Category Archives: Summer

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!

A Very Tardy End of Summer Post – In Poetic Verse

Editor’s Note: It’s better if you sing it to the tune of Gilligan’s Island.

We went on vacation to Michigan City
With a quick stop in Grand Beach
We drove home for bit, 12 hours to be exact,
Then South Bend we did reach
Then South Bend we did reach.

We came back home and went to camp
Practiced instruments for a singing señora
Because with sBork now joining the band
We rocked out in Aurora
We rocked out in Aurora.

Then me and mBork made a feast
for the post-show rock and roll crowd
With so many families here at once,
The children were really loud,
The children were really loud.

And next thing you know the Second Set
Was turning ten years old,
With Drummer Boy
and Miss M too
the Big C and his smile
A movie star
Baby D and a Nemo hood
Here on Lucky Rhino!


Sweet house we rented:


Sweet kids we took:


Sweet drumsticks I made:


I made these Honey Teriyaki Drumsticks from Skinnytaste.  Doubled the recipe, didn’t use sesame seeds (Drummer Boy has a bad reaction – and you never know when he might actually enjoy the food I cook!). These got thumbs up all around from those who do eat food.  Served with white rice with extra sauce spooned over.  Yum!

Since it was vacation, it begged for dessert. Begged, wouldn’t shut up about it. So if you are going to do dessert, go big, go YUGE, go Pioneer Woman’s Easy Peach Dumplings.  Turn this


Into this:


You feel like a horrible person while making these.  So much butter! Soda! Processed dough! Trust me, you get over it when they are done and topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. FYI – I used one of the tiny cans of Sprite you can buy at Target.  6 oz. maybe, but not a regular size one.

Unfortunately we had to go to South Bend for Kevin’s dad’s memorial service. There are lots of places on the internet to read about how great Bill Guilfoile was, but here is one from Kevin.

Even though the circumstances were sad, the cousins enjoyed getting together.  It’s probably been about 4 years since we’ve all been in one place.  So logically, we played a card game (Mafia) where people had to gang up on each other and accuse each other of crimes.  Natch.

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The Big Show

The boys and sBork did a great show for School of Rock. They represented the Austin City Limits festival with B-52s, Weezer and Billy Idol.


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DSC_0850So we has a Aprés Rock Show get together for those who came to the show.  With an Asian themed dinner party.  Just like all the hep bands do.

I made this Asian Chopped Salad also from Skinnytaste.  It’s a great salad, colorful and crunchy.


And mBork made these Dragon Noodles which were


She also made Asian Marinated flank steak and I did a basic grilled chicken with an lightly spiced brine.

Grilled Chicken with Asian Brine
Heat 8 cups water with 8 TBSP salt and 4 TBSP sugar, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 3 splashes of low sodium soy sauce.  Heat only until salt and sugar dissolved. Once cool, place chicken parts (we used boneless breasts) in bag or covered bowl with brine to cover and put back in the refrigerator. Boneless – brine up to 6 hours before, bone-in could probably stay in longer.  Take out, dry off and grill as you normally would. Discard the brine.

The Big 1-0

The Second Set are all turning 10 within sixteen days in August/September so we had the family party.


I made Olympic themed goody boxes with my Avery template that I’m always going on about. Filled them with Cheetos, pretzels, red/white/blue Hershey’s kisses – you know, the snacks of champions.


I was in charge of salads so I made a Zippy Orzo Summer Salad from Pinch of Yum.  Spinach, fresh corn, garlic, cucumbers.  A bowl of summer.  The only thing I did differently was I did not add chicken and I sautéed the baby spinach with the corn and garlic.


Also made this Nancy’s Chopped Salad from Smitten Kitchen. Didn’t use chickpeas because although I like them pureed (hummus) or fried crunchy (Vistro restaurant in Hinsdale, check it out), I don’t like them whole.  Go figure.


And then we had a majority of the Expensive People* over for Pizza Night (*so named because the first time we went out over 16 years ago, it got a leeeeetle out of hand food and drink-wise at the restaurant).


And now it’s back to school.


Back to the daily grind, the piles of homework, soccer practice and certainly cut down on the parties. Well, until the next Pizza Night!

Have a great week everyone!


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!

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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!!!!!!

Duxbury 2014

Thanks to the Duxbury Guilfoiles for hosting yet another family reunion (less Tommy, but a hermit crab was named in his honor, so it was practically like he was there). Here’s a picture of hermit crab Tommy fighting with hermit crab Joe – so yeah, just like he was there.

Terrific weather and great company makes for wonderful memories for all the cousins:

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Father’s Day 2014

Happy Father’s Day everyone!  We thank the Dads that are still with us and keep those who are not in our hearts.


To quote the song of the summer of the century:  Let it go:


The Wileys hosted quite the get-together with scootering, volleyball, giant badminton, gnome eating Godzillas, friendly squirrels and a megaphone.   Yes, you do wish you were there.


Here is the sangria recipe I promised and the sprinkle cookies that I didn’t bring to Father’s Day but will taunt you all with by telling you that I made them about a week ago and gave none to you (except Kate and the Rehors). And they taste like Kirschbaum’s sprinkle cookies the day after you make them.

Warning – the recipe makes like 5 dozen. I would halve the recipe the next time. And you need a really big jar of rainbow sprinkles.

Strawberry and Limoncello Sangria

Couple of changes. I don’t use Rosé, I just use regular Prosecco and then add a half a tablespoon of sugar.  Also, you need the raspberries to cut the sweetness of the Limoncello.

Sprinkle Cookies from Poppytalk

Poppytalk has a super cute line which will debut at Target later this month of pretty and inexpensive cake stands and other party goods.

DIY Glow Balloons from

(sorry about the link, their server is not responding and I won’t remember to do this later this week)

We didn’t do this either because we all left while it was still light, but this has been a big hit with the 9th Avenue crowd at night. I put two glow braceletes into a white balloon because they are easier to get them into the balloon.  If you happen to have awesome next-door neighbors who are also your dear friends who also built your house and who also have a helium tank, the balloons will float just slightly above your head.

So really, it’s one recipe from Father’s Day and a some other stuff I promised people.  Happy Summer.