Bake 425º Pizza Review

For once the suburbs beat Chicago to something yummy.  New local business, Bake 425°, promises Farm-to-Crust Bake at Home pizza and operates in Highland Park, Hinsdale, Evanston, Glencoe, Winnetka and Lake Forest.  Bake 425° took over the hole left by HomeMade Pizza Kitchen but with a modified format.  Owner, Bill Borneman, decided to keep the ease of the pre-made ready to cook pizza but shift to locally sourced, small batch and organic ingredients.  Specialty diets are honored with gluten free crust and vegetarian pizza options.  For traditionalists, classic cheese, Margherita and “pick your own topping” choices begin the menu.  Adventurous pizza monsters (like us) will be pleased, however, by the unique menu items like Poblano and Chicken Sausage pizza or the Earth Lover pizza with truffle oil, Yukon Potatoes, Portabello mushrooms and Béchamel.

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Bake 425° gave us one pizza, one salad and a cookie to sample and review.  We chose the Go Green vegetarian pizza, Sunshine salad and chocolate chip cookie.

What we liked:

Pizza: The Go Green pizza comes with pistachio pesto sauce, brussel sprouts, quartered cherry tomatoes, garlic oil and mozzarella.  Pesto sauce on pizza is a total thumbs up and the brussel sprouts were (thankfully) roasted and crisp.  Crust is whole grain so some consumers may not be used to the dough’s heartier taste compared to white flour.

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Salad: The Sunshine salad was filled with spicy arugula greens, roasted butternut squash, pine nuts and shaved mozzarella.  Lemon oil dressing complimented the mix with a tart and bright flavor.  The salad did need a little bit of salt and pepper to balance the sour lemon.

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Ease of Cooking: Bake 425° gives you everything you need to cook your ‘za, except an oven of course.  Instructions are clear and you are provided with parchment paper for cooking, eliminating the need for any pans or clean up!

Serving Sizes: We fed three people, which averaged about $10 dollars a person…not bad for a quality take home meal.

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What we would change:

The Chocolate Chip Cookie: Nothing really against the taste of the cookie but after eating a pizza, maybe the gelato that Bake 425° offers would balance out the meal better than ending with more dough.  We were so stuffed from the pizza, we barely touched the chocolatey dude.

Why would you try it?

When you are having one of those “I wanna stay in my blankey and bake on my couch” kind of nights, Bake 425° can simplify your night without compromising your taste buds.

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Fit Foodie 5k Race Weekend: The Most Delicious 5k Around!

Yoga + Fro Yo Running + Risotto Boxing + Bacon…+ Beer Who says you can’t enjoy fitness AND food.  Certainly not us as we are 2015 Fit Foodie 5k Race Ambassadors! Cooking Light & Health Magazine are sponsoring a calve … Continue reading

Chicago Restaurant Week Giveaway: Enter Now

First, we want to say welcome new followers!!  We love comments and questions so please chat it up with us!  Let’s initiate you to the Chi Organic Girls club with a giveaway. 🙂

Two essential Chicago questions:

1) Have you been getting your eat on at Restaurant Week?

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2) Are you getting rewarded for getting your eat on?

We’re sure one of these answers is a resounding and forlorn no.  Enter Spring Rewards to the foodie rescue!

Spring Rewards will feed you people and that’s not all.  They also offer a service to get that wallet in order.  We know ours is packed full of rewards cards that are often forgotten when we need them most (we’re looking at you, Walgreens Balance Rewards).  To solve this crisis, you enter your debit or credit card into their secure system in addition to those pesky rewards cards and Spring Rewards automatically tracks those rewards for you.  Merchants who partner with Spring Rewards may also give you a lil sum’ sum’, like cash back, directly on your card, for being so loyal.

Now, to fill your #crw hole in your pocket and stomach.  To enter, follow these picto-instructions.

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Spring Rewards is gifting out dinners for two at places like Roka Akor, Keefer’s, Red Door & Tanta.  Does anyone want to take us?

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Ok, no pressure…but…we really want the truffled kale from Red Door.

Get started here and happy eating!

Giveaway ends on 1/31/2014!

A Very Veg Thanksgiving: Baked French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy

Here’s Part 2 of delicious side dishes from my cooking adventure, French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy taught at Whole Foods Market Cooking School in Lincoln Park.  Thanks to Google+ Local Chicago for hosting this culinary experience!

When you see the food pics below, you’ll know why the whole class was clamoring to get a close view of the finished product.

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French Onion Soup

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4 large sweet onions, thinly sliced with the grain
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, recommend cabernet sauvignon
  • 2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1 small baguette
  • 1/2 pound Swiss, Gruyere, or Emmenthaler cheese, shredded
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Emmenthaler Swiss Cheese

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  • Dry heat a large soup pot or dutch oven for 2 minutes.  Add to hot pot the sliced onions.  Sprinkle salt and drizzle olive oil over onions.  With a large spoon or tongs, constantly turn the onions so they do not stick to the bottom.  Continue stirring and flipping for 5-10 minutes.  The onions will start to shrink and caramelized beautifully.  Add the thyme and stir once more.  Place a lid on the pot and continue this 30 minutes, stirring every so often.  This is where the base of the flavor comes from.  The longer you caramelize, the deeper the flavor.
  • Slice baguette to fit your bowls, either on a diagonal or in circles.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, until bread is completely dried out.
  • Add red wine and balsamic vinegar.  This will help deglaze the pan and pick up more flavor.  Let cook another 10 minutes with no lid.  This will concentrate the liquid a bit to help deepen the flavor.  Add bay leaves and water and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to simmer, place lid on pot and allow to cook another 15-30 minutes.

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  • Ladle into bowls, place bread over soup and sprinkle on cheese.  Place under broiler for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes.  Be aware of the time as the broiler can burn food very quickly.  Enjoy!

Vegan Thanksgiving Cooking Class

 

Mushroom Gravy

Whole Foods Market recipe adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or almond flour for gluten free
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2tsp thyme
  • salt and peper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Directions

  • In a large bowl, mix 2 cups vegetable broth with flour.  Whisk until there are no lumps.  Add remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth and set aside.
  • Heat a large sauce pan.  Add oil and shallots.  Saute about 5 minutes until shallots are limp.
  • Add garlic, mushrooms, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir until well combined.  Saute about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked.

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  • Add wine and bring to a boil for 3 minutes, letting the liquid reduce.  Stir often.
  • Add broth mixture and nutritional yeast to the pot.  Let cook 10-15 minutes until gravy thickens.

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So this is my first experience with mushroom gravy as a born vegetarian!  Use on whatever dish you want….cover your greens, your mashed potatoes or slather it on the Whole Foods “meat” loaf recipe from part 1.

Craving more variety for your veggie-giving?  Check out the following veg/vegan recipes as a Thanksgiving side dish or fall treat and have a healthy happy holiday tomorrow!

Super Moist Pumpkin Bread by Post Punk Kitchen 

Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger and Vanilla by Post Punk Kitchen

Candied Yams by Earth Balance Made Just Right

Buttery Apple Cider Carrots by Earth Balance Made Just Right

Vegan Pumpkin Pie by Whole Foods Market

Ay Chica WoW WoW, we heart sexy tacos!

Our constant gratitude attitude must be working this holiday season.  We got a karmic invite recently from Rockit PR goddess, Kara Callera, to chow-wow down at Billy Dec’s most recent restaurant installment, ¡AY CHIWOWA! (throwing out a couple more thanks, universe!).

Highlight Reel:  AY CHIWOWA is at the tip of River North on Orleans and Chicago (worth noting as there is secret free parking in the area if you are willing to stretch those Chicago winter legs for a block or two).  Perfect spot for: After work drinks and apps with coworkers (lots of specials for those of us on a “paying back college loans” budget), partying on the weekend with your lady friends (VIP service and private room space in the back of the spot) or an upbeat date with someone who likes it loud.  AY CHIWOWA is also known for their immense selection of tequilas and creative cocktails, such as the spicy Acai Jalapeno Margarita, so call an Uber or a pink mustached Lyft in honor of Movember if you wanna get down.

As cold as it was outside the night of our visit, we received a warm welcome from staff and like a T.I. rap song, we were invited to have whatever we liiiiiked.  The music was bumping with throw back jams like “Snoop Doggy Dog” and an ugly sweater train of patrons danced past us as we settled ourselves at our cozy table.  As Jill, our bubbly and attentive server, brought out a bevy of items, the dudes next to us probably thought we were trying to add some extra padding for the long winter.

 

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Here’s the good, the amazing and the meh OK of AY CHIWOWA battling it out for best thing in our bellies.

Starters: 

Fresh chunky mango guacamole and roasted salsa paired with hot salted tortilla chips

VS.

Queso fundido (aka big old bowl of melty mexicheese) with sauteed peppers, onions and garlic

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¡AY CHIWOWA!

Winner?  Tie.  If we were on a deserted island and only had one food to live on, we would be praying some avocados would be drop from the sky.  The queso fundido, however, was a surprise plus with its flavorful veggie additions.

Veggie Entrees Throwdown:

Veggie Quesadilla

VS.

Veggie Tacos

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¡AY CHIWOWA!

Winner: Somehow queso fundido jumped in the cage match and beat up both veggie quesadilla and veggie tacos.  All three featured the similar sauteed peppers and onions leaving the veggie variety a little lacking.  Maybe throw some black bean tacos on the menu to entice the veg/vegan crowd?

Meaty Martial Arts Taco Match:

Slow cooked brisket-like Barbacoa

VS.

Adobe Veracruz style Chicken

VS.

Pork Belly with pickled radish

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¡AY CHIWOWA!

Winner: Barbacoa!!!  The short rib meat was so juicy and tasty that no toppings were actually needed.  The bright watercress salad on top of the taco zeroed in on the melt in your mouth texture of the taco.  The chicken came in second with a solid Adobo spice and pleasing texture.

Our coup d’etat and game changers, though, were two sugar dusted churros, with a perfect balance of soft fluffy insides and crunchy outsides, accompanied by an addictive hot cajeta sauce.  When we think of churros, usually its those stale carnival ones, not very thrilling to cupcake connoisseurs, but “someone” enjoyed them so much a bite of churro “mysteriously” ended up in her mouth…and then the stare down began.

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¡AY CHIWOWA!  Thanks again for hosting us!!

Looking for more of what’s hot in Chicago?  Follow Billy Dec’s blog http://www.achicagothing.com and twitter https://twitter.com/billydec