[faking it]

Spaghetti squash. It looks the part and actually tastes like the real thing. Truly.

I had my doubts but I’m 100% converted. Spaghetti squash is a delicious low-carb [and nutrient rich] alternative to pasta. A little nutty, a little sweet, it is a wonderful substitute for pasta in any dish. I tossed mine with some veggies and fresh basil but I bet it would also be good with spicy Italian sausage or in a pesto sauce.

Spaghetti Squash with Portobello Mushrooms, Basil & Tomato

  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half
  • dash of sea salt
  • dash of black pepper
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 red onion, minced
  • 1/2 portabella mushroom cap, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered [i used an orange colored variety. they taste the same but add a cool pop of orange to the dish]
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil [to coat pan]

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease baking sheet and place sliced spaghetti squash cut side down on baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until sharp knife is inserted with little resistance. Set aside squash until cool enough to handle.

While squash is baking, drizzle olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Season garlic, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes and basil with sea salt, pepper and garlic powder and add to pan. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until tomatoes appear blistered and onions are translucent.

Take one half of the squash and scoop out the inside. Discard seeds [or save them and roast them separately... they taste like pumpkin seeds]. Note the freaky resemblance to spaghetti. Add to bowl and top with parmesan and a dash of salt and pepper. Pour vegetables over top the squash and enjoy [save the other half of your squash for another meal... or double the rest of the ingredients & serve it all at once]!

 

 

 

 

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[the artists' work: a st. laurence high school logo, a nightmare before christmas jack-o-lantern, a chicago bears logo [hehe] and an owl on a branch]

The best kinds of weekends are the ones where you don’t have plans but things sort of unfold as you go. This weekend we did just that, fall style. We carved pumpkins, watched football [or if you were me, napped], drank spiced cider [simmer apple cider with cinnamon sticks, whipped cream vodka & captain morgan - delish] & watched a scary movie. The weather was crisp and picture perfect. I’m craving more fall weekends just like this one.

While we’re on the subject of fall, the other week I baked up these miniature chocolate pumpkin spice cakes with a cider maple glaze for our flag football team. They were super easy to make and a tasty way to celebrate our first win!

[even though they look semi fancy they're simply doctored up cake mix plus doctored up vanilla frosting]

[more cute cakes with my crock pot simmering away in the background]

Mini Pumpkin Spice Cakes with Cider Maple Glaze

for cakes:

  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix
  • eggs, oil & water per box directions
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • dash of pure vanilla extract

for glaze:

  • 1/2 cup of your favorite vanilla frosting
  • 1 dash of apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 dash cinnamon

{optional but yet also sort of a necessity this time of year: bag of candy corn}

Preheat your oven to 350F. Combine pumpkin bread mix with eggs, oil, water, vanilla and chocolate chips. Pour into your favorite [greased] cupcake tin [I used a mini bundt cake pan]. Bake per package directions. While cakes are baking, whisk frosting, cider, maple syrup, and cinnamon together. Let cakes cool completely, then drizzle glaze over top with a fork. Decorate with candy corns and serve.

 

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Last weekend we celebrated the day o’my birth and my sister came in to visit me for the occasion. We had tons of girly fun – mani/pedi’s, boutique shopping, coffee runs & meals at fab restaurants. It was exciting and relaxing, exhilarating and restorative, all in one. Family time is good for the soul.

[the two sisters]

For some time I’ve had my eye on a brand new little brunch spot down the street from my place. The menu was clean and inventive, plus the two guys behind the restaurant hail from the iconic Charlie Trotters. Once I saw this rave review in Daily Candy, I was sold and knew I couldn’t waste anymore time. With my sister in tow, we set out for a Friday mid-morning brunch at Lincoln Park’s newest hot spot, 2Sparrows.

[and that, my friends, would be the general manager making house-made beef jerky right atop the bar]

We ordered the foie gras pop tart with cherry compote [!!] for a little app, then we each ordered the eggs benedict [had to see what the b-y-o hollandaise was all about].

[cappuccino made with intelligentsia coffee to start the day off right]

[the richness of the foie gras offset the sharp tang of the cherry. 'twas all wrapped up in a buttery, flaky crust. mmmmm.]

The eggs benedict was EGGCELLENT [shame on me. couldn't resist]. I’ve had quite a few eggs benedicts in my time and I would go out on a limb [branch?] by saying 2Sparrows has the best eggs benedict I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Where oh where do I begin:

-the ham. I don’t normally like the greasy, fatty canadian bacon that typically comes with eggs benedict, therefore I order mine sans meat. In this case, our [amazing] server informed us that all the ham is made in-house and so I decided to give it a try. Boy am I glad I did. This ham was wonderful. Just the right amount of salty smokiness to round out the dish.

-the toast. Sometimes the richness of eggs benedict can leave you with that nauseously overfull feeling. I blame that feeling, not on my own gluttonous ways, but on the filling bread that most eggs benedicts are perched on. At 2Sparrows the small, almost bite-sized pieces of toast are just the right amount.

-the big green salad. I’d never seen eggs benedict paired with a big green salad before and oh lordy, was it delicious. My sister loved the fennel and the dressing was light and refreshing. The perfect compliment to our eggy & indulgent brunch.

-the b-y-o hollandaise. Whoa. This was another first for me. Our meal came with not one, but two different hollandaise sauces – one was infused with roasted red pepper, the other with scallions. You build your own [b-y-o] and mix it up however you like. Who knew brunch could be so much fun?

The atmosphere was dynamic [even for a Friday afternoon], the service was excellent, the food was right on the money [and for that matter, quite reasonable given the upscale feel of the place]. I can sum it up with this – never before have I been at a meal where my companion and I both completely cleared our plates. We ate every last crumb. 2Sparrows, I will see you [and your eggs benedict... & probably your maple & bacon doughnuts] again soon.

 

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[boo!]

Found this gem on a very cool blog a year ago and wanted to remember to share it with you for this year’s Halloween. The crafty blogger created it in Photoshop and encourages you to print it out and frame it for this year’s Halloween party [you can download the full 8x10 version on her site]. I love when bloggers are generous in this way.

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[pumpkin spice latte {& my sweet chipped polish} in your face. make yours a venti.]

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WHO Nike and AKIN

WHAT WE RUN CHI., a party to kick off the launch of the Chicago LunarGlide+3 & a preview of Nike’s fall collection before the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

WHEN Saturday, October 1 [the day after TOMORROW!], 3-5 p.m.

WHERE AKIN, 2350 N. Clark, Chicago, 60614 [map here]

WHY Well, for starters:

+ Nike specially commissioned local Chicago artist Tara D. to design these one-of-a-kind LunarGlide+3′s.

+ Nike reps will be on hand to give tips on running in the rain, the dark, and in these chilly fall and winter months.

+ There will be complimentary food, drinks and snazzy giveaways [after all, it's Nike we're talking about].

+ You can get a sneak peek at Nike’s new Marathon Collection and fall running line.

Plus …I can hardly contain my excitement because the lovely folks at Nike are kindly gifting me a pair of these limited edition sneaks, yippie! I may not have a million dollars but I will have the coolest kicks in town! ‘Tis the little things in life my friends.

I plan to lace up my new LunarGlide+3′s for trips to the coffee shop, gallivanting around town, and maybe even once in awhile for an actual run. I’m thinking these are just the motivation I need to hit the lakefront trail when the temperature takes a plunge.  I can’t keep these lovelies all to myself!

I love the way Tara D. captured the spirit of the city, from incorporating the flag of Chicago’s color scheme to subtle details like adding CHI to the tongue.

[be still my heart.]

Even though I’m most definitely NOT running the marathon, I will gladly show my support [from the sidelines] by sporting my new sneaks. So Saturday, bring your friends … 2350 N. Clark … 3-5 pm … come run, come all!

 

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… I’d buy my soon-to-be niece [via my wonderful cuzzie & cuzzie-in-law!] these adorable, hilarious, over-the-top extravagant things. Because every baby needs some skinny Seven’s to tuck into a pair of miniature Frye boots, right?! The tiny things they make for the babes seriously kill me, especially the shoes. Oh, the shoes.

1. Primigi Kids Maglioncino Sweater [$41]

2. Frye Harness Bootie [$38]

3. 7 for All Mankind The Skinny Denim Leggings [$59]

4. Bonpoint Cardigan Milky White [$145]

5. Burberry Gathered Check Cotton Dress [$165]

6. TOMS Tiny Canvas [$29]

7. Tod’s Baby Gommini Shoes [$165]

8. Lili Gaufrette Infant’s Tulle Skirt [$79]

9. Petit Bateau Rain Coat [$116]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[i hope]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jetsetting to Vegas this a.m. to celebrate the last hurrah of Gina, one of my favorite ladies. Here we are in college, five (FIVE!) years ago, practically babies:

Although the miles separate us now she’s the sort of friend you can call on anytime and she would drop everything to be there for you. I can always count on her and I’m very lucky to have her in my life. She’s met a wonderful man, her true match, and I couldn’t be happier for her. Well, off I go to palm trees & 100 degrees – eek! Have a great weekend everyone!

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[be kind]

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