Chicago, IL

What a great city! The first time I got to enjoy the city was back in 2017, got to explore and find some really awesome bars and restaurants. In the past I had only been here for work…blah…and on long layovers and didn’t get a chance to do much of anything.  For starters, and most importantly, we came to visit my favorite brother. Also, my husband and I celebrated our 5th anniversary (a little early) during our visit. We went to a very special Japanese steakhouse, Roka Akor, which was an incredible experience!! I highly recommend if you’re looking for a special treat. We really went all out and ordered the chef’s choice of a multi course dinner. Sushi, sashimi, salad, small bites, noodles, steam boxes, mains, dessert and so so so much more. I really do wish I can find the pictures from this trip to show you.

For our anniversary celebration, we first stopped into Public House. It was busy and energetic with a lot of craft beers. We stayed for one and ventured to the next thing. We walked into Rick Bayless’s Topolobampo. It was just too crowded and couldn’t get a drink at the bar. It was neat to see and had a funky atmosphere.

After dinner we stopped in Rossi’s bar, which was a cash only dive bar. Right up our alley! Funky, relaxed place to have an after dinner drink. Finally, the bodaga…we found the prize…a goose island special edition bourbon county beer along with three floyds zombie dust gumball head and yum yum.

Now for our more recent visit. The highlight was going to The Second City. So much fun and hilarious. The improv is the best, although the whole skit was awesome and spot on with the current political climate. You can purchase a snack to eat and they have a full bar, which adds to the atmosphere. Totally cool. 3B71BE04-BAF0-49B1-9612-67A1ED96B5D8_1_201_a

There were some great breweries we visited including Revolutions Brewing and DryHop (definitely order the Poutine Fries). Totally solid places in cool neighborhoods.

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Although I was visiting my brother yet again this second time around, I stayed in the Renaissance Hotel downtown. It was gorgeous with super comfy beds. They have a convenient little pick up shop where I was able to grab a quick yogurt, granola and berries before a spa appointment one morning. If you have the time, check out The Spa at The Wit Hotel across the street from the Renaissance. It was beautiful, relaxing and just what I needed. Maria gave me an 80 minute signature massage and I came out of it feeling like a noodle. I then got a manicure with a newish style nail polish that was long lasting, not gel, with no UV required. Right up my alley. They said it would last two weeks but I got about 10 good days of it. That’s way better than regular polish.

You must visit the largest Starbucks in the country!!! It’s on the Magnificent Mile located at 646 N Michigan Ave…5 floors worth of coffee and food. Just be aware, your wallet will take a hit.

One tip I learned is, if you’re going to Chicago to party, don’t stay downtown though. It’s mostly a business district and places close early. Check out the north side area for that.

I hope you enjoy your stay as much as I did!

One more pic. Me and my bro 🙂

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Noodle Bowl with Seasoned Egg & Pan Fried Tofu

Have I said I’m obsessed with “Bowls”!?!?! Well I am…for the last year or so. My newest creation wasn’t ramen…or soup…or with rice. This had a creamy peanut sauce covering the noodles, topped with pan fried crispy tofu, roasted baby bok choy, fresh carrot sticks, chopped cilantro, green onions and pickled ginger. Oooohhhhhh the pickled ginger I absolutely love! It’s a must have on any Asian inspired bowl I make.

Some details in case you would like to make your own:

  • I cheated and bought the peanut sauce. It was a quality one but there are tons of recipes on Pinterest if you’d like to make your own. Use it to coat the noodles and marinate the tofu before pan frying.
  • Roast the baby bok choy with olive oil and salt and pepper until they’re soft. That’s all you need here!
  • Cut all you fresh veggies while you fry the tofu and cook the noodles.
  • Put all your toppings on the noodles and enjoy – and I added a little sesame seeds at the last minute ☺️
  • Italian Breakfast Quiche

    So I woke up in the morning, starving, and hadn’t gone to the grocery store in almost a week. There wasn’t much to put together in the fridge but I pulled it off! I’m definitely going to make this quiche again but I would add a bit more parmesan cheese (because I ran out) and add some mozzarella (which of course I didn’t have at all). All in all, this is a keeper!

    Full disclosure: I did not make the crust, it was store bought and left over from something else I made earlier in the week. There are some good quality pre-made crusts out there so if you don’t have the time, like a lot of people I know, save yourself some hassle and just buy one.

    What you’ll need:

    • 1 pie crust
    • 14 eggs, divided
    • 1 red pepper, chopped
    • 2 cups baby kale
    • Small handful parsley, chopped
    • Small handful basil, sliced thin
    • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • Spray olive oil
    • S & P
  • What to do:
    1. Preheat the oven to 375, prep you vegetables and spray your pie dish on he bottom and sides.
      In a sauté pan on medium heat, spray the pan and add the red pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
      Next add the parsley and basil, then the kale and S & P. Cook another 2 minutes or until the kale is wilted. Set aside.
      Put the pie crust in your baking pan and layer the bottom with cheese.
      Whisk 8 eggs with S & P and garlic powder. Fold in the sautéed veggie mixture.
      Add the eggs to the dish.
      Gently crack the remaining eggs into the dish scattered throughout it.
      Add a little more salt to the top and place it in the oven to bake.
      I didn’t pay attention to how log this baked but it was at least 20 minutes. Make sure the middle of the dish is cooked and not loose. Also, the tips of the crust will be golden brown.
      Enjoy!
  • Coconut Curry Cod and Vegetable Noodle Bowl (Dairy and Gluten Free!)

    It’s been far too long since I last posted! I shouldn’t make a habit of that.

    So I have an obsession…bowls! Ramen, udon, rice noodle, curry, you name it; I want to make them or try them all. This whole thing started when I found Terakawa in Philadelphia and it’s been bowls galore since then. I honestly can’t get enough of them! I even got my mom hooked so she’s testing out her own skills with these as well lol. Keep it up TJ! You’re doing great and we’re learning from each other!

    What you’ll need:

      8oz large rice noodles
      2 Tbls coconut oil
      1/2 red onion, chopped
      2 carrots, chopped small
      4 cloves garlic, minced
      6oz baby Bella mushrooms, chopped
      1 squash (green, yellow or patty pan your choice)
      10 leaves kale, chopped
      4 leaves bok choy, chopped
      3 eats corn, boiled and cut off the cob (or one small can drained)
      1 lb cod filets, no skin and deboned
      2 tbls better than bouillon chicken base
      2 tsp red curry paste
      2 tsp turmeric
      2 tsp ground ginger
      12 oz evaporated coconut milk
      8 cups water
      Fresh ground pepper
      Himalayan people no sea salt
      Fresh cilantro, optional

    Here’s what to do:

    1. Heat the oil over medium heat until melted

    2. Sauté the onions and carrots with a couple dashes of salt for 2-3 minutes

    3. Add the mushrooms and squash with a couple more dashes of salt for another 2-3 minutes

    4. Add the garlic, curry paste, turmeric, ginger and chicken base and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn

    5. Add the water, corn and cod with a couple more dashes of salt and turn the heat up to medium high

    6. Bring the pot to a bubbling simmer until the fish is completely cooked and flaky

    7. While it is heating up, cook the rice noodles according to their package. Set aside.

    8. Add the bok choy and kale and stir to combine while breaking up the fish into pieces if it didn’t already do that on its own. Turn off the heat.

    9. Serve in a bowl with chop sticks (or fork) and a spoon. Add the soup in first, then the noodles off to one side and garnish with a rough, small handful of fresh cilantro.

    Enjoy!

    P.S. My awesome husband got me special ramen bowls for my birthday because I made it so much these days 😊

    Chicken and Bean Burritos with Spanish Rice

    What you’ll need:

    • 7 chicken breasts
    • 7 burrito shells
    • 1/2 cup dried black beans, hydrated
    • 2 avocados
    • 1/4 cup vegan cheese, shredded
    • 2 green onions, chopped small
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 2 tsp coriander
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • Salsa of choice 
    • Salt

    Spanish rice:

    • 2 cups rice of choice
    • 4 cups chicken broth 
    • 8 oz tomato sauce
    • 4 tbls garlic powder
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 2 tsp coriander
    • 1/4 cup of olive oil
    • 1 tsp salt
    • Cilantro, chopped

    What to do:

    1. If you’re using dried beans, start the night before and soak the beans in water and refrigerate overnight. Follow the directions on the bag. 
    2. Start the rice. Heat oil in a sauce pan and add the rice. Sautée until golden brown. 
    3. Add the remaining ingredients except the cilantro and cook on low until the rice is soft and liquid is absorbed. 
    4. In the mean time, season the chicken with cumin, coriander, garlic and salt. Grill and slice into thin pieces. 
    5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
    6. Lay out burrito shells and layer all burrito ingredients including the chicken, beans, avocados, “cheese”, and onions. 
    7. Wrap the burritos as tightly as you can and place on a sheet tray sprayed with oil. 
    8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the shells are lightly golden. 
    9. Serve with your favorite salsa and top the rice with fresh cilantro. 

    Earthy, Vegetarian Breakfast Wrap

    What makes this earthy? The “sprouted lentils” is certainly it. I accidentally stumbled upon sprouted lentils when I realized I hydrated too many dried lentils for another recipe. I left them in the fridge and next thing I knew there were sprouts! They’ve lasted a couple weeks now. To keep them sprouted, I spray a bit of water and toss them a bit. 

    Sprouted Lentils

    Since I have no idea what to do with all these I’ve been using them in a variety of recipes as a test. I’ve read that, once sprouted, they are easier to digest because the complex sugars break down. 

    As for the breakfast wrap, it was pretty good. You be the judge. 

    What you’ll need:

    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 1 small soft taco shell
    • 1 Tbls hummus
    • A sprinkle of sprouted lentils
    • Black beans
    • Spinach
    • Hot sauce, optional

    What to do:


    Kale and Purple Cabbage Salad

    I’m on a mission to eat healthier. By healthier I mean increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables, decreasing dairy and decreasing animal protein. Where will I get my protein do you ask? The right kinds of veggies and superfoods. For example, I just started using spirulina (it’s not in this recipe but could have been now that I think of it!) Here’s some info on it if you’re interested. Spirulina info. It’s loaded with more than just protein. 

    Not only is this salad full of veggies and nutritional value, it’s all raw and looks so pretty. The key to eating raw kale and Cabbage, in my opinion, is time. Give it time to soak in however you decide to dress it. Two to three hours and tossing it every 1/2 hour is how I do it. They’re both tough and hearty so soaking them softens them. 

    What you’ll need: 

    • One bunch of kale, coarsley chopped
    • 1/2 head purple Cabbage, sliced thin
    • 1 carrot, shredded
    • 1/2 red pepper, sliced small and thin
    • 1/2 yellow pepper, sixes small and thin
    • 10 dried figs, sliced thin
    • 1/4 cup sliced raw almonds
    • 1/4 cup raw hemp hearts
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • Juice of one lemon
    • 1/2 cup (or more depending how much you like) extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • S & P

    What to do:

      1. Prepare and mix all ingredients in a large bowl. 
      2. Cover and refrigerate for a total of 2-3 hours minimum, tossing every 1/2 hour the first 3 hours. 

      Enjoy!

      Coconut Curry Chicken

      If you’re not sure if you like curry or if you’ve tried it and on the fence, this is a good dish to start experimenting on. It’s lightly flavored with curry but combined with other Indian and Asian spices that blend nicely. Give it a try!!

      First prep the chicken and season it with salt, pepper and brown rice flower. If you don’t have brown rice flour, feel free to use whatever kind you have in your pantry. Sear the things skin side down in coconut oil until they become brown and crispy in a Dutch oven. Flip and repeat on the other side. 

      Prep the veggies and sautee them in the same pot as the chicken. I used a whole white onion, red bell pepper and king oyster mushrooms. Again, feel free to use what you like if you don’t want these exact ingredients. Half way through add two stalls of lemongrass, fresh ginger and fresh garlic. 


      Add coconut milk, curry paste, sambal oelek (or any chili garlic sauce), a good amount of curry powder, ground turmeric and S & P. Bring to a simmer. 

      Nestle the chicken breasts back in and bake in the ove with the lid on at 275 for 2 hours. 

      Yum!! 

      What you’ll need:

      • 4 bone in chicken thighs
      • 8 oz king oyster mushrooms, chopped
      • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
      • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
      • 2 stalks lemongrass
      • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
      • 3 cloves garlic, diced small
      • 2 Tbls brown rice flour
      • 2 Tbls Coconut oil
      • 1 can coconut milk
      • 2 Tbls Curry powder
      • 2 Tbls turmeric 
      • 1 Tbl Curry paste
      • 1 Tbls Sambal oelek and more for topping (optional)
      • 2 cups dry jasmine rice
      • Cilantro, chopped for topping (optional)
      • Green onion, chopped for topping (optional)

      Put everything over some rice, I prefer jasmine rice, and top with fresh cilantro, green onions and/or chili garlic sauce for an extra kick. 
      Enjoy!!

      Breakfast!!! Whole Wheat Toast with Avocado Cream topped with a Poached Egg

      Start the day off right with this easy, DELICIOUS breakfast. I just love breakfast…I really do. If I had to choose I’d say it’s my favorite meal of the day. This breakfast takes 5 minutes to make and is super easy. Don’t be  afraid of poaching an egg. Just simmer some water, add a tablespoon of vinegar, stir the water and gently place the egg in. Cook 2 – 3 minutes depending on how easy or hard boiled you like them. 

      Start by making the avocado cream and mash a ripe avocado in a small bowl:


      Add Greek yogurt and a dash of your favorite hot sauce, garlic powder and salt:


      Mix it all together and put it on your toast:


      Poach your egg and put it on top:


      Enjoy!