A Girl & Her Food


Q & A at Chicago Gourmet Sponsor Country Financial with Chef Kevin Hickey and Check Please! Host Cat De Orio

Since 1925, Country Financial has supported the agriculture industry and local famers. They continue to help restaurants understand what it takes to be financially secure in the industry. As an avid home cook and supporter of the farm-to-table movement, and one deeply rooted in the Chicago restaurant scene, I was ecstatic to join Country Financial with Chef Kevin Hickey at Park Grill for an exclusive Q&A session.  The discussion was led by Check Please! host Cat De Orio and Chef Hickey, and they discussed his passion for farm-to-table and what it means for the Chicago restaurant industry.

When I arrived at the Park Grill for the Q&A, I was greeted by a refreshing mimosa and charred beef carpaccio.

I listened to Cat and Kevin discuss how they both attended Green City Market before Chicago Gourmet. It brought a smile to my face as I did the same.   Every Wednesday and Saturday at Green City Market, I run into Chicago chefs picking up the local and seasonal ingredients for their kitchen, and that has in turn inspired me to do the same in my home kitchen. I may have to spend a little more on the plums, potatoes and peppers, but I get to engage with the farmers and know exactly where my food is coming from. I have been a firm believer of quality over quantity and Chef Kevin and Cat affirmed my belief during their Q&A.  The farmers will take time to educate you on their produce, and even offer their recipes on how to prepare!  Who knew you can make an amazing garlic scape pesto??

There aren’t many “food bloggers” in Chicago like me, as I know every farmer and they know me. I take time each season to visit the farms and REALLY understand the process from seed to harvest to table.  To be honest, it tastes so much better even if it costs a bit more.   There is a sense of satisfaction when you can form a connection with your food.  If we all supported local farms, the cost of their produce would decrease.

After the Q&A, I got to catch up with Cat, who has been a dear friend of mine for many years, and Johanna of Mommacuisine. These girls not only are #girlboss ladies, but they also support the farm-to-table movement in and out of the Chicago restaurant scene.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of COUNTRY Financial.  The opinions and text are all mine.


Angeleno Magazine's #DineLA2016 7/31 at Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica

Join me at Angeleno’s annual signature culinary event celebrating the best restaurants in the city returns! Bend the standards with us with live music by Dave Damiani and the No Vacancy Orchestra with special guest stars Donny Most and Renee Olstead, beats by RedShoe LA and inventive dishes from the city’s finest chefs.
Enjoy delicious bites by
The Arthur J | Avec Nous | The Belvedere | THE Blvd | Broken Spanish | The Cannibal | Charcoal Venice | Del Frisco's Grille | The District by Hannah An | Everson Royce Bar | FIG | Grand Food & Beverage | Hanjip | Herringbone Santa Monica | Kali | Knead & Co. Pasta Bar | Little Sister | Locanda Del Lago | M CafĂ© | Moruno | ObicĂ  Mozzarella Bar | Pizzeria il Fico | Porta Via | The Raymond 1886 | Redbird | SALT | Salt's Cure | Sambar | Spread Mediterranean Kitchen | Trois Familia | Union | Viviane | Wally’s Beverly Hills | WEST Restaurant & Lounge | WOLF
Cocktails, wines and sips served by
Angel City Brewery | Cast & Plow | Gran Cosecha Tequila | Icelandic Glacial | Jarritos | Kim Crawford Wines | Koffee Reinvented | Malibu Beach Inn | Rattleback Rye | Red Bull | Santeria Rum | 50 Bleu Vodka
Thank you to our partners
Argyle Grant | Choura Events | Delta Air Lines | The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows | F. Ron Smith and David Berg of Partners Trust | Gentry Jackson | KCBS 2 | KCAL 9 | O'Gara Coach Company
A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit the Los Angeles Mission, so refunds are politely declined. All guests must be 21+ with ID to attend and require ticket (printed or digital) to enter.

To purchase TICKETS, click HERE 


windy city smoke out and TownPlace Suites

Come join me and TownePlace Suites by Marriott 
for their upcoming, brand new partnership with ? that will be announced at Windy City SmokeoutTo celebrate the new partnership, and kick off the Windy City Smokeout weekend, TownePlace Suites is hosting a celebrity BBQ battle with country music trio Sister C vs. musicians Jordan Gray & Joey HydeThe exclusive event takes place Friday, July 15 at 1:15pm.

For tickets, click here 


Grilled Portabello Caprese using @StellaCheeses Fresh Mozzarella

The best part of dairy, in my opinion, is by far what is considered FRESH CHEESE.  It comes in so some many different textures, from so many different milks, from different animals, all having its own unique flavor.  Different cheeses are to be enjoyed in different settings.  One of my favorites however, due to its versatility, is mozzarella.   The range in flavor from different mozzarella is extraordinary, and I can always make use of it in whatever dish I am cooking.   One of my favorites is Stella Fresh Mozzarella.  I love to use Stella’s to either just cut up and enjoy with some fresh tomato, basil, olive oil, and a nice balsamic vinaigrette for a fresh salad (so simple!), or sometimes I’ll step it up a notch and transform into a tasty melted delight.  For today’s post, I’m going to share with you a grilled portabello caprese! Click here to receive a coupon towards your Stella Fresh Mozzarella purchase. 


2-3 portabella caps
2-3 Stella Cheese fresh mozzarella, sliced
2-3 tomato, sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil 
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Balsamic vinegar to drizzle 
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat grill to medium high heat. 

Clean mushrooms and remove stems, reserve for other use. Place caps on a plate with the gills up.

Grill mushrooms with gill facing up for about 8-10 mins. 

Slice Stella's fresh Mozzarella 

Slice the tomato

Chiffonade the basil 

Top portabella with tomato and cheese 

 Place the grill pan under the broil until mozzarella melts and bubbles. 

Remove from grill pan and dress with basil and drizzle balsamic vinegar. 

Serve and Enjoy!

For more Stella Cheese recipes or information, head to Stella Cheese because #freshisbest! 


Grilled Beer Can Turkey

As Chicago’s weather seems to be cooperating, grilling season is FINALLY upon us…  And that means its time to head outdoors, and enjoy the warmer temperatures with a cold brewski and some cooked protein. One of my favorite things to enjoy in the summer is a juicy beer can chicken.  But seeing as I missed Thanksgiving this year, I thought it would be fun to feast on a beer can turkey with crispy skin and juicy succulent meat.  As turkey is usually found dry on so many tables, this is a sure fire way to keep things tasty and moist.  It is hands down my favorite way to enjoy this bird, and there is no reason to wait until November to eat turkey again!  Try it! For additional recipes, head to The National Turkey Federation! 


1     1 12-14 pound turkey, cavity cleaned, rinsed and patted dry    
       2 1 pint Half Acre Daisy Cutter
1     1 cup water

For the Rub:

1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of 1 lemon


Preheat the grill to 350 degrees. Prepare the chicken by applying your spice rub, making sure to season the meat under the skin of the turkey. Season the cavity and skin with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and lemon juice  Place the turkey on the open beer can so that the beer can is inside the cavity of the turkey. Make sure the beer can is open and half full, I recommend drinking the first half, or it will explode. You can also cut the top of the can completely off, using a can opener, which will allow for extreme succulence. Place the turkey upright on the grill over the grill pan and over indirect heat. Grill the turkey, covered for about  1 1/2 hour - 2 hours.  Enjoy! 


Sorrel Pesto

For Mother's Day at my Aunt's house, we decided to make a sorrel pesto, with sorrel which was freshly picked from her herb garden. This was my first experience with sorrel, and I fell in love with the flavor.  I decided afterward, to pick a little extra to take home into my kitchen, so I could make it again. Sorrel's bitter flavor comes from oxalic acid, which is also contained in spinach, rather than essential oils like most other herbs.  It's best use is in salads, pestos and sauces.  Before cooking with sorrel, always pull off the stem and thick vein. 


Sorrel Pesto 


1 1/2 cups fresh sorrel leaves, washed and stems trimmed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Bragg's Nurtional Yeast for Vegan option
1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt


In a food processor process sorrel, Parmesan, nuts, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until coarsely ground. With food processor running, add oil in a slow and steady stream until mixture is emulsified. Pesto may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Enjoy!