Yearly Archive: 2012



December 2012



Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf

Written by , Posted in Chicago, Restaurants

It’s official…I’ve found my new favorite Chicago restaurant!  Not even just my favorite Chicago restaurant, my favorite anywhere restaurant!  Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf in River North is so gorgeous, so chic, so intimate, so PERFECT I just can’t keep it to myself!  Any restaurant that can make stroganoff sexy is a winner in my book!

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

Brendan Sodikoff has done it again, adding another notch on his belt of culinary achievements that also includes Gilt Bar, Curio, Maude’s, Doughnut Vault, and Au Cheval.  Bavette’s, with its dim lighting, dark wood, crystal chandeliers, and expertly crafted throwback cocktails, offers the perfect twist to the traditional steakhouse.

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

This is the perfect spot for a special date, an intimate dinner with family or friends, or a just quick cocktail before a night on the town.  With a drink menu that includes sparkling cocktails (M Laurent is my fav!), old fashioneds (go with the hardy vs cognac), thoughtful classics (thoroughly enjoyed Bavette’s Punch), perfect wines (the Sangiovese pairs perfect with the short rib stroganoff), and an expansive selection of scotch, whiskey, and bourbon, they’ve got a little something for everyone!  If you can’t choose, their fantastic bartenders can undoubtedly steer you in the right direction!

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

Now those were just the drinks!  Every bite of food we ate, from the warm, chewy sourdough bread to the crunchy hash browns with caramelized onions, was absolutely delicious.  We started with a classic that actually originated in Chicago-the Shrimp DeJonghe.  Butter, garlic, shrimp, a touch of sherry, and texas toast?  Heaven!  Make sure you use that toast to sop of every last bit!

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf Shrimp Dejonghe

For our mains, I opted for the Short Rib Stroganoff and Mike went with the Filet Mignon Petite Duchess Cut.  The stroganoff was amazingly rich and creamy with chunks of short rib that just melted in my mouth.  I would order this again, and again, and again!  Mike’s filet…serious perfection.  The thick cut of meat was a perfect medium rare all the way through.  I don’t even know how you go about cooking such a thick cut like that!

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf Short Rib Stroganoff

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf Filet Mignon

For sides we went with our bartender’s suggestions of the hash browns and the elote style corn.  I’m not really sure how elote style corn fits into this menu but I don’t really care, it was delicious!  The hash browns are a must-order, I can assure you that you’ve never had hash browns like these before.

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

Although I would’ve loved to try their desserts, we were way too stuffed to even think about it, and we even brought a good amount of food home!  Reservations are scarce so we just strolled in without one at 6pm on a Friday night and ended up snagging a couple seats at the bar.  They put us on their wait list but by the time we left around 8p we still hadn’t been called, so if you want to dine and don’t have reservations, finding a seat at one of the bars (one upstairs and one down) or on one of their small sofas is the way to go.  Our first visit was only last week and I’m already thinking about when I can return!

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf




December 2012



The Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole

Written by , Posted in Recipes

This year I was in charge of the Sweet Potatoes for my family’s Thanksgiving extravaganza.  Usually sweet potatoes are my grandma’s territory-for as long as I can remember she’s made the standard sliced, glazed yams that my mom and I love, however not everyone in our family shares the same affinity.  So this year I decided that it was time for me to take over the duty of sweet potatoes!

In the weeks before the holiday I tried a couple different recipes but neither of them were just right.  I kind of felt like Goldilocks-this one is too sweet, this one is too savory, this one is too dense, etc, etc…so I decided I would create my own recipe and incorporate the pieces of each recipe that I liked, hoping that the end result would be a success.  I didn’t test this recipe before the big day which was a bit of a risk, but it ended up turning out great and everyone loved it!  I would highly recommend bookmarking, pinning, or whatever you need to do to save this recipe for next year or anytime you’re in the mood for sweet potatoes!  It’s a keeper 😉

We had 18 people at our Thanksgiving table this year and there were leftovers so this recipe makes a TON of sweet potatoes-but they make excellent leftovers and can be frozen, or you can just cut the recipe in half!

Sweet Potato Casserole by ChiGalLauren

Lauren’s Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole

For the topping:

2 cups pecan pieces

2 cups dark brown sugar

1 stick melted butter


For the sweet potato mixture:

7 lbs sweet potatoes

1/2 stick melted butter

2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

5 tbsp maple syrup

1 1/2 tbsp Maker’s Mark whisky  **if desired

~3 tbsp dark brown sugar

3 egg whites

Topping:  Add all ingredients to a large bowl and stir until combined.  Set to the side.

Sweet Potato mixture:  Preheat oven to 400˚.  Rinse sweet potatoes and pat dry.  With a fork, puncture sweet potatoes evenly, 3-4 times.  Bake sweet potatoes in oven for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until a fork can easily glide through and the skin can be easily peeled off.  Remove sweet potatoes from oven and set aside until cool, about 15 minutes.  Once sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel skin from potatoes and place potatoes in a very large bowl.  If you find that the skin is not easy to peel, you can cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides from the skins.

Using a potato masher, mash sweet potatoes to desired consistency.  I left mine somewhat chunky so they had a little texture to them.  Add in the melted butter, salt, vanilla, maple syrup, whisky, and dark brown sugar.  Mix well with a spatula or your potato masher, if you still have chunks you need to break up.  At this point everything can basically be to taste.  I highly doubt that the 1 1/2 tbsp of Maker’s Mark really made a difference in the taste of 7 lbs of potatoes, but it was cool to say there was whisky in my casserole :).  Add a little more if you’re adventurous!  If you like them sweeter, add a little more maple syrup or brown sugar.  Like salt?  Add a pinch more of that!

Now comes the fun part.  Beat your egg whites until stiff peaks form.  You can add in a pinch of Cream of Tartar if you have it on hand to make this a little easier.  You can do this by hand if you’ve got some strong arm muscles…otherwise using a mixer is the way to go.  Using a spatula, fold half of the egg whites into the potato mixture until just a few streaks of white are visible.  Repeat with the remaining half of the egg whites.  The egg whites help prop the potato mixture up and make it a little more airy.  We actually only had 3 eggs on hand so that’s what I used, but ideally I probably would have tried it with at least 4 or 5 egg whites.  Try it out, you be the judge!

Once you’ve got your potato mixture to the desired taste and consistency that you want, spread the mixture in a buttered or sprayed baking dish.  Use a spoon or spatula to even out the top, then pull out your pecan topping and sprinkle as much as you want over top!  As you can see in the above picture, I completely covered my mixture with topping and it was everyone’s favorite part of the dish.  I ended up having a little extra topping from the above recipe that I ended up not using because I didn’t want to overdo it.   It really depends on the size of your baking dish as to how much topping you’ll need, I probably could’ve added the extra bit on top and nobody would’ve minded!

I made this the night before Thanksgiving and just covered it with foil and left it in the refrigerator until we were ready to bake it.  When you’re ready to go, preheat your oven to 400˚again and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the mixture is heated through (if you have a deeper baking dish this may be a little longer).  Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Casserole by ChiGalLauren



November 2012



Happy Tieks-giving!

Written by , Posted in Shopping

I’m sorry, I’m sorry…I just couldn’t help myself with that one!  Happy Thanksgiving!  Hope everyone is having a great day with friends, family, loved ones, or whomever it is that makes you happy!  I recently purchased a pair of Tieks for my wedding day and I fell in love so quickly that I couldn’t wait to share-and what a better day to share than the day before the crazy holiday shopping season officially begins?!

Tieks \\, noun. The most versatile designer flats in the world. Made of the finest Italian leathers and designed to fold and fit in one’s purse. Wearable all day, every day.

Tieks by Gavrieli are officially my new favorite ballet flat!  The fit, the feel, the look-I just can’t get enough!  From neutrals to brights to patterns, they have something for everyone and they come in sizes up to 13!  Their signature blue bottoms have given me that “something blue” for my wedding day and they’re so comfortable that I’ll have no problem wearing them all day long!

They also fold in half and come with a small carrying bag so they’re the perfect travel shoe…they’d fit perfectly in the shoe compartment of the Lo & Sons O.G. I’ve been eyeing!

I’m obviously pretty excited about my latest find.  Being 6’1″ I’ve purchased a LOT of flats in my day…and I’m happy to say that after years of “research” I’ve found the perfect one!  If you own a pair of Tieks or decide to try them out, let me know what you think!

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