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Drink, Events, Food,

Bacon AND Beer? Get Excited for the Bacon and Beer Classic

I’m a huge fan of festivals that combine an appreciation of craft beer with small bites for a satisfying experience all around. When those small bites all center around the theme of bacon… I’m in heaven.

The Bacon and Beer Classic happens yearly in New York City, Seattle, Indianapolis and of course… Chicago! You won’t have to wait long, since it’s happening Saturday, October 10 at Soldier Field. Depending on if you prefer your weekend sips earlier or later in the day, you can pick between the “brunch” session (1-4pm) or the evening session (7-10pm).

Bacon and Beer Classic

So what can you expect at the Bacon and Beer Classic? Let’s take a look:

  • 3 hours of drinking and eating craft beer and bacon
  • 48 2-ounce craft beer samples from participating breweries. If that’s not enough, you can purchase 10 more for $5
  • 40 bacon-inspired dishes featuring local Chicago restaurants, like Public House, Haute Sausage and Porkchop
  • Souvenir Bacon & Beer Classic glass
  • Music, games, photo booth, and more!

If you opt for VIP admission, you get in 1 hour early for either session and exclusive access to craft beer that you can’t get with a General Admission ticket. VIP is perfect for a real craft beer aficionado.

Tickets are $59 and $99 for General Admission and VIP and can be purchased on Eventbrite. Use code “CHEERS” for 20% off 🙂 See you there!

chicago cheap ass
Drink, Food,

Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour

 I’ve been dying to check out Lagunitas Brewing Company for the longest time. Last year for Christmas, I bought my boyfriend So You Want to Start a Brewery?, written by the founder of Lagunitas. They also sponsored Social Media Beast’s sister company Concierge Preferred at their annual trade show earlier in the year. I got a chance to hear the Marketing Manager (the founder’s sister!) speak about how much she loves her company, and more importantly, details regarding the newly opened taproom in Chicago.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour
So checking out Lagunitas Brewing Company has been on my radar for quite some time now.
An opportunity presented itself to take Reggie’s Rock Bus (YES), so we could go, drink as much as we pleased, and make it back home (or close enough) afterwards.
First of all, if you’ve never been on a Reggie’s Rock Bus, I highly recommend it. The bus itself is spray painted with trippy Chicago icons both inside and out. The driver is super friendly, and doesn’t care how rowdy you get on the bus. He’ll get you there safe, even though it seems like the bus could break down at any time. Oh! And the seats are super comfy, like little couches.
Anyways, we rolled up to Lagunitas Brewing Company early afternoon on a Sunday. It wasn’t too packed – seems like a good time and day of the week to check it out. There is parking if you want to drive, but I really need to stress the fact that if you go that route, bring a DD. Lagunitas Beer tends to be super thick and have a high ABV – don’t think you can just beat it by sheer force of will.
The walk up inside was intense. It was dark, with neon lights flashing down a long hallway. After getting wristbands, we were lead into a basement room to relax before our tour. In the basement, they had a bunch of different furniture sets. The pieces matched each other, but the sets didn’t have a consistent theme. It was like going to a resale store, but somehow it all fit together nicely. They also had saddle seats you could sit on – too cool.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour
The guys behind the bar at Lagunitas were so nice and fun. You could tell they genuinely loved their jobs, loved Lagunitas Beer and wanted us to have a good time. We were offered all the free samples we could drink – complete with biodegradable sample cups. How environmentally responsible!
One of my favorite tasters was their Brown Sugga’ Ale. Our bartender busted out bottles that ranged from 2006-2014. He let us taste two samples side by side to demonstrate a “mistake” batch they once made – and loved. Definitely a fun fact I would’ve never known if I hadn’t made my way to the Brewery.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour
The tour itself was pretty short – I assume they think people are there more for the beer-drinking experience than anything. It was awe-inspiring though, when seeing all the large tanks holding beer throughout different parts of the process, then learning they’re going to double the total! Lagunitas is the largest craft brewery in the United States. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. I’ve been on a lot of brewery tours before – Guinness, Sam Adams, and Revolution, to name a few. I had previously been comparing Lagunitas Brewing Company to Revolution, but that was not giving them nearly enough credit – they’re approaching mammoth status (though still don’t occupy blocks of city space like the Guinness Brewery). Another fun fact – there was a scene from the Dark Knight filmed in the Lagunitas Brewing Company!
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour
After the tour, we funneled into the Taproom. There was an in-house magician who was too good. I tried to figure out all of his tricks and couldn’t guess any of them – needless to say, he earned a nice tip from me. The food was good, though I’ll admit I wasn’t really focusing on it. I was sad there were no fries – the perfect accompaniment to beer. I seem to keep running into this problem at different restaurants – apparently deep friers are annoying to have if you don’t absolutely need them.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour
At the end of the day, there’s no way you can have a bad time at Lagunitas Brewing Company. The tour is FREE, the beer is FREE, and the food is perfectly complimentary (minus the lack of fries). All you need to do is figure out the best way to get there!
Have you been on any brewery tours lately? Share in the comments!
Big thanks to Brooke for her photo contributions!
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Drink, Food,

Tequila: Not Just for Shots or Summer

Earlier in August, I attended a dinner at Moe’s Cantina featuring delicious Northern Mexican cuisine perfectly paired with Grand Mayan Tequila.

Screenshot 2015-09-11 21.28.20

I recently had the opportunity to attend another dinner featuring Grand Mayan Tequila, this time at Bottlefork. I’m a fan of Rockit Ranch… my favorite restaurant of the chain is Ay Chiwowa, followed by Rockit Burger Bar in Wrigleyville. If you haven’t had the Mac Attack burger, you haven’t really lived life. This was my first time at Bottlefork and I didn’t know what to expect… Bottlefork is one of the more upscale restaurants of the Rockit Ranch chain, but has an interesting edge in terms of decor. The layout is long but narrow, which makes for a more intimate dining experience.

Screenshot 2015-09-11 21.28.29

Before we talk about the amazing craft cocktails, let me tell you a little bit about the food that we ate with them. The first course was two different kinds of salads, with a non-traditional twist. I really enjoyed the grilled watermelon and arugula salad – complete with creamy goat cheese. The other was ensalada latina – it had a delightfully spicy kick.

My favorite course was the black bean and chorizo sope with avocado creme, cilantro leaves and goat cheese. The traditionally Mexican flavors played well together.

Screenshot 2015-09-11 21.28.58

The crowd favorite seemed to be the grilled beer soaked chicken thighs that we put in fresh taco shells with housemade salsa. It all came together in the end with a warm and creamy cheesecake with caveat peaches. I could keep eating this meal for a week and not get tired of it.

But really, this meal wouldn’t have been as good without the delicious cocktail pairings. Each one used a variety of Grand Mayan Tequila.

Screenshot 2015-09-11 21.28.42

The first one was interesting. It was called “The Grand Comote” and it featured Grand Mayan Blanco tequila and was infused with bacon fat. I don’t think I’ve ever had a drink infused in fat before! Other interesting ingredients included spicy things like ancho reyes and lime chili guajillo. The inclusion of egg whites frothed it up and gave it a hispanic edge.

My favorite was the last one – called “A Noble Soul.” I liked it so much, I asked them to make me another one! I think I was initially attracted to the pinkish color after all the ingredients were combined. This one also used Grand Mayan Blanco tequila (though not infused with fat), and a bit of Mezcal for a smoky flavor. There were a lot of sweet components: lychee, grapefruit and agave nectar. Angostura bitters floated around and gave the drink an extra kick.

Screenshot 2015-09-11 21.29.08

I can honestly say that before tonight, I’d never had a cocktail crafted with tequila. Tequila is my favorite liquor for shots, so I’m not sure why it took me until now to bridge the gap. I was so pleasantly surprised with how smooth and delicious these cocktails were that I kept asking for more. I think people usually put tequila in the summer drink category (Margaritas, shots, etc), but these cocktails were more reminiscent of fall with their complex bitter and spicy flavors. Beats the hell out of a Pumpkin Spiced Latte!

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Food, Recipes,

Buy A Slow Cooker And Add A Tiny Bit Of Happiness To Your Meaningless Existence

Lunchtime. Yay. Week-old roast beef and mustard on sourdough with stale pita chips. Only 12,774 lunches left on the interminable, slow, plodding path to death we all walk together. Might as well head back to your desk and pretend to work for the rest of the day, stomach grumbling, wearing that same emotionless face you wear every day of your life.

Now, I’m not saying that a slow cooker will relieve the existential dread inherent to a consciousness that is able to grasp how truly insignificant it is in the true scope of things, but, at the very least, you’ll be able to enjoy your lunch more.

Most of you probably know how a slow cooker or crock pot works—you plug it in, throw a bunch of stuff in there, and then go do whatever until it’s done. If you don’t have a crock pot and are in the market, however, it’d probably be best to look for one that’s relatively big, and at least has multiple heat settings and a programmable timer. I’m lucky enough to have access to this Hamilton Beach model that my roommate owns, so I didn’t even have to buy my own, but it’s only 50 bucks, and comes with a probe if you ever want to make some fancy roast beef or London broil. It’s also big enough to accommodate a big ol’ pork shoulder for whenever I want to make barbecue, but get something that’s right for you. You really shouldn’t be paying more than $75 for something with all the bells and whistles that you most likely don’t even need.

This is usually the point at which I give you recipes, which yeah, I’ll do that, but the great thing about slow cookers is you can really just kind of jam whatever you have in there and you’ll normally get something that tastes great. Broccoli rabe, canned tomatoes, crappy wine, bay leaves, and 5 pounds of chicken thighs? Pop that in there for a few hours, serve over pasta, season with salt and pepper, and you have a meal fit for a dinner party attended by more people than your tiny apartment can reasonably fit. Seriously, with the possible exception of mustard greens and collard greens, both of which turn into a gooey mush in a slow cooker, just fill it with things you like, and by the time it’s done, you’ll like the result.

That said, here are some guiding principles. For leaner cuts of meat, like chicken breasts, thighs, or really any other already-sliced meats, keep the timer down around 4ish hours and cook on low. You don’t want to overcook anything in a slow cooker, because believe it or not, they will dry out even if they’ve been swimming in whatever conglomeration of sauces you’ve thrown in there. Conversely, for thicker cuts of meat like pork shoulder or really, anything you’re planning on shredding, you’re going to want to let that cook for a while on low heat, probably around 8 to 12 hours. I usually like searing these cuts first as well, just to add a bit of flavor and textural interest to the final dish.

In terms of usage, again, the slow cooker is a utilitarian tool fit to multitask. I use mine primarily to prepare healthy lunches for the week ahead of time using lean meats and plenty of vegetables. As a sidenote, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms are wonderful flavor sponges and turn out great in any slow cooked dish. Most recently, I threw a pork shoulder in there with Brussels sprouts, long-cut green onions, ginger, soy sauce, and duck sauce, and I was rewarded 12 hours later with not just all my lunches for the week, but also the ability to make irresponsible choices on weeknights without having to worry about fixing my lunch for the next day.

If you want to get fancy and get some roast beef going, heat some oil in a pan until it screams, then throw a big cut of beef on there to sear it on all sides. I prefer top blade or top round roasts, but use your favorite. This’ll work for brisket too. Once the meat is seared, grab some of those small red potatoes, chop some leeks into slices, and quarter a few onions. Toss all that with salt and pepper, and spread them across the bottom of your slow cooker. Put your roast on top of that and pop the lid on. Skewer the roast with the probe, and set the slow cooker to stop cooking when the roast reaches 120 degrees in the middle, making it perfectly rare. Invite your friends over because the unbearable lightness of being is best shared, and carve them all a few slices before topping with some horseradish. The onions, leeks and potatoes will absorb the roast’s juices, making them soft and unctuous, so make sure to stiff your friends on those and hoard them for yourself.

Again, the whole point of the slow cooker is to be able to take a bunch of random stuff out of your fridge, put it in the cooker, wait, and suddenly have a whole bunch of food that, yeah, is actually surprisingly okay. And while it may not solve the problem of finding meaning in a life we all know could end at any moment, well hey, what do you expect? It’s just a slow cooker, and I’m just a blogger. At least it’ll make meal time a little better.

This post contains affiliate links.

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Drink, Food,

Grand Mayan Tequila at Moe’s Cantina

A few weeks ago, I went to a friend’s pig roast and was convinced to take a shot of cheap tequila. Before I go any further in this explanation, I’ll have you know – I love tequila.

But as soon as that shot hit my taste buds, I knew I made a mistake. The tequila was so bad that it almost prevented me from drinking for the rest of the night. Well, almost.

My point is that cheap tequila sucks. I usually fall in the middle range for price and quality, but even mid-grade tequila activates my gag reflex.

Enter – Grand Mayan Tequila.

Grand Mayan Tequila

If you’re the type of person who likes a full experience, not just one dimension of one, you’ll love this stuff. It starts with the beautiful bottle, hand-painted by Mexican artists. You’ll think that’s the greatest work of art until you get a chance to taste the magic inside.

Grand Mayan Tequila

Grand Mayan Tequila retails for about $100. I don’t know that I’ve ever had tequila that expensive before. Mixed into a margarita, it’s harder to tell the difference between the different types of tequila. It’s when you take a shot or sip the tequila that you can truly make that distinction. I’m not one to sip usually – more of a rip off the band-aid type when it comes to liquor. But I decided to try this tequila more slowly. I sipped on the Grand Mayan Ultra Aged Anejo… and it was so smooth. My definition of the perfect tequila, especially after such a rough experience just weeks ago. Honestly, if you can get drunk without a mixer… you’re saving yourself a lot of calories. This would be perfect for that.

What pairs better with delicious margaritas and tequila then guacamole and tacos?

Grand Mayan Tequila

While sipping on the signature Quetzal margarita, I tried a wide variety of northern Mexican specialties at Moe’s Cantina. There were tacos el carbon, crispy duck tacos, italian brick chicken tacos, and chicken mole tacos. The mole tacos were my favorite – I’m a huge fan of the bitter chocolate-y sauce. A new favorite Mexican dish for me were the pachuchos – ground beef and mashed potatoes wrapped in fried masa dough, served with a serrano salsa. A lot of the dishes had a bit of the serrano kick, including the guacamole. The pachuchos reminded me vaguely of Spanish croquettas.

Grand Mayan Tequila

Mexican and Spanish cultures always end their meals with churros con chocolate. In this case, the “chocolate” was a coffee sauce made with Grand Mayan tequila. I took a shot of the remaining liquid after my churros were thoroughly coated in it’s tasty goodness.

Grand Mayan Tequila isn’t your cheapest option – but it’s the perfect choice for a special occasion or paired with a tasty Mexican meal. There’s a lot I can handle when it comes to liquor, but in terms of true enjoyment… that’s hard to come by. Grand Mayan Tequila is worth every penny if you don’t want Malort Face after every shot of bad tequila. Chicagoans take note that you can buy Grand Mayan Tequila at Binny’s!

Grand Mayan Tequila

(Me and Bae)

Please note: This is a sponsored post. Dinner and drinks were provided at no cost to me. Photos courtesy of Digi Noggin/Foodie Fighters.

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Food, Recipes,

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing

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Each Sunday I dread the idea of starting another work week and preparing the same boring food. I’d rather just go to Protein Bar and get a delicious salad, but that’s an easy way to quickly drain your bank account.  When I came across this recipe on the Ambitious Kitchen (http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com) I was so thrilled to find something new I could prep for the entire week:  Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing.  Bonus:  it’s gluten free AND vegan.

INGREDIENTS
For the salad:
  • Âľ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1-2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 cup shredded or sliced carrots
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ÂĽ cup diced green onions
  • ½ cup cashew halves or peanuts (I like both for texture and saltiness)
  • 1 cup edamame or garbanzo beans
  • Fresh lime, for a bit of tang

For the dressing:

  • ÂĽ cup all natural peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce, gluten-free if desired
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use agave if vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame or sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Sriracha for spice
  • Water to thin, if necessary
Start with making the dressing, it’s better to let this sit and allow the ingredients to blend.  The prep can take some time so I chopped while the quinoa was boiling. 
Screenshot_2015-07-28-12-26-17 
  1. To make the dressing: Blend the peanut butter and honey or agave to a medium microwave safe bowl then heat in microwave for 20-30 seconds. Next, add your fresh grated ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and oils. Stir until the mixture is creamy and blended.  If you want a thinner dressing, slowly add water or more oil.
  2. I’ve never cooked quinoa before so this was new to me but its similar to making cous cous.Start by rinsing quinoa with cold water in mesh strainer, if this is difficult don’t worry – it’s not crucial. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. The water to quinoa ratio is very important for the texture. Then add in quinoa and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with fork; place in large bowl and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. This will yield a little over 2 cups of quinoa.
  3. Once the quinoa is cooled add your dressing.  Add as little or as much as you would like.
  4. Finally, fold in your vegetables.  Sprinkle cashews and/or peanuts then squeeze a bit of lime for zing and Sriracha for spice.
 
This recipe gave me exactly five lunches, with all the protein and vitamins it’s a great solution to a new lunch to rotate into your routine. 
Nutrition Information:
  • Serving size: 1/6th of recipe
  • Calories: 260
  • Fat: 13.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 27.7g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 4.3g
  • Protein: 8.6g
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  15 mins
Total time:  25 mins
Snapchat--8455061644047663763
chicago cheap ass (13)
Drink, Food,

GIVEAWAY: Best Chicago Tea Spots

I’m somewhat of an anomaly in our extremely caffeinated world. I HATE coffee. I don’t know what it is about the brew – I’m just not a fan. As such, I’ve adapted to 9-5 job life by pledging my allegiance to another popular caffeinated beverage: tea. Tea has a lot of awesome health benefits, but really as far as I’m concerned, it just tastes better. Check out my picks for purchasing and enjoying tea in Chicago and beyond!

Argo Tea

Chicago Tea

Green Tea Strawberry
Source: Argo Tea

Argo Tea has to be my favorite tea spot in Chicago. They have so many delicious signature drinks that can be served hot or cold, and they rotate new ones in and out on a monthly basis. Past that, there are so many different customization options – they really have something for everyone. Loose-leaf tea canisters tend to cost about $10-12, which is a great value for the everyday tea drinker. When I buy a container of loose leaf tea, it lasts FOREVER. I have 3 or 4 that I use all the time, I got them a year ago, and I’m not more than halfway through any of them. They also have a solid LoyalTEA (see what they did there?) loyalty program that rewards the frequent hand-crafted tea drinker. Besides Argo Tea, the remaining tea spots on this list don’t necessarily advertise the fact that you can get a drink to go (as opposed to purchasing loose-leaf tea to brew yourself), but Argo Tea specializes in these beverages. I love their flavored green and white teas. If I had to pick just one to recommend, I’d suggest the Green Tea Strawberry. It mixes great with lemonade after being cooled down with ice!

Adagio Teas

Chicago Teas

Ali Shan Tea Source: Adagio Teas

Adagio is where I first fell in love with loose-leaf tea. I got a Groupon (still available through the link) for a tea tasting and (which included a ceramic teapot!) when a tea-loving friend was in town to visit. I decided to taste a few types of tea I hadn’t really given a chance to before – oolong and white tea. Their Ali Shan Tea is a premium oolong tea that I love. Did you know that oolong tea improves digestion? You’ll learn this and many other fun facts about tea if you go through the tasting experience! Personally, I’m pretty obsessed with green tea because of it’s metabolic benefits and how it tastes. But once I gave these two new varieties a chance, I keep replacing them whenever they run out. I would consider Adagio to be slightly more premium than Argo Tea, with a wider selection. They have a ridiculous amount of tea-related accessories – tea brewing apparatuses, travel mugs, etc. This store is the tea-aficionado’s dream.

DavidsTea

Chicago Tea

Countess of Seville Tea Source: DavidsTea

DavidsTea is an interesting tea store. It has elements of Argo Tea and Adagio Teas, in that you can get a to-go drink and they have plenty of tea accessories. But there is something that also makes it completely different. DavidsTea offers a lot of unique tea blends that change the flavor you’d expect to get from the respective tea bases (green, white, oolong, etc). For some of my tea-loving friends, this is unacceptable. They don’t like DavidsTea because the tea has weird additives that make it into more of a novelty than a detoxifying beverage. DavidsTea is probably a good place to go if you don’t have many preconceived notions about how tea should taste, or aren’t a purist. My favorite tea is the Countess of Seville, which is a green tea that draws similarities to a black tea.

Coffee & Tea Exchange

Chicago Teas

On the purely local business side of things in Chicago is the Coffee & Tea Exchange in Lakeview. This place is awesome. There are so many different tea (and coffee, obviously) varieties, and the presentation includes colorful and crafty hand-drawn signs (see picture). You can ask for as much or as little tea as you want, and it’s priced and packaged accordingly. The Coffee & Tea Exchange is a great place to go if you like to try a lot of different varieties and don’t want to be stuck with the same flavor for a long time. Or if you don’t want to shell out a lot of money at once for a large amount of tea that might go bad. I like their gunpowder green tea and super-affordable matcha tea.

Teabox

Obviously great tea options aren’t limited to the geographic area of Chicago. In fact, all of the aforementioned companies ship across the United States if there’s not a physical location near you (Hi, non-Chicago readers!). But another option that requires even less effort is to purchase a subscription to a service that curates different teas each month. Teabox is one such service.

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The packaging itself is reason enough to order a subscription. It’s functional and informative. It used to be (when I got this box) that you pay $15 each month (including shipping!), you get a specially-curated selection of fresh teas. The box I got focused on minimal-caffeine teas to wind down with at night.

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What I love about each individual tea is the attention to detail. Check out the label that tells you what exactly the tea is, what it smells like, tastes like, what you should add to it (if anything!) and some very specific steeping instructions. I don’t think any of the aforementioned companies can make the same claims about attention to detail in the tea tasting experience. Teabox comes highly recommended by me as a company that truly understands tea.

Teabox has changed their strategy slightly as of late. Now, their process is more personalized where you take a quiz to determine the type of tea that best suits your taste and lifestyle – the first company in the tea industry to go this route. Another awesome feature – it’s only $9.99 each month!

Giveaway!

Argo Tea and Adagio Tea both donated products to be given away to you lucky readers! Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where’s your favorite place to enjoy tea in Chicago? Or buy some to enjoy at work? Let us know in the comments!

*Disclosure: Argo Tea, Adagio, and Teabox each donated products and giftcards when I reached out to them about writing this article.

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Food, Recipes,

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup with Garbanzo Beans

This is my first time doing a step-by-step cooking post, so bear with me! This one comes to you originally from NaturallyElla.com, which I’ve modified very slightly.

The reason I’m including this post is because it’s an affordable luxury. The tomatoes are probably the most expensive component and will cost about $3-6, depending on whatever specials are happening at your local grocery store. Garlic, garbanzo beans, and vegetable stock will each set you back between $0.20 and $2.25 a piece. The only cautionary tale I have for this soup is that the original recipe only serves two… consider doubling it to enjoy this soup for more than one meal.

This soup is vegetarian by nature, but packs a protein punch in the form of garbanzo beans. Here’s the step-by-step process to pulling this together:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Start with a head of garlic. Chop off the top.

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Once you’ve chopped off the top, brush it with olive oil all over.

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Wrap the garlic in foil. At the same time, spread your grape tomatoes on a baking sheet. Cover the grape tomatoes with another layer of foil. You’ll cook the garlic for about 20-30 minutes, the tomatoes for an additional 10 minutes.

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In the meantime, chop up a medium onion. I like the red ones, but you could use yellow ones if you prefer.

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The tomatoes will look pretty awesome when they’re done.

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Start cooking up the onions in some olive oil. I use the spray to cut down on the fat.

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Add the garbanzo beans (I added a full cup instead of a half), tomatoes, and roasted garlic. You’ll have to squeeze out the garlic. Be careful, it’s hot!

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Add in the veggie stock, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste.

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Once the complete mixture has simmered for about 20 minutes, throw it in a blender and pulse until smooth.

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And there you have it! The perfect soup that packs a nutritious punch.

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Original recipe available on NaturallyElla.com.

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Events, Food,

My #FoodieChats Experiences

By a strange turn of events, about a month ago, I found myself taking the Metra from Chicago to Aurora. About a year ago, this wouldn’t have been so weird… I used to commute from Elburn to Chicago and vice-versa when I first started working at Groupon. But now that I’ve secured a residence in a neighborhood bordering the city of Chicago, I find myself making the trek less and less. It takes something special, like my family, or an awesome opportunity, to inspire a train ride back to the suburbs after putting in a full day at Social Media Beast.

foodiechats

A live #Foodiechats experience ranks amongst one of those awesome opportunities that you just can’t say no to. One of my clients at Social Media Beast is Phil Stefani Restaurant Group. When we first started working with them, they had a very talented social media intern named Taylor. We worked with her to take their social media game to the next level. Nowadays, Taylor has graduated and moved on to starting hew own integrated marketing company, Deck Media. I’m excited to see where she takes it!

foodiechats

Anyways, as a member of the Chicago foodie community after being so involved with Stefani Restaurants, Taylor followed many influencers in the industry, including Steve Green, founder of #Foodiechats. For those not in the know, #Foodiechats is a weekly Twitter Chat (soon to be an app!) that happens Mondays at 7pm CST. For those who don’t understand the concept of Twitter Chats, check out the article I wrote for my company blog. Anyways, the topic always centers around food, and usually is sponsored by a company related to the industry or a restaurant. Taylor saw that Steve Green was looking for local foodies to take part in the latest live event, made her interest known and invited me along for the ride.

foodiechats

On this particular occasion, the sponsoring entity was Two Brothers Brewing. Although I love their beer (Sidekick all the way), I’d never been to the Roundhouse – even though it’s practically in my backyard! Once I got off the train, I walked straight in – passing various bars, a coffee shop, and a beautiful courtyard. Apparently it’s the type of venue that a lot of people get married – a choice I completely understand.

foodiechats

Steve Green was a gracious host and made sure everyone was properly introduced and facilitated conversation, while simultaneously capturing photos and tweeting out to his loyal following. See that’s the thing about a #Foodiechats live event… you have to be a master of talking to your fellow foodies and tweeting to contribute to #Foodiechats at the same time. At one point, the owner jokingly said “Get off your phones!” It took me a minute to realize he wasn’t serious.

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In this particular #Foodiechats event, Two Brothers was promoting a summer food festival (which unfortunately for you is now over). The food was absolutely incredible – a gourmet take on American comfort food favorites. And the BEER! Can you imagine having unlimited access to all that Two Brothers has to offer? It was a dream. In fact, I had the opportunity to grab a six pack of their new Wobble IPA beer. My boyfriend, a home brewer, is writing up a review that will be on the blog in the near future! Stay tuned 🙂

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Unfortunately I had to skip out before the event was completely over to catch the train. But little did I know, this wouldn’t be the last of my #Foodiechats experiences.

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Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Steve reached out to me right before the Fourth of July weekend about an event happening after everyone returned to work. This event was at Frontier and was sponsored by the Better Burger Project. The Better Burger Project is a contest from the James Beard Foundation, which tasks chefs from all across the United States to create a gourmet burger. Here’s the catch – the Burger has to be composed of 25% mushrooms! Now I’ll be completely honest with you… I’m not a huge mushroom fan. But, I am a trooper. I tried the burger and it was damn good. The fact that the burger didn’t focus on the mushrooms, but merely incorporated them, was what made it a good situation.

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I also ate my first oyster. Probably also my last oyster. But I put myself out there in the name of food adventures!

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I was a little more comfortable and familiar with what to expect at this event. I met some pretty incredible people who I hope to see again soon. I’m grateful to have had these experiences as I grow my Chicago blogging empire and continue to explore the food scene!

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chicago cheap ass (1)
Events, Food, Life, Transportation,

Chicago Ideas Week: Exploring Chicago on the Cheap

It’s no secret that I love participating in Twitter Chats.

Yesterday, I was asked to cohost Chicago Idea’s Week Twitter Chat: #Ideaschat (Tuesdays at 11am CST). In a nod to this blog, the topic was “Exploring Chicago… on the Cheap.”

In addition to just documenting this momentous occasion (my first time hosting a Twitter Chat!), I’d like to share some of my favorite responses for each of the questions, which all revolved around topics my blog holds dear!

Question 1:  What is your best tip for living in Chicago on a Budget?

Question 2: Festival season is approaching! What’s your best tip for attending on a budget? What festival will we see you at this year?

Question 3: What’s your tip for getting from one place to another in Chicago (on a budget, of course!)?


Question 4: Where do you go when you want the most bang for your buck for a meal?

Question 5: What’s your favorite free Chicago activity?

Thanks for everyone who participated and made this chat useful and informative! I know I learned something new about the city I call my home.