Friday, February 24, 2017

WCIU: DIY Oscar Party

EVERYone loves a good party, right? I shared my favorite easy DIY Oscar party tips on WCIU You & Me this morning and Melissa and Jeanne loved celebrating with me! Click on the photo to see the segment.

Here is a recap of what I shared:

Walk of Fame Raspberry Brie Stars

Ok, I tried my hand with phyllo dough on this one. I was recently at an event with Gale Gand, and she recounted a story about teaching Julia Child how to cook with phyllo. I should have heeded her warning because this stuff is tricky! Follow her advice if you want to try, otherwise, you can use puff pastry or similar. Cut the dough out with a start cookie cutter (kids can help!), put a dollop of brie and a drizzle of raspberry preserves in between layers and bake.

Want an easy cocktail that has two ingredients? Pair my favorite inexpensive bubbly Segura Viudas with Wild Hibiscus flowers in Rose Syrup! Add a little bit of the syrup to tint the bubbly pink. The flowers are edible and the bubbles float through the middle to create a show-stopping drink!

Want a dessert that takes two seconds? You know me, I am all about assembling rather than making from scratch. Pick up mini cupcakes at the grocery store, take off the wrappers and stack two in a push pop container (pick these up at Michael's). DONE. I wrapped floral foam in gold tissue paper and stuck them in for display.

Although the red carpet is entertaining enough for most, kick it up a notch and host your own red carpet photo session! Pocketbooth is a great app for your iPad, and you can personalize the message. I upgraded to the $39.99 version because it allows you to lock the app- perfect for when you have a huge party so you won't get someone saying, "Oops! Screwed it up again!" every 5 minutes.

Now, I don't have time to go get weekly manicures. Even monthly. I am lucky if I can fit one in twice a year. I love doing my nails at home but they get smudged EVERY. DAMN. TIME. I discovered Static Nails and always turn to them when I want my nails to be perfect in a minute. They can be re-used up to 6 times, painted, and shaped. They don't chip or damage your original nails.

I love jewelry but if I kept everything I wore I would run out of space. Instead, I rent most of my bling from Rocksbox. For just $19/month they send you three pieces of designer jewelry that you can exchange at any point. You can send your stylist notes about a style you want to try or an outfit that you need something to match. I asked my stylist to send me "Oscar-worthy" jewelry that would go with a white cape dress and this is what they sent. Perfect, right? Use code "CHERYLBFF54" for your first month free! Code valid for the first 5 people who sign up.

Throwing a bash at home this Sunday night? Here is an Oscar Ballot that you can download and print out for your guests (or just you- Oscar night at home in your PJs sounds great to me!). Have guests make their predictions by circling a nominee in each category. As the night rolls on, they can put a start next to the actual winner. At the end of the night, count up your totals and see who was the most accurate. Best of luck and CHEERS!

Click on the image below to access the pdf:

2017 Oscar Ballot

Thank you to WCIU for having me on their You & Me segment to share my favorite 
DIY Oscar Party ideas!

If you don't want to host, come to mine! Cecilia Cannon of Home with Keki and I are hosting a Red Carpet Oscar Viewing Party at Firefly Kitchen in Wilmette. Get your tickets here

Monday, February 20, 2017

Get Beach Ready with a Low Carb High Fat Diet

My weight has yo-yo’ed a bit throughout my adult life. In my early twenties when my nights were filled with pints of calorie-laden beer and late night burritos as big as my head, I was a little heavier. Now that I have two kids and am always on the run, I don’t have time to sit down and actually eat so I tend to be a bit slimmer. Last year after spring break, I had an extra 8 pounds that I just couldn’t shed. I didn’t mind that much, but my clothes were a bit uncomfortable and well…I love my clothes too much to trade them in because of a week-long margarita binge.

Oh carbs. How I adore you. When my husband told me about a diet his doctor discussed with him, I kind of wanted to run away and cry. The diet consists of LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) food- No bread! No muffins! No yummy deliciousness that actually fills you up! I made sure to educate myself as completely as possible (this is the website that I used) and I gave it a whirl after much grumbling.

You know what? I lost 8 pounds in the month I committed to the diet. My husband? He has lost 55 pounds since he started in mid-July. It hasn't been easy- we were both hangry as hell for 4-6 weeks but it was the first diet either of us had tried that we saw lasting results from.

I don’t think this diet is for everyone, nor do I think it is the absolute healthiest diet out there. For my body, it did actually work to shed pounds that were stubbornly hanging on and helped me change the way I look food. Since then, I have consciously chosen foods that are lower in carbohydrates and kept off the weight without really trying.

The premise behind this diet is that you reduce the amount of carbs (including sugar and starches) and increase the quantity of foods high in natural fat. I love the fact that there aren’t any fake shakes, no fasting or calorie counting, and you can honestly eat until you feel full.

If you want to really burn fat you can try a ketogenic diet: consume a minimal amount of carbs per day and restrict protein to kick your body into ketosis. This is an extreme form of the LCHF diet, and your body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. This isn't for everyone, and I would highly recommend consulting your physician before trying any diet out. However, this is how my husband lost the majority of his weight.

Here are a few low carb, high-fat recipes I discovered for dinner that actually taste good!

Baked Chicken Breasts with Cream Cheese, Bacon and Feta

I found this recipe through Peapod- they actually have a meal kit you can order with all of the ingredients pre-measured. Unfortunately, it comes with potatoes on the side so I started making my own dish at home. Melt cream cheese with a little water in a dish in the microwave until soft, add cooked crumbled bacon and some feta cheese to the bowl and stir. Place on top of chicken breasts and bake.

Baked Salmon with Pesto Butter and Dill

If you have a Costco membership, this is a no-brainer. We buy this in the prepared food section and even my 5 year old loves it. I imagine it would be pretty simple to make at home as well- mix prepared pesto with butter, place on top of a salmon fillet, and add fresh dill; bake.

Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo

Bet you didn't think I would include pasta on this list but I discovered a CARB FREE PASTA.

Every month, I get a delivery of 10-15 food items through Degustabox, a subscription box full of many new to the market or new to the US foods. In my February Degustabox I discovered Slendier, a carb-free, gluten-free noodle that is made from a vegetable called Konjac. I found that I really missed pasta, and was incredibly excited to give this a try! I am not a huge fan of zucchini noodles- the consistency is just a bit off for me.

I often find 2-3 items in my Degustabox every month that I purchase again- some of my favorites are parmesan cheese crisps called Cello Whisps (low carb!) and Chips Ahoy! Thins in Cinnamon Sugar- ummm....not low carb, but we all need something delicious to cheat with, and you NEED to try these if you like snickerdoodles or churros. They are my new favorite cookie- my dad and I polished off the bag together one night without realizing it. And he doesn't even like sweets.

For the Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo, I baked chicken breasts and sliced them, then whipped up a low carb Alfredo sauce with butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese. The Slendier noodles were easy to prepare since they are pre-cooked; they seriously took one minute.

If you want to try Degustabox, you can get your first for only $9.99. After your first month, it is only $19.99/month after and you receive 10-15 full-size products.

What you do think about the low carb high-fat diet? Any success? Any issues? I am curious to see if anyone else has tried it! If you do give it a shot, please consult your physician first because I am certainly not a nutritionist or physician myself!

Friday, February 17, 2017

#DateNight Food & Fashion: Siri Indian Restaurant

In the suburbs, there are many fantastic restaurants for #DateNight that are often overlooked because they aren't located in Chicago proper. I have found a few absolute gems, tucked into strip malls, hidden amongst chain restaurants, nestled into shopping centers, all just waiting to be discovered by foodies and descended upon en masse. 

I haven't had true Indian food since my days spent working on Michigan Avenue where we would scurry out of the office for a buffet lunch, only to scurry back stuffed and ready for a nap under our desks. A new authentic Indian restaurant has graced my current suburban stomping grounds- Siri Indian Restaurant in Wheeling, just 20 minutes from my home.

The outside of Siri is quite impressive, brilliantly lit; it reminds me of a lush spa resort in a faraway land. The interior is spacious and welcoming with original artwork gracing the walls, elegant chandeliers descending from the ceiling and crisp white tablecloths set with sparkling glassware. 

We started out with Vegetable Samosas, mini turnovers filled with peas and seasoned potatoes, fried to a golden brown. To drink, I had a Taj Mahal- mostly because I love the drawing on the label, but also because it is actually brewed in India. 

Their extensive menu contains 180 items, originating from both Northern and Southern parts of India. Four chefs are on staff at all times, each with particular specialties that they prepare from their own parts of India. 

For our main course, I ordered Chicken Tikka Masala- char-grilled chicken simmered with onions and bell peppers in a tomato cashew sauce. It was creamy, with a hint of spice and absolutely delicious. It was served with naan and fluffy white rice; we ordered the garlic cheese naan and also sampled the bullet naan which was topped with crushed chili. My date, one of my best friends and an Indian food enthusiast, had the Lamb Curry which was excellent as well. Their menu includes many vegetarian items, which makes Siri a perfect pick if you have a meat-averse person in your group.

Siri also has a lavish lunch buffet during the week in addition to catering options and private parties. 

Now, let's talk fashion!

I recently popped into my friend Borris Powell's studio for breakfast (donuts & bubbly), gossip, and of course to check out his FAshion lineup. Although his couture is to die for, his RTW is just as stunning and effortlessly versatile. He gave me a sneak peek at the new collection "The Darkness of Ash" that debuts on March 25th and I am saving my dollars for a piece of that action! 

I selected this stunning maxi gown with fabric from India to purchase, which of course I had to wear to Siri. This dress is everything- it can go from pool loungewear to red carpet stunner with some simple footwear and accessories. Stay tuned until next week to see the full length, and how I transition this dress from winter to spring to summer!

Thank you to Siri Indian Restaurant for having me!