Before they were moms with six children between them, Simply Homemade owners Cindy and Stephanie were food-industry professionals, studying nutrition and food-product development. Now, they've combined both experiences to create a company that supplies healthy, handcrafted meals to busy families. Working off of a monthly menu of 22 entrees, the duo whips up mouthwatering pastas, burgers, and kebabs chock-full of whole grains, hand-trimmed chicken, and natural beef from Heartland Meats. Then, they either preassemble meals for customers to pick up or set up ingredients for customers to assemble themselves onsite. The latter option, which takes about two hours, makes it easier for customers to tailor dinners to a child's love of mushrooms or a dog's disdain for cilantro.
The only thing better than tailgating with friends is tailgating with professional football players. At Corporate Tailgate, partygoers have the chance to toast and mingle with former Chicago Bears players during celebratory pre-game festivities held in the sprawling Adler Planetarium lot. As attendees trade game stats and toss around football-shaped watermelons, they can also savor chef-made meals and dance to tunes spun by a live DJ.
Chefs Pina and Ed of Pina's Culinary Experience bestow their edible expertise on studious suppersmiths week after week in their elephantine kitchen and Mediterranean-style dining room. This year's third-quarter and fourth-quarter syllabi feature the ever-popular tapas class (Wednesday, July 13 and Friday, July 22), which fills up quickly as pupils crowd to assemble a jigsaw puzzle of small plates such as andalusian shrimp fritters and moules marinara. Chefs learn the secrets of cooking quick meals with ingredients easily at hand on Wednesday, August 24 and Wednesday, August 31, fixing under-30-minute delicacies that far surpass slapping together a sandwich or microwaving some ice cream. Students over age 21 are welcome to bring their own wine or alcohol to complement the feast of munchable masterpieces held at the end of each session, and all will be sent home with doggie bags of any leftovers in the hopes of inspiring pets to finally start cooking for themselves.
La Blondina Bakery's confection-crafting owner, Agnieszka Klepacki, pleases palates of all persuasions with café-style lunches and delectable desserts. Tarts tickle tongue buds with a choice of blueberry, pear, or almond filling ($14 for 8”; $16 for 9”; $18 for 10”), and chocolate-chip cookies ($1.50) and cupcakes ($1.50) furnish guests with bite-sized snacks for bribing hyperactive children or bosses. In addition to sweets, the expert bakers handcraft artisan breads from scratch, filling the store with the alluring scent of french bread ($2.49) and beer bread ($2.49). Sandwiches quell more substantial appetites with toothsome toppings such as roasted veggies, turkey, and italian meats ($4.95).
Behind John Dough Bakery's brick façade, a display case flush with pastries and shelves stacked with bread loaves volunteer ocular and aromatic reasons to sit and nosh. A lunchtime menu contains classic American sandwiches accompanied by pickle spears and kicked up with components such as fresh goat cheese. Half-soup, half-salad fusions sate indecisive eaters and Harvey Dents, and bite-size confections covered in chocolate or drizzled in icing satisfy sweet tooths.