Author Archives: admin

kitchen girl

February 28th, 2014 | Posted by admin in UPDATES - (1 Comments)

Sometimes we connect with others in a way we never thought possible… and sometimes that connection is with a special pet.  My Kitchen Girl… my best friend, Callie passed away.  It has taken me a few weeks to write about her passing.  She was my constant companion.  If I moved to another room she was right by my side.  In the kitchen she peered at me from under the kitchen table, watching my every move.  If I was baking and mixing then she was right at my feet, waiting for her turn to lick the beaters!  Yes, it was always my treat to her for watching over me.

My sweet girl Callie was unlike any other dog I have had.  She was huge… gentle… soft… calm… sweet… watchful… and loving.  If I was upset or sick she would know.  She would find me and become my lap dog, sitting next to me on the sofa, her head perched in my lap.  Her presence calmed me down and made me feel better always.  When I walked into the house she waited for me and when I left she looked at me as if to say don’t worry I’ll be watching the house, but come home soon.

As a puppy Callie had two operations on both knees, I spent many nights laying with her on a pile of quilts stroking her soft ears and keeping her calm.  We became the best of friends then and I know she spent the rest of her life giving back to me tenfold.  At night she continued to expect to sleep with us, so my 110 lb Great Pyrenees nestled herself between us most nights.  Many mornings I would wake up with that sweet face
resting on my pillow.  I can’t explain how much I miss my girl.

I will have more dogs, but I am not sure I will ever have a friend like Callie.  She was my big polar bear, my little cookie, and my dearest friend.  If you are not a dog person you will not understand my sadness and the many tears I have shed.  She was not just a dog to me… she was my girl, who I am forever grateful to have had in my life.

(Callie sleeping)



recipe: cranberry apple cake

January 28th, 2014 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

Easy and delicious are the best words to describe this dessert.  We were having another couple over for a very casual pizza & chopped salad dinner and movie.  I had picked up several flavors of gelato but just had that feeling that I needed something else to add to the dessert menu.  (I am a lover of all things sweet!!!)

I had these wonderful fresh cranberries that were frozen and I had wanted to use them… sitting on the counter were a bunch of honey crisp apples.  So I Googled easy dessert recipes using my two fruits… Ina Garten’s “Easy Cranberry Apple Cake” appeared on my screen.  I have included Ina’s recipe for you to follow, but I did add another 1/2 cup of cranberries and an additional 1/2 of an apple.  I like the fruit and it worked perfectly filling up my deep-dish pie pan.

I popped this cake in the oven only a few minutes before my guests arrived.  The recipe took maybe 20 minutes… so fast, east, and I have to say, delicious!  The cake was so good my guests took two helpings of dessert.  I hope you try this recipe and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!




• 12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
• 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
• ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
• 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
• ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
• 1-1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
• 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
• ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¼ cup sour cream
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt




• Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

• Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

• In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

• Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and ¹/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.



winter greens

December 20th, 2013 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (3 Comments)

I spent the day on one of my final jobs for winter planting this season.  It was cold but actually felt good to be outside… as it will be a long winter.  I am such a fan of the birch branches as they add a nice contrast to the dark greens.  There are so many fun accents to add including eucalyptus, winter berries, pine cones, red huck, rose hips, and various pods.  Have fun and be creative as these pots last through the spring!



holiday table dressing

December 17th, 2013 | Posted by admin in TABLE DRESSING - (0 Comments)

These tables are set for a festive holiday meal and all the items can be found at Material Possessions in Winnetka or Chicago, IL.  Mixing and Matching your dishes, pretty napkins, and place mats are all the little details that make a table inviting!  Of course a wonderful meal will also help!



recipe: snicker brittle butter cookies

December 9th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

The combination of Snickers and cookie dough is a match made in heaven.  Any left over candy… some still in my freezer from Halloween can be used to make these cookies.  Use your imagination and have fun!


• 2 sticks softened salted butter
• 3/4 cup light brown sugar
• 3/4 cup white sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 Tbsp good vanilla
• 2-1/2 cups flour
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 3/4 cup toffee brittle
• Snickers, either mini or regular, cut up into approx. 24 cubes

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• Whip together softened butter, light brown sugar, and white sugar.

• Add 2 eggs and vanilla and mix well until blended.

• Add flour and baking soda and mix.

• Add toffee brittle.

• Take a small scoop of dough, put snicker cube in the middle and roll into a round ball.

• Place on the cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes until edges are brown.





table dressing: fall tables

October 28th, 2013 | Posted by admin in TABLE DRESSING - (0 Comments)

My favorite fall tables at Material Possessions (in Winnetka).



still enjoying our fall flowers

October 17th, 2013 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

Grasses, ferns, millet, asters, mums, and perennials fill a beautiful fall urn.



farmers market dinner

October 17th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Meals | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

We have been blessed with gorgeous weather the past several weeks, so Saturday morning at the market was wonderful.  I am a big fan of the Evanston’s Farmers market because there is so much variety and many organic gardeners selling their products.  I picked up a bag of fresh arugula, cippolini onions, heirloom tomatoes, and a variety of gorgeous purple and orange carrots.  At my next stop I filled my bags with sweet onions, beautiful white potatoes, herbed goat cheese, and fresh butter.

I didn’t stop as I found a vendor selling wonderful pork tenderloins, I couldn’t pass them up.  I added some candied onions, a variety of apples, peppers, and a delicious watermelon.  We spent the rest of the morning wandering around the different neighborhoods of Evanston.  I have always been drawn to college towns, there seems to be an added vibe of energy, creativity, and community in this beautiful town.

I decided to make a few small ramekins of apple crisp because what better dessert for fall.  Then I made quick salad of arugula, heirloom tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese, pine nuts, and cucumbers.  I used my go-to dressing, a simple vinaigrette.  But if you don’t have time to make your own use “Brianna’s”, it’s delicious!  I’m not proud but the big addition to this meal was a very delicious piping hot, extra crispy Lou’s special deep dish Pizza.  It was an easy and perfect fall Saturday night meal.

Sunday I usually feel like cooking, so in that spirit I marinated the pork tenderloins in a fabulous marinade by Jill and Jewels Elmore “The Family Chef”.  This recipe is easy, perfect for two or a crowd, and great if you are lucky enough to have leftovers!  I boiled up the white potatoes, maybe 3/4 of a pound, mashed them (skins on) with a 2 tsp of horseradish, fresh butter (4 tbsp), and a ¼ cup of cream.  I added a dash of kosher salt to taste… mmm soooo good!

I had a head of red cabbage from the last market so I shredded 1/2 of that and added thinly sliced candied onions to the cabbage.  I made a dressing of 1/2 cup of olive oil, juice of one lemon (4 tbsp approx.), 2 tbsp of horseradish, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp of sugar, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, and dash of salt & pepper.  I use my hand emulsifier to mix and poured 1/2 over the cabbage.  (I ended up adding more but add to your taste).  For added color and spice, you can also mix in thinly sliced poblanos or whatever pepper you like to use.

My next step was to take the tenderloins out of the marinade.  You need to heat a cast iron skillet (or you can use you grill) till it looks like it is smoking, then sear and brown all sides of the tenderloins.  I had two but you can double that with the marinade recipe below.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and when your tenderloins are browned put them on a sheet tray and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The tenderloins will be juicy and delicious. Wait a few minutes for the meat to set and slice.  My husband was going back for thirds until I said… I’d love a few leftovers for tomorrow!  I am excited about lunch.  This can be a summer, winter, or fall meal.  You can also heat up tortillas, add beans and guacamole and put the pork and slaw together for a great tasting meal.  I also cut up the market watermelon and drizzled reduced balsamic for a small side dish.  These are just a couple of ideas for dinner.  If you are like me the crisp air makes me want to cook… and so happy we can still enjoy the bounty of the farmer’s market.


RECIPE: Achiote Marinade (Inspiration & credit “The Family Chef” Jewels & Jill Elmore)


• 1/4 cup of Achiote paste (you can find at specialty markets, usually Mexican, it comes in a small block)
• Achiote marinated pork tenderloin
• 1 recipe of Achiote marinade (see above)
• 1/4 cup orange juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar
• 2-4 pork tenderloins


• Put marinade in a large plastic Ziploc, add your meat, and keep over night.  I have also started the marinade early in the day if I happen to forget the night before.  You can use this same recipe for chicken or beef.



places to go: cozy

October 1st, 2013 | Posted by admin in PLACES TO GO - (0 Comments)

I love small, inexpensive, quirky places with great food!  Cozy is just that, a perfect place with a fun environment.

Check out all the memorabilia ….so fun. I had the crispy pad Thai noodles and I loved them ! They were spicy, crispy with great fresh flavors.  We even ran In to “Elvis” on our way out.  A great place to try in Chicago.



fall pots

October 1st, 2013 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

It time to switch out your summer plants.  I enjoy mixing it up.

Grasses are always great for height and wonderful perennials can add interest and color.  Purple peppers and cabbages are another great way to add contrast in color and texture.  A splash of orange bittersweet adds a dash of interest like little jewels.

Have fun with fall!