Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Trying to be Minnesotan

Last weekend some friends were in town for various reasons and we just needed to capitalize on the serendipity that so many great people were in one city! We were able to coordinate having everyone over for brunch on Sunday. I'd already made my favorite Vanilla Yogurt Pancakes for some of them, so I had to come up with something new. Breakfast food is one of my favorite types of food to make, so I was excited find another favorite dish.

When I realized that "mostly Minnesotans" would be occupying the table (minus a native Philly girl and myself) I thought it would be fitting to make some sort of casserole-y dish. What makes more sense than an egg bake? (Egg bake makes me sound like an old lady - I prefer egg dish or quiche). So, I started researching egg dishes on Epicurious and this Baked Egg Custard with Gruyere and Chives recipe caught my eye! It seemed easy, involved few ingredients, and little prep so that I'd be able to hang out with our guests rather than be in the kitchen forever.

Of course, I couldn't just serve an egg dish. As I mentioned, I love breakfast, so I had a few other items on the table. Breakfast is not complete without bacon, so we had that with grilled breakfast sausage (another personal favorite from my childhood), and a mixed fruit bowl that included strawberries, blueberries, peaches and bananas. We topped it off with lots of coffee and mimosas.

The spread:

The friends:

The egg dish:

Close up:

My plate:

Good food, great friends, and wonderful conversation. Love you guys!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Husband is the Sandwich Man

I think one of the first things I learned about my husband is that he loves sandwiches. He eats them everyday for lunch. No joke, everyday... unless there is some delicious leftover placed aside ahead of time, then he will make an exception. And, he can eat the same kind of sandwich everyday if he wants - he never gets tired of them (I do after a while...). However, he usually gets complimented on them because they are so immaculate. We're not just talking about your regular meat and cheese between two slices of bread. There is usually yummy deli meat topped with some fresh sliced cheese, yes, but on top of that includes a multitude of veggies like onions, all colors of peppers, tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms, mixed greens and spinach (all of these veggies coming in a variety of raw to sauteed/caramelized) and a variety of sauces to top it off even more. He is the sandwich man.

I had to work this past weekend Saturday through Tuesday, and it was pretty exhausting by Sunday already. I happened to have some time to come home for a quick lunch on Sunday and requested he make me dinner because I knew I'd be too exhausted to even think about making anything. I didn't even have any requests, just a nice dinner please.

I came home and he let me just lounge on the couch and read while he made me dinner. It smelled sooo good and I was curious, but he said it was a surprise. Not long after, he called me over to eat. I should have known, he had prepared super fancy sandwiches!! And they looked delicious!!! He seasoned and grilled steak strips, placed them on a bed of mixed greens, topped them with shredded mozzarella, caramelized onions, tomato then avocado with chipotle mayonnaise on a market fresh baguette. MMM!!! It was served with a mixed greens salad with dijon vinaigrette and yummy flavored Kettle chips, and a large glass of red wine. It was the perfect nice but simple dinner on a hot summer night.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Girls Breakfast Date

Last week I met up with my bestie, Lucy, for a wonderful breakfast date. She suggested we go to Walker Brothers Pancake House in Evanston, IL. She said it has the best brunch food she's ever had, and I just had to check it out. Boy, was she right! The menu looked incredible!

Lucy has been really wanting to try the infamous Apple Pancake, so we decided that must happen. At least one of us needed to order that so the other could try it. But, the problem with ordering only pancakes at a brunch place is that you only satisfy your sweet craving. But what about the savory craving? Well, it's a good thing we think exactly alike. Lucy and I both really love our eggs and bacon at breakfast, so we promptly decided that one of us should order sweet and the other should order savory and we'll split both dishes. YES - it's perfect.

We decided the other dish to split should be the Venicia Benedict. This was not your normal eggs benedict, but it was super fancied up. And it was absolutely incredible. It included poached eggs with fresh sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and bacon on a wheat English muffin served with fresh fruit on the side. I like to order the eggs benedict from restaurants as a standard on which to base my opinion on the restaurant. And these were the BEST eggs benedict that I've EVER had! MMM! The apple pancake was also incredible! It was basically the insides of an apple pie woven with pastry dough and baked with a cinnamon glaze to create a ginormous plate of gooey, caramely goodness. It was still bubbling from the oven when it was served! It was enormous, and sinfully delicious!

We also enjoyed the bottomless coffee and we had a great girly date as well :) I love you Lucy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Second City

Even though we've lived in Chicago for 2 years now (wow!) and have made a pretty huge dent in our list of things to do and places to go, there are still plenty of items on that list that we're really excited to conquer. For budget reasons, we try to space them out.

This weekend, we had friends in town and saw it as a good opportunity to go to Second City, a popular improv-based comedy club. I've really been wanting to go for a long time. Well known comedians have come from this club such as Tina Fey, Chris Farley, Mike Meyers, Martin Short, and MANY more! The show we saw was called Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies and it was absolutely hilarious! It included a number of skits about everyday life in many types and forms and the actors/actresses were super funny! It was totally worth the money, and I'm sure we'll be back, although that will probably be when we have friends in town again.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rock and Roll Half Marathon

Speaking of enthusiasts, I ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon along with 18,555 other runner enthusiasts yesterday! It was my first half marathon, and I thought it was awesome!!! There was a band every mile, the weather was perfect, and running through downtown Chicago was really fun! My husband even rode his bike around the downtown part of the course to multiple locations to see me and cheer for me!

Here is the course map.

I felt super great until about mile 8 where the course goes south along the lake shore. It's about the time I thought I'd get tired because I didn't train as well as I wished I could have. Also, the course was along a straight road and there were basically no cheerers because it was near a major highway for a couple of miles. After the bottom turn to come back up north, we got to run right along the lake. I picked up my pace again. There were more people cheering and the finish was near. I finished strong, and felt pretty good! All in all, I loved it and will probably do another in the future!

Around mile 3, feeling great!

Downtown shot of the crowd:

Smile on the face, around mile 3-4!

Hurting a little, about a mile to go.

The last curve around the Aquarium, under a mile to go.

Just after the last curve, with downtown Chicago in the background. I'm just near the light pole in the center.

Almost to the finish. The end is just down the way the runners are going, then make a right into the straight away into the line of trees.