Friday, November 18, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dinner in Under 10

Consider it another dinner FTW...

I stumbled on this recipe from a food blog I follow - The Daily Dish. The original recipe came from the food blog Iowa Girl Eats.

This recipe is so good, that I've made it for dinner 3 times in the past 2 weeks. What can I say? 5 ingredients, it cooks in less than 10 minutes and it is so super decadent.

Crispy Pesto Gnocchi with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese 

Hubster likes to annoy me by asking me to make more Ganache. That's right, Ganache. He knows it's called Gnocchi but he would rather get under my skin and ask for a food that also starts with the letter G and is a sweet something. How rude! 

Don't wait... make this recipe for dinner tonight!

Pardon the craptastic iPhone photos...

{ high quality photo from Iowa Girl Eats

{ high quality photo from Iowa Girl Eats

Of course, I did make a few adjustments. 

1. I used Barilla pre-made pesto. I didn't want to buy additional ingredients b/c I wanted to keep my grocery bill down. 
2. I added in a tablespoon of jarred chopped garlic. 

This recipe will be a staple for quite some time to mi casa. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mac & Cheese FTW!

Remember two weeks ago when I said I was going to make Buffalo Mac & Cheese for dinner? Well, I didn't. But, yesterday I got to thinking that Mac & Cheese sounded really good for dinner this week. I hit the SOPO (aka Southport) Jewel Osco to pick up a few ingredients and tonight was dinner magic!

Of course, I always say BYOC (be your own chef), so per usual I made a few substitutions.

I had fresh chopped leeks in the house, so I used it instead of celery.

I kept the chopped onion (on, how I love onion!)

I didn't have dill, onion powder (shocker), etc. The only spices I used were 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. chili powder and 1/4 tsp. paprika. Also, I had hot sauce in the fridge instead of actual buffalo sauce.

I wasn't in the mood to cook and cut up chicken, so I omitted it. Because this is a healthy version of mac and cheese, I used turkey bacon instead of the oh-so-delicious pork kind.

Overall, it was a yummy dinner. Hubster even said I could make it again (score!)... of course, he had a few recommendations for next time (like bleu cheese?!).

High quality photo & recipe from Courtney of Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life

I can't wait to make this recipe again. FYI, it only makes an 8x8 pan full... great for dinner, but doesn't leave much for lunch leftovers. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October in Review

It's hard to believe that the last day of my October {my favorite month} is tomorrow. So many wonderful things seem to happen in the month of October, that I'm sad to see it leave.

Instead of writing a few short posts about what I've been up to, here is October via iPhone photos... Enjoy.

Hubster and I served as Lincoln Park Course Marshals for the Chicago Marathon on October 9. As folks who ran the marathon last year, it was so nice to give back. I can't believe how many runners said thank you to me as they ran by. I'm so torn to keep going as a volunteer or to actually run it again next year. Hmm. Stay tuned. 

I've spent about half my mornings on Skype with this cute 1 year old. <3 him 

I ventured all the way out to Aurora to sit in the freezing cold to support Hubster as he officiated a high school football game. 

I carved a pumpkin for the first time in about 5 years. 

Alright, November. I'm ready for you. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumn Treats


Pumpkin Dessert Bars via The Daily Dish 

Pumpkin Filled Cannoli Cones via The Daily Dish 

Grown Up Pumpkin Pie Milk Shakes (w/ Bourbon) via Sweet Tooth Sweet Life 

Crock Pot Baked Apples via Skinny Chef 

Oh, sweet nectar. I'm going to need to test out a few of these recipes before Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Menu Sunday

It's back! After a nearly 6-week hiatus, I am back with a menu for the upcoming week. I have to admit that hubster and I really haven't grocery shopped in a couple weeks, so it's been tough to make meals. Every once in a while we get in this kick to 'eat everything in the kitchen, so we can start fresh at Jewel-Osco.

My co-workers know when it's one of those weeks because I'll bring a sweet potato, apple sauce and a granola bar for lunch. Healthy? Yes. Filling? No.

Our food cabinet is just.about.empty...

Alright. It's time to get to the goods. I present, the menu...

Butternut Squash Lasagna via Cheeky Kitchen
Buffalo Mac & Cheese via Sweet Tooth Sweet Life
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili w/ Sweet Potatoes via The Daily Dish (via Real Simple) 
Risotto w/ Butternut Squash, Leeks & Basil via City Girl Chicago (1/2 of recipe and using orzo instead) 

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Apple Cider Cupcakes

I follow quite a few food blogs and have been obsessed with autumn recipes lately. One blogger in particular, Courtney from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life featured a delicious recipe called Apple Cider Cupcakes. 

Last week I made a batch of them for work and they were a huge hit! This recipe will definitely be a staple in my cookbook for years to come. Unfortunately, none of my pictures turned out okay, but my cupcakes turned out exactly like the ones Courtney made...

** Photo from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life ** 

For the full recipe, please CLICK HERE. 

Here are a couple of thoughts about the recipe...
  • Do not be intimidated by the amount of cinnamon. It's just right. 
  • The home made frosting recipe made too much. It was also a little bit runny. 
    • I suggest cutting the quantities in half. 
    • I also suggest putting the cupcakes in the fridge immediately after frosting them so the frosting has a chance to firm up. I did this and it worked great. 
The home made frosting was too easy to make and folks raved about the frosting! Enjoy! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lovin Autumn

Chicago in the autumn is like my BFF. That's all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011



That's what I paid to the City of Chicago today.

You want a breakdown? Here you go...

  • $60.00 ticket for being 20 minutes past the 7am 'no parking' zone... I slept in after working a 13 hour day
  • $160.00 towing fees
  • $155.00 city sticker w/ late fees because they wouldn't let me take my car off the impound lot without a city sticker
Also, I am supposed to make birthday treats for a co-worker tomorrow and when I got home at almost 9pm after walking around New Eastside trying to find the impound lot...blah, blah, blah... I digress. 

After getting home around 9pm, I realized I only had 2 eggs and needed 3 for the recipe. I cracked open 1 of the 2 eggs and it was hard boiled. WTF? I have no freaking clue. So, now I'm down to 1 egg. I asked my neighbors if they would donate an egg on behalf and none of them had eggs in stock. FREAKING A!!!! 

The cupcakes taste a bit oily, but I figured I would save the day tomorrow and at least dye the frosting purple... her favorite color. Wrong - I'm fresh out of red food coloring. 

I'm spent. I can't deal with anymore drama today. Goodnight. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Week in Pictures

A week in review via photos...

Hubster and I competed in the Warrior Dash - Upper Midwest Competition last Saturday. It was a 3.08 mile race with all sorts of obstacles... walls, bear crawling, water, jumping over fire and crawling through a mud pit. It was awesome! I did acquire a few bumps and bruises, but totally worth it in the name of a medal. 

If you keep up with my blog, you know I've been on a home made pizza kick (see here and here). When I was at the grocery store last week, I picked up a whole wheat Boboli pizza crust. Later in the week I made a pizza with just the ingredients I had at home. 
  • Barilla Pizza Sauce
  • grape tomatoes
  • scallions
  • white onion
  • turkey bacon
  • mozzorella cheese
  • spinach

On Friday, hubster had a cameo on the Mike & Mike show - live from the House of Blues. He got up at 4am (thus, I got up at 4am) to head down to the HOB for a live taping of Mike & Mike. Knowing hubster, he knew he was going to be on tv and was 'keeping it cool, baby'. 

Earlier today, hubster and I headed out of the city to the burbs to watch my nephew play football. They lost, but he made the first tackle, caused a fumble and had a sack! 

In case you're wondering, yes, he's holding a snake. Some idiot mother brought her pet snake to the game and sat right next to me. In true Midwest Sass form, I gave a stern look of disapproval and moved away from her. 

My nephew apparently is obsessed with the snake. Go figure. 

Of course, I saved the best for last. I have a head cold from hell. Two of my co-workers have confirmed strep throat and 1 more went home sick on Friday (like me). I hauled myself to the cleanest (not closest) Minute Clinic to get a strep test. Overall, it was a great experience and I tested negative for strep (amen). Per the RN's request, I'm on Robotussin DM, Riccola with honey, ibuprofen and a nasel spray. 

Let me tell you, I've been looking hot, like a hot mess for the past 2 days. Hubster had a whole date day planned for the both of us today, including a pumpkin patch... but had to pass because apparently I'm a walking zombie who falls asleep on the drop of a dime. Boo. 

At least there's a Chopped marathon on the Food Network right now. It's just me, the couch and a box of Kleenex. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Beer Lovers Delight

Who doesn't love a good autumn beer? Hubster and I ventured over to our spot (see: Rocco Ranalli's and this) last night to claim a You Swoop deal ($10 for $20 food and bev). Side note... I bought 2 of the You Swoop deals. It's a favorite hangout spot. = )

Ok, back to the beer. Hubster and I each had a tulip of their new Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ale. Hello, autumn. I welcome you with open arms.

Seriously, you would not believe how much the pumpkin ale actually tasted like a pumpkin. It's as if the brew master magically made a can of pumpkin puree (with a dash of nutmeg) into a yummy liquid drink. My tip: only have one. It's a very distinct taste, yet delicious.

What's your favorite autumn brew?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Work Out Motivation

Do you want to know what has been motivating me to get to the gym at 7:15 am? The chance to sweat it out on an elliptical while watching this...

You betcha. I watch a solid 45 minutes of Dog the Bounty Hunter at least 3 days per week while getting my sweat on at the gym. Seriously, Dog is my motivation. That Duane Lee is such a cutie.  During commercials, I change the channel so can I can relive my childhood years while watching this...

Could there be two opposite shows? I think the men get a little creeped out when they see me watching Dog and literally *smiling and leaning closer to the tv* when they apprehend a fugitive. I'm smiling right now just thinking of tomorrow's episode. = )

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Veggie Craving

Call me crazy, but I've been obsessed with veggies lately. 3 months ago I tried sauteed mushrooms for the first time and have been hooked ever since.

Hubster likes to buy a lot of fresh veggies, but sometimes they go bad before we eat them all.

I didn't get home from work until 8pm tonight and didn't really eat a dinner. As I was staring into my fridge trying to figure out what to make for myself (hubster had his monthly 'boys' dinner tonight), I saw a ton of veggies staring right back at me. I thought, why not just saute some veggies for dinner? Behold...

Quick Veggie Skillet
  • Your favorite seasoning 
It's that simple. Here are the ingredients I used tonight: 
  • mushrooms (yum)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • chopped onion (leftover from a meal earlier in the week)
  • minced garlic (see below)
  • EVOO or a small scraping of butter 

Of course, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. It just looked too good and I ate it right up! This fool-proof recipe is now a staple in my go-to quick meal memory bank.

Also, if this ingredient is not in your pantry, put it on your next shopping list:

For real. Buy this now. This ingredient has changed the way I cook. First of all, I love garlic. Fresh garlic is delicious, but let's be honest... it's a pain in the buttocks to chop. Who has the time and who likes it sticking to their fingers? Not me!

This jar was a mere $3 bucks and lasts for a long time. I use this jarred garlic for salsa, chicken, tacos, veggies... you name it. It's an instant boost of flavor and saves so much time. Hook yourself up with a bottle.

How do you like to cook veggies?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Brunch

Hubster had to work today (boo!), but not until noon. A few weeks ago he bought a Groupon for Bakin & Eggs, a restaurant in Lakeview and this morning we had brunch there. From the outside, it looks pretty small but once you get in it's surprisingly roomy. One pet peeve I have with restaurants is when they jam pack the tables and don't leave any walking room. Bakin & Eggs is different because the space has high ceilings and is quite spacious. They get an 'A' for a visual first impression.

Love the coffee mugs...

I was plain jane and had their buttermilk pancakes. They were extremely filling because they were so dense. I couldn't even finish the 3 pancakes... I had to recruit help. = ) 

We shared their 'Flight of Bacon'... 1 strip each of these flavors: Jalapeno, Honey, Cherry Smoked, Maple Pepper, and Mesquite. To be honest, they all tasted the same except honey and jalapeno. I took one bite of the jalapeno and grabbed the nearest glass of water I saw. It was too spicy for my liking, but the honey had great flavor. Even though the other flavors were not very distinct, I did appreciate that all the bacon had the perfect amount of crisp. They weren't charred and they weren't fatty. It's a difficult balance to find, but the cook certainly did. 

Hubster had a BLT with egg whites. He's a little more adventurous when it comes to food. 

 p.s. Sorry for the blurry pictures. Crummy old iPhone 3.... 

Verdict: I would definitely go back and try something other than the pancakes. Also, be sure to get their chocolate milk. I'm pretty sure they use coco powder... It made a huge difference. Delicious!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I'm trying to stick with a new habit of creating a lunch/dinner menu before I go grocery shopping. Last night I spent a good hour reading through some saved recipes and picked out some new things to cook up this week. Here's what hubster and I will be eating this week (lunches will consist of leftovers)...

Stuffed Shells (via All Recipes)
Quick Skillet Steak with Onions & Mushrooms (via Daily Dish Blog & Skinny Taste)
Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken (via Skinny Taste)
Chicken Rollatini with Spinach & Parmesan (via Skinny Taste)

No dinner is necessary for Friday night because we'll be headed out of town for a wedding. = )

There is one cabinet in my kitchen that is filled with things that haven't been touched in weeks months. You know, items that you buy because they're on sale and you're convinced you'll make some great meal with them. Though none of my meals listed above will be created from items in my mystery cabinet, I vow to go through and use the items by Halloween. Honestly, it's mostly side dish items (ex. whipped potatoes, rice, scalloped potatoes, blah blah blah).

What are you eating this week? What are your go to recipes for busy nights?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hello, beautiful!

Last Christmas I received a $25 gift card to DSW from the in-laws. To me, gift cards do not burn a hole in my pocket. I usually keep them for an extended period of time and use them when I'm a bit down on money.

As soon as I opened the gift card, I knew I would save it for the start of the next school year to buy new riding boots. Well ladies and gents, that's exactly what I did. Last week I went to DSW in Lakeview and tried on a gorgeous pair of Nine West leather boots. Earlier in the day I told a co-worker about my plan to visit DSW and she ended up giving me a $5 off coupon she didn't plan to use. Woo! Instead of $25, I had $30 in credit!

This rarely happens, but I ended up buying the very first pair of boots I put on. I looked at other boots, but the Nine West boots had a low heel (a necessity for city girls w/ all the walking we do), the color was perfect and they were comfy.

Is it boot season yet? I can see already see the possibilities...skinny jeans, leggings, tights with dresses and skirts. I'm ready for fall. Bring it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Little Luxuries

This weekend hubster and I enjoyed a little bit of luxury before the start of a new school year. It was nice to spend time together before we're back to long work days and ever growing to-do lists.

After hubster reffed a full day of youth football games on Saturday, we went out for a bite to eat and enjoyed a nightcap cocktail at Perennial Virant. I ordered the Honey Dipper (served tall) and hubster got the Rango Tango (served over crushed ice). Well, I did not enjoy the Honey Dipper (too much tomato water), so hubster graciously offered to switch. I have to say, I enjoyed the taste of the tequila in the Rango Tango! We were able to snag an intimate booth by the window...pure fabulosity!

Earlier today, we hopped on a bus and headed downtown to use a scratch off coupon we had from Lettuce Entertain You.  The coupon was for $2.00 off at Water Tower Place - Sacred Grounds coffee shop. We shared a sugar-free blended iced coffee and a double chocolate cupcake. It's the little things.

Afterwards, we hit up the grocery store to pick up just a few items. I've been on this kick for caprese salads and wanted to try making my own version. I like to cut my tomatoes a bit thicker and use a lot of basil. I love basil so much, so I use more of it than what is called for. Whatev... I say BYOC (be your own chef). I was surprised how filling it was. What a healthy dish (much needed after the booze/cupcake/blended coffee combo).