Well yall…I thought April to May was crazy, but the past 5 weeks have been insane and a LOT has happened. Here’s a look at all the travel and little bit of word vomit.
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Turns out, being away from my apartment for 12 hours everyday has made it a little difficult to cook every night…so I became a new found meal-prepper. Now let me say, I totally understand the reasoning and convenience of meal-prep, but I genuinely LOVE cooking a fresh dinner every night. HOWEVER, walking in the door at 6:30 pm, starving did not work out well (cue ALL of the snacking). I found a balance of meal prepping for the week and diving into all the yummy fresh meals on the weekends.. Oh I also have started to use Himalayan pink salt and I am never going back.
My ideal morning is sleeping until about 7:30 , reading a little bit, followed up by a solid sweat sesh in and then eating a massive breaky.
Okay I'll admit I cheated and bought the TJs starter kit, but still made it my own
- Chop up zucchini & spinach, saute & add shakshuka kit
- Follow instructions to add eggs to "wells"
- Sweet tater chips - slice thinly and broil on each side about 3-5 minutes
Now don't get me wrong I LOVE bread, but I cannot have that in my house so rice cakes win. They bring so much flexibility. Oh also omelette is a must.
- Sautee all the veggies (mushroom, spinach and peppers, etc)
- Pour 1/2 cup egg whites over veggies and cover and let cook on medium/low heat until eggs are settled (fold and you have an "omelette")
- Top rice cakes with all the things - my favorite is avocado, chicken & a RUNNY egg.
As I mentioned - meal prep has become a thing for me and TRUST me, NONE of these are difficult by ANY means.
Makes 3-4 servings
- Saute your choice of veggies (I opted for diced bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach and zucchini)
- Transfer veggies to greased baking dish
- Scramble 4 eggs and .5 cup egg whites and pour over veggies
- Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes or until eggs have settled
- Roast julienne sliced peppers & carrots on 400 for about 30-40 minutes
- Cook up some chicken and shred / dice
- Mix 1 bag of arugula & crunchier salad(my fav is the cruciferous crunch from TJs but their cole slaw is solid too).
- Add the chicken & veggies and dress with the TJs Green Goddess
Makes 3-4 servings
- Dice and saute 1 cup of mushrooms, spinach and 1.2 bell pepper
- Mix with ground turkey (1 pkg - 16 oz)
- Season like crazy with garlic powder, spanish paprika, s&p and a little chili flake
- Form into pattiese and cook in coconut oil about 4-5 minutes each side
Whether it’s satisfying my late night sweet tooth or making goods for others, these have more than sufficed.
You need: 1 cup dates, 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup PB *optional - honey, cinnamon, chocolate
- Blend all the ingredients in a food processor - add honey / PB to make sticker and come together
- Place in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and form into one large bar shape
- *Optional but advised - drizzle with melted chocolate
- Freeze for 1+ horus and slice up!
CINNA CAULI BITES
*inspo from @lettuceturniptheeats on insta
- Bake TJs cauli gnocchi at 400 for 20 minutes
- Mix with 1 tbsp coco oil & cinnamon
- Bake for another 15-20 minutes
- Now I stopped here, but I do think the drizzle that she commends would be killer ideas (which was cocoa oil & syrup)
That’s all folks.
Now as you may have read, I just started a new gig with a company NAMED Lamb Weston - aka a potato company - aka FRIES! It turned out that the week I started was also NR (no not guns, restaurants.) so there were many activities on the horizon. One of the main items on the agenda was the Flavor Forays BBQ and Cook-off., which is said by food industry insiders as a “must attend,” and I wouldn’t disagree.
This year was the 22nd annual event and my company was one of the sponsors. I really had no idea what to expect other than the fact that we were going to facilitate a fry-truck. I walked into Galleria Marchetti, which is a gorgeous indoor/outdoor space that I can only imagine hosts its fair share of weddings, and right there was this beaut of a food truck
The set up was sweet - people were able to walk on up to an iPad and select their type of fry:
crisscut (aka waffle)
puff (aka tot)
Then they were able to select their toppings:
Windy City Smoke - pulled pork, fennel cole slaw, bbq sauce & smoked salt
South of the Border Spice - skirt steak, elote, chihuahua cheese & tajin
Golden Asian Fusion - roasted cauliflower, fried carrots, orange soy glaze, cured egg yolk
The South of the Border seemed to be the hot pick of the afternoon…I’m just not a big corn lover (I know, I am a disgrace to Iowa). The WIndy City was all that you would imagine it would be - creamy and refreshing with the slaw that is always the best companion for some solid bbq. I opted for Asian Fusion crisscut which was best described as an explosion in your mouth, which seemed to be pretty accurate. I thought crisscut would be the perfect base for this set up - you know a little more surface area for the goods. This held true, but it also made it a full hands on experience. I will say, if you wanted a more classy eating option - I’d go for the puffs…a little more fork friendly.
Here’s to me hopefully not gaining the Fry Freshman Fifteen.
For those that don’t follow me on the ‘gram - you may have missed that I left the Hawkeye State and moved over to the Windy City. I accepted a job at Lamb Weston, “one of the world's leading suppliers of frozen potato products”…think fries. Between my sister’s wedding, finding an apartment, moving and then on-boarding at a new job, I haven’t really had much time to process this transition - so consider this my process.
The Last Hoorah
Needless to say I have some of the best friends on the planet, so when there was one Saturday before I would be moving we marked it off and had one heck of a day.
BIG GROVE IOWA CITY
The madness started at Big Grove Iowa City, where La Vecina was hosting a little pop-up. Now if you haven’t heard about LV yet…time to listen up! La Vecina is a wood fired Mexican restaurant coming to you by the same mastermind behind Marquee…so we know it is bound to be a winner. This gem will live in the Iowa River Landing, below the apartment complex at the bottom of the hill (closest to BackPocket).
If this pop-up showed ANY resemblance to what the real deal will be like, then we are in for a REAL treat. (well…I guess it is no longer “we”, but you Iowa City folks are lucky).
Grilled Oysters: crispy bacon, chipotle chili butter
Tacos: Chicken tinga or smoked brisket on HOMEMADE heirloom corn tortilla
Drank: Tequila and Mezcal margaritas with a mango habanero popsicle
Again…coolest/best friends on the planet make you your own menu with bitmojis and blow up french fry floaties at your favorite restaurant. The day was filled with small talk, a good amount of sparkling cava, a few pieces of za (and stracc of course), and lots of hugs.
If you are an Iowa City regular, then chances are you have heard of George’s. Now I had heard of this hole in the wall time and time again but never stepped foot in the establishment, so on my last day I decided to grace it with my presence. Now, if you are looking for the best burger on the planet…this isn’t it. If you are looking for a late night solid bite to eat with an old-school flair - this could be your place. Super divey, dark & dingy - but hey, their burgers are solid…but don’t expect any fries with that.
Some more information you may not be fully aware of is my dad is retired, so when I needed a helping hand to move across border-lines, he jumped on the idea. ONE of the best part of Dave visits is that they are full of breweries and hot spot stops (on top of all the fatherly love of course). Another thing is Dave is notorious for his staple orders…which will shine through during this trip.
One easy stop near my place is 30 Hop, so after picking up Dave from the airport we bellied up to the bar and grabbed some lunch. Notorious order #1 for Dave - Pork Tenderloin sandwich. We also made it a habit to order fries as much as we could…you know just being proactive for the job. Some time passed and some errands were run, but the next stop on the list was Back Pocket Brewery. Now this stop is going down memory lane for us. When I was playing volleyball at the University, my parents would stay at the Marriott and many game nights ended with a pizza & beer cheese (just no beer). This time, we bellied up again and Dave went for another one of his favorite past times…chatting it up with the bartender. This time, he went so far as to pass on his phone/email to make some connections for this guy.
We started off the morning with a U-Haul pick up and moving…aka watching the movers I paid load things into the U-Haul. After the rigorous work, we set out for a new spot for the both of us - St. Burch Tavern. Again, Dave did not disappoint ad went for notorious order #2 - Fish & Chips, which was actually a double whammy since fries are already included! I opted for the pick two with a mushroom melt & greek salad. After a solid nap, we headed out to Red’s for a quick happy hour drink and ended up at Big Grove Solon for the final farewell dinner with a small group. I went for the insanely garlicky creamy roasted mushroom za and of course Dave came in clutch again ordering the tater tot casserole. Our market research of spuds was at an all-time high.
THURSDAY - the drive / unpacking got the best of us and we tapped out with a 7:30 pm (2nd meal of the day) and an 8 pm bed time.
Now this was just a play-day…I mean we had a few things we needed to get done, but a lot of it was exploring and spending some time with family in the area. We started off by exploring the South loop and hitting up a brewery - Motor Row for a flight. Vibe was cool, music was (a little too) loud, beer was good…oh and they served popcorn. We swung by some street festivals before taking some chill time, finishing the night at Monkey Paw, a farm to table gastropub in Lincoln Park. I will say I am a little ticked at myself because this place was amazing, but I was a little too hungry so my phone did not eat first. We started with some crispy brussels sprouts and then I threw myself for a loop. I was dead set on ordering a salad, but the burger was straight up calling my name - beef, cheese, balsamic onion, aioli, and you already know…fries! I will proudly say I demolished it.
FEELING OUT THE CITY
I’M A BIG KID NOW
Now being from Dallas and living in Iowa City for the past 9 years..public transit is NOT my strong suite, but that’s what friends are for! After being walked through the whole process, how to get my card and being warned of the MUST get off before points, I took my first solo ride on the L! I actually ended up taking a few of the colors…and yes, I am very proud of myself. My first solo ride led me to a pizza place, HOMESLICE, with a neon sign that portrays my life motto.
Another newbie for me is what I am calling “church shopping” - i was lucky enough in Iowa City to fall in love with my church (Harvest City) the very first day that I walked into the building and instantly found community. Now, coming to a new city and not having that built-in community I am on the hunt. I came across a place called, Oasis in the South Loop, where I have tried a couple of their prayer meetings as well as a Sunday session. I want to try out a couple other communities before I call anyplace home, but I will say that their connectivity is on point and their worship team is UNREAL.
Ready or not - Chicago Here I am.
March is definitely a month of madness. For majority of the nation, March is full of filling out brackets, followed by highlighters and red pens indicating their wins & losses. Working with the Iowa women’s basketball team, I was living in the madness. On top of that, I had a birthday, my sister’s bachelorette party, and two mini road trips.
Are you ready for the ride?
CARBS & CHEESE
I wasn’t home that often, so when I was - Marquee was on my mind - event more specifically the starch
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
In the short time I was home, a new taco place had their grand opening and Trisha & I decided to go. Quick & dirty review: it was good, but nothing to write home about. The tacos had good flavor, but a little pricey for what you’re getting. I got a fun cocktail, but based off of everyone’s reviews their margs are fire. I’ll have to give them another chance when they’ve had a little more time to operate.
Our staff headed out to Chicago for Big Ten Marketing meetings. The meetings were actually very insightful, we were lucky enough to hear from a woman who formerly worked with Gatorade and currently works with the Cubs. Her insight on branding and content was beyond insightful.
Since I was flying out to Miami in a few days, I was lucky enough to stay in Chicago and catch up with some family & friends - of course over some great drinks & grub.
First was an aperol spritz from Highline, I ordered a za - which was…well fine.
Next up was Doc' B’s and boy oh boy, I HIGHLY recommend this place. For starters, get yourself a friend that will go splitskies with you. This place’s house salad had cornbread croutons (yall- so damn good). Plus two Sammies: a turkey burger & fried buffalo chicken sandwich. Just trust me and go.
Lastly was my go to place when I’m in the area, Left Coast - which is a super fresh, healthy and SUPER trendy spot. I ordered the Robust Rosa with Salmon.
DOWN TO FIESTA
I was off to Miami…but Chicago had some other plans. I ended up spending half of my day in the airport with an 8 hour delay. However, I built up the courage to order my fist on-plane drink and got to FO FREE!! Plus the hotel’s coffee machine the next
Next up, Brunch at Upland Miami. YALL. I can’t explain this place. First off, their bottomless brunch was GENIUS. It was about 26 bucks, but you could rotate from a bloody, mimosa & rosé. Even better - they brought the mimosa deconstructed so you could mix yourself. Don’t even get me started on this breakfast sandwich, I mean just look at those eggs…LOOK AT THEM!
TIME FOR SOME SUN! We chilled by the beach to get some rays (the first touch of sun I had seen in…way too long). Unfortunately I got the weirdest tan lines,
but I will take it.
This pizza (and views) gave me life - literally. The za was from Mistero1 , the ricotta stuffed crusts were to die for, plus they gave us two Nutella pizzas!! I was ready to hit the hay, however I got a little extra kick to prepare for the clubs…the multiple Red Bulls may have helped too.
I mean, you didn’t think I’d leave out the club did you? I didn’t end up drinking ($23 vodwads no thank you), but the DJ was amazing and we all had a blast…up to 3 AM 😳.
MY FAVORITE MURDER
Now, if you know me then you probably know that I LOVE Karen & Georgia on My Favorite Murder - a murder comedy podcast. When my friends and I found out they were coming to Des Moines we JUMPED on it.
Of course, we stopped for some drinks & grub before hand at the Republic on Grand… this place was amazing. Little rooftop bar on the top of a hotel. we ordered wine & bruschetta flights, followed up by tacos. our bruschetta picks were:
LAQUERCIA PROSCIUTTO: four-cheese spread, truffle oil
RICOTTA: rosemary, honey
SOPRESSATA : housemade fruit mostarda
*Prosciutto was the showstopper with that truffle oil.
I don’t know if there was a better way to explain all of this. For starters, we planned on having an open to the public watch party to see where the women would be ranked on the bracket. Welp, the women’s bracket was released 4 hours prior to the event and they decided to launch the selection show TWO HOURS EARLY. With all that said, everything still went well but it was NUTS. Then we were full force into planning hosting the 1st and 2nd round of the NCAA - where we broke the NCAA attendance record , I got to run into an old friend AND cut down a piece of the net.
Since we won both rounds, we were headed to the sweet sixteen to Greensboro, North Carolina.
We were staying at a castle of a hotel, which had amazing food inside the hotel - but limited us to getting out since it was so far from everything else. Things could have been worse - they had Yuengling and a fire pit!
As I mentioned the food inside of the hotel - Bridget & I ventured there twice. They had a wide array of options on their charcuterie board, including nutmeg carrots that totally threw me for a loop. My two orders were:
cornmeal breaded catfish, mashed sweet potatoes & okra /
Ahi Tuna with mango salsa, Brussels & okra
The okra was by far the winner of both plates - gotta love the south.
When we did decide to venture out, we were NOT disappointed. From buffalo chicken Mac & cheese from 913 Whiskey, to probably the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had (goat cheese, pepper jelly & onion strings) accompanied by drool worthy brussels from M’Coul’s Pub and of course had some hush puppies from Stamey’s BBQ.
The birthday - best part about March is I always get to cap it on a high note! Started off with a pretty stellar egg biscuit sandwich and ended with being serenaded over some wine and cheesecake. I felt very lucky to be surrounded by such a great group of people and made me feel very loved on my birthday. Of course, had some amazing friends & family that reached out and made the day even more special.
Oh and Duke happened to lose on my bday, but Bray (our staff photographer) snagged this photo of me channeling my inner devil watching the game.
MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL
Actually new items on all of these - bought my first real crop top, snagged a free NCAA shirt, and can we talk about this AMAZING Ninja Turtles shirt?! Shout out to Courtney Johnson who literally took it off her back and gave to me when I said how much I loved it.
APRIL WILL BE FULL OF SPRING SHOWERS, SUNSHINE & SCRIPTURE SCRIBBLES.