December 2014 | chicago foodie girl


Nudo Olive Oils Giveaway

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas (or Chrismahanukwanzakah, as I like to think of it - I'm a firm advocate of celebrating everything, as more holidays = more friends, food, and fun drinks!). Mario and I had a lovely celebration with friends on Christmas Eve and then spent Christmas morning together. As always, we used the day as an opportunity to spoil one another - I've never been more excited to get mixing! ;-) Of course, as much as I like to receive gifts, I like to give them even more so I couldn't let the holidays pass without some fab giveaways to my awesome readers (aka you!).

Nudo began back in 2005 when a pair of successful television producers decided to leave their careers, move to the Italian countryside and restore an abandoned olive grove. Not only did the pair take on the restoration and management of the 21-acre grove, but also they started a wonderful Adopt-an-Olive-Tree program that offers olive oil lovers the chance to adopt their own tree and receive the oil from that tree on a quarterly basis (you can even visit your tree in Italy!). Local family farmers are responsible for the care of their own trees, so not only do you reap the delicious rewards of your investment, but also, your purchase goes toward supporting smaller artisan olive farmers committed to keeping traditional farming methods alive.



2014 World of Chocolate Gala

Earlier this month, I was invited to attend the World of Chocolate gala held at Chicago's Union Station in recognition of Worlds AIDS Day. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago hosts the annual fundraising event as part of a worldwide effort to increase public awareness about the epidemic. The Foundation offers programming to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, as well as support to those living with HIV/AIDS; they also work to celebrate the progress of the HIV/AIDS community. Obviously, this one-of-a-kind event is for an extremely important cause and I was thrilled to join them for the evening.

The event pits culinarians (including some of Chicago's favorite restaurants and businesses) against each other in a head-to-head chocolate showdown. For this year's competition, twenty-two participants were challenged to create and serve their best chocolate-themed dish in order to vie for one of six awards: Best Sweet, Best Savory, Best Libation, People's Choice, Best Large Business, and Best Small Business. Needless to say, the evening was filled with so much deliciousness... from the more traditional desserts (brownies, cakes) to some surprising savory delicacies (cocoa nibs shrimp & grits), there was enough to satisfy everyone's deepest chocolate cravings.



Recipe: Burrata & Prosciutto Grilled Cheese with Beso Del Sol Sangria

Happy National Sangria Day! Yes, I know what you're thinking... yet another foodie holiday? Yes, I know, I know. However, as I've mentioned numerous times over the past year, I'm a sucker for just about any fun foodie holiday; of course, I'm especially fond of those that involve a few tasty libations. ;-)

In honor of National Sangria Day, the fine folks at Beso Del Sol asked us to create a recipe to pair with their sangria. Beso Del Sol Sangria is a Spanish import that is blended with Tempranillo wine and 100% natural Mediterranean fruit extracts and sugar. It's not overly sweet, so it's perfect for those of you who love to add a little fruit to your sangria (we're both fans of the massive fruit salad in a glass option). The best thing about Beso Del Sol Sangria is that it's expertly mixed and perfectly portable - and if you happen to not finish the box, there's no need to toss it, as it stays fresh up to six weeks after opening. 



Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fab weekend. I had a fairly low-key, but fun one that included a leisurely afternoon of product taste-testing and cooking with Diana, a DVR catch-up session with Mario, and some Christmas prep (I'm usually someone who's finished shopping at least a month early, but I am soooo behind this year!). Most importantly, I submitted final grades for the fall semester, which means I am officially on break for the next month. Woo-hoo! :-)

While I am uncharacteristically behind with my Christmas activities, I most definitely didn't miss out on the start of what my wonderful friend has deemed the Eating Season (she swears it should have some sort of national holiday designation). My first order of business during the Eating Season? The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! TGFBCS is the brainchild of two lovely bloggers. The concept is simple: they match you up with three other food bloggers, you bake & send a dozen cookies to each of your matches, and your matches do the same for you. Not only is there all sorts of cookie awesomeness, but also, the event supports a great cause (read more about it here).
Cookies from my swappers: Chocolate Lace Cookies from Alexa at Simple Eats
Double Chocolate Biscotti from Emily at the answer is always pork


Chicago Eats: Kokopelli

Happy Taco Tuesday! I don't know about you, but Taco Tuesday has most definitely grown on me over the last year... in fact, I might even say that it has usurped Thirsty Thursday for my favorite day of the week (shocking!). Now, if only Apple would release a taco emoji, my Instagram life would be complete. ;-)

A few weeks ago, Diana and I were invited to check out Kokopelli, the newest taco joint in Wicker Park. Kokopelli is the brainchild of Chef Guillermo Campos Moreno, a Tijuana-trained chef who served as the executive chef at Parque Bicentario in Guanajuato and later spent time at the three-time Michelin-starred Oud Sluis in the Netherlands. Eventually, he returned to Tijuana and teamed with friends to open Kokopelli, a food truck that traveled the Baja coast. After accumulating a steady stream of fans (including Andrew Zimmerman), the truck caught the eye of several Midwestern investors and Chicago was chosen as the spot for its first brick and mortar location (yay for us!).

As you might expect, the Tijuana street food-inspired Kokopelli specializes in seafood dishes and salsas, which gives it a much-needed edge to stand out in the battle of the Wicker Park taco joints. Their signature taco, Kraken (Diana's favorite of the night!), contains grilled octopus marinated in Mexican pesto and garnished with pickled onions. Another standout of our visit for me was the Black Harder ceviche, made with fresh mahi mahi marinated in lemon juice and squid ink, and served with two of their signature salsas: the espuma de mar (my favorite!) and the castigo Azteca.

Each table is adorned with the most adorable little plants - what is it about jars that make baby plants so much cuter?!

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