Manchego and jamón serrano panino: dreaming of summer in the middle of winter

Remember when life used to be simple and unadulterated? When there was plenty of time to breathe in and to enjoy its every moment? To me, pure, joyful life means one thing: summer. Still, my favorite season is far and away, and the ongoing cold weather has made me sluggish and has drained me of energy. What better way for a foodie to escape the cold than to enjoy a fiery Spain-inspired panino? Sandwiches and escapism – that’s the name of my game, as of late. 🙂

Last week I went to the grocery store to tame my appetite for bright, summery dishes and came out with manchego cheese. Sometimes, weekly sales lead to the greatest discoveries!

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Gourmia spiralizer review: Ring in the New Year with kid-friendly and stylish appetizers!

Can eating veggies be a challenge? Well, sometimes it can be, especially when you have children who need extra convincing to get their “5 a day.” We’ve had our fair share of struggles with our daughter. She seems to go through phases: Some days she can’t get enough of carrots and potatoes, while other days she doesn’t want to eat veggies in any shape or form.

If you’re looking for solutions to make veggies more fun for kids and your food more stylish overall, then a spiralizer is the way to go. Spiralizers are among the hottest kitchen gadgets of the moment, and I was lucky enough to try out several models at the latest edition of the International Housewares Show, back in the spring. Knowing how fashionable they were and how competitive the market had been lately, I was very excited when Gourmia contacted me and asked me to test and review their electric spiralizer. Enter the Gourmia Curly Q spiralizer! 🙂

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Cocoa & fruit balls: my answer to the post-Christmas leftover dilemma

Am I the only person in the world who doesn’t like peanut brittle? Don’t get me wrong: I love peanuts and worship caramel, but I just don’t like the two of them together. I find peanut brittle overly sweet and way too difficult to eat, and I always look for ways to re-purpose it. Having grown up in another country and in a time of great need, I strive to never throw edible food away because I remember how it used to be to not have any food at all. As such, I like to see value and potential in every tiny bit of leftovers – peanut brittle included 🙂

This Christmas has made no exception. Last week my husband received a gift basket from work with a generous assortment of sweet goodies: peanut brittle, dried fruit, shortbread cookies etc. To me, this was the perfect opportunity to make cocoa & fruit balls! The recipe below is just what you need if you’re looking to eliminate waste and to use up cookie or cake leftovers, recreating them as something new, exciting, and budget-friendly. Keep Reading

Cookies for Santa and Rudolph: sugar and… lemons – and all things nice!

Yes, I know the title doesn’t rhyme, but what can I do? I’m hopeless: I have fallen in love with Meyer lemons 🙂 After years of using lemons indiscriminately, I have finally seen the light: some lemons are, indeed, better than others.

With a delicate, sweet flavor, thin skin and aromatic smell, Meyer lemons are something to behold. I was lucky to find them on sale at the local grocery store, and this limited time offer could not have come at a better time. I used Meyer lemons to make two kinds of lemon cookies, using my mom’s age-old recipes. I am still amazed: How could so much flavor, zest and juiciness come in such small packages? Keep Reading

25 years of Maggiano’s Little Italy: I came, I ate, I had a lot of fun!

A silver anniversary is definitely a cause for celebration, especially in the culinary world. So many restaurants open today and close for good tomorrow, and even fewer manage to forge a culinary identity and to become a household name. Maggiano’s Little Italy is one of the few remarkable success stories. Since 1991, Maggiano’s restaurants have consistently delivered staple Italian dishes in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere – always reinventing, always passionate about food.

After serving millions of gnocchi and manicotti and tons of prime New York steaks and chicken marsala, it was time to take a break and to celebrate – and what better place to throw a party than the original Maggiano’s restaurant, on Clark&Grand in downtown Chicago? I answered yes to Maggiano’s invitation and brought my friend Marina along, as a guest. 🙂 Keep Reading

It’s Thanksgiving: time for strudel!

Nothing says “holiday” better than the enticing smell of dough steadily baking in the oven. And when you know your daughter is going to be the first to try out your creations, you really want to have a satisfied customer, so you try your hardest to please 🙂 This year, we’ll be spending Thanksgiving with my mom, around a dinner table that will be brimming with turkey (brined and roasted as per a Morton Salt recipe I’m trying for the first time ever!), pork soup, manicotti and potatoes au gratin. For dessert, we’ll have banana bread and apple and ricotta strudel.

The original strudel recipe I posted last year called for a seasonal pumpkin filling. For diversification purposes, this year I decided to use ricotta and apples, which are DH and our daughter’s all-time favorites. Keep Reading