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  1. Are the Holidays Making You Crackers?

    December 18, 2014 by Barb

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    Crackers. Loco. Bonkers. Daffy. Cuckoo. Deranged. Loopy. No those aren’t names Santa rejected for reindeers nor are they the names of some of the helpers in the Santa’s Workshop. (I have to say “helpers” because apparently elf is now considered politically incorrect.)

    Those first words define how I am feeling a week before Christmas. I really thought I was ahead of the game this year. My cards were out, shopping tasks were accomplished and my tree was up.

    But somewhere a week disappeared. How can Christmas be next week??? I have to get presents wrapped, cookies baked and my house is not clean. (Santa does not like to come to dirty houses.)

    I don’t feel like Scrooge but I do feel like if one more task is put on my list, I am going to do something very naughty and let Santa skip our house this year.

    Okay, my husband is now saying, “Be naughty. Puh-leeese be naughty and just pulled out my elf costume. (I won’t explain why I have an elf costume other than to say my husband is a little freaky at times.)

    I digress…..so during all this commotion; I have started to reread my blogs to see if I can find some easy recipes to satiate our hunger over the next week. And low and behold guess what I noticed? No, not my husband standing by the fireplace with a strategically placed candy cane…I found a promise for a recipe that I never posted! (The candy cane thing has never happened…okay…maybe once or twice. Note to self…don’t eat a candy can at our house.)

    Earlier in the year I had posted a recipe for chili and showed it with some seasoned oyster crackers. I had received the recipe from one of my mom’s aunts. I misplaced the recipe so I never posted it.

    Well this week, I made a version of the seasoned crackers. (Still can’t find the original.) Luckily the recipe is easy and uses things readily available. The best part is that you can eat them on some chili or just eat a little bowl as a snack when you feel a little “crackers” during the holidays!

    Easy Seasoned Oyster Crackers

    Ingredients

    9 ounce bag of GOOD Oyster Crackers. It is about 5 cups or so. Make sure you pick the brand with the LEAST amount of salt because you are going to season them generously.

    4 Tablespoons of melted butter

    1 package of Dry Ranch Dressing. I stick with Hidden Valley.

    ¼ tsp of granulated garlic This is one of the rare times I don’t recommend fresh garlic. The dry garlic just works and tastes better.

    Directions

    Heat oven to 250 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

    Add crackers to a large bowl. DRIZZLE in about half of the butter. Stir. Add in the rest of the butter. Add the ranch and garlic immediately and toss gently.

    Pour out on baking sheet and bake 10 minutes, stir and bake another ten minutes.

    Allow to cool to room temperature and then store them in an airtight container.

    The next week is going to fly by so if you need an easy gift make the crackers and put them in a mason jar with a cute bow.  It makes a thoughtful gift!

     


  2. Mrs. Claus Should Say “Please” If She Wants My Pimento Cheese Recipe

    December 12, 2014 by Barb

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    Ring. Who is calling now? The caller ID says “HoHoHo.” Hmmm, Santa? He was just here, why would he be calling again? Did he forget to tell me something?

    I picked up the phone and hear a woman’s shrill high voice talking a mile a minute. I stammered “Mrsssss. Claus, is that you?” And then silence?

    What the heck? Are the elves bored and crank calling me? “Glitter? Jangle? Is that you? I’m going to tell on you if you are playing with Santa’s phone again.”

    And then she spoke…”Barbara Jean, this is Mrs. Claus.” (Whoa, does she sound like one frigid gal.)

    “Hi Mrs., Claus, what can I do for you today?” She paused again and then said, “Has MY husband dropped by your house?”

    Jokingly I told her that we enjoyed his chestnuts by an open fire. She was not amused. In fact she started huffing and sputtering into the phone. (I think she just proved opposites attract…her husband is quite jolly and she is NOT.)

    I told her that he was innocently dropping of an early gift of my new food processor from Hamilton Beach and that we’d enjoyed a snack of pimento cheese and crackers….and that was it!

    Well, apparently Santa came back to the North Pole and just raved about my cheese spread to his wife. She said that she could smell it on him and was very upset that I fed him. (Is she not aware that everyone leaves him cookies and milk?)

    She then DEMANDED (DEMANDED!!!) that I share the recipe with her. (I also think I heard her call me Vixen under her breath.

    I tried to keep cool and agreed to write up the recipe for her. I really wanted to tell her to take the candy cane out of her hinny and lighten up but I behaved. (I did not want to get on the naughty list again for my sharp tongue.)

    So instead of just giving it only to Mrs. Claus, I thought I’d share it with everyone. Maybe if you get bored you can make some for Santa on Christmas Eve since he loves it so much. (And I’d like to see her reaction!)

    Santa’s Favorite Pimento Cheese

    Ingredients

    8 ounce sharp cheddar cheese (don’t use the cheapo stuff but you also don’t have to use the super high end cheese either)

    8 ounces White Cheddar Cheese

    4 ounces cream cheese, softened

    ¼ -1/2 cup of mayo

    1 4-ounce jar of pimentos

    4-6 peppadew peppers

    1 greeen onion

    1 clove of garlic

    Optional: Cayenne pepper if you want to add more spice

    Directions

    In a food processor with the chopping blade, chop up garlic, onion, pimento and peppadew peppers. (If you don’t have a food processor, just chop by hand.)

    Place these ingredients in a large bowl. Mix in cream cheese and about ¼ cup of the mayo. Taste. I don’t like my pimento cheese super creamy….I like to see the shreds of cheese so I don’t add much more. You may want more. It is your call.

    Either shred the cheese by hand or in your food processor and mix it with the other ingredients.

    Taste. Do you want more mayo? More spice? It is your cheese spread. I liked the spiciness of the peppered and added a few extras.

    Let chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

    Serve with crackers to your favorite jolly fat man.

    I have a little leftover from Santa’s visit so I am going to make a gooey grilled cheese with it this afternoon. I wonder if I should expect company again?


  3. Hamilton Beach Stack & Snap 10-Cup Food Processor: Santa’s Little Helper

    December 9, 2014 by Barb

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    Guess who popped over to my house the other day? SANTA CLAUS!!!! He came bearing an early gift from my friends at Hamilton Beach….a brand new Hamilton Beach Stack & Snap™ 10 Cup Food ProcessorIMG_8906

    Apparently, I am such a good little girl they had Santa hook me up early so my holiday cooking would be easier.

    Santa was hungry. (Seriously, you don’t get a body like that from working out!) I thought since he needed a snack, it would be the perfect time to try out my new food processor.

    I decided to whip up a batch of Pimento Cheese Spread since it would allow me to use both the included blades and try out the different processing options. (I’ll post the recipe for the cheese on Friday)

    First, the silliest thing made me smile. (Given I was cooking with Santa, I had a lot of reasons to smile.) There are little suction cups on the bottom of the machine. This is WONDERFUL when you are pouring things into the machine to make sure it stays in place. NICE.

    Next, setting it up was easy enough an elf could do it. (That was Santa’s joke and he thought is was hysterical. I laughed only so he wouldn’t put coal in my stocking!)

    It is called a Stack & Snap for a reason. All you have to do is stack the 10-cup bowl on the machine, add your blade and snap on the lid. There is none of that naughty trying to line things up to get your food processor to turn on. NICE.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit. NAUGHTY. After I put the bowl on, I carefully put the chop/mix blade in. It popped in and STAYED in. NICE. How many times have I tried to empty my food processor bowl and have the blade come flying out of it like a reindeer on Christmas Eve?

    I popped in a couple of cloves of garlic and snapped on the lid. The Stack & Snap has 4 operating buttons: Off, Slice/Shred, Puree/Mix and Pulse to Chop. There is never any second-guessing which button to press to achieve the proper result. NICE.

    The garlic was evenly chopped super fast. NICE. Next, I needed to shred some cheese for my recipe. (And I needed to get this done quickly because apparently Santa does not remain jolly when he is hungry.)

    I pulled out the chopping blade and placed the reversible slice/shred blade on top. Hamilton Beach did two things really right with this blade. First, they labeled it so you know which side is for slicing and which side is for shredding. Second, they put little “grab” holes on the blade so you don’t cut yourself when you put it in and out. NICE.

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    I snapped the lid back on and was able to fit an eight-ounce block of cheese in the Big Mouth feed tube. I was thrilled to eliminate a step of chopping up my cheese before I tried to shred it. NICE.

    With a simple push of the Slice/Shred button and a gentle shove with the food pusher, my block of cheese was beautifully shredded. If I had any complaint it would have been that about a teaspoon of the cheese was too small to get pushed against the shredder therefor it didn’t shred. This was user error because I was over the MAX LEVEL on the bowl. NAUGHTY.

    Santa didn’t mind because he removed the lid and ate it. NAUGHTY!

    I finished mixing up my cheese spread and sat down with Santa for a snack. (This is why I never get my house cleaned. Someone is always dropping by for a nibble.)

    Santa asked me how I liked my new kitchen toy.   I told him that I needed to get a thank you note out to Hamilton Beach soon because I was impressed with the Stack & Snap food processor. It was a super nice gift and I’m glad they asked me to review it.

    I’ve been using the same processor for the past 16 years. I didn’t realize how many extra steps I was using to get my food processor to function. The Stack & Snap really did what a food processor is supposed to do…make food preparation easier and less stressful.

    Santa was ready to head out. (After inhaling all my pimento cheese spread.) I gave him a big hug and knocked some cracker crumbs out of his beard. He gave me a nice “Ho, Ho, Ho” and was out the door. (He doesn’t always like to use the chimney.)

    I went to the kitchen to clean up and apparently Santa was nice enough to load all the food processor parts (bowl, blades, lid) into the dishwasher.   NICE.

     

     


  4. No Better Gift than Butter

    December 4, 2014 by Barb

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    One holiday done….and more around the corner. No matter what your beliefs are gift giving can sometimes be a pain in the rump.

    People these days buy what they want….when they want it. Unless it is my mom, who does not need to ever shop because giving birth to me has been the best gift she ever gave herself. (Now imagine my mom spitting her coffee across the room as she reads this!)

    I like to give people food gifts. (Insert your surprise face here.) My thought is that everyone likes some sort of food. The challenge is to give a gift that everybody likes to eat.

    Most people go for the easiest food gift ever…chocolate. Now that is great…if you like chocolate BUT I’m allergic to it and I prefer my gifts don’t kill me. (Funny thing is that my in-laws love to give me chocolate. Hmmm, I wonder if that is deliberate?)

    I try to give a gift that everyone loves…butter!!!!!. What? Butter? Not just any butter….compound butter. A nice compound butter is an awesome small gift. (Unless you buy butter like my sister in law who buys it by the ton. It makes me shudder to think what sort of weird kinky things she and my brother do with it!)

    Simply stated…a compound butter is butter (duh) with some extra ingredients added to it. My favorite one to make is butter with fresh garlic and chives. It is so yummy on a warm baguette.

    Or maybe you want to add some lemon zest and pepper for a nice hot potato topper? How about something sweet to go on your toast in the morning like cinnamon/honey butter? It all sounds good to me.

    Now, don’t go buy a premade butter. Compound butters always taste better if they are homemade and super fresh. The best part is that they are EASY.

    All you need is butter (about a pound) and a few tablespoons of your favorite herbs and spices.

    Roughly chop up the butter and put it in your Mixmaster with the paddle attachment. (If you don’t have a Mixmaster, use a potato masher in a big bowl.)

    Mix the butter until smooth and add your desired ingredients. (Remember less is more…taste…add a little more.)

    Here is the tricky part. Take a piece of parchment paper and cut it to the size of a baking sheet and then cut it in half again. Split your butter into two portions.

    Plop your butter on MIDDLE of the parchment and fold the parchment in half. (See picture.)

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    Use a flat-sided object (like a bench scraper, sturdy piece of cardboard, large Lego) and place it on the parchment leaning against the butter. Now lightly pull it so the butter is tight against the paper. You may need to do some manipulating to make it look like a log.

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    I sprinkle my end product with more herbs (savory) or a fun sugar (sweet) and rewrap with parchment.

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    Play around with your flavor combinations.  (I will warn that if you put too much cinnamon in your butter it will make it REALLY brown and if shaped incorrectly it may not look appetizing.  So next time, I may make a different shape.)

    For my chive and garlic, I use about 2-3 Tablespoons of chives with about 3 cloves of mashed garlic. Another favorite is a honey cinnamon. I found the key to incorporating the honey is to mix about 2 Tablespoons of honey to a little cream. You will have a smoother result.

    It really is a welcomed gift and fun excuse to eat extra butter.

     


  5. Giving Thanks for Leftovers

    November 30, 2014 by Barb

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    So Thanksgiving is OVER!!! Did you survive drama free or did you dream about taking a turkey leg and shoving it in someone’s pie hole? Did everyone get along or did you have to sedate yourself by drinking your sister in laws wine cooler when she wasn’t looking?

    Ours was very nice. (Thank you for asking.) My husband’s sister and her Sexy stud muffin hubby were awesome hosts. We all had full bellies, played lots of games and shared lots of hugs and kisses. (The hugs/kisses were from my super sweet nieces and nephews….not from the studly brother in law. Darn it!)

    Next year, I would only change a couple of things. First, I’d bring warmer clothes. Apparently I would need to do a Kickstarter online to get those people to pay for some heat in their house. I have never cuddled so hard with my husband in my life! (And cuddle is NOT a euphemism!)

    I’m also going to do some weightlifting. My nieces and nephews are getting bigger and I am not. It is so hard to lift them up without causing muscle strain or feel the need to put on one of their diapers! (That might have been too much information….)

    And finally, I am going to pack some puff pastry. Puff Pastry??? Every year the same thing happens with me, I am never full after our meal. We eat pretty early each year so by dinnertime I am ready to eat…again.

    The problem is that I don’t really want to just heat up a leftover food that I just ate 4 hours earlier. I want to repurpose the food into something new…like a potpie!!

    A Thanksgiving potpie is a wonderful thing. You pretty much can put anything you want in it and it tastes like a whole new meal. (It is also a great way to hide some of those dishes that may not have been a success.)

    I like to use store bought puff pastry for the top because it is pretty much fool proof. (And let’s face it…after a long day with in laws; it is nice to have something be drama free!)

    Leftover Thanksgiving Pot Pie

    Ingredients

    1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed but not warm…mine didn’t puff very well because it sat out too long.

    2 cups leftover turkey (or chicken)

    2 cups leftover veggies

    ¼ cup butter

    ¼ cup flour

    2 cups broth

    ½ tsp thyme

    salt and pepper

    Directions

    Heat oven to 400 degrees.

    In a 3 quart oven/stove proof dish, melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until the flour gets a nice light brown. Don’t let it get too toasty.

    Slowly stir in your broth and heat to a boil. It should start to thicken. Season with salt, pepper and thyme.

    Fold in your leftover turkey and veggies until they are all nicely coasted with the sauce.

    Place the thawed puff pastry over the top of the dish to the edges. Cut a couple of holes so it can vent. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the pastry is nice and brown.

    You can get fancy and make a nice lattice pattern and little individual pies.

    The nice thing about this dish is that it is pretty simple and it is very comforting on a cold day…after sleeping in an igloo!

     

     


  6. Grateful Even For the Little Things

    November 26, 2014 by Barb

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    A complete stranger sitting next to me said….”Thank goodness Thanksgiving is only once a year.” I smiled politely and replied “Should it only be once a year?”

    This stranger looked at me inquisitively as I proceeded to say we should think about all of the things we are grateful for EVERY DAY. And I’m not just talking about the big things like our families (real and pretend), good health (it could always be worse) or the roof over our head. I’m talking about the little things we just love about our everyday life but don’t think about.

    The stranger continued to smile and look at me without saying a word. I babbled on by expressing that life was like the song from Sound of Music….My Favorite Things.

    She looked like she didn’t know what I was talking about so without a pause, I started singing!

    Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

    Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

    Brown paper packages tied up with strings

    These are a few of my favorite things

    This polite stranger then told me the song is very nice and agreed we need to think of everything in our life and be grateful. She patted my hand and then asked me tactfully to get out of her car before she called the police.

    I’ll rewind a little bit here…like most people I’m a little scattered trying to get stuff done before Thanksgiving. My big mistake was going to the car dealer on Wednesday for my oil change. Apparently, I was not the only minty van in the shop and I just went into autopilot and hopped into the wrong car! (I blame the dealership for leaving the keys in the car and finishing 2 identical cars at the same time.  My new friend was waiting in the passenger seat for her husband to finish paying when I entered the vehicle.)

    With laughter in our voices, we both wished each other a nice holiday and I left her vehicle as her husband walked up to get in.

    I guess this can be just one more thing to be grateful for on Thursday….the good people we run into each and every day.

    Happy Thanksgiving, my dear readers….I am grateful that you make me part of your busy, sometimes scattered lives!


  7. Bean Thinking About Thanksgiving

    November 23, 2014 by Barb

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    Writing a food blog around Thanksgiving is really a funny thing. It is one of those holidays you just don’t mess around with because people are really set in their ways of what needs to be on the table.

    Do you only have mashed potatoes or is it okay to add some scalloped? Maybe you don’t want parker house rolls and you surprise your guests with a hearty whole grain roll. Heck, I’ve even known people who skip the turkey and just plop a chicken on the table. (I only went to that house once for Thanksgiving and then I never went back because frankly that sucked.)

    I’ve had this one recipe in my back pocket for a while and I have been scared to post it because I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. (I take that back, I guess turkeys will get their feathers ruffled no matter what when they are plucked each year.)

    I think it is a good alternative to the green bean casserole that is a common staple at a lot of holiday gatherings BUT I don’t want to freak people out with something new. (Okay, I am totally lying. I really like the occasional freak out at the holiday. It makes the day more interesting and provides some entertainment other than football or the annual family discussion of the difference between stuffing and dressing.)

    The traditional green bean casserole is tasty but I have never been a fan of the goopy soupy base. (The same people who gave me the chicken for Thanksgiving made this dish too sans green beans!!! I swear it was like living in a Chevy Chase movie!)

    So this year may I suggest a new recipe? I made it this summer and really liked it because it was tasty and kind of pretty. I simply blanched fresh green beans, rolled them in some prosciutto and roasted them. Ta-dah. You can save your can of soup for the apocalypse (which ironically is what family holidays sometimes feel like to me).

    Green Bean Bundles

    (DISCLAIMER:  My picture is not great because it wasn’t taken until after dinner and not before….and they sat too long but use your imagination that this is VIBRANT green.)

    Ingredients

    1 pound fresh green beans

    1 +Tablespoons of Olive oil (I needed a smidge more than just 1 Tablespoon)

    4 ounces of prosciutto

    Salt and pepper

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 400°F

    Fill a large bowl with ice water.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously.

    Add green beans and cook for 3 minutes and IMMEDIATELY add them to the ice water.

    Drain them and pat dry.

    Grab about 5-7 beans and wrap with a piece of prosciutto.

    Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 5-6 minutes and then flip and roast for another 5 minutes.

    The tips may get a little brown but that is okay.

    Sprinkle with a smidge of salt and pepper and serve.

    The only thing I will add is that since it is a holiday….I would garnish these babies with some fried onions or fried shallots. It will look nice and make you feel like you are eating the old school green bean casserole.


  8. The Comfort of CHILL

    November 17, 2014 by Barb

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    Do you ever have a place where you just feel a sense of comfort? It could be the familiar smells of delicious food or maybe just the surroundings are something that brings you happiness. It could be the faces you look forward to seeing or maybe it is just a setting that is warm and inviting.

    For me the event called CHILL presented by LuxeHome on Thursday, November 13, at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago gives me that sense of comfort and joy.

    This was the eighth year of the event (my fourth) and I want to say it was one of the best ones yet. It was like walking into one of your favorite family member’s homes. You get a whiff of delicious foods peeping out of every nook of the boutiques, people are joyous and there is always the anticipation of seeing surprises lurk around every corner.  And, of course, you know the night is going to just bring you pure comfort and joy.

    Most folks go grab something to drink first and CHILL had plenty of choices in the libation department. There were so many wines from all over the world to choose from that paired beautifully with the dishes being served.

    But I go directly for the place that brings me the most happiness (kind of like your favorite relative), Mercat a la Planxa. Chef Cory Morris made his awesome chicken croquettes with lemon truffle aioli, shaved Brussels Sprouts on site so they were warm and crispy…..and delicious.

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    Chef Cory Morris

    Always love to see Chef Cory.

    Mercadito's Spicy Pork taco with Mexican slaw

    Mercadito’s Spicy Pork taco with Mexican slaw

    Zapatista made a fabulous taquito.

    Zapatista made a fabulous taquito.

    Bistrot Zinc's Grilled Radicchio Salad with Merguez Sausage and Fig Vinaigrette

    Bistrot Zinc’s Grilled Radicchio Salad with Merguez Sausage and Fig Vinaigrette

    McCormick & Schmick's seared scallop with miso

    McCormick & Schmick’s seared scallop with miso

    Chef Zoë from Ada Street made a nice light butternut squash salad with goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts.

    Chef Zoë from Ada Street made a nice light butternut squash salad with goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts.

    There were so many musicians from the Chicago  Youth Symphony Orchestra playing their little hearts out.

    There were so many musicians from the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra playing their little hearts out.

    Savory foie gras macarons were absolutely delicious from Cafe des Architectes

    Savory foie gras macarons were absolutely delicious from Cafe des Architectes

    HUB 51 made one of my favorite dishes of the night, Tuna Poke.

    HUB 51 made one of my favorite dishes of the night, Tuna Poke.

     

    Moto probably had one of the most beautiful natural presentations for their smoked salmon dish.

    Moto probably had one of the most beautiful natural presentations for their smoked salmon dish.

    Chef Richie Farina of Moto Restaurant (and Top Chef fame) is always fun to bump into!

    Chef Richie Farina of Moto Restaurant (and Top Chef fame) is always fun to bump into!

    Kudos to the performance artists.  She was just beautiful.

    Kudos to the performance artists. She was just beautiful.

    Roy's Tuna Maki with Sweet Inamona and Avocado Cream

    Roy’s Tuna Maki with Sweet Inamona and Avocado Cream

    Paris Club did a nice lobster and eggs on PERFECTLY toasted crostini.

    Paris Club did a nice lobster and eggs on PERFECTLY toasted crostini.

    Missed seeing Chef Tony Priolo but enjoyed his butternut squash soup from Piccolo Sogno

    Missed seeing Chef Tony Priolo but enjoyed his butternut squash soup from Piccolo Sogno

    Davanti Enoteca Apple Bread Pudding

    Davanti Enoteca Apple Bread Pudding

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    The Florentine

    The Chopping Block sure did represent with a Terriyaki Pork Belly, Crispy Salmon Skin Maki

    The Chopping Block sure did represent with a Terriyaki Pork Belly, Crispy Salmon Skin Maki

    Part of the extraordinary team from The Chopping Block.  Love these people!

    Part of the extraordinary team from The Chopping Block. Love these people!

    Many of us were captivated by these artists.

    Many of us were captivated by these artists.

    My final bite of pastry with pumpkin cream from Pump Room was the perfect way to end the evening.

    My final bite of pastry with pumpkin cream from Pump Room was the perfect way to end the evening.

    The night provided a content belly and a full heart knowing that the evening helped raise money for The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, The Respiratory Health Association and The Lynn Sage Foundation .

    As our days continue to get colder and we embrace the joys that come with the holidays of the season, it is such a comfort to me to know that I can look forward to this amazing event year after year.

    Thank you to the folks at LuxeHome for making this year a warm hug.

    Thank you to my husband Earl for helping me this year with photos!

    Thank you to my husband Earl for helping me this year with photos and being my arm candy.

     


  9. Bon Appétit November Cook the Cover

    November 14, 2014 by Barb

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    Thanksgiving is two weeks away. Do you have plans? Do you celebrate with the same people each year or do you try to do something new each year? Do you try new recipes or serve the same green bean casserole year…after year…after year?

    I received the new issue of Bon Appétit and was thrilled with all the fun new recommendations for Turkey day. I especially liked the article on Etiquette! (I am still trying to decide if it was bad manners to email this link to my Little Sister In Law aka LSIL who is our hostess this year.)

    Like any GOOD guest, I am going to try out some of the recipes BEFORE I bring them to Thanksgiving.   (Don’t make the mistake of trying something new without doing a test run. It is just asking for trouble especially if your sister in law has biceps like mine does!)

    One of the recipes I tried was the Bon Appétit cover recipe of the mashed potatoes. Technically, my PSIL (pregnant sister in law) is bringing the spuds but I really wanted to try BA’s method of infusing the milk with herbs and drying the potatoes.  I then can hint to her that this is the only way to make good mashed potatoes. (I’m not scared of pissing of the PSIL she can’t move very fast these days and so I can outrun her if she is mad.)

    The other nice thing for me was this helped me keep my resolution of cooking every cover this year. Bon Appétit had printed up two different covers-one with the mashed potatoes and one with a turkey. I’m actually really happy that I received the mashed potato version because I wasn’t a mashed potato fan….until I made this recipe!!!!IMG_8718

    I have never in life said “Wow” after eating a bite of mashed potato until today. Besides the fact that they were incredibly light and fluffy (thank you potato ricer), the butter flavor was just stupendous.

    The only thing I did differently was add a couple pats of a compound butter on top. (It was chive and garlic…yum.) It really complimented the thyme and bay leaf and you can’t go wrong with some extra butter on Thanksgiving.

    I’m really looking forward to the next two weeks of trying new things and seeing how it all comes together at my LSIL’s house. No pressure because the real point of the day is being grateful for what you have and not acting like a big turkey when you don’t get what you want.

     

     

     

     

     


  10. The Ginger Pumpkin Curry Soup of Your Dreams

    November 10, 2014 by Barb

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    I love when people share their dreams with me. It is funny how little ol’ me can sneak into a person’s subconscious. Did I pop into your brain because you just saw me somewhere? Or maybe you read a blog of mine and it struck a chord? Some people have me in their dreams because I am part of their past. (My sisters have dreams about me all the time but they call them nightmares.)

    So the other week I received a note from an old high school friend who I’ve reconnected with on Facebook.

    “I had a super complex dream with YOU in it! Apparently you had an extension to turn in an article late so the rest of “us” (us??) assumed we did too and then the person from the ad agency was fired for the mishap and you made him pumpkin curry soup to feel better. Then I woke up!”

    Very interesting. I decided to pick apart this dream and analyze my friend’s subconscious. (I am very relieved the dream did not include bananas, sausages or rockets or I may have had to give this post an “R” rating and defriend her.)

    So to dream you are late says you are afraid of change and that you might be missing an opportunity. In addition, dreams that include deadlines mean you are afraid that you might not meet your goal by a specified time. (Like getting a blog up in a timely manner…that haunts my dreams!)

    The scene about the guy getting fired was tricky but I found out that conveys a repressed desire. A person in advertising can be helpful in solutions to your current situation. (Like a blogger who cooks….very helpful to have one of those in your subconscious.)

    Finally the part about the soup (the ultimate symbol of comfort) was the final piece that put this puzzle together for me

    So after many days hours minutes of going over dream analysis websites, I was really able to put this dream together so it made sense…..

    My friend was scared to try a new pumpkin curry soup recipe but wants me to save the day and  fabricate one before “pumpkin” season is gone!

    Ginger Pumpkin Curry Soup

    Ingredients

    2 small shallots (about 2 Tbsp chopped)

    1 Tb ginger, grated

    1 Tb red curry paste

    1 can of vegetable broth (2 cups)

    1 can of coconut milk (13.5 ounce)

    1 can of pumpkin (15 ounce)

    1 tsp of honey

    1 Tbsp fish sauce

    Juice from 1 lime

    Olive oil

    Directions

    Heat your favorite soup pot with about 1 Tablespoon over medium heat. Add shallots and ginger. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring.

    Add curry paste and cook another minute.

    Add broth and pumpkin. Add all but 2 Tablespoons of the coconut milk. (You want to save a little to swirl on top as a garnish.)

    Add limejuice, honey and HALF of the fish sauce. Reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

    TASTE IT!!! If it needs more salt, add the remaining fish sauce. My lime was small so I added another squirt of lime too.

    Divide into bowls and squiggle a little twirl of coconut milk on the top.

    There is VERY mild heat in this soup but if you like it hot add a little more curry paste….just remember….once you put the heat into the soup you won’t be able to take it out and it might give you bad dreams!