This past weekend I went to Hausermann’s Orchid Show.  It is worth the visit out to Villa Park if you appreciate these amazing plants.  I went to buy Orchids for customers and will probably have to go back next weekend to buy for my own home.  The variety of orchids is what makes this show so exciting.  You will see so many types you never find at a retail flower shop.

I am including a few of my favorites and I may have more pictures if I go out again next weekend.  The show ends March 3rd.  It’s a great activity for this weekend.



recipe: egg salad

February 25th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Meals | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

My husband loves egg salad and always has a bowl of hard boiled eggs in the fridge. So this recipe is his favorite.


• 8-10 hard boiled eggs
• ¾ cup of Hellmann’s mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard
• 1-½ tsp of Worcestershire sauce
• 1/3 cup of mini pickles (cornichons), chopped fine
• Salt & pepper to taste


• Chop eggs and put into a large bowl.

• Mix the rest of the ingredients together, then mix in with the eggs.

• This is great on a sandwich, with crackers, or just scooped onto a mixed green salad.




recipe: chocolate dipped brickle cookies

February 22nd, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts - (0 Comments)

Here is the recipe for the  cookies I made on the trip up north with the girls.  They travel well and are delicious!


• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 3 eggs
• 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
• 1-1/3 cups (8-oz. pkg.) Heath® Bits ‘O Brickle™ Toffee Bits
• 1-½ cups Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Mini Kisses
• 2 Tablespoons Shortening


• Heat oven to 350˚F.  Lightly grease cookie sheet.

• Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in large bowl until blended.  Add eggs; beat well.  Stir together flour, baking soda and cream or tartar; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.  Stir in toffee bits.

• Drop by heaping teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool slightly; remove to wire rack.  Cool completely.

• Put the Mini Kisses and shortening into a bowl and microwave for 1 minute or until melted.

• Mix well and dip 1/3 of each cooked cookie in the chocolate mixture.

• Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and put in fridge so chocolate hardens.

• Store in cool airtight container.  Enjoy!



girl’s trip up north

February 22nd, 2013 | Posted by admin in UPDATES - (0 Comments)

This week I am spending a few days with a great group of women for yoga, cross country skiing, cooking, movies, wine, and conversation.  I am forever grateful to our hostess Karen, as she has the amazing home we are so lucky to stay at and makes us all feel so welcome.

Culvers was our stop to eat on the 6 hr trip up to this winter wonderland.  We arrive and settle into our rooms and the kitchen.  This group cooks!

Whatever we bring, it’s easy and delicious… always a treat.  The first night’s dinner was Nancy’s salmon, sautéed Swiss chard, and brown basmati rice… delicious!  Then movie night and off to bed.  We packed lunch for the next day, wonderful tuna fish sandwiches, Minneolas, apples, and a mix of dried nuts and fruit.  It was the perfect mix to keep our energy up.

After yoga and skiing, a quick grocery stop for wine, cheese, veggies, and crackers.  We listened to music, read, and relaxed.  Then it was my turn to cook dinner.  I made easy brick chicken with an apricot, honey, mustard, and wine glaze.  I also prepared the lemon asparagus risotto recipe that is already posted.  The girls made a salad and we were again toasting with wine, and enjoying the gift of friendship.  Of course I added chocolate dipped brickle cookies for dessert.

Today we headed out to a very cool shop “Northfield Cabinetry” to meet some talented craftsmen.  Then off to another ski trail.  Let me explain I love to ski, but I am not an athlete or someone who does cardio on a regular basis… though of course I should!  So I ski for about an hour and stay back while the others ski for another hour.  I am blogging and setting up for our indoor picnic lunch.  Tonight it’s Barb’s meatball and sauce with salad and garlic bread.  This group never goes hungry.





valentine’s day

February 18th, 2013 | Posted by admin in UPDATES - (0 Comments)

How lucky am I?  My hubby brought me two dozen roses in a beautiful shade of pink and orange (my favorite!).  He remembered where I go for wholesale flowers, how perfect!  I am beyond happy as the fragrance is amazing and so are the flowers.

As for our dinner plans… he made steak and lobster with a twice-baked potato and sugar snap peas.  The potato is courtesy of “Foodstuffs”.  It was delicious and so nice to have him cook for me.  For dessert I made a Banana Tarte Tatin.  I melted about 1/3 stick of salted butter with ¾ cup of brown sugar in an iron skillet.  Added about 5 medium sliced bananas and cooked for another minute.  Then I rolled out a sheet of puff pastry dough that I had defrosted in the fridge and covered the banana mixture.  I cooked for approx. 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  Then I inverted the pastry onto a plate and served with vanilla ice cream.  It was delicious. You could try this with pears, peaches, or apples.  Easy!  I’m sorry we ate it so fast I forgot to take many pictures.  Enjoy!



I have made these luscious brownie bite cookies without filling and cut out in many different shapes.  The recipe was from the blog cookbook by Deb Perlman “The Smitten Kitchen”.  Since Valentines Day is approaching I cut out hearts.  Then I noticed the cover of Martha Stewart magazine covered in a variety of colorful sandwich cookies.  I took the brownie cookie recipe and filled them with Martha’s cream filling.  It’s a wonderful treat to make for family or to drop off for friends.  Enjoy!


• 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for counter
• 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
• ¾ teaspoon table salt
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• 16 tablespoons butter, softened
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla


• Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl, and set aside.

• Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until fluffy.

• Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl.  Mix in vanilla.  Gradually mix in the dry ingredients.

• Wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour.

• Roll out the cookie dough on a floured counter.  Cut into desires shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top.  (It does disappear once baked, though; so don’t overly fret if they go into the oven looking white.)


• Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the former for 1/8-inch thick cookies, the latter for 1/4-inch cookies), until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed.

• Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


• ½ stick unsalted butter, softened
• 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk, if needed


• Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

• Reduce speed to low, and gradually add sugars, beating until thoroughly combined.

• Beat in vanilla.

• If filling is too thick to spread, beat in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until spreadable.

• Build the sandwiches with one cookie on bottom, cream filling in the middle, and another cookie on top.


NOTE: You can sprinkle powdered sugar on cookies or just leave them as is.  If you make a big batch you can always wrap a few up for gifts!



Now that’s a mouthful! Yes, pun intended. Let’s go to the southern hemisphere for a change in order to recommend another special holiday wine which represents a great value. Casa Lapostolle, located in the Colchagua valley of Chile has a 150+ year history of making wine and spirits. You’ve probably heard of Grand Marnier cognac liqueur, well this is the same family who now makes excellent wines.

Their flagship wine is called Clos Apalta ($85), a blend of Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon, which has won previous “wine of the year” awards.

The Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet is can be found for around $20-$25. Currently, Total Wine carries it for $22. This beautiful Cab received 92 points from the Wine Spectator and made into their top 100 wines of the year list.

A perfect Cab for a standing rib roast, it is dark, smoky, and fully bodied, carrying fine tannins, which lead to a long finish. It’s ready to drink now and can be enjoyed for the next 6-8 years. Don’t wait too long to get some, there were only 10,700 cases made. A value like this won’t stay on the shelves very long.



Australia is best known for its big shirazes, but certain areas are well suited for other varietals. The Limestone Coast is one area that does very well with cabernet.

Australian cabernet is a very different style than California cabernet, which always brings us back to the dirt or terroir as the French like to say. Many Aussie cabs are ready to drink young and this one is definitely ready now.

This cab is smooth, velvety and carries the typical up front fruit profile of Australian red wines. But is still has a solid structure and a clean finish. We recently had this with filet mignon covered with gorgonzola cheese sauce and it was outstanding.

The Wine Spectator rated it 90 points last April. I found it at Total Wine for $15. I was surprised to find it because there were only 2000 cases produced. I hope I can get there again before its gone, maybe you can too!