My Kinda Town

It was the BOY who said ‘How many 72 degree days do we get in Chicago?’ and his point was well taken!

After a dramatic week, I happily drove down to the city Friday after work to drink wine and eat cheese with my sister in law.  As always, we stayed up way too late with one (possibly two) too many glasses of bubbles before crashing into bed exhausted by life with the happy buzz of friendship.


Saturday morning, we were up by 9 and out the door in our matching gym shoes headed towards the lake.  We wove our way down to the Green City Market with a stop by Starbucks for some fuel.


The market was packed!  We worked our way through the cheeses, jelly’s, and greens sampling what we could.  Others waited in long lines for tamales and incredible looking crepes.


After the market, we walked into Old Town to some shops, including The Spice House where I purchased the most amazing smelling curry powder.  Then we walked our way back home, stopping at a few more stores and eventually at 2:30 finding a patio for lunch. 


We figured that we had to have walked more than 8 miles and hungrily dug into lunch and rose.


We walked back in the door with about 15 minutes for me to shower, change, and pack up my stuff for my next stop, a friend’s 4 year old birthday party.  I returned home almost exactly 24 hours after I left.  The BOY (whose face was bright red from sun after 2 hours of tennis today) grilled up dinner and snuggled in for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

While watching the game, I went looking for a curry recipe to use my new spice mix.  The Hawks lost (boo!) and I went up to bed early to catch up on some missed sleep from the night before.  My alarm came a little too early this morning, but I was excited to go to the 8am hot yoga class.  The class was challenging, and I left dripping wet.


On my way home from yoga, I decided I want to bake some zucchini bread.  I found a simple recipe and crafted 4 tiny loaves to share with friends.  I didn’t realize that the bread uses honey instead of sugar.  It’s not as sweet as your typical bread and really delish!  I also made a sweet no bake treat to take into work this week.  We’ve all been super busy and deserve a little fun.


Of course, Cooper found the best spot in the kitchen.  After baking, I met some friends for a run. We weren’t sure how the weather would be, but the rain held off and we were able to get in an awesome (and sweaty) 1 hour run followed by coffee.


Chicago is definitely my kind of town…especially with spring (and almost summer) in the air!

Ps I meant to have the zucchini recipe here (it has zucchini and apple!), but I had a bit of a computer melt down and ran out of town before my eyelids got heavy, but you can find it on the True Aim website.

The Forgotten Weekend

Did you have plans this weekend?

Most of the people I spoke with didn’t, and I think it’s because this was a hidden weekend tucked between Memorial Day and June.  So rare!

The BOY and I started our weekend Friday with date night at Cooper’s Hawk followed by an uneventful game of Monopoly.


We slept in Saturday morning and woke to a cool, stormy day.  I planned to go for a run and figured that I’d wait for the sun to come out in the afternoon.  The day progressed slowly with a trip to the grocery store, lunch at home, LOTS of wedding talk and decisions, baking a beautiful banana bread (recipe below), and a trip to Kohl’s for more outfit options for engagement photos.  It is so hard to figure out what to wear so that we don’t match but don’t clash for a 52 degree spring day. Ugh!


By the time we left Kohl’s after 4pm, my stress levels were elevated.  Sadly, the sun never showed up and the rain was still pouring so an outdoor walk was out of the question.  I decided that the best thing to do would be to head to the gym to burn off some negative energy.  The combination of a long and exhausting work week with wedding plans and lack of exercise/yoga had be feeling edgy.  I knew I’d feel so much better after some laps around the indoor track!


And I was right!  I did a track ‘Tabata’ workout consisting of 6 minute runs and 3 minute intervals (10 seconds on/20 second recovery x6 times).  Each sprint got faster and faster as I felt better and more energized.  When I got back home, the BOY was making beer can chicken for dinner, which turned out fantastic!  We had a quiet night at home watching the Blackhawk’s game (which they won…woo hoo!).

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Sunday morning, I was excited to go to yoga. I haven’t been in a few weeks due to illness and scheduling, and I knew I needed a tough physical and emotionally cleansing class.  For breakfast, I used the leftover sweet potato from last night’s dinner to whip up some 2 Ingredient Pancakes (+ flax). 


I was winging the portions a bit but they turned out absolutely delicious!


My yoga class was positively fantastic!  The teacher talked a bunch about giving to ourselves so that we can give to others and slowing down to connect with our breath.  It was exactly what I needed to feel more grounded and ready for the day ahead.


When I got back home, the BOY and I made breakfast for lunch (brunch?), and then I tried on no less than 23 outfits for our engagement pictures.  I ran out of time to make a decision because I needed to run out the door for my scheduled mani/pedi.  When I got home, it was time to finish my hair and get my make up done.


Man, I wish I had someone to do this every weekend!  The BOY and I took our pictures at the park near our house where we play tennis. We took a few fun ones on the swings and tennis courts and then the more ‘serious’ ones near the prairie at sunset.


After freaking out about these pics all week, I ended up in jeans and a white shirt I’ve had for years.  Go figure!  Although it was freezing, we had a lot of fun!  Afterwards, we grabbed a late dinner of beer and pizza.  I couldn’t let that awesome make up go to waste : )  It was another wonderful weekend, and I can’t wait to see ALL of our engagement photos!  And…I can’t believe that our wedding is just 131 days away!


What did you end up doing with your forgotten weekend?


Chocolate and Walnut Banana Bread

From Hoosier Homemade


  • 2 cups MINUS 2 tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ cup Oil (I like Safflower oil)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 very ripe Bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • ½ cup Walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup Chocolate Chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a bread pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients; flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Add oil and eggs, one at a time. Beat after each addition. Add mashed banana and vanilla, beat well.  Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.

Pour into pan.  Bake at 350 degrees – regular loaf 50-60 minutes or mini loaves 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


2 Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes (with flax)

Serves 1


  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato (about 100g)
  • 15g ground flax seed


Place all ingredients in a blender/food processor or blend in bowl with hand mixer (this is what I did) until mixed well.

Pour onto preheated skillet with coconut oil or cooking spray.  Cook about 5-6 minutes.  Then flip for 3-4 minutes.

Top with nut butters, syrup, or fruit!

Weekend. Family. Photos. Food.

My long weekend was  HUGE success!

Friday started with a tough strength session (I’m still sore).  Then, I did some wedding stuff with my number one assistant, my mom…followed by dinner and NY vs NY baseball with my dad.  I was in bed pretty early cuddled up with Cooper while the BOY stayed out playing poker.


Saturday morning I woke up to grey skies and rain.  I thought about a run but instead settled into the couch with breakfast and tea.  I spent the morning with Law&Order reruns researching some wedding invitations.  There are so many cute options!  The BOY slept in and Cooper I enjoyed a quiet (although wet) start to the day.  Around noon, I convinced the BOY that we needed to do a Costco run.  A big mistake on my part as it ended up costing me more money with all of the stuff he threw into the cart (ie new fancy toothbrushes).


On the way home, we met my brother and SIL at our favorite Mediterranean place to take in lunch.  They were visiting the burbs for a wedding so we offered them a place to stay.  They left for their wedding and the BOY and I hit up my gym for a tennis date.


We are trying to get back to playing weekly and although neither one of us is very good (as evidenced by the child tennis prodigy playing two courts over), we always have a lot of fun with it!  We stopped by the store on our way home and then got cozy for the night.  There were sports to watch (Bulls and Blackhawks) and the BOY made dinner while I started working on our weekly meal plan.


Cooper struggled to stay awake and I wasn’t sure I’d make it until our guests came home.  But they didn’t stay out too late and so when they got back, there was plenty of time for wine, cigars, and a  2am cheese plate.


Sunday morning is best when brunch is involved.  The BOY and I made TJ’s cinnamon bread, bacon, eggs, and fruit.  We hung out a bit eating our breakfast al fresco enjoying the sunshine after yesterday’s yucky day. 


I had to eat and run to an 11:45am coffee date with a friend of mine, who I dragged along to the gong meditation.  It turned out that she wasn’t able to do the gong due to her schedule but was able to take another class at the studio. 


All week, people were asking what I had going on this week and I got mixed facial expressions and comments when I told them I was headed to another hot yoga and gong meditation.


What can I say…I love the gong! 


This morning’s session did not disappoint.  I left feeling incredibly refreshed, reenergized, and cleansed.   I had one last stop at the grocery store where I treated myself to a green smoothie while I shopped.  I really wanted to bake/cook at least one thing this week.  And I’m prepping for next month’s goal of eating more whole foods.


When I came home, I found the BOY and Cooper resting where I left them (we stayed up way too late last night).


I unpacked my groceries and got busy whipping up some Zucchini Bread.  With the windows opened, it really felt like spring and perfect time for a delicious spring bread.  I tried a new recipe and although the dough looked a little thick and sticky, my mini breads turned out beautiful!



The BOY and I are settling in for a quiet Sunday night movie.  I’ve had the most amazing day and a fun weekend and I can’t wait for one more day of the weekend to come!


Meal Plan 4/26/15 (might go something like this)

Sunday: Tilapia Asian Salad

Monday: Crockpot Turkey Sloppy Joes (new recipe)

Tuesday: Grilled Pork and Veggies

Wednesday: TBD

Thursday: Premade Costco dinner that the BOY picked out


Here are a few of my other favorite quick bread recipes!

Banana Strawberry Bread

Blueberry Muffin Bread

Cinnamon Apple Raisin Bread

Coconut Ginger Zucchini Bread

Paleo Zucchini Almond Butter Bread

Zucchini Pineapple Bread

It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas

The BOY made this statement last night and I couldn’t help but agree.  There’s no snow, it isn’t particularly cold, and I can’t say there was much pomp and circumstance to my day.  I worked Christmas Eve morning to afternoon and then met my trainer at the gym.  After a few days of indulging in holiday treats, I knew a serious strength session was what I needed before the long weekend.  He agreed with a tabata style workout…ugh!  I had a few errands to run and so I got them done before arriving home at 5pm to a sleeping BOY and excited kitten.


Our big Christmas eve plans involved dinner and a movie.  Since we had no food at home and I knew it was too late for a dinner reservation, we thought a movie at the fancy theater was the perfect solution.  We arrived early for a drink and then grabbed turkey sliders to go into the theater to watch MockingJay Part I.

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To be completely honest, MockingJay was my least favorite of the 3 Hunger Gamess books, so I wasn’t sure how the movie would go.  Curled up with my blanket on a recliner with popcorn and red wine, the movie kept my attention and didn’t disappoint!  The BOY and I returned home to an adorable Cooper ready to play while flipping through TV and sipping on green tea.


It’s that exciting time when Trader Joe’s has my favorite holiday night cap!


I was looking forward to sleeping in Christmas morning, but the BOY had other plans to meet his family.  My family’s plans…meeting my mom at the yoga studio for a 10am class.  All great days don’t go as planned. My mom skipped yoga (I still went and loved the fun, yet challenging class under the Christmas lights) and the BOY’s mom wasn’t feeling well.  My mom, the BOY, and his dad all ended up meeting for lunch at the deli.


After lunch, we all went our separate ways.  The sun was shining and it felt like a glorious fall day.  I found an open grocery store before a planned ME day.  Well, actually a me and Cooper day.  I had tons of laundry to do and was looking forward to finally doing some holiday baking.  With a Lifetime movie in the background, I had the most wonderful day!


I was most excited to make a loaf of fresh baked gingerbread!


Which looks FANTASTIC!


Meanwhile, I also made a gluten free Christmas favorite White Chocolate Puppy Chow.  Then I retreated to the couch to fold laundry and catch up on the DVR.


Even though the lack of blistery cold and laid back vibe made the day seem less Christmas like, it made it all WONDERFUL!

Wishing you all the merriest of Christmases!


Gingerbread Loaf

From Tastes of Lizzy T’s


2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1½ teaspoons ginger

¾ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup sugar

½ cup molasses

½ cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

powdered sugar for dusting the top, if desired


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, molasses, butter, eggs and vanilla until well mixed.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, stirring just until blended after each addition.

Spoon the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool.

Coconut Oil Pumpkin Bread

Do you use coconut oil?

For baking? For cooking? Or for skin care?

Recently, someone told me that coconut oil is the fix it for dark circles under the eyes.  Since I heard that I’ve been meaning to move my oil from the pantry to my bathroom.  But I haven’t yet.  While it remains in the pantry, it is perfect for cooking and baking.


The only problem…coconut oil confuses me.  Is it a liquid or a solid?  Am I supposed to be putting the liquid or the solid under my eyes?  Oh, the mysteries!  As you all know…Pinterest has a wealth of recipes to motivate anyone out of their comfort zone.  I have been wanting to bring some pumpkin bread to work, so I thought I would give this a try.


This bread came out PERFECT!  The BOY declared it possibly my best bread to date!


It was just the right amount of crispy crust with a moist and flavorful middle.  I will definitely be baking with coconut oil again REAL soon!  And possibly using it under my eyes : )


On a non-coconut related note, check out Cooper’s latest predicament.  I watched the whole thing unfold as I typed out this post and couldn’t help but laugh as I shot of few photos.  The dismount was not so graceful!

In the mood for pumpkin bread, here are a few of my favorite recipes…Happy Baking!

Best Pumpkin Bread Ever

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Maple Pumpkin Spice Bread

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Gingerbread

Pumpkin Molasses Muffins


Coconut Oil Pumpkin Bread

From Gimme Some Oven


1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (plus I added in some cloves)

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

2 eggs

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Whisk together sugars, flour, spices, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Create a well in the center of the bowl, and add pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and vanilla into the well. Whisk, starting with the wet ingredients and working your way to the outside of the bowl, mixing until batter is smooth and clump-free. Do not over-mix. (Batter will be slightly lumpy.)

Pour batter into the loaf pan, and smooth the top with a spoon. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then carefully invert the loaf and cool on a rack until it reaches room temperature.


Share your favorite coconut oil recipe…

It’s a Good Thing We Don’t Have a Reality Show

Because then you would all see how crazy we are!

Excitedly, I pointed out to the BOY that I couldn’t even remember the last time we went to sleep without setting an alarm as we crawled into bed before 10pm last night.  I was exhausted from my work week and fully aware that a good night’s sleep would be necessary to propel me to the finish line at tomorrow’s 13.1 mile race.  I should also point out that the BOY is sick (which is why he went to bed so early).  He has a stuffed nose, kleenex everywhere, can’t leave the house and I’m drinking tea non stop kind of sick. Ugh!  Apparently this is also the kind of sick that according to the BOY does not require medical intervention (insert eye roll here…)

So this morning when he woke up around 5am because he is sick and couldn’t sleep and came downstairs to discover that his precious, most prized possession La-Z-boy was broken, things got a little out of hand.  There was some hammering, some flipping of the chair, and some more construction.  All of this drove Cooper into  tizzy causing him to come whining loudly and incessantly at my door.  Until I opened the door, where he jumped onto my pillow allowed me to pet him a few times before biting me.  Which got him immediately removed from the room by the BOY who was eager to come share the tales of his morning.  People…I couldn’t make this stuff up if  tried!


I told the BOY that he needed to feed Cooper (‘but it’s only 6am’…’yes that’s what time I wake up every day and feed him’).  The BOY moved himself and all of his possessions taking over my couch and Cooper was able to scarf down breakfast in one bite.  Feeling calmer, he returned to my room.  After exploring the entire room twice, he finally curled up between my legs where we both fell back asleep.

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Around 8am, when I finally woke up for real, the BOY returned to bed stating that he needed to be woken up at 9:20 so that he could be the first one at the La-Z-boy store when it opened at 10.  I whipped up French Toast for breakfast and brewed a strong pot of tea!


I don’t know about where you are, but we’ve had a cold spell.  It’s supposed to be 60 degrees this weekend but it’s been much more chilly than that the past few days making it the PERFECT morning to bake my #firstloafoftheseason of Pumpkin Bread.  I found this recipe on Pinterest (in between pinning wedding ideas).  With the BOY asleep and my eager assistant chef busy searching for hidden treats, I got to work.


This recipe makes 3 big loaves which was perfect…one for us, one for my friend running with me tomorrow, and one for the birthday party I’m going to this afternoon.  I didn’t have enough oil, so I subbed in applesauce.  This recipe is really easy and has lots of spice (my favorite) so perfect for a Saturday morning breakfast.  I popped my bread in the oven, eagerly awaiting the smells of fall, and happily settled onto my couch for a a Law&Order marathon.


When the BOY woke up, he decided to call the store instead (much smarter idea) but sadly discovered that someone cannot come out to fix his precious chair for another week or so.  It’s going to be an interesting few days.  But at least we’ve got warm tea and pumpkin bread to get us through…


Autumn Pumpkin Bread

From Hope in Every Season


1 29oz. can pumpkin puree

1 1/2 c. oil

3 c. sugar

6 eggs

4 3/4 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp. cloves


Preheat oven to 350 and grease 3 loaf pans.  Mix the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs.  Combine the dry ingredients and then stir into the wet mixture.  Pour into pans and bake 45 min. or until done all the way through.


Have you made anything with pumpkin yet?

St. Patty’s Soda Bread

I have been planning to make Soda Bread all week long (I even bought buttermilk) and pinned a whole bunch of recipes.  But I had just one of those weeks, you know the type, where the stress levels are high and exhaustion runs rampant.  Instead of baking up loaves of bread Friday night as planned, I postponed it to Saturday morning.  I spent Friday night with a glass of red wine and Cooper’s Hawk dinner.




Saturday morning, we slept in as long as Cooper would let us.  We got invited to celebrate St. Patty’s Day down in the city with my brother and his friends.  They began their morning at 7am, but we slept in and when I finally woke up, I took advantage of the sunshine by going for a run.  My path was frozen so I just ran some laps around the neighborhood.  When I came back, I had big plans to finally make soda bread to bring into the city.  My brother called and said that parking was tough and that he would be okay with store bought soda bread.




So instead of making soda bread, we drove down to the city for a day of fun and green shenanigans.




Needless to say, Sunday morning started like this…




Followed by a trip to Whole Foods for breakfast ingredients.




We had a wonderful breakfast/brunch and then came back to the burbs to have lunch with my best friend.




I had plans (in my head) to make soda bread Sunday night, but instead the BOY and I curled up with Cooper to watch the second Hunger Games Movie.  After a workout in in my neon green tshirt with my trainer in the morning, I came home to celebrate St. Pattys Day with homemade soda bread.




I found a great recipe complete with cinnamon and raisins on Pinterst.  Yum! 




I sprinkled some extra cinnamon and sugar over the top, which made the house smell unbelievable!




It only took 40 minutes for both breads to bake perfectly!  We had a small situation on Saturday that involved Cooper breaking into the store bought soda bread bag for a taste test.




So I had to hide away my cooling bread in the laundry room for safety.




After my own taste test of course!




I am so excited to have soda bread in the house!  I’m thinking about soda bread french toast for breakfast tomorrow (or maybe even dinner tonight)!


This recipe is absolutely incredible!

Here are a few other St. Patty’s Day favorites…

Brown Irish Soda Bread

Dark Irish Soda Bread

Soda Bread Scones

Lucky Charm Treats





How did you celebrate St. Patty’s Day?




Cinnamon Raisin Irish Soda Bread

From Bakers Royale



5 cups flour

1 cup sugar

4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins

3 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*extra cinnamon/sugar to sprinkle over the top



Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheet or use Silpat.

Place flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Stir in raisins. Set aside. Beat eggs in a bowl.  Stir in buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla, then add to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheet. Make a deep X on top of each loaf with a knife. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and top is golden brown. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool.