Eating our way through the checklist

Throughout the last couple weeks, we were able to mark a few more things off of our summer to-do list. We ate at one of big girl’s favorite restaurants: Labriola Cafe. Their mac-n-cheese is her all-time favorite mac-n-cheese. I like their burgers.


We also made lemonade. Now, this wasn’t fancy homemade lemonade. I wasn’t really in the mood to juice a pile of lemons. But, thankfully, big girl didn’t have a problem with that because she likes to help make lemonade the easy way.



Yep. Good ol’ Country Time lemonade. Dump the mix, add the water, and stir. Easy and the girls love it.

We also took the easy way out with some cookie baking.


Cookie dough – already made and already portioned into perfect cookie sizes. Yep. Is it cheating? Maybe. Do I care? Nope. When you’ve had one of those weeks…..and you want cookies…..but you don’t want to have do find ingredients and do dishes……these give you a perfectly yummy cookie. And, that’s one more thing that we can mark off of the summer to-do list.



The checklist thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the Museum of Science and Industry.

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 PigLardo.  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.