chicagolovespanini

Going panini and beyond in the Windy City – and loving it!


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It’s time for summer lightness and freshness: It’s time for a caprese salad

I don’t know about you, but I always develop an appetite for healthy foods during the summer. It is in the summer that I feel the need to take the greatest care of my body, giving it as much nutrients as possible and taking advantage of the abundance of fruits and veggies. The summer season’s fresh produce always inspires me to come up with new ideas in the kitchen, and this summer makes no exception. It’s even better now, because since becoming pregnant I have miraculously started eating a lot healthier than before. The little one definitely knows how to stir me in the right direction food-wise. :-) Continue reading


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Panini with leftover roasted red peppers: The magic is still there!

One of the questions that pops up in my posts rather often is: What to do with leftover food? I’m always interested in repurposing food that is still safe to eat, and the thought of throwing it away does not sit well with me at all. I did some thinking and came to the conclusion that this must be a personality trait I inherited from my parents and my aunt. They were thrifty and very resourceful, and with good reason: the times were hard and food was scarce, and so they cherished every bit of it, and repurposed it with a passion.

I faced a new “leftover challenge” last week, when I realized I still had some roasted red peppers in the fridge. The roasted red pepper salad was an element of my 4th of July menu, and it looked like I had made a little too much of it. Continue reading


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4th of July menu: Let’s celebrate with burgers, hot dogs, salads and sangria!

Happy 4th of July everyone!
What are you all doing today? Over here, one thing is for sure: the grill will be on :-) We’ll grill burgers and hot dogs and we’ll eat plenty of various salads. As for drinks, since I’m pregnant I’ll limit myself to apple juice. Meanwhile, my husband will enjoy one of our latest flavor discoveries: the Beso del Sol sangria! I was very excited when the Beso del Sol creators asked me to review their product and to build a summer menu around it. Sangria is one of my favorite drinks ever, so why not?

We used to drink sangria when we lived in Europe, and we loved it. A refreshing mix of delicious wine and fruity goodness, to me it is the quintessential grown-up summer drink: light and flavorful, it is also alcoholic enough to be taken seriously. You can add extra sliced fruit when you serve it, or you can leave it as it is. Either way, the fruit used while making the sangria will shine through, rendering an unmistakable flavor and a tantalizing aroma to the original wine. Continue reading


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Hummus panini: Wholesome, protein-packed and delicious

You have leftovers in the fridge and you really don’t want to throw them away, so you frantically think of ways to use them up creatively – who hasn’t been there before? I, for one, have been there and have done that lots of times – perhaps too many times :-) It happened again the other day, when I had some leftover hummus I wanted to use before expiration. I have always been a fan of hummus – I like its earthly flavor and healthy protein content – and I really did not want it to go bad before I got the chance to use it. My mind went straight to the most convenient and familiar option: panini!  Continue reading


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A Wimbledon dessert: When Eton mess meets banana cream pie

The Wimbledon tennis tournament is on now, and I am so excited! I used to watch the tennis matches regularly when we lived in England, and I vividly remember the competitive spirit and effervescent anticipation which always surround this event. To Brits, Wimbledon is more than just tennis: it’s a unique and exciting competition, a long-standing tradition, and a symbol of the great British summer. Now is the time for Brits to celebrate this season and its finest produce, from tender asparagus to rosy rhubarb, from delicate peas to crunchy cucumber and zucchini (“courgettes,” as they are called in England). Now, references to strawberries and cream (Wimbledon’s famous healthy snack) can be found in all cooking shows and magazines – and for good reason. After all, strawberries are at their best during this period, so why not celebrate their majestic perfection and exquisite flavor?

I wanted to make a dessert to pay homage to the great British summer, but also to the American culinary traditions I have been exposed to since coming to Chicago. Continue reading


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A cheeseaholic’s delight: I made Gouda panini and thought of Amsterdam

As you may have noticed by now, cheese is featured prominently in many of the the recipes I post. The reason is simple: I am a cheeseaholic! I’ve always loved the versatility and wholesomeness of cheese – be it playful and exuberant like feta or serious and straightforward like cheddar, assertive and experienced like parmesan or deliciously mild like provolone. I learned a lot about cheese during the time I spent in the UK, and my knowledge has gained more depth since coming to Chicago. I am a cheese lover, yet I’d like to think that I’m not a cheese snob. I like various cheeses and try to incorporate them in my recipes – and I also like the life stories behind them. Like every other ingredient, cheese can tell a lot about you and can trigger lots of (hopefully happy) memories.

Such was the case the other day, when I bought some imported Gouda cheese from the local grocery store. I was very excited to find it on sale because this was one of the cheese varieties I used to eat most often when we lived in England. Miraculously, as soon as I saw the Gouda my mind went back to the wonderful time we had in 2007, when we went on a cruise to Amsterdam, the home of delicious all-things cheese. :-)
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A delicious tomato sauce and artisan pizza at its best: My review of Craft Pizza

Since becoming pregnant I have been craving pizza all the time. I have found that there is something really magical in the flavor combinations in a pizza. The versatile taste of the tomato sauce, the meaty deliciousness of salami, the freshness of the red onions, bell peppers or basil – I am amazed at how they come together in a pizza to create a meal that is wholesome, generous and authentic in all its simplicity. I used to like pizza – now, it’s more than just liking: it’s a full-fledged love affair. Who would have thought? :-)

Thankfully, Chicago is home to some of the best pizzas in the world, and living here has given me the chance to try out a variety of pies, coming from both new and well-established pizzerias. Such was the case recently, when myself and other Chicago Food Bloggers were invited to attend the preview party held by Craft Pizza, a new pizzeria located in the Wicker Park neighborhood.  Continue reading

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