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

Dreamy Dinner

Today was a food-filled day.  My family had plans to celebrate many things tonight: my grandpa’s 75th birthday, my college graduation, mother’s day and (the upcoming) father’s day.  Lots of celebrations at once = lots of food.  Wait, are you thinking that because we’re combining multiple things in one day, we’d have less food?  Clearly, you don’t know my family 😉

Because I knew I would be “whooping it up” tonight (my step-grandma’s phrase for “going all out”), I knew I would need to put in a hard workout.  Yesterday I ran and did a lot of strength training, so I decided to switch up my cardio today by using the elliptical.  I generally switch the incline and resistance a lot during my routine to keep myself entertained.  This time I recorded what I did, in case you would be interested in trying out a different routine!

Today’s Workout:
Warm-up: 10 minutes on the elliptical (didn’t record the resistance/incline)
Workout:

60-Minute Elliptical Workout

Cool Down: 5 minute cool down (didn’t record the resistance/incline)

All-in-all, it was a great workout and I had fun doing it!  Knowing that I will only be on the specific “level” (of resistance and incline) for at most 4 minutes helps to keep me going.  Gotta love small goals!

After this workout, it was time for a quick lunch (1 Van Waffle with 1 TB of Naturally Nutty Butter Toffee PB, 2 Egg Whites, and 3/4 cup blueberries) before getting showered/styled/etc. for dinner with the family.

Tonight my family and I went to Piccolo Sogno in (of course!) Chicago.  They serve Northern Italian cuisine – aka lots of fish and not much red sauce- and it was delicious.  Their outdoor seating is the perfect match to their food.  It’s beautiful, fun, and makes you forget you’re in the city.  The space is similar to a courtyard, and filled with trees and small hanging lights.  After seeing the area, I was excited to see what the food would be like; I knew it had to be good if the outdoor space looked so great.  But, I have to admit one thing…because my family likes loves to eat, we actually had appetizers before going to Piccolo Sogno.  We had amazing cheese, liver pate, and shrimp at my grandparents condo before leaving…to get more food.  Good thing I had that workout earlier! 😉

Once at Piccolo Sogno, my family started off with two appetizers: the antipasti plate and calamari.  Their antipasti special today was filled with delicious vegetables, as well as some meat and cheese.  Being the huge veggie lover that I am, I definitely stocked up on enjoyed the asparagus, carrots, artichokes…and well, everything.  The calamari was also great.  My family generally orders fried calamari when we are out at restaurants, and theirs was one of the best I’ve had.  The breading was very light and crispy and not overly oily (I hate when I’m biting into oily, heavy breaded calamari!)  For dinner, my family all ordered the sea bass special- except for me.  I don’t remember the details on it because not only was it not on the menu, but it wasn’t on the specials menu either!  After having a bite of my mom’s, I can assure you that their fish is delicious – but I really can’t help you out besides that 😉  I ordered the Margherita pizza and changed it up a little by adding roasted peppers.  The pizza was very similar to traditional Italian pizza- thin, light, and delicious.  If I went back again, I would probably order the fish or a pizza with meat on it, though.  The Margherita (+ roasted peppers) was good, but wasn’t as flavorful as another pizza place I love in the city.  (Nope, not giving name out- you’ll have to wait until I visit again for the name, details, and pics) 🙂  I also enjoyed their Insalata Mista salad with the pizza.  It was very light and fresh – the perfect pairing with pizza.

Margherita Pizza

Source: Piccolo Sogno Gallery

Because we were celebrating my grandpa’s birthday, among other things, they brought out a plate of their biscotti and a candle.  My dad had told me that their biscotti was great but I wasn’t sure how much I would like it.  I mean, yeah, I love cookies but biscotti is usually so dried out and hard as a rock.  I’d like to keep my teeth, thank you very much.  But when I saw it I decided to risk it.  I’m glad I did.  The flavors were so delicate and delicious, and I kept asking myself “What flavor is that?  I need to make something with this flavor at home…

If you’re in Chicago and looking for an escape from the hustle & bustle, definitely head to Piccolo Sogno.  It’s the perfect place for a celebratory dinner, a date night, or just a relaxing meal.  To the owner of Piccolo Sogno, I’d like to say one thing: Great job picking out the name- the food & atmosphere really was a “little dream.”

Buonanotte ❤

Questions for you:
What type of workouts do you like to do for cross-training?
If you live in Chicago, which restaurants do you like to go out to?