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lettuce entertain you

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Home Cookin’

If there was one theme to summarize this week for me, it would be: delicious food. This week was about an equal split between having awesome food out at restaurants, and spending time in my own kitchen, executing delicious recipes.

7/6 – #Foodiechats and #BetterBurgerProject at Frontier

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I’ve been lucky to become an active part of the #Foodiechats community. About a month ago, I took a trip to Aurora’s Two Brothers Roundhouse for a live event. This week, I was invited to an event at Frontier, sponsored by the Better Burger Project, which is a contest offered through the James Beard Foundation. Look for a dedicated #Foodiechats post soon. I had an awesome time and met some amazing Chicago foodies! Can’t wait until the next event 🙂

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7/7 – Farmer’s Fridge on Spring Rewards and Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup

I bought a credit on Spring Rewards for Farmer’s Fridge that was $2 for $5 and bought myself a Buffalo Chicken Salad for lunch ($8 total). As you guys have probably already figured out, I love Farmer’s Fridge, and even featured them on a post about Best Salads in the Loop.

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For dinner, I made one of my favorite soups, Roasted tomato and garlic (with garbanzo beans). Look for a how-to coming soon on the blog!

7/8 – RPM Steak on Uber Eats and Weezer at the Taste of Chicago

One of my favorite restaurant groups, Lettuce Entertain You was featured on Uber Eats this week. They have so many awesome restaurants, including my favorite Chicago restaurant – Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. I ordered the Mediterranean Salad from RPM Steak using a free promo code (that you could’ve gotten if you were following me on Twitter!). Even if you didn’t take advantage of the savings this week, you should sign up for LEYE’s scratch off booklet.

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After work, I headed over to Grant Park for the Taste of Chicago. I can already see a bunch of you rolling your eyes, but hear me out. Don’t go for the food. It’s over-priced and the portions are way too small. The most unique item there was rattlesnake sausage, but I wouldn’t want to eat that anyways (though my boyfriend did). Purchase natural sausage casings to store them properly. But the Taste of Chicago tends to attract big music acts, and you get to see them FOR FREE (unless you’re one of those person who HAS to be up close and personal and wants to shell out $25 for that privilege). So we snacked on some over-priced food, but got to see a big-name act, Weezer, for free. I had some bad-ass “Papas Bravas” from the Bruges Brothers food truck, which were reminiscent of spanish patatas bravas, but also had chorizo slathered all over them.

And look at these cute wine cans I found!

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7/9 – Client Breakfast

Today was an interesting day at work. A couple members of the Social Media Beast team made their way to Burr Ridge. I used my Zipcar connection to secure our transportation, and had an awesome omelette once I got there. That was probably the highlight of my day… I took it easy that night. Everyone needs a break every once in awhile!

7/10 – Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, Chicken Enchiladas and 1000 Followers on Twitter!

Today was a big cooking day for me. I made some delicious Lemon Chicken Orzo soup after defrosting about three pounds worth of chicken. Here’s the recipe I used, if you’re curious. I love this kind of soup and made enough for a couple meals. Big batches are the key to taking care of a lot of meals with a proportionately low level of effort.

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Because I had so much chicken, I made chicken enchiladas for dinner. I modified this recipe, which was pretty easy to follow, but be careful with the oven instructions. I was past-due for some homemade enchiladas, and made some cilantro-lime rice to go with it. I’m so happy to have moved to a place with a functional kitchen! It makes creating all this delicious food so much more enjoyable than in my old studio.

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Finally, a personal goal was accomplished today when I hit the 1,000 follower mark on Twitter. Follow me if you’re interested in digital marketing news and (obviously) Chicago events and deals.

7/11 – Tour de Fat and Cafe Gaudi

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I forced myself out of bed bright and early for New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat. My boyfriend somehow managed to break his bike (#spokeproblems), so we both decided to rent Divvys in case we got too drunk to bike home. That’s what I love about Divvy versus bringing your own bike everywhere. Sometimes you’re going to want to make one way trips, and you can’t do that with your own bike. We took part in the bike “parade” with a lot of crazy bikers and bikers. Next year we’ll have to come in costume! We had a few beers afterwards at the carnival. There was a silly “fashion show” featuring event attendees and free style rappers, describing each participant. We tried some of New Belgium Brewing’s small batch beers including their Hop Tart (yum!) and Pear Ginger (meh) beers. We listened to a couple bands, got some Curry Wurst from the Donermen food truck, and called it a day. At least for the Tour de Fat.

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We had a Groupon to spend at Cafe Gaudi, but stopped first at one of my boyfriend’s old haunts – Quencher’s. I hadn’t previously been to the bar and was anxious to try it out. They had my favorite shitty beer (does that even make sense?) from when I studied abroad in Barcelona – Estrella Damm.

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After Quenchers, we took the blue line to Cafe Guadi for some tapas. It was anything but authentic Spanish, but it hit the spot. We got patatas bravas, croquettas, bacon wrapped dates, and a few other “tapas” with a pitcher of sangria. Then we officially called it a night.

7/12 – Awesome Breakfast, Awesome Dinner and Apartment Organization

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One of my favorite weekend traditions is making a big, bad breakfast. I realized that today was the first time since moving that I actually went through with it! The boyfriend and I cooked up potatoes, eggs, and bacon for a perfect start to the day.

We woke up really early after passing out really early, so I spent the rest of the afternoon organizing my apartment and running some errands. I love days that I can devote completely to these activities. I also had a chance to work on some freelance projects, which is a weight off my shoulders.

Finally, I curled up on the couch to watch the end of Shark Week, and made a bad-ass bacon chicken pasta bake.

What a great week.

Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Fourth of July Shenanigans

6/29 – Noodles & Company for Lunch

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: SIGN UP FOR NOODLES & COMPANY’S EMAIL UPDATES. Follow this link for several other emails you should sign up for in order to score some free or half-priced meals. I bring it up because I had a BOGO entree coupon about to expire and used it for lunch today and tomorrow. $18 worth of quality food for $9? I’ll take it.

My boyfriend and I went to his parents’ place for dinner. They are some pretty fantastic chefs, and tonight was no exception. I’m dying to repeat their garlic roasted potatoes recipe. Also Brooke, my boyfriend’s brother’s fiance brought me an incredibly thoughtful housewarming gift bag. How cute are these towels??

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6/30 – Social Media Day and Articles I Wrote for Choose Chicago and Social Media Beast

So I’ll start off by linking to two articles that I wrote and were published today:

Barcocina: A Refreshing Bar and Restaurant Experience in Lakeview

Earlier in June I went to Barcocina and had the opportunity to taste a lot of different parts of their menu. This article for Choose Chicago reviews my experience. Spoiler Alert: If you live in Lakeview, you definitely need to check it out.

The other article is about all the different elements that go into a social post. Yeah, yeah I know it’s not about CHICAGO, but it is about one of my other passions: digital marketing. Check it out here if you’re interested.

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I reached out to the guy behind BackPackChicago, another awesome Chicago blog with a focus on finding unique destinations and educating tourists and locals alike about the beautiful city that is Chicago. We had a lovely lunch at Ramen-san – my first time there. We both chose the “express ramen lunch” (featured above). It included a half bowl of ramen, rice with a choice of meat, and a side salad. It was nice to connect with another blogger just getting started in a similar niche. Look forward to some collaborations between the two of us in the future!

Finally, I spent my evening chatting with friends new and old at Social Media Day at Rockit. There were a lot of great speakers lined up, including some I’ve had the opportunity to speak with/learn from before like Choose Chicago’s Nycole Hampton and #Foodiechat’s Steve Green and several other notables of the Chicago scene. One problem – it was all but impossible to hear them and focus on what they were saying. Apparently Social Media Day is hosted in the same venue every year. Maybe next year they’ll provide more seating and better acoustics… Regardless, I had a blast and would go again next year if only for the networking. The sliders with aioli tater tots weren’t too bad, either.

7/1 – Townhouse Round Two

Last week, my boyfriend and I went to Townhouse Wine Bar. He had bought two Gilt City deals that were about to expire, so we made our way back for round two this week! We tried new things – Nachos with a really delicious jalapeno cream cheese drizzled over it, the Townhouse Burger (you had me at pretzel bun and tomato chutney), and got more tacos – soy-braised pulled pork this time. The food was still amazing, and if I have another reason to go back – I will. They have a lot of great daily specials and the cocktails are divine. Again, we got $90 worth of food for $45!

7/2 – Vegetarian Restaurant Focus Group and Furious Spoon

So I’m not sure if I’m sworn to secrecy on this or not, but I’m not going to ruin my chances of a similar experience. I’m talking about a focus group I was invited to be a part of at a vegetarian chain in the Loop, with locations all around Chicago and in other states. If you can figure out what it is based on that, you win a prize. Anyways, I got to try some pretty incredible food, give my opinion on different perceptions based on the interior of the restaurant, the menu, etc, AND they gave me a $25 gift card to come back. Without giving away too much information – they had a blueberry LAVENDER lemonade and perfectly-creamy frosted carrot cupcake that I will be coming back for. Dreaming about my return visit.

Trying to find a link for you guys to sign up for focus groups like this… I will keep you posted!

Oh also… I entered Furious Spoon’s free-style rap battle contest to win free ramen for a year. Witness my humiliation:

7/3 – Door County for the Fourth of July

My company’s floating holiday was today, so I left early with my two best friends to go to my boyfriend’s family’s lake house in Door County, Wisconsin. If this sounds familiar, it’s because I was in Door County just two weeks ago for their Beer Festival. My boyfriend’s parents were gracious enough to have not only us, but their family and more friends of the family. It was a full house. We ended up sleeping in tents to give the adults (I still sit at the kid’s table) the best sleeping facilities. Although it wasn’t the most comfortable sleep of my life, it was an experience I haven’t had before.

7/4 – Second Amendment Rights

Our founding fathers fought for the bill of rights, or whatever, so we spent a good chunk of the Fourth of July shooting off guns at a local shooting range.

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Upon returning to the cabin, I took a nap in a hammock.

And when I woke up, I had a dinner of cheese-filled wieners, cheeseburgers, beans and good Wisconsin beer.

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God bless America.

7/5 – The Weekend is Over

After one last shopping run consisting of more cider, cheese curds, hot sauce, cherry jam, and artisanal olive oil (see below), we began the long drive home.

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On the way back, we stopped at Qdoba, and I’m starting to wonder why I’ve never given it a real chance. For $8, I got a badass quesadilla filled to the max. THEY HAVE AMAZING QUESO.

I fully intended on being productive that night (including writing this post), but I was exhausted from a weekend of fun and friends. Back to the real world!

Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

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Food,

Free Food: 6 Chicago Email Newsletters to Follow

There are a lot of opportunities for free and cheap food in Chicago. An easy way to find out about these opportunities is by following Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook for of-the-moment updates. You could also refer to this definitive guide of Chicago email newsletters to have free food delivered straight to your inbox. No spam here, people.

1. Corner Bakery Cafe

Corner Bakery Cafe chicago email newsletter

A recent email promotion from Corner Bakery Cafe

I’ll admit that Corner Bakery Cafe is not a place I often seek out on my own, but often consume at networking events and office parties. There are tons of different types of things to eat, they readily post nutrition information, and they offer free coupons all the time. Recently I’ve gotten coupons for free soup, free pastries, and even a free meal. Click here to sign up for their Chicago email newsletter.

2. Noodles & Company

Noodles & Company

A recent email promotion from Noodles & Company

Noodles is one of those places I can’t justify going to on a regular basis because I’m pretty accomplished at making pasta dishes for myself. I know that pasta is a high-margin dish at any restaurant and I wouldn’t be much of a Chicago Cheap Ass if that was how I spent my money while dining out. That being said, getting an email from Noodles is always a delight because more often than not they have coupons for free or BOGO noodle bowls (sometimes other entrees are included as well). Click here to sign up for their Chicago email newsletter.

3. Panera

Panera Bread

A recent email promotion from Panera

Panera skimps more on the freebies than Noodles & Company and Corner Bakery, but just today I got an email that said I can get free coffee the entire month by using MyPanera card. Every once in awhile, they’ll give away coupons of soup and sandwich combos or free baked goods. Definitely worth it if you like their food at all (and are close enough to one of their locations). Click here to sign up for the MyPanera card and loyalty program.

4. Au Bon Pain

Au Bon Pain

A recent email promotion from Au Bon Pain

ABP’s email newsletter is cool, because right off the bat you get a free reusable coffee cup. On top of that, they send out dollar-off coupons regularly, and always have freebies like cookies or drinks to give away. If you work close to one (ABP is primarily in the Loop and River North-ish), you’re going to want to click here to sign up for the Au Bon Pain Chicago email newsletter.

5. Lettuce Entertain You – Beatrix and Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba

Lettuce Entertain You

Recent text club promotions from Lettuce Entertain You

Lettuce Entertain You is the first member of this list to operate primarily in Chicago (with some outliers in the suburbs and other neighboring states). They have their own loyalty program that costs money to join (it’s worth it, but I’ll come back to that in another blog post), but also text clubs that don’t require you to be a member of the loyalty program to use. If you like free tapas, you should sign up for Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba’s program by clicking here and finding the “Text Club” option on the sidebar.  If free coffee, fresh-squeezed juice, and bakery items are more your style, click here for Beatrix’s text club.

6. Spring Rewards

I wrote a post about Spring Rewards and you should check that out for some of the best free food possibilities under the sun. Pairing their loyalty program with a Groupon offer at a participating restaurant means you can dine fine on a budget.

I know I said “definitive” guide at the beginning of this post, but I plan on coming back and updating as I discover more great Chicago email newsletters to follow.

If there’s a Chicago email newsletter you receive that Chicago Cheap Asses would love, let us know in the comments!