Chicago Grind Cafe-Cozy and Industrial

This is one of my favorite cafes on the North side. Jim Dababnah, who also owns Thai Aroma, took over the location in 2014. The calming atmosphere sticks out the most here! Chicago Grind pulls together the things I love most in life- good tea, delicious coffee, tasty sweets and food and books! Coming here has always helped me relax and lifted my spirits on bad days!



The decor is a little industrial, but very welcoming, with dark wood tables, leather couches and a marble countertop.


This table and delightful clock are my favorite.


The lovely couches!


They serve Bow Truss coffee and Benjamin teas. The daily specials written on a chalkboard outside give it a great touch! They also have $1 refills on their branded travel mug!

It’s just the right amount of noise, chill music and good decor. The books, communal table, specials and wonderful customer service really pull together the community feel.


Getting Caffeinated at the Metropolis Coffee Tour

Learning about, cupping and tasting Metropolis coffee!

I was recently at Metropolis coffee and saw sheets mentioning their Friday roastery tour/open house at 1 pm. I’ve always wanted to go on a coffee roastery tour and was really excited to attend 🙂 The Metropolis wholesale location is tucked away and very obscure.


We all got to wear glorious hairnets! Haha!


The wholesale location used to be a tannery and was recently converted. Metropolis opened in 2003 and focuses on doing everything by hand. Chris started off the tour by showing us the storage area.


Metropolis works closely with many companies and prides itself on maintaining freshness and quality. Orders are done by Thursday and Coffee is roasted Fridays and shipped right away. Everyone gets fresh roasted coffee!

Coffee beans are green before they are roasted.


beans in hand

Next, we check out the brewing process. Look at that beastly roaster! Metropolis takes careful care in their brewing process. A coffee blend combines 2 coffees. The coffees are roasted at different temps and combined later.




Beans are roasted and run through the destoner to clear out sediment and other various things. This is a pit of things filtered out with the destoner. Pretty eye opening finds!


Then the cupping! Inhale that amazing smell. We started off by smelling and then slowly poured hot water over the grounds. We let the coffee settle and then used spoons to stir and break up the grounds.




The team showed us their special slurping technique. Ahh, deliciousness!



The wheel has a range of different flavors, from tantalizing to downright gross. Cardboard yummy! The region the coffee beans are grown in determine its taste profile. Just like wine, there are many different flavors in the coffee. 


I really loved this tour and recommend coffee enthusiasts to try this out 🙂 Big thanks to Josephine Reyes for taking photos for the blog 🙂








No Bake Raw Brownies with CBD

I love chocolate! I don’t have much of a sweet tooth otherwise, but chocolate does it for me! I eat pretty healthy most of the time and have tried baking healthy brownies, which turned out…not so great. I’ve been meaning to try some no bake brownie recipes. Since it’s summertime, I figured it would be a good time to try making raw no bake brownies 🙂

This creation is based on a delightfully simple recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie. I’m a fan of RawGuru and Windy City Organics’ other products because they have clean, high quality products with very few ingredients. They recently debuted their CBD chocolate hearts.


CBD is a marijuana compound that helps with anxiety, stress and other issues, but won’t get you high. No weed brownies here! I topped my brownies off with a mix of their CBD hearts and orange chocolate hearts.


blue bowl


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooling time: 2 hours in fridge or 30 mins in freezer

Makes: 8 brownies



  1. Incorporate the dates, walnuts, 6 tbsp of cocoa powder, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp almond extract, water and salt in a food processor.
  2. Process all ingredients until the texture is smooth. Scrape down sides as needed and don’t add any extra water.
  3. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan. I made my brownies in a 9x7x2 inch Snapware container.
  4. Press the dough into the pan/container firmly to evenly distribute the mixture.
  5. Spread Rawtella as frosting.
  6. Scatter the CBD hearts and orange hearts on top of the frosting.
  7. Refrigerate brownies for 2 hours or freeze for 30 mins to set.

This recipe was simple and definitely hit the sweet spot. I really liked the Rawtella- what a lovely frosting! Nutella is delicious, but packed with questionable ingredients.

Delicious brownies!

raw brownies


They were wonderful with tea the next morning! I love my tea+chocolate and tea+coffee combos.Let me know what you think 🙂 What would you add to this?



Community Dining- Paleo Dinner

I recently attended the Community Dining Paleo Dinner. Community Dining is Paul Sippil’s wonderful concept focusing on strengthening social bonds through communal dining!

This event focused on gathering people to get to know each other, try tasty local food at Uncommon Ground, eat tasty paleo treats and learn about the paleo lifestyle.


– We gathered on a rainy Spring day.

Helen, cofounder of Uncommon Ground kicked off the event by talking about the restaurant’s awesome beginnings. They wanted to create a community center with a focus on health and local food. They had worked in the restaurant industry and wanted to truly provide something high quality. They were determined to source things as locally as possible and create a wonderful and flavorful menu.

Paleo Food 13

-Tomato arugula salad with prosciutto and chips! Tastefully simple 🙂

Casey from Paleo Prime Foods, talked about how he got into paleo eating. He had a terrible diet and was feeling its effects. He moved towards eating good food, taking care of his body and embraced the paleo diet. Paleo Prime makes grain free, almond based and natural treats.

Paleo Food 9.jpg

– Risotto on a chilly rainy day is amazing!

Charlotte, registered dietician and health educator at Eating With Ease, explained the paleo lifestyle in depth. The main interpretation is on avoiding grains, processed foods, dairy and eating as close to how humans initially ate. There are various interpretations of the paleo diet, but its main focus is eating clean and unprocessed food. She explained the importance of sleep, treating your body well and chewing food! “Chewing makes you happy!” – because it releases serotonin!


Paleo Food 10

– Perfectly seasoned chicken!


– Chocolate cake mmm


– Me, Paul and Vanessa


– Definitely family style eating!


– Vanessa and me!

Thank you Vanessa, for the lovely and appetizing pictures! Be sure to check out Paul’s other upcoming events!


Monthly Ladies Cooking Night- Pantry Edition

I love coming up with themes for our monthly ladies cooking night! So far we’ve cooked asian cuisine, roasted an entire chicken, made pizza, learned to BBQ ribs and other amazing things. I love learning new cooking skills and making new foods. For this month’s cooking night, we decided to keep it simple- let’s clean out our pantries/fridges/freezers and combine everything to make a mix of various foods. Our panties/kitchens had the following:

  • Spices from Spice House
  • Canned chickpeas
  • Canned salmon
  • Pasta
  • Canned chipotle salsa
  • Cornmeal
  • Canned corn
  • Shrimp
  • Flour
  • Acorn squash
  • Barely
  • Rhubarb




So we made a very diverse and interesting mix of food! We made Johnnycakes from the cornmeal, corn, flour and almond milk to have as our appetizers. We improvised haha.


We also cooked squash and barley as our side dish. Our main dish was pasta with chickpeas and salmon.


We finished off the meal with rhubarb pie! We had Coney Island hard ginger ale to round out our meal 🙂


I was pretty obsessed with the Johnnycakes haha 🙂




And………of course some lovely rhubarb pie 🙂


Another lovely and relaxing evening with these two 🙂



Delightful Cookies at By The Park

By The Park is an interesting and tasty little culinary gem at 2342 N Clark. They serve tasty made in house cookies, bars and biscotti! I sat down with owner Isabel to chat about her lovely business 🙂

Tell me a little bit more about yourself Isabel


– I’m a cookie lover, baker and also a health food lover. I’m a former investment banker. My background is in finance. I like to cook, work out and I love trying new things. I just love exploring new restaurants and cuisines.

How did you get the the idea for BTP?

-I teach Barre. I fell in love with baking and wanted to put a spin on cookies. I brought these in to the people at Barre and they liked them. We live by the park and I liked how it sounded. I created this park theme. I had that empty space and wanted to put in a mini playground. I have friends who are mommies and they can relax there.

What is your favorite cookie?

– That’s like asking which one is your favorite kid! I would say the Lincoln Park. I make my own chocolate chips from scratch and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s also our best seller because no one has seen anything like it anywhere else.


Where do you source your ingredients and what kinds of vendor relationships do you have? 

-Everything is made from scratch in house. I carry Stumptown coffee and I really believe in the brand.

Which direction do you see BTP going?

– I want to become a household name. I want people to know about BTP. I want to build a community, while also building a brand. I want to grow into other shops and create a place for families to spend time together or friends to catch up while enjoying treats. Now we have regulars who come here to talk to us, catch up or spend time in the play center before work.




I see that you list Thu coloring for kids. Many places now have started having something similar for adults. Would you ever consider something similar for adults? Perhaps BYOB? 🙂

-We have a couple of events. We have story time and coloring every week. We have a yoga event in Spring and mom event like bubbles and bites. I get a lot of inquiries about adult coloring.

Below is my favorite peanut butter cookie 🙂


Cardamon Kitchen Devon Avenue Food Tour


Great video from Susan Pachikara.

I recently took the Cardamon Kitchen Devon Avenue food tour, led by Susan Pachikara. She is a chef, cooking teacher and owner of Cardamon Kitchen.

Our group met up at 10 am on a rainy, chilly Saturday on a quest to learn more about Indian food and cooking.

We started off at Patel Brothers, where we learned about various chillis, cardamon and other spices. Susan kindly included her favorite family recipes for everyone to try out later.  🙂 Mmmm I will be trying out the fish curry.


We continued our journey by heading over to Sukhadias Sweets and Snacks for some bites. We feasted on masala chai and samosas. Nothing like warm chai on a chilly Chicago “Spring” day! The chutney and sauces were delicious.Susan explained how North Indian cuisine focuses uses dairy and  South Indian cuisine is more coconut focused.



We headed over to World Fresh Market to check out various produce. Did you know there are over 400 types of bananas? I am planning on trying some bitter melon 🙂

We headed over to an accessory shop where you can buy various trinkets and cooking supplies! Check out these lunch boxes!


Susan wrapped up our evening by taking us to Resham’s, where they had beautiful pillows, hand embroidered bedspreads and other exquisite things.


The tour was very informational, interesting and delicious!




Learn to Make Sushi at Dabble

Dabble offers classes on craft, cooking, dancing and just about anything you can think of! I’ve always wanted to learn to make sushi, so I took their sushi making class, taught by Joelen.

Joelen  started the class by asking us to name our favorite sushi roll and introduce ourselves. Unagi for me! Some people were there for fun, other wanted to learn a new skill and one couple was celebrating an anniversary. She told us about the importance of  rice in sushi. It is crucial to start with good rice and cook it properly. Sushi is all about the rice! Surprised? I was! There are hundreds of rice varieties! Short grain rice works best for sushi. Joelen was taught to make rice using the “first knuckle measure”, where you fill your pot up to the first knuckle when boiling water. This method is so simple, she said you can teach small kids to make rice using it.

It is also vital to get fresh, quality ingredients for your sushi. Joelen explained that it is better to shop for fresh fish and ingredients in asian markets, as the supply is constantly being replenished. Check out asian grocery stores- like Joong Boo in Chicago and Super H Mart in Niles.

Now the exciting part-Joelen showed us how to roll sushi with a bamboo mat. Cover it with plastic and put a thin layer of rice and toppings on it. We had our choice of fresh fish, veggies and toppings. Check out this fresh, delectable spread!








Rolling my first roll!



Cutting the roll.


My first sushi roll didn’t turn out so well haha!

Others made some truly beautiful and Instagram worthy rolls 🙂 So jealous!


I started getting the hang of sushi making with my second roll 🙂 Practice makes perfect!

2nd roll

Joelen explained that practice makes perfect! We made several rolls and experimented with various ingredients. Afterwards, participants took home the tasty leftovers.It was a lovely, laid back, hand on and interactive class.

Be sure to check out her upcoming sushi making classes!

Joelen also teaches various other cooking classes such as Filipino cooking, paella and many more.









Previewing Local Food and Vendors at SPINS Preview to Good Food Festival

momma cusine

It was great meeting the owners behind some truly great food brands and finding out about new brands!

Set up before the event started.



They had silly candy hearts haha 🙂



Ashley joined us on her birthday to educate people about Tiny But Mighty’s ancient heirloom popcorn. This popcorn is delicious and won’t get stuck in your teeth! You can buy it at Marianos, Whole Foods and other grocery stores in Chicago.


Luis from Zapp’s Dancing Grains donated bread for us to top off with various goodies. This bread is hearty, tasty and keeps you full! The Marbleous bread was particularly good with peanut butter for breakfast the next day!

Zapp's Dancing Grains

Susin Firk from Karma Kombucha provided us with samples of her healthy and tasty Kombucha. We really enjoyed the peach one 🙂 You can find her Kombucha at Whole Foods and Marianos.

Karma Kombucha

Topnote came out to showcase their drink mixers! I’m a big fan of the ginger beer 🙂 I love Moscow Mules and was excited to find out about a clean brand with few ingredients.


Paul sampled and gave away some River Valley Ranch salsa. The portabella salsa was delightful! Be sure to check out their storefront.


Big Fork served up delectable bacon without the b.s. They don’t use antibiotics or artificial ingredients.

big fork brands

Be sure to stop by the Good Food Festival this weekend to check out these great products and other good food 🙂 There will be food samples, chef demos, educational sessions and other great things. I’ve gone in the past and met great people and had amazing food! #GFFChi

A La Card Chicago

A La Card Chicago is a deck of food cards that gives you $10 off $25 for participating restaurants. I bought one last year and am really happy I did so. It’s a great way to try out new restaurants, explore different neighborhoods and save some money! Just be sure to tip on the full amount! Sometimes Living Social has a deal on this. Last month I checked out Floriole with a few friends. The sweets were fantastic, fresh ingredients and great space. Has anyone else bought A La Card? Any restaurant recommendations to check out from this year’s deck?