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Happy Holidays: It’s In the Dip & Small Appliance Review

When my mother first introduced me to cooking, she started me off with small tasks. I was stirring potato salad, snapping fresh green beans, and using the hand mixer until I she could trust me with a knife. Once I was allowed to use a knife, I was peeling & chopping everything from apples to zucchini.

Fast forward to 2014 and I had the opportunity to test the Stack & Snap 10 Cup Food Processor from Hamilton Beach. This versitle small kitchen appliance allows you to chop, purée, slice, and shred with one handy kitchen tool.

Stack & Snap 10 Cup Food  Processor

Stack & Snap 10 Cup Food Processor

This food processor helped me make made two of the three dipping sauces for my homemade lamb meatballs. I made the 2 dipping sauces in less than 20 minutes. This food processor is fast and powerful. I was even able to shred cabbage and sweet potatoes without overheating the motor.

Meatball Dipping Sauces

Dipping Sauces

While you are using it, don’t think you are going to hold a conversation while the Stack & Snap is on. Do you want power or do you want silence? Even though it is noisy, this easy to use and versatile small

appliance might just find a home on my counter. Counter space is limited in my petite kitchen. You know it must be useful if counter top real estate is spare 🙂

The Stack & Snap costs about $49 to $60 USD at your favorite retailer. Treat yourself or the cook in your life to the Stack & Snap 10 Cup Food Processor. Oh, how I wish the Stack & Snap around when I was a kid 🙂

Feel free to try out these quick and easy dips for the holidays.

Cucumber Dill Dip

2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber, washed & cut on 2 pieces
1 tablespoon dill
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

ONEAdd all ingredients to the blender or food processor.
TWOPulse to chop until all ingredients are well combined.
THREEAdd to a bowl, cover, and place in the refrigerator until the dip is ready to serve.

Mango Mint Chutney

1 lb. frozen mango
8 to 10 fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

ONEAdd all ingredients to the blender or food processor.
TWOPulse to chop until all ingredients are well combined; but remains a little chunky.
THREEAdd to a bowl, cover, and place in the refrigerator until the dip is ready to serve.

Dipping Sauce with Lamb Meatballs

Dipping Sauce with Lamb Meatballs

Stay tuned for how I made the yummy lamb meatballs from scratch 🙂

Happy Birthday Stop Two: Grub Restaurant

See, I keep my promises. I told you I would come back to birthday stop number 2 🙂 Birthday stop number 2 was at Grub Restaurant located in Chicago’s University Village neighborhood at 1230 W. Taylor Street.

Grub Restaurant

Grub Restaurant

When I first read about the soul food restaurant that opened a few months ago, I was a little skeptical. I rolled my eyes when I read that Grub was a ‘healthy’ soul food restaurant. I smirked to myself because I have experienced too many soul food restaurants that served dishes that were too salty and too greasy.

I went to Grub one afternoon for lunch. I ordered The Double Crunch entrée. The Double Crunch consists of Chef Emanuel Washington’s signature fried chicken and mac & cheese muffin (it isn’t a muffin; but a serving of Mac & cheese). I also ordered a side of collard greens.

Food at Grub Restaurant

The Double Crunch

After one bite, it was evident that Grub is a restaurant that delivers on its promise of being healthy while delivering on taste. The only thing that was a disappointment was when I ran out of macaroni & cheese. I ate this side I think in less than a minute.

I am happy that Grub is a not a counter service or buffet style soul food restaurant. It is nice to be able to sit at a cloth covered table with cloth napkins inside a contemporary decorated atmosphere. I like that Grub shows the elegant side soul food without emptying your wallet.

I waited to post this review because I thought I would have gone back to Grub to experience their Sunday brunch. Yep, they serve Sunday brunch from 11 am to 5 pm.  And I will be checking them out for brunch.

Happy Birthday Stop Three: The Skinny Piggy

My third stop on my happy birthday to me tour was The Skinny Piggy. Yep, you read it right. I skipped over stop number two :-). I will come back to stop 2 another day.

While walking up Taylor Street in the University Village neighborhood of Chicago, there was this green awning that drew me in.

Skinny Piggy

Skinny Piggy Storefront

After I walked in the door, a huge case of naked cupcakes with only a few decorated items captured my attention. I looked around for the menu but could not find one. Turn to your right and there is a wall that will change your life.

Skinny Piggy

The Wall @ Skinny Piggy

This wall helps you get started. At The Skinny Piggy, you get to create your dessert. You choose the base: cupcake, cookie, or brownie. You can fill and top it however you wish. The Skinny Pig has changed the cupcake game in Chicago for me. I am no longer held captive to a menu. I can choose whatever I want.

The first cupcake I created was a lemon cupcake with vanilla cream cheese filling and topped with vanilla cream cheese icing and pistachios.

Skinny Piggy

1st Treat

The second cupcake was a vanilla cupcake with Rumchata filling and topped with vanilla cream cheese icing, crumbled Snickers, and caramel drizzle.

Skinny Piggy

2nd Treat

The Skinny Piggy located at 1214 West Taylor Street is definitely a keeper. I am looking forward to returning just so I can try one of their malts–sipping on ice cream along with your favorite cupcake, cookie, or brownie is right up my alley.

If you want something different in delicious treat offerings, check out The Skinny Piggy. I bet they will change your life 🙂

Happy Birthday Stop One: smalls. smoke shack & more

When I here the word ‘small’, other words come to mind: little, not enough, and lacking are just a few. None of the words I just named paint a picture of positivity.

I had the opportunity to experience smalls smoke shack & more located at 4009 N. Albany Avenue in Chicago’s northwest neighborhood of Irving Park.

smalls smoke shack & more Chicago


When you open up the door, the vibrant and fragrant scent of smoked proteins fill the air. Instantantly, my stomach reminded me of how hungry I was. Yep, let me back up. You read it right. I said protein because they offer smoked tofu for a vegan/vegetarian friendly meal option.

Looking at the menu, you already see that smalls isn’t your typical Chicago BBQ joint. You won’t see coleslaw; but fries are an option. Other veggies are offered on the menu that are not haphazardly added. Each side that is available exemplifies a well executed offering that coincides with what smalls does best: big flavors with an Asian twist.

They are known for their Bibimbap. I decideded to step outside of the box and order the Smoked Brisket Platter. For the side, I chose the Beet Box. I also added Coconut Greens as an additional side. I was not disappointed with this selection.

Smoked Brisket Platter smalls

My Experience @ smalls

smalls is definitely on my list of restaurants to make sure I visit again and again and again. I already know that I want to experience the fried chicken 🙂 I suggest that you check out smalls for yourself. I promise you will be greeted with inviting aromas and welcoming smiles. I forgot to tell you that even though this was my first visit, I didn’t feel like I was with strangers; but hangin’ out with old friends that cook their pants off 🙂

Tasting My Way Through Atlanta

For my pre-birthday celebration, I decided to take a quick trip to Atlanta. It has been 4 years since I visited the city where I lived for at least 9 years. I had been searching the Web and discovered the Atlanta food scene had changed in the time that I had been away. And let’s just say that the change was for the better.

My first stop was to a buffet with great tasting food and awesome service. For the low price of $10 (excluding gratuity/tip) you can enjoy all you can eat soul food at Murrell’s Café located at Interdenominational Theological Center in the historically black college district of the West End community.

Murrell's Cafe

Collard Greens, Dressing, Macaroni & Cheese, Cornbread from Murrell’s Cafe

Later that night I decided to have a night cap at my old stompng ground, Café Intermezzo located on Peachtree Street in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood. The peach martini hit the spot.

Café Intermezzo

Peach Martini @ Café Intermezzo

The next morning in the middle of a 3 mile walk I stumbled across Sublime Doughnuts. Located in Atlanta’s Home Park neighborhood just west of the Midtown community, do not be surprised if the line is outside the door

Sublime Doughnuts

Fresh Strawberry N Cream Doughnut @ Sublime Doughnuts

Sublime Doughnuts

Orange Dream Star Doughnut @ Sublime Doughnuts

I am happy that I didn’t eat a huge breakfast. I had to save room for the Taste of Atlanta. Yes, Atlanta has their own Taste. It was one enjoyable food experience. I purchased a ticket for the VIP Experience so there were additional benefits including the standard benefits of this amazing festival.

Taste of Atlanta

A Few Tastes @ the Taste of Atlanta

My favorites were:

Polaris, Atlanta

Georgia Pumpkin Spuma with Pumpkin Seed Oil From Polaris

Ink & Elm

Pickled Shrimp with Deviled Egg Sauce, Mustards, & Crispy Chicken Skin from Ink & Elm

Chai Pani

Kale Pakoris from Chai Pani

Choya Umeshu

Choya Umeshu

After all that tasting, I decided to go have dinner later that evening at Negril Village. Negril Village is located on 10th Street inside the old firehouse steps away from the MARTA station. The unique Jamaican dining experience awakened my taste buds with bold flavors. I ordered the Ginger-Lime Brick Chicken with Herb roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed cabbage, and ginger chicken jus. The chicken was tender and easy to pull off away from the bone. While you are there, make room for for dessert 🙂

Negril Village Atlanta

My Experience @ Negril Village, Atlanta, Georgia

I enjoyed my brief visit to Atlanta. Of course, I did not scratch the surface of the amazing eats Atlanta has to offer. Next time, I will be sure to stay a little longer in order to check out other restaurants located in Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs. If you have any Atlanta area restaurant suggestions, be sure to let me know.

Slow Cooker Meals: Curry Chicken

Whether I was in Jamaica or at my favorite Jamaican restaurant, the complexity of flavors found in Jamaican cuisine always perplexed me. I could not name the ingredients simply with tasting one bite. Man, I would finish an entire meal only to enjoy the experience without piecing together the flavor puzzle.

I am not one to shy away from challenge. After trying a number of recipes, adding some of this and subtracting some of that, I finally created a recipe that I can give the thumbs up. The regular recipe requires a two step process that begins with making a curry gravy in your pot that requires a watchful eye to ensure your base doesn’t burn (If your gravy burns, you have to start over.). Instead of using a pot and hovering over the stove, I made the curry chicken dish in my Set ‘N Forget slow cooker from Hamilton Beach. Making curry chicken in a slow cooker, takes the complexity out of this tasty Caribbean dish.

Curry Chicken

Curry Chicken

Curry Chicken

4 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons curry powder (divide into 2 tablespoons & 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme (or 1 sprig of fresh thyme)
10 to 12 whole allspice pebbles (or 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice)
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 green onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sliced scotch bonnet pepper (optional for some heat; but not too much) NOTE: Handle peppers with care. You will want to wash your hands after handling, if you do not wear gloves.
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed (or 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic)
1 medium potato, peeled & cut into cubes

ONEMix 2 tablespoons curry powder, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder into a small bowl.
TWOAdd chicken thighs to a large bowl.
THREECoat chicken with oil.
FOUREvenly Season chicken with curry powder, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder mixture.
FIVECover seasoned chicken and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. (I prefer overnight.)
SIXPlace green bell pepper, red bell pepper, yellow onion, green onion, scotch bonnet pepper, fresh garlic, 2 tablespoons curry powder, thyme, and all spice to food processor or blender.
SEVENBlend mixture until it is fine.
EIGHTAdd seasoned chicken and blended seasoned vegetables to slow cooker.
NINEAdd potatoes & stir the mixture until thoroughly combined.
TENCook on LOW setting for 7 hours.
ELEVENServe with your favorite rice.

Slow Cooker Meals: Chili with Ground Turkey

I just had to make a batch of chili using the Set ‘N Forget 6 Quart Slow Cooker from Hamilton Beach. Chili is the perfect dish to make in a slow cooker. You know how there are some dishes that taste that much better the next day. For me, chili is one of them. When I cook chili on the stove in a big pot, the seasonings do not settle in until the next day. But when I make a batch of chili in the slow cooker, the herbs and spices make themselves right at home; making my chili bowl ready the same day it is made.

With the temperature steady dropping in Chicago and football Season is in high gear, you can never go wrong with chili. Chili is a versatile comfort food for me. I can eat it in a bowl by itself. I can use it to replace the meat topping for my nachos. I can also use it as a topping when I have a taste for a turkey dog. It is a hit at potlucks and casual family fun gatherings.

How woul you like your own Set ‘N Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker from Hamilton Beach. If you want a chance to win a free fresh out of the box Set ‘N Forget 6 Quart Slow Cooker of your very own, shipped to you from Hamilton Beach, check out my October 9th post on Facebook at for your chance to win or see details after the recipe below.

Turkey Chili

Chili with Ground Turkey

Chili with Ground Turkey

4 pounds ground turkey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (discard seeds if you wish. I use 3 seeds to give the chili a kick)
1/2 tablespoon roasted garlic (can substitute with regular garlic)
1 small onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can reduced sodium stewed tomatoes
1 6 ounce can tomatoe paste
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed (I didn’t have kidney beans in my pantry.)
15 ounces water
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional (I typically do not add salt. The canned goods have enough sodium for my taste.)

ONEHeat a large pot or skillet on medium heat and add the oil to prevent the meet from sticking.
TWOAdd ground turkey, 2 tablespoons chili, ground cumin, black pepper, and garlic powder to pot. Stir to ensure seasonings are evenly distributed.
THREEStir seasoned ground turkey to prevent the meat from sticking.
FOURCook seasoned ground turkey for about 20 to 30 minute, or until meat is brown.
FIVEProgram your slow cooker for 1 hour on the LOW.
SIXAdd browned seasoned ground turkey to the slow cooker. Do not drain meat before adding it to the slow cooker.
SEVENAdd the remaining ingredients (including the 1 tablespoon of chili powder) to the slow cooker.
EIGHTStir mixture until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
NINECook the chili for 2 hours on LOW.
TENAllow to cool.
ELEVENServe with your favorite items. In the picture, I topped my chili with plain Greek yogurt and fresh chives.

NOTE: Remember to check out Dish Destination on Facebook to see how you can win a free Set ‘N Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker or simply:

1. Follow my blog

2. In the comment section, tell me your 3 favorite restaurants along with their city and state.

3. Also, only residents of the 50 states and D.C. are eligible.

Submit your entries, Monday, October 20th at 9am CST. From the blog and Facebook entries, I will randomly select one winner.

Dish Destination does not supply your information to third parties without your permission. Your physical address will be given to Hamilton Beach in order for the slow cooker to be shipped from their distribution center directly to you.

Slow Cooker Meals: Slow Cooked Pulled Beef

If you are like me, every second of the day matters. I would love to be able to buy more minutes for my day. Since I cannot buy extra minutes, I have to look for ways to save time.
During September, I had the opportunity to do just that when I cooked entrées using the 6-qt Set ‘N Forget Programmable Slow Cooker by Hamilton Beach. This easy to use slow cooker allowed me to cook nutritious entrées while I finished the umteen million items on my to do list.

Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker

Hamilton Beach Set ‘N Forget Slow Cooker

With a capacity of 6 quarts, yeah it may seem intimidating. For those of us that lack counter space, this slow cooker will dominate the kitchen. This isn’t the small appliance that you will want to leave on the counter next to the microwave. The Set ‘N Forget Programmable Slow Cooker is the smart not so small appliance that will get the job done with little effort. This slow cooker has 3 settings (program, manual, and probe) to fit your needs. My favorite setting was program; set it to either HIGH or LOW, then input the time. After the programmed time is up, the slow cooker will shift to WARM.

One Saturday night, I decided to make pulled beef for football Sunday :-). The marinated beef roast cooked to perfection while I slept.

Beef Marinade

Pulled Beef Marinade

Slow Cooked Pulled Beef

Slow Cooked Pulled Beef

Slow Cooked Pulled Beef

5 pound beef roast
2 cups low sodium soy sauce
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 large golden delicious apple, cut in slices
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar.)
5 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks of cilantro

ONECombine low sodium soy sauce, orange juice, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Whisk until brown sugar is thoroughly combined with mixture.
TWOAdd beef roast to bowl.
THREEAdd remaining ingredients.
FOURCover bowl.
FIVEPlace covered bowl in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
SIXRemove marinated roast from bowl & place it in the slow cooker.
SEVENRemove apples & cilantro from marinade.
EIGHTAdd remaining marinade to slow cooker.
NINECook for five hours on LOW.
TENAllow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
ELEVENPlace in a pan. With two forks, pull roast apart until it resembles shredded strings.
TWELVEPour marinade over the beef making sure the meat doesn’t dry out.
THIRTEENServe with your favorite buns & side dishes.

Pulled Beef Sandwich

Pulled Beef Sammich

Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

On one of my outlet mall shopping excursions in Michigan, scavenging for deals at the Williams-Sonoma/Pottery Barn Outlet, I found the most amazing deal. Sitting in the cookbook section on the Williams-Sonoma side was a huge coffee table book touting a glass of milk and a sandwich cookie on the cover.

“What do I need with a cookbook that big?”; “I don’t bake like that.”; and “Dang, this book is heavy” are all things that I said to myself to NOT purchase the cookbook. But at a deep red lined discount, I felt compelled to purchase Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel with Susie Heller, Matthew McDonald, Michael Ruhlman, and Amy Volger.

Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

The team put together a cookbook dedicated to baked goods and other sweet treats. In addition to recipes, cooking fundamentals and recipe narratives are intertwined into 400 pages. If you are going to make recipes from this book, be sure to invest into a digital food. Ingredients are weighed as opposed to measured to reduce inconsistent results. If you are adamant about about measuring ingredients, the team was gracious enough to include the measurement equivalents next to the needed weights.

Below are a few items, I made:

Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookies

Doughnut Holes

Doughnut Holes



Rum Cake

Rum Cake

For the Rum Cake, I deviated from the recipe in the book by not making rum icing. Instead of icing, I added a rum butter mixture to the bottom of the bunds cake pan. NOTE: I use measurements.

Rum Butter Mixture

1 stick of butter
5 tablespoons Myer’s dark rum
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup roasted unsalted chopped pecans (optional)

ONEOn low heat, melt the butter.
TWOWhisk in sugar until mixter is thoroughly combined.
THREEStir in rum.
FOURAllow temperature to decrease slightly.
FIVEPour mixture into bundt pan.
SIXEvenly distribute pecans around bundt pan.
SEVENPour cake batter into the bundt pan.
EIGHTBake as directed by the cookbook 🙂

Butta Baby: Honey Butter Fried Chicken

I had been hearing about how one north side restaurant’s fried chicken was some of the best in the city. I saw pictures on Instagram and Twitter that made me want to lick the screen. But as a foodie, I have learned that everything that looks good does not always taste good.

Last Sunday, I decided to see what all they hype was about. Balloons decorated the exterior of a building that occupied the corner of Roscoe Street and North Elston Avenue as I walked along the sidewalk. When I walked through the doors, to my surprise Honey Butter Fried Chicken was celebrating their one year anniversary. Located in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood at 3361 N. Elston Avenue, Honey Butter Fried Chicken already had its fair share of patrons at 11:30am on a Sunday afternoon. There were people sitting in the outdoor patio area, the bar area, and in the main dining area.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken Chicago

Honey Butter Fried Chicken

Honey Butter Fried Chicken is a counter service restaurant–you order at the counter and your food is brought to you by a server whether you eat inside or take it to go. Before you stand in line, you may want to study the menu. Aside from fried chicken, Honey Butter offers wings, sandwiches, and sides that may not be the typical menu items found in your average ‘chicken joint’. If you visit them on Saturday or Sunday, they also offer brunch 🙂  Did I mention that they have a bar?

I decided to make it simple. I ordered the 2 piece Fried Chicken with Honey Butter and 2 Corn Muffins. I added Pimento Mac’N Cheese, Creamed Corn, and the Daily Pickle (pickled peaches, fresno peppers, and ginger) For dessert, I added a Spicy Smoked Paprika Brownie.

There was nothing simple about this meal. Everything was delish 🙂 My first bite was of the macaroni & cheese. My attention was lost in the garlicy bread crumb topping and the tangy creamy pimento cheese. I almost forgot to take a picture for my post. The creamed corn was topped with a creamy thai curry sauce that also shocked my taste buds. The chicken was fried crisp without a dense greasy feel. I was wondering what to do with the honey butter. A server informed me to put the honey butter on the chicken. The sweetness of the butter added to the savory chicken gave the fried another dimension of great tasting flavors.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken

2 Piece Meal @ Honey Butter Fried Chicken #nomnom

For a counter service restaurant, one person can easily spend about $15 for chicken and one side. For the most part, there is a cost with each item ordered. Honey Butter Fried Chicken source their ingredients from local vendors in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. In order to provide fresh local ingredients, some of the cost is past on to the customer. This is the difference between ordering a meal from Honey Butter Fried Chicken versus the standard neighborhood fried chicken joint in Chicago.  You get what you pay for.

You are probably wondering what happened to the Spicy Smoked Paprika Brownie. I was stuffed and I decided to take it home with me. I put in the refrigerator until I was ready for something sweet. After a few days, I took the brownie out of the refrigerator to get room temperature. I added a scoop of Yoberri Gourmet’s Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream. Even after a few days fresh from the refrigerator the brownie was moist ooey gooey goodness. The spice enhanced the deep chocolate flavors and didn’t leave my mouth burning.

Spicy Smoked Paprika Brownie

Spicy Smoked Paprika Brownie

Yoberri Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

Yoberri Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

Check out Honey Butter Fried Chicken when you get a chance. Tell me what you think 🙂 Also, be sure to check out Honey Butter’s hours of operation before making the trip. According to their site at the time of this post, they are not open Monday’s and Tuesday’s.

their website for their hours of operation.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken Chicago

My Experience @ Honey Butter Fried Chicken

NOTE: Yoberri Gourmet is a local small business in Chicago with some of the best ice cream and frozen yogurt. I pick up a pint on Saturday’s at the 61st Street Farmers Market. Give them a call at 773-348-3762 to inquire where their products are sold.