Category Archives: Bubbles and Sippers

Report From the Beach House

I kid, I kid (kinda).  We were cooking at a point for 25 people.  Why vacation small? I say go big or go home.  Except then we did go home, so I guess that really doesn’t work here, does it?

Anyhoo, but lots and lots of cousins of different generations had tons of fun.

So what did we eat?   We did these Honey Teriyaki Chicken Legs from Skinnytaste.  Always a hit. But with a large crowd we had to supplement the 25 chicken legs with 38 tacos. 38 TACOS. Yep, you read that right.

Another night we made these Steak and Brie Sandwiches with Chimichurri Sauce from Martha Stewart:

Sorry about the photo.  While this rental house is extremely well stocked for everyday living, it is less so for Instagram-worthy food photos. They didn’t have a drawer of white marble slabs, distressed wood or rumply farmhouse tea towels!

Had plans for another big dish but when the evening came, everyone was tired and over-sunned and a big meal just wasn’t doing it for me.  So we did this DIY BLT bar.

Roasted all the bacon in the ovens.  Also had choice of adding avocado or Israeli Salad (background photo bombers).  Hit the spot.  Of course, that meant the 7 pound pork shoulder had to ride home with us. And the pork should didn’t have a iPad so he whined the whole way.

What do you do besides swim and eat?  Well, games, coloring, puzzles and drinks!

Brought some Aperol with me and made a sparkling Aperol Rosé Spritzer:

1 cup chilled pineapple passion fruit juice (though you could sub in just pineapple or maybe a little grapefruit juice – whatever moves you)
1/4 cup Aperol
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
4-5 tsp sugar
1 bottle chilled sparkling rosé
lime wedges

Stir first 4 ingredients together until the sugar dissolves.  Add in the sparkling rosé.  Stir and then serve over ice with a lime wedge.

Also did this Lillet Rose Spring Cocktail again from Grand Maester Stewart.

I was fresh out of edible flowers however, so lime slice it is!

If you’ve got tomatoes coming in from your garden or a basil plant threatening all the other herbs out there, I’d highly suggest a riff on this Tomato Garlic Toast With Whipped Basil Feta from How Sweet It Is.  I say riff because I didn’t exactly make this because I’m not a feta fan.  I KNOW, then why am I reading recipes about feta? Because then, maybe when you change the cheese its just as delicious as the main recipe would be with feta if you were the kind of person that liked feta. FIGHT ME!

Basically, instead of feta I subbed in Ricotta Salata (not the stuff you use for lasagna, the harder ricotta by the other cheeses).  And I added one more ounce of cream cheese and a very full 1/4 cup chopped basil.  Otherwise follow Jessica’s directions. But taste before you salt, because ricotta salata is really salty.  Salata=salt (free Italian lesson – you’re welcome).  I used zero additional salt.

Try to lean back and enjoy the rest of your Sunday as much as D enjoys his sand bed.

Have a great week everyone!

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.


Turns Out They Don’t Make Candles That Say 103

So my grandmother turned 103 this month. Passed her drivers test. Still lives in her condo. Still likes to go to parties. Still needs help with the iPad. Still better dressed than me.

So we had a 103rd birthday party. Which required (yes, required) commemorative menu cards.


Made easier with the Avery template design tool. I also used it to make the cake topper signs.

So, let’s get this party started with a cocktail.  An Orange Crush Cocktail from Kitchen Konfidence to be precise.


In an official Pittsburgh Pirates Old Fashioned glass. It’s the right thing to do.

The only thing I changed was to double the orange juice and add sliced oranges. I used the suggested Olmeca Altos Tequila and though I’m not usually down with the brown liquor, it was very good.  Those with more discriminating palates than mine thought it was good neat as well.

As you can read from the menu card, we had roasted beef tenderloin which I discuss in this post. Though I didn’t use the garlic, just rubbed with olive oil and cracked pepper before putting it in the oven and made a herb sauce. We also had Waldorf Salad Cups where I used the recipe for the salad, but then used whole butter lettuce leaves and spooned some salad onto each leaf.  People were hungry so we ravaged and thus, I forgot to take a picture. Oh, well, just imagine it looked delicious.

Made this Jeweled Tabbouleh side salad.


Jeweled Grain Tabbouleh
Adapted just barely from A View From Great Island

4 cups cooked grains.  I’ve used quinoa (keeps the dish gluten free) and freekeh (the picture is freekeh). The original recipe called for 2 cups each cracked wheat and wheat berries.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 large bunch minced fresh parsley, stems removed
1 small bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped  (I used half of one of those grocery store plastic containers)
1/2 English cucumber, finely diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup raw pistachios, rough chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely diced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup Craisins or dried cherries

Mix the dressing by shaking the olive oil,  lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste in a jar.  Pour it over the grains and toss to combine.  Mix in the the minced parsley, mint, cucumber, and red onion.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Mix in the nuts and fruit just before serving.

And cake from Kirschbaums, because that’s how we roll in the Wes’ Subs.


A little help from some of the great grandchildren.


Baby D recommends the frosting as a side dish. And a way to power through no-nap all the way until 9 p.m.


But the true frosting on the cake was GG’s grandchildren and great grandchildren teaching her to use Snapchat.  This is her skeptical reaction to seeing this essential piece of technology:


But then she got more comfortable breathing fire.


But perhaps most disturbing was the face swap with P.


But, in the end, everyone was satisfied.


Very satisfied.

Have a great week everyone.


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.


Vacation’s All I Ever Wanted

Except now I’m exhausted from all the vacationing. We rented a house on the lake in Indiana and it was lovely.


There was beach time (ahem, strike a pose)


Bowling time (cold, rainy day)


Rollerskating time.


BIG waves (well, for Lake Michigan).


Up to no good at the beach time.


Digging holes.


Spotted an elusive beach gnome in one of the holes.


Just down the street, an American Ninja Warrior-like park. Big M as Kacy Catanzaro!

DSC_0229 DSC_0212


But from this blogger’s perspective, most of all, it had a really fully stocked kitchen which is unusual in a rental.  Silicone basting brush – check. Juicer – check.  Three colanders, one ginormous – check.  I wanted for nothing.

So here are a few things that were on the menu for the week:

Smitten Kitchen’s Tomato Sausage Risotto which is a go-to dish to serve a lot of people. I use turkey Italian sausage to lighten it up a bit. Add 1/2 to every ingredient to serve 4 adults and 2 girls who are good eaters.


Cobb Salad with Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Ranch Dressing


4 cooked boneless chicken breasts. You can cook them any way you want, but this method from thekitchn really works for salads.
16 oz. bacon, cooked crisp
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh peas (hint, Trader Joes has them in the refrigerated section)
3 hard boiled eggs
1 medium red onion, diced.
2 avocados, diced
Cooked corn kernels (good use for left-over corn on the cob)
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 head/clamshell butter lettuce
1 head iceberg lettuce
Blue cheese crumbles (optional)

Arrange all lettuce in bowl or platter. Toss with a little of the ranch dressing.   Arrange all the ingredients in rows on the lettuce and drizzle with a little more dressing.  I serve the blue cheese crumbles on the side as not everyone like blue cheese in this particular vacation house.

From BevCooks, Seared Steak with Chimichurri Sauce.  I didn’t serve it with polenta, instead roasted a bunch of fingerling potatoes, halved, tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 400 for about 30 minutes, flipping half way through. Forget to take picture.  To compensate, here are the sauce and marinade that I made ahead before we left.


Also featured in that picture is ginger syrup for the Ginger Beergaritas from How Sweet It Is.  Tasted like a margarita soda. Yum.


We packed up this group of cousins and headed up the road to see the lake-adjacent house of my cousins. Showing up with 6 kids in tow, Tessa had this response:


We had a great time, great meal of turkey burgers, regular burgers, brats and as a side I made The Pioneer Woman’s Pasta Ai Quattro Formaggio, otherwise known as four-cheese, clothespin-on-the-aorta, mac and cheese.


Really a very simple dish when using Trader Joe’s 4 Cheese Italian blend. I make it often as a weeknight side. I also made a peach crumble from The Kitchn’s Make a Crumble from Any Fruit recipe.

It got a little dark to get too many pictures, but as least we got some fire pit action in.


And the song McNamara’s Band MAY have been played. And there MAY have a been a parade with tupperware instruments. However, in the interest that anyone may have in running for Supreme Court justice or other public office someday, we’ll keep that video just between us cousins.

There was card playing for money, natch.



And some pool time.


And this creepy, Scooby-Doo-like abandoned park named Canada Playground. This is Indiana’s way of saying “Hey Canada, maybe if you’d stop giving away health care you could step up your parks and rec maintenance!” Note it also says no dogs allowed. Because you wouldn’t want to mess up the facilities.


All in all, a success at Beachwalk Resort.


Now, one more day until I’m back to the life where there is much less joyful jumping.

But not before I made everyone one of these Birthday Cake Milkshakes. There are lots of different riffs on these out there, but I think using frosting makes for a better texture than the ones I’ve done with cake mix.


1.5 Quarts of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
8 oz vanilla frosting from a can
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 cup milk (depending on how thick you would like the shake).
Sprinkles.  Always sprinkles.
Extra frosting for the glasses

Blend first 4 ingredients in blender to desired milkshakiness.  Rub vanilla frosting on the rim of each glass.  Put sprinkles on a plate and turn the cup to coat rim in sprinkles. They can be any color or size, I just had Fourth of July nonpareils on hand.  Pour in milkshake and serve to this happy camper.


I mustache you, was this delicious?



Appetizers vs Dodd Frank

I am often asked, why do you do the blog, how do you find the time, etc.   If you would like to know why I find joy in talking about recipes or pretty tables or crafts or parties, then you need only click on the following link and then click on the chart:

SEC Chart of Regulation

Go ahead, click on it.  I’ll wait. This is a chart prepared by a Commissioner at the SEC (the law one, not the sports one) showing every regulation imposed on a financial services company since 2010.  Two-Thousand Ten. The original Securities Act was passed in 1933 – so there have been just a feeeeew regulations in between.

Now ask me again, “Why are you oven roasting tomatoes for pasta salad when you can buy them in a jar?” Answer:  Because I know what I’m dealing with and it won’t change tomorrow.

All right, got that off my chest. So K went to a Little League meeting the other night and I had about 45 minutes before I had to pick him up and go get the boys from School of Rock.  And the meeting was taking place near a store that rhymes with Ebay Tacks/Romehoods. Sooooooo, this happened:

New summer bench pillows.


New summer throw.


Oh and a couple of these Turkish style beach towels.


And I may have also purchased a bag that can hold the Surface, the Samsung camera and my phone.  You know, because the other bags were lonely.

So I think we can all agree.  Sports are bad for household economies.

So now that we won’t be eating out ever again, what’s on the menu?

Tecate Flank Steak Tacos from The Mission via Bon Appetit.


The only substitutions I made was flank steak (obv from the re-name) instead of skirt steak, parsley instead of cilantro (tastes like soap to me) and Queso Fresco for Cotija (because I couldn’t find Cotija).

And to drink:


Grapefruit Margaritas
Adapted oh so slightly from Cookie + Kate’s Best Margarita Recipe via A Cup of Jo

WHAT YOU NEED (for 4 margaritas)
1 cup agave tequila
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 cup orange juice
4 tsp agave nectar
Salt, sugar and lime wedges for garnish

Combine first 5 ingredients in a pitcher and stir vigorously.  Rub the lime over the rim of whatever glass you are using.  Doesn’t have to be margarita glass if after 19 years of marriage you may have broken all but 2 that you got for your wedding.  Place even amount salt and sugar on a dish and stir to combine. Dip the glass in the salt/sugar.  Add ice to glass an pour that refresher in.  Obviously this can be doubled/tripled if you have a big crowd.

As you may have seen on my Instagram, my dill plant was infested.


So, now obviously this army of creepy crawlies is on its way up the side of the house to come in upstairs and crawl over my face while I’m sleeping.  YES, IT COULD HAPPEN.  My cousin has a friend whose brother’s roommate’s ex-fiancee had them lay eggs in her ears in tiny dill nests.  True story.

Stay ever vigilant, my resident bug killer.



Tomorrow – Hawks win video!    Congratulations to the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks!!!!!!

Long Weekend Lookback

So it went like this. Pizza Night, soccer game, soccer game, a Communion Party for the Second Set at our house, birthday party, epic clean of Guitar Boy’s room, BBQ, epic clean of Drummer Boy’s room and Birthday BBQ. Yes, that’s right, it was only a three day weekend, but we shoved five days of living into it.

Not much in the way of original cooking as the Communion party was an empanadas and make-your-own-nachos bar. But we did enjoy this new twist on sangria from Foodie With Family: Cider Sangria.


However, with over 50 people at the house, I couldn’t make individual drinks for everyone so I converted Foodie’s recipe into a punch-like drink. Just fished the popsicle sticks out of the punch bowl. I know, fancy indeed.

I also made my standard sangria recipe.

Basic Sangria

One orange, sliced and cut into quarters
One lime, sliced and cut into quarters
10 green grapes, halved
One apple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup brandy (the mini airplane bottles are about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup orange peach mango juice (or sub whatever fun juice you have)
1 TBSP sugar
1 bottle red wine
8 oz club soda or lemon-lime soda (depending on how sweet you like it – I used 3:1 club soda to Sprite)

Combine all the fruit, brandy, orange juice, sugar and wine in a pitcher and stir. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, add the club soda or soda. Serve over ice.

Also made Two Peas and Their Pod’s Black Bean Quinoa Enchilada Bake for the gluten free in our lives, though a nacho bar is pretty gluten free.


New favorite thing. Honey on the cheese tray. Dip cheese (or bread with cheese, or grape with cheese) in raw honey. Urf, it is so good.


Some flowers:


The Communicants (not their band name):


A cookie cake (you stay classy San Diego):


Once Communion starts, Communion don’t stop for no volleyball game:


Epic cleaning of Drummer Boy’s room. Before:


During the closet phase #nothelpful


After (still needs to be painted and sports pictures hung, but a work in progress):


Made Blogging Over Thyme’s Everything Bagel Cheese Twists for the birthday barbecue:


Happy birthday Baker Boy. He makes the best desserts.


Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend and thanks to all who have served.

Now, back to work everyone!  But first, season premiere of American Ninja Warrior.  Wooooooo!

Spring, a Surprise Guest and Mother’s Day

I have a perpetual problem when ordering spices of thinking, “Oh, 4 ounces doesn’t sound like much”.  This mindset results in my owning an extraordinary number of light spices that don’t weigh very much.  Like this, just one of my many, many jars of bay leaves (did I say many?):


And sadly, I’m not in need of a laurel.  Anyone need a cinnamon stick?  Just ask, call any time. And well, vanilla beans fall into that category too.  However, I industriously turned 2 of them into vanilla sugar (scraping the seeds into a clean jar and adding fine sugar).

So now what to do with vanilla sugar? Since Spring began, I’ve seen a number of recipes for fools. LIke take 8 beers, combine with 2 frat boys, add a Family Guy episode, stir….  No, I mean like British fools…take 8 Pimm’s cups, combine with 2 muggles.. No, wait, I digress again.  A fool is a English dessert that combines stewed fruit and cream. I have a lot of strawberries, so I thought I’d use my vanilla sugar and strawberries and make a fool.


Strawberry Fool

4 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
1/2 cup of vanilla sugar
2 TBSP water
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Put strawberries, vanilla sugar, vanilla extract and water in a bowl and stir.  Let sit anywhere from 15 minutes to 5 hours.   Mash half the strawberries with potato masher or two forks until there are mushy bits and still whole pieces of strawberries.

Whip the cream with the powdered sugar until peaks form.  Fold in half the strawberry mixture and stir just a little bit with a spatula.   Then fold in the rest of the strawberries and only stir once.  Garnish with a sliced strawberry and mint if you have it (I didn’t). Serve with Nilla Wafers or Lorna Doones.


Had a nice surprise visit from my nephew Joe before he departs to study and work in China this summer. So we made some steaks, following the directions from Serious Eats.  I’ve mentioned in other posts, or maybe I just wrote it in my recipe binder, but yep, salting beef ahead of time works wonders. So we grilled NY strips, made Oh She Glows’ Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Aioli (yes, again) and a big ol’ salad with homemade ranch dressing from Foodie With Family.


This time I boiled and smashed the potatoes ahead of time, covered the baking sheet and kept it in the refrigerator.   At dinner time I then cooked them in the oven a little longer, about 35 minutes, flipping them half way through so both sides got crispy.  Worked great.

While I made dinner the boys and Fake Sister played soccer with Joe (sorry Joe, hope you didn’t think this would be a restful visit).

soccerv soccerN soccerm soccer4

And games about football:


And music:


I didn’t host Mother’s Day, so there are not many recipes to report on.  But who am I to let a holiday go by without an appropriate beverage? This year, it was Blueberry Bellinis from She Wears Many Hats.

Here they are in all their blueberry and bubbles glory!


Really couldn’t be easier.  Just boil the ingredients, puree with a stick blender in the pot, bring to your sister’s house.  Add to Prosecco and eat donuts.  Done and Done.

Mmmmmmmh, donuts.


A leeeetle mishap involving Alvin’s face and Aunt Colleen’s windowsill of death.   What would Mother’s Day be without a trip to the emergency room for 8 stitches on one’s lip?  Al was a trooper, didn’t even cry.


Happy Mother’s Day everyone.  May Father’s Day be stitch-free.

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!

Halloween Redux

Here are various pictures of the crew:

at Alvin’s costume birthday party:




carving pumpkins:


and actual Halloween.




Check out the detail on Fake Sister’s home made by Dad Up costume.  Amazing.

New decorating idea – cheap snakes from Target dollar section stuck in my flowers.


 Green pepper ghouls:


Oranges for the kids – everyone knows that kids DEMAND healthy snacks when they return from trick-or-treating in the Illinois Halloween snow.  Yep, snow.


And, best drink from Halloween Pizza Night:

Vampire Blood Margaritas (aka Pomegranate Lime Margaritas from Howsweeteats)

As I had to make 2 pitchers of them, after juicing 12 limes I decided that bottled lime juice is no longer as fake tasting as I tend to think it is.  And it tasted fine mixed with the fresh in the drink.

Dipped top of pitcher in corn syrup mixed with red food coloring and let it drip down the outside for spooky effect.  But forgot to take a picture, because, well, 2 pitchers of pomegranate margaritas might explain why.


But, now that it’s November and Halloween is behind us (other than the 12 hours of putting away all the Halloween décor), I made a mini Thanksgiving. I was inspired to do so when I saw pumpkin/cornbread croutons at Trader Joe’s. Then I found this recipe for Pumpkin Cornbread Stuffing at The View from Great Island.

Use 2 boxes of TJ’s pumpkin cornbread croutons.  3 out of 5 Wileys surveyed recommend this stuffing.  But quick, it’s a seasonal item so HOARD NOW.   Among other things, I combined it with the Citrus Sage Roast Turkey Breast from Epicurious.

I’ll be back when Christmas season approaches.



Don’t forget to set your clocks back!

Happy Daylight Savings Time everyone!