CLOSED Nielsen-Massey review and giveaway: the citrus connection!

There’s something utterly delicious and refreshing when it comes to citrus fruits. In the midst of summer, when the heat goes up and the appetite goes down, who wouldn’t go for a glass of thirst-quenching orange juice? Who wouldn’t crave an aromatic lemon-infused ice cream? Who wouldn’t dream of getting their teeth into a blood orange and wipe their face of the juice bursting through every tiny pocket of ruby red orange goodness? Yes, yes, yes: I’m a big fan of citrus, and I’m very loud and proud about it 🙂

Cooking with citrus is a great way to add an extra layer of flavor to both savory and sweet dishes, and if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that I use citrus in my recipes extensively (here’s one example). And yet, buying fresh citrus from the grocery store is sometimes impossible, for various reasons. The weather might be so hot that you don’t feel like getting out of the house and driving to the grocery store. On other occasions, you simply cannot leave the house because family members need your undivided attention. This is when citrus extracts from your spice cabinet can actually come in handy! Being housebound due to the squelching heat across Chicagoland and to the new addition to our family, I can definitely vouch for that 😉 Thankfully, my citrus extract collection has got bigger recently, when I was contacted by Nielsen-Massey to review an item from their new line of organic products. As someone who had collaborated with Nielsen-Massey in the past (check out my previous reviews here and here) and as a big fan of lemons, I was definitely interested to review the latest Nielsen-Massey pure lemon organic extract. What follows is my full review of this new item.
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My recent BlueStar pizza class experience: the science of pizza, revealed in a cooking space like no other

Chefs Leo Spizzirri and Susan Swanson during the BlueStar pizza class

Chef Leo Spizzirri  is a man of a phenomenal energy and charisma, and what keeps him motivated is something most of us enjoy: pizza 🙂 He talks fast, his hand gestures are broad, and his eyes light up whenever he shares stories from his past as a pizzaiolo certified by the International School of Pizza or as a consultant for some of America’s largest pizza manufacturers. What he’s most passionate about, however, is his current job as a pizza instructor at the North American Pizza and Culinary Academy (NAPCA) in Lisle. Do you ever think about what goes on inside your pizza? About the chemical reactions among the ingredients? About the stress level applied to the dough? If you’d like to find out more about the science of pizza, meeting Chef Spizzirri is a must. Believe me: you will not be disappointed.

I met Chef/instructor Spizzirri when I attended the BlueStar pizza class held at NAPCA, which Chef Spizzirri manages along with his business partners, Chefs Anthony Iannone and Renee Gabbett. This is a full review of my experience – and what an experience that was! Keep Reading

Father’s Day wishes – and an update!

Some of the delicious food gifted to us by our neighbors

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there! Perhaps you’re wondering what we’re going to be eating this weekend, and maybe you’re on the lookout for menu suggestions. I wish I could tell you I will make elaborate celebratory dishes, but that’s not the case. Our world was rocked the best possible way two weeks ago, when we became parents again. Who has time to cook with a newborn in the house? Not us, that’s for sure. Thankfully, our neighbors have come to the rescue (check out pic above for just one example of the foods we’ve been receiving).

So yep, this Father’s Day we will not cook anything special, and we will not follow elaborate menus or use fancy ingredients. We will enjoy every single moment we get to spend together as a family – and I hope you will too 🙂

My vegetarian lunch at Fogo de Chão: enjoying warm spring days one Watermelon Fresca at a time!

Maybe it’s just me and my preconceived ideas, but eating veggies is not something I would normally imagine myself doing at Fogo de Chão. Mention the name of this restaurant and more often than not I’ll have a vision of endless meats roasted over an open fire in a Brazilian steakhouse (aka churrascaria). There is drama and magic in the play of the fire, and the chefs look like illusionists taming a spirited force which turns rawness into deliciousness. And yet, Fogo de Chão is not exclusively about the gaucho way of preparing meat – on skewers impressively maneuvered by the chefs for hours on end – but also about veggies: wholesome, fresh, flavorful veggies meant to satisfy your appetite and to make your hot day lighter, healthier, and overall more bearable.

I visited Fogo de Chão in Rosemont IL for lunch recently following their invitation to try out the new salads featured on their summer menu. Keep Reading

My Memorial Day dessert ideas: ice cream, ice cream, lots of ice cream!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s just the perfect treat for your Memorial Day weekend: ice cream! With the soaring temperatures Chicagoland has seen these past few days, many of us will likely stay under the shade and look for ways to remain cool and refreshed. Ice cream is the perfect decadent treat to enjoy from time to time, especially when you need a respite from the heat. I may have gone overboard when it comes to the size of my Memorial Day Dessert, but that’s OK: I will use the age-old excuse that I’m eating for two – just this once 😉

The dessert above is a combination of a homemade cake I wrote about awhile ago, some crispy thin cocoa cookies I had in my cupboard, and lots of delicious Hudsonville ice cream. Keep Reading

Book reviews, part 2: healthy eating this spring, from breakfast to dessert

An assortment of vegan treats from Heather Saffer’s latest cookbook

Too stuffy clothes, too long a winter, too many chicken wings (see my previous post 😉) – put these together and the first few months of 2018 have been a real downer for a sun-loving Chicagoan like myself. Add a pregnancy with swollen legs and plenty of food restrictions, and the question becomes even more stressful: what should I eat to stay healthy and well nourished this spring? Part #2 of my book review (you can check out part #1 here) focuses on this topic because I believe it’s important not just to me – the ever-tired mommy-in-waiting, lol – but to many of you as well. Want to discover tips and recipes to help you stay well-fed and energized? Read on 🙂

If you’re into healthy eating as a lifelong choice, Devin Alexander’s You Can Have it!: More than 125 Decadent Diabetes-Friendly Recipes fits the bill perfectly. Keep Reading