Recipe: Rice, Asparagus, and Chickpea Skillet

This is one of those recipes I have just thrown together a few times. How did it come about? Honestly, from throwing things together from my fridge and trying to get Noah to eat more veggies. He is in the prime toddler years and veggies are not his favorite (you can read more about that here). It’s also a vegetarian meal, but you could always add a protein like chicken or shrimp.

It’s really fast and a great weekday meal when you need to put dinner together in a rush. Just ready in 15 minutes! Let me know what you guys think…

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My Chicago Summer Bucketlist

Chicago summer things to do for everyone, kids, and families

Lincoln Park

Chicago summer things to do for everyone, kids, and families

Lincoln Park Zoo

Chicago summer things to do for everyone, kids, and families

Bridge at Lincoln Park Zoo

Garfield Park Conservatory

Lincoln Park Conservatory

chicago hot dog at north avenue beach

Hotdog at North Avenue Beach

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Montrose Point Bird Consrvatory

Chicago is just the best in the summer. In fact, us Chicago-goans wait all year for it. The festivals, beaches, farmers markets, and activities are endless. For tourists, it’s the best time of the year to visit as well. The city and it’s people really come alive during the spring and summer months.

I put a list together of things I like to do in the summer, some I plan on doing, and even ones you can bring the whole family to. If you know anyone looking for adventures or have friends coming in town, send this their way!  Continue reading

Best Brunches and Hunts in the City

Happy Easter Greeting Instagram Post

Spring is officially here (although no physical signs of it. Sigh) and Easter is right around the corner. Get out your pastels, boat shoes, and Easter egg baskets and let’s talk about brunch. I have put together some of the best Easter Brunches and Egg Hunts in the city for the entire family.

Commonwealth Tavern- One of my favorites this year has to be at Commonwealth in Roscoe Village. They will be having a kid-friendly Bunny Brunch on Sunday, March 25 (Bunny Brunch) and Sunday, April 1st (Easter Sunday Brunch) from 10 am to 2 pm. There will be FREE kid-friendly activities will include Easter egg coloring, crafts and a special appearance from the Easter Bunny.

While the little ones have fun, adults will enjoy a $3 Build-Your-Own Mimosa Bar and $6 Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar (YASSS PLEASE!). There are several brunch options like a Brunch Schnitzel (herb aioli, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, fried egg; $14), or a Pig Muffin (maple pig head, farm egg, American cheese, English muffin; $12). The Kid’s Menu ranges in price from $5 to $6 with options like bacon and eggs, grilled cheese, mini cheese burgers and chicken fingers. You can make reservations at (773) 697-7965.

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Easter brunch at Macy’s (Chicago-Walnut Room) and Oakbrook-Signature Kitchen): March 24th, 25th, and 31st– Meet the Easter Bunny, enjoy balloon artists and face painters while eating a breakfast buffet. You can find both menus and pricing here. Brunch on Saturday starts at 9am and Sunday at 10am. Macy’s Bunny Brunch

I/O at the Godfrey Hotel Chicago: Sunday, April 1st, 2018–  Boasting to be Chicago’s largest indoor outdoor rooftop lounge, Easter Brunch is being served under their retractable roof. Besides some of the best views of River North and downtown, eat brunch with the Easter Bunny, get your face painted and my favorite, a play room for the kids. Brunch includes a carving station, an omelette station and family style pastas for $39/adults and $12/kids. To make reservations and find more information, find it here.

Bistronomic: Sunday, April 1st, 2018 (9:30 am-4:00 pm)- If you and the family feel like getting a little fancy, head over to Bistronomic. Located in Streeterville, serving French food and well known among “foodies” for being top notch farm-to-table food. This brunch includes a menu with filled with seasonal produce from the Green City Market, with a vegetarian option. $42/adults and $56 with Bottomless Mimosas (PARENT BONUS) 2-course Children’s menu $20 (under 12). Make your reservations here at Open Table

Lunch with the Bunny at Independence: Mar. 24th, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.– Head to the Irving Park neighborhood to Independence Park for breakfast and pictures with the Bunny, face painting, inflatables and art projects. For $15 dollars per person, you can find out more information at Chicago Park District.

New City Lincoln Park- Located at 1457 N. Halsted Ave, this recently “modern” mall has been actively throwing family friendly events (we like the tree lighting) all year. For Easter this year, they have a free Easter Wonderland event on their plaza. On March 31st, from 10-12 pm, there will be Easter activities, bunny visits and special appearance by Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter. You can RSVP here.
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Tuscany on Taylor: Sunday, April 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuscany Restaurant on Taylor Street will feature an a la carte Easter specials menu created by Executive Chef Victorio Padilla. The regular menu will also be available, and some of the specials will include items like a Smoked Salmon Crostini ($11), Gnocchi ($19), Braised lamb shank ($28) and more! You can make reservations here.

900 Shops- This is the first year the Easter Bunny will be at this location. Located in the 900 N. Michigan Avenue building, the Bunny will be available for photos from Friday, March 23 – Saturday, March 31. The Bunny will start seeing guests at 12 pm and will see the last guest at 6 pm. Very similar to Photos with Santa Clause, keep in mind that all guests must be present in order to sign up for the virtual line. Once entered, you will receive a text with your estimated wait time. Online reservations are not available. Upon arrival you cannot select your preferred time slot.

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Or if you feel like running around with your little one and getting those eggs, the Chicago Park District has great hunts across the city that are free. Find more at Chicago Park District

Until next time…
 Christine

 

Valentine’s Day: The Family Way

Before having our son, my husband and I rarely went out on Valentine’s Day. It’s so much more fun to stay in and cook a big meal of all our favorites (and also a lot cheaper!). Now with a toddler, we still celebrate with a home cooked meal, but it’s slightly different. If you are staying in with your family, I put together an easy meal for you with a fast cleanup that you and your family to enjoy together this Valentine’s Day.

Drink- Shirley Temples

One of my favorite drinks to order as a child was a Shirley Temple. I always felt so grown up. To be honest, I occasionally still order them. This makes the perfect Valentine’s Day drink because kids love it, it’s festive and adults even make it more “adult” like if they’d like 🙂  I prefer using tall plastic SOLO cups because really, kids and glassware just don’t mix.

IMG_1512.JPGIngredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle Grenadine
  • Ice
  • 1 (2 Liter) bottle lemon-lime soda
  • Maraschino cherries for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pour 1 ounce Grenadine over ice in a glass.
  2. Top with 8 ounces lemon-lime soda.
  3. Garnish with maraschino cherries.

Shirley Temple Recipe using SOLO cups for Valentine's Day

Shirley Temple Recipe using SOLO cups for Valentine's Day

Main Dish- Pizza with Heart Shaped Pepperoni

Heart shaped pizza is such a fun Valentine’s Day dinner, but to save time on making it, why not just buy your favorite pizza and make heart shaped pepperoni? It’s easy and you can do it together.

Making heart shaped pepperoni pizza for Valentine's Day

You can use a cookie cutter, but I just used scissors and cut the pepperoni into heart shapes.

Making heart shaped pepperoni pizza for Valentine's Day

Making heart shaped pepperoni pizza for Valentine's Day

Heat it up and serve on SOLO plates. These can later serve as crafts for your kids to color and make their own hearts!

Making heart shaped pepperoni pizza for Valentine's Day

Dessert- Cake “Fondue”

Now, for the best part, dessert. Instead of the traditional cheese fondue, replace the cheese with frosting. This cake “fondue” is so fun to dip your mini cake pops into different icings and everyone customize their own Valentine’s Day treat.

Valentine's Day kid friendly fondue using solo products

Ingredients

  • 1 box Funfetti cake and cupcake mix
  • Sprinkles of your choice
  • Cookie sticks (quantity depends on how many you want to make)
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Fruit of your choice (I like pineapple with cream cheese frosting!)
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Pink, purple, red and white gel food colors
  • Mini cupcake liners
  • SOLO bowls with lids
  • SOLO plates

Instructions

  1. Bake the mini cupcakes according to the instructions on the box
  2. While baking, make your frosting colors in the SOLO bowls.
  3. Let the cupcakes cool for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Place the mini cupcakes on the cookie sticks
  5. Dip away!

Valentine's Day kid friendly fondue using solo products

Valentine's Day kid friendly fondue using solo products

Valentine's Day kid friendly fondue using solo products

Valentine's Day kid friendly fondue using solo products

Valentine's Day kid friendly fondue using solo products

Valentine's Day kid friendly fondue using solo products

For the leftover frosting, stick a lid on the bowl and place in the fridge.

Valentine's Day kid friendly fondue using solo products

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day meal with your loved one!

Until next time,

Christine

This post was sponsored by SOLO cup however all opinions and experiences are my own!

Game on: A Kid-Friendly Super Bowl

Super Bowl is one of my favorite events of the year, but you guessed right, not for the game. But for THE FOOD. Super Bowl food is the best. I took some classic Super Bowl recipes, fun hosting ideas and made them a little bit more kid-friendly. So whether you have a family or a party with kids, there is a little something for everyone to get you ready for the big game!

Setup
I love hosting. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But if there are a lot of people, especially with little ones, I need easy ideas for setup and clean up. I decided to minimize the dishes and use Solo Cup Products to make clean up easy and less complicated. They are completely disposable, recyclable and really durable. Once you are done with them, they can also be used for kids to write and color on them. It’s a win, win right?

Some fast and easy ideas are a snack bar, pigs in a blanket, tater tot skewers and individual 7 layer dip cups (because nothing says football more than dip).

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

SOLO has write on cups that are perfect to label the snacks. The kids can make their own snack bowls with lids.  These bowls are easy for them to hold and whatever they don’t finish, the bowls serve as to-go cups. The small, clear cups are the perfect size for the individual 7 layer dip cups. Lastly, the paper plates are the adults for the skewers and other snacks. Don’t forget about the red and blue cups for the adult or kid beverages you serve. Plus, they add lots of color to your table.

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

Snack Bar
The best part of a snack bar is that you can customize it to your guests preferences. Since this is more kid friendly, the options are kid friendly, but even adults would enjoy them (I know I do!)

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

Snacks
Here are the snacks I used:

  • kid puffs
  • graham crackers
  • ring pops (everyone’s a champion!
  • M & M’s
  • pretzels
  • Doritos
  • blue corn chips

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

Pigs in a Blanket
This is an appetizer that everyone likes. You can definitely make them with recipes like this or you can buy them frozen, whatever makes your life easier! But either way, they are a great for kids and adults.

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

7 Layer Dip
These are perfect for a few reasons. The cups are very sturdy, so they are able to hold a lot without feeling too heavy. They are great size for those small hands and you don’t have to worry about any double dipping 🙂

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
  • 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning
  • 1 cup guacamole or homemade guacamole
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 cup chunky salsa 
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese (I used both!)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes , diced
  • 1/2 bunch of green onions, sliced
  • 1 (2.25 ounce) can of sliced olives, drained (Optional- my son doesn’t like olives)
  • (9 ounce) SOLO cup plastic cups
  • tortilla chips (I like blue corn chips)

Instructions:

  • In a small bowl mix taco seasoning with refried beans.
  • Add about 2-2 1/2 tablespoons for each layer
    • Layer 1: beans and taco seasoning
    • Layer 2: sour cream
    • Layer 3: guacamole
    • Layer 4: pico de gallo
    • Layer 5: cheese
    • Layer 6: tomatoes
    • Layer 7: green onions and olives
  • Garnish with one tortilla chip. Store in the refrigerator until serving and serve with chips. Makes around 6 individual dips.
super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

 

Tater Tot Skewers
These are super easy to make and really fun to eat. You can eat them right off the skewer or add it to your SOLO plate. 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees, let them cool and add 4-5 tots to each skewer. You can add ketchup to the small SOLO cups for dipping.

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

So if you are inviting friends over to watch the Super Bowl or watching it with your family, enjoy the game, whoever is playing….most importantly, enjoy the food with a no fuss clean up.

Until next time,

Christine

This post was sponsored by SOLO cup however all opinions and experiences are my own!

Winter Fun for Everyone: Indoor places for the Family

Chicago winter months can be brutal, especially with little ones. The days can become even longer when you are stuck inside all day. I have rounded out a list of our favorite indoor spots. I have included classes, open playrooms and additional fun, indoor activities to keep everyone entertained (hopefully!) and sane during the cold months. I also got some help from fellow moms too and included their favs. Even included a special discount code, a promotion and several free options because who doesn’t like to save some extra cash right?!

Chicago:

Merry Music Makers– Music based classes from kids birth to 5 years old. Children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat and participate in the music of our culture, provided their early environment supports such learning. Merry Music Makers offers research-based curriculum.

TIP: There are three locations throughout the city; Lakeview, Andersonville, and Edgewater

NYC Kids Club– Just recently opened, this gym has various classes, but several are gymnastic based. We have done one open play and a Gym Tots class and really enjoyed it. They have some great grand opening specials that includes Monthly – 50% off your first month + 1 year unlimited open play! Offer expires January 31. 

TIP:  There is a parking lot on the side on the building.

NY Kids Club- Chicago

Bubbles Academy– We have been to several events and open plays here, Noah has always enjoyed it. They focus on an art integrated curriculum and have many classes like art, music and creative movement. The facility has lots of space and they are always having FREE events. Some upcoming parent workshops like potty training and building math skills are really informative for parents.

TIP: Sign up for their newsletter and get the latest events, workshops, and classes.

Bubbles Academy

Purple Monkey Playroom– Located in Bucktown, this playroom is nice for children to explore in the large play space. They have free coffee, tea, and WiFi. I really like the mini kitchen area to heat up lunch and have some snacks. We have always done a day pass for $15 and usually stay for at least minimum of two hours. I think its a great place for play dates on a cold day.

TIP: They have lot parking available in the 90 mile Cuban Cafe gated parking lot at 2449 W. Armitage, directly under the El tracks. It’s about a 3 minute walk to the playroom.

Purple Playroom

Sod Room– Sod Room is an eco-friendly, indoor play space located in the South Loop of Chicago.  They provide toys and materials from recycled cork flooring, low VOC paint, and reclaimed wood. It is uniquely designed to utilize as much natural light as possible.  They also have workshops and classes. A day pass is $15 dollars.

TIP: They also feature a retail boutique which offers local, organic, fair trade, and recycled products and gifts for children and parents.

Goldfish Swim School- Through some research and word of mouth, we found Goldfish Swim School and we LOVE IT! It’s our favorite activity to do as a family. We each take a turn in the water with him during the 30 minute class (because of his age). We have the same teacher each lesson in a very small class and they work with you and the level your child is at. You can read more about our experience here. By lesson 3, Noah was enjoying it and learning to do the activities much more independently. After we showered, they have diapers, blow dryers, lotion and wipes to help get ready after the shower.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

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Lesson 1- He definitely warmed up 🙂

Lil’ Kickers Soccer– We started soccer lessons when Noah was 20 months (now turning 2 in two weeks) and LOVE it. The program is designed to help develop a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills while providing physical exercise and developing players who are good sports and good teammates, on and off the field. The coaches are very encouraging, always high-fiving, and players get stamps at the end of each lesson (my son’s favorite part!). It is a 50 minute lesson with an adult, but at the age of 3, a parent is no longer required.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

LIl' Kickers soccer practice

Mini City on 21– Located in Norwood park, this is an open playroom that is a parent/guardian supervised indoor play, party and cafe. They have have classes and birthday party packages available. Day passes are $10 for children 1 – 10 years old and $7 for children 11 – 12 years old. 0-11 months are FREE.

TIP: You can get a MINI “PASSPORT” (only for children 1 -10 years old) with a 5-day pass, $40, 10-day pass, $80 or 15-day pass, $120.

Tinkergarten–  All classes take place outside at a local park. Outdoor classes where children can play with other children alongside adults to learn through well-designed, outdoor play-based activities. They help kids develop a host of important capabilities, including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence and problem solving. Classes range from 18 months to 8 years old.

TIP: Free trials in March for the spring season

Zumbini– Created by Zumba and BabyFirst for kids ages birth to 4 years old, the Zumbini program combines music, dance and educational tools for 45 minutes of parent and child bonding! Also taught by a local fellow mom! Check out their schedule for classes all over the city.

TIP: Use the code Mamatribe15 for 15% off (only valid at the Irish American Heritage Center).

Young Explorers at the Adler Planetarium– Children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old can check out Young Explorers’ Mondays from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm, where children and their families can try hands-on activities like Fly a Kite, Stories Under the Stars, and more. Or add a sky show to your day when you purchase a Basic Pass that includes One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure.

TIP: Free with admission.

Kids playroom at the Adler Planetarium

Kidsyard–  Located off Irving Park Road, it is a 2,400 square feet play center for children aged 0-12 years. They have soft play structures, giant blocks and a climbing wall. All activities are created and appointed based on the age of the children and other safety requirements. For the babies or children under 4, there is a specific area to enjoy, with activities that engage their senses, body and mind. They have their own ball pond, mini slide, soft play blocks to crawl on and play equipment.

TIP: They do NOT allow outside food, but have a cafe.

Learning Loop Academy-Learning Loop Academy is dedicated to providing a safe and caring learning, playing and growing space where parents and caregivers can spend time together with their infants and toddlers. It is an interactive area to gather and explore many aspects of movement, music, art language and literature with the opportunity to meet and connect with other families. Check website for pricing.

TIP: Free parking and Wifi

Image result for learning loop academy

Chicago-land Suburbs:

Kohls Children’s Museum– Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview, offers 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits for children ages birth to 8. All of our exhibits and programs are aligned to the Illinois State Learning Standards and are designed to nurture a love of learning in young children. Adults and children are $12 dollars.

TIP: Children under 1 years old are free.

Adventure Playland– Located in Mt. Prospect, it is an indoor playground for the kids while serving food, coffee and free WiFi for parents. Open to children 6 months to 7 years old.  Children under 1 are free with paid sibling. Monday-Thursday is $10.00, Friday & Sunday is $12.00. An after school special on Monday-Thursday after 3:00PM, is $7.00 per child

TIP: They have punch cards available.

Adventure Playland

Fun Republic Play– Fun Republic in St. Charles, was founded by three local moms whose main goal was to create a play center to help children not only develop basic motor skills and social skills, but also develop self-confidence while having fun. Fun Republic strives to offer a safe, creative and exciting play setting for children of all ages.

TIP: Kids under 1 years old are FREE.

Wonder Works  Wonder Works is 6,400 square feet of fun, a place of creative play for kids birth to age eight. Located in Oak Park, the children’s museum helps kids, their parents and caregivers unleash their imaginations. Wonder Works Children’s Museum provides a hands-on environment for children from birth to age 8 years old. The museum includes six permanent experience zones and hosts parties, field trips, concerts and other fun, educational events. Plus, an outdoor organic garden. Regular Admission is $7 per person, child or adult

TIP: Wonder Works also offers reduced admission for groups of 10 or more children when scheduled in advance through our field trip program.

Peekaboo Playroom– A playroom located in Oak Park, children from 0-6 years old can enjoy the variety of toys, play hide-and-seek in between the little house, read books in the book corner, play basketball, climb and slide in the clubhouse, and much much more. One day unlimited play is per child $12, sibling #2 and Sibling #3 FREE.

TIP: 1 hour pass for $6 dollars

Meet at Gather– Located in downtown Evanston, this playroom offers a place to Gather for art and music classes, workshops and events, open to all ages and abilities. They are open for drop-in art and play Monday-Saturday.

TIP: They have won for Best Playroom in 2017.

Gather for kids in downtown Evanston

Gather in Evanston

Free:

Story Time at Barnes and Noble

Dawn- Marie’s Toddler Jam Sessions

Garfield Park Conservatory

Harold Washington Library

Swedish American Museum

Free Thursdays at the Nature Museum

French Story Time (Various locations)

When all else fails:

Have the fun delivered to your door! These are kits that are toys with a purpose. Ranging from science to arts and crafts. Here are some kits that you can customize based on your child’s preferences. 

HOOT for Kids- For newborn to 6 years old, these treasure boxes are customized based upon your child’s age and developmental stage. They are toys with a purpose.

Bramble Box– Bramble Box award winning Play and Craft Kits are hand-curated activity boxes for kids age 3-7. Mom created and kid tested for hours of fun (& learning) with items to inspire imaginative play and all the materials for at least 2-3 hands-on activities and crafts.

Curiosity Pack– Curiosity Packs inspire a love of learning through age-appropriate activities. Children will learn about letters, numbers, friendship, science, art, love, and every other intriguing subject you can imagine.

My Giant Box– My Giant Busy Box will keep ’em busy! ThB001AQDA50ere’s 16 projects, mold dough animals, collage a farm and sticker art. Decorate paper bag puppets and tissue art pictures, then frame them. Includes plastic frames, animal punch outs, bright dough colors, peel and stick tissue art pictures, tons of tissue paper, glue, and easy to follow instructions.

Building Tiles Set for Kids

Magnetic building blocks are hands on learning tool. They can be combined in so many different ways! It includes a set of 102 pieces, including magnetic alphabet blocks & numbers. 

With a few more winter months left, I hope some of these ideas help out your little ones (and you!)

Until next time,

Christine

 

Getting Cheesy: National Cheese Lover’s Day Party

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love cheese? It is one of my favorite things to eat and create some really fun dishes with. Since cheese is always such a hit, I decided to throw a cheese party for my friends (and for my son because it’s his absolute favorite). And why not a MAC N’ CHEESE BAR?! I have a few vegetarian friends and this would be perfect. Everyone can customize their own mac n’ cheese bowls and we can celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day!

Setup

Since the holidays, I have been kind of entertained out. Over doing the dishes, the clean up, etc. I also have a toddler running around, so something fast and easy is preferred. I decided to minimize the dishes and use Solo Cup Products to make my clean up easy and less complicated. They are completely disposable, recyclable and really durable. I knew this would be the best option, but still keeping my party looking right.

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They have write on cups that are perfect to label all the toppings. It looks clean and organized in your setup. Everyone can make their own mac n’ cheese bowls with lids Whatever they don’t finish, the bowls serve as to-go plates. Lastly, the paper plates serve for meat and cheese platters. It’s perfect and fuss-free.

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

Mac n’ Cheese Bar

And for the best part: the MAC N’ CHEESE. Honestly, you could make it from scratch or get a pre-made box. Whatever makes your life easier. From scratch, I like recipes like this. But you can grab a box and totally add in your own ingredients. I took a box of mac n’ cheese, added mild cheddar cheese, bread crumbs and baked it at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. It turned out DELICIOUS!

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

Toppings

Cheese is so versatile. It can be paired with so much. Here are the toppings I used:

  • hot dogs
  • salumi
  • bacon bits
  • cheeze its
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • jalapenos
  • green onion
  • cubed cheese

National cheese lover's day party using solo products

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

Extras

The more cheese the better right? For an appetizer, I made a meat and cheese plate with salami, cheddar and pepper jack cheese with pita crackers. Really, anything would work; spinach artichoke dip, cheese dip, etc.

National Cheese Lover's Day Party

For the drinks, the best wine to pair with macaroni and cheese all depends on how fancy and cheesy your mac and cheese is. With a regular, old-fashioned recipe, you might just want a simple glass of white wine. An unoaked Chardonnay might be your best bet for an original recipe or even a dry Riesling. If you got a little fancy and added truffles to your recipe, champagne pairs perfectly. No wine drinkers? Cider pairs well with cheese too.

A party that will please everyone with an easy clean up? To go cups already set!

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Doesn’t get better than that!

Until next time,

Christine

This post was sponsored by SOLO cup however all opinions and experiences are my own!

Top 5 Kid-Friendly Brunch Spots

(See collaborating post here with Fab Food Chicago)

One of my favorite weekend activities to do in Chicago is to try different brunch spots around town. But after I had my son, my brunch requirements changed. I didn’t want to stop going, but needed to find accommodating places. A children’s menu with lots options (or at least something kid friendly on the menu), good service and a welcoming atmosphere are all qualities I look for now. With so many brunch places in Chicago, I have narrowed it down to the top 5 kid friendly brunches in the city.

Stella Barra

Located in Lincoln Park, Stella Barra is connected to Summer House and serves an All You Can Eat Chef Inspired Brunch for $19.95 for adults and kids under 12 eat free. There are so many options for the adults and children. They have pancakes, French Toast (my son’s personal favorite), house made cinnamon buns, biscuits and gravy, chilaquiles (this is a must) yogurt parfaits and so on. Mimosas and Bellini’s are $5 dollars as well. The service has always been great; giving children crayons, coloring menus and very accommodating on seating. There is also stroller parking in front and lots of dining space. Great food and service really make this place kid friendly. They also take reservations.

Stella AYCE brunch- kid friendly brunch

AYCE Brunch-Photo @StellaBarra

TIP: They have an outdoor patio in the back with lots of seating for large groups.

Location: Lincoln Park || 1954 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 634-4101

Cornerstone Café

With two locations, Lincoln Park and Logan Square, this diner is the first brunch we ever brought our son to. This casual café is an easy diner to bring children of all ages for breakfast or an early lunch. It is a great value, friendly service and have breakfast and lunch served daily. 

Friendly brunch spots at Cornerstone Cafe

Brunch-Photo @tjs_grams

They open at 7am and you can find lots of children and families there. They are very accommodating with seating and strollers and will make you feel right at home. They have plenty of sweet and savory options, with delicious pancakes and French toast for children and a variety of omelette options for the adults, all large portion sizes. Their corned beef hash and sweet potato fries are great options for brunch too. Service is fast, friendly and the food is all worth checking out. They do not take reservations, so I recommend going early.

TIP: The Logan Square location is BYOB.

Location: 

Logan Square || 2753 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 235-1155

Lincoln Park || 2200 N. Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 270- 4343

Knife and Tine

Knife and Tine was a place I was initially hesitant to bring my son. It is small and rather intimate, but I cannot say enough about their service and willingness to work with you and your children. And of course, the food. I have been several times with my son for happy hour, dinner and brunch, and each time, the food and service go beyond expectations. I have even dined by myself with my son and they have been extremely helpful. They will help you with the stroller, seating accommodations, and even give your little ones a box of Legos, stickers and crayons with coloring sheets. For the adults, the shrimp and grits with scrambled eggs is amazing. It is made with white cheddar and apple smoked bacon. For the children, they have banana pancakes, French toast, grilled cheese and other fun dishes. The food is incredible, service is very good every time. They also take reservations.

Pumpkin spice French toast#knifeandtine #breakfastlover #frenchtoast #foodlife #pumpkinspice

Pumpkin Spice French Toast-Photo by @tymtrouble

TIP: They have delicious coffee cocktails.

Location: Lincoln Park ||1417 N. Fullerton, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 697- 8311

Wishbone

This Lakeview and West Loop Southern comfort restaurant is great for any meal, but the perfect place to bring your family for brunch. The crab cake benedict, red eggs and their biscuits are delicious. Definitely don’t skip the biscuits, they are some of the best I have ever had. You can also ask for a side of honey.

For children, my son loved the strawberry pancakes. He devoured them. There are other options like eggs, grits and mac and cheese for children. All the portions are large and easily could be shared.

The service is friendly, fast and accommodating. There is lots of dining space for you and your family. They do take reservations, but only for parties of 6 or more on the weekends.

om nom nom nom 🙌🏾 Belgium waffles are my favorite, halleloo lordt.

Belgium Waffles-Photo by @mochiibear

TIP: One Free entree from the Kids menu for every regular adult breakfast (must be ordered by 9 am)

Location

Lakeview ||3300 N Lincoln Ave||, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 549-2663

West Loop ||1001 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL || P: (312) 850-2663  

Kingsbury Street Cafe

This Near North Side upscale diner has extremely good food, innovative dishes and fast service. The menu has items like lemon pancakes, shrimp egg white frittata, and salmon hash. One of their most well known dishes is the Piggy Moo Cluck Sandwich, which is eggs, ham, bacon and cheese served on ciabatta bread. It’s amazing and not your average brunch sandwich. They serve some really delicious coffee and brunch cocktails to accompany the food.

Friendly brunch spots with my son at Kingsbury Cafe

Lemon Pancakes-Photo by @TopChicagoEats

For the children’s menu, it isn’t extensive, but they have typical items like pancakes and chicken fingers. However, many of the items on the adult menu could be shared with children, even for the pickiest eaters. My son and I shared the lemon pancakes and we both loved them.

This cafe is great weekend brunch with a fun, lively vibe with a little something for the entire family. It does get very busy on the weekends. I would highly recommend reservations.

TIP: They sell pastries to go.

Location: Near North Side||1523 N Kingsbury St||, Chicago, IL || P: (312) 280-1718

Until next time,

Christine

7 Last Minute Family Friendly Holiday Activities

The holidays are pretty much here. The season goes by so fast with parties, events, shopping, etc. It’s hard to experience it together as a family. But it’s not too late to get out there and enjoy some festive activities throughout the city as a family. I rounded out some events that are still happening and some of our own personal favs. Enjoy!

1. Nutcracker– The Joffrey Ballet is running Nutcracker from now until December 30th. Tickets run from $35 to $100 dollars. You can also find them on Stub Hub here.

2. Chicago Trolley & Double Decker- Holiday Lights Tour- Experience the magic of the holidays with Chicago’s most spectacular light displays at the city’s most popular destinations.

holiday lights tour on Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Tour. Makes a great holiday gift for Chicago Families

Photo Courtesy Chicago Trolley

This tour is great for even Chicagoans that want to enjoy the holiday lights as a family out of the cold. As a bonus, A FREE holiday cupcake from Sprinkles is given to all riders. Tours are running now until December 23rd, 2017. Adult tickets are $29 dollars and Kid’s tickets are $18 dollars (ages 5-15). Reservations are highly recommended due to the popularity of the tour. You can make reservations here.

3. Holiday Market- Randolph Street Market– The market is a unique shopping experience for the whole family. There are unique gifts from thrifty to extravaganza. It is December 16-17 from 10am-5pm. This is an indoor market with free parking onsite. They have a $30 dollar family package that includes 2 adults/drinks (wine, beer, champagne) and up to 4 kids plus a kids snack (online special only) You would definitely find a gift for even the pickiest shopper on your list.

Image result for randolph holiday market

Photo Courtesy Randolph Street Market

4. Caroling at the Cloud Gate-  Get ready to sing some holiday classics during Caroling at Cloud Gate. This festive series is part concert, part sing-along at Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean” on Fridays, through December 15 from 6-7pm. Weather permitting.

5. White Christmas at Music Box Theater– In its 34th year, this annual tradition brings the family together at the Music Box theater to see Santa Claus, sing along and watch a holiday classic. Santa welcomes the audience and, accompanied by Music Box organist Dennis Scott, leads them in the sing along to the most cherished Christmas carols. The lyrics are projected onto the theater’s screen so no one misses a chance to sing their hearts out. Then, the audience gets to enjoy a Christmas movie classic.

6. Christkindlmarket- Park at Wrigley – We have enjoyed many family friendly activities at the Park at Wrigley since it opened this year like movies, Green City Market, and live music for children. But now it is turned into a winter wonderland perfect for any age. I found this to be a little easier to navigate with little ones compared to the Daley Plaza Market, especially if you have a stroller or with several children.  There is ice skating and rentals are available, lots of food options and unique shopping. Santa does make an appearance on Saturdays (and it is inside!) It runs now until December 31st, with ice skating until February 2018.

Sweet treats at the Park at Wrigley. Makes a great activity to do with the family

Photo Courtesy of Alex @sassyconfetti

7. Santa Suite at Swissotel–  One of the best things we did as a family this holiday season was our first Santa visit at the Swissotel. On the 41st floor, in a 5 room Presidential Suite, it is completely transformed into a winter wonderland experience. The space is decorated with twelve Christmas trees, a table set for Santa, and even a station to write letters to the North Pole.

Santa Suite at the Swissotel is a great way to spend the holidays with the family

Writing Letters to the North Pole

They also have different pop up shops, including floral crowns from Crowning Event.

Christine

The Gift Guide for every CHICAGO FAMILY on Your List

A gift guide for the Chicago family to experience together.

Sometimes the best gifts I have ever gotten are the experiences you have together. Personally, I would rather have a gift that creates memories as family over anything else. That is priceless. So this holiday season, whether you are a friend, grandparent, or mom, I have rounded out a list of experiences families can have together throughout the holidays and into the new year. Give the gift of experience to the Chicago Family on your list.

The Berghoff– If you have never been to The Berghoff, it is a family owned restaurant with old German favorites like the bavarian pretzel, bratwurst and much more. They are a family operated restaurant, so why not bring in the ones on your list for the holidays and enjoy the iconic restaurant! They have several festive activities throughout the season and have beautiful holiday decor throughout the restaurant. If you would like to read more about some of their menu upgrades and my latest experience, you can find it here. They have gift cards available for purchase to give those families on your list an experience to dine and enjoy any of the activities below.

The Berghoff during the holiday season.

Die Weihnachtsgurke (The Christmas Pickle Ornament)– The Berghoff managers choose a post on their famed Christmas tree to hide a pickle. Children under 12 years of age will be invited to find the pickle. If a child finds it, they’ll receive a complimentary root beer. The special will run all day from now until December 23rd in the Main Dining Room. Valid with purchase only.

Spot the Brat (for the adults)– Similar to the pickle challenge, The Berghoff managers will hide their stuffed toy Brat dressed in Christmas clothing somewhere around the bar. Adults will be invited to find it and the winner receives one complimentary mini brat. Valid Monday-Thursday from now until December 23rd in the bar. Valid with purchase only.

Santa– Santa Claus will be visiting The Berghoff from 1pm-5pm every Saturday until Christmas.

Goldfish Swim School–  We have been taking swim lessons at Goldfish for almost a month now and we LOVE it! We look forward to it every weekend. If you would like to read more about our experience, you can find it here.

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

Many families and kids want to take classes, but either can’t commit to the time, can’t afford it or are wary of trying something new. Giving the gift of a children’s class is a really unique way for family members to gift an experience and skill set that a family might not otherwise try! Goldfish Swim School this season is offering a great value holiday package this season. With 12 locations across the Chicagoland area, Goldfish features year-round swim lessons for children ages four months to age 12 with the benefit of state-of-the-art facilities and a confidence-building curriculum that promotes a love of swimming and water safety. This year, the holiday package includes:

  • 2 months of swim lessons
  • the annual registration fee
  • a gift basket of Goldfish retail items

for $189 (regular price $220). Such a great value that will keep giving in the new year!

Pearachute Kids– There are some hot new kid memberships that will make for a great gift for you and your family to experience. Just think of a gift card or membership that keeps on giving!!

Pearachute makes a great gift for Chicago families to enjoy kids classes throughout the city

With Pearachute, kids can enjoy choices of different classes around Chicagoland that give parents flexibility and options to try new activities! It’s a monthly membership that lets you drop into the best kids’ classes near you. Memberships start at $39 a month and with Pearachute you can buy your kids, nieces or nephews, or grandkids a gift card to put towards a monthly pass. This holiday season, Pearachute is offering a FREE $25 Pearachute gift card with every gift card purchase of $100 or more. There will be a ton of Pearachute-only holiday experiences on the site this season like Polar Express tickets, visits with Santa, Christmas plays and shows, seasonal live theater and Santa breakfasts! You can find more information here.

Blo, Blow Dry Bar– Treat yourself and your little lady this holiday to a fun hair and makeup experience at the newest dry bar to hit the Chicago scene. I have had a blow out here a few times and it’s one of the best I have had in the city.

Blo out and Blow Dry on Southport Corridor makes a great holiday gift for moms and daughters

Blo, Blow Dry Bar, with its first Chicagoland location in the Southport Corridor, offers hair and makeup (blow and style, no cuts or color) and full makeup application with Glo Minerals products. Blow outs start at $35 on Mon-Wed and $45 after that. You can also book by appointment Blo for your holiday party, kids’ party and more! You can check out the holiday hair menu here. Gift cards are available for purchase.

Chicago Trolley & Double Decker- Holiday Lights Tour- Experience the magic of the holidays with Chicago’s most spectacular light displays at the city’s most popular destinations.

holiday lights tour on Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Tour. Makes a great holiday gift for Chicago Families

This tour is great for even Chicagoans that want to enjoy the holiday lights as a family out of the cold. As a bonus, A FREE holiday cupcake from Sprinkles is given to all riders. Tours are running now until December 23rd, 2017. Adult tickets are $29 dollars and Kid’s tickets are $18 dollars (ages 5-15). Reservations are highly recommended due to the popularity of the tour. You can make reservations here.

Enjoy this season with your family and friends because that’s what it’s truly about.

Until next time…

Christine