Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter Sunday Brunch: Shaw's Crabhouse

This Easter Sunday, April 5th, 2015, Shaw's Crab House in Schaumburg is offering both a brunch and dinner buffet that are not to be missed! Priced at $59 for adults and free for kids 12 and younger (limit 2 children per adult), the brunch buffet will feature many Shaw's favorites including a Grand Hot Buffet with Eggs Benedict, Mini Crab Cakes, and Seasonal Fish; a Build-Your-Own Omelet Station; hot delicacies like Golden King Crab, Shucked Oysters, and an EasterSpiral Ham; and the famous Shaw's Sweets Table with an amazing assortment of cookies, cupcakes, and other mini desserts.

Shaw's Schaumburg will continue Easter dining with a spectacular dinner buffet that is not to be missed! The Easter Dinner Buffet includes a Cold Seafood & Salad Bar with Oysters, Shrimp Cocktail, Sushi, and three kinds of salad; Grand Hot Buffet and Chef's Table selections like Lobster Bisque, Beef Tenderloin, Easter Spiral Ham, and delicious vegetable and pasta sides; and, of course, a Sweets Table to round out the meal.

Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 847.517.2722.

Shaw's Crab House, a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, features a 1940s-style take on the seafood dining experience, with retro leather banquets, polished wood floors, and Art Deco touches. The Oyster Bar provides a more casual setting for diners and serves up live music five nights a week at the Chicago location. Shaw's- The King of Crab! For more info, call 312.527.2722 (Chicago) or 847.517.2722 (Schaumburg), visit the website at, tweet with The Shaw's Mermaid at,or keep up on Facebook at and

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Sunday Brunch: Carnivale



Carnivale, Latin-fusion restaurant located in the West Loop neighborhood, continues to be one of Chicago's most popular destinations for celebratory occasions including Easter and Mother's Day. In honor of these brunch fueled holidays, signature brunch items will continue into the dinner service, including:

  • Bacon Wrapped Dates - Marcona almond stuffed date, red endive, Fuji apple, romaine
    lettuce, lavender honey vinaigrette, blue cheese sauce 
  • Catalan Deviled Eggs - Aji Amarillo, capers, pine nuts, apple saba 
  • Key Lime French Toast - Key lime stuffed French toast, fresh whipped cream, brown butter, pineapple syrup berries 
  • Huevos Rancheros - Corn tostada, beans, avocado, Oaxaca cheese, chipotle salsa, cilantro, farm fresh eggs 
  • Spain's Benedict - Serrano ham, farm fresh poached eggs, pimento hollandaise, papas bravas, English muffin 
  • Fried Egg Sandwich - Two farm fresh fried eggs, homemade smoked bacon, sliced tomatoes, romaine, aged cheddar, toasted sourdough bread, served with tater tots
  • House Tater Tots 
  • Homemade Candied Bacon 
  • Homemade Pork Sausage 
"Brunch is such a tradition for Easter and Mother's Day.  People want something familiar, but something special too.  Our guests come back every year for these holidays because they know that Carnivale all about creating a memorable celebration, from our menu to our decor," said executive chef Rodolfo Cuadros.

 Carnivale can accommodate large parties. Reservations are recommended by calling (312) 850-5005 or  
About Carnivale:
Carnivale is located at 702 W. Fulton Market in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood. Carnivale's Latin-fusion cuisine explores dishes from Central and South America, Cuba, Spain and the Caribbean. Featuring energetic colors, glamour, photography and wild design, Carnivale engages all of the senses with global flavors, Latin music and luxurious comfort. The restaurant boasts private event space perfect for large parties, weddings and special events. Carnivale is open every day from 11:30AM to midnight for lunch and dinner. For more information, visit, become a fan on Facebook, and follower on Twitter@Carnivale312

Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter Sunday Brunch: Roy's Restaurant

On Easter Sunday, Roy’s Restaurant is offering a spectacular, family-friendly two-course brunch menu at the Chicago location and other Roy's Restaurant locations nationwide. Highlights of the menu include:
Complimentary Housemade Brioche Sticky Bun
Choice of appetizer
Delicious entrée

Full menu details are below. The specialty menu is just $39.95 per person and diners will receive a $20 dining card for use during an upcoming visit to Roy’s.





Sunday, March 29, 2015

March Fun Foodie & Spring Finds!

March was a great month to come across some delicious new items as well as things perfect to have just in time for spring break! Here are some fun finds I'm highlighting this month, in hopes you may be intrigued to check them out yourself too!

Michael Keller, the founder and owner of Calolea is one of California’s early harvest pioneers.  Through experimentation Michael discovered how special it can be to experience the flavors of the early harvest olive oil. The later harvest olives yield a greater quantity of oil that is milder in flavor which invites the infusion of fresh ingredients such as Meyer Lemon, Blood Orange, Garlic and Habanero. I used this oil for a couple dishes, including a seafood paella I made recently. It was perfect for cooking and it also added a nice body as a finishing oil!

This imported smoked paprika is from the famous La Vera region of Spain. Following a century old recipe, hand-harvested peppers are smoked dried over holm oak for a minimum of 14 days . This gives the paprika its unique rich flavor. It's also only made in small batches to ensure optimum aroma, color and flavor. I found this paprika to be especially good in recipes as it adds flavor and depth to rice, meat, seafood, stews, soups, eggs, vegetables, etc. The sweet smoked paprika has a deep, rich flavor with a slightly sweet undertone; whereas the hot smoked paprika has a deep, rich, slightly spicy flavor. The company that provides this paprika is Kiva. At Kiva, they strive to provide innovative food from around the world that is great tasting, healthy and of the highest quality. They are committed to using only ingredients that are sourced directly from local farmers that practice sustainable and eco-friendly methods. I used this to make a Hungarian Goulash recipe I've been testing and it came out amazing! I cannot wait to order more since the flavor really stood out, compared to other brands I've tried.

Just add beer, mix and bake to make delicious Boardwalk Food Company beer bread. Entertaining not only got easier, but tastier and more fun! Made in America, Boardwalk mixes are available in four flavors. Any 12oz beverage will work offering a multiple variety of scrumptious options. Part of the fun is deciding what lager, ale, pilsener or stout to use. With craft brews popularity, and microbreweries popping up in more and more places, the list of choices are endless! For St. Patrick's day, I used Guinness to make a Guinness loaf which was delicious and so easy to prepare. You could even use any beer or if you're not into beer, I've also found carbonated beverages will work too! I look forward to trying out the other flavors they have available including Lemon Poppy Seed, Rosemary Sea Salt and Cornbread... In fact, if you want to try a package of their Beer Bread yourself, leave a comment and a winner will be chosen on April 4th who will receive a set compliments of Mr. Muffin!

Now these are some muffin tops I can enjoy! I love my set of 6 Mr Muffin - "Muffin Top" Bake Cups. These are extremely cute and the novelty blue jeans shaped cups make it even funnier as your favorite muffin batter bakes up and spills over the waistband cupcake holder lol. Joel especially liked these and made our weekend morning muffins even more fun to eat! If you need some recipe ideas to make and bake up using these baking cups, I've got quite a few to choose from. In fact, if you want a set of your own, leave a comment and a winner will be chosen on April 4th who will receive a set compliments of Mr. Muffin!

I can never have too making silicone baking mats in my kitchen. They are the perfect liner to baking sheets, baking pans and even roasting pans. These mats from Baking Wizard are of a premium quality and there are two mats included in the set. They fit perfectly for half sized baking trays (18 x 13 inches). My favorite part of these baking mats is that it makes cleaning so much easier and my baking pans have a longer life because of them! Aside from lining my trays and pans, they are also great for preparing pasta and bread doughs. I love the versatility of these! 

With spring break happening, now's the perfect time to pick up some good travel items. I love Dot to Dot products since they've made packing easy and organized for me. This 18" Packing Folder holds up to 8 to 12 shirts or pants. I simply fold and stack the items neatly in the center of the organizer, then fold over the flaps to create a packaged envelope. There's even a folding board with folding instructions included! This makes it easy to separate my items by outfit or type of clothing without having to rummage through my suitcase.

Just as I mentioned above, this packing organizer is exactly the same, only a few inches smaller for smaller articles of clothing. I won't pack anything without them!

Also from Dot to Dot are these travel bottles. After spending more money that I needed on those travel sized toiletries, I opted for these travel bottles which allows me to use toiletries I already have on hand. These travel bottles will not leak during airline travel, are TSA approved and approved for carry-on. They're the perfect size and are absolutely safe for travel. Aside from toiletries, they make good containers for food too, such as condiments for a small picnic since they are FDA approved and 100%BPA Free! These are made with a soft but sturdy silicone body, making it easy to squeeze out contents to the last drop...
Lastly, I recently purchased a Fuji Film Instax camera to use at our wedding and other occasions. I came across these mini frame stickers by Sticky Shoot which adds a bit of fun and pizzaz to pictures we take. This package includes 80 colorfully designed stickers that compliment your pictures. They are easy to use as well with only three steps! Aside from framing pictures, they can also be used for occasional notes and messages. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wedding Wednesday: March Update

How is it almost April already?! This month just flew by and it's crazy to think we'll be getting married in just over 4 months. Four months?! Needless to say, there always seems to be some kind of wedding related task and this month was no exception. If anything, any wedding planning tasks left to do are mainly small details. I'm thankful all the big tasks have been completed early on. So after all the things crossed off in January and February, here's what's been happening this month...

Save the dates

Last night I finally received my much awaited package of Save the Date invitations. I wanted something special, interactive and that captured our quirky personalities with a touch of casual sophistication. That's when I came across these invites from SweetSights on Etsy. I loved how cute and simply stated it was... and the actual tied knot that happens when guests open it up was the perfect touch! I plan on printing out mailing labels this weekend and mailing them off next week!

Bridal Showers

Now that my Save the Dates are on their way to mailboxes, my mother in law, Marnee, and maid of honor, Melissa, are anxious to start planning the bridal showers they have graciously offered to host. I'm excited about the showers since I never had one before and it will be great to get together with my dear friends and family. I'm especially happy that Marnee has scheduled the shower she is hosting when my mom will be visiting. Melissa is being super secretive about her shower plans... and she knows how hard it is for me to not jump into the whole party planning because I love planning parties to begin with. Regardless, I know these amazing women will throw a memorable experience for me and cannot wait!

Bridal Registries

Initially we didn't plan on registering for gifts and opted to have a honeymoon registry instead. But since we have showers planned, my hostesses suggested that it might be a good idea to have a bridal registry available. We pretty much have everything we need, but we managed to build a registry with items we wouldn't mind replacing or upgrading to. That said, it was fun to work on our registry together. So we're pretty much done with our registries!

Wedding Reception Flowers

Since our wedding is taking on a tropical theme to bring Hawaii to the Midwest, I attended the annual Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden earlier this month to get some ideas.  There were so many gorgeous orchids and I loved the colorful varieties we got to see. After the show, I'm leaning towards getting either potted orchid plants or having tropical orchid arrangements in vases as centerpieces for our tables. One thing is for sure - there will be lots of tropical florals at our wedding and fresh Hawaiian leis made with Dendrobium orchids for each of our guests! At this point, I have already purchased vases and I'm thinking about getting these arrangements for our reception tables, which will be set on white linen lined tables, topped with a burlap runner and placed on fresh banana leaves:

Well that's it for this month's wedding tasks. Not too terribly busy - which is great! - but it boggles my mind how quickly our wedding day is approaching. Stay tuned for next month's update on how our wedding planning and preparations are coming along!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Honey Pecan Crusted Chicken

Life has been especially busy this month that I haven't really had a chance to share some dinner recipes made during the week. But I found some spare time into the wee hours of the night (while my boys were sleeping) to share a recent household favorite. This Honey Pecan Crusted Chicken captures the sweet and savory flavors in crispy un-fried chicken. In an effort to be a bit healthier, this dish was popular and there was no fuss with frying or making an oily mess in the kitchen! Honey, mustard, cornflakes and toasted pecans lend their flavors to a wonderful chicken coating that bakes up beautifully in the oven...

Friday, March 20, 2015

National Ravioli Day: Rana Ravioli Challenge!

Did you know that today, March 20th, is National Ravioli Day?! To celebrate, friends and I recently gathered in the kitchen for a fun night making ravioli. We made the pasta from scratch and prepared a seafood ravioli made with a lump crabmeat stuffing, paired with a roasted red pepper cream sauce [recipe post to share coming soon!] It was such a great night full of laughs, stories and well, lots of delicious food we all prepared together...

Friends and I also feasted on a buffet of pasta, highlighting ravioli,generously provided by my friends at Giovanni Rana. Giovanni Rana has been making pasta for over 50 years. His philosophy is simple: be true to yourself and the things that make you happy. He learned that as a boy in the family kitchen in Veronella and he still believes that today. For him, perfect pasta comes from a passion for food and the joy of sharing that passion with the people you love.

We enjoyed a few kinds of ravioli along with Giovanni Rana sauces, making it such a quick and easy meal to prepare. Our pasta buffet included three sauces - bolognese, marinara and a pesto alfredo, in which I combined Giovanni Rana fresh basil pesto sauce with their alfredo sauce. To accompany our pastas and sauces, I also served up Italian sausage, Italian meatballs and Italian roasted chicken. There was certainly something for everyone to enjoy with our amazing spread...

If you haven't heard of Giovanni Rana pastas and sauces, I highly recommend you scope them out at your local grocery store. They have a complete product line of several fresh pastas and sauces, making dinner easy, quick and delicious to put together. With so many offerings, you'll want to try them all!

Ravioli and Sauces to Choose from:
Ravioli Cheese "Forte": A vibrant cheese blend, including Parmigiano Reggiano D.O.P wrapped in thin pasta
Ravioli Spinaci e Ricotta: Fresh baby spinach and ricotta cheese wrapped in thin pasta
Ravioli Chicken Rosemary: All white meat chicken breast and rosemary wrapped in thin pasta
Ravioli Artichoke: A hearty blend of artichoke hearts wrapped in thin, golden pasta
Ravioli Mushroom: Portobello and Porcini mushrooms and creamy cheese wrapped in thin pasta
Ravioli Caprese Duet: Ravioli with two different colors and fillings, tomato mozzarella and basil pesto

Basil Pesto: Made with 100% Genovese basil
Bolognese: Made with a hearty helping of beef, pork, and tomatoes
Alfredo: Made with Parmigiano Reggiano D.O.P. 
Marinara: This sauce is both light and fresh, made with a zesty blend of spices and cherry tomato halves

Giovanni Rana, synonymous with authentic, Italian pasta, is also partnering with my local food bank to fight against hunger and encourage spending time with family and friends during the Rana Ravioli Challenge

What is the Rana Ravioli Challenge?
We're encourage you to take photos of your experience cooking Giovanni Rana ravioli, sharing the moment with your friends and family on National Ravioli Day. Share a photo on a social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or others with the hash tag - #RanaRavioliChallenge. Each time the hashtag used by a different account on National Ravioli Day (today only), Giovanni Rana will donate 1 pound of pasta to the Northern Illinois Food Bank!

How will  your post count towards the Rana Ravioli Challenge?
You may post up to three times on National Ravioli Day (March 20) on the same or different social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or others) to increase the amount of pasta donated.

Are you up for the challenge?! If so, grabs yourself some Giovanni Ranna Ravioli & start posting your meals with the hash tag #RanaRavioliChallenge to fight against hunger!

Northern Illinois Food Bank
Northern Illinois Food Bank leads the northern Illinois community in solving hunger by providing nutritious meals to those in need through innovative  programs and partnerships. Since 1983, food manufacturers, local grocers, corporations, foundations, and individuals have come together to donate food and funds, and evaluate and repack food for distribution to 800 community food pantries and feeding programs serving more than 71,000 hungry neighbors each week across 13 counties. That commitment provided 50 million meals to those in need in FY14.  Find out how you can Volunteer, Donate and Get Involved at or follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Northern Illinois Food Bank is a member of Feeding America.

Giovanni Rana
Giovanni Rana has been a renowned pasta maker in Italy for over 50 years. In 2012, the Rana family launched its first state-of-the-art factory in the US (just outside of Chicago in Bartlett, IL), which produces the retail line of pasta and sauces now distributed all over the country. The factory is home to proprietary machinery designed by Giovanni that mimics the movements used to hand-roll dough to produce an exceptionally thin pasta with a delicate bite. The fillings are created from artisanal ingredients including D.O.P. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese imported by the wheel and D.O.P. Genovese basil.
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