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MickyN

Valentine’s Day in Chicago: I’ll take all the cookies – and beet ravioli, and cuddle bear cake, and cruises, and… :-)

An assortment of Valentine’s Day cookies from Delightful Pastries

What are you doing this Valentine’s Day? We have a doctor’s appointment in the morning, but then the afternoon is open to all sorts of plans, which I have yet to figure out (ooops!). Luckily, Chicago restaurants offer plenty of romantic menu choices this Valentine’s Day, and I have compiled a list of the most exciting ones below. Any other Valentine’s Day specials worth talking about? Let me know in the comments! 😉 Keep Reading

Super Bowl the plant-based way: vegan beetroot appetizer – and previous years’ recipe suggestions

What are your thoughts on Super Bowl party food? I don’t know about you, but as much as we love chicken wings and pizza, this special weekend we also tend to eat rather light dishes, such as salads and vegetarian patties (check out my previous years’ recipes here, here and here).

This vegan beetroot appetizer is a case in point 😉 With beets being so healthy and popular nowadays, I thought for this year’s Super Bowl I should bring back a recipe my mom and aunt used to make very often when I was growing up, especially during the winter months: beetroot & horseradish salad. Keep Reading

New Year’s resolution #3: Dine out more! My Trattoria Gianni review

 

There is something truly fascinating about Italian comfort food classics made with passion and executed well. Can it be the thick sauce, cooked for hours and mastered to perfection? The quality ingredients that come together to create homemade delight, much like mamma used to make? The inspired pairing with regional wines, which join in with the food to epitomize a glorious dining experience? Maybe it’s one of these things – or maybe it’s all at the same time. What I do know, especially after having dined at Trattoria Gianni recently, is that one-of-a-kind culinary experiences must be replicated to keep one’s soul and belly happy, especially on the ever-changing, sometimes frigid Chicago weather 😉 That’s why I have decided to dine out more this year, and to try to strike a balance between my professional and family commitments, and my restaurant visits. Here’s resolution #3 – and here’s to a year full of great foodie discoveries and amazing eats!

I visited Trattoria Gianni one cold end-of-year night – such a difference from the sunny afternoon when I first stopped here for dinner, a couple of summers ago. Keep Reading

New Year’s resolution #2: Revamp the kitchen? My BlueStar cooking demo experience

Delicious charcuterie board at BlueStar cooking demo

Anyone else in the mood for a kitchen remodel? I can hear the chorus of “No’s” (lol), and I don’t blame you. The previous time we did a remodel was right after we’d bought this house, and we were feeling brave enough, young enough, and enthusiastic enough. It was one of those “it’s now or never” situations – we decided to go ahead with the remodel while we were still young and had no kids. Fast forward to 2020, and we have 2 energetic children and 2 demanding jobs – and a kitchen remodel suddenly doesn’t seem that appealing. And yet, I can dream, can’t I? πŸ™‚

I’ve always wanted to buy a professional gas range, but until now I have kept postponing. That may not sound like a fully-fledged kitchen remodel – and yet, it would still mean the world to me. If we do decide to go ahead and buy a new gas range this year, we’ll begin by checking out the place we bought all of our household appliances from: Abt in Glenview. They host a variety of well-known brands, including the famous and much-coveted BlueStar. As a matter of fact, Abt has recently redesigned a section of their store to accommodate a BlueStar range of appliances, and I was invited to the official inauguration. Keep Reading

New Year’s resolution #1: Eat more sustainable fish! That’s easy, thanks to Sitka Salmon Shares

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I usually don’t, but as I was going through the blog posts currently in the works, I realized I might be on my way to doing just that. All my upcoming write ups reflect wishes I have set for myself and my family for the current year. I might as well call them resolutions, right? 😉

Resolution #1 is simple enough: Eat more fish – and not just any kind of fish, but sustainable fish. As our family has expanded, I have become aware of the need for us to go the extra mile to consume quality fish. With scary reports of non degradable chemicals found in some of the supermarket seafood out there, who would like to take any chances? Not us, that’s for sure.

I admit that fish quality was of no concern to me and my family while I was growing up. I have vivid memories of shopping at the local fish market with my dad, facing knuckle-busting shoppers, rude fishmongers – and, most importantly, mountains of odd looking, off-putting, stinky fish. Keep Reading

Cooking with the Greatest Tomatoes from Europe: canned tomatoes – tasting fresher than ever!

Have you ever eaten a tomato fresh off the vine? I have – and I can tell you it’s an incredible experience! As a child, I would often spend my summer vacations in the countryside, at my aunt and uncle’s house. The latter (a WWII survivor who had endured terrible times of hunger and deprivation) had a deep respect for nature and an appreciation of its treasures, and he was pretty much obsessed with gardening. Having played all morning in the sand with my niece, I would take refuge in my uncle’s garden, with dirty nails and coarse sand still fresh in my mouth and hair, and I would feast at random – and what a feast that was! Moist apricots just fallen off the tree, sugar sweet, their pulp melting in my mouth; red currants delicate and slightly pungent, with crisp leaves hiding clusters of ruby goodness; last but not least, tomatoes – meaty, slightly fuzzy, with a herbaceous smell and a delicious natural sweetness. I would sink my teeth into a tomato and the juice would start dripping on my chin, utterly thirst-quenching and refreshing, like nature’s perfect elixir. Keep Reading