farmers market potatoes

June 25th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Side Dishes - (0 Comments)

After a perfect morning of farmers market shopping I took the great items I had bought and made the potatoes, mushrooms, fresh thyme, and green garlic.  I also found the lemon oil at the market… it’s a great addition to pasta, veggies, and fish or chicken.  There is nothing better for cooking inspiration than a trip to the market.





Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Shoofly 2010 Shiraz – $8.99 at Total Wine.  This Australian Shiraz received 90 points from the Wine Spectator.  That is an incredible quality to price ratio.  I’ve had one bottle of it and I went back and bought 3 more.  Trust me; I’m not done buying this wine.  It’s a wine that you can drink now or continue to enjoy for the next 5-8 years.  Deals like this don’t come along too often.  I hope that you can find it at this price where you live.  Even if you pay up to $12 for it it’s well worth it.  Complex, spicy, and full of Australian fruit.  Love it!

– The Wine Buddy



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

places to go: bahr’s nursery

June 21st, 2012 | Posted by admin in PLACES TO GO - (0 Comments)

If you are from Highland Park you will probably know about Bahr’s, a small nursery with wonderful plants.  If you love geraniums then you have to come visit.  It’s a family business that Tom and Katheryn run but you will see Tom’s parents working too.  If you are looking for quality… meaning beautiful plants, large geraniums, a variety of impatiens, a large succulent selection along with gorgeous baskets, some perennials… stop in.  I could go on and on about the quaint personal nature of the greenhouses, the kindness and knowledge of the owners but really you just have to take a trip and visit yourself.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

I was just visiting my sister in Charlotte, NC and we had a great time cooking together.  She actually did most of the cooking, as it was my vacation.  My brother in law Denny has a gift for choosing the perfect wine to accompany every meal without breaking the bank.  It is such a pleasure to have someone pick a great wine for a wonderful meal.  I talked my brother into writing a section of this blog devoted to wine.  It is our goal to have you enjoy wine with your meal and venture into value wines that are affordable without sacrificing taste.  Meet Denny “The Wine Buddy”, I have a feeling you will be tuning into the blog more and more due to “The Wine Buddy”.  I will continue to add recipes, products, table dressings, and places to go that are easy, interesting, and mostly healthy with the ultimate purpose of bringing your family and friends to your table.

– Pam



Hi Everyone,

I’m excited to share my passion about wine with all of you.  When I say “passion” I am referring to all aspects of what goes into the final product that so many of us enjoy, from the growing of the grapes, to the climates they grow in, and to the art and craft of making wine.

My goal is to make you aware of value wines, those every day wines that don’t break the bank but offer a high quality to price ratio, along with the special occasion wines that might cost a bit more, but are worth the price.  And, the good news is… I don’t mean that you have to spend over $40 for a special occasion wine.  There are many wines below that price point that are absolutely delicious.

My love for wine began about 15 years ago in 1997, which coincidentally happened to be labeled as the vintage of the century in California and Italy.  Since that time I’ve accumulated wines that I have been able to cellar for several years along with buying my every day wines, which can be drunk immediately or held for 1-5 years.

I look forward to jumping in from time to time with excerpts that will enhance your wine buying and wine enjoyment experience.


– Denny “The Wine Buddy”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

recipe: tabouli

June 21st, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Salads - (0 Comments)

This is Mattie Kleber’s Syrian recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation.  It originally came from Damascus and when I tasted this recipe at my sister’s home I felt the history, comfort, and love that so many family recipes bring to our tables.  It’s a wonderful healthy salad that can be a meal all on its own or a side dish.  We will be serving this salad with our Shish Kabob tomorrow.



• 2 bunches of parsley, leaves only no stems, cleaned and finely chopped
• 3 large cloves of garlic
• 12 oz of baby carrots
• 3 tomatoes finely chopped
• 1 large English slicing cucumber, finely chopped
• ¾ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/3 cup of canola oil
• 1 ¼ cups of bulgur grain #1 (fine)
• Kosher salt to taste




• The first thing to do is take the stems off the parsley and clean thoroughly.

• Rinse the parsley in a clean bowl of water and drain. You may want to repeat this several times until the water is clear.  Then put the parsley in a food processor and pulse till its finely chopped but don’t chop too much!

• Next put the carrots and garlic in the food processor and finely chop, then add to parsley mixture.

• Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

• Let it sit for at least 3 hrs. (Do not soak the wheat; it will get enough moisture from the mixture.)  After letting the salad sit give it a taste.  If you want more lemon then add and serve.





Print Friendly, PDF & Email

table dressing: summer colors

June 20th, 2012 | Posted by admin in TABLE DRESSING - (0 Comments)

Summer colors are for the table too!  Remember to dress your table for summer fun.  This setting can be found at material possessions in Winnetka, IL.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

recipe: mexican lasagne

June 13th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (3 Comments)

This is a great dish to prepare ahead of time and serve for a crowd.  You can make with the beef or chicken or just veggies!  My family loves Mexican spices so its always a success at my table.



• 3 tablespoons of butter
• 4 garlic cloves
• 2 cups of fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears of corn)
• ½ cup of cream
• 1 tsp of fresh thyme chopped
• Kosher salt & pepper
• 1 small onion, thinly sliced
• 1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced thinly
• 3 Poblano peppers charred and peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch strips
• 1 lb lean ground beef
• 1 tablespoon of Mexican chili powder
• 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
• 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
• 12 no-boil lasagne noodles
• 2 cups of shredded Oaxaca cheese





• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.

• Add 2 cloves of garlic and saute for approx. 1 minute.

• Mix in corn and saute for 5 minutes.  Stir in cream and thyme.

• Cook over med heat for 5 minutes then turn off and let cool.

• Put liquid in a blender/food processor and puree until smooth.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

• Brown ground beef and add cumin and chili powder.

• Drain any fat and add cilantro, set aside.

• Heat the remaining butter and cook onion until translucent.

• Add the rest of the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Mix in Zucchini and poblano strips and cook for 5 minutes.

• Spread about 1/4 of the corn mixture over bottom of a glass baking dish.  Cover with a layer of lasagne noodles.

• Spread about 1/4 of poblano/ zucchini mixture and cheese over noodles.

• Add more noodles and layer with 1/2 of the beef mixture and then corn mixture.

• Then repeat pepper and zucchini mixture, repeat 2 more times ending with peppers and cheese.

• Bake until pasta is cooked and the edges are brown and bubbly (Approx 1 hr).

• Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.


I serve this with the tomatillo sauce you will find HERE.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Where do I start!  First I love going to any farmers’ market and Evanston’s in North Suburban Chicago is one of the best.  The variety of organic vegetables, herbs, fruit, cheese, fresh eggs, and butter… flowers, plants, breads, and so much more is not typical of the smaller markets around.  It starts earlier than most of the others in our area and runs later.

Kit and I (aka “Market Girls’) usually leave around 7am and start our shopping.  Today, although there were dark clouds and some rain, we ventured out to get our basics.  We are both fans of Chef Cedric White’s homemade cookies.  They come in butter, strawberry butter, chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal.  If you are not there early you’ll probably miss getting them as they fly out of the booth.  I snagged the last strawberry butter cookies today.  The strawberries called Wendy Berries are so sweet and perfect I cannot stop eating them.  They look as if they are overripe but take a bite and you’ll want one bunch to snack on and one to bring home.  Stover’s Farms makes a great snack mix of dried cranberries, walnuts, cherries, and raisins that I buy to have in my car as a “pick me up” when gardening for clients.  I purchased the Blossom honey, a creamed version that is spreadable and not heated to clear.  It can be used the same way as standard honey but the creaminess is wonderful.  As a treat to myself I purchased a gorgeous bouquet of lupines and peonies.  They have a wonderful vendor that makes bouquets for you with a great selection of seasonal flowers to choose from.  I brought home shallots, fresh thyme, radishes, green onions, arugula, and fresh apple cider, along with my cookies, honey, strawberries, dried fruit snacks, and flowers.  The rain let up for our shopping and I’m home now trying to figure out what I will make with my market finds.

Next Saturday make it an early morning and try shopping at the Evanston’s Farmers Market.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

recipe: another simple cabbage slaw

June 6th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Salads - (0 Comments)

Add the juice of 3 limes and a dash of garlic oil, mix with shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, sliced jalapeño peppers, sliced fennel, and chopped cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email