Before I do a recap for of my weekend I have to ask Victoria Z to contact me for the win for my 8 year blog anniversary.  It’s all ready to be shipped, just need an address! 

And I have to share with you my breakfast/lunch/brunch last Thursday.  I am still trying to tweak my eats when I work.  Thursday I just decided to eat a big brunch that was high in protein that would keep me full for hours, and this certainly fit the bill.

Steak with Polenta and Mushrooms

This was so filling it really did keep me full throughout my whole shift.  Friday I worked a day shift and didn’t have to be to work until 10:30.  I  decided to take the train because I didn’t want to deal with Chicago traffic coming home at rush hour, and that worked out perfectly.  I had a coupon for $10 my first order at Graze Kitchenette at Revival Food Hall, but found out when I arrived there that they aren’t open for breakfast just yet.  So it was on to Plan B.  I bought a breakfast sandwich at Graze, which was higher in points than I would have wanted, but I brought soup for my lunch so I knew it would balance out.  It was a simple sandwich, but delicious.  I just didn’t want the shallots or tomato jam.  The biscuit was almost croissant like because it was so buttery and flakey.

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I am not sure how I thought I’d have time to eat lunch.  Once I got to work we got to business getting things ready for our private party that started at 1.  One of the greatest things about The Chopping Block is that there is minimal waste.  Not only do they compost all of their garbage (Merchandise Mart is the largest green certified building in the country), they donate any unused food to area non-profit agencies to repurpose the food at homeless shelters among other places.  They also have a “chef’s bin” in the walk-in, which is basically leftover products that weren’t fully used at any given event.  The party we had on Thursday night didn’t order any specific appetizer, so my trainer Jess came up with idea of making this roasted Brussels sprout tart made with a goat cheese/Dijon mustard sauce once we saw there was a bag of unused Brussels sprouts in the walk in.

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Guys – I am a new believer in Brussels sprouts! My mother in law will be happy to hear that, because it’s one of her favorite vegetables.  We roasted the sprouts in garlic grapeseed oil and it was absolutely delicious.

I also got to try Sea Bass, which was amazing.  The chef made a quick pesto to place over the top when it came out of the oven, so it basically melted over the top.  Why do I have to love the most expensive fish?  My store sells sea bass for $25 a pound.

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On Friday I worked in the large kitchen.  This one is used for a lot of cooking demonstrations because of the mirrors up above.

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One of the appetizers for this party was grilled flatbread with goat cheese spread and heirloom tomatoes.  My trainer asked if I wanted to take the lead on that dish and then asked “have you made pizza dough before?”  Ha!

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While the dough was rising, I set the table for 21 people.

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It’s been a while since I’ve cooked on a gas stove, but I managed to save it before burning it.

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The menu was homemade pasta with two sauces.  They were impressed with how simple making homemade pasta is.  The Chopping Block does cheater pasta dough like me and uses a food processor which makes the whole process so much easier.   And as always, my work shift went by in the blink of an eye.  And I never had a chance to eat my soup.  Note so self – bring a sandwich or finger food to make it easier to get my food in. 


Saturday was the last day of getting up at 3:45 a.m. to work my last farmers market.  When I turned off my alarm, I saw I had an unread text message, and it was from one of the guys that works in the kitchen.

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Of course I had to reply “thanks B!  hope you have a f*cking great day!”   When I got back to the shop, my buddy Alberto was coming back from his market.  I was going to tell him how much I appreciated his friendship this summer, but when I went back into the kitchen, he was gone.  He texted me a minute later “I don’t say goodbye.  I will see you soon and we will go eat somewhere, ok?!” 

I handed my key back to the owner.  He gave me lots of hugs, and thanked me for my hard work this summer.  I am sure it will be like most jobs and I’ll never see anyone of these people again, but who knows?

I had every intention of taking a nap when I got home, but I hadn’t made my dessert for a fund raiser my friend was having for another friend of ours (both from the Cooking Club!).  Um, maybe I shouldn’t have chosen such a time consuming dessert?  Also, I had never made these mini caramel apple bites, and I was hoping that they would work out.  Two things I would have done differently.  I would have dipped the whole apple in the caramel sauce, then dipped in the melted chocolate and then in the crushed peanuts.  I am going to repost the recipe when I fix it, but this was how they turned out.

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My friend Courtney was hosting the event at her house.  She requested finger food desserts so you didn’t need any utensils and I love these martini glass tooth picks that I found at Party City.

PicMonkey Collage

The day started out rainy, but it ended up being a gorgeous night.  The clouds eventually moved on and we had a gorgeous sunset.  I met some great people, the wine was delicious and hopefully the guests of honor (you can find out more info for the guests of honor here and donate if you like).  I had no idea how expensive adoption is, and they have already adopted two girls.

I didn’t get home until after midnight, and after getting up at 3:45 in the morning, it was a long day so I really slept in yesterday morning.  I had sweet and savory waffles for breakfast, because I couldn’t decide on which to make.

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I then vegged on the couch for 90 minutes watching back to back episodes of House Crashers on HGTV and 30 minutes of Pioneer Woman.  I have to laugh at this picture because normally Rummy is the one who sits with me and was more than a little upset that Roman sat on my lap for the longest time – which is something he hardly does. 

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After a couple hours I realized I had to get busy.  I had to make lasagna soup, pasta sauce and salsa for my giveaway winner.  I also made more pasta sauce from my friends Alison and Cameron’s garden. 

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I also made pickles with some of their cucumbers.  I haven’t tried to make pickles with regular cucumbers, so I’ll let you know if they work out.

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I had some leftover pizza dough in my fridge so I knew pizza was going to be on my lunch menu.  I have to give a shout out to my friend Jacky who stopped by my last farmers market and picked up some veggie burgers for her daughter that is vegan/vegetarian.  She brought me some of her arugula/basil/lemon pesto and that was the base of my pesto pizza with fresh tomatoes and basil.  This pizza came in at 10 smart points.

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Hannah and Jacob worked all day, so it was nice being in the house by myself all day.  I decided to make quesadillas for the kadults – Hannah just cheese, and I was making steak quesadillas for Jacob and I.  I thought I had low carb tortillas at home for me, but only had regular flour tortillas, and didn’t feel like spending 7 points on two flour tortillas, and opted to switch out the tortillas in place of cilantro lime rice, which I really love.

Except I burned 1/4 of the rice on the stove.  Then as I was placing the remaining rice in a bowl and set it on the counter, I lost my grip and the whole bowl – rice and all – smashed to the ground, breaking the bowl and spraying grains of rice all over half of my kitchen.  Um, I didn’t tell you that I was having a low blood sugar moment, and when that happens, I may get a little angrier than the event calls for.  I had to apologize to Hannah because I was basically a total crazy person for about 15 minutes.  But after I started to eat – all was well!

I made a steak fajita salad.  3 ounces of steak (3) 1/3 cup of Damn Delicious corn salad (3) cojita cheese (2) and using my homemade salsa for a dressing. 

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Last nights beef was this cut:

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This cut is great seared quickly over high heat like I did, or also braised low and slow.  And you guys know I am a sucker for the reduced meat bin at my grocery store.

I am excited about my work week – today I am working a cooking class where we’ll be making garlic shrimp scampi, caprese salad with crispy prosciutto, handmade spinach fettuccine with roasted peppers and gorganzola cream and amaretti-stuffed peaches.  How good does that sound?  And tomorrow I am in Lincoln Square to do a Beef Grilling Class!  Whoop – cannot wait to do that class.  I’ve never used a green egg before, but I know a lot of people rave about them once they use them.  Did I mention that I can get a Big Green Egg for cost after I’ve worked for 90 days?! 

It’s another gorgeous day today – 70 degrees and sunny.  I’ll have plenty of time to get my walk in and do some upper body workout at home today.   I hope you guys had a great weekend.  Make it a great day!