chicagolovespanini

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


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Fall cooking, simplified and always delicious: A review of the Hamilton Beach Set ‘N Forget slow cooker – and a giveaway!

As I enter the third trimester of my pregnancy, things are getting rather complicated and difficult to handle both at work and at home: my back hurts, leg cramps are “killing” me, I’m not as fast as I used to be, and I get tired easily. Cooking looks more and more like a chore, and I find it difficult to focus. After a busy day at work, I lack the energy to do even the simplest tasks, and lying on the sofa is my idea of bliss. I need all the help I can get, especially when it comes to cooking.

Thankfully, Hamilton Beach have recently contacted me and have given me the chance to test their Set ‘N Forget 6 quart programmable slow cooker. This opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time! I tested the slow cooker for a good few weeks, and now I’m hooked. :-) Continue reading


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Mortadella and pepper jack sandwich… with roasted peppers, of course!

I made this sandwich the other day and we loved it! The combination of mild mortadella and spicy pepper jack worked great, and the sliced cucumber gave the sandwich a nice fresh bite. You know how much I love roasted peppers, so I just *had* to put some in this sandwich. The roasted pepper added a smoky, delicious flavor and a brilliant red color, both of which made the sandwich complete. Continue reading


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Fall days are bagel days!

Doesn’t this bagel look strikingly beautiful? I can assure you it’s also very tasty :-) We have been eating a lot of bagels lately, and this is no surprise: every year, the arrival of the fall and the drop in outside temperature makes us crave this delicious and enticing treat. Nowadays, a freshly toasted bagel with cream cheese and a hot cup of aromatic herb tea is my husband’s favorite dinner combo. It is not too heavy and he can eat it late at night when he gets back from work, and then go straight to bed without the discomfort of an overly full stomach.

I like to experiment with bagels whenever I get the chance, and this is when I usually go back in time and pay homage to my mom’s or my aunt’s recipes. To fill this particular bagel I decided to use a combination of crumbled feta cheese, sour cream and fresh dill. Continue reading


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Red Gold Tomatoes giveaway – We have a winner!

I know you’ve all been waiting to find out the winner of the Red Gold Tomatoes giveaway. The winner is jalapenomamamn, who wrote, “My comfort food is cold pizza! Probably because of memories of my sis and I sharing this while watching movies up late when our parents were away. thank you.”

The winner has been notified. Thank you all for taking part. Stay tuned for more exciting giveaways! :-)


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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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CLOSED 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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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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