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Posts from — January 2015

slow cookers are made for pulled pork!

Pork + Slower Cooker = Perfect Match

pork loin

Honestly, when I lay my eyes on a large cut of pork, I always think of the slow cooker. With very little initial effort, the cooker turns the meat into the most tender and moist meat there is.

clean plate

In these parts, it’s a family favorite, no matter how I fix it.

salsa and coke

This recipe, in particular, using a few key spices, Coke and salsa, is one of Connor’s favorites. So much so, that he insisted I take a photo of his “clean plate” which was clean before the rest of us even finished on a taco. Growing boys… always a pleasure to feed!

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January 13, 2015   5 Comments

yes, I do bake… every now and then…

lemon glazed blueberry lemon bread

We all know that I don’t bake.

Yet I did, voluntarily, on Sunday.

Weird, I know!

frys ad

It all had to do with the blueberries that were on sale at Fry’s.

I bought them, only because they were on sale, then I didn’t know what to do with them … so I baked. The result was pretty darn fantastic! (Oh, I bought the pork loin on sale too… that recipe will follow soon.)


I used Meyer lemons because I have them, but regular Lisbon lemons would be just as delicious.

2 varieties

If you need either, and you are in my neighborhood … contact me and you can pick as many as your heart desires.

expesive lemons

I do not charge $46 (plus $10 for shipping) for 3 pounds as they do on Food52/Provisions!!! In fact, I don’t charge anything, they are free for the picking. Meyer or Lisbon! And yes, both are organic!


Before we get to the recipe, a few notes:

lemon glazed blueberry bread

I love to use a longer and thinner loaf pan for bread. There are more slices and they are a nicer size. A 12″ long by 4 1/2″ wide by 2 1/2″ deep loaf pan is my favorite size to use.


When you use a glaze on baked goods, the glaze drips. Many recipes call for you to place the baked item on a rack – over waxed paper or such.

pastry scraper

Don’t bother with the wax paper, just place it on a rack – on a clean counter. It is much easier to pick up the excess glaze drips with a pastry scraper and drizzle over the bread a second or even a third time this way.

drizzle the drips

When making the glaze, start with the juice from 1/2 a lemon and add more as needed. Powdered sugar soaks up liquid like a sponge, so start with a little and add more as needed, instead of adding too much liquid at the start and having to add more and more sugar to get the consistency you want.

lemon juice [

January 12, 2015   6 Comments

kabobs and spears


The recipe that follows, along with these easy kabobs (dressed with purchased balsamic vinaigrette) are last of the dishes that I served at my niece’s bridal party lunch.

mo's lunch

I must say, it was the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been to. Congratulations Maureen and Brandon! xoxo

brandon and moPhoto

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January 9, 2015   1 Comment

mini frittatas


The only hot dish I made for the bridal party lunch was these muffin-size frittatas. And, truth be told, they were not hot but served at room temperature.

kitchen view

The reason is that I prepped and cooked all the food at the bride’s apartment and transferred it to the hotel…in freezing cold Chicago weather.


Actually, cooking in the apartment was a joy. The view was amazing!

sear willis tower

Yes, that is the Sear’s Tower, also known as the Willis Tower! Pretty Cool!

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January 8, 2015   No Comments

savory raspberry dip

This is another of the recipes I made for the bridal party lunch on my niece’s wedding day. The lunch was served in the Presidential Suite at the Hyatt Magnificent Mile, which is where we all stayed in downtown Chicago. Maureen and her bridesmaids were in the suite having their hair and make-up done. The girls had been there since 9:15 and the wedding was at 4:00, so they needed nourishment in the middle of that time.

maureen bridePhoto

How beautiful is she?!?

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January 5, 2015   No Comments

pine cone cheese ball

Serendipity is one of the coolest things!

I was honored to be asked to provide the wedding day bridal party lunch for my niece, Maureen. Actually, this was the second time I had such an honor, I provided the bridal brunch for Mo’s older sister, Katie, who was married in 2010.

The serendipitous part has to do with a certain cheese ball I served at the lunch…

pine cone cheese ball

A week or so before Christmas I had seen an image of a cheese ball, decorated with whole almonds, created to resemble a pine cone. I intended to make it on Christmas day. I had all the ingredients but simply ran out of time.

When I was planning the menu for the bridal lunch, I thought the pine cone cheese ball might be a nice addition.


A few days before we left for Chicago, I received an invitation to the rehearsal dinner. I didn’t make the connection when I saw the pine cones on the invite.

place card

At the rehearsal dinner, I thought the place cards were really cute but still didn’t put two and two together, even though I’d begun to put together the cheese ball earlier that same afternoon.


I loved how the cheese ball turned out and as I was setting up the lunch buffet it finally dawned on me just how perfectly it fits in with the theme.

mo program

Later that afternoon, at the wedding, when I looked at the wedding program, I just had to smile.  Pine cones were everywhere.

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January 3, 2015   2 Comments

this isn’t your Grandma’s dishwasher

I’m still in Chicago. The NYE wedding of our gorgeous niece, Maureen, to the handsome, Brandon, was beyond beautiful and the reception was the best NYE party ever!

Marissa and I felt like we were on a reconnaissance mission – as we were stealing all sorts of creative ideas – for her upcoming nuptials in October.

Dave and I are staying on for a few days with Dave’s mom, while Connor and Marissa fly back to Arizona and California.

In the meantime, I found this great article in Good Housekeeping … it is too good not to share.

Here’s to a Clean, Happy, and Healthy New Year!

dishwasher plus

10 Surprising Things You Can Clean in the Dishwasher

Your dishwasher has been holding out on you. Sure, “dishes” are in the name, but this machine can clean so much more!

stove hood

1. Kitchen exhaust filter
Avoid getting messy, gunky oil buildup on your filter by cleaning it in the dishwasher once a month or as often as your range hood manufacturer recommends. The high temperature combined with a good detergent should be sufficient to cut through tough grease without any effort on your part.


2. Dish sponges
Bacteria and mold love a moist environment, and your dish sponge is a perfect setting for them to thrive. We’ve found that using the “heated dry” setting is an effective way to kill most of the germs.

3. Plastic toys
This should wipe out germs from that last play date fast. Warning: Don’t place any toys with electronic components in the dishwasher. You might get shocked or short them out.

4. Toothbrush holders and soap dishes
Have you ever looked down into your toothbrush holder’s holes? Yeah, it can get pretty gross. Place them on the top rack since they tend to be delicate.

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January 2, 2015   No Comments