chicagolovespanini

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


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My Memorial Day menu: It’s about fruits and veggies… and burgers, of course!

It took me awhile to come up with a Memorial Day menu. Nowadays, my mind tends to wander off aimlessly more often than not, and I have found that sleep deprivation affects my creativity. With summer just around the corner however, and with the local stores brimming with new crop fresh produce, I had extra incentives to work on this menu, and as I developed it I felt inspired and energized. I also experienced a great satisfaction seeing my family enjoy these dishes, which I intend to make again this coming weekend.

I used plenty of olive oil to make the salads below, as well as salt and pepper for seasoning. I started off by making tzatziki, the traditional Greek sauce which we usually eat as a dip. Continue reading


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Bring it on, bell peppers! My veggie burger recipe

I am in love with… bell peppers :-) As summer draws near and the days are getting longer and hotter, my body – exhausted by the calorific excesses of the winter season – craves fresh, light and nutritious dishes. Gone are the days when comfort foods were queens. Now is the perfect time to cook healthy and colorful dishes – and what can be healthier and more colorful than bell peppers? Rich in vitamin C and poor in calories, they are best eaten raw, alongside hummus or a light vinaigrette. Still, their natural beauty and abundance of flavor shine through whether served on their own or as ingredients in more elaborate dishes.

I like to use bell peppers to make vegetarian burgers. It is an easy recipe, with a few components which never fail to deliver. Continue reading


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Sweets for the sweetest mom: my special “sandwich” for Mother’s Day

I made this for my mom yesterday and she loved it! This is the perfect recipe for those who lack the time to make an elaborate dessert, but still want to surprise/spoil their moms with something almost homemade. I say “almost” because you can buy some of the ingredients and avoid spending hours in the kitchen. For instance, I used store-bought cinnamon bread – if you have a recipe for it, let me know! :-) For the lemon pudding, I used my vanilla pudding recipe, with one small change: I replaced the vanilla extract with the juice and grated peel from half a lemon. Continue reading


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Just in time for Cinco de Mayo: I made guacamole!

I made many “culinary discoveries” since coming to Chicago, and guacamole is one of them. Some friends of ours introduced us to this deliciously creamy dish, and we just fell in love with it! I wanted to learn to make it myself, so I did some research and watched various cooking shows. Learning to make guacamole has been an ongoing process – and my husband, a true “guacamole aficionado,” can testify to my many failures along the way :-)

At first I stuck to the basics, but then my confidence grew and I started to experiment with flavors and textures. This is how I arrived at jicama, an underrated vegetable with a mellow taste and a crunchy bite, which I had never heard of while living in Europe. Continue reading


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CLOSED Spices for the heart and mind: a review of Raw Spice Bar – and a giveaway!

I have always wanted to know more about spices and the art of combining them to create the perfect flavors. When we lived in England I used to love the cooking shows which featured Chef Atul Kochhar. A twice Michelin starred chef renowned for his modern take on Indian cuisine, he is also what I would call “a spice genius.” Every time I watched Atul’s shows I was amazed with his artistry. To Atul, nothing was random: every ingredient had a reason to be there, and every added spice was discussed in a way which made perfect sense to the uninitiated, such as myself.
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Mmmmm, pizza… It’s “chaotic pizza” time!

As a new mom with a part-time job, I have found these past few months difficult. I’m always exhausted and lack the energy to do anything meaningful besides attending to my baby. These days, food to me means sandwiches and sometimes pizza – and today I am going to write about the latter. I have called this “chaotic pizza” because it looks just like me nowadays: disheveled, all over the place and totally chaotic. The look of this pizza may not win any awards, but I’m not too concerned about it. I just think the pizza tastes great! :-) Continue reading

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