concoction. I then sliced some havarti cheese and placed that on top of the bread. As that was starting to heat up in the skillet, I went ahead and took my other slice of bread and slathered it with plenty of blackberry preserves (mmmhmmm). Once I slipped that baby on top of the cheese, I flipped the sandwich a few times to get that brown, toasty finish that I oh so love. Then I took it out the skillet, sliced it in half, and voila! It was amaze. Will definitely be making this again. Now off to have my fix of chai!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Better Than Starbucks Chai

My new addiction...guess I won't ever have to buy one from there again!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

thankful.

turkey & dressing from easter sunday, 2010

thankful to be the person i am today. although things may not have turned out the way i "planned," i'm certainly happy with the results of me thus far.

thankful to be living back in my hometown, chicago. yeah yeah yeah- sometimes I dislike it but deep down I'm happy to be home with the people who love me best.

thankful for my mother who listens to everything I talk about, from rants to whatever else. thankful she comes shopping or eating with me whenever possible. thankful she's always there for me. without fail. i love you more than words.

thankful for my father who raised me with the motto "the world doesn't owe you anything cuz you're here." thankful for his lectures about growing up and the ways of the world. "don't you hear me talking to you," he would always add. yep, i was listening, dad. and it has certainly paid off.

thankful my mom and dad are a true example of marriage and what it should be.

thankful for my sister who is my best friend. i can literally tell her anything and not feel like i'm being judged. thankful for her loyalty and commitment to all that she does. to watch how she raises my niece and is a wife to my brother in law wows me as she always gives not 100%, but beyond the call of measure. not to mention, she's pretty successful too. she inspires me everyday.

thankful overall for a close knit extended family. we've certainly had our ups and downs- instances that i'm not proud of. all and all, we've managed, learned, and hey, life goes on.

thankful for loving friends who i can talk to in the wee hours of the nite or just hold the phone in silence.

thankful for peace of mind

thankful to have faith and know the best is yet to come.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Best.Gelato.Ever.


To purchase in the grocery store, that is. Enough said.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jessica Ashley Desserts

Back in October, our family celebrated our Grandmother's 75th birthday. She's really into hats. [has been since forever] I mean she has a hat for every suit she wears to church and every occasion. Nonetheless, we ordered the perfect cake for her special day:

cake prepared by alliance bakery

Since myself, sister, and cousins were responsible for presenting a fantastic cake for this momentous occasion, I can't help but to look at the work of what other bakers/bakeries showcase. It was a fun process putting this together and maybe in the the near future, I'll have the pleasure of doing so once again!

Here are a few pictures taken from Jessica Ashley Desserts. If you're in Chicago, or your event will be held in the windy city, don't hesitate to hit her up. I hear her cream cheese pound cake is to die!!!!



visit her facebook or website for addt'l takes of her work or to place an order

Lovely Eats = Lovely Days

via this site

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veggies on the Go

all photos in this entry are courtesy of Ste Martaen

Ste Martaen has teamed up with Soul Vegetarian to bring you a 100% veggies on the go. The Soul Vegetarian Express Truck is pretty exciting being that the food looks very appetizing and fresh! They hit the streets from Tuesday - Friday evenings and all day on Saturdays! Here's a look at a sample menu along with a few shots of their cuisine so you can get an idea:

Menu (All menu items are 100% vegan.)
Shredded Chicken Tacos $6
Italian Beef Sub $6
BBQ Beef Sub $6
Bean Curd Soup $4
Garden Salad $4
Baklava Pie $5
Nutty Choco Sticks $4
Soul Veg Daily Special: Rice and Gravy, Greens, Country Fried Steak $10

Vegan Shredded Chicken Tacos

Vegan BBQ Beef Sub

Be on the look out for the Soul Vegetarian Express on a street corner near you by checking their facebook status or simply request them to come to your area!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Got Goat?

Girl and the Goat, that is. Okay, out of every restaurant list I've come across in the past few days, this restaurant is without a shadow of a doubt within those listings. Executive Chef Stephanie Izard is the mastermind behind this catchy, get your attention name of a dining spot. I kept wondering what is this place? I finally took the time to dig a little deeper and just click the link and read away. Impressive it is. I of course have not been here yet [it's now on my to do list] but this place offers a ton of enticing and curious courses that fall nothing short of a goat appetite. Some that caught my eye:

*smoked goat pizza: apple soffritto, black kale, ricotta, & cipollini

*pan roasted chicken: fermented black bean, nicoise olives, celery, watermelon, & mint

*seared scallops: pumpkin brandade, pecans, fried brussels sprouts (yum), tarragon & pomegranate

*bavaroise: fluffy goat cheese, blueberry, brown sugar cake

*potato dumplings (think donuts) and lemon-poached eggplant

Believe me, there is plenty more where this came from. Check out a sample below and a more extensive menu here.

Girl & the Goat
809 West Randolph
(Between Halsted Street & Green Street)
Chicago; 312.492.6262

Brown Sugar Bacon Buttermilk Waffles

This:
Equals this:

Sometime ago back in August, '09, Brown Eyed Baker made this for breakfast and thanks to her sharing the recipe, now you can too! Who would've thought, right?! Have you ever considered mixing your bacon or even sausage in with your waffle batter for a 2 in 1 crispy concoction that explodes like a firecracker in your mouth? Go ahead & indulge...your taste buds will thank you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Note To Self

Just in time for winter: gotta try the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from Starbucks-

Hot chocolate infused with mocha sauce and toffee nut syrup, topped with sweetened whipped cream, a caramel drizzle and sprinkled with sea salt and Hawaiian Turbinado sugar topping. ...stop drooling! Hahaaa!

Vegan Maple Turtle Cake

I was perusing through the daily top 9 over at foodbuzz.com and came across this phenomenal creation by vanillagirl:

I don't think I've seen anything better than this in a long while! Just look at the caramel frosting dripping down as it meets the fallen pecans lined carefully around the plate! Umph, I say~

You didn't think I was not going to post the recipe to this decandant piece of cake work, did you! Well here it is and be sure to go over to Amy's site and thank her for sharing! I can not wait to make this!! Hopefully, I won't eat it all myself as it doesn't look hard to do...mmmmm Ok on to the recipe:

Vegan Maple Turtle Cake
Makes 1 6 inch 4 layer cake
2 6 inch cake pans

Cake:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use ghirardelli)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup maple sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp maple extract
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cider vinegar

Salted Maple Caramel:
2 cups maple sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light agave nectar
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
2 T. Earth balance butter
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp maple extract
2 tsp sea salt

Frosting:
1 1/2 cup agave nectar
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp coconut milk
1 1/2 cups sifted cocoa powder, or more if needed
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp maple extract

2 1/2 cups toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Line two six-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with parchment paper. Coat parchment paper and pan sides with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Whisk oil, coconut milk, maple extract, and vanilla extract together in small bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended. Whisk in cider vinegar and stir quickly (pale swirls will be in the batter, which is the baking soda reacting with the vinegar, which allows the cake to rise since there are no eggs). Transfer cake batter to prepared pan and bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour. Cut around sides of pan to loosen. Turn cake out onto platter; peel off parchment paper. Let cool completely, then place in the fridge to chill until very cold to make slicing easier (since cakes with no eggs crumble easier). When chilled, slice cakes horizontally in half so that you have 4 layers.
To make caramel, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the sugar, agave nectar and water to a boil, stirring well at first to dissolve the sugar. Turn down the heat to low and cook until the liquid is deep amber in color, about 15-20 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking. Remove the pan from heat. Very carefully (the mixture will bubble), stir in the coconut milk, earth balance butter vanilla, maple extract, and sea salt until smooth. Let cool until it is a thicker constency before using on cake (it gets thicker as it cools).
To make frosting, whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl until very smooth, adding more cocoa powder if the frosting is not thick enough, or more coconut milk if too thick. Place a layer of cake on a plate, and spoon about 1/2 cup frosting over, almost to the sides, then scatter with about 1/2 cup of toasted pecans and drizzle with a heaping 1/4 cup caramel. Top with a another cake layer and repeat. Top with another cake layer, another frosting layer, pecans, caramel, then the top cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and the sides of the cake, and arrange whole pecans decoratively on the top of the cake. Drizzle with caramel, and let it drip down the sides.

*if you would like a 4 layer 9 inch cake, double this entire recipe and bake in two 9 inch cake pans.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Essential New York Times Cookbook Launch Event

New York Times food writer Amanda Hesser will be at Kendall College Tuesday, Nov. 9th signing copies of the updated The Essential New York Times Cookbook. The signing begins promptly at 7 p.m. and will include food prepared by the Gage and Henri executive chef Dirk Flanigan. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through ChicaGourmets.

for additional info, click source

A Chica Bakes

Must.make.for.the.holidays! Thanks to ChicaBakes. You certainly have inspired the chic in me to start a shakin' and bakin' in the kitchen!



Big Star


I am so mad I missed this tonite!! Congrats, Big Star! It's your 1 year anniversary. Here's to getting more guacamole and open faced grilled chicken tacos one day soon in my near future. You're an amazing place and I'm totally sure you'll be around for plenty more years to come...

Big Star
1531 North Damen Ave.
773-235-4039
www.bigstarchicago.com

Crumbs Bake Shop Is Coming To Chicago!

Any day now, Midwesterners will be able to say they can now grab dessert from New York's popular favorite Crumbs Bake Shop! I've never had the pleasure of experiencing the rage that is spoken about this phenomenal place so I'm really looking forward to reviewing it and seeing how it measures up to some of Chicago's finest! If it's as delectable as described, I promise you I will not be leaving one single crumb!


Don't you wish these images were edible! I sooooo can't wait to taste all this gloriousness~
Crumbs Bake Shop
303 West Madison

*Opening soon via their site

Update: Crumbs made it's mark into Chicago's bake scene by giving away 1,000 mini cupcakes as it's doors swung open for business Friday, January 7th. {source}