Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Beer and Ice Cream the Best Combo Date Night March 25, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:46 pm
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Saturday night Matt and our friends Lei and Chris headed to Lagunitas TapRoom. We’ve been wanting to check out the brewery since it opened in January. The taproom is located just South of Ogden and North of Cermak, practically next door to the Cook County Courthouse.

With traffic heavy on 290, we simply jumped on Ogden and we were there in no time. We grabbed an excellent parking spot and headed inside. The entire building is gigantic, especially after visiting Penrose; everything seemed to be on steroids. We walked in and waited in line before we could head up stairs to be seated for food. While waiting, we were able to hit up the downstairs bar and grabbed a few beers. We only waited about 10 minutes before we were told to head on up.

Lagunitas Taproom

The restaurant is open seating. It was like a cross between Urban Chestnut’s Grove Brewery and Harpoon’s Boston Brewery. Tons of picnic tables lined an open space with a bar at one end and a stage at the other. When we walked in we were greated by a live band and quickly grabbed four open seats. Our meal started off with brisket topped nachos and a large pretzel with horseradish mustard. For the main course Lei and I both ordered the sandwich special, which was pulled pork with a side of coleslaw and chips. Chris got a burger and Matt got a sandwich with bacon, ham, cheese and pickles. Everything was delicious, including the beer!

My favorite part of the location is the restaurant is where it’s situated on the third floor. There is an observation deck, where you can sit and enjoy your food and overlook a lot of beer and the entire beer making process. The third floor also features walkways where you can overlook the process too. The night we went, we were treated to watching some of the crew fill up quarter kegs.

Lagunitas Taproom

Between the beer, food, live music and good company, I’m sure we’ll be back again soon. But that’s not quite where the night ended.

Since we were already downtown, I figured we’d grab some dessert. And what better place than to check out Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s new store in Wicker Park?!?! Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea because we couldn’t find parking anywhere. So, I gave my order to Matt and parked with my flashers on. It was totally worth it. My order was a goat-cheese cherry that was fantastic. What better way to end a night than with delicious ice cream?

 

Chi-Irish for the Day March 18, 2015

IMG_2436[1]Observing Saint Patrick’s Day is probably one of my favorite holidays to celebrate in downtown Chicago. This year, Matt was finally able to join me and our friends in being “Chirish” for the day. On Friday night we decided to skip watching the Chicago River dyeing since it started at 9:15 a.m. meaning we’d have to be on a 7:30 a.m. train. And let’s be honest, that’s definitely not going to happen on a Saturday morning. Instead, we took an 11 a.m. Metra train into the city.

Our first destination was the Chicago River to take a few photo next to the “green” river. I was surprised to see that the dye didn’t reach as far west as it had in past years. By the time we arrived it was barely under the State Street bridge compared to reaching past Wells Street even last year. Once our pictures were taken, we walked to our main destination – the Hard Rock Cafe.

Matt and I grabbed a corned beef sandwich on marble rye as soon as we got there.  Within a few moments they were both gone. Probably from a combination of being very hungry and simply eating a delicious lunch. With food in our bellies we were ready to start dancing to The Hat Guys. The band is always there to play our favorite pop songs from the 80’s and 90’s. This year we stayed later than usually and were treated to a performance by the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band. You can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without bagpipes.

As the afternoon went on, a few more friends stopped by and I even ran into an old co-worker. By the time 5 p.m. rolled around our voices where going and we figured it was time to head home. As you can see, there is no surprise why the The Hard Rock Cafe has become the destination of choice over the last five years on St. Patrick’s Day. There is no cover, good music, green beer reasonably priced, it’s a great place to meet up with friends and they a decent food menu. Oh, and of course amazing live music.

All and all another great St. Patrick’s Day for the books!

 

So Good It’s Gone French Toast March 17, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Uncharted @ 11:29 pm

This past weekend was my grandmother’s 91st birthday and we held a brunch for her.  My dad mentioned wanting French toast as part of the menu and at first we thought it would be too time consuming. What good is a family party if you can’t spend any time with anyone?  I decided not to give up and did a search on Pinterest just to see if there would be another option.  Luckily I found a great recipe by Chungah at Damn Delicious.  I’m pretty sure I’ve duplicated some of her recipes before and they’ve always been very tasty.  It was really the perfect recipe because it allowed me to make the French toast the night before and all I had to do the next day was bake it!  Honestly you have to try this.  It’s stupid simple.

Ingredients-
1 French baguette sliced in ½ inch slices (I asked the bakery to cut it for me)
1 ½ cups milk
3 eggs
1 tbs vanilla extract (Chungah called for vanilla bean paste but I substituted)
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg

Sauce-
¼ cup butter
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbs maple syrup

french toast

  1. Arrange sliced French bread in a greased pan.
  2. Wisk together the milk, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla
  3. Pour the mixture over the bread, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
  4. Next day preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. While the bread is baking, melt the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup together in a pan for about 2 minutes until its slightly thickened.
  6. Pull the bread out of the oven and pour the thickened sauce over the top.
  7. Watch the French toast disappear from the pan (all the French toast was gone. I’m not sure I’ve eve r made a dish that was 100% gone)!
 

Penrose Brewery Review March 11, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:27 pm
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Penrose breweryThis year, I got Matt a Groupon to Penrose Brewery for his Valentine’s Day gift. Penrose had been on our list of breweries to try out so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to actually go. The $15 Groupon included a tour, 2 free samples, a glass and an empty growler. To make the deal even sweeter, I was able to apply a 20% coupon for Valentine’s Day!

When he opened his gift, he was very excited and wanted to go that day. Unfortunately, there were no tour openings. So we reviewed our schedules and then selected an upcoming tour date and time on Penrose’s website. Then we just had to wait.

Finally the day came for our afternoon adventure to Penrose. Our tour was scheduled for 2 p.m. so we decided to get there ten minutes ahead of time. Mostly so I could check out merchandise and Matt could decide what beer he’d like to drink while on the tour. The layout of the tap room includes a bar and lots of large tables perfect for a large group or for meeting new people. Penrose even supplies board games for enjoyment. Our timing was perfect and we each got great sample beers for the tour.

We’ve been on a few brewery tours and this was probably one of our favorites. We had a charismatic tour leader and a very inquisitive group. We started in the back of the facility with the grain and hops to review the process of how Penrose brews their beer. Then we moved on to the fermentor area and then to the bottling area. We ended up learning a lot about the company and future growth plans while enjoying our tasty beers.

After the tour we grabbed a table with another couple who was on the tour. We had a great time talking about everything from local restaurants, favorite spots for vacations, to the process of buying a home. All while drinking a few more beers.

I’m glad we finally made it to Penrose Brewery and definitely recommend getting the Groupon if it’s still available. If not you should still go!

Sample time!

Sample time!

 

Headache Pillow DIY

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:04 am
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I had a sewing project on my aspiration list for awhile.  I tried to make a jacket a few years ago….Didn’t really go anywhere past the fabric cutting stage.  This year I almost took it off my list, but decided I should just tone my expectations down a bit and I would be able to complete something.  I remembered I had pinned a Headache Pillow when Pinterest was brand new to me.  It linked up to Whitey’s blog Elm Street Life, where she had a tutorial.  I found it on my beloved ‘Possible Projects’ board and decided it was definitely something I could handle.  On top of it being a simple project, it would be useful too.  I tend to get quite a few headaches and it sounds weird, but it makes me feel better to put pressure on my head.  This pillow is filled with lentils and its nice and heavy.

The only thing needed to create your own headache pillow is: fabric, thread, lentils, and lavender.  I also needed a sewing machine to get it all put together.  That is where my sister comes in.  She has a sewing machine which I knew would help me get the job done a lot quicker.  I suppose I could have sewn by hand, but I assure you I do not have nearly enough patience for that.

sewing 1

Instructions:

  1. Fold your fabric in half longways and then measure and cut so that folded in half it measures 6×18 in. (or 12×18 inches when unfolded).
  2. Next, I made sure the fabric was facing inside out and then started pinning around the edges to prepare to sew.
  3. Setup your sewing machine- I cannot help you with this. I struggled and Kate helped me and in the end I sewed straight lines around the edges of my fabric and just left a small opening.
  4. Next I added some of my lavender along with the 2 lbs of lentils.
  5. Sew the opening closed.
  6. Now you want to separate the lentils in half and sew a line down the middle of the pillow. I am particular so I made my sister get out her kitchen scale so I could make sure the lentils were evenly distributed on either side of my pillow.  You could be less crazed and just estimate.
  7. I sewed a straight line right across the middle of the pillow and then repeated step 6 over to the left and then right so in the end you are left with 1 pillow that has 4 sections.

Sewing 2

The process is super simple, but really time consuming.  I ended up making two pillows in one night, but it probably took me 2 hours plus.  I thought for sure I’d finish all 5 I had planned to make.  I think it would have gone a bit faster if I was an avid sewer.  I still need to finish my last three.  And please, if you are my friend and have headaches, be warned.  You might be getting one of these from me.  Even if you think it’s silly, please accept it and act impressed that I made it myself.  You can always use it as a paperweight or something else equally useful!

Final Product!

Final Product!

Few Tips if you plan to create one yourself:

  • I bought the loose lavender from Whole Foods- you purchase by weight and I was surprised at how reasonable it was.  That whole bag I have pictures above was something like $4.50.
  • I ended up ditching the pins because I thought they were harder to sew with.  Plus this isn’t a project that needs perfect stitching.  When I use it I will feel like death and not be inspecting the stitching.
 

Disney Recap Part 3 March 4, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:11 pm
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My parents excited for the tour

My parents excited for the tour

Alas, it’s time for the last installment of our trip to Disney featuring two parks, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (formerly known as MGM). On our last Sunday, we grabbed a quick breakfast in our hotel room and headed off in the morning to Animal Kingdom. First on our itinerary was our FastPass for Safari Kilimanjaro. All four of us loved the ride. Though it was a little bumpy at time, it was amazing to literally be right next to the animals. We saw a variety of wildlife including giraffes, elephants, lions and many different types of birds. My parents especially got a kick out of riding on the oversized jeep.

After the safari we parted ways to walk around the park and go on different rides. Next up for Matt and I was Dinosaur. The line moved surprisingly fast and we both enjoyed the ride. Then it was time to use our next FastPass on Expedition Everest. This was probably my favorite roller coaster out of all of the parks. It definitely took my breath away a few times. My parents decided to skip Everest and I recommended for them to check out It’s Tough to be a Bug. I thought it would be more their “speed”.  They loved the interactive story even though I forgot to mention a few things that might have took them by surprise.

Giraffes!

Giraffes!

We finished up our day by heading back to Downtown Disney for dinner and shopping. Matt and I debated about where to go and we settled on Bongos Cuban Cafe. Since it was one of our last nights, we opted to sit outside and enjoy the warmer weather while we could. Our server was spectacular and walked us through the menu and specials. We started out with a steak bruschetta, that was amazing. For our main meals, I ordered a shredded beef dish and Matt ordered a combination of seafood in a tomato based sauce. Both of our orders came with beans, rice and fried plantains. We were so stuffed we even passed on dessert!

Once we had shopped and picked up a few gifts for our families, we stopped in at the Raglan Road Irish pub and restaurant. We were drawn to it by the live music playing outside. We grabbed a few chairs and ordered a beer and cider for our desserts. The music was great and they even had some Irish dancers perform between sets. It was the perfect way to end the day.

Monday was our last day in Disney and we capped it off with Hollywood Studios. We split off from my parents because we each had different times for our FastPasses. First on our list was the Muppets 3D (one of my favorites), followed by Star Wars and the Great Movie ride. Unfortunately, Matt and I weren’t able to do a whole lot more because I started feeling ill. Luckily though my parents had a great time on the Indiana Stunt Show, the Back Lot Tour and Star Wars. They even commented it was their favorite park after Epcot. I definitely didn’t expect to hear that!

All in all we had a wonderful time. We had a blast going with my parents and meeting up with them throughout the day as well as meeting an old friend from college. I’m really glad Matt and I had the opportunity to go to Disney before we start our own family. It was fun for just the two of us to be kids. To attempt riding on all of the rides, sipping beverages around the world and eating amazing food while staying up past our normal bed-time. Yes, I would definitely call that one good vacation for the books!

 

Blue Apron March 3, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:28 pm
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For Christmas, I bought my Aunt and Uncle a small subscription for a service that sends ingredients and recipes straight to your door.  I was intrigued by it and when I saw a coupon come up on Gilt City (like Groupon but a different company) I purchased three meals for two people from Blue Apron.

I created a login on their website and then started watching for a week providing meals that piqued my interest.  The way it works is you choose 3 meals for the week and they can send them for two ($60) or four ($140) people.  This feels a bit steep to me, but then again I had a coupon so I only paid $40.  I choose the following three meals for my first delivery: Lamb & Beef Shawarma with Radish Salad, Three-Cheese Cannelloni with Butternut Squash and Kale, and Crispy Chicken Thighs Kimchi and Maitake Mushrooms.  The delivery came on March 4th in a rather large heavy box.  Here you can see the opening process.

unbox

I was super impressed how well packed and organized this thing is.  On top was a letter telling me about the three meals being sent to me.  Then there were three illustrated recipe cards that tell you specifically what measurements you have of each ingredient as well as breaks down the steps to create each meal.  Did you catch the part about illustration? Pictures are the best part in my opinion, because then you can make sure you are on the right track!  Last night I decided to make the Shawarma so I thought I’d share my experience with you.  Here are the ingredients that came in my box:

ingredients

I followed all the directions to a ‘T’. Because everything was pre-measured for me, the hardest part was cutting up all the ingredients.  I was a bit disappointed because the cucumber and mint were not very fresh.  I had to throw out probably half the mint because it was already bad when I received it.  You can see it didn’t effect the final product too much.  My pita wrap was delicious and there was enough leftovers for another one the next day for lunch!  My favorite part about using this service is it won’t take much of my time and I still get to have home cooked meals.  I love to cook, but it usually takes me quite awhile to plan my meals for the week, make a list, and then grocery shop for it.  All the decisions are made for me plus I can cut out the grocery store!  I don’t think I’ll do it every week, but it’s definitely a nice option when I have a busy week or want to treat myself.

complete

 

 
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