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MickyN

Book reviews: Give the gift of quality reading this holiday season!

Writing a book is like running the marathon – or at least this is how I remember the experience. It is intense. For months on end you worry about every single detail in the upcoming book, sometimes obsessively so. You wake up in the middle of the night and think of pics or sections (will the cover pic really work? Does my argument is strong enough in that chapter?). You constantly recheck your writing despite having editors on hand to help you with the job. In the end however, the stress and trepidation are so worth it: the book you hold, fresh off the press, is a labor of love and a work of art. It is your heart writ large on every page and picture 🙂

I read a lot of academic books during the school semester, but during the break I like to switch gears and to focus on books which satisfy the other half of my self: cooking! Recently I came across two cookbooks which would make excellent holiday gifts for foodies and non-foodies alike. The detailed explanations, stunning pictures and overall exquisite mixture of style and substance make these cookbooks stand out from the crowd in the best possible way.  Keep Reading

CLOSED Nielsen-Massey & McCrea’s holiday gift review and giveaway: It’s the perfect foodie present!

Update: This giveaway is closed.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always very excited to receive gourmet gifts. Nothing makes me happier than a bottle of grapeseed oil, or a jar of fine pesto, or some tahini with an intriguing story, or a candy bar which reminds me of my beloved England, or… You get the idea 😉 I see such gifts as a window of opportunity: they’re my chance to experiment, to get out of the routine, to finally be myself in the midst of a crazy, busy world. As someone who appreciates gourmet gift-giving, I’m always on the lookout for high quality presents to share with foodie friends. Sometimes however, finding the perfect food-centered gift can be difficult. Equally important, what should I give to a foodie who (almost) has it all?

Thankfully, I found a way to solve my gift-giving dilemmas recently, when I was contacted by Nielsen-Massey to review the gift basket they had designed in partnership with McCrea’s Candies. As someone who had collaborated with Nielsen-Massey in the past, I was interested to review the latest Nielsen-Massey holiday gift suggestions, especially since they involved a partnership with a caramel-making company. Vanilla sugar and sea salt caramels in the same box? Count me in!

Keep Reading

My review of the Krusteaz Holiday Cookie Helper: the story of my cookie swap success!

At no other time does the magic of baking become more tangible or appealing than during the holiday season. To me, this is a blessed time, when memories are made and cherished forever. The smell of freshly baked sweet delights, the cozy heat emanating from the oven, the impatience in my daughter’s eyes as she builds miniature castles out of cookie dough leftovers – these are moments that will stay with me despite the passing of time. What can I say? I just love the holiday season!

While I am more of a cake person, my daughter is a big cookie fan, who thinks a cookie a day keeps the boredom away 🙂 Lately, I have been using my time off to bake cookies for her and to give them away to friends and co-workers. What kind of cookies should I share during the holiday season? I often have trouble answering this question: I want to impress and to bake something that represents me, but time is short, I get impatient with my old recipe book, and my daughter is still too young to help mommy answer these sorts of questions 😉

Thankfully, recently I came across a quick and fun way to find the perfect cookie recipe to share: the Holiday Cookie Helper by Krusteaz. Keep Reading

Zoup! giveaway: Here are the winners!

Thank you all for entering my Zoup! giveaway and letting us know your favorite soups. The five winners are:

Traci, who wrote, “Lobster Bisque and Clam Chowder are my favorite soups!”

Fredrick Pauly, who wrote, “Chicken enchilada soup”

Tabitha, who wrote,”Their pumpkin pie bisque is my favorite!!! I wait for it all year”

Erica B., who wrote, “I like tomato soup”

Peggy Rydzewski, who wrote, “my homemade cheese potatoes bacon soup”

The winners have been notified and have 72 hours to respond to the winner notification emails. Congratulations! 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m about to go into the kitchen and start cooking. The list is long – and the time is short (oh, no!)

Wishing you all a joyful and peaceful Thanksgiving! 🙂

My review of Vapiano Magnificent Mile: Come for pizza, stay for more!

Somewhere on E Ontario St, in the heart of the Magnificent Mile, lies a new dining destination for those who need to grab a bite in-between shopping sprees this holiday season. The name of the restaurant is Vapiano, the ambiance is casual, and the food is fresh: give me a slice of their pizza, and I’m a happy camper! Recently I was invited to the grand opening of this new location (the second Vapiano location in downtown Chicago), and this is a review of my experience. It was a party which started early in the evening and ended around midnight, and we celebrated with balloons, red ribbons and lots of bubbly – and of course, plenty of food to go around 🙂

Vapiano is an international chain of restaurants which offers made-to-order Italian food in a relaxed atmosphere. Keep Reading

My review of Prairie Grass Cafe: I fell in love with a dreamy hollandaise sauce :-)

“How am I going to eat this?,” I thought to myself while starring at the gorgeous plate of food in front of me. I was at Prairie Grass Cafe in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook with my friend Marina, and I was trying hard to convince myself that I should start eating. As any mom knows, first trimester morning sickness makes you crave anything but food. With my first pregnancy, things were a lot easier: I used to feel sick in the morning, but then the nausea went away. With this second pregnancy, the situation is different: I feel sick pretty much all day long, and find it hard to eat anything else besides toast and crackers. Still, what I had in front of me at the table was different from toast – and a million times better. As soon as my lips touched the velvety hollandaise sauce, fresh and light like a Shakespearean summer night dream, I forgot about morning sickness, and my heart started smiling. Great food always makes me so happy! 

One of the most popular weekend brunch spots on the North Shore, Prairie Grass Cafe is well-known for both its delicious dishes and its commitment to sustainability, and Marina and I had been invited to try out some of its most famous brunch options. I said yes to their invitation, fell in love with their eggs Benedict – and the rest was history 🙂 Keep Reading