Ryan’s Birthday Bowling Party!

Ryan Patrick is 7!  Bowling anyone?

My Chris had them all in order, for about one minute!  They had so much fun!  I even got to bowl a few frames.  I’m a pretty good bowler.  Oh, did I mention we had bumpers?

Today wasn’t Ryan’s actual birthday, it was May 17th.  We celebrated on his birthday and at the family lake house with a very fun party my awesome Mother-in-Law orchestrated and today with Ryan’s classmates.  Up until this morning, I hadn’t made him his special birthday cake.

My little guy loves Scooby Doo.  I looked high and low the night before for a pre-made cake.  Yes, I was going to buy a cake!  I could not find anything Scooby Doo, pre made or otherwise.  No decorations.  Nothing.  Ok,  I’ll be making a cake in the morning.

I went on line and found this image and printed it.  This was going to be the cake!  Like his Mama, my guy loves chocolate! I was delighted.  My go to chocolate cake is the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa box.  It’s the most delicious and moist cake I’ve ever had.  You MUST try!

There was pizza.  Lemonade.  Singing.  Cake.  Presents.  Good day.

I can’t believe my baby is 7.  Whew, I have a whole year to figure out what I’m going to make for his next birthday!

Have a great day!



Gluten Free=Feeling Good

Good Evening All-

It is about to finally start warming up here in Chicago!  Interesting because we were sitting out on the deck for St. Patrick’s Day!  Looking forward to getting outside and digging in the dirt in my garden.  March was very warm, so I put my hummingbird feeder out…..can’t wait for my favorite feathered creatures to arrive. It is the highlight of my summer, so awesome!

I haven’t been consistently posting for awhile.  Lack of energy.  I’ve had tons of fatigue over the past few years and was talking to my good friend Terri.  She recommended that I have some blood work done to find out what food sensitivities I may have as fatigue can be directly related to diet.   When I broached the subject with my endocrine doctor a couple of years ago, she said my life was most likely making me tired, so I let it go.  This is a doctor I completely respect so I do not intend to take anything away from her incredible abilities!  Four years ago this month, she saved my life.  I am so thankful for her.

This week, just for grins, I decided to eliminate wheat from my diet.  At first I thought I was imagining things.  I actually felt like I had more energy…interesting.  I also felt my mid section getting smaller…also interesting.   I strongly suspect that I have a wheat issue.  Will have blood work results in a couple of weeks.

If you know me at all, you know that I am a HUGE baker.  I’ve got working with butter, sugar, flour and eggs down.  I absolutely love everything about it.   I love being in my cozy kitchen turning out beautiful and delectable baked goods.  I love the joy it brings to the people I serve it to.  I love it being the center of many joyful celebrations.  It makes me very, very happy.

As it turns out, gluten free baking is possible but entirely different from what I’ve done all my life, a  completely different science.  Ahhh.  A challenge.   I am so up for it!

Take care:-)



Dinner With My Valentine At Morton’s Steakhouse…..

Joe and I enjoyed a lovely Valentine’s dinner last night at Morton’s Steakhouse with our good friends Donna and Jim.   We had such a nice time.  It’s a real treat for us to go there, we only go 1-2 times a year.  They’re dinner menu is to die for!

We enjoyed our selections from their Valentine’s Day special.  We both had the Morton’s Salad, the Colossal Shrimp Alexander, a Petite Fillet, Baked Potato with butter, sour cream and bacon, Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms and our desserts were Key Lime Pie, which I had to bring home!  The meal was absolutely delicious!

I am often asked what my favorite foods are to eat and to prepare.   Last night on the drive home, I decided that my two favorite restaurants are Morton’s Steakhouse and The Kampai.  I especially love these two restaurants because they use very simple preparation techniques and use high quality ingredients.  This is my kitchen mantra as well.  You will notice that my recipes are quite simple and use good, readily available ingredients.

A couple of steakhouse related recipes you should check out would be my Simple Barbecued Ribs and my Simple Grilled Steak with Homemade Rub.   The ribs are extremely tender and there is no boiling involved.  You can get them grill ready and freeze for another time if you wish.  The steak is so, so good.  I love it served the traditional way with a baked potato with butter and sour cream and a salad with crumbled bleu cheese.  So easy to prepare and very wallet friendly.

I hope you all get to enjoy a nice relaxing Valentine’s Day dinner too:-)

Good eating!


Farewell My Tiny Feathered Friends!

Farewell to my beautiful little feathered friends!  It was mid September when I took these shots in my back yard.  They were buzzing around the feeder more than ever getting ready for their long trek south.  I stood outside about 10 yards away from the feeder very still for about 15 minutes with my camera focused on the feeder.  This is the first time I’d ever gotten really good photos of my humming birds.

About a month ago I was at my kitchen sink and noticed a humming bird hovering around my window.  I couldn’t figure out why she’d be there as there are no flowers or feeders there.  Then I noticed a spider web floating in the air and the hummingbird was tugging on it with her long beak.  I know that they use spider webs for building their nests but I’ve never seen anything like that before.  It made me curious why she’d be interested in the web this late in the summer, maybe securing her nest for winter???  Winterizing her nest???

These little creatures bring me so much joy:-)  Safe travels and I’ll have plenty of nectar for you next year!


My True Love of Food…..

Hello Everyone-

What do you do when it’s time for a party?   How do you plan your week of meals?  Do you have an old “go to” cookbook, magazine, or recipe box?  What about the newspaper?  Does your newspaper have a food section? 

I find so many tidbits of information in so many places.  There is, of course, The Food Network, and many cooking shows all over network TV.  I love the show Chopped.  I would love to open a mystery box and the challenge of creating delicious dishes with the mystery ingredients.    Cooking is so great because options are completely endless when it comes to most any food ingredient.

I subscribe to Cooking Light, Food & Wine Magazine, and Bon Appetite.  I try to go through each magazine and cut out recipes I’m interested in and I file them in categorized hanging file folders.  It’s really great because each week I go through say the Chicken file and either come up with a recipe I like or adapt a recipe to my taste.  I make notes as to any changes I’ve made on the page. 

And cookbooks….Oh Boy!  My favorite read is a beautifully photographed cookbook.  A couple of  fav’s-anything by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa and Jamie Oliver, a most real chef that uses lovely, real ingredients.  As far as Asian food goes, I love A Spoonful of Ginger, by Nina Simonds.   My go to Cookbook for any questions on basic technique or cooking times for things like a 25 lb. turkey or a 12 lb. ham would be Fanny Farmer.  I learned how to cook out of my Grandma Inez’s version.  French toast and pancakes.  Anything basic I wanted to know I went to that book.  It was easy to read and understand for the 10 year old girl I was at the time.  Yes, there is yet another source I use….

The Good Eating Section of the Chicago Tribune.  I have found some incredible recipes as well as cooking tips like using unflavored gelatin to set whipped cream.  This section also has  sale flyers for all local grocery stores.  I plan my menu based on what I can find on sale.  Shrimp might be on sale and if I want a different way to prepare it, I go to my fish file.  It’s that simple.

Mostly, my passion for pouring over recipes and coming up with menus all comes down to one thing.   Sitting around the table with people I love and sharing a warm and delicious meal together.  Talking and sharing what happened in our day.  I feel closest to my family at dinner time.  Good stuff.

Have a great evening.


Back From “Pure Michigan”…..

Hello Everyone!

So sorry to be MIA!  No WiFi at our family lake house in “Pure Michigan.”   Too much effort to seek it out as I was a lazy loaf for a week!

Didn’t stop cooking, however, did plenty of that!  Gotta eat, right?  Had a really nice Italian dinner last night.  I made a Simple Marinara Sauce with a fun curly fusilli pasta, grilled hot Italian sausages, homemade Caesar salad (mine of course!), and homemade Garlic Bread.   It’s a little wierd having such a comfort type of dinner at a lake house in the middle of summer, but I sometimes crave a little of that.

So glad to be home!  Much of my focus has been getting Jack ready for his first year of college.  Big stuff.  I’m so excited for him, I think more so than he is presently.  Fear of the unknown and all that .

Speaking of unknown, if you printed my recipe for Raspberry Bars, please reprint!  Thankfully Susan casually mentioned that the eggs might go in somewhere!  I immediately made the correction, geeze!  Hopefully if you were in the midst of making them you’d have put them in as you normally would, with the sugar and butter, so sorry if I caused any inconvenience!!  Must be more careful, sometimes I work on posts late in the evening when I’m fried!  You know, when no one is asking where their shoes, hat, or wallet might be!

I’ve missed posting, please bear with me, I have sooooo many ideas I’m just dying to share:-)

Have a great day!


ps-the beautiful rose bush pictured is actually a desendant of a rose bush my Mother gave to my Grandma Rose when she was about 8 years old.  This bush has been going for over 60 years!  How cool is that???

My Flowers….

Humans aren’t the only ones anxious for spring!  My hibiscus has been flowering consistently over the past couple of months!  My African Violets were in full bloom a couple of months ago.  They displayed gorgeous periwinkle colored flowers.

I’ve had this orchid for 3 years this May.  I remember this because my friend Nora brought me this plant when I was in the midst of thyroid cancer treatment.  I could not part with it.  I felt a bit of a spiritual connection to it.  The plant/leaves  looked healthy so if it could thrive, so could I.

Originally I think I was under watering.  I decided last spring/summer to put it on the deck thinking that if nothing happend I’d have to get rid of it.  Then  and unexpected rain absolutely drenched the plant.  It immediately flourished!  It sprouted new leaves and perked up as if to say, “ah, thank you!”

After I brought it in last fall, it began to sprout what looked to be a stem from the center.  I consistently watered twice a week and now,  flowers.  Whether cooking or caring for delicate house plants, all requires patience.

Love the rain we’ve been getting.  The narcissus have popped out of the ground, the butterfly bushes are sprouting leaves and many of our early flowering plants have leaves growing out of the base.  Yippee!

Of course, this all is food related.  Why you might ask?  As soon as our deck is chock-full of flowers, we begin entertaining.  Flowers and beautiful greenery are the perfect back drop for any outdoor celebration.

Ribs.  That’ll be the first thing I serve.  Maybe with an Asian twist?  I have a little time to ponder.

Have a blessed day!


Happy Birthday Deb!

Celebrated my sweet friend Deb’s 20th anniversary of her 21st birthday in Geneva, Illinois today.  Geneva is about 40 miles west of Chicago.   So fun!  Loved getting together with ten ladies to laugh over mimosas and enjoy a delicious celebratory meal in honor of our treasured friend.  One of the things I love about Deb is that she’s a great cook and  foodie.    I had no doubt that we’d have a yummy dining experience.  The restaurant was wonderful and worth the ride west. (good choice Kara!)

The name of the restaurant was Wildwood.  They serve a very nice a la carte  brunch on Sundays.   I would highly recommend this to anyone who might venture out that way for a day of fun and shopping.   

I had the Grand Marnier french toast….absolutely delicious.  Certainly a recipe I must try, I’m thinking very, very simple.  Might be delicious to make a baked french toast that sits in the refrigerator overnight and baked in the morning….yeah, that sounds really good!  The taste was exquisite.  Served alongside my tipsy french toast were four strips of delicious thick sliced apple-wood smoked bacon, lingonberry jam, maple syrup, and skillet roasted red skin potatoes.  Oh, and a bowl of fruit… can you say “food coma?” 

So.  Make a plan to go to Geneva with some girlfriends.  Have a mimosa or a bloody mary.  Order something you wouldn’t make at home. Enjoy.

Have a great week!


Where Do the Bunnies Go?

We have some resident bunnies who live in our yard and after the blizzard I got to thinking…..where do they go when there is so much snow?  They can’t get to the base of my bird feeder, what do they eat?  I am a huge softie for most any creature who has to endure a harsh Chicago winter.

Well, he seems quite comfortable….

I did not use the zoom on my camera, I was about 2 feet away from this chubby bunny…plenty of winter “stores,” he must be a regular customer at my feeder.   Can you guess where he is?

Why, under my neighbor Mary’s grill, of course!  He clearly doesn’t realize that I’m bit of a cook.  (don’t worry, if I had to forage for my meats, I’d be a vegetarian)  This bunny was so tame, I was able to give him a celery stick and some sunflower seeds and he didn’t budge! 

I am so pleased that I have so much nature around me, even in the city. I love to feed the birds, squirrels, and bunnies.

Have a great weekend!

Past Recipes…..

It is extremely cold here in Chicago.  Makes me want to enjoy friends at MY house so I don’t have to get in and out of a cold car!  In any case, I love having my favorite peeps over for delicious comfort foods, not to mention a delightful dessert grand finale.

Have you taken a look at my recipe for Greek Gyros?  Serve up a fresh Greek salad and it’s a fabulous dinner for guests yet simple enough for a weeknight supper.  I am making these today and I think if you haven’t already, you should try them….they’re excellent!  How about Old Fashioned Pot Roast with sour cream mashed potatoes?  I love serving pot roast with a simple Red Cabbage Salad, I think the vinegar dressing cuts the richness of the meat and gravy.  Soooo good!  Lastly, what’s not to love about macaroni and cheese.  Try my Ultimate Beefy Mac n Cheese.  Your kids will absolutely flip!

Dessert?  Try my incredibly simple Peach Crisp, use the prepared frozen peaches and a scoop of real vanilla ice cream.  Or try a real crowd pleaser, Texas Sheet Cake.  I love to make this cake because you ice the warm cake, no waiting for it to cool…..I’m can be a bit impatient!  I love to make Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting, they bake and cool incredibly fast and are so simple to serve. 

What will you be making this week?

I hope you have a wonderful day!