recipe: quinoa salad

July 27th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Side Dishes - (0 Comments)

Quinoa is one of those super foods… and the best part is it’s delicious.  I like to mix it with bulgar, a wheat grain, and this time I added rosemary spiced walnuts and dried cranberries.  This can be a side dish or served over greens as a lunch salad.




• ½ cup of black or red quinoa

• ⅓ cup of bulgar grain #2

• 1 tbsp of olive oil

• 2 cups of low salt chicken broth

• ⅓ cup of walnuts, spiced with rosemary and thyme

• ⅓ cup of dried cranberries




• Saute quinoa and bulgar in oil for 1 minute.

• Add chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce till all liquid is gone.

• Stir in walnuts and cranberries and serve.  You can serve this hot or cold.



It’s grilling season and we’re raising the price bar a little bit this week by introducing a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon from California.   Napa and Sonoma Cabernets are considered the “king of red wine”.

Even the most casual wine drinker has heard of Beringer.  They produce wine for the masses, but did you know they have some very high-end wines that are often outstanding?  This particular Cabernet Sauvignon from the Knights Valley region of northern Sonoma County is an outstanding Cabernet having recently received a score of 91 points.  The release price is listed in the upper $20’s, but I found this at Total Wine for $19.99.  This certainly represents an outstanding wine for an excellent price.  Be sure to look closely at the label because they also make a “Reserve” Cabernet and it sells for $45-$50.

Cabernets of this quality usually cost in the mid $30-$40 range.  It drinks beautifully now but will last for another 8-10 years.  You will find rich dark fruits along with smooth tannins in this food friendly Cabernet.  Pair it with grilled steak, lamb chops, burgers or pork chops.

There were over 79,000 cases made so you should be able to find it pretty easily, but don’t wait too long, this will get gobbled up quickly by those who appreciate great Cabernets.



If you haven’t tried these oyster crackers, you really should.  They are the best I have had and are a staple in my pantry.


Spice rubs are a common trademark to many chefs.  I love a bit of heat so this mixture works well for me since it’s basic starter is cayenne pepper.  I keep the mixture in an airtight container and use it over several weeks.  You can change spices or add different ingredients.  I add a bit more celery salt and cumin to this rub.  I use it on meat, fish, chicken, and in sauces.  Enjoy this or make your own specialty rub!



• 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
• 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon white pepper
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme
• ½ teaspoon dried oregano
• ½ teaspoon ground cumin
• ½ teaspoon ground coriander
• ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
• ⅛ teaspoon celery salt



• Mix together all the ingredients until well combined.

• Store in an airtight container in a cool cupboard.  The mixture will keep for up to 6 months.



cookbooks: cooking my way back home

July 23rd, 2012 | Posted by admin in COOKBOOKS - (0 Comments)

“Cooking my way Back Home  – Recipes from San Francisco’s Town Hall, Anchor & Hope, and Salt House

by Mitchell Rosenthal


This book was a gift from a friend who travels to San Francisco on a regular basis.  I looked through the book but didn’t initially start cooking anything from it.  What a mistake!  Because everything I have made from this book is fabulous.  The recipes are not difficult but do require many ingredients so I always make a list and shop prior to cooking.  This is a great cookbook… full of comfort food and amazing tastes.  It’s a great addition to your cookbook collection.



recipe: potato chip cookies

July 19th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

I saw this recipe in the July issue of Martha Stewart Magazine and the combination of sweet, salty, crunchy, and buttery caught my eye… so of course I had to make these delicious cookies.



• 2 sticks of butter, softened
• ¾ cup of light brown sugar
• ¾ cup of granulated sugar
• 1 tsp of pure vanilla
• 2 large eggs
• 2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp of baking powder
• ¼ tsp of salt
• 4 cups of coarsely crushed slated potato chips (approx. 10 oz)
• 1 cup of pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped




• Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

• Beat together butter and sugars with a mixer on high speed until fluffy.

• Add vanilla and eggs, beat on medium speed until combined.

• Add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix on low until combined.

• Stir in chips (2 cups) and pecans.

• Roll dough into 2 inch balls and coat with potato chips (remaining 2 cups).

• Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for approx. 18 minutes.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  Enjoy!



A shot of orange is always a good look on a summer table.  Mixing up dishes and layering the napkins gives this table it’s festive flair.  All the dishes, napkins, glasses, and placemats can be found at Material Possessions in Winnetka and Chicago, IL.



another summer planter

July 18th, 2012 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

This is a beautiful Canna with a variegated leaf, under planted with verbena, potato vine, mini petunias, lantana, spurge, angelonia, wire vine, succulent vine, and agapanthus… all plants that thrive in the sun.



places to go: cross rhodes

July 17th, 2012 | Posted by admin in PLACES TO GO - (0 Comments)

Looking for a fresh salad, roasted chicken, burger, or gyros?  Then take a trip to Cross Rhodes.  The Greek salad is perfect, well priced and you can have gyros or grilled chicken as a topper.  There is nothing fancy about this stop but the food and pricing makes it a place to go.  It’s located on Chicago Ave. in Evanston right by the “Main” Purple Line stop.



recipe: corn salad

July 17th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Salads - (0 Comments)

Fresh corn from the market… yum!!  Again, I love corn on the cob, corn soup, corn in Mexican lasagna, and corn salad.


Here is my recipe for Corn Salad:



• 4 ears of fresh corn (cooked and corn sliced off the cobb)

• ¼ cup of chopped cilantro

• ½ red pepper chopped

• ½ cup of chopped ripe tomatoes

• 1 cup of organic garbanzo beans drained

• 1 cup of organic black beans drained

• Salt & pepper to taste

• 1/3 cup of lime juice

• 2 tsp red wine vinegar

• ¼ cup of grapeseed oil




• Mix the first six ingredients in a bowl.  Whisk the lime juice, oil, vinegar, salt & pepper.  Mix with corn, veggies & beans.

This is a start to many other options… I add beans for the protein but you can eliminate.  The cilantro gives this a Mexican flavor but changing it up to add basil and pine nuts works too.  I have added chopped red onions, cheese, avocados… there are so many options to make this dish your own.  Go to the market and enjoy the many combinations and possibilities!  This is what makes summer cooking so fun!