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Slam Dunk Kale Artichoke Dip

(Thought I’d share from over at TheWifeyKitchen.com!)

Considering the fact that 40 million Americans fill out NCAA brackets- I’m assuming at least a few of you will watch the games and attend a viewing party or host friends…am I right?

That got me thinking about a recipe that travels well, and is at least SEMI healthy….and this dip is the answer.

I made it for my family over the Christmas holiday as an appetizer and even my brother was a fan, so I tweaked it some more and if I may say- it’s delicious.

Plus, it’s green…just like my team THE MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS!

Slam Dunk Kale Artichoke Dip

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What You Need/Grocery List:

  • either a can of quartered artichoke heats or a healthy serving of artichokes from the salad bar.
  • a bag of spinach and/or a container full of spinach from the salad bar.
  • a bunch of kale- I get mine pre chopped from Whole Foods salad bar. You can also buy your own and chop it
  • a small container of Greek Yogurt- PLAIN. I like to use the 2% fat version
  • 1/2 cup of light mayo
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • a head of garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • either a fresh round load of bread or crackers/bread for dipping
  • a blender or food processor
  • a round or square baking dish- oven safe

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What To Do:

  • pre heat your oven to 350 degrees, cut off top of garlic and place cut side up , wrapped in tin foil and drizzled with olive oil in the oven for about 30 mins. When the garlic is soft enough to squeeze- it’s done.

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and after

and after

  • sautee 2 tsp olive oil , kale and spinach for about 5 mins or until everything is “wilted”.
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pre wilting

  • dump the mixture into a blender, add the artichoke and garlic and pulse until blended

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  • return this mix to a bowl and add your cheeses, yogurt and mayo- and a dash of salt and pepper as needed- stir until it’s all one happy family

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  • layer into your baking dish, sprinkle some extra cheese on top
  • bake – un covered- for around 25 mins or until the top begins to get golden brown

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  • (IF USING ROUND LOAF) cut off top, scoop out middle and break or cut into pieces. Pour dip into bowl and serve with pieces for dipping.
  • Otherwise- serve with tortilla chips, or crackers and track that bracket without starving!

* STEP BY STEP VIDEO COMING SOON*

Chicago’s Best Blowdry Salons

How do you choose where you get your hair/nails/tans/fitness/facials done? Friend recommendation? Magazine? Yelp reviews?

I’m completely guilty of using Yelp, even though I know that owners of these places create fake accounts and post glowing reviews.

So guess what? I decided to start posting reviews here- since I’m the kind of person that will try almost everything.

Today it’s all about the blowout bar trend that has FINALLY hit Chicago.

Back in the day, a blowout used to cost whatever your stylist’s rate was- and one stylist I used to go to charged 95 bucks! If you’re like me, 95 dollars is a lot to spend for something that you will most likely ruin by sleeping on or working out the next day. And if you wanted extensions clipped in or your hair curled…the price kept going up.

Aside from cost- the other major issue with getting a killer blow out was time. I remember going to a Gold Coast Salon here in Chicago, waiting for an assistant to shampoo me, then waiting for my stylist to finish the client before me, then sitting for a 45 min blow-dry. 1 hour and 30 mins is NOT ideal.

Which is why I’m such a fan of blow-dry bars.

PROS:

  • get you in and out in under an hour
  • provide a “menu” of styles – which eliminates guessing games and getting lost in translation
  • one set price, usually $40
  • one person washes and styles you- eliminating time and extra tip
  • normally open early and late

CONS:

  • businesses need to accommodate for steady stream of customers and hire MEH stylists
  • you most likely will get someone you’ve never met, who doesn’t know your hair and what you like

Chicago BlowDry Bars and what I thought:

Blowout Junkie

  • friendly staff
  • on-line bookings
  • provides an i pad with both a style menu and magazines to read
  • they provide at home services as well, I’ve yet to use
  • I’ve never had a bad blowout here- in fact I’ve had some of the best. They’ve worked with my long hair and short as well and always done a fantastic job.

Blowtique

  • rude front desk girl
  • fantastic owners (sometimes they work the front desk)
  • have to call to book an appointment
  • I’ve always had a fantastic blow-dry here as well and I’ve never had the same stylist twice. I’ve also gone in for a “touch up” before a big date and now I’m married to the guy ;)

Blow by Blow

  • on-line booking
  • they provide at home styling options- which I’ve used and she was prompt and did a great job
  • cute salon
  • stylists are always chatting/singing loudly
  • took my mom there and she got a HORRIFIC style job- think tight spiral curls. But the stylist was happy to re blow straight and it looked great
  • one stylist pulls very hard on hair and has ripped out my extensions
  • (aside from the pain) always very happy when I left

Dream Dry

  • I’ve been to one of the  New York salons and LOVED everything about the experience
  • on-line booking
  • I booked with a female, and when I got there they gave me a male (no biggie, but odd)
  • Oribe  & Kerastase products
  • provide an i pad loaded with magazines and styles
  • I booked for an add on conditioning treatment- they didn’t give it to me but tried to charge me for it
  • asked my stylist for “beachy loose waves, or bend to my hair with a deep side part”. He delivered the worst hair I’ve ever seen. My hair looked; limp, scraggly, frizzy and was parted off center. I took a pic but it’s too bad to post…I did send it to my normal stylist who was in shock
  • I will not go back to this location- and they had the BEST YELP reviews by far- which inspired this post.

REMEMBER:

You can go to your own stylist or someone who has a stylist they love for those truly special occasions or if you don’t want to leave it up to chance. For those I recommend: Tina Morales/CM Salon, Nicole/Studio 110, Hans VanDoornick/Maxine, Charles Lord, Aaron Scott/Charles Iferegan, Elle/Tracy Anducci, Alexi/Taylor Reese.

Halloween 2014

I know I’m a week late on this post- but WHATEVER- the costume creation process struck at the last moment- per usual and after that …well…I needed a time out.

We originally had planned to be something else, but in the end we were: Smokey The Bear and a Forest Fire.

only YOU can prevent forest fires!

only YOU can prevent forest fires!

Do YOU want to do something similar?

Here’s how:

I bought a nude colored corset from the shapewear section at Bloomies for the top , then covered it with leaves I collected from the street- placed like a cool top made from leaves would look…I also added matches on the top section of one bust. I glued everything down with fabric glue- the day before Halloween.

close up of leaves and matches

close up of leaves and matches

photo 2

I also bought a Devil costume from Amazon and used those chaps and hot pants for the “fire part”. Also part of the “fire”: red clip in hair extensions, fake cigs tucked into the corset and red lip liner with orange eye shadow for the eyes and chest.

Now, onto Smokey- BTW- someone let Al know that this is Smokey’s 75th Anniversary so points for being relevant!

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We actually used a cop costume we bought last year but didn’t use, bought a nose, bear hat and park ranger hat from Amazon- and PRESTO- Smokey the Bear. I added a bit of flair by using black eye liner to trace the *Smokey* on the hat and give it that *ashy* look.

a make your own cookie bar came from JoAnn Fabric, Pillsbury and Oreo Cookies- plus some faux lights from the Dollar Tree

a make your own cookie bar came from JoAnn Fabric, Pillsbury and Oreo Cookies- plus some faux lights from the Dollar Tree

We also threw a pretty impromptu Halloween mini party- and let me tell you- next time you’re hosting anything…hit up a Dollar Tree/Store whatever is in your zip code. I nabbed SO much stuff on Halloween on the cheap.

glow in the dark necklaces, etc make great party fun

glow in the dark necklaces, etc make great party fun

Cost effective and festive? YES PLEASE.

Now, let me start thinking about the 2015 costume…

What It’s Really Like To Attend The 2014 Nike Women’s Global Media Summit

By now you’ve probably seen at least one of the crazy amount of #NikeWomen instagram photos (over 98 THOUSAND!) and you have an idea that Nike unveiled some major sh*t in NYC this week.

But who were these women from around the Globe and why did THEY get to experience this Willy Wonka-esque sneaker, gear & inspiration factory??

The beauty of a personal blog is that I get to tell you the stuff that editors may think is fluff and explain what it’s really like to attend “Camp Swoosh”. Let me guess, you’re asking yourself why did SHE get to go and not ME? I have no flipping clue. Nike maintains this Wizard of Oz like veil around everything… it’s safer not to ask questions and feel #blessed (the most overused word of 2014) if you are along for the ride.

Which takes me to my next point- if you are someone who needs details and information- this “camp” isn’t for you. You’ll be asked few questions ( Travel info, sizing, dietary restrictions, fitness level) and told…pretty much nothing which is 90% of the fun. Here’s what I knew:

  • I was staying at the Trump Soho
  • Flying on American leaving Tues night and returning Thurs night
  • And I’d be “geared up”, so pack maybe one workout outfit. (And I got this info cause I asked)

That’s it. You jump off that cliff and let go of the urge to want to plan ever detail. I later learned all the women in my group were  pondering over the same questions: Will I have time to shop? Will I be able to see my friends? Where will dinners be? Will I get nap time? How hard and often are these workouts and will I embarrass myself?? Smart right? Makes bonding with strangers pretty seamless.

DAY ONE: 

this was waiting for me at the hotel

this was waiting for me at the hotel

Wake up (I flew in late the night before) and look at the most crazy skyline from my window on the 29th floor. Don’t want to get out of bed but have to be down for breakfast at 8:15a- meet my local Nike rep, Lisa and she tells me that we’ll be rolling with the crew from Canada and their rep most of the day. I also learn that there’s one other Chicago girl in the house- Bolaji from Social Life Chicago.  Over breakfast we chat with the girls and are told that we’ll be walking to Spring Studios and won’t return until 4pm (SIX HOURS later).

When you sit in a room awaiting a Nike presentation, the sheer scope of what they are doing is overwhelming. There are faces and languages from around the world, shoes you’ve only dreamed of that the Taiwan girls are rockin’ like it ain’t no thang, and being in the presence of Women that this company deems “important” is pretty inspiring.

Nike CEO Mark Parker took the stage, welcomed the room and explained that the newest products aimed to elevate their game like never before focusing on: the sports bra, tight and Flyknit shoe. Mr Parker added;  “I’ve been designing for 30 years and I’ve never been more excited about the future”.

Next, Amy Montana , Nike’s PGM summed it up: “Today’s female does it all and wants it all. She’s the female who trains but also does yoga and likes cool sneakers”.

Truth Amy. Truth. Then….this happened:

Elite Nike athletes including; Skylar Diggins, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards-Ross, Adelina Sotnikova, and tennis champ Li Na debuted the new collab with Brazilian designer Pedro Lourenco.  And yes that was Karlie Kloss, Damaris Lewis, Joan Smalls and Jeneil Williams floating down to also walk the runway.

Models in Pedro. KK front and center like WOAH

Models in Pedro. KK front and center like WOAH

Pretty pretty bad ass.

Next we were taken to a room and paired with a Nike Top Trainer (mine was Ingrid Nelson and she rocked) to talk about our fitness goals so they could recommend a training plan that mirrored Nike’s app, and help us decide what workout gear works best for us.

Then we got to see, feel and learn all about the new products.

leggings and tights are all about expression - with wild and fun patterns

leggings and tights are all about expression – with wild and fun patterns

Neon everywhere

Neon everywhere

We got to chat with the head designers from all parts of the company- if you don’t think I geeked out over the sneaker designer’s job then you are wrong.

are these real pony hair? NO- faux real- you can wear them guilt free

are these real pony hair? NO- faux real- you can wear them guilt free

By this time I’d been chatting it up with Sasha Exter, my new Canadian babe friend and she’s filled me in how Canada’s e commerce scene STINKS. She’s also a former tennis player, now turned runner/blogger and I demand her twitter handle so I can stalk/keep in touch.

The rest of the afternoon we lunched, then took in a seminar on what Nike is doing to preserve the Earth with their sustainability program. A program called Nike Grind uses 28 million shoes to build new shoes- woah mamma. And the new flyknit shoes leave virtually no waste behind- compare to half a bag full of garbage like before.

Next, we spent time learning about the social media and digital component of the company that is 65 million women strong. Michelle Beadle narrated the panel and can I just say that she is one of the BEST at what she does? Truly- she’s intelligent, witty, engaging and makes it look so easy- and it’s not.

We also got time with the very talented and zexy designer Pedro Lourenco who showed off pieces from his new Nike x Pedro Lourenço Collection. Think- “I planned to work out this morning, but then my friend called with a crisis and begged me to go to brunch with her- so I’ll walk there, that counts right??”- his collection is a flawless mix of function and fashion.

love a man who prefers a selfie over a traditional photo!

love a man who prefers a selfie over a traditional photo!

team Chicago & Canada in front of Pedro's logo

team Chicago & Canada in front of Pedro’s logo

Try to snatch some Pedro when it drops on Nov. 13 at select stores or online here: nike.com/nikelab.

By now it’s 4pm, we’ve just gotten back to the hotel and nerves are kickin’ about this looming workout that we are leaving for at 5pm. Thankfully the MASSIVE bag filled with gear provides me a distraction and I am almost late because I’m trying to snap a few selfies (clearly they didn’t work well).

I can't...just can't.

I can’t…just can’t.

trying to do the "I'm half smiling and looking for good light- BUT I'm really showing off this cute shrug" thing.

trying to do the “I’m half smiling and looking for good light- BUT I’m really showing off this cute shrug” thing.

if standing on a bathroom sink to get a selfie is wrong...then i don't wanna be right

if standing on a bathroom sink to get a selfie is wrong…then i don’t wanna be right

I make more friends on the limo bus ride over with the women from LA, Miami and Mexico City- dying laughing over each other’s view of dating in our city.

Normally you go to Cipriani for a meal, but when we walked in we saw that this place had been transformed into a giant studio with dots on the floor and black lights that made our gear glow. Nike Elite trainers walked around chatting up the women who looked especially nervous (me) and I hung with both Noah, who is a Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer and my girl Emily- a trainer from Chicago!

does your gym look like this??

does your gym look like this??

The 45 min workout featured six zones ranging from- warm up to high intensity to cool down. It’s available to do at home via their app and I’ll be honest, it was a great workout without killing yourself.

Champagne was presented as strangers all high-fived and hugged- WE DID IT!

After a quick shower, we feasted with the same chicas from the bus ride earlier and two ladies from San Diego. I must have asked 23 year old Emily Polachek a zillion questions about what it’s like to write for Competitor Magazine, but I traded her some life advice in return.

Then we hit up like 3 clubs till 4am. SIIIIKE- I passed out the second I got back from dinner.

DAY TWO: 

Oh hi 7:00am- not so nice to see you- but I’ve got to be in the lobby at 7:45 for our morning sesh!

Bolaji and I decided to suck it up and do the early workout which was led by the uber trendy ModelFit Studio. This place has a cult following of actual models and Justin Gelband - who was leaden our workout- has been dubbed “The Model Whisper”.

Sweet.

The 30 mins consisted of; a step platform, light ankle weights, a mat and one 3 lb dumbbell. The movements were small and deliberate – think barre or pilates- and DAYUM it was short but a full on ride on the pain train. If you’re in NYC- check out one of their classes for sure- bonus if you work out next to Chrissy Teigen or Irina Shayk who are regulars.

I'm that real sweaty one in the highlighter colored shoes and Bolaji is next to me in the red pants- we are both trying not to barf city

I’m that real sweaty one in the highlighter colored shoes and Bolaji is next to me in the red pants- we are both trying not to barf city. Oh and this was on ModelFit’s insty account…like workout or you’ll look like them. (j/k but ….)

Next we sat and listened to an elite athlete panel, led by Olympian Alyson Felix, discuss how Women in sports are constantly challenging stereotype and continue to break boundaries. I literally wanted to high five everyone in the room afterwards.

A Surfer, WNBA star, 1st Female Marathoner, Tennis Champ, World Class Track Star and Paralympic step on to a stage....

A Surfer, WNBA star, 1st Female Marathoner, Tennis Champ, World Class Track Star and Paralympic step on to a stage….

Bolaji and I tried taking photos, but we looked pretty bent after the workout- unlike some MAJOR sassy ladies who have to be instagram fashion stars.

Think…ski cap w/veil paired with gold running shorts, a blazer and sneakers- the street style at this thing was the bomb.

The Summit continued thru into the evening depending on what part of the World you were from- since we had already taken in the full experience- I jammed all of my new gear into my suitcase and hit the road for the flight home to Chicago.

Nike, anytime you want me to JUST DO IT, I am in.

COMING SOON: 5 Nike Products To Obsess Over From The 2014 Summit – via SunTimes Splash, and How Nike Products Are Changing to Make Your Workout & Life Easier- here on zee blog

Knife Party

Who starts classes on a Sunday?? Apparently- this girl.

The more I’ve been working on my culinary skills, the more I realize that I really don’t have many…so I’ve decided to do something about it and utilize the fantastic culinary school that’s right up the street.

So yesterday Al dropped me off for the 10am knives course and I waved at him and walked into Kendall College like a nervous student all over again.

Kendall offeres tons of courses for the “home chef” that range from one-day to ten weeks, depending on what you’re looking to get out of them.

The class was filled with around 15 of us, mostly female, and we were all given an: apron, chef’s hat, cutting board, knife, scraper (I’m sure it has a chefy name but I don’t know what that is), towel, bottle of water and bowl full of various veggies to cut.

my kitchen station

my kitchen station

I love watching, then doing – and I found Chef Patrick Williams extremely easy to follow and very helpful. Turns out he went to MSU back in the day and played football there too- bonus points!

We diced, minced, chopped, julianned, peeled, cored, sliced and pounded our way thru the bowls- which would eventually become lunch of:

Mexican Potato Salad

onion, avocado, cliantro, salt, roasted red peppers, garlic...and some other magic

onion, avocado, cliantro, salt, garlic…and some other magic

Pineapple Salsa

pineapple, roasted red pepper, onion, cliantro and lots of other stuff that tasted good

pineapple, roasted red pepper, onion, cliantro and lots of other stuff that tasted good. oh and yours truly sautéed up those peppers. 

and Grilled Flank Steak with marinade and corn tortillas.

we learned that the most important thing is to let the steak rest for a bit before slicing

we learned that the most important thing is to let the steak rest for a bit before slicing

Did I learn a lot? Without a doubt- I’d be doing almost everything wrong – including holding the knife.

And I’ve always given props to Chefs, but now that I’ve tried on their shoes, I have mad respect and realize how much training they have just to walk out the door of a culinary school with a basic degree.

It is NOT as easy as it looks, but I plan to have fun trying!

Falling For The LOB/SHOB

Apparently the “LOB” and “SHOB” and all these other weird ways to say “longer than a bob around the shoulder area” is very “in” for hair right now.

Truth be told, I normally don’t follow the trends and stick to my boring long style…but Al had been begging me for some time to loose the extensions and while we were on Honeymoon,  I did just that.

Left with a mullet, when I got back to Chicago I went to see my girl Nicole at Studio 110 and asked her to clean it up.

Like most women of 2014, I brought a Pintrest page with me , full of examples of what I wanted and didn’t want. But mainly I wanted to look like this Olsen twin:

yes, I have no idea if this is Ashley or Mary Kate and that's fine with me

yes, I have no idea if this is Ashley or Mary Kate and that’s fine with me

Nicole said she was totally down but in order to achieve this look I’d need a few pieces of extension in the front to achieve the uneven length, even though my hair was that long- the pieces would add depth. AND she refused to cut it this short off the bat because she knew there was a possibility I’d freak out going from looong to short.

Smart woman.

Here’s what it looked like post-cut (which she did in less than an hour BTW):

one of the creepiest selfies in history- taken at Exhale after acupuncture

one of the creepiest selfies in history- taken at Exhale after acupuncture

Now, I am aware that I’m in a bathrobe and not 90 lbs, but she did a pretty stellar job- no??

Al LOVED it, and said it was “beautiful and classic” so of course I immediately rushed back to have more cut off the shorter side to “edge it up”.

Then it was time for color so Tina of CM Salon took me a shade lighter, added a few pieces back in and Nicole cleaned it up again…resulting in:

less creepy selifie

less creepy selifie

According to these two- the key to this new style are the blunt ends that keep it looking fashionable and not “boring”.

All three of us were pretty shocked to discover that my hair was actually pretty healthy underneath and I’m hoping that with some daily Biotin pills, it will grow on it’s own…if I don’t give up and go long again first.

If you’re thinking about doing this- I must warn you…it’s more work than you think. The pieces in front need to be stick straight in order to look chic, and that means investing in a good flattening iron (I went with this brand per Nicole’s advice).

When I was in NYC this week , I went to a super cute blow dry bar called BDry and opted to mix it up and go with “beachy waves”.  Not her fault at all- but real bad move on my part. Those flipped up ends made me feel 10 years older and took me right back to my 2010 hair (which makes me cringe so hard I won’t even post a pic).

My advice? Go for it, if you’re ready to put in a touch of work. In the end, you can always clip those bad boys back in or go see Tina for a new weave.

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