Monday, April 6, 2015

March Favorites.

I love the fresh start of a new month - and the warm temperatures that {I hope} come with April spring showers. Like clockwork, it was above 70 degrees last week on April 1! Despite below average cold and a few snow showers, March was a great month and deserves its own favorites post, even though I'm a few days late. From a new recipe for energy bites to a brewery visit and spring plans, April has a lot to live up to.

Favorite Snack:
As a contributor to the NBC Chicago Stride blog, I have the opportunity to post every few weeks on running related topics. I created a new energy bites recipe earlier in March, for a quick and healthy snack that includes my favorite PB&J flavors. These energy bites include just four ingredients - unsalted peanuts; Medjool dates; dried cherries; and unsweetened peanut butter. PB&J Energy Bites come together easily in a food processor too. Head over to my post on NBC Chicago Stride for the recipe.

Favorite Drink:
Chicago has a great local brewery scene that gets more vibrant every year. A new brewery opened this past week on the northwest side of the city - BreakRoom Brewery at 2925 W. Montrose Ave. After months of anticipation, K and I visited for a drink in the late afternoon last Sunday and ended up staying for dinner. The interior of BreakRoom is gorgeous, with high beams, dark wood, and windows as a peek into brewing equipment hard at work. The brewery was full of people, neighbors and kids included. We enjoyed our drinks and the crispy chicken sandwich with brie and warm grapes. The menu is just as impressive as the beers!  Check out Eater's overview for more details.

Favorite Hobby:
This is my first spring with a city yard. After brainstorming with measuring tape, we realized there is plenty of space to add a raised bed garden this year. We're planning to build it this coming weekend, so to prep K and I went to a free organic garden planning class hosted by Green City Market at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The class was taught by Jeanne Nolan, of The Organic Gardener. Nolan's company has created over 700 gardens over the years. Nolan also takes care of the Edible Gardens at Lincoln Park Zoo, a hands-on garden education program. I was inspired to pick up Nolan's memoir, From the Ground Up: A Food Grower's Education in Life, Love, and the Movement That's Changing the Nation {<--affiliate link}. More to come on our yard clean-up and garden building!

{Image via Amazon}

Favorite Dinner:
For my birthday a few weeks ago, K and I had dinner at a restaurant that has been on my list for years - Topolobampo. It's one of Rick Bayless' establishments downtown {Bayless of Mexico: One Plate at a Time and Top Chef Masters fame}. We made the reservation back in January since tables fill up 8-10 weeks in advance. It was worth the wait! The menu includes 3, 5 and 7 course options. There are categories of dishes to create your tasting menu, such as vibrant and soulful. We chose the 5 course option with a few wine pairings and each had a completely different {but wonderful} meal. I tried avocado with kumquats, poached black cod, prawns, pheasant, and chocolate cake with mango. Certain menu options change every few weeks. I highly recommend Topolobampo for a special dinner experience!

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