Friday, January 22, 2016

Three top picks for Chicago's Restaurant Week 2016

Chicago Restaurant week is here!  Over 350 restaurants will offer special dining deals from January 22 through February 4. This annual two-week culinary celebration offers prix fixe menus starting at $22 for lunch and $33 and/or $44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax, and gratuity).
Check out our favorite participants below!

Bella Bacinos (75 E. Wacker Dr.)
Try Bella Bacinos (75 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago; 312-263-0070) for both lunch and dinner during 
restaurant week. For lunch, Bella Bacinos is offering a roasted red pepper soup, Tuscan minestrone, or insalata mista to start. Next, guests have a choice of three of their signature Pizza Cups Milano, which were featured at the 2015 world’s fair in Milan, Italy, and a dessert of tiramisu or a cannoli ($22). For dinner, the prix fixe menu includes two salad options, choice of veal scallopini, grilled salmon, or rigatoni Napoletana pasta, and dessert of tiramisu or flourless chocolate cake ($33/$44 with wine pairings).

Ixcateco Grill (3402 W. Montrose Ave.)
Don’t miss the authentic Southern Mexican cuisine at Ixcateco Grill (3402 W. Montrose St., Chicago; 773-539-5887) for dinner during restaurant week. To start, guests can choose between a Mixed Salad with mangoes, goat cheese, and cashews with an agave ginger dressing or Miniature Sopes topped with slow-roasted Poultry Carnitas. The entrée includes either Pollo en Red Mole or Lomo de Puerco, adobo marinated wood grilled pork loin with in a tomatillo orange sauce. Finally, guests will finish the evening with house-made Pecan Flan ($33).

Osteria La Madia (59 W. Grand Ave.)
Another Italian favorite, Osteria La Madia (59 W. Grand St., Chicago; 312-329-0400) is also offering
both lunch and dinner during restaurant week. Guests will begin with an Anti Pasto, choosing from items such as fire roasted crispy artichokes or cheesy tomato fondue. Then, there will be a choice of salad, such as the arugula salad with local apples in a walnut vinaigrette, or the Roasted Heirloom Beet Salad. The entrée includes several choices from La Madia’s Pizza and Pasta Menu, including the Tagliatelle all’Amatriciana or the triple pepperoni pizza with white truffle oil ($22 lunch, $33 for three course dinner, $44 for four course dinner).

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Prairie Grass Cafe's Sarah Stegner and Farmer Tracey Vowell return to Immanuel Lutheran Church Winter Farmers Market in Evanston January 16

 Chef Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Cafe is continuing her support of local farmers this winter as she
Tracey Vowell and Sarah Stegner_300and chef turned farmer Tracey Vowell of Three Sisters Garden is serving a special brunch and selling unique food items twice a month at the Immanuel Lutheran Church Winter Farmers' Market in Evanston (616 Lake St., Evanston, IL 60201-4413). The next market is January 16.

The duo has prepared a menu for the Winter Market that’s delicious, and environmentally responsible using ingredients from local farms. The menu features produce and grains from Three Sisters Garden, Genesis Growers, Catalpa Grove Farm, Nichols Farm, Bennison’s Bakery and others. 

Oak Cakes_300First on the menu is the Three Sisters Garden Oatmeal Cake with Maple Creek Farm Bacon and Maple Valley Coop Maple Syrup ($6.50). Next is the Creamy Three Sisters Garden Cheese Grits or Smashed Pinto Beans with Scrambled Genesis Growers Eggs ($6).

Next is Prairie Grass Cafe Chef George Bumbaris’ Signature White Bean and Homemade Sausage Soup, with meat provided from Catalpa Grove Farm ($6). For something light try the Three Sisters Garden Salad with Pea Shoots, Baby Kale, Apples from Nichols Farm, Candied Pecans, Roasted Squash, with a unique Apple Cider Vinaigrette from Ellis Family Farm ($8). Next is a classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich with bread from Bennison’s Bakery and local cheese and tomatoes from Mighty Vine Tomatoes ($6). Last but definitely not least, is the Pulled Maple Creek Farms Pork Sandwich with Apple and Winter Radish Slaw ($8).
For dessert try Sarah’s Mom’s Pecan Pie ($5.50/slice $32/full); Heirloom Squash Coffee Cake ($5); CrispPecan Pie_300 Oat Cookies ($6 for 6) or Gluten Free Pecan Oak Crackers ($4). To accompany your dessert, don’t forget to grab a glass of Chef Stegner’s unique Pecan milk ($5) or take home a pint for $12. The Winter Farmers Market (Immanuel Lutheran Church, 616 Lake St., Evanston, Illinois 60201-4413) hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. January 16 & 30, February 13 & 27, March 12 & 19, and April 9 & 23.
The Immanuel Lutheran Church Winter Farmers' Market is part of the Evanston Farmers' Markets. Participation in this Winter Market provides healthy options to a community of hungry local customers; it supports hungry people in need.  Each vendor donates $50 for each market day to support the Immanuel Lutheran Church congregation’s involvement in local, national, and global anti-hunger initiatives.
Preliminary recipients include: Hillside Church Food Pantry Evanston, Shelter for Domestic Violence Services of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, Battered Women and Their Children, and World Hunger Appeal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  As in years past, the Hillside Food Pantry, will continue to collect farmer/vendor excess products at the end of every market to be sure they are placed in the hands of people who need them.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Eighty-Year-Old Cub Fan Pens "The Cubs Book of Rap"

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Cubs book 2 lo res.jpgWhat began as a series of emails to his grandsons, in an effort to rekindle their former interest in the Chicago Cubs, turned into an entertaining book, "The Cubs Book of Rap," describing in "rap" verses each game of the incredible final 49 Cub wins of the 2015 season.

This 80-year-old enthusiastic Cub fan and talented writer, Frank "Bud" Stedronsky, has captured the highlights of this amazing journey through accurate, yet witty recounts of these games, in what proved to be a successful attempt to regain something exciting and in common with those grandsons.

In the fourth year of the Cubs 5-year rebuilding program where few expected this talented, but inexperienced team to even get to the post season, the writer brings back the excitement of a period where the Cubs compiled a major-league best 45-18 record, then went on to win four out of the first five post season games.
These entertaining, tongue-in-cheek accounts have been collected and published as a book entitled The Cubs Book of Rap. It’s a fun and original baseball journal that fans everywhere will enjoy, and it is unlike any sports book you have ever read. The book is available in paperback for $12.95 and e-reader for $9.99 at

Stedronsky’s raps were inspired by his desire to rekindle his grandsons’ interest in Cubs baseball. "I’ve been a devoted Cubs fan since 1945, the last time the Cubs made it to the World Series. Two of my three grandsons, Trevor and Dylan, were Cubs fans when they were growing up," Stedronsky recalled. "As the kids got older and their interests drifted elsewhere, I began to miss the animated conversations we used to have. So this past year, because the Cubs were playing so incredibly well, I decided to share my enthusiasm and try to reignite their interest. I hoped, too, that this might instill some Cubs fever into my grandson Jack, who was never much of a baseball fan."

Stedronsky began to write emails to his grandsons with brief two or three-line Cubs game highlights in verse form. They were signed "Love, Papa Bud." He began writing longer, three or four-line raps and they really clicked. Soon his grandsons were responding and the conversations began to flow.

"Meanwhile," said Stedronsky, "my raps grew to be six or seven full verses. My grandsons found it hilarious that their Papa Bud had become a rapper. It dawned upon us that I was creating a new genre: baseball rap."

Stedronsky was encouraged by his daughter Jill to compile his raps into a book and that’s how The Cubs Book of Rap was born. The book is a good example of how a bit of humor and creativity can help rebuild the connection between generations. Die-hard Cubs fans, as well as baseball fans in general, will love the humor and creativity that Stedronsky has brought to his recounting of the Cubs’ season.

"We’ve made the book available in time for the holidays and we think it will be a fun gift for anyone who loves baseball," said Stedronsky, "and it’s a must-have for die-hard Cubs fans." The Cubs Book of Rap is available in paperback for $12.95 and e-reader for $9.99 at

With hopes high for the 2016 season, Stedronsky may have some more humorous Cubs riffs to spin off next fall.

About the Author

Frank "Bud" Stedronsky began his career as an award-winning writer, producer and director of corporate communications media after graduating from the
Frank Stedronsky lo res w border.jpgUniversity of Iowa with a dual major in television journalism and motion picture/television production. He was co-founder and CEO of Motivation Media Inc., an audiovisual corporate communications firm specializing in media production and live business theater, which grew in the 1990s to become the largest company of its kind in Chicagoland and one of the biggest in the country.

Stedronsky is past president of the Chicago Audio Visual Producers Association and the national Audio Visual Management Association. Now retired, he continues to enjoy Cubs games while spending his spare time on the golf course, where instead of earning media production awards, he pursues golf trophies.

September 19, 2015Cubs 5 St. Louis 4
Hail, Hail Cubs Prevail
Cubs were cruising in the ninth
with a five to one lead
when the Cardinals scored three
and in my pants I nearly peed
Then a leaping, backhand stop
and a neat shuffle throw
Addison Russell and the Cubs
had defeated their foe

October 7, 2015National League Wildcard Game
Cubs 4 Pirates 0
Cubs Win Wildcard!!!Two Go "Yard"
For it’s on to St. Louis
the Cubs do go
for another great battle
with a formidable foe.
For the Pittsburgh Pirates
that's all she wrote
Could they have inherited
the Cubs billy goat?

October 10, 2015
NL Divisional Series
Cubs 6 Cardinals 3

Cubbies Beat the Cards 6-3
Put it Up on the Grand Marquee!!!

Two safety squeezes
highlighted inning two
Is this the Cubs I'm watching?
Might be time for a brew

No ball left the infield
yet we scored three for our team
Don't wake me now
I think this is a dream

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Free Coffee Tomorrow and Friday Compliments of Nando's PERi-PERi at 22 S. Wabash

Coffee's on Nando's! Now that they’re moved into the Loop, they want to meet their new neighbors.

If you live or work nearby, stop by Goddess and The Baker (33 S. Wabash Ave across the street from the new Nando's) for a cup of coffee this Thursday and Friday, December 3 & 4 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. They'll be picking up the tab and giving out an extra reason to come see their new nest!