Food & Drink

Five (Expert-Approved) Summer Wines

Summer WinesI am by no means a wine person. I’m a cocktail girl alllll the way (or vodka soda if I know I’m in it for the long haul), BUT something about the warmer weather gets me craving a good glass of wine on occasion. There’s nothing like a refreshing glass of rosé when you’re basking in the sun!

Given I know close to nothing about wine, I thought it’d be fun to ask my cousin Jasmine, who drinks wine like it’s her job (well, because it is), to share her current favorites for summer. Now I feel like I can “rosé all day” like a pro.

Jasmine is on the winemaking team at Seghesio Family Vineyards (I wasn’t joking when I said drinking wine is part of her job). She lives in SF – this is the cousin I visited a few weeks back – and works in Sonoma County where the vineyard is located. The vineyard specializes in Zinfandel and Italian varietals. Below she shares five of her favorite wines for summer – she did mention she had MANY MANY favorites, and that narrowing down to five was really tough!

2016 Malene Rosé | San Luis Obispo, California

Malene is a Provence style Rose. It is made from both red and white grapes – it’s dry yet full of fruit character and vibrancy. It pairs well with almost everything. It is incredibly refreshing on a hot day! 

Dashe Cellars Grenache 20152015 Dashe Cellars Grenache | Oakland, California

For those who only have eyes for red wines, the Dashe Cellars Grenache is the summer wine for you! The Dashe Cellars Grenache is light, fruity, and velvety in texture. It has beautiful red fruit notes as well as a bit of spice. And it is delicious served slightly chilled, making it perfect for summer.

2015 Terlano Pinot Bianco | Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy

The Terlano Pinot Bianco is a new find. I recently had this wine during a lunch outing with colleagues. It has notes of citrus and honey, with a creamy texture. We enjoyed this wine with a pork belly pizza and it was amazing!

Tamar Ridge Sauvignon Blanc

2016 Tamar Ridge Sauvignon BlancTasmania, Australia

Tasmania is one of my favorite wine regions and Aussie travel destinations. I fell in love with this wine while working and traveling through Australia. It has wonderful aromas of tropical fruits and peach. Definitely one of my all-time favorite Sauvignon Blancs!

Radio Conteau Reisling2015 Radio-Coteau Platt RieslingSonoma Coast, California

Riesling is my favorite white grape variety. My appreciation for Riesling was sparked during a harvest that I spent working in Germany. Ever since then, I have been in search of a great California Riesling! My boss recently steered me in the direction of the Radio-Coteau Platt Riesling. The Radio-Coteau Riesling is an excellent example of how complex and tasty Rieslings can be. This wine has beautiful notes of citrus and stone fruit. It is balanced very well with nice minerality and acid on the palate. Perfect for spicy dishes!

Best Summer Wines

Is Sous Vide Cooking Worth it?

Is Sous Vide Cooking Worth it?

No, I am not a professional chef…but I that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be one. I mean, that’d be a nice little bonus right? Hi, I work in advertising, I have a life & style blog..AND oh yeah, I am a professional chef.

I always wondered how restaurants manage to cook steak perfectly EVERY TIME. It has to be chaos in those kitchens (my kitchen is chaos cooking for two – I still can’t get stuff to cook properly!), how do they keep track of how much time each steak requires?! Well, I hate to break it to you, but most restaurants don’t keep track. They have this magical device called the sous vide.

There are different variations of sous vides – ones used by large restaurants vary from those made for us wannabe chefs. I purchased a home-friendly sous vide, the Joule by ChefSteps, to see what all this hype was about (& because I wanted to make progress against my #chefgoals). The device came with a hefty price tag at $199, but curiosity inspired me to pull the trigger.

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Why Sprouted Grains Are Healthier

Why Sprouted Grains Are Healthier

I’ve adjusted my diet the last few weeks, mainly to get a hold of my sugar problem, but also to lose a couple of pounds I put on over the holidays in preparation for summer! One of they key adjustments I made was cutting out all sugar, aside from fruit, and also eating foods that have a low glycemic index (i.e. foods that have minimal impact on your blood sugar – better for your metabolism & ultimately your health). The no sugar thing has been SO tough…that can literally be a blog post all on it’s own! Good news is, it gets better after the first week.

The other major change I made was the types of grains I’m eating. I am still eating grains – for one thing, I can’t live without SOME carbs in my diet, but I also strongly believe in the notion of moderation. I don’t think cutting anything completely out of your diet (outside of sweets & bad fats) is a good thing. However, I’ve been focusing on eating more sprouted grains. I know, you have questions…keep reading!

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An Easy Acai Bowl Recipe

An Easy Acai Bowl Recipe

I discovered acai a few years ago in California – I know, I know, I’m not cool and didn’t discover it in Brazil – and was immediately obsessed. It’s got a creamy texture to it, and even with no sugar it’s bursting with flavor. Every time I’m in San Diego, I treat myself to an acai bowl at least once during the trip. I know that we have acai bowls here in Chicago, but I try to steer clear because I feel like most places add a ton of sugar to the acai puree. Bottom line is, I was acai deprived…until I found these acai packets at Trader Joe’s.

I knew these acai blended packets would be a game changer! I immediately started experimenting with different recipes to make the perfect acai bowl. After much trial and error, I think I’ve nailed this down. Below is an easy acai bowl recipe that is absolutely foolproof – you can thank me later!

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My Favorite Things to Buy at Trader Joe’s

My Favorite Things to Buy at Trader Joe’s

I’ll be the first admit that I legit like grocery shopping. Is that weird? I don’t get to cook everyday, but I love going to the grocery store on the weekends to stock up on my go-to snacks and whatever recipes I’m making that week (really it’s “recipe”, singular, but I shoot for the stars). I also enjoy hunting for new stuff to try, and Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to do this. They’re always introducing new items to the mix – I’m like a child in a candy store when I shop their “new in” section. That and the section where they have the samples. I love samples.

I’ve been a Trader Joe’s shopper ever since I graduated college, which feels like forever ago (because it is). They’ve been popping up everywhere in the city which is amazing. Rumor has it, they’ll be opening on in Wicker Park soon – heyoooo. Cannot wait. Since I’m a long time T Joe’s shopper, there are specific things I always buy from there, on top of the experimental purchases I throw in the mix. Below are my favorite things to buy from Trader Joe’s (all of these items are Trader Joe’s exclusives). I’ve linked to the items that aren’t pictured so you can easily find them!

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Mom’s Homemade Hummus Recipe

Mom’s Homemade Hummus Recipe

My mom’s hummus is ALWAYS better than whatever I find at the store. Every. Single. Time. I never asked how to make it, because I figured it’d be too complicated/too much work. A few weeks ago, I finally asked how this magical hummus is made, and was surprised to find that it only required a handful of ingredients and a blender. Since I now know how to make it myself, it’s officially in my healthy snack rotation. It’s creamy & full of flavor – I love that I know exactly what’s in it and that it’s all natural! I’ve been eating it with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes…YUM. Below, you’ll find the easiest homemade hummus recipe EVER!

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Healthy Snacks to Stock Up On

Healthy Snacks to Stock Up On

Confession – I LOVE snacking. I love food in general, but snacking is one of my guilty pleasures. Sometimes (well, most times), I just want to munch on a little somthin’ somthin’. Depending on what I have at arm’s length, it can be a bad situation. Knowing I have this habit of hitting up my pantry every few hours, I try to keep only healthy snacks in the house. That way, even though I feel a tad guilty about snacking, I’m comforted by the fact that I’m at least putting healthy stuff into my body. These are the healthy snacks I resort to on the reg –

Siggi’s Yogurt: I’ve tried most yogurt brands, and Siggi’s is by FAR my favorite – I even like it better than Fage (sorry, Leo). My favorite is the plain one, but I’ve tried most of their flavors and there isn’t one I don’t like. Their yogurts have less sugar than most brands on the market, and significantly more protein (even when compared to Greek yogurts). Their plain yogurt is 0% fat, and it’s still as creamy as ever. I typically eat it with honey and fresh blueberries, sometimes adding some cereal or granola for a little crunch.

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How to Curb a Sugar Craving

How to Curb a Sugar Craving

As stated in my Instagram bio – I have a sugar addiction. It’s a real thing…and I’m not denying it. I’ve managed to get it under control by only indulging once in a while, but if it were up to me I’d treat myself to a dessert after lunch & dinner (and maybe in between). I look forward to dessert more than dinner. My trip to a restaurant usually goes something like “I’ll have a salad with grilled chicken, thanks…hmmm and tell me more about your carrot cake”. #thestruggleisreal.

I’ve tried not eating sweets after meals, but I end up caving and binge eating eventually. It’s just not effective. It wasn’t until I discovered “dessert tea” that I found the solution to my sugar problems.

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5 Perfect Chicago Valentine’s Day Restaurants

5 Perfect Chicago Valentine’s Day Restaurants

I’m all about unconventional Valentine’s Day dates…but I’m obvi always up for a nice dinner. I love food, what can I say (& spending time with Leo…sometimes). Though Leo and I have frequent dinner dates, I still look forward to our Valentine’s Day plans. There is something special about the time and thoughtfulness put into a night celebrating your relationship.

Another thing special about Valentine’s Day? How fast the restaurants book up. You don’t want to be scrambling last minute trying to find your spot – trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s less than ideal. For all my Chicagoans, I’ve pulled together a list of my favorite cozy & romantic restaurants in the city, all of which would be perfect Valentine’s Day dinner destinations.

We’ll be spending Valentine’s Day early this year due to work travel, but I’ll let you guys know where we end up! PS – here are gift ideas for him too.

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Greek Christmas Cookies (Melomakarona)

Greek Christmas Cookies (Melomakarona)

The first time I spent Christmas in Athens, I fell in love with how much Greeks embrace Christmas. Despite the economic crisis, people were out and about, shopping, grabbing coffee, going out to dinner. The energy was unbelievable. It was a totally different experience visiting Athens in the winter months – the city was alive with people who are normally vacationing in August.

One of my most memorable discoveries during this trip was the Greek Christmas cookie. Every single bakery was stocked with them, restaurants would treat you to them for dessert. They were everywhere, and I didn’t mind it one bit. When baked, the cookie is actually quite dry, but it is then soaked in honey-based syrup & topped with walnuts. The end result is a perfectly baked macaroon with a crispy outside and a center soaked in honey. I’ve never had anything like it.

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