Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chicago Restaurant Week 2011: Cafe Ba Ba Reeba & David Burke's Primehouse

Chicago Restaurant Week is the perfect time to try out some new places to eat around the city  Each restaurant has three-course prix fixe menus for both lunch and dinner priced at $22 and $33, respectively.

Unfortunately I'm not currently living in the city, so I was only able to partake in the Restaurant Week menus at two Chicago restaurants: Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, a tapas bar, and David Burke's Primehouse at the James Hotel.

Cafe Ba Ba Reeba

I've only eaten at two tapas restaurants in the city - Cafe Iberico and People Lounge - so I was definitely looking forward to trying out Cafe Ba Ba Reeba.  I had heard good things about this restaurant, and I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed.

My brother and I arrived almost half an hour late for our reservation, but we were still promptly seated on a busy Wednesday night.  The waiters were very friendly and attentive, and the food was delicious!  The servings were quite generous, so my brother and I had a good amount of leftovers for my parents.

Between the two of us, we ordered two pintxos, four tapas dishes, two paellas, and two desserts!  We were stuffed.

beef skewer, horseradish cream & red onions
pincho de solomillo

fried calamari & tomato crudo, jalapeno alioli
calamares fritos con tomate crudo y jalapeno

beef tenderloin & blue cheese
solomillo con cabrales

chicken, artichoke & spinach
pollo, alcachofas y espinacas
mango sorbet
caramelized banana, vanilla ice cream

David Burke's Primehouse

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
served with rum caramel & sour cherry sorbet
Lucky for me, Chicago Restaurant Week falls on the same week as my boyfriend's birthday!  Last year I took him to Texas de Brazil (his first time), and this year we ate at David Burke's Primehouse at the James Hotel.

My boyfriend and I both LOVE steak, so we're always eating at various steakhouses to find our favorite.  I chose David Burke's Primehouse based on recommendations from a few friends.

We arrived on time for our 7:30pm reservation and we were seated right away.  It was a Friday night so the restaurant was very busy and full of businessmen and couples dining.  Although our waiter was difficult to track down at times, the service was fairly good and they surprised my boyfriend with a free birthday dessert.  My boyfriend loved the Classic Filet Mignon, so I was very happy =]

Lobster Bisque: green apple essence, lobster spring roll 
Classic Filet Mignon served family style with sauteed mushrooms and basil whipped potatoes 
Chai Creme Brulee with candied ginger biscotti (I killed this dessert)

Tanzanie Brownie: kahlua ice cream, banana mousse
If you missed Chicago Restaurant Week, make sure you check it out next year!  Some restaurants offer their Restaurant Week menus for an extended period or year-round, so it may still be possible to get in on the savings =]

Sunday, February 20, 2011

For the Beauty Budget Conscious: Kirkland Daily Facial Cleansing Towelettes

Oh, Costco.  How I love thee.

My family frequents Costco on a weekly basis and we stock up on all the basic necessities: sandwich bags, bread, vitamins, juice, eggs, milk, etc. etc. etc.  The list goes on and on...

15-ct Travel Pack
But one of the things I love most about Costco (aside from the samples =]) are the wonderful beauty finds!  Costco carries my all-time favorite shampoo & conditioner (Nexus Humectress) in inexpensive liters and also these Kirkland Daily Facial Cleansing Towelettes ($12 for 150-ct).

I like to use facial wipes on a daily basis to remove all my makeup before I wash my skin with my Purpose cleanser.  In the past I had purchased other brands in bulk from Costco such as Dove and Oil of Olay, but you can imagine how quickly I would run through them...and it became very costly.  I saw a review on YouTube almost two years ago for these facial wipes, and I have never looked back.

Each box contains 150 wipes divided into four 30-ct packs with plastic resealable lids and two 15-ct resealable travel packs.  I usually keep the 30-ct packs at home and the 15-ct packs are a staple in my travel bags.  Although the wipes are pre-moistened, they truly maintain their moisture throughout the life of the pack, until the very last wipe.

Each cloth is quilted for deep cleansing
Each wipe is infused with chamomile, triple tea complex, and Vitamin E so they are very non-irritating to the skin.  The wipes have a fresh, clean fragrance that's not too heavy...even my brother loves these!  Of course, they're alcohol and oil-free, hypoallergenic, dermatologist & ophthalmologist tested, and they're safe for contact lens wearers.

So the next time you're shopping for groceries at Costco, stop by the beauty aisle and pick up a box of these facial wipes.  They'll last you a very long time, and you will not be disappointed.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Daily Yummi: I LOVE Bacon & Tots!

Smothered White and Bleu Tots (excuse my sister Jillian's hungry hands)
Double Your Pleasure BLT (Texas toast, apple wood smoked bacon) with Chili & Cheese Tots

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A French Plainfield?!

I initially intended my food blogging adventures to be city-based.  However, I'm still living at home until I hear back from grad schools, so I guess it wouldn't hurt to explore some new tastes while I'm still in the suburbs.

I apologize for the oil smudge on the sticker...
eating gets messy sometimes, ya know!
A couple of weeks ago, my parents were on the way home from my mom's office and they decided to stop by a new French bakery that they had heard about from one of my mom's nurses.  The nurse raved about their pastries and even said that one of the owners was Filipino!  Of course, my parents had to check it out...and I'm SO GLAD they did!

According to the website, French Cakes Patisserie was founded by two French pastry chefs who met each other while in culinary school.  Both Cristine Patolot and Elisabeth Michaelis have studied and worked with internationally renowned pastry chefs that have been featured on the Food Network, so you know their stuff has to be delicious!

My parents' first trip to the French bakery resulted in four large scones (~$2.50 each).  I had never tasted a scone before, but these were unbelievable!  So far I have tasted their blueberry, strawberry, and apple scones, and each one has been simply delectable.  Based on appearances, I assumed that the scones would be too sweet, but I promise that they are very savory and possess just the right amount of sweetness.

"We offer our signature Croissants in a variety of flavors, using authentic French recipes and methods. We also offer fresh fruit scones, muffins, coffee cakes, and sweet breads. You’ll also want to try our biscotti, assorted French pound cakes (classic and combination of spices), Parisian macaroons, and gourmet cookies."

When my parents returned from their first visit, my first question was, "Do they have croissants?!"  That was a stupid question because duh, it's a French bakery.

Four large croissants and one chocolate croissant...
I ate the other one =]
Their croissants are freshly made every morning.  Orders are accepted in advance, and the morning's fresh croissants are available on a first come, first serve basis...once it's gone, it's gone!  My parents came home with small croissants one day, and I begged them to order some chocolate ones for me...

The croissants are flaky, puffy, and absolutely perfect...I've never traveled to France so I don't know how a "real" croissant is supposed to taste like, but this will definitely suffice until I make it there.

Who would've thought, a French bakery in Plainfield?  =] If you're ever in the area, I definitely recommend that you drop by and have a taste, or place an order for some fresh croissants the next morning.  The bakery also specializes in a variety of cakes, wedding cakes, chocolates, jams, candies, etc.

French Cakes Patisserie
12337 S. Route 59
Plainfield, IL 60585


Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl XLV: Homecooked Food & USHER!

To be honest with you, I could really care less about the Super Bowl.

Photo Credit:
However, early last week I was searching Google for my daily Usher news (yes, I do this every single day) and I saw an article by the Associated Press that stated USHER would be performing during BEP's half-time show!  I was a little bit worried because the announcement wasn't confirmed by Usher's camp, so I was definitely holding my breath before he came out.

Photo Credit:

If you know me personally, I have been an Usher lunatic for almost 15 you can imagine how excited I was when I heard the news =].  I recently saw him in concert for his OMG Tour and he was nothing short of amazing...sooooo amazing!!!  And he's coming back to Chicago this spring!  If you've never seen Usher live, I would highly suggest that you save your pennies for a ticket to his show.  Even if you're not an Usher fanatic like me, I promise that you'll enjoy every second of it!

This isn't an Usher blog (although I could certainly make it one), so...moving on...

My last three posts have focused on beauty products, so I think it's only appropriate for me to switch gears to the other major topic of my blog: FOOD.

And what better way to jumpstart my food blogging entries than with my Mom's kitchen?

My Mom's Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings with Green Onions
Anyone that comes to my house knows that they will never leave Mom's kitchen could be a restaurant!  Our 5 freezers, 3 refrigerators, and 2 pantries are filled to capacity with food and ingredients. If you're craving something in particular, we definitely have the means to satisfy your cravings.

My Mom's Ribs (served with Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle Sauce)
Since it was just our family, my Mom made a small meal for the Super Bowl which consisted of wings, ribs, lechon, and my favorite - potatoes!

My Mom's Lechon (later mixed to make Lechon Sisig)
I've always been dumbfounded by my Mom's talent for cooking.  When my brother and I were younger, she catered many parties, events, and Filipino stores with her delicious & flaky empanadas, palabok, pancit, etc. etc.

Every single day, despite working long hours at her office and visiting patients, she will spend hours in the kitchen when she comes home from work.  Even if we tell her that she doesn't need to cook and she should just lay down and rest, she will insist on cooking us a good meal "in case she doesn't have time to cook the next day" (this rarely happens).

As I get older, I can only pray that I will be blessed my Mom's cooking skills.  Since I've graduated college, I've tried to pick up a few dishes...right now I only know how to cook salmon sinigang and her homemade mac & cheese LOL =[ slowly, but surely, I will get there...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

YouTube Spotlight: Lisa Eldridge

Like many other ladies out there, I'm an avid subscriber of many makeup gurus on YouTube.  I'm not too keen on the idea of starting my own channel because I don't consider myself an expert on fact, I think I'm remotely far from being one!

However, there is one makeup guru on YouTube that I just subscribed to a couple months ago, and she is TRULY a makeup expert.

I don't mean to offend anyone who posts makeup tutorials on YouTube - but she didn't just hop online and upload a video; she has paid her dues and risen to success in the beauty and fashion industry through hard work, passion, and dedication.  How did it take me so long to find her?

Meet Lisa Eldridge:
"I've been working as a professional make-up artist for 21 years. I've worked on hundreds of fashion, beauty and celebrity shoots and covers as well as fashion shows and red carpet events. My work has taken me all over the world and I've been based in London, Paris, New York and LA at different times throughout my career.

I feel incredibly blessed to have been so successful in a field I absolutely love and for which I'm as passionate today as I was over 20 years ago. In the past decade I have been lucky enough to work more in depth behind the scenes of the cosmetic industry, creating and designing make-up brands. First for Shiseido in Tokyo and more recently as creative director of Boots No7.

I'm so excited by YouTube as its really opening up the world of make-up and beauty. I'm thrilled that a whole world of make-up lovers are now communicating with each other. I love creating beautiful, modern and above all, achievable looks and believe that make-up is for everyone."

This woman has done many covers and editorials for Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, name it, she's done it.  She recently posted a video on the look that she did on Cheryl Cole (one of my girl crushes!) for the February 2011 issue of Elle UK.

I believe that you should always give credit where credit is due, so please take the time and subscribe to her channel.  If you're in love with makeup and beauty like I am, I promise you will be enlightened =]

Saturday, February 5, 2011

January Favorites

MAC Pro Longwear Foundation in NC25
One of the main reasons why I became so interested in beauty blogging was because of my extremely oily skin.  Within an hour of washing my face, my face is already an oil slick!  I have tried many different foundations, powders, and even some home remedies, but with no success.  Lo and behold, I have finally found the perfect liquid foundation to control my oiliness: Mac Pro Longwear Foundation SPF 10 ($29.50).

The MAC website describes this foundation as follows:
A foundation that gives up to 15 hours of wear in any environmental condition. Lightweight and creamy, applies smoothly to provide sheer to medium coverage. Even in hot and humid conditions, controls oil to keep skin fresh, natural and flawless. Provides everyday SPF protection

I will definitely vouch for the 15 hours of wear!  When wearing this foundation, I no longer have to blot or powder multiple times a day...maybe just once or twice.  However, I haven't used this foundation in warmer conditions (it's still freezing here in Chicago) so that will be a true test of the longevity of this product.

The only downside of this foundation is that it dries very quickly, so I suggest working in small sections.  So far I have only used makeup sponges for application, but I will be experimenting with some brushes as well.


MAC Blot Powder in Medium
...a very good friend from my past =].  MAC Blot Powder ($23) was one of my first upper-end makeup purchases when I was a pre-teen!  I've gone through so many compacts of this, it's almost ridiculous.  For some time, I tried using other drugstore and department store pressed powders, but this one definitely trumps all competitors for my oily skin.  The powder is finely milled and applies very smoothly.

I don't like to use foundation on an everyday basis; so after applying my moisturizer, I'll dust on some of this with my EcoTools Kabuki Brush.  If I do use my Mac Pro Longwear Foundation, I'll set with this Blot's the perfect combination!

My only complaint is the packaging.  Because the powder is so finely milled, it shatters EXTREMELY easily.  I would love it even more if MAC packaged this powder in a more sturdy and durable container.

I currently use the Medium shade, but I might be adventurous and try Medium Dark during the summertime.  I've seen some YouTube ladies with similar complexions to mine, and they all use Medium Dark, not Medium.

I think it's safe to say that I don't plan on experimenting with any other pressed powders again.  Not only do I have extremely oily skin, but my skin is also very sensitive as well...this powder has never caused me any breakouts!


Korres Lip Butter in Quince
I'm not one to splurge on something as basic as a lip balm, but I may reconsider with the Korres Lip Butters ($10 each, available at Sephora).  Thankfully, I had a $50.00 gift certificate that I only paid $5.00 for through RueLaLa, so I decided to try out some new products!

These lip balms are very, very moisturizing and are available in a variety of beautiful, pigmented shades.  The color doesn't last long on your lips, but the moisture does!  The consistency is extremely smooth, but not too gooey; I'm not too crazy about lip balms in pot form because I HATE getting it under my nails, but so far I haven't had any issues. 

Apparently you can also use this product on your cheeks, but I'm a bit scared that it might break me out!  However, Korres uses all natural, environment-friendly ingredients, so I might try to use it as a blush in the near future.

I previously used C.O. Bigelow's Lip Gloss Tubes, but I found that after some hours of wear, it would leave this gross, white film on the inner rims of my lips!  I would constantly have to reapply during the day, and after using the same tube for some time I noticed that the formula of the lip gloss changed...yuck!  I have not had this problem with the Korres Lip Butter, so I am a happy camper =]

Would I repurchase this with the $10 price tag?  If I was down to the bottom of the pot, I just might...I'm interested in trying the Pomegranate shade.  I alternate between this and my mini tub of Vaseline, so I'm hoping this pot will last me a long time.


Urban Decay Naked Palette
Lucky for me, I was able to get my hands on one of these babies before they replaced the double-ended 24/7 Glide-On Liner with an eyeshadow brush!  I was a little bit unsure if I was willing to spend $44 on an eyeshadow palette, but my Kuya Tim (& Sjae =]) bought me one for my Secret Santa Christmas present!  I literally screamed when I opened it!

The outside packaging is very long, sleek, and compact considering the number of FULL-SIZE eyeshadows it holds.  Definitely worth every single penny if you're considering to buy it.

The palette snaps shut with a magnetic closure, and includes a mirror (haven't used it, but it's large and convenient); a double-ended 24/7 Glide-On Eye Liner; and of course, 12 gorgeous, pigmented shades that can be combined to execute any daytime or nighttime look.  This has become my go-to palette for traveling because of its versatility.

Since receiving this in the beginning of January, I honestly haven't used any other single eyeshadows or eyeshadow palettes...I haven't felt the urge to purchase any other eyeshadow products either!  There is a variety of matte and shimmer shades, and the only shade that I've experienced some fallout is the heavily glittered Sidecar...but other than that, this eyeshadow palette is truly a gem.  The double-ended 24/7 Glide-On Eye Liner only makes this even more of a smart beauty buy!


Forever 21 Makeup Travel Case
My last January Favorite is somewhat of a random item, but it definitely fits me and my personality.  My room is a bit messy...but I swear, I am really big on organization!  I stumbled on this cute makeup travel case ($7.80) during a recent trip to Forever 21.

So far, the quality of the case is very good considering the price.  I was a bit turned off by the off-white color, but the outside is made of a vinyl material that can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth or sponge.  There were a couple other designs available, but I was attracted to the color pattern of this one =]

The inside contains a zipped pocket and two removable zipped pouches.  Although it's not large enough to fit my Urban Decay Naked Palette =[ it does fit (from top to bottom compartment) my tweezers, DUO eyelash glue, NYX Nude on Nude Palette (a dupe for the UD Naked Palette lol), two concealers, two blushes, two mascaras, gel liner, eyebrow gel, makeup brushes, UDPP, a pair of scissors, an eyelash curler, an eyebrow palette, and my Smashbox mattifier!

Large enough to carry all my essentials, but still small enough to fit in my purse =] it's amazing, I tell you!

I really recommend these types of travel cases if you're always on the go...I also have a larger one that I purchased at Target for my toiletries, but it was almost $20!