All over the food map

I have some people pictures to post from weddings and such, but this one is going to focus on food with a few random non-food thrown in for good measure.  As you will see…my eating has been all over the map..

Fresh summer tomatoes are the best

Drank this in New York last week when sick with a cold–loved it and the cayenne pepper addition helped clear out my sinuses a bit.

United Lounge, don’t mind if I do eat everything you have–cheese and crackers, latte, fruit salad (already 3/4 eaten) chocolate, fritos.  And german mags.  What more could a person want.

Tempura Ice Cream after a byob sushi dinner.  This was my first time trying–so good!

My new favorite bar.  I have only seen these in stores in Texas but found them online.  They are so so good! The peanut butter chocolate flavor is awesome too.

Do yourself a favor and start making tacos this way.  Make a mini quesadilla with (the small size) corn tortillas and then use that as your taco ‘shell’.  Then fill your ‘shell’ with whatever you want!  I can’t take total credit for this because I read about it somewhere–but I can’t remember where to link to it! These taste way better than regular tacos since the cheese is melted.  Think of it as a cheesy gordita crunch but wayyyy healthier (make sure you are using corn tortillas though-not flour).

In my tacos, I used guacamole and crockpot chicken–slow cooked 6 pieces of chicken with 2 jars of salsa.  This is the best way to make chicken for mexican dishes and it’s super easy.

A new Trader Joe’s love–tofu and edamame nuggets.  Even if you don’t like tofu, you will like these.  I promise.


Had to do it. Coop the watch dog (when I was in Michigan a few weeks ago)

Another day, another flight!

Another hotel…this one with a shower in the room.  not sure how I felt about that

When the shower is in the room…this is what the rest of the bathroom looks like.  Ha, you better believe I never closed that door and risked locking myself in there.

Probably best to close with a pic of a toilet, don’t you think?

I am home all week and have a recipe coming soon!!




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South of the Border Steak Salad

Here’s a perfect end of summer salad.  I’ve included all my favorites from my favorite farmer’s market, The Port Austin Farmer’s Market.  This is the time of the year to really enjoy fresh local produce and this recipe lets you do just that.  If you want to make this a meat free meal, skip the steak and add a cup of drained and rinsed canned black beans.  The dressing has a great fresh taste that I hope you will enjoy as much as I did.  Flour tortillas easily become a great shell for the salad with a little time in the oven.  You could just as easily trade the tortilla shell for a few tortilla chips tossed on a dinner plate.  So, the next time you head to the grill, toss on a little extra beef to make a quick and easy dinner a day or so later.  If you can’t find queso fresco cheese, I think feta would be a nice substitution.  This easily serves 3 or 4 and you’ll have extra dressing for another salad.  The dressing is a little thin in consistency, but I wanted to avoid using a thickening agent.  Why not try to avoid chemical and preservatives if you can?  Want to make an even easier salad dressing that will work perfectly too?  Mix 1/2 part salsa and 1/2 low fat ranch dressing, it will be a great quick alternative to the dressing below.  I used taco salad/tortilla pans to make a lower fat taco salad shell by simply spraying the pan with non cook spray and adding a flour tortilla into each pan.  Cook tortilla in preheated 400 F degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned.  If you don’t have tortilla pans, use the underside of a muffin pan to create a taco salad shell.




8 ounces flank steak, thinly sliced and cut into bite size pieces

4 ounces queso fresco cheese, crumbled or diced

1 large head of leaf lettuce or romaine lettuce

1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced

Kernels from 2 cobs of cooked corn

½ of one cucumber, peeled and diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

1 large tomato, diced

4 large radishes, diced or sliced

1 avocado, peeled and diced

Four 12 inch flour tortillas or tortilla chips (see note above)



Juice of one lime

1/3 cup buttermilk

¼ cup olive oil

1/3 cup low-fat sour cream

1/3 cup salsa

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Toss all dressing ingredients in small bowl and mix until well blended. In large salad bowl, add all salad ingredients and toss with dressing.  Add salad to plate lined with tortilla chips or taco salad tortilla bowl.


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August trips…

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend!  I have been all over the place since I have last posted.  So, if we have any readers left, I’m sorry for the delay :) .  I went to a fam reunion, to Harbor Springs and San Francisco for weddings, to Minnesota for the weekend and of course work trips in between.

Here are some pics from the last MONTH…

I barely took any pics in Harbor Springs but was there for the wedding of one of my very best friends!  It was a great weekend and a beautiful beach ceremony.


The San Francisco weekend wedding was different since it was city and not beachy, but it was equally as much fun…we also did a lot of exploring of San Fran throughout the weekend which was great, I’m so glad I got to see more of the city.


Awesome Chinese food in Chinatown…I highly recommend R&G


Ginger Jar heaven in Chinatown

My handsome date! :)

Minnesota–which was beautiful and relaxing–a perfect weekend after back to back wedding weekends..

Running selfie :)


I don’t think I’ve ever had more comments on a pair of shoes at the airport ha!

Some recent eats…

Chicken salad at Cafe Patachou at the Indy airport, Green Tea kit kat (which I didn’t realize was like 3 bucks for a mini one until buying it) , and spring rolls at Lund’s in Minneapolis.  If you ever need a good lunch from a grocery store in the AM, I have noticed that sushi is generally the first thing out–and you know it’s fresh when they have someone making it first thing in the morning!

I will be back with another post of some new Trader Joe’s finds!  Talk to you soon!




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The last few weeks

I have been all over the place the last few weeks.  No cooking has been going on unless you count hard boiling eggs.   Which I still  bring with me every time.   My fridge in my hotel room was too cold this week though and they froze solid :( .  Eggs are not very good after having frozen solid–fyi.   My mom got me a yogurt maker just like hers and I’m dying to try it out but just haven’t been home for long enough yet.

Here are some pics from along the way:

This is the Andaz hotel in NYC on 5th Ave.  Highly recommend.  The picture above is the closet.  There is a similar glass case next to it with the minibar and fridge.  Everything (minus the alcohol) in the minibar is free.  FREE!  I had to google that to double check because I didn’t believe it.   Awesome touch considering most Manhattan hotels charge 10 bucks for a water.  There was also a big gym, really friendly staff.  Love it, I am definitely staying here again if I have the chance.

Here is the bathroom:

That rain shower meant I actually had to wash my hair for once too ha.

View of NYC from my friend Lindsey’s apartment…

Everytime I go to Manhattan I remember just how much I love it!  I also love when there is a Zara directly across the street from my hotel…

I finally jumped on the wedge sneaker bandwagon. 

I also got some leather shorts at Zara which are the best.  I highly suggest checking out the sale they have going on, online too!


It was a pain to drag around all my purchases all week.  But definitely worth it in the end. 

Last weekend my friends Rachel and Alexis came into town to go wedding dress shopping for Rachel!  We had such a great time.  Rach and I go way back to second grade, so we are practically like sisters.   We found a few hopefuls but so far Rachel has not said yes to the dress.  :)


Here is my Hampton Inn suite from last week…


Pretty good for a Hampton Inn!  Can you tell I’m moving on up in the Hilton world?

Last but not least…here is the luggage tag I made..

As you can see, I rushed it so it looks like crap up close.  But from far away it looks good.

I’m headed off to Minneapolis for the day–a 6 AM flight tomorrow means a 4 AM wake up call sadly.  Then it’s off to a family reunion for the weekend, pics to follow!

Hope you guys have a great weekend!



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Turkey kofte kebab

Here’s another recipe with yogurt and it’s great.  I was hoping to use lamb for this recipe but ground lamb wasn’t to be found so I used ground turkey and I think I’ll stick with turkey in the future.  This was a quick and easy summer entrée and the turkey made for a healthier version.

Just what is Kofte you might be wondering.  Well, here’s what I found on Wikipedia: Köfte kebab or şiş köfte or Kabab koobideh (in Iran) is a kebab variant. It consists of köfte, minced lamb meatballs with herbs, often including parsley and mint, on a stick, grilled. The food is popular in Iran and Turkey, where there are hundreds of versions such as ıslama köfte, çiğ köfte, and kadınbudu köfte; and, is usually served with plain rice and a salad.  The origin of the word köfte is the Persian word کوفته kufteh meaning “mashed”. In old times since people did not have meat grinders they minced meat to very small pieces and then mashed them in rather large mortars.

This recipe uses just a pinch of a variety of spices.  I really enjoyed this recipe and the next time I make this I may measure out 4 times the required amounts of paprika, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne.  I’ll then label a little jar kofta spice blend and it will take no time at all to assemble this recipe, I’ll just use about a quarter of the mixture each time I make these.

I guess I didn’t take a photo of the sauce on the kebabs, don’t skip the sauce though, it took the turkey flavor from great to outstanding, I can’t wait to make these again.

Kofte (kebab)

20 ounces ground turkey

1 small onion, diced

½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

½ cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


Yogurt Garlic Sauce

½ cup yogurt

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon tahini paste (sesame paste) *


Combine all ingredients until well blended.  Avoid over mixing the ingredients.  Divide the turkey mixture into about 8 parts and form each part into a ball or oval on a metal skewer.

Mix yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and tahini together until well blended.

Heat the barbeque grill to medium high and cook on each side for about 4 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Serve the kebabs with the sauce.



*this is often available at bulk food stores or in the Middle Eastern or natural food sections of the grocery store.  If you don’t plan to use much, the bulk food store is a great way to go, just but a little bit at a time.


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Chicken Cherry Salad

Yogurt is going to be the theme with me for a bit.  I really can’t believe how easy it is to make yogurt.  So here is one of many recipes I’ve made using yogurt in the last few weeks.  I modified a recipe from Eating Well; I just made a few changes; threw in some fresh herbs and added a green onion for a little extra zing.  It is a perfect salad to make and pack for lunch for several days in a row.  I can’t imagine tiring of this; it packs lots of flavor for the calories.  Once you try it I think you’ll find you will make it again and again, it’s that good.  The original recipe called for pecans, I opted to skip them, without the pecans, this delicious salad comes in at under 300 calories, add the pecans and it adds another 100 calories per serving.  Want to make this a really quick dinner, use rotisserie chicken, with precooked chicken, you will have a perfect summer meal ready in no time!



1 or 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

(If using precooked chicken, about 3 or 4 cups diced chicken)

1/3 cup plain low fat yogurt

1/3 cup low fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon raspberry mustard or honey mustard

1 cup sliced celery

¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley chopped

1 large green onion, trimmed and finely sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or1 teaspoon dried)

½ cup dried cherries, chopped

Romaine or leaf lettuce to line plates


Place chicken in medium skillet, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook until chicken is no longer pink in the middle, about 10 or 15 minutes.  Transfer to a plate to cool.  Combine yogurt, mayo, mustard, celery, green onion, parsley, tarragon and cherries.  Once chicken is cool, cut into bite size pieces and toss with the yogurt mayo mixture until all ingredients are well blended.  Add salt and pepper if desired.  Chill until ready to serve.  Line salad plates with lettuce and top with chicken salad.

Serves 4

Here’s a little friend I made while in Harbor Springs.


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Anddd finally back…

Hi guys, wow it has been awhile.  Probably the longest I have gone w/o blogging since we started.  Sorry for the break–my travel schedule has been a bit overwhelming and I’m basically never home.  But, I do need to be better about working time into my schedule when I am in my hotel room, airports, etc.  I promise to get back on track!

I have been quite a few places since we last talked, some repeats and a few new–St. Louis, Ohio, Oklahoma City, Indy, and probably a few others for work and Wisconsin for the 4th.  Last week I was in Houston and currently I am in Dallas.

Part of the reason I haven’t been blogging is because almost every spare minute that I had not working, I was searching for a new apartment.  It was starting to stress me out as the rental market in Chicago is pretty competitive and often times as soon as I found a cool apartment online, I would call only to find it was already gone.  But, at the end of last week, I talked with my landlord and I am going to stay where I am!  Which takes a huge amount of stress off my shoulders and frees up a lot of my downtime.

Now I am in the market for a home office so I thought I would show you some of the things that I have been bookmarking… 


desk / lamp / gold garden stool / lucite note holder  / side table / tray / I can’t find a link for the chair

Most of these exact items are not in my price range, but this is the general look I’m going for.  I will be scouring craigslist for sure!

As far as traveling, nothing too new or exciting on that front.  I finally reached status on United though.  I don’t know that it will get me much, but still exciting.

The hotel I’m staying at currently is SO nice.  Another Kimpton–Kimpton is one of my all time favorite hotel chains, I have to say.  They focus a lot on wellness which I love and they also have little perks that really add up.  Plus, I have slept so soundly this week–better I think than I have in the last few months at various other hotels.  I spent a few down hours at the pool sipping on raspberry infused water.  Can’t ask for better than that on a Wednesday!

I also found one of my favorite grocery stores in Texas–the Central Market.  I wish we had this grocery store in Chicago because it is maybe one the best I have been in.  Tons of great produce, 4 aisles of bulk bins,  bakery, a huge salad bar, sushi bar, soup bar, pickle and olive bar and pre-made foods too.   My coworker told me I should start a website called and chronicle which stores have the best.  Well, this store definitely tops the list.  If you are ever in the Texas area, it is worth taking a visit.  I also think I have a problem–I have eaten sushi or sushi like dishes 5 times in the past week.

Crab tower in the first picture, which the waiter assured me was ‘huge’.  Uh…no.  Spring rolls in the second, which were awesome.

And that’s all I got.  I will be back again soon though :)

Do any of you have home offices?  Anything that you love or recommend that I get?


















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Yogurt, yogurt, yogurt!

Hello!  I’ve been on vacation but have been busy cooking while off enjoying sun and fun in Northern Michigan. I bought a yogurt maker a few months ago and finally got around to giving it a try.  Now I’m hooked.  I never knew yogurt making was so easy.  After doing a bit of reading, apparently a yogurt machine isn’t even required.  Turn your oven to warm for 2 or 3 minutes, turn it off, turn the oven light on and place jars of the milk/yogurt in the oven for 10 to 12 hours depending on the fat content of the milk and yogurt is yours in no time.  A yogurt maker or warm oven provides the perfect environment for the probiotics to turn milk into yogurt using a yogurt starter.  A yogurt starter is just a half cup of regular plain yogurt with active yogurt culture.  Once you have made your own yogurt, simply reserve a half cup of homemade yogurt to start your next batch.  But, don’t save previous yogurt for too long, the probiotics weaken as they age (who doesn’t) and the consistency of the yogurt may be a bit watery. You can decide whether you want to use skim, low-fat or whole milk.  The cooking times vary depending on the amount of fat in the milk.

This recipe is for plain unsweetened and unflavored yogurt.  Once the yogurt is prepared, add honey, fruit, jam, sugar, etc. to add the flavor you enjoy.

5 cups milk (skim, low-fat or whole milk)

½ cup plain yogurt

Measure a half cup of plain yogurt for the starter and take it out of the refrigerator so it’s close to room temperature.  Measure 5 cups of milk and pour into a saucepan.  Bring the milk just to a boil, stir frequently to prevent scalding of the milk.  Once the milk boils, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to a temperature of 90 to 110 degrees F.  You can use a thermometer or I just stick my finger into a bit of the milk and if it’s warm but not too warm it’s good to go (my point of reference is my favorite temperature of the hot tub, 101 degrees, so if it feels like it would be good to soak in, you’re good to go! The milk needs to cool to that level to prevent the heat from killing the probiotics of the active yogurt starter.  Once the milk is at the correct temperature; stir in the yogurt with a whisk until well blended.  Next pour the yogurt milk mixture into jars, the machine I purchased has 7 cute little glass jars that each hold about 6 ounces.  Leave the jars uncapped.  Place the lid on the yogurt maker.  Start your yogurt machine or turn on your oven light for the following amounts of time:

Whole milk = 8 hours

2 % or 1% = 10 hours

½ % = 11 hours

Skim milk = 12 hours

Now just sit back and wait for your yogurt to appear.  Set the time before leaving for work or before going to bed.  When the yogurt maker times out or you turn off the oven light stir the yogurt before adding flavoring.  Refrigerate the yogurt until you are ready to add flavoring and enjoy.  My favorite was fresh blueberries, strawberries and a bit of honey.

To make Greek yogurt, just remove a bit of the liquid from the yogurt, to do this, line a colander with coffee filters and allow the yogurt to drain for a couple hours. The only real difference between regular yogurt and Greek yogurt is that the Greek is thicker because the extra liquid is drained out.

I know these directions seem lengthy but the task is much simpler than the written instructions, give this a try and see if you become a yogurt convert too.  Get ready for plenty of recipes using yogurt!!

I’ve added a link to a great source for more information on making your own yogurt at home, how to make yogurt.  Take a look!

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Spicy Watermelon Salad

This is a delicious salad loaded with lots of flavor.  It has a little bit of everything; it’s sweet, spicy, hot, and cool and refreshing all in one bite.  You really have to give it a try.  I made the salad with ¼ cup sriracha sauce and I’ve cut the amount in half to accommodate taste buds that can’t take the heat.  Try it as written, you can easily add another 1/8 cup of the sriracha if you want to crank up the heat. If you are seriously challenged when it comes to tolerating a little spice with your food, add a little less of the diced fresh jalapeno as well. 

This can easily be made a few hours ahead and is perfect to pack and take on a picnic.  If a barbeque is on your calendar for the 4th of July, this would be a perfect addition to any menu.  This is a recipe I found on epicurious, I’ve made a few changes, it was originally paired with grilled flank steak.  I think it would be great with any summer meal.  I hope you give it a try!

1/8 cup hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)*

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4  cup white balsamic vinegar

1 large bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch squares

½ cup finely diced jalapeño pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves

8 cups seedless watermelon cut into 1 or 1 ½ inch cubes


Add all ingredients to a large salad bowl.  Gently toss and let marinate for a couple of hours at room temperature. DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead, just refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

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Creamy Chicken Pasta

This was one of the tastiest pasta dishes I have ever made!  It’s going on the list of favorites! The sauce was just amazing, I wanted to lick the plate.  It’s so simple, so easy, so delicious and just one pan.  I served this with pasta, about 8 ounces of dried pasta, once prepared is about the right amount to make 4 people very happy.

I have been using coconut oil fairly often to sauté vegetables and fry eggs, etc.  I also use it for baking in place of butter.  Here’s the big surprise though, some brands have not even a hint of coconut in the oil and others add a definite coconut smell and add coconut flavor.  I currently have a very large jar of coconut oil that adds quite a lot of coconut flavor to the dish.  I think I prefer to have less coconut flavor so once this jar is done, back to the scent free/flavor free version.  The large jar is a Costco purchase and the smaller jar is available at Patel Brothers.

1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces (kitchen shears make quick work of this task)

2 tablespoons coconut oil, butter or olive oil

½ pound asparagus, cut into one inch pieces

1 bell pepper, cut into bite size pieces

6 oz. bag fresh spinach or 6 ounces frozen, thawed and drained

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, cut into 4 or 6 pieces

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 cup chicken broth

Add the oil or butter (I used half butter and half coconut oil) to a large sauté pan over medium high heat.  Add chicken to pan and sauté about 5 minutes or until all sides of the chicken are lightly browned. Next, add asparagus and bell pepper to the pan and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the pepper is just beginning to soften. Add spinach to the pan.  Reduce the heat to medium low.  Add broth and cream cheese to pan.  Stir until cream cheese is melted.  Add parmesan cheese to pan and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.  Serve over pasta.  Serve with additional parmesan cheese if you like!




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