Tag Archives: shrooms

Greetings from Chicago!

2 Jun

Happy Thursday party people! And you guessed it, I’m in Chicago. I got here yesterday afternoon and absolutely love it here.


The drive up from Indianapolis was pretty uneventful. If you’ve never driven through Indiana, you’re not missing much. It’s flat, farm land with not much to look at.

I stopped at Portillo’s in Merrillville, IN for lunch. I am originally from that area and it’s so weird seeing how built up everything is now. There just used to be the mall, a hotel or two and a handful of restaurants but not the road it’s on is jam packed.

When talking with my sister and my aunt this past week, they told me I have to go to Portillo’s and that my life will never be the same once I have it. They told me I’ve had it before when I was a youngin but I don’t remember any of it although the name sounded familiar. The serve hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, burgers, milkshakes and more. The inside is a bit kitchshy and reminded me of Coney Island kind of restaurants with the signs for hot dogs, soups on the paneling. The place was packed for a Wednesday afternoon-I almost couldn’t find a table but fought off some children for a single table that they were using as a jungle gym. I got the dry Italian Beef sandwich with hot peppers and a side of fries

You can get the sandwiches with the gravy on them but the idea of soggy breads skeeves this girl on. And when I heard gravy I was a bit confused because I was thinking brown gravy you put on mashed potatoes. The gravy they serve is more along the lines of au jus sauce and once I poured it on the sandwich and took a bite, I remembered having it before. And it was a good memory. Poor sandwich, it didn’t have a chance of having a long existence in this world. Gone in 10 minutes.

Of course I got a little lost while coming into the Chicago Metro area because you know, that’s what I do. I swear I don’t like the whole idea of a GPS ordering me around but I think that’s what I need. One of these days when I get lost in the hood, I will learn my lesson and buy one. But until then, I will keep looking out for landmarks and try to get myself in the right direction. I finally saw this and just kept trucking along, knowing I was headed in the right direction.

After an hour at Starbucks and some texts to Amy asking where I was, what time it was (Chicago is in the central time zone but my phone didn’t change time when I entered), I went over to my friends house……right after the Cubs game ended. Which fighting my way through traffic is a whole other story in itself and og my god—there is a midget who sells water-but yeah, another time for that story. Soon I was on my friends porch, enjoying new-to-me beers!

We went to Uncommon Ground for dinner.  They are a hippie-esque restaurant with local art on the walls, live music and use products that leave no or a low carbon footprint. And their vow is to “use seasonal, locally produced, family farmed & organic products”—how could I NOT love this place?

We sat outside and they have a quite a spacious patio area but most of all, I love the diversity of people walking around. Edit—diversity of people and their dogs—this is such a dog friendly neighborhood! I feel like every person we saw had a pooch and I think I saw some that Lincoln would like.

I got the Capriole Goat Cheese Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Sandwich-
“artichoke, spinach, arugula, caramelized onions on cracked oat bun”

Aww yeah, look at that goat cheese! It was messy but worth the mess, I was very happy with my selection.

Even the bathrooms made me feel at peace with the world

I don’t want to go back to Charlotte, which I know I always say that anytime I’m away but for reals. I am staying in Lakeview and it’s awesome here. I love that people walk everywhere and you see people all the time although it’s not crazy rowdy. I have a few restaurants and bars I can walk to in Charlotte but nothing like this. I could totally see myself here, just need to figure out the whole job and how will I pay to live thing.

Have you ever been/lived in Chicago? What’s your favorite thing to do in Chicago? Help a sister out, I have a day to myself but I think the first thing on the agenda is finding some coffee!

Cheese is My Crack

23 Nov

If last week was sushi fest, this week is cheese fest. I have a love/hate relationship with cheese. Some weeks I will eat cheese like there is no tomorrow, other weeks I am kinda meh towards it. It started last night with dinner–homemade pizza made with Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough and topped with baby bellas.

So much cheese, so little time.

Then there was dinner tonight. I love quick meals. And I love quick meals which I can prepare in advance. Inspired by Janetha’s Chicken Puff recipe, I made Chicken Puffs but with phyllo dough.  I made the chicken last night on the stovetop with a new seasoning-Spike. I get so tired of my stand by’s I usually use like garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes this was a welcomed alternative. And the fact that I got it for free doesn’t hurt either.

 I used Trader Joe’s Chive and Onion cream cheese, red onions and mixed together with the chicken.

I then spread on a few thin pieces of phyllo dough, and rolled it into pieces….in no particular style mind you then brushed with extra virgin olive oil and topped with Spike seasoning. I let bake for 15 minutes or until brown.

Such a pretty puff

Not to be confused with Such a Pretty Fat, one of my fave Jen Lancaster books that I am re-reading for the umpteenth time.


I digress…..

I paired up with a baked potato topped with cheese since I can’t control myself

These were absolutely amazing! I didn’t want it this meal to ever end and will be making these again when I am looking for a quick, comforting meal. The cream cheese was obviously the star but I liked the extra red onions that I mixed it. I wonder how it would be with tuna and shredded cheese like a tuna melt?

Next on the cheese list was dessert. Many of you know I am not a huge baker but I am trying to expand my horizons. We have a Thanksgiving potluck at work tomorrow and I wasn’t going to participate. But then I was assigned dessert duty for Thanksgiving day and wanted to try out a recipe before I brought something rancid over for Thanksgiving. So, why not try it on people who I see 40+ hours or week? I had to make something good, yummy and something that would make them adore me. I went with my girl Paula Deen on this one because who doesn’t love Paula? I went to Food Network and looked up her Thanksgiving dessert recipes and finally settled on Pumpkin Cheesecake. Being a lover of pumpkin and cheesecake, it can’t be bad right? Bad for you maybe but taste bad? No ma’am. One problem though–I’ve never made cheesecake. And when I went to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients, I forgot the cream cheese…..for CHEESECAKE! Argh, this was going to be an interested experience. Surely if I followed the directions, it would turn out ok though. With a text and call to Miss Mo, I was on my way! Seriously, I need to start paying her for baking advice.

First thought- “That’s a lot of effin cheese

Pretty orange. I was a bit worried it was going to turn out the color of Oompa Loompas but all was well on the home front.

Soon enough, it was ready to go into the oven for an hour. Two hours of Family Guy was calling my name so this was a perfect way to occupy my time.

So I waited…..and waited….and waited and then the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon worked its way over to the living room and the buzzer went off shortly after.

I went to the kitchen to take it out. Half of me was nervous, another part was excited and the other part of me was hungry and bummed I wouldn’t get to try a piece since I’ve never met a cheesecake I didn’t like and I guess it would be a bit tacky for me to take into work with one hunk of it missing.

But then I noticed something….it was cracked, wtf? Another text to Miss Mo and she assured me it was ok and that hers does that sometimes. Phew! I was in my comfy clothes and not in the mood to go to the supermarket and buy a pie.

So I let cool and popped it in the fridge. Let’s hope the troops are happy with it. And yes, I will be say saying y’all all day tomorrow. Hopefully people will get it since I made a Paula Deen recipe…..or they will think I’m Britney.

I got a nice surprise in the mail today:

Should be as cheesy as the rest of my day, yes?

Anyone else working tomorrow and Wednesday? I feel like I’m the only one out there. Word on the street is after the luncheon we will be able to skedaddle (yes I just used that word) out of there and go home to enjoy the rest of my day. Since I have to go in at my normal time on Friday I am not going to even venture out for Black Friday which used to be one of my favorite days of the year. I have half of my Christmas shopping done already and the other half should be easy to find.

Pho My Homies

2 Nov

Happy Election Day! Hope you all got out there and voted today. I sure am happy to see the annoying campaign commercials peace out for two more years, they were seriously starting to drive me crazy. Of course my co-workers and I were discussing the election today and it’s sad how many people go off of those ads alone and really don’t look into what the politicians stand for. None of the people I work with thankfully but they were telling me about some of their friends who just go off those alone. Sigh. Maybe some day people will learn. On a separate note, the cookies made me super popular! Until one of the guys bit into one, started chewing then asked me if it had nuts. Um, if you’re allergic to nuts, I would think you would ask first yes? I told him I will make some nut free goodies soon and then my reign will continue!

I was craving something carby and hot for dinner last night. I thought about my old standby of nachos or quesadillas but didn’t have any salsa on hand. This may have been a first since I normally have a surplus in my cupboards so I will have to jump on that soon. I was in a meeting and starting thinking about the ingredients I had on hand. I knew I had parsley, frozen peas, cheese and grilled chicken I cooked on Sunday and remembered a recipe for Pea and Parsley Pesto that I saw in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Food. Instead of mixing extra virgin olive oil and adding walnuts, I pulsed the parsley and peas together then put in a saucepan with garlic, pepper and fontina cheese with grated parmesan. I let them cook at a very low temperature while I also cooked mushrooms and onions on the stovetop.

Look how green-yummy! I like the flavor but it could’ve used some more punch. Since I was a green, carby heaven after that, I sat on the couch in my fleece pj pants (because really, that’s all I wear in the winter) and felt like I was going to nap. That’s just not acceptable at 730P. I let the food digest for a little more than went for a short run/walk. I was still achey from my strength training sesh on Sunday but I figure little activity better than no activity yes?

Speaking of TV, I was on the news this morning! I went to vote super early so I wouldn’t have the wait in line since I lack a little thing called patience. I was in and out within 5 minutes and when I walked out there was a tv camera and reporter standing outside where she said “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your thoughts on the election?” Wanting to be discovered I naturally said yes and pointed at her saying “Hey, you’re Kara Lusk” and she looked really happy that I recognized her so good deed of the day was crossed off way early in the day. She asked me a few questions about my thoughts on the mid-term election, said my makeup was beautiful and thanked me for my time. I had to go back home right after to take Lincoln out before I went to work but when I was waiting in line at Starbucks, I saw a former co-workers from my old floor. She pointed and me and said “Superstar!!!” and told me she said me on the news. The first question out of my mouth was not “Did I seem articulate or nervous?” but “How did I look?” She too confirmed my beauty so awwwww yeah. I am still trying to find this video online and can’t so it’s a bit frustrating. You would think with that and from the USA Today article I was in a couple of years ago (hmmm, don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that on here?), I would be famous by now but no dice. On another note, I have this song in my head.

One of these days…..

Nothing really too interesting happened at work today. Just doing the training thing still and that’s about it. I fit in a 1.5 mile walk on my lunch break since I had a feeling I would be chowing down tonight.

One of my girlfriends and I had plans for dinner tonight and we checked out a quaint, new restaurant called Vietnam Grille. It’s only a few miles away from me but in a neighborhood that borders hood but I’ve read rave reviews about it and was ready to see what the hype was about. I’ve never had Vietnamese food before but love anything Asian and my friend said it best when she said “I think I was Asian in a former life” since I feel the same way. I kept jumping in between pho (since I hear that’s one thing you must try when you get Vietnamese) and the Bun I ended up with the Grilled Beef Bun (rice vermicelli noodles with bean sprouts, shredded lettuce, cucumber and crushed peanuts with their Nuoc Mam sauce) because I needed something with substance since lunch wasn’t too satisfying (leftovers are just meh sometimes).

I had the intention of eating half then take the rest home but was starving that I cleaned the plate. I absolutely loved it!! It was so light and flavorful with all the sauces they provided table side. When it came out, the smell somewhat reminded me of pad thai because of the peanuts. One of the tables near us had the make your own spring roll sampler and that looked fun with a huge platter of goodies to fill them with so I may need to try that since there will be a next time soon. If I ever open a Vietnamese restaurant (because the likelihood of that is very strong), I shall call it “Pho My Homies”

Red cups are back! But with a different look. I don’t like them.

Seeing this picture just confirms I watch too much of “The Office” since I often see Michael and Dwight in the background of my pictures. But screw it, it’s Tuesday night which means hours and hours of it on TBS!

PS—Check out Amy’s giveaway for some calcium loving action!! She also has some great suggestions for workout songs that I’ve been adding to my iTunes wishlist. Amy–I apologize for my atrocious spelling in my song suggestions comment. My blackberry was not all about the spell check love this morning

And another giveaway–yay! Check out Mo’s giveaway for the new Michael Chiarello cookbook plus some panko lemon pepper breadcrumbs!!

Another Day

26 Oct

Another dollar. We are still going through the training process which means sitting in a conference room, learning things that I will probably forget when I get my portfolio and realizing my company uses way too many acronyms. I seriously cannot keep up with all of them! I think I am going to make a cheat sheet soon so I can remember all of them because it’s just not sticking with me.

On a brighter note, we got a two-hour lunch today-holla! Of course, this was the day I brought my lunch so I thought “Why not go home?” I drove home and was out walking Lincoln 15 minutes later with lunch in the microwave

Looks can be deceiving huh? I would really like to know where this “colorful medley” they speak of is located because it wasn’t in my white glop in a tray. Hmmm, that kinda sounds like a sperm on a petri dish? Gross. Anyways, it was good, just not “colorful” I watched some VH-1 for awhile, ran errands and was back with an hour to spare. I received an email earlier in the day saying there was a little something something for me to pick up at the library…..

Yay! SATC The Movie Soundtrack is one of my favorite movie soundtracks out there so I was excited for this. I still haven’t seen the movie but I’m in no rush since I heard it was kinda meh. I listened to the soundtrack tonight and there are a few good tracks but don’t think it will be a favorite. Liza Minnelli does a cover of “Single Ladies” which is just fabulous and I love Alicia Keys remake of Blondie’s “Rapture”.

I was looking for something easy and filling for dinner. I made a salad with cucumbers, zucchini and tomato and home-made pizza using Harris Teeter Whole Wheat pizza dough topped with mushrooms, Morningstar Veggie Crumbles, fresh parsley and mozzarella and parmesan cheese

I liked this whole wheat pizza day alot more than the standard Trader Joe’s I normally buy. It’s about $1 more but I feel like I got more and had more substance. It’s not very often that Trader Joe’s fails me. Sadness.

I did three workouts in one tonight. I started out with Jari Love’s Get Ripped 1000 DVD that I got through Netflix. I’ve heard good things about her dvd’s and was into it at first but then she started using a stepper and I don’t have one. I was doing the motions by stepping side by side and doing jumping jacks but that got boring very quickly. The squats and lunges kicked by butt though and I did about 12 minutes of that. With my heart rate up, I decided to go for a walk which soon turned into a run. I’m running again with little pain-score! I’m nowhere near I was before but I am excited to start running again and feel confident that I can get back into it, we shall see…..

That’s what I like to see!

With that, a green monster was calling my name with a new protein powder–SpiruTein Chai Latte

I used half a packet so I wouldn’t be in overload

The color reminds me of pistachio pudding my mom used to make when I was younger-yum! I liked the flavor but like the S’mores flavor, not sure if I would buy an entire tub of it but it did taste like Chai which was great!

Thanks for the comments on yesterday’s post. It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one who has some issues with making female friends and such. Not nice to see b/c it kinda sucks but you know what I mean! Right? Maybe? Hopefully!

And that’s it. Yeah, kind of a boring day but oh well, such is life. Hope you all are having a good one!

***Win a Lululemon gift card and other goodies at Run Eat Repeat!

Zumba Queen

27 Jul

I went to zumba tonight and had a fabulous time! I’ve only tried zumba once before but that was when I went to the Y and they offered it for free. I met up with one of my friends for a Queen City Dancing Queen zumba class after work. They have a pretty sweet deal, if you go online and print out their coupon you can either get a class for free or 5 classes for $25. Originally I was going to do the free class but after we finished, I knew I would be going back again! I am not coordinated by any means whatsoever so rockin, pumpin and dancing are a bit hard for me but I moved the best I could and had a great time.I was either laughing and enjoying myself or cursing the instructor because she had an awesome routine with uplifting music.

Pre-zumba calorie fuel

And with a calorie burn like this—I’d be a fool NOT to go back. I’ve been looking for a calorie burn like this since I stopped running. I love working out with my kettlebell and while that gives me a good calorie bun, I really need to mix it up with more cardio.

I was famished and a sweaty mess by the time I got home. I can’t believe I made it to 8P without dinner but on my quest to get back to better eating after the last two weeks of pigging out, it was time to get cooking!

Lovely feedbag of quinoa courtesy of Costco….if you have any quinoa recipes or ideas-please let a girl know 🙂

I love the color of this sweet pepper!

Cooked up some mushrooms, zucchini and pepper on the stove top with extra virgin olive oil with pepper, chili powder and mustard seed. Random? Yes. Good? Hell yes. I love garlic but ned to start using the other spices in my kitchen.

I also cooked up some chicken in Heinz 57 sauce and voila–a healthy, balanced meal (AKA a nice change of pace from the crap going in my body lately)

Lunch was also healthy–a BIG salad with romaine, tomato, mushrooms, onion, cucumber, Laughing Cow French Onion, tuna salad mixed with dijon and mayo with honey mustard

Now I am just realizing this is a backwards post. Maybe because I think it’s Monday instead of Tuesday and am off just a tad. I can’t wait to start meal planning again and get back into my normal regime of eating right and exercising.

Have any fun, healthy meals you’ve tried recently?

 I need some recipes (you know since the tons of magazines, cookbooks, etc. aren’t enough!)


19 Jun

Today was all about beauty. I stayed up until 2A last night (which is late for me, even on a weekend!) thanks to the coffee and woke up around 9A. I was seriously dragging. Dragging so much that I poured coffee grinds into the water filter area of my coffee pot and water into the grinds filter, oi. Oddly enough, the coffee was drinkable but not strong whatsoever. I made a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, shrooms, red onions and a diced sweet potato so my belly would be full for a little.

I went to a local spa to redeem a $50 gift certificate that I bought for $25 off of Groupon. I got the Deluxe Pedicure which was hands down the best pedicure I’ve ever had. Even better than this one that I also got off of Groupon. It was nice because there was only two pedicure chairs so it was very detail oriented. I got a paraffin wax, peppermint sugar scrub and some kind of menthol peppermint lotion of my feet. I got my piggies done in a beautiful “Last Tango”

No Yuengling for me today since I had a hair appointment shortly after and it is with a new stylist for me and didn’t really want to be sauced for it. I’ve been going to my stylist for the last two years and she recently moved to a new location which is about 30 minutes further from the 30 minutes she was already from me. I am really not too keen on making a two-hour trip to get my hair did (I’m a diva what can I say?) and thought I would try someone new. I was out walking Lincoln a few weeks ago and I started chatting with a girl while she was walking her dog and got her info. Turns out she is 10 minutes from my apartment with the same rates as my stylist so I decided to give her a shot.

I was early so I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a large iced coconut coffee with half and half and snacked on a kiwi and banana on the way to my appointment. I hate having appointments in the mid afternoon since I don’t have time to pick up lunch.

 Check out the area where I got to lounge when my color was setting! An Ottoman, magazines and cable!!?? Bring it.

Naturally, I turned on Bravo in hopes of catching up on some Real Housewives and I lucked out with the Real Housewives of NY Reunion—hello drama!

I touched up my blonde highlights and chopped my hair off! I’ve been trying to grow it out but it is just blah when it gets long b/c it’s so thick and full so I thought a cute, shorter look for the summer would be fun.

I’m diggin it so far but I keep running my fingers through my hair wondering where all my hair is! I got back home to have a late lunch-some beautiful sushi that I got at Reid’s yesterday—Sushicado and LBJ Roll

Speaking of LBJ, Lincoln bears an uncanny resemblance to his dog, Yuki. Lincoln is presidential!!! Get it—-Lincoln—-Presidential? I crack myself up.

I took a nap after that and woke up and popped open my Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken that I got at Reid’s and topped with T Marzetti’s Lite Ancho Chipotle Ranch

Such a beautiful, messy salad! I finally got around to watching Valentine’s Day

So, I know it got really bad reviews but I absolutely loved this move! Especially Jennifer Garner’s role, I think the part with the pinata was effin awesome along with the waitressing bit! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned….

I got some bad news this afternoon though. My friend from Phoenix texted me to let me know her dog passed away this week. I believe he was 10 or 11 yrs old and she had had him since he was a pup so it was very bad news. I used to go to her place and pay more attention to her dog than to her and would since Lionel Richie’s “Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady” to him but insert his name in there.  I cannot even imagine the pain she is going through and don’t want to think about how I will be when Lincoln’s time will come.

So for now, I enjoy every minute I have with my beautiful pup, even if he does sometimes resemble Nick Nolte’s infamous mug shot with his crazy hair

Hope everyone had as beautiful day as I did!