Favorite Starbucks Holiday Drinks

Happy Sunday Loves,

People often become attached to certain brands. If you’re going to buy paper towels and dish soap, you may choose Target over Walmart because you have had a better experience and find the brand more attractive (that’s a real life example for me). When it comes to coffee, I am a loyal Starbucks consumer. I will always choose them over Starbucks’ competitors because I think their products just taste better and I love the crafty variations.

As the seasons change, so do my drink orders. This past Summer, I was an Iced Caramel Macchiato and Very Berry Hibiscus kind of girl. Fall, I’m married to Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Starbuck’s new Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. Winter has hit hard and fast in Chicago this year, or at least it feels like it has. While I am on my commute to work every morning, I find it a necessity to have a piping hot Starbucks cup in my hand to keep me warm. If you’re the same way, or if you’re looking for a new drink to try as we transition into the holiday season, here are some of my favorite Winter Starbucks drinks!

Caramel Brulee Latte – Starbucks has this holiday drink every season. It is the perfect mix of espresso, steamed milk, caramel Brulee sauce and caramel pieces. It’s sweet while still having that quintessential coffee taste. Basic but delicious!

Blonde Eggnog Latte – This is a classic holiday favorite made with steamed eggnog and the Starbucks Blonde Espresso Roast topped with nutmeg. It feels like Christmas Eve night in a cup.

Vanilla Latte – If you’re not one for fancy concoctions, the Starbucks Vanilla Latte is a staple drink. This is the perfect drink for the coffee lover who prefers a subtle sweet treat.

Hot Caramel Macchiato – In the Summer I drink this cold, in the Winter I get it HOT. I love how frothy this Starbucks year-round favorite is. Steamed milk, vanilla-flavored syrup matched with all of the important espresso notes finished with caramel drizzle. Hands down, probably my favorite overall Starbucks drink!

Cold Chai Tea Latte with Soy Milk and Three Pumps of Cinnamon Dolce – So that was a mouth full…BUT my friend introduced this drink to me a few years back and I always have to get it around this time. It tastes like Christmas in a cup. This is the only drink I’d get cold during the Winter months. It is so good, trust me!

Please leave any of your favorite Winter Starbucks drinks below! I am always looking to mix it up, so all suggestions are welcomed and encouraged. I hope you try at least one from my list and love it as much as I do!

Sincerely,

Top 10 Rosé All Day Chicago Spots

Dear Fellow Chicagoans (or people traveling to Chicago soon),

Whenever I’m traveling and say I’m from Chicago, I often get asked the question “how do you survive those winters?” The reason I’m so passionate about Chicago and tough it through our brutal winters is because when the harsh months are a thing of the past, we can truly say that we’ve earned our Summer. And there is no better place in the world to be than in Chicago during Summertime. From beaches to parks, downtown to quaint neighborhoods, Chicago has it all. One of the best things to do in the city during the Summer is walk around until you find the perfect patio to set up camp at for the afternoon and sip on your favorite rosé. Okay, maybe that’s just me, but if it isn’t and you’re looking for the top spots in the city to rosé all day, I have curated a list of my top bucket list destinations for the perfect, crisp glass of blush-colored wine. I’d also love to know where you’ve been celebrating rosé season this year, so put some place down below in the comments!

1. Cindy’s Rooftop // Instagram

The highly-coveted Cindy’s rooftop bar and restaurant on the 13th floor of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel in the loop has been on my bucket list for quite some time now. The panoramic views of the city, overlooking Millennium Park, are just to die for. Not only do they have a rotating large-format list of cocktails and premium food options, but they also offer a variety of select rosés, perfect for those hot Summer nights. I hear getting in here can be a real pain, so make sure to reserve a spot as soon as you are considering. The high prices can also deter people away, so perhaps save this spot for a really special occasion.

2. Katana Chicago // Instagram

Katana Chicago is a chic, upscale Japanese eatery offering a robust menu including sushi and modern cocktails. This place was never on my radar until this year. I have followed a local PR agency called Monica Dixon PR and Katana happens to be one of their clients. The reason this hip spot caught my eye was because of their Rosé Friday specials. Bottomless fountains and rosé specials from 4-7pm every Friday to kick off your weekend with a bang. The menu looks inventive and eclectic, all up my alley, but again this is probably another place you’d want to reserve for a really special occasion.

3. Hampton Social // Instagram

I mean how could I not include this place on my list, it literally has a “Rosé all day” neon sign right in the dining room. This place has all of the iconic, East Coast vibes, which is perfect for a hot Summer afternoon. Many sources online revealed that The Hampton Social actually has ½ off rosé of the day Monday-Friday during their Happy Hour which runs from 3-6pm. I included this one because although I’ve never been there, it seems like one of those Instagrammable staples you have to try at least once in your life.

4. Beatnik on the River // Instagram

So I actually have been here before, but I just HAD to include it because it truly is that good. From the Spanish and Mediterranean décor, fringe umbrellas, colorful upholstery, this place is like magic. It offers up some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had in my life, which comes in small plates so you can try a little bit of everything. I’m telling you from an insider’s perspective, get the fried rice and the curry meatballs. The rosé selection is also abundant with options from all over the world making it, in my opinion, the perfect place to drink pink! Grab your girlfriends, your cameras, get there early to snag a prime spot and spend the entire afternoon here.

5. Parlor Pizza // Instagram

I have also been here, but thought it was a great place to include on this list for a couple of different reasons. One, the patio at this West Loop location is just unparalleled especially in this area. The patio is huge and has such a vibrant energy that makes it the perfect place for a Happy Hour after work or to hang at on the weekends. Two, the specialty pizzas are out of this world good. With a wide variety, there’s something on the menu for everyone in your party. And three, the rosé drink I always gravitate towards here is actually Frosé. For those unfamiliar, it’s basically frozen rosé, almost rose in margarita style, which makes this the ideal drink to order when temperatures are just a little too high. Sit at a table on the patio under an umbrella and spend your afternoon sipping on this frozen masterpiece. It’s a different take on your typical rosé, and that’s fun, but hurry before this location officially closes!

6. North Pond // Instagram

I found this place while doing research for this post and I’m kind of obsessed. North Pond is a Michelin-starred farm-to-table restaurant right on the edge of Lincoln Park’s North Pond (hence the name). Just from looking at pictures, this place totally reminds me of Central Park in New York. It just has that vibe. I assume prices are steep as they offer prix-fixe menus, but definitely a place to consider if you are looking to splurge. I also read they have a stellar selection of rosé options from still to sparkling, both of which I am not opposed to.

7. Etta // Instagram

I wanted to include Bucktown’s Etta because of the rosé special they offer. Bottomless rosé tub for a group of people for $35 a person? I didn’t think that was too shabby.

8. Piccolo Sogno // Instagram

I have been to Piccolo Sogno once for a baby shower and the food was incredible. I love going with a big group of people because you get to order and sample a bunch of menu items. Unfortunately, on the day of my visit to this iconic spot, it was raining hard, and I couldn’t sit outside in their renowned patio. At a glimpse, I could tell it would be the prettiest place to grab a table and sip on some sparkling rosé. It’s on my list before Summer ends for sure!

9. City Winery // Instagram

I had to include City Winery (the Riverwalk location) because the only time I’ve been here was on a team outing for work so we could sit in the iconic igloos. It was literally snowing outside….so now that I’ve had that experience, I now need to experience City Winery in all its glory on a nice, sunny Summer day. Sit out by the river right in the hustle and bustle of the loop and sip on rosé? Sounds like the perfect day to me!

10. Saint Lou’s Assembly // Instagram

I went to Saint Lou’s about two weeks ago and absolutely LOVED it! It is the perfect Happy Hour spot after work especially with a small group. During their Happy Hour, they have a 4-piece fried chicken, 2 biscuits and a bottle of rosé special for only $40. The food was incredible and the patio was so much fun!

Sincerely,

Countdown to Cinco de Mayo

Hi There and Happy Taco Tuesday,

The countdown to one of my favorite days of the year has commenced! Cinco de Mayo is officially 5 days away and is always a great excuse to eat endless amounts of tacos and drink pitchers of house margs. Also known as the most wonderful holiday to ever exist. Cinco de Mayo is also really special to me because it is the exact date I graduated from college. This year will be my one-year anniversary from graduating, so I plan on celebrating. If you are still looking for the perfect place to grab some Mexican food, I have rounded up my top 5 favorite Mexican restaurants in the city.

Broken English Taco Pub, 75 E Lake St, Chicago, IL 60601

The vibe in this place is just really cool. As soon as you walk in, you are surrounded by colorful murals and the hip yet traditional decorations make you feel like you just entered a restaurant actually in Mexico. I went to the location in The Loop right off of Michigan Ave with my mom where we sat outside in their seasonal patio section under heat lamps. The food was incredible! Their main menu is a unique take on street style tacos and refreshing cocktails. Tacos come 2 per order, so I think my mom and I got the Tinga de Pollo, Carne Asada and Pork Belly Al Pastor and shared so we could each taste a different one. I got a Paloma to drink and my mom got a regular margarita. On their website, they are currently promoting their Cinco on the Street event in Lincoln Park for both Saturday May 4th and Sunday May 5th, so if you are still looking for something to do, I would definitely consider this place. You won’t be disappointed!

Barrio, 65 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654

We just tried this place last Saturday when we were in the city and I think we are already planning our next trip back. Barrio is located right in the loop on Kinzie Street, so you feel right in the heart of all the city action. It’s eclectic décor and detailed menu with Japanese influences makes this the perfect spot if you are looking for a more upscale Mexican restaurant to dine in at for Cinco de Mayo. The traditional guacamole was some of the freshest I’ve ever had in my life. We also started with the Grilled Octopus, which comes with the most amazing aioli sauce that I could have eaten on its own. For dinner, I got the Pork Shoulder entrée and my mom got the special for the evening which was a Paella brimming to the top with an assortment of seafood. It was all so delicious, and the portions were so generous, we ended up eating leftovers for the next two days. And somehow the food got better and better each time we ate it. Get the pitcher of Jalapeno Cucumber margaritas too!

Cruz Blanca, 904 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

I went to Cruz Blanca for a work lunch one day a few months ago and was so impressed. This is a brewery style Rick Bayless restaurant tucked away on the bustling restaurant row of Randolph Street. With a visible production area and a Mexican pub style menu, this would be the PERFECT, modern place to go for lunch on Cinco de Mayo. Since I went for lunch during work, I didn’t get to try any of their infamous cocktails or beers, but I did try as much of the menu as I could. I would recommend getting the Pork Belly Al Pastor tacos (one of the best tacos I’ve ever eaten) and the esquites as a side. If you try any of their ModMex lagers, let me know because I am interested!

Tony’s Burrito Mex, 1957 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Saying that I am a regular at this Roscoe Village location would be an understatement. I have probably eaten here at least 50 times. It is one of the best hole-in-the-wall taco joints I have ever been to. Tony’s is more of a grab and go rather than a sit-down restaurant, but I think this would be a great Cinco de Mayo option if you are looking forward to a night in with homemade margaritas. They host a long list of traditional Mexican fare and the counter-service digs is perfect for a walk-in order and go. I always get either the Enchiladas Suizas or the Steak Tacos with everything. A hidden, insider secret, if you like things really spicy, is to order a side of Tony’s sauce. Lather your tacos in this bright red concoction and you are sure to heat things up.

Café El Tapatio, 3400 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

This casual Mexican restaurant totally reminds me of old Mexico. The exposed brick and faded wall murals make you feel like you are walking the streets of a quaint town. Café El Tapatio is a great neighborhood spot located on Ashland Ave. This is just one of those classic places. No frills, no thrills, just a great place to hang and eat really good food. If that is the environment you are looking for this Cinco de Mayo, then this is the place for you. My go-to is usually the steak and chicken fajitas and a strawberry margarita. You really can’t go wrong with anything on this menu.

Sincerely,

Most Delicious 5-Ingredient Cheesecake

Hi guys,

Now that I’m older, and am a little bit more established in my life, I feel an obligation to come to family events with something to contribute whether that be a side dish, dessert or bottle of wine (those are usually my go-to’s). After hearing the menu for Easter this year, I realized that we didn’t have anything for dessert, so I did some research and thought it’d be great to make a simple, classic, New York-style cheesecake. One that tasted really good but wouldn’t take me a ton of time. I did some digging and found a 5 ingredient, 5 step cheesecake recipe that was so easy, I wanted to share here for you. Now no one has an excuse to come empty handed to their next family gathering, girls night, book club, church group, anything. Ingredients and instructions are below, I hope you love as much as my family and I did!

Ingredients:

-2 packages cream cheese (softened)

-1/2 TSP of vanilla

-1/2 Cup sugar

-2 Eggs

-Pre-made graham cracker crust

What You’ll Need:

-Mixing bowl

-Spatula

-Mixer

Steps:

-Heat oven to 375 degrees

-Mix in a large mixing bowl the softened cream cheese, vanilla and sugar; when that’s mixed, add the 2 eggs and beat the eggs into the mixture until you get a completely smooth texture

-Pour the mixture straight into the pre-made graham cracker crust, smooth over with a spatula until evenly distributed ( I did a little taste test, ya know to make sure it wasn’t poisoned or anything lol)

-Bake in the oven for 25 minutes

-Lastly, take out of the oven and set aside to cool; after it is cool, put in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat

Viola! You are done and now can grab a glass of wine and cheers yourself for making an easy and delicious dessert that everyone will LOVE!

I love to cook, but the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is spend hours in the kitchen. I’ve recently found that, even though we are all so busy, cooking for yourself doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. There are TONS of recipes out there where you don’t have to spend boat loads of money and can still make amazing food you crave in no time. I look forward to sharing some more of my finds!

Sincerely,