Thursday, October 25, 2018

Don’t Fall Sick with a Foodborne Illness this Autumn

The temperatures are falling right along with the leaves, and all those autumnal traditions and festivities are just around the corner. Whether it’s picking apples and drinking cider, having fun on a hayride, walking amongst the colorful trees, or even playing in the pumpkin patch, your fall fun will very likely involve food. This is the time of year when leaves are supposed to turn a different color and fall to the ground. But humans? Not so much.

Stop Foodborne Illness, the national nonprofit representing individuals and families in the fight against foodborne pathogens, wants to make sure you can fully enjoy this beautiful time of the year. So, here are some ideas for keeping your loved ones and your food safe.

Before you get into the frolic and fun of fall, knowing these tips for eating outside ensures the awesomeness of autumn:

·        Wash your hands, before and after! Are you petting animals, riding rides at the fair, using “the facilities”, changing diapers, eating corndogs, or any one of a million other actions? Remember: Washing your hands is like a do-it-yourself vaccine [SR1] to avoid getting sick.
·        Store perishable foods in a cooler or insulated bag. When transporting food that needs to stay cold, place it in a cooler or insulated bag, with a cold source such as ice or commercial freezing gels. Avoid putting ready-to-eat foods in direct contact with ice.
·        Keep perishable ready-to-eat foods chilled right up until serving time. Cold foods need to be kept at a temperature of 40 °F or below. Organize your cooler contents (keeping beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another) and reduce the number of times the cooler is opened. Remember: A full cooler maintains its cold temps longer than a partially-filled cooler.
·        Keep foods to be cooked, separated and chilled until it time to cook them. If the day is warm, as much as is possible, avoid keeping the cooler in the hot trunk of the car. Remember: Keeping raw meats and poultry (and their juices) separate from other foods avoids the potential for cross-contamination. Use dedicated dishes to keep raw meat separate from cooked meat. Raw meats should be cooked as soon as possible after transporting.
·        When it’s time to cook, have your thermometer ready. Thermometers are easy to transport and use. Remember: For cooked foods to be safe, they must reach a safe internal temperature[SR2] .
·        How long have we been eating? Remember the Two-Hour Rule: Food cannot be out (at air temperature) for more than two hours; one hour if it’s hotter than 90 °F outside. Throw out any perishable leftovers.

If picnics aren’t your thing, head down to the local farmers’ market, tailgate with your buddies, venture off to go apple picking – just get outdoors and enjoy all the “feels” of the season – so many great smells, tastes, and textures to be had:

Your local farmers market is the perfect place to enjoy sweater weather and buy local produce. Remember: All food, whether it’s from a local farm or a chain supermarket, needs to be washed and handled safely.

       If you’re buying meat or dairy be sure it is kept chilled in a refrigerator (or closed cooler filled with ice) to keep the temperature sufficiently cold (40°F or below). Meat and poultry that is exposed or unpackaged, or not refrigerated, should not be purchased.

·        Be extra safe and consider these questions and tips [SR3] for having the best experience at the outdoor market.

·        Cheese and meat should be kept cold

·        Pathogens don’t discriminate: No matter if the farm is large or small, and no matter if the foods are organically or conventionally produced, pathogens could still be present.

Tailgating with friends and family is a fun way to support your team, hangout with your people, and show off your grill-skill. Here are some additional tips for keeping pathogens from crashing your party:

       To reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination, keep raw meats and poultry away from other cold foods and beverages by using separate coolers or insulated bags for transport. If it’s hot out, avoid putting food in the (even hotter) trunk of the car.

       Avoid the “temperature danger zone” 40°F - 140°F (where bacteria quickly grow to harmful levels) by keeping raw meats and poultry in a cooler with ice.

       Make 2 batches of sauce: one for marinade (raw meat) and one for basting (cooked meat). Always marinade in the fridge, not the counter. Set aside a portion to be used later, on fully cooked meat.
       Use separate utensils and dishes for raw and cooked food.

       Remember: You’re cooking for people you care about, so don’t guess on doneness by color or time – use a meat thermometer and be sure.

Whether you’re picking, bobbing, pressing, or caramelizing, apples are the perfect fruit for a fully fabulous fall afternoon.

·        Thoroughly wash your apples with clean drinking water to prevent any contamination (of course, wash your hands before coming in contact with any food).

·        Before drinking cider (or juice) at the orchard, or purchasing a jug to take home, make sure it is pasteurized. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria, such as Listeria or Salmonella, without reducing the nutritional value. Unpasteurized (or raw) products pose a dangerous risk[SR4] , especially to those with immature or suppressed immune systems.

·        Pick the apples off the tree, not the ground. Any fruit laying on the ground is more susceptible to picking up pathogens, and other undesirable toxins. Eating apples from off the ground is not recommended unless they are thoroughly cleaned and cooked.

Wrapped in a blanket, with a roaring fire (or a football game), and a home-cooked meal is another great way to spend an October day. Please save some pumpkin pie for us! Here are some ideas for staying home and staying safe:

·        Wash your hands. Like mom, we say it a lot, because it’s so important. Washing hands before and after you eat is one of the best ways to prevent foodborne illness, as well as colds and flu.
·        Dry your hands with a paper towel. With many hands in the kitchen during holidays, and other busy times with lots of people -- after washing your hands, dry them off with a fresh, individual-use paper towel to avoid a more than likely germ-laden communal hand towel.
·        Clean your kitchen and workspace. Cooking at home can be a fun family activity, but before the fun begins your counters and cutting boards (where bacteria lie the most) need to be cleaned and disinfected. Hot soapy water and disinfectant[SR5]  can usually do the job.

·        Perishable foods must be frozen or refrigerated. Cook, eat, or refrigerate cut or peeled fruits and vegetables within two hours after preparation. (For safe meat, poultry, + fish go here[SR7] )
·        Wash produce. All produce, every time. (But wash your hands first.) Before eating or preparing fruits and vegetables wash them thoroughly under running water. Produce that is peeled or sliced also needs to be washed. Firm produce can be scrubbed with a clean, dedicated brush.
·        Baking cookies makes for indoor fun on a chilly afternoon! Though it’s tempting, don’t eat raw cookie dough [SR8] – both raw eggs and flour have been implicated in recent outbreaks. Find a recipe for safe cookie dough[SR9]  here.

What about Halloween? Keep your boo and your bae safe, not scared. Kids of all ages love dressing up and going trick-or-treating. The only fear they should have, though, is that house with the flickering lights, the dark alley, or that aunt who only buys hard candy. Here are some tips for keeping only the good stuff in your truly amazing haul:

·        If you’re using reusable goodie bags or buckets, be sure they are washed and clean to begin.
·        The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends[SR10]  eating only factory-wrapped treats, and avoiding homemade treats made by strangers, since there is no way to know how they were prepared.

·        Eat something before going out, so you don’t have to fight (and lose) the snacking urge. It is always tempting to enjoy a piece—or ten— of the sweet haul while walking house to house. Stop Foodborne Illness urges trick-or-treaters to wait until they return home where they can examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them.

·        Wash your hands. Between trick-or-treating and school parties, packaged candy passes through a lot of different hands increasing the likeliness of their being covered in germs. Are your kids washing up before chowing down? Staying safe takes about 30 seconds.

·        Make sure natural treats are safe, not spooky. That means, drinking and/or serving only pasteurized cider and juice at your parties. Dishes or drinks with fresh fruit – or veggies – must be thoroughly washed before being served.

·        Keep all perishable foods chilled until serving time. And once served, don’t leave goodies —like finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit, salads, cold pasta dishes, Jell-O treats, store-bought deli trays, and cream pies or cakes with whipped cream and cream cheese frostings—out of the fridge for more than two hours (1 hour in temperatures above 90°F). Bacteria creeps up when foods sit out too long.

·        Bobbing for apples is a classic Halloween game, but having multiple people sticking their faces in the same water, trying to grab the same apples with their mouths can present some food safety risks. Reduce the risks by giving each participant their own thoroughly washed apple to bob for in a separate bowl.

Stop Foodborne Illness Is Here to Help You
Stop Foodborne Illness is a national, nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens by promoting sound food safety policy and best practices, building public awareness and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness. For more food safety tips please visit If you think you have been sickened from food, 
check this out and contact your local health professional.

For questions and personal assistance, please contact Stop Foodborne Illness’ Community Coordinator, Stanley Rutledge, at or 773-269-6555 x7. To donate to Stop, visit here.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Celebrate Father’s Day with Brunch and Dinner at Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook

Looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift? Treat Dad to a family celebration and delicious brunch buffet from 10 am to 2 pm on Sunday, June 19 at Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd.; Northbrook, IL; 847-205-4433). The buffet is $48 per adult and $18 per child ages 10 and under (tax, gratuity, and beverage not included). Prairie Grass Cafe’s regular dinner menu, augmented with entrée and cocktail specials, will be offered from 5 p.m. to closing.

Guests will have a variety of delicious options to satisfy any craving. There will be made to order options including an omelet and crepe station. The feast continues with a terrific selection of salads including a Tomato, Avocado & Cucumber Salad with Fresh Basil and Blue Cheese Crumbles followed by a Dad-favorite Ancho Marinated Skirt Steak or a Slow Roasted Salmon over Balsamic Glazed “River Valley Ranch” Mushrooms and much more! For the grand finale, a variety of pastries and desserts will be offered including mini crème brûlées and a warm berry crumble.Omelette Station

For Father’s Day Brunch and dinner reservations, call 847-205-4433.

Father’s Day Brunch Menu
June 19th, 2016, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
$48 Adult/$18 Children age 10 and under
Dinner Hours on Father's Day
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
(tax, gratuity and beverage not included)

    Caesar Salad with Homemade Caesar Dressing and Shave Parmesan
    Tomato, Avocado & Cucumber Salad with Fresh Basil and Blue Cheese Crumbles
    Grilled vegetable platter with basil remoulade and balsamic reduction
    Roasted Trio of Cauliflower with Spicy Sauce
    White Beans and Rainbow Swiss Chard with Broccoli, Rapini and Toasted Bread Crumbs 
    Sliced-to-Order Ancho Marinated Skirt Steak
    Sautéed Pink Shrimp with Leeks, Poblano Peppers, and Cilantro
    Slow Roasted Salmon over Balsamic Glazed “River Valley Ranch” Mushrooms
    Roasted BBQ Pork with Platter of Homemade Biscuits
    Oven Roasted Potatoes
    Warm Pesto Green Bean Salad
    Omelets station: Peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, ham & spinach
    Signature crepe station: Valrhona chocolate, strawberries, jam, Nutella, whipped cream
    Waffles made to order, maple syrup
    Applewood Smoked Bacon / Homemade Breakfast Sausage    Mini breakfast pastries
    Mini Chocolate Croissants
    Cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and pineapple
    Mixed berries
    Mini Crème Brûlées
    Chocolate cup cakes
    Warm berry crumble
    Strawberry cream pie

About Prairie Grass Cafe

Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd.; Northbrook, IL; 847-205-4433) supports Chicago’s Green City Market and local sustainable farms, selecting the freshest ingredients to reflect the season. Prairie Grass Cafe currently serves lunch Monday - Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner Monday through Sunday. Dinner is served Tuesday - Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Monday and Sunday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Prairie Grass Cafe also serves breakfast Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Light fare is available in the bar Monday through Friday 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to make a reservation, please call (847) 205-4433 or visit Follow Prairie Grass Cafe news at and on

Facebook at

Coffee Rolls lowres300Shepherd’s Pie

10 am to 2 pm on Sunday, June 19 at Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd.; Northbrook, IL; 847-205-4433). The buffet is $48 per adult and $18 per child ages 10 and under (tax, gratuity, and beverage not included). Prairie Grass Cafe’s regular dinner menu, augmented with entrée and cocktail specials, will be offered from 5 p.m. to closing.

Monday, May 23, 2016



CHICAGO, May 19, 2016 – It has been said that Nando’s PERi-PERi’s spicy flame-grilled chicken is addictive. (It might have been us who said it.) And now there are more reasons than ever to feed your healthy PERi-PERi addiction. Today, in honor of its one-year anniversary in the Chicago market, Nando’s is introducing more than a half dozen new menu items that are sure to get you craving.

Beyond the classics, Nando’s fans in Chicago, Naperville and Oak Park can now choose among the Thigh and Mighty Sandwich, the Quinoa Salad, Chicken Skewers, Chicken Thighs, and Roasted Vegetables. And just in time for warm weather and picnic season, there are two new specialty beverages, too—Pineapple Lemonade and Blood Orange and Mango Lemonade. Talk about your big decisions.

•    The Thigh and Mighty Sandwich features two succulent, flame-grilled boneless PERi-PERi thighs stacked on a toasted Portuguese roll with arugula, tomato, pickled red onions and PERinaise. It’s a mouth-watering addition to Nando’s famous offerings.
•    Quinoa Salad is tailor-made for flavor fanatics. It comes loaded with roasted squash, generous chunks of avocado, cherry tomatoes and black quinoa. It’s served on lightly dressed greens with crumbled goat cheese and roasted seeds.
•    Chicken Skewers are succulent kabobs of flavor. Skin-on flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken alternates with onions and roasted red peppers on skewers.
•    Nando’s Chicken Thighs are tender boneless PERi-PERi thighs, flame-grilled with the skin on.
•    Roasted Vegetables. Chunky mixed peppers, red onions and zucchini lightly tossed in a rich tomato dressing. Braised Brussel Sprouts, too, when in season!
•    Pineapple Lemonade is a batch-made blend of caramelized pineapple, lemon and lime
•    Blood Orange and Mango Lemonade is a refreshing concoction of mango, blood oranges, lemon and lime

Nando’s PERi-PERi, the South African-Portuguese restaurant known worldwide for its spicy flame-grilled chicken, has built an intensely loyal following by providing fresh food in a relaxed atmosphere with friendly service. PERi-PERi, or African Bird’s Eye Chili, is the heart and soul of the Nando’s experience.

“We marinate our chicken in PERi-PERi for at least 24 hours, so the flavor goes right through to the bone,” said Burton Heiss, CEO of Nando’s PERi-PERi USA. “Then we grill it over an op
en flame it and baste it with PERi-PERi sauce to our customers’ preferred spice. That’s what makes our chicken so addictive.”

Every Nando’s is painstakingly designed and completely unique, with earthy textures and bright colors that reflect its sunny African-Portuguese heritage. With thousands of pieces of original works of art that are a constant reminder of where the restaurant came from, Nando’s has become the largest collector of South African contemporary art in the world.

Nando’s first Chicago location opened in May 2015 on West Randolph Street in the West Loop and was an instant smash hit. Other locations quickly followed and today there are Nando’s in the West Loop, Wabash, Lakeview, Clybourn Corridor/Lincoln Park, Naperville and Oak Park.

Nando’s first Chicago location opened in May 2015 on West Randolph Street in the West Loop and was an instant smash hit. Other locations quickly followed and today there are Nando’s in the West Loop, Wabash, Lakeview, Clybourn Corridor/Lincoln Park, Naperville and Oak Park.

About Nando’s PERi-PERi
The first Nando’s restaurant opened its doors in 1987 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since then, the Nando’s flame has spread to 23 countries on five continents. Nando’s is known worldwide for its succulent PERi-PERi chicken, marinated for 24 hours, flame-grilled to perfection, and basted to the customer’s preferred flavor and spice. It’s equally renowned for its spicy PERi-PERi, the Bird’s Eye chili pepper that indigenous Africans introduced to the Portuguese centuries ago.

Nando’s PERi-PERi made its U.S. debut in 2008 with the opening of its first location in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC.  Nando’s PERi-PERi now operates 31 restaurants in and around Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia and Chicago. For more information, please visit, follow @NandosUSA on Twitter or Like Us at Nando’s PERi-PERi USA.

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).