Sometimes….I think about a well-balanced meal…..

Sometimes, I really try to think about ensuring that I have a well-balanced meal. Sometimes, I try to be sure that I am eating fruits and veggies with my meal. I do that for my girls. Why wouldn’t I do it for myself? Sometimes, my meal is a giant salad. (I’ve written before about my newfound love for bagged salads which is what I’ve done almost every day for my lunch now that school has started.)

Sometimes, I am very careful about what I’m eating for dinner.

But….sometimes….I’m exhausted and I have zero effort left in me and dinner is a bowl of cereal once the girls have gone to bed. I know the importance of eating a meal together but I also know that the girls need to eat, read, do homework, have a bath/shower, get in their jammies. While they are doing that, I need to get laundry done (started), load/unload the dishwasher, and get some miles completed on the treadmill. If there’s extra time, I would much rather have some extra snuggle time with my girlies while we read (for the 2,000,000th time) something by Mo Willems.

So, sometimes, I really try to make that effort to eat something that’s well-balanced.

And sometimes, dinner is cheese with a side of cheese.

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Manchego cheese with manchego cheese – why have a cheese board filled with things you might not like when you can have two giant cheeses that you know you will love? ūüôā

To be honest, I am going to give myself credit for the hard apple cider that I drank along with this meal. That’s fruit! So, dairy, carbs and fruit. Not too bad.

Has Anyone Ever Been Excited to Eat a Salad?

I am fairly certain that no one has ever been excited to eat a salad. I know for sure that I never have. Well, let me specify. The only salad I’ve ever been excited to eat was the Waldorf salad that my grandpa made. Although, it wasn’t until I was much older that I learned that it was called a Waldorf salad. We always called it apple salad. His was not a typical Waldorf salad. That salad taught me that marshmallows could and should be a salad ingredient.

But…..I have been trying to eat better. Grad school and other stresses have led to some (or a lot) of stress eating so I’ve been trying to eat more veggies and more salad. I have found a salad that I don’t mind eating. Fresh Express bag salads (specifically the chopped kits) are pretty good.¬† There are greens but also extra crunchy things and the included dressings are pretty good.

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But really…..the reason that I am trying to eat more salad? It’s so that I can eat more of the stuff that I want to eat. I tell myself that if I eat some veggies, then I can have some dessert.

Why do I eat salad?

So that I can eat a donut.

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Guilty Pleasures

Carbs. Carbs. More carbs. I know that I don’t need a giant bowl of carbs….but sometimes…..you just need a big pile of carbs, right?

My newest guilty pleasure…..waffle fries from Spud Heads with the Guns’ n Rosemary topping. I mean. Seriously.

Because sometimes when you’re spending way more time at the mall than you had planned on….and sometimes when you’re kids are going insane because they are tired/hungry/hangry…..and sometimes when you are getting frustrated because you just need to buy some shoes but can’t seem to find what you want…..sometimes you need a bowl of fries covered in yumminess.

What is your guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasure food? Carbs? Chocolate? Carbs and chocolate?

Cheap eats = Yummy eats

So, as my readers already know, I love Food Network.¬† And I love the show The Best Thing I Ever Ate.¬† I love hearing different opinions and I love it when one of those opinions lead me to a new food/restaurant in Chicago.¬† Recently, an episode aired that was titled, “Bang for the Buck.”¬† This episode asked what the best food you can get is while spending the least amount of money.

As happens each time I watch this show, I asked myself what my answer would be.¬† This time I actually didn’t need to think too hard.

Tank Sushi.  Half-price maki rolls.  Yes.  Please.

I love sushi.¬† I love love love sushi.¬† The problem is that I can not physically get a light sushi dinner.¬† It’s impossible for me.¬† When I am going for sushi, I fully expect that Ryan will have to roll me out of the restaurant when the meal is over.¬† So, obviously, half-price maki rolls are perfect for me.

I am already looking forward to when I can go back to Tank to load up on sushi.  Unfortunately, I have several months to wait.  Our midwife said that I can still have almost all seafood as long as I eat in moderation.  Um.  Moderation?  Since I can not do that with sushi, I will wait.  But you can bet that I will be taking the baby for many lunch dates at Tank.

When you are eating on a budget, what is your favorite spot?

When things work out even when they don’t

This past weekend, Ben and I had a date to go shopping and get some food.  Those are two things that I enjoy greatly.   The plan was to find some maternity khaki pants.  I need some maternity khaki pants.  And do you know what I discovered?  One can not find khaki maternity pants.  Apparently, they only exist online.  *sigh*

But have no fear.  Although my goal of finding the perfect pants was not achieved, remember that we had two things to do.  We went shopping and ate food.  And eating food has never been something that Ben and I have had trouble with.

Lunch?  Shrimp and cheese grits at Heaven on Seven.

Shrimp! Grits!

Dessert?¬† Parfait at Scooter’s.

Yum! Custard! Italian ice! Together in a cup!

Two of my favorite foods with one of my favorite people.

And now, I can find some pants online.

Mmmmm. Sandwich.

The sandwich might be the perfect food. You can put almost anything on a sandwich.

Earlier in the week, I had two of my favorite sandwiches.¬† Ryan made Cuban sandwiches for our dinner.¬† (Delicious.)¬† And, we had lunch at The Grind where they have many sandwiches including The Med.¬† I’m not normally a “healthy food” kind of person but this is seriously one of my fave sandwiches in the whole city.

What is your favorite sandwich?

The Med = delicious

One of the reasons why I love living and eating in Chicago

Last night, Ryan and I went out for dinner. The original plan was to finally get to Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. However, when we got there, there was a wait time of an hour and forty minutes. Yea. Not so much. So, we went for a walk.

One of the best things about living and eating in Chicago is that if the wait time at one restaurant is too long, there is always another spot to go eat.¬† While Ryan and I were walking, we passed several places that we could’ve eaten at.¬† We finally decided on Frances’ Deli.¬† It was quite lovely.¬† Turkey dinner with all of the Thanksgiving sides?¬† Yes, please.

Did I know beforehand that this place existed?¬† Nope.¬† But that’s what’s so amazing about Chicago.¬† There are tons of places that you might walk by every single day and they might be really great.

You’ll never know until you try.¬† Or until the wait at the other place is way too long.

A weekend of deliciousness

One of my favorite parts of being a tour guide for friends when they visit Chicago is being able to eat at my favorite places. This weekend, one of my good friends who currently lives in Florida came to visit Chi-town. The downside? Spring has not made the strong push that I would have liked. The upside? While we weren’t able to do a lot of “outside stuff” because it was so chilly we were able to get to a lot of restaurants and eat some yumminess.
Our weekend of food:

Thursday – Ryan made a pot roast. Homemade and yummy.

Friday – While Jamie was visiting another friend, I ordered my favorite pizza for myself. Yay for the margherita pizza at Apart Pizza Company.

Saturday РLunch at the Grafton.  Burgers + curry chips = a perfect lunch.  Dinner and drinks at Tiny Lounge.

Sunday РDinner at Purple Pig.  This worked out nicely as Purple Pig is one of my fave places to eat in the entire city.

Monday – Lunch at Hot Doug’s.¬† Snack at Selmarie.¬† Dinner at Potbelly.¬† This was the day of the carb.

Tuesday РBreakfast at Angel Food Bakery.  A coconut cupcake is a perfect breakfast food.

When you are the tour guide, what are the places that you know that you have to take people to?

Deliciousness from 2010

In this week’s issue of Time Out Chicago, they have their annual list of “100 Best Things We Ate (And Drank) This Year.”¬† It got me thinking about all of the yummy stuff that I’ve eaten this year.¬† And that made me ponder my own list.¬† Could I think of 100 things?¬† Probably if I worked on this for several weeks I could actually remember each item that I ate that is worth mentioning.¬† As I don’t really feel like working on the same post for weeks I give you:

10 of the Best  Things That I Ate This Year

(in no particular order)

Donuts & Mocha at The Depot American Diner.  Light.  Fluffy.  Freshly fried.  The first time that Ryan and I went to The Depot, they were already out of turkey, pot roast and donuts!  Needless to say, we left and ordered a pizza.  The next time that we went, I got the turkey sandwich (yummy!) and the donuts (yummy yummy!).  These donuts are ridiculous but the mocha dipping sauce really puts this dish over the edge into a new reality that regular donuts aspire to.

Mackenzie Phillips cookie at Cookie Bar.¬† Oh my goodness!¬† This cookie has everything that you might want!¬† Oatmeal.¬† Chocolate.¬† Peanut butter.¬† Caramel.¬† Potato chips.¬† I just checked out their website and I didn’t see the cookie offered anymore.¬† Perhaps this wasn’t a big hit, but I really liked it.¬† The potato chips didn’t really jump out but they gave a nice salty bite to the cookie.¬† If this one is off of the menu, I guess I’ll have to try the potato chip chocolate chip cookie.

Lemonade at Mario’s Italian Lemonade.¬† There are some foods that you will travel for.¬† The distance doesn’t matter.¬† Mario’s is not close to where we live.¬† It’s not close at all.¬† But there are many days during the summer when I’ll look at Ryan and he knows that that look means we need to take a drive.¬† You can get different flavors and combos of flavors at Mario’s but I have found that the standard lemon lemonade is the best.¬† Stick with the classic and it will never disappoint.

Lemon-Lavender Pound Cake at Table Fifty-Two. I was a bit nervous when I ordered this.  The entire meal had been simply delicious and I was pretty certain that Chef Art Smith would be able to make a darn good pound cake.  However, each time that I have had lavender cooked or baked into something, it tasted like a fancy soap.  This cake was so incredibly light.  It was as light as a pound cake could possibly could be.  The lavender taste was so soft that I barely noticed it.  The citrus was a fantastic balance for the lavender.  And it tasted nothing like soap.

Charcuterie Plate at The Publican.¬† I’ve found that when you have absolutely¬† no idea what to order, either because it all sounds delicious or it all sounds kind of weird, the best option is to do a chef’s choice or a sampler platter of some sort.¬† With the charcuterie plate, you get a great variety of meats done by people who know what they are doing.¬† I never would’ve ordered head cheese, but it is truly delicious.¬† Now, would I order head cheese at just any ol’ restaurant?¬† Probably not.¬† I’m going to save that one for a place where I know it’s going to be done right.

Lair of the Minotaur at Kuma’s Corner.¬† I’ve never had a bad burger at Kuma’s.¬† Never.¬† It’s always delicious.¬† And they have Jack Daniels on tap.¬† Seriously.¬† There’s a tap for whiskey.¬† This particular burger is covered in brie, caramelized onions, pancetta, and bourbon soaked pears. ¬†¬† All of those foods are delicious on their own but when you throw them on top of a perfectly cooked burger you get something incredibly scrumptious.

Noodles¬† – any noodles – at Urbanbelly.¬† OK.¬† So on this one I am kind of cheating.¬† I can’t choose just one type of noodle at Urbanbelly.¬† The specials are delicious.¬† The Urbanbelly Ramen is delicious.¬† The “whatever-Ryan-got-last-time” is delicious.¬† When you want a big bowl of something warm and comforting some might want a big bowl of mac ‘n cheese.¬† Me, I want a big bowl of ramen from Urbanbelly.

Parfait at Scooter’s Frozen Custard.¬† Although I had been to Scooter’s many times before, I only discovered the parfait this summer.¬† It reminds me of the gelati at Rita’s.¬† When I lived in Florida for an internship, a couple of my friends and I would take almost weekly trips to Rita’s to get a gelati.¬† I had not been able to find anything that had that same taste until this summer when I finally actually read the entire menu at Scooter’s instead of just grabbing the monthly concrete.¬† From now on, I think that I will rarely get anything but the parfait.

Lardo Crostini at The Purple Pig.  Lardo.  Lardo on bread.  Do I really need to write anything else?  When it comes to your table, the lardo is melted right on to the crostini.  The lardo melts in your mouth.  I know that it sometimes sounds cliche or silly when people say that a food melts in your mouth.  But it does.  I promise you.  Go to The Purple Pig.  Order the lardo.  Write me a thank you note.

Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese & Pistachio Vinaigrette at The Purple Pig.  When I find something that I really love, I will order it each time that I go to that restaurant.  Yes, the rest of the menu might be outstanding but I get dedicated to that one item.  My dedication at The Purple Pig is for the beets.  When you look at the menu at The Purple Pig, you may just see the many meat filled foods.  However, please please please do not overlook the veggies!  The salt-roasted beets are insane and goat cheese on a beet is soooooooo yummy.

So, that’s my list.¬† I’m sure that I’m missing something else that was truly outstanding that I ate this year.¬† Don’t worry.¬† There’s always 2011.

Get yer eatin’ pants on

Growing up, if you had to put on nice pants, then we probably were not going to eat at that restaurant.¬† This is perhaps one of the reasons why I love places like Smoque so much.¬† You can go there wearing whatever you want.¬† You don’t have to do anything special to your hair.¬† They won’t care.¬† But you still get to have a sensational eating experience.¬† Seriously.¬† The meat is all delicious.¬† The baked beans are life changing.¬† I never knew that baked beans could be as good as those baked beans!¬† If you don’t believe me, ask my dad.¬† He can go on and on about these life-changing beans.¬† The peach cobbler is one of the very very few foods that my little sister could eat every day.¬† Also on that short list: egg rolls.¬† It’s just great food.

Since moving to Chicago, I have gone to many restaurants that require nice pants, shoes with heels, and well brushed hair.¬† I have fallen in love with many of them.¬† But sometimes you wanna go where the only important thing is the food.¬† The atmosphere?¬† It smells like food.¬† The seating?¬† It’s designed so you can sit really close to other people eating food.¬† The food?¬† That’s why you left the couch, right?