Halos Mandarins Giveaway

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Why HALOOOOOO there!  We love giving away love to our readers but even better is a giveaway with pocket sized healthy treats, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  So have you ever tried Wonderful Halos mandarins?  At 50 calories each, these little orange fruits pack a punch of vitamin C without the seeds. We were given a bag to try but we’ve been buying these bebes in bulk since winter citrus became the rage again (or in season as the laymen say).  You can just throw them in your lunch bag, peel them without ruining your manicure, and with minimal desk mess.

But let’s veer off the beaten grove path.  You can also cook some sunny recipes with Halos to brighten up your day.

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One gloomy Sunday, we went bananas for mandarins with our brunch.

Baked Orange French Toast from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom

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We kept close to the recipe but shaved off the zest of a Halos mandarin and subbed cinnamon for nutmeg.  Make sure you butter the pan or use PAM spray as our forgetfully blissful selves missed this step and our french toast had separation anxiety from the baking pan.  Taste overrides appearance, however, and this orangey french toast didn’t disappoint.  We tossed some mandarin pieces on top with a drizzle of pure maple syrup for pure deliciousness.

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Blueberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins from Damn Delicious

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This tasty and healthy recipe from home cook and blogger, Chungah An, features greek yogurt, fresh blueberries and orange zest.  These little muffins were simple to make, moist, fluffy and fruity!

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Looking for more Wonderful mandarin Halos ideas?  Wonderful Halos has a cool creative blog with more than just recipes.  Just in time for Valentine’s day, you can find sweet crafts and snacks to delight kids and adults alike.

Orange you glad we shared these recipes (hehehehe)?  Now for the giveaway details so you can make your own holiday halo-ful:

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Your Wonderful Halos Gift Basket giveaway includes a juicy bunch of Wonderful Halos mandarins,a Wonderful Halos branded lunch box, backpack, water bottle, chapstick (mandarin flavored), sunglasses and stress ball shaped like a mandarin.

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway and happy halo-ing!

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Farmhouse Chicago: A ChiOrganic Girls Review

Whaaa…we found a place that embodies our blog namesake.  River North is hiding a gem of a restaurant, Farmhouse Chicago, right underneath our CTA riding noses, literally.  Farmhouse partners with local Midwestern farms in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin to provide us city slickers with farmtastic vittles.  We were treated to a VIP 5 course tasting event recently to check out new menu creations and learn about Farmhouse’s holistic approach to restaurateur-ing.  The first thing we noticed about Farmhouse was the rustic and cozy decor.  Co-owners, Ferdia Doherty and TJ Callahan, explained that even the furnishings promote local moods with reclaimed art touches from retired Chicago bars and restaurants and salvaged furniture from the south side.

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Chef, Eric Mansavage, detailed each course’s farm connection and ingredient alchemy as we nibbled our way through the Midwest.

Note* No Monicas were hurt during this dinner.  Her vegetarian ideals remained intact as Kate took one for team meat!  Rest assured, Farmhouse has plenty of farmiliar vegetarian options on their everyday menu.

Course 1: Ellis Farms Green Grapes and Ham Market Amuse

First, don’t act like you know what an amuse is…unless you’re a foodie.  Just in case, an amuse is bite-sized hors d’œuvre.  We were amused by this fancy PBJ with on a crostini.  Tasting notes: Crunchy, yummy, grapey, give us moree than bite sized, please!

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Course 2: Green Acres Farm Chilled Melon Soup, Summer Bread Salad, Spiced Yogurt, Crispy Njuda, Mint

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This is like a food dictionary lesson!  Njuda is a spicy spreadable pork sausage, like pig pate, hahaha.  Although we weren’t big fans of the chilled cantaloupe soup (maybe too sweet?), the summer bread salad with crisp radish and tart yogurt tickled the tongue.

Course 3: Grilled Rushing Waters Rainbow Trout, Black Garlic Roasted Tomatillos, Black Bean Relish, Swan Creek Bacon Lardon

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So, normally, seafood fans we are not (as Yoda would say) but hey, the force was strong with this fish.  The skin was on but, shocker, it was actually smoky and delicious with a flavor reminiscent of bacon.  The fish was not “fishy” but freshy.  It was mild with a melty texture.  The black bean relish on its own would have been a crowd pleaser as well.

Course 4: BBQ Short Ribs, Butter Poached Indiana Shrimp, Hazzard Free Farms Pimento Cheese Popcorn Grits, Sweet Corn

Chef, Eric Mansavage, described this cornucopia (aha!) as Farmhouse’s version of surf and turf.  Full disclosure, not a shrimp fan, but the short ribs were tender and surrounded by a delicate moat of popcorn grits.  It’s like going to the movies and bringing a rib in your popcorn box.

Course 5: Peaches and Cream Ice Cream Sandwich, Mick Klug Farm Michigan Marmalade, Milk Jam and Ice Cream, Vanilla Bean Shortcake20150901_193928

If you know the Peaches and Cream song sing along….peaches and creaaam.  Juicy Michigan peaches, peach marmalade that was almost like carmamel-ade, and sweet cream ice cream nestled between 2 pillowy cookies.  Ob-vs we love dessert.  Even Monica could chow down on this soon to be farmous goodie.

Farmhouse owners are expanding their acres with the new Farmbar in Lincoln Park, set to open in October.  They can also subsidize your love of cider as they own Brown Dog Farm and its filled to the bushel with apple, pear, peach and cherry trees.  Can we get a Yum Yum?  We love their down to (the) earth mentality and will definitely root our way back to try their veggie options.

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Are you a Farmhouse Fan?  Tell us your favorite dish!

Get crafty and charitable with CrEATeFest: A Day of Arts and Eats

Food truck, arts activities and dancing, oh my!  Foodies, artists and families can all co-mingle ar CrEATeFest on August 9th at the Bridgeport Arts Center to support Changing Worlds.  Changing Worlds is a non profit organization that supports in school … Continue reading

Fit Food Delivery with Factor 75

Does anyone feel a small scream in their throat when they see Christmas decorations coming out the day after Halloween?  Yep, it’s the kickoff to the whirlwind holiday season, that season of cookies and brownies and parties. And soon enough, our thighs are looking like those gigantic turkey legs that people get at county fairs.  When you’re busy, how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Well your own personal in-house chef works…if you’re Beyonce.  If you aren’t channeling your inner rich chick, however, there are some options to keep you eating well.  Thankfully, the trend of meal deliveries has flown into our lives and we are gobbling up the idea!  This past week, we got to try Factor 75.  So what factors would make you choose them as opposed to another meal delivery service?

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Eating healthy could not be easier. https://www.factor75.com/

1) Options!  You don’t have to sit on Santa’s lap to get what you wish for with Factor 75.  Everybody loves options, especially those with more restrictive dietary needs.  When we checked in to pick our food, it was easy to balance our different desires.  We chose 2 vegetarian meals, 2 gluten free meals and one snack.  Factor 75 hooks up almost any eater with paleo friendly, dairy free, vegetarian and gluten free possibilities.  Factor 75 has also partnered for Aritzone and sources local ingredients so you can not only eat clean, but with a clean conscience.

2) Ease!  Who doesn’t need a break from shopping cart collisions and entertaining long lost cray relatives?  Your Factor 75 meals are cooked up by a chef, delivered by a nice FedEx person right to your door, and all you do is heat those puppies up and eat.  Can we also mention no washing dishes either?!  *High Five*

3) Holiday looove!  Remember that dude you only dated through New Years?  Factor 75 is low commitment.  Try 5 meals and if you aren’t feeling it, you cancel.  If you like it, continue that relationship til’ Easter!

 

What did we eat, tho?

Kate’s Foods

The spicy paleo meatballs, made from grass-fed beef, had a hint of cinnamon that made them stand out from a boring ol’ chunk of meat.  They came with a side of brussel sprouts, cooked with celery root and mushrooms in a brown butter sauce.  The meal was hearty, quick to heat up and kept me full until a late dinner.Downloads6

The chicken sausage with apple and pumpkin hash and a frittata was my second dish.  The chicken sausage and hash were tasty but the frittata was just ok.  I think it’s because I don’t like reheated egg that much (personal problem!).

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Monica’s Foods

Sometimes I wake up late and don’t have time make my own breakfast (hitting the alarm clock for that “5 more minutes”). That’s where Factor 75 comes in handy with super goji berries mixed in steel cut oatmeal with cinnamon spice.   I’m not used to steel cut oats so I added a lil’ more sweetness with brown sugar.  Of course, you need a bit need protein to survive the workday so a hard boiled egg is included as well.

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After work is over and I finish yoga class and my health coaching program homework, I have no time to cook but (yay) my Factor 75 dinner menu is sitting in my fridge.  The vegetarian dinner option I selected was Southwest Quinoa bowl with mixed beans (black, white, pinto & kidney), red onions, cilantro and mashed sweet potatoes were hidden on bottom with sides of cheddar cheese and a chipotle aioli.

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Shared goodies (Holidays are about sharing, yeah?):

The superfood bites were healthy and tasty super stars with chia, flax, cacao nibs, coconut, oats, honey, and applesauce. Hey buddy, these were way better than a crappy fruit cake!

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Are you ready to take a break from the cooking grind?  Try Factor 75 here, and when you purchase 4 meals, get a free meal on us (see, we like to give!) when you sign up using the code “CHIORGANICGIRLS” as well as a free healthy Ebook with tons of tips.  Let us know what you think too! We would love to try a few more recommended meals (maybe the autumn stuffed acorn squash or butternut squash lasagna…hint, hint) to save us some time after standing in those Black Friday lines.

Happy munching!

Quick and Easy Superfood Breakfasts

Superfoods are all the rage right now but why shouldn’t they be?  They are super after all, super at making your body feel spectacular.  In a world of fast food, we’re all in need of healthy heros like Sambazon!

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The brand Sambazon focuses on fair trade, non GMOs and sustainability of the cute lil acai superberry.  We recently tasted two of their acai breakfast (or any time of day, for that matter) options and simply swooned over their hunger pang crushing powers.

The first sample was the chocolate, almond and coconut milk protein smoothie.  Lactose issue folks and vegans can rejoice over this tasty drink containing 8 grams of vegan protein to get the day started.  We are a big fan of coconut milk as it adds a rich touch that makes the drink feel decadent.

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The second option, Acai Berry Superfood Smoothie Packs, breaks down to the bare essence of the superfood, fair trade organic acai berry pulp, in a convenient frozen ready to blend serving.  We love to make green smoothies to get a pop of spinach or kale in the morning and incorporated the pack into our easy and quick green recipe with coconut water, spinach and blueberries.

Monica & Kate’s Super Samba Greenie:

  • Take 1 cup coconut water (like Zico or Vita Coco) and put in a magic bullet or blender.
  • Add a smattering of blueberries, handful of spinach and half a superfood smoothie pack and viola!

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Your not too sweet not too sour SUPER green smoothie has been created!

Like the Sambazon Protein Smoothie but wanna make your own version?

Monica and Kate’s Fake Out Samba Protein Smoothie:

  • 1 cup Coconut-Almond blend milk
  • 1 packet Samanazon Acai superfood smoothie pack
  • 1/2 cup frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (like Ghirardelli)

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Voila!  3 breakfast options to break from your egg and granola routine.  Ready to get in touch with your inner champion?  You can find Sambazon at oh so many retailers like Marianos, Jewel-Osco, Whole Foods, Walgreens and even (*gasp*) Walmart!  They are everywhere :).

Go Deep or Go Home: The Art of #Chicago Style #Pizza

What do a deep dish pizza and a magician have in common?  They both have good taste!  Ok, that was a stretch but did you  know magicians could have more than just doves up their sleeves?

Recently, Now We’re Cookin’ invited members of Chicago Food Bloggers (including lucky saucy us) to learn to make the Chicago style pizza at their Evanston cook space.  To our surprise, instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, our chef, a professional magician, pulled a fantastic pizza out of the oven.

Chef Brian Kirshenbaum keeps his pizza dough straightforward (yeast, warm water, all purpose flour, cornmeal and oil) but sneaks in one secret ingredient (since a magician can’t reveal all his tricks).  He demonstrated the proper way to press down the dough into a deep pan with the slight of a hand.

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Next, he created the sauce by squeezing the juice from fresh whole peeled plum tomatoes and sprinkling in fairy dust…or spices (oregano, black pepper, salt, and garlic) as we non magicians call them.  Then guests partnered up and got to work pressing their own pizza dough and prepping their chunky sauce.

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Finally, the show came to it’s climatic point as fresh deli sliced mozzarella was pressed on the bottom.  Guests picked up to 3 vegetables/meats to fill their own pizza.  We shuffled through the ingredients and chose spinach, mushrooms, roasted red peppers and few thinly sliced fennel.  Veg head Monica loaded up on the plants and a dash of spice instead of sticking with just the traditional thick chunk of gooey cheese (Mon is not fan of xxxtra cheese but will eat deep dish to support her city).

Finally, we spread the chunky tomato sauce over the top of the pizza and sprinkled Parmesan cheese and viola; a magic Chicago pizza appeared :).  Notice the delicate saucy finish.  As we marveled at the fresh flavor of the pizza, Chef BK astounded us with magic acts to titillate our other senses.

 

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We had a blast learning from Chef and Illusionist Brian Kirshenbaum at Now We’re Cookin’.  And now Mon loves Chicago’s own deep dish pizza!

Cooking in Chaos with Chicagoans

Want to show off your cooking skills while eating twenty different dishes all at once? Sounds like a crazy reality show right? A few weeks ago, Monica and a friend attended the launch party of Chaos Cooking</strong in one kitchen with only ten burners and one sink to share with over 50 fellow Chicagoans.

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So you must be wondering how do over 50 people cook in one kitchen?  Well think BYOU!  Bring yo’ own utensils, peeps.  I had to bring my own ingredients and supplies so I threw knives, bowls, cutting boards and such in a box and headed out.   There were several pots in the kitchen for people to use, however, making the event a potluck style social with the twist of cooking on the spot with strangers.

People arrived at the spacious Test Kitchen located in Noble Square and were greeted by the bubbly hostess and event organizer, Victoria DeMatteo.  As more people arrived, others immediately felt a sense urgency and started to prep their food.   Cravzy provided VIPs (those who bought tickets early like me) one ingredient such as tofu, golden beets, asparagus, fish filets, chicken thighs and more.  I selected Manila mangoes to prepare mango salsa.

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Fellow Chicagoans of all different ages and backgrounds came together and had a great time cooking in chaos.  Some dishes were from online recipes such as simple yet yummy mango sticky rice while others created their own dish and even brought electric grill for toasty bread with goat cheese spread and fresh asparagus. A few even stepped out of the box with unique ideas like beer soaked rice.

  

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 So if you have a creative and non-claustrophobic cooking spirit, check out the Chaos Cooking events, held once a month with friends and fellow Chicagoans.  Sign up at Cooking Chaos website for future events or even host an event at your apartment. The next event is Spanish wines and tapas at our fave bistro, Blue Star Bistro & Wine Bar.  Click here to RSVP for this event on June 12th.

What new dish would you make if you had to cook in chaos?

Relishing the Pro Chef Life: Fresh Meal Delivery Service from Relished Foods

UPDATE: 8.21.14 Relished has expanded and rebranded to become Home Chef.  They now offer vegan and veg friendly menus as well…all the more reason to stay home and be lazy instead of grocery shopping!

Ooo we are so sick of winter in Chiberia and we’ve had too many days of stir crazy all day pajama pants wearing.  This weather sure hasn’t made it easy to get out to grocery shop, let alone put on any real semblance of clothes.  Enter Relished Foods to conquer any reason to brave the cold white landscape we now call home.

Relished, is a fledgling Chicago area company that delivers fresh ingredients with clear visual instructions to cook healthy delicious meals like a pro.  Each order includes three meals for one week.  Recipes rotate weekly.

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Now to the good food stuff!

We received 3 recipes:

  • Farfalle Pasta with Shrimp
  • Arugula and Fennel Salad with Chicken
  • Naan Pizza

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We were hesitant about the Farfalle Pasta recipe which seemed too simple and possibly bland but once we noticed the fresh prepped ingredients and easy instructions our curiosity got us….  Farfalle Pasta sans Shrimp recipe included fresh baby spinach, basil, plump juicy cherry tomatoes, garlic and asiago cheese.  This is how manageable the recipes are.  We washed the vegetables, sliced the cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic.  Lastly, we added EVOO, sea salt and grounded whole black pepper…so taxing (wink)!

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Once we took a bite of this dish, we were pleasantly surprised by the flavors.  Although simple, the dish was satisfying and complex.

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With the arugula, we got to experience some ingredients we don’t usually utilize like fennel, and even champagne vinegar (you fancy, huh).  The chicken was lean and still juicy.  Relished packaging made it manageable to have one vegetarian and one omnivore eating the same meals as the meats were packaged separately from the veggies.

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The naan pizza made us giggle in delight because we love artichokes, roasted red peppers and onions.  All you had to do was plop the toppings on and bake.  The recipe made two 8 inch pizzas.

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What we learned about getting Relished pro chef meals sent to our house:

  1. All meals take 30 minutes or less and require minimal cooking skills.
  2. Recipe cards were visually stimulating, well articulated and can be used again!
  3. Food came in a space aged cooler box and ingredients stayed fresh until we were ready to cook.
  4. Meals cost around $10 a serving.

We really appreciated that all meals were veggie heavy, creative and delicious.  Relished is only about 6 months in and they have also indicated that they are exploring only veggie/vegan meal options to expand their dietary offerings.  Now if only they would send us some hot cocoa to warm things up for us, we be all about staying in for another week or so.

Thanks to Relished for inviting us to try such yummy and vegetastic meals!!

 

 

Meatless Monday: Roasted Broccoli Sammiches

Bored of boiled broccoli, all soggy and bland?  How about some roasted broccoli with flavor!  We’ve been hooked on oven roasted veggies this year and have no intention of ever looking back. We made two versions of roasted broccoli that can be eaten alone or even added into a sandwich (think cheesy melty panini).

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Baked Broccoli Cheese Sandwich

Modified from here.

Serving 2 people.

Ingredients

  • 1 small sized head of broccoli
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • whole black pepper, grounded to taste
  • Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread
  • 4 whole wheat bread
  • Smoked gruyere cheese (also available at Aldi)

Directions

  • Preheat oven 400 degrees.
  • Cut broccoli.  Put into a round tupperware.  Add seasonings and oil and mix it.

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  • Spread out on a baking tray.  Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Spread lightly Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread on 4 whole wheat breads.
  • Add 1 sliced smoked gruyere cheese on top of coconut spread on each of two sandwiches.
  • Add the roasted broccoli to each of two sandwiches.

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  • Put in a panini maker or grill on stove.

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For a more spicier flavor as a snack or side dish.

  • Same as above plus
  • 1/4 tsp garlic
  • red chili pepper flakes, to taste
  • cayenne pepper or chile arbol ground, to taste

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Bake in the oven for 10 minutes and it’s ready to eat!  Now excuse us because its dinner time.  Broccoli ahoy!!