2018 | chicago foodie girl

5.07.2018

Mother's Day with Fannie May Colonial Assortment

When I was a little kid, Mother's Day was not only a celebration of my mother and grandmother (and the only day of the year in which my father and grandfather voluntarily did the dishes!), it was also known in my world as "fancy chocolate day." It was the day in which I marched into my local Fannie May, selected my favorite box of mixed chocolates, and proudly presented what I dubbed "fancy chocolates" to my mom in a flurry of excitement. Although she knew it was coming, she always pretended to be surprised; even better, she always let me pick out my favorites from her box. To me, it was a big deal because we only had fancy chocolates on holidays (although I realized later in life that we had them in the house far more often than I thought - they were just hidden from little kid eyes!).

While my own mom is no longer here, I continue to celebrate all of the incredible women/mother figures in my life with fancy chocolates - because really, who doesn't love to receive a beautiful box of delicious chocolates?! One of my favorites boxes to gift is still the same one I proudly purchased every year for my mom: the Colonial Assortment, the best-selling collection of the signature tastes of Chicago-based confectioner (and Midwestern favorite!) Fannie May.


This deluxe collection caters to all chocolate fans, with a wonderful assortment of dark and milk chocolate options, fresh nut clusters, crunchy toffees, buttercreams, chocolate-covered fruits, Pixies® and Trinidads®.

My mother's favorites were always the Pixies® (caramel and fresh pecans drenched in milk chocolate), while I gravitated toward the milk chocolate cherry cordials. While I still enjoy a good cherry cordial, these days, I immediately reach for the Pixies®, along with my absolute favorites, the Trinidads®.

As a kid, I didn't realize the amazingness of Trinidads®, but now, I can seriously throw down with these creamy dark chocolate truffles with a slightly crunchy toasted coconut coating. If you're a fan of dark chocolate, you'll absolutely love these luscious truffles!

.
I particularly like the Colonial Assortment because it appeals to such a wide variety of chocolate lovers of all ages (including the little ones who want to share the fancy chocolates!).

The perfect caramel to chocolate ratio!

In case you haven't checked the calendar, Mother's Day is right around the corner - just six days to go! A fun and a super easy way for you to show all of the extra-special women in your life (including your mom, grandmother, mother-in-law, mother figures, or fur baby moms) is with the Fannie May Colonial Assortment, which can be purchased at local retail stores or ordered online by 5/10 for delivery in time for Mother's Day. 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product and compensation to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.
Share:

4.30.2018

How to Build the Perfect Cheese Board



Not counting the month in which I decided I didn't like cheese unless it was powdered and found in a macaroni box (it was one of those weird/defiant kid stages), cheese and I go way back. I began my love affair with it at an early age, all thanks to my grandmother, who had an afternoon cheese break built into her daily schedule (3:00 was always cheese and Coke time in her house). While she favored various Italian cheeses and sharp cheddars, I grew to realize that my cheese love had no bounds. I definitely have my favorites (it's an alarmingly long list!); however, I'm always down to try new cheeses. So of course, when the good folks at Caputo Cheese Market invited me to tour their store and sample some of owner/cheesemonger Nat Caputo's favorite picks, I immediately grabbed my fellow cheese-obsessed friend Jess, jumped in the car, and headed up to Lake Forest to get my cheese nosh on!

Caputo Cheese Market (or cheese heaven, as Jess and I named it) is a family-owned market that has been in business since 1978. They carry high-quality cheese offerings from around the world, with an emphasis on locally produced products and Italian cheeses that are either imported or produced by the Caputo family in their Melrose Park headquarters. At any given time, you can find over 400 types of cheese (including their award-winning mozzarella, burrata, and ricotta) in their Lake Forest shop/café and over 1,000 varieties at their Melrose Park location. Jess and I spent the afternoon touring the market, eating our way through delicious cheese after delicious cheese, and talking the business of building the perfect cheese board.
Share:

4.23.2018

Recent Foodie Finds

Happy spring! I know that technically it has been spring for just over a month, but up until this weekend, it was still very much winter here (there's nothing quite like a series of late April surprise snowstorms to dash your hopes and send you into an angsty tailspin). However, it seems like we've finally pulled through (yay!). Between several bouts with icky winter sickness, some unexpected work stress, a persistent feeling of dissatisfaction with everything going on in the country, and some scary health situations involving close friends, it was already starting to feel like 2018 was setting up to be one of those years. However, after a few days of nicer weather and quality time with friends, I'm feeling slightly more optimistic (I maintain the right to revert back to my previous grumpiness if we get hit by any additional late-season snowstorms!).

I kicked off the weekend with a visit to LiqrBox (boozy juice boxes FTW!) and then spent some time soaking up the sun on the rooftop of The Godfrey with friends. On Saturday, Diana and I paid a visit to Easy Street Pizza, where we sampled some drool-worthy mac & cheese pizza. I spent the rest of the weekend putting in some quality time with the DVR (Mario was in Vegas for a birthday celebration, so I used my time alone to binge-watch the shows he hates), planning an upcoming trip to NOLA (it's my first time and I am ridiculously excited!), and writing a few sorely overdue blog posts (there's more coming very soon!).

Here are a few of my recent foodie finds (follow me on Instagram for even more)...

Hawaiian Classic Poké Bowl with ahi tuna, ogo seaweed, cucumber, mango, and classic sauce at Pokéworks. I don't know about you, but I am absolutely loving this poké explosion! After years of being poké-less, there are so many poké joints in Chicago; one of my favorites is the super popular fast-casual Pokéworks, where you can choose from a menu of their creations or build-your-own bowl. Their ingredients are always fresh and they have a wide assortment from which to choose.
Share:

2.27.2018

Spanish Spaghetti with Have an Olive Day


While I tend to be a fairly adventurous and diverse eater when I go out, I'm actually quite predictable when I'm at home in my own kitchen. It's not that I don't enjoy playing with various flavor profiles; it's more that I'm on autopilot on most nights. After realizing late last year that I was growing bored with the dishes in my repertoire, I set a goal for myself in 2018 to expand my list of everyday dishes. Fortuitously, just after I set my goal, the fine folks with the Have an Olive Day campaign reached out to see if I would be interested in trying my hand at creating a Spanish-inspired recipe with their olives from Spain. That was definitely just the push I needed!

When I was much younger, I thought the only type of olives that existed were the chopped black ones that came on our pizza (that was the only time I ever had them!), but as an adult, I've cultivated a taste for the many different types of olives. I'm especially a fan of the tender Manzanilla (green olives) and the tart Queen (big green olives), thanks to their versatility, as well as the meaty Gordal and the spicy Verdial, thanks to their robust flavors. As much as I'm pro-olive, I have to admit I didn't know much about the growing, pressing, and curing processes until I visited my first olive grove last year (such a cool experience!). Thanks to the Have an Olive Day campaign, I've learned even more - did you know that olives meet the four basic tastes (bitter, sweet, salty and acid)? This is what makes them not only the perfect healthy snack but also the ideal product to combine with practically any type of ingredient.
Share:

1.30.2018

Girls Weekend in Hamilton County (part 2)

In case you missed it, check out my post on our first day in Hamilton County here

While I would like to say Diana and I woke up the next morning ready to jump right into the second day of exploring Hamilton County, quite honestly, we were exhausted (as we stayed up far too late), slightly hungover, and in desperate need of caffeine. Thankfully, the lovely ladies over at Visit Hamilton County seemed to have known that would happen, as the first stop on our agenda was exactly what we needed to get us going (and to shake our post-cookie and booze haze from the previous evening!). Once we finally managed to make ourselves presentable, we headed back to Carmel for breakfast at Eggshell Bistro, a ridiculously charming and quaint café known for serving some of the best coffee in the state.

Share:

1.23.2018

Girls Weekend in Hamilton County (part 1)

Before moving to Chicago, my travel wishlist was solely focused on big city explorations. I lived in a small Midwestern town and longed to spend my free time working my through the bustling and exciting restaurants, museums, and theatres of major metro areas. While I still do love the thrill of absorbing the vibe of a new-to-me major city, now that I've been in Chicago for just over eighteen years (where did the time go?!), I'm finding myself being drawn to some smaller towns filled with quirky shops, massive farmers markets, family-owned restaurants, and admittedly, a far slower pace. I've especially come to appreciate the lesser known spots in the Midwest; while millions of tourists are flocking to Chicago and other metro areas like Milwaukee each year, more and more, I'm seeking out local travel destinations that offer a quieter and quainter getaway, like in Hamilton County, Indiana. 

Located just north of Indianapolis, the cities and towns of Hamilton County are frequently lauded as some of the best places to live in the Midwest, thanks to their high marks in quality of life ratings. While the county is one of the fastest growing in the United States, it still offers residents and visitors alike plenty of small-town charm. When the fine folks at Visit Hamilton County reached out to inquire if Diana and I would be interested in a weekend of foodie explorations, we took one look at their lineup of cute restaurants, markets, and festivals and immediately knew it was the perfect spot for our next girls getaway!

Share:

1.08.2018

17 from '17

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic start to 2018. I have to admit that I’ve been less than impressed with this year thus far, as I’ve spent just about all of it on the couch in my pajamas nursing various gross ailments (leaving the apartment only once to go to the doctor's office), worrying about a close friend in the hospital, and very much not doing the work I need to do for the start of the semester. It can only go up from here though, right?!

Despite the less than auspicious start to 2018, I am glad to leave last year in the dust. It was one of those years with extreme highs and extreme lows. While I had some fantastic professional opportunities (several of which included some fab travel), much of the year was spent worrying about a professional setback Mario suffered and dealing with some major anxiety surrounding the loss of someone very close to us. The majority of the year was one big emotional drain, although thankfully, things finally started to turn around in December. While I know logically there’s not a big difference between December 31 and January 1, it just felt cathartic to leave the year behind.

Despite some personal struggles, it was a fantastic year in food. I ate my way across Chicago and fell hard for some new restaurants, explored some fab eats in Wisconsin, Indiana, Arizona, and Mexico, and finally knocked a three-Michelin starred restaurant off my bucket list (stay tuned for more about this in an upcoming post). There were some sad losses in the Chicago restaurant community (Grace! 😢), but I’m still confident Chicago will continue to offer amazing experiences and I’m excited to see what this next year will bring!

Here are 17 of my favorites from 2017:



The OG Lox and the Confit Albacore Tuna with oil-cured olives at Snaggletooth. I loved this charming cured fish deli from the moment I first stepped foot in it shortly after its opening in 2016. The space was adorable and owners Bill Montagne and Jennifer Kim put a lot of love and effort into every one of their perfectly constructed dishes. I was so sad to say goodbye to this gem over the summer!
Share:
© chicago foodie girl | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Crafted by pipdig