Let me tell you about one of my all time favorite “go to” white wines.  Nobilo is a New Zealand winery specializing in Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region.  Grapefruit, lemon, green apple, honeydew, and a crisp acidity typify the Marlborough style and no one draws these characteristics out of this varietal more consistently than Nobilo.

Almost every year this wine scores between 88-90 points and can be found for $8-$10.  This year it received 89 points.

This is your perfect summer time refresher.  It is very versatile.  We love it with an appetizer of sun dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and basil on crusty baguettes.  It’s awesome with any white fish or garlic and oil based pastas.

Oh, and by the way Nobilo also produces a wonderful Pinot Noir.  But I’ll save that for another post.



summer cooking

July 16th, 2012 | Posted by admin in UPDATES - (0 Comments)

Summer cooking has another feel and taste.  The availability of fresh locally grown produce defines my cooking style and menu.  My favorite early morning adventure in food is visiting the local farmer’s markets.  I am always overwhelmed by the amazing variety of fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits.  Most of the recipes I have recently posted are inspired by my market finds.  My meals are always a mixture of fresh ingredients newly purchased and ready for tasting!  When making summer protein it’s all about grilling.  Whether it’s a burger, chicken, or fish… I am grilling!  My latest favorite great tasting inexpensive meat is boneless, skinless chicken thighs, marinated or barbecued & grilled.  This is the easiest meal ever and goes with all your fresh veggies.  I also can’t get enough of grilled stone fruit.  Take a fresh peach, cut it in half cutting out the pit, and drizzle with a bit of maple syrup or brown sugar.  The peaches are sweet and bursting with flavor.  The grilling process enhances this wonderful fruit.  When it’s hot we don’t want to eat heavy foods so making your meal simple but tasty is the answer.


This is a recipe from Gourmet magazine.  It is so easy and the taste is amazing with great flavors.  I served the meatballs as a main course but it can also be used as an appetizer.  When you are serving this as a main dish you can accompany it with steamed rice, grilled vegetables, and fresh fruit.



• ¼ cup of whole milk
• ¼ cup of fine dry bread crumbs
• ¾ lb ground pork
• ¾ lb ground veal or beef
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• ½ cup of canned sliced water chestnuts rinsed, drained, and finely chopped
• ½ cup of chopped cilantro, plus ¼ cup of sprigs
• 5 tbsp of soy sauce, divided
• 4 tsp of Asian sesame oil, divided
• 2 tbsp of fresh lime juice
• 2 tbsp of water
• 3 tsp of sugar




• Preheat oven to 500˚F with rack in the middle.

• Pour milk over the breadcrumbs in a large bowl mix.  Add the ground meat, egg, water chestnuts, and chopped cilantro.

• 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp oil, and ½ tsp of salt, mix with your hands till well combined shape into balls and arrange meatballs in a glass baking dish (9”x13”) about ½ inch apart.

• Bake until cooked through approx. 15 minutes.

• Stir limejuice, water, sugar, 4 tbsp of soy sauce, and remaining 2 tsp of sesame oil mix till sugar is dissolved to make the sauce.

• Transfer the meatballs to a serving dish and drizzle 1 tbsp of sauce over them and sprinkle with cilantro sprigs.  They can be served over steamed rice.


My family ate every last one, in fact I could have made another batch… sooooo good!  Enjoy!



This is so simple and delicious!  Take a whole head of cauliflower and slice rounds as flat as possible.  Some will fall off in small pieces, use this too as it all tastes good.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake at 400 degrees until cauliflower is crisp and slightly browned on edges (You should turn vegetables to cook evenly.).  When done add ¼ cup of freshly chopped chives, 1 tablespoon of chopped thyme, kosher salt to taste, and ½ cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.  Put in oven for 2-3 minutes more and serve.  This is an excellent easy side dish.  Enjoy!



Rosemount Estate is a large Australian winery that produces multiple levels of many varietals.  Their Diamond Label is their entry level series.  This Shiraz was the first Aussie wine I was introduced to about 15 years ago and I was amazed at how good it was for the price point.

Rosemount has a hit with the 2010 vintage.  It recently received 89 points from the Wine Spectator, and even better yet I found it for $5.99.  It is widely available with 110,000 cases produced so you should be able to find this for between $6-$8.  This is a wine that should be drunk now through the next couple of years.

It is very smooth and fresh, delivering classic Australian fruit.  I served this for 3 other couples last week when we cooked burgers on the grill and it was a big hit.  When I told them the price their eyes got pretty wide.


A note about wine ratings: The Wine Spectator uses a rating scale as follows:

• 80-84 = Good

• 85-89 = Very Good

• 90-94 = Outstanding

• 95-100 = Classic


So you can see that this vintage of the Rosemount Shiraz Diamond Label is considered very good and on the verge of outstanding by those who evaluate wines for a living.  Enjoy.



If you haven’t yet figured it out I have a sweet tooth.  It’s a fact… I know I should curtail my dessert addiction but sometimes (most times) I need just a little bit of sweet.  This recipe from the food blog “smitten kitchen” is a winner.  I love scones in the morning and with summer’s fresh berries it tastes divine!  If you like strawberry shortcake then you’ll like this recipe.  You could add some fresh berries and whipped cream and you have a dessert.



• 2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon of baking powder
• ¼ cup of sugar
• ½ tsp of salt
• 6 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into cubes or shredded
• 1 cup of very ripe strawberries, chopped
• 1 cup of heavy cream




• Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

• Whisk all dry ingredients and then add butter until it resembles a crumbly meal.

• Mix in strawberries gently using a rubber spatula.  Don’t worry about mixing; dough should be handled as little as possible.

• Generously flour your counter and place dough on there, rolling out dough with your hands, about ¾ inch thick.

• Cut out scones or baskets to your desired sizes, approximately 2 ½ inch rounds.

• Place on baking sheet and bake.  Scones are done when the edges are browned

• Cool and serve.



A simple dinner with friends on a hot summer evening.  Soft summer colors and low candle light sets the tone.



places to go: superdawg

July 3rd, 2012 | Posted by admin in PLACES TO GO - (0 Comments)

Superdawg is a Chicago classic hot dog destination.  It is a boiled dog not charred packed into a box with all the toppings and fries.  I loved it the very first time I tried a dog.  There is nothing better in my opinion.  The problem is I should not be eating these delicious hot dogs often and they have opened a location close to my house.  It’s a Chicago institution and a must try if you get to Chicago.  The retro feel and drive in service is fun but it’s the food that makes you come back again and again.




recipe: blueberry bread

July 3rd, 2012 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

One of my all time favorite dessert cookbooks is ” Rosie’s Bakery All-Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar-Packed, No-Holds-Barred Baking Book” by Judy Rosenberg.  There are many recipes I use from this sweet packed baking book but my favorite is the Cream Cheese Pound Cake.  I use this recipe for a cake and I also add blueberries and bake muffins and bread.  You can freeze this bread and it makes a great gift for a friend with a sweet tooth.  It’s also a go to dessert, pretty easy and delicious!



• 3 cups of flour
• 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter at room temp
• 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese at room temp
• 3 cups of sugar
• 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
• 6 large eggs at room temp



• Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly grease your 10 inch tube pan or two bread pans with no stick cooking spray.

• Cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl at med-high speed until light and fluffy.

• Stop once or twice to scrape bowl.

• Add eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, scrape bowl while mixing.  Once all of the eggs are added mix for 30 seconds more.

• Stir in the flour, then mix on low speed.  Scrape the bowl and blend until batter is smooth.

• Add 1 ½ cups of blueberries. (Before adding, toss blueberries in a tablespoon of flour.  This will keep the berries from dropping to the bottom).

• Pour the batter into prepared pans.

• Bake until top is golden and center is dry, not wet.  For a cake 1 ½ hour, for bread approximately 1 hour.

• Cool completely before unmolding.  Serve cake with berries and whipped cream.





summer sun container

July 2nd, 2012 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

This summer pot has my favorite mix of colors… purples, pinks, and oranges, with a splash of lime!  The tall kangaroo paws are accented by cleome, angelonia, calibrachoa, osteospermum, cosmos, a variegated potato vine, nemesia, Persian shield, sweet flag grass, and zinnias.  Have fun and put your favorite colors together for a special pot that will keep you smiling all summer.