Book reviews, part 1: It’s time to read great life stories and to fire up the grill!

It’s almost May 1st – time to fire up the grill, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of this long winter, and now I’m ready to put the heavy coat back in the attic until next year. So is my family: DH and our daughter are both “outdoor creatures,” who would rather share laughs in the warm spring/summer glow than languish in front of the TV waiting for the air conditioning to start. Isn’t it wonderful that the weather is finally giving everyone a break?

Now is also the time to rethink your diet, and cookbooks are a great place to start if you’re looking for recipe ideas or straight-up inspiring storytelling. This is part #1 of a bigger roundup book review I intend to write (there are so many good books out there, and so little time!) Stay tuned for part #2 over the next week or so 😉

Good food and good storytelling go hand in hand, and the recently published book Treated Like Family is a case in point. Keep Reading

Five things I learned from Chef Rick Bayless at Macy’s latest cooking class

With Chef Rick Bayless at Macy’s kids cooking class
Photo credit: Brittany Sepulveda

Whenever you get an invitation to attend a Macy’s Culinary Council cooking class, you’d better say yes! Especially if the class is scheduled during Macy’s Flower Show and involves Chef Rick Bayless, a culinary expert with a deep understanding of Mexican cuisine and a passion for storytelling. As a big fan of Chef Bayless, I was excited to get the invitation to attend his latest kids cooking class – and equally excited to get the chance to interview him for my blog. I could not have asked for a better time and place: with Easter right around the corner, Macy’s on State Street was in bloom (literally!), and the explosion of floral colors and scents was truly intoxicating 🙂 Keep Reading

Happy Easter!

To those of you who are celebrating Easter, I wish you a peaceful and joyful Sunday with your loved ones 🙂

Cabbage rolls: the story of the beloved dish we eat at Easter

There is something very enticing in the unadulterated simplicity of some dishes. There’s arguably no sophistication, no gimmicks, just a lot of hard work and some fingers crossed hoping that the dish will please your loved ones. As the days go by, this food miraculously gets better, and its minimalist components come together to create a symphony of deep flavors which defies the initial humbleness of the dish. How can something so simple (some might even say unrefined) render so much delightful goodness? 🙂

Such is the case – and the paradox! – of cabbage rolls. It’s a simple dish which comprises a rather small number of ingredients, and it does not have the sophistication I have learned to appreciate in recent years. And yet, once you take a bite out of the succulent ground meat and experience the amazing taste of cabbage-flavored bacon sporting a delicate hint of bay leaves, you learn that even the most basic dishes can conquer your stomach and inspire your mind.

Cabbage rolls are the quintessential Easter dish in our family, yet as I have recently discovered, this is not a dish which belongs to Eastern Europe exclusively. Variations of it can be found in many cultures around the globe, from Italy to Japan and from Sweden to a myriad of Middle Eastern countries. Keep Reading

My review of Square Roots Kitchen: when food geeks meet fast casual!

Tucked away on S Halsted Street, in an area burgeoning with stores and restaurants in the heart of West Loop, lies a new dining spot that has got Chicagoans talking. The name of the place is Square Roots Kitchen, the style is fast casual, and the food is wholesome. The restaurant sells salads, wraps and bowls that can be customized to suit one’s lifestyle and dietary needs, bringing health-conscious consumers face-to-face with cutting-edge technology in an ambiance which is both comfortable and minimalist. Did the West Loop need yet another restaurant? Having visited Square Roots Kitchen (SRK), having sampled their food and understood their unique approach, my answer is a resounding “yes” 🙂

I went to SRK one cold winter evening. It was one of those evenings when I would have gladly stayed home, tucked into bed and indulging in a cup of hot cocoa – as you know, frigid weather has never been my friend. Keep Reading

St Patrick’s Day vegetarian tart: There’s spring in every slice!

This tart is a great vegetarian alternative to the corned beef dishes that are typically served on St Patrick’s Day. It is light and chock-full of veggies, and it leaves you satisfied and feeling great in your own skin, as any spring dish would. DH loved it so much that he had it for lunch at work several days in a row – believe me, that’s some serious compliment coming from a carnivore, lol The freshness of the dill coupled with the mildness of the potatoes and cabbage and the assertive notes of the authentic Irish cheddar make this tart a flavorful treat fit to enjoy all year long 🙂 Keep Reading

Quinoa parfait recipe: Eat your way to health!

I don’t know about you, but this long and frigid Chicago winter has taken a toll on me: I’ve experienced cold after cold after cold, and I’ve had very little energy to do anything else but rest. Being pregnant and having a slightly weaker than normal immune system has most likely contributed to my poor state, as of late. Yet, I cannot help but wonder how my health would have been if I’d been more diligent in following a healthier eating menu. With a very busy schedule and limited time to cook (usually during the weekend, when we cook for an entire week in advance), my eating at work has featured way too many cookies and candy bars. I know, I know: I’m guilty as charged!

Fortunately, there’s still time to resort to healthier eating options and to feel better in your own body this spring, and I for sure am determined to make this happen. For a start, I’m planning to make this delicious quinoa parfait more often to keep the “cookie&candy temptation” away. Make this parfait, and you will not regret it: you’ll enjoy sweetness without guilt and healthfulness without laborious cooking 😉 Keep Reading