Chicago

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I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Chicago, my first time! The day of travel would have been just fine if the plane actually took off and arrived at the gate when it was supposed to, however we had a lot of down time on the tarmac. Dinner reservations were at 8:45 that night so we went straight to the room and back out into the city in search of the restaurant.

Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard was a must do. Unfortunately her flagship restaurant The Girl and the Goat was booked out until November so we decided to try her Asian restaurant Duck Duck Goat. “Reasonably authentic Chinese Food” is what the waiters say when they greet you at the table. The place was buzzing for a late Thursday evening. The space was tight and the volume loud. Sitting almost too close for comfort next to other diners, we ordered off of the “chef recommended” menu. I only have a couple pictures since the lighting wasn’t doing me any favors.

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We started off with the wood fired duck hearts.  The were tender, smoky and served on a creamy bed of garlic aioli. Delicious.

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Along with those we ordered the duck spring rolls, braised pork belly and ended with the   char siu bao. The bao dough was probably the best I have ever had, so light and fluffy. It was all really good. Happy with our decision we moseyed on closer to the hotel to meet a friend for a drink.

The next day we walked out on the river and hopped in a water taxi toward Willis tower.

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Not wanting to wait in line for the sky view we kept on walking to Union Station where I had my first Chicago dog.

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I’ll come clean, I don’t really like hot dogs. I felt that I had to try it and see what all the fuss was about. Eh, it tasted like a hot dog that had too much stuff on it. I won’t need another one.

The rain started to arrive as we were along the riverwalk so we tucked into a winery for a couple glasses of wine. I really dig the vibe of the river front, I can see spending warm afternoons out there listening to music and people watching.

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Cold and ready for a hot shower we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner numero dos.

Reservations weren’t until later that evening so we started at a speakeasy bar called Brando’s. Remembering I am too old for crowds, we weren’t sure if we would be able to stand the elbow to elbow nowhere to sit room. However the happy hour prices and delicious dirty martinis swayed us to fight the sporadic nudges of the flannel wearing strangers. Then a barstool opened up and we made ourselves comfortable until dinner.

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Rick Bayless, he’s my favorite . He was who graced the screens of my early culinary classes and whom I grew to admire years after. Eating at his restaurant Frontera Grill was the first thing that came to my mind when I decided to finally see Chicago. I wish I had a better experience to share but it was just very underwhelming.

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We started with pork tamales and tamarind margaritas. Both were just OK. I’ve had much better in San Diego and our waiter was less than gracious.

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The entrees were molé enchiladas and a fish dish. The fish was better than the enchiladas. If you want really really good Molé Enchiladas head to El Comal or JV’s tacos in San Diego. Can’t be beat.

The best thing we had were probably the plantains, they could have stood to cook a little longer but dipped in crema and molé they were pretty darn good.

 

Unsatisfied we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel.

I had the next day solo, so after lounging in bed with multiple cups of coffee I ventured out. I walked down to Navy Pier and had a mango smoothie along the water. I had some company stop by.

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I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the afternoon so I just started walking along the lake.

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So unreal, just breathtaking! Are we sure this is a lake?

I found myself not far from Lincoln park, I decided that would be my destination and a place to stop for lunch.

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I found a little restaurant outside the Lincoln Park zoo that suited my needs. A glass of rosé and a sandwich. The wind picked up and my toes were going numb, yes I wore flip flops, duh!

I also found that cabs were much easier than ride shares out there, do you guys agree?

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Back at the hotel I poured a big glass of Syrah and submerged myself in a piping hot bath. We were invited to an event at the House of Blues later that night, so with time to kill we went to the hotel bar for a bite to eat and a drink.

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The short trip ended with an open bar, live music, late night pizza and amazing company!

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It was a perfect little getaway. I love being in a new place, it’s one of my most favorite things. Like any place, I could have used a couple more days. If I ever get back there, I have a list ready!

 

 

 

Tomato Galette

This is a perfect dish to make when you have beautiful tomatoes begging to be used. Store bought pie crust makes it an easy weeknight meal and the addition of some golden caramelized onions can turn it into a weekend hit. Although you may not want to share, it’s that good!

INGREDIENTS

1 unbaked Pie Crust

1 (5oz) package of Boursin Garlic and Herbs Cheese

1 small yellow onion, sliced and caramelized

2 Large or 3 Medium Tomatoes

1 Tablespoon Honey

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Handful of torn or chiffonade basil

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 large egg with a drizzle of water, beaten

Preheat your oven 375 degrees.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, unroll the pie crust. Spread the Boursin cheese on the dough leaving about a 1 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle the onion over the cheese and then layer on your toms. Sprinkle with a healthy shower of salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and honey and then the basil.

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Gently fold the edges of the dough up over the tomatoes, repeating every two inches around the free formed pie. Brush the crust with the beaten egg wash.

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Pop into your heated oven and bake for *1 hour or until crust is golden.

* Don’t go too far, check at the 30 minute mark to make sure the crust isn’t burning,

Let cool for 5 minutes.

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Devour with a nice glass of wine.

On Pause

Hi guys! I am sorry I haven’t been around lately. Our lives are facing some new changes. I am going to push pause on Simply Four for a bit. But I will still stopping by Facebook and Instagram for posts on the girls, but as for the blog, maybe someday soon I will come back with something new and improved.

I just want to thank you all for sticking around, reading about the ups and downs and watching the girls grow up. A lot of you have been around since the beginning and I appreciate you all.

XO

Kim

Sneaky

The other night at dinner Kaili had told me she finished all her hot dog. I told her she could grab her Halloween candy and pick something for a treat. Once the candy was ingested I went over to the table where I noticed a rather large amount of hot dogs on Averi’s plate. I knew that I never gave her that much so when I asked Kaili about it, she admitted she put her food onto sisters plate. Little sneaky shit.

We decided to battle the crowds at Balboa Park for December nights last Friday. The International houses were open and serving a few of their countries delicacies. As much fun as it would have been to linger longer and try more food, the amount of people with two little kids is an anxiety attack waiting to happen. I have learned that the older I get, the more I hate crowds and especially lines.

We really didn’t get much out of the experience aside from the girls going on a few overpriced carnival rides, free entry to a couple museums and a visit with Santa.

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We ended up leaving the park for a proper dinner and found ourselves at a very unpretentious old and quaint Italian restaurant for dinner called Volare. I haven’t been really excited about a meal out in a long time. Shane might tell you I order wrong but I just think I have become a tad snooty with my food. However, I did not order wrong here and everything I tried was delicious. We were not disappointed and I can’t wait to return.

 

 

Call it a Comeback

I apologize for my absence, it really hits you how boring life is when you have two kids in school. OR how AWESOME it is. I kid, I kid, sort of….

Averi finally picked up the whole potty situation, with a few here and there oopsies. She is in school four days a week and loves it. We had her first field trip to the Children’s museum and she had a blast.

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The amazing thing about Averi is she is very independent. She made her way through the museum doing her thing and didn’t worry about anyone but herself.

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I want to be like her when i grow up. Free and not giving a shit!

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Kaili has been doing great in first grade and she loves going to school each and every day.

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Her interest in cooking is emerging and I love it.

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These two keep me on my toes every single day. They are smart, funny and just plain awful sometimes….It’s not funny if it’s not real, right.

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Summer Moments

Kaili is finally getting comfortable in the pool. Between swimming with her friends and swim lessons, I am hoping she becomes a very strong swimmer.

We had a nice visit with friends and it took the sun going down to finally get everyone out of the pool.

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The weather has been spectacular, making it very difficult to stay inside.

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I made an Indian feast for family using this recipe as my always go to for Chicken Tikka Masala. I made some Dal and Raita and bought Trader Joe’s frozen Naan and Samosa’s. We were all happily stuffed at the end of the night.

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I also made Chrissy Teigen’s Pineapple Grilled Shortribs and you guys, they were Ahhhhmazing. I will describe them as candied meat or a very tender and sweet beef jerky.

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Kaili has her last swim class, it’s bittersweet. She really loves it and asked me if she could have a playdate with her instructor. Every day she gets a little bit braver.

Farewell Kindergarten

 

Well that was quick wasn’t it? Doesn’t seem very long ago that we walked her to school for the first day of Kindergarten. She loved it, made great friends and had wonderful teachers. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the elementary years.

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I won’t lie, having her in school from 9:am -3:45 pm everyday was pretty sweet. So now having her home all day is going to be an interesting challenge. I might  will have to call in my trusty helper wine to make the days go by a little easier. In reality it should be a pretty good summer with a nice break from the mundane as we take a trip up to Washington state…..For more wine!

I made the teachers a fun little gift bag that I’ve had saved on my Pinterest board for years. I am finally finding a reason to make some of these cute gift ideas.

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Inside I put a beach towel, sunscreen, chapstick, coconut body wipes, a fruit infuser water bottle, a magazine and a bottle of rosé.

We have enrolled Kaili back in swim lessons and although she’s only been to two of them so far, I am definitely seeing improvements. We’ve got to get this girl to swim or at least not drown, that is a great start.

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And to kick off summer, I took her to the salon for a new haircut.

Taking a few inches off and adding layers, I think it looks great. She is now ready for hot sunshiney days