recipe: nan’s gazpacho

September 19th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Appetizers | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This past weekend was an adventure in food and activity.  I spent the weekend with six couples that are all in better shape than me, but I kept up!  We could ski, paddle board, kayak, swim, water ski, bike, sail, hike… and read.  We all shared our cooking skills each assigned a night to make a meal.  This was my very favorite appetizer served by my friend Nancy.  At 5:30 every evening we met at the dock for appetizers, drinks, and eagle watching cruising the lake. What a treat this was, served with a variety of beers.  Enjoy!



• 1 32oz bottle of low sodium V8 juice
• 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
• 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
• 6 green onions, finely chopped
• 1 green pepper, finely chopped
• 1 yellow or orange pepper, finely chopped
• 2 English cucumbers or 4 small pickle cucumbers, finely chopped
• ½ cup of shredded/chopped carrots
• ½ cup of ketchup
• 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
• 2 large 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes with juice
• Tabasco to taste
• Salt & pepper to taste
• Optional – 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro or parsley



• Mix all of the ingredients in an extra large bowl.

• Let sit overnight in fridge.

• Serve in individual “ball jars” with cooked shrimp and sour cream.  Serves 12



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

recipe: stuffed zucchini boats

August 24th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Appetizers | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

It’s zucchini time, the end of the season and our gardens are filled with the season’s labors. I love zucchini grilled with a small amount of olive oil or sautéed with garlic, olive oil, and a dash of balsamic, but my boys love it baked and stuffed.  This is a very simple recipe to enjoy this end of the summer vegetable.


• 3-4 zucchinis
• ¾ cup plain breadcrumbs
• ⅓ cup grated Parmesan
• 2 tablespoons of butter
• 2 tablespoons of fresh finely chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, or basil)
• Kosher salt & pepper



• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• Peel zucchini and cut into four pieces.  Then carve out the center of each piece.

• Melt butter in a small saucepan and add breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, and a dash of salt & pepper.

• Stuff zucchini with the bread filling.

• Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until zucchini is cooked and filling is crispy.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We started our Father’s Day feast this year with an appetizer of sun dried tomatoes, wet mozzarella cheese, fresh basil from the garden on asiago cheese bread.  I paired this with Starborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from Marlborough New Zealand (90 points from the Wine Spectator).  The citrus in the lemon, grapefruit, grassy flavors and aromas paired wonderfully with the acid in the sun dried tomatoes and creaminess of the mozzarella.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

recipe: deviled eggs

May 7th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Appetizers | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This appetizer reminds me of my youth.  A staple treat when appetizer’s seemed to be much simpler.  I really enjoyed revisiting this wonderful egg concoction.  A perfect snack!

This recipe is derived from April Bloomfield’s… most recipes are similar.



• 6 hard boiled eggs peeled
• 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise (You can replace 1 tbsp with Creme Fraiche.)
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tbsp of champagne vinegar
• Dash of kosher salt & freshly ground pepper


• Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, scoop out the yolks into a small food processor.

• Add mayonnaise and blend, then add champagne vinegar, mustard and Crème Fraiche.

• Add salt & pepper to taste.

• Chill the yolk mixture and egg whites for approx. 30 minutes.

• Spoon mixture into each egg white.

• Add chopped green onions, a bit of bacon or chopped chives.

• Sprinkle with cayenne pepper or paprika if you don’t like the heat.





Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A night out with good friends, all great cooks, is always the best way to spend an evening.  My dear friend invited us over for a casual meal and basketball games!  As usual our small group seemed to keep growing which just makes the evening all the better.  A group effort, the menu started with steamed artichokes, hummus and veggies.  The crock pot barbecue beer chicken sliders were accompanied by sweet potato fries, kale salad and fruit salad.  I have to note that martini’s, wine and vodka were another side special.  We finished with two different brownie recipes, one a deep chocolate cake-like brownie, oozing with melted morsels, and my best ever Alice Medrich’s chocolate, almost caramel like fudgy,             classic brownies.



RECIPE: Sweet Potato Fries

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

• Slice and cut three large sweet potatoes into fries.

• Place on cookie sheet, do not overlap fries.

• Drizzle with canola or olive oil and kosher salt.

• Bake for 15 minutes, then toss fries to get all sides crisp… when they look cooked on all     sides remove from oven.



RECIPE: Kale Salad  (Click to Read)


RECIPE: Best Brownies Ever  (Click to Read)


RECIPE: Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken  (Click to Read)



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

My dear friend, who has not yet given me permission to mention her by name, is my companion in all food matters.  When the season starts for fresh produce and outdoor markets we are ready at the crack of dawn with bags and baskets in hand.  Our senses are inspired by the smell of fresh herbs, the variety of the produce and the creativity of the specialty foods for sale.  Since the weather here north of Chicago feels like the southern coast we needed to venture to a market.  We headed farther north where the weather was a bit warmer… go figure!  “Brass Ball Fruit” and “River Valley Kitchens” were our stops today.  It satisfied our urge for fresh market shopping and we revisited old friends that we will see at the outdoor market soon enough.



Known for their homemade pies and breads.  It is a very small open market store.  The pies were “HOT”, fresh from the oven and too hard to resist.  I will be back for bread, pancake mix, syrup, more fresh produce and of course another pie.




We met this vendor at the farmer’s market in Evanston, IL.  They are mushroom farmers and have a selection of mushrooms you don’t find everywhere.  They pickle their mushrooms, make mushroom salsa, mushroom pasta sauce and “Shroomschetta”.  Their 5-cheese Garlic Spread is out of this world.  I use it for pasta sauce, as a dip and love it on burgers!  They have cheeses, homemade scones, fresh eggs, fresh bacon and so much more.  When the markets start I suggest you visit their booth but in the mean time on a lovely Spring day take a ride up to Wisconsin and visit their store.


I have included their “Stuffed Mushroom” recipe:


• 1 pound of medium to large mushrooms
• 2 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
• ¼ cup of chopped onion
• 1 small garlic clove minced (I always add another clove)
• 1/3 cup of bread crumbs
• 1 Tablespoon of chopped parsley
• ½ tsp of kosher salt
• 1/8 teaspoon of dried oregano
• Dash of fresh ground black pepper


• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

• Remove stems from mushrooms, place cap side down in a greased casserole dish.

• Finely chop the stems, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.

• Add chopped stems, onions and garlic to heated oil.  Saute until lightly browned.

• Combine bread crumbs, parsley salt, pepper and oregano in a large bowl.

• Add sauteed mushroom mixture.

• Stuff mushroom caps and bake for 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email