Thursday, January 29, 2015

Valentine's Day - Time for Cherubs, Hearts and Flowers and a bit of Pink!

Valentine's Day comes at the most dreary time of year in Chicago, so it is a welcome distraction during the winter season.  I look forward to pulling all my pink china and crystal out for this romantic holiday.  Somehow the cheerful color "pink" seems to brighten up these dull winter days. So it is time to decorate the pastry stand that sits on my island with all things frilly, pink and angelic!  

Venetian wine goblets are so dainty and romantic for this holiday.

Macarons fill the tall cloche with lots of soft color.

a Friendship wine glass found at the Paris flea market

Gilded edges and pink roses- so romantic.

The local grocery store had the perfect shade of pink carnation and they lasted until yesterday-
almost two weeks before I had to replace them.

A little lace bucket sits on top of the candy boxes- perfect to fill with candy
for someone special.  It was made by one of my favorite people- Suzy Fabulous.
She sells her beautiful handmade items at the Grayslake Flea Market in Lake County, Illinois.

A wooden cherub found in Italy- one of my favorite things.

These sweet little cherubs are made of sugar and wax.  He is probably at least
60 to 70 years old. 
another little metal angel- softly painted with worn greens and pinks.

And one of my latest finds- the sweetest little pink  antique sugar and creamer- a  score from a
local junk store for $3.   The perfect color with the new flowers.
Yes, a good change for the kitchen for this time of year! 
 This pastry stand is  perfect for creating  change in the kitchen
 that reflects the different holidays and  seasons.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Winter Landscape inspires the Tablescape

Inspired by the winter scene on our screened in porch, a winter white tablescape seemed
appropriate for the month of January.

 I pulled ivory dishes, horn and silver from the dish pantry.

Anchoring the centerpiece with a vintage square silver tray,
the winter white
dishes were layered with the  horn and silver serving pieces.

I love the combination of silver and horn or ivory.

Horn knives with sterling silver decorative banding in a vintage celery vase.

Our local grocery store had just received the blush carnations and they were the  perfect
color. Plus they last forever!

Old Paris porcelain soup bowls were layered on  square placemats that were a patchwork of grey, silver, and white cow hides, a recent Home Goods score!
The pewter mug from Match finishes the setting.
Time for a warm winter stew.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Vitamix- A Kitchen Wonder

During the holidays while making smoothies for my grandchildren, my blender finally stopped working!  Those frozen strawberries and peaches just wore it out.   So much to my delight, I woke up one morning in early January and found a late delivery from Santa on the kitchen island- a Vitamix!  

I am in love with this machine.  I am amazed at it's power and speed.  So I have been busy making smoothies- my favorite treat in the morning.  It is easy to keep frozen fruits in the freezer,  Greek yogurt and juice in the refrigeration.   The combinations are endless and so are the additives, from protein powder to wheat germ.

One of my favorite combinations-
greek yogurt, honey, mango and peach juice, frozen peaches and a few ice cubes. 
Another delicious treat prepared in the Vitamix is Cream of Asparagus soup. I found the recipe in the cookbook that comes with the machine. It was restaurant quality, if I do say so myself.  I simply roasted the asparagus in a little olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Cut the spears into 3 sections and added them with hot chicken stock and a little cream to the vitamix container.  Then you simply hit the "soup" button on the machine and let it do it's thing!   It was amazing. 


  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) asparagus spears, cooked (reserve one cup pieces for garnish)
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) half and half
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Vitamix has a wonderful website with videos, recipes and general information about the machine.
But now I must share with you the most amazing treat that I have made in this life changing, delightful machine.
Enough with those healthy smoothies!  Opening my  email from  Epicurious, I  found this recipe and knew I had to try it!
The Easiest Chocolate Mousse Ever


  • 6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate (such as Valrhona), chopped, plus extra for shavings (optional)
  • 1 cup milk (any fat content)
  • 2 tablespoons brewed espresso
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2 eggs (the freshest possible)


1. Place the chocolate in a blender.
2. Heat the milk, espresso, and butter in a small pot until the milk is scalded, about 3 minutes.
3. Pour the milk mixture into the blender and blend until the chocolate is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
4. Add the eggs and blend until no lumps remain.
5. Pour into cups and chill until set, about 1 1/2 hours. Garnish with the chocolate shavings, if desired, and serve.

Note:  I used instant espresso powder to make my brewed espresso and 2% milk.
I also used a mixture of semisweet and dark chocolate and added the extra sweetness with whipped cream on top. 

The was the easiest dessert ever and absolutely divine!   It made 6 servings, perfect for my husband and I for 3 days.  and seemed to get better everyday.  I would describe the texture as more like a chocolate pot de crème rather than a mousse.

This is now a go-to recipe for me.   It was soooooo good and sooooo fast.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Chicago Botanic Gardens Winter Wonderland

The Chicago Botanic Garden has a Winter Wonderland that is perfect for cold days during the holiday season.  While inside a warm building, you can enjoy iconic Chicago buildings made of natural botanical materials. It's a treat for young and old alike! 

Toy  trains meander through the exhibit  surrounded by fresh greenery and flowers.

Leaving the exhibit, you can wander through the warm greenhouses, full of holiday florals.

And even leaving the heated building, and walking back to your car, you cannot help noticing
the beauty of the winter gardens.

Happy New Year!