Friday, August 31, 2012

Uncommon Ground, Lakeview

Last fall, I attended a blogger event at Uncommon Ground. It was my first time there and I'd checked out their website and was impressed by what a read about their rooftop garden. When I got there, I learned that the location I was at in Lakeview wasn't the one with the rooftop garden, but still I was intrigued. I'd love to make it to the location on Devon in Edgewater sometime. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of the exquisite egg dish they served. It's one of those meals that stick with you...I can still taste the sharpness of the cheese when I think about it. They did have a nice spread of breakfast food, with lots of fruits and grains in our private back room.

That workshop was sponsored by Hallmark and they had so many cute goodies there!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A visual trip back to Toro

I've been cleaning out my digital photo files and finding pics that didn't make it into the blog previously, so I'm popping in some oldies, but goodies here and there. These pics are from August of last year, when our friend, Rui (my sister's former foreign exchange student from Japan) came to visit. We went to a Cubs game on her birthday and on the way, stopped for sushi at Toro. Great spot! Small, but inviting and awesome food (great California rolls, tasty miso soup and amazing tempura veggies) and a lively staff. Here's a little visual of our trip.

And here's our buddy, Rui

Foodie Sister Carrie (on left), Rui, and sister, Jennifer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pumpkin time's a comin'

Last year's gardens faired much better than this year. It was such a strange season in Chicagoland: early warm spell (80's in March), then frost in April, very hot June and July with several days around 100 degrees and a long spell with very little rain.

Many of the things we planted didn't take at all. And likewise for my father-in-law's garden. Our tomatoes have been sparse. The peppers are doing alright. A little early bunch of lettuce and spinach. And that's all worth mentioning.

At my father-in-law's, he got a few squash, but absolutely no zucchini. He usually has huge cucumbers. This year, there was nothing. I was surprised, however, to see on our last visit that in his little pumpkin patch, he had two that were very large and at least 3 that were showing promise. I can't wait to see how big they get as there's still a few more week before they'll be cut from the vine. Here's a look at what the patch yielded last year. I'm hoping this year will look just as good.

That's grandpa and my second son, now 13. He and grandpa planted the pumpkin seeds.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dewey Cannon Winery and Brewery

Our family makes several trips a year up to Three Oaks, Michigan. It's a favorite spot of ours for the small town feel, trendy shops and eateries and parks. One place I've had on my bucket list for a while is the Dewey Cannon Winery and Brewery. I stopped in one time during the day when they weren't open for business, but I snapped a couple pictures of the lovely interior. I was perusing the menu and see quite a few things I'd like to try - from the Captain Easy Beer and Cheddar Soup to the Fresh Bartlett Pear Bruchetta to the Fresh Alaskan Salmon. I hope to make it there soon and will be sure to fill you in!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Simple and satisfying side dish

I'm a meat and potatoes gal. I love a good steak, piece of fish or chicken with a baked potato or some mashed spuds. But I threw together a side dish this summer that became a quick favorite and I've been making it often since then.

This batch was simply about 10 baby red potatoes (poked with a fork and cooked on high in the microwave for about 3 minutes.) Then I quartered them, tossed them with some Italian flavored olive oil, some chives and some tomato basil feta cheese. I usually throw in bacon bits, but didn't have any this time. I'm thinking some halved grape tomatoes would work well, too and maybe some olives.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Our sister, Jen, has hosted several foreign exchange students over the years - one being a sweet girl from Japan named Rui. Last year she returned for a visit. And she brought gifts - and the best kind of gifts - chocolate ones. One bite and I was smitten with Royce Chocolates. Unfortunately, they are only available in Japan and can't be found here in the states - or shipped here from what I understand. So, until we meet again...I'll be missing you and awaiting our reunion. :)

Foodie sister, Becky and her box of Royce Chocolates.

Becky with Rui, our friend and bearer of beautiful things of chocolate. :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Breakfast time at Tom's in Homewood

I'm taking on the tedious task of going through my online photos album by album and I'm trying to delete some of the old pictures I don't need anymore. In doing so, I came across some photos taken when our family visited Tom's Family Restaurant in Homewood for breakfast and realized that while I posted some pictures on our Facebook page, I never did a proper post. So, I'm going to correct that oversight right now.

I loved this place as soon as I walked in the door. It's just one of those homey diners, with barstools and booths in pastel shades reminiscent of the 1950's. The menu is heavy on breakfast options, but also has plenty of sandwich and dinner entrees. Visit for the full menu. I love a good greasy spoon and when I find one, I usually order an omelet. This place had a magnificent one! The kids were all pleased with what they got, too. We will be back for sure. Here's a peek and what we had:

And a peek at the place:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chocolates and ice cream and fresh whipped cream, oh my!

Tonight in scanning food blogs, I came across one that had a video on making homemade whipped cream. It made me think of the delicous whipped cream that is made at a local ice cream parlor called Gayety's. It originated in Chicago in the 1920's and is now located in Lansing, Illinois. You can get a variety of sweet treats there - and my favorite is the Muddle, with their hand made ice cream and fresh whipped cream, caramel, hot fugde and pecans. The fresh whipped cream is what makes it...and as I type this I am totally tempted to drive over there and order one.

A mini muddle sundae - my favorite Gayety's treat.

The candy counter.

More candy!

Visit their website, to see more about what they have to offer or to order some of their chocolates online. I just noticed that I am quoted on their testimonials page. :)

UPDATE: I did make the drive over there! It was GOOOOOOOOOD!

Steak and eggs, anyone?

I am not a big breakfast eater. I know. I know. It's the most important meal of the day. But, I'm really not very hungry first thing in the morning. By 11 a.m. I may be ready for a piece of toast, but I don't often eat a big breakfast. However, that doesn't mean I don't like breakfast food. I love eggs, especially. French toast is another I favorite. Pancakes I'm not crazy about, unless they have blueberries or chocolate chips in the batter. Waffles...I could take of leave them. Cereal...I have to be pretty desperate. When I do have eggs or french toast or pancakes, I really like to have bacon or sausage with them. And once in a while, steak is a pretty good companion, too.

This is a lunch that hubby made on the grill. Eggs are his specialty. I love his scrambled eggs, especially when he adds in lots of veggies and meat and cheese. He likes cooking on the grill with his cast iron skillets. Me? I don't like them so much, pretty much for the simple reason that they are a terrible chore to clean. But, when he's cooking, scrambled eggs in a cast iron skillet on the grill are just fine with me. And then when he throws on a steak to go with it, it's that much better.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pan of pudding hits the spot

The other day I noticed some bananas on the counter that were showing signs that they were definitely ripe and ready to be used...and soon! When that happens, they are usually used in one of two ways - either my husband throws them in the blender to make a milkshake or I mash them into batter for some moist banana bread. We're still in the thick of summer, though, in Chicagoland, so I'm still not using the oven all that much.

I decided to do a no-bake dessert that would utilize the bananas - a classic layered pudding dish. It's easy and comforting, even on a summer day.

About 30 vanilla wafers
1 3.4 oz. box instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups cold milk
3 ripe bananas, sliced
1 8 oz. container of whipped topping

Prepare pudding as directed, using the 2 cups cold milk. While it sets, layer the bottom of a 9 X13 baking dish with vanilla wafers. Pour pudding over wafers. Layer banana slices over pudding. Cover with layer of whipped topping.

This isn't the prettiest specimen. You can also do multiple layers in a trifle dish or make single servings in parfait cups. And if you want to go with more of a banana flavor, use banana pudding. Or adding a second layer of chocolate pudding. Dust the top with graham cracker crumbs or chocolate shavings or sprinkles. Let your imagination run. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Becky hosts a barbecue

So, last weekend one of the foodie sisters, Becky, hosted a barbecue at her home. It was kind of an event to  introduce our family to the family of her boyfriend. His mom is from Michigan and brought heirloom tomatoes from a neighbor and made potato salad with potatoes from her friend's organic farm and eggs from her own chickens. It was delicious!

Here are a few shots of the spread. There were so many desserts...I'm not sure how I got out of there without snapping more pictures of them.

A sampling of the goodies. :)

Heirloom tomatoes...aren't they beautiful?

These cupcakes were INCREDIBLE...made by Becky's friend, Zoya. They were chocolate cupcakes with a raspberry mousee filling and cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with chocolate shavings.

And from a nearby eatery, Becky ordered a big container of Italian ice. Good stuff!