Twenty Miles on a Treadmill?!

Wooohooo!  I beat my personal record for most miles logged (consecutively) on a treadmill.  TWENTY MILES.  Woah. sarah treadmill Thankfully I had the super small gym to myself most of the time & control of the TV remote (hallelujah!).  I broke my run into segments since my treadmill couldn’t run non-stop like me ;)  Kidding, kind of…  the machine only runs for 90 minutes at a time. The breaks were great, though.  It forced me to break up the 20 mile run into nicer, easy to handle segments rather than thinking of it as ONE LONG RUN.  It was also a nice chance for me to refill my water bottle. At one point, the treadmill started to smell a little funny…kind of like it was being over-worked.  Then I looked at the bottom of my brand new Brooks after my run… Whoops.

burnin' rubber with my brand new Brooks!

burnin’ rubber with my brand new Brooks!

Anyway, after my run I celebrated with a quick lunch followed by a light nap.  The awesome & supportive hubs then treated me to a nice dinner of pasta, sausage, and veggies.  :) Considering how relaxing this afternoon & evening was, it makes me want to run 20 miles every day.  Ok not really.

new girl

“who’s that giiiirrrll?” “it’s Jess.”

Like those obnoxiously hot pink socks?  Yep, bought those pups today at Fleet Feet.  I’ve never done compression socks but after reading multiple posts on Monica‘s blog, I decided to give it a whirl.  They feel great, no complaints yet, but I’ll let you know if I think they actually do anything.  Besides look great, that is. ;) Alright, it’s time for me to get back to my laying-on-the-couch-doing-nothing phase.  Tomorrow morning, I’m making a recipe from Gina’s cookbook:

skinnytaste

slow cooker enchilada

Questions for you:

- Love compression socks?  Hate ‘em?

- What’s the longest distance you’ve gone on a treadmill?

Sneaking in a Run

Hey there!

I don’t know about you guys, but the further I get along in marathon training, the less motivated I generally get.  Spending hours of my weekend preparing, running, and then recovering from my training starts to take a toll.  For past races I’ve always followed my training schedule to a t.  There was no such things of shortening runs; I always made myself run the full distance (i.e., 18 mile run) on the scheduled date.  This time around I’m being a bit more flexible.  Do you guys ever do that?  This past weekend, it wasn’t possible to get in an 18 mile run, so I split it into two chunks.  I ran 5.5 miles one day, and 12.5 miles the next.  It’s definitely not my preference (I don’t feel as well prepared) but sometimes life gets in the way.

Like sometimes I have to go to Bulls games for work:

bulls game

And, when I’m really lucky, I get to go with clients & bring one of my friends.  This has only happened once (thank goodness I have a photo to prove it)!

bulls game kelly

Other times, I have long car trips.  Or meetings.  The usual.  So when I can sneak in a run, I sneak in a run.  And then I celebrate with doughnuts from Glazed & Infused.  Have you locals had their doughnuts before?!  If you haven’t, you NEED to.  They’re incredible.  As someone who does not like red velvet cake, or cream cheese frosting…but is (ironically) absolutely obsessed with their red velvet cake doughnuts…you need to take my word on it.  They’re incredible:

glazed and infused

Have a great night!

Questions for you:

- Do you ever split long runs into multiple runs?

- Favorite doughnut?

House Hunting Roller Coaster

Hey there!

Life has been BUSY over here.  We went from house hunting, to thinking we were first time homeowners, to full-time renters.  Let me back up a bit…

About two weeks ago, Joe and I went to see 6 houses in the ‘burbs on a wild-and-crazy Sunday adventure.  Warning for any house hunters: if it looks good online, it’s horrible in person.  If it looks “meh” online, it’s probably great in person.  Well, we found a house that seemed perfect.  Big room sizes, all neutral (ready for me to decorate!!), within our price range….so we bid.  We were told to give our “best and final offer” by noon the next day. It was crazy.  There were four other offers.  Now keep in mind, this is all happening within 24 hours of seeing the house for the first time.  Anyway… we ended up finding out we WON :D at 10PM on Monday.  We were overjoyed.  The verbal offer was there.  Pinterest and I were best friends.  I slept even less that night, because I was too busy thinking of paint colors, furniture ideas…

Then, come Tuesday morning, we found out that we were back into competition.  Apparently “best and final offers” don’t actually mean “final” to some selling agents.  And, depending on who it is, they may let some up their bid without letting other interested buyers do the same.  So, while we remained hopeful, we soon realized that our verbal offer was no longer valid.  We lost our house.

After lots of thinking, we’ve come to realize this is a bit of a blessing in disguise.  Last summer was spent entirely wedding planning; we didn’t get to explore the city we love.  We’ve decided to sign our apartment again, and we’re ready to live life to the city’s fullest.  And save money.  That whole thing.

But anyway, in order to get our mind off of the house….and in the essence of saving money…I made an AWESOME two-ingredient, cheap, and DELICIOUS slow cooker recipe.  I based it off of THIS recipe, but switched 1 of the 2 ingredients….because why not.

Blue Moon Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

– 2 pounds(ish) of pork loin

– 1 bottle of Blue Moon (or whatever beer you have)

– Salt & Pepper (these don’t count as ingredients in my book…they’re basics).

Directions:

– Salt & pepper the pork loin.  Be generous – that’s a good amount of meat.

– Put pork loin in slow cooker.  Pour beer over slow cooker.

– Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

– Shred meat.

basic pulled pork

This made enough for 4 meals – 2 for me, 2 for Joe.  Because this is such a plain/basic way to make pulled pork, the ways to eat this are ENDLESS.  Night #1 we made bbq pulled pork sandwiches in a pita with a side of asparagus.  Night #2 was pulled pork with roasted veggies & a baked yam (basically a sweet potato).  Other yummy ideas would be pulled pork bbq pizza, pulled pork nachos, pulled pork salad…did I mention nachos?

So while I enjoy my leftover pulled pork tonight, I’ll also enjoy the view from my apartment.  The ‘burbs ain’t got nothing on this.

sunset

Lazy Weekends – Instacart Review

Hey there!

This weekend was one of the laziest (and best) weekends in a while.  I’m pretty sure the hubby and I left the house no more than 5 times – and, the majority of them were to go out to eat. :)

Today I took that laziness another level and used the service Instacart.  What is it, you ask?  Well its basically like Peapod or any of those grocery delivery systems.  Except, better.  Here’s why –

(1) You choose your grocery store.  The site lists about 6 different options from where you can get your food.  How nice to have a choice!  I live by a bunch of great ones, and I stuck with Whole Foods for my first order.

(2) You pick your schtuff (technical term ;) ).  I ordered a bunch of fruit, veggies, lunch meat, etc. Once I ordered everything and hit “buy”, it leads you to a screen which shows all of your selected items.  For each item, you get to choose a substitute in the case that your item isn’t available.  Uhh hello – this should have always been around on grocery delivery sites!  When do you ever get everything on your list?!  Answer: never.

(3) You buy it.  And wish you spent it on shoes instead.

(4) Time passes.  A few hours before your order is set to be delivered, you get a call from Whole Foods (grocery store you choose) confirming your items.  If some weren’t available, they try to choose substitutes.

(5) It gets delivered.  AND YOU NEVER LEFT YOUR HOUSE.  From a pure laziness level, this is awesome.

Review: 

- Quality: the fresh fruit and veggies were great.  Nothing was bruised, nothing looked “ehhh”, etc.  I’ve used other delivery services in college (Kroger) and it was FAR from pleasant.  The stuff usually lasted one to two days past delivery.  Instacarts/Whole Foods actually looks like it will last – success!

- Price: surprisingly, it wasn’t all that different from grocery shopping.  AND if you buy more than $35 of groceries (which inadvertently happens every time I grocery shop… even if I’m only planning on picking up one thing)…you get free delivery!  For those of you who aren’t so sure you went to spend $35 right off the bat – no worries.  Your first delivery is free.  Of course, mine was no matter what since I spent over $35 on my first order…

- Substitutions: this is where Instacart gets a lower score.  And I was so excited about the substitution option!!  There are two reasons this gets a lower score (1) I requested 2 green bell peppers.  When he called to confirm my order, he said he only picked up 1 because it was the only one that looked good.  Now while I appreciate his concern over good quality I’m not sure why he didn’t substitute those peppers with yellow bell peppers (my listed substitute).  I mean… why list substitutes if they don’t reference them…?  (2) I requested 1 pound of turkey lunch meat.  They didn’t have it, so I told the guy I was fine with whatever turkey lunch meat they have, within the same price range.  He assured me this was just fine.  Upon delivery, I saw it was the same price – but only 3/4 of a pound.  Disappointing because I know there is lunch meat that WOULD hit the same price point at the same weight.  Again, not the end of the world, but that was enough sandwich for a lunch, so we’re one day short.

Take-away: I would use Instacart again but, if they call me due to substitution questions, I would make sure I ask for a final “double check” call.  Good news is – price & quality are right, just need the quantity!

Alright – that’s enough “work” for tonight – it’s back to laziness!  ;) House of Cards, here I come!

<3 Sarah

Questions for you:

- Do you use grocery delivery services?

- Do you watch House of Cards?

Bill’s Birthday Dinner at the Purple Pig

Hey there!

Last night my family and I went out to the Purple Pig for my “little” brother’s birthday.  Not only is he taller than me, way stronger, etc but he’s now 23.  What an old man! ;)

When my brother and I were younger, we went through the traditional kid phase.  We ate everything.  We then got picky and hated everything.  Then one day we saw bruschetta.  We tried it.  We found out we liked raw garlic – something we were sure we hated.  And, well.  The rest is history.  Now I’ll eat just about anything.  And my brother?  Well, he’ll REALLY eat anything. Beating cobra heart?  Yep, he’s had it.  So when it comes time to comes time to celebrate a birthday over dinner, he doesn’t choose just anywhere.  He chooses Purple Pig.

For those who have yet to go, it’s very similar to The Girl & The Goat.  You know, unusual parts of pig/animal that are fried/cooked uniquely and surprisingly-tasty-if-you-can-get-your-mind-wrapped-around-it?  Yeah. Like that.  It was a super cool atmosphere.  Shared tables, high ceilings, big windows, max capacity of 40-50 people…we ate with the owner of the restaurant….Here’s what we had.  I’ll get to the whole owner part later.

“Spreads”

- Caponata & Whipped Spread: this is an eggplant dish that you spread onto toasted bread.  Except, it’s not just toasted bread.  They have toasted goat cheese.  I’m  not a huge goat cheese girl, so I requested whipped feta instead.  HOLY COW (literally, it’s cow cheese).  This whipped feta was INCREDIBLE.  Seriously.  Try it.  Do it. The caponata was good but – nothing like Quartino’s.  Quartino’s is life changing.

- Bone Marrow: I didn’t partake in this, but the boys (my dad, brother, and husband) loved it.  It comes in two GIANT bones, and you just spread it onto perfectly toasted bread.  Not too shabby!

“Appetizers” 

- Charred Cauliflower: Yes, I ordered this.  I’m always the “weird” one ordering the vegetarian dishes ;).  This was served with toasted breadcrumbs, cornichons (fancy pickles, similar to gherkin) & parsley.  As a big veggie lover, I loved this dish.  It was super rich and delicious.  My brother – the meat and potatoes person – also loved it.  His response was somewhere along the lines of “I don’t like cauliflower but this stuff is pretty good”.  And he had seconds.  And thirds.  Just sayin’ veggie haters, just sayin’.

- Deep fried Deviled Egg: I was a bit busy eating the cauliflower, but this looked pretty killer.

- Pig Brain: yes, you read that right.  Pig brain.  We weren’t sure what this would look like, or how large it would be.  We were getting somewhat full, so jokes of “well, how big is a pig brain..?” surfaced.  The waitress told us it was a small dish, and a mousse.  The fact it was a “mousse” skewed me out big time.  The only thing that should be a mousse is chocolate.  Or a moose.  Anywhere, here’s the pig brain:

pig brain

So, while I didn’t actually partake in the pig brain, it looked pretty good.  My dad said it tasted like liver pate.  I mean, I could do that.  My stomach wasn’t feelin 100% so I passed this time but – if / when I’m back, I’ll definitely partake.

“Entrees”

- Shrimp & sweetbread sausage: yeah….I couldn’t wrap my head around this.  The boys and my mom all took a bite – and the dish was finished – but I couldn’t get myself to do it.  NEXT!

- Ossobucco: also called “the best thing to ever hit my palate”.  The first time I had Ossobucco was in a cute Italian restaurant in Rome.  It was delicious.  Mouthwatering (to this day).  The Ossobucco I had at Purple Pig was right up there.  Served on a GIANT bone, and on top of DELICIOUS polenta…I mean, how could you not fall in love.  I almost feel bad that I ate the majority of this and my family only had a little bit.  But, not really.

Stuffed squid: this looked amazing, and I’d love to try it next time but … Ossobucco was on the brain…

“Dessert”: now, my brother isn’t a big dessert fan (I got all of those genes).  But, it was his birthday.  And we just so happened to be sharing a table with the owner.  Oh yeah, the owner.  As in Jimmy Bannos Sr.  Chef/owner of Heaven on Seven, Purple Pig, etc.  Not too shabby to share a table with him.  And his son (chef) came over to chat with him while he ate.  SO COOL.  And, well, he saw we were celebrating and ordered us two desserts.  Because he’s awesome.  What did the owner order us?

Cheesecake: except, this wasn’t just cheesecake.  This was baklava-inspired cheesecake.  The crust was made out of walnuts and baklava ingredients.  The cake was drizzled with Greek honey.  And on the side?  Walnuts with honey.  YUM-o.

- Coffee/Vanilla/Hazelnut Custard: I’m not sure what this was besides plain delicious.  The bottom of the dessert was similar to a coffee custard.  On top of that was a vanilla custard.  Then, the top layer was roasted hazelnuts.  DELISH.

Recap: What a sweet end to an awesome night.  If you like small plates, adventurous food, and a fun atmosphere, this is your place.  Although Quartino’s is one of my all-time favorite restaurants, this place was much more comfortable/less hectic than Quartino’s.  The food was absolutely incredible.  Bring your appetite, and your big girl/boy taste buds.  And also, make sure you come early.  Because by 5:15PM, this place is packed.  You’ve been warned.

Have you been to The Purple Pig?

Do you like small plates?  Or do you like traditional “full” meals?

Chicago Restaurant Week Recap

Hey there!

As many of you Chicagoans know, Restaurant Week swept the city a few weeks ago.  For those who didn’t partake, Chicago restaurants offer 3-course lunches for $22, and 3-4 course dinners from $33 or $44.  Now I’m not saying $44 dinners/person is cheap – but, considering you’re getting 3-4 courses from fancy schmancy restaurants – it’s a pretty good deal.  At least that’s what I told my husband. ;)

I go out for lunches & dinners frequently for my job (and, well, for fun with the hubs & family), so I was able to soak up all that is Restaurant Week.  The restaurants I went to that offered the “deal” include the following: Tortoise Club, Quartino’s, One North, Francesca’s and Sapori Trattoria.  After looking at the regular menu & the Restaurant Week menu, I decided to go the RW route for the following – Quartino’s, Francesca’s, and Sapori Trattoria.  All were great – but, of course I have to compare/contrast!

Francesca’s – home sweet home.  I’ve gone here for RW the past two years.  I adore Francesca’s – great food and it brings back great memories.  While in high school, my parents, brother and I would go to Francesca’s about every other Friday night.  What a treat.  Francesca’s menu was $33/person (if my memory serves me correctly) for a four course meal.  I went with a caesar salad (not on the RW menu, but I convinced them to let me substitute ;) ), pasta with eggplant and smoked mozzarella, and a pork chop for dinner.  To finish?  Lemon cake with a mascarpone sauce.  Lots of food – and all of it was delicious.  I basically had to waddle away.  Woops…

Sapori Trattoria - delicious, but pricey. There were two choices $33/person for a three course meal (appetizer, pasta, and dessert – plus a drink) or $44/person.  The drink choices were either (a) prosecco or (b) mixed drink of the bartender’s choice.  It was basically a sangria with some harder alcohol mixed in.  I didn’t drink it, but Joe said it was VERY sweet. The salad was good – nothing to write “blog” about (bah dum chhhh).  The pasta was what nailed it for me – linguine with shrimp & broccoli.  So so good.  It felt so fresh and flavorful.  I ate so much pasta that I ended up bringing my tiramisu home.  (So nice of them to let me take it to go!) It was a delicious treat to have the next night.  Joe got the meat lasagna and absolutely loved it.  All in all, it was great food but even with the RW discount, we ended up spending $100 for two people based on my getting the $33 dinner, Joe getting the $44, plus drinks.  Totally fine, but we didn’t expect to spend that much since it was “RW”.

Quartino’s – best bang for your buck.  Their RW menu offered a $33 four-course menu that is meant to be SHARED amongst 2 people.  That’s right – amazing food for roughly $16.50/person.  I went with my parents and brother and boy did we EAT.  Favorite things included – Sicilian Caponata (amazing eggplant spread), Artichokes Campobasso (roasted baby artichokes), Polpette Al Sugo Di Pomodoro (meatballs in traditional red sauce), Penne alla Vodka, and Tuscan Sausage Risotto (total food hug).  We can’t forget about dessert – which I definitely devoured – Zeppole (donuts with a chocolate dipping sauce) and Panino al Gelato Limon (basically lemon gelato sandwiched between two soft donuts).  The zeppole was probably my favorite dessert.  Although fried, they were SO light and airy!  Delish!
Unfortunately, RW week is now over.  I gotta say, my wallet (and waistline) are happy about that, but I can’t wait for next year!

Sarah

Back to Busy-ness

Hey world!

I’m back.  I know, I know, I said the same thing about…a year ago.  But, I’m trying to hold myself to it this time.  This blog’s theme just wasn’t doing it for me.  Things have changed – and it’s time for the blog to change, too!

So, what’s my vision you ask?  Well, this blog will still be about running…..

Chocolate Run

But, it’s going to have a few other things to…namely, “Chicago”.

Chicago

Hellooooo this blog is called RunningChickago.  Clearly I’m in love with running.  And Chicago.  The hubby and I love going out to eat – and we have great choices.  Whether it’s the burger I had for lunch at Au Cheval (which I think should be re-named Au MyGod), falafel, or sushi, we’re always up for something delicious.  This ol’ blog will give some restaurant reviews.  Because as my grandma says (without fail) every time we’re on the phone...”Is it [life] all about food, or is it all about food”?  It’s all about food, Gram.

sushi

Unfortunately, we can’t eat out every night….if only our wallets were as bottomless as our appetite… So, until that happens, this blog will share some recipes, too.

Kale, Sausage & White Bean Soup

Kale, Sausage & White Bean Soup

Like the title of this post says, it’s “back to busy-ness”.  Life is busy, but it’s more fun writing about it.  Leggo.

– Sarah