January 2016 | chicago foodie girl


Girls Night In with Turducken

After the holiday craziness has finally died down and before the stress/planning frenzy of the new year kicks in (new semester! birthdays! more holidays!), Diana and I traditionally designate a welcome-to-the-new-year girls night out (aka a night in which we get drunk, eat way too much, make a ridiculous number of inappropriate jokes, and then laugh almost nonstop because we're obviously the most hilarious people ever). Typically, our shenanigans take place at one of our favorite restaurants (and yes, the servers really do love us), but this year, we decided to make it a girls night in complete with movies and cooking at Diana's fab new condo.

Now to some, spending time in a kitchen may not sound like much of an exciting girls night, but Diana and I do greatly enjoy our joint cooking adventures (plus, we're hilarious when we're together, remember?!), especially when they involve copious amounts of alcohol and meat... *enter the Turducken*. Yes, the Turducken: aka a turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken. The moment the fine folks at Echelon Foods contacted me to see if I would be interested in sampling one of their newest versions of their Turducken Premium Roast, I knew that our girls night in would be the perfect opportunity for this legendary triple stuffed meat extravaganza!

We kicked off our epic night in with a round of spicy Micheladas, courtesy of our friend Margaret over at Ketch on Fire. How fantastic are these glasses?!



Suburban Eats: Firefly Kitchen

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a fab weekend. Today is the official start of the new semester, which is always equal parts exciting, chaotic, and nerve-racking, even for those of us in front of the classroom (after 13+ years in education, I still get a mean case of the first-day jitters!). While I've spent most of the last few weeks focused on prepping for the new semester and completing my own homework (I'm already a week into the first class of my new degree program), I did manage to squeeze in a final few activities during my break, including a trip to the northern 'burbs for a leisurely brunch at a new-ish restaurant with fellow foodie, Meghan.

Situated on the border of Wilmette and Evanston, Firefly Kitchen offers diners seasonal comfort dishes in a lovely Brooklyn-inspired bistro. Open since last summer, the upscale, but still relaxed, neighborhood bistro is the collaborative effort of renowned New York City chef Dean Salerno, formerly of David Burke’s signature restaurant at The James New York, and James Pierce, former head of The Bar at The Peninsula Chicago. Salerno's fond memories of his years living in Brooklyn with wife Mia inspired them to create a cozy space reminiscent of the hip converted brownstones in his favorite borough.



Chicago Eats: Travelle Kitchen + Bar

Situated along the Chicago River on the second floor of the stunning Langham Hotel, Travelle Kitchen + Bar offers diners a contemporary seasonally-inspired menu in a chic, comfortable environment. I've long been a fan of the gorgeous luxury hotel (I mean, how can you not love a place with such an amazing ceiling installation?!) and although I've managed to run into Chef Tim Graham at numerous events over the years (and indulge in his mouthwatering white gazpacho), I hadn't ever actually dined at Travelle... until now!



15 from '15

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fabulous Chrismahanukwanzakah (I'm a firm advocate of celebrating everything, as more holidays = more friends, food, and fun drinks!) and a fabulous start to 2016. As per usual, I spent the first two weeks of my winter break pretending as though I don't actually have any work responsibilities; however, the time has come to officially stop pretending that I don't have a mile-long to-do list (boo!). Not only do I need to put the finishing touches on the classes I'm teaching, but also, I need to prepare for the classes I'm taking.... 2016 will be a year of change, starting with enrollment in a second master's degree program!

Before I dive headfirst into my big plans for the year, I thought I would take a look back at some of the foodie highlights of 2015. I know I say it every year, but 2015 was truly an epic food year! As I declared the summer to be my season of saying yes to whatever came my way, I managed to make a nice dent in my must-visit restaurants list, as well as discover an abundance of new spots. Along the way, I also met a group of fabulous people who share my same passion for food (and who don't get annoyed when I take 20 photos of every dish!). In addition to food and friends, there were definitely some other awesome standout moments of 2015: I was granted tenure (finally!), I purchased my first new car in 15 years, and through a random radio contest, I won an opportunity for Mario and I to meet Lenny Kravitz (OMG, he smelled like rainbows and sex!). Overall, it was a pretty good year. :-)

In no particular order, here are 15 of my favorites from 2015:

Pumpkin Cabinet Pudding stuffed with chocolate chips and covered with warm oozy caramel (from Sweet Mandy B's). This pudding was most definitely everything that's good about desserts all wrapped up into one perfectly amazing little tower of goodness!

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