8 Places You Must Go If You're A Coffee Lover In Central Illinois

8 Places You Must Go If You're A Coffee Lover In Central Illinois

3. Breaking Grounds
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Central Illinois isn’t known for much more than farmland, Caterpillar equipment, and soybeans. It is not the world’s most thrilling place to live. Summers are hot (like really hot) and winters are cold (like really, really cold) and there is about ten days total in the entire year where you could use the word perfect to describe the weather. Summer activities generally range from shopping at Peoria’s mall, going to one of the towns’ public pools, and maybe catching a movie at your closest theater. In the winter … well you just try to stay warm. All of this being said, I do love living in central Illinois; I have grown to appreciate it even more after going to a larger city for college. One thing that I do think central Illinois does really well (even better than big cities, in my opinion) is cute, social coffee shops. Almost every small town in the area has at least one, and each boasts its own charming atmosphere and ample menu. I am somewhat of a coffee aficionado, if I do say so myself, and my favorite drinks come from these small local shops. If you ever find yourself in central Illinois, make sure to check out one of these coffee shops!

1. Eli's Coffee Shop

Eli's has locations in Morton, Tremont, and Metamora. As a hometown Morton girl myself, it is my favorite coffee shop on the list. It boasts an amazing list of signature drinks (make sure to try the Iced Boho!) plus snack and dessert options that will make your mouth water. I also love the atmosphere -- it's a great place to hang out and catch up with friends and has good outdoor and indoor spaces. I also find it a great place to study and catch up on work.

2. Leaves 'N Beans Coffee

You can visit Leaves 'n Beans in both Morton and Peoria Heights. The Morton is a great local coffee shop to visit on-the-go because it has a drive thru. But if you have more time to spend to hang out, both the Morton and Peoria locations have great places to spend the day. I also love to stop by LnB for a meal; they have great sandwiches and salads! If you love their coffee products, you can also visit their Store and Roastery in their other Peoria Heights location near Trefzgers Bakery!

3. Breaking Grounds

Breaking Grounds is the newest edition to Morton's coffee scene. (Who knew such a small town could have so many coffee options!) They just opened in 2017 and therefore are still working on adding items to their menu; however, if you find yourself in Morton, I encourage you to try it out!

4. Thirty-Thirty

Thirty-Thirty is a Peoria coffee classic, and I've been stopping in since I was in high school at PND. They have two locations, one in downtown Peoria and one in Junction City. They have several different brews of coffee to try out, and each one is delicious! It's a great place to spend an afternoon reading or stop by for boost of caffeine during your busy day!

5. The Blend

The Blend is Washington's addition to this CI coffee list. I discovered it two summers ago and immediately fell in love. It's a bit of a drive from my life in Morton, but well worth it. I stop there every time I'm in Washington. The Café has a great atmosphere and a large space to sit with friends, plus booths great for work. If you don't have time to get out of your car, the Blend Express is nearby so you can drive thru to get your drink!

6. Zion Coffee Bar

Zion is another specialty local coffee company with a variety of blends and brews for you to try! Their location in the Warehouse District in downtown Peoria has a beautiful interior with both an upstairs loft and downstairs sitting area in which to enjoy your drink. Their menu also includes a lot of other beverages than just coffee and is continuing to expand, so it's a must stop!

7. One World Café

I had to include One World Café on my list, even though it is not strictly a coffee shop. Located on Bradley's campus in Peoria, One World has a fairly extensive coffee menu plus a full food menu which can be ordered as take-out or dine-in. It is one of my favorite places to eat in central Illinois, and I stop in every time I am home on a break. My personal favorite is to pair a coffee with their hummus and pita appetizer; it's AMAZING!

8. Le Bakery

If you're having a sweet tooth attack, Le Bakery in Washington is the place you need to stop. Predominantly a bakery, Le Bakery also has a fairly extensive list of coffee options to choose from. So not only can you get an Iced Coffee, but you can pair it with a cookie, slice of cake, or a whole cake if you're feeling it!

So, if you find yourself in Central Illinois and are in need of a morning boost or an afternoon hang out, check out one of these amazing coffee shops! I sure plan on it this summer!

Cover Image Credit: Enjoy Illinois

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​21 Things You Need To Do The Year You Turn 21

Cheers to twenty-fun!
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There’s a reason people call 21 "twenty-fun." This is one of those years that has the potential to beat all others. All you need are some great friends, a spirit hungry for adventure, and this list of 21 crucial things to fill your year with.

1. Get carded as often as possible.

There’s pretty much no better feeling than when you’re finally 21 and you can order drinks with no fear of being turned down.

2. Tell people what you want with #NoRagrets.

This year is no longer the year to hold in your thoughts out of fear that you don’t deserve what you want. Decide on your dreams (life, career, whatever) and shout them from the rooftops.

3. Find your “Go to Hell” outfit.

You know the one – that outfit you feel so good in that you could tell literally anyone to “go to hell” without blinking an eye. Yep. Buy it. Own it. Kill it.

4. Experience more than normal.

Look at life through someone else’s eyes, visit another country, practice empathy. There’s more to life than black and white. Just experience a little more than your normal. You’ll be a better person for it.

5. Kill the LinkedIn game.

It’s cool to be professional AF.

6. Go on a few dates.

With your significant other, mom, dad, best friends, that stranger you’ve been crushing on, yourself.

7. Learn how to be comfortable with uncomfortable.

Not everything is going to be your cup of tea and not everyone is going to be exactly like you. Learn to appreciate everyone’s differences and your days will get a little brighter.

8. Find a quality genre of music and stick with it.

Top 40 is cool and all, but there are so many genres out there so don’t be afraid to grow your musical palette.

9. Treat yo-damn-self.

To a nice meal out. To those new shoes. To that second Starbucks. To that big piece of cake. To that crazy concert. Self-love is important, too.

10. Strike up conversations with as many strangers as you can.

You never know who you could meet if you just take a second to talk to the person in line in front of you or walking the same way as you. This is the age to form good networking habits.

11. Explain why your license isn’t flipped the ‘right’ way.

Yes, you’re really 21. You just haven’t gotten your new flipped ID yet.

12. Make your forever friends.

What’s life without your forever friends?

13. Gym so hard.

Hit up the gym and eat some spinach every once in a while. It’s good for ya.

14. Buy your parents drinks.

Imagine how funny (or scaring) it’ll be hearing your dad tell the hot bartender some of his ‘high-quality’ dad jokes.

15. Splurge a little money.

Like I said before, treat yo-damn-self.

16. Save a little money.

But, treat yo-damn-self within reason. Your future self will thank you.

17. Always give a solid tip at restaurants.

A nice tip can go a long way… and I mean the monetary kind.

18. Perfect your Insta game.

Juno? Ludwig? Valencia? Choose your favorite filter and throw it over everything. Whether it be your #foodie lunch or your beach pics, find your ~aesthetic~ and stick with it.

19. Make sure your jerk radar is properly calibrated.

This will get you so far in life and save you so much wasted time.

20. Cross a few things off your bucket list.

If you don’t have a bucket list, now’s the time to make one and start checking things off one-by-one. You’ll never realize how much you’ve really done until you see a big list with a bunch of marks through it.

21. Live. A lot.

Okay, so maybe 9+10 is not 21 (#RIPVine), but this is a huge year for you. This might be your last big birthday before the big 5-0 so make sure you’re always living every moment to the fullest.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren LeBouef

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Southern Comfort Food Recipes

A recipe passed down through the family from my Grandma.

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Since the weather is turning cooler here in Connecticut, I like to keep a little piece of home with me by cooking up some Biscuits and Gravy with sausage crumbles. My Grandma on my mother's side used to make it all the time. On cold mornings it really hits the spot so long as you have the time to make it.

From beginning to end I would say the process takes about 45 minutes.

Kitchen utensils:

- Skillet (10 Inches)

- Wooden Spoon

- Baking Pan

-Measuring Cup

-Mixing Bowl

- Flour Sifter

Oven Temp:350

The easiest way to go about this is by making the biscuits first. They can bake in the oven while the sausage and gravy are being made.

Biscuit Recipe

Usually, I never measure, I know it's bad, its a Southern habit but for you guys I did.

1 cup flour (Self-rising)

1/2 cup water

2 Tbsp bacon grease**

1 tsp salt- for taste

I start by sifting my flour, just make sure there are no clumps. Once the flour is sifted, I add the bacon grease to it. This is a vital ingredient. Otherwise, your biscuits will taste very bland. There will be a note at the end of the recipe on how to render the bacon grease. Add the water and salt and mix the ingredients until they are incorporated, the dough will be wet. You didn't do anything wrong; it's supposed to be that way.

After the dough is made I like to use a large silverware spoon to scoop (like you would cookie dough) them out and put them on the baking sheet, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or buttered, whichever you prefer. This recipe should yield about 8 biscuits. If you want more or less, you can edit the recipe accordingly.

Bake biscuits at 350 temp for 20-25 minutes. Or until the tops are nice and golden. Once I pull them from the oven, I like to use a stick of butter and rub it on top, so it seeps into the cracks and crevices.

Sausage

This is probably the easiest part of the recipe.

-1 roll of Jimmy Dean sausage or a sausage of your choice

****Very important side note! It's best not to get the maple flavored kind. Otherwise, you will have maple flavored gravy, and that's not good.

This is where the skillet comes in. In the skillet break apart the sausage roll into the skillet. Cook until sausage is brown, probably 10 minutes. If some gets stuck to the pan that's ok. it will be used for the gravy. Once the sausage is browned remove from the skillet and set aside.

Gravy Recipe

This is my favorite part of the recipe!

Ingredients:

- 1 1/2 cups of water

-1/2 cup of milk

-1 tsp salt

-1 tsp pepper

3 Tbsp flour

After the sausage is removed from the pan, there should be some grease left behind. DO NOT THROW IT OUT! Reduce the heat on the skillet to medium and add the flour. If the flour doesn't become like a thin paste in the bottom of the pan, you don't have enough grease. You can substitute vegetable oil, maybe a teaspoon just enough to loosen the flour.

Let the flour cook until it's a light brown, don't forget to stir it! You want to get all the sausage drippings off the bottom of the skillet. Add salt and pepper. Add water and milk, stir immediately! Otherwise, the gravy will be lumpy. I usually turn the burner off and let it cook from the heat. I like thin gravy, so I only let it cook a few minutes.

Once finished add the sausage back to the gravy and stir it in.

Cut open a biscuit and lay the halves out like a hamburger bun, smoother in gravy and ENJOY!

*** SIDE NOTE- To render bacon grease, save the leftover grease from cooking bacon. It will turn into almost a soft butter consistency after it cools down.

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