El Tapeo Invites You to Spring Into Tapas!

chef matthew capellini

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.

sangria

 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.

paella

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.

scallops

chicken croquettes

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.

rhubarb and strawberry tart

Diego Alonso entertained guests and set the tone with his Spanish guitar

diego alonso

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 .

Melanie and Melanie

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.

flowers

Posted in Foodie | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Votes Are In! Tony’s Dish is a Winner!

tony cooks

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.

rachel ray

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.

leeky linguine with shrimp

Make sure you wash the leeks really well to remove all dirt and grit that can hide in the stalks!

Ingredients

  • 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)

Preparation

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.

vermont dream

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!

 

 

Posted in Cooking with Celebs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

She Sparkles on the Red Carpet – Thanks to Neutrogena

kerry-washington-at-golden-globes

Ah award season! The culmination of a year of accolades for a great performance. Hollywood gathers for an evening as the world watches. For Kerry Washington, the world watched as this diva walked the Red Carpet from the Emmy’s to the SAG Awards for her work as Anita Hill in HBO’s “Confirmation.” Kerry always manages to shine thanks to her make up artist who always uses Neutrogena cosmetics. Find out how Kerry achieved her Red Carpet looks.

First Kerry washed her face with the brand new Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleanser to give Carola Gonzalez a clean slate to work with. It purifies and moisturizes.

neutrogena hydro boost gel

Before the make up artist started on Kerry, she used a product that I have grown to love. Perfect for the brutal Chicago winters. Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel hydrates the skin and keeps it smooth. The gel acts like a cream and keeps the skin supple. It makes a great base before make up is applied.

hydro boost gel

Wind and hot lights can make lips chapped and rough. To give a flawless look , try this trick. Put some of the Hydrating Lip Treatment on your lips before applying lip stick or lip gloss. Before application, blot your lips.

hydro boost lip treatment

Not all of us are as fortunate as Kerry and  blessed with full lips. With the Neutrogena Hydrating lip shine, it not only colors and moisturizes .It actually plumps the lips. The color is as vibrant as a lip stick adding shine .

With the new concealer and special Hydrating Boost Tint , the canvas takes form and imperfections are covered up. The tint contains hydrolauric acid which seals in moisture and hydrates the skin. It gives great coverage and gives the skin a healthy look as well. Neutrogena is also proud to feature more shades of their skin products so that women like Kerry can shine and the products enhance their skin tones.

Neutrogena-Hydro-Boost-Hydrating-Tint

Between the different eye products, Kerry is made ready for her walk down the Red Carpet. She is so gorgeous and always makes such a good impression. And its all thanks to Neutrogena.

kerry in full pose.jpg

Posted in Make up, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate Bon Bons Are A Treat For Your Eyes-Too Faced Eye Shadow Pallete

too-faced-bon-bons

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.

Posted in Make up | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Pizzeria Uno and Due is All About the Passion Behind the Pizza

pizzeria-due

There is no doubt in my mind that Chicago is a pizza town. That is unfortunate for someone who is trying to lose weight and is too big for Los Angeles. We have tried so many pizzas and there are so many different kinds. Well today, we were fortunate enough to get to dine at one of the biggest Chicago icons, Pizzeria Uno and Dos. Now what makes this pizza place different from every other deep dish pizza place in town? It is where the original deep dish pizza was originated. We chowed on this heavenly delight along with other dishes with only the one person who has made pizza his life’s work, Howard McHale. Howard is the sales director for the Pizzeria Uno franchise.

Howard is the go to person for when you want to know anything about pizza. He not only sells the brand and sets up events, he is a pizza ambassador”. Uno’s is the iconic brand that people have to have when they visit the Windy City. Celebrities like Vince Vaughn , Amy Schumer, the Bulls, and Patti Labelle have sat in the famous booths and enjoyed that scrumptious deep dish pizza. But what is the story behind Chicago’s biggest icon? According to Howard, Ric Riccardo had originally opened the restaurant known as Pizzeria Uno in 1943. He originally wanted to open Chicago’s first Tex Mex restaurant. But then he tried it and decided to open a pizzeria instead. (It didn’t appeal to him) Him and Ike Sewell decided that pizza deserved to be more than an appetizer, so the Chicago deep dish was born. And today , we thank them for that. It is a pie that is a pizza and is loaded with fresh ingredients and when in Rome, we had to try the king , “The Uno.” This was a treat for Jen since her family came here from Sicily. All Italian dinners start with salad, and that was our starting point.  It was so healthy with the fresh lettuce, cherry tomatoes, onions with the homemade wine vinegar dressing sprinkled on top. The party kept going with wings and their special shrimp and crab  dip I like meaty wings and the sauce didn’t burn my mouth. They were baked and not fried, healthy. Now the “Uno” has all the good stuff in it. It is meaty and to me a pizza isn’t a pizza without mushrooms, onion and peppers. And it is a pie with a thick crust and the filling is the veggies and meats. The dinner ended with another little piece of heaven, their cheesecake. It is the piece de resistance of the meal. Thick cheesecake with whipped creme drizzled in either strawberry or chocolate. Oh and definitely plan on leftovers. You can also find the Uno pizzas in the grocery store and they have made it their mission to spread the gospel of “pizza”. They have several other stores including ones in the DFW airport and Schaumberg. They also participate in a great program called Pizza for Patriots. They sent a slice of home to our fighting troops to remind them of what they are fighting for. But if you want to visit the home of the “original” deep dish , go to 29 East Ohio Street and prepare for a pizza-rific meal.

                                                                    the-uno

The Uno is a meal in itself. You come to Chicago , you go to Unos.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Fairytale With a Very Happy Ending ..Fairytale Brownies

hv2121

There isn’t a better cure all than chocolate. It heals a broken heart or allows someone a way to show love. Haven’t we all had a day the boss chewed us out or did badly on a test? The one thing that can make the bad go away is in candy, ice cream, or brownies. Valentines Day is coming up and nothing says love more than brownies , especially if they are from the Fairytale Brownie company . Chocolate, caramel, toffee, white chocolate and cool chocolate mint are some of the treats you can eat .

 Friendship , love, and childhood is the basis of this company that is located in Arizona. They are one of the leading online cookie companies in the world. David Kravetz and Eileen Spitalny have been friends since childhood and in 1992, they decided to make their dream come true. The two spent many hours in a friend’s kitchen perfecting their recipes.But don’t think that Fairytale Brownies are just for Valentines Day. They help us celebrate … they thank a client for a good job… they congratulate someone on births or marriages. They just make people make feel good. So be a good gal pal and give some brownie love to your friend for Valentines. (Or just treat yourself after that breakup)

The best part is that your purchase helps to build a playground for some special kids. They are students at the Arizona Autism Charter School and Fairytale is pairing with Kaboom to build this wonderful playground. You can also donate after your purchase or even write a check . Make it out to  Fairytale Brownies Playground Project and mail to Fairytale Brownies attn: Alyssa Andrews 4610 E Cotton Center Blvd. Ste 100 , Phoneix Az. 85040

Bring the joys of childhood to these special kids

http://www.brownies.com/

kids-smiles

Posted in Chitownstarconnections Favorite Things, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Simply Eden Products Are Paradise For Your Skin

simply-eden-goat-milk-soap-shop

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.

pink-grrapefruit-peppermint-and-poppyseed

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.

little-black-dress

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.

sweet-o-chili-pepper

Posted in Skin products | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment