Sick Food

Last night two of my favorite people in the world get engaged – to each other. I was even the one who set them up! I was a bit (very) overexcited and indulged in too much champagne and have been horribly sick all day. I had grand plans to post a new recipe today, but instead I am enjoying my go to food when I am not feeling well: egg noodles.
Have a wonderful (and responsible) Saturday night!

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Chicago’s Lakeshore East

I recently toured two buildings in Chicago’s Lakeshore East development with some fellow members of the Chicago Blogger Network. It was a great look into a little corner of the city I wasn’t familiar with.

The evening started off with a tour of Coast’s penthouse: a three bedroom unit with sweeping views of the lake and the city. At $10,000 a month it is, unfortunately, out of my price range.

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If a penthouse isn’t in your price range, Coast has more modestly priced one bedroom units, complete with balconies. These aren’t your typical one bedroom rentals, these are luxury units with amenities like floor to ceiling windows, new appliances, in unit washer and dryer, central air and they come equipped with cable and internet!  And you gain access to the stunning pool and deck area.

IMG_0564 IMG_0565 IMG_0566 IMG_0568 IMG_0569 IMG_0570 I absolutely loved the outdoor spaces! There was plenty of room for lounging, grill areas and tables for patio meals, a beautiful pool, and wonderful views of Chicago’s skyline.

Have I convinced you to move yet? I might have convinced myself. To top it all off, the neighborhood has a lot going on. We dined at III Forks restaurant, a modern steakhouse with a great rooftop bar and lounge. Other restaurants in the immediate area include the chic Italian restaurant Filini,  a new Mexican place called Mezcalina, and Eggy’s a greasy spoon diner. The biggest selling point for me is proximity to Mariano’s, my all-time favorite grocery store. Imagine Whole Foods, but better and cheaper. What more could you ask for?

Thank you to Magellan to hosting the Chicago Blogger Network!

Being a Yelp Elite

Did you know that if you regularly write Yelp reviews that you can become a Yelp Elite? And that Yelp Elites get invited to great parties? I spent my evening at Chicago’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum at Yelp’s Walk on the Wild Side.

There was a butterfly room…

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There were Whisky Cocktails…

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There was a fox… (I watched this video 8 times today)

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There were whoopie pies…

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There were macaroons…

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And a keg carrying scooter with beer samples.

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Yelp parties are a little bit of everything and lots of fun.

Mustard Chicken Tenders

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Mustard Chicken Tenders only require four ingredients and can be made in 20 minutes. This is a quick kid friendly weeknight meal, that this adults only household loves. I quickly threw this meal together using ingredients I happened to have in my fridge.

You will need:
1 pound Chicken Tenderloins
1/3 cup Dijon Mustard or any Mustard of your choice
1/2 cup Plain Panko or plain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Step 1:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place mustard and panko in two separate bowls.

Step 2:
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Step 3:
Coat the chicken in the mustard.

Step 4:
Coat the chicken in the panko.

Step 5:
Place chicken in the skillet. Cook each side for about 3 minutes until browned.

Step 6:
Once both sides have browned, place chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked.

All About Expiration Dates and How to Know If Meat Has Gone Bad

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One of my guy friends suggested this post topic because he wanted to know the answer. How do you know if meat has gone bad? What do expiration dates mean? How to you decide if you can cook it, or if you need to toss it out? Here are the steps to take when inspecting questionable meat:

1. Check the Sell By or Expiration Date – see below for meanings.
2. Look at it. If the meat is discolored, toss it.
3. Smell it. If it smells bad, toss it.
4. Has the meat been refrigerated properly? If the meat hasn’t been stored at 40 degrees or below, toss it.
5. If you are still unsure, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-674-6854
6. Realize that eating expired food is risky. My husband has no problem playing expiration date roulette. I prefer to play it safe.

The difference between a Sell By Date and an Expiration Date (also called Use By Dates):
A Sell By Date refers to the length of time the product should be displayed at the store. The Expiration Date refers to a specific date after which the product may not be safe to consume. If a product has a Sell By Date, it is safe to consume for a day or two after that date. If a product as an Expiration Date, you shouldn’t eat it after that date.

*Source: USDA. I am not a food safety expert. Use your best judgement.

Anticipated Chicago Restaurant Openings

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The Chicago food scene has a lot of changes in store for the fall, and couldn’t be more excited! Here is a run down of the anticipated openings I am looking forward to the most:

Eataly – Mario Batali’s mecca of Italian food will finally open in November.
Location: River North, 43 E. Ohio St., Chicago, IL

Tippling Hall – A late night comfort food bar, conveniently located in my neighborhood in the former Hop Haus space. I look forward to becoming a regular.
Location: River North, 646 N. Franklin St., Chicago, IL

Blackfinn Ameripub – The “pub” will be part bar and part restaurant with a 100 seat patio. The ecceletic menu is already online and features everything from tacos to pasta.
Location: River North, 46 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, IL

RPM Steak – The Melman brothers continue their River North takeover with a sister restaurant to RPM Italian.
Location: River North, 60 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, IL

Analogue – The new project from two former Violet Hour bartenders will feature cocktails and Southern style food. I wonder if they will have as many different types of ice as Violet Hour…
Location: Logan Square, 2523 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL

What restaurant openings are you looking forward to? Do you understand why I live in River North?

Self Publishing: Creating a Word Template

This is the first post in what will be a series about self publishing. Let me start off by saying that self publishing is not easy. When it comes to layout, you can do it yourself, or you can hire someone to do it for you. I decided to do it myself because I want to learn how. I want to self publish more books in the future so this is an important step in the learning process – and I am learning a lot.

Today I am starting off with the basics. I am using Word for Mac 2011 on a MacBook Pro to create my template and do the layout. Here are instructions – in extreme detail. I think these instructions will be helpful regardless of which version of Word you are using – these steps need to be done not matter what.

Step 1:

Decide on a size for your book. I decided to create an 8.5 x 8.5 inch book. The first step is to resize your Word document to match the size you chose.

Go to Format. Select Document.

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Click the Page Setup button on the lower left of the pop up.

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Then select Manage Custom Sizes from the Paper Size Drop Down and click OK.

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Then create your custom size. Click on the + sign to create a new template. Then type in the paper size. Then you need to set your margins. Refer to the margins required by the publisher you chose. I chose Lightning Source which requires .5 inch margins. Then click OK.

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Step 2:

Set your gutter margins. Different publishers have different requirements for this. Lightning Source requires 0.125 inch gutter margins. A gutter margin is the margin along the binding edge. Some binding styles require extra space on the margin on the binding edge.

After you complete Step 1, you will be back to the Document Format pop up. Click Margin. Then add the appropriate gutter margin.

Then select Mirror Margins on the lower left. This automatically adjusts the gutter margin for the left and right pages of the book, since for odd number pages the binding will be on the left, while it will be on the right for even numbered pages.

Then select Whole Document from the Apply To drop down. Then click OK.

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Step 3:

Once the template has been created, set the picture quality for the document. This is an extremely important step that you cannot overlook! Your images need to be set to 300 dpi (I will write another post just about this) and Word will automatically reduce the file size, and quality of the image unless you change your settings. You MUST change this setting BEFORE you add any images to your document – changing the settings after the fact will not reverse the change in dpi to the images.

Select Reduce File Size from the File menu.

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Choose Keep Current Resolution from the Picture Quality drop down. And click OK.

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I hope that this post is helpful to anyone who is self publishing. I had to search and search the internet to find answers to these questions! Please note: I am certainly not an expert, so if I got anything wrong – please feel free to politely point it out in the comments.