Foodie Friday

August 23, 2013 at 1:46 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I mentioned earlier this week how happy I was with my recent decision to have brunch at Tweet and I stand by that.  I was in the mood for some veggie-friendly biscuits and gravy and that’s not always an easy and close find at 8:30 in the morning.  I used some handy Yelp reviews and came up with this place, which was actually just a short bike ride away.

Great, now I want to lick my computer screen.

Great, now I want to lick my computer screen.

Tweet is attached to a space that transforms into a gay bar at night so the decor inside is kitschy, campy and fun.  We managed to get some outdoor seating and when we sat down we enjoyed some cornbread that was placed on the table as a treat.  The menu is really large and has tons of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options so everyone can find something they love.  There were lots of families with adorable babies and people with puppies so the setting was pleasant, even though Scott called me out on my biological clock when I was making faces at one of the kids.

I did manage to get my biscuits and gravy and it was the best breakfast I’ve had in recent memory.  It came topped with two eggs and two veggie-sausage patties, not to mention a tomato slice and side of hash browns.  It was just the thing my slightly-hungover self needed and I ate every bite.  Scott ordered some veggie-rice dish with eggs and he loved his too, especially since he got to use his chopsticks skills.  He had enough leftover to have another meal but I devoured mine and had to refrain from eating the plate.

It’s easy to get into a habit when it comes to good restaurants in the city, especially since we don’t allow ourselves to go out too much.  If we know something is good it makes sense to play it safe but I need to remember that in such a big place, there are TONS of establishments worthy of our dollar.  I’m so glad we gave this place a shot and I’m already looking forward to our next visit!

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Fun and Fancy Free

February 13, 2013 at 10:59 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Who doesn’t love free stuff?  Perhaps Bill Gates or Donald Trump don’t search out great deals but most everyone I know loves a freebie.  And luckily for me, this week has been full of them!

I love free stuff!

I love free stuff!

I guess technically my streak started on Friday and Saturday, since I got those weird free issues of Forbes (thankfully, no more since then).  However since I didn’t really want them, I’m not counting it.  Officially (in my book), things began on Sunday when I went to the annual Volunteer Brunch for the food pantry I help out at.   It was held at an Irish restaurant and the food was delicious, as always.  I enjoyed fruit, pancakes, eggs, potatoes, muffins and some more fruit, all without shelling out dime.  Then on Monday a coworker gave me a Valentine’s Day cookie she made over the weekend.  It looks store bought (as you can see for yourself) and tasted better than most anything I could have purchased.  She also used the healthiest ingredients possible so I feel just a tad less guilty for enjoying it so much!

Tuesday started off with another free treat as the Corner Bakery, Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks have all been handing out free beverages in the lobby of our building this week.  It’s a “sweet treat” also in honor of Valentine’s Day and I’m not complaining.  I would’ve grabbed something Monday morning but my train ran a little late and I didn’t have the time; however, I made up for that yesterday and today.  I nabbed a delicious hot chocolate yesterday morning and it was one of the very last they had left, so it was extra chocolate-y since it had been at the bottom of their thermos.

Last night, Scott and I went to a couples massage class at a local massage therapist’s office to learn some techniques and strategies for good, old-fashioned back rubbing.  It was all PG, I promise.  We, along with a few other couples besides ourselves, picked up some good tips in the hour and a half long class, all for the low low price of nothing.  Again, score!

Today I managed to get a free Starbucks hot tea from the gal in the lobby (though to be completely honest, it was kind of gross).  Then my lovely coworker gave me another heart-shaped cookie, which is definitely not so gross.  All in all, not a bad haul for it being only Wednesday!  Now if only I could somehow manage to get a free envelope containing hundred dollar bills…

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Lou Mitchell’s

December 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

As I mentioned yesterday, Mom and I had a fantastic brunch at an apparent Chicago landmark this weekend, Lou Mitchell’s.  This diner has been serving meals since 1923 and boasts being the beginning point of Route 66.  Presidents have dined there and I’m pretty sure Obama was campaigning there not too long ago, so it’s a popular spot.  That was also evidenced by how freaking busy it was at 1pm Saturday.  We didn’t really have to wait very long but the entire place was hopping and stayed that way until we left.  It’s located only a few blocks from my office so of course it’s going to be tempting me every morning but so far I’ve been able to resist.  I know I won’t be able to say that forever, though.

Outdoor seating?! I’ll be back when the weather warms up!

True to authentic diner fashion,  our server had heavy make-up and big, hair-sprayed hair.  She was really nice and as we were being seated, brought us over two donut holes each.  I guess this is one of their trademarks?  The bread there is baked in-house and the donut holes put anything Dunkin Donuts could ever come up with to SHAME.  They were huge and delicious.  We were also given boxes of Milk Duds, because apparently all women and children receive that candy upon entering the establishment.  Trust me, we weren’t complaining.

I ordered a pancake, omelette and side of fried potatoes, all which were served in large portions.  Mom had some egg dish with bacon and raisin toast, which was pretty much the thickest and most savory toast I’ve ever had in my life.  Our waitress kept the coffee flowing and there was delicious maple syrup on the table for me to drench my pancake in.  The entire meal was seriously delicious and just when I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, they brought us free, individual servings of ice cream for desert.  Talk about melting my heart!  And the price was reasonable – I think Mom and I both ate our hearts out for around $30.

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend this place.  It’s comfortable, tasty and historic so what’s not to like?  Of course, if you’re going to go please let me know.  I can’t think of a better reason to be late to work!

 

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Bring on the Holidays!

December 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Last week was an extremely busy one at the office (hence my lack of Friday post) and it was followed by an extremely busy weekend.  My mom came in town for our annual December downtown shopping excursion and we pretty much wore ourselves out.  We spent Friday eating at a restaurant where Mom had a dinner that did NOT include meat (which I think she actually liked!), spent Saturday doing our shopping then watching some IU basketball in a neighborhood bar and then Sunday she met Scott’s parents when we all went out for brunch.  Speaking of brunch, we ate at a great little diner Saturday morning and it was so good it will probably get it’s own blog post later this week.  We also passed a huge bar crawl featuring a couple of hundred people dressed as Santa Clause, which is featured in here.

Santas as far as they eye can see!

Santas as far as they eye can see!

It looked like fun but all I could think about is how glad I was that I wasn’t tending bar at any of their stops that morning.  Brunch with all the parents went well too, even though the first place we tried was closed and we had to walk back in the rain and then deal with Scott’s shrieking car alarm before being able to go someplace else.  It all worked out though and the rest of the weekend went well.  I actually took yesterday off of work for doctor’s appointments/recuperation purposes so I’m glad Monday is over and I’m pretty sure I can handle the rest of the week.

Which is good, because it’s going to be busy too.  This has to do with the fact that I’ve got the food pantry and my book club this week, plus the Field Museum on Saturday.  Luckily, not much of the busyness has to do with the holidays.  I pretty much finished all my shopping with Mom and I’m caught up with wrapping for the moment, plus I’m about halfway through my holiday cards.  Yup, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself and on top of things, which is good considering Christmas is 14 days away!

And yet, my next holiday vacation can’t come soon enough…

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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

August 14, 2012 at 11:15 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

What a weekend!  I actually took Monday off to recuperate.  My little sister and mom came in town (late) Thursday night and we spent the next few days enjoying all that Chicago has to offer.  On Friday we met up after work and went to Millennium Park, where we met with Scott and another friend of mine and enjoyed food and beer while listening to classical music.  We had amazing weather all weekend, starting with that night, and it was a great way to end a crappy work week.

Might not have been behind the dugout but these seats were fine with us!

On Saturday we had brunch at one of my favorite spots in the city and then headed to Wrigleyville to watch the Reds beat the Cubs.  I’m not a huge fan either way but I do enjoy watching live sports and I’d only been to Wrigley Field once before so it was a lot of fun.  There were three of us wearing Cubs shirts and my mom stuck out with her Reds one but we were all pretty much just rooting for everyone.  We had a hat full of nachos that was so humongous that the guy in front of us asked for a photo and then we were pretty much kicked out of the park at the end because we were having such a ball that we didn’t want to leave.  But leave we did, and wandered to a bar for some more brews and of course, more snacks.  Saturday evening ended with a nice walk through my neighborhood, getting locked out of my apartment twice (more on that later this week) and watching a movie before bedtime.

Since Mom and Sis left on Monday, we had all of Sunday to enjoy as well.  We had yet another delicious brunch and then went to the beach so we could all have our food comas while enjoying the cloudy but still decent weather.  My sister hadn’t been to the beaches up here before so I’m glad we got to go and I’m also glad it wasn’t 100 degrees and extremely sunny.  After the beach we went to Retro on Roscoe, a street fest in nearby Roscoe Village.  My sister and I bought a couple of items and were finally able to exchange birthday presents (mine is in February and hers in May) so now we don’t owe each other a damn thing.  I gave her a nice drawing of Chicago to frame and hang in her living room and she bought me this super awesome, classy looking pocket-watch/necklace.  I’ve kind of always wanted a pocket watch so when I saw this one (yes, it works!), things all came together.  And now neither of us owes the other a gift until Christmas!  After the street fest we met with a girlfriend of mine for one last beer out on the town and then ended the night with a chick flick.

They left yesterday around noon and after picking up my apartment for a bit, I spent the rest of my day off on the couch.  It was much needed.  Actually, I also spent a little bit of time at the gym because after all the food and beer, that was much needed too.  It’s not easy coming back to work after a long weekend and a long weekend full of my favorite people and favorite places makes it even harder.  I’m just thankful it was all as fun as we hoped it would be and I’m already looking forward to their next visit!  That and of course the fact that I’ll be in Ecuador in three weeks!!

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Birthdays, Buddies, Booze and Boobs

February 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Does it get any better than that?

It seems that there’s been a theme to my birthdays over the last few years.  First it was Dirty Bingo, followed by a gender-bending burlesque show (complete with clowns) last year and then this year was the Indiana Jones: Temple of the Boob burlesque show.  For some reason it appears that I like celebrating my birthday by watching others talk about or get into their birthday suits so I guess I’ll just go with it.  Who knows what next year will bring!

We started out the night at The Southern, which turned out to be a great venue for a large dinner with a group of my nearest and dearest.  I’m always a little nervous when hosting a gathering of my friends because most of them don’t really know each other and the only thing they really have in common is well…me…which can kind of put me on the spot.  But the restaurant sat us at these large leather couches that were arranged in a sort of circle, which made it easier to converse with everyone and created a friendlier atmosphere.  It also prevented people from being forced to talk to their direct seatmate (not that that’s always bad).  It did make it a bit more awkward when it came time to eat, as there was only one low table, but as most of us ordered their signature macaroni and cheese anyway so it wasn’t too tough.  The food was great, the atmosphere appealing and the company was the best.  I have some really awesome friends and I was so glad everyone was able to make it.

Good, not so clean fun

The entire group didn’t go to the next stop, the burlesque show, but there were a handful that made it out.  The show wasn’t cheap ($20) and didn’t last too long (about an hour) but it was hilariously entertaining and well worth the cash.  Basically, scantily clad women enacted a story about Indiana Jones that was a summary of all of the movies combined into one new tale.  They did a good job and anyone familiar with the movies could pick out recurring gags and jokes along the way.  It was also refreshing because these were women who looked like normal females – extra skin and stretch marks did nothing to deter them from putting on a great show and it was good to see ladies who looked more like myself than Heidi Klum up there on stage (though I wouldn’t have minded Heidi…).  I won’t get too detailed but I will say that I saw one girl use her boobs in a way that had simply never occurred to me before.  And based on the laughter and other various reactions she got, I don’t think I was alone.

All in all, it was a great birthday treat.  On my actual birthday my sweetheart boyfriend woke me up with a beautiful necklace and then treated me to brunch at one of my favorite spots.  After the adoption of that cat (which will be expanded upon soon), we went out for a nice dinner at Basil Leaf, a delicious Italian restaurant that made strong drinks.  I can’t think of a better way to ring in a birthday and thanks to all who came out and made it a blast!

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More Food!

July 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

I love breakfast food.  Seriously love it.  Like, I would eat breakfast for every meal of the day if I could and sometimes I actually do.  The weekends are a great time for me because the wonderful invention of brunch is so prevalent and I certainly know how to make the most of it.  While I always enjoy going out to eat for my breakfast urges (such as recently going to The Chicago Diner and stuffing myself with vegetarian biscuits and gravy….SO GOOD), I’m also fond of cooking in my new and spacious kitchen.  Sunday was one of the days where I felt like cooking so I whipped up the delight below:

Rachel Ray has nothing on me

Yes, I’m aware this looks amazing.  I’m also pleased that the photo turned out a bit better than the last meal I posted.  I know I’m no whiz with the foodie pics – I actually have a friend who I think still reads this blog and she’s a serious food blogger.  Her meals always look fantastic and her pictures are professional quality so I like to imagine her cringing every time I post one of these from my phone.  No matter, you still get the idea.

One of the best gifts I’ve ever received is my Belgian waffle maker.  I have used this thing so many times I’m surprised it still works and I plan on using it until it eventually surrenders to waffle batter and old age.  You can see that the waffles feature heavily in this meal and while I was making them I also cooked some vegetarian sausage links in the oven.  I’ve been told by many meat-eaters that the veggie sausage links are actually tastier than real ones but I’ll leave you to test that out for yourself.  I also whipped up some scrambled eggs that included roasted red and yellow peppers, spinach and a myriad of spices.  Also lots and lots of cheese (both goat and cheddar, since those are what I had on hand).  And I didn’t stop there!  I had fresh bananas and strawberries to compliment the orange juice (thought my Hoosier readers would appreciate that glass) and help me pretend this was a healthy meal.  But when I dumped them on the waffles and added chocolate and regular syrup, the jig was up.  Oh well, it was totally worth it.  Also, you may notice the peanut butter in the pic.  This is because my dad trained me long ago to put it on my waffles and I haven’t looked back since.  Don’t automatically shrink back in disgust either; I’ve turned more than a few people onto this in my day.  Once again, I suggest you taste it for yourself.

So you may have noticed that there is additional plate of food in the background.  That belongs to my…wow this weird to say, let alone write…boyfriend.  That’s right, after nearly two years of relative single-dom, I’m officially off the market once again.  I’ll give you a minute to grieve that loss.  But yeah, I’m seeing a pretty great guy and so far he’s been doing a good job of treating me like the supremely awesome woman that I am.  And he’s a vegetarian so he gets to fully appreciate all of the tasty meals I feature here!  If he’s lucky.  Which, by dating me, he clearly is.

Anyway hope this gives you some cookery ideas – and if you ever make brunch and I’m around, please feel free to give me an invite.  I always have time for breakfast food!

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Brunch on a Budget

December 13, 2010 at 1:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

There are a ridiculous amount of places to find a great brunch in Chicago but sometimes staying in your own kitchen is the best idea there is.  Yesterday was a certifiable blizzard here in the city and when I woke up hungry, the very last thing I wanted to do was venture outside in blinding snow and wind gusts of up to 50 mph.  Luckily, I went grocery shopping last weekend (thanks again for the ride, Mom!) and so was able to put together a meal of my own.

No cereal for this girl

Looks good, huh?  I took three eggs, mixed it with a tiny bit of milk, some spicy seasoning and red pepper and threw it into a pan.  I also chopped cherry tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms and tossed them into the pan as well.  Once things were cooking, I added a bit of avocado and goat cheese and began toasting my wheat bread.  I then slathered on some Joe Huber Apple Butter (and if you’ve ever lived anywhere near Southern Indiana you know how good that stuff is – obviously, even I couldn’t wait to try it) and peeled a tangerine.  With a glass of orange juice, I had a delicious meal in about 20 minutes and didn’t have to step foot out of my apartment.  I also had a bit of strawberry yogurt with some granola but as I ate that while cooking the rest, it didn’t last long enough to make it into the pic.

Looking at this post, I’m struck by a bit of deja vu and am now wondering if I’ve posted this exact same breakfast before.  I mean, yesterday wasn’t the first time I made it.  Hmm.  Apologies if I have – it’s Monday and I’ll use that as an excuse.

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Brunching in Style

March 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I realize that many of my posts are about food, which is expected since I love to eat.  Today will be all about food as well, as I think it’s high time to talk about a little meal I’ve come to know and love – Sunday brunch.

I should preface this by saying that I sometimes feel I have an abnormal fondness for breakfast food.  I eat cereal for dinner at least once a week and if I had regular dinner guests you can bet that Belgian waffles or French Toast would be in frequent rotation.  So my opinions on this whole brunch thing may be slightly skewed, but if you have any taste buds whatsoever then I’m sure you’ll at least understand where I’m coming from.

There are many, many places around the city that serve up all-you-can-eat, breakfast-themed meals once a week (though some do this more often, I’ve noticed the Sunday thing is a bigger draw), but today I’ll only be discussing two of them.  The first one is Mystic Celt, where I spent some time this past Sunday.  The food pantry I volunteer at had a Volunteer Appreciation Brunch there and I am so glad that I forced myself to shower and get out of the apartment at a relatively early (for me, at least) hour.  The event featured the usual brunch-type fare: muffins, croissants, bagels, pancakes, fruit, fried veggies (zucchini, squash and asparagus, all personal faves), fried potatoes, pastas, casseroles, a create your own omelette station and much more.  I arrived with enough time to grab two platefulls, so I was pretty excited.  It was even better because I didn’t have to pay for it.  Free food doesn’t have calories, right?  Right.  They had drink specials as well but I didn’t want to look like the only lush among a bunch of do-gooding volunteers, so I refrained (though the mimosas did look tasty).  The restaurant itself is fairly large and our group had an entire room in the back all to ourselves.  The atmosphere felt like…well, an Irish pub.  Lots of shamrocks and green, you get the idea.

However, it didn’t hold a candle to the next place I’m going to talk up, Chief O’Neill’s Pub.  I don’t know what it is with the Irish Pubs and decadent breakfasts, but I’m not complaining.  As for this place,  I should admit I’m likely biased as it’s located a handy half-block from my apartment.  This means that it’s quick and easy to roll home from the restaurant after eating myself silly.  And trust me, this place makes it easy to overindulge.  I looked for photos of the spread they have but I didn’t come up with anything so you’re just going to have to take my word for it (at least until I can get back there and take photos of my own).  The picture I have included is of their courtyard out back – as you can see it’s a hoppin’ place in warmer weather.

This place has all of the food that Mystic Celt does, plus more, because Chief O’Neill’s also has an amazing array of sweets and goodies.  I’m talking entire tables full of pastries, cakes, cookies, donuts and more.  Oh, and I can’t forget the chocolate fountains.  Yup, one white and one dark, complete with trays of fruit and more cookies that are just begging to be dipped underneath.  The first time I walked in here on a late Sunday morning I thought I had died and gone to diabetic heaven.  I was able to eat all the food and desserts I could manage for the price of $15 – which may seem like a lot, but seeing as how that meal lasted me all day, I thought it was worth it.  They also offer mimosas and bloody mary’s (I can attest the mimosas are fantastic) but those aren’t exactly included in the buffet price.  Because then I would never leave.

I wish I was rich enough to enjoy sinfully large Sunday brunches out every week, but alas I am not.  However, even if I can’t get out and enjoy it as much as I would like, it’s nice to know that these places exist and are there for me when I need them.

I think that Sunday Brunches and I will have a long and beautiful future together.  And if we don’t, I can always go back to Breakfast.

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