This evening Jen and I were invited for a special unveiling of the new Spring menu at the Oakbrook restaurant El Tapeo. It was a tapas fest as Chef Matthew Capellini ‘s creations were served at a VIP tasting in the Le Meridien hotel on the ninth floor. Guests were welcomed with yummy glasses of sangria. With the sweet flavor and fruit , I called the drink Hawaiian punch for adults.
Everyone enjoyed networking while sampling some of Chef Cappelli’s dishes. My personal favorites included the Paella de Diablo . This traditional Spanish dish gave off a little spice , but was filled with spicy chorizo, shrimp, chicken, peas, peppers , and spicy aioli. It presented quite a colorful picture. It was also delicious.
My two favorite tapas included the Viera Borracha and Croquettas de Pollo . I fell in love with the tarragon mustard dip that accompanied the croquettes. They were so good that Jen insisted on a plate of them to munch on.
But the one dish that absolutely captured my heart was the Tarta de Rujubabo . The rhubarb and strawberry tart took me back to my late grandmother’s strawberry and rhubarb jelly. But the mint puree and champagne sorbet certainly added to the dainty dessert.
Diego Alonso entertained guests and set the tone with his Spanish guitar
Everyone was so friendly and hospitable, especially Melanie. We bonded and she told me about how awesome that Le Meredien was. I told her that we will definitely come back to enjoy the hotel and the great shopping .
El Tapa is located in the beautiful Oakbrook Center at the Le Meridien hotel. Come to the ninth floor bistro for a taste experience that you won’t soon forget.
It is very hard to balance a career when you are a tv star and a family man, but “Scandal” star Tony Goldwyn manages to do it. He is also a gourmet cook and has appeared on such shows as “The Chew ” and “The Rachel Ray Show.” to show off his cooking talent. But how can a man direct a hit show, campaign for a presidential candidate, and manage to provide a healthy meal for his family and friends?
Recently Rachel Ray had given Tony a challenge . She had given him a recipe for pasta night. The recipe was quick and easy and perfect for Lent. It was Leeky Linguine with Shrimp . We had some leftover shrimp and I learned about leeks when I made the dish several weeks ago. Rachel is known for her famous quick and easy 30 minute meals.
But I am not a gourmet cook, but I can manage to work in a kitchen. I took Rachel and Tony’s challenge and made the dish. The shrimp and pasta dish was perfect for a Lenten meal, so you can make it for one of the remaining Fridays. I cooked the shrimp and pasta , combining all of the other ingredients together. The lemon zest added to the mixture and I actually enjoyed doing the lemon. I also learned that when you clean leeks, you need to cut them and soak them in water to get the gritty part out of the leek. What were the results? Pasta made my favorite way ..al dente. I don’t like overcooked pasta.
Make sure you wash the leeks really well to remove all dirt and grit that can hide in the stalks!
- 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 pound fresh linguine
- 4 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise and washed
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
- 1/3 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley (a generous handful)
In a bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 tablespoons of the EVOO, the lemon peel, garlic and crushed red pepper; season with salt and black pepper.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes.
While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO, about two turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and black pepper and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Push the leeks to the side of the pan, add the shrimp to the skillet and cook until pink and firm. Pour in the wine and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the pasta to the skillet; season with salt and black pepper. Add the parsley and toss.
Hey do you suppose after Fitz leaves the WH , he will do the cooking for the couple? Probably, unless they expect to be eating popcorn a lot!
Today starts Lent and one of the messages of Lent is that you should give something up. Sacrificing makes you a stronger person. Well I found some treats that you don’t have to give up , the best part is that these chocolates don’t contain any calories.
Recently I have become a fan of the brand of make up called Too Faced. They don’t want make up to be serious business, they want it to be fun. My first experience with the brand was a blush and bronzer compact for Valentines last year that was named after famous tv couples. It was heart shaped and called Ross and Rachel. This past Christmas they introduced the “Christmas in New York ” gifts. It conjured up images of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Audrey Hepburn strolling down Fifth Avenue shopping at Christmas time. The gift set contains blushes, eye shadows and a few other goodies like mascara and one of the patented Too Face Melted Kiss lip stick and also an eye shadow primer. My latest addition to my make up collection is one of their fun Chocolate Bon Bon eye shadow pallettes. Just like the Christmas gift set, the make ups are infused with chocolate powders and come with fun names like Praline, Truffle, and Cotton Candy. It is all girly with its powder pink compact that is small enough to fit into that Michael Kors. Take it anywhere. My favorite part is the little maps that give easy step by step color instructions because not all of us are MUAs . Anyone can get that glam look for an event . As a blogger and an actress, it isn’t always possible to get made up for that event. Too Faced sets help give me that polished look. They can be found at Sephoras and online at http://www.toofaced.com It’s the chocolate you can indulge in without guilt.
Athena Steadman stands outside her store where she makes the most amazing soaps and lotions.
Actors, directors, and just plain celebrity watchers come to Park City every year to see the films , see who is who , and visit the special gifting suites at Sundance. One of the most popular ones is the Indie Lounge. Entrepreneurs bring their products to these lounges in the hopes they can give them to an influencer or celebrity who will share them on social media. I got the chance to get some really great products to try and these soaps and lotions are one of those.
Simply Eden products come from the unspoiled mountains in Utah. The founder of the company is Athena Steadman . A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis caused her to leave a fast paced life to go back to the basics. This led her to realize that the regular soaps and lotions were too harsh for sensitive skin. She found out that goat’s milk had vitamins and minerals and natural fats. These products have the most amazing scents and make your skin feel as pampered as the most expensive boutiques and spas. I got to try some of these products which proved to be a Godsend in the arctic Chicago weather. Here are a few of my favorites.
I am a huge fan of Bath and Body Works products and also miss my late and lamented Victoria Secret Pear Glace products as well. I think that smells evoke memories and emotions. The goat milk that is used in the soaps comes from very well treated Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats. The milk is used to make the lotions and soaps. I am totally in love with the Grapefruit Peppermint and Poppyseed soap. It is so creamy, just needs to be a little bit more foamy. I do love the light fragrance and the grapefruit smell does wonders for my depression from the winter weather.
Picture the sunny pink grapefruit from Southern climes mixed with a refreshing peppermint. You have the Grapefruit Peppermint soap sprinkled with poppyseed and essential oils.
Another product has such a classy name and it is designed to make your skin feel pampered. I love slathering my skin with the Little Black Dress lotion . I picture the shops of Michigan Avenue and Rodeo, walking in a pair of Christian Laboutins swinging my Louis Vuitton in the kickiest black dress as I go to an event or on a date. It has a patchouli and musky scent with some sandalwood . And you can slather some on your man as well. This one is great for that Valentines love fest.
Lavender has such a calming effect and that can be a wonderful thing in our modern crazy world. Lavender and Clay face soap marries the lavender with the skin and takes your stressed skin down a few notches while it cleanses and moisturizes your skin. The peppermint and lavender foot and body balm continues the de stressing process. I just feel better after I take a whiff of the lavender soap . Maybe I will get some to put in with my lingerie to pamper it as well. I am ending my review of Simply Eden with my absolute favorite and that is the Sweet Orange Chili Pepper body mousse. It reminds of the orange groves of Florida where I spent a large part of my childhood. It also reminds me of the bright future in California. And hurray its a citrus fest! It even contains real orange juice to give it that citrusy feel , with that little tang. Mix it with shea butter and cocoa butter to make your skin smooth and ease dry skin.