This quick trip to Colorado in November was just what the doctor ordered. The perfect mix of relaxation, outdoors, exercise and good food. One of the things I love about Denver is that it’s sunny 300 days of the year! So even if it’s cold, at least it’s bright and sunny out, which can’t always be said for Minnesota. The weather was a perfect 60-70 degrees and a little cooler higher up into the mountains.
The highlight of the trip was a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove into the park and started our hike from 9,000 ft elevation and hiked to about 10,000 ft. Mountain views here are just stunning.
Another cool thing we got to experience was seeing these elk close-up. As it gets cooler, they start to come down from the higher mountains. There were 30 + of them in this area of Estes Park!
Denver Restaurant Recommendations
#1 BEST restaurant we’ve eaten at in a long time was in Denver called, Mercantile Dining & Provisions. It’s located inside Union Station downtown Denver. The atmosphere is modern, but warm and comfortable. The food is mostly Italian style and Ah-mazing. We ordered a house-made spaghetti with lobster and pancetta (mouth-watering!), gnocchi with braised lamb and ricotta and smoked short rib. I can’t even choose a favorite because they were all delicious!!
Another great place in Denver area is Snooze. It’s a breakfast/brunch place with a few locations, including one in Boulder. Their menu is awesome. So many choices. Snooze supports local businesses, is environmentally conscious and uses wholesome ingredients. Menu items put a creative twist on traditional breakfast items including some boozy breakfast drinks! Bonus: there are plenty of healthy options. We’ll always make a stop there when in Denver!
Other fun weekend getaway ideas see our trip to Chicago and stay tuned for our recap of a weekend in NYC!
I almost forgot what a fun city Chicago is to visit! From Minneapolis, it’s only a 6 hour drive or 45 min flight making it a perfect little weekend getaway. As the years go by, and as my tastes and interests have grown, it’s been so fun to go back to these cities I visited when I was younger. Speaking of TASTES, Chicago food is some of the best! Travis and I have done a good amount of traveling in the last couple years and I have to say I’ve gotten good at researching and planning trips, from big to small! If you’re looking for ideas: restaurants, sights and things to do – here it is.
Since this was a short trip, we chose to fly via Southwest airlines, which offers early morning flights for cheap. We took a 6am flight on Saturday morning of labor day weekend. It was a little rough getting up so early to get to the airport, but I have to say it was so nice to have the entire day ahead to explore! And bonus, you can save the money for that extra night of a hotel stay and put it towards food or shopping!
*Side note: this post is not sponsored. I’m sharing the details of our trip just because I want you to have a fun experience and get good deals too! Enjoy!
We stayed at the Cambria Hotel in the Loop / Theater district of downtown Chicago. The location was PERFECT. Walking distance to tons of sights and restaurants, which helps you save on uber or train rides. The hotel was awesome. They let us check in super early (8am!) which was great for our early flight.
Our first stop was breakfast/brunch and I had read about a cute cafe called “The Lula Cafe,” a little ways out of downtown. We took the train to Logan Park, which was super easy to do. The cafe has a trendy hipster vibe, with great coffee and creative brunch food. We had a just a few minutes to wait at the bar with a coffee before we got a table. Travis got the breakfast burrito and I got the sweet corn & grits with cherry tomatoes, parmesan and a slow-cooked egg. So good!
Another restaurant I had read about online was called Au Cheval, known for their amazing burger. I had read to expect a long wait, but we were still totally taken off guard by the wait time!! Any guesses? For a table of four our wait was….. 6 hours!!! What?! We couldn’t wait that long for dinner, so we headed across the street to get some appetizers at the tavern. Then explored the areas cocktail bars for drinks and had a great time, forgetting all about Au Cheval. As we’re walking home for the night (it’s after midnight), we get the call that our table is ready! So funny. By then, we could all eat again so back to Au Cheval we ran for the best burger I think I’ve ever had in my life. Yes, it was that good. My advice, get to the restaurant 30 minutes before they open and wait in the line outside, or be prepared for a ridiculous wait and have a plan B. Whatever you do, make it happen. This burger is BOMB. (PS – yes that is bacon!)
When you think of Chicago food, you probably think of deep dish pizza. But honestly, it’s not my favorite style of pizza (I know, how can you be in Chicago and not get that?), but we’ve been there, done that. So we decided to get a good authentic Italian, Neapolitan style pizza. I’d read great things about Spacca Napoli, a little pizza place tucked away in a neighborhood a little north of downtown. We hopped on the train and I heard a group of people talking about how great Spacca Napoli is! A great sign. This cute spot has a patio and the inside is adorable. It was super hot so we ate inside. Appetizers, salad and pizza were all delicious!
At the top of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is a gem of a restaurant, Cindy’s Rooftop. Right on Michigan Ave, this place has the BEST view. Large windows and garage doors that open into the view of Millenium park, the bean and downtown skyscrapers. It’s a must-see! Going into it, I thought this place was all about the view and therefore the food would be mediocre. I was so wrong! The food was AWESOME.
*Side note: there was a wait to get up to the rooftop. The line starts in the lobby of the hotel near the elevators. We stood in line for 10 minutes before they opened for lunch at 11am. A few minutes after we sat down there was not an open table in the place! They DO take reservations.
THE FOOD: Bison Burger with beet ketchup and kale + sweet potato fries was to die for. I got the goat cheese tartlet which was also amazing!
THE VIEW: speaks for itself!
I’m always in search of cute coffee shops with good quality coffee rather than going to a starbucks. We stumbled upon the coolest coffee shop as we were waiting for our table at Cindy’s. In the lobby of the same hotel is a coffee shop called Fairgrounds. This is probably the coolest coffee shop I’ve ever been to! They brew craft coffees from all over the country as well as nitro coffee and cold brews on tap. You can get a coffee flight and try multiple coffee flavors too! If you know me at all, you know I LOVE spyhouse coffee and Fairgrounds had spyhouse coffee! So cool!
Some things to do in the city:
- Walk along the river
- Walk and eat in Navy Pier
- Rent bikes and bike the city
- See a show
Stay tuned for a post about our recent New York City trip! For other weekend getaway ideas see my post on Denver.
Yes it’s chili season here in Minnesota. We love a traditional chili over here, but let me tell you this white chicken chili is SO GOOD! This recipe is Travis’ all-time favorite recipe of mine. So good we make it all year round. The soup is pretty simple. It can be made in the instant pot, crock pot or stove top. Besides being super delicious and a warm comfort food for fall and winter, it’s got some added health benefits! I’m always looking for ways to add ingredients that make my recipes healthier.
Why Use Bone Broth in Your Chili & Soups
If you’re not familiar with bone broth, you can read about it’s benefits in my post about cauliflower broccoli soup. Basically, bone broth has more protein, collagen and other nutrients that are great for your joints and also helps boost the immune system (which we can all use in the winter!) We buy our bone broth from Costco (photo below), but I’ve linked a similar one here. If you’re ambitious enough to make your own, check out my friend Kate’s post all about making your own bone broth.
*Note: sometimes I post links to products for which I get a small commission if you purchase through me, at no extra cost to you. Sometimes I share a product just because I really love it and want others to enjoy it too. Either way, I only promote products I have tried and truly value. Thank you for your support!
A couple other ways I make this soup healthier is by adding plenty of garlic, which also boosts the immune system (and tastes delicious!) I also use non-fat plain greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Greek yogurt has WAY more protein than sour cream, it’s non-fat and I promise you can’t tell the difference in your chili!
A note about the Instant Pot
If you have not purchased an instant pot yet, you need to! I have replaced my crock-pot with this fabulous kitchen tool that can be used for SO many things. The instant pot can slow cook, pressure cook, saute, cook rice, yogurt, oatmeal and more! I have taken chicken right out of the freezer and cooked it 15 minutes with this thing! It is well worth the investment. I got a great deal on mine here.
I’ve included all the ways you can make this chili in the recipe box below: instant pot, slow cooker and stove top directions.
Tip: for a more convenient option, grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred. Then skip the first instructions on cooking the chicken and jump ahead.
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (can also use a rotisserie chicken)
- 4 cups chicken bone broth or regular chicken/vegetable broth – where to get
- 2 cans white northern beans, drained
- 2 cups (8 oz) shredded monterey jack cheese
- 5 + cloves of fresh minced garlic (don’t be shy!)
- 1 white onion, chopped
- ¼ cup nonfat plain greek yogurt for topping
- ½ avocado for topping
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Salt and pepper
- Instant Pot – where to get
- INSTANT POT
- Add chicken breasts to the instant pot with ½ cup water and season with salt. Hit the “poultry” button and adjust to 12 minutes (if you’re cooking the chicken right out of the freezer add 3-5 minutes). Prepare everything else while the chicken is cooking. When the instant pot beeps complete, let the pressure valve drop naturally or turn the valve to “vent” to release pressure quicker.
- Drain the excess water and shred the chicken with 2 forks.
- Add bone broth, beans, garlic, onion, salt and pepper to the instant pot with the shredded chicken. Season with salt and pepper, but keep in mind the salt that comes from the cans of beans, broth and cheese that you’ll be adding.
- Press “manual” on the instant pot and adjust time to 20 min.
- Stir in shredded cheese until melted. Serve topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of greek yogurt and fresh cilantro.
- SLOW COOKER
- Add all ingredients except greek yogurt, avocado, cheese and cilantro to the slow cooker.
- Set to 8 hours.
- Once cooked, shred the chicken with two forks.
- Add the cheese and stir in until melted.
- Serve topped with avocado, dollop of greek yogurt and fresh cilantro.
- STOVE TOP
- Add broth to large pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
- Add chicken, turn down heat to medium/high and cook covered for about 10-15 minutes.
- Add onion, garlic, beans and salt and pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes.
- Stir in the cheese until melted.
- Serve topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of greek yogurt and fresh cilantro.