22 August 2016

Maria Cookies Ice Cream Sandwiches

The following post is a sponsored collaboration with DegustaBox. All opinions are our own.

Summers in Chicago are short and we have to make them count. We make it a point to be outside as much as possible and enjoy the simple pleasures that are unique to the season, like eating lots and lots of ice cream.

Nabol had the great idea of making Ice Cream Sandwiches with the Goya's Maria Cookies that came in our curated DegustaBox this month. We decided to put together a complete Ice Cream Sandwich Bar where our friends could customize their sandwiches with their favorite toppings.

What’s great about the Maria Cookies is that they stay crispy for a couple of days after you’ve assembled the sandwiched and stored them in the fridge. Here’s what you need to do to make your sandwiches!

Maria Cookies Ice Cream Sandwiches – Ingredients:
  • Goya's Maria Cookies
  • Your favorite ice cream
  • Your favorite Topping (Walnuts, Dark Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Sprinkles)
  • Aluminum foil (Or plastic wrap)
To build your sandwiches, shape a small scoop of ice cream into ice cream patties. Place it on top of the cookies and put another cookie on top without pressing too hard.

Cover the sandwich in foil and place it in the fridge until you are ready to serve it to your guests. Serve your toppings in small colorful containers so it is easy for guests can customize their sandwiches. 

To learn more about DegustaBox and all their great foodie finds, visit the DegustaBox website.

20 August 2016

Degustabox Unboxing: August

The following post is a sponsored collaboration with DegustaBox. All opinions are our own.

Another month, another Degustabox arrived at our doorstep. We were so excited to see what our curated box would bring for us this time. Snacks, condiments and baking items! Every unboxing feels a lot like Christmas.

DegustaBox sends 10 to 15 surprise products every month, many of which are completely new in the market and for a lot less than what you would pay at the store. Just check out our latest unboxing video and read below our comments on each of the products we received. Lots of great finds.

Cow Tales: Our first treat was a caramel chew that is soft and doesn’t stick to your teeth. Interestingly, the first ingredient on the label is actually wheat flour not sugar, which probably gives it its very soft texture and unique nutty flavor. It’s also low in fat and sodium, which is also a plus.

Goya María Cookies: We’ve enjoyed these cookies since we were little kids. They are always a pleasant surprise and go well with savory or sweet dips. We specially love to eat them with guava jelly and cheese!

Loacker Rose of the Dolomites Chocolate
: Who doesn’t like chocolate? And this brand is great. It’s super creamy, high quality and shaped like the Alpine Rose of the Dolomites. Very cool.

Popchips Ridges: Nabol is a big fan of healthy snacks and this option is great. The “ridges” add to the texture of the traditional potato chip, but the chips are baked, never fried. There are no added preservatives or artificial flavors, and they are gluten free.

Vermont Jerky: This one is probably one of our favorite treats. Not only does this jerky come in beautifully crafted flavor combinations, but Vermont uses humanely raised meats without antibiotics or hormones and local ingredients when creating their products. There are no preservatives or sodium nitrate.

White Lily White Grape Seed Flour: We have never heard of white grape seed flour! But basically what White Lily does is turn the seeds of the Chardonnay grape into a fine powder and combine it with wheat flour. It created a very complex, rich flavor. We haven’t messed too much with it, but use it in our homemade pancake mix and it wasn’t bad at all. It adds nuttiness to the mix. Did we mention it's Non-GMO? Thumbs up!

Oregon Chai: This is a product we were familiar with, but we’ve never seen it portable. You can conveniently slip packets of this magical black tea blend in your purse and take it wherever you go. It’s great.

Sir Kensington’s Chipotle Mayo: This is another great brand that doesn’t use artificial ingredients and supports everything Non-GMO. The flavor combinations are also great and this mayo is no exception. We like to use it instead of ketchup on a lot of things.

Honey Bunches of Oats with strawberries
: This item wasn’t new for us, but overall it’s a great cereal. The dried strawberries plump up beautifully when you add milk.

ALO Allure: Aloe vera drinks are believed to help with digestion and even lower blood sugar. Among the brands out there, this one seems to be one of the favorites online. People use it to reduce inflammation, for the antioxidants or just because it’s a refreshing post-workout beverage. We also like that it is Non-GMO and gluten free. The mango mangosteen flavor that we received is not bad at all either.

For more details or to order your first box, visit the DegustaBox website. Also, look forward to a great recipe with one of our favorite ingredients from the box.

16 August 2016

Very Berry Cheesecake Smoothies

The following post is a sponsored collaboration with Cacique and Society Culinaria. All opinions are our own.

‘Tis the season for smoothies! August is probably the hottest month here in Chicago and sometimes a quick smoothie is all you want to beat the heat. Time to think beyond the typical smoothie! You can get as creative as you want and combine interesting flavors, like Guava and Carrot, Kale and Pineapple, or even replicate the flavors of your favorite dessert!

We loved the idea of creating a Cheesecake Smoothie as a healthier dessert option and as a way to use all the blueberries we got at the Logan Square Farmer’s market. All we needed was a good yogurt base and that’s when we decided on Cacique’s Strawberry flavored Yogurt Smoothie

With 8 grams of protein, Cacique Yogurt Smoothie has real fruit blended with the yogurt. It’s gluten free, has lots of probiotics and calcium. You can enjoy it on its own or make it extra special by blending in a couple of your favorite ingredients. It’s a perfect complement to a balanced diet! Visit the Cacique Website for recipe inspiration or follow the instructions below to enjoy our Very Berry Cheesecake Smoothie.

You may use any of the other Cacique smoothie flavors for this recipe: Strawberry-Banana, Mango, Guava or Piña Colada. Hope your summer is as smooth and sweet. 

Very Berry Cheesecake Smoothie - Ingredients
  • 1 Teaspoon of honey
  • ¼ Cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 Cup of graham crackers 
  • 2 ½ Cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 Bottle of strawberry-flavored Cacique Yogurt Smoothie
  1. Freeze your blueberries overnight if you have fresh blueberries.
  2. Blend the yogurt with the walnuts, honey and graham crackers. (Once blended, you can set aside 1/3 of the mix to enjoy a two-colored smoothie.)
  3. Add the frozen berries and blend.
  4. Chill both mixes before serving. Serve the blueberry mix first. 

Note: You may also decorate your serving glass with a graham cracker rim using honey and crushed crackers. Follow our video to see how we do it.

15 August 2016

Wheat Germ 101

Con tantos productos naturales de moda, el germen de trigo es un ingrediente que tiende a pasar desapercibido. Éste es el corazón del grano que usualmente se remueve durante la preparación de productos refinados de trigo, pero que sin embargo, es sumamente beneficial a la salud.

Es una fuente excelente de proteína natural, fibra y grasas naturales, y se recomienda por sus propiedades antioxidantes que contribuyen a reforzar el sistema inmunológico y a la prevención de enfermedades crónicas. Además, se cree que ayuda a retrasar el proceso de envejecimiento y a aumentar la resistencia física.

En la cocina es muy versátil también. Hace un par de semanas estamos experimentando con el frasco de Kretschmer Wheat Germ que recibimos cortesía de Curator PR.

El cereal no solo le añade nutrición a diferentes recetas, sino también textura y un sabor tostadito. Se puede usar para empanar carnes, para espesar guisos, complementar batidas, preparar postres o sobre el yogur. Sobretodo nos gustó para preparar barritas de energía para el desayuno

Para preparar las barritas, solo tienes que mezclar el wheat germ con algún cereal de maíz o avena, añade dátiles, miel, frutas secas y nueces. Tritúralo un poco en el procesador de alimentos, forma las barritas y listo. 

Wheat Germ 101

With so many natural trends out there, wheat germ is one of those great ingredients that might get a little lost between the kale and the quinoa. This is the heart of the wheat grain and it has so many health benefits. Yet, still tends to be removed from most processed wheat products. 

It’s an excellent source of natural protein, fiber and natural fat. It’s recommended for its antioxidant properties that help strengthen the immune system and prevent chronic illnesses. And it’s also believed to have anti-aging properties and to improve stamina.

But like that wasn’t enough, we have discovered that wheat germ is very versatile in the kitchen as well. For the past two weeks, we’ve been testing a couple of recipes with Kretschmer Wheat Germ that was kindly sent to us by Curator PR.

The cereal doesn’t only add nutrition to recipes, but also texture and a delicious nutty taste. It can be used as breading for meats, to thicken stews, to boost smoothies, for desserts and even to top yogurt. Our favorite use, however, is as a boost for breakfast energy bars.

All you have to do is combine wheat germ with a flaky or oat-based cereal. Add dates, honey, nuts and dried fruit, and mix it in the food processor. Form your bars and voila.

12 August 2016

En temporada: final de verano

El final del verano es una las temporadas más calientes aquí en Chicago y nos aprovechamos de las frutas y vegetales del momento para preparar recetas refrescantes que contribuyan a mantenernos hidratados y con energía. Antes de que salgas a tu mercado agrícola local, aquí te dejamos un lista de lo que debes buscar esta temporada.

Los tomates son una fuente rica en antioxidantes y vitaminas A, C, y B6. Son buenos para la piel, ayudan a prevenir diferentes tipos de cáncer y es bueno para la salud de los riñones y el corazón.

Los calabacines no solo son una fuente excelente de vitamina A, C, magnesio y fibra, sino que ayuda a procesar las grasas del cuerpo, los carbohidratos y la glucosa.

Los pimientos son ricos en fibra, antioxidantes, vitamina C y E. Ayuda a prevenir la inflamación y problemas del corazón, al igual que problemas de la vista.

La okra tiene niveles altos de vitaminas B (B1,B2, B6), al igual que vitamina A,C, fibra y calcio. Ayuda a regular el azúcar en la sangre, es beneficioso para mujeres embarazadas y ayuda a reforzar el sistema inmunológico.

La albahaca es rica en potasio, magnesio y calcio, además de vitaminas K y zinc. Es muy recomendado por sus beneficios antiinflamatorios, para regular el azúcar y fortalecer el corazón.

Las ciruelas ayudan a mejorar la absorción del hierro en el cuerpo y son ricas en fibra y vitamina C. Ayudan mejorar el colesterol y a regular la digestión.

Los higos también son ricos en calcio, fibra, vitamina A, B1 y B2. Ayuda a reducir el colesterol, ayuda a prevenir ataques al corazón y a regular la presión sanguínea.

Las peras son una de las frutas más ricas en fibra. Es rica en vitaminas C, B2, B3 y B6. Sirve para prevenir la degeneración macular y reduce la presión sanguínea.

Los blueberries o arándanos azules es uno de los alimentos con más antioxidantes. Ayuda a reforzar la salud del cerebro, combate el envejecimiento y ayuda a la digestión.

In Season: End of summer

The end of summer is the hottest season here in Chicago. We take advantage of the seasonal produce to enjoy refreshing recipes that help us stay hydrated and energized. So before you head to the farmer’s market, here’s a list of things you should look for this season.

Tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants and vitamins A, C and B6. They are good for your skin, help prevent different types of cancer and strengthen your kidneys and heart.

Summer squash are not only a great source of vitamin A, C, magnesium and fiber, but also help process fats, carbohydrates and glucose.
Peppers are rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins C and E. They help prevent inflammation, heart problems and eyesight problems.

Okra is a great source of vitamins A, C, B1,B2, B6, fiber and calcium. It helps regulate glucose, it’s beneficial for pregnant women and helps strengthen the immune system.

Basil is rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamins K and zinc. It’s recommended for its anti-inflammatory benefits, to regulate glucose and strengthen the heart.

Prunes are great to improve the absorption of iron and have lots of fiber and vitamin C. They help regulate cholesterol and digestion.

Figs are also rich in calcium, fiber, vitamin A, B1 and B2. They help reduce cholesterol, prevent heart attacks and regulate blood pressure.

Pears are the fruit with the most fiber and are rich in vitamins C, B2, B3 and B6. They help prevent macular degeneration and reduce blood pressure.

Blueberries are the fruit with the most antioxidants. They help strengthen brain function, slow down again effects and help digestion.

08 August 2016

Chicago’s Spanish Square

Casual ambiance. Simple and extraordinary bites. Very few people have captured the spirit of an authentic Spanish tapas bar in Chicago. Either the flavors tend to get fused with too many things or the experienced gets unnecessarily elevated.

What makes a traditional Spanish tapas bar so addictive is precisely how unpretentious they can be. It’s all about offering customers a friendly spot to relax and delicious bites with ingredients that are deeply respected and enhanced only when needed. A little olive oil, a little spice.

The Spanish Square in Lakeview is one of the few who are about 90 percent there. It was a refreshing surprise and surely a spot we’ll go back to. 

At first, it looked a little fancier than most of our favorite tapas bars in Spain. There’s beautiful artwork, chandeliers, and a couple of other curated pieces. But then, there’s also a jamón bar. Yes! Cheese and juicy slices of Ibérico are sliced right in front of your eyes. There’s a small wine cellar and a market area where you can get staples like olives, sobreasada, cheese and membrillo.

Although the market is not necessarily traditional, it’s a nice celebration of some of the little gems that we love so much. (They have Kas lemon soda, people! Best thing for a refreshing tinto de verano! I was also happy to see Tetilla cheese, since I couldn’t bring any from Galicia.)

Our friendly waiters kindly guided all of our cravings. What’s the best tosta or tostada on the menu? What’s should I drink with that? Etc. When it comes to their tostadas, go for their mushroom, goat cheese and jamón tostada. It was excellent and enough to share. Their Spanish tortilla was also beautifully done.

Flavor-wise, however, the real taste test (la prueba de fuego) is always the ensaladilla. Not everybody does it right, but Spanish Square uses real Spanish tuna mixed with peas, pimientos, eggs and just the right amount of mayo. So thumbs up for that! The olive oil cracker it comes with is a nice touch too. 

The prices of all of these options are also super reasonable, which we loved. The drink options, on the other hand, follow the “Chicago pricing” standards, around $9 and up. A cheaper glass of sangria or tinto de verano would get us to go a lot more often. Something to think about for the future.

Overall, we are very excited about this spot. We love that they have Paella Wednesdays and feature special menu items every week. It’s totally worth it to follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see what they are up to.