Maxwell Street Market & Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles

I have some exciting news. This is my 100th post! Woo!

In honor of my 100th post, I am going to give you a travel post AND a recipe. Y’all are lucky readers. 🙂 In addition to chronicling my world travels, I wanted to start writing about my discoveries and adventures right here in Sweet Home, Chicago. You can find my first “Tourist in the City” post about the Chicago Botanic Garden here.

Today, I am going to tell you about a hidden gem in Chicago. It’s the Maxwell Street Market, a weekly open-air flea market located in the South Loop. Seriously, if you live in Chicago and you love Mexican food, you should head down to Des Plaines and Polk Street and stuff yourself silly. The market is held every Sunday. You’ll find some of the best, inexpensive Mexican street food in Chicago and there is no admission price to get in. Win!

Pastor Taco at Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Pastor (Pork) taco – $2

I went with a friend of mine in November and ate approximately 25 pounds of food. Ok, maybe not quite 25 pounds of food, but I sure as heck ate a TON of tacos that day and didn’t feel guilty about it.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Me, quesadillas, carne asada, and pastor.

The food is all made to order, even the tortillas. Did I mention that it is cheap? Check out these prices.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

I recommend… everything!

This lady was a tortilla making machine! She was cranking them out like nobody’s business.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Fresh, soft, warm tortillas. YUM!

I am a bit of a mole freak. I love mole. If I see it on a menu, I have to order it. This was some of the best mole I’ve had since moving to Chicago and I paid $2.50 for it.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

I love mole!

In addition to housing some fantastic street food, the Maxwell Street Market is also host to a flea market. Need a set of tires? You can get them here along with a new lamp, a package of socks, a box of nails, and a guitar. You can also get your hands on some fresh produce at prices that beat any grocery store in town.

At the flea market, I bought a bag of dried hibiscus flowers and have been drinking hibiscus tea throughout the winter. Hibiscus tea has a very tart flavor, similar to a cranberry. I happened to like the tartness and usually drank my tea without adding any additional sugar, although I occasionally added a bit of honey to sweeten it. The hibiscus flower contains vitamin C, is thought to lower blood pressure, and has a surprising amount of health benefits. It is also very pretty to look at when it is steeping in your teapot. 🙂

I posted a picture of strawberry hibiscus popsicles in last week’s Paleo Food Diary and had a lot of people asking for the recipe. If you do not have popsicle molds, you can freeze these in ice cube trays, Dixie cups, or muffin tins. If you like strawberry, you might also enjoy my strawberry, banana, and orange popsicles.

Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles
Makes 6 pops

Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dried Hibiscus flowers

Directions:

  1. In a pot, bring water and Hibiscus flowers to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain flowers and add the liquid to a blender.
  3. Add strawberries, banana, and honey and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze.
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The Chicago Botanic Garden

Over the weekend, my husband and I spent some time walking around the Chicago Botanic Gardens. The outside grounds are still beautiful and serene even though the plants and flowers are no longer in bloom. The entire garden sits on 385 acres, and the outdoor landscaping is definitely worth a trip any time of the year. They also have four greenhouses on site, each housing plants from a different region. Most of the pictures below were taken in the greenhouses, but there are a few from the grounds as well.

This photo makes it look like it was not 40 degrees outside!

This photo makes it look like it was not 40 degrees outside!

Geometric succulent in the dessert greenhouse

Geometric succulent in the desert greenhouse

Us

Us

Tropical greenhouse

Tropical greenhouse

An emerging pineapple

An emerging pineapple

The last of fall on the grounds

The last of fall on the grounds

Tropical greenhouse

Tropical greenhouse

Stone steps leading to the Japanese Gardens

Stone steps leading to the Japanese Gardens

The underside of these leaves are my favorite color

The underside of these leaves are my favorite color

I wish I could do yoga here every morning

I wish I could do yoga here every morning

Japanese rock garden

Japanese rock garden

Tropical greenhouse

Tropical greenhouse

Winter rose display

Winter rose display

Bananas

Bananas

Over the last year, most of the photos you have seen on this blog have been taken with my iPhone. I used to have access to an absurdly nice camera when I worked full-time at the University of Chicago, and I dream of the day that I can take this blog to the next level with fancy photography. I am slowly saving up for a nice DSLR, but probably won’t be able to afford one for at least another year. It will be a good graduation/new job present to myself. 🙂 However, I have to say that I am very impressed with the quality of photos that phones take nowadays. Do you remember what cell phone photos used to look like? It was not pretty. Do you want to know what the very first iPhone/Instagram picture I took was?

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Lincoln Park Conservatory

That is a picture of the entrance to the Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago. How fitting! By the way, if you want to follow me on Instagram, you can find me under cucina_kristina!