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?

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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

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!

❤ 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?

Tapas Tour (Madrid, part DOS)

Hey everyone!

So I planned on breaking down my Spain trip into 3 sections…but the tapas tour we attended deserves its own section…so there will now be 4  🙂

Today was a very fun day!  After my Cross Fit class on Monday, I’ve been dying to get in a good workout.  I was too sore on Tuesday and Wednesday to get in a good run, and unfortunately it was storming big-time here yesterday.  Such a bummer.  I decided to make up for it today though. I woke up early ready to run.

I ran 4.37 miles at 8:41 pace.  It wasn’t my best time, or my farthest run, but I’ll take it.  I’ve missed running after taking 2+ weeks off for vacation, and only running 3 miles at a time before vacation.  I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely prefer my cooler weather runs.  C’mon Mother Nature, throw just one 40-degree morning my way, please?  It can get hot later on, just give me a cool morning 😉

After my hot & humid run (80s and 50%+ humidity at 7AM), I got ready for the day.  My mom and I headed to Oak Brook where they have a beautiful outdoor mall.  They decorate it beautifully with flowers and some fountains – oh, and I guess the beautiful shoes & handbags don’t hurt the landscape, either 😉

We enjoyed our day shopping and talking, which was very similar to our trip to Spain.  Mom and I pretty much shopped every day while in Spain – tough work, but someone’s gotta do it, right?  Although Oak Brook has delicious restaurant options, they don’t quite have the tapas that Madrid does.  But that’s okay, I can live through my pictures tonight.

Before going to Spain, we booked a tour with Adventurous Appetites which had rave reviews on Trip Advisor.  Our tour guide was James, who was great and provided us with helpful tips about tapas, bars in Madrid, and Spain in general.

One tip about ordering tapas?  Always order your drinks first and wait before you order your tapas.  Some bars give you free tapas, but if you order your food when you order your drink, they may skip giving you the free tapas.  Thanks for the tip, James! 🙂

Without further adieu, here’s the tapas!

Bar 1

(Seriously) Blue Cheese

Cider, Cheese + Ham, and maybe a Tortilla in the back? So much food, so little time…

Sorry the picture above isn’t so hot!  I wasn’t going to include it, but I didn’t want to leave any of the food out!

Delicious Sausage + Potatoes (covered in paprika)

Cheesy Tortilla (get in my belly)

Walking to Bar 2

how cute is this chocolate shop?!

Bar 2

*NOT* Sangria! it’s red wine + soda.

I can’t remember what the above drink is called, but James made sure to tell us that it is not sangria.  It’s something that is less tourist-y than sangria, and what locals drink.

Sausage, Rolls, and Ham

Those little sausages were my favorite in Spain.  SOOO GOOD

Ham (from a pig that ate chestnuts, so the meat is fattier) and Cheese

Walking to Bar 3

Bar 3

mmm pouring Rioja

CHEERS! we had a fun group!

part of the tour group!

Mussels (with green and red peppers) and Toast (with olive oil)

Tripe and Beans

Beans, beans, the magical fruit..

Fried Pedron Peppers

Some are spicy, some are not…you don’t know until you bite in!  So much fun 🙂

Croquettas (filled with cheese and pieces of ham)

Black Pudding (Blood Sausage)
(Gross stuff that tastes good because it’s seasoned well)

Amazing Mushrooms and yummy meat (can’t remember what it was, exactly.. pork maybe?)

Cold Vegetable Salad topped with Cold Cod
(Mom and my favorite dish!)

Walking to Bar 4

Bar 4

Mushrooms with Garlic Mayo Spread on Toast

I didn’t have the tapas picture shown above, but past tour attendees described it as being so good and like “crack”.

Garlic and Oil Shrimp

Octopus covered in paprika

At this last bar, some drank white wine and others (like me) drank water.

I may have ended the night with some gelato, too.  My sweet tooth was callin’, and I couldn’t ignore it.  Luckily they have smaller portions in Spain (they’re small is a “baby” size in the US), so I could eat it without exploding.

Hope you enjoyed the tapas tour with me!  If you go to Spain, I highly recommend going with Adventurous Appetites like I did.  As you may or may not have noticed, I didn’t include the names of the bars.  This was done at the request of my tour guide, because they change the bars every time.  They try to switch up the bars and keep them unpublicized to help them from becoming tourist-y.  If you are extremely curious about one of the pictures and need to find out where exactly you can get it, let me know and I may be able to help you out.  🙂 But trust me when I say, you really can’t go wrong.  Especially with a tour guide like James helping you out!

Adios! 🙂

Questions for you:
Do you usually take tours while on vacation?  My family almost always does!  I love them because you get to ask a local tons of questions- some related to the tour, others just about food and life in that city!
Do you like to branch out and try new foods while vacationing?  I tried blue cheese, tripe, and black pudding during the tapas tour…some things that I’m either not a fan of (blue cheese) or never had (tripe and black pudding).  I’m so glad that I stepped outside my comfort zone to try these!  Even though I probably wouldn’t order them on my own in the future, I’m glad I had a bite! 🙂

Spain Part 1: Madrid

Hola!

I hope your day is going well!  My morning began with a 6+ mile bike ride.  I had planned on going for a run, but after Monday’s CrossFit class (and the 2 mile run that night), my legs are still feelin’ it.  Apparently doing my first squat ever- and 199 more after that– in one day isn’t necessarily the smartest idea.  Who would’ve thought?

I love feelin’ a good workout though, so I can’t complain too much. 🙂

Okay, let’s get to the travel stuff.  There’s so much to say about Madrid, and not enough web space to hold it.  Instead, I’m going to share my trip mostly through pictures and include a few words.

Ready to head to Spain from your seat? 🙂 Let’s go!

Ready for the flights (to NYC first and then Madrid!)

Spain from the sky!

Madrid Airport!

Seriously, how cool is the airport’s ceiling?

Okay, okay, I’ll stop with all the airport pictures. On to some real stuff! 🙂

Here’s Madrid architecture:

love this so much

check out that statue in the park 😉

Madrid is gorgeous at night

Madrid Cuisine:

Seafood and Chicken Paella

One of the richest, and most delicious things I ate.
Toasted bread with ham, drizzled with olive oil.

Rioja ❤

Octopus and potatoes, cooked in olive oil and covered in paprika

From the hotel breakfast buffet:
Tortilla (basically, a Spanish frittata) with spinach
(and, of course, delicious grapefruit and oranges)
holy yum!

Okay, okay, I know this isn’t necessarily “food” but it’s a market that serves incredible tapas. Check out some of the tapas we tried there in the next few photos!

Cod + Tomatoes on Toast (from the market)

“Seafood Salad” – fish + peppers and other veggies, in an olive oil and vinegar dressing (from the market)

Shrimp with an avocado-mayo spread on toast
(from the market)

macaroons = ❤
(from the market)

churros and “hot chocolate”

You dip the churros into the “hot chocolate” (which is really a chocolate sauce, because it’s thicker than regular hot chocolate).
You’re supposed to drink the hot chocolate after you finish the churros, but my mom and I found it too rich (and thick) to do that.  But don’t worry, we tried 😉

delicious chocolate = happy girl

amazing bean salad. one of the best things I ate.

Roast Chicken and Patatas (fries)

oh you know, just one of the sweetest waiters in Madrid. and my ice cream dessert. (vanilla, chocolate, and cream)

Are you hungry yet?  🙂 I’m definitely getting ready for dinner after looking at all of these.  These are most of the food pictures, but not all of them.  My mom and I also had dinner at the OLDEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD (Botin), but unfortunately the pictures didn’t turn out super well.  Apparently my camera didn’t want to make pretty pictures? what the heck.  My mom and I also attended a tapas tour, but that is worthy of it’s own post.  Plus, can anyone really handle any more pictures of food in this post? 😉

Hope these pictures made you feel like you were in Spain, too!  Or, maybe they gave you some inspiration for tonight’s dinner.  Let me know if you decide to make a Spanish-inspired meal after seeing these! 🙂

Okay, after all of those pictures, I think it’s time that the Madrid recap comes to a close.  Although the Tapas Tour photos are still to come, it’s time to say “adios” for now 🙂

Questions for you:
Have you had Spanish food before?  (Either in Spain, or at a Spanish restaurant somewhere)
What’s your favorite type of food? (Spanish, German, Italian, Mexican, American…)