March 2012 | chicago foodie girl


Tuesday LTP: The Hunger Games!

If you haven't already figured out by my lack of posting (I missed Meatless Monday!), things have been a bit crazy around here. In fact, things have been so crazy that I managed to lock my entire bag, complete with keys, wallet, and lunch, in my car when I got to work this morning (thankfully, I caught Mario before he left for work and he was able to come downtown & rescue me with the spare key). Oy.

On the bright side, the craziness isn't *all* negative - some of it is just the fallout of an extremely packed (and fun!) weekend. If you're my friend on facebook, you already know that I am obsessed with all things The Hunger Games... and I know I'm not the only one (in fact, judging from my Facebook feed, I would say you're in the minority if you're not!).

I'm currently in love with the Cupcakes on Fire from fictional food. Seriously, how awesome are these cupcakes?! I really think I'm going to have to make some for the Catching Fire premier (because I'm just a big nerd like that). Oooh, maybe I should I have HG party with food from the books. Perhaps some Lamb Stew with Dried Plums and Bone-Pickin' Big Game Soup? Thanks to The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, that's definitely a possibility! :-)

Today's poll: Did you see The Hunger Games? If so, did you read the books beforehand and were you pleased/displeased with how it played out on screen? What did you think about the casting (especially Peeta)?

*Needless to say, there will be spoilers in the comments... don't read them if you haven't seen the movie & don't want to know anything! 



Tuesday LTP: Easter Candy

It's almost Easter and everyone knows what that means... it's time for the best holiday candy! Now, while Halloween is my favorite holiday by far, it doesn't warrant much excitement on the candy end - it's all about the pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pancakes & apple cider. The same goes for Christmas - peppermint bark is delicious, but really, there's no candy that compares to the awesomeness of the seasonal cookies and pies. Easter? It's straight up candy heaven.

My top three Easter candy picks:

1) Peeps. Yes, they've now infiltrated other holidays, but they'll always be Easter candy to me. I'm especially fond of the new dark chocolate dipped chicks (although Mario did point out that they look like they're sitting in a pile of their own crap). :-)

2) Cadbury Mini Eggs. Milk chocolate eggs on their own? Eh. I could totally live without them. Take those same eggs and cover them with a hard candy shell? Holy deliciousness. They're crunchy, chocolatey, and totally adorable!

3) Cadbury Creme Eggs. The crème de la crème of Easter candy. I love, love, love Cadbury Creme Eggs... well, it's more like an I have a love/hate relationship with them (I try to resist eating too many, but the Easter candy season is soooo long and they're soooo yummy!). Gooey pure sugar goodness encrusted in sweet chocolate - the perfect combination.

Honorable mention: Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs

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If your favorite is something other than what I listed, please answer the poll in the comments! Also, I'm interested in hearing what everyone thinks of Cadbury Creme Eggs - love 'em or hate 'em? 



Meatless Monday: Collard Green Burritos

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. It was (and still is) unseasonably warm here (as in 70s/80s versus our usual 40s/snow); as much as I'm an autumn and early spring weather girl, I have to say that the brief bit of summer weather we're having is quite nice. How could you not feel good when you're able to walk along the beach in sandals/sans coat in the middle of March? :-)

Although I know it won't last long (the temperature is actually supposed to drop back down to the 60s by the end of the week), this warm weather is making crave some of my favorite summer dishes (lighter meals, mostly comprised of fruits and veggies). Today's Meatless Monday dish is the perfect warm-weather meal - it's packed with flavor, easy to assemble, and as a bonus, both vegan and gluten-free!

Collard Green Burritos
makes 4 servings

8 large collard green leaves
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup salsa

Seasoned Black Beans:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Wash collard green leaves well, trim off the thick stem (will look like a tortilla), and with a fork mash the center vein to make it more pliable.

2. In pot, sauté oil, onion, garlic, cumin, and bell pepper for 6-8 minutes (until almost tender).

3. Add beans & water. With a potato masher, mash half the beans and heat thoroughly.

4. Stir in cilantro.

5. Construct burrito. Wrap (like a burrito): 1/4 cup cooked rice, 1/8 avocado, 2 Tablespoons salsa, and 1/4 cup seasoned beans in each collard green leaf.

The burritos are quite filling as they are (thanks to the rice & beans), but you could add in a meat substitute if you want something more - I think seitan would be the perfect addition!

*recipe via Dawn Jackson Blatner at The Chopping Block


Tuesday LTP: Favorite Candy Bars

I loved Whatchamacallits when I was a kid but stopped eating them in the late 80s (when I discovered the joys of the vastly superior KitKat). After watching a slew of commercials from the 80s on YouTube a few years ago, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia and picked up a Whatchamacallit the next day. Um, gross. I don't know if it's because of the change of ingredients (Hershey stopped using cocoa butter in Whatchamacallits & replaced it with vegetable oil in 2008) or if I just had really bad taste when I was a kid, but that candy bar has nothing good about it. Ick.

These days, I'm really not much of a candy bar eater (I'm more likely to reach for a cupcake or Sour Patch Kids when I want something sweet). When I do indulge in a candy bar, I'm a lot pickier about the quality of the chocolate than I was when I was younger. I admit that I've become a chocolate snob - I would much rather spend my money and calories on something really delicious, rather than wasting either on some cheap chocolate (although I do still have a slight weakness for Snickers & KitKats). I love just about anything from Vosges (especially the Black Salt Caramel Bar and the Red Fire Bar), or anything from Cocolove (Raspberries in Dark Chocolate and Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate are my favorites). Dagoba's Lavender Blueberry Bar and Chai Bar, and Ghiradelli's Dark & Sea Salt Caramel round out my list.

Today's Lunchtime Poll: What are your favorite candy bars - past/present?



Recent Foodie Finds

I can't believe it's already March. While February is usually intolerably long (and my least favorite month by far), it flew by surprising fast this year. Despite an emotionally rough start to the month and a wicked twisted ankle (which kept me out of the gym for three weeks - ugh!), February actually managed to end on a high note, thanks to some lovely visits to new (to me) restaurants during Chicago Restaurant Week.

I'm determined to continue the happy vibes through the rest of this month, as March can often come in a close second to February in terms of suckiness (the weather in this part of the Midwest is such a dark hole of depression during this time of the year). My ankle has finally healed enough and I'm jumping back into my gym schedule today; I have a meet-up with a friend at Bandera planned for the end of the week; later in the month Diana and I have tickets for a super-awesome event with Jen Lancaster (along with reservations at an amazing Italian place afterward) and The Hunger Games will finally be here (!!!); and by the time we reach the end of the month, it will be time for the start of hiking season! :-)

A few food highlights from February...

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast Bites at Brunch: Stuffed with strawberries and whipped cream cheese... quite delicious, but maybe a little too sweet to eat as a meal on its own. Diana and I split an order at the beginning of the meal (dinner has appetizers - why can't brunch?), which gave us each the perfect amount.

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