July 29, 2010

Chicago Eats: Japonais

If you like sushi, I've got a great restaurant for you! Or even if you just like fancy cocktails, this place is good! Last month one of my friend's celebrated her last weekend of being a single lady by visiting us in Chicago for her bachelorette. My other friend did an awesome job of planning all the festivites. We began a night out by heading downtown to a sushi place on the river, Japonais.

Getting ready! Kristen, the bride-to-be is in the middle and the planner and maid of honor, Annie on the right. (A lot of these are Annie's pictures, thanks AO!) 

Before our table was ready, we headed down to the lounge for drinks. It is gorgeous down there and right on the river! I started with their signature cocktail, the floating Orchid. Delicious.

A shot of the lounge from their website...

And the drinks kept coming... We were having a great time and not paying attention to the clock, but apparently they were late seating us -- and offered to buy us all a round of drinks. More floating orchids please! The outside area was great and even if I wasn't going to eat here, I think it would be a nice place to come and have a few drinks.

We finally moved on to the dinner portion of the night and everything was delicious. We wanted to eat light since we knew we had a full night of going out (and looking cute in our outfits) ahead of us! The entrees here run around $20 but when you're just ordering sushi to share, prices are very reasonable!

The sushi bar

I would definitely recommend Japonais if you are looking for dinner or drinks in a really nice atmosphere. And don't forget to have a Floating Orchid...or two  :)

600 W Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60610

July 28, 2010

Words for Wednesday

I hope I'm not the only one who finds this song amusing...

July 27, 2010

a little ditty on caladiums

I talked about Caladiums a few weeks ago when I blogged about my front planters. I found some really nice pictures online and thought I'd share a few. Caladiums are best suited for partial or full shade, which is why I've been liking them so much lately. I have a really shady deck, so its hard to find flowers for back there sometimes. Who needs actual flowers when you can have all the color and beauty in lush foliage!

If you're in the Chicago area, for next year's planting try Gethsemane for a large variety of caladiums. They are started by bulbs, so you can also purchase them that way from Home Depot. It's cheaper to buy them as bulbs, I did a container that way last year and they turned out great and were very quick to grow. I love the variety of color in the leaves. Plus, I'm a sucker for green and pink...

I've only used caladiums in pots so far and they've done quite well. Here are a few examples from around the web.

I think this is my favorite, just gorgeous (and huge)!

Next year I'd really like to try incorporating these in our shady backyard. They're an annual, so you'd have to plant each year, but they look awesome!

Anyone have any shade favorites they like to plant? Please share!

July 20, 2010

In the Kitchen: Buffalo Style Sloppy Joe

If you have a buffalo wing obsession like me, you are going to really appreciate this recipe. If not, you may wonder why I made a sloppy joe! I had a craving for buffalo wings yesterday and knew fried chicken was probably not the smartest way to go. So I scoured foodnetwork.com and came up with buffalo flavored sloppy joe's using Frank's sauce (my favorite!)

I have never in my life made sloppy joe's and they weren't a meal that was in our family dinner line ups as a child, but this version sounded delicious. The recipe has a five star rating on foodnetwork.com so I knew it had to be a winner. I made a few modifications to the original recipe posted online, I also halved it. Here's what I came up with...

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef, chicken or turkey breast
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped or grated
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce to taste (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 4 good quality burger rolls, split and toasted
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • Blue cheese dressing to taste
  • Bagged broccoli or cabbage slaw
Some of the cast and crew...

Begin by browning the meat in a skillet. To make this healthier you could use Turkey, I had ground beef on hand, so that's what I used. While the meat is cooking prep the veggies. Chop up carrots, celery, onion and garlic. I can't say this is the healthiest thing I have ever eaten but adding in this veggies tastes great and definitely gives a healthy boost on the original sloppy joe.

When the meat is no longer pink, drain and add in veggies, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Stir together and let cook another 7-8 minutes.

While the mixture continues to cook, put together the sauce. The original recipe called for tomatoe sauce, but I didn't think that sounded all that great and I felt it had plenty of flavor without it. In a small bowl mix together vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, chicken stock and brown sugar. Pour this mixture in with the meat and veggies and stir together.

That's it! Toast a few buns and prepare everything into sandwiches. I added blue cheese crumbles to the meat mixture and also blue cheese dressing, along with a little more frank's to the top of bun. I wanted a little crunch so I threw on the broccoli slaw. Serve wings style, with carrots and celery. I thought this was delish and it satisfied my buffalo craving! I certainly don't have a big group to cook for, but this was so easy to put together, it seems like this would be a real crowd pleaser for quick family dinners.

I'm linking up to "Tasty Tuesdays" at A Beautiful Mess today!

July 19, 2010

Pure Michigan

I've been a little absent from the Blog lately - mostly because I've been enjoying Summer so much! And spending plenty of time back home in Michigan. I wanted to share a few pictures of my favorite beaches in West Michigan (taken by sister, of course). I've been going to the beaches in West Michigan since I was a baby, but the more time I spend in the city, the more it feels like an escape to head for the beaches in Michigan.

What's so nice about these beaches is they are a short 3 hour drive from Chicago. So if you're ever thinking of a mini-retreat from the city, head over to Grand Haven. They have tons of cute B&B's, it's just a great summer town perched right on Lake Michigan. What could be better?! And unlike the Chi side, the water is much warmer and you can catch a gorgeous sunset over the water.

Gorgeous Rosy Mound... Little Brother was happy as a lark playing with drift wood all day.

And a few more pictures my Sister took from Holland State Park, south of Grand Haven.

Ahh, little slice of paradise. When I'm sitting at the beach, with some sun, a good book and family, there's not much that's better.

July 14, 2010

Words for Wednesday

Isn't that the truth?? I started to feel this way after spending close to a week "vacationing" at home in Michigan. Of course then I had to return to work and the real world and I didn't quite feel the same way. But still, I love Summer, my favorite time of the year.

*I used an Amy Butler fabric as the backdrop for this, love the green and pink together.

July 13, 2010

city curb appeal

It was my big goal this year to get my condo building to buy new planters for out front. We were down to one rather cracked, old thing and I really wanted to spruce up the look of our front. You may remember me lusting after these planters here. You can also head over to Ballard and take a look at them.

Finally, I was able to order the planters back in April or so. They came in huge boxes and since it was way too early in the season to put them outside I had no choice but to store them in my living room. We really bonded during that time. It is kind of sad that these planters brought me so much excitement, but look at them, beautiful, right?!

And here they are in all their summer glory, planted in and loving every minute in front of the building. I was so giddy to get to the flower place and figure out what to plant in them! I did a somewhat classic looking mix of gernaiums, a spike in each pot for height and a nice, light green sweet potato vine and creeping jenny for some draping. I also added some of my favorite shade plants to the back, caladiums. I thought the white was a really nice contrast with all the green.

Here's a close up on the caladiums. With all the shade around here and on my back deck, I have really been loving these. I think the leaves are so cool and they come in a variety of color combos.

I planted these back in May (and am just now posting, oops). I will have to grab some shots of what they look like now. They have filled out really nicely and I think it definitely adds to the curb appeal of our building!

July 1, 2010

laughing out loud

If you're experiencing anything like the week I've been having, you might need a good laugh. This should do the trick. I first heard of this site from Young House Love and literally was laughing out loud at my desk. Much, much better than that silent crying in your cube thing, not that I have ever done that.... :)

Take a peek at the site...Catalog Living

This Q-tip one gets me every time!! Oh dear....


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