First Bites Bash 2018

Every year to kick of the coveted Chicago Restaurant Week, Choose Chicago hosts a little event called First Bites Bash. With over 60 restaurants, it’s a means of getting a glimpse of the 14 days that follow.

This year, it took place inside the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, and it was a perfect venue.


As you walk in on the lower level, you are obligated to not just look around you but ABOVE you, towards the grand ceiling.


You were also able to enter on the second floor and from the wrap-around balcony, getting an aerial view of the hustle and bustle below.

Continue reading “First Bites Bash 2018”

Hubbard Inn Winter Menu Preview


This time of year is always a time full of family, magic, and holiday cheer, but it is also always a time of frantic planning, shopping, hosting, and altogether chaos. Some nights, I just need a short break. A few hours where I am able to relax, dine, and drink with adults. I replace the Doc McStuffins theme song with jazzy lounge music. I replace the yoga pants and slippers with fitted pants and some boots. Continue reading “Hubbard Inn Winter Menu Preview”

Be Thankful


Today I am thankful for very many things. In order of appearance in my day (not priorities, I swear!), there is coffee. 20171123_081702

I am thankful for this sustenance that allows me to carry on with my multi-faceted lifestyle. It’s been a crazy way of living, balancing work life, food life, and family life. If you know me personally (or even superficially via Instagram), you know calling me a coffee addict is an understatement. But trust me when I say this: you do NOT want to be with me on a day I haven’t had a cup of strong coffee before 9am. 

Whoops, let’s focus on positive thoughts. I’m thankful, furthermore, for the Chicago foodie community that I have grown closer to over the past year.


I’ve been taking pictures of my food & writing restaurant reviews for over 10 years now, but it hasn’t been until recently that I started finding “my people”. The people who just get it, who don’t judge when I get excited about the visual appeal of a dish. We get criticized & ridiculed, often while we’re working (YES it IS work!),but with the support of my friends, we’re able to laugh it off.

Now, let’s get to the sensitive mushy stuff.

I’m thankful for my family – both immediate and extended. I’m a mother of two, a sister to one (-in law to 3), cousin to way too many. I try to spread myself out and give attention to everyone, but sometimes often I find that my priorities are mixed and I choose the superficial lifestyle over what’s real. To be honest, it’s because it’s easier. Or it’s because I’m too tired to make the efforts. But regardless of how much I know I’m sucking at this adulting gig, my family is always there for me. And the unconditional love goes way beyond my need for coffee, my need to take pictures, and definitely beyond my need to network (I’m horrible at that sometimes too so -meh-). Guys – I’m sorry to make you compare your life to mine, but my family is pretty darn amazing. Today and every day, I wake up (okay fine, and hunt for coffee first) and realize how lucky I am to have them.

My girls, first and foremost, are my everything.


We go on adventures with almost all of the free time I have. Sometimes it’s as simple as a late night drive thru trip for some Steak & Shake Side-by-Sides. Other times, we make a day out of Chicago. Or Skokie (Hi Shake Shack.. sponsor me please. Or just build in Schaumburg). But no matter what we do or where we go, we’re making memories. And eating and taking pictures of what we’re eating but hey.. they’re my daughters after all 😉

And then there’s this guy.


Today marks 10 years since the last first kiss I ever had. 10 years since my last “first date”. 10 years since I thought “Alright, maybe it’s okay to settle down and let one guy make me his priority for once” 10 years since I thought “This will be the only guy I crush on that has a fauxhawk.” (also the last time I ever thought that). We’ve been through a lot together, and I can’t imagine going through any of it with anyone else. He’s got my back and I’m lucky to have him too. As much as I roll my eyes at almost everything he says & does, I also love him more than I’ve ever loved anyone. But let’s be real here – he’s way lucky to have me too. Do you know how much random free food he’s gotten in the past year? The way to a man’s heart is bringing home a Chuy-changa “just because”. AND IT WASN’T EVEN LEFTOVERS – that’s real love there people.

Anyways, that’s enough for today. I made Mia a fortune teller/cootie catcher, and she’s growing very impatient that I’ve told her to “hold on” before playing for the 17th time (I’ve counted).

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! I can’t wait to see what everyone’s dinner table spreads look like! I’ll be sharing ours on my Instagram story, so if you haven’t already, make sure you’re following along!

Family Fun at Frato’s!

Summer is officially over for my kids and their friends. And with the end of summer comes the end of planning play dates at water parks & outdoor playgrounds. Some days when trying to make plans, I give up because indoor activities can get either played out (indoor bounce “zones” only last so long before someone gets sick or hurt) or expensive. And then I still have to find places for them to EAT – and let’s face it. Kids can get picky. And picky eaters get cranky way too quickly for the parents to truly relax and enjoy their meal.

Enter our saving grace: Frato’s Pizza & Catering in Schaumburg.


I used to think of Frato’s as just take-out/delivery pizza. Then one day I decided to take my family with me to just eat there (I’ll be honest: it’s so that I wouldn’t have to clean up after everyone. Which is A HUGE deal for a tired, over-worked mom). I realized this is a place I could make a regular outing.


And what a PERFECT opportunity this past weekend. My 1st grader & her friends all went separate ways for school this year, so the parents and I wanted to meet up for an “end of the year” lunch. So we decided to take the risk of bringing not 1-2 kids, but 6 KIDS AND A BABY with us, 4 poor old souls (3 moms & 1 dad) and eat at Frato’s.

[Drool-worthy pictures after the jump!]

Continue reading “Family Fun at Frato’s!”

Meal-Prep Monday: Chicken Adobo (Filipino Style)

Hi There!

The Filipino Chicken Adobo that I grew up with was a stew made with chicken, beef or pork that we placed on steamed rice.  The best part for me was mixing the stew liquid with my rice (at one point, I was convinced that I could live just off of that).

If you were to ask three different Filipinos how they make adobo, you will get three different answers.  Even if you were to go to the Philippines and asked three different people in the same village, you will get three different answers.   It’s kind of like mole with Mexicans – you ask three different people how they make their mole, you will get three different answers.

When I was (trying) to learn how to make this dish, my Mom would adjust amounts by taste – she never knew if it was 1 cup of this and 2 teaspoons of that.  At one point I did measure out everything, but can’t seem to find the recipe that I made out.  Even now, I season to taste (which probably doesn’t help my fellow readers much!)  Fear not, I found a recipe that was close to the ratios of the ingredients that I used (see below).  However, the way I was taught to make it was slightly different.

You will need:

Chicken drumsticks, thighs and/or wings (I used a package of 4 thighs and drumsticks each)

4 cloves Garlic

1 sliced or chopped onion

Whole Peppercorn

3 Bay Leaves

White or Apple Cider Vinegar (there is debate on which to use among Filipinos, I hear!)

Soy Sauce


Sugar (brown or regular, again, up to debate)

Fresh ground salt/pepper to taste

Steamed Rice for Serving

Gathered all the ingredients first, of course

This dish can be made on a stove top, slow cooker or pressure cooker.  Today, I went old-school and made it on my stove top.

A lot of recipes will state to let the chicken sit in the soy sauce/vingar marinade for 1 to 3 hours.  However, this recipe seems so forgiving that, if you just put everything in the pot, it would still come out delicious!

In fact, that is what I did – I just threw everything in the pot, from the liquids (soy sauce, vinegar and water) in a 1:2:1 ratio (for example, 1 cup soy sauce, 2 cups vinegar, 1 cup water) into my stock pot.  Then added the garlic, onion, peppercorn and bay leaves.

Followed by the meat.

Allow to come to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until cooked through.

Serve on top of freshly steamed rice, with vegetables of choice, such as steamed green beans or asparagus.

No, I didn’t eat the bay leaf…

Disclaimer: I sometimes forget the peppercorn when I make this.  However, because this dish is so forgiving (at least for me), it still tastes great with just the fresh ground pepper on top.

There you have it!  Have you made Filipino Adobo too?  What did you think of it?  Please leave your comments in the box below!

Until next time!








Supper Club Saturday: Kanela Breakfast Club (Andersonville)

Kanela Breakfast Club

5413 N Clark Street

Chicago, IL 60640


“Breakfast is the important meal of the day” is how the saying goes (though, this may be up for debate to some).  For me, I can have breakfast any time of the day and still feel satiated, especially from Kanela Breakfast Club.

They pride themselves on using fresh and local produce whenever possible, with dishes reminiscent of what Mom used to make with a twist (to ad-lib from their website).

They have dishes that are very healthy and light as well as those that are savory and have a comfort feel to them.  I had a pretty stressful week, so I was aiming for one of their more comfort food type of breakfast.

Some of their (adult) drinks that we have tried include:  Kanela Mimosa, Sofiemosa, Bloody Mary, and Cinnamon Toast Brunch.

They also offer fresh squeezed juices and blended smoothies, as well as fresh brewed coffee from La Colombe.

At first glance of the menu, I was thinking, “I could eat ALL of this!” because they all looked so good!  From what we were able to try, we were not disappointed at all!

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

Corned Beef Hash

Pork Belly Benedict with a side of Fruit

Chicken & Waffles

California Benedict with Peppered Bacon

Kanela French Toast
A couple of times when we were there, we sat at the bar.  There was a tv above it where movies would show (that day it was “Rogue One,” with captions) and the music would play overhead.  The two bartenders that were there were very friendly and kept wanting to give me more coffee (not a bad thing!)  We discussed the movie and our thoughts on the entire Star Wars movie franchise. On the overhead, the song “Africa” from Toto was playing.  When the part of the song go to the chorus, the wait staff broke into song and harmonized (beautifully, I might add):

Its gonna take a lot to take me away from you/  There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do/ I bless the rains down in Africa/ Gonna take some time to do the things we never had…

In fact some of the patrons sang/hummed along (like me…and you too! – don’t deny it), because really, how can you NOT sing along to Toto’s “Africa?”

Then, I found myself looking around, feeling almost nostalgic.

I had grown up in this neighborhood – my first job was literally kitty-corner from this place (R.I.P. The Swedish Bakery!)  Looking around at the tables at the men, women and children – a white man and a black woman, a trans couple, a family, a multi-racial group of friends (or couples double-dating?), and then at my show-toony, coffee-pushing bartenders, I felt such happiness and such pride.  Grateful and lucky to be witness to the openness and acceptance of this space and this neighborhood.  I sat, breathed in, and appreciated the moment.

I mentioned earlier about my stressful week.  Well, my time at Kanela ended that and left me with my hands full of Joe (thanks again to my legal caffeine pushers!), my belly filled with yumminess, and my heart overflowing with love.

Kanela Breakfast Club has five other locations, in addition to the one in Andersonville. Thats SIX places to choose from to enjoy their food and feel the love!

Have you been there as well?  What was your experience like?  Please leave your comments in the box below!


Happiness & Boom Boom Sauce


Happiness cannot be defined in a single sentence. I mean technically it can, but it wouldn’t be enough. Everyone’s view of and means of achieving happiness is different.  It’s both simple and complicated, and sometimes it can be rather frustrating. Continue reading “Happiness & Boom Boom Sauce”