Tag Archives: Chicago

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…

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.

1st World Problem Alert

WARNING: This is a blog post about style- for a charity event.

If you don’t want to punch me in the mouth…then please, read on. 

Charity events in Chicago are like Lulu pants in Lincoln Park- on every block- all the time.

Let’s be honest…unless you’re directly involved with the cause- you probably ignore the invites on Facebook like they are Farmville requests and I get it- I’m right there with you. But one event that I’ve loved for years is: The Green Tie Ball. 

I actually think I’ve blogged about it before (read: too lazy to check) because here’s the deal: it’s fun. Really fun. 

You can eat your face off, dress up for a theme party, dance like half of Chicago is watching and gamble your life away with fake money at the tables. It’s so much fun that you almost forget… it’s for a good cause and you’re not just dumping your $$ into the local field of dreams*. *bar where you meet no one ever

This year’s theme is The Great Green Gatsby. (EYE ROLL, SHUT UP) 

I understand that Carey and Leo are played out…but are they? Who doesn’t love channeling old Hollywood glam? 

A few weeks ago when I was shopping in heaven* (*at Randolph Street Market), I stumbled upon this nasty* (*like Janet) green vintage dress with gold beading for $60. I slipped it on and prayed and it happened to be my size. 

to the left to the left

to the left to the left

BUT I haven’t had the proper place to wear it yet- for some reason dancing around my house in front of my dogs and husband isn’t really cutting it. 

the detail is pretty insane, no?

the detail is pretty insane, no?

NOW, I recently decided (with a STRONG nudging from Al) to cut my hair and drop the weave…so I’m not really feeling crazy hair AND wardrobe. My weave =’s Linus’s blanket and without it- safe style appeals to me way more. 

SO…I’m debating between this LBD and the obvi choice….I can always rock this little ditty at a holiday party.

Thoughts in the comments would be much appreciated. 

love this anything but basic black number

love this anything but basic black number

 

RPM Steak

I hate going out on Saturday nights. It’s crowded, lines are long, people are drunk and I am cranky.

BUT when the Melman family has a restaurant opening- you go or prepare to suffer mad FOMO. I don’t care if it’s Sunday at midnight, I’d be there.

So last night Alex and I got dressed up* for the RPM Steak opening and had our friends Juliet and Gregor Angus over before for some rooftop rose and “Juliet Spritzers”.

*I wore a dress, Alex wore a nicer v neck tee than usual- aka- his version of dressing up

Our poor husbands/photogs had to deal with us.  my dress: For Love & Lemons, Revolve.com

Our poor husbands/photogs had to deal with us.
my dress: For Love & Lemons, Revolve.com

Juliette and I first met in NYC back in 2001 when we were auditioning for an ESPN Reality Show called Beg, Borrow and Deal. I remember thinking she was nuts, and praying that if I made the show, she wasn’t one of the other three teammates that I’d be traveling with from Times Square to Alcatraz Island.

Well, she was. And we won. And I loved her from the morning we stood in Times Square and began filming, and still love her all these years later.

Bubba, me, Juliette and Josh on the roof of Alcatraz with host Rich Eisen after winning BBD

Bubba, me, Juliette and Josh on the roof of Alcatraz with host Rich Eisen after winning BBD

Clearly that show didn’t turn us into A listers (or any listers) but now Juliet is on Bravo’s Ladies of London and she’s a legit reality star. She literally got stopped for photos on the street- obsessed.

She grew up in Chicago and has family here still, which means we were able to catch up and I FINALLY got to meet her husband.

Juliet and Giuliana are old friends as well, so the opening was the perfect excuse for a night out.

The restaurant was packed with Chicago athletes, news anchors and pretty much everyone you’d want to see. It felt massive, and had multiple levels including an upstairs that’s perfect for private parties.

Both the Melmans and their PR team thought of every detail, per usual- the bars were everywhere and the food stations were ridiculous.

I’m glad I got to see it, cause I know getting a reservation will be pretty much impossible for the next…year or five.

Gregor, Juliette, Giuliana , Bill , me and Alex

Gregor, Juliette, Giuliana , Bill , me and Alex

Cheers *clinks spritzers*

 

 

 

How To: Act Like You’ve Been Here Before

This post is dedicated to CelebTV’s newest rockstar: 20 year-old Jordan Chollette.

JC and me post interview.  *BTW- hey OITNB...you all casting crazy eyes part two? this is my audition pic

JC and me post interview.
*BTW- hey OITNB…you all casting crazy eyes part two? this is my audition pic

What makes this intern so fab you ask? Well, let’s just rewind to last night.

Jordan offered to come work the Glamorama red carpet even though- it was a Friday night and he makes $0 an hour.

Upon arrival he was on time and ready to shoot. It didn’t even dawn on me that this was his FIRST RED CARPET EVER.

But know what’s crazy? When I did finally realize that this was his first rodeo, I felt no panic. None.

Mind you, I still get nervous with photogs who’ve been in the game longer than I have, trust me-  it’s warranted.

But Jordan acted like he knew exactly what was happening, and when he didn’t he watched with a stealth eye. He didn’t try and ask celebs for an autograph, or block another outlet’s shot. And when he made a last second decision to switch lenses, he did it with swift perfection.

On the walk home I got to thinking and realized that this is a rare quality in our industry ESPECIALLY from someone who can’t even legally drink in this country yet.

Ok, I’m done with the lecture, I’m just saying that the new generations are always asking for advice on how to get a gig in media…and this is one key way to make it happen.

As for Derulo…once I showed him a photo from the wedding, something clicked and he realized that he had performed a few weeks earlier. He gave me a gigantic hug, looked at JC’s camera and proceeded to ask if “our viewers” knew what kind of crazy surprise Alex had planned.

Jordan even has a smile on his face while filming!

Jordan even has a smile on his face while filming!

I asked; as far as weddings go, if he thought ours was ok and if he wanted a similar style if/when he gets married someday.

That media savvy kid slyly dodged question 2, and said that he could feel the love at our party and loved that everyone was having such a blast. (and yes,I realized he was a paid performer…BUT trust me- this dude was genuine) (I have video to prove it!) (If JC was actually rolling…i kid)

JD and JC- they just get it.

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