Green Street Smoked Meats

2 Oct

Last week, a group of friends and I decided to get together and grab food/drinks after work. There are a lot of new, interesting and delicious places that are popping up everywhere, but the West Loop seems to keep hitting it right on the mark. If you are unfamiliar with the West Loop of Chicago, it is directly west of the loop (shocker) and is home to some of the best food/restaurants in the city: Au Cheval (known for their incredible bacon cheeseburger), Girl & The Goat/ Little Goat (Stephanie Izard’s famed dish – pig face), Avec (bacon-wrapped dates), The Publican (Serrano Ham and Beer), RM Champagne Salon, Nellcote, The Aviary, … just to name a few ;)

We all decided that we wanted something low-key, but with awesome food and drinks, so Green Street Smoked Meats it was.  I had not yet been to GSSM, but as an avid lover of all things barbecue I was on board.

The first cool thing about this place is that the entrance is in an alley.  An alley that has been transformed into an outdoor eating mecca with communal picnic tables and twinkle lights galore.  When you enter, you are immediately greeted by a bearded staff member who explains the order of events – get in line and pick out your meat/sides, then go to the bar to order your drinks.

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(blurry – I was so excited! … but you get the idea)

The smell inside the building was intoxicating and seeing the giant smokers with chefs pulling out delicious, succulent meats almost made me go weak at the knees – how could I decide what to order?!

Since we went right after work, the line went by fast and before I knew it I had decided on pork ribs with a side of potato salad and house made spicy pickles. – I’m literally drooling right now just thinking about it.

We passed by the bar to grab some margaritas and beers and headed outside to snag a table.

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Fist of all, the sides were AWESOME.  I could have eaten two containers of the pickles which were not super spicy, but had a good kick from the spice/vinegar combination.  The potato salad was light, not overly dressed with heavy mayo and the potatoes themselves were perfectly cooked – love red-skinned potatoes.

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The ribs, oh those ribs.  Do you see that rub?! They were phenomenal.  Juicy and succulent, you bet I took off all that meat straight down to the bone.

I had little bites of other dishes that were around me as well – smoked brisket, broccoli salad, frito pie (oh, yes).  Everything was phenomenal and BONUS under $20!

We took our time eating through our plates, going back up to the bar for a second round and enjoying the beautiful weather.  I’m fairly certain we could have sat there all night if it wasn’t for that dog at home we needed to take care of at home…

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If you are ever in Chicago and are looking for a fun place to grab food/drinks, I highly recommend making your way over to the West Loop.   Stroll around, take it all in and wander over to Green Street Smoked Meats for some amazing smoked meats and strong drinks in a causal setting.  You won’t regret it!

Channeling my Inner Olivia Pope

30 Sep

This week is the first week in a very long time in which I don’t have anything scheduled after work except getting some kind of fitness in, cooking and hanging out with Bailey and B.  I’m pretty damn excited about it, too.  Remember the days when your weekends didn’t consist of engagement parties, bachelorette parties, weddings, baby showers?  Yah, me either.

While I love attending all of these events, the busy adult syndrome I have blogged about before has definitely creeped into my life.  This is why I enjoy the little things during the week, like being able to come home veg out on the couch and watch reruns of Gilmore Girls or pouring myself a glass of red wine, popping some popcorn, slipping into some comfy clothes and reading the latest Bon Appetit magazine.

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(image source)

Olivia Pope anyone?

This way when the busy weekend rolls around, I feel energized and excited!

A low key week also means a good week for planning out meals and fitness:

Monday – Soccer; Flank Steak with Asparagus

Tuesday – Group Training at DHF; Smoked Sausage, Kale and Cider Quinoa Skillet by Iowa Girl Eats (so excited to make this!!!!)

Wednesday – Run after work; homemade Turkey and Rice Soup

Thursday – Gym in the a.m.; leftover soup and salad

Friday – Rest; Mushroom and Cheddar Quiche

Saturday – I will be at a bachelorette party all day – Brian will be at a bachelor party all day (coincidentally for the other Lindsay and Brian in our lives) :)

Sunday – Spin class in the a.m.; Shrimp Fajitas

Last night, I had a soccer game right after work and the craziest thing happened.  It went from 80 degrees to 50 degrees in, I kid you not, and hour.  WE WON! Which was awesome, but when we left the field the wind was going crazy the weather was a changin’ and then these two ladies and their catchy song popped into my head:

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Of course, nothing bad happened except the Chiefs killed New England in Monday Night Football and SPOILER ALERT: Castle was kidnapped and doesn’t remember what happened?!  Crazy.

In other totally random news, a couple weeks ago, my coworker who is training for the New York City Marathon told me about all of these runners who have been embracing barefoot running around the city because they believe running in shoes is not good for them.  Last night I saw MY FIRST barefoot runner in Chicago.  I tried to snag a picture but he we too fast and it was too dark.  Damn.

Love and Marriage

29 Sep

Today is just one of those mornings I didn’t want to get out of bed. I wanted to wake up and for it to be Saturday morning all over again. My little sister, Kristan, came in town from Charlotte, North Carolina to celebrate one of our closest family friends getting married.

I haven’t seen my sister since the end of July so to say that I was excited to spend the weekend with her was an understatement.

We brunched, shopped and of course partied.

The wedding ceremony and reception was held at the gorgeous Salvage One venue in Chicago. If you are unfamiliar with this particular spot, it’s a vintage furniture store that they transform on the weekends. All the furniture was eclectically mismatched, but uniquely cool and retro. There were chandeliers of all shapes and sizes hanging from the ceiling and even a pair of old church bells.

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My favorite detail, however, was the marquee Chicago sign in the courtyard.

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The ceremony was quick, but beautiful. The bride, a lover of all things French, chose classic French bistro music as her background to the ceremony.  The mother and fathers of the bride/groom wrote touching letters addressed to the couple and a Willie Nelson song was even recited before two pronounced their vows.

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Everything was beautiful.

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I feel extremely fortune to say that I still have friends from when I was in grade school. That we have been through dress up plays, middle school fads, first time love, first time heartbreak and all that there is in between together. All the way to marrying the love of her life… It’s truly special.

Fall Recipe Round-up

24 Sep

Well, kids.

Gone are the days of overworked AC units, humid L rides, crop tops (can I get an amen?) and weekend beach trips. Fall is officially here. While some may be bummed about this realization, I am a true Midwest lady and openly embrace the change of seasons.

My dad is on a mountain bike trip with his buddies in Wisconsin this week and sent this picture to our family last night.

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C’mon…it’s gorgeous!

In honor of this significant change in season I’ve decided to round-up a bunch of my favorite fall recipes from different chefs and cooks that will hopefully inspire you to embrace the cooler weather and all it’s glory.

Here we go!

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Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad – Smitten Kitchen

This recipe is perfect for bring-to-work lunches and fall potlucks.

Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts – Ina Garten

I love anything roasted with balsamic vinegar on it.  Perfection.

Potato-Apple Latkes – Cooking Light

I’m a sucker for good Jewish food, and love how easy this recipe is to make at home.

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew – Giada De Laurentiis

I’ve made this recipe for Brian and I on holidays or for a special date night at home.

Honey-Bourbon Toddy – Bon Appetit

Perfect to bring to a tailgate!  Go BEARS!

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas- Skinnytaste

Hellooo Tex-Mex and butternut squash?  Genius combo.

5 Ingredient Breakfast-stuffed Acorn Squash – PaleOMG

Easy, but impressive breakfast.

Pumpkin Spice Trail Mix – Eating Bird Food

My go-to snack to bring on road trips, to work or to gift to friends.

 

Hope you enjoy some of my favorites… go fourth and eat!

Try it out Tuesday – DHF Lakeview

23 Sep

I love trying out new gyms/fitness trends as much as the next person, but as I mentioned last week it is really important for me to be consistent in my fitness routine in order to see results.  Since signing up for the Spartan Race, which is on November 1st, I’ve been looking to find a gym that would really help me develop skills I’ll need for the race.  For a long time I considered joining a local CrossFit box, but wasn’t sure which box to choose and I couldn’t get into the beginners course.

Last week, I attended a new-to-me gym called DHF Lakeview through my ClassPass subscription.  The owner, Dan Hicks, believes in a training philosophy that incorporates 5 building blocks of success in each workout:

  1. Functional Movement
  2. Strength
  3. High Intensity
  4. Total Body
  5. Always Changing

All of those sounded good to me, so I decided to check it out.

DHF Lakeview is in East Lakeview which is super convenient for me to get to and from (a must for me to continuously go to any gym).  It’s a small studio, I’m talking 900 square feet, but Dan really incorporates every area of the gym into each circuit he creates.

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I signed up for a ‘Group Session’ which usually contains about 6 people, but that day we only had 3 – which was awesome – more individual attention.  Dan quickly introduced himself and so did the other two men in my group before we got started.  Our workout started with warming up on the TRX bands – fitness tools I rarely use but truly love.  Most of his warm-up just involved body weight, but when we got into the high intensity circuit, he started to incorporate a lot more weights, kettlebells and a weird looking machine in the corner.

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So what was is this machine I’m talking about?

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from Ironcompany.com

It’s called Surge Performance Training.  There are so many different exercises you can do with this thing, that I really can’t even explain it in words.  Visit their website to see what I’m talking about – the machine is intense and you literally use your entire body in the different movements.  Loved it.

The circuit moved quickly and we performed all different kinds of movements from rowing, box jumps, squats, lunges, push-ups, the ab workout where your feet are on those moving discs… lots of fun stuff.

Overall, I loved it.  I left a complete sweaty mess, but felt great.  I plan on going to DHF at least 2-3x per week alternating between my running workouts and a yoga class here and there.  Hopefully all of these movements help increase my mobility (my squats suck) and prepare me for the big Spartan Race in November!

What studios or gyms do you incorporate into your fitness routine?

Oh, and p.s. – GO BEARS!

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Race for the Cure 5k

22 Sep

This weekend, my college girlfriends and I signed up to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Lombard, IL.  This event was special for two reasons:

1. We are all Zeta Tau Alpha alums and Breast Cancer Awareness is our philanthropy.  In college, we used to charter a large bus to pick us up in Normal, IL (Illinois State University) and drive us to the Race for the Cure event in Chicago.

2. One of our closest friends had this philanthropy hit home when her mother was diagnosed earlier this summer.

Since it’s not always easy to get all of us in the same place for an extended period of time, we decided to make a ‘weekend’ out of it.  My friends and I whom live in the city drove out to the burbs Saturday to hang out with several of our other friends to have a good ol’ fashioned girls sleep over.  Wine, cheese and chick flick movies were all involved.

The next morning we were up bright and early to get to the event by 8:00 a.m and to meet Brian who drove up to participate.  The race start and finish was located in a mall parking lot, which was really the perfect spot because no one is at the mall at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning.  The lot was full of women and men alike dressed to the nines in full out pink.  Pink socks, skirts, homemade pants, boas, ribbons, hats… you name it.  There was a large stage where people were dancing and playing music, getting pumped up for the race and lots of vendors there handing out free goodies.

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At 8:30 a.m., the race began!

5k’s are really such fun races.  It’s a long enough distance to get in a good workout, but not too long where I feel like i’m going to pass out.

A lot of the people racing with me were super friendly, giving each other high-fives and screaming out encouraging mantras.  It was an all-around feel good kind of race, especially because you knew that the donations were going towards such a wonderful cause.

The course took us out of the mall parking lot and into the surrounding neighborhood.  It was a pretty perfect day to go running except for a few strong gusts of wind here and there.  I wasn’t complaining though ;)

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I had an awesome time running the race.  Surprisingly, the cheese and wine combo from the night before was not hindering my stride and I ended up running a pretty decent race!  I didn’t PR my 5k time, but I did place 3rd in my age group which was pretty neat.

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Of course, there were really only 50 people in my age group… but I’ll still take it!

After the race, we hung out for a while.  Enjoyed roaming the tents eating fresh watermelon, coffee and donuts.

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Check out these amazing watermelon carvings!  The man who created these did them live so you could watch him make one from start-to-finish.

It was a great way to spend a Sunday.  I love my college friends so much and am so glad we continue to stay best friends even though 4 years has already passed since we got to live carelessly at our old stomping grounds.

 

How to stick to your fitness routine

18 Sep

Hello Hello!

Last week, my company wrapped up our 60-Day fitness challenge.  The event was a success!  We had over 50 employees stay committed during the entire challenge and some of our employees saw amazing results (I’m talking over 8% body fat loss and several inches off their waist and hips).

The question that now burns deeply in all of our minds is… now what?  Well, we have a major product release and user conference coming up in less than a month, so our kFit program is taking a breather so people don’t feel overwhelmed.

The answer: get into a routine as quickly as possible.

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Staying active, staying motivated and staying in great shape is all about routine and consistency.  For some, the kFit 60 Day Challenge was the first consistent program they had followed in several years.  All I gotta say is DON’T BREAK THE HABIT!  Here are some helpful tips on how to maintain an active lifestyle.

1.  Join. Join. Join. Join.

Join a gym, box, running club, studio, or league.  Join something that is going to help you stay consistent a couple days out of the week.  Currently, I belong to a gym, play on a coed soccer team Monday nights and joined the ClassPass program so I can find out what types of fitness studios I really enjoy.  I love love love HIIT conditioning and using heavy weights to build my strength.  I was so happy to find that by joining ClassPass I was able to find a HIIT studio winner … more on that later.

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2.  Mark your calendar.

Nothing holds me as accountable as creating a calendar of my weekly workouts and posting it somewhere public.  If I come home early and Brian see’s that I have a 5 mile run written down, he won’t let me sit on the couch and blow it off.

3.  Find a buddy!

One of my favorite things about our 60-Day challenge was the fact that it was group training.  We all supported each other, did the same damn bear crawls together and we were engaged and excited to be there.  If you can find a friend, spouse, significant other who wants to be just as committed to an active lifestyle as you, it will make your fitness routine that much more fun!  Hell, maybe you will find someone through joining a studio or league.  Cough cough. Do it.

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4.  Measure yourself.

When you take your hip, waist and body fat measurements and re-evaluate yourself every month, it really shows how much effort and commitment you are putting into your routine.  The body fat % scale does not lie, folks…

5.  Make it fun!

Don’t run every day if you freaking hate running!  Do activities that you truly enjoy and will make you go back and do it again.  I can’t tell you how awesome it is to try out new fitness classes (spin, barre, conditioning, strength, pilates, yoga, CrossFit) and find something you truly become passionate about.

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Now that I’ve given my little rant, let’s hold myself accountable – shall we?

This weeks workouts:

Sunday – 60 minute spin class/body pump at GO Cycle.

Monday – Soccer.  (I got a stomach bug this night and only played half a game, but it’s better than nothing!)

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Tuesday – 3.2 mile run.

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Wednesday – 60 minute conditioning class at my new favorite… DHF Lakeview! (Again, more on that later).

Today - 4 mile run.

Friday – Rest.

Saturday – 45 minute spin class at Go Cycle

Now go out there and get. it. done.

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