Goodbye, summer

Friday seems like so long ago that I can hardly remember what we  did.  We had plans to go out to eat, but with some torrential down pours right after I got home from work, we decided to order in. We ordered in some chicken shawarma from a new restaurant. It was so-so. So far, I haven’t found a place that competes with a a restaurant by my work. Then we set up an assembly line and put together our wedding invitations. After that was done, we rewarded ourselves with some couch time and started watching Orange is the New Black. Is everyone else watching this show? You should be! It’s great.

Saturday morning, I got up and made a veggie loaded breakfast with homemade tomato sauce, spinach, and eggplant. It was so delicious.


Then I headed out for a busy day of going to the post office, hair cut and eye exam. The lovely lady at the post office gave me multiple kinds of misinformation including that we needed more postage for our invitations and that they don’t sell the stamps we need at that post office. Being that I needed to get to my hair cut, I delegated the other post office run to Brian. He had a pleasant post office experience, unlike mine, and the man at the other post office said we didn’t need extra postage, hand stamped our invites and mailed them for Brian. After having several unpleasant experiences with the post office closest to us, I will never be going there again. I will happily go out of my way and take extra time to go to a different office. Before my haircut, I stopped at a burger place by our wedding venue and tried out the Hurt Burger. It was supposed to be incredible spicy, but I didn’t think it had much of a kick, despite having jalapenos on it. The fries were really good though. My excuse for eating a burger and fries for lunch is that I need to be able to give wedding guests accurate information about eating establishments around our hotel. Ha!


Sunday morning, I experimented with a new pancake recipe for Brian. They were incredibly dense and not the proper color, but he said they tasted great. Maybe it was all the cookie butter I slathered on them.


Frustrated by his wonky pancakes, I didn’t pay much attention to my breakfast cooking and botched my eggs. I spent a good while at my garden then went to my last class of aquatic exercise of the summer. IO am saddened that I will have no more opportunities to be in the pool.  We had a quick “clean out the fridge” lunch before going to buy groceries and run errands. We stopped at Target and goofed around in the toy aisle. I spent the rest of my evening planning Monday’s cook-a-thon and watching more episodes of Orange is the New Black.


Monday started off with a bang and an open-face egg sandwich. I headed into the kitchen to make black bean brownies, pumpkin muffins with pumpkin pie filling tops(they taste much better than they look), homemade, bbq sauce, curried ginger pumpkin soup, sunbutter and ended the day by grilling steak, burgers, chicken and veggies. We should be eating well all week!




My long weekend was wonderful and productive with plenty of fresh air and exercise. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Honey almond roasted carrots

These carrots are a fall delight.


I was ready to hunker down, make soup, watch football and eat my fair share of roasted root vegetables then we got a spike to hot temperatures again. That didn’t stop me from making these carrots!

I may have also been motivated to make these carrots as I was desperate wanting to use my new Le Creust dish that I received forma  dear friend as an early wedding gift. I named her Camille, because she’s French. Enough about the why and a little more about the how:


  • 1-2 pounds fresh carrots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup silvered or chopped almonds
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Thoroughly wash your carrots and cut green end off. If you feel so inclined to peel your carrots, you can do that, too.

Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a thick bottomed pan. Place carrots in bottom of pan and toss to coat with carrots.

Salt and pepper your carrots to your liking. Drizzle with honey. Top with almonds. Place rosemary sprigs on top.


Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil, or simply place lid on pan if it has one. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Cook closer to 20 minutes if you are using closer to 1 pound of carrots or if your carrots are on the thinner side. If using closer to 2 pounds of carrots and/or your carrots are on the thicker side, cook closer to 25 minutes.

After your 20-25 minutes is up, remove lid and cook another 20-25 minutes(follow the same guidelines). The carrots will start to brown and be nicely caramelized when done.


Serve as a tasty side dish. I love the slight sweetness that the honey gives with the crunch of the almond. It’s really a great flavor combination. Upon eating them, my immediate thought was that I couldn’t wait to make them for Thanksgiving!


Holiday weekend

Maybe it wasn’t technically a holiday weekend, but with the 4th falling so close to the weekend, it seemed like one. Thursday we had a few people over to grill out and enjoy the back yard. There was a ton of food and festivities(maybe a little too much for some of us).

We now have oodles of left overs that I have been trying to recreate into other dishes so that we aren’t eating burger after brat after burger.

Saturday I woke up at 5:15am and couldn’t go back to sleep. So, I headed up and did some work in the garden and headed to water aerobics, only to learn that it started at 11am, not 10am. I didn’t want to wait around so I headed home and started creating some calzone dough. I made two different fillings, one being ground taco meat, corn and black beans with cheddar cheese and the other of chicken, pesto, tomatoes and swiss. I thought they turned out pretty tasty.


Saturday afternoon I spend relaxing and watching a Law and Order: SVU marathon. Delightful. It’s amazing how crimes can be wrapped up neatly in a one hour TV segment. Saturday night I headed to Michael’s craft store and browsed their clearance. I got some fun glitter paint and goods to make some bracelets. A wonderful little night at home.

I had recently heard in a podcast that if you want really fluffy eggs for omelettes to put them in the blender. It will also make your eggs go farther, needing you to use less. So, after making a batch of almond milk, I cleaned out the blender and threw in one egg and 3 egg whites. I also threw in a few handfuls of spinach(who not???). It made my eggs super fluffy and green! I had a 12 inch skillet full of eggs. I topped them with marinara. Delicious and colorful.


Once my food settled, I headed to meet some friends for an aquatic exercise class. Get a tan and exercise? Yes, please! Lunch consisted of BBQ chicken salads and fruit. I topped the salad with grilled corn, black beans, carrots, cucumber and some crushed tortilla chips.


After realizing that yesterday was National Chocolate Day and being a little tired of eating meat at every meal, I decided that we would have chocolate chunk waffles for dinner. Well, Brian would. I had half of a waffle, veggie patty and some fruit. I don’t care for sweet breakfast foods all that much and I would have been really cranky later if I didn’t eat some protein.





I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend as I did. So happy it finally felt like summer!

Fun and fantastic

This past weekend was awesome. The weather was great and Brian and I ended up doing some spontaneous things and really taking advantage of the city. Something I need to do more often. That’s why I live here, right?

Brian took me out to dinner on Friday night because our fridge was bare! We hadn’t really gone grocery shopping in 2 weeks and we had been squeaking by on pantry staples and freezer meals all week. The upside to this was that, our fridge was bare. How is that an upside? It was the perfect opportunity to pull everything out and wipe down the shelves. A task that was long over due! Look at its glowing beauty afterwards:


After my speed cleaning fridge session, I headed out the door to walk to meet Brian for dinner. The weather was perfect for eating dinner outside and this place had a patio(no coincidence). We started off our meal with the bone marrow appetizer which came with a great arugula salad and pickled cherry. It was the perfect flavor combination.


I had a delicious and dark beer made with 3 different types of coffee beans:


And was only able to eat half of my Legend’s of the Daal wrap(very tasty):


The place is mostly known for their burgers. Brian got Elvis’ Last Supper with house made peanut butter and bacon. Surprisingly delicious.


On the way home, we decided to walk through Ribfest, which was happening right down the block. There was this sign:


To which, Brian reacted like this to the thought of a deep fried Snickers:


We continued walking, until we saw this sign:


To which the possibility of deep-fried Oreos was too much for Brian to resist. We headed over to the ticket line and within 10 minutes had a tub of fried Oreos. To which, the man next to us in line got a deep-fried Snickers and insisted I take his picture.


Because deep-frying candy and cookies isn’t enough, they top them off with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar:


I tried one of the Oreos. It was actually pretty tasty. Like a funnel cake married and Oreo and made tiny funnel cake Oreo babies. Brian was in heaven.

A Friday night of indulgence meant a healthy breakfast and exercise Saturday morning.


Followed by a trip to the garden. A very exciting trip where I would learn that all of my radishes had matured and were ready to be picked. I also got a few handfuls of kale and spinach and a lone strawberry. I think I’ve gotten more produce from my community garden plot in one month this year than I did all last summer!

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After lots of errand running we grabbed lunch and then hit up Margie’s for a scoop of ice cream. They were switching out containers on Brian’s chocolate peanut butter and he got a mega scoop. That got all over his beard and mustache, but loos at those abundant ribbons of peanut butter. I had some serious ice cream envy and Brian happily shared with me.

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Saturday we ate mostly vegetable for dinner. I grilled a ton of them for us to devour and a little chicken. I also made a delicious salad with the kale and spinach from the garden with a vinaigrette, hemp and sunflower seeds and blueberries.

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Sunday was to be filled with rain, but we were surprised by a sunny day instead.

I had a breakfast taco to start the day. The eggs ended up overwhelming the tortilla, but it was delicious!

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I slow cooked brisket in a marinade all day to make some delicious barbacoa for our tostadas for dinner.

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While that was cooking and making the house smell wonderful, I got to work on a big batch of pumpkin and chocolate chip waffles to use as breakfasts in the upcoming days:


Made a tasty batch of tarragon chicken salad(can’t wait to share the recipe) that was the perfect meal of protein to sustain us on our 12 mile bike ride by the lake.

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I don’t think we could have packed much more into our weekend. It was a great one! Hope everyone had as much fun as I did.


This weekend’s weather made it feel as if spring has finally arrived. This made me extremely happy.

I spent as much of Saturday outside as possible. I was outside almost straight from 8-4 then 6-7. I couldn’t get enough of the weather! This led me to walking most of my errands and I walked a total of 9-10 miles. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a tan.

I started out the day by heading to Cafe Tola on Southport and Addison. I had walked by a week or two ago and they had some delicious looking donuts in the front window(they also make fresh empanadas daily). Getting there before 8 gave me the pick of the batch and I got a maple bacon and a red velvet cake donut for Brian and a big cup of strong coffee for myself.  The sun was so warm that the frosting melted a little on the way home.


I tried a bite of each, both delicious, but too sweet for my taste. I recreated my restaurant leftovers of salmon with a bacon potato hash into breakfast. How? By adding and egg, of course. Savory. My preferred breakfast.


With a protein packed breakfast, I was fueled for my walk to Home Depot to pick out some plants for my garden plot.


Still not having enough of the fresh air, I stopped on my walk to Lincoln Square to have some tacos at La Amistad. Sitting outside to eat them, of course.


I went on another walk to pick up a few things at Whole Foods to make food for the week. I threw together these “bowls” of quinoa cooked in vegetable broth, black beans, roasted sweet potato, steamed sesame kale and baked tofu. That made 5 of the 10 lunches for Brian and I to eat this week. These came together in less than one hour.


Sunday, Brian and I got up and ran the Ravenswood 5k. I really loved the route this year and was happy with my time. We had a small miscommunication about breakfast, though. When registering for the race, you could buy a ticket for a pancake breakfast to support the local food pantry. Brian bought one. I didn’t. Wah wah. Fortunately, the pancakes were prepackaged, so he could take them to go. It was probably a good thing, as I was surprisingly not hungry after the race. I had coffee and a bite of a cinnamon roll, but didn’t eat the banana or mini bagel they were handing out.


After coming home and relaxing for a few hours, I was hungry and made myself a mega lunch. I had a broccoli potato patty, two eggs, my mini bagel(toasted with butter), blueberries and an apple with mango ginger Stilton cheese. I put a little cheese on half the bagel and then a slice of apple on top of that. Heavenly. Absolutely delightful. I rarely eat cheese anymore. Or most diary for that matter. I try to make it a rule that if I am going to eat cheese, it has to be good cheese. This was GOOD cheese.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon going for walk, checking on my garden plot and making up food for the week. I started a batch of cold brew iced coffee on Saturday and was able to drain it off and jar it yesterday. Just the refreshing beverage I need to have on hand with temps in the 80s tomorrow!


I have been trying to move to a more natural skin care routine. One of the hardest things from me to move away from is my inexpensive but very loved drugstore body lotion. I have tried straight coconut oil before and didn’t love it. I ran across a recipe for whipped coconut oil body butter last week and decided to whip(pun intended) up a batch this weekend. It is absolutely delightful. I can’t wait to share this recipe. A little goes a long way and it really lasts all day.


Multitasking while I was making the body butter, I cooked up some more food to round out our lunches and some dinner for the week. Look at that well stocked fridge.


I’ve had a few people inquire lately about meal plans. Hoping to get to a post soon about how I try to do meal plans. Have a great week everyone and get out and enjoy some fresh air!

Weekend warrior and the garden monster

It’s already Thursday and I’m just getting to my weekend wrap up post? Where has the week gone?

It was a low-key weekend. On Saturday I went to the local farmer’s market and bought nothing. It was a sad turnout of 6 tents and only one had fresh produce and not much of it. Bummer. I did try a new local coffee place. It might be my favorite for iced coffee. It’s the only one that I know of in the area that makes the extra effort to make iced coffee cubes to put in your iced coffee so it doesn’t become diluted as they melt. Their name is well deserved. Happy with iced coffee in my hand, I accidentally wandered into Anthropologie. It was a good day…for my bank account. I left with only a silicone whisk that was on sale for $4.99. The coral dress was very tempting but I had to remind myself that I own more than enough dresses. The woes of a logical adult.

Later Saturday, we had a birthday party that was full of fun, BBQ, beers and some very delicious homemade pies.

We really took advantage of the cooler temperatures on Sunday and went for two long bike rides and spent some time up at the garden.

I finally got my beverage holder, named Norman, attached to Lynn Abbey. It’s a hollowed out coconut shell.

After getting an email from the head of the community garden plots last week in regards to my excessively large plant that was taking over 2 of my neighbors plots, I decided it was time to trim the monstrosity back. Armed with Betty Crocker kitchen scissors and gloves, the beast was trimmed back to half of its size, sacrificing some of the squash that had started forming. It had also grown through the fence and was growing onto the tennis court in two different places.

The good news is that now the plant has started producing, we think we finally know what it is. We originally thought it was a zucchini, but then it got too big. We decided it must be a pumpkin. Well, the initial fruit resemble acorn squash. If that’s true, we are going to have a lot of them. Even after we cut the plant back. Hopefully trimming it back won’t encourage it to grow even more. Brian was a real trooper in helping me out in taming the beast.

Week highlights

It’s been a wacky week here at Spatoola. I woke up not feeling well on Monday and got worse as the day progressed. I ended up leaving work at noon and spent a solid 10 hours on the couch until I moved to my bed. Intermittently spooning chicken wonton soup in my mouth from a local noodle shop.

I woke up feeling slightly better on Tuesday and returned to work. Unfortunately I missed a group work night at the community garden. With the heat, rain and illness I didn’t make it up to my garden until last night.

In the past week, my zucchini plant has tripled in size. It now takes up the back third of my plot and has suffocated my pea plants. It is well out of the boundaries of my plot and is starting to climb the fence of the tennis court!


My mystery plant that I bought unmarked on clearance has revealed itself to be a jalapeño pepper plant.


And my multicolored pepper plant has some good starts. I wonder which color this one will turn?


After work tonight I headed to the local farmers market. I had myself a very farmers market dinner. I love fresh, local food. So much more flavorful than produce at the grocery store. Oh, and some ripe tomatoes from my garden.


And in other exciting news…Whole Foods now has $3 wine! Feeling the pressure from Trader Joe’s?


Now onto one more day of work and a very exciting weekend. It’s the Big Ten 5k/10k which my parents are coming in town for. We will be representing in our Iowa dry fit shirts. On Iowa, Go Hawks!

Garden update

Well, my community garden plot is a bit behind since it got started so late, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

I do have a few tomatoes started:

One strawberry…that I might have eaten immediately after this picture.

It looks like I’ll soon have some zucchini, too.

And a very nice plot neighbor, who shared mustard greens, kale, arugula and sorrel with me.

I had no idea what sorrel was, but it was very unique and tasty. My plot neighbor told me that the taste comes from oxalic acid which help with calcium absorption. What she didn’t tell me is that it is only safe in small quantities and fatal in large quantities. Good think I didn’t eat too much of it.

For dinner I had sautéed mustard greens with garlic, an arugula salad topped with an egg and a tomato…thanks to a kind plot neighbor.

Yum! I love summer! And nice people!

Easy veggie wrap

The fridge is pretty bare around here now that Brian is gone most of the week for work and I have been detoxing all week. When it came to make lunch yesterday, we didn’t have many options. Fortunately, my lettuce is doing well and we had enough things to make some veggie wraps for lunch.

I started with brown rice wraps and spread some roasted red pepper hummus on them.

Then added some lettuce that I grew!

Cucumber slices:

Added a few cherry tomatoes:

And some tofu cooked in coconut oil:

Wrap it up and enjoy with carrots, sugar snap peas and slaw. Yum!