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 😀 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

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