chicagolovespanini

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


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Comfort food decadence: A review of Red Gold slow cooker recipes – and a giveaway!

I am always on the lookout for new recipe ideas to get me inspired and excited to try out new things. I must admit I do need inspiration in the kitchen – I have been very busy lately, and as such I have often cooked the same recipes over and over again, and found myself stuck in a rut. Fall is upon us and we can find an amazing abundance of fresh produce at the local markets. Still, what good is this if you just don’t have the time to experiment with flavors and to create new recipes? As you can see, I am a little frustrated with how things have been on the cooking front lately :-)

Thankfully, my enthusiasm for experimenting came back recently, when Red Gold Tomatoes contacted me and asked me to test out their new slow cooker recipes, which have been devised to make fall cooking easy and more flavorful than ever. Red Gold is also hosting a competition on their Facebook page, where you can win one of two slow cookers every day. They are giving away 44 slow cookers over the next 3 weeks! Continue reading


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Stuffed apples with walnuts and jam: A light dessert I love to make – and to eat!

I love to go apple picking in the fall! Sadly, our busy work schedules along with my ongoing exhaustion (due to the pregnancy) have made any weekend getaways impossible this year. I still hope we’ll be able to go. In the meantime, I enjoy shopping at the local grocery stores and trying a variety of fruits from the new crops of the season. Braeburn apples are my favorite: with their sweet tart core and indulgent texture, I find them hard to resist and eat them all the time when in season. They are not available to buy yet though, so I have been buying Gala and Golden Delicious instead.

I bought Gala apples earlier this week and decided to use them in a dessert we like a lot, which is easy to make and also very light: stuffed apples. Continue reading


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It’s time to make zucchini cakes!

This is my mom’s recipe and it’s a big hit in our house. My husband loves these savory cakes and eats them “bathed” in plenty of sour cream. Meanwhile, I eat them on their own and quite a few at a time, sometimes late at night, when the pregnancy cravings kick in. I think this is a great comfort food: served hot, straight from the pan, the cakes are fresh, light and moist and exhibit simplicity and earthiness. I have found that simple is in many case better, and this is why I like to let the flavors shine through and to talk for themselves in this dish. No strange names or artificial additions – just a few well-known ingredients, true to themselves and carefully selected :-) Continue reading


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An ode to Double Gloucester cheese – and a fond remembrance of the years we spent in Britain

I was so excited to find this cheese on display at the local specialized cheese shop! I used to eat Double Gloucester a lot when we lived in the UK, and I loved it. This hard cheese with a distinct mature flavor is ideal on fresh toast – I remember having it for breakfast with a glass of skimmed milk, and savoring its wholesome taste for minutes on end before the start of yet another busy day. Those where the days when we lived a tranquil life in the midst of the British countryside, surrounded by picturesque houses and an evergreen vegetation which made you want to get out and explore – to get out and live. Time used to pass slowly, and each day brought a unique meaning and a distinct appeal. Continue reading


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The roasted red pepper and eggplant dip of my childhood: So pure, so rustic, so flavorful

I used this dip the other day in a panino and absolutely loved it! It is the perfect dish to make now, when summer is on its way out and lets fall take over, and when the local markets are starting to sell plenty of produce at a reasonable price. This roasted pepper and eggplant dip is one of my favorite foods ever, and it gets better the more you let it “marinate” in the fridge – this gives its ingredients enough time to infuse with each other’s flavor and to create a multifaceted harmony of various tastes and aromas.

This is a dish my mom and aunt used to make very often when I was growing up. They would prepare large batches, which they would then can for the winter ahead. The canned dip would last us the entire winter: nutritious, flavorful and light, it would remind us of the beauty and warmth of seasons past. To us, this was both a flavorful and a functional dish: it satisfied a need, and told a story.
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Pizza time, again! Time for some stuffed Giordano’s pizza

I wrote about this before: My pizza cravings have gone through the roof since becoming pregnant :-) I wouldn’t mind eating pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner – as a matter of fact, I think I’d absolutely love it! There is something very enticing in a pizza, if done well: the buttery and slightly flaky crust, the mellow melted mozzarella like a lava of joy in your mouth, the multilayered and assertive¬† flavor of the tomato sauce – they all come together to create pie heaven for the pizza aficionado.

I was in pizza heaven last weekend, when I went to the opening of the new Giordano’s Pizza carry-out and delivery location in Glenview. It was an event I would never forget – not just because of the delicious food I sampled, but also because of the special guest I got the chance to meet: basketball legend Scottie Pippen. Continue reading


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Fall is upon us, so it’s time to do some baking: The cookies of my childhood

Something has troubled me these past few days: the fall approaching. Lately, the weather has been unusually mild here in Chicago, with low overnight temperatures and highs in the ’70s. There’s something in the air, something that tells me fall is just around the corner. Too soon. Too fast. It’s the middle of August and I can already see the birds migrating, and I can hear their desperate cries as they fly to a warmer climate. Why does summer have to go away so quickly? I don’t know.

I tried to stay positive and to think happy thoughts as I faced this early arrival of the fall. My mom, who’s been here for about a month now, came up with the idea of doing some baking to cheer me up. She took out her recipe binder and we went over several recipes until we came across the one for jam cookies – the cookies of my childhood, as I like to call them. Continue reading

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