Banana Berry Smoothie

  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 4 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 of a 5.3 oz container blueberry yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups ice

Add. Blend. Drink.

[open wide!]

p.s. my baby niece learned how to walk yesterday! yahooooo

 

 

 

 

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I’m sort of embarrassed to admit what I did last week. Because I am a weirdo and enjoy grocery shopping more than a normal person should, I made a night out of it. You can’t blame me though, I live 10 minutes from the wondrous glory that is the Lincoln Park Whole Foods [15150 N. Kingsbury], the third-largest Whole Foods store in the world. This is not your average grocery store. It is the gargantuan mother of all grocery stores. Sure, you can pick up milk and eggs but why stop there when you can hit up…

  • Da’Vine Wine Bar [totally acceptable to sip a glass of wine as you shop]
  • 1550 Bar [complete with nightly specials such as Trivia Night]
  • Mix-and-Match Cookie and Trail Mix Stations
  • Make-your-own Bath Salt Station
  • Make-your-own Peanut/Cashew/Almond Butter Station
  • Seven in-store eateries [fresh sushi, bakery, deli, and more]
  • Rooftop yoga class
  • Nightly cooking classes

+ so much more

…all under one [massive] roof.

This beautiful behemoth is truly something to behold. I’ve taken both my brother and sister to check it out when they visited me and they were blown away too. My sister and I were lucky enough to score seats at the bustling wine bar and enjoyed wine flights and prime people watching. There were couples on dates, guys catching up over a pint, girlfriends with glasses of champagne. All in the middle of a grocery store – who’d a thunk it.

I wanted to share some photos of my shopping trip with you, and, me being the responsible blogger that I am, called ahead to get the OK from Whole Foods to take some photos. With some minor stipulations, they welcomed me with open arms. Without further ado…

[the sheer volume of everything is astounding]

[endless rows of fat, juicy heirloom tomatoes]

[lifetime supply {and then some} of carrot juice]

[fancy soap station]

[bath salt bar]

[pellegrino as far as the eye can see]

[had to do it]

A few things that came home with me…

[my favorite tea]

[freshly ground 100% almonds... it was warm as it came out of the grinder!]

[my new obsession: black truffle oil... a bit of a splurge at $12 for a small bottle but you can use it in everything and a little goes a long way. i've added it to mac + cheese and eaten it just by itself with whole-grain bread]

[icelandic style yogurt is very thick and has a TON of protein]

[farm fresh eggs you literally pluck from a little chicken coop-esque bed of hay]

[i've lived in chicago for 3 years and had never tried the famous oberweis milk - til now!]

 

 

 

 

 

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Six pieces I’m currently coveting:

This Eliza Ring is pricey [$480] but I love the sentimental simplicity. So delicate and pretty. This would make a sweet gift for a very special occasion.

Apparently I have expensive taste today because this $398  Seafoam Double Strand necklace from Anthropolgie is also decidedly over the budget here at {navy + cream}, but I love the colors so much!

You may recall this necklace I bought from the Chicago boutique Mint Julep [for $60], as mentioned in this post:

Well… look what I found for a tenth of the price at Forever 21 [$9.80]:

Can you believe it? Given that I wear the Mint Julep one on a weekly basis [with jeans + a tee , a casual black dress, a cocktail dress, + so on], I think it’s only fitting I add this wallet-friendly statement piece to my jewelry box.

Digging the antique look to this braided necklace from Ann Taylor [$58].

This gold Modcloth bracelet [$49] will help you line your ducks in a row .

Fred Flare ‘forget me knot’ ring [$58]

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet Foodha.

[image credit menuism blog]

This chubby guy is the official face of Menuism, a site started by two college buddies that’s dedicated to the food loving community. Aside from being the home for Foodha, Menuism is a place where foodies can trade restaurant tips and the inside scoop on favorite spots across the country.

The team at Menuism filled me in on a fantastic Facebook deal they’re running – for every new Facebook fan Menuism earns until April 24, they will donate $1 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. This is a great [and easy] way to help people right here in Chicago. Last year alone the Food Depository distributed 135,000 meals a day. Amazing!

[image credit menuism blog]

Take a second to pop over to Facebook and ‘like’ Menuism today.

 

 

 

 

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[my monday is looking decidedly up.]

 

 

 

 

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[whale-print paper from vineyard vines {thanks mom!}. letterpress calendar from chicago-based orange beautiful]

Some ideas to warm up your Wednesday…

  • try a new recipe
  • treat yourself to a new pair of shoes[or in my case, some fig vanilla black pepper syrup i read about to drizzle over ice cream, coffee, tea ... so many possibilities]
  • go for a light jog [bundle up if you're in chicago... brrr! spring has not sprung, not even close]
  • make some homemade trail mix to snack on throughout the day when you crave something salty and sweet [mix 1/2 cup oven roasted almonds with sea salt + 1/2 cup raisins.]
  • take a moment to enjoy a breath of fresh air
  • start a new book [i'm reading 'a thousand splendid suns' by khaled hosseini right now {thanks deirdre!} and am hooked.]
  • make a simple piece of jewelry [last fall i took a class at caravan beads at lincoln + roscoe. they have all sorts of cool beads that will get your creative juices flowing.]

[a bead-ish looking jelly bean]

What are some of the ways you spice up the midweek mopes?

 

 

 

 

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Continuing the theme of vegetarian meals, I put together this coconut curry tofu that’s chock full of so many veggies you won’t even miss the meat. I’ve always enjoyed curry dishes and although it’s possible to make your own curry paste, it’s pretty time consuming and the packets you can buy at the store taste just as good – plus the unused portion will keep in your fridge for months. My favorite is ‘A Taste of Thai’ red curry paste, it has a great spicy kick to it.

If you’re like Vince and are afraid of tofu, don’t be, it’s delicious and absorbs the flavor of whatever sauce it happens to be simmering in. It’s also a breeze to cook with, you can throw it into pretty much anything without any prep work [unlike chicken... sometimes the sliminess of chicken gets to me]. You can find it in the produce section of  most grocery stores and if my two nieces [c = 11 months, her first birthday is in 2 weeks!, and m = 3 years] love it, you will too.

Coconut Curry Tofu

  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp ‘A Taste of Thai’ red curry paste
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped [pick your favorite color or mix'n match like I did]
  • 1 bunch snow peas [in the pod], halved
  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 7 oz. extra firm organic tofu [half the package], cut into bite-sized cubes

Bring coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, and curry paste to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Let mixture stand for 2-3 minutes to thicken. Ladle over whole grain brown rice. Serves two plus leftovers.

[the vibrant colors of these veggies practically leap off the cutting board]

[the lineup continued... coconut milk + soy sauce + fish sauce]

[coconut milk + soy sauce make a pretty design in the pan]

 

 

 

 


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I learned a valuable lesson with dinner last night: it is very possible for you to over salt your pasta water. I was standing by the stove top absentmindedly tipping my sea salt into the pot [watching a dvr'd episode of real housewives of oc, no less] when half the container accidentally dumped into the water. Eek. I debated for a second then reasoned, most of the salt gets poured down the drain with the water so how much actually sticks to the pasta? I threw some tortellini in the pot without a second thought. Ten minutes ticked by and the pasta looked done. I took one bite and promptly tossed the batch into the trash – I could barely stomach it, it was like eating a hunk of salt – [shudder]. A new package of pasta and some conservative pinches of salt later I came up with my red, white, and green tortellini. It’s another simple meatfree option for these Lenten Fridays and only has four main ingredients, easy peasy japaneasy.

Basil, Tomato + Spinach Tortellini

  • 1 package buitoni all natural spinach cheese tortellini
  • sprinkling of parmesan cheese
  • 8 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil, gently salt, then add tortellini. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. While pasta is cooking, slice tomatoes and basil. Add cooked pasta to all remaining ingredients and toss together. Yum!

red.

white.

+ green.

ta-da!

 

 

 

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Ever since I saw Lindsay Lohan’s character dunk an oreo in a jar of peanut butter in The Parent Trap, I was hooked on the snack. I found this recipe for a no bake bar [my first] and had all the ingredients on hand. Remembering how good peanut butter + oreos are together, I strayed from the recipe and added a touch of peanut butter to the mix. I also didn’t have a full package of oreos so I improvised and added some reduced-fat chips ahoys.

Cookies’n Cream Bars

  • 1 package oreos [I used Trader Joe's Joe-Joes  {like oreos but better} and again, only had half a package so I used some reduced-fat chips ahoys. use any cookies you have.]
  • 2 spoonfuls natural peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 package mini marshmallows

Place cookies in a ziploc bag and crush [doesn't need to be a fine crush]. Place marshmallows, butter, and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl and microwave for 1.5 – 2 minutes or until marshmallows begin to puff. Remove and pour in cookie mixture. Stir to combine then transfer to a foil lined 8×8 baking pan. Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove bars out of pan with edges of foil and cut into squares. Makes 9 large bars. Told you it was easy!

 

 

 

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{When life hands you mushy bananas…}

I had a couple bananas that were turning on me and it was the perfect time to bake a batch of banana bread. In the spirit of St. Pat’s I wanted to add some green flair to my grandma’s recipe but without any green food coloring in the cupboard I wasn’t sure how to pull it off. As my eyes settled on the basil pot on the windowsill it hit me, why not give the savory Italian herb a try? I had a hunch the subtle, slightly minty flavors of the basil would compliment the sugary sweetness of the banana nicely. Although I didn’t get the vibrant green hue I was hoping for, the incidental marrying of flavors was right on.

Basil Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3-4 ripe bananas
  • 1-2 tsp sour cream, if you have it
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 bunch [4-5 large leaves] fresh basil, chopped

Reserve:

  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 3-4 large basil leaves, chopped – for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix butter, sugar, bananas, sour cream, water, chocolate chips, basil and eggs thoroughly in big bowl with electric mixer. Mix remaining dry ingredients and add to wet mixture slowly [otherwise the flour will fly everywhere and make a huge lovely mess...]. When all ingredients are combined, gently fold in reserved chocolate chips with a spatula. Grease one large loaf pan. Bake in oven 35-40 minutes or until butter knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on rack, remove from pan, slice, top with reserved basil. Enjoy a piece for breakfast [wrap in a lightly damp paper towel and steam it the microwave for 15 seconds. Slather a pat of butter on top while still warm], or have a slice as a sweet after dinner treat.

 

 

 

 

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