Friday, May 19, 2017

La Storia or Pass the Everything

The Slow and Savory Review

If Brandy has any flaws, one of them might be her propensity to sample from the plates of her dining mates during a meal. "I just want to make sure I try a little bit of everything!" she explains in justification, Most of her friends are now used to this sort of behavior and tolerate her constantly reaching her fork across the table to pick at morsels on their plates, even scooting bits of their meals to the edges in anticipation of her curiosity. "Why don't you go to more tapas bars or dim sum houses if you're so insistent on trying a little bit of everything?" she's been asked more than once. "Because what if I like one of the dishes so much that I don't want to share?" Brandy counters.

Knowing her proclivity towards pilfering bits of their food, Brandy's dear friends Hawk and Bailey decided to take her to a meal where her FOMOOF (fear of missing out on food) would be quelled. La Storia in the Gold Coast had recently begun what they were calling a "Social Brunch" service; a sort of family-style-meets-prix-fixe set up in which everyone paid $30 a person and would collectively share a carafe of cocktail, 2 starters, a wood fired pizza, and 2 entrees. For Brandy, this sounded like an ideal situation. "It's as if they want you to try everything on the menu!" she exclaimed.

Hidden away on Dearborn amongst a row of some of Chicago's favorite restaurants, La Storia offers rustic Italian cuisine made from some of the freshest local ingredients available. Being below ground level, the restaurant doesn't offer much sunlight, but there are a few cafe tables out front and a beautiful courtyard patio out back for those who desire such things. Inside, the feeling is warm and intimate with a bistro-like atmosphere. The main room is dominated by a fantastic mural, depicting famous figures in Chicago culture, from Walt Disney and Al Capone to Oprah and John Belushi. Brandy, Bailey, and Hawk (none of whom are native to Chicago) had a delightful time trying to identify all of the individuals and what their connections to Chicago were.

The first important communal decision was to pick one of the offered cocktails. The table decided on the bottle of Prosecco, which came with fresh orange and peach juice, so that the table could make their own mimosas or bellinis.

Soon the starters were hitting the table. The three friends decided to order a sweet and a savory bread option. For the sweet, they sampled the Focaccia, which came adorned with house made ricotta, honey, and kumquat jam. Brandy just adored this sweet little bite of heaven, with its extremely light and fluffy texture and just a little crispness on the crust. The flavor was buttery and sweet with a little tang from the kumquat. "When I saw 'focaccia' on the menu, I thought it was going to be a denser bread, but this is divine!" exclaimed Bailey. For the savory option, the trio sampled the Lobster and Avocado Toast. Normally opposed to trendy dishes, Brandy was actually quite pleased with this version, which was piled high with large chunks of lobster meat and fresh avocado. Hawk's piece had a little too much char on it for his liking, but otherwise the group found the toast to be well seasoned and the perfect combination of crunchy and creamy.

Next up came the pizza. The table had decided on the Pesto version, which came topped with Guanciale, a fried egg, more ricotta, and of course, a basil pesto. Bailey was a little skeptical about having pizza for breakfast, but once she understood that this was not some Chicago style abomination, but a wood fired, chewy crusted, lightly adorned flat bread, she gladly took up a piece. The pizza had a good hit of salty flavor to it, which highlighted the smokiness on the crust. The pesto had just the right vibrancy and consistency for Brandy, and the egg on top was cooked to perfection.

The main courses were next up, the chosen dishes being an Eggs Benedict Florentine with charred artichokes, spinach, and fontina fonduta and the Steak and Eggs with potato hash, king trumpet mushrooms, and caramelized onion. The steak had been cooked to a perfect medium rare (even by Hawk's exacting standards) and had a good char on the outside. The crispy bits of onion and potato were a delight, and the earthy mushrooms added to the richness. As for the benedict, the eggs were poached beautifully, cascading a waterfall of yolk when Brandy sunk her knife into them. The flavor was actually quite unique, having a little more bite and lightness than a typical Florentine benedict because of the artichokes.

Finally, the group decided to end their meal with something sweet and ordered up a slice of the special Italian Cream Cake. The layer cake was impossibly moist with a slight lemon flavor, which was offset by some bright, fresh strawberries, a coconut cream, and some crunchy candied pecans. "This is like every classic dessert flavor all in one bite!" Bailey exclaimed, to which Hawk agreed, and Brandy nodded as she shoveled another bite into her mouth and slowly slid the plate closer to her section of the table.

"I have to say, there is something rather pleasant about being able to try so many things all in one meal," said Brandy as they sipped the dregs of their coffee, "And I really liked that all of us had full permission to try all of the dishes, so that it wasn't just me snagging bites from every plate." "I can see why you do that, though," said Bailey, "It's kind of fun not having to worry that you're missing out on your second or third choice dish." "And the price point is kind of incredible for the amount of food you get!" said Hawk. "Let's just all agree that from now on, when we go out to eat, we'll always order family style," said Brandy, "Unless I really like my dish. Then none of you are allowed to have any. In fact, you're both lucky I let you have any of that cake."

The writers of this blog were invited to dine at the restaurant free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

The Short and Sweet Review

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mother's Day 2017 Chicago Brunch Guide

All About Town
Olive Theory All Locations offering Buy One, Get One Free heart shaped pizzas 
Jerry's Sandwiches All locations offering complimentary mimosas and surprise gift envelope for all moms 
Kanela All Locations offering a complimentary starter for moms 
Porkchop All Locations moms eat for free and get 1 complimentary cocktail 

Bar Roma A la carte, Special dishes, complimentary glass of sparkling rosé for moms

The Duck Inn prix fixe for $48,  complimentary mimosa for moms

Revival Social Club A la carte, complimentary flower and chocolate dipped strawberry for moms
Mango Pickle A la carte, special tea and coffee service 

Fulton Market
La Sirena Clandestina  A la carte, live music all morning
Swift & Sons family style $49 per person

Gold Coast
Fig & Olive Prix fixe for $40 
Maple and Ash buffet for $65 
Eataly prix fixe for $95, includes a brunch cocktail making class 

Lakeshore East
III Forks prix fixe, 3 courses for $48 

Lincoln Park
Geja’s Café A la carte, complimentary 5-minute massage and glass of bubbly 
The Blanchard A la carte complimentary flute of champagne 
Café Ba-Ba-Reeba A la carte special tapas for mamas menu, all moms get a special gift 

Logan Square
Osteria Langhe A la carte special brunch menu created just for Mother's Day 

Mag Mile
Michael Jordan's Steakhouse A la carte special brunch menu created just for Mother's Day 
Howells & Hood buffet- $39 
LH Rooftop at LondonHouse buffet- $75 

North Center
Tavern on Little Fort special a la carte menu

River North
Hard Rock Café buffet for $35 and live retro music 
SafeHouse Chicago complimentary SpyMom-Mosa or a Spycial Bloody Mary for moms
Mercadito prix fixe, 4 sharring courses + cocktail for $30 per person
Imperial Lamian complimentary basket of dim sum items for all moms
I|O Godfrey at The Godfrey Hotel buffet for $39 
Cantina Laredo complimentary Mimosa or Bloody Maria for all moms
Tortoise Supper Club buffet for $69 
Bottlefork complimentary mimosa for all moms
Vermillion prix fixe- $25 for 2 courses or $35 for 3 courses 
Bar Lupo live jazz music, complimentary bottomless mimosas or rose for all moms 
Bohemian House family style $35 per person

Roscoe Village
Commonwealth Tavern special a la carte menu 

South Loop
The Chicago Firehouse buffet for $59 

The Loop
Great Street Restaurant in Renaissance Hotel Complimentary mimosa for moms and dessert table 
Seven Lions buffet for $38.95 
Steadfast prix fixe for $50 
Roanoke prix fixe for $33 for 3 courses 

University Village
Tuscany on Taylor  A la carte special menu created just for Mother's Day 

West Loop
Macello complimentary flute of rosé prosecco for moms

West Town
Ruxbin prix fixe- $75 for 4 courses 
Frontier family style for $29 per person 

Tuscany Restaurant Wheeling buffet for $42.95 
Parker's Restaurant Downer's Grove buffet for $32 or a la carte dinner menu 
210 Restaurant & Live Music Lounge Highwood buffet for $35 with live gospel music 
The English Room at The Deer Path Inn Lake Forrest buffet for $65 
The Happ Inn Northfield $39.95 "All You Can Eat” appetizers and desserts, $5 mimosas 
The Estate by Gene & Georgetti Rosemont buffet for $46 complimentary mimosa for moms
Punch Bowl Social Schaumburg buffet for $25 complimentary mimosa, Mom’s brunch is completely free if she bowls a strike on her first attempt.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tea Time with Brandy: XO Marshmallows Kickstarter

Brandy had a very vivid dream last summer that she still can't quite get out of her head. She dreamed she was standing on a bank of pastel pink clouds and all around her was blue sky. She bounced from cloud to cloud until she came across what looked to be a small table, which was set for a tea service, except instead of tea, there was a pot of steaming hot chocolate. Brandy sat herself at the table, and feeling a little like Alice in Wonderland, she poured out a mug of the velvet liquid. Then she noticed a silver jar in the center of the table, which had an ornate lid. When she lifted the lid, she found a multitude of the most luscious looking marshmallows she'd ever laid eyes on. Each one was as big as an ice cube, but lighter than air (indeed, some of them began floating out of the jar and Brandy had to scramble to make sure none of them escaped into the ether). She popped one into her mouth and savored the unexpectedly rich flavor of salted caramel. She tried another one and got a wash of coffee. Another tasted like green tea. And yet another tasted like lavender and honey. Then before her eyes, Brandy saw the marshmallows transform from perfect cubes to little circles with holes in the middle, almost like a donut. The thing was, these heavenly little marshmallow rings were the exact size of Brandy's mug of hot chocolate! She plopped one in and watched the little thing swirl happily in it's warm bath or chocolate.

The morning after this dream, Brandy journeyed down to the Lakeview Festival of the Arts, where she stumbled across two very hip looking young ladies, who just happened to be selling, of all things, handmade marshmallows. Brandy was intrigued, to say the least. She learned that the ladies were named Kat and Lindzi and that they had just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them grow their marshmallow making obsession in the form of XO Marshmallows. Brandy immediately purchased a few of their wears and found that they tasted just like the marshmallows in her dream had. Then she saw that one of the goals of the Kickstarter was to help them launch a new product; little marshmallow rings called Mars'halos that fit perfectly into a mug of coffee or hot chocolate! It was then that Brandy decided she needed to back these ladies and see her marshmallow dreams become reality.

Flash forward to the present day. XO Marshmallows successfully funded their Kickstarter and Brandy has been watching their progress with great interest ever since. Then last month, she saw that they had launched a second Kickstarter, this time with the goal of opening Chicago's first ever marshmallow themed cafe. "Oh, I simply MUST see this come to fruition!" said Brandy. One of the Kickstarter rewards was a special flavor of marshmallow; strawberry, which was made with actual strawberry puree. Brandy could not get enough of these juicy, fruity, little pillows of paradise. When she stumbled upon some strawberry flavored pound cake, she decided to use it to make a decadent triple berry shortcake. Giving the marshmallows just the slightest bit of caramelization with a torch made the snack the perfect sugary indulgence when combined with fresh tart berries and the creamy, moist cake. "I made something so simple, and yet so delicious with these things, with almost no effort," Brandy commented, "Just imagine what those girls could do with an entire cafe themed around these things!"

XO Marshmallow's Kickstarter has only 10 more days to go, so make sure to pledge before time runs out to get access to exclusive rewards like limited edition flavors, signature merch, or even a private coffee tasting! It is also worth mentioning that Brandy may or may not seek vengeance on all of Chicago if she doesn't get to see her prophetic dream of a marshmallow cafe come true. "If Chicago thought the Curse of the Billy Goat was bad, they don't want to see what I've got up my sleeve!" she threatened.

The writers of this blog were sent product free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Festival Recap: Brunch Bites Walking Tour

Normally, Brandy avoids physical exercise at all costs, preferring activities that require as much sitting as possible. But when said physical activity involves brunch, she's more than willing to lace up her special comfy sneakers (with their accompanying custom molded cushion inserts), put her hair into an immaculate bun, and prepare to perspire. Such was the case last weekend when Brandy attended the Brunch Bites Walking Food and Drink Event in River North, in which she and several hundred ticket holders were able to make their way to eight different participating restaurants for mini versions of signature brunch dishes and cocktails. "Well, I suppose it is a rather nice day," Brandy reasoned, "so might as well get out and get some sun. And some bacon. And a cocktail or two... or eight."

After receiving her lanyard and official map at the check in, Brandy was on her way. Her first stop was to GT Fish & Oyster, where they were serving one of her favorite little bites, an Oyster 'Po Boy Slider with kimichi and peanuts, along with a mimosa with fresh apricot puree. The crispy little sliders were just as delightful as Brandy remembered, and the fresh burst of fruity flavor in the champagne shot was the perfect start to an exhilarating morning.

Across the street and down a little ways, Brandy entered Bottled Blonde, where they were serving up a delectable Prime Rib Benedict with a spicy hollandaise, green onions, and potatoes, accompanied by a small glass of White Sangria. Brandy devoured the dish quite quickly, savoring the tender meat, the crispy potato cake, and the little kick of the sauce. The sangria was a pleasant surprise, packing quite a potent punch into a few sips.

Brandy then headed to the farthest western point, Hutch Cafe, where they were offering up one of her recently discovered favorites; Nutella Poppers. The dough was just as light and chewy and the middle just as decadently chocolaty as when she'd first sampled these little pockets of heaven a few months ago. The cocktail was called a Spicy Sunset and added a touch of jalapeno to a traditional mix of orange juice, tequila, and strawberry puree.

Backtracking towards the center of the circle, Brandy stopped into Brunch for one of their Banana Bread French Toast bites, which came drizzled with a rum based Bananas Foster sauce, and a tiny yet adorable carafe of mango and ginger sangria.

Moving North, Brandy's next location was Dolce Italian in the Godfrey Hotel. Here, she was handed a small plate of an amazing gnocchi, which had been dressed with plenty of cheese and crispy panchetta. This plate was one of Brandy's favorites of the day, and she almost contemplated trying to sneak a second one. The cocktail was a traditional, but refreshing, peach bellini.

Next up was Zed451, which Brandy still holds in very high regard as one of the best brunch buffets in town. Here, they had not one, but two cocktails for brunchers to choose from; a mimosa, or a coffee based cocktail called Drink Your Breakfast, which was what Brandy gravitated towards. The rich and creamy flavor was the perfect break from the mostly fruit based drinks of the other locations, and the coffee gave Brandy a much needed boost to get through the final lap of her journey. The bite was a mini Chicken and Waffle, spiced up by a bit of buffalo sauce.

Finally, Brandy traveled south to Hub51. They were presenting a pretty little avocado toast with a touch of mascarpone and radish, along side a Salty Dog, with vodka, grapefruit juice, and rim of black sea salt. The avocado toast was surprisingly light, which made it ideal among some of the more protein themed bites of the day, while the cocktail was made extraordinarily flavorful by the black salt.

Brandy's last stop was River Roast, where she relaxed in the upper bar with a glass of a special punch (made with rye, rum, sherry, champagne, lemon, and best of all, Earl Grey tea) and a beautiful little deviled egg, which had been topped with trout roe for a burst of salty goodness. As she gazed out on the river outside, Brandy smiled to herself. As if getting to try all of the dishes and cocktails hadn't been reward enough, she had also been bestowed with the gift of being able to truly enjoy Chicago on one of the very few beautiful days of the year.

The writers of this blog were invited to attend this event for free by the organizers in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Maggiano's or A Brunch Among the Clouds

The Slow and Savory Review

It's not unusual for Brandy to start craving Italian food as the weather warms up. The summers of her wild youth were always spent cruising the Italian coast; sipping Chianti by the light of the setting sun or eating tomatoes out of hand like a fruit or slurping up the freshest pasta in existence. "I will forever associate the bliss of sunshine and blue skies with Italy," says Brandy. "Every year, it seems, as soon as the weather starts to turn, I immediately start craving olive oil, garlic, and basil."

One bright and sunny morning, Brandy was lucky enough to be able to indulge her cravings by stopping into Maggiano's Little Italy to preview their recently premiered brunch menu. Maggiano's massive space at the corner of Clark and Grand made it ideal for every sort of occasion, from a small meal with friends, to a large familial celebration, to a massive event, like a wedding reception or a corporate outing. Chef Josh Rodriguez was at the helm of this particular location, and he spoke quite enthusiastically to the attendees that morning's event about just how fresh everything that came out of their kitchen was. What surprised Brandy the most was that Magginao's was serving brunch items all throughout the week, with the addition of a few extra options on the weekends.

The morning began, as every morning should, with a selection of cocktails. Brandy favored the peach Bellini, which had a semi-frozen texture that she found rather refreshing. While fairly sweet, the drink went quite nicely with all of the food presented.

The first tidbit to the table was an Orange Streusel Cake, which the chef explained was presented complimentary to every bruncher. The cake was moist and a bit dense, but coated with a lovely orange-scented glaze and a bit of spice, reminding Brandy of mulled wine or cider. The best part was the delightful little bursts of flavor from the hidden raisins inside.

Next came two of the house signature Benedicts; a Crab Cake Benedict and the unique Meatball Benedict. Though Brandy has seen crab cake benedicts countless times, this one in particular seemed rather meaty and substantial, though a little on the fishy side. The meatball one, though, was certainly a new and exciting development in the realm of eggs benedicts. The meatball had been smashed a little so as to be able to house the poached egg on top, and reminded Brandy somewhat of a breakfast sausage patty. The creamy hollandaise actually worked quite well with the meatball, and the addition of some roma tomatoes helped to brighten up each bite a little. Brandy thought the real triumph was in the spice of the meatball, which was perfectly balanced between savory, salty, and herbaceous.

After that, Brandy sampled some of the sweeter options from the brunch menu. The Creme Brulee French Toast had a very nice eggy flavor, having literally been dipped into a creme brulee custard base, and was soft and sweet, even without the addition of syrup. The Lemon Ricotta Pancakes were definitely the hit of the morning, though. "I can't believe how light and fluffy these are!" Brandy exclaimed. She likened the texture of the pancakes to a souffle, while the lemon provided a bright note to match the fresh blueberries served on top. Chef Rodriguez even demonstrated how to prepare the pancakes, revealing the secret to their amazing texture was the careful whipping of egg whites into the batter and an extended cooking time on the griddle.

Lastly, Brandy sampled some of the Vegetable Frittata, which was jam packed with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and plenty of melty cheese. The egg was fairly dense, but didn't overwhelm the vegetables, and the dish overall was a nice alternative to a regular old omelette. Brandy especially liked the side of crisped potatoes, which had been sprinkled with a course salt for extra flavor and texture.

Her cravings for Italian food finally satiated, Brandy finished off the last of her peach bellini and headed for home, where she promptly prepared another batch of Chef Rodriguez's amazing pancakes, stuffed her face, and fell asleep in her arm chair with her knitting needles in hand.

The writers of this blog were invited to dine at the restaurant free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bunny and Brandy's Definitive Guide to Chicago Easter Brunch 2017

Restaurants Featuring Special Easter Menus
(a la carte)

Bar Roma- Andersonville 
Nana- Bridgeport 
Chicago Q- Gold Coast 
La Storia- Gold Coast 
LuxBar- Gold Coast 
The Blanchard- Lincoln Park 
Chez Moi- Lincoln Park 
Dos Urban Cantina- Logan Square 
Longman and Eagle- Logan Square $10 gets you and a friend into the Adult Easter Egg Hunt
Osteria Langhe- Logan Square
Glunz Tavern- Old Town complimentary cocktail or ice cream
Ampersand Wine Bar- Ravenswood 
Public House- River North 
Cantina Laredo- River North one complimentary cocktail per person
Kitchen Bistro- River North 
Bar Lupo- River North 
Vermilion- River North 
Mercat a la Planxa- The Loop 
Fifolet Cajun & Cocktails- Wicker Park
Cafe Robey- Wicker Park 

Brunch Buffets 
(Prices per person)

Hard Rock Café- River North $25 
Frontier- Wicker Park $28 
Porkchop- All locations $30
Hub 51- River North $36 with cocktail stations available for an additional $6
Zed451- River North $37 
Howells and Hood- Mag Mile $39
Ostaria Via Stato- Mag Mile $46 
Bin 36- The Loop $48 Special drink flights also available
River Roast- River North $55 Featuring live blue music
Sunda- River North $55 
Baptiste and Bottle- Mag Mile $58, $15 extra for bottomless mimosas
Firehouse- Andersonville $59 
Tortoise Supper Club- River North $65 free keepsake professional photos
The Florentine- The Loop $75 Unlimited drinks for an additional $15
LondonHouse- Mag Mile $75 
Shaw's Crab House- River North $75 
Signature Room- Mag Mile $80 One complimentary glass of sparkling wine
Acadia- South Loop $85 Assorted pastries available for an extra $12, caviar service for $55
White City Ballroom (Chicago Athletic Association Hotel)- The Loop $135 Bottomless drinks for an additional $30
The Langham- Mag Mile $145 Live Music and kid friendly entertainment

Prix Fixe 
(Prices per person)

Intro- Lincoln Park  $22.95 for family style dim sum dishes with additional a la carte options
True Food Kitchen- River North $35 for 3 courses and a beverage
Filini- The Loop $35 for 3 courses, a la carte options available
BoHo- River North $35 for up to 3 entrees and 3 sides per table, all served family style
Athena Greek Restaurant- Greektown $38
Kit Kat Lounge- Lakeview $39.95 for four courses and unlimited drinks and live performances
Fig and Olive- Gold Coast $40 for three courses, live jazz music 
Bistronomic- Gold Coast $42 for three courses, $56 with bottomless mimosas
GT Fish and Oyster- River North $45, 3 family style entrees, sides, and desserts for the table
Trench- Wicker Park, $45 for 4 courses
III Forks- The Loop $50 for 3 courses or a la carte options available
Sepia- West Loop $57 sweets and savories served family style 
Spiaggia- Gold Coast $65 for 4 courses
Maple and Ash- Gold Coast $65 for 5 courses with serving stations and family style dishes
Nico Osteria- Gold Coast $70 for 4 courses and cocktails
RPM Steak- Mag Mile $75 for 3 courses, plus additional add on options
North Pond- Lincoln Park $85 for 3 courses

Suburban Brunching

The Barn- Evanston, a la carte 
Hearth- Evanston, a la carte 
Steak and Vine- La Grange, a la carte
Novo- Oak Park, a la carte 
Perry's Steakhouse- Oak Brook, a la carte (prix fixe available after 4:00) serving their regular dinner menu all day
210 Restaurant & Live Music Lounge- Highwood, Buffet for $35 
The Happ Inn- Northfield, $35.95 for appetizer and dessert buffet, a la carte entrée options
The Estate by Gene & Georgetti- Rosemont, Buffet for $39 includes one complimentary mimosa 
Saranello's- Wheeling, Buffet for $40 
Reel Club- Oak Brook, Buffet for $48 
Prairie Grass Café- Northbrook, Buffet for $49.50 Every guest gets a signature house benedict 
El Tapeo- Oak Brook, Buffet for $49.95 (with a la carte options) 
Retro Bistro- Crystal Lake, $25 for a three course prix fixe
Found- Evanston, $39 for 4 courses served family style

Special Sweets and Treats

Hewn in Evanston carring Easter goodies like Hot Cross Buns and Bunny Cookies
Floriole in Lincoln Park will have chocolate bunnies and squirrels for sale
Glazed and Infused (all locations) will be carrying special "bunny butt" donuts 
Real Urban BBQ (all locations) offering special Easter carry out menu
Cocoa + Co. in Old Town has Easter chocolates from all over the world

Friday, April 7, 2017

From the Kitchens of Bunny and Brandy: Loaded Baked Potato Pierogies

As evidenced as recently as last fall, Brandy has quite an affinity for dumplings, but one of her all time favorites is pieogies. Pierogies, like most dumpling type foods, are incredibly versatile and can be filled with any number of savory, sweet, vegetarian, or carnivorous fillings. They can be crisp and chewy or soft and supple, they can be served simply with a little butter or made elaborate with as many toppings and sauces as can be imagined. But best of all, pierogies, unlike some of their other dumpling brethren, can actually be quite filling and hearty.

Brandy recently stumbled upon something new while browsing the isles of Costco; Peter and Pat's 4 Cheese potato Pierogies. "Hmmm...," Brandy mused to herself, "So many possibilities..." Once she got the bag home, Brandy set a few to boil and then briefly sauted them in some butter to see how they tasted on their own. She found the outer skin crisped up perfectly and still retained a good bit of chew to it. The inside of the pierogie was impossibly smooth with a subtle salty cheese flavor that really surprised Brandy with it's sophistication. "Reminds me a bit of a classic twice baked potato," she decided, and that was when an idea struck her. "I could turn these things into the ultimate loaded baked potato bites!"

For this preparation, Brandy decided to give the pierogies a quick boil (just about 5 minutes or so) and then crisped them on both sides in a little bit of bacon fat. To bring her dream of a loaded backed potato pierogie plate to fruition, she started by heating up some Texas style chili (Brandy used this recipe as a base, but any old chili is perfectly acceptable). She then sprinkled a good amount of shredded cheddar over the piping hot chili. Next, she placed the crisped pierogies onto the bed of chili in a circular pattern and sprinkled on even more cheese. Then, she added a generous dollop of sour cream to the center of the circle and topped that with some freshly cut chives. Lastly, Brandy crumbled up some bacon (the same bacon she'd used earlier to render the fat she'd cooked the pierogies in) and sprinkled that over the entire plate. At last, her masterpiece was complete.

The writers of this blog were sent product free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.