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Celebrating Chicago Craft Beer Week at Gino’s East: from Witte Chicks to Killarney Connection… and back!

I just love spring in Chicago! Now that the school semester is finally over and the days are longer and warmer, I want to put all the stress behind me and to enjoy life, as we all should. I want to get out of the house and be gone for hours, to wander the streets downtown in search for the next big culinary discovery, and to enjoy the refreshing beauty of Chicago, the city of my heart. What a great city, what a blessed life 🙂

Of course, no culinary adventure is complete without an appropriate drink pairing – which brings me to the trendiest subject to write about these days: Chicago Craft Beer Week, which started today. A must-do for anyone who loves quality beer and late spring in Chicago, Craft Beer Week is celebrated in hundreds of restaurants across Chicagoland, which mark the occasion by offering quality pints at promotional prices. Gino’s East is one of the Craft Beer Week participating restaurants, and last week I was invited along with other local food bloggers to get a taste of some of their signature beers which are on offer during Craft Beer Week.

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CLOSED Cheers to smoothies! A review of the Hamilton Beach Wave-Action blender – and a giveaway!

I haven’t always been a “smoothie gal” – but now I am. Since having the baby I have become more aware of what I eat and drink, and more determined to give my body the nutrients it needs to function well. I’m happy to report I’m eating more fruits and veggies than I was before becoming a mom. Thankfully, a new grocery store has opened in our neighborhood, and it takes me very little time to walk there and to stock up on fresh quality produce. The abundance of seasonal fruits and veggies inspires me and keeps me motivated. I love summer – and I love smoothies 🙂

Being such a new and passionate smoothie supporter, I was excited when I was contacted by Hamilton Beach and asked to review the latest addition to their range of blenders, the Wave-Action blender. The blender I use regularly is one I bought a few years ago. It is a versatile workhorse, and besides drinks I have been using it to make soups, dips and even mashed potatoes. They all turn out creamy and velvety, just the way we like it. I was curious to see how the Wave-Action blender would fare compared with my old blender, so I happily took on the challenge. Keep Reading

Stylish and functional hydration on the go: my review of the new Contigo Ashland water bottle


With summer in full swing and days getting hot and humid here in Chicagoland, drinking enough liquids is more important than ever, and a good water bottle can go a long way in keeping you hydrated and at the top of your game. The water bottle market offers a variety of products, and I was fortunate enough to familiarize myself with some of its trends and latest offerings at this year’s edition of the International Home + Housewares Show. This is where I met the team behind Contigo, a well-known Chicago company which makes travel mugs and water bottles.

I am a big fan of the Contigo travel mugs. I bought one a couple of Black Fridays ago, when they were on sale at Kohl’s. I wasn’t sure of its quality (a good travel mug for only $9.99? Hmmmm…) but the online reviews and my own experience quickly put my concerns to rest. I use my travel mug religiously every winter – my hot chocolate stays hot for a good few hours even in the coldest of weathers, and the mug looks gorgeous!

What about the Contigo water bottles? I knew nothing about them prior to the Housewares Show, where the Contigo team showed me their latest Ashland water bottle and gave me one to test. Keep Reading

Panino + smoothie = healthy lunch: My review of the Oatworks oat and fruit smoothies

Since becoming pregnant I have tried to live a healthier lifestyle and to eat a nutritious, fruit and veg based diet. I’ve been paying more attention to how my body interacts with certain foods or drinks – for instance, I have noticed that my baby becomes hyperactive whenever I drink coffee, and I have limited my daily caffeine intake as a result. It has been a process or rediscovery – of my body, my diet, and my general well-being. Thankfully, summer is the season when healthy eating can be accomplished relatively easily – in my case, I need some fresh produce, a panini grill and/or a blender, some inspiration and, of course, a bit of willpower 🙂

As someone who’s interested in nutrition, I was pleased to be contacted by Oatworks to review their oat-based fruit smoothies. Oatworks sent me a pack of smoothies to try for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed here are my own. Keep Reading

Using carrots to make something quick: “Easy” isn’t always easy!

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Last weekend I happened to come across a great sale on organic baby carrots at the grocery store, and I bought quite a few packs. I usually eat them raw, I saute them, or I roast them alongside chicken. Sadly, I did not have a lot of time at my disposal, so my first thought was: let’s make carrot juice! This looked like the perfect opportunity to use up the carrots, and to make something quick and very healthy. What could possibly go wrong? Keep Reading

Blueberry syrup: a very easy summer recipe

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As a child I never had much of a relationship with blueberries. My aunt was great at canning, and she would spend summers at her house in the countryside, picking various fruits and canning them with a vengeance. She did not have blueberry bushes in her garden though, and she hardly ever used blueberries. I also remember my parents buying blueberries for me during the summer from farmers selling them by the cup on the side of the road. I loved the deep blue color of the blueberries, but as a child I didn’t know much about them. Keep Reading