Tag Archives: Food

The Magic of Meez Meals

12 Feb
photo from Meez Meals Facebook

photo from Meez Meals Facebook

So a mom walks into the kitchen (stop me if you’ve heard this one). She looks in the fridge. Nothing. She goes to the pantry. Even less. She opens the drawer, pulls the Thai takeout menu, and voila, dinner is served.

In a nut shell, this has become the story of my life. You wonder why I don’t update this blog all the time? Oh, it’s because if money grows on trees, then so do hours in the day, and I’m just rolling in all the time in the world. Okay, I don’t mean to sound bitter, I’m just tired. But I digress.

Back to our lack-of homemade dinners. I used to take joy, even pride, in the delicious concoctions I’d come up with for weeknight meals. That was before I had a feisty three-year-old and a five-month-old (oh, and a demanding career, but that’s easy in comparison!). These days, I am just trying to get something, anything, on a plate and call it dinner.

And then, as if the universe waved a magic wand, I have come to discover Meez Meals. And it feels like life may never be the same. Or at lease dinner.

Let me explain. I’ve tried these pack’em and freeze’em and thaw’em meals before. And they were….meh. Fine. But then my friend and colleague told me about Meez Meals. They deliver the meals fresh to your house. The meals are all vegetarian and they are in a word: amazing. Delicious, fresh, healthy, and EASY. What you end up getting is a beautiful mise en place with instructions on how to simply cook the meal and usually in less time it would take for my Thai delivery, an honest to goodness homemade meal is on the table. Also, the prices are really reasonable. And there are always leftovers.

I’m one of these people who when I love something, I can’t stop talking about it, and that’s definitely the case for Meez Meals. I mean, it’s brought me out of hibernation for this blog. Definitely check them out. They’re based in Chicago, but offer delivery throughout the burbs. Enjoy and let me know what you think of them!


Upcoming Chicago Foodie event: The Social Media Potluck

18 Apr


The Chicago Foodie is excited to announce an upcoming event it’s hosting: The Social Media Potluck. Taking place July 16th, it will give new meaning to “Food for Thought” with 40 top thought-leaders throughout Chicago, gathering for an afternoon of great conversation, ideas, questions and of course delicious food.

If you’re a food and wine vendor, we are in the midst of considering vendors for sponsorship opportunities. This is great exposure in front of some of the city’s most socially savvy and blogger-types. For information please email: thechicagofoodie@gmail.com

Here is more information about the event:

There’s something to be said about gathering 40 top thought leaders for an afternoon of ideas, questions, forward thinking and great food. This is the premise behind The Chicago Foodie and The Chicago PR and Marketing Network’s Social Media Potluck!

The Social Media Potluck is going to bring to life one of the greatest ways people have connected throughout history: around a table with delicious food.  If we think technology is the only way to bring people together, then we’ve forgotten about the power of a hearty, tasty meal.

With that in mind, we’re taking the idea of ‘food for thought’ to a new level with the Social Media Potluck. Don’t worry, this is also open to PR and marketing folks as well. As some of Chicago’s top thought leaders, we will convene for an afternoon of robust conversation, discussion and ideas  whilst enjoying amazing food and drinks!

There will be tweets, live blogging, podcasts and Tupperware. The cost of admission? A dish to share with about 25 people and a few ideas to discuss around the table. 

Chicago Restaurant Week 2011

4 Feb
Chicago Restaurant Week 2011

Chicago Restaurant Week 2011 is from February 18-27, 2011

We’re getting close to that glorious time of the year… no, not pitchers and catchers reporting to training… Restaurant Week! Yes, the 2011 Chicago Restaurant week is just around the corner.

It’s an opportunity to try some of Chicago’s best restaurants with prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner at only $22 (lunch) and $33/$44 (dinner) a person. The menus include three courses and often highlight the restaurant’s show stopping entrees and items. Prices are per person and do not include beverage, tax or gratuity.

Restaurant week is from February 18-27, 2011

It’s only one week and reservations fill up fast, so start booking. You can book through OpenTable.com or by calling the restaurant.


Here is a complete listing of the 2011 Chicago Restaurant Week restaurants.

  • 312 Chicago
  • 505 Zest
  • 676 Restaurant and Bar
  • Ai Japanese Restaurant and Lounge
  • Aja
  • Alhambra Palace Restaurant
  • Allgauer’s on the Riverfront
  • Aria
  • Atwood Café
  • Benny’s Chop House
  • Berghoff Restaurant
  • Bistro 110
  • Bistro Bordeaux
  • Bistro Campagne
  • bistronomic
  • Bistrot Margot
  • Bistrot Zinc
  • Blackbird
  • Blue 13
  • Boka
  • Branch 27
  • Café Ba-Ba-Reeba
  • Cafe Des Architectes/CDA
  • Cafe Spiaggia
  • Caliterra Bar & Grille – Chicago
  • The Cape Cod Room at The Drake Hotel
  • Capital Grille – Chicago
  • Capital Grille – Lombard
  • Capital Grille – Rosemont
  • Carlucci – Rosemont
  • Carmichaels Steakhouse
  • Carmine’s
  • Carnivale
  • Carson’s Ribs Steaks and Chops – Chicago
  • Catch 35
  • Catch 35 – Naperville
  • Chicago Curry House (Indian and Nepalese Restaurant)
  • Chicago Cut Steakhouse
  • Chicago Firehouse Restaurant
  • China Grill – Chicago
  • Chizakaya
  • C-House Restaurant
  • Coco Pazzo
  • Connie’s Pizza
  • David Burke’s Primehouse in the James Hotel
  • de cero
  • deca Restaurant + Bar located at The Ritz-Carlton, a Four Seasons hotel
  • Devon Seafood Grill – Chicago
  • Dick’s Last Resort – Chicago
  • Dine
  • Dos Diablos – Chicago
  • The Drawing Room
  • Duchamp
  • East Bank Club- Maxwell’s at the Club
  • Eatt
  • Elate
  • Epic Restaurant
  • Fiorentino’s
  • Fornetto Mei – a pan-italian restaurant
  • Fulton’s on The River
  • The Gage
  • Geja’s Café
  • Gemini Bistro
  • Gyu-Kaku – Chicago
  • Hard Rock Café – Chicago
  • Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse – Chicago
  • Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse – Rosemont
  • HUB 51
  • Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House
  • Il Mulino – Chicago
  • The Indian Garden – Chicago
  • IPO
  • Jack Binion’s Steakhouse
  • Japonais
  • Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
  • Keefer’s Restaurant
  • Kinzie Chop House
  • La Madia – A Contemporary Pizzeria
  • Landmark
  • Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Chicago
  • Le Colonial – Chicago
  • LM
  • The Lobby
  • Lockwood Restaurant and Bar
  • Market Restaurant & Sports Bar
  • May St. Cafe
  • McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood – Chicago
  • McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood – Chicago (Wacker Dr.)
  • Mercadito
  • Mercat a La Planxa
  • Merlo on Maple
  • Mexique
  • Mike Ditka’s – Chicago
  • Mirai Sushi
  • Mitchell’s Fish Market – Glenview
  • Mon Ami Gabi
  • Mon Ami Gabi – Oakbrook
  • Morton’s The Steakhouse – Chicago – The Original
  • Morton’s The Steakhouse – Chicago – Wacker Place
  • Morton’s The Steakhouse – Northbrook
  • Morton’s The Steakhouse – Schaumburg
  • N9NE Steakhouse
  • Nacional 27
  • Naha
  • Nick’s Fishmarket Grill
  • O’Briens Restaurant and Bar
  • Oceanique
  • one sixtyblue
  • Osteria Via Stato
  • Palm Restaurant – Chicago
  • Park Grill Chicago
  • Perennial
  • Petterino’s
  • Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush
  • Piccolo Sogno
  • Prairie Fire
  • Prosecco
  • Province
  • Quartino
  • RB Grille
  • The Red Canary
  • The Restaurant at Conrad
  • Rhapsody
  • Riccardo Trattoria
  • Riva Crabhouse on Navy Pier
  • The Rosebud
  • Rosebud on Rush
  • Rosebud Prime
  • Rosebud Steakhouse
  • Rosebud Theater District
  • Rosebud Trattoria (fka Ballo)
  • Roy’s – Chicago
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Chicago
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Northbrook
  • Sable Kitchen & Bar
  • Saloon Steakhouse
  • Salpicón
  • Scoozi
  • Seasons Restaurant at The Four Seasons
  • Shaw’s Crab House – Main Dining Room
  • Shula’s Steak House – Chicago
  • Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse – Chicago
  • South Water Kitchen
  • Sullivan’s Steakhouse – Chicago
  • Tapas Valencia
  • Tavern at the Park
  • Tavern on Rush
  • Terzo Piano
  • Topolobampo
  • Trattoria Isabella
  • Trattoria No. 10
  • Tuscany on Taylor
  • Veerasway Fresh Indian
  • Vermilion
  • Viand
  • Vie
  • Vivere
  • Vivo
  • Wave
  • Weber Grill – Chicago
  • Wildfire – Chicago
  • Wildfire – Glenview
  • Wildfire – Lincolnshire
  • Wildfire – Oakbrook
  • Wildfire – Schaumburg
  • Zapatista – Northbrook
  • Zapatista – South Loop
  • Zealous
  • Zocalo

Chicago Blizzard 2011 Done Right

2 Feb

So you may have heard. We got a bit of snow last night. And by a bit, I mean 19+ inches. Luckily, knowing well in advance this was coming, I planned accordingly.

After getting off the train home yesterday, I made a quick detour to my beloved Provenance and stocked up on some wine, cheese, dates and beer. Shocking, I know. Just because we’re snowed in doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it, right?

Chicago Blizzard Survival Package

I got some drunken goat, Manchego and the real star of the evening was the 2008 Ridge Sonoma County Three Valleys Red. Wow. Ridge does it right, that’s for sure.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re warm and know that you have friends in Chicago who are toasting you despite the blizzard!

Pastoral’s Fall Tastings and Classes

11 Oct

Photo from Yelp


Working in a very high-paced office and industry, I rarely go out for lunch during the day. Most often, my lunches consist of tuper-ware versions of whatever I had the night before at dinner. But once in a while, when I’m really craving a ridiculously delicious sandwich with stinky, soft cheese and chutneys, I escape my desk and head to Pastoral. It’s always a treat and my only regret is I can’t spend the rest of my day sipping their wines and sampling cheeses; alas.


In addition to enjoying their culinary achievements between sliced bread, you can also take classes from one of their shops. I am hoping to make it to one this fall, but you should definitely check them out. In addition to how delicious and fun they sound, I think they’re pretty reasonable compared to many other wine and cheese-type classes and tastings out there.


Saturday, October 16, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Loop / Lake Street)
Exploring Italy
From Dolomite Alps to Venice, from Lake Como to Sicily, Pastoral is featuring all of our finest Italian delights. Resident sommelier Jill Pienta will cover artisan cheeses, small batch wines, meat and olives—and highlight pairing ideas that would make Dean Martin swoon. $45 per person; purchase tickets in advance at www.pastoralartisan.com or by calling any Pastoral store location. Includes 15% shopping discount at Pastoral on the day of the class.


Pastoral will host a variety of new classes in fall 2010 as part of its growing in-store class and event program. Classes highlighted below will last approximately 90 minutes and include time for Q&A; reserved with a credit card online at www.pastoralartisan.com or by calling any store location. Includes a 15% shopping discount at the store on the night of the class. Cancellations must be made 72 hours in advance.


Saturday, October 16, 6:30 p.m. (Loop / Lake Street)
Exploring Italy

Tuesday, October 26, 7:30 p.m. (Lakeview)
Beyond Kraft Singles: Exploring American Cheese
Food culture in the United States has changed so significantly in the last 20 years that we have quality cheeses and wines being made by hand all over the country. Join resident fromager Cesar Olivares as we venture out of California and Wisconsin to discover some of the artisan gems of the great U.S.A. $45 per person.

Monday, November 1, 7:30 p.m. (Chicago French Market)
Pairing 101
Cheese + Wine = Flavor Utopia. With so many cheese styles and a myriad of wine choices available, pairing can seem like a shot in the dark. At Pastoral, the combination of wine and cheese is a lifestyle: we’ve studied the nuance, tested the theories and created philosophies on the subject of pairing that we’d love to share with you! Visit and taste with resident sommelier Jill Pienta as she introduces the classic combos, new-age ideas and avant-garde anomalies with cheese, wine and good company! $40 per person.

Tuesday, November 16, 7:30 p.m. (Lakeview)
Bubbles, Cheese & Chocolate
Who doesn’t love sparkling wine, cheese and chocolate?? Explore some of the most coveted foods in the world and learn why these foods are so well-known and well-loved. Resident fromager Cesar Olivares takes you on a world tour of some of the best producers of these sinful indulgences. Just in time for holiday party planning ideas. $45 per person.

Sinfully Simple Lasagna

9 Oct


Lasagna from Women's Day

Lasagna from Women's Day


Growing up, my mom was known throughout my family, immediate and extended, for her signature lasagna. I have memories of her making pan after pan for large family parties out in eastern Long Island; she even catered my uncle’s wedding with lasagna. So needless to say, the term lasagna was always one associated with much labor and ferocity. But my God was it delicious.

As I started to dabble in the kitchen, lasagna remained one of those culinary entities that intimidated the hell out of me. Visions of bubbling sauce, boiling noodles, messy aprons danced through my head. But it was the New Years eve of my sophomore year in college that I decided to embark on the quest to serve lasagna at a party with friends.

I called my mom, got her recipe and set forth. It wasn’t pretty. But, it wasn’t that bad. Once I was able to wrap my brain around it (sauce, noodle, ricotta, cheese, sauce and repeat) I realized this could be a really fun dish to improvise and play around with.

Fast forward 10 years and I still enjoy making lasagna. I love to add veggies, flavor aspects, etc… And just recently, I discovered the most amazing tool out there to even further simplify this no-longer-as-scary-as-I-thought dish: no-boil noodles. I thought they were a myth. I thought they would taste like leather (and maybe to more refined pasta pallets, they do, but not to me).  Turns out, the no-boil noodles just got lasagna back into our monthly meal rotation. This is also a great meal because you get a ton of leftovers for lunch throughout the week.

So in honor of my mother, who I love, and her famous lasagna, here is my, ridiculousy easy version of her acclaimed favorite:

Sinfully Simple Lasagna

*Please note- I don’t, ever, follow recipes to a T, so you’ll have to forgive that when I share my recipes, they’ll look like I how I prepare them- lots of guesstimates.*

  • Box of no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 jars of tomato sauce
  • Veggies (I like carrots, spinach, and mushrooms- but add whatever you want here)
  • 1.5-2 cups of Ricotta cheese
  • 1 large log of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese
  1. First things first: turn on the oven to 350.
  2. In a large lasagna-like dish, wipe a bit of olive oil on the pan and then put a layer of sauce on the bottom.
  3. Add noodles so they don’t overlap but cover the pan
  4. Add more sauce
  5. Add dollops of ricotta throughout, on top of the sauce
  6. Add a thin layer of shredded mozzarella cheese
  7. Add veggies (here I would add spinach and mushrooms)
  8. Add another layer of sauce
  9. Add noodles again
  10. Add more sauce
  11. (Do you see the pattern here?!)
  12. Add ricotta
  13. Add veggies (here I’d add the carrots)
  14. Add a little more sauce
  15. Layer the top with mozzarella cheese and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
  16. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes to an hour (the top should be browning, melted and bubbling).


Chicago Gourmet Roundup

27 Sep


Chicago Gourmet

Photo credit: Chicagoist

As much as I was looking forward to attending and reporting on this year’s Chicago Gourmet festival, a few things with family popped up this weekend and I wasn’t able to make it to Millenium Park. One of those times when life gets in the way of plans.

But it’s okay, I made up for it by drinking delicious wine at home and making an outstanding butternut squash and sweet potato bisque risotto (recipe coming soon). But, here’s a roundup from other site’s coverage of Chicago Gourmet.

Cheers to what sounds like a good event (despite long lines) and looking forward to watching this event continue to grow.

Grub Street Chicago:

“…it was hard to discount the incredible number of big name chefs that made it out to this year’s Chicago Gourmet. That included home town chefs like Rick Bayless, Stephanie Izard, and Graham Elliot along with food personalities like Art Smith, Ted Allen, and even Marcus Samuelsson. All told, there were over a hundred chefs on the premises, not counting the sous chefs and the many culinary students that helped staff the event.”


“…With the addition of Bon Appétit magazine as presenting sponsor, the increase in the number of larger sponsor branded tents was obvious. The difference is that this year’s festival had so many tents shoehorned into Pritzker Pavilion, there was little room for walkways or ways to make the queues more manageable.”


“With the addition of Bon Appétit magazine as presenting sponsor, the increase in the number of larger sponsor branded tents was obvious. The difference is that this year’s festival had so many tents shoehorned into Pritzker Pavilion, there was little room for walkways or ways to make the queues more manageable.”


Lazy Cook Crazy Cook

“…There were dozens of pavilion tents of food and wine tastings and there were also food demonstrations, book signings and seminars by noted chefs and foodies including Bon Appetit magazine’s Andrew Knowlton and Barbara Fairchild, Cat Cora, Table 52′s Art Smith, Marcus Samuelsson, Tony Mantuano and many more.  We attended one food demo by Sunda’s Rodelio Aglibot and Todd Stein, formerly of Cibo Matto and now of the soon-to-open The Florentine. “


South Beach Wine and Food Festival Blog

“After a successful judging of the Hamptons Burger Bloodbath this summer, I decided to take my hamburger judging skills to Chicago for the Hamburger Hop competition. 15 different entrants from all over the country competed for the title.”