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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A Souper Lunch Option: Smart Soups

Forget you, Olive Garden!  We are bringing our own soup and salad to work.  Soup is an awesome option to consume more veggies AND feel full with fewer calories but packaged soups often have too much sodium, weird looking meat pieces, or too many additives.  We were souper (hehe) excited to try some samples of Smart Soups because they are (ehem..be jealous cans o’ soup) none of those things.  Creator, Anne Chong Hill has long history in the prepared food industry and recognized the need for high quality, easy to make food and her recipes are inspired by her international background and travel experiences.

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Smart Soups are:

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten Free (Hooray!)
  • Made with REAL FOOD and no preservatives
  • American Heart Association Certified (cholesterol free!)
  • Low Calorie and controlled sodium (as one of our friend with high blood pressure was amazed to notice during our lunch break)

Taste:

With 7 souperb (ha ha ha) flavor options, we had a hard time choosing what to try first.  We received 5 options.

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Greek Minestrone was Kate’s first go to.  Packaged minestrone tends to be bland or have too many noodles in the way.  The Greek Minestrone was packed with veggies and rich in herby flavor, possibly the best Minestrone out there except what your grandma might be able to make (if she can cook).  Pairing tip: Greek Salad with feta, olives, artichokes and mixed greens.

Thai Coconut Curry is Mon’s fave Smart Soup.  Full of coconut water blended with fresh red curry made an amazingly authentic dish, especially tasty on a rainy day.  It includes plenty of baby corn, bamboo shoots and red pepper.  Pair with side of grilled spiced tofu.

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Sante Fe Corn Chowder is vibrant with red peppers, black beans, and corn, balanced with a squeeze of lime.  Dunk a vegan tostada and plenty of avocado in it!

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Vietnamese Carrot Lemongrass is filled with rich tasty Asian flavors and veggies.  Pair the satisfying soup with a Tofu Bahn Mi sandwich.

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French Lentil Soup makes a hearty meal with green and red lentils, leeks and moorish spices.  Mix it up with a baguette and nicolaise salad.

Cooking:

Smart Soup stores easily in the freezer and couldn’t be more simple to make.  You open the bag and pop it on the stove or in the microwave and then you’re done.  You can get creative with Smart Soups too by integrating them into new recipes as well.

What’s the most delicious soup you’ve ever tried?  Maybe you could inspire a new Smart Soup!

Chicago Green City Cookbook

Hey Chicagoans!  We’re sure you’ve noticed how easy it is to incorporate local farmer’s market produce into your summer time recipes but cooking in winter, jeez what to make?  Then, along comes the Green City Market Cookbook.  Inspired by the beloved Lincoln … Continue reading

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!

Taco-Tastic: A Soft Shell recap of National Taco Day

Friday October 4th…a day that will live in infamy… a day to gorge on (dare we say it) one of the best hand held foods known to (wo)man: the taco.  Take that, fried food on a stick!  Below is a smattering of some of the most tantalizing taco trends in the Chi area.

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Taco Joint – Panela Taco (Black Bean salsa, grilled panela cheese, mushrooms with creamy guajillo salsa and arugula!) and Grapefruit Margarita!

Taco Joint won our hearts again with their National Taco Day deals.  The brand new River North hotspot has a wealth of wealthy people watching.  Read more details in our previous post about it’s sister spot, located in Lincoln Park.  Mon cheated with another friend and enjoyed the $2 dollar panela, black bean, mushroom and arugula tacos with a refreshing grapefruit margarita and some twitter # provided free guac on National Taco Day.  (Kate: Sad faced 😦 but will persevere)

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West town hides our prime birthday celebration spot, De Cero, on the restaurant row strip of Randolph Street.  De Cero’s Tacos De Rajas, tickle our taco fancy, with mildly sweet green peppers, cojita cheese, cilantro and crema.  For the salsa aficionados, De Cero boasts a range of flavors, from the tart pickled jalapeño to the spiccccy habanero mango.  Bring your friends along as you can order paired taco trays so that everyone can delight in the taco variety.

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De Cero – Rajas Taco, Guajillo Black Bean Taco and more!!

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Latin Asian fusion restaurant, Saucy Porka, puts a twist on the taco (theirs’ is called a baco) with a bao bun base as the taco shell.  We hounded them at the recent food truck rally for their crispy ginger tofu baco with crisp Asian slaw and can’t wait to take over their downtown location to experience their Tostones, curry sweet potato fries, and Ho Chi Minh tofu sammich.

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Saucy Porka – Soy Ginger Tofu Baco

Vegans and T Rexs alike can rejoice in the Baja tofu tacos at the little Logan Square gem, Ground Control.  The lightly fried tofu is topped with pickled red onion, crunchy cabbage, black sesame and a vegan Baja sauce that tastes a little ranchy.  Sweet potato tacos also grace the menu with sautéed kale, firm mushrooms, and a not too hot chili tomato sauce.

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Ground Control – Smothered Sweet Potato Tacos

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Ground Control – Baja Tacos

We are drooling at the thought of partaking in the taco goodness of Antique Taco or Ay Chiwowa as we’ve heard taco-tastic reviews…ooh do we feel a Taco-Tastic review, part II coming soon?

Dearest readers, where do you go to get your taco fix?  We got a fever and the only prescription is…more cow bell…oops, we mean tacos!

Meatless Mexican Mushroom Monday

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Enchilada Stuffed Mushrooms

Modified recipe from here.

Say our title 3 times fast…Meatless Mexican Mushroom Monday!

We love mushrooms (smooches)!  They are versatile and sturdy, plus they provide protein making them a happening substitute on meatless Mondays.  This recipe can be a fancy yet simple appetizer for parties as well.  We prepared this for a ladies lunch get-together in only 30 minutes which left way more time to get purty.

  • 15 baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 oz light cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz block of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  •  1/3 cup grated parmigianno regianno cheese
  • 1/4 tsp taco seasoning
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • garlic salt
  • 1/3 tsp cayenne
  • sea salt, black pepper, and chili flakes, sprinkle to taste
  • 1/2 pouch of Ricky Bayless Frontera Red Chile Enchilada Sauce 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven 375 degrees.  Lightly spray Olive Oil cooking spray in baking pan.
  • Remove stem from mushrooms.  Wash and clean the dirt off mushroom cap.
  • Mix softened cream cheese, grated sharp cheddar, parmigianno regianno cheese, taco seasoning, garlic salt, cayenne, salt, black pepper, and chili flakes.

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  • Stuff the mixture into the mushrooms and arrange in baking pan.  Pour Frontera Enchilada Sauce.  Sprinkle shredded sharp cheddar.

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  • Bake for 20 minutes until brown and bubbly!

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Final result: Some of the guests weren’t hot for Mexican food but could not stop eating them!  These were the best stuffed mushrooms we’ve ever had as well with melt in your mouth cheese and the perfect kick of spiciness. Get crazy and add black beans, avocado and side of Late July Mild Green Mojo chips from Whole Foods to compliment them.

We are anxious to experience the Rick Bayless empire, especially XOCO, to indulge in his woodland mushroom Torta to expand our mushroom meal menagerie.

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