Home Sweet Home

I have been searching all over for my and J's new Chicago burbs pad, and I have finally found it.
Because we're not quite ready to buy, I was very limited on places to choose from.
We could rent big houses with space we don't need and a yard I don't have time to take care of, or we could rent a tiny little beat up apartment in areas of town that I'm not so sure I would be safe in.
Then a little birdie sent an email and presented me with a beautiful condo that will suit us perfectly.
Say hello to my little condo. *All pictures are from the property owner.

It has a 2 story family room that floods the entire place with light.
This will make all of my pictures turn out even better.
The picture was taken from the loft area.

The loft will be my workout room.
Right now my weight bench and everything that goes along with it are shoved in my master bedroom, while the treadmill is in the guest room.
I can't wait to have it all in one beautiful open space.

My current apartment is so small, I don't even have room for a small dining room table, so we're going to need to look for not only a dining room table, but also a table for our eat-in kitchen.
(Can I really complain though? I mean, look how cute the space is!)

I will even have a little patio with courtyard and can own a grill again! I had to throw away my grill when I moved into where I live now.
We will be moving shortly, and I can't wait to start my life in my new little home!

I am taking suggestions for DIY/Etsy tables. Any links or ideas out there?



Greek Salad

If you are anything like me, you hate making your own salad at home.
For whatever reason, it never tastes as good as when you order one in the store.
Am I right? Or am I right?
While continuing on my quest to lose the chub & flub, I've convinced myself to make and eat homemade salads.
Lucky for me (and now you), I think I've mastered the homemade Greek salad!

The only thing I can really compare it to, to give you an idea of how well I really have actually mastered it, is a Greek salad from Panera.
In fact, it was my inspiration.

What you'll need:
Red leaf romaine lettuce
1 Roma tomato
1 few slices of red onion
Feta cheese
Pitted Kalamata olives
Greek salad dressing
A bowl with a lid

Take the entire bunch of romaine and chop it all at once.
This will create a mixture of sizes/shapes of all the lettuce pieces from the outside in.
Keep the onions in rings & slice the tomatoes, then into fourths.
Put everything into the bowl.
Sprinkle on the feta and throw more than a few olives on top, then pour on a light amount of dressing. You can always add more, it's harder to drain.
Put the lid on the bowl and shake it up.

This salad is full of flavor, but is low in calories.
A very generous portion of this Greek salad at Panera is only 370 calories (and around $8.00).
You can make it for a fraction of the price, but with all the deliciousness.



Bacon-Wrapped Weenies

Because it was a party weekend, I had to whip up a couple tasty recipes to share with friends.
You already know about my Chocolate Cherry Bars, but I also made another crowd pleaser.
These Bacon-Wrapped Weenies were gone before all the food was set out and before all the guests had arrived, but that can only mean one thing.
I should have made more.

These little guys take just minutes to prepare and about a half hour to bake.
My favorite part is that it takes 4 ingredients to make an out of this world appetizer.

What you'll need:
1 package weenies (I think they're 13 oz)
1 lb regular sliced bacon
1+ cups brown sugar
1 stick of butter

Preheat the oven to 375.
Cut the bacon into thirds.
Wrap one piece of bacon around each weenie and stick a toothpick in to hold it in place. You will have a few extra bacon pieces, you can save those for breakfast or give a couple weenies some extra bacon.

Combine 1 cup of brown sugar and the butter in a small sauce pan.
Cook over medium-high heat and stir until you've created a beautiful carmel glaze.

Immediately spoon the sauce over the weenies, saturating each little guy.
Now (somewhat heavily) sprinkle extra brown sugar on top of the weenies, making sure to cover each one.

Pop them in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the oven up to 400 for 10-15 minutes (or longer, depending on if the bacon looks crispy).
Keep an eye on them because they can go from crisp to black quickly.

When they look like this, they're done!
Set these out in a group of friends and watch them disappear.

On a side note, I'd like to ask a favor of you. If you like my blog posts, please leave a comment and tell your friends about me. If you see something "Pin" worthy, give me a shout out on Pinterest!



Chocolate Cherry Bars

As my Grandma and I were going through her basement, we found a bunch of recipes mixed in with my Great Grandma's things.
One of the recipes I found was for a simple, quick dessert that I couldn't wait to try.
Because J and I are always watching what we eat, I've had to wait for a special occasion to make it.
This weekend J and I are headed to an end of summer party with my closest friends.
I thought these Chocolate Cherry Bars would be the perfect treat to share.

Bar Ingredients
1 box fudge cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge because it was all I could find)
1 21-oz can cherry pie filling
1 tsp almond extract (I used vanilla extract because of someone with a nut allergy)
2 beaten eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all of the bar ingredients (leave the frosting ones for later).
Stir by hand to mix well.
Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 pan.
Bake 25-30 minutes.

Frosting Ingredients
1 cup sugar
5 tbsp margarine
1/3 cup milk
1 cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

When the cake has about 8 minutes left, combine all of the frosting ingredients except the chocolate chips into a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil (I used medium-high heat).
Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate.
Keep stirring until you remove the bars from the oven.

Immediately pour the icing over the hot bars.
When the finished product is cool, cut into bars. I cut them into 24, but the recipe recommends 3 dozen.
Maybe 3 dozen was feasible in 1920 portion sizes, but definitely not for this girl.

These are incredibly sweet, so even though they're amazing, after one (or maybe two) you'll be willing to share with friends.




If you have been following me from the beginning, you already know this, but if you're a newcomer, Hubbs and I live in a tiny apartment in the Detroit area.
Neither of us were raised in the town we live in. It's a combination of farmers and people who think they live in a big city.
We have expressed our feelings of wanting to leave to our friends and acquaintances, and surprisingly, we get a lot of people asking why.
I get it. If you've never been to a real big city (i.e. NYC, Boston, LA), you don't know how small and boring this town is.
We find ourselves, week after week asking each other "did you hear of anything to do this weekend?", and the answer is always "Nope".
Needless to say we've been miserable since the day we moved here.
All of our hard work and searching has really paid off.
J and I will be moving to........

Yes, it's one of the smaller "big" cities, but it will be full of new people, food, places, and events.
It's close enough to our families that our Moms aren't freaking out, but far enough away that we'll be happy and free.
We are beyond excited for our journey, but we need a little help.
I don't want to move there and only see what tourists see- I need some tips on hidden gems.
We welcome any suggestions on things to do in Chi Town.
If you have any inside scoop, leave a comment with anything I should check out, and I will surely blog about it (and give you a shout out)!
Wish us well on our big move and if you notice my blogging comes to a slow down, don't worry! I'm not only getting everything packed, but I'm also back to battling teachers and homework.



Baked Potato/Baked Fries

I found a little inspiration on Pinterest this weekend.
I love potatoes. I love french fries. I love being healthy.
I found a baked potato recipe that ranks pretty high as far as being a combination of all three of these things.
It takes seconds to prepare and less than an hour to bake.

The slices in the potato make the outside crispy, while keeping the inside soft.
It's like eating french fries without all the guilt.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Take a potato and slice it almost all the way through (I accidentally cut all the way through the first potato. Whoopsy!).
Place it on a baking tray.
Butter it up and drizzle on a little olive oil. Use your hands to rub it all over the potato, making sure to get it into the cracks.
I then sprinkled on basil, sea salt, and cracked pepper.
Pop it in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until the outside looks crispy, but not burned.

Mmmm so good!
Try dipping them in ketchup or ranch dressing.
Or better yet, sprinkle a packet of ranch dressing mix on before you bake, then dip in ketchup afterwards.


Meat-Free Chili

I've come across many chili recipes in my day, but there's nothing I hate more than a surprise meat in my chili.
My husband likes a protein-packed turkey chili, and most restaurants prepare calorie-packed beef chili.
Nothing ruins my appetite faster than an unexpected sausage or other meat hiding beneath the tomato sauce.
This recipe has no surprises, is low-cal, but still packs plenty of punch.
The best part is, it only takes a few minutes to throw together- the stove does the rest.

What you'll need:
1 can (15 oz) red beans
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 qt (4 cups) tomato juice
1 small green pepper, diced
1 large white onion, diced
3 tbsp chili powder
1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients into a pot.
Cover on low heat and let simmer for 60-90 minutes, giving it a stir every once in a while.

*Note- if you do want to add meat to this, my recommendation would be to use 2 pounds of your meat choice.
Brown meat it in a skillet first, then add it to the other ingredients.
Simmer for 60-90 minutes and enjoy.
You can also add whatever beans you want, the ones used are just my faves.
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