Category: Food


Jen, my insightful Commander-in-Chief, had a new idea for Friday posts that I’d like to try out. She advised me to share a bit more about myself from a non-business or intention perspective. To dish a bit on what I love beyond of the world of intention.

With this in mind, I’m going to start sharing somewhat random, but fun, topics on Fridays. They will be little conversations that I’d most likely have with you if we were having a glass of wine (or in this instance, a margarita) together. Ready? Let’s begin!

The first thing you should know about me is that my body is composed of 14.2% nachos. I site that percentage specifically because I eat nachos from Terascas, a local Mexican restaurant in Lincoln Park, at least once a week. (This week I went twice.)

For me, the only thing that beats the ‘nachos, no meat, with sour cream on the side’ is their smokey salsa served with chips before the meal.

I once worked with a lovely Mexican client  – who lives in Mexico – here in Chicago. At my suggestion, we later dined on her own native cuisine, Midwest-style.

I’m pretty sure that was the equivalent to eating fish and chips at an English Pub in Paris. Which is exactly what Mr. Lively and I did on our honeymoon. The Parisian fish and chips turned out to be such a disappointment that they inspired a 24 hour trip to London to get the real thing.

Which goes to show that this magical restaurant, with their epic nachos, is not universally acknowledged as the most fantastic place on Earth. It simply feels that way to me.


Thank you so much for reading and have a wonderful weekend!

raspberry & kale smoothie
July 29th, 2013     |    Food



Yesterday my youngest (and tallest) brother, Mike, came to visit. He’s living in Phoenix now, so we don’t get to see him very often.

To celebrate, yesterday started with a mimosa brunch and ended at Headquarters Beercade. And after many of my favorite dishes (mac and cheese from Wilde, nachos from Terascas)… my body is craving something healthy this morning.

Enter, my raspberry and kale smoothie.


Raspberry & Kale Smoothie

  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • 1/2 c of kale (I prefer the frozen kale at Trader Joes)
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of almond butter
  • 3 small glasses of water
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon chia seeds and/or flax

1. If you include the chia seeds, put the tablespoon of seeds in a small glass of water for a few minutes until they get their jelly-like exterior. Stir if needed.

2. Toss all ingredients in the blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes.

3. Serve!


It’s fast, easy, and gives me a good dose of veggies and fruits right when I wake up. I’m also recently into the chia seeds as a great extra boost (awesome for the digestive track).

Got your own go-to smoothie? Feel free to share your recipe with me in the comments!

linda’s pumpkin dip
October 3rd, 2012     |    Food

By looking at what is pinned on Pinterest from the blog lately, I can tell many people are discovering my mom’s healthy pumpkin dip recipe from years past.

But many people may not know there is also an unhealthy version too. Below I’ve shared both so you can pick your poison. Enjoy!

Linda’s Healthy Pumpkin Dip

  • One 8oz cool whip
  • 1 box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg will work in a pinch)
  • 15oz canned pumpkin
  • Gingerbread men or graham crackers
  1. Thaw cool whip. Mix pumpkin, dry vanilla pudding mix, and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. Fold in thawed cool whip and serve.

The Less Healthy (But Very Yummy) Pumpkin Dip

  • 4 C confectioners sugar
  • 16 oz canned pumpkin
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Gingerbread men or graham crackers
  1. Beat cream cheese and sugar.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients.
rooftop party
September 10th, 2012     |    FoodLifeStyle


Over the weekend Mr. Lively and I celebrated our marriage with our friends both near and far by throwing a rooftop party.

Our intention with the party was to make it beautiful and as stress-free as possible.

When creating a vision for the party, I imagined using our apartment building’s roof deck. For decor, I got color inspiration from the pops of blue in our wedding ceremony. We also agreed that we should incorporate all the foods we wanted to have at a traditional wedding reception: a build your own mini-slider bar, mac and cheese, my favorite cupcakes, a signature cocktail, and craft beer.

To help us keep things manageable, we decided to only cook the sliders and buy prepared foods for the rest of the meal. After a rather very stressful Fourth of July party earlier this year, we knew that it would be nice if we cooked everything ourselves… but definitely not necessary.

So we took a few trips to Cost Co and Binny’s and wound up with a fridge that looked like this.

Since we had over 50 friends to serve, this fridge is just a fraction of the goods we had to bring down the the roof deck. To help speed the process along, we borrowed the building’s moving cart to load up all the items we needed in batches.

We also we were extremely fortunate that my best friend and “maid of honor,” Maggie, and her fiance, Tony, were on hand to help us prepare. Due to their enormous help and enthusiasm, we were able to get the whole party prepped in about three or four hours.

Here’s a rundown of the party in photos.

photo via Cathy 


The night before the party, Maggie invited my girlfriends out to celebrate my marriage in a “bachelorette-like” party. But since I was already married and had no interest in a tiara or phallic-anything, we dubbed it a “Mrs. Party.” We met at my favorite swanky bar, The Bedford, and drank nice cocktails. It was the perfect low-key way to spend time with some of my closest friends.

The next morning I was so happy to discover we had the perfect warm-but-cool weather for the party. Our only weather related challenge was the wind in the afternoon, which made affixing tablecloths near impossible a challenge.

We purchased serving dishes for the event, which we will use forever-after as well. We decided on white dishes so we can evolve our collection over time. In fact, our bowls seen here are from my Grandpa’s collection and the rectangle dishes are from Crate and Barrel Outlet. Because the lines of all the dishes are clean and simple, we will be able to expand the collection endlessly into the future and still remain coordinated.

You will also notice the white table cloth. Those are actually three large white plastic table cloths purchased with the other party supplies. We used a liberal amount of clear packing tape to ensure that the granite table was covered and would not get blown away. At the end of the night all we needed to do for clean up was remove the tablecloths and throw them away – which definitely beat scrubbing down the giant granite bar by hand. The white covering also created a great backdrop for my color scheme as well. Had we just left the regular dark pink granite as-is, I don’t think the party would have felt as pulled together.

We also picked up a big metal wine bucket at Target earlier in the summer which worked perfectly with our white dishware. Under the table the beers were stashed in a cooler.

As I mentioned before, I also wanted to have a cocktail station. Mr. Lively and I are usually not cocktail people, but I thought it would be nice to serve the one cocktail I adore: the Classic St. Germain. Each of those beakers has marks which indicate how much St. Germain, soda water, and champagne should be added for a perfectly prepared drink.

Our blue napkins and gold(!) plastic silverware, plates, and silo cups were the major pops of color for the table. I ordered them online here. (As you can tell, Mr. Lively let me pick the decor for the event.)

We also lucked out on this caddy for about $7, which happened to be the exact same blue as the napkins, at the Crate and Barrel Outlet. It was a pure fluke.

Because we indulged in amazing cheese while at our cooking class in Paris, we decided to serve fancy French cheese to our party. Mr. Lively splurged on these incredible French cheeses found at Pastoral. Besides the cocktails, they were the biggest hit at the party.

We scored the white marble cheese plate for just $19.95 at Crate and Barrel the day before the party.

On the other side of the table we had an array of cheeses for the mini sliders. My favorite find for the party was the batch of chalkboard stickers  from World Market. They were super easy to label (they come with the chalk in the package), and because they stuck to the table cloth, we didn’t have to worry about them blowing away.

By 4:00 we were all set for guests. Here are the two fantastic people that helped us make the party such a hit, Maggie and Tony.

Our friend Ryan acted as bartender and mixed up the St. Germain cocktails.

Once the grilled veggies for the sliders were ready, Mr. Lively dished them out on disposable serving trays. Again, more easy clean up.

People had a great time mingling and hanging out.

Mr. Lively was Husband of the Year and made sure everyone had as many sliders as they pleased and made sure I didn’t get too stressed.

And he also took the time to hang out with his friends visiting from Kansas City.

I was lucky enough to have friends from my hometown, Rochester, Michigan, travel from all parts of the country. Thank you Maggie (New York), Catherine (Georgia), and Krista (Michigan).

It was a treat to also spend time with my girls from the University of Michigan, too. Marisa, Maggie, and I call ourselves The Tribunal.

A few hours into the party we served our cupcakes. My all time favorite, Magnolia.

By the time we ran out of beer (again), it was time to head over to Matilda’s for a 90’s dance party.

I am so incredibly grateful for such a fun-filled party with those we love. It definitely hit the refined and relaxed intention we were going for. I hope that some of our party decisions might come in handy for others planning big bashes.


chocolate with intention
February 9th, 2012     |    FoodLife

Yep, that’s right. I’ve found a way to make chocolate intentional.

Though I will say right off the bat this is not your chocolate lover’s fantasy… this is more of a health intention turned more enjoyable.

Since I’m not that fond of dairy beyond cheese (I love me some cheese), I realize that my calcium intake is probably not that stellar on a regular basis.

Or at least it wasn’t that regular until my best friend Maggie let me in on a little secret:

There are Target brand chocolate calcium chews that taste almost like tootsie rolls which fulfill your daily dose of calcium and vitamin D in two little rolls of goodness.

Of course there are also brand name chews out there as well, but I’m frugal when it comes to items like this and always go generic when possible.

Here’s what they look like inside.

See? Just a tad bit tougher and less sweet than your average tootsie roll. And at 20 calories a pop, they are a great little treat after dinner or when I feel like eating something small.

Mr. Lively and I ate them plain for quite a while, but over time they started to get a teeny bit dull.

… Until Mr. Lively brought another player to the table.

Yum. Obviously any peanut butter will do, but Natural Jif happens to be for me the perfect mix of childhood Jif with a tad more sophisticated flavor and texture.

If there was such a thing as healthy food porn, this could be it. The peanut butter and calcium chew combo reminds me of Tagalong Girl Scout cookies, a candy bar, or some other delicious food memory that I can’t quite place.

All I know is that I’m much more likely to get my calcium if I’ve got these at home.

Two calcium chews a day keeps the osteoporosis away.

israeli couscous
January 16th, 2012     |    FoodLife

Though I don’t normally post many any recipes on MML, today I thought I’d share one that has been my new go-to meal for dinner and lunches lately. Admittedly this could easily be a tasty side dish, but I often end up re-heating it on it’s own when I need a light dinner after work.

I first tried the dish at Mr. Lively’s aunt’s home over Thanksgiving. I loved the dish so much I was determined to learn how to create it myself. Something that I don’t often do, which says a lot about this amazing couscous.

The ingredients can be seen above. The recipe that I’ve made very closely follows the recipe on the back of the purple Trader Joe’s Israeli Couscous box. And for about $1.70 for the box, it can be a pretty cheap dish. But for those who don’t live near a TJ’s, you can also make it using non-TJ Israeli Couscous seen in the blue container on the right.

Here’s what you will need to make it the way that I do,

3 tbs butter

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous

1 pinch cinnamon

1 3/4 cup water or chicken broth

1/2 tsp salt

First, chop your shallots.

Take 1 Tbs. of the butter and melt it in a large sauce pan on medium/low heat. Add pine nuts to the melted butter and stir occasionally. Once the nuts are browned, put them aside in a small bowl.

Then in the same pot, add the remaining 2 Tbs. butter to the pan and add the shallots. Let the shallots soften and sweat out for a few minutes.

Measure out 1 to 1.5 cups of dry Israeli couscous.

(Bird measuring cups from Urban Outfitters a few seasons ago.)

Add the dry couscous and cinnamon to the pan with the shallots and let them toast a bit until lightly browned.

Then add 1.75 cups of water or chicken broth to the pot. Bring the heat up so that the water or broth comes to a boil.

Once the water is boiling, reduce head to a simmer and cover with a lid.

When the water is mostly absorbed into the couscous, I add my raisins to get them nice and plump. Then, after the remaining liquid is absorbed by the couscous, I add the pine nuts back to the pot and serve.

I’m sure this would also be great with added herbs (TJ’s recipe calls for parsley) or protein like chicken or tofu. But for me, I like it just as it is.


pumpkin dip
November 15th, 2011     |    FoodLife

Each year I look forward to the fall and Thanksgiving for pumpkin flavored dishes. One of my favorites happens to be pumpkin dip.

There is a delicious pumpkin dip on But if you are looking for a lighter option, my mom has a healthier version that has a very similar flavor.

  • One 8oz cool whip
  • 1 box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg will work in a pinch)
  • 15oz canned pumpkin
  • Gingerbread men or graham crackers
  1. Thaw cool whip. Mix pumpkin, dry vanilla pudding mix, and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. Fold in thawed cool whip and serve.
food with intention: the art of the one-dish meal
September 8th, 2011     |    Food

The Art of the One-Dish Meal

I think there are a few things about cooking that intimidate people, but I’d guess one of the main things is the idea of putting together a meal. I get why it’s intimidating: you have to figure out what goes with what, find recipes for each dish, and then time everything correctly while cooking. It’s a lot to think about! And it’s why I love one-dish/one-pot meals. I love the idea of getting everything I want in a meal with one singular recipe. They also tend to pack lots of flavor! The most common one-dish meals are things like soups, stews, casseroles, crock-pot meals, stir-fries, etc.

The essential elements of a one-dish meal

  • A satisfying protein. Some of my favorite easy proteins to use in one-dish meals like soups or stews are beans, pre-cooked chicken sausage, rotisserie chicken, and tofu. None of those need to be cooked, so it makes incorporating them into a recipe almost foolproof.
  • A flavorful fat. For me, no meal is complete without some form of (unprocessed fat). In a one-dish meal, I recommend butter, cream, coconut milk, coconut oil, or olive oil.
  • Lots and lots of veggies. You can really go nuts with the veggies, but a good place to start is always mire poix: celery, carrots, and onions. Trader Joe’s sells a pre-made version that’s so convenient when prepping soups, stews, or sauces.
  • Herbs and spices! My best advice is to have a heavy hand with the seasoning when cooking a one-dish meal. Italian spices like basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc., are pretty safe, as are non-spicy flavors like paprika, pepper, and citrus zest. And though you don’t want to go overboard, you’ll probably want some salt, too.
  • A dash of carbs. I tend to leave carbs (rice, pasta, potatoes etc.) out of my one-dish meals completely, but a little goes a long way if you can’t imagine living without them. Grains and starches don’t have much bang for your buck, and they tend to act as “filler” (big on bulk, small on flavor). However, as long as you tread lightly, adding a few potatoes or a small amount of rice, starches and grains can be a nice way to bulk up a one-dish meal.

Bringing it all together

Slow and low heat is the method for a successful one-dish meal. The longer and slower you cook it, the more flavorful the dish will be. In fact, many one-dish meals (again, think soups, stews, casseroles, etc.) taste progressively better as the flavors have time to marry. Crock pots make wonderful one-dish meals! Baking at a low temperature, simmering, or slow-cooking are all good methods of cooking one-dish meals. Don’t forget: one-dish meals tend to freeze well, so these types of dishes make for perfect make-ahead lunches and dinners.

All-star one-dish meals

Some of my favorite one-dish meals include:

Do you prefer one-dish or multiple-dish meals? Either way, share your favorite soup, stew, or casserole recipe!

light pumpkin dip dessert
November 16th, 2010     |    Food


While looking at the MML stats I’ve noticed that my mom’s Pumpkin Dip has been getting quite a bit of hits through Google (people are probably searching “healthy pumpkin dessert”). So I thought it might be a good idea to re-share the dessert since Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

What I personally love about this dip is that it’s pretty low-cal – which in my book means I can eat more of it.


Linda’s Pumpkin Dip

  • One 8oz cool whip
  • 1 box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg will work in a pinch)
  • 15oz canned pumpkin
  • Gingerbread men or graham crackers
  1. Thaw cool whip. Mix pumpkin, dry vanilla pudding mix, and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. Fold in thawed cool whip and serve.
grandma’s macaroni and cheese
September 20th, 2010     |    FoodLife

Good morning! I’m launching the Diversey collection on Jess LC tomorrow and have plenty of work ahead of me (lookbook, programming the online pages, uploading product shots, drafting an email blast, MML posts, and so on) so I have my little hands full of things to do. But in the meantime, I thought I’d re-share this recipe for mac and cheese via my mom, from my Grandma Constable. It. Is. So. Good. And easy, oh so easy. I made it last night for my friend Cathy and her husband.

Judging by the (lack of) leftovers, I’d say it was a huge hit! Try it yourself. I promise there will be no regrets!


Yum. This wonderfulness is my dinner tonight. I got the recipe from my mom, but the cheese sauce is actually from my Grandma’s Cheesy Onion recipe. Since I had all the ingredients on hand except for the cheese, this was a logical, delicious, and inexpensive dish to make. I used to be intimidated by the homemade cheese sauce, but it is really easy since it requires the microwave(!). Try it and let me know what you think.


Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 box pasta (I used whole wheat), cooked and drained
  • 2 C milk
  • 4 T flour
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1/4 t paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and cook pasta.
  2. Melt butter and stir in flour, pepper, and paprika. Whisk in milk. Cook in microwave for 8 minutes on power level 8 (stir 2-3 times during cooking).
  3. Stir in shredded cheese until melted.
  4. Add sauce and noodles to greased casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Let stand for 10 minutes and enjoy!


For those who like a softer, unbaked mac and cheese you can call it quits at this stage like my brother, Mikey C.


step it up: sweet potatoes
February 16th, 2010     |    Food

Good morning! After being gone last Thursday and Friday at the trunk show, being out of the office over the weekend, and taping our March Spring video yesterday, I have a lot of work to do today. One of those “I’ve-been-out-of-the-loop-the-mountain-of-work-seems-pretty-big-and-I-don’t-quite-know-where-to-start” kind of days. I think a well planned to-do list and a good sense of humor will help me gain some traction.

That said, I’d like to share my friend, Stephanie’s favorite sweet potato recipe. She’s kindly taken pictures of the process below and above you’ll find her video explaining the process in person. It’s such a great recipe I’m making it for the third time later this week.

Yum! Keep these potatoes in their foil wrappers in your fridge and grab as you need throughout the week. They are super sweet with their own caramelized skins and can be heated or eaten cold. The perfect afternoon “sweet” snack.

semi-homemade garlic pizza
January 22nd, 2010     |    Food


Happy Friday! This week’s End of the Week Exfoliation will be up tomorrow morning. I am looking forward to this weekend as I have a coffee chat with a very dear blog friend on Saturday and dinner tonight with a close Chicago buddy. I hope your weekend is dry, sunny, and relatively warm!

It’s been a looong time since I’ve posted any food recipes. Mostly because I don’t generally cook that much (hello, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, turkey wraps, and Chicago restaurants). But today’s recipe is a new favorite and so simple to prepare.

While dining at Piece in Bucktown a few months ago, Erwin and I discovered the joys of garlic as a topping on pizza. It was incredible. And now we are recreating a knock-off version every week or two. We’ve started to cook frozen pizzas while simultaneously roasting two heads of garlic. Once the pizza and garlic are finished cooking, we add the garlic cloves on top of the pizza slices. It’s that easy.

Take a look.





Cook the garlic on 425* for 20-30 minutes, until golden and soft. Cook pizza as directed.

Once the pizza and garlic are done, carefully pull each garlic clove out of the shell and place as much as desired on the pizza.


(We add Parmesan and red pepper flakes for extra flavor.)

There you have it. Such a simple twist on a no-brainer dinner.













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