Saturday, March 31, 2012

White cake: changing it up

I like to grab a box cake mix out of the pantry a couple times a month and whip it up for the kids. Add a couple eggs, some water and oil and it's in the oven - quick and easy. However, I'm not a big fan of store bought frosting. It's usually too sweet for my taste.  I decided to switch things up last time. My white cake mix from a box got a layer of chocolate pudding on top then a layer of Cool Whip. Then the whole thing got sprinkled with Oreo cookie crumbs. And it got a thumbs up from the kids.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Three Stooges Lemonade Pie

A few months ago I saw a fantastic looking pie recipe on a blog. I couldn't find the blog that I originally saw it on, but it's an easy, basic recipe. I found it here also:

So, this blogger calls it Mile High Lemonade Pie. My kids took one look at it and said it looked like the pies that the Three Stooges smash into each other's faces. So, they called it Three Stooges Lemonade Pie. :)'s easy as...pie! :) FOUR ingredients!!!

2 graham cracker crusts
3 8-oz. containers of whipped topping
1 12-oz can lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 14-oz. cans sweetened, condensed milk

Empty whipped topping into a large bowl. Fold in cans of milk. Then add lemonade concentrate. Mix well by hand and pour into crusts. Let chill for a couple hours in refrigerator and it's done. Makes two pies.

My 10-year-old said the top looked too plain and needed something on top. Didn't have any lemons to dress it up with wedges, so I asked him if he wanted some extra graham cracker crumbs on top. He did.

You can see why it's called MILE HIGH lemonade pie. That's a TALL pie. You'll just want a sliver. It's really rich, but really good and it couldn't be any easier!

There's no shame in shortcuts

Sometimes when I make something and get compliments, I'm ashamed to admit that I took shortcuts. I feel like I cheated. I'm doing away with that mentality. No matter how I made it, if someone likes it, my job was well done. And if I was able to shave off fifteen minutes of prep time, shouldn't it make me feel smart rather than shameful?

Whenever we have a family get-together one of the dishes I bring is this mac and cheese casserole. I have five kids, plus there are always nieces and nephews there who love mac and cheese. There's even a niece's fiance who is my age who always digs into this first. :) Talk about easy peasy. As my mom would say, it's just "doctored up" a bit.

2 boxes of Kraft Thick and Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Prepare as directed and put in a casserole dish. Add a half cup of shredded cheese blend (whatever flavor you prefer) and mix in with macaroni. Top with another half cup of cheese and sprinkle with some Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese melts and starts to brown. The kids and grown-ups will be reaching for it...and probably for seconds.

Grilled cheese experimentation

Grilled cheese is made often in our house. My younger kids usually want it simple - American on white bread.  My oldest prefers white or light yellow cheeses and I'll make his with provolone, mozzarella, brick, muenster, munchee or his favorite - Swiss. Bread is usually limited to white or Italian. For me, I love a hearty wheat bread with a mix of cheddar and and some White American or Swiss. Swiss melts superbly!!!

So, one day my 8-year-old reeling from the stomach flu was perking up and regaining his appetite. This was his request for his first solid meal in three days -- grilled cheese with french fries. Not french fries on the side. He wanted them in the sandwich. He first told me he wanted them mashed, but I took the easier and less messy route and threw some seasoned fried that I had in the freezer in the oven and then placed them in between two slices of white bread and two slices of American cheese. He said he got the idea from his friend Emmanuel. He told me that Emmanuel told them they make it in Mexico. His stories are often more imagination than fact and it doesn't really sounds like a very Mexican-type meal, so I'm guessing he misunderstood. Maybe Emmanuel was explaining how they mashed corn to make tortillas or some such thing. Anyway, the results were actually way better than I anticipated. I'd make it again for myself and eat it. And my son had a big smile on his face as he ate it, so I'm thinking it may come up as a lunch request in the future.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Semi-Cobb Salad

Ok, what's a Semi-Cobb Salad? Well, I started out intending to make a Cobb Salad, but the ingredients aren't quite the same and the presentation isn't quite the same...but that's where the inspiration came from. LOL!

So, here's my version:

1 cup spinach
1/2 cup Boston lettuce
1/4 cup red leaf lettuce
1/2 cup curly endive
1 TBSP crumbled bacon
2 Campari tomatoes in small wedges
A few chunks of broccoli florets
6 slices cucumber, partially peeled and cut in strrips
1/4 cup grilled chicken strips
1 slice of ham lunch meat, diced
1 1/2 TBSP blue cheese
2 small wedges Garlic/Chive/Spring Dill Cheese (from Aldi)
1 boiled egg, sliced
About 10 Italian croutons

Serves 2

I wish I could offer a fantastic homemade dressing recipe, too, but...I'm a ranch girl most of the time and that's what went on top today courtesy of Hidden Valley Ranch. :)

Peotone Bierstube offers variety of German Specialties

I've mentioned in posts before how much I adore German food. I was introduced to it when I first started dating my husband. His father is originally for Berlin. Once in a while, we head out for lunch to get a taste of some schnitzel and sausages at the Peotone Bierstube. I always start off my meal with potato pancakes, accompanied by sour cream and applesauce. I always order my favorite, wiener schnitzel, with a side of fried potatoes and some red cabbage and wash it down with the smallest glass of Warsteiner, Hoffbrau or another imported German Beer as I can. When my husband's aunt visited from Germany, we went there for lunch. It's kind of funny, when I think about it. She probably would have preferred more American fare, but there were no complaints. She said it was pretty good compared to what she has back home. Didn't have any food pics from our last trip, but here's our group in the dining room. Be sure to give them a try if you're fond of German food!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Panko encrusted tilapia

I'm a fan of bland white fish -- like orange roughy or tilapia. I like it in it's most basic form -- simply baked with a little lemon and butter on top. I always feel like that's the way it should be eaten and that breading it is a violation of it's healthy attributes. But, hey...there's no denying that fish tastes great with some batter or breading. I recently decided to pull out the Panko after seeing a pic posted on my sister's wall of the pre-seasoned tilapia she'd bought from a supermarket deli. When I was done it was a lovely golden brown hue and flaked at the touch of a fork -- it was fishy perfection. Here's the recipe:

5 tilapia filets
Olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups Panko Japanese bread crumbs
2 tbsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning
2 tbsp. Basil
2 tbsp. Herb Garden seasoning blend
Lemon juice

So, filets went into the beaten eggs, then onto a plate of bread crumbs. Cover top with some crumbs. Sprinkle on cheese and seasonings. Flip and repeat. Add to pan heated with olive oil and garlic. Fry until golden brown. Remove and put on paper towel. Add a little lemon juice on top just before serving.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chili: the simpler version

Chili can be as easy or as complex as you want it to be. And I know full well that my best batches of chili have been ones with multiple meats and green peppers and onions fresh out of the garden that slowly simmer, but sometimes you've got to take an easier route. This recipe isn't zero work, but it's not labor-in-the-kitchen- for-hours hard. It's my middle ground.

This batch went on the stove in the middle of my work day when I knew I had to get to school for my son's spring musical.

1 pound ground round
1 can seasoned chili beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can petite diced seasoned tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 2oz. envelope Tempo Old Style Southwestern Chili Mix
1TBSP black pepper
1 TSP dried minced onions
1 TSP oregano
Shredded cheese blend (optional)
Chives, finely sliced (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

Brown beef and drain. Add seasonings and can of unseasoned tomatoes. Let simmer about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer about 20 more minutes. Garnish with cheese, chives, sour cream, if desired. Best when refrigerator overnight and reheated.

So, that's the simpler version. I just got a text from hubby at work that said "Chili was good!" So, even the quicker version is pretty satisfying. And I made that yesterday...I'll bet it tastes better today after the flavors have had a chance to mesh more.

And there's really no rules with chili. As long as you have meat and tomatoes you can go from there. Heck, you can even make vegetarian chili if that's your thing. Don't like beans? Don't do beans. Prefer sausage or chicken? Use that. And, I'm a bit of a weakling when it comes to hot stuff, so I let my family members add the heat to their bowl after the pot is done, but if you have a household full of hot mouths, go for it. Add some jalapeno and cayenne!!! And enjoy!!! Oh, and if you have the time, whip up some cornbread! :)

Gray Goose Inn in Chesterton: Great B & B Getaway

I sincerely love bed and breakfasts. My mom introduced us to the Gray Goose Inn in Chesterton when we were teens after she'd visited with her good friend, Nola. We made a few family trips there and since we've been grown and out of  the house, we've all been back at least once. It's been a couple years, but the most recent trip was a sister's weekend and it was a blast. We stayed on a Sunday night and were the only guests, so we made ourselves at home, playing games, making fondue, drinking wine and chatting before making our way to our room for some movies. The next day before we headed off for our spa visit to get massages, manicures and pedicures, we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. Here's some of it. :)

This is the view out the dining room window. It's lovely with a blanket of snow on the ground.

The library is cozy and inviting.

They don't call it the Gray Goose for nothing. You'll encounter plenty of geese on the visit as a pond sits next to the inn.

The porch is a bright, sunny gathering place.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Farm vacation was a wonderful experience

Last year we had the opportunity to stay at a working farm on a trip to Kentucky - The Country Girl at Heart Farm Bed and Breakfast.
It's been on of our favorite trips. Instead of staying in a bland hotel room, we stayed in charming rooms in this farmhouse that was added onto and converted into a bed and breakfast. The next door neighbors are Amish and we enjoyed watching them from a distance. It was a real change from our suburban neighborhood to stay on a real farm where you wake up to the sounds of chickens rather than busy traffic. Our children loved heading out to the farm to help with chores. They fed some of the animals and gathered eggs from the chickens. And the breakfast meal.........oh, my!!! All fresh local ingredients.......a foodie's dream!!!!! If you're ever in the great state of Kentucky, bypass the Days Inn and the other roadside motels and head out to enjoy farm living for a couple days. And tell them Carrie Steinweg, one of the Chicago Foodie Sisters sent you. :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An open-faced beauty of a sandwich

Have you ever gotten a taste of something and you just eat it over and over for a period of time and don't seem to tire of it? Right now for me that is Italian bread. I'm making paninis like mad, toasting it and spreading toppings on it, putting butter on it to eat alongside soups and salads and pastas. Today, I had this for lunch. Simple, but so good.

1/2 slice Italian bread toasted in oven.
3 tomato slices
A sliced boiled egg
2 slices bacon
half-slice of Swiss cheese

After I layered the ingredients on the bread, I popped it back in the oven for about two minutes -- just long enough to get that cheese melting. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fruit picking is a wonderful family activity

I'm so longing for warmer weather and already making a list of what I want to do this summer. I think my favorite activity in the summer is not spending time poolside, but picking berries with my family. We've done lots of picking trips over the years -- blueberries, strawberries, peaches, apples, pumpkins, pickles, beans. We always have a lot of fun and make a day of it. This is last year's visit to a new place we found - Blueberries of Indiana - We will definitely be returning in June. We'll have to up our game though. Last year it was near 100 degrees and we gave up after 10 pounds. That just won't do. This year I'm going for double that amount!!!! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pasta on the lighter side

I've never been a big fan of pasta, but that's changing. I think maybe what I don't like is how it's often swimming is tomato sauce. I made this light dish recently and liked it much better than when it's covered in red stuff. 

1/2 pound Penne
2 Romas diced small or a dozen grape tomatoes halved
1 cup of cooked spinach
1 tsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. Parmesan cheese
shredded mozzarella for garnish

Prepare pasta. Empty in to bowl. Add butter and olive oil and Parmesan cheese and toss. Add spinach and tomato and toss again. Top with shredded mozzarella.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Baseball season also means cupcake time

I'm looking forward to baseball season as I always do. I'm a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan as is pretty much everyone in my family. My sister is a season ticket holder and every year she gives each of my kids a set of tickets for their birthday to see the Cubs. Going to see a Cubs game is always a good food day. Sometimes it means a bag of in the shell peanuts and a steamed Vienna Beef Chicago Dog. Sometimes it means a stop across the street at the Cubby Bear Bar & Restaurant to grab a bite to eat before the game. Other times, it means a slow drive south on Clark Street before hitting the expressway for a treat at one of my favorite Lincoln Park establishments, like Toro Sushi or the Austrian Bakery or the Meatloaf Bakery. Or.......something from Molly's Cupcakes. They are incredible!!!! So, baseball season is good news for me in more ways than one. It's always a fun baseball day and a fun food day all rolled in one.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Peter Piper picked a peck of what?

When I was little I always thought the toungue twister went like this:


I don't know why I converted those pickled peppers to a dark hue. At that time I never knew such a thing actually existed. At that time, maybe it didn' seems like it's just been in recent years that all these exciting hybrids have come about. Anyway, there is such a thing as a purple pepper. We grew them in our garden. They were a bit crunchier than the green variety, but wonderful nonetheless. I think we'll try planting them again this year.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What can't you do with crock pot chicken?

Sometimes I'm in the mood to spend hours in the kitchen making dishes that are complex and beautiful, but most often time commands that I take a simple route. What could be more simple than putting some frozen chicken in the crock pot and turning it on? Sometimes I put in some pasta sauce for a Chicken caccitore. Sometimes I go for some sweet and sour sauce to pair with fried rice. Once in a while it's barbecue sauce. There are so many things you can do. I often put a little water on the bottom and a few scoops of salsa. If I want to use the meat for enchiladas or tacos, I add a lot. If not, I put in just a little. Just enough to moisten it and cause it to fall apart. Then I can do so many things with it. Cut it up to add to some noodles or rice. Add it to some soup. Top a salad with it. Or throw it in a wrap. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mourning the loss of a favorite restaurant

I can't tell you how bummed we sisters are that one of our very favorite places has closed. RX Cafe in St. Charles has been a favorite of all four of us girls since we discovered it in 2009 as we attended Sisters Weekend, which was sponsored by the town's Chamber of Commerce. There were many return visits, even from the sisters who lived quite a distance. We celebrated birthdays there and met each other there when we could. We were all smitten with the place and the creations of Rebecca, the owner were nothing short of masterpieces. View the pics below and you'll see why we are so saddened. So, everyone say a little foodie prayer with me that a new location will be found and they'll soon be back in business. :)

Here's three of us four sisters enjoying a birthday dinner there.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Broaden your kids' food horizons - House of Kobe

I always say to my kids, "How do you know you don't like it if you didn't try it?"

It usually gets them to give in and slip a little in their mouth. Sometimes they find they really love it. Sometimes not so much, but they don't know unless they try. Some parents think their kids will only eat chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, but often when they expose them to more items, they find that there is more that their palate can handle. A favorite place of our family is House of Kobe in Schererville, Indiana. We always see a lot of kids when we visit the Japanese steakhouse. The kids love to see the food cooked in front of them, even if they don't plan on eating it.

I have five boys and some are more adventurous than the others. I have one boy who eats just the soup and plain chicken. Another eats only the white rice and some meat. I have two boys who love seafood and will try anything. They have both enjoyed calamari at various places. You know, the breaded kind that looks like a miniature onion ring. When they ordered it here, they were a bit surprised by the presentation. But, they were troopers and dug right in, joking all the while that they were eating "Squidward" the many-legged character on the SpongeBob cartoons.

"It's kind of like eating a rubber band," said son #4.

This one was happy with this rice and chicken.

My oldest was thrilled with his shrimp. And the youngest was excited to eat anything he could pick up with chopsticks. 

They also offer sushi and have an extensive menu of Asian specialties that can be cooked before your eyes. Everything I've had there has been superb. I don't think there's any other place I go to where I look forward to the leftovers quite like I do when I eat here. Taking a family of seven is pricey, so our trips there are limited to special occasions, but we always have a load of fun and my kids get quite excited to try something new when we are there.

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's worth the work

With Spring not too far off in the distance, I'm really itching to get the garden going. My 12-year-old has enjoyed planting for a few years. He usually has his own section at Grandpa's house where he has room to grow melons and pumpkins and things that need lots of room to spread out. A couple of those years he has grown watermelons. For some reason, he seems to only get a handful of fruit out of a large amount of seeds. He might plant three dozen seeds and only get three melons. But, those three that survive are big and sweet. Sometimes it seems like way too much work for such a small yield of crop. But, once you take a bit, you know it was all worth it. :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beef stew is synonymous with comfort food

Winter lingers on. While I do not like the cold, I like the food that we tend to consume in the cold weather months. Stew is one of the meals that falls on that "Top 10" list of comfort foods. I go the easy route with mine. Market Day has 1 pound packages of stew meat that is already cut into chunks. Into the crock pot it goes with sliced potatoes, carrots and celery and a few dashes of seasonings. A few hours later, dinner is ready. How easy and yummy is that?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Simply Sweet by Cheri cake looks to good to eat

So, for my nephew's birthday in November, my sister ordered a cake that incorporated his, basketball and karate (notice the black belt in the middle?) We literally stared it at for a good half hour because it looked so cool and no one wanted to cut into it. Didn't she do a great job? It also came with a box of cupcakes. Check out her Facebook page! She's located in Frankfort, IL.

Less waste and less cupboard clutter feels good

I've always been one to stuff the cupboards and the freezer. It's always nice to have things on hand when you need them, but when you have too much stuff you just can't keep track of what you have. When I took time to clean out the pantry, I'd find long-expired items in the back that had to be thrown out. In the freezer, I'll dig to the back and find freezer-burned chunks that I couldn't identify. Keeping well-stocked was backfiring.

So, as the new year started I aimed at simplifying things and also trying to stick to a budget. Wanted to get rid of things and not keep more than is necessary. It is very freeing. I actually like when it gets close to shopping day and I can see bare space on the shelf. It forces me to be creative and use what is on hand. Before, I'd have my cabinets stuffed and sometimes have additional bags of non-perishables in the bottom of the pantry because there was no where to put them. I'm not letting myself get to that point anymore.

Also, I did stock up a lot because I'd gotten into the habit of only shopping every two weeks, with a couple mid-week runs for milk, bread or snacks. I'm finding that I'm better off going more often. That way I can get more fresh foods and not have to rely as much on the cans and boxes in the pantry.

I'm now forced to better plan menus to make sure we don't run out of things. I've got three days left until the next shopping trip. In my freezer is what I have planned for those three meals - salmon, bratwurst and a Schwan's chicken enchilada meal. There's not much else in there. Some frozen soup, a pack of ground beef, some frozen veggies, popsicles. Sometimes I still get a panicky feeling that I don't have enough on hand, but I really do. There's always pasta in the pantry as back-up and the makings for sandwiches and I make soup and or chili a couple times a week, so that's on hand.

It's also helping big time as far as waste goes. Even with seven people in this house, there's more waste than you'd expect. Well, techinically nothing "goes to waste" because we have a dog who is happy to consume whatever I'm thinking of tossing. Yesterday, I used the last of the potatoes in the bag. I can't remember the last time that happened. I always end up with a couple on the bottom that grow eyes and shrivel and get tossed in the garbage or compost heap. Because they were there and I knew they were there and I hadn't stocked up on frozen and boxed side dishes, I made more potatoes. Same with bread. We often end up with a few slices left in a loaf that don't get eaten. Not lately. Because I'm not buying cookies and ice cream like I used to, the kids have found that toast with Nutella is a new favorite snack and dessert. I also use up the bread to make French toast to leave in the fridge for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Less really can be more, especially in the kitchen!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Blackbird Cafe

So, I was recently out in Valparaiso, Indiana and met up with a sweet girl, Christa, who has been a Facebook friend for awhile, though her husband who used to write for a newspaper that I also write for. It's so nice to meet someone face to face after you've gotten to know them online. She's the mom of an adorable little girl and we had a blast chatting over lunch about mom stuff. It's funny...when her she and her hubby had a baby pool going on Facebook late in her pregnancy, I had the closest guess to baby's birth date, time, weight and length. As a prize, Christa sent me a cute candle holder that I still use all the time. She suggested the Blackbird Cafe for lunch and we enjoyed some tea, a sandwich and soup.

This is what I had - a roast beef, arugula, tomato and Gorgonzola cheese panini with a cup of chicken lemon rice soup and a cup of passion fruit black tea. Everything was wonderful!!!

Christa had a dill and salmon croissant (smoked salmon, bacon, homemade dill mayo, cucumber and tomato on croissant) and a cup of sausage and bean soup.

And since I'm always taking more pictures of food than people, I made sure to snap one of Christa. :)

You can do so much with pulled pork

One of my favorite easy meals to make when I know I won't have much time to prepare dinner is pulled pork. You just throw it in a crock pot with some liquid and a few hours later, it's done. Pull it out and it shreds so easily. On the one above, I used a pork tenderloin from Market Day. I love to use them because the meat is good quality and I get three in a box, so it goes a long way. The pic above was a small tenderloin weighing less than a pound. I put a little water in the bottom of the crock and some barbecue sauce on top. I don't go heavy on the sauce. I figure more can be added later. I just want enough liquid and sauce to make it really tender and this works. These made some awesome pulled pork sandwiches.

You don't have to use it just for pulled pork sandwiches, though. I've done pulled pork for tacos. I've added it to fried rice. I've put it over noodles. I've put it in a crescent roll with cheese and baked it. You can use it in soup. I plan to make another this week and do pork tostados. Can't wait. What else do you make with pulled pork?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Parmesan chicken

This was a delicious entree that was so easy. Put into a large Ziploc bag about 3/4 cup bread crumbs, 3/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1 TBSP Italian seasoning. Rinse breasts with water. Place one breast in bag and coat well on each side and place on baking sheet. Spoon over a little of the mix on spots that were missed. Repeat, coating each breast individually. Covers about 6 breasts. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. If you like a coating on your chicken, this is a little better alternative than coating with egg and flour and breadcrumbs and then frying in oil. I served it up with some smashed potatoes and corn on the cob.

The Egg and I

Years ago, in my past life as an HR administrative assistant at a school district, I first tasted food from The Egg and I. For many of the meetings, catering was ordered. Sometimes it was for breakfast meetings with eggs, meats, french toast, even quiche. Other times it was for lunch, with sandwiches, baked chicken, au gratin potatoes and other items. Everyone in the office loved catering from The Egg and I. I'd often have to clean up the conference room after a meeting and all the leftovers made it to the lounge where it was free game. And once in a while, for a holiday party or Secretary's Day, we were invited to eat it hot and fresh right upon delivery. I hadn't had The Egg and I in about a decade when I was driving down Harlem Avenue and spotted the Tinley Park location (all the catering items I'd had were from the Chicago Heights location.) I grabbed a Denver omelet to go with hash browns. I substituted mushrooms for the onions. Good stuff. The menu includes everything from Belgian waffles to french toast to skillets. Also, they are on, so you can pick up a certificate there to save some money on dining there. They are open for breakfast and lunch only.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sometimes you feel like a nut

I LOVE brownies. It's totally my weakness. I can pass up cake. And ice cream. And pie. And candy. And pudding. And pretty much any other kind of sweets. But...put a brownie in front of me and I'm powerless. I make a pan of brownies at least a couple times a month for the kids. I feel kinda like a loser because it has been over a decade since I made some that didn't come from a box mix. But, I've found one I really like. I have my method down pat. I know which pan it fits best in. I know exactly how long to bake it for so that it comes out the way I like it...just a little gooey. And my trick in making sure the rest of the family didn't eat them all was that I'd sprinkle walnuts on half. I thought I was the only one who liked them. I guess my kids have learned to tolerate them because now even the half with nuts disappears in no time. What's your favorite brownie recipe?

Craving some good schnitzel

I was in my mid-teens before I discovered German food. My family is of English/Scottish/Irish descent with a little Native American Indian thrown in. I didn't know what German food was like until I started dating a guy whose father was a native of Berlin. His mom made a few German dishes once in a while that I tried. And we went to eat frequently at a wonderful German restaurant in Elmhurst called the Heidelberg where I discovered Weiner Schnitzel, Kassler Rippchen and Sauerbraten. I had saurkraut, red cabbage and German fried potatoes on the side. I had black forest cake for dessert. And a tried sips of Hoffbrau and Spaten from the legal drinkers at the table. Upstairs was a deli where we'd get German rye bread, sausage and beverages to take home.

Sadly, the Heidelberg closed many years ago. Since then I've gotten my German fix at Rosemarie's in Lansing, which then became the White Rose Inn and then closed several years ago and at Berghoff's in Chicago and the Peotone Bierstube and House of Gerhard in Kenosha.

Schnitzel is my favorite German specialty. I've never made it myself, but may have to try. I picked up some schnitzel from Aldi, which wasn't too bad and served it with some spaetzle and potato pancakes. However, it leaves me just wanting some really good I'm going to have to either learn to make my own from scratch or plan a visit to one of my favorite restaurants.