12.29.2014

Donuts!

*Guest post by chicago foodie girl contributor, Diana

The donut (doughnut?) craze is alive and well here in Chicago, but have they become the new cupcake? Personally, I don’t think so, because I enjoy cupcakes and donuts all the same. When I was a kid, donuts were from that chain place that starts with a "D." The "D" had so many choices; my go to was the jelly donut or a chocolate glazed cake donut if the jelly was unavailable. I learned of fancy bakery donuts while in high school; a classmate worked at a local bakery and well, she was my donut connection for at least a year.

In the last few years specialty/gourmet/pillows of happiness donut shops have been popping up all over the place in Chicago, every one featuring their own spin on the classics, along with some new and innovative flavor/flavor combinations you’ll never find at the “D.” Here’s a peek at some of the deliciousness I’ve experienced over the few months, I know there are many more shops out there that I need to try ASAP!

Firecakes Donuts
The second pic, the jelly donut? To die for, one of the best I've ever had! The one shown below was raspberry blood orange. Below that is the Maple Glazed Pineapple and Bacon. I tried that one at Baconfest and, well, WOW. Savory and sweet in the same bite rocks the block for me







Beavers Donuts
Don't forget about the food trucks! The peanut Butter & Jelly and S'mores from Beavers Donuts are both delish!





Glazed & Infused Donuts
Glazed & Infused is a favorite at my office, especially the Maple Bacon Long John! Yes!
The third pic is a little deceiving, and it was a delight! It's a donut, so you think it's sweet, but it's actually a savory donut! Savory herb dough, with a ham and cheddar glaze. I wasn't sure what to expect at first, but I really liked it! It was a limited edition donut, I hope they bring it back soon! The fourth pic displays the Red Velvet donut with cream cheese frosting, another must try if you're a fan of red velvet cake!









Do-Rite Donuts
Do-Rite is also another favorite in the office; can't go wrong with these beauties! So good! The first pic is the Candied Maple Bacon cruller, followed by the Pistachio Meyer Lemon. Up next is a classic, the Old Fashioned, but dipped in fabulous Valrhona chocolate! And last, but certainly not least is the chocolate glazed, also coated in Valrhona chocolate.









I hope you enjoy some of the specialty donuts out there; leave a comment with your favorites, even if you're not in Chicago! I love to travel and would love to someday visit the donut shops in your town!
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12.27.2014

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.

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12.22.2014

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 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.


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12.20.2014

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 bit of tasty libations. ;-)


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12.16.2014

Gifts for Foodies from Uncommon Goods

As I mentioned yesterday, I am seriously behind with my holiday shopping... and judging from what I've seen on social media, I'm definitely not the only one! As easy as it would be to just buy a handful of gift cards and be on my merry way, I'm just not a person who can do that (unless, of course, I know that's what the person really wants). I'm all about seeking out unique, personalized gifts that have meaning behind them. To me, it's such a fantastic rush when I find that perfect gift! Thankfully, one of my favorite companies is available for all of my last-minute gift needs from the comfort of my own couch.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Uncommon Goods, it is a privately-owned retailer headquartered in Brooklyn, New York that features unique designs and handcrafted gifts. Not only do they offer some fantastic products that you can't find elsewhere, but also the company is committed to practices that support independent artists/designers, fair wages for all workers, and products that are made without harm to the environment. Additionally, they support causes close to their heart by donating $1 from every purchase made to non-profits like Women for Women, RAINN, and Reach Out and Read through their Better to Give program.

As you might imagine, I have quite a few foodies on my shopping list, so when the fine folks at Uncommon Goods asked me to create a guide for last-minute shoppers like myself, I automatically gravitated to their Kitchen and Bar section. While all of the gifts I chose are food/drink-oriented (any of which I would be happen to receive... hint, hint), Uncommon Goods also carries a wide array of gifts to cover everyone on your gift list (click here to check out their Christmas gift collection), many of which are under $50 (click here for ideas).

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12.15.2014

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 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 brain child 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
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12.02.2014

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 brain child 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 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 makes baby plants so much cuter?!

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