Filtering by Tag: cooking

"Next Door Chef" Thanksgiving Pop-up Dinner

Ahh it's that time of year again.  The leaves are changing, the weather is getting crisp, and the food is getting quite comforting.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner and experiencing a unique spin on typical Turkey Day fare can really elevate the holiday.  I was so excited to be invited by Morton Salt to the "Next Door Chef" Pop-up dinner to indulge in Thanksgiving favorites...with a twist.  

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Home Chef: Be Your Own Chef... at Home

Ahhh cooking.  Depending on who you are, it can be a blessing or a curse.  What if, no matter what your level of culinary expertise, you could enjoy and master cooking from home?!  I have the answer, folks.  It's Home Chef.  I absolutely LOVE to cook.  Whether it's for my friends, family, or date night... there's no greater satisfaction that creating a meal that your loved ones will love.  Even though my culinary ability is a bit above average, there are still some negatives to cooking at home.  The biggest being waste.  When I go grocery shopping for the week, my eyes are always bigger than my stomach.  I buy SO much, most of it never used, or it goes bad before I have a chance to use it.  Then I have to deal with the shame of throwing out hundreds of dollars of perfectly good produce.  So sad (tear).  

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B. Bim Asian Eatery.... The Cool New Kid On the Block

Wicker Park is home to some of the hottest AND coolest restaurants and bars in the city.  I've always loved the gritty, real vibe.  Of course it has changed over the years and has become more approachable and less of an "up and coming" neighborhood.  New restaurants are popping up all the time, and with the high expectations of the local culinary scene... ya gotta be good.  

Full Service Bar!! Woo hoo!

B. Bim Asian Eatery, (1324 N. Milwaukee Ave.) which opened Dec. 5th,  is such a cool new addition to the Milwaukee strip.  They call themselves a "Korean inspired fast casual restaurant with a dive bar complex".  This is so on point.  It makes Korean food approachable to people who may not be quite familiar with the cuisine all while staying true to the typical Wicker Park casual watering hole.  Chef/Partner EJ Kim (graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and protegè of Rodelio Aglibot) helped create a menu that provides something for everyone: Vegetarians, seafood lovers, carnivores, health nuts, or people who just want to indulge in fine yet quick Asian cuisine.  Did I mention they have a full bar (yummy selection of Korean Beers) and play killer tunes (lots of 90's)?!?


Check out what I ate (yes, I was intensely full after my visit.)

These chicken wings were MASSIVE and coated in a tangy and spicy orange-y honey sriracha sauce.  They were undoubtedly some of the best wings I've ever had. 

Crispy Mahndoo Beef Dumplings made with tofu, sprouts and garlic.  And the B. Bim Salad.  The salad was so fresh and crunchy, made with nappa cabbage, carrots, radish, and scallion. 

These shrimp lettuce wraps may be my favorite item on the menu.  The shrimp was lightly crispy and the kimchi gave it a tangy kick. 

Of course the piece de resistance is their Bi Bim Bap Bowls.  Traditional accouterment with a fresh fried egg on top.  This was the chicken bowl and it was outstanding. 

This is the Beef Bi Bim Bap bowl that is actually made with short rib, vs. the traditional ribeye.  They marinate the beef for over 24 hours.  It was incredibly flavorful and tender.  

B. Bim has AMAZING desserts.  This was the Goodie Bag.  It's a paper bag filled with these delectable tempura fried "doughnuts" filled with walnuts and red bean paste.  So unique!

Decadent Favorites with a Healthy Twist!

Everyone loves comfort foods.  Sometimes you want all the decadence of your favorite foods but the guilt that comes with it can be crippling.  What if you could have it all.  Your favorite satisfying foods, but with a healthy twist?!  Here you go!

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Arugula

Mac and Cheese is a comfort food staple. But it's usually loaded with so much heavy cream and cheese that it could take a month just to work off two bites!  While I was perusing Instagram recently I came across a pic of my friend Lauren Nolan, aka The Lakeshore Lady's, Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Arugula.  The heavy cream is replaced with roasted cauliflower puree and it's outstanding.  You do NOT feel like you're eating a healthy substitution.  Get the whole recipe here! 

Who doesn't like to end a satiating dinner with something sweet?!  But as we know, most of our favorite dessert indulgences are "a moment on the lips...a lifetime on the hips"  But what if you could actually be eating your favorite desserts but also have it be healthy?! Mind blown, right?!

Muller Dessert Inspired Yogurts * are the best of both worlds. It comes in a dual sided container (we're all familiar with these).  One side has the little crumbles and crunchies we love, and the side has the fruity goodness or creamy part of the dessert incorporated into it.  I swear it's as if you are eating the actual desserts, and the fact that you get all the flavor for under 220 calories is outstanding.

Now I am VERY picky about yogurts. I used to be naive and think that any yogurt was automatically healthy for you.  Then I realized that most of the yogurts we eat have artificial flavorings or sweeteners (which are incredibly harmful).  Muller Dessert Inspired Yogurts have NO artificial flavorings, sweeteners, or high fructose corn syrup.  They’re a good source of calcium and protein and best yet, they’re made from cows not treated with hormones.  So now it’s ok to indulge in your favorite desserts and say adios to all the guilt that comes with it.  Also, you've gotta check out this hilarious video that The Girls With Glasses made to show you how Muller Dessert Inspired yogurts are a delicious lifesaver.  Click HERE to watch.  Here’s to our sweet-tooths! #yogurtwithbenefits

*The second half of this blog (yogurt portion) was sponsored by Muller Dessert Inspired Yogurts. 

Food Network In Concert... Eat Drink Rock.

It's ok, I'll let Food Network piggy back off of Eat Travel Rock.  Quite flattering the hashtag for their event last weekend at Ravinia Music Festival was #EatDrinkRock... haha, ok seriously folks.  My manager, Chantel, and I headed up to Highland Park to explore what was sure to be incredible food and incredible music...sounds right up my alley!!  I also managed to snag 2 quick interviews with some heavy hitters in the culinary world.   

The first chat was with Billy Dec (Co-Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions) and Chef Kevin Hickey (Executive chef of Bottle Fork and the upcoming Duck Inn).  They were FRESH off their win for BEST HOT DOG.  Quite an accomplishment being in Chicago and all.  Check out the Video HERE! 

Next, I had a chance to interview a Food Network Chef/Host I've been a fan of for a while.  She has a simple yet bold take on Latin American food... hence her show's name, Simply Delicioso! Check out this video of Chef Ingrid Hoffmann !!!