Tuesday, March 21, 2017

From the Inbox: Get your tickets to Blue Chip Brewfest

From the inbox today...
One of my favorite beer events is coming up soon! Blue Chip Brewfest will feature over 300 beers from dozens of craft brewers from the Midwest and beyond. Get your tickets to the April 8 event through Ticketmaster.com or the casino box office. And you'll find a little Brewfest-related reading on past Brewfests here and here and here and here and here and here.

Blue Chip to Host Seventh Annual Blue Chip Brewfest April 8

More than 300 brews from more than 80 specialty breweries will be available to taste at the ultimate beer sampling event, the Seventh Annual Blue Chip Brewfest, sponsored by Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa, Michigan City, Indiana, on Saturday, April 8 from 1:30 to 5 pm. Last year’s sold-out event attracted more than 2,500 beer enthusiasts.

Three ticket packages are available, including the Brewmaster package, which includes lunch with Laura Bell from Bell’s Brewery in the Orleans Ballroom from 11:30 am - 12:30 pm, the VIP Session, with the Dogfish Head Beer tasting event in the Sam’s Town Ballroom from noon to 2 pm, early entrance to the main tasting event at 1 pm and a commemorative pint glass and t-shirt. The VIP package includes the Dogfish Head Beer tasting event, a pint glass and early entrance to the main tasting at 1 pm and the general admission package includes the main tasting event from 1:30 pm to 5 pm. The $15 designated driver ticket includes complimentary specialty soda and water.

Tickets are $99 for the Brewmaster Package, $75 for VIP admission, $45 for regular admission and $15 for designated drivers and are available at Ticketmaster.com or at the Blue Chip Gift Box in the casino pavilion. Guests must be 21 or older, with a valid state or government-issued photo ID.

Blue Chip will hold a silent auction during the event for premium items and other beer-themed collectibles. Proceeds will benefit a local charity. 

Live entertainment will be provided by the Allen Wronko Band. Food offerings available for purchase include brats, hot dogs and pretzels. All of the Blue Chip restaurants will be open. 

About Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa
Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa is the premier entertainment destination in Northwest Indiana. Located an hour’s drive east of Chicago in Michigan City, Indiana, Blue Chip features a 65,000-square-foot single-level casino, two hotel towers with a total of 486 upscale rooms; five restaurants, a spa, full-service salon and fitness center, two gift shops and the 20,000-square-foot Stardust Event Center. For more information, visit www.bluechipcasino.com. Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa is a property of Boyd Gaming. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Boyd Gaming is a leading diversified owner and operator of 24 gaming entertainment properties located in Nevada, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Boyd Gaming and Blue Chip press releases are available at boydgaming.mediaroom.com.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Yoder's Horseradish

Each time we make a visit to Amish country, we come back with a lot of food souvenirs. On our most recent visit, we stopped at Yoder's Meat and Cheese Company. We often head home with all kinds of goodies - baked goods, cheese, tea, jellies. This time I also grabbed a pack of knockwurst  - and to go along with it, a jar of fresh Yoder's horseradish. Good stuff! If you need to clear your sinuses, this will for sure do the trick. I use just a dab. :)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Swedish Meatball Gravy

I am a fan of Ikea's Swedish meatballs that are served in the cafe.

I am not a fan of making gravy.

It all stems back to an incident that happened just after I got married. I was a young newlywed eager to cook for my hubby. I decide to make biscuits and gravy for breakfast and tried to make it having my mom guide me through the steps over the phone. After I had added some milk and was stirring and stirring and stirring, it didn't seem like it was thickening up much. However, my mom instructed me to add another cup of milk. At that point it was more like soup than gravy. So, I told mom I'd add more milk, then hung up the phone sure that she had no clue what she was saying (despite the fact that she'd been cooking for a family for close to four decades.) I didn't listen. I added no more milk. Then suddenly it started to thicken and I thought I'd be eating a perfect plate of gravy. I turned off the heat. It got thicker and thicker. By the time my husband picked up to plate, the gravy was literally like a pancake. You couldn't spoon it. You had to cut it with a knife. My poor hubby didn't bat an eye. He was a trooper and sat down and ate it. All of it. Like it was a pancake. No complaints. But I never ever tried to make gravy again. I was terrified of it.

So, it's 25 years later. I bought frozen meatballs at IKEA. But what are Swedish meatballs without the gravy? So, I looked around the internet for some recipes and gave it a try. And hey...I actually made gravy. And it was good!

4 tsp. butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup milk

Melt the butter in pan and gradually whisk in four to make a roux. Slowly add broth and cook over low heat. Add milk. Continue cooking until it thickens. Add heated meatballs to pan or spoon over heated meatballs.

Oh, and grab a jar of lingonberry jam to go along with it!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Edinger's Filling Station in Pontiac, Illinois

A couple months ago my parents moved to central Illinois to live with my sister. It's really strange. For the past 13 years they've lived less than 10 minutes away and I saw them often. Before that they lived in the house I grew up in and when I got married, we bought a house about 20 minutes from them. So, for my whole life I never lived more than 20 minutes away from them. It's been an adjustment.

Since I work from home, I'm able to pretty much set my own hours and I have the flexibility of heading out for lunch. Dad would accompany me often for lunch at various places in the area. Sometimes we'd hit favorites of his, like Schoop's or Olive Garden or Fuddrucker's or Lincoln's or Miner Dunn. Other times we would try out new places I had been eyeing. If I was busy working and decided on a whim at 10:45 a.m. that I'd like to go out lunch at 11:30, I could always call up dad and he'd be ready to go. I really, really miss that.

Now he lives just over 2 1/2 hours away. In January, when his birthday was coming up I suggested we find a place in the middle where we could meet for lunch. We decided on Edinger's Filling Station in Pontiac and one of my sons came along to see Grandpa for a birthday lunch.

The place is adorable with a fun retro diner feel. It's open for breakfast and lunch with a large menu of classic diner food. The place was charming and very clean with a friendly staff. We all got something somewhat light and were all happy with our food. Dad had an order of biscuits and gravy, my son got spaghetti and I had some mac and cheese that was delicious.

The place was quite busy at lunchtime, but we just had to wait a couple minutes for a table to be cleared. It was so nice to linger at chat and see Dad for lunch again. We decided we'd continue our lunch dates about once a month in a place in between the two of us along I-55. We've had 3 lunch dates so far with another planned soon. Edinger's will definitely be a place we will revisit and I'd recommend it to anyone traveling I-55 through Pontiac or cruising the old Route 66.

IKEA's Handy Dandy Accessory Holder

A walk through IKEA for me is like cutting a kid loose in a toy store. I want one of everything - from furniture to bedding to dishes. I also can't resist grabbing things as I head through the kitchen area. There are always fun and reasonably priced gadgets and utensils. Europeans are extremely focuses on efficiency and it's fun to see the space saving products throughout the store.

I grabbed a couple of these stainless steel utensil holders. With the large collection I have, I have a full overflowing drawer in my kitchen full of spoons and scrapers and spatulas and tongs. This fits neatly in the corner for the extras. I also grabbed one for hubby's outdoor man cave. He now has one beside the grill filled with stainless tongs, knives and brushes so they're always at his fingertips as he cooks.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Magisso Magnetic Tea Ball

I'm not a coffee drinker, but I love my tea. After many years of drinking strictly tea bags, I was introduced to lose leaf tea and I now drink it often. I've had a number of different tea balls over the years, but the magnetic tea ball from Magisso is definitely my favorite.

The ball sticks to the top of your tea pot, so after it steeps, you use your spoon to lift it up and you're ready to go. There's no transferring it back and forth while it drips. And better yet, my favorite teapot is a metal one I received as a wedding shower gift many moons ago. I can warm my water directly in it on the stovetop, then stick my tea ball right to the lid and let it steep. Anything that makes teatime quicker and more relaxing is a winner in my book. This Finnish company makes many other cool kitchen and home products. Give the website a look - magisso.com.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Where to get some grub and have some fun for St. Patrick's Day in and around Chicago

St. Patrick's Day is one of those holidays where we give ourselves permission to overindulge. And there are a lot of place in and around Chicago to enjoy Irish classics this week. Here are a few:

The Reuben Spud from McAlister's Deli
McAlister's Deli in Vernon Hills, Geneva and Naperville 

Wear green on Saturday and get a free Green Tea! Try out the Reuben Spud an oven-baked potato topped with corned beef sauerkraut, Thousand Island and Swiss cheese. Enter the online Pot(ato) of gold contest to win a gift card.The limited time only, Irish-inspired Reuben Spud can be found at participating McAlister’s locations from March 13-17.

Freddie's Steakhouse in Hammond, Indiana

St. Patrick's Day only

Enjoy corned beef and cabbage and Shepherd's Pie. $10.95 for lunch and $12.95 for dinner. Have a pint of green draft beer or Killian's Red and listen to the Shriner's Pipes and Drums at 5:30

Olive Theory in Downers Grove

The end of the rainbow lands at Olive Theory Pizzeria in Downers Grove this St. Patrick’s Day. The Best Pizza Place in Illinois (According to Buzzfeed) is the pizzeria is celebrating the luckiest day of the year with an all-green $4 pizza, inspired by the lucky four-leaf clover. Available from Friday, March 10 through Friday, March 17, this delicious green treat features a garlic pesto base and mozzarella cheese topped with spinach and clover-shaped green peppers, finished with parmesan cheese.

Tortoise Supper Club in Chicago

St. Patrick's Day only

Guests can enjoy Corned Beef Sandwiches served with Rosemary Frites ($12,) Beef Barley Soup made with Irish Stout, Pearl Onions and Bacon ($6.95,) and Guinness Cans ($7.)

Round the Clock in Lansing and Schererville and Highland, Indiana
March 13 - 19

Get a corned beef and cabbage for $8.99. Also on the menu is Shamrock Pie (chocolate creme filled with pieces of Andes mints in an Oreo crust, topped with green whipped cream and Andes mint pieces.)  Get a free slice with a lunch or dinner entree.

ACME Hotel Company
15 E. Ohio Street
(312) 894-0800
The lifestyle boutique hotel in River North is putting a St. Patrick’s Day twist on its Morning Joe™ coffee delivery service, offering guests a complimentary Irish Morning Joe™, to kick off their celebrations. Guests can simply request a time for delivery and a piping hot coffee spiked with Jameson Irish Whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream in a signature ACME thermos will arrive at their hotel room door.

Michael Jordan’s Steak House
505 N. Michigan Avenue
(312) 321-8823
Check out the bright green Chicago River, then head to Michael Jordan’s Steak House to refuel for the day. On March 11 and March 17, the Michigan Avenue dining spot will feature a New York Strip and with Irish bacon, Boxty and creamed cabbage ($44) and house cured Corned Beef Brisket with Boxty and creamed cabbage ($26). Michael Jordan’s Steak House is open at 11 a.m. daily for lunch and 5 p.m. daily for dinner featuring steaks, burgers, salads and more.  For more information, please visit www.mjshchicago.com.

18 West Hubbard St.

St. Patrick’s Day party 
Thursday, March 16th is a celebration of St. Patrick's Eve at Henry's! Enjoy D.E.W. & a Brew drink specials while watching live music performances from The Bearfish Paddlers & Flatfoot 56.

What's Included:
  • Free admission into Henry's
  • D.E.W. & a Brew pairing specials served throughout the night
  • 2 incredible live music performances from The Bearfish Paddlers and Flatfoot 56

Lion Head Ultimate Sports Pub & The Apartment Lounge
2251 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 | (773) 348-5100 | www.LionHeadPub.com
Saturday, March 11
Open until 3 a.m.
Kegs & Eggs (Free Breakfast Buffet from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. with beverage purchase)
Bag Pipers, $3 Green Miller Lite and Coors Light Drafts, $5 Aluminum Pints and Jameson Shots.
Friday, March 17th 
Open 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.
$3 Green Miller Lite and Coors Light Drafts, $5 Aluminum Pints and Jameson Shots

812 Grove Street
Evanston, IL
(847) 868-8078

Cupitol guests will be lucky this St. Patrick’s “week” with traditional specials to celebrate the Irish. The all-day European-style eatery will offer house-made Irish Soda Bread for the week, in addition to rolling out a mint shake! Cupitol offers house made fare for all dining periods, featuring specialty roasted European coffee, fresh baked breads and a variety of vegan and gluten free offerings.

J. J. Kelley's in Lansing

810 Dempster Street
Evanston, IL
(847) 869-4396
Hewn is going green for St. Patrick’s Day! To get into the holiday spirit, the Evanston bakery will be making delicious soda bread – the Hewn way! Head Baker Ellen King uses rolled oats from Hazzard Free Farm to create the favorite variety, adds golden raisins and a touch of buttermilk for extra flavor. Chocolate lovers can indulge in a selection including Valhrona Chocolate Chips – a childhood favorite of Ellen’s, who’s mother liked to add chocolate chips to soda bread. Known for hand crafted, artisan breads, Hewn’s unique take on the traditional St. Patrick’s Day indulgence is a must try!

fourteensixteen in La Grange
14 W. Calendar Ave, La Grange
An Irish whiskey, Bushmill 10 year ($9), and beer on tap, 'The Craven' Irish stout ($7) will be featured.

1400 W. Randolph Street | 1542 N. Damen Avenue
(773) 583-0500 | (773) 904-8606
Throughout the month of March, the city’s urbanbelly locations will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with an Asian-style twist from Executive Chef Bill Kim. urbanbelly diners can enjoy Corned Beef Ramen with Napa cabbage and a chicken pho based broth.  With two locations in the West Loop and Wicker Park, urbanbelly is modern noodle and dumpling-focused restaurant and has been a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recipient several times. 

Rack House

Rack House 
222 E. Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights

The Fifty/50
2047 W. Division Street
(773) 489-5050
Join The Fifty/50 in celebrating the Emerald Isle all week long, from March 11 through St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. For parade day on Saturday, The Fifty/50 offers a $35 all-you-can-drink package from 9:00 a.m. ’til noon, including a breakfast buffetDJ and express entry (no waiting in line!). There could even be an ice luge, and who knows, guests might get a glimpse of a leprechaun. Keeping the party going after noon, and all week long, The Fifty/50 offers daily specials of $5 pints of green beer$7 Jameson shots$8 Irish car bombs and $3 corned beef sliders

The Florentine
151 W. Adams Street
(312) 660-8866
The Florentine, an Italian dining destination located in the Loop, will feature a festive hand crafted cocktail for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this March. Guests dining in can sip on the lucky Black Jack made with Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey, rhubarb compote, ginger beer and Angostura bitters while enjoying delicious bites crafted by Executive Chef Zach Walrath.

The Florentine

Chicago Firehouse

Finn McCool’s Irish Sports Pub
1941 E. Algonquin Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173 | (847) 303-5100 | www.FinnMcCoolsPub.com
6th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Chicago's Largest Tent Party!
Free Parking
3 days of live music with Bag Pipers, Leprechauns, Green Beer, Corned Beef Sandwiches and DJs.
Thursday, March 16th
Open at 5 p.m. with entertainment at 7 p.m. and bag pipers at 8 p.m.
8 p.m. – Too White Crew (featuring “Fly Girl” dancers)
$4 Green Miller Lite Drafts
$5 Large Blue Moon Drafts
$5 Jameson Shots
$6 Vodka Lemonades
$6 St. Patty’s Punch
$7 Guinness Drafts
Friday, March 17th 
Open at 11 a.m. with entertainment at 5 p.m. until 2 a.m.
7:30 p.m. – 87Nine (classic rock cover band)
10 p.m. – Hairbanger’s Ball (rock band)
$4 Green Miller Lite Drafts
$5 Large Blue Moon Drafts
$5 Jameson Shots
$6 Vodka Lemonades
$6 St. Patty’s Punch
$7 Guinness Drafts
Saturday, March 18th 
Open at 11 a.m. with entertainment at 5 p.m. until 2 a.m.
7:30 p.m. – Red Rebel County (party tunes with traditional Irish bar-room music)
10 p.m. – 7th Heaven
$4 Green Miller Lite Drafts
$5 Large Blue Moon Drafts
$5 Jameson Shots
$6 Vodka Lemonades
$6 St. Patty’s Punch
$7 Guinness Drafts
Advanced discounted tickets available at www.FinnsFest.com including a 3-day pass for $20.
Discounted rooms at Wyndham Garden Schaumburg Chicago Northwest for $89. Call (847) 397-1500 and ask for Finn McCool’s Company Rate.

Club 220 North at Moretti’s Lake in the Hills
220 N. Randall Road, Lake in the Hills, IL 60156 | (847) 854-7220 | www.Club220North.com
Friday, March 17th
No Cover before Midnight
Wear green for beads
DJ and Dancing until 3 a.m.
$5 Jumbo Flavored Long Islands
$5 Bombs

Kinfork BBQ & Tap

5 Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg

Snuggery McHenry
801 N. River Road, McHenry, IL 60050 | (815) 578-9600 | www.SnuggeryChicago.com
Open at 11 a.m.
$9.99 Corned Beef Sandwiches and $12.99 Corned Beef Dinners (with cabbage, carrots, red skin potatoes)
Friday, March 17th 
All request DJ at 8 p.m.
$3.50 Large Miller Lite & Coors Light Drafts
$5 Sub Zero Jager Barrel Bombs
$5 Tiramisu Shots
Saturday, March 18th 
Hosted Karaoke with Sundowner Entertainment at 9 p.m.
$3.50 Large Miller Lite & Coors Light Drafts
$5 Sub Zero Jager Barrel Bombs
$5 Tiramisu Shots

Bag Pipers will perform throughout the day plus Corned Beef Sandwiches


Celebrate National Cheese Fondue Day at Geja's Cafe

There's a day for everything these days, it seems. But not all food holidays are equal. Some (and the best ones, in our opinion) focus on CHEESE! So, we're pretty excited about National Cheese Fondue Day on April 11. And where better to celebrate than at the legendary fondue spot, Geja's Cafe? They'll be extending the celebration for a whole week!

National Cheese Fondue Week will kick off on Sunday, April 9 with a cheese and chocolate fondue cooking class from 1 - 3 p.m. Attendees will learn the secrets of making Geja’s famous Swiss gruyere cheese fondue along with the Belgium chocolate fondue and enjoy wine selected by Geja’s wine professionals to compliment the cheese and chocolate fondues. Participants will also be able to take home some cheese and chocolate fondues. Cost is $60 per person.

During that week, form the 9th to the 15th, guests who mention National Cheese Fondue Week will receive $5 off each premier dinner. For those opting for just a sip of wine and a dip cheese, cheese fondue samples will be served on Geja’s newly remodeled patio around the fire places or at the bar if the weather is inclement.

The fondue practice has a long history, dating back to the 1500's when sheep and goat herders moved their flocks across the mountain valleys of Switzerland, they would carry cheese, brad and wine. Over time, the spheres learned to melt the cheese into the wine and dipped their breads into the cheese - and fondue was born.

Known as one of the most romantic settings in the city, it's a great place for couples to gather for fondue dining – food one prepares and shares – and an extensive fine wine list. With over 20 different types of fondue entrees, including cheese fondue and chocolate dessert fondue, an enchanting wine cellar atmosphere with private booths, and dim lighting and live flamenco and classical guitarists, the vibe is about as intimate as you can get. 

Hours for Geja’s Café are Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to 11p.m.; Saturday, 5p.m. to 11p.m.; Sunday, 4p.m. to 9 p.m. Valet parking is available. For more information, please call 773.281.9101, or visit www.gejascafe.com.                                 

Monday, March 13, 2017

March 20 is National Ravioli Day - Celebrate at BRIO Tuscan Grille Lombard

March 20th is a day of celebration for pasta lovers! It's National Ravioli Day and BRIO Tuscan Grille Lombard is offering a buy one, take one free deal in honor of the beloved stuffed pasta. Here's all the details!

It’s a Celebration of Ravioli! BRIO Tuscan Grille Lombard
Offers Buy One, Take One Home for Free on March 20, National Ravioli Day!
Tweet thisCelebrate #NationalRavioliDay at @BrioItalian on March 20 and Buy One, Take One Home for Free! #mybrio 

Chicago, Ill. — (March 14, 2017) — Ravioli: a food revered by Tuscans for centuries. To celebrate this delicious dish, BRIO Tuscan Grille Lombard in Chicago is honoring National Ravioli Day on March 20 with buy one ravioli dish, take one ravioli dish home for free while supplies last. 
The promotion includes two delectable ravioli dishes:
·         Ravioli Di Bello: Portobello ravioli, crimini mushrooms, grape tomatoes, Parmesan, thyme, champagne brown butter sauce ($12.95 at lunch; $15.95 at dinner)
·         Lobster & Black Pepper Shrimp Ravioli: Spicy black pepper cream, spinach, grape tomatoes; ($19.95 at lunch; $22.95 at dinner)   

“Ravioli is a delightful treat, and we are pleased to present this offer to our guests on National Ravioli Day, March 20,” said BRIO Tuscan Grille Chef & Culinary Director Alison Peters.
Reservations are highly recommended at BRIO on National Ravioli Day, March 20. Guests can now make reservations online for all BRIO restaurants by visiting www.BrioItalian.com. For a list of locations, please visit www.BrioItalian.com.
About BRIO Lombard – Chicago
BRIO Lombard is located at 330 Yorktown Center, Chicago, IL 60148, off Highland Avenue on the West side of Yorktown Mall near Von Maur. BRIO offers lunch and dinner, as well as a special children’s menu; brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday until 3 p.m. The restaurant is open Sunday 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday–Thursday 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. For more information, visit www.brioitalian.com. For reservations, please call (630) 424-1515.               
About BRIO Tuscan GrilleBRIO (meaning “lively” or “full of life”) is a “polished casual” restaurant serving authentic, northern Italian cuisine. The subtitle, “Tuscan Grille” is descriptive in the menu that features oven-roasted steaks, chops and seafood, similar to what one would find in an authentic ristorante in Tuscany. BRIO’s philosophy is “to eat well, is to live well;” which is why it only uses the finest and freshest ingredients. BRIO brings the pleasure of the Tuscan country villa to the American city. BRIO is part of Columbus-based BRAVO|BRIO Restaurant Group (BBRG). Founded in 1992, BBRG currently operates more than 100 restaurants including BRAVO! Cucina Italiana, BRIO Tuscan Grille and Bon Vie Bistro. Please visit the website for BRIO locations at www.brioitalian.com and follow the restaurant on Twitter (@brioitalian) and Facebook (facebook.com/brioitalian)