Spreading the Warmth with Tiesta Tea

Volunteering with Tiesta Tea.

I love tea and volunteering for awesome causes. Combining these two things is just awesome. A little while back I was intrigued when I saw a Facebook boosted post about a Tiesta Tea event focusing on passing out goods, including tea of course to those less fortunate. I was all about that!

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We all gathered up and awaited our assignments. Everyone was divided into groups with 1 driver for each team. Tiesta succeeded in receiving several coat donations and warmth kits which included snacks, toiletries and more.

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We visited a number of shelters and helped distribute snacks, hot tea and kindness.

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Oh did I mention, we had a few celebrity appearances? Dee Brown volunteered right along with us.

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Afterwards we all went back to the Tiesta Teas office to relax with food, beverages and of course, tea! I’m really more of a whiskey girl, so I paired my whiskey with tea. Mmmm deliciousness.

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Great job guys in rounding up a good group and helping out those less fortunate. Till next year ❤

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!

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

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This table and delightful clock are my favorite.

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The lovely couches!

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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.

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We all got to wear glorious hairnets! Haha!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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. 

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

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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.

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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.

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Prep time: 10 minutes

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

Makes: 8 brownies

Ingredients

Directions

  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!

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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.

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– 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.

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-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.

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– 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!

 

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– Perfectly seasoned chicken!

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– Chocolate cake mmm

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– Me, Paul and Vanessa

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– Definitely family style eating!

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– 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

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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.

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

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

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I was pretty obsessed with the Johnnycakes haha 🙂

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And………of course some lovely rhubarb pie 🙂

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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

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– 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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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