I made farfel with mushrooms for my husband for years because he had asked me to.  I wasn’t that excited about the side dish but it was delicious.  I decided to use shiitake and cremini mushrooms which added to the flavor.  Another tip was to boil the farfel in chicken broth.  My husband was happy, so that makes this another go-to side dish!


• 12 ounce (2 to 2-1/2 cups, depending on the size) farfel or egg barley, toasted
• 4 ounce (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 2 large (1 pound) yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
• 12 ounce (3/4 pound) mushrooms (button, shitake, or cremini) sliced or chopped
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
• 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
• 1 large egg (optional)
• 1/4 cup soup stock, chicken or vegetable (optional)
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)

• Bring a large pot of salted water (4 quarts water with 1 tablespoon kosher salt) to a boil.

• Add the toasted farfel and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse.

• In a large saucepan, heat the butter.

• Add the onions and sauté until translucent, 7 to 8 minutes.

• Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring often, until the mushrooms have given off most of their water and the mushrooms and onions are soft, about 30 minutes.

• Stir the farfel into the sautéed mushrooms and onions adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

• Bake the farfel, stir in the egg and soup broth (if using).

• Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish. You can store the farfel covered in the refrigerator at this point for up to 2 days.

• Before serving, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top browns and the farfel is heated through.



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recipe: grilled open face sandwiches

September 18th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

After a morning at Evanston’s Farmers Market, I had fresh arugula, heirloom tomatoes, and sweet onions in my bag.  I had also picked up a loaf of fresh bread, prosciutto, and sliced mozzarella from my favorite small Italian grocery store, Poeta’s in Highwood.  It was a gorgeous day and several people were stopping over, so I decided to make an open face sandwich with all my purchased goodies.

Heat, clean, and oil your grill.  Cut your loaf of bread in half and drizzle it with olive oil.  Place the bread open side down to crisp and grill, being careful not to burn.  Take your bread off the grill and set aside.  Finely dice several cloves of garlic and sprinkle over bread.  Next I cut up all my goodies from the morning shopping trip.  I sliced my tomatoes and onions, washed my arugula, and snipped and diced some fresh basil from my potted garden.  I sliced a ripe avocado (drizzle lime juice over the slices to prevent browning) and sliced the prosciutto and cheese.

Now it’s time to have fun!  I made one sandwich with meat and veggies and one with avocado and veggies.  The important thing to remember is start with a layer of cheese and end with cheese on top.  You can layer your veggies and herbs also adding a dash of kosher salt and cracked pepper.  The next step is to place them back on the grill until the cheese melts being careful not to burn the bread.  Slice and serve!




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recipe: summer vegetable ceviche

September 17th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Meals | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This recipe is fresh, delicious, and bursting with summer flavors.  Try adding your favorite vegetables.  Remember the fresh lime is the key to bringing out the best taste.  It is inspired by a recipe from David Frenkiel and Luise Vendahl of Green Kitchen Stories.


• 1 cup fresh lima beans (from about 1-1/2 pounds in the pod) or other shelling bean (frozen and cooked)
• 1 tsp finely grated lime zest
• 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
• 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 scallion, thinly sliced
• 1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
• 1 small shallot, thinly sliced

• Sea salt
• 1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
• 2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges (optional)
• 8oz edamame
• 2 small cucumbers, skin on
• 1-1/2 avocados, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 large orange bell pepper, finely julienned
• 1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes or mixed heirloom, halved
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro



• Prepare lima beans and edamame until tender, about 10 minutes.

• Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.

• In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, jalapeño, and shallot; season the dressing with salt.

• Fold in the lima beans, corn nectarines, avocado, orange pepper, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

• Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

• Fold in cilantro, just before serving and serve chilled.

Make ahead, the salad can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours.



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recipe: peach dumplings with bourbon sauce

September 13th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

If there is one dessert you need to try it’s this one.  It’s peaches to perfection!  I happen to loves peaches simply sliced off the pit, nothing added.  But when you fill it with a mixture of brown sugar and butter and wrap it in a wonderful puff pastry, then top it with an amazing bourbon sauce… you have the best dessert ever!  The crust is warm and crunchy, the sauce is melting over the dumpling, and a caramel goodness is oozing out of the dough.  It’s so good!  I credit another blogger Deb Perlman of Smitten Kitchen with this recipe.  I used premade dough, only Dufour, but it’s not hard to make your own.  Enjoy!  Let me know what you think.


• 3 large peaches
• 1/3 cup (65 grams) light or dark brown sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Few fresh gratings of nutmeg, or a pinch of ground
• 1 tablespoon butter, cut into 6 pieces, kept cold
• 1 large egg, for glaze

• 4 tablespoons (55 grams or 1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
• 3/4 cup (95 grams) confectioners’ sugar
• 1 tablespoon bourbon

• Dufour pastry dough or make your own!



• Roll pastry dough to a 12″x18″ rectangle, and divide into six 6-inch squares.  If dough gets too soft or warm while you’re rolling it, continue to the square stage, but then transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill them in the freezer for a couple minutes, until they firm up again.

• Halve peaches, and remove pits.  Scoop a little but extra out of the pit so that there is more room to pack the filling.

• Mix brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a little dish.

• Spoon 1 lightly packed tablespoon on top of each peach, smooshing as much of the sugar mixture as you can into the center.

• Dot the top of each with a piece of the cold butter.

• Center a peach half, cut side up, in your first pastry square.  Bring corners up to meet each other over the center (if it feels tight, or as if you’re short of dough, make sure that the dough underneath is flush with the peach curve; it tends to get slack) and seal the seams together, pinching with your fingertips.

• Arrange peach dumplings in a buttered 9″x13″ baking dish, and chill for 30 minutes.

• Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

• Whisk egg together with 1 teaspoon water to form a glaze.

• Brush glaze over the tops and exposed sides of dumplings.

• Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until pastries are puffed and bronzed on top.

• While baking, make the sauce.  Beat softened butter, confectioners’ sugar, and bourbon until smooth.

• Scrape into serving dish.  When pastries come out of oven, dollop each with a heaping spoonful of the sauce, and serve pastries with the sauce melting over the sides.




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Summer means Saturday Farmers Market shopping, and dinner is determined by the fresh veggies I find.  Today it was shiitake mushrooms, arugula, and these amazing garlic bulbs.  I sautéed 2 bulbs of garlic with 2 tbsp of olive oil (note the bulbs have seeds that can be pulled off the bulb and used).  I added 2 cups of cleaned and sliced shiitake mushrooms and 1/3 cup of pine nuts.  Prepare your choice of pasta al dente and set aside.  Save 1 cup of pasta water.  Add 1/2 cup of wine and the mushrooms to a sauté pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add cooked pasta.  Stir in 1/4 cup of pasta water and 1/2 cup shaved parmesan.  Toss and add 1 cup of cleaned arugula.  I like to add fresh lemon zest and the juice of 1 lemon.  You can add any additional veggies that are fresh and tasty!

I have never used this type of garlic before but I loved the color and taste of the little pinkish buds.



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breast cancer walk

August 16th, 2013 | Posted by admin in UPDATES - (0 Comments)

I just witnessed a sea of women walking down Tower Road.  Pink hair, pink shoes, pink shirts, banners… all walking for those that have been touched by breast cancer.  It was a beautiful sight on this gorgeous day.



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pink dahlias

August 15th, 2013 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Indoor - (0 Comments)

I love dahlias and pink… So what could be better than pink dahlias in an old milk pitcher?



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Flank steak is a great summer beef entree.  It’s easy and serves a crowd.  I also served this recipe on the fourth.  The marinade is delicious.  It is based on two recipes, one from Serious Eats and one from Simply Recipes.  Enjoy!


• ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
• ¼ cup soy sauce
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar
• 4 anchovy filets
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons chopped chives
• 1 medium shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
• 1 whole flank steak, about 2 pounds


• Combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, anchovies, garlic, mustard, tomato paste, and vegetable oil in a blender and blend until smooth, creamy, and emulsified.

• Transfer 1/3 of marinade to a small container, add chives and shallots, stir to combine, and reserve.

• Place flank steak inside a gallon-sized zipper-lock bag with remaining marinade. Press out air, seal bag, and allow meat to marinate, turning occasionally, for at least 1 hour and up to 12.

• Take the steak out of the marinade bag and sprinkle generously on all sides with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. The salt and pepper will help form a savory crust on the steak.

• Place steak on the hot grill. If you are using a gas grill, cover the grill. Grill for 4-6 minutes on each side. Half way through grilling on each side, turn the steak 90° so that you get more grill marks.

• Flank steak is best eaten medium rare; well done will make it too tough. When the steak has cooked to your preferred level of doneness, remove from the grill and place on a cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil to hold in the heat and to keep the steak from drying out, and let rest for 10 minutes.

• Make very thin slices, against the grain, and at a slight diagonal so that the slices are wide.

Serves 6.



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recipe: ice cream whopper dessert

July 9th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This is such an easy delicious dessert for a crowd.  I usually revisit this recipe in the summer when ice cream just seems to be the perfect ending to a barbecue.  This can also be made a few days ahead of time so when cooking for a crowd, it helps.  I have also used Butter Fingers instead of Whoppers… but I love the flavor of malt so this is my favorite candy to use.  But be creative… this is just so easy and sooo good!



• 12 ice cream sandwiches (2 boxes)
• 2 containers of Cool Whip
• 1 (milk) container of Whoppers
• 1 container of Whopper Chocolate Malt Syrup (or regular chocolate sauce)

• Using a 9”x11.5” glass dish, place ice cream sandwiches in bottom of dish.  See the pictures, as I usually have to cut a few to fit and cover the entire dish.

• Crush the Whoppers place in a plastic bag and crush.

• Defrost the Cool Whip.  Mix with ½ of the crushed Whoppers.

• Drizzle the sandwiches with the Whopper Chocolate Malt Syrup.

• Then smooth the Cool Whip over the ice cream sandwiches and sauce.

• Next sprinkle the crushed Whoppers on top of the Cool Whip and drizzle with more sauce.  Cover and freeze.

Serve and enjoy!!


I originally had this recipe at Martha’s house and loved it since then I have seen several versions and have continued to keep it in my summer dessert file.



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My next favorite recipe was a wonderful and easy side dish.  I’m giving credit to my son Josh for saying you have to try the couscous and chicken recipe in the latest Bon Appetit.  He was raving about the flavors… and he was right.  This is one of my new favorite side dishes… again very easy to make and a perfect time of year to use fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs from your garden or neighborhood farmers market.


• 1 ½ cups Israeli couscous
• 1 small shallot, finely chopped
• ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
• 1 English hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and finely chopped
• 3 cups cherry tomatoes (I like to mix up the colors)
• 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1 tablespoon chopped mint
• Kosher salt & pepper to taste


• Cook couscous according to package, drain.

• Rinse with cold water and drain well.

• Whisk shallot, oil, and lemon juice in a large bowl.

• Add couscous cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, and mint… add more lemon juice to taste with salt & pepper.

Makes 6 servings.


NOTE: Rinsing the cooked couscous stops the cooking and prevents it from sticking together as it cools.

DO AHEAD: This recipe can be made ahead and stored for a day in the fridge, but add the herbs just before serving.



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