Tag Archives: Chicago

Gleeful Wednesday

16 Nov

This morning, despite another night of funfetti cookie madness, I took my butt over to the gym and hopped on the treadmill.  I set out to complete a 40 minute workout, incorporating some hills, and ended up with something that looked like this:

The hills were a bit tough this morning (again, I’ll blame the cookies), and my first set included some walking.  About every minute on the 7-8 inclines, I did 20 seconds of walking but didn’t pay attention to the times.  So just view the above as a general idea of my workout, with some extra walk breaks thrown in 🙂  I ended up covering 4 miles, and was really feeling great at the end.  I haven’t even craved a cookie yet today, which just goes to show that when you’re treating your body well it actually craves healthy things!

My meals today haven’t been too exciting: a bowl of cereal and a frozen lunch, so rather than spend a bunch of time on those, I thought I’d do a little review of last night’s episode of Glee.

First things first.  I have had just about enough of Quinn’s antics.  First she got knocked up by someone other than her boyfriend, then she lied about it, then she had a kid and didn’t mention it for an entire season, and now she’s plotting to get it back by tricking child protective services.  This chick needs to relocate to another school.  I can’t deal with one more bad story arc.  I just can’t!

Izzie’s a stylish lady.  She knows what she’s talkin’ about!


I’m sorry – I get that booties are stylish.  I’ve even worn them myself.  But the string of dress/tight/bootie combos really makes me angry.  If they’re going to insist on keeping her whiny character on the show, they should at least get her back in a Cheerios uniform.

Ok.  Phew.  Now that my Quinn rant is over, I’ll move on to what I adored about last night’s episode.  The troubletones’ mashup.

Adele’s “Someone Like You” is basically played on repeat on all the radio stations around here.  Since I spend a lot of time in my car, I typically turn the radio off upon hearing the first notes of this song.  It’s good, but it is just played.out.  So, when Mercedes announced that she wanted to do an Adele mashup, I cried a little inside.

Thankfully, they did not disappoint!  This is one of my favorite numbers ever done on the show, and thanks to it I ended last night’s episode with a smile on my face 🙂

Happy Wednesday!



Hot Chocolate Oats

4 Nov

Woohoo!  It’s finally Friday!  This week actually seemed to go by pretty quickly, which is a-ok in my book!

This morning I got up and headed over to the gym at the still-dark hour of 6:30 to complete the following 30-minute treadmill workout.

I did another pyramid workout, this time playing with pace rather than incline.  I ended up covering about 3.2 miles and felt great at the end of my run!  As I walked home, I was reflecting on how quickly the miles fly by when I’m doing an interval workout.  Usually if I am just running on the treadmill, I watch the mile counter slowly tick away.  0.51, 0.52, and so on.  It feels like for.ev.er before I even reach 1 mile.  But with an interval workout, I’m so focused on the small 1-minute chunks of time that before I know it I’ve run over 3 miles.  I love it!

When I got home from the gym, I took Izzie for a 1-mile walk, which felt great for both of us.  While walking, Izzie became absolutely terrified of a sweatshirt that someone dropped in the middle of the sidewalk.  Her hair stood on end and she did the old approach and retreat until she was comfortable enough to sniff it.

The random things she’s scared of really crack me up.

After our walk, I whipped myself up a bowl of hot chocolate oats –  one packet of plain oatmeal + 1/3 cup chocolate soy milk, heated up in the microwave.  The hot soy milk makes these taste like a decadent hot chocolate treat 🙂  I also added some chia seeds and half a banana, sliced.

This was a filling, satisfying breakfast!  Perfect for a sunny fall day.

Top Chef Returns

3 Nov

Last night was the premier episode of Top Chef Texas.  When Nick and I first heard that Top Chef was going down to the Lone Star state, Nick’s reaction was less than positive.  He wondered what the deal is with all the shows about Texas?!  Personally, I think they are trying to Swack New Jersey.

Busted big time, yeah!  Sorry Texas, you’ll never have Seaside 😉

Anyway, once Nick got over the initial annoyance with the show’s location, we settled in to watch last night’s episode.  And, I must say, I really enjoyed it!

First of all, there are tons of chefs from Chicago – and from pretty amazing restaurants to boot!  My Chicago faves so far are Chris and Richie from Moto.  Despite a negative experience at Moto’s sister restaurant (which had nothing to do with the food and everything to do with the service), Moto is definitely on my list of places to check out.  Even moreso now that I’ve seen these two fun guys at work!  They seem talented and nerdy, which is my favorite combination!  Hello, Richard Blais…


In addition to the two Chicago natives, I also adore Keith from North Carolina.




Nick said he reminded him of Bubba, especially when he said “I cook fish” in that long, slow, southern drawl.  I really hope he makes it far in this competition!  He seems like he’s got a lot of good dishes up his sleeve, and he is also quite entertaining.  His response when the judges asked him how he was feeling?  “I’m too big to pass out.”  Ah.Mazing.

Overall, I feel like the folks over at Bravo have really gone all out this season and seem to have brought together a huge group of insanely talented chefs.  There were tons of James Beard nominees or winners, which I think adds up to a really exciting and mouthwatering season!  I can’t wait to see these chefs get to work!


This morning I opted to turn my alarm off in favor of some extra sleep.  I was up and out the door pretty early so my breakfast was an on-the-go sweet and salty bar with a bag of raisins and a banana.  Thankfully, I only had one appointment today so I was able to come home for lunch and enjoy a delicious Amy’s brown rice and veggies bowl.

I love how veggie-packed and filling these bowls are, especially compared with other frozen meals.  Sometimes you just need something quick and easy and these really fit the bill!

Now I am off to take Izzie on the quickest walk imaginable since it is so cold and rainy here today!  I may also do a yoga video, but that’s yet to be determined 🙂





Leisurely Run

2 Nov

Today I don’t have an appointment until the afternoon, so I took advantage of this by sleeping in and going for an outdoor run.

I ran with Izzie this morning, which meant it was pretty leisurely.  Izzie likes to stop and mark her territory.  A lot.   I guess no one ever told her she’s a girl…

We ended up running a little under 3 miles, and it felt really nice to be outside on this cool (but not cold!) morning.

When we got home, I gave Izzie one of the new treats I picked up for her.
Let me tell you something.  These smell delicious.  I guess that’s why the packaging specifically mentions “smelling the fruitables difference”.  But honestly, these smell so good I want to add them to my oatmeal.  They smell like spicy, cinnamon-y, baked apples.  No wonder my spoiled dog loves ’em!
After my run, I also decided to do a little upper body workout.  Here’s what I did – as usual, 15 reps/3 sets each (I use my 5lb free weights).
Superset 1: side shoulder raises + bicep curls
Superset 2: tricep extensions + tricep dips
Superset 3: upright rows + front shoulder raises
When I finished up, I enjoyed a bowl of oatmeal with pumpkin butter and raisins – I refrained from adding the dog treats 😉
Before I leave you on this fine November morning, I just wanted to mention that this happened yesterday.
Yup.  November 1 = full aisles of Christmas lights, trees, ornaments, wreathes and candy.  I mean, obviously I bought some Peeps…but I still think November 1 is pushing it just a little with the Christmas stuff.  Let’s get through Turkey day first!

Hilly Treadmill Workout

1 Nov

This morning I had another rough time getting out of bed.  It is just so hard when it’s pitch black outside!  Thankfully, I forced myself up and was so happy I did!  However painful it is to pull myself out of bed, I always feel 1,000,000x better about 5 minutes into my workout.  I wish I could bottle this feeling up and keep it on my nightstand!

Today’s workout featured a 3 mile hilly run that looked like this:

I did a pyramid incline workout, with 2 minutes at an incline of 7 during each rotation.  Since 2 minutes running at a 7 incline was a bit much for me this morning, I built in 1-minute of walking.  That helped a lot, and I felt like I had a great workout by the end.

I came home and enjoyed a bowl of chex, chia seed and Honey Sunshine with some chocolate soy milk.

I’m really digging the chocolate milk in cereal combination!

And now, an interesting fact for today:

The radio show I listen to in the mornings features a “Mind Bender” in which they ask a question based on a recent study or random tidbit of information and whoever calls in and guesses right wins a prize.  I never call in, but I love hearing these.  Sometimes they are funny, and other times they are interesting – like today’s!

Question: Only 7% of women love their ___________.

I, and several of the other callers, had the same first guess: their body.  Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was too far off.  But, alas, we were incorrect.  The correct answer?

Their hair!  I must admit, I am in the majority on this one.  I so wish I was one of those people who could just walk out the door with wet hair and end up with beautiful wavy locks.  I’m not.

As evidence, and in honor of Halloween, I present you with this:

Ok, ok – there may have been some teasing going on there – but not that much!  Thankfully there have been major advances in hair products and styling tools since then 😉

Pumpkin Carving Fail

1 Nov

Tonight I carved my first ever pumpkin.  Before we get to that, though, I’d like to share tonight’s dinner.

Last night, Nick cooked up some chicken and cheese enchiladas from the Everyday Mexican cookbook.  They were delicious!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the best thing about cooking on Sunday is leftovers on Monday!   Dinner tonight came together in a snap and was just as good as it was last night!


Because dinner was so quick, we had plenty of time to get carvin’.  I was quite ambitious for a first-time pumpkin carver (I know, Nick is incredibly surprised by this.  I’m not artistic!  I honestly never had the inclination to carve a pumpkin before.  Oh well.).  Anyway.  I decided to carve a pumpkin in honor of my favorite Halloween movie.

It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!  Seriously, who doesn’t love this movie?!  Nick warned me that I would need special pumpkin carving tools to create such an intricate design.  To this I said, pshhh.  Who needs special tools when you’ve got kitchen shears?

Before you get the wrong idea, we do own small paring knives, but we didn’t want to use our brand new knife set on pumpkins.  So, I went with the shears.

Nick got to work gutting our pumpkins, and Izzie stayed close by searching for seeds.

(I often think Izzie might sound like Chaz Reinhold were she a person).

After the pumpkins were gutted, we got to work.  At this point, I realized the error of my ways with regard to the kitchen shears.  I plowed through but eventually ended up with this mess.

Next time, I’ll get the special tools.

Nick’s turned out much better than mine!

Although my first pumpkin carving experience ended in a ruined pumpkin, I did enjoy it!  I’ll just be better prepared next year 😉

Even though we carved pumpkins tonight, Halloween wouldn’t be complete without copious amounts of sugar.  Luckily for us, Nick’s friends gave us some delicious Halloween cupcakes to enjoy this evening…

I’m about to go dive into mine!

Friday the 13th

29 Oct

Last week I saw a recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala over on Eat Live Run.

I’m a huge fan of Indian food, but our homemade varieties have only turned out OK.  While we are able to hit the flavors, we somehow always end up with a much more soupy sauce then we want.  This Tikka Masala looked so good and simple compared to other recipes that I knew I had to give it a shot.  Plus, it uses the slow cooker, which means I’d get 5 whole hours of the house smelling divine!

*On a side note, I wasn’t always comfortable with the slow cooker.  I tend to freak out a little bit about fires and such when I leave the house.  I triple check my hair straightener, and even came back up from my car last week to check that I hadn’t left the burner on when I was making tea.  As you can imagine, leaving something cooking for an entire day when I’m gone kind of unsettled me.  Yes, I know they are designed for this purpose – I still didn’t like it.  Until Nick convinced me to let him make a slow cooker pulled pork last year.  When I came home and smelled the deliciousness in the hallway, I got over my slow cooker aversion.  Now I’m semi-obsessed with slow cooked meals 🙂

Anyway, back to my Tikka Masala.  I got to work prepping yesterday afternoon so Nick and I could have a delicious Friday night dinner.  You may find the full ingredient list and recipe here, on the Tasty Kitchen Blog.

First, I assembled all the ingredients.

Then I chopped up the chicken into small pieces, sprinkled it with cumin & coriander, and coated it in yogurt.

The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but I didn’t have enough so I used a combination of thighs and breasts.  Trust me, though.  Use the thighs.  They were so tender and flavorful!

Moving on…I let this mixture sit, covered, for 10 minutes while I chopped up the onions and garlic, and grated the ginger.

After the chicken had soaked up the yogurt spice mixture, I got to work browning it.

In melted butter.  I never said this was a healthy recipe!

After the chicken was browned and placed in the slow cooker, I got to work on the onions and garlic.

Onions and garlic frying in butter is one of my all time favorite kitchen smells.

That is, until I added garam masala and ginger to the mix.

Now that is one of my all time favorite kitchen smells.  Amazing!

To this mixture, I added a can of crushed tomatoes and brought to a boil.  The whole thing was then poured over the chicken, with two pierced jalapenos.  The chicken cooked on low for 5 hours.

After 5 hours, I added cream to the mixture and let it cook for another 10 minutes.  And then, we dug in!

This tikka masala was amazing.  The smell was ridiculous, the texture was perfect, and the taste was spot on.  This will definitely be making its way into our weekend recipe rotation!  The only change I would make is to spice it up a bit more – Nick and I like things hot!

We enjoyed the chicken with store-bought naan and some buttered Jasmine rice.  Paired with a bottle of wine and Friday the 13th, this was the perfect kick off to Halloween weekend!

We were in the mood for a scary movie, and I had never seen Friday the 13th before, so we decided to give it a go.  I thought it was good, but the questionable acting made it a little more humorous than scary to me.  That’s the 80’s for ya!

This Morning

I had to work today, so I was up and at ’em early this morning.  I headed over to the gym and rode the bike for 25 minutes.  I rode at a steady pace, but didn’t push myself too hard.  I didn’t want to exhaust my legs, since I’m planning a run tomorrow.  After the bike, I completed the following upper body workout.

15 reps, 3 sets each (all on gym machines) of:

Chest Press

Pectoral Fly



Shoulder Press

Tricep Push Down

Then I was out the door for my meeting.  And now that I’m done, I’m just getting to work enjoying my weekend!