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!

 

INGREDIENTS:
• 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

INSTRUCTIONS:
• 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.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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table dressing: fall tables

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

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

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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)

 

INGREDIENTS:
• 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

 

INSTRUCTIONS:
• 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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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!

 

 

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I made farfel with mushrooms for my husband for years because he had asked me to.  I wasn’t that excited about the side dish but it was delicious.  I decided to use shiitake and cremini mushrooms which added to the flavor.  Another tip was to boil the farfel in chicken broth.  My husband was happy, so that makes this another go-to side dish!

 

INGREDIENTS:
• 12 ounce (2 to 2-1/2 cups, depending on the size) farfel or egg barley, toasted
• 4 ounce (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 2 large (1 pound) yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
• 12 ounce (3/4 pound) mushrooms (button, shitake, or cremini) sliced or chopped
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
• 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
• 1 large egg (optional)
• 1/4 cup soup stock, chicken or vegetable (optional)
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:
• Bring a large pot of salted water (4 quarts water with 1 tablespoon kosher salt) to a boil.

• Add the toasted farfel and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse.

• In a large saucepan, heat the butter.

• Add the onions and sauté until translucent, 7 to 8 minutes.

• Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring often, until the mushrooms have given off most of their water and the mushrooms and onions are soft, about 30 minutes.

• Stir the farfel into the sautéed mushrooms and onions adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

• Bake the farfel, stir in the egg and soup broth (if using).

• Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish. You can store the farfel covered in the refrigerator at this point for up to 2 days.

• Before serving, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top browns and the farfel is heated through.

 

 

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recipe: grilled open face sandwiches

September 18th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

After a morning at Evanston’s Farmers Market, I had fresh arugula, heirloom tomatoes, and sweet onions in my bag.  I had also picked up a loaf of fresh bread, prosciutto, and sliced mozzarella from my favorite small Italian grocery store, Poeta’s in Highwood.  It was a gorgeous day and several people were stopping over, so I decided to make an open face sandwich with all my purchased goodies.

Heat, clean, and oil your grill.  Cut your loaf of bread in half and drizzle it with olive oil.  Place the bread open side down to crisp and grill, being careful not to burn.  Take your bread off the grill and set aside.  Finely dice several cloves of garlic and sprinkle over bread.  Next I cut up all my goodies from the morning shopping trip.  I sliced my tomatoes and onions, washed my arugula, and snipped and diced some fresh basil from my potted garden.  I sliced a ripe avocado (drizzle lime juice over the slices to prevent browning) and sliced the prosciutto and cheese.

Now it’s time to have fun!  I made one sandwich with meat and veggies and one with avocado and veggies.  The important thing to remember is start with a layer of cheese and end with cheese on top.  You can layer your veggies and herbs also adding a dash of kosher salt and cracked pepper.  The next step is to place them back on the grill until the cheese melts being careful not to burn the bread.  Slice and serve!

 

 

 

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recipe: summer vegetable ceviche

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

This recipe is fresh, delicious, and bursting with summer flavors.  Try adding your favorite vegetables.  Remember the fresh lime is the key to bringing out the best taste.  It is inspired by a recipe from David Frenkiel and Luise Vendahl of Green Kitchen Stories.

 

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 cup fresh lima beans (from about 1-1/2 pounds in the pod) or other shelling bean (frozen and cooked)
• 1 tsp finely grated lime zest
• 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
• 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 scallion, thinly sliced
• 1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
• 1 small shallot, thinly sliced

• Sea salt
• 1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
• 2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges (optional)
• 8oz edamame
• 2 small cucumbers, skin on
• 1-1/2 avocados, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 large orange bell pepper, finely julienned
• 1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes or mixed heirloom, halved
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS:
• Prepare lima beans and edamame until tender, about 10 minutes.

• Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.

• In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, jalapeño, and shallot; season the dressing with salt.

• Fold in the lima beans, corn nectarines, avocado, orange pepper, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

• Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

• Fold in cilantro, just before serving and serve chilled.

Make ahead, the salad can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours.

 

 

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recipe: peach dumplings with bourbon sauce

September 13th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

If there is one dessert you need to try it’s this one.  It’s peaches to perfection!  I happen to loves peaches simply sliced off the pit, nothing added.  But when you fill it with a mixture of brown sugar and butter and wrap it in a wonderful puff pastry, then top it with an amazing bourbon sauce… you have the best dessert ever!  The crust is warm and crunchy, the sauce is melting over the dumpling, and a caramel goodness is oozing out of the dough.  It’s so good!  I credit another blogger Deb Perlman of Smitten Kitchen with this recipe.  I used premade dough, only Dufour, but it’s not hard to make your own.  Enjoy!  Let me know what you think.

 

FILLING INGREDIENTS:
• 3 large peaches
• 1/3 cup (65 grams) light or dark brown sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Few fresh gratings of nutmeg, or a pinch of ground
• 1 tablespoon butter, cut into 6 pieces, kept cold
• 1 large egg, for glaze

SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
• 4 tablespoons (55 grams or 1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
• 3/4 cup (95 grams) confectioners’ sugar
• 1 tablespoon bourbon

CRUST INGREDIENTS:
• Dufour pastry dough or make your own!

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS:
• Roll pastry dough to a 12″x18″ rectangle, and divide into six 6-inch squares.  If dough gets too soft or warm while you’re rolling it, continue to the square stage, but then transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill them in the freezer for a couple minutes, until they firm up again.

• Halve peaches, and remove pits.  Scoop a little but extra out of the pit so that there is more room to pack the filling.

• Mix brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a little dish.

• Spoon 1 lightly packed tablespoon on top of each peach, smooshing as much of the sugar mixture as you can into the center.

• Dot the top of each with a piece of the cold butter.

• Center a peach half, cut side up, in your first pastry square.  Bring corners up to meet each other over the center (if it feels tight, or as if you’re short of dough, make sure that the dough underneath is flush with the peach curve; it tends to get slack) and seal the seams together, pinching with your fingertips.

• Arrange peach dumplings in a buttered 9″x13″ baking dish, and chill for 30 minutes.

• Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

• Whisk egg together with 1 teaspoon water to form a glaze.

• Brush glaze over the tops and exposed sides of dumplings.

• Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until pastries are puffed and bronzed on top.

• While baking, make the sauce.  Beat softened butter, confectioners’ sugar, and bourbon until smooth.

• Scrape into serving dish.  When pastries come out of oven, dollop each with a heaping spoonful of the sauce, and serve pastries with the sauce melting over the sides.

 

 

 

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