Archive for the ‘Dining Deals’ Category

Windy City Smokeout Logo

Last year was my first time attending The Windy City Smokeout – and it was AWESOME!! It’s this giant 3 day country music and bbq fest by the Chicago River. There’s tons of bbq vendors from all over the country, and plenty of beer and country music. The headliners this year include Phil Vassar, Chase Rice, Big & Rich, Billy Currington, Maren Morris & (my fav!!) Old Dominion. It’s coming up next weekend, July 15-17, and trust me, you definitely want to go. Plus, I can get you discounted tickets to the Windy City Smokeout – today only!!


Today only, you can get tickets to the Windy City Smokeout for $75 instead of $110. Just use promo code “DINING” when adding tickets to your cart. It’s a little tricky, so pay close attention:

  1. Get your tickets here:
  2. BEFORE adding tickets to your cart, add promo code DINING in the promo code box, and click on the arrow in the promo code box.
  3. $75 3 day discounted tickets will show up as an option underneath. Choose these :)
  4. Enjoy the heck out of the fest!!

If you’re still in doubt, check out this awesome video from last year’s Smokeout:

You can follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more updates and awesomeness!

Pertinent details: Windy City Smokeout | July 15-17, 2016 | Music schedule | 560 W. Grand, Chicago, IL | Tickets (don’t forget to use DINING for $35 off!)

Windy City Smokeout (1)
Windy City Smokeout (3)
Windy City Smokeout (4)

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I have to say, ever since visiting last March, I have quite the love affair with Prague going on. Prague is this beautiful, fairy-tale city, untouched by war, so all of the buildings and structures are original to the city. I happened to be visiting during Easter, when the Easter markets were in full swing, and I was taking full advantage of the cheap hot wine. Yes, by the way, Prague is very cheap to visit, so if you want to go to Europe and not spend a TON, visit Prague. Hey, my friend Becky lives there, and she’ll probably let you stay with her. Think of all the money you’ll save.

Today’s recipe is Vánočka, a braided brioche bread with raisins, typically served during Christmas in the Czech Republic. I haven’t actually tried this, nor have I made it, but I love Prague so much, that maybe I’ll whip this up for the C-Family during Christmas. I mean, how hard is it to braid 6 different raw bread dough ropes together? Psshhh, I got this, particularly when I have to wear a white apron and headscarf and not talk to anyone while I’m making it. And don’t mind me while I’m jumping up and down while the dough rises. All in a day’s work, according to Czech traditions, according to 196 Flavors, who is helping me bring this tradition to your house.

So let’s get down to business, and start making the brioche. Besides, jumping up and down will be the most activity I’ve done in a couple of weeks.


Read on »

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There’s almost nothing that excites the Desktop Diner (that’s my new self-proclaimed moniker) like the prospect of free food. I have ruined many a great diet day when unexpected goodies pop up at the office…because second lunch is always better than first lunch. And if there happens to be free food at my office on a Monday morning, forget about it – I’m eating it! Now one free meal that I do plan for is “Free Bagel Friday,” provided by Einstein Bros Bagels.

Einstein Brothers Bagel

Einstein gives out free bagels on Friday. There is a coupon, which, at least for a while, was printable.  I haven’t spotted that around on the internets lately, but they sometimes pop up in the Sunday paper coupon inserts. Now, I don’t know if this is just b/c I’m a regular on FBF, but I’ve taken to telling them I have the coupon, and they comp my bagel and don’t even ask for proof that I have the coupon. I always make sure I have it, but you could try this strategy if you don’t have the coupon. The worst that would happen is they make you pay for your bagel and you’re out 79 cents.

While Free Bagel Friday is great, and I love Einstein for giving away free food, this does not include their pricey shmears. If you want to add cream cheese to your free bagel, be prepared to hand over $1.50. Ummmm, really Einstein? I can buy a whole brick of cream cheese at the grocery store for 99 cents and shmear at least 6 bagels! The Desktop Diner doesn’t fall for such nonsense, and therefore, I BYOSB (bring my own spray butter). There’s nothing that complements a warm toasty bagel quite like a dousing of sprayable butter. Notice that the picture above shows a dry bagel, free of the embarrassing amount of buttery spray I pumped onto that poor defenseless bagel immediately after this photo was taken. Occasionally I’ll ditch the spray butter and splurge on the WeightWatchers single serving cream cheese cups (1 point/cup). Making my own cream cheese shmear is cost effective for my pocketbook, and for my WW points.

Friday’s bagel was a Pretzel bagel and contained 270 calories, 5 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber, making it a hefty 5 WW points. I usually try not to spend so many points on a breakfast, but I think you’ll remember that I love free food and am totally willing to blow a few extra points on FBF. Coupled with a cup of coffee and a mountain of work, there is no better way to start your Friday at your desk.

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