A bagel shop, BroBagel, opens in Wicker Park

Wicker Park/Bucktown was in desperate need for a bagel shop until one of the Jacobs brothers, Bill (owner of Piece Chicago), brought back some of the original roots of Jacobs Bros. Bagels. 
BroBagel is located next to Piece with a carryout counter only. The bagel and spread selection will keep you (and me) coming in for all the endless bagel-schmear pairings. The it doesn't stop there as the breakfast and lunch sandwich options ALL sounded delicious. This girl will be a regular at brobagels and I look forward to trying the whole menu including a beer bagel! 

everything bagel with sriracha spread 

poppy seed bagel with scallion spread 

1931 West North Ave

BroBagel on Urbanspoon


Casa de Feijoada in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Feijoada (pronounced fay-ZWAH-da) is a traditional Brazilian stew with black beans, beef and pork. it is usually served with rice and assorted sausages, such as chouriço, morcela or farinheira in a clay pot. It is customary to serve it with side dishes such as white rice, couve à mineira, grated collard greens or kale, farofa, roasted cassava flour, fried pork rinds, and orange slices to help with digestion as it is a very heavy dish.  Hot pepper sauce (pimenta) made of oil soaked malagueta peppers is also accompanied to the stew to spice it up.  Beer, cachaça or caipirinhas are served with feijoada. 
In Rio de Janeiro, feijoada is usually served "full on" on a Saturday and there will be a line forming around 1pm.  But no worries if you aren't in Rio de Janeiro on a Saturday as Casa de Feijoada offers the stew every day of the week (steps away from the beaches of Ipanema). Our hotel, Fasano, highly recommended Casa de Feijoada for our rainy Saturday activity as you spend hours enjoying this meal. I have to say it was quite the experience. It's been open since 1989, so they know what they are doing even if it costs about R$73 ($32US) per person. 

At Casa de Feijoada, you start with a caldo de feijão (bean soup) and they offer you two different types of batida (lime or passion fruit) to help line your stomach for the HEAVY meal that is about to go down. 

Casa de Feijoada

Rua Prudente de Moraes 10 | Ipanema, Rio de JaneiroState of Rio de Janeiro 22420040, Brazil

HEY Chicagoans...... 
If you want to get a taste of delicious Brazilian cuisine, head to Sportsman's Club this Sunday (4-9pm) as Chef John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina  is serving up choripàn and feijoada beans with Palma Louca or a caipirinha for $20! 


Sneak peak of a girl travels to South America [Rio de Janeiro, Iguazù Falls, Buenos Aires & Bariloche]

Oh hey there...I'm baaaack

There's no need to fill out a missing person report as I have been traveling through South America with my husband, Steven. We planned this amazing trip to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, who exchanges with a traditional gift of wood anymore? Well, definitely not us, we prefer to gift each other memories all over the world. I can't wait to share with you all the details of my fabulous trip, adventures, and the FOOD  through South America: Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires and Bariloche. 
Here is a "little" sneak peek for you... 

rio de janeiro, brazil 

iguazu falls, brazil & argentina

buenos aires, argentina 

 san carlos de bariloche, patagonia, argentina 


E3 Chophouse in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

E3 Chophouse is a from range to restaurant, the all-natural beef served that comes straight from the family-owned E3 Ranch, located in Fort Scott, Kansas. The ranch is owned by the LaRoche family (professional baseball brother-owners Jeff, Adam, and Andy LaRoche – Jason Aldean, Willie Robertson, and award-winning country singer Luke Bryan), they pride themselves on raising hormone, steroid and antibiotic-free E3 Black Angus cattle and is excited to bring its healthy beef to the locals and visitors of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. 


I was eager to check out E3 Chophouse, opened in January, after  hearing so many great things about it from my local friends. Located along the Yampa River, E3 is hands down the best outdoor restaurant space on the Yampa, in Steamboat. E3's has a great space, with garage door style windows that open up to a beautiful  river and mountain view. The dining room is flooded with natural light and therefore the space connects beautifully with the rocky mountains. 

And in case you are curious about the origin of the E3 name, you are in good company. Adam, a major league first baseman for the past ten years, developed the logo in homage to his baseball history. In baseball, positions are numbered, with the first base designated the “3,” and even though he has won a gold glove for his great defensive skills, he humbly added the “E” (meaning “Error”) to the ranch name.

A "cityslicker" enjoying a glass of rosé or a girl and her rosé.....

  My lovely parents: Jack & Elizabeth. 

E3 Smoked Beef Carpaccio
 Grapefruit, Charred Jalapeno, Cilantro

                                              Wedge salad
               crisp iceberg, tomato, bacon, blue cheese crumble,crispy onion, & blue cheese dressing 


      14oz Ribeye served with farmers' market vegetables 

      Free Range Colorado Rack of Lamb 
         mint chimichurri, market vegetables


Sautéed mushrooms 
They were not your typical "button mushrooms"! 

roasted garlic mashed potatoes

up close and personal


Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee 

Madagascar vanilla bean & fresh berries 

Chocolate Mousse
Dark Chocolate, cocoa nib, rum, coconut whipped cream 

701 Yampa Street
Steamboat Springs, Colorado

E3 Chophouse on Urbanspoon


Tubing on the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

I'm lucky to call Steamboat Springs, Colorado, my second home, as my parents have a home there. I enjoy spending both the winter and summer in the 'boat as it's filled with so many adventures and activities. One of my favorite activities is tubing the Yampa River. 

This summer the river is flowing with so many great little rapids making it a perfect ride.  In recent previous years the river flow was low and tubing was not an option.  When good conditions exist, tubing on the Yampa is a local favorite, and must-do activity.  

With my girls Isabella & Alessandra 

Temperatures have been in the high 80s and it's a perfect way to cool off. Float for as long or as short as you’d like, and there’s plenty of riverside stops like parks, restaurants and bars along the way.

I highly recommend heading to Backdoor Sports to get your tubing on! 

steamboat today

boat ride transportaion.com

Cost: $18 per person

Hours of Operation: Tubing daily from 10:30am until 4:00pm Please note that we are required to be very strict about these times.
Best times to go tubing:
Your experience will always be better if you can depart before noon, there are less crowds, less chance of afternoon thunder storms while on the river, and there is less chance of us being sold out. Backdoor Sports (and all tubing outfitters in Steamboat Springs) have a set number of tubes allocated for each particular day of the week. When we reach that quota we can no longer provide tubing service.
  • Required for groups over 25 people
  • No reservations after 1pm
  • Must have all waivers signed and presented at reservation time
  • Payment in one form (cash, check, or credit card) for entire group
Backdoor Sports tubing may be closed due to a variety of reasons:
  1. Water level too low, water temp too high, amount of dissolved oxygen too low. These are all conditions detrimental to the aquatic life and Backdoor Sports may be closed temporarily per our agreement with the City of Steamboat Springs and Colorado Department of Wildlife.

  2. Water level too high – Backdoor Sports has determined that water levels above 700 cubic feet per second are not safe for commercial tubing.

  3. Life jackets are ALWAYS recommended and at higher levels they are required.

  4. Age restrictions may be implicated dependent on flows.

  5. Backdoor Sports reserves the right to decline service to persons we deem physically or otherwise impaired.

  6. Shoes (not flip flops) are required. River shoes are available at Backdoor Sports for $3.
  1. Where do we start tubing and where do we finish?
  2. Tubing starts from the Backdoor Sports shop location at 841 Yampa Street, tubers will float approximately 2 miles down river to just past the James Brown Soul Center Of The Universe bridge where there is a large sign directing tubers to exit the river and a takeout. Tubers are then shuttled back to Backdoor Sports.
  3. How long does this take?
  4. The time of the tube ride varies dependent on the flow of the river, generally in peak tubing season the trip is just over an hour.
  5. How do we get back?Backdoor Sports is continuously running shuttles between the takeout and the shop.
  6. How far do we tube?The tube ride is approximately 2 miles down the Yampa River.
  7. Can I wear flip-flops?
  8. Sorry, no flip-flops allowed, shoes/sandals with a heel strap or closed heel are required. Backdoor sports rents river shoes for 3$ should you need them.
  9. What didn’t I think of?
  10. If you are a wearer of sunglasses or prescription eyewear a safety strap is highly recommended for your glasses so as to prevent them from falling off the head and becoming lost in the river. Backdoor Sports does retail Croakies brand safety straps which are available at the tubing desk. Sunscreen is also generally a very good idea to wear, Backdoor Sports does retail sunscreen should you need to pick some up before departure.


Grillling Pizza 101: Margherita Pizza

As summer is finally here in Chicago, if you haven't already, its time to start cooking outdoors!  Friends and family are always drawn to the "heat" my husband and I bring to the grill, whether its a juicy steak or a grilled pizza. Today I am featuring a grilled pizza, guaranteed to be served with a crispy charred bubbly crust and a plethora of mouth watering toppings, vibrant sauces, and fresh garnishes.  The combinations and flavors you can create are limitless.  Carnivores and herbivores alike can create their own flavor rainbow with color and texture.  Today I will guide you on grilling a basic Margherita pizza.

How to master grilling pizza:

Choose your dough
There's no shame in buying fresh store bought pizza dough; I can't always make my own yeast-risen dough so I turn to the dough masters at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or a local pizzeria. However, making your own dough is easier than it sounds and I include my recipe below.

Basic Grilled Pizza Dough


note: makes two 12 inch pizzas

3/4 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 unbleached flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoons cornmeal
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus  1/4 teaspoon for the bowl


Pour warm water into a small bowl. Add the yeast and sugar and stir until the yeast dissolves, it must be smooth and beige in color. Let it rest and stand for about 5 minutes to make sure the yeasted water is active, as a thin layer of foam should form on top. Set aside.
Next, add the flours, salt, and cornmeal to a standing mixer. Using your dough attachment, set on the lowest speed, combine and mix all the dry ingredients. Add the yeasted water and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the mixer and mix on the slowest speed allowing the dry and wet ingredients to combine together slowly. I recommend scraping down the sides of the mixture with a spatula. Set the mixer to medium high speed and let the mixer knead the dough for about 2 minutes, forming into a ball. If the dough is too wet or sticky, add some more flour to help prevent from sticking as it should come off the sides cleanly and form a ball. Put the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil in a bowl and place your dough ball in the bowl. Turn the ball over several times to coat it with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm and draft free place for 2 hours until it rises to almost double in appearance. Chill the dough in the refrigerator overnight or for about 1 hour to firm it up before grilling to make it easier to handle. Before working with the dough, let it stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Rolling out/shaping the dough

Place dough ball on a clean work surface that is lightly floured. Punch down the dough gently to remove gas. Flatten the dough with your hands to about 1 inch thickness and cut in half. Put one piece of dough in the center of the floured surface and sprinkle flour over the top of the dough. Using the rolling pin, begin rolling out the dough starting from the center out to the edges about 1/4 inch thickness. I don't like perfect round pizzas, I prefer the charactertisc of rustic and unrefined look. Sprinkle the crust with a generous layer of flour so it makes it easier to transfer the dough without sticking. Position a rimless baking sheet or pizza peel and transfer the dough onto it. 

Herb oil for grilling pizza

1/2 cup of olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh basil, finely chopped

Place all the ingrediesnt in a bowl and mix well. The herb oil will keep in refrigerator for about a week. Leftovers can we used for marinades for meats, fish or veggies. 

Grilling the pizza

Preheat your grill to high heat.  We use our gas Weber grill and turn it to medium high setting, closing the lid for about 10 minutes before placing the dough on grates. I recommend putting olive oil on a paper towel to grease the grates as it will prevent the dough from sticking to the grill.
When your grill is ready, slide it off the rimless baking sheet allowing the dough to slide flat onto the grill.

The dough should cook for about 3 minutes and will begin to bubble and it will begin to set and firm up.

 Watch as magic happens.

Gently lift edge and peak underneath with thongs and ideally you want the underside of the dough to become charred, but not burnt (as pictured above).  Once it is ready, remove the pizza from the grill and flip it over so the charred side is face up on the baking sheet and the uncooked side is face down.  You will then brush the cooked side with the her oil, add your sauce, cheese, and toppings (ingredients listed below), before returning the pizza to the grill for a few minutes to cook the bottom.  After a few minutes, your pizza will be done.  We like to then take the pizza off the grill and place it under our broil for a few minutes to add a little color and crispness.  Top with fresh basil leaves, slice, and serve! Enjoy!

Margherita Pizza 

1 grilled pizza crust, as pictured above
1 1/2 Tablespoon herb oil
1/2 ball of Mozerella di bufala
2-3  tablespoons of tomato sauce/pizza sauce 
(I made slow-roasted tomato sauce)
3-4 fresh basil leaves