Monthly Ladies Cooking Night- Pantry Edition

I love coming up with themes for our monthly ladies cooking night! So far we’ve cooked asian cuisine, roasted an entire chicken, made pizza, learned to BBQ ribs and other amazing things. I love learning new cooking skills and making new foods. For this month’s cooking night, we decided to keep it simple- let’s clean out our pantries/fridges/freezers and combine everything to make a mix of various foods. Our panties/kitchens had the following:

  • Spices from Spice House
  • Canned chickpeas
  • Canned salmon
  • Pasta
  • Canned chipotle salsa
  • Cornmeal
  • Canned corn
  • Shrimp
  • Flour
  • Acorn squash
  • Barely
  • Rhubarb

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corn

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So we made a very diverse and interesting mix of food! We made Johnnycakes from the cornmeal, corn, flour and almond milk to have as our appetizers. We improvised haha.

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We also cooked squash and barley as our side dish. Our main dish was pasta with chickpeas and salmon.

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We finished off the meal with rhubarb pie! We had Coney Island hard ginger ale to round out our meal 🙂

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I was pretty obsessed with the Johnnycakes haha 🙂

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And………of course some lovely rhubarb pie 🙂

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Another lovely and relaxing evening with these two 🙂

 

 

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Delightful Cookies at By The Park

By The Park is an interesting and tasty little culinary gem at 2342 N Clark. They serve tasty made in house cookies, bars and biscotti! I sat down with owner Isabel to chat about her lovely business 🙂

Tell me a little bit more about yourself Isabel

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– I’m a cookie lover, baker and also a health food lover. I’m a former investment banker. My background is in finance. I like to cook, work out and I love trying new things. I just love exploring new restaurants and cuisines.

How did you get the the idea for BTP?

-I teach Barre. I fell in love with baking and wanted to put a spin on cookies. I brought these in to the people at Barre and they liked them. We live by the park and I liked how it sounded. I created this park theme. I had that empty space and wanted to put in a mini playground. I have friends who are mommies and they can relax there.

What is your favorite cookie?

– That’s like asking which one is your favorite kid! I would say the Lincoln Park. I make my own chocolate chips from scratch and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s also our best seller because no one has seen anything like it anywhere else.

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Where do you source your ingredients and what kinds of vendor relationships do you have? 

-Everything is made from scratch in house. I carry Stumptown coffee and I really believe in the brand.

Which direction do you see BTP going?

– I want to become a household name. I want people to know about BTP. I want to build a community, while also building a brand. I want to grow into other shops and create a place for families to spend time together or friends to catch up while enjoying treats. Now we have regulars who come here to talk to us, catch up or spend time in the play center before work.

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I see that you list Thu coloring for kids. Many places now have started having something similar for adults. Would you ever consider something similar for adults? Perhaps BYOB? 🙂

-We have a couple of events. We have story time and coloring every week. We have a yoga event in Spring and mom event like bubbles and bites. I get a lot of inquiries about adult coloring.

Below is my favorite peanut butter cookie 🙂

pb

Cardamon Kitchen Devon Avenue Food Tour

UPDATED:

Great video from Susan Pachikara.

I recently took the Cardamon Kitchen Devon Avenue food tour, led by Susan Pachikara. She is a chef, cooking teacher and owner of Cardamon Kitchen.

Our group met up at 10 am on a rainy, chilly Saturday on a quest to learn more about Indian food and cooking.

We started off at Patel Brothers, where we learned about various chillis, cardamon and other spices. Susan kindly included her favorite family recipes for everyone to try out later.  🙂 Mmmm I will be trying out the fish curry.

curry

We continued our journey by heading over to Sukhadias Sweets and Snacks for some bites. We feasted on masala chai and samosas. Nothing like warm chai on a chilly Chicago “Spring” day! The chutney and sauces were delicious.Susan explained how North Indian cuisine focuses uses dairy and  South Indian cuisine is more coconut focused.

group

suk

We headed over to World Fresh Market to check out various produce. Did you know there are over 400 types of bananas? I am planning on trying some bitter melon 🙂

We headed over to an accessory shop where you can buy various trinkets and cooking supplies! Check out these lunch boxes!

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Susan wrapped up our evening by taking us to Resham’s, where they had beautiful pillows, hand embroidered bedspreads and other exquisite things.

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The tour was very informational, interesting and delicious!

 

 

 

Learn to Make Sushi at Dabble

Dabble offers classes on craft, cooking, dancing and just about anything you can think of! I’ve always wanted to learn to make sushi, so I took their sushi making class, taught by Joelen.

Joelen  started the class by asking us to name our favorite sushi roll and introduce ourselves. Unagi for me! Some people were there for fun, other wanted to learn a new skill and one couple was celebrating an anniversary. She told us about the importance of  rice in sushi. It is crucial to start with good rice and cook it properly. Sushi is all about the rice! Surprised? I was! There are hundreds of rice varieties! Short grain rice works best for sushi. Joelen was taught to make rice using the “first knuckle measure”, where you fill your pot up to the first knuckle when boiling water. This method is so simple, she said you can teach small kids to make rice using it.

It is also vital to get fresh, quality ingredients for your sushi. Joelen explained that it is better to shop for fresh fish and ingredients in asian markets, as the supply is constantly being replenished. Check out asian grocery stores- like Joong Boo in Chicago and Super H Mart in Niles.

Now the exciting part-Joelen showed us how to roll sushi with a bamboo mat. Cover it with plastic and put a thin layer of rice and toppings on it. We had our choice of fresh fish, veggies and toppings. Check out this fresh, delectable spread!

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lookie2

lookie

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling my first roll!

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rolling

Cutting the roll.

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My first sushi roll didn’t turn out so well haha!

Others made some truly beautiful and Instagram worthy rolls 🙂 So jealous!

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I started getting the hang of sushi making with my second roll 🙂 Practice makes perfect!

2nd roll

Joelen explained that practice makes perfect! We made several rolls and experimented with various ingredients. Afterwards, participants took home the tasty leftovers.It was a lovely, laid back, hand on and interactive class.

Be sure to check out her upcoming sushi making classes!

Joelen also teaches various other cooking classes such as Filipino cooking, paella and many more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previewing Local Food and Vendors at SPINS Preview to Good Food Festival

momma cusine

It was great meeting the owners behind some truly great food brands and finding out about new brands!

Set up before the event started.

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They had silly candy hearts haha 🙂

candy

 

Ashley joined us on her birthday to educate people about Tiny But Mighty’s ancient heirloom popcorn. This popcorn is delicious and won’t get stuck in your teeth! You can buy it at Marianos, Whole Foods and other grocery stores in Chicago.

tinybutmighty

Luis from Zapp’s Dancing Grains donated bread for us to top off with various goodies. This bread is hearty, tasty and keeps you full! The Marbleous bread was particularly good with peanut butter for breakfast the next day!

Zapp's Dancing Grains

Susin Firk from Karma Kombucha provided us with samples of her healthy and tasty Kombucha. We really enjoyed the peach one 🙂 You can find her Kombucha at Whole Foods and Marianos.

Karma Kombucha

Topnote came out to showcase their drink mixers! I’m a big fan of the ginger beer 🙂 I love Moscow Mules and was excited to find out about a clean brand with few ingredients.

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Paul sampled and gave away some River Valley Ranch salsa. The portabella salsa was delightful! Be sure to check out their storefront.

salsa

Big Fork served up delectable bacon without the b.s. They don’t use antibiotics or artificial ingredients.

big fork brands

Be sure to stop by the Good Food Festival this weekend to check out these great products and other good food 🙂 There will be food samples, chef demos, educational sessions and other great things. I’ve gone in the past and met great people and had amazing food! #GFFChi

A La Card Chicago

A La Card Chicago is a deck of food cards that gives you $10 off $25 for participating restaurants. I bought one last year and am really happy I did so. It’s a great way to try out new restaurants, explore different neighborhoods and save some money! Just be sure to tip on the full amount! Sometimes Living Social has a deal on this. Last month I checked out Floriole with a few friends. The sweets were fantastic, fresh ingredients and great space. Has anyone else bought A La Card? Any restaurant recommendations to check out from this year’s deck?

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Monthly Cooking Night with the Ladies

Last year at Gourmet Chicago I was watching a chef demo and thinking about how thousands of people who love eating, cooking and all other culinary things gather for this event every September. I got the idea to get together with two of my close friends once a month and cook something awesome! We’ve been doing this just over a year and I am truly happy we get to do this. It’s a great chance to catch up, bond, learn to cook new things and feast!

Here’s a few pictures from November cooking night! We decided to make salad (with sunflower seeds, chicken, avocado and black beans), garlic bread, veggie patties and chicken wings! I am picture 4 &5.

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