Category Archives: Food

A break from real life…

This fall I had the chance, TWICE, to get away from the work world for a few days and enjoy some sun, water, warm weather and good food! I will spare you to hundreds of photos and share a few that stand out from each trip. Up first – My stepmom planned a girls’ trip to Nassau… The islands were not ready, heck, neither was I?? See below for my photo headings and pictures… 

Dinner on Night #1 was at Twin Brothers (recommended by a LOT of the locals we talked to) included conch salad (being prepared in the center photo below) along with cracked lobster (MY FAV), cracked shrimp, rice and peas, and plantains.

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We found a bar that was having a Karaoke night so my cousin and I did a world class performance of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”.

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Me hanging out with the captain of the Booze Cruise… The girls were lining up to take pictures with this guy… and  will say, he was pretty HOT!

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Our booze cruise advertised a portion of the day spent on a” “secluded island”… which was actually a small, deserted, dangerous, rocky piece of land. One of the highlights was the starfish in the pic…. I was so fascinated by it. The semi-shelter in the second pic became a prop for a few folks who decided it was a great place for some drunken, not-so-sexy photo shoots… pure comedy!

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We stayed at the world class Atlantis resort…. In the center of the pic on the left you can see an archway which contains the “Bridge Suite” also referred to as the “Michael Jackson Suite”. All yours for somewhere between $25,000-$34,000 per night (4 night minimum). We would have stayed there but it wasn’t available the week we were there Winking smile

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We had a great time!!!

For the item of the day, I saw this BCBG RUNWAY GEOMETRIC WRAP DRESS in Macy’s the other day. Its not on sale in the store (Orig. $348), but it is discounted at BCBG.com ($208.80). Its absolutely BEAUTIFUL and the flowy silk is extremely soft!!! I love the belt shown in the runway pic below, although it is sold separately.

BCBG RUNWAY GEOMETRIC WRAP DRESS

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Three words… My taco heaven

Yummy weekend lunch at La Fonda del Gusto in Bucktown/Wicker Park… Yep, that place again.

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Nacional 27 in Chicago (River West)

Yes… I know… Another Latin place… *insert smile*… but my recent dinner date at Nacional 27 was AWESOME! I figured I’d post here since I’ve been posting so many Latin spots over on ChiLanta Foodies! Check out our dinner selections from the AWESOME MENU

We started with the n27 combination platter – smoked chicken empanada, boniato and plantain croqueta, bbq’d lamb taco, shrimp skewer (I didn’t think about taking a pic until I had already devoured it!!!)

…followed by the N27 ROAST SUCKLING PIG “CUBANO” refereed to as the 10th anniversary of Nacional 27’s roast suckling pig… “cubano” accompanied by caramelized onion mashed cuban sweet potatoes, eggplant with spicy tomatoes, coconut rice, black beans, chicharrónes, ancho pork jus…
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….and my date had the beef tenderloin “medallions” – spanish cheese-potato gratin, red wine jus  (with chimichurri, blue cheese and truffle crust)
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Thursday nights also feature salsa lessons (in the middle of the dining floor) at 7:30. There were quite a few couples out there having a good ol time on the dance floor!!

Great choice for a date or even just for dinner and drinks with friends! **Tip: RSVP by phone and ask for the booth seating to get a good view of the dance floor!

I haven’t posted an item of the day in what seems like FOREVER! So today’s item of the day is the  MARC JACOBS Camille large leather tote for only $1,850 on net-a-porter. This bag is sooo perfect for a working woman, much like myself, who wants to carry her items in a stylish, timeless bag. Its out of my “current” budget.. but who knows. Maybe one of these Powerball tickets will hit and I’ll order it tomorrow 🙂 or maybe not… Have a good one!!
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Chicago Food… on the other blog

Great times at Zocalo, Café Iberico and La Fonda del Gusto this weekend! Rather than posting twice, I’ll just direct you to ChiLanta Foodies where you can check out the pics and review….

http://chilantafoodies.blogspot.com/

Also check out my previous post on “A Taste of Brazil” in Oak Park, IL.

La Fonda Del Gusto sign

Eating out in Chicago

Great things I discovered in the last week…

The Mexican Breakfast “Sandwich” at Eggstacy in Oak Brook – they could have kept the bread and piled everything else (except the onions) onto the breakfast potatoes! The chorizo was good, potatoes were tasty, salsa was just right, and I love the avocado slices they added!

“The Margarita Flight” at Zocalo in River North – Not for the faint at heart. It was so great I had to write a review on Yelp. The drinks were STRONG and the portions were enough to induce a nice, strong “buzz”!

Zocalo officially makes my list of Top 5 drinks in the city!! Other’s include:
Let’s see if anybody gets bumped off the list this summer!!!

Girls Trip to Orlando

Anyone who has followed this blog knows I absolutely LOVE my girlfriends and even more I LOVE to travel with them!!! Last month 9 of my lovely line sisters and soror-friends decided to terrorize the city of Orlando like no other girls can do! We got an awesome deal from Thursday-Sunday at the Mystic Dunes Resort in Kissimmee/Celebration, FL area. For the 9 of us, we rented the Three Bedroom Lockoff with gave us a 3-bed, 3-bath, 2-kitchen space with lots of room and a great balcony. The rates were VERY affordable and when split among the group we spent nearly half of the cost we paid for admission to Universal Studios! We also rented 2 cars for the weekend which was a great idea that provided for plenty of flexibility for the group. (Although in this pic below I was sitting on the floor of the backseat because an extra person jumped in the “mall” car at the last minute and there wasn’t enough space for 6 in a Ford Focus! Long – and funny – story short, it was NOT a comfortable ride!!!)

While some of the girls ventured to Cocoa Beach (it was still a bit too chilly for me) the second car spent the WHOLE day at the outlet malls! I am OBSESSED with Orlando’s Premium and Prime outlet malls and found so many great items and great deals. I brought Rob back a couple of shirts from the Thomas PINK outlet store (priced at $59 each, versus the normal $180+) and grabbed myself a new pair of black and white Pumas to replace the ones I’ve had for about 5 years by now. I saw many other great deals and was a little upset that I didn’t snatch up the gray Chelsea skinny jeans at the Joe’s Jeans outlet store or the blue fitted blazer at Off Fifth.

All in all, we had a great time!!! There is nothing like getting away to celebrate with good friends. Check out some of our fun times:

Fresh off the plane and in an alley somewhere trying to find trouble…
It was 2AM and we were looking for something to get into
The guys at Panchero’s moved the tables so we could have a dance competition
The BEST pop in the world – The Coke in the bottle from Mexico made with SUGAR and not that high fructose stuff
Trying out the pedicab at Universal Studios
Peer Pressure – Emily trying to convince Candice to ride one of the rides
Head to head Dance Dance Revolution competition!
Posing for the camera right before Kiana KILLED me at Guitar Hero in the arcade… it was my first time playing but it was fun!
I went to the doghouse looking for Bobby but he wasn’t there so I was sad…
Cap’n Joe from Big Toho Airboat Tours – our tour guide on the alligator swamp ride. He stopped in the middle of the swamp to collect payment and he had a credit card machine in his pocket… just in case. LOL
Gator coming towards us and the front row huddling and screaming!
The family gator, we all got to take pics with him… he was pretty nice!
The trip ended with a FUN and FILLING dinner at Benihana followed by what else???? A SLEEPOVER!!! LOL!!! 
What a weekend!!!!! I can’t leave you without an item of the day, so here it is….. After a year of speculation it has been announced that the disgustingly crazy “sandwich” offered by KFC, which replaces the typical two pieces of bread with two chicken patties and keeps the rest of the goodies in the middle, will be released this month. You do have the option of grilled or fried, because we all know, two grilled patties is way better… right? This just grosses me out!! Is anyone planning to try it??? The KFC website Nutrition Guide lists the health content near the bottom of page 1 which is summed up as: 
Original Recipe Double Down – 540 calories, 32g of fat,1380mg of sodium
Grilled Double Down – 460 calories, 23g of fat,1430mg of sodium.

FREE Birthday Food

I am ALL ABOUT free food! And your birthday is the best time for it. Last year I was in the middle of a no-spending challenge so the free certificates really came in handy. This year, they are just as great! When the emails come in I print them out and put them in my purse. So when I am driving around and pass one of the places I just stop and eat!

Earlier this week I enjoyed a delicious (FREE) meal from Noodles & Co, where the waiter made the great suggestion of the Pasta Cavatappi dish with a bowl of Tomato Basil Bisque soup. Very tasty!

Today I ventured out solo to use my Benihana coupon which entitled me to 1 free entree. I normally do the hibachi style chicken and shrimp combo and figured that would be a great lunch on a cold day. Since it was lunch the price was reduced to around $11 or so. When I placed my order the waiter said “That is cheap for lunch time. You get up to $30 for a free entree. Why don’t you get something bigger??” I said , “Ok, maybe lobster? I dunno… you have any suggestions?” he immediately suggested the $35 Benihana Ocean Treasure which includes hibachi style lobster tail, mussels, scallops and jumbo shrimp. As a seafood lover, I was sold from the jump….

And it was AMAZING!!!!!!!! I snapped a pic on the grill. Can’t beat that!

Up next: I still have Braxton Seafood, Maggiano’s, Brio Tuscan Grill, Cold Stone Creamery, FlatTop Grill, Applebee’s and a couple of others!

The item of the day just earned me the official title of Girlfriend of the Year!! As a gadget geek, I am pretty sure Bobby loves not having to ever research anything electronic, because he knows I already have and can run down the list of features, how it works and why I/we need it. Bobby has a huge TV and last year I won a BOSE stereo system, which I donated to his entertainment center and hooked up to a receiver a friend of his gave him which gave an almost ultimate experience. The downside, was that Bobby loves his music. So in order to play the music from his macbook through the speakers, he had to hook the macbook to the receiver and essentially leave it there, since the cables weren’t long enough to keep the laptop on the couch. He had to get up and hunch over the mac to change songs/albums and after weeks of watching this I decided to make his life easier for Christmas….

So I bought him an Apple TV.

FINALLY (over a month after Christmas) he opened the package and hooked it up to the TV today. You would think he won the lottery as he so excitedly called me to run through all the features (which I of course already knew, LOL) and the simple setup (which was a huge selling point for me). So what does all of this mean, in a nutshell??

– he can use wi-fi to connect to the sound system and doesn’t have to hunch over by the receiver. Now he can control it from the couch.
– beyond the couch, he can actually control the music wirelessly from any room in the house.
– he can rent movies in HD without us having to get calls from Blockbuster asking for the movies we rented weeks ago.
– he can watch the videos from his and his friends YouTube channels on the big screen. In HD.
– I can rest until next December knowing I accomplish my goal and my title still stands! 🙂

Count Your Blessings!

While there is much to be concerned about with the economy, the job market, the uncalled for crime in many cities, and the values of many of our youth Thanksgiving is a time to stop complaining for a moment and reflect on the GOOD in your life. For me, 2009 has been an interesting year but nonetheless, I have PLENTY to be thankful for! 


Family – my family has always been an important part of my life but a lot of that focus was on immediate family for a long time. Through Facebook I have connected with (and even met) cousins and other extended family whom I rarely ever talk to. We share event photos, talk about what’s new and old in our lives and have even made plans to connect when we are in the same city. I have heard a lot of people talk about their lack of interest in Facebook and other social networking site, but I’m a believer in the connections it can provide. Then its up to you to do the work.


Friends – the Lupus walk this fall was an awesome opportunity to support my best friend of 25 years as she continues to win her battles with lupus. I reconnected with old roommates, sorority sisters I hadn’t seen in years and took WAY too many girls’ trips for one year! Despite the incurred debt, the memories are irreplaceable and I wouldn’t trade them for the world!


Love – my relationship with “Bobby” continues to grow and we have found true love but have an even greater friendship and appreciation for each other. This year has been a bit of a struggle for us as individuals with a lot of big decisions that we’ve started to make together. Most of my friends would never have used the word “romantic” to describe me, but for some reason, he brings out a lot of traits that were hidden for so long.


Career – while I can’t go into much detail, all I can say is I am setting myself up for bigger and better opportunities career-wise that will take me on an entirely new path in life. I have the most amazing support group and professional network!


Health – I FINALLY decided to take my health and my future more seriously and start making changes. A little at a time over the years has helped, but not enough. I am determined to change my diet to help myself and to support Sharon as I force her to do the same so we can live many, many more decades as healthy, fun women!


Life – the saying that “everyday is not guaranteed” has never been more apparent. It is so important to live your life to the fullest! There is soooo much to be thankful for but the ability to wake up and experience it one more day is a blessing in itself.


I hope you take a moment to reflect on what you are thankful for this Thursday and share it with family and friends. Let them know how much they mean to you. Oh, and one last thing, don’t put the macaroni in the oven after its already done… be sure to ask first. Just had to put that disclaimer on there. (LOL)


My item of the day are these AWESOME cookies by Edith + Ethel

  





Not only are the fresh baked, they are HUGE and so very tasty. They make awesome and inexpensive gifts for the holiday to family, friends, coworkers and even clients or vendors! The Oatmeal Golden Raisin are my favorite, but they all taste great!!


I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!!! 
(For laughs, here’s me against the turkey last year!)


I’m Back, with a long review on San Juan!!

Sorry about the delay in between posts. It seems its been getting worse over the year buy I’m trying to be more consistent. Just seems as if there is never enough time in the day. I’m pretty upset now that I went to Dominick’s to do some grocery shopping. I usually split the shopping between Dominick’s and Jewel-Osco, depending on what’s on sale at each. Since I didn’t have time to do my usually sales papers reviews before shopping, I just decided to get most of my stuff from Dominick’s and just pick up a rotisserie chicken from Jewel for dinner….. BIG MISTAKE. I walked in Jewel and realized that half the stuff I bought in Dominick’s was much less in Jewel due to their new price slashing!!!! Then I hear this one the news, reminding me of my big mistake. BOOOOO
All in all my No Spending Challenge ended great!! I made it all the way to the end and did a great job of tracking my spending and my thoughts. I am actually going to do it again soon because I liked the discipline and also the leftover money at the end 😉
Last week I went on a girl’s trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico and had a blast!!! It was the first time Gabbi and I had traveled together since we were kids so it was great to spend time and bond. We all woke up the last day wishing we had at least ONE MORE DAY there. Here are some details from the trip:
Lodging: El San Juan Hotel and Casino – I have to be honest and say this wasn’t our first choice for hotels. Sharifa and I had decided on Condado Plaza but after meeting a guy at a conference who used to for the tourism board of PR, and one of my TravelSisters buddies Tiggi told me about her amazing trip, we decided to follow their suggestion and go with El San Juan. TripAdvisor.com had some great reviews and some sketchy reviews (more of the recent ones being sketchy) so I was very hesitant and nervous. Most of that went out the window when I saw the lobby. The hotel was decorated nicely and had plenty of restaurants and shops on site. The location was great – very close to the airport and walking distance to plenty of restaurants serving local cuisine. We did have a problem with check-in, as the early check in was totally disregarded (which we expected based on the reviews) and the request for 2 double rooms turned into 1 double and 1 king room (which they fixed for the second night). These pics were taken in the hotel lobby…
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Food: Our concierge was ON POINT with his restaurant suggestions. The first night we walked to Mi Casita where we were introduced to “mofongos”, a mashed-plantain dish with a meat and sauce on top. Gabbi and I were hooked the first night!! The next day we hit up Metropol at the suggestion of the concierge. OMG – everything we ordered was amazing and the mojito I ordered was PERFECT. I was supposed to take pics of the food but by the time I remembered this is all that was left on our plates (mine was the second plate and I had the combination platter – so much food):
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The third night we went to Mojito’s in Old San Juan at the suggestion of the guy who worked in the hotel wine shop. Once again we hit the jackpot! I went for the shrimp mofongo and it did not disappoint, while the mojito I ordered was just ok (a bit too tart for me). That night we went to Koco in the lobby of our hotel and Gabbi and I shared the salad and pan-seared halibut with risotto. Another A+ meal! Sharifa and I shared the apple tart for dessert and that was nicely paired with a cinnamon ice cream. The 2 for 1 mojito deal made up for the tiny glasses the mojito was served in… but again, it was more on the tart side.
Activities: El Yunque Rainforest – This was probably the thing we were looking forward to most about the trip. We knew we’d have to rent a car – which turned out to be seamless with the Enterprise car rental desk being in the lobby (we made a reservation about 2 week prior). The employee was VERY helpful and did a great job of making sure we were set up for our journey. At Tiggi’s suggestion, we brought a portable GPS with us, which definitely came in handy after following the signs put us on a dead end road! (We also used it to find a McDonald’s to order some breakfast on the way!) After an interesting Spanglish conversation between myself and the guy at the information desk, he gave me his “trip plan” and we got in the car and were on our way into the forest. We drive up lots of narrow, winding, steep roads, stopping occasionally to take pictures with the roadside “objects” or to see what pics we could get from the random look out points and the tower.
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Eventually we made it to the parking for Mino Falls, which required a bit of a hike to get there. SOMEONE in the car suggested we take the hike from the second point since it was 10 minutes shorter, not knowing that it was the more challenging, steeper route!!! So here are some pics we took along the way:
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And the prize at the end of the hike: The Falls!!!!! (I must have been caught off guard in this pic – LOL)
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The next morning we woke up and went to the Edouardo de Paris spa on the hotel’s 10th Floor. THIS PLACE IS EXPENSIVE. But we knew that ahead of time and had made our reservations a month in advance. We contacted the spa to negotiate a discounted package deal and ended up getting a facial and four-hand massage at a nice discount. Yes, you read that right. FOUR-HAND MASSAGE. Don’t ask. And yes, its even better than you can imagine! Well worth it!! (I will give you this – ladies, be sure to request Carlos)
We also took a trip to Old San Juan but by the time we got there and ate it was late so most of the pics I was planning on (El Morro – the Forts) are night pics and didn’t come out well because they aren’t well lit at night. Here are a few random pics I got in Old San Juan…
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Overall, it was a great trip!!! Gabbi is already working on our next girls trip… LOL! They can be addictive! Here are two more pics – the “welcome committee” at the airport and Gabbi and I get our dance on at the BBQ place on the top floor of the hotel! (The facial expressions are hilarious – well, to me they are… maybe not to her!)
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item of the Day???? A GIRLFRIEND’S TRIP! Get your girlfriends (or sisters or cousins or even mom/daughters) together and start planning now! You can make it happen! You can google “girl’s trips” and get tons of ideas for making your own. Here are some suggestions and tips (based on girls trips I’ve taken in the past)…
pick a date. we usually send out all the dates that will NOT work and one of us (usually one of the nerdy engineers) compiles a spreadsheet highlighting dates that work for everyone. Form there we pick one and start planning. NO changing the dates!!
set a budget that works for everyone. If the trip is a year out you have more time to save. If its 4 months away you have less time. Find out what is realistic for everyone and what is included in that budget. If people are bad with saving set up a fund/account where the money is held and people can make regular payments or find a travel agent who can do this for you.
check hotel prices against the prices of rentals (homes, condos, cabins)… if you have a large group you can usually get a great deal. But be sure to ask a LOT of questions! We used a place we found on VRBO in 2007 for our girls trip to Chicago. The 8 of us rented a 2bd/2ba loft style condo near downtown Chicago. Four of the girls drove in together so we made sure we found a place that included parking. We also made sure it was close to train/bus for those flying in.
– get a general idea of the cost of activities and include this when selecting the location. For San Juan we knew we wanted a spa day and we also knew it was very expensive, but that was the only activity we paid significant money for! The rainforest was the $100 rental car for the day and a $3 donation each. Old San Juan included a $20 cab ride each way. That totals $38 each for 2 days worth of activities!!
check for flight specials (if necessary) and track using airline emails and sites like Kayak and Airfarewatchdog where you can get email alerts for your city pairs. We planned a trip from Detroit to MN when I was living there and one of these emails popped up with flights for less than $150. I called up all the girls on a conference line to let them know and they all purchased the tickets immediately saving potentially hundreds of dollars (that was typically an expensive flight).
– lastly, HAVE FUN! Check with fellow bloggers or friends to find out how their trips were, what they recommend and what they disliked. Plan a few big things and wing it on other things. Just make sure you take everyone into consideration and make it as much fun as possible!

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