It took a little strategy – and more than a little sparkle that wound up in our hair, on our clothes and all over the house – but our inaugural Arizona Christmas tree trimming is now complete!
Bobby and I stayed up until the wee hours last night putting it together. The tree used to belong to my family (boy is that a flashback post), but has since been passed down to us. It’s still in beautiful condition and we were excited to put our personal touches on it. We found the red and gold ribbon at Michael’s and the ornaments and tree skirt are courtesy of our (much smaller) Chicago tree. We strategically placed them all in front, but hope that over time we can fill this tree up with memories.
A little less than 24 hours later and the temperature around me has dropped drastically. Not because it’s cold in Arizona – no, no – but rather because I am currently back in my favorite metropolis for a long weekend visit…hello again, Chicago
It’s going to be a busy weekend filled with birthday celebrations and Pinterest parties (more on that in a future post), but one of my first stops on the trip so far has been to none other than Panera Bread.* If you’ve been reading this blog since my college days, you know that Panera received nearly all of my food budget after a broadcast news show or while studying for exams. I love and have tried nearly every item on the menu, and so when DailyBuzz Food announced they would be partnering with Panera as part of its Tastemaker Outreach Program, I eagerly signed up!
This particular partnership is centered on Panera’s plethora of soup options, which was perfect for me as I transitioned from 80-degree Phoenix to 40-degree Chicago (I’m hoping for some snow while I’m here). Panera offers a variety of freshly made soups every day in their bakery-cafés, including classics such as Chicken Noodle or Broccoli Cheddar and two of my personal favorites, Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable with Pesto and Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean. You can check out all of these and more on their new Soup Stories website.
After checking out today’s options at the Panera near my old Chicago apartment (yes, I drove by it – it was on the way I swear), I decided to try something completely new and went with the French Onion soup in what can only be called a magical bread bowl. Magical because it has convinced me that soup should now always be served surrounded by sourdough.
This soup was amazing! As Panera describes on their website, the French Onion soup is essentially sliced onion sautéed in sweet butter and seasonings, gently simmered in a light beef broth with essence of tomato, then topped with homemade croutons and Asiago-Parmesan cheese. The soup leaves the inside of the bread bowl full of flavor once you’re finished, and you also get the hollowed out portion to save for later – or, let’s be honest, enjoy right then and there. If you’re a bread and soup lover, the combination doesn’t get much better!
Another perk when dining at Panera is the free wi-fi. I’m currently taking advantage of it as I type up this review post, as a matter of fact. It’s got a speedy photo upload speed, in case you were wondering. As you can tell, I can’t say enough about this company. I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to share why I love them, so big thanks to DailyBuzz Food!
Are you a Panera Bread fan? What’s your favorite soup and/or other item on the menu?
Be back again soon with more adventures from the Windy City!
*This post is brought to you by Panera Bread. All opinions shared here are my own.