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  1. Thanksgiving 2015

    November 26, 2015 by Barb


    I just wanted to wish the readers of Felt Like a Foodie a Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

    Whether you spend the day with a table full of people or a quiet meal with the one you love the most, I hope that not only your belly is full but so is your heart.

    Personally, I have so much to be thankful for each year of my life. As my Crohn’s disease continues to toss challenges my way, I look toward the good things that have embraced me because of the disease…..this blog is one of them.

    My mind has found an outlet to share my love of food. It has also allowed me to share how food can be an enemy to someone with a chronic illness.

    It has opened doors and allowed me to meet people who would have never crossed my path and the time to keep in touch.

    I am grateful for all of the encouragement and support I receive each and every day.

    So I’ll bow my head today and just say thanks. Thanks for reading but most of all thanks for continuing to give me a reason to write.

  2. One more reason to change your menu

    November 23, 2015 by Barb


    It is Thanksgiving week.   Are there things you look forward to the most like the laughter, a pretty set table or an excuse to eat multiple pieces of pie? Maybe you love being the favorite aunt (moi), making gingerbread houses and cleaning someone else’s kitchen.

    I think most people like Thanksgiving because the menu is pretty much set in stone. You have a turkey, stuffing/dressing, a green veggie, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. Don’t forget the rolls, cranberries and pies are also on the list. You can’t miss those or everyone is going to talk about you.

    It is like the holiday is filled with pressure. Maybe you don’t like turkey but you KNOW you have to serve it because what is Thanksgiving without a bird! It doesn’t matter that you hate the process of cooking a whole turkey you HAVE to do it. And lord help the person who thinks they can just put a turkey breast on the table! People will turn on you quickly!

    The same thing goes for other Thanksgiving favorites too. Everyone has expectations as to what is on your table. The sweet potatoes need to be either layered in marshmallows or cooked southern style with pecans and brown sugar. Green beans should have almonds or those weird crunchy onions on top. And your cranberries need to jiggle like they are strippers on a Tuesday night! (I am assuming Tuesday is a slow night for strippers so a little extra jiggle will bring in some big tips to make up for the lack of customers.)

    I have a confession. (No, I’m not a Tuesday night stripper!) I could care less about Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. I don’t like when they are over mashed, starchy, too buttery or too lumpy. (I like to rice them, add some cream (not milk) and a dab of butter.)

    If you don’t serve them, your family will ostracize you. They will call you Miss Anti-potato head, the dud of spuds and other names that I care not to say on a public forum. You might as well be a stripper because no one will ever look you in the eyes again. (Let’s face it; if I had the “stuff” to be a stripper, no one would look me in the eyes anyway!)

    I think this year we should pressure our hosts into serving hasselback potatoes. They are actually easier than mashed potatoes and so much prettier. If you’ve never hasselbacked before I’ll make it easy. Think of them like a big fan.

    Take a yellow gold potato, cut some even slices down each one but don’t go all the way down, leave a little on the bottom and smother in fat. (I’m sure there is another stripper reference I can use here but I’ll just let you use your imagination)

    As they cook, the cut sections fan out and the butter seep into each crevice. You can get really make it a showstopper and add a little cheese, herbs or bacon halfway through cooking. These babies will come out of the oven and your guest will never think of Thanksgiving potatoes the same again.

    Hasselback Potatoes


    Yukon Gold potatoes (You can completely peel, leave the peel or partially peel.  Do what you like.)


    Any array of breadcrumbs, cheese (parm is great), bacon, herbs and salt and pepper


    Oven 400.

    In a small bowl, combine your “array”. Think that each potato is going to need about 1 full Tablespoon of toppings. To make it stick, add a drizzle of butter. Set aside.

    Slice a thin slice off the bottom of potato so it is level and does not wobble when you are trying to slice it.

    Using a fork’s tines as your guide, thinly slice the potato crosswise. Don’t go all the way to the bottom. (If you do, it isn’t the end of the world. It is a potato and not brain surgery.)

    Place the potatoes in a baking dish.

    Drizzle EACH potato with about 1 tablespoon of butter. (The fat is a necessary evil.) Use your judgment. If you have really small spuds, use a little less butter. They need to be shiny like a well-greased stripper but not so much butter that they will slip off the pole plate. (I don’t know how to explain my reference point today.)

    Cover your dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

    At the 30 minute mark, remove from oven and smush your array of toppings on potatoes. Recover the potato dish with foil and bake another 30 minutes.

    When they come out of the oven, they should be fork tender. If they aren’t tender, bake a little longer.

    Resist the urge to put your topping on at the very beginning. It keeps the potato from fanning as much. (My picture is from an unfanned potato.)

    Serve on a platter with nothing on….the platter. You should have on clothes because even if you are a stripper no one wants to watch you eat naked.

  3. Reservations About Thanksgiving 2015

    November 20, 2015 by Barb

    So Thanksgiving is less than a week again.  Have you firmed up your plans yet?  Are you the hostess still trying to get a handle your menu because no one will tell you what they are bringing?  Or maybe you are a reluctant guest who is only going somewhere out of obligation.

    Any way you look at it, the easiest way to get through Thanksgiving is to make this one thing….RESERVATIONS!!!  I thought I’d share with you a list of fabulous restaurants that want to take the heat out of your kitchen and give you a reason to get disowned by your family.  Looking at some of the menus, I think it is the perfect time to burn some bridges, lie to your family and just go out and enjoy a great meal!  Or just forward this list to your family and they may want to go out too!

    (Chicago)- Shaw’s Crab House is hosting a Traditional Thanksgiving Buffet on Thanksgiving Day, November 26th, at its Chicago location. The family-friendly buffet will be served from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to commemorate the holiday. The Traditional Thanksgiving Buffet is priced at $75 per adult, and $20 for kids 12 and younger (exclusive of tax, gratuity and beverages).

    The bountiful buffet will feature the following items:
    Cold Seafood Bar
    Oysters on the Half Shell
    Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail
    Golden King Crab Bites
    Assorted Hand-Rolled Sushi
    Kale and Heirloom Spinach Salad
    Classic Caesar Salad
    Shaw’s Chopped Salad
    Roasted Root Vegetable Salad
    Smoked Salmon
    Assorted Breads
    The Carvery
    Herb-Roasted Turkey
    Roasted Beef Tenderloin
    Golden King Crab Legs
    Creamy Lobster Bisque
    Cranberry Sauce
    Traditional Homemade Stuffing
    Mashed Potatoes
    Shaw’s Grand Hot Buffet
    Lobster, Brie & Cavatappi Pasta
    Au Gratin Potatoes
    Candied Sweet Potatoes
    Steamed Broccoli
    Roasted Brussels Sprouts
    Fresh Green Beans
    Creamed Spinach
    French Fried Shrimp
    Mini Crab Cakes
    Sautéed Salmon
    Corn Casserole
    Glazed Carrots
    Roasted Cauliflower
    Delicate Squash- Tom’s Farm
    Dessert Buffet
    What’s a holiday feast without dessert? Shaw’s Sweet Table will serve up the restaurant’s signature desserts such as mini pecan and key lime pies, crème brulee and specialty cupcakes. Holiday favorites such as homemade pumpkin pie, cheesecake, and apple pie squares are not to be missed.
    For more information or to make reservations, please call 312-527-2722 or visit  The Schaumburg, Illinois Shaw’s will have a Thanksgiving Buffett too!


    1639 S. Wabash Avenue
    (312) 360-9500

    In celebration of Thanksgiving, Chef/Owner Ryan McCaskey installs a special Thanksgiving menu at Acadia on Thursday, November 26 from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. At the recently named two-star Michelin restaurant in the South Loop, Thanksgiving diners enjoy a holiday five-course meal for $85 per person or $135 with wine pairings, enticing guests with innovative versions of holiday staple items including Chestnut Soup, Spinach Salad, Turkey Saltimbocca and Sticky Toffee Apple Cake. The unparalleled meal incorporates unexpected wine pairings, creating a playful, yet elegant culinary journey.

    Michael Jordan’s Steak House
    505 N Michigan Avenue
    (312) 321-8823

    This Thanksgiving, eat like Mike at Michael Jordan’s Steak House. In celebration of the festive holiday, Chef Craig Couper has created a few Thanksgiving specials for guests, including:

    • Slagel Farms Sage Sausage Stuffed Pork Loin with cranberry blood orange marmalade ($32)
    • Ginger Mashed Candied Sweet Potatoes ($9)
    • Chanterelle Mushroom Brioche Bread Pudding ($13)
    Seven Lions
    130 N. Michigan
    (312) 880 – 0130

    Seven Lions is offering a four-course Thanksgiving menu by Executive Chef Chris Curren, highlighting traditional favorites such as the Traditional Turkey Dinner, but also featuring Seven Lions specialities such as the Scottish Salmon and Braised Short Ribs. Perfect for families, the Seven Lions also offers a $12 childrens menu. Thanksgiving dinner is $55 per guest with a $38 optional wine pairing. For reservations, please visit To view the complete menu, click here.


    The Boarding House
    720 N. Wells
    (312) 280 – 0720

    Executive Chef Tanya Baker and Pastry Chef Julia Fitting have put together an unforgettable Thanksgiving spread that will impress the entire family. Featuring four courses (including a completely vegetarian option), guests can also add a wine pairing by The Boarding House’s Sommelier Kelly Peterson Bates. Thanksgiving dinner is available from 12 pm to 8 pm and is $65 per guest ($12 for children) and $38 for optional wine pairings. For reservations, please visit To view the complete menu, click here.


    The Florentine
    151 W. Adams
    (312) 660-8866

    This Thanksgiving, celebrate at The Florentine located in the heart of downtown Chicago with a fixed four-course meal for $65 with an optional wine pairing for $25. Chef Zachary Walrath will be featuring seasonal flavors with a Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Baby Carrot Salad, Herb Roasted Turkey and Pumpkin Tart. In addition to the fixed four-course menu, the full The Florentine menu will be available for a la carte ordering. Thanksgiving Day hours are 4 – 10 p.m.

    Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago
    401 N. Wabash
    (312) 588-8000

    Guests can reflect on their gratitude list amidst majestic views of downtown Chicago while indulging in an unparalleled holiday meal with loved ones. Offerings this season include Thanksgiving brunch and Thanksgiving dinner.

    • Give Thanks Over Brunch
      On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26, Sixteen brings the year’s bountiful harvest to life by presenting a festive brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. inside the stunning dining room that affords breathtaking views of Chicago’s architectural landscape, the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Guests can indulge in traditional Thanksgiving favorites and other specialty items during the festive brunch buffet. To enhance the festivities, a string trio will provide beautiful background music while pilgrims circulate. A petting zoo will also be on hand for children and adults both to enjoy.  Thanksgiving brunch at Sixteen costs $158 per person and $50 for children ages 5 to 12 years of age, exclusive of tax, alcohol and gratuity. 
    • Celebrate Thanksgiving Dinner Over the Bounty of the Seasonal Harvest
      Sixteen will be open for dinner beginning at 6:00 p.m., offering an inviting setting for those looking to enjoy a celebratory evening meal. The two-Michelin starred restaurant will offer the Chef’s tasting menu with special Thanksgiving holiday additions.  A multi-course tasting menu for $190 and a pre-fixe menu for $130 will be offered.

      Menu highlights include:

      • Cider braised leg and seared breast of poussin, caramelized pumpkin and toasted hickory nuts
      • Peppercorn-crusted prime rib, bordelaise sauce, and horseradish cream
      • Salmon and spinach en croute, dill sauce
      • Citrus and sage roasted whole turkey, stuffing
      • Seared diver scallops, carrot puree, orange rosemary butter sauce, basil essence

      Reservations are highly recommended and may be made by calling (312) 588-8030.

    Sullivan’s Steakhouse

    Without warning, holiday season has snuck up on us yet again! This busy time of year is supposed to be filled with great joy and no stress, so, why not take some to-dos off of your plate and let Sullivan’s Steakhouse put a whole lot on it. Sullivan’s invites you to gather around there table for a classic Thanksgiving meal.

    On November 26th from 12P.M.-8P.M, Sullivan’s invites you to gather around the table for a class Thanksgiving. For $39 per person (excluding beverages, tax, and gratuity), guests will indulge in a Thanksgiving Prix-Fixe Menu. Start off with one of three delectable appetizers like Sullivan’s classic Iceberg Lettuce Wedge or warm up with Shrimp & Lobster Bisque.

    The main event will be a hand-carved roasted turkey served alongside a sweet onion apple-sausage stuffing with gravy and fresh cranberry relish. Guests will also choose two sides from seven available options including holiday favorites like sweet potato casserole, hand-chucked creamed corn and garlic horseradish mashed potatoes.

    Guests will finish their Roasted Turkey Dinner with a decadent chocolate mousse, classic pecan pie, savory bananas foster bread pudding or classic creme brulee.

    As part of this holiday feast, Sullivan’s Steakhouse Naperville will also offer a variety of signature A La Carte dishes if you would like to forgo the prix-fixe menu.

    To make a reservation for this Thanksgiving, call 630-305-0237.


    And in case reservations out may get your disowned….here are a couple of to-go options that will make you and your family happy to be with each other!

    (Chicago)- This Thanksgiving, invite Shaw’s Crab House to dinner! Shaw’s is offering a spectacular to-go menu at its Chicago location for hosts who’d rather leave the Thanksgiving Day cooking to the experts. Orders must be placed 72 hours in advance and can be picked up on Wednesday, November 25 and Thursday, November 26.

    Shaw’s Thanksgiving to-go includes the following options in either half or full sizes:
    Seasonal Salads
    Chopped Seafood Salad- $75 (half), $150 (full)
    Chopped Salad- $52 (half), $104 (full)
    Caesar Salad- $42 (half), $84 (full)
    Organic Mixed Greens- $35 (half), $70 (full)
    Kale & Spinach- $42 (half), $84 (full)
    Asian Salad- $35 (half), $70 (full)
    Signature Starters
    Mini Crab Cakes- $90 (half), $180 (full)
    Shrimp Cocktail- $32 (half), $64 (full)
    King Crab Bites- $52 (half), $104 (full)
    Side Dishes (all half sizes)
    Braised Brussels Sprouts- $50
    Lobster Mac & Cheese- $80
    Mashed Potatoes-$42
    Roasted Cauliflower- $50
    Au Gratin Potatoes-$55
    Sauteed Garlic Spinach- $50
    Creamed Spinach- $50
    Macaroni & Cheese- $50
    Cole Slaw- $14
    For more info, call 312.527.2722 (Chicago) or 847.517.2722 (Schaumburg), visit the website at, tweet with The Shaw’s Mermaid at, or follow the restauratn on Facebook at

    Thanksgiving To-Go by Paramount Events

    Creating a picturesque Thanksgiving meal is daunting, especially for holiday hosts given the cooking reins of one of the most celebrated dining days of the year with little time to spare. Thankfully Chicago’s premier catering company Paramount Events is available upon request, presenting a special Thanksgiving drop-off catering menu full of favorite holiday eats including turkey, stuffing, roasted vegetables and more. Whether taking a break from the kitchen or planning last-minute festivities, home cooks and party hosts rely on Paramount Events, elevating Thanksgiving dinner with fervent holiday spirit.
    “Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we’re here to supply the ultimate Thanksgiving feast,” says Paramount Events Principal Jodi Fyfe. “Everyone deserves to enjoy the holidays with loved ones, so we’re happy to provide unforgettable meals throughout the season.”

    A day of celebrating with family and friends, Thanksgiving shouldn’t limit anyone to spending the holiday tied to the kitchen, so Paramount Events happily handles cooking with an assortment of Thanksgiving musts. Providing a plethora of satisfying, autumnal dishes, Paramount’s signature Turkey Day menu includes:

    Brown Sugar & Sage Brined Free Range Turkey
    (Oven roasted, pre-carve, served with pan gravy)

    Holiday Stuffing
    (Assorted artisan breads, applewood smoked bacon, onion, garlic, thyme, sage)

    Roasted Fall Vegetables
    (Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sunchokes, baby turnips, heirloom baby carrots, herbed pistou) 

    Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes

    Assorted Dinner Rolls

    Mini Pumpkin Tarts

    Mini Apple Cheddar Pies

    This year leave the prep to the professionals, allowing Paramount Events to cater Thanksgiving functions with its traditional yet exceptional holiday-inspired drop-off menu. To order Paramount’s Thanksgiving meal, contact Paramount Events by calling (773) 880-8044 or visiting

    About Paramount Events
    Paramount Events is Chicago’s established, go-to resource for events and catering. The team continually strives to create custom, creative menus from sustainable and local products, provide every guest with impeccable, attentive service and foster growth in community partnerships. For more information about Paramount Events, please call (773) 880-8044 or visit or Paramount’sFacebookTwitter or Instagram pages.



  4. Reincarnating Stuffing

    November 16, 2015 by Barb


    Am I the only one who thinks that about reincarnation? I always wonder if we do come back to life, what would I want to be. A butterfly would be cool because no one ever gets mad at a butterfly. That whole cocoon thing has always been intriguing. Plus, I could have wings with some crazy print on them and they’d never go out of style. Of course, I could end up on some kid’s poster board science project so maybe that is a no.

    I could come back as a dog because they have a cushy life. They eat, play and nap. (Wait, I think I am already doing that.) My humans would buy me toys that squeak and beds that smell like liver. My belly would get scratched and I could itch myself anytime I wanted without the fear of being a social outcast. It sounds great but I can’t guarantee if I came back a dog that my owner’s would be perfect.

    There is also the possibility I could end up on a different continent. Maybe I could be an elephant. I can relate to the bigger nose and there has always been a heavier set girl living inside of me. I’d like to flap my ears and swing my trunk around. I’m not sure if the herd mentality would be a good fit because I am not a follower. Plus, you have to worry about crazy people coming after your tusks. (Do girl elephants have tusks? If not, I’d worry about my husband’s tusks . I like big tusks and I cannot lie.)

    The one thing I would never want to be is a turkey. It isn’t that I think they have horrible lives. They hang out with their other turkey friends, forage for their food and have gobble contests. (I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a gobble contest but if I were a turkey I’d be the one to start them in the yard.)

    It is a pretty cushy life but the thought of knowing what they do to your body after you “go” is just horrifying. You become one of two things…lunchmeat or Thanksgiving dinner.

    The lunchmeat afterlife would be fine if I knew I was going to end up in an adult’s lunchbox. With my luck, I’ll end up in some kid’s pail and get traded for a miniature almond joy bar. Maybe my kid wouldn’t trade me at all and he’d just eat the bread and pitch me. My last remains would be stuck in a black sack with half finished milk cartons, banana peels and ketchup packets. (I’m shuddering at the thought.)

    Still no matter how I think about it, if I were a turkey, I wouldn’t want to be a Thanksgiving dinner. The thought of someone grabbing one of my bones and making a wish sends a shiver up my spine.  What kind of sadistic lunatic thought of that? I’ll tell you who…it wasn’t someone who was reincarnated from a turkey!

    You’ve got the maniacs who rip your legs off and walk around with them like cavemen and think it is funny. Some people don’t even eat the legs; they just toss them in a soup pot or pass them off to neighbor.

    But the worst thing is the stuffing. How can you die with any dignity if one of the last things a human does with your body is stick their hand up your fanny with a fist full of bread cubes!? I probably wouldn’t mind that thought if everyone made as good as stuffing as I make but there are some people who just don’t put any care or love into it.

    Maybe I could justify this degradation if there was a little more love put into it. It could be an honor if the cubes of bread were adorned with pretty dried cherries and tasty, sage sausage….otherwise being a turkey reincarnated just isn’t for me!

    The Reincarnation of Thanksgiving Stuffing


    1 bag unseasoned stuffing cubes (16 ounce bag. You can make your own too)

    I pound breakfast sausage,uncased (don’t buy the sage flavored one)

    2 tsp of fresh sage, finely chopped

    2 Tbsp

    1 medium onion, diced

    2 ribs of celery with the leaves, diced

    1 clove of garlic, minced

    About 2 cups of vegetable broth

    3 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned

    1 egg, beaten

    ¾ cup dried cherries


    Put your cubes of bread into a LARGE bowl, set aside.

    In a small skillet, brown the sausage. As the sausage browns, add the fresh sage. Drain off excess fat and add the sausage to the big bowl of bread cubes.

    In the same skillet, melt your butter over medium heat and add the celery and onions. Sauté until soft. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.

    Add the veggies to the sausage and the bread. Add the egg and mix well.

    Here is where you make or break your stuffing. You want to add enough broth so it is just wet but not soggy. It is going to absorb some juice from the turkey so you don’t want to turn it to mush.

    So add a little broth, mix. Grab a cube. Does it still have a little give? Add a smidge more but don’t go crazy. Mix in your dried cherries. Taste. Season with salt and pepper.

    Now here is the part every self-respecting turkey hates….grab a handful and shove it up your turkey.

    Maybe say something sweet or tell the turkey it looks pretty. Make this act a little nicer for both of you.

    (If you hate stuffing, feel free to cook it outside of the bird. You may need to add more broth since it won’t absorb the turkey juice.)

    When your turkey is done cooking, check the stuffing temp. If it is not up to 165 degrees, don’t risk over doing your turkey. Instead, put the stuffing into a covered baking dish and pop it back into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

    You need to remember your food safety rules when making stuffing because if you don’t you might just kill one of your guests and they now know they don’t want to come back as a turkey!




  5. CHILL 2015

    November 13, 2015 by Barb


    Yesterday night we blew into Chicago to enjoy the Ninth Annual CHILL event presented by Luxe Home in the Merchandise Mart. (For those of you who don’t live in Midwest, we were having 30-40 mile wind gusts so we literally blew into the city!)

    This was my fifth year enjoying the event that benefits The Lynn Sage Foundation, Respiratory Health Association and Saturday Place and I must say this was year was one of the best. (Okay, I say that every year but that means it gets better and better!)

    The silent auction and mystery wine raffle put the fun in "fun"draining.

    The silent auction and mystery wine raffle put the fun in “fun”draising.

    Each boutique we walked into seemed like a new adventure. There were mariachi bands, fantastic piano playing and the amazingly talented Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. The wafts of deliciously cooked food would hit your senses and the sight of each food display made my mouth water. (Kudos to the chefs and their teams for making such beautiful presentations of not only their dishes but also the tables.)



    I’ve seen this young man perform in previous years and he is just really talented!

    Everything was out of this world but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves instead of using a thousand words.IMG_1666


    These rabbit rillettes were my favorite bite of the night. The cherry-mustard vinaigrette and the brussels sprouts just made the dish!


    Special thank you to Chef Tim Kirker for ALWAYS taking time to talk to his guests each year at CHILL. You have become one of my favorite people to see.

    My entourage favorite was Carnivale's Ropa Vieja. The braised brisket melted in my mouth!

    My “entourage” favorite was Carnivale’s Ropa Vieja. The braised brisket melted in my mouth!

    Carpaccio de Pulpo: Braised Octopus served with tomato escabeche and malbec chips

    Rural Society’s Carpaccio de Pulpo: Braised Octopus served with tomato escabeche and malbec chips

    Guess who won his episode of CHOPPED? CHEF CORY MORRIS!!!! Congratulations!

    Guess who won his episode of CHOPPED? CHEF CORY MORRIS!!!! Congratulations!

    Chef Evan Behmer of Mercat a la Planxa did not disappoint with his balls. I mean, his duck and lamb meatballs with apricot escabeche. (I just write dirty stuff to see who reads the captions!)

    Chef Evan Behmer of Mercat a la Planxa did not disappoint with his balls. I mean, his duck and lamb meatballs with apricot escabeche. (I just write dirty stuff to see who reads the captions!)


    Mercadito’s Camoron shrimp had the perfect amount of  heat in their chiptotle mayo


    RA Sushi can never go wrong with a platter of Tootsy Maki.


    RA also served a perfectly seared tuna and their garlic edamame (which I could eat all day!)

    Fred's at Barneys New York shined with Smoked salmon and caviar on fresh cucumber

    Fred’s at Barneys New York shined with Smoked salmon and caviar on fresh cucumber

    Kinmont's Chef Aaron Cuschieri and team were having a blast!

    Kinmont’s Chef Aaron Cuschieri (Top Chef New Orleans) and team were having a blast!

    Kinmont's Burger Slider made with bone marrow, smoked gouda, mayo, pickles and grilled romaine

    Kinmont’s Burger Slider made with bone marrow, smoked gouda, mayo, pickles and grilled romaine

    Sienna Tavern served a nice Butternut Squash Tortellacci with parmesan brown butter and crispy sage. (My favorite squash dish of the night.)

    Sienna Tavern served a nice Butternut Squash Tortellacci with parmesan brown butter and crispy sage. (My favorite squash dish of the night.)

    Osteria Langhe had a delicious rabbit confit with la fur, hazelnuts, arugula and an AWESOME house made Barolo vinegar

    Osteria Langhe had a delicious rabbit confit with la fur, hazelnuts, arugula and an AWESOME house made Barolo vinegar

    TWO Restaurant & Bar keeping it real with braised beef cheeks

    TWO Restaurant & Bar keeping it real with braised beef cheeks

    The living art always is an event favorite.

    The living art always is an event favorite but it is discouraged to pick the grapes off of her!

    Marion Street Cheese Market Braised Beef crostinis with marmalade shallots and micro radish was also a group favorite.

    Marion Street Cheese Market Braised Beef crostinis with marmalade shallots and micro radish was also a group favorite.


    TheWitHotel not only shined with their bison meatloaf slider but the Brussels Sprout “trees” also made their table seem like a produce wonderland.

    There was also ample beers and wines to try.

    There was also ample beers and wines to try.

    Our friends thought the wine selections were indeed spectacular.

    Our friends thought the wine selections were indeed spectacular.

    Burrata Cheese with a Calabrian chili vinaigrette and almond pesto from Wood

    Burrata Cheese with a Calabrian chili vinaigrette and almond pesto from Wood

    Revolucion Mexican Steak House made a Taquitos de Tinga de pollo. I loved the crispiness of the taquito!

    Revolucion Mexican Steak House made a Taquitos de Tinga de pollo. I loved the crispiness of the taquito!

    This was my last big food event for the year and I must say it was the perfect ending to an amazing food year.  (The rest of the year will be my own home kitchen adventures.) Tasting the food from all these talented chefs inspires me to be more creative in my own life (and it gives me some great places to look for next time I am in the city.)

    Special thank you to all of the LuxeHome boutiques who open the doors and let us enjoy this event in a truly unique space and the chefs who transported us to another world.

    This was the most beautiful kitchen appliance (Bertazzoni) I've ever seen!

    This was the most beautiful kitchen appliance (Bertazzoni) I’ve ever seen!

    Also, thank you to the team at IMR for continuing to give me events to look forward to year after year.

    And finally thank you to my support “entourage” who FINALLY took our suggestion of joining us at CHILL.  Best summed up by our friend, Eric, “Barb writes about food and blogs or something…and told us we should come to this.”  With support like that, it is no wonder I haven’t gone viral.  Haha


    Laura and Eric W. had so much fun that they are ready to buy their tickets again for next year.


    Thank you Earl. Your support and willingness to carry my purse is the only way I can do what I do!



  6. ThanksGivakus

    November 9, 2015 by Barb


    “A fun adult imagination is a terrible thing to waste.”

    I’m not sure if that is really a quote but I guess since I just wrote it in quotes, I could be quoted for the quote.

    There are a lot of things I imagine. I don’t live in a world of make believe (or maybe I do and none of this is real.) I do like to mock adult realities that just seem to stress people out.

    I’m not saying I fantasize about the burly young men that have muscles that bulge as they lift my mulch into my car. (I don’t even use mulch. I just buy it and have stacked in my yard!)

    I also don’t look in the mirror and see myself as a supermodel in those underwear catalogues. (My husband DOES see me like that but then again I think he needs a trip to the eye doctor!)

    Those aren’t things I find fun to think about. My fictional world is much more random.  My imagination likes to make up holidays because who doesn’t like a holiday!?!?

    I don’t act on all of my holiday dreams. I’m realistic enough to know that Barb’s Day will never happen because let’s face it, we couldn’t contain all that is me into one day….I’m thinking a week is sufficient.

    The fun part of my holiday is that we wouldn’t need gifts but good food would be a must. You can go to bed early on my day and read comic books. Coffee would be the official drink and at least one of the days would require sushi. It would be a glorious time for all.

    One made up holiday that I do actually celebrate is ThanksGivakus. (Yes, the name is based off of the Seinfeld’s Festivus episode.) I never know how to explain the day.

    It is pretty stress-free and the meal can be whatever we want it to be. It doesn’t land on a particular day.  No one gets upset if there are no mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes with marshmallows. We don’t have to witness the relative on the couch with his pants undone and snoring.

    The best part of ThanksGivakus is that I can experiment with recipes. If they turn out perfect…GREAT!!! If they are a total flop, the meal isn’t ruined and no one badmouths you at future gatherings about how you desecrated the family table with your avant-garde side dishes.

    With that said, I thought I’d share this year’s ThanksGivakus menu. The recipes I tried were from miscellaneous magazines and webpages so I will include the links in case you want to have your own ThanksGivakus or mix things up at your own family table this year.IMG_1617

    ThanksGivakus Menu 2015

    Pear and Cranberry Salsa (I used a can of whole cranberry relish because I couldn’t find fresh, only half of the orange juice, 1 green onion instead of the red onion and no cilantro.)

    Roasted Butternut Squash (Simple alternative to sweet potatoes!)

    Blistered Green Beans with Tomato Almond Pesto (ABSOLUTLEY FABULOUS)

    Sage, Sausage and dried Cherry Dressing (This was one I’ll write about next week.)

    Creamed Leeks (Honestly, I never make enough of these!)

    Hasselback Potatoes

    My Good Gravy

    Herb Roasted Turkey (Okay, there was no recipe. I just slathered my bird with butter and herbs that were left in my garden and followed the cooking directions for time/temp per pound.)

    Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Cookie Crust

    The green beans were the star. I liked the smokiness of the paprika. It really paired nicely with all of the “traditional” flavors of this fall meal.

    My husband and I have celebrated this holiday for years (it has gone through some name changes but the theory behind it has remained the same.) We don’t have many made up holidays but given my imagination who knows what may come up in the next year!


  7. Extreme Chili

    November 5, 2015 by Barb


    I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day and an attractive man was standing beside me tapping at his wrist.  (Please note: He was attractive but no where near as cute as my husband!) I thought it was an indication that he was in a hurry and offered to let him in front of me in line.

    He smiled and said he wasn’t in a rush, he was just seeing how many steps he had taken today.  He then told me 11,000. I kind of shrugged, I don’t know if that is good or not. I got all flushed and embarrassed, what do I say?  I don’t know steps.  Should I smile or frown?  Panic set in…..

    So out of the blue, I tried to think of something that was equivalent to steps so I could sound cool too.  TEN!!! I shouted TEN!!!   He looked at me like I was nuts because I not only said TEN, I said 10….I’ve pooped 10 times today. (People with Crohn’s count their BM’s because doctors ask that kind of stuff.)

    Needless to say, this is pretty much where our conversation stopped. Apparently, extreme pooping is nowhere near a trend like other extreme lifestyle events that are popping (popping, not pooping) up.

    Everywhere I look, people are trying to take normal things and ramping them up. You can’t do a 5K anymore (I never did them but let’s say I did), you have to do a color run or dirty dash. The joy of going on a hike is now marred unless you climb an ample elevation, walk across water and battle a grizzly bear. Heck, I can’t even take a nap unless I call it a power nap! (Ooooo, I bet I could do well at this sport.)

    Nothing can be simple and fun, it has to be radical. I thought about this more today when I was invited by some friends to do a chili potluck but not just chili….”Extreme Chili.”   Whaaaat? Extreme Chili? What does that even mean?

    Apparently, it is a group that is going to see who can make and eat super hot chilies. I don’t get it. (Maybe they do want to count their bathroom trips? The competitive part of me sort of wants to go because if this is a contest I will win. Maybe I am into this extreme stuff?)

    Any which way, I did try a new chili. If you want it to be extreme, you can eat it while perched on your roof in a thunderstorm sporting a thong OR you can just realize that life is momentous enough and enjoy a bowl or two with someone you love.

    Extreme Chili


    1.5 pounds ground pork

    1.5 pounds ground beef

    2 peppers (red/orange/yellow), chopped

    1 yellow onion, chopped

    2 cans of Rotel tomatoes

    1 can of 15 ounce tomato sauce

    4 ounces tomato paste

    ¼ tsp EACH Coleman mustard and toasted cumin

    1 TBP EACH Chili powder, Ancho Chili powder, Chipotle Chili powder and gochujang

    Optional: Shredded cheese, chopped jalapeno, fried onions, chopped green onions, sour cream


    Simple put this is a slow cooker recipe.

    Brown/Drain your meat. Add to slow cooker.

    If there is a little meat juice in your pan, sauté the peppers and onion for a couple of minutes. You don’t want them incredible soft, just a little softer before you add them to the slowcooker.

    Add remaining ingredients except the optional things and stir well.

    Put slow cooker on low and let cook 6 hours.

    Take a taste. If you say “Sweet Baby Jeepers” call your friend and see if you are still able to go to her party.

    If it is just a little hot, put a little dollop of sour cream on top, some cheese and give it a go.

    For me this was enough to make my nose run a little.

    As for the poor guy in the grocery store, I did see him again but oddly he took off with his cart. Maybe he needed to add some steps or he is starting an extreme grocery shopping challenge.



  8. Salt of the Earth

    November 1, 2015 by Barb


    How many things do you take for granted?   It could it be something as amazing as a sunrise or basic as the smell of your soap. It could be a special moment like having a coffee with your mom or a lunch with a friend. Whatever it is, you may not think twice about it because you are so used to having it you life.

    We went away the other week and I really thought about this topic. My husband and I watched the sunrise over the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and after seeing it, I don’t know why I don’t watch the sunrise every morning.

    As the sun peeked over the mountaintops, it was changing the scenery before our eyes. One second it seemed dark and the next thing I know I could see actual rays peeking out amongst the clouds.

    There were shades of red and gold mixed together and you could feel the sun slowly warming the Earth. The sun shook the fall colors as to wake them up and our view’s colors were changing as quickly as a turn of a kaleidoscope.


    After that moment, I felt changed. I felt like I needed to look around and be aware of the things that happen every day. It was like I had been missing something all these years and I needed to just take a moment and really see the things that were right in front of me.

    This, of course, made me think of foods I may take for granted. Is there something in my life that I need to look at a bit closer? Is there some sumptuous green veggie in my drawers that needs some love?

    The first thing that came to mind is celery!!! We buy it chop it up and serve it with some ranch dressing for a cheap appetizer to bring to a party. We dice it and add it to our soups. We smear peanut butter in the crevices when there is nothing to eat for lunch. The one thing we don’t do is appreciate it! (Is there a celery appreciation day? If not, I think November 2 is the first one!)

    I grew a lot of celery this year besides the crispy stalks; I had a lot of beautiful, tasty leaves. I used them in salads, pestos and as a bright garnish. I was starting to have trouble using the leaves as fast as my garden produced them and one of my brilliant, observant friends said I should make my own celery salt.

    I really like celery salt but never even thought of what it takes to make it. So I did a bit of research and found that it was as easy as drying the leaves and mixing it with salt. Ta-dah!

    The taste was toasty and earthy. You had hits of the salt but notes of celery in each bite. Just fabulous.

    This next month, I am going to spend more time recognizing significant moments and things that may have otherwise been forgotten. Each day will have a new sunset and I will take a breath and enjoy all this world has to offer.

    Celery Salt


    Celery leaves

    Coarse Sea Salt


    Oven at 350

    Rinse off the celery leaves and lay flat to dry. They need to be DRY.

    I first rinsed them and let them sit in a sieve for a while. I then spread them out on clean dishtowels. I flipped them over once and changed the towels so they were DRY. (Do you see a key here….they must be dry!)

    Prepare a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.

    Place the leaves in a single layer on the baking sheets and bake for 5-8 minutes.

    You want the leaves DRY but not brown. (Just hang out in the kitchen while they cook.)

    Remove from oven and crumble into a measuring cup. (You will have some woodsy stems in there. Just pitch them.)

    Measure the amount of crumbled leaves. Add about 1/2 that amount of salt.  (Example if you have 1 cup of leaves, add 1/2 cup of salt.  You can always add more salt if you want a saltier salt but you don’t want to totally lose the celery taste either.)

    Put both the salt and celery leaves into a grinder. (I have an old school hand grinder, which pulverized it beautifully.)

    Store in an airtight jar.

    Use on everything from Bloody Marys to scrambled eggs to roast chicken!

    We go to the mountains enough that I can honestly say that we will never miss another sunset or take for granted the beauty of an everyday occurrence.


  9. This is my jam….shallot jam.

    October 27, 2015 by Barb


    I did something really immature a couple of days ago. (I am sure some of you are saying, “Tell us when you aren’t immature.”) I’m not exactly proud of the moment but given the circumstances I think it was warranted.

    It occurred in our car and it was all I could do not to start a fight with my husband. (Our car fights are legendary. I usually end up losing my cool because I get too hungry, start to cry and then threaten to fling myself out of the car….and amazingly these are not the immature moments I am writing about today.)

    Our rule is that the driver gets to pick the music. We do a good job of compromising on his eclectic taste (everything from the Beatles to Eric Church) and my superior love of the classics (Harry Chapin, Bee Gees and Shaun Cassidy.)

    After 17 years of marriage, hubby and I kind of know each other’s vibe. He knows I am going to belt out the wrong lyrics and I know he is going to do some sort of funky harmonizing and vocal guitar noises.

    I can’t think of a time where we have vetoed the other’s music choice until this past weekend. Hubby and I were at the end of a very long car ride (hour 9 of 10) and he was driving. I was at that point where I wanted to be home and get on with the chores that come after being away.

    He starts digging in the armrest for a CD. I generously hand him one…of mine. Hubby pokes around some more (I yell at him for driving with his knees) and finds what he is looking for….Jimi Hendrix!!!

    I agree, Jimi Hendrix is an unbelievable musician BUT it just isn’t my jam. (For those of you who aren’t as hip as I am…when I say my jam, I am saying that it is not my get down get funky music. Jam does not refer to the stuff you put on a sandwich next to peanut butter. )

    The wail of an electric guitar was what Hubby needed to burn the last hour whereas I just was mentally toast (which also is good with jam) and wanted some quiet noise.

    My feelings toward the disc were obvious as I rolled my eyes and made gagging noises. (And we STILL aren’t at the immature moment.) I resisted throwing the disc out the window but I just couldn’t listen to it.

    So I put in my ear buds and listened to my IPod. (THIS is my immature moment.) Like a pouty teenager, I just sat there listening to MY music and staring out the window.

    At that moment I thought, I’m showing him. He’ll think twice before he ever puts on music that isn’t MY favorite. Yep. I’m cool. (The only thing that would have made me more juvenile is if I took a selfie and made a duck face.)

    I’ve looked back at this moment a few times in the couple of days. I will admit, I handled it wrong.   This was one of those moments that I missed out on just being present and there for my husband.  I should have relished the moments of him enjoying music he loves instead of being in my own head.

    Lesson learned.  Sometimes the “jam” can be something different as long as you share it with someone you love.

    Shallot Jam (This is the jam is the one I mentioned a couple of weeks ago on my Cubs Fan-dwich)


    1 pound shallots, remove papery/onion outside and slice as thin as humanly possible

    2 Tbsp Olive oil

    1 tsp sea salt

    2 Tbsp brown sugar

    2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme (You can also use rosemary or both.)

    1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I’ve also made it with balsamic vinegar)

    A couple good grinds of black pepper


    In a large, nonreactive skillet, heat up olive oil over low heat.

    Add shallots and give it a quick coating and then let cook a few minutes without disturbing.

    Add salt and brown sugar. Stir occasionally BUT keep cooking over low heat until it is browning not burning. Mine took about 45-60 minutes.

    Increase heat to medium/high and add thyme, vinegar and pepper. Stir constantly until the vinegar reduces. It should look nice and syrupy…like jam.

    Store in a clean container for about a week.

    As for future car trips, my husband will never have to see my ear buds again!  (I’ll just plug my ears with my fingers because that IS more mature.)


  10. Out of My Gourd

    October 24, 2015 by Barb


    It has only been about a week since I tore out my garden and I must say I feel a little batty. There was something about this year’s garden that fulfilled every ounce of my being…..and I’m not just talking about my belly.

    There was something about going outside and being in the fresh air that was very therapeutic to me. I would talk to my plants, butterflies would sit on my shoulder and the birds were singing just to me. (I would say it was like a Disney movie but I don’t want to jinx my mom, so I’ll say a fairytale.)12087989_10206370362315875_2422222229942301653_n

    I went outside and picked my last tomatoes and realized “I’m out of my gourd.” Literally, there isn’t a squash or gourd left in my garden. It is maddening.

    Wait, is this where this saying comes from? Did some farmer back in the 1700’s go bonkers when growing season was over? Did he go out to his garden and find it bare? Did he strip off all his clothes, run around his house, hold his stuffed monkey and cry? (Please note, I am talking about a farmer and not myself.  Seriously, who does that?)

    I think I understand that saying for the first time in my life. Being out of your gourd, really is terrifying. (Especially to the UPS guy, who came over when I was running around the house naked, crying with my stuffed monkey.)

    Sigh. It is okay. We are fine. (“We” as in me and my monkey.) I know that this insanity is just temporary. (My other insanity is a little more permanent but THIS little episode is fleeting as I type.)

    The only antidepressant was a trip to the local Farmer’s Market. It helped but it wasn’t exactly what I need.  Don’t get me wrong it was nice but it just wasn’t the same as being able to pick my own veggies. I talked to people not plants…that is weird. I did see a butterfly…stuck to the grill of my car. Also there was a bird in sight, well; actually some guy gave me the bird while he was whistling. Sigh.

    I felt a little less crazy when I came across a beautiful butternut squash. It called to me and let me know that I was going to be okay. Mr. Squash said that I just needed to accept that this is just how any good gardener feels as season passes. Phew, I thought I was toast!IMG_0691


    1 butternut squash (chopped up you get about 3 cups if you are buying prechopped)

    2 tsp brown sugar

    1 cup FRESH ricotta cheese (If you can’t make your own, get the good stuff and drain it VERY well.)

    12 LARGE Sage leaves (fresh)

    Zest from one lemon

    Juice from that one lemon

    Olive oil

    Salt and fresh ground pepper

    1 French baguette, sliced and toasted


    Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Cut butternut squash into little diced up cubes. (Remember you are putting this on a crostini so you don’t want a huge chunk in one bite, you want little bites.)

    In a large bowl, toss the brown sugar with about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Mix together. Toss in butternut squash and coat the pieces.

    Arrange on the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 20 minutes, tossing at least once. (The squash should be tender and have some nice brown toasted spots on it.

    While the squash is cooking, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium/high heat. Add sage and cook just until the edges curl. Remove with tongs (or slotted spoon) and drain on a paper towel or paper bag. (I love to drain on brown lunch bags.) You want them kind of crisp.

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix ricotta and lemon zest in bowl. Add a small pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper.

    Take one of your little toasts, smear with ricotta and top with roasted butternut squash. You can either crumble the sage or just top each toast with a leaf.

    Finally, in a small jar or squirt bottle, add the juice of lemon you zested. Add about 1 Tbsp of olive and shake the dickens out of it! Drizzle on right before you serve it. (You may need to shake up the lemon oil one or two more times.

    Share with your favorite crazy farmer, stuffed monkey or the guys at your husband’s work.IMG_0673