Chicago Bound!

As I sit here writing, I am also riding in our SUV on the way to Chicago for the weekend.  My brother-in-law is graduating from college Sunday, so Tim and I are going up a few days early to enjoy the sights, eat some tasty food, and do a little Michigan Ave. shopping!

I love Chicago and always look forward to the fun to be had there.  The first time I visited the city, I was in the 4th grade and my mom and grandma took me to the American Girl Place.  I was obsessed with American Girl and was literally speechless when we walked through the entrance doors and right into the most amazing store filled with more dolls, books, clothes, and accessories than I could ever imagine.  My mom loves to tell the story of when we had dinner at the American Girl restaurant and I wanted to bring both of my dolls.  I had a ‘Make Your Own Doll’ and a Bitty Baby, and could not choose just one doll to bring.  My mom and grandma didn’t have the heart to make me leave one behind, so they let me bring both dolls.  This means they not only had to look out for one little girl while riding public transportation, but also two pretty expensive dolls.  At the dinner I was able to place each doll in its own seat at the table where we all ‘ate’ our meal together.  This was definitely a favorite memory of my childhood, and I was blessed to share it with the two most amazing women I have ever known.

The last few years I have gone to Chicago at least once a year.  In the fall of 2010 I went with my mom, and with her friend and her daughter.  We did it all:  shopped, ate Gino’s pizza and Garrett’s popcorn, and walked, and walked, and walked.  Last spring, Tim and I visited and went to Giordano’s pizza, ate more Garrett’s popcorn, (do you see a theme?), shopped, and walked by the lake shore, down by the Navy Pier.  This time we have more shopping on the agenda and a very special dinner tonight at a restaurant I have been dying to visit.  Tomorrow is actually our 8 month wedding anniversary and we are celebrating just a day early.  I can’t believe we have already been married 8 months, but we are looking forward to getting away for a few days and really enjoying time with each other.

So needless to say, I am really looking forward to this weekend.  The only downside?  You can be I will be missing this little face:


Tebow is spending a few days with grandma, grandpa and uncle Jonathan.  I can’t even imagine how hard it will be when I have kids and have to leave them for a few days.  Let the water works begin.


While I am in Chicago, I thought I would leave a super easy dinner idea for you guys.  I wouldn’t call it a ‘recipe’ per se, but it is a meal that came together fast and it was not only delicious, but also pretty healthy.

Jamaican Jerk Turkey Sausage and Peppers



3 Turkey Cheddar Sausage Links or Turkey Sausage Links

1 Red Bell Pepper

1/4-1/2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tablespoon dry Jamaican Jerk Seasoning


(We purchased this seasoning when we were in Jamaica on our honeymoon, and we love it!  There is just the right amount of salt, garlic powder, spices, etc. and whenever I use it, I am swept right back to the crystal clear waters of the island.  This stuff tastes amazing on chicken, pork, and it turns out that it is an awesome seasoning for turkey sausage too!)



Over medium heat, add oil to a large skillet or grill pan.

Slice a red bell pepper into thin strips, removing the stem and seeds.



Chop turkey sausage into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Add peppers and sausage to oil in the pan.  Sauté peppers and sausage for 7-10 minutes until sausage is fully cooked and peppers are cooked, but still have a slight bite.  Sprinkle in Jerk Seasoning and stir mixture until evenly coated.



I served Tim’s on a whole-wheat bun with a slice of Colby cheese, and had mine on a plate.  The sides I added were corn-on-the-cob and a steamed Brussels sprouts.




See what I mean, so easy!  This really was delicious though.  I love comfort food that is lightened up a bit, but doesn’t sacrifice any of its flavor.



Have you ever been to, or are from, Chicago?  What is your favorite thing to do there?  Best place to eat?  I would love to hear any suggestions!

Are there any seasonings or flavors that take you back to a special trip, the way Jerk Seasoning reminds me of my honeymoon in Montego Bay, Jamaica?

Who has been to the American Girl Place before?  If you had a doll growing up, which one did you have, or what was your favorite doll?

13 thoughts on “Chicago Bound!

  1. Love Chicago! We went to Uno Deep Dish pizza last time we were there, and it was so good! We also got an authentic Chicago-style hot dog. Kinzie Chophouse was a really nice (but expensive) steakhouse we went to. And we also went to Sprinkles cupcakes, but I actually wasn’t very impressed.

  2. I love Chicago! We just got back from an extended weekend vacation there a few weeks ago, and will be going back! I recommend having a drink at the 96th floor lounge of the John Hancock building (for the view of course!). They also have a restaurant on the 95th floor, but I did not eat there. Crumbs Bake Shop for cupcakes! We also ate at Uno’s and Giordano’s. Eggsperience (I think it was on West Ontario) and Lou Mitchell’s for breakfast. Love Michigan Ave shopping too 🙂 I did walk by American Girl Place while I was there, but I did not have any of those dolls growing up. Enjoy your trip!!

  3. I love Chicago, it’s actually my favorite city! I grew up close to there in Indiana and now live in Milwaukee, so I’ve always been near Chicago. Also, I agree with missing your dog. Leaving Milo when we go somewhere is always so hard!

  4. I didn’t have any of the dolls but I had all the Samantha books from the American Girl collection when I was a kid (what a surprise that these were the ones my mom bought!). I loved them!
    Have a great time in Chicago!

  5. I had Samantha, and I was OBSESSED with her. I thought she was the prettiest thing in the world! 🙂
    Have a blast in Chicago!

  6. I really like this take on sausage and peppers. I have yet to find a good jerk seasoning so I try to make one with all spice, thyme and red pepper flakes. In Chicago I always try to get to Giordano’s for some stuffed pizza. You only need one slice!

  7. Please let us know where you go! My boyfriend is leaving tomorrow to train for a new job on the east side of Chicago for 7 weeks and I am going to go visit him at least twice. I have never been so I am really excited to go!

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