Tuesday, October 25, 2016

From the Inbox: Free Scary Face Pancakes at IHOP on Halloween

Just thought I'd share this cool nugget of info. IHOP is featuring Scary Face Pancakes this month, but they are free on Halloween for kids 12 and under. Read on for more info:

Ghoulishly good times are back at IHOP® RESTAURANTS with The return of FREE Scary Face Pancakes FOR KIDS ON HALLOWEEN
On October 31st Kids 12 and Under Can Enjoy a Free Scary Face Pancake from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. 

To celebrate Halloween, on October 31, kids 12 and under can dig into Scary Face Pancakes for FREE from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. at participating restaurants. IHOP encourages children and families to create a monster masterpiece from a hot-off-the-griddle, world-famous Buttermilk Pancake topped with whipped cream, a strawberry nose and served with a side of OREO® cookies and candy corn.
Participating IHOP Restaurants in the United States. 
For close to six decades, IHOP has been the leader in bringing guests a freshly made breakfast served any time of day, every day, as well as unique, made-to-order limited time menu items. Scary Face Pancakes offer families a fun and unique dining experience this Halloween season. 
MONDAY, October 31, 2016 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM
For more than 58 years, IHOP has been a leader, innovator and expert in all things breakfast, any time of day. The chain offers 65 different signature, fresh made-to-order breakfast options, a wide selection of popular lunch and dinner items as well as meals under 600 calories.  IHOP restaurants offer guests an affordable, everyday dining experience with warm and friendly service.  As of June 30, 2016, there were 1,695 IHOP restaurants in 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam as well as Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and the Philippines.  IHOP restaurants are franchised and operated by Glendale, Calif.-based DineEquity, Inc. (NYSE: DIN) and its affiliates. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Urban Accents Introduces Pumpkin Simmer Spices

We've moved into the season of pumpkin spice. It's everywhere. Latte. Pie. Doughnuts. And Urban Accents has created some new products for pumpkin spice lovers to add their favorite flavor to savory dishes.

The new Mexican Chili Pumpkin Mole, Indian Coconut Pumpkin Curry and Moroccan Apricot Pumpkin Tagine sauces provide an easy way to make a comfort meal of stew or chili.

While the sauces help to make a 30-minute meal, I decided to try a jar in the crock pot and the results were splendid. I put one jar of the Moroccan Apricot Pumpkin Tagine in the crock pot with some baby carrots and four boneless, skinless chicken breasts on high for two hours, then I moved to low for about 2 1/2 more hours. The chicken was so tender and loaded with flavor. I popped a bag of frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's in the microwave and had a delicious meal in front of me with pretty much no work at all.

Head over to UrbanAccents.com to check out the new line of sauces and peruse their other products. Some of my favorites are the pizza seasonings, corn on the cob seasonings and the Chicago Steak & Chop blend. They also have their turkey brine & rub kits available for the holidays. Last years I used it for my Thanksgiving turkey and it was the best turkey we've had yet.

*** I did receive a product sample for the purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Olive Theory Pizzeria

The Chicago Foodie Sisters were invited recently to try out Olive Theory Pizzeria in Downers Grove for lunch. Olive Theory is a build-your-own pizza place where you can order a customized 11-inch pizza with anything on their ingredient buffet. Only one ingredient - prosciutto - has an upcharge. Other than that, you get unlimited toppings on your pizza for $7.99. You can also build your own pie-sandwich, which is similar to a calzone or build a salad. There are more than 45 sauces, cheeses, meats, veggies and finishes to choose from. You can also

The eatery is cute and casual and a great place to grab a quick meal as pizzas cook in about 3 - 6 minutes, depending on the number of toppings, in a traditional brick oven. Since you can customize, it's also a great spot for a family meal so that you can get a plain cheese one for those picky eaters or load it up for a preschooler with an affinity for olives and ham. There are high chairs, booster seats and organic milk boxes to make it inviting for little ones.

While there's been a trend in recent years in the opening of casual spots focusing on individualized, quick pizzas, this one is family owned with one location and with a dedication to personalizing service so that every customer gets exactly what they're looking for and that ingredients are as fresh as they can possibly be. There are no preservatives used and the regular and whole wheat crust is hand-rolled fresh on site daily. A gluten-free crust option is also available that comes from an outside vendor to ensure that there is no accidental gluten crossover.

The pie-sandwich is a unique item that you can build that is a crust that is folded over, yet isn't completely closed as a calzone would be. There are three pie-sandwiches on the menu  and what really makes it stand out is the unique crunch that you get when the crust is brushed with Garlic Oil and seasoned with their signature Poseidon's Blessing spice mix - a blend of parmesan, oregano and sea salt.

Our creation - "The Big W" Pizza!
Five house pizzas are the menu, but it's so much fun to create your own based on what you like best. Becky and I made our way into the kitchen to check out the process and build-our-own. This is our perfect pie - we call it "The Big W" (what can we say, we are HUGE Cubs fans!) It was made with a regular crust brushed with garlic pesto and classic red sauce, then topped with mozzarella, provolone and feta with sausage (finely crumbled just they way we love it) and mushroom, baby spinach and tomato.  It was then drizzled with garlic olive oil and sprinkled with Poseidon's Blessing. We have a private party coming up to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Olive Theory and the 5-year anniversary of the Chicago Foodie Sisters food blog and this creation will be one of the items on the menu.
Owner John Kwok presents our custom made pizzas

We'd love to meet some of our followers and would like to invite one of you to the party to try out some of Olive Theory's menu items for yourself. If you'd like to attend, comment on this blog or on our Facebook page under the post with this blog entry. If there's more than one comment, we will randomly pick a winner and notify you asap with event details.

Oh, and can't forget to mention that they also have dessert pizzas - and we couldn't leave without giving one a try. We opted for the Chocolate Banana, which was delicious with a layer of Nutella, fresh bananas and whipped cream and a dusting of powdered sugar. They also have an Oreo Crumble variety and one with peanut butter and M & Ms.

Olive Theory has the motto, "Eat Well, Do Good" and they have a 1/10 Pledge, donating one pizza for every ten that you buy to charitable organizations that want to give back. The "theory" at Olive Theory is "to inspire and empower individuals through the love of food, learning & philanthropy." It's refreshing to find a place that is dedicated to giving back to the community it serves and you can feel good that your purchase does more than feed yourself.

So, if you're a pizza lover or looking for a casual spot to grab a quick lunch to go, keep Olive Theory in mind. And don't forget to enter to win an invite to our joint celebration by commenting on this blog post or on our FB post about Olive Theory.

Olive Theory Pizzeria
1400A Butterfield Rd.
Downers Grove, IL 

***We did receive a complimentary meal for the purpose of a review. We were not compensated for this post. All opinions are our own.

Friday, October 14, 2016

From the Inbox: Munster Ale Fest returns this weekend

Fall beer fest season is winding down and the Munster Ale Fest is a great place to spend one last Autumn day outdoors tasting the best craft brew in the Midwest. Brewfest Partners does a great job in organizing brew fests in the Chicago area and all over the Midwest and beyond. Get your tickets to do some sampling!

Join us Saturday, October 15, 2016 in Munster’s Centennial Park to enjoy unlimited samples of craft brews from Indiana and across the Midwest. Support your local craft heroes and try some new brews from 1pm – 4:30pm (VIPs enter at noon). Unlimited 3oz. samples of delicious beer and cider included with GA and VIP tickets, food available for purchase. Live Entertainment from Zydeco Voodoo. VIPs enjoy the fest one hour before the crowd, and get exclusive brew samples and snacks.
Additional information can be found on our website at http://munsteralefest.com/
Tickets are on sale now! 

VIP ticket holders enter the park early at 12 PM 
General Admission ticket holders enter at 1 PM
Event ends at 4:30 PM

General Admission Ticket ($45) Includes:
  • Commemorative pint glass
  • Unlimited sampling

VIP Admission Ticket ($80) Includes:
  • 1- hour early admission
  • Commemorative pint glass
  • Unlimited sampling, including exclusive brews
  • Access to VIP Lounge featuring: snacks, unique one-off beers, private restrooms 

Designated Driver Ticket (with GA = $15, with VIP = $25) Includes:
  • Unlimited soda and water
  • Commemorative pint glass
  • (VIP DDs also get snacks, early entry with VIP ticket holders and access to VIP Lounge, must be purchased with VIP ticket)
DDs must be 21+ and cannot consume alcohol at the fest. DD tickets must be purchased with GA tickets.

Event area will be gated. No one under 21 admitted (including babies in strollers). No one will be admitted without valid photo ID.
All Designated Drivers must purchase DD tickets and cannot drink at the festival.
No lawn chairs admitted. No dogs or other pets permitted on fest grounds.
No alcohol permitted outside of festival grounds.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Boston Market offers Chicken Marsala for limited time

Boston Market has something on the menu for a limited time in addition to its classic rotisserie chicken. The new rotisserie chicken marsala is a spin on the classic Italian dish featuring sautéed cremini and portobello mushrooms, garlic and fresh herbs with a savory Marsala wine sauce.

I was invited to give it a try at my local Boston Market location. The suggested pairing is the roasted garlic and chive mashed potatoes, which are made with real potatoes, milk, butter, cracked black pepper, roasted garlic and chives and whipped. 

The Rotisserie Chicken Marsala dish starts with signature rotisserie chicken and is marinated in a blend of garlic, herbs and spices before being cooked in a continuously revolving rotisserie for 90 minutes until tender, juicy and golden brown. The Marsala sauce, simmered for hours in order to reach peak deliciousness, has a blend of sautéed cremini and portobello mushrooms bursting with rich and loaded flavor. It's available until the October 30, so get in to try it out while you still can!

I tried mine paired with some red potatoes and a veggie blend of broccoli and carrots. The chicken was super juicy and the Marsala sauce had wonderful flavor. It was a perfect grown up meal for me - something you never expect to get from a drive-thru fast food place. So, while the kids enjoyed some turkey, potatoes, mac and cheese and corn, I had my slowly-cooked, more-sophisticated chicken and was able to pick it all up at the same place.

“As the rotisserie experts, we strive to develop new ways to provide fresh, bold and Chef-inspired flavors for our guests,” said George Michel, (a.k.a. “The Big Chicken”), CEO at Boston Market. “Our new Rotisserie Chicken Marsala puts a rotisserie spin on a classic Italian dish – one that we know both our fans, and fans-to-be, will love – and furthers our ‘All Good’ promise to bring only natural, farm fresh and never frozen rotisserie chicken to the table.”  

The Rotisserie Chicken Marsala is available through online ordering and for catering. Meal choices include a Half Chicken Individual Meal with two sides and cornbread for $9.99 or Quarter White or Three Piece Dark with two sides and cornbread for $8.99. 

And by the way, when I stopped to try out the new chicken menu item, I was reminded of what a nice place it is to stop to pick up dinner for the family. There aren't a lot of drive-thru meals you can get with meat that is as high-quality as it is here. It's cooking method makes it much healthier and there are several veggie sides to choose from. And it's even better when I can pick up a dinner for three and feed the kids and then get myself a Rotisserie Chicken Marsala meal.

For additional information, visit BostonMarket.com or follow at @BostonMarket Post a pic of yours when you try it out and use the hashtag #MarsalaTime.

*** I did receive a gift card to use for a complimentary meal for the purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

From the Inbox: McQ's Sports Bar & Grill to hold inaugural brew fest

For the beer aficianados - a brew fest in the west burbs this weekend!

October 15 Indoor Craft Beer Festival at McQ's Sports Dome Includes 
Sampling of 60+ Beers, Live Music, BBQ

October 11, 2016 (Bolingbrook, IL) - As the craft beer craze continues to spread, local fests featuring dozens of beer styles are drawing ever-bigger crowds of serious and casual fans alike.  The inaugural Bolingbrook Brew Fest, on Saturday, October 15th, brings the excitement indoors in a 60,000 square-foot golf dome that will feature over 30 breweries including national leaders, local up-and-comers and recent medal-winners from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

"Craft beer has some really serious fans, but what we've been seeing is that even casual diners are asking more questions and want to try more styles with seasonal variation," said Jim Koklas, food and beverage director for McQ's Sports Bar & Grill, host of the Bolingbrook Brew Fest.  "We created the Fest as a way to bring all of these people together, so we'll have some very rare and limited release beers as well as more introductory samples to the craft beer experience. Plus live music, games, and great barbeque."

The indoor craft beer festival takes place from Noon to 5 PM in the McQ's Bar & Grill 60,000 square-foot golf dome, located at 730 N. Bolingbrook Drive (Rte. 53) in Bolingbrook, IL. Tickets cost $60 for VIP passes, $45 for General Admission and $20 for designated drivers, which includes unlimited soft drinks. VIP ticket holders receive an hour early entry at 11 AM, a drawstring swag bag with ($10) in Brew Fest food tickets, a limited edition "Bolingbrook Brew Fest at McQ's" 16oz mug, and a Brew Fest T-shirt. To purchase tickets visit BolingbrookBrewFest.com.

Bolingbrook Brew Fest will feature 60+ specialty, seasonal and small batch beers from local, regional and national craft brewers including:  

5 Rabbit
Hop Vine
Blue Moon
Left Hand
Pollyanna Brewing Co.
Goose Island
Sam Adams
Metal Monkey
Skeleton Key
Emmetts Tavern & Brewing
Myths and Legends
Solemn Oath
Gordon Biersch
New Belgium
Half Acre
Noon Whistle
Two Brothers

(bold indicates American Beer Festival Medalist)

Local Illinois Highlights Include:
  • Blackberry Saison - malt beer with a berry note from Tribes Beer Companyin Mokena.  
  • Belt & Suspenders - hoppy beer with clean citrus and pine aromatics from Buckledown Brewery in Lyons.
  • Prickly Pear - Tequila barrel aged 5 Lizard beer with red prickly pear, lime peel, and spices from 5 Rabbit Cerveceria  in Bedford Park.
  • The Full Lemonty - crisp and clean golden ale brewed with white wheat, Belgian aromatic malts, and a blend of American hops from Pollyanna Brewing Company in Lemont.
  • "If We're Not Back by Dawn..."  light-bodied malty brown porter with coffee notes and a touch of caramel from Skeleton Key Brewery in Woodridge.  

For more information visit http://www.bolingbrookbrewfest.com/.

McQ's Bar & Grill 
Featured on WGN Chicagoland's Chicago Best - "Best Bite" McQ's Loaded Potato Skins -crispy potato skins stuffed with pulled pork, McQ's BBQ sauce, topped with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onion,  and jalapeño!
The 60,000 square foot sports dome houses the best game day food including: lip smacking BBQ, award-winning jumbo chicken wings, signature sandwiches, premier 1/2 lb burgers and an extensive craft beer selection to wash it all down. 
Come for the food, stay for the fun, hardcore fans are guaranteed the best gameday experience at Bolingbrook's "Official Blackhawks Bar," and Official Miller Lite "Bears HQ Bar."  
Check our website, McQsBar.com  or upcoming events and specials including live music, Trivia Tuesdays, monthly and daily food specials.

Mama D's

I was invited recently to head out to Lemont to visit Mama D's. The place has been named one of the top 10 Italian beef places in the Chicagoland area by ABC's Hungry Hound, Steve Dolinsky. I've found him to be pretty spot on, so I figured it was worth the drive to try it out. And he wasn't wrong. I'd put it in my top 5. One of the best beef sandwiches I've had.

However, there's way more than Italian beef on the menu and I sampled a few other items, as well. A favorite is one that doesn't even have any meat at all - the pepper and egg sandwich. I see it on the menu in many places in the Lenten Season, but at Mama D's, you can get it all year round. So, for those who are vegetarians or just not in the mood for a meaty sandwich, this is for sure worth ordering.

The chicken parmesan sandwich was also quite good and I love that it, along with the other menu items are made from scratch. The homemade goodies are from recipes passed down through owner Joe DeNardis' family - including his grandmother and her sisters, who immigrated here from Italy, and his mother and aunts. Mama D's has been at the current location at 12420 S. Archer in Lemont for 4 years after moving from a previous location that it had been at for 7 years.

Prices at Mama D's are very reasonable with sandwiches as low as $3.75. Beef sandwiches come in 6" for $5.50 or $7.50 for the 9-inch.

DeNardis said that the most popular sellers are the beef, chicken parmesan and the meatballs. You'll also find burgers, salad, pastas, tamales, hot dogs, gyros and more on the menu.

I also tried out the meatball sandwich and these were really amazing. They are made from scratch on site and melt in your mouth. You could serve them with a plate of pasta and they'd measure up to many of the area's finer white-tablecloth eateries. Mama D's is a casual spot with some fun decor that includes 80's movie posters. They also do catering and if you place an order, be sure to mention "Chicago Foodie Sisters" to get 10% off.

Mama D's
12420 S. Archer Ave.
(630) 243-1212

*** I was provided a complimentary meal for the purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Eli's Golden Apple

A group of former co-workers and I get together on occassion for breakfast and one of the ladies suggested Eli's Golden Apple in Crown Point for one of our breakfast get-togethers. I don't get out to that area too often, so it was nice to take a drive out there where I pass fields and silos and cows (I took the Route 41 drive rather than the expressway.) 

The casual spot has a large selection of menu items. My friend selected a salad and I went for the Eggs Benedict Florentine (with my eggs scrambled.) I'm kind of a sucker for anything covered in Hollandaise sauce. The place got a definite thumbs up for me and I'd definitely stop again if I make my way out again to that land of corn fields and silos and cows. :)

Eli's Golden Apple
101 E. 107th 
Crown Point, IN
(219) 663-7060

Monday, September 26, 2016

Aunt Sally's

If you're from the south burbs, you've likely at some point visited Aunt Sally's for breakfast. For decades they've been serving up hearty breakfasts to hungry (sometimes hungover) diners with all the classic plates that you love to eat early in the morning.

While my sister was in town recently, I met her and my mom there and I got a simple plate of eggs and hash browns and toast. But my mom ordered eggs benedict - which was delivered as a HUGE portion with the biggest pieces of Canadian bacon I've ever seen.

Aunt Sally's is worth a visit if you're in the mood for a plate of steak and scrambled eggs, an omelet, some French toast or a big stack or buttery pancakes to fill you up before you start your day. They are open through lunchtime.

Aunt Sally's 
1215 Burnham Ave.
Calumet City, IL
(708) 868-2620

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Journeyman Distillery

Journeyman Distillery is a spot we have visited often on our trips up to Three Oaks, Michigan. In the past we have sat in a small bar area at lunchtime to have a cocktail or a flight. It had been a bit since our last visit and this time we were pleasantly surprised to see how the place has expanded. The Journeyman has grown by adding space from the old Featherbone at the north end of the building and creating a very large restaurant, The Staymaker at Journeyman Distillery. We had actually just finished lunch not much before our visit and we had anticipated just drinks, but when I looked at their menu and saw the beet salad, I had to have it. :) Beets were heaped on a pile of greens with gobs of goat cheese and pumpkin seeds with a light viniagrette.

With my salad, I simply had a ginger ale. Hubby tried a couple of the signature drinks  the Greyjoy and the Chain. I look forward to revisiting to do more menu sampling! The place looks amazing, by the way, and now has plenty of room for groups small or big.