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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}

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Workout Snacks Under 200 Calories

Are you a gym addict that is conscious of what you're eating but could use a snack in the weeeeee hours of the nite? Being a nite-owl myself, this certainly runs up my alley. So if you're looking to be on the good foot, how about serving yourself up these fast food options:

Starbucks
Skim Latte (Grande)
130 calories
19 grams carbohydrates
13 grams of protein
*Word to the reader: this is actually pretty gross. Myself and a co-worker were waiting for my latte and this bev was up for grabs cuz well, no one claimed it. My co-worker took it as it was free and only had half a sip. Yes. It's that gross. Womp.

Best breakfast option
If you work out in the morning, this wrap will get much-needed protein to your muscles.

Dunkin' Donuts
Egg White and Cheese Wake-Up Wrap
150 calories
13 grams carbohydrates
8 grams protein

Best open 'till 2 a.m. option
For the night owl, Taco Bell has a Fresco menu that offers a few low-cal options that pack a good amount of protein.

Taco Bell
Fresco Crunchy Taco
150 calories
13 carbohydrates
7 grams of protein

Best drive-thru hand held

Burger King
1% Chocolate Low-Fat Milk
190 calories
31 grams carbohydrates
9 grams protein

Best high protein option
Even though this isn't under 200 calories it's very close. And it has a commendable amount of protein and slow-acting good carbs in the form of beans.

Wendy's
Small Chili
220 calories
22 grams carbohydrates
18 grams of protein

Best filling sandwich option for early risers
This sandwich will keep you filled up through to lunch. You can even add some veggie toppings for some more vitamins.

Subway

Black Forest Ham, Egg and Cheese English Muffin
180 calories
18 grams of carbohydrates
15 grams of protein

Best sides as a snack option, plus a high-protein treat
These side dishes are perfect post-workout snacks, combining good carbs and an excellent amount of protein with low-calories.

KFC
Red Beans With Sausage and Rice
160 calories
26 grams of carbohydrates
24 grams of protein

Macaroni and cheese
180 Calories
20 grams carbohydrates
6 grams protein

2 grilled chicken drumsticks
160 calories
0 carbohydrates
20 grams of protein


Best protein splurge option
Remember your childhood with these crispy little bites. While this a higher fat option, this little treat has a good amount of protein for satiety.

McDonald's
4 piece Chicken McNuggets
190 calories
11 grams carbohydrates
10 grams protein

For the full list, go here

Another Curry Production


Serve this during any season of the year and you'll keep 'em coming back for more! I personally made it for my family eons ago while living in Atlanta during their visit. It was a side that was served along garlic fried chicken and steamed broccoli. I believe we had fruit pizza for dessert. Like I said, it was over a hundred years ago so I can't seem to surprisingly remember. But I do remember how fab this was and different compared to our typical go to side dishes. Here's the recipe courtesy of Ina Garten by way of author Felicia Sullivan:

First off, start boiling the water for your pasta. You’ll come back to this when the water comes to a boil.
On to the dressing. Your main ingredients for the dressing: 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff, not just cooking oil), 1/4 cup plain yogurt (i use lowfat), 1 tea of curry powder, 1/4 tea of cumin (the recipe calls for tumeric, but who has that? forget it, man. and cumin gives this dish, i find, a smokier flavor), 1 1/2 tea of salt (i use coarse or kosher salt, and trust me there is a difference between this and table salt), 1 tea of ground fresh pepper, 1 tea of white wine vinegar (you could use champagne vinegar if you want to get all fancy about it). Now that you’ve got all your wet ingredients well-combined (there is no magic to how they all should be added, i just lump them all in a large mixing bowl, because ultimately, this is where the pasta will go. I always find bringing the pasta into the dressing in this fashion makes it, for some reason, infinitely more flavorful), set the mix aside.

You might notice the water is boiling. Add the pasta, salt the water (this is the ONLY time you get to season the pasta, so do it now. It makes a HUGE difference.) and stir the pasta so it doesn’t cling. Some chefs advise putting olive oil in the pot. Ina got this tip from Martha Stewart and while I think they both speak the gospel, I think this is crap and you’ll waste good olive oil. Just stir the pasta every once in a while and you’re fine.

While the pasta is cooking (al dente, or “to the tooth”) and the dressing is set to the side, get rocking on your veggies. On my bamboo cutting board, I cut up 1/2 cup of fresh flat leafed parsley (none of this curly business), 1/4 cup of red onion (yellow onions are way too acrid for the salad and will ruin the dressing), 2 scallions diced thin, and although the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of shredded carrots, it’s rare that I have shredded carrots on hand, so I either opt out or drop in another veggie (zucchini has worked).

But honestly, if I worried about exact measurements, I’d have a nervous breakdown. While precise measurements are crucial in baking (as there is chemistry involved), it’s not required here. I love parsley, use a lot more of it and I keep it lean on the onion side. I also have 1/2 cup of dried cranberries (I use them more than currants, which are more expensive) and 1/4 cup of sliced, blanched almonds. I think the almonds are crucial for crunch – a nice texture variation to the softer pasta and greens.

Ah, the pasta is done! Drain the pasta, but don’t overdrain as I always love mixing in some of the pasta water. stir the pasta into the dressing so it’s coated and then I toss in the veggies, cranberries and almonds. I keep mixing until all the ingredients are well incorporated and then I set to cool (although this is so damn good I’ve eaten it warm). And the coolest thing? This keeps for a week and I’ve added tofu and chicken to spice it for brown-bagged lunches.

Living & Eating In LA


I had the pleasure of visiting LA a few days prior to my 32nd birthday and had the most fabulous, beauteous time eating and exploring the city of all things perfect. Here's my trip in pictures of mostly everything I ate in the land of the plastic and beautiful. Enjoy!
















Headed back that way...even if I have to walk, yep!

Curry Chicken Pasta



Curry Chicken Pasta Salad [Adapted From Cooks.com]
1 cube chicken bouillon
9 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breasts
9 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 (8 ounce) package of pasta
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions, chopped

(1) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; add bouillon cube and stir until melted. Add chicken and poach for about 13 to 14 minutes. Remove chicken and leave broth in pot; cool chicken and cut into 1/2 inch chunks; reserve.

(2) Add mushrooms to broth and cook over medium heat; cook for a few minutes and remove mushrooms from stock; reserve.

(3) With remaining stock in pot, add some more water, if needed. Bring water to a boil and add pasta to cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and discard stock. Cool pasta with running water; reserve.

(4) In a small bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lime juice, curry powder and salt and pepper to taste.

(5) In a large bowl, combine cooled pasta, chicken, mushrooms, sour cream dressing, green onions, and yellow bell pepper; mix well. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and serve


What a burst of flavor exploding in your mouth, right! Picture and recipe taken from Moptop Maven