Archive | Homemade RSS feed for this section

Terrific Tenderloin That’s Easy As Pie

19 Jan
Beef Tenderloin

Photo from

It’s no secret that since Teddy arrived on the scene, going out to eat doesn’t happen as often as it once did. But that’s okay. We love entertaining and cooking, so having people over for dinner parties has been a fun way to still see friends, enjoy delicious food, all while Teddy snoozes away in his bedroom.

Recently, inspired by a delicious Christmas dinner, I decided to reenact the star of the show, a beef tenderloin. Turns out beef tenderloin is a dinner party super star. It’s insanely easy to prepare and cook and everyone loves it. Here’s how I made mine and it was a huge crowd pleaser.

I bought a five pound trimmed tenderloin at Costco. Note: normally when I buy beef, I get Prime grade. It’s the top 2% of been produced and is graded on the marbling (fat). When you’re doing a tenderloin, since it’s a lean cut, you should stick with Choice grade. There’s just not enough fat in a tenderloin to justify paying the amount for Prime.

Take the meat out, pat it down and season with some salt and pepper. Then use some cooking twine to truss it so it cooks evenly. Once it’s trussed, stick cloves of garlic and sprigs of Rosemary between the meat and twine and drizzle with a few tablespoons of EVOO. Let it sit out at room temperature for a few hours before you cook it.

Once it’s time to cook this bad boy, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, in a roasting pan, sear the meat so it browns on all sides. It should take about 10 total minutes. This is really key as it locks in the juices and flavor.

After you’re done browning it, pop it into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. You may have to cook for additional 5-10 minutes, depending on how well done you want it. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature (registers 120°F to 125°F for rare, 125°F to 130°F for medium rare).

Serve with potatoes, a green, some delicious bold red wine and you’ll be the toast of the dinner. Enjoy!



And A Merry Fondue To You

4 Jan

We had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. We celebrated with my family in Chicago for Christmas and then headed east to Vermont to have another Christmas and New Years celebration with my husband’s family. All in all, it was very delicious, special and fun to eat amazing food with the people I love most in this world.

Cheese and Seafood Fondue at our New Year's Eve dinner in Vermont

My in-laws have a long tradition of breaking out the fondue pots during special events and holidays, and that is exactly what we did on New Year’s Eve. We had three variations, one cheese fondue, a seafood/broth fondue and of course for dessert, a chocolate fondue.

I’ve had cheese fondue before, but cooking seafood in the broth fondue was new to me. It was amazing. Here’s the recipe and tips for throwing your own fondue party. I know, 1970’s, but I think it’s on the rise and will be a dinner party trend in 2012!

Get a fondue pot, a spirit lamp, a few long-stemmed forks. I love this one from Le Cruset!

For the seafood fondue, rub the interior of the pot with a clove of garlic.

Add boiling broth (I recommend vegetable as it won’t interfere with the flavor) and keep a top on until you’re ready to start dipping.

Have enough seafood (I recomend scallops and raw shrimp) for your guests. You may also want to blanch the seafood to ensure it’s cooked in the fondue, or else make sure you leave it in long enough to cook well.

Have some sauces on hand, such as a mustard mayonnaise, cocktail sauce and a Thai sesame sauce) to dip the cooked seafood into.


For cheese fondue, add about four cups of diced cheese (of your choice) as well as a cup of dry white wine and about 1/4 cup of Kirsch brandy. Cook in a pot on the stove until it’s all melted. I would also add a teaspoon of sage, a nice aromatic flavor that accompanies the cheese.

Once melted, add to a fondue pot (which, similar to the seafood fondue, should be rubbed with garlic). Have bread, veggies on hand to dip and enjoy!

Make sure you have some nice white wine and Champage. Both go great with these fondue dished.


Embarrassingly Easy Macaroni and Cheese

29 Sep

We are in full harvest/slow cooking mode at my house, and that usually calls for an accompanying starch of sorts for whatever is in the crock pot.

Lately, I’ve been on a chili kick, and nothing pleases me more than some elbow noodles to accompany it with (except shredded cheese, onions, sour cream and Franks Red Hot sauce!). Last night I had extra noodles and I knew my chili was going to be too spicy for my son, so I decided to make down-and-dirty homemade mac and cheese. It’s super easy and Teddy loved it. Here’s the basic overview:

Embarrassingly Easy Macaroni and Cheese


  • 1 box of Cooked macaroni or elbow noodles
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of cream cheese ( more or less depending on taste)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of shredded cheese (use whatever kind you like; last night I used sharp Cabot cheddar)
  • 1 TBS unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt to taste


  1. Mix in the cream cheese first to the warm/hot noodles until fully immersed (note- this will cook down the noodles, so either microwave them for a minute or do this in a pot and turn the burner up to medium/medium-low)
  2. Then add the butter, shredded cheese and salt
  3. Stir until cheese is melted and serve
  4. ADDED STEP: to make it extra tasty, turn the oven up to 400, put the mixed mac and cheese in an oven-safe dish, top with some bread crumbs and cook for about 10 minutes for a toasty top).
  5. Enjoy!

Zucchini Boat B”Z”T

10 Jul

Inspired by all the amazing produce at farmers markets, I decided to transform a normal BLT with zucchini in place of bread and lettuce. It’s super easy, delicious and even healthy. Here’s the recipe:

Zucchini B”Z”T (2 servings)

2 zucchinis, sliced in half and hollowed
12 strips of turkey bacon
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1TBS lowfat mayo

In the zucchini halves, fill withd tomatoes first, then add mayo and finally bacon.



Midwest Clambake

11 Jun
Painting of Clams by Mary E. Whelan

Painting of Clams by Mary E. Whelan

Who says you can’t have a true New England clambake in the Midwest? We did just that and it was a wonderful evening. With 12 dear friends in attendance, we sipped on Dark and Stormies, enjoyed couture deviled eggs and had a feast of clams, mussels and lobster out on the deck. Here are some photo highlights and recipes from the night.


The Dark and Stormy Bar

The Dark and Stormy Bar

Dark and Stormy:
This is a New England staple, and its namesake creates the portrait of a cold and rainy night on Martha’s Vineyard. To make this refreshing cocktail you only need a few things.


  1. 3 ounces  of Black-strap run (Goslings is typical)
  2. 5 ounces of Ginger beer (not ginger ale)
  3. Ice
  4. ¼ Lime
  5. 1 sprig of Mint


  • Mix the run and ginger beer together and pour over a tall glass full of ice
  • Add the lime and twist the sprig of mint into the cocktail
  • I recommend drinking out of a mason jar with a straw
  • Enjoy!
Clambake Cheese Platter

Clambake Cheese Platter


Catherine Merritt Clambake

Catherine Merritt Clambake

New England Clambake
This recipe is inspired by Ina Garten’s Kitchen Clambake recipe. I was unsure of how to cook everything and after reading her recipe, I realized it’s quite easy. So I added my own ingredients and such, but used her recipe as the model.

Ingredients: (for 8-12)

  1. 8 dozen clams
  2. 4 pound of mussels
  3. 4 1.5 lb lobsters
  4. 5 pounds of red potatoes
  5. 5 ears of corn cut into 2” slices
  6. 1 pound chorizo
  7. 3 sweet onions diced
  8. 4 leeks sliced thin (only white parts)
  9. 1 shallot diced
  10. 5 garlic cloves
  11. 4 cups of dry white wine
  12. 1 stick of butter
  13. Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place pot on a burner at high heat
  • Add the stick of butter into a large pot for the bake
  • Once it melts, add the garlic, onions, shallotts and leeks, stir until well cooked (about 15 minutes)
  • Add in this order:  potatoes, corn, chorizo, clams, mussels lobsters
  • Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce heat and cook on medium high for another 15 minutes. You’ll know when it’s done when the clams are open and the potatoes are tender
  • Serve on large platters and don’t forget graveyard bowls for the shells
  • Enjoy!





EVENT: Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine’s Artisan Producers Festival

21 Apr
Sample cheese, plus sweet and savory accompaniments and more at Pastoral's First Annual Artisan Producer Festival

Sample cheese, plus sweet and savory accompaniments and more at Pastoral's First Annual Artisan Producer Festival

It’s no secret that I love Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine and when I got information about this upcoming event, I wanted to share it out. Below is all the information- I am definitely going to try to stop by. Let me know if you’re going to attend as well!


Free event to meet Pastoral’s featured culinary artisans, sample their products and celebrate small batch food, beer & wine from across America
Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine will host its First Annual Artisan Producer Festival, a free event to meet Pastoral’s featured culinary artisans from throughout the U.S., sample their products and celebrate small batch foods, beer and wine while enjoying live music on Saturday, April 30, 2011, from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., at Pastoral’s Chicago French Market location, 131 North Clinton Street, in Chicago. Parking for only $6 will be available for all attendees at 165 North Clinton, the parking lot located just north of Chicago French Market.

The lineup, which now includes more than 35 producers, features 14 cheese makers, including Illinois’ own Prairie Fruits Farm, Michigan’s Zingerman’s Creamery, Vermont’s renowned Jasper Hill Farm and Vermont Creamery as well as a host of other award-winning cheese makers from Wisconsin and around the country.

Additionally, there will be a variety of artisans who produce Pastoral’s distinctive sweet and savory accompaniments, including Michigan’s Seedling Farms, local favorites DAS Caramelini, Sweet Margy Confections and Bennison’s Bakery, Minnesota’s Ames Honey, Wisconsin’s Potter’s Organic Crackers and Quince & Apple Handmade Preserves, Chicago’s own Half Acre Beer Company and Goose Island Brewery, plus New York’s Salumeria Biellese and Sourpuss Pickles among others.

Pastoral created its Artisan Producer Festival as part of the company’s mission to make buying and eating great food and wine a fun, inviting and educational experience for its customers. Many of the products featured at Pastoral’s Artisan Producer Festival are sold in the Midwest exclusively at Pastoral. The event will also feature artisan producers featured at Pastoral’s neighboring Chicago French Market vendors.

Saturday, April 30, 2011
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine – Chicago French Market
131 North Clinton Street, Chicago, IL 60661

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit or call 312-454-2200.

Meet Allison Hooper, Vermont Butter & Cheese, among other culinary artisans at Pastoral's First Annual Artisan Producer Festival

Meet Allison Hooper, Vermont Butter & Cheese, among other culinary artisans at Pastoral's First Annual Artisan Producer Festival

34 Degrees Crackers; Ameline Mustards; Ames Honey; Bennison’s Bakery; Brunkow Cheese; Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm; DAS Caramelini; Elburn Market; Frisian Farms; Goose Island Brewery; Half Acre Beer Company; L. Mawby (Von Beaumont Distrib.); Milton Creamery; Potter’s Organic Crackers; Prairie Fruits Farm; Quince & Apple; Rich Chocolates & Candies; Rogue Creamery; Salumeria Biellese; Sartori Foods; Saxon Homestead Creamery; Seedling Farms; Seymour Dairy; Shady Lane Cellars (Eno Amano); Sourpuss Pickles; Spring Brook Farms; Sweet Grass Dairy; Sweet Margy’s Toffee; Uplands Dairy; Vanberg & Dewulf (Windy City Distrib.); The Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery; Whimsical Candy; Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Co-Op; Zingerman’s Creamery

Abbey Brown Artisan Soaps; Chicago Organics; City Fresh Market; Delightful Pastries; Fumare Meats; Les Fleurs; Produce Express; RAW; Sweet Miss Giving’s; Vanille Patisserie; and MORE!

Also featuring Bill Kurtis, founder of Tallgrass Beef Company 

Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine – Chicago French Market

131 North Clinton Street
Chicago, Illinois 60661

Monday – Friday
10:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.

10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Sunday Closed

Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine – Loop
53 East Lake Street
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Monday – Friday
10:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday
11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine – Lakeview
2945 North Broadway
Chicago, Illinois 60657

Monday – Friday
11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Shop 24/7, 365 days per year at Pastoral’s online store:

About Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine
Pastoral, a venture of Pastoral Enterprises, LLC, is a European-inspired, authentic neighborhood cheese shop, offering the highest quality fine and artisan cheeses from America and around the world, select small production wines and freshly baked breads along with a full complement of related items such as charcuterie, olives and other accompaniments. Pastoral also offers custom gift collections, gourmet sandwiches and salads, picnics and catering. The company was founded in 2004 in the East Lakeview area of Chicago and was named in 2007 as one of six Outstanding Specialty Food Retailers by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT). For more information or to shop online, visit

Time Out Chicago Eat Out Awards 2011 Winners

12 Apr

Best new restaurant: Girl & the Goat (photo from TOC)

Last night the Time Out Chicago Eat Out Awards 2011 held court. With both readers’ choice and critics’ picks categories, lots of great Chicago restaurants felt the love.

Congrats to the nominees and winners.

Readers’ choice winners
Best New Restaurant –
Girl & The Goat
Best New Bar – Bangers & Lace
Best New Beverage Program – Sable Kitchen & Bar
Best Local Coffee Roaster – Intelligentsia
Chef of the Year – Stephanie Izard
Breakout Chef of the Year – Matthew Eversman
Restaurateurs of the Year – Kevin Boehm & Rob Katz
Best New Bakery – Sprinkles Cupcakes
Best New Steakhouse – Chicago Cut Steakhouse
Best Dessert Truck – Flirty Cupcakes
Best Food Truck – gaztro-wagon
Best New Pub Grub – Owen & Engine
Best New Barbecue – Lillie’s Q
Best New Italian – Davanti Enoteca
Best New Patio – Big Star

Critics’ picks
The “Extreme Makeover: Integrity Edition” Award – Ba Le
Best Cure for the Average Brunch – Sunday noodles at Takashi
Best Change of Pace – Jeff Pikus’s Cooking at Maude’s Liquor Bar
Best Cheese Course – The goat-cheese-cashew-caramel gelato at Black Dog Gelato
Best Location for a Murder Mystery – Owen & Engine
Best Reason to Fly Again – Tortas Frontera
Best Community Sponsor – Matt Maroni
Lifetime Achievement Award – Scott Harris
Best Box Lunch – The Bento Box
Least Insufferable Food Term of the Year – “Chimney Cake”
Best Chip Off the Old Block – Ed Marszewski
Latest Reason to be a Homosexual – Downtown Bar
Best Late-Night Destination – MingHin Cuisine
The Sorta-Annual “Proof that Evolution Exists” Award – Caffé Streets
Best Excuse to Be a Localvore – The all-Midwestern lineup of spirits at WaterShed