Whirlwind Weekend!

Guess how many pictures I took this weekend?  If you guessed 405 you’d be right – gah!  Gotta love digital photography and iPhones!

Because I have so many pictures to share, I am going to be breaking down my Beef Weekend into five pieces – each day you’ll get to see a bit more of my weekend and I’ll do a final recap on Friday.  Thanks again to The Beef Checkoff for hosting and inviting me to this event.

The premise of this whole weekend was to showcase the benefits of beef in a healthy living diet.  The motto was “celebrating food for simple, strong and better living.”


Not only are there 29 cuts of lean beef, but some cuts of beef are as lean as a skinless chicken thigh!  Do you remember the Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner Commercials?

Being from the Midwest, I grew up on beef.   One thing that my grandpa always instilled in my Mom was good food.  I remember having steak at least once a week – asking for the fatty side (yum!) and my Dad buttering up some bread and soaking the bread in the steak juice.  We also made my Dad fix our baked potatoes – it was just butter, salt and pepper, but he would fluff up the baked potatoes and it just made it taste better!

And since being with Tony, I have definitely expanded my horizons, not only on different cuts of meat, but learning how to grill.  I think before I met Tony I might have grilled once or twice a year – now during the summer months, I probably grill just about every night.

Here are just a few of my favorite beef recipes:

My favorite beef marinade:

Classic Chicago Style Beef:

Italian Sunday Gravy:

So I had the whole day off from work on Friday.  Um, let’s just say I could get used to that!  I woke up at 8:30, still had time to run errands, return my books to the library on time which never happens and went thrifting.  My train was at 12:18, which got me downtown at 1:30 – no express trains during the day.

Thankfully it was just overcast and not raining.  I had a mile walk from the train station to the hotel.

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The last law firm I worked at in Chicago was on north Michigan avenue.  I would leave my house at 7:00 to drive to the train, park the car, ride the train to Chicago, then I would have to either walk a mile to my office, or from April through October I could take a water taxi (that yellow water taxi in the picture above) to Michigan avenue, then walk 7 blocks to my office, where I would finally sit down to work 2 hours after I left my house!

The Wit Hotel is right past the Chicago Theater – you can kind of see the hotel behind the L tracks.

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Fascinating design, soaring 27 stories up, with panoramic views of the City, Lake Michigan, Chicago River and Millennium Park.

Once at the front desk I was greeted with a warm chocolate chip cookie:

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In order to use the elevator to get to my floor, I had to put my room key in a slot in the elevator before it would go to the 20th floor.  The first five floors are open to the public.

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The view from my room:

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The rooms were really nice too – I had a 42 inch flat screen t.v.!

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How cool is this phone?!  I never used it, but I loved that it had my name on it. Open-mouthed smile

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I realized I still had enough time to squeeze in a quick workout before our event started at 4:00.  I changed my clothes and headed down to the 5th floor.  I watched field hockey (how cool is that Jacky!) and the view over State street isn’t too bad.

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I was just passing 30 minutes when my daughter called me.  She wanted to know where the hotel was at, and when I told her it was at State and Lake street, she came over to say hi after her work shift ended – just a quick 5 minute train ride!

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I went down to the lobby to bring Hannah up, and she hung out while I showered and got ready.  I bought this top for $2 at the thrift store I went to Friday morning – I think its cute!

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And before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye to Hannah – thanks again for stopping by – not sure why I never thought of it, but glad you did!

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And Peggy realized on Facebook when I posted this to the Healthy for the Holidays page that this is in fact a record – FOUR weekends in a row wearing makeup and putting my hair down!

We met on the 2nd floor for the first part of our event.  A meet and greet with wine and appetizers.  I didn’t see many appetizers going around – I had a thai beef appetizer on a rice cake which was good, the picture sucked ass though!

Plenty of wine!  I had white to start the night, knowing I was going to switch to red with the meat I’d be having later that night.

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This part of the hotel was very uniquely decorated – they had photos of people but made it look like books!  I actually don’t know who that is next to Joan Rivers – anyone know?

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We then met Anne Burkholder – who is a Cattle Feedyard and Farming Operator with her 11 year old daughter Megan.

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She has a blog if you want to check out her life on the farm.  She talked about how she promotes beef farmer education in cattle care and food safety.  Once they go to the processing plant, the beef is graded by the USDA and then ages, gets packaged and from there will hit our grocery stores anywhere from 2-3 weeks after the animal was killed.  She’s even worked with Dr. Temple Grandin – have you seen that movie with Claire Danes?

Here is an excerpt from Anne’s blog – someone asked if the cattle knew they were about to be killed, but she said that cattle have no sense of the future, that they live in the “now.” 

I have toured National’s plant and personally watched the process of cattle being unloaded from the truck and then taken into the packing plant for harvest. Watching animals die is never a “pretty picture”, but I do believe that the animals’ death is quick and as humane as possible.  The cattle are taken up onto a moving conveyor and stunned prior to the throat slitting process.  Proper stunning ensures that the animal does not feel pain.  As I watched the cattle move from outdoors and into the packing plant, they moved calmly and showed no sign of distress.  The entire process lasts only a few seconds and it was clear to me that the animals did not suffer.  Dr. Temple Grandin has done an amazing job of improving the care/handling of cattle at the packing plant level of beef production. Most, if not all, of the big packing plants have consulted with Dr. Grandin to ensure that their facilities and their employees understand how to handle and move cattle.

You can get even more insight to how seriously she takes her job in this video.  It was very informative, and I liked that her daughter talked about her life on the ranch as well.

So that’s Part I of V on my Chicago trip!  It literally lasted only 24 hours, but I still have a lot to show you – up tomorrow is our progressive dinner that started at Sable Kitchen. 

And it can’t be a Biz post without some food porn.  I asked Tony what he wanted for his football food – he thought for a second and said “how about nachos!”  So I made taco nachos.  Homemade corn tortilla chips, ground beef with taco seasoning, black beans, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and on mine a bit of sour cream and sliced jalapenos.  I had the will power to only eat two of these – I could have eaten about 10 more!

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Well, turns out I am glad I only ate two of those nacho tacos, because when I went to the grocery store, tomatillos were still on sale so I had to make some more of my tomatillo salsa – I added a couple more cloves of garlic to this batch.  I may have had a few chips and salsa!

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I am making breakfast tacos this morning for breakfast, so this salsa will be perfect on them. Open-mouthed smile

I have no nutrition stats for the weekend – no way I could keep track of all the licks, tastes, and sips of wine.  But it’s a new day, a new week and I will get back on track.  It’s all about moderation, isn’t it? 

My Healthy for the Holidays Facebook page is now up to 93 participants!  I love how active people are, meal planning, sharing ideas – love it.  Not too late to join – just friend request me at Beth Hills Velatini and I’ll add you to the group.

Make it a great day!


51 thoughts on “Whirlwind Weekend!

  1. Glad you had such a nice weekend!

    “FOUR weekends in a row wearing makeup and putting my hair down!” – I think it’s becoming a habit! 🙂 I should join you one of these weekend! 😉

    Have a great week!

  2. Thanks for sharing your fun weekend. Can’t wait for the next installment! I had nachos yesterday too – my absolute favorite food 🙂 Oh, and I topped them with your buffalo chili – Yum! Great day to you!

  3. Can’t wait to read more!! Love the pictures of Chicago and the hotel! And – your $2 shirt rocks – you look great!!!

  4. That’s a picture of Will Rogers. So far your weekend looks great! Your work outs are doing great for you!

  5. Whirlwind may be an understatement…WOW! I can’t wait to see and hear more. Love the shirt. Black and white is my favorite color combo. The second photo of your chips and salsa looks incredibly professional. It should be in a cookbook (hint hint)

  6. Biz, that top is great! You are looking so good overall. Happy, healthy, glowing 🙂

  7. Okay, I am going to be green with envy every time I visit your blog this week! First of all, you are lookin’ smoking hot in that $2 top! Second of all, downtown Chicago is one of my favorite places to visit and it’s been two years too long since I’ve been there. I met Dr. Temple Grandin last fall when she presented an autism conference in Omaha. I have a picture of me with her on my Facebook page somewhere; I’ll have to find it!

    Love that the Facebook page keeps growing! It’s been a good thing, for many many people! Thanks for getting it started. 🙂

    • Thanks Erin! Love that I can rock a $2 shirt! OMG, you’ll have to find that picture and link it to me – I’d love to see it.

      I think we now are up to 100 women in the FB group – love it! I just think it’s awesome that people are concentrating on their health now, and not just throwing it in the towel to wait for Jan. 1!

  8. What a nice getaway. I would never even attempt to track during something like that. You just need to relax every once in a while!

  9. Field hockey on TV, awesome! You look great. Love the stripped top on you! What a great event to be a part of.

    • I thought of you as soon as the channel turned to field hockey! It was great to be picked for that event, I agree – just next time I wish it would be in San Francisco and not in my own backyard! 😀

  10. I loved reading about your day in the city – isn’t the Wit lovely?? You looks SO cute in that striped top!!!

  11. Looks like you had an awesome weekend! I had a 4 day weekend and I could get used to that too!

  12. What a fancy hotel! Had no idea there was a river that ran through Chicago (I REALLY need to get out more). You look cute in your new shirt, and I think having your hair down makes you look young and sassy! Looks like you were in your element this weekend!

  13. Love that top! You are looking mighty trim there Biz…

    • Thanks Marcia – with all these compliments I think I’ll be buying horizontal striped shirts in every color. Hope your baby has a good night sleep tonight so you do too!

  14. Those pics make me really miss Chicago. Stayed at Marina Towers when I was young and used to carouse down there as I got older. I love Chicago. And though i stopped eating beef if I ever started again it would be because of you! You have such great beef recipes!

    • We don’t take advantage of Chicago as much as we could, because Tony’s not a fan of the city. He tells me “that’s why you have a Mom, a sister and a daughter to go to Chicago!”

  15. A new page design and a fun weekend???!!! Where have I been? Sorry I’ve been a bit out of the loop lately. What a fun event to get invited to! Can’t wait to see the rest of the recap.

  16. I’m so excited to read about all of the weekend details! My parents are big beef people. They have steak every Sunday. I’ve never liked steak…but I do enjoy ground beef. I love the shirt and the hair and makeup.

    • Does your daughter like red meat? Hannah definitely wasn’t a big fan growing up, unless I made burgers that were super duper skinny – thick cut chops, steak, etc. grosses her out. And if I cut up a whole chicken she had to leave the room because she couldn’t stand the sound of the bones I was cutting into. 😀

  17. Loving the Chicago photos! I want to go back so badly.

  18. So glad you had a great weekend! I loved seeing all the pics & looking forward to more! Probably will never get to Chicago so I enjoyed seeing a bit of it. Being from the sticks of AL our idea of a water taxi is somebody’s 14 ft. fishing boat with a trolling motor!! Lol
    We are carnivores at my house so beef is on the menu several times a week. And yes, I remember the Beef – It’s whats for dinner commercials. My favorites were the ones with Sam Elliott’s deep sexy voice as the voice-over. ♥
    You rocked that new shirt! 😀

  19. Ahhh Marina towers, that is where I took my “state board” to become a hairdresser……ummm…..back in ’67. Hahahaha gosh that was a long time ago. Whew, you wore me out telling about your 2 hour commute before work and then the same amount of time going home???? 4 hours traveling??? Wow!! I could hear the hustle, bustle of Chicago just looking at your pictures!!!

    Looks like a nice hotel you stayed at. Oh and that is Will Rogers, he was like a comedian/humorist and would wear cowboy clothes and do rope tricks while telling jokes and stuff. one of his quotes, among many,….. “An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh.” I thought you would like that one. I think he was sort of political, but found humor in it too. This is a good one….”People often ask me, ‘Will, where do you get your jokes?’ I just tell ’em, ‘Well, I watch the government and report the facts, that is all I do, and I don’t even find it necessary to exaggerate.”

    I just typed in Will Rogers and found all these quotes…pretty interesting. Well, I will be looking forward to the next 4 days of pictures and recipes. Have a great day!!!

  20. Great article. I know a lot of people over here in the UK have been put off eating beef due to the horse meat shenanigans. Info like this (and snazzy looking info graphs) are exactly what they need torestore their confidence in the delicious (and healthy!) meat. Hope you had a nice weekend!

  21. I loved meeting you this weekend! Thanks so much for including me in your post 🙂 Let me know if you ever get to Nebraska—I’d love to give you a tour of the farm.

    All the best,

    • No, thank you Anne! I hope your daughter enjoyed her trip to Chicago! And sadly, the furthest west I’ve been is Des Moines, Iowa, but if i ever make it to Nebraska I’d love a tour!

  22. This looks like a really fun, really delicious weekend!

    I definitely agree – it really is all about moderation. You couldn’t pass up something like that 🙂

  23. Lovely hotel! I love the water taxi, reminds me a little of Venice.

    I love me some beef from time to time too. I never will become a vegetarian. I love meat too much for that 🙂

  24. Oh it’s so very cool so far! Love that she worked with Grandin – I’m a great admirer of her work to make the lives and deaths of cattle meant for consumption to be as pleasant as possible. I read one of her books before I watched the movie – I’m a big fan. 🙂 And Biz I’m a broken record but you’re looking so good! I love your shirt and the jeans too.

  25. MEAT! Gotta love it 🙂 I’ve tried the beef marinade, and it’s delicious! Sounds like an awesome trip.

  26. You are looking fantastic Biz! Glad you and Hannah got to meet up…can you tell I’m trying to catch up…lol! 😉

  27. First of all you look amazing Biz! You and Hannah are both so photogenic. Although I don’t eat meat I am surprisingly interested in the details of your weekend. I’ve heard of Temple Grandin and I enjoyed watching Anne’s video. She clearly cares deeply about her job and the animals. I’m looking forward to reading more about your experience.

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