Monday, December 27, 2010

New Years Resolutions

I have never been one for making new years resolutions.  In fact, I’ve specifically stayed away from them because, in all honesty, I didn’t want to disappoint myself. 

I mean, really, how many people actually stick to the plan?

This year, I think I’m going to change that.  The last 6 months have been a mixture of busy-ness, lazy-ness and all around crazy-ness.  I started going to the gym, learned how to knit, crochet and make jewelery (well, earrings so far), started a new job, really got hardcore in the remodel, changed my eating habits, and well… you name it, I’m in it. The only thing I haven’t been doing much of is blogging.  I’ve got tons and tons of recipes tried and pictures to attach (well, as of today, when I finally got them off my camera-thank God!!!), but I have had no time, really, no desire, to sit on the computer to post them. 

Eek, me, have no desire to sit on the computer?!?!  Really though, let’s face it, 40 hours a week on the computer for work alone is way more than enough.  The second part of it is that my desktop is downstairs in the basement, where it is 20 degress colder and reeks of cigarette smoke.  Thanks Dad. 

I had grandeur ideas of moving my whole computer desktop, printer, speakers, desk, etc etc etc to my sisters old bedroom, but that was just more trouble than it was worth.

So this Christmas, my wonderful, adorable, sweet, patient, kind, sexy, smart, amazing boyfriend bought me a laptop.  A pink on at that.  I cried.  Really, I cried.  It was seriously the most thoughtful gift.  For me anyways.  I have wanted one and wanted one… but I didn’t have the money to be spending on myself.  Well, now i don;t have to b/c my love has done it for me. 

So now what does all of this have to do with new years resolutions??? 

Well many things.

One, despite thinking my love doesn’t listen or pay much attention to me, I was wrong.  I vow to stop assuming everything I say goes by unheard.  Just somethings.  ;)

Two, I promise that I will always remember that in the darkest moments, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  For those of you who don’t think a laptop counts as a light- well, I’m sure you have your little light that might confuse someone else, but this is mine. 

Three, I absolutely profess my undying, unconditional, unwavering love to my babes.  You may not think it, but you are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I will not ever do anything to let you think I feel otherwise. 

Four, I swear I will get better with this eating and exercise thing…  Not trying to make excuses but there have been things holding me back from actually making a better go at this and I refuse to let them.  No more enabling!!!  Especially now that Christmas is over.  There is no reason to be making dozens upon dozens of cookies… and then eat half.  Okay, so not half of dozens, maybe just a half dozen in one day… Not good.  One is way more than enough. 

Five, I promise to be more patient and less nosy.  Dang, that’s gonna be hard.  Have I mentioned I am a Greek woman???

I’m gonna stop there b/c I feel like adding more now when I haven’t really thought them through would be wasteful. 

But I do promise you’ll be hearing more of me.  Now that I have this spiffy laptop, I have no excused not to spend an hour on it at night, in bed, with my Blackhawks Stanley Cup Champions snuggie, pink John Deere throw and ultra plush aloe infused socks.  Pink ones, of course.

So until the next post (I have to sort through my pics!!!), everyone remember this, you are only as strong as you let yourself be.  If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t, you’re wrong.  “I can’t” is in your head.  Get it out of your mind and vocab!!!!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!

To all my friends and family, I good everyone has a happy, safe and very full thanksgiving!!!

I'll see you all at the checkout line tomorrow morning!!!!
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Thursday, November 18, 2010


I've been to Prasino a handful of time now and I absolutely love it.  The name of the cafe is the Greek word for "green" which is at the heart of the cafe's mission - "to provide healthy food at an affordable price in a modern, environmentally conscious setting."

The commitment to sustainability goes beyond just the food; it is incorporated in Prasino's design. The light fixtures are crafted from recycled wine bottles and cardboard boxes. The tabletops incorporate wood rescued from the demolition of Sportsman's Park Race Track and floors are reclaimed oak planks salvaged from a barn. Even the cafe's location near the commuter train  line and bus line gives patrons the option of reducing their carbon footprint.
The Prasino philosophy is to supporting local growers, artisanal food producers, and organic agriculture whenever possible.
They offer vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options in their menu, which makes them all-around accessible to everyone's food needs and tastes.

They have two locations.  The first is in LaGrange, IL.  That location is the only one I've been to so far as I have not had enough time to visit their newest, second location in St.Charles, IL.

I strongly recommend heading over to one of these two fabulous restaurants.  The food is fresh and full of flavor, the smoothies are delicious and healthy, the atmosphere is chic and inviting.

Here's a peak at some of the menu items we've tried:

 Cucumber Avocado smoothie- this was delicious in every sense of the word.  I wanted to order more to go for when I left...
 Prasino Blend-Avocado, pear, apple, lemon, non-fat
yogurt, agave nectar (I had mine with out the agave nectar, but it was still really sweet, I don't like super sweet drinks, but the rest of my table loved it!)
 Raspberry decaf iced tea
  This was how they brought you your water.  I wanted to steal the pitcher!!!

Smoked Sockeye Salmon - Spinach, apples, pecans, red onions,
bleu cheese and raspberry vinaigrette
 Niman Ranch® Beef Burger - Bibb lettuce, tomato, onion,
brioche bun with a side of wedge potatoes- Chipotle aioli, Prasino spice- this was what my yiayia ordered.  She loves her burgers.  But it was absolutely divine! Perfectly cooked, juicy, full of flavor!
 Grilled Chicken Caprese - Tomato, bibb lettuce, buffalo mozarella,
tomato basil focaccia, balsamic aioli, although my mother substituted multigrain bread.  The chicken was very juicy and the buffalo mozzarella was delicious
I also ordered it at one point, but on the foccacia and I added avocado.  That day, the salad of the day was a tomato cucumber salad.  It had a pretty strong olive flavor, which I didn't care for, so my bf ate it  :)

Southwest Black Bean Burger - Mashed avocado, pepper jack
cheese, multigrain bun, cilantro poblano cream.  I got the avocago cream on the side so I could dip my fries into it as well.  Yummmm 
 This was a special that night.  A tomato vodka penne with chicken.  Delicious and not heavy at all!

 Chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache fillings, caramel sauce, vanilla bean ice cream and fresh fruit....   YUUUUUUMMMMM.
This was absolutely decadent!  I'm so glad I have someone to share it with! 
 Strawberry cheesecake, this was so light and airy, so tart and sweet.  It was the perfect fruity finish.
 I definitely recommend heading out to one of these locations, asap!  They are absolutely fantastic, everything about them makes me happy.  I can't wait to go back again!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brown Sugar Shortbread

Gosh, I cannot believe how long it's taken me to post these!  I made these for my last day at my old job this past June.  I loved them.  They were ADDICTING.  You couldn't just put one in your mouth and be done.  Thankfully, I cut them into small triangles so they were little pieces! 
They were simple and just perfect.  They took no time at all to put together and bake and they were buttery, crumbly, and caramel-y, just like shortbread should be. 
According to the blog I found these on, you can make them chewy or crunchy.  I opted for chewy, but they did still have that crumbly crunchy edge to them. I ony included the directions for the chewy, but if you are interested in the crunchy, check out Night Baking's blog.

Brown Sugar Shortbread
Makes 2- 8" pans

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour

Heat the oven to 325F.

Beat the butter, sugar, and salt until creamy, about two minutes. Do not over mix. Gradually beat in the flour. You may need to work in the last half-cup with your hands. The dough will be stiff.

Divide the dough in half. 
Grease two 8" pans (round or square- I used square), line with parchment, and spray the parchment as well. Press half of the dough into one pan and the rest into the other pan. Smooth the top with the bottom of a buttered measuring cup. Prick the dough with the fork in a decorative concentric circle pattern. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Bake 25-30 minutes until lightly brown along the edges. Remove and cool for about 5 minutes. You need to slice the shortbread while still warm. If they cool completely, they will crumble. For the chewy bars, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cookies, then invert the pan; slice into wedges. For the crispy bars, transfer them to a cutting board so you don't cut through the silpat, and then cut all the way through the scored marks. Transfer warm cookies to a rack and cool completely.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy National Bundt Day!!

So it's National Bundt Cake Day!

Here is a delicious Bundt cake from The Food Librarian's "I Like Big Bundts" celebration last year. 
There are some seriously delicious cakes there, so go check her out!  Plus, she'll have her 2010 celebration of bundt cakes done today too, so go check out the new cakes she made this year!

The recipe itself actual came from here but funny, our cakes all look different colored!

Pumpkin-Apple Spiced Bundt Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
10 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of diced Granny Smith apples


1. Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each completely. Add the pumpkin and blend well. Add vanilla and blend well. Stir dry ingredients into wet, a third at a time, stirring as little as possible to blend completely. Fold in the apple chunks.
4. Spray Bundt pan generously with nonstick cooking spray. Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake starts to turn golden brown and whole kitchen smells good. Removed from oven and let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Invert onto a plate and allow to cool completely.
 Very moist and soft inside...
 Served with my cousin's homemade apple pie
 And doused with hot caramel.  YUUUUUMMMMMM.  I could so drink that stuff!

Have a happy and filling National Bundt Day!!!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My computer issues and a cake

Today, I am going nuts b/c my computer won't read my memory cards form my camera.  And I'm beginning to question whether it is the computer or the cards, which is really concerning me...  If it is just the computer, I can download the info onto another computer.  If it is the card, well, there goes a lot of memories.  And I will tell you right now, I will have a damn near heart attack if that happens.  My godsister's wedding, my new godson, my KY trip, my best friend's baby shower....  Hundreds of pictures, of memories, lost. 
And I'll be honest with you, if they are lost forever, I may just about lose my mind.

So on that note, I would LOVE it if someone who is pretty smart when it comes to all things technical and who understands the need to preserve these images can please speak up and help me!!!!  I can offer you cake!!!

Or maybe at least a few recipes of cakes? 

Like this one. 

Let me start of by telling you all I had a bit of a problem in the past.  I would print recipes, and forget where they came from.  I should have just printed them from the website alone, but then you get like thousands of pages printed that you don't need.  Or I'd write it down if it's short and sweet. This was before I started blogging.  I never thought I would need to know where it came from, as long as I had it to bake it.  Of course now that I blog, it's kinda hard to not share these recipes with you all b/c they are good...  but I can't give credit where credit is due.

This recipe was sitting in my stack of copied recipes from a long long time ago.  I went apple picking w/ a friend long before I knew what a blog was and copied like a bazillion apple recipes, and only used 5. 

Well I resurrected this one to make not too long ago (note I haven't had time to blog, let alone bake much lately, so some of these were not only printed long time ago, they were also made at least a couple months ago now...  I really need a personal assistant!!!).
It's a great cake, very moist and cinnamon-y.  The apples had the perfect texture, although next time, I would make the slices into chunks.  The slices made it hard to stick your fork into it and just pull out a clean bite.  You'd get the slices pulled right out too...


3 cups AP flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
4 large apples, peeled, cored, sliced and halved (I used Granny Smith, as always)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss 1/4 cup of the sugar and all of the cinnamon with the apple slices until well coated.
In your mixing bowl, mix the flour and sugar, along with all of the baking powder, salt, eggs, oil, butter, and vanilla extract. Mix on medium-low speed for about two minutes or so, until the mixture is smooth.
Pour half of the batter in the greased angel food cake pan.  Spread the batter with a spoon to make sure it is an even layer.  Top this with half of the sliced apples. Try not to let the apples touch the sides of the pan or the tube. Then spread the other half of the batter over the apples evenly. On top of this, place the rest of the apples. Again, take care to keep them from touching the sides of the pan or the tube.

Bake the cake for one hour, until a toothpick inserted deeply in the center comes out with little pieces of the cake sticking to it (check after 50 mins, depending on your oven). If the top of the cake is browning too quickly, lightly cover it with foil about halfway through the baking time.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 30 mins.  Use a butter knife to loosen the edges from the cake pan.

Let it cool completely, then serve!

Off to try and figure out my computer and camera...  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Zucchini ribbon pasta

You know what one of my favorite tools is in the kitchen?  A julienne peeler.  OMG, I love this thing.  I use it for salads, carrot cake, zucchini bread, pastas, omelets....  damn near everything.  It's way better than a large grater.  WAY better.

This is actually the one I own.  I love it.  Since it is super sharp, it has a safety cover that flips one way to cover the blades and the other way to use it.  You'll never lose it b/c it's part of the design.  Nice, huh?

I remember seeing pasta like this once, but didn't see a recipe for it or anything, so I wasn't sure how it would work.  How would you get the zucchini ribbons to be soft enough for it to curl with the pasta?  Well, I tried something out, and yum.  Perfect.  I love this stuff.  The best part is the crunch from the zucchini adding a different texture to a boring pasta. 


1lb of whole wheat linguine
2 medium sized or 1 large zucchini
Whole head of garlic (or half, if you don't like lots of garlic)
2 small shallots
Olive oil
Sea Salt, to taste
Fresh cracked pepper
Crush red pepper flakes (about 1-2 tsp, depending on your taste)
Grated Parmesan cheese

Boil a pot of water with table salt to flavor the water.  Cook pasta to al dente, as directed on the package. 

Heat olive oil in a large pan.  Use enough to coat the bottom of the whole pan. 
Chop the garlic into nice sized chunks, thinly slice the shallot.  Saute the garlic, shallot and red pepper in the pan, but don't burn the garlic!  Take off the heat if it is done before the pasta is.
Julienne the zucchini into long strips to match the pasta.  When the pasta is done cooking, drain.  Let the pasta sit in the colander (toss with cold water to prevent sticking).  Coat the pot with a layer of olive oil and heat.  Once it is well heated, toss the pasta and julienned zucchini together with the heated oil.  This will cook the zucchini just enough. 
Toss the garlic, shallot and red pepper oil mix into the pasta and toss again. 
Add as much or as little grated cheese as you'd like.  Sprinkle some sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. 

This is such an easy and quick dinner.  You'll really enjoy the added crunch and flavor of the zucchini ribbons in the pasta.  Something different than the normal boring chunks of veggies  :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Greek pasta salad

Okay, so this is another old recipe that has been sitting around waiting to be posted.  Summer is pretty much over, and I'm just getting around to posting it.  I took these pictures in May, btw...  Oops. 

Anyways, this is a simple pasta salad that is soooo good.  It's Greek, of course and in all honesty, the only pasta salad in the world I like.  I know, I'm a nut.

And it was a hit at my friend's birthday party!  I don't use vinegar in this pasta salad, I use lemon juice as my acid.  It's adds a brighter flavor to the pasta salad, but it's mellowed out by the olive oil, so it's not really tart. 

Anyways here ya go!

Greek pasta salad
1 lb orzo pasta, fully cooked, rinsed with cold water and tossed with a splash of olive oil before it is cold
1/2 lb of cherry tomatoes, halved
4 oz container of crumbled plain Athenos feta cheese
Handful of chives, chopped
2 seedless cucumbers, skin off and cut into 1/2 thick triangles
1 tsp Garlic Garlic (from Tastefully Simple)
Fresh squeezed lemon juice, about 2-3 lemons
Olive oil
Dried oregano, basil and parsley. Use your own judgment on these.  I only used about a quarter sized amount of each poured into my palm.
Lots of fresh crack pepper
Dash of sea Salt
Sprinkling of crushed red pepper, optional

After you cook the orzo, rinse briefly with cold water to keep from sticking and to cool off.  Before the pasta is completely cooled, toss in a splash of olive oil to flavor the pasta. 
I will also toss in the dried herbs, fresh pepper, crushed red pepper (if using) salt and Garlic Garlic, so they can stick to the pasta better and flavor it up too.  You may need to drizzle more olive oil if it looks dry. 
Toss all of the veggies and chives together, letting the juices of each blend together.  Toss in the lemon juice.
Let each bowl sit out, covered with some plastic wrap.  Let it sit for an hour or so.  Once they've both had a chance to sit, get a bigger bowl and toss it all together.     
My suggestion to you is to make this the night before and let it sit in the fridge, covered, overnight.  
Take it out a couple hours before use.  Taste it.  Is it too dry?  Toss in a bit more olive oil.  Does it need salt, more pepper?  A bit more lemon, perhaps?  Do all of this now, so that way it has a couple of hours to sit.  Remember, the flavors are more prominent after it has been sitting a couple of hours.  I do not add the feta until right before serving.  This helps keep the acid from breaking down the cheese.  And the feta is certainly more potent and flavorful if added just before serving. 


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Bella Sera-something totally unexpected!

First off, I have to say, I am SOOOO behind.  Like stuff from May behind.  Ouch.  But I have been crazy busy, working out, working on the house and just plain working. 

But when I get the rare chance like today to post, I'm going to!!!  I certainly have more than enough to post about!

This post will be relatively brief compared to some of my past reviews, but that's ok.  For our one year anniversary, I bought my bf tickets to go see Ron White.  I am personally not a fan, but I know he loves him, so I knew he'd love to go.  He grew up in Schiller Park, close to the Rosemont Theater where he was performing.  Bella Sera is actually a restaurant inside a hotel, near O'Hare airport.  BF passed it everyday on his way to and from work for years.  He's always wanted to try it, so since we were heading out there, we went. 

I wasn't all that impressed walking in.  It's in a Quality Inn, not a Hilton or Marriot, so you kinda wonder... hmm...  is this gonna be a dump?
Well, no one was sitting in the restaurant, but being it was still early on a Friday night, that wasn't so off for us.  There were a handful of people at the bar.  We got seated and our server was very enthusiastic about the menu.  Sweet girl, we really kinda thought that she was being so enthusiastic b/c she saw the unsure looks on our faces and didn't want us to run.  :)

So I ordered roasted chicken and grilled veggies drizzled with a balsamic reduction.  BF ordered linguine pasta with broccoli and green peppers (weird right? It was a create your own pasta... he picked it!) and a garlic oil sauce.  I'll be honest with you, I seriously thought this was going to come out w/ some boring old veggies that were way over cooked, next to dry chicken.  Wow, I have to say I was sooo wrong! 

Look at that!  Now when our server was adamant this was the best chicken and veggies in the world, I was like, yeah ok.  But OMG.  I saw it and knew that whoever made this took care in what they were preparing.  I was hooked before I even took a bite. 

Take a closer look---

Everything was perfectly cooked.  The bottom layer is a whole potato, cut into four thick slices.  They were not mushy, but by no means were they hard.  They were perfect to hold up the rest of the dish and tasted amazing, especially with the juices from the chicken on top of it soaking into it. 
The chicken is the next layer.  My only complaint was that the half chicken was skin-on, bone-in, but honestly, it was not a big deal.  I think it kept it juicer. 
The tomatoes were so plump and juicy.  I LOVE grilled tomatoes.  LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  They were piping hot when I bit into them and they were flavorful and bright tasting and JUICY...  like dripping down my chin juicy.  Yum. 
The zucchini and yellow squash were also perfect.  The red onions were a nice touch, draped throughout, adding another of my favorite flavors. 
The balsamic reduction was delicious.  Sometimes, I find they can be too sweet or too tart.  This one had the perfect balance b/w the two.  It was thick enough to keep the flavor on the food, but not to thick that you felt it like gel.  I've had a balsamic reduction that was for thick; it's gross. 

BF's dish was good too, although, you could tell he was majorly jealous of mine.  When when he tried it, you could see the hesitation in his eyes before he said no to a second bite...
His pasta was full of garlicky flavor, something we both love.  There is not enough garlic on dishes sometimes, I feel.  But this one wasn't overloaded to the point of that garlic kick that you can get with not full cooked garlic.  It was that buttery garlic flavor that you get from roasting or sauteing it. 
He inhaled the pasta.  The broccoli was perfectly cooked, no hard crunchy pieces, but not so soft it was breaking when you picked it up with your fork.  I could have done w/out the green peppers, but I wasn't eating it...  It was not so thickly covered in oil that it dripped from the pasta when you put it in your mouth, but it was enough so that it was not dry.  And of course he added fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  The man can't have anything Italian with out fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

All in all, we loved this place.  I was full when it was done, but still wanted more.  I felt like I didn't want the eating to stop, it was that good.  Whether you live in Chicago, or are here on vacation, it's definitely a place to try! 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oreo Cheesecake cupcakes

So I made these in MAY...  yeah, I know.  I make lots of stuff, but never have time to post it!!!

It's been over a month since my last post b/c I've been super busy with my new job and my new workout regime!!!  (These cupcakes are pre-workout craze)  I started a new job one month and a day ago.  I work for an insurance company that writes policies for specialty lines.  I handle claims, which I did before, but this is a whole different monster!  It's definitely fun, I love working in the city, where there is sooooo much good food!  And the people are great.  I'm so lucky that when I left my family at ELCO, I managed to find a good fit with Tower Group. 

I've also started out a whole new lifestyle in regards to what I eat, how I workout and essentially, how I take care of myself.  I joined XSport Fitness and I work out 5-6 times each week, which includes once a week with my trainer, Jason.  I feel great!!! 
So I've been super busy this last month, but I'm hoping to get back in the sing of things, and post some of these GREAT recipes I've been trying out. 

These are obviously not healthy in any way, but they are deliciousness in a cup!!!  Who doesn't love Oreos?  YUM!

I also made the Cannoli cupcakes and bacon chocolate chip cookies (that recipe will be posted below as well)

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

42 regular Oreos, 30 left whole and 12 coarsley chopped
2 lbs of cream cheese 
1 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temp and lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Place one whole Oreo cookie in each cup.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.  Add sugar and beat until combined.  Add vanilla.  
Drizzle in the eggs, a little bit at a time.  Keep scraping the sides as needed to make sure everything is fully combined.  Beat in sour cream.  Stir in chopped cookies by hand.  
Pour batter into the cookie-filled cups evenly.  Bake about 22 mins, rotating half-way through.  
Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Refrigerate, in the tins, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.  Remove from tins just before serving.  


  Doesn't it look like a sad face?

Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Pan Cookies with vanilla pudding

Candied bacon
1 package thick cut bacon (about 10 strips)
brown sugar for sprinkling

Chocolate chip pudding dough
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 package vanilla pudding mix (four serving sized)
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 bag of chocolate chips

To make the candied bacon:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lay bacon on a parchment covered baking sheet so they are not overlapping. Sprinkle about 2 tsp brown sugar evenly on each strip of bacon.
Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven, flip bacon and drag it through the syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet. Put the bacon back in the oven for another 12-15 minutes, until it is fully cooked and very dark. Remove the strips from the sheet and cool on a wire rack. After they have cooked, chop them into tiny pieces.

To make the cookies:
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and vanilla pudding mix in a small bowl. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and bacon pieces.
Spray a cookie sheet with canola oil spray.
Spread dough onto the baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for aprx 12-15 minutes. I go a little less than that because I like soft gooey insides. 
Cool completely on a wire rack.  Cut into squares.

 These were such a hit with the kids.  Every one of them were like "ew" when they heard me talk about them.  And then they tried them...  Boy, were they devoured!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Plantain Cafe, Bolingbrook, IL

So, it was some time ago that I went to Plantain Cafe for the first time, but that's ok.  I knew I'd get to this post sooner or later!  I remember it all, so it's all good!
Plantain Cafe is a Puerto Rican/Mexican restaurant in Bolingbrook, IL, located so close to the Bolingbrook IKEA store.  You may be tempted eat in IKEA's restaurant for those CHEAP prices, but let me tell you, this place is the place to go!

We had a ton of food!  I went with my sister Katie and her boyfriend Freddie after we saw Alice in Wonderland at the IMAX in 3D.  It was pretty cool, btw.

The food was awesome, although I kinda wanted my sister's sandwich after trying it!  It was so good!
Sorry about some of the pics...  I forgot to snap some pics before we started eating  :)

I had the Caribeña- Roasted pork, mixed greens, grilled pineapple, chihuahua cheese, avocado spread

You have a choice of plantain chips or fries.  I'm not a huge fan of plantain chips, so I stuck w/ fries. 
The sandwich is so good.  The pork is thinly sliced, the pineapple is juicy and tart.  The sauce is has a kick w/out being spicy.  So good!

I also had and empanada, the Tinga- Skirt steak, chipotle, tomato sauce, onions, corn masa
 The dough was so flaky and soft.  The filling was delicious, again it had a kick w/out being spicy. So good!

Katie had the Sonora - Steak, mixed greens, onion, poblano peppers, chihuahua cheese, avocado spread
 Yum, this was GOOD.  Juicy and delicious.  I'd go back to get this, for sure!

Freddie had a lot of stuff...  He had a tamale, the Pork - Stone ground corn and pork served with red salsa and Arroz con Gandules - Rice with green pigeon peas

And Relleno de Papa - Potato stuffed with chorizo sausage & cheese, black bean sauce, chipotle cream
 They also had some fresh juices. I can't remember them all, but they let you try them before you pick with one.  Three of the four we tried were really good and it was hard to pick one.  But I managed to.  :)

I would say this is definitely a place to try if you live out there or drive out that way for anything in particular (like going to IKEA).  I don't know if you'd drive out there just for the cafe, but hey, to each their own right?  I mean, I drive out to places just to try the food, even if nothing else is around there...  But I am a nut  :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review of Shine Restaurant in Lincoln Park

I love trying new places all over the place.  While I think that there is nothing better than a home cooked meal, going out is awesome!

So I came across Shine Restaurant while in the city with a couple of friends.  We were at 1154 Lill shopping for a new purse---> don't you love it!  It's the Sandra purse.  I love Lill!!!

So anyways, we were walking around, looking for a place to eat...  We were going to try Toast b/c I've wanted to go there for forever, but they had a crazy 1 hour wait and we were STARVING!
So we walked down a couple of store fronts and there was Shine.  I've heard of them before and we all like Asian food, so we stopped in.

We were sat at a table close to the open window, which was nice since it was sunny out.  It was a tad windy that day, so at points, it was chilly, but still decent enough not to need to move.

What we ate:

Spring rolls: crispy egg roll stuffed with shrimp & chicken

Crisp lettuce wraps: beds of chicken snow peas, red peppers, scallions, sprinkled with pine nuts and a spicy plum sauce

Volcano Roll: a combination of tuna and avocado with special strawberry sauce, served with sprinkles of tempura, topped with fresh tobiko (we had our sans tobiko, none of us are fans of fish eggs!)

I don't like shrimp so I skipped the spring rolls, but the girls loved them.  The lettuce wraps were good, but I wish the lettuce they gave us was more green.  The volcano roll was delicious!  The tuna was fresh and the avocado was creamy.  The strawberries were an amazing addition, nothing I ever would have thought of.  The Tempura on the outside was the perfect touch.  All around, my favorite roll ever!

Our main dishes were... ok.  Honestly, I think we should have just gotten a bunch of appetizers.  

Garlic Sauce: zucchini, peapods, chestnuts, onions and mushrooms in spicy sauce with beef.  (I had mine sans mushrooms)

Spicy Kung Pao:  diced vegetables and roasted peanuts in spicy szechwan sauce with chicken

Harvest Stir-Fry: a seasonal medley of steaming vegetables in light sauce with chicken

We all thought the Kung Pao was the best of the three.  It had the best flavor of them all.  I wish I had gotten that instead...  Mine wasn't really super enjoyable, kinda boring actually.  And there was bamboo shoots in the mix, even though it wasn't on the menu.  I'm not a fan, so I picked around them.

The plus side is that they had super fresh veggies and the meat was not mystery meat like some hole in the wall places... Although, if you ask me, those place are the best! 

Either way, Shine is def a place to try.  Especially the appetizers!  Next time I go, and believe me, I will cuz I loved that roll, I would love to try the satay, tempura, soft shell crab appetizer, fresh duck wraps, hamachi carpaccio and the oyster shooter.  Yummm....
Oh and about 100 more rolls.  Please and thank you.  :)