Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

5 things

I'm a self proclaimed foodie. Although, people are beginning to call me on as well so maybe I was actually on to something when I began referring to myself as a foodie. I like to eat. I like to eat out and I like to cook. I do a lot...of both. Sometimes more of one than others and other times more of the other. Never quite in balance.

When the scale weighs down on the cooking side, there's a variety of things I like to cook. However, there are also my go to dishes. Things that I always have the ingredients on hand for. Things I can make up quick, without following a recipe and know they're going to taste great. Other times, I strive to step out of the box. I follow recipes in one of my thousands of cookbooks or that someone gave me, or some ingredient inspired me to search the internet for a new recipe. Here's five of the things I've cooked recently...

Rigatoni with Kale & Sausage, recipe courtesy of a dear friend.

Cannelini Bean Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette over Spinach, from Bon Appetit years ago

Sweet Potato Gnoochi with Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown Butter

Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Tofu 

Grilled Tofu with Summer Squash, Zucchini and Spinach

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

5 things

...I'm diggin' right now.

[Matte Nail Polish, made possible by Essie's Matte About You Cover]

[Adding Pumpkin Spice to Everything, recently I've been adding it to my coffee]

[Roll on Perfume, I'm currently sporting Issey Miyake's L'Eau d'Issey]

[Yoplait YoCrunch Yogurt, specifically the Oreo & Reese's Pieces variety]

[Fall, it's coming and I'm excited]

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Give me some more

Oh Ian's Pizza, how I love thee. Although, I don't think I quite appreciated it as much until it became one of the few things that can provide a little bit of Madison in Chicago. And oh, how it provides that taste:
-Mac & Cheese
-Tossed Salads and more.

In fact, the Ian's Pizza in Wrigleyville even has a few favorites that the Madison store got rid of. Including the delicious tossed salad and....

The S'mores Pizza.

I know. It looks delicious....and tastes just as good. And yes, there story behind how I actually got to try this delicious piece of pie, let alone, find it. And, it takes us back to Freshman year, Statesider....oh what I'd give to rewind the clocks 4 years. There will be a 5 things I miss about Madison forth coming.

See, we had seen this on the Ian's menu. A s'mores pie: marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate all on a sweet pizza dough. I had to have it, Marni had to have it. Britt had to have it. However, it was a pizza you had to order 24 hours in advance. So we needed to plan, we either needed an occasion or to commit to this decadent dessert. 

We found the occasion. Britt had a friend coming in, so we ordered ahead. All excited, we awaited the arrival and called to set up to delivery. Then it happened. We called. They had no idea what I was talking about. No order was in their books. Our s'mores pizza was not happening. While I'm not sure, we probably settled for an ice cream sandwich at Potbelly's but we still thought about that s'mores pie, which at this point, was again no where in our futures. 

Like the Flower Power Pizza, Tossed Salad and other things that sounded or were delicious, Ian's removed the s'mores pie from their menu. Now, if you ask, they have no idea what we're talking about. 

4 years passed. We're now college graduates. And we never did get our s'mores pizza or flower power pizza for that matter. 

Then it was a fateful night and Marni and I were having a mac & cheese craving. We headed up to the Wrigleyville to get some. Upon walking in, there was a huge line. So we had plenty of time to peruse the menu, the menu, silly as you can only order the slices they currently have on display. But, there it was, S'mores pizza. Upon seeing it, we made the decision to call in the morning and order it as soon as we could.

We went our merry way ordering a slice of mac & cheese and tomato mozz and avocado for me and pesto with tomato for Marni. As we waited, we talked with others in the line and anticipated our pizza. THEN Marni spotted it. She pointed and our mouths opened. In between a few slices of mac and cheese and god knows what else, there was a slice of s'mores pizza. We couldn't believe our eyes. We stood there in awe and looked quickly to grab someone's attention. He noticed us and said yes, it's good. He put in the oven and boy were we excited to dig into it.

It came and it was JUST as good as anticipated. Delicious crunchy graham crackers, with smooth and slightly burnt marshmallows and chocolate drizzled all over all on top of a delicious salty sweet pizza dough. Every part was delicious. Everyone was asking about it.

It was worth the wait. Now, we're already planning multiple orders in the near future.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

5 Things

I'm trying to find a way to make my blog somewhat more cohesive. I'm playing around with weekly features, re-occuring trends and trying new things. So without future ado, I bring you another re-occurring trend...

5 Things...I've learned in Chicago

1. There's ALWAYS traffic on I-90

They may be plenty of traffic in LA and NYC but a close third....according to Chicago Tribute, not just my impatient self, is none other than Chicago, Illinois. Statistically, commuters send 83 hours a week in this congestion driving an average of 11.1 mph. Why so much traffic? Construction, construction and more construction. O'Hare International Airport and a whole bunch of major highways all coming together in the Windy City. 

I've had my fair share of time spent on I-90, which I can understand. It's a major cross country highway. However, what makes me so angry about this is the fact that there is ALWAYS traffic. I'm not just talking rush hour. I'm talking every minute I've spent on it. I'm always a run 10 min early kind of person giving myself more than double the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B. However, waht I'm learning in Chicago is that I really need about an hour to get anywhere, 

11:00 on a Tuesday going outbound on I-90. Traffic
9:00 on a Sunday going inbound on I-90. Traffic.

2. NEVER ask for Ketchup on your hotdog

I'm a huge hot dog fan. I love 'em. All ways. I don't discriminate. I like them butterflied and grilled from Five Guys, fried from Lawson's in Lawrence, MA, A delicious Fenway Frank or at a barbeque with any combination of Ketchup, Relish & Mustard. I especially like when the but gets ketchup all over it.

However, in Chicago, they do their dogs a little differently. They call it the magnificent seven and no I'm not talking about my favorite 1996 Olympic Gold Medal Gymnastic Team. This seven:
     1. a boiled or steamed all-beef dog on a poppy seed bun
     2. mustard
     3. relish
     4. chopped onions
     5. tomato wedges
     6. a pickle spear
     7. sport peppers 
     8. splash of celery salt
And no, I have no idea why the celery salt does not count in the ingredients. But Time Out Chicago said 7. And together, it's the perfect combination. You have the soft bun with the delicious hot dog, mixed with all sorts of different flavors and textures. And, if you notice, there's no ketchup. Never ask for ketchup on your hot dog. The cardinal Chicago dog rule. That sweet sauce is for kids and kids only. Cause they don't know any better...yet. I have not yet abandoned my ketchup. I just don't order my hot dogs with it cause it would simply not fit on the Chicago Dog.

3. NO ONE calls the Sear's Tower the Willis Tower

The Willis Tower, formerly the Sear's Tower, is not only the tallest building in Chicago, but also in the United States. It is the 5th tallest freestanding structure in the world and also the 5th tallest building in the world to the roof.

You may know the history behind this one but in case you don't, I'll tell you anyway. well Wikipedia is telling you. In 1994, yes this story dates back quite some time, Sear's sold the Tower and was completey out of it by 1995. However, the company retained the rights to the name until 2003. In 2009, Willis Group Holdings, Ltd. leased 3 floors. As part of the negotiations for the space, the Willis Group also obtained the rights to name the building. Thus, it became the Willis Tower.

However, NO ONE in Chicago likes this one. The Chicago Tribune described it as "ill-advised in a city with a deep appreciation of tradition and a healthy ego, where some Chicagoans still more the switch from Marshall Field's to Macy's." I mourn that too, for other reasons tho, Marshall fields is much better than Macy's and Field Days were fantastic. Time Magazine called the name change one of the top 10 worst corporate name changes and pointed to negative press coverage by local news outlets and online petitions from angry residents.

What'chu talking about Willis?!

4. EVERYONE minds their p's and q's

It's true what they say. I've learned this over the last 4 and a half years. People are simply nicer in the midwest. They say excuse me, they say please and they say thank you. I call it the Midwest Hospitality. While Chicago is no Madison, and you are likely to find that about 20% of the population are. 'scuse my language, JERKS, there are some pretty kind people out here. 

I will say this has a negative.

The other day, I was waiting for the L. I had a lot of stuff on me so I couldn't just be my typical east coast self say excuse me and push my through til I got on the train. Instead, I had to wait for 3 trains to pass before I was able to board.

It was at that moment I wanted to hear some "#*&$ YOU"s. 

5. Gas UNDER $4.00 is CHEAP

I think this does not even warrant a description. The picture says enough. Someone please explain to me why gas is cheaper in Madison, WI. Don't they have to drive through Chicago to get there?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DISH: Quotable

-Chicago Magazine

A Confession

I have a confession. I find chocolate chip cookies disappointing. (Although this recipe from cupcakes & cashmere does sound fantastic, the salt did it for me.) It’s not that they aren’t good. They are. I enjoy them soft over crunchy and with a glass of milk. But they aren’t my go to.

See, my problem with the chocolate chip cookie is that it’s completely overrated and the dough is better than the outcome. I know you’re thinking, that’s how she keeps her figure with all those burgers and milkshakes she enjoys. Maybe, maybe…

Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? My arm is up in the air and I’m screaming ME! ME! ME! like a 3rd grader. I’d pick other cookies over it: white chocolate macadamia, snickerdoodle, decorated sugar or oatmeal raisin to name a few. It’s plain and standard.

Secondly, how good is chocolate chip cookie dough? I don’t even need to elaborate on that because you all know! In fact, it’s so good that it beats out its baked brother in a delicious contest. I’d pick plain cookie dough everyday, every time.

I also find steak disappointing, I prefer a burger, but that’s for another post. And that’s it for today’s rant from yours truly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


If you can’t handle the heat, then get out of the kitchen...well two weeks ago, all of Chicago seemed to be a kitchen. With the oven turned on to 97 degrees PLUS humidity. When you couldn't escape the heat, I decided to spend a day indulging it. Call it a stay-cation. Although, it was on a work day morning.

A staycation (also spelled stay-cation, stacation, or staykation) is a neologism for a period of time in which an individual or family stays and relaxes at home, or vacations in their own country, possibly taking day trips to area attractions.

Thanks Wikipedia!

So, I headed to one of the biggest tourist attractions in Chicago. Any guesses??

If you guessed Navy Pier, you’re right!! I grabbed a few of my co-workers dogs and headed down to the pier. We headed straight for the SEADOG.

The Seadog 30 Min. Extreme Thrill Ride. Loving boats, I quickly said, “sign me up!” So we boarded the boat and when I finally get a dog, or Dunkin comes to visit, I’ll bring the little pup on board!

The ride was fun, although I’m not sure I’d actually compare it to a rollercoaster. It was nice, however, to be on a guided boat and going fast, making quick turns and riding through wakes. I’d recommend it to anyone and it was the perfect way to escape a hot day in the city. Plus our tour guide had a fantastic British accent.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A new workout class

Post college, while depressing, has been positive for one thing. My body is certainly not upset with me for eating and drinking less. Minus the past weekend, Marni & I spent in Madison having progressive meals all day long: apps at Dotty's, dinner at Rising Son's, pitchers and popcorn at the Terrace, cheese curds at Brats late night. Yes, I'm a fat kid. So i've been trying to do South Beach Diet, yes South Beach Diet on the shore of Lake Michigan. Trying being the operative word. I barely lasted a week and with work meetings at restaurant's it's sometimes hard. Today, I had another delicious slice of Giordano's. But back to South Beach tomorrow...hopefully.

In addition, I've been inspired by a friend to start getting into a schedule of working out. 

·      Swimming laps at the Gym, Using Cardio Machines (The Elliptical & The Cross Trainer),  Classes (Zumba, Spinning, Bikram Yoga, Power Flow Yoga, Pilates, Jazzercise)...Yes, I know you'd all love to be a fly on the wall in my Zumba and Jazzercise classes, weights ...I miss Pete.

I find varying up my exercises makes Fitness seem less like a chore and more like something to do. Thus I've been trying to do something different everyday and never do the same thing 2 days in a row.

The gym just added a Yogalates Class and so far, I’m really enjoying it. I love both yoga and pilates. However, with yoga, I often find I don’t feel like I just worked out. I feel more like I’ve had an intense stretching and breathing session. For me, that’s more about alleviating stress and relaxing. This is why I’ve gone towards the route of BIkram Yoga or Power Flow. The Heat adds some challenge and I get that accomplished feeling afterwards whereas Power Flow is Yoga with an added bonus of Cardio. And well, pilates, that machine kind of scares me.

Yogalaties, and yes whenever I say it, I tend to say it in the same voice Peter Gallagher did on the OC, yes I watch horrible television and I’m okay with it. 

I digress. Back to my class. I enjoyed it. It has that nice relaxation bit but it’s also a bit of a challenge. You get that quick movement from Power Flow, the extra work out challenge of Pilates and it’s all and all a great workout. I’ve added it to my schedule on Thursday evenings.

Also, I’m in need of a new pair of swimming goggles if anyone has any suggestions. Mine are so old they might as well have holes in them and so dirty I can barely see my watch!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Another List

30 Staples for your Closet
-You know, all those things that won't ever go out of style. I like to add trendy stuff to this stuff.

1. Black Dress
2. Black Blazer
3. Crisp White Oxford
4. A few good pairs of jeans (straight leg, boot cut, etc.)
5. Cardigan (or in my case 50)
6. Big Comfy Sweater
7. Great Fitting Black Pants
8. Comfy PJ Pants
9. Shirt Dress
10. A few colorful Sun Dresses
11. Cotton Mini Skirt
12. Basic V-Neck Tee
13. A Basic Trench, if you want to buy me one, I'd be more than happy to accept!
14. leather jacket
15. Wool Coat
16. High Waisted Skirt
17. Pencil Skirt

18. Black Pumps
19. Nude Heels
20. A comfy pair of flip flops
21. Tall boots (both black, brown, heeled & flat)
22. Ballet Flats
23. Pearl Necklace
24. Pearl Stud Earrings
25. Diamond Stud Earrings
26. A good watch
27. Small & Big Cross Body
28. Giant Tote
29. A great warm scarf
30. A great pair of sunglasses, although I buy cheap-os cause I loose stuff all the time

Friday, August 5, 2011

DISH: Quotable

-Chicago Magazine

Each week, Chicago Magazine sends out their weekly dining newsletter. This email is probably the most coveted arrivals at my office. My co-workers love to see who's featured and it's like a gossip column for the Chicago restaurant industry.

However, my favorite part is the Quotable Section, where they provide, naturally, a quote related to food, beverage, restaurant, dining, etc. I've decided to share them with you! So look forward to this gem each week!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A slice of Chicago

I want to preface this post by letting you know that my job or my lactose intolerance by no means has had any affect on what's to follow. I promise.

A Restaurant Review.

Last week: Amy, Shelby & I ate at
Giordano's Pizza on Rush St, a Chicago Institution.
Confession: It was my first slice of Giordano's pizza.
...and boy, did it live up to my expectations.

It was Shelby's last day at her internship, gasp! where has the summer gone?, so we went out to celebrate. Upon arrival, we were quickly sat, a perk of the job, at a nice booth. We were starving so we started off with a chopped salad and put our order in for a spinach pizza, which would take 40 min.

So the salad came quickly and it was good: Lettuce, Fresh Tomatoes, Red Onions, Mozzarella Cheese, Black Olives, Bleu Cheese and an Olive Oil Vinaigrette. At first, we thought it was missing the dressing then, as we tossed it all together, the dressing seemed to appear out of magic and coated the salad perfectly. I even enjoyed the Bleu Cheese, which I have to admit is really growing on me altogether! And,
I was with two tomato haters, which I am not (see previous post) so I got to eat all of it!

Then, we watched everyone get their pizza and grew more and more excited for ours to arrive. You have to realize how much this pizza has been talked up. I work with Giordano's and I've heard all about their product. How good it is and how high of quality it is. They weren't lying.

Our pizza came. It's in the picture above. It was just the way I like pizza.
I love the dough and this dough, it tasted just the way I like it.
Then there was the spinach, which I've been told is fresh, but you can actually tell it's fresh.
-Plus it has the great almost spanikopita taste to it, which earns an A+ in my book.
Then, there's the cheese, layers of it, and you can taste the freshness here. It tastes like fresh mozzarella. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Lastly, there's Giordano's famous tomato sauce, which isn't too sweet, isn't too salty, just perfect.

It was well worth the cheese. Don't worry: Eric, I took a lactaid. And BONUS: There was leftovers for the rest of the week.

Giordano's: Thanks for the proper welcome to Chicago. I'll be coming back, you were fantastic.

Monday, August 1, 2011

5 things

1. Well mom, I'm still not wearing lipgloss. But I am wearing lipstain. What's a lipstain, you ask? Lip stains come in markers or gels and they provide a saturated wash of color. This allows them to stain the lips a certain color for hours.

I've been wearing some cheap-os and I'd say they do the trick!

Revlon Just Bitten in Gothic
Covergirl Outlast in Everbloom Kiss
Covergirl Outlast in Nude Kiss

2. There will probably be a post on this in the near future BUT I'm not the greatest at getting up in the morning. In fact, I'm probably among the worst. Just this morning I overslept by an hour. I'm beginning to think I need one of those alarm clocks that rolls around the floor away from the bed so you can't snooze. I digress...

I do like to look my best. However, with my morning issues, I'm always in a rush. So lately, I've been turning to style boards. I usually find them on pinterest (see this post) or on polyvore. They provide some inspiration and I'm pretty lucky to have enough stuff in my closet to find something similar. I'd suggest this to anyone!

3. Now these tomatoes above are Campari Tomatoes. My second mom introduced me to them and I'm forever grateful. From the beginning, I knew I loved them and that was about it. So after doing some research, I learned:

"Campari is a variety of tomato, noted for its juiciness, high sugar level, low acidity, and lack of mealiness. Camparis are deep red and larger than a cherry tomato, but smaller and rounder than a plum tomato"

These tomatoes are referred to as the tomato lover's tomato. And, I do love my tomato. And I'm addicted to these. They are delicious by themselves, grilled or thrown in a salad.

4. Etsy is a website where people sell handmade or vintage items, in addition to crafts. It's fun to see how creative other people are. And, I have an addiction to online shopping, just wait for my 5 things including ASOS.

5. With 16 years, give or take some in the beginning, of reading textbook after textbook in school, reading a book for fun, was never exactly what I was in the mood for. I was already tired of staring at the words on the page, reading about finance, the craft of research, advertising and more. Now, however, without the required reading, I'm able to enjoy a book. So I am, reading great books and enjoying it. And I'm in the market for your book suggestions so send 'em my way and by the way, I like chick lit, Jane Green (last book I read is above), Emily Giffen, Sophie Kinsella, and more, and the classics, specifically anything by Austen.