Monday, October 20, 2014

RPM Italian

At the beginning of October, I went to dinner with two other Windy City Bloggers: Kit from The Kittchen and Jennie from Actually Just Jennie. I mentioned at an event in August that I'd never been to RPM Italian but always wanted to go and so we just decided to make a reservation. I heard great things about the restaurant and followed it since Giuliana and Bill decided to open one on their show (huge fan). Needless to say, this was one long-awaited visit. Instead of just ordering one main course for each of us, we each ordered something but shared as well so we could each get a taste of everything. That was the best idea we could have had because now I want to go back and get them all for myself. Here is our dinner for you to see! 

WARM BREAD: Fresh Homemade Ricotta and Semolina Toast 
We started off our meal with some bread and cheese. I mean, why not? There was a delicious tomato sauce that accompanied the semolina and ricotta. The bread was warm and tender which was perfect for not only an appetizer but accompaniment during dinner to wipe up the sauce. I want to try and make this at home one day. 


Roman-Style Artichokes 
These are basically lightly fried artichokes and they were so good. They were paired with a dipping sauce but I don't remember what it was unfortunately. I think it was a buttermilk dip because I remember it was sweeter to the tanginess of the artichokes. They practically fell apart when you cut into them. So delicious. 

Pumpkin Agnolotti: Brown Butter, Sage
This was my choice of pasta. I was debating this and a more traditional dish for my first time but decided to go with the pumpkin since it's seasonal. It was so good! I was on a huge pumpkin bender when we went to dinner so it was perfect timing too. Anyway, this dish was perfect. The pumpkin wasn't overwhelming as a main dish and the sauce paired beautifully.

Papparedelle Bolognese: Pecorino, Rosemary 
This was the traditional dish I was debating over. Bolognese is one of my favorite pasta dishes and I really need to make it myself some time. I don't have one bad thing to say about this dish. It was so delicious and perfectly meaty. I love Papparedelle noodles too. There's so much flavor there.

Parmesan Risotto: Chanterelle Mushroom, Chive
The risotto is what I heard the most compliments about before I tried RPM for myself. I was really looking forward to trying the risotto but decided I wanted to go with a pasta for myself. I'm glad Kit chose this item though because it was delicious. The risotto was creamy and savory with tons of mushrooms which gave it a punch of meatiness. This was the only risotto they had on their menu at the time we went so I really hope they have another by next time so I can try more!


Italian Donuts: with Nutella and Creme fraise.
Oh. My. God. I can't even with this dessert. When our waiter went through the desserts, and there are many, the Italian donuts immediately stood out to us. They're basically baby beignets covered in sugar. They melt in your mouth and you can't help but want to eat all of them. I really hope the next time I visit RPM, this is a dessert because I want a whole plate all to myself.

Have you been to RPM Italian in Chicago? If you haven't, you should go. If you're not from here, you should go whenever you visit. It's absolutely fantastic and I can't wait to try more.

Thank you to Kit from The Kittchen for all these amazing photos!!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Musings of a Museum Fanatic

Hey there! Today is sadly my last day in Texas. I've had the best time and can't wait to come back, hopefully sooner than it took me to get here this time. Anyway, while I'm enjoying my last few hours in the South, I have a great blogger to introduce you all to. Her name is Betsy and she blogs over at Musings of a Museum Fanatic. She's also a fellow Chicagoan which is awesome. 

Check out some of Betsy's favorite posts:

Make sure you follow Betsy on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes By Katie From Beneath The Chandelier

Hi everyone! 

I’m Katie and I blog over on Beneath the Chandelier, a lifestyle blog about tasteful living, every day. Christine has graciously invited me to share a post with you while she is on vacation. Since I often blog about food, wine and entertaining, I thought it would be fun to share a tasty recipe with you. 

The weather has gotten colder here in Chicago and with it has come a flurry of Halloween activities for me. So, in true holiday spirit, I gathered my Halloween Pancake Molds from Williams Sonoma and I made Pumpkin Pie Pancakes. 
They were everything I dreamed they could be: moist, flavorful and incredibly delicious. They have a great pumpkin flavor and aren’t too sweet. If you prefer a lighter pancake, substitute pastry or cake flour for the all-purpose flour. 

Now, let’s talk about the molds. 
My first batch of molded pancakes… Well, let’s just say they tasted better than they looked. ;) Part of the problem was lack of practice, but there are some basic tricks to this. Here are a few tips that will increase your chances for success: 

1) Don’t overfill the molds. Too much batter will destroy your shapes; fill it only halfway to the top of the mold. This recipe, in particular, expands quite a bit as it cooks. 

2) Non-stick Cooking Spray is your BEST FRIEND. Spray everything before you pour the batter: the griddle, the molds, even the spatula. 

3) Team work is best. If one person pours and a second spreads the batter into the corners of the mold, the process is much easier. 

4) Don’t be afraid to trim the finished product to better resemble the molds. 

5) When all else fails, remember that round pancakes are just as delicious as shaped ones. 

Whether you use the molds or not, this recipe is a real home run. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did. 

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

#NoExcuses Core Workout With Taylor From Pink Heels, Pink Truck

No Excuses Workout Series Core 
Hi y'all! Taylor here from Pink Heels Pink Truck. Christine is down visiting my fabulous state, Texas, so I thought I'd offer my guest posting services while she enjoys a bit of a vacation. :) Today I've got a #NOEXCUSES Core Workout for you. The #NOEXCUSES Workout Series is a series of workouts that can be performed practically anywhere. Very little equipment, if any need. And best of all...No Gym Membership required!! #NOEXCUSES 

So, let's get to the Core Workout. Remember, before starting any new exercise program, talk with your physician. 

WORKOUT DETAILS: This workout requires you to perform each exercise for 30 seconds. So perform one after the other, 30 seconds at a time. Repeat 4-6 times through. 

PLANK JACKS: Get into the pushup position. Keeping your core tight, jump your legs out into a jumping jack. Jump your feet back together. Repeat. 

BICYCLE CRUNCHES: Get in the Regular Crunch Position. You will be making a bicycle movement with your legs. Your elbows are going to move toward the opposite knee. So when your left knee is in towards your body, your right elbow will be in towards your knee. Repeat the twisting/bicycle motion back and forth. Keep your core tight. 

SCISSOR CRUNCHES: Get in the Leg Lift position. Raise your legs off the ground (legs are straight). Move your legs into a V shape, then bring them back towards the middle, crossing over each other (right over left), then back out into the V shape, then back towards the middle, crossing over each other (left over right). Repeat back and forth. Keep your core tight. 

MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS: Get back into the pushup position (plank position but your arms are completely straight). Bring your left knee in towards your chest. Return to start position. Repeat on right side. Repeat back and forth. Keep your core tight. 

SIDE PLANK: Get in the Plank position (pushup position but on your elbows), rotate onto one elbow, rotating your entire body to be perpendicular to the ground. Repeat on the other side. 60 SEC 

PLANK: Get in the Plank position (pushup position but on your elbows). 

MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS: Get back into the pushup position (plank position but your arms are completely straight). Bring your left knee in towards your chest. Return to start position. 

Repeat on right side. Repeat back and forth. Keep your core tight. In Good Health!!!

 Pink Heels Pink Truck
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone With A Beer Pairing At Harvest

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles to try the new Beer Pairing Menu at Harvest. My friend Katie from Beneath the Chandelier and I got to chat with Executive Chef Tiffany Tooker and Director of Food and Beverage Rick Remington. Every Thursday in October, The Harvest Restaurant offers a pairing dinner for $35/person. With four courses paired perfectly, it's well worth it. Katie and I discussed with Chef Tiffany and Mr. Remington that we aren't beer drinkers normally but still enjoyed this meal. I actually felt that by pushing me out of my comfort zone, I've discovered beers I would have never touched if it weren't for these pairings. It was a great experience and I'm glad I've opened myself up to trying things, like beer, I would normally stay away from. The service was spectacular, the staff was very accommodating and the experience was terrific. Let's dive into what we got to eat! 

Diver Sea Scallop: bacon wrapped diver scallop with an apricot glaze
paired with... 
Stella Artois Lager: full flavored lager with a hoppy aroma and hint of fruit followed by a crisp, mild bitter lemon finish
---
This was the first time I've had scallops and even though I was intimidated at first, I loved them. I swear, wrap anything in bacon and I'm a happy girl. The scallops were seared and so tender they practically melted in your mouth. There was a sweet and salty combo thanks to the bacon and apricot glaze. It gave this dish a nice, satisfying balance. The crispy rice noodles on top gave it a crunchy finish that rounded out the texture without effecting the flavors. Stella was a great pairing for this dish because the beer did not overpower the food. It was very light with subtle flavors which was perfect for the scallops since they don't have much flavor on their own. I really enjoyed this beer.

Pheasant Run Wedge Salad: crisp iceberg lettuce with applewood smoked bacon, heirloom tomatoes marinated with herb vinaigrette and buttermilk blue cheese dressing
paired with...
ChiTown Pier Pale Ale: a fragrant bouquet of hops with a mild fruity flavor and crisp clean finish that is the hall mark of pale ale's
---
I was thrown a bit by the salad being the second course. Typically, I'd expect to have the salad first followed by an appetizer like the scallops. I understand why it was second though. The blue cheese dressing had a stronger flavor than the scallops. I'm not a fan of blue cheese but because the dressing had a buttery element, the tanginess of the cheese was tamed a bit. The smoked bacon gave a nice salty flavor and the marinated mushrooms really rounded it out. The Pale Ale was a great pairing for this salad because the flavor matched the blue cheese perfectly. The flavors of the dish were level with the flavors from the beer. I personally liked the Stella better just in terms of beer because it was a bit sweeter but paired with this dish, it was a home run.

Wild Mushroom Crusted Filet Mignon: grilled black angus tenderloin of beef with spinach risotto, oven roasted asparagus and fresh herb demi glaze
paired with...
Pheasant Run Rungneck Red Lager: a rich, deep amber color with soft hop and fruit flavors followed by a lingering clean finish. This beer is made by Leinenkugel specifically for Pheasant Run and is not available anywhere else
---
Let me begin by saying I had been craving a juicy steak for quite a while before this night. It was, by far, my favorite plate out of the entire meal. The flavors were incredible, the steak was perfectly cooked to my preference (medium-rare leaning more towards rare), the risotto was delicious and the asparagus cooked perfectly with just a slight bite to it. The crispy onions on top and marinated mushrooms were a great topping to the filet and the herb demi glaze was the perfect final touch. It was just enough to compliment every aspect of this dish. The lager this was paired with is the brew made specifically for Pheasant Run Inn. It balanced really well with the heavier flavors of the steak and risotto. It was a beautiful color and had a sweet aspect to it that I particularly enjoyed. The finish was a little bitter to me but other than that, I really enjoyed this pairing. 

Kilauea Chocolate Molten Lava Cake: fresh house made dark chocolate cake filled with warm, decadent chocolate magma topped with Creme Anglaise
paired with...
Guinness Stout: aromas of roasted malt give way to caramel and cocoa flavors that make this the perfect partner for chocolate
---
This dessert is a chocolate lovers dream. While speaking to Chef Tiffany and Mr. Remington, we learned that all of the desserts at Harvest are cooked fresh and not brought in frozen. That's impressive to me and I really respect Chef Tiffany for not only creating a great menu but also amazing desserts. I loved this cake because it was a bit thicker in density. It's not spongy like birthday cake which I can't stand. There was a drizzle of white and dark chocolate on the plate with a surprise of raspberry syrup as well. I love raspberry and chocolate so I was thrilled about that. The cake was paired with Guiness Stout. The flavors matched well. They're both strong and bold which works well for dessert. The Guiness was not my favorite of the beers we were served but I was definitely satisfied with the dessert.

Visit Harvest at The Pheasant Run Inn and Spa in St. Charles, IL every Thursday in October for a chance to try their signature beer pairing menu.
Here are some additional photos of the menu

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

HUGE Ad Space #Giveaway with the So-Called Homemaker

You guys are in for a serious treat today! I've teamed up with some awesome lady bloggers to offer 19 - yes, NINETEEN - free ad spots to one lucky winner! The winner of this giveaway will win a ton of ad spots - see a complete list - and $25 PayPal cash. Who wouldn't love that?! Giveaway is open to everyone, and entries will be verified so don't cheat! image

#WeDo Fall Fashion: The Essentials

Hi guys! I'm so excited to be a part of the #WeDo Fall Fashion series with The Charming blog. Make sure you visit their site every day to see new posts but different bloggers surrounding fall fashion. I've put together some essentials for the cool season. Every season has them and fall happens to be my favorite other than winter, so it's perfect. Here we go!

This is a round-up of what I think are the perfect fall essentials. Now, this is not including accessories like scarves and hats but I can assure you that I have a very good reason for each of these.
source: Pinterest
Basic Tees are super important for fall because layering is your best friend, at least in the North it is. For this particular post, we have an incredibly soft, flowy short sleeved tee from the Gap (#1). I own this shirt and am obsessed. I wear it probably once a week. If I can get away with it twice a week, I'll totally do it. You also need a basic long sleeved tee (#5). It's easy to pair with skinnies, boots and a scarf on the cool but still bearable days. These are yours staples. Buy them in bulk and in every color.

A Basic Dress is incredibly versatile and will take you to winter successfully. Depending on where you live will really depend on how long this dress can last you without wearing sweats underneath but you should be able to get away with it to December with maybe a trench over it and boots. I love this simple black dress from Banana Republic (#3). It has some ruching which makes it flattering as well so you can definitely have that dessert.

source: Pinterest
Sweaters are the second most important item to have in your closet for fall. You need to have a bunch of these but you can make do with two kinds. You should have one pullover for lazy days when you're just not feeling it. This boyfriend cable knit from Gap is amazing (#7). It's also great for just lounging on the weekends or layering in the really cold weather. You also need to have an open front sweater that you can easily wrap around yourself. These are my personal favorites. These allow a little more freedom with your look. Dress them up and use the sweater as a comfy alternative to a blazer or dress it down and use it as an everyday sweater (#4).

A Pair of Skinnies are the best for fall because they pair easily with Boots and who doesn't love that look. Lauren Conrad has great skinnies at Kohl's that fit even big bootied girls like me (#6). They also fit into riding boots nicely (#2) or even pair well with flats for more of a chic, put-together look. 

Last but not least you need a Cute Fall Coat to bring you closer to winter and I love this faux-suede motorcycle jacket by Elie Tahari at Kohl's. More importantly, I love that high-end designers are making lines for us lower class folks. I love fashion but I can't shovel out a few hundred bucks for one piece of clothing. These lines at regular department stores are perfect for stocking up your closet whether it's basics or a special event.

What fall essentials are a must for your closet? Come back next week for more fall fashion! I have another post to share with you guys and this time, we're staying cozy.


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Monday, October 13, 2014

September Petit Vour Review: Beauty & The Box

I told you guys there's a lot I need to catch up on which means a second post today! Sometimes fitting in things I really want to get up can get stressful and then I get intimidated and don't follow through. You just have to sit down and be determined to get it done though because once you've finished, you'll be happy and satisfied with the work you've done. For example, I really wanted to post a subscription box review today from September. This is the first one for last month and I am dedicated to getting these cranked out because I hate being so delayed with my reviews. Well, I was determined until I realized that I haven't tried all the products yet...whoops! I have tried everything from my September Petit Vour box and was incredibly satisfied. Sadly, this is my last Petit Vour for a while but I will be back! There are just too many subscription boxes I want to try.

Ellovi Tinted Lip Butter $5
What PV Says: What's added to Ellovi's 6-ingredient lip butter to give it that red oomph? The tint is made with the red root of a Mediterranean flower called alkanet (who knew?). No nasties, just good-for-you butters so that you can have deliciously scented moisture on your pout.

What I Say: I love that this product gets its color from a flower. I find that so rare these days with fake coloring and dyes. It's refreshing. I loved the tint that this product gave me. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo to share and I can't just swipe it on right now because I'm in Texas and this butter is back in Chicago. It's perfect for an every day color. When I get back from vacation, I'll make a note to  apply and shoot.

Lily Lolo Mineral Eyeshadow $12
What PV Says: Highly pigmented for a long lasting and durable finish. Create sheer or intense washes of color, with shades which work both wet and dry. HOW: Sprinkle a little eyeshadow into the lid of your jar, using your eye shadow brush swirl into the minerals to pick up product and the sweep across the eyelid, blending as you go.

What I Say: I received this product in Gunmetal. This was a great color. I really liked how it was dark enough to be a look on its own without being too overpowering for daytime. It applied easily and I appreciated the way they packaged the loose powder. It made it easy to control how much I used. I wasn't impressed with how it collected in the creases of my eyes towards the end of the day. I know this is 50% my problem because I have oily skin but I don't typically have an issue with eye shadow collecting like this one did.

Root Science Skincare $49.59
What PV Says: The delicately selected ingredients in each Root Science formula were chosen based on their potency and extreme healing properties. All organic oils are cold-pressed to protect their inherent vitamins vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and unrefined properties. Real ingredients = real results. Let the detoxifying commence!

What I Say: Products that come in powder form and require you to add water really freak me out for some reason. I love that they are mineral based and completely organic but they smell a bit funny and I never get the water to powder formula right. I always have to add a little more of this and a little more of that. None of that really matters though because this product really left my skin feeling clean and soft. My face looks brighter, my skin feels cleaner and I'm always amazed by this for some reason. I use this every other day at the moment and am completely satisfied.

Yarok Leave-In Conditioner $13.20
What PV Says: Protect your ends with this nutritious, leave-in conditioner spray, packed with vitamins, minerals and essential oils that nourish hair prior to blow drying or heat styling.

What I Say: I brought this on vacation with me and love it. I've used it a few times now and it does it's job well. Sometimes with leave-in conditioners, you have to worry about the product being too heavy and leaving your hair greasy. When that happens, blowouts don't last as long as they should. This formula is light enough but effective. My hair is shiny and soft and blows out real easily. I love the slightly musky scent it has as well.

Did you get September's Petit Vour box? What were your favorite products? 


Fall TV: The Originals, The Flash & Arrow

I can't believe this is my last bulk post for fall TV premieres. I've only got two shows left to premiere in my queue this year and they're not for a while. We've got Constantine at the end of this month and then State of Affairs beginning in November. I've been slow to post last week because I just left for vacation on Friday and before that, I had a busy week with long nights. I've got lots to catch up on, that's for sure. This past week, a bunch of CW shows premiered and they were amazing. Here it goes...

source: Google Images
The Originals
Did you guys see the season finale? I haven't cried this much for a TV show since the 2010 season finale of Grey's Anatomy. I was expecting Klaus and Elijah to come out guns blazing in the premiere. Instead, it was a quiet calm. Because the werewolves have moonlight rings, Klaus doesn't have his full strength, especially around a full moon, so the goal is to find out who has a ring and then take them out. Esther, Cole and Finn are alive again but in different bodies. We don't know what their plan is yet but it's no good. Michael is also alive and at the complete surrender to Davina. I love that girl. Marcel is hungry to take back the city and Hayley is completely distraught over having to give her baby away. It's a very depressing mood but it really gets the ball rolling for the season. The werewolves are out of the picture by the end of the premiere, the vampires have taken back the town and the current villains are the supposedly dead Mikaelsons. This season will be awesome.

source: Google Images - Fanpop
The Flash
I've been waiting for Barry to turn superhero since they introduced him on Arrow last season. We get an intro to Barry and what motivates him in life. It takes him nine months for him to wake up from his coma after being struck by a lightening bolt from the particle accelerator. He's obviously in love with his best friend Iris but he won't cross the friend line with her, especially now that he knows he's got powers. He's determined to find who killed his mother and everyone wants to know because whoever killed her had similar powers to his. There will obviously be lots of villains in this season but the main antagonist appears to be Harrison Wells. He's hiding something which leads me to believe that he's the bad guy. Either that or he has something he needs to hide until it's ready. What makes me suspicious is the fact that he can stand and doesn't need that wheelchair. That's what tipped me off to him being the potential antagonist.

source: Google Images
This will be a great show. The CW has really stepped up its game in the last few years and I haven't been disappointed with one show I've watched...with one exception for the 90210 remake. I couldn't even force myself to watch that show. Barry Allen is a character that you root for. He's like Spiderman: half superhuman, half nerd. You can't help but love him for being adorable than you get super attracted to him because he's a bad ass. But anyway...next show! Oh wait...is anyone else excited that Jesse Martin is on this show? Considering both him and Grant Gustin are amazing singers, I'm secretly hoping for them to break into song at one point. Rent flashback!!! Yes, please!

source: Google Images
Arrow
I love this show. I'm so glad that it's continued season after season. I'm even more excited that Oliver and Felicity are lovers...well, sort of. I have a large feeling there will be a love triangle this season between Oliver, Felicity and Barry from The Flash. If that brings the shows to cross over, even better. We come back to Starling City with a broke Oliver, miserably employed Felicity, clean and straight Roy and soon to be dad Diggle. Oliver's character has gone through so much growth since we first met him. He's finally allowing himself to trust other people and let them in his life. He needs to let the real Oliver Queen back in his life though. He's afraid to allow himself to be Oliver which leaves the Arrow as a mask for him. I have a feeling that this battle will take us till the end of the season and part of that will be to take back his family's company.

Source: Google Images - Hitfix
On another note, can you believe what happened to
Sarah?! First of all, I'm almost positive that Malcolm Merlin killed her. He's the only one who uses arrows similar to Oliver and we know he's back because he's unfortunately taken Thea under his wing. I doubt they're on an island like she told him too. Now we have Laurel on Team Arrow though so the tides have turned. Not only does the Arrow officially have the city and police department's support, he's got a lawyer on his side. Criminals of Starling City beware! This season is going to be insane. Sibling wars, love triangles, the whole shebang. Not to mention Stephen Amell is HOT.

Do you have any fall shows left to premiere? See below for my last two. Let me know if you have any suggestions! Here are my reviews up to now...

Deliverance Creek

Shows left over:
Friday, October 24th: Constantine
source: Google Images - Comicbook.com
Monday, November 17th; State of Affairs
source: Google Images

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