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Afternoon Drinks

15 Mar

After a long day of work all I want to do is have a drink, you know to take the edge off. A protein drink from Protein Bar!

Pier-Nut Butter and Jelly

Pier-Nut Butter and Jelly

This place is right around the corner from my office and whenever I’m in the mood for a sweet (protein) treat I head out to the Protein Bar. You can customize your drinks with your choice of protein: whey, egg or soy; your choice of milk: skim, almond or soy and your choice of fruit and extras. Lately I’ve been loving something they call The Daley Grind. It’s a warm protein shake and has coffee, chocolate and espresso protein.

Today I wanted to pretend that it was spring in Chicago so I got a cold drink, the Pier-Nut Butter and Jelly. This one’s got vanilla protein, almond milk, peanut butter, blueberries and strawberries. YUM! I am very lucky to have such an awesome spot so close to work. Ok, it’s back to work for me.

Do you have a favorite protein shake?

Vegan Valentine

16 Feb

On Monday night my valentine and I ate a five course vegan dinner at Karyn’s on Green. Neither my date nor I are vegan but we both love vegetables, culinary adventures and healthy food. The dinner was excellent, each and every dish we ordered was amazing. Living in Chicago I am blessed with all kinds of cuisine options and good vegetarian and vegan options are becoming more and more abundant. The only thing that was questionable was the fashion show. There were men and women walking in between tables wearing lingerie. Maybe it’s just me but butts in my face while I eat food isn’t all that sexy.

Anyway, back to the food, my date and I shared each plate so we could try as much as possible.

First Course
Both of the items from the first course were delicious.  The Fig & Walnut Stuffed Cherry Peppers on a Bed of Arugula and Extra Virgin Olive Oil were delicious. The salad with fresh figs complemented the savory peppers perfectly.

Fig & Walnut Stuffed Cherry Peppers

Fig & Walnut Stuffed Cherry Peppers

After sampling the Avocado & Pomegranate Ceviche on Sliced Zucchini and Mignonette Sauce I learned that not only can I eat raw zucchini, but I like it.

Avocado Pomegranate Ceviche on Zucchini

Avocado Pomegranate Ceviche on Zucchini

Second Course
This Zinfandel Poached Strawberry & Almond Rose Soup was raw, gluten-free and soy-free. It was very light and had a unique flavor. I enjoyed it.

Raw Strawberry Almond Rose Soup

Raw Strawberry Almond Rose Soup

I definitely preferred the Cauliflower Bisque with Roasted Beech Mushrooms. It was savory, hearty and warm. Perfect for a chilly February night in Chicago. I prefer warm soups in general so it was no surprise that I preferred this one over the strawberry soup.

Cauliflower Bisque

Cauliflower Bisque

Third Course – Salad
Both salads were excellent. I ate most of the Beets & Ruby Red Grapefruit on Spinach & Red Cabbage with Pomegranate Vinaigrette. I don’t usually eat salads with dressing but the Pomegranate Vinaigrette was perfectly seasoned and light enough that it didn’t bother me.

Beets with Spinach and Red Cabbage

Beets with Spinach and Red Cabbage

The Baby Bok Choy & Spicy Kimchi on Mixed Greens with Sesame Vinaigrette was also excellent. I personally don’t think you can go wrong with a plate of mixed greens. The dressing was excellent, however it was a little overpowering and very salty.

Baby Bok Choy with Mixed Greens

Baby Bok Choy with Mixed Greens

Fourth Course
Next were the large plates, Stuffed Roasted Chicken with Braised Spinach, Figs & Pearl Onions on Fennel Cous Cous. I am not a huge fan of soy however in this dish the ‘chicken’ was excellent. The dish was savory and bursting with flavor.

Stuffed Roasted Chicken Braised Spinach Over Cous Cous

Stuffed Roasted Chicken Braised Spinach Over Cous Cous

The Roasted Red Beet Risotto with Aged Cashew Cheese Shavings and Grilled Asparagus was on the sweeter side and hearty as well. This was my first time eating cashew cheese and I loved it! I want to get my hands on some more. This plate was extremely filling, I had a hard time finishing it.

Red Beet Risotto with Aged Cashew Cheese

Red Beet Risotto with Aged Cashew Cheese

Fifth Course – Dessert
I only took a photo of one of the desserts but both were equally awesome. I’m not the biggest chocolate person but the Red Velvet Chocolate Terrine with Raspberry Coulis and Vanilla Ice Cream was divine and decadent. I couldn’t tell that this was vegan.

Chocolate Terrine

Chocolate Terrine

The other photo-less dessert was a raw, gluten-free, soy-free Almond Crusted Strawberry Cheesecake with Cocoa Nibs and Strawberry Coulis. Heaven on earth. I’d get both desserts again.

If you live in Chicago or are passing through I highly recommend Karyn’s on Green. My super-meat eating date and I left full, satisfied and happy with our dinner.

Holiday Party Highlights

17 Dec

There will not be a breakfast burrito today. I ate a peanut butter and jelly with sliced bananas sandwich, but here are a few highlights of my company holiday party instead.

The food at the holiday party was as colorful and diverse as our nail polish colors.

This year’s holiday party was held at District Bar. It’s an ‘upscale’ sports bar that turns into a dance party late night on any given weekend night. It’s a nice space for a sports bar, I’ve held a fundraiser there in the past.

As far as office parties go we had the usual open bar, buffet of hors d’ oeuvres, music and dressed up coworkers. Usually our office parties are monochromatic in food choices, so I wasn’t expecting much. To my surprise we had a rainbow of food at this years party. I stacked up a plate full of everything, this plate my second helping. Look at all those colors.

The full plate

The full plate

Here’s what’s on my plate, from the top left and clockwise:
• Bacon wrapped scallop
• Mini Chicago cheese-steak bite
• Teriyaki marinated grilled chicken skewer with sweet chili sauce
•  Salmon tartar with black sesame in radish cup
•  Tomato basil bruschetta with fresh mozzarella
• Grilled pita & hummus bite with olives and sun-dried tomatoes
•  Roasted mushroom cap stuffed with creamed spinach & parmesan-pine nut crust
•  Tuna tartar ala nicoise

Here’s what I ate and didn’t take a photo of:
• Buffalo chicken & bleu cheese flatbread
• Chicken & chorizo quesadilla with avocado cream
• Brownie bite with bailey’s whipped cream & maraschino cherry
•  Mini profiterole cream puff

Everything was delicious, my favorites were the bacon covered scallops and the buffalo chicken and blue cheese flatbread. The only disappointment was the grilled chicken skewer. It wasn’t bad, just not amazing. The sweet chili sauce had an odd aftertaste.

The Chicago steak bite was nice and spicy.

Chicago steak bite

Chicago steak bite

You can’t go wrong with bruschetta and fresh mozzarella.

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

And what’s not to like about tuna tartar on a potato chip?

Carpacchio

Tuna tartar ala nicoise

I’d recommend this place for an afternoon of football or any time you’re looking for some great bar food. I will definitely go back for the buffalo chicken and blue cheese flatbread.

How were your holiday parties?

‘Afternoon Tea’ at the Peninsula

2 Dec Peninsula cake

A couple of weekends ago a few girlfriends and I had Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula in Chicago. We went to celebrate my friend Carolyn’s birthday and her becoming a CPA. This was my first time at Afternoon Tea and I think that’s a great reason for a review. I’ve had a few people ask me if I ever eat sweets and junk food. The answer is yes I do. I just prefer them on special occasions like this one and when possible I prefer to make ‘clean’ versions of my favorites.

Now on to the Tea.

Tea cup

Tea cup

These were the ladies of the afternoon, we dressed up for the occasion.

Carrie, Lynn, Alana and me

The setting at the Peninsula is luxurious and equipped with fine China, fresh flowers, live music and extraordinary customer service. From the moment we walked in the staff attended to our every Afternoon Tea need.

Ordering from the menu we chose the prix fixe option which included warm scones, desserts, savory sandwiches, warm quiche, coconut cake and choice of tea. There were also gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, children’s and a la carte options. Overall, everything was delicious and decadent. The ladies ordered champagne with their tea, I almost never drink alcohol, so I didn’t have any. Our server, to have me feel included brought out a champagne glass with ginger ale. It was a nice gesture and we were all able to share a toast with no one left out.

All the food was served on a three-tier tray…

Three-tier tray

…sweets on the top, vegetarian in the middle (for Alana), and savouries on the bottom. You can’t see it here, but we also had a basket of warm scones with a side of butter, lemon custard and raspberry preserves.

First up was a warm spinach and mushroom quiche. It came straight out of the oven and it was delicious. Just the right size for the start of our snacking.

Spinach Mushroom Quiche

Spinach Mushroom Quiche

Next up was this bite sized turkey sandwich, simple and fresh just how I like it.

Turkey sandwich

Turkey sandwich

I then moved to the top tray of sweets. There were six sweets total. I liked all but one of them. There was a nice variety of tart, chocolate, fruity and nutty so that everyone could enjoy their favorite flavor. My favorite was this cranberry cake.

Cranberry cake

Cranberry cake

In the middle of our feast a server brought out this warm coconut cake with warm melted chocolate inside.

Warm coconut cake

Warm coconut cake

The last thing we ate were the scones with lemon custard and raspberry preserves.

Scones

Scones with lemon custard and raspberry preserves

At first glance, the tray of sweets and savories didn’t seem like it would be enough to satisfy my hunger but after two hours of munching on tiny sweets and sandwiches and sipping on tea I was full. It was much more sugar than I am used to in a single afternoon.

On a scale of one to five, five being the best, I would rate the Afternoon Tea a four for flavor and quality and I give it a two for health and feeling good afterward. At the end it was just too much sugar.

Overall, a good experience, worth it every once in a while. I’d like to make my own ‘clean’ version o afternoon tea. 🙂

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