March 2013 | chicago foodie girl


SiBlackFinn American Grille

A few months ago, Mario and I were invited to a tasting event at BlackFinn American Grille in Mt. Prospect. Unfortunately, due to my work schedule, I couldn't make the event, but the people at BlackFinn were nice enough to set up a dinner reservation for us on an alternate date so that we could check out one of their newest locations.

I must admit that I don't typically frequent Mt. Prospect. It's one of those suburbs that you really need to have a specific reason to travel to, as it's a little too far out of the city for just a quick jaunt (it's also a bit too suburban for my tastes). However, despite my 'burbs snobbery, I have to say that we had a really fun night of food and discount store shopping (there is an immaculate TJ Maxx in the same shopping center as BlackFinn - it's 10x better than any of the city locations!).

We arrived for our 7:00pm Friday reservation and were immediately seated, despite the huge line of people waiting for tables. Score one for BlackFinn, as one of my major restaurant pet peeves is when they make you wait even when you have a reservation. The place was consistently packed the entire evening with families and couples of all ages, but despite the extremely busy night, our servers were all very friendly and totally on top of their game.

Crispy Calamari: deep-fried calamari and jalapeño slices with marinara sauce. Mario and I are both calamari fiends and we love to try out new versions. While there wasn't anything special about the calamari itself (it was the typical battered crispy calamari rings), we both really liked the addition of the jalapeño slices, as it added a nice kick to a fairly standard dish.



Recipe: Leprechaun's Lunch

Back when I lived in Bay City, I was in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade almost every year from the time I was six up until I graduated from high school. During my high school years, I marched with our band (yes, I was a clarinet-wielding band nerd). When I was younger, it was either with my school's pom-pom squad (complete with my dorky Dorothy Hamil haircut) or my Girl Scout troop. Looking back, I have to admit it really wasn't ever about St. Patrick's Day for me - it was all about the thrill of being in the parade (parades are a very big deal in BC, along with the July 4th fireworks, the Polish Festival, the River Roar, and Madonna).

People in Chicago are just as crazy for St. Patrick's Day, but here, it's less about the parade and more about the green river and stumbling around for a week in a total drunken stupor (while clad in the latest shamrock fashions). I can't say I'm fan of the Chicago-style St. Patrick's Day (too many brawls and too much green puke), but I do enjoy a nice day filled with Irish folk music, dancing, and green cocktails (usually at Tommy Nevin's). Unfortunately, there will be no SPD fun for me this year, as I will be in a graduate class all weekend (boo!). Fortunately, it's Thirsty Thursday, so I have the perfect excuse to get my green drink on a few days early!

The Leprechaun's Lunch cocktail is a smooth and refreshing blend of crème de menthe, chocolate, and Irish cream. This is my favorite St. Patrick's Day cocktail - not only is it delicious, but it's just plain fun, as it's basically an alcoholic liquid version of a Thin Mint. Holy yum.

Happy St. Patrick's Day (a few days early) and happy Thirsty Thursday! :-)

Leprechaun's Lunch
1 oz Baileys Irish Cream
1 oz crème de menthe liqueur (I used Hiram Walker)
1 oz crème de cacao liqueur (I use Godiva or BOLS)
4 ozs milk

1. In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine all of the ingredients. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.



Recipe: Slow Cooker Cafe Rio Chicken

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a fantastic start to the new week. Thanks to a combination of a ridiculous number of sick days (evil stomach virus) and a crazy snowstorm/snow day, this is actually my first full week at work since 2/21. Wow.

Not only am I back to my regular work schedule, but I'm also finally back to cooking (stomach issues have a way of making you sooo not interested in thinking about food!). A few days ago, I decided it was time to take charge of my giant pile of to-try recipes and actually make some of the dishes. I have to say that my first pick from that pile, Cafe Rio Chicken, totally knocked it out of the park - it is officially my new favorite slow cooker dish!

I've never been to a Cafe Rio before (we don't have them in Illinois), so I can't vouch for how much this actually tastes like what they serve there; however, I can say that it is seriously delicious. This flavorful chicken is super easy to make and is so versatile - it can be served over rice or a salad, in burritos or tacos, or even as a homemade pizza topper. Really, the possibilities are endless! I used the chicken several different ways (Mario and I got four days worth of dinners out of one batch) - while I enjoyed all of the meals, my favorite was over Spanish rice and topped with avocado. If you're looking for an easy to make and extremely flavorful chicken dish, I highly recommend you give this a try!

Slow Cooker Cafe Rio Chicken

2 lbs chicken breasts
1/2-1 small bottle of Zesty Italian dressing (use the full bottle if you want very juicy chicken)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 packet of ranch dressing mix, mixed with 1/2 cup of water
1/2 Tbs chili powder
1/2 Tbs ground cumin

1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir.

2. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

3. When cooking time is done, shred the chicken with a fork and mix well with any leftover juice.




*I had planned to post this last week, but my body was taken over by an evil stomach virus that left me completely out of commission and soooo not interested in thinking about food for days. Ugh. 

February 22nd marked the one-year blogiversary of chicago foodie girl! To commemorate the first year of brilliance (haha), I thought it would be nice to put together a mini-retrospective. Of course, I couldn't fit in everything that happened over the last year, but I think I hit enough of the highlights...

Five favorite restaurant dishes (it wasn't easy to narrow it down to just five, as I visited a lot of fantastic places during the last year; there were also several other restaurants that I could have easily added to this list, but I haven't blogged about them yet):

Mercat a la Planxa (Chicago Restaurant Week 2012)

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