My review of Craft Pizza: a delicious tomato sauce and artisan pizza at its best

Since becoming pregnant I have been craving pizza all the time. I have found that there is something really magical in the flavor combinations in a pizza. The versatile taste of the tomato sauce, the meaty deliciousness of salami, the freshness of the red onions, bell peppers or basil – I am amazed at how they come together in a pizza to create a meal that is wholesome, generous and authentic in all its simplicity. I used to like pizza – now, it’s more than just liking: it’s a full-fledged love affair. Who would have thought? 🙂

Thankfully, Chicago is home to some of the best pizzas in the world, and living here has given me the chance to try out a variety of pies, coming from both new and well-established pizzerias. Such was the case recently, when myself and other Chicago Food Bloggers were invited to attend the preview party held by Craft Pizza, a new pizzeria located in the Wicker Park neighborhood.  Keep Reading

Spring baking in full swing: I used Hamilton Beach mixers to make our favorite fruit sponge cake

There’s nothing that says spring like a cake. A vibrant cake, liberated from all the heavy toppings of the winter season, bursting with fresh fruit flavors, and lightly dressed in layers of whipped cream. There’s nothing overwhelming, nothing forced, nothing artificial with this cake. Spring shines through it and lets us know that warm weather is here – thankfully, to stay.

I don’t bake a lot during spring, but whenever I do, I like to make a light cake. It’s sort of an unspoken tradition in our house: my husband has never been a fan of heavy, buttery cake fillings, and whenever he gets a craving for something sweet, he asks me to make a fruit cake, and then pairs it with light whipped cream. Earlier this week, he wanted me to bake a cake. Thankfully, his request coincided with a great offer I had received from Hamilton Beach. As a Hamilton Beach Ambassador, I was asked to review two of their most popular products and to let my readers know what I thought of them. Hamilton Beach sent me a 6 speed stand mixer and a SoftScrape 6 speed hand mixer free of charge for me to review. All opinions expressed here are my own. Keep Reading

On panini, creativity in the kitchen, and delicious melty goodness: A review of the Red Gold Tomatoes aioli recipes

I won’t lie to you: my creativity in the kitchen has declined since becoming pregnant. My mind is like mud, I don’t have any energy, I am always sleepy, and even the easiest cooking tasks (peeling an onion, anyone?) are difficult for me to accomplish. I’ve been dragging along for a good couple of weeks, hoping to be back to my usual energetic self soon. In the meantime, I know I need inspiration and all the creative resources I can get my hands on to counteract the fatigue. I need novelty in the kitchen – fresh ideas to inspire me and to keep me alert and motivated.

This is why I was very excited when Red Gold Tomatoes contacted me to ask me to test out their aioli recipes. I never made aioli, and as such I was very excited to go back into the kitchen and to prepare something new and creative. Red Gold are currently on a mission to introduce more home cooks to aioli, a versatile spread which can be used in sandwiches, as a dip or as a topping. The aioli possibilities are endless, and for me this test could not have come at a better time. Keep Reading

Italian beef panini: I’ve got a panino for every occasion – and my husband will eat it!

I went to the doctor earlier this week and he confirmed my suspicions: I’m pregnant! This is big news for our family and explains the fatigue, nausea and sleepiness I’ve been experiencing lately. I won’t go into details, but I’ll say this: these past few weeks have been hard. Physically, I feel drained of energy and can hardly eat anything due to the nausea. Moreover, with mom absent and my husband at work till late every day, I often feel isolated, lonely, and I’m overwhelmed by anxiety and worries. I’ve been told I’ll feel better in the second trimester of my pregnancy. I hope that’s true – I really don’t like this new lethargic me. 🙁

Food-wise, being pregnant means I had to stop eating certain products, including deli meats. This part was hard – as you know, we are “panini aficionados,” and up until this week I used to eat deli meats on a daily basis. No more, though. I’ll have to come up with new lunch ideas for myself – or maybe I’ll still eat panini, but I won’t use any deli meats? I’m still wondering which way to go.

I may no longer be able to eat panini with deli meats, but I’m still more than happy to make them! Earlier in the week I made this Italian beef panino for my husband, using a few slices of American cheese I had in the fridge. The beef was on sale at the local Italian grocery store, so I bought some.  Keep Reading

Mom’s potato salad: How food reminds me of people I miss

I made this easy salad the other day not because I wanted to cook a vegetarian dish, nor because I was too lazy to make anything complicated – but because I was missing my mom. A lot. I haven’t been feeling well lately (I’m going to see a doctor tomorrow) and I really need my mom: I miss her touch, her comforting warmth, her unique way of caressing me and of helping me to feel better. She is in Romania at the moment and she’ll fly back to Chicago in early July. We’ve got everything planned for a wonderful summer vacation after she gets here. Less than two months to go, and time can’t seem to go fast enough.

So, while waiting for mom, I decided to cook something to remind me of her, a dish I know she always likes to make in a pinch: her easy peasy potato salad. Keep Reading

There’s a new kind of Potbelly sandwiches in town: the flats!

Food and restaurant reviews are a feature recently added to this blog, and it’s one which I enjoy a lot. I like to visit Chicago eating spots (be they well-established or newly opened) and to discover innovative and exciting menu items, made with care and with the freshest ingredients. And when these new items are sandwiches or panini – that’s even better. 🙂 This is why I was very excited when Potbelly invited me and other fellow food bloggers to try out their flat sandwiches, which are available in stores starting this week.  Keep Reading