Nielsen Massey giveaway: a spring ode to vanilla crêpe casserole!

There are many scenes in Hector Malot’s classic novel Sans Famille (English translation Nobody’s Boy) that have stayed with me over the years, but none are as memorable as those where the main character Rémi helps his foster mom to make crêpes on Shrove Tuesday. Rémi’s descriptions of these moments are pure sensory joy: from the cracking of the eggs to their whisking with the milk and the sizzling of the butter, every word tells a vibrant story about food seen through a child’s eyes. Growing up I was fascinated with the crêpe-making scenes in Malot’s book. Maybe it was because they were about butter, eggs, and milk – items which were in very short supply in our family. Maybe it was because I was hungry a lot back in the day. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because I loved crêpes – I always had, I always will 🙂

I started thinking about the crêpe-making scenes in Sans Famille again recently, after I was asked by Nielsen-Massey to review their Tahitian Pure Vanilla Bean Paste. I have enjoyed reviewing Nielsen-Massey products and incorporating them into my family’s recipes for close to two years now. What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a deliciously aromatic dessert, a classic in our family which pays homage to my childhood fascination with crêpes and gets elevated by the addition of pure vanilla? Vanilla crêpe casserole, here I come! 😉

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Happy Easter!

Wishing everyone a sunny and peaceful Easter, if celebrating. As for us, we’ll be going out with the little ones. No “real” plans, but I guess that’s how we roll 😂

Harissa pork with mushrooms and chickpeas: one last plate of comfort food before spring time!

This recipe came to me on a whim: I had pork chops in the freezer, mushrooms in the fridge and chickpeas in the pantry, so why not put these three together? It seemed easy enough, but also unimaginative – to me, anyway. And then, I realized there was one thing that was missing: the sophisticated notes of aromatic Middle Eastern flavor coming from harissa. This spice blend was going to be the “glue” to my ingredients, the vibrant burst of color to my dish, and the scent to my entire foodie life 🙂 Keep Reading

Spring has sprung at Macy’s Flower Show!

Macy’s signature Ginger Pear Shrub and Sparkling Wild Hibiscus cocktails

Spring is in bloom – or so it seems! The temperature might still be low, the sky might still be grey and the days might still seem short – and yet, the arrival of spring is *fact*, if you stop at Macy’s State Street in downtown Chicago. Go through the massive revolving doors, look up, take a deep breath, and you’re in Paradisios. Want to know more about this special place which features magic, color and wonder – and also terrific cocktails? Read on 😉

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Martina McBride cookbook giveaway: Home is where the memorable food is!

They say home is where the heart is – I say it’s where a good plate of food awaits you. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to require hours of your time or endless trips to the grocery store – but it does have to feel authentic, and to be good enough for you to want to savor it with your family, and to cherish it in your thoughts forever. Home is where great memories are made, and that’s one of the best things about food: that it’s an excellent “memory maker.” Food is not just sustenance, but also human emotion – not just chemistry, but also love, or so I think.

To me, memory making is one of the greatest assets of the recipes featured in Martina McBride’s latest cookbook, Martina’s Kitchen Mix: My Recipe Playlist for Real Life.  After a 4-year break, country music star Martina McBride returns to the food publishing world with a book that is not only gorgeous, but also inspiring. What to win a copy of her cookbook? Read on 🙂

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Oh kitchen, where art thou? Living on sandwiches again – but this time, it’s truffle mozzarella sandwiches :-)

You may remember how the story went after the birth of our daughter a few years ago: I took a long break from blogging and lived on grilled cheese sandwiches for months. History seems to be repeating now, following the birth of our son. I don’t have the time or the energy to cook – blame it on nighttime feeds, my son’s sleep disturbances, and overall poor physical shape. So yes, I have been absent from here and have been feeling guilty about all those posts “which could have been” 🙁

Living on sandwiches can be repetitively boring, but I believe I’ve found a way to avoid said boredom. There’s no reason why your sandwiches can’t be upgraded and thankfully, there are plenty of upgrade options on the market these days. For me, the saving grace has been (drum roll!) truffle fresh mozzarella. Keep Reading

My review of Coffee Joint: You don’t have to travel the world for exquisite coffee and sandwiches!

Coffee Joint’s Mozzarella & Basil sandwich

A journey around the world? Sure – who wouldn’t? Every morning? Ermm, maybe not – but I would gladly have a specialty sandwich instead! For those of us who don’t get the chance to travel often, eating out in a multicultural hub like Chicago is the next best thing. We live in a city where virtual travel in a matter of minutes is possible thanks to an abundance of diverse dining spots, which feature a respect for ingrained cultural traditions coupled with a desire for thoughtful innovation. Such is Coffee Joint, the only Latvian coffee shop in Chicago, whose cosmopolitan interior design and delicious casual fare make up for an exciting breakfast or quick lunch destination. Readers, beware: pics of deliciousness to follow 😉

Tucked on a leafy section of Irving Park Rd, Coffee Joint is a hidden neighborhood gem. Keep Reading