Saturday, December 7, 2013


Nothing political today.  It's cold in Chicago and I brewed some of this deliciousness to share with my book club tonight. 
You don't have to be German to appreciate this fruity, warm mulled wine.  You need only be human.   

1500 ml dry red wine (zinfandel, merlot, burgundy, etc.) 

1/2 cup sugar

3 cinnamon sticks

6 cloves, whole

Pinch each allspice, mace

1 cup brandy

1 orange, sliced

1/2 lemon, sliced
Pour wine into a large saucepot and heat over low heat.  Stir in sugar and spices until sugar is dissolved.  Add brandy and continue cooking until heated through (do not boil).

Add the lemon and orange. Steep for about 30 min. over low heat.

Serve hot in coffee mugs.  Garnish with orange slices and cinnamon sticks, if desired.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chicago-Style Grandma Slice

Ah, the windy city...

Rhambo closed 50 schools this week.  Nobody failed to notice that they were all in poor neighborhoods.  Yes, we need to acknowledge that the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago are having budget problems...but why do budget problems always get solved on the backs of poor people?  Did the citizens cause these problems?  No, it was the greedy politicians.  Citizens do not create the budgets and therefore do not fail to pay the bills.  As a citizen of Illinois, I pay very high taxes.  In fact, our gas gets taxed by the city, the state AND the county...where does that money go?  0.70 cents a gallon in taxes alone for gasoline! 

It's the way that the elected officials - OF BOTH PARTIES - throw up their hands in frustration, do nothing and then make decisions that hurt the hard working citizens of Chicago and Illinois.  And...LET'S NOT PRETEND that poor people are all on welfare!  Most poor people have 2 and sometimes 3 jobs. 

So now, kids who live in gang infested neighborhoods will have to go further to school.  Explain your f'n budget problems to the mother of a bright young kid who gets shot.

Chicago-Style Grandma Slice

Chicago isn't terrible.  We are the only city in the world that likes Italian sausage on our pizza, and this New-York inspired "grandma" pizza has a LOT of Italian sausage.  When I throw my hands up, it's only the dough that flies!

2 cups bread flour
1-1/2 tsp. salt, divided
2 tsp. yeast
3/4 cup hot water
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp. honey
1 lb. bulk hot Italian sausage
2 cups (8 oz.) Italian blend shredded cheese
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. dried oregano leaves
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped


Combine bread flour, 1 tsp. salt and yeast in work bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade.  Pulse to combine.  In glass measuring cup combine water, 1 Tbsp. oil and honey.  With processor running, pour water mixture through feed tube.  Run processor 1 minute (after about 15 seconds the dough will come together in a ball and whip around the work bowl). Remove dough from bowl and knead on counter or other hard work surface.  Stretch into a 6x8-inch rectangle.

Pour remaining oil in 15x10-inch jelly roll pan.  Place dough in pan and turn over to coat both sides with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour or until double.

While dough is rising, cook Italian sausage on medium heat in large skillet until cooked through, about 8 minutes (avoid browning sausage).

Stretch dough to sides of pan.  Cover and let rise 40 minutes.  Heat oven to 500°F.

Top dough with cheese blend, then with sausage.  Top with combined tomatoes, remaining salt and oil, garlic and half of the pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, oregano and remaining pepper. Bake 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown and cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with basil.  Cut with pizza cutter or scissors.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Nothing but black smoke to report today.

Panzanella Salad
Makes 8 (1 cup) servings

It's worth it to take your time when making important decisions or preparing a great salad.  I've added an extra step to toast the bread, rub it with garlic and brush it with oil -- this keeps the bread crunchy and improves the overall experience of this classic Italian salad.

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb. Italian or French bread, sliced 3/4" thick
1 clove garlic
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1” pieces (4 cups)
1 cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced
2 yellow peppers, roasted, sliced
Small red onion, peeled, quartered, sliced
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Heat oven to 400˚F.  Reserve 1 Tbsp. oil.  Mix remaining oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Place bread on baking sheet.  Bake 5-6 min. on each side or until crisp and golden brown around edges.  Cool 5 min.  Cut garlic on diagonal at one end.  Rub bread slices with garlic.  Brush bread with reserved oil.  Cut into 1-inch cubes.

Gently toss bread and vegetables with dressing in large bowl.




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Papal Maple Cookies

Let the conclave begin!

Papal Maple Cookies

Create some excitement with this tender cookie that's both sweet and salty.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus extra in small bowl for flattening cookies)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. water
Additional Kosher salt for sprinkling

HEAT oven to 375°F.

BEAT butter, sugar and vanilla 3 min. or until light and fluffy. Add combined flour and salt; beat until combined.

SCOOP 1 Tbsp. portions of dough 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Dip flat-bottomed glass into bowl of sugar. Flatten cookies, one by one, dipping glass into sugar each time.

BAKE 12-13 min. or until bottom and edges are brown. Cool on baking sheet 1 min. before removing with spatula to wire racks.

MIX powdered sugar, maple syrup and water. Working quickly, brush onto cookies and sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt.

I use #70 cookie scoop.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Inaugural Merriments Blueberry Muffins

Inaugural Merriments Blueberry
Makes 12 muffins
A delicious, healthy snack that the First
Lady would approve of.

1 c flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. sugar, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup OJ
1/2 cup canola oil
1 container (6 oz.) vanilla-flavor
Greek yogurt
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. fresh orange zest 
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Heat oven to 400ºF.  Spray 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix flour, oats, whole wheat flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda
and salt in large bowl.
In separate medium bowl whisk orange juice, oil, yogurt, egg and zest.  Add to
dry ingredients with blueberries and stir just until moistened.  Spoon evenly
into prepared pan.  Combine remaining sugar with nutmeg; sprinkle evenly
over tops of muffins.
Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Maverick Meatloaf

When McCain was labeled a maverick, it was a good thing.  Now, not so much.  Hagel apologized for the gay remarks and he is clearly not anti-Semitic.  The only thing he hates is WAR, because the man has had combat experience.  I think we should support his nomination.

Maverick Meatloaf
Makes 10 servings

It's gutsy making meatloaf with so much garlic, but this lean meatloaf slices beautifully and tastes just as good the next day on a toasted bun.

1-1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground pork
2 eggs
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
5 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in large bowl.  Shape into loaf in foil-lined pan.

Bake 1 hour or until done (160˚F).  Let rest 10 minutes, loosely covered with foil, before slicing.

Leftover idea:
Serve cold meatloaf, thinly sliced, on toasted Kaiser rolls with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and onion.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

NO CONTROVERSY Slow-Cooked Chicken with Pan Gravy
  • people who sleep with handguns under their pillows for safety
  • people who are passionate about thte 2nd amendment in case they need to overthrow a tyrannical government
  • hunters
NOBODY is going to take away your pistols, handguns or rifles in Illinois.

House Bill 1263 bans the possession and sale of semi-automatic assault weapons
House Bill 815 bans the possession and sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines

NO CONTROVERSY Slow-Cooked Chicken with Pan Gravy
Makes 6 servings

The best weapon is a great dinner.

1 whole chicken (4 lb.)
1 diced peeled carrot, celery stalk and shallot
5 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 sprigs rosemary
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup white wine
1 Tbsp. cold butter (optional)

Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry.  Sprinkle chicken inside and out with Kosher salt and pepper.  Place in 4 to 6 qt. slow cooker.  Sprinkle with vegetables, garlic and lemon juice.  Tuck rosemary between wings.  Cover.  Cook on HIGH 5 hours (do not open cover or stir during cooking time).

Remove chicken and cover with foil.  Skim fat from pan drippings (see note).  Place defatted drippings in medium skillet.  Bring to a boil and reduce by half.  Stir in cornstarch that has been mixed with the wine.  Continue to cook and stir until thickened.  Stir in butter if desired; keep warm over very low heat.

Cut chicken into serving pieces.  Serve with pan gravy and your favorite starchy side dish, such as mashed potatoes, rice or egg noodles.

I love this item:  Chefs Essentials Grease Separator, $15.95.