Category Archives: New Years Eve

For Auld Lang Syne, For Sure

Happy 2017 everyone. I’ve de-Christmased the house in preparation for an organizing binge. More on that later.

Was going to make a bunch of appetizers for New Year’s Eve, but apparently while I was sleeping there was a run on mini-pita breads and red pepper jelly so Imma gonna just bookmark this recipe for chicken salad pitas right here for next time.

Did make these tidbits though.  Easy and can be served warm or at room temperature.

Beef Tenderloin Crostini with Caramelized Onions and Horseradish Cream Sauce

For the beef:
2-3 lb. beef tenderloin roast
2 tsp kosher salt
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

For the onions:
1 medium size yellow onion
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP unsalted butter
pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper

For the cream sauce:
1/2 cup lite sour cream
1 TBSP prepared horseradish
1 TBSP pink peppercorns, crushed or ground

1 long French baguette, sliced into thin rounds.

The day before you cook it, place beef on a rack on cookie sheet. Coat the beef with the salt and place uncovered in a refrigerator overnight (gotta trust me here).

The next day, take beef out of refrigerator about 1 hour before you are ready to cook.  Heat oven to 425ºF. Rub beef with the 1 TBSP of olive oil and place back on the rack on cookie sheet. Roast about 30 minutes or until the meat temperature reaches 135ºF (that’s my version of medium rare).  Remove from oven and let rest.

While the beef roasts, prepare onions.  Slice onion into thin slices.  Melt butter and oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onions are fully caramelized, about 20 more minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Place slices of baguette on a different baking sheet and toast rounds for about 10-15 minutes.

Combine sour cream, horseradish and a pinch of the ground pepper in a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.

When ready to assemble, thinly slice the beef (an electric knife is a useful thing here). Place a smidge of onions on each toast, top with a slice of beef, a dollop of the cream and sprinkle with some ground pink pepper.  If you had fresh parsley around, you could also chop that finely and sprinkle on for some color.

Here’s a quick recap of Plaid Christmases.

Kids table

Blurry grown-up table

The gang from Plaid Christmas One


Made a new cocktail that was a hit, even with the Manhattan die hards. #diehardisachristmasmovie.  It’s call Santa’s Little Helper from blogger Aunt Peaches.

All you do is soak two cinnamon sticks and a bunch of whole cranberries in good bourbon overnight. Note – Aunt Peaches uses cloves. I’m not a fan, I think they overpower. Make your own call, I’m not the boss of you!  The next day, fill a glass with ice.  Pour in three parts infused bourbon, one part triple sec, and fill the glass with Sprite or even diet Sierra Mist. Garnish with the cranberries from the bourbon.

Onward folks.  We saw 2016 off in style, at the Harrison’s last Illinois-based NYE bash before they take the party back to the land of Oz.

There were lots of laughs and many tears.  We will miss these people with all our hearts.

But not their Vegemite.

A cup o’ kindness to you all and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2017.


Welcome 2016. I Need a Nap.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope yours was festive. I hope your kids slept past 7 after staying up until 1:00 am. I hope you didn’t decide to stay up to watch the last episode of Downton Abbey after you came home at 1:00 am when you were hosting a brunch the next day. Because that would be making poor choices now, wouldn’t it?

So I dragged myself awake to begin the brunch, but the good news is that this Bacon, Potato and Cheese Egg Casserole from Two Peas and Their Pod can be assembled the night before. I was worried it would get mushy, but Maria was right, it did not. Forgot a picture. Imagine eggs.

Made Guitar Boy a cake that Homer Simpson would be proud of. Mmmmmmmh, donuts.


Since every third person, including yours truly, has the Winter Cough of Doom, I made this Sunshine Sangria for a healthy take on morning drinking. Lots of vitamin C and turmeric which is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Plus it makes it a bright orange color. I think that makes it a tincture!


Sunshine Sangria

For Pineapple Syrup
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar

Heat these ingredients in a small pot stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool.

For the Sangria
3/4 cup pineapple syrup
2 1/2 cups orange juice (fresh if you can find it in the store)
3/4 cups pineapple juice
2 limes, sliced and quartered
2 oranges or blood oranges, sliced and quartered
1 cup pineapple chunks
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 cup white rum
1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc
Combine all liquid ingredients in a pitcher and stir in the turmeric until it dissolves.  Add the fruit. Let sit overnight (trust me, it needs this time).

For the kids (and an astounding number of grown-ups), I made this very creamy slow cooker hot chocolate adapted from One Good Thing.

Crockpot Hot Chocolate

2 cups Hershey kisses (or any other chocolate – chocolate chips, bar chocolate, etc.)
6 cups milk
1 14 oz can sweetened, condensed milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 TBSP Ovaltine Malted Milk mix

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker on high. Stir frequently to get the melted chocolate off the bottom until combined. Let cook on high for another hour, then turn to low. Stir right before serving.

Can’t stop, won’t stop making things with Avery label’s design website. Made these Hershey kisses for NYE.


Made these goodie bags for Guitar Boy’s 12th birthday party. Nothing like candy, a Halo guy and a Gravity Falls inspired sticker.


We had 13 12-year olds over for pizza, Nerf battles, loudness and video games for his birthday.


Someone got a selfie stick. Gotta breed the hipsters young.

All the best to everyone for a happy and healthy new year.


Happy New Year 2015!

I took a few days off between Christmas and New Year’s Day and now I’m more tired than I was on 12/24.  Between pizza nights, delayed family flights, the boys first Bulls game:

And then New Years Eve and Guitar Boy’s New Year’s Day birthday brunch, you’d think I’d be too tired for new recipes or tablescapes. But no, the party Must. Go. On.

First, NYE

Made Salmon Pizza as an appetizer for the first event


and Smoked Salmon Dip for the second event:


Thanks to the Borkowskis and Harrisons for a great New Years Eve!

While our absolute favorite breakfast/brunch place is Blueberry Hill in LaGrange (Hi Mr. Chris!), occasionally Kevin and I find ourselves without the boys and the capability of going to brunch at a place that isn’t entirely waffle-based. When that happens, we will go to Prasino in LaGrange

And Kevin always gets the same thing – lox and bagel. Always. Because that way, he knows he will like it. He’s very exciting like that. But, ah ha! they changed it, and now they create it into almost a salad and stands out from your standard lox and bagel. So, inspired by this recipe at SpoonForkBacon, I set out to re-create what Prasino did. It worked as both a pizza and appetizer.


Salmon Pizza (or Prasino bagel breakfast in pizza form, inspired by Spoonforkbacon)

1  can refrigerated pizza dough (or make your own if you are not yeast-adverse as I)
6-8 oz smoked salmon/lox
½ cup crème fraiche
2 TBSP chopped fresh chives or 1 TBSP dried
1/3 cup very thinly sliced red onion
Zest of a medium lemon
2 TBSP chopped fresh dill
1 ½ – 2 cups arugula (depending on how much you like arugula)
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
Cracked pepper
Sea Salt

Cook pizza crust per instructions completely as if the toppings were on it (it’s not going back in the oven), trying to get it as thin as you can. Cool completely.

Spread crème fraiche over top of the cooled crust. Scatter chives over the crème fraiche. Scatter sliced onions evenly over the crust. Top with salmon sliced on the diagonal.Take the little pieces and fill in anywhere there isn’t salmon. Sprinkle dill all over followed by lemon zest. Top with the arugula, chopped egg and cracked pepper to your liking and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Eat for dinner with a nice Prosecco or cut into squares for an appetizer.

Keeping the appetizers thematic (yes, it’s a word), I made this Smoked Salmon Dip from thekitchn.


Now, on to NYD

Did my standard egg casserole from Epicurious, natch. Did a Donut Croquembouche in lieu of a cake for Guitar Boy’s 11th.

Here is his fiery tower of donuts before:


And after:


Made the Gingerbread Granola from prior post but used gluten free oats and worked just as well.  Served over vanilla yogurt.

Also – Epiphany!  We were at Blueberry Hill before Christmas and a woman came in and picked up 5 pounds of cooked bacon for a party she was having.  Five pounds!  At 12 slices a time in the oven and 5 in the microwave that would take about 2 hours at home and a ton of grease to cook that much bacon. And you only have to order it from them 15 MINUTES IN ADVANCE. Done and done forever. Because bacon.

And of course, we’ll need a Breakfast Sangria!


Definitely use either a grapefruit or lemon sparkling water otherwise I don’t think the citrusy kick would be strong enough. But those were some boozy grapefruits!

Bought some 2015 party horns at Target and used them to contain individual silverware sets on the table. By the way, did you know that Target sells both upstairs party horns AND basement party horns? So glad I bought the latter *wink*.


As party favors, I bought inexpensive, little plastic bottles and made Happy New Year labels (filled with either Nerds or mini M&Ms). You can now make labels right here on the Avery label site – just enter the item number of whatever labels you have and they’ll give you a lot of options. It’s really easy.


Here’s everything we made as set forth on my favorite Christmas gift – a menu board!


Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015 for everyone.  May 2015 find you:





And surrounded by friends and family.


Remember, resolutions start only on Mondays!