Archive for October 2010

31 October 2010

Weekend recap: Halloween and bear packs

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago, Food, Friends

Happy Halloween everyone!! I hope you’ve all been stuffed with candy, or spent the day recovering from partying last night.

Let’s just say, going to bed at 4:30 a.m. was surprisingly easy for me, but being productive today because of that, was not.

Anyhow, I love Halloween in Chicago, even if I’m not a big costume person. I love seeing what other people dress up in and their creativity, but I’ve never been the girl who is buying costume parts on eBay months in advance. I love helping people put together their costumes but I’ve never been super creative for myself. It’s weird.

But this year, I put more effort into my costume because I was presented with an insanely awesome idea by TC and Robin, two of the most creative people I know.

If you’re a Twilight fan, you’ve likely heard of the Wolf Pack…

Now meet the BEAR PACK!

That’s right, Panda, Chicago, Pooh and Paddington….BEAR PACK!

We all got into the group costume theme, piecing it together, painting our noses and then sending random, barely coherent tweets out saying BEAR PACK or using our self-imposed Halloween hash tag #bearpack. Yeah, we were pretty excited.

Unfortunately, some partygoers didn’t get the theme, asking if Panda was a skunk and if Paddington was Fievel. Fortunately, the Pack rallied together and corrected their mistakes. However, no one could help me when people asked me Bears questions and when I slipped about being a Packers supporter, it got real ugly.

I cannot wait for Halloween next year!

Even with a crazy Saturday night and low-key Sunday, Friday still left room for some food adventures, including:

Lobster sausage with relish and garlic aioli from Hank’s Haute Dogs (visiting from Hawaii as part of the Art Loop Open event). Seriously, this was ah-mazing. SO GOOD.

Smorgasbord of thai food off the secret Thai menu at Tac Quick. Delish and spicy, yes please!

How was everyone else’s Halloween? What was your costume this year?

26 October 2010

Bad haircut club

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: beauty, Random

I’ve had plenty of bad haircuts in my past. Note: there are no photos of this because a) I’ve hidden them and b) I don’t have a scanner, so ha, no photos can even be shared!

Anyhow, bad haircuts.

I’ve had many bad haircuts in my past. Many that have reduced me to a teary mess, pulling on my hair (as if it will make it grow longer) or looking at myself in the mirror wailing, WHY GOD WHY DID I TELL HER TO TAKE ANOTHER INCH OFF??? HOW DID ONE INCH BECOME FIVE??? (TWSS)

Yes, I’ve been there.

I’ve even threatened to and actually worn a bag on my head (with breathing hole cut out) to hide the bad haircut. This sh*t is traumatic for women.

The last really awful haircut I had was when I went to college. I had shorter hair already and wanted something different for college, to debut a new me and feel more confident. What I came out with was a bowl-like haircut with a shaved back of my head. No joke, I looked like a boy. It was awful and traumatic and I sobbed (not cried) the entire way home. I had a good six months of hating my entire head because it wasn’t until then that it grew out enough to look feminine again. Ever since then, I have kept my hair shoulder-length and never shorter.

Lately, some friends and I were talking about haircuts and I stated that I think most women hate their haircut for the first week they have it, even if it’s exactly what they want. For some reason, the hair always looks different once you get home and start styling it. Not necessarily in a bad way, but you’re so used to how you styled it before that suddenly a trim and newly cut layers takes a semi-new routine and you find yourself missing how it looked before.

I’m not saying it makes any sense but that’s exactly how I feel most times. But this month, I’m delaying the haircut for a week so I may be tempted to say “cut it off,” but I don’t mean it!

What about you? What’s your bad haircut history?

25 October 2010

Kitchen adventures: Under the sea with Tilapia

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food

The Little Mermaid is one of my top three favorite Disney movies (Beauty and the Beast is number one!) But, despite my love of the song “Under the Sea,” I don’t eat a lot of fish in real life. I’m more of a meat/chicken fan and my interest in fish stays mostly within sushi and shrimp. So it’s probably no surprise that I have NEVER cooked with it.

Until this week :)

Mexico is three weeks away (!!!) and I’m still on my quest to get back in shape because I will be wearing a bathing suit. And part of the quest is always trying to find some healthy recipes to make for the week without breaking the bank and my calorie allotment.

Welcome tilapia! Friends mentioned this is a delicious, calorie-friendly protein so after some online recipe searching, I found one for Sauteed Tilapia with Honey-Scallion Dressing on Cooking Light and put on my big girl pants and decided to give it a try.

Here’s how it turned out:

Pretty colors!


  • Dressing:
  • 2 1/2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped green onions
  • 1  tablespoon  honey
  • 1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  teaspoon  bottled ground fresh ginger (I substituted with garlic and it was just as good)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dark sesame oil
  • Fish:
  • 1  tablespoon  canola oil
  • 4  (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 4  cups  gourmet salad greens


To prepare dressing, combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

To prepare fish, heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish evenly with salt and pepper. Add fish to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Arrange 1 cup greens on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 1 fish fillet; drizzle with 2 tablespoons dressing.

Verdict: Light and delicious! First, this is ridiculously fast to cook, it took only 20 minutes from start to finish, which is a new record for me! The fish was nice and flavorful without the dressing, but adding it on was REALLY good. You don’t need a lot and it goes a long way. The greens were a nice touch too, although if you like dressing, you can add some balsamic separately. But do not skip the sesame oil in the dressing, it bring out SO much flavor. I really love this!

What about you? Are you a fish lover? What kind is your favorite?

24 October 2010

Weekend recap: Playing tourist

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago, Food

Hi everyone! Happy Sunday! I cannot believe next weekend is Halloween. Where did October go???

Anyhow, tonight I’m talking about playing tourist in your own city. I love doing it in Chicago and I’ve lived here almost six years!

Sure, sometimes playing tourist is frustrating, crowds, actual tourists, etc. but it’s fun to see the city through other people’s eyes and learn things you may not have known before!

And this weekend I got a chance to do just that by taking a food and cultural tour of Bucktown/Wicker Park with Chicago Food Planet! It may have been rainy, cloudy and cool but that won’t keep me from some great local food.

I don’t spend a ton of time in these Chicago neighborhoods but there is some awesome food/shopping over there. We got to visit some of my favorite places to eat, learn more about each establishment and go on a walking tour of Wicker Park too, seeing some of the amazing homes and architecture. And after all that food, the walking felt GOOD.

Here’s some pictures from the tour:

George’s Hot Dogs – Keepin’ it real with its well-known Chicago-style Hot Dog. SO tasty.

Hot Chocolate – Known for the decadent desserts and hot chocolates. Seriously, this was some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. And the homemade marshmallow? Two please.

Sultan’s Market – Best falafel sandwich I’ve ever had. I would definitely go back, even just to dine in the cool decor

iCream – You literally make your own ice cream on site (flavors, sweetners, etc.) and it’s zapped with liquid nitrogen. We had a vanilla cream soda with nutella ice cream and it was REALLY good

Liquid nitrogen turning the creations into ice cream

Yep, after all of this, I didn’t need to eat at all for the rest of the day. But I got some coupons for these places to use on another visit and I will definitely use them!

The food-filled day also helped take my mind off of a bad trip to the salon last week. Fortunately, my hair wasn’t butchered, but my stylist’s recent personal problems crept in to the appointment and my usually relaxing salon visit turned in to a stressful, unenjoyable two hours. Then to rain on my parade more, there were no buses or cabs to be found so I walked most of the way home, took a sad picture and shed a few tears along the way. Not a fun way to end the week.

What about you? How was your weekend? Do you like to play tourist in your city?

FTC Disclosure: Chicago Food Planet provided me and a guest with complimentary tickets for the tour. All opinions about the tour and the food is my own.

19 October 2010

Feeling skinny but being hungry

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food, Random

Recently, I heard a friend use the phrase “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” as her mantra to lose weight and I was really taken aback. Sure, I’ve heard it before, but after letting it rattle around in my brain, I was pretty disturbed by it.

I hate that phrase, partially because it’s true and partially because it’s sick.

As someone who is an emotional and over eater and can’t say no to food, I’m all too aware of  how amazing the “skinny days” feel and that they are sometimes too few and bar between.

On my skinny days, I can’t help but touch my stomach (because it feels flat!) and put on the tighter shirts sans cardigan because damnit I’m feeling skinny and want to show it off!!

But along with this high, comes the nagging fear. The fear that it won’t last, which can turn food into the enemy because rather than nourish or satisfy you, it is the one thing that can ruin how great you feel.

Or you don’t deny yourself because if you’re feeling great today, that means you will no matter what you eat right? Tootsie Rolls? Sure! A few more snacks here and there? Why not? You’re looking hot and surely ONE snack won’t change that?

That is until you wake up the next day and you don’t feel so skinny. Add on hormones and that euphoric high is knocked down to size and it takes your self esteem with it.

The truth is, women’s weight fluctuate very easily. I look at a cookie and I start retaining water or even touch a Tootsie Roll and my hips start to grow. And even if you switch to all veggies or stuff your face full of gum to curb the craving, your weight will still fluctuate, no matter how much you try to stop it.

Yeah, being a woman is TOUGH.

Skinny does feel great, but you know what doesn’t: hunger. And the kind of hunger that makes you start to lose your mind or turn into a 24/7 b*tch while trying to achieve something you may have all in your head.

And I gotta say, I’m going to quote Nene from RHOATL (I can’t believe it), because her quote, “I’m a size 10. I could be a size 8 if i wanted to, but i’m effin hungry,” is SO true.

What about you? Any thoughts?