Category Archives: Food and Drink

Doctor’s Orders? Breakfast and Christmas on the Fly at D.V. Aiport

Christmas at Deer Valley Airport

Survived the doctor’s visit on “Bloody Basin Road” (heehee, scary!) so went for a big breakfast at Deer Valley Airport’s restaurant before finding out that we need to watch cholesterol?


Love to watch the runways:


Pre-flight done, this guy’s ready to taxi:

Ready to Taxi

We are ready for pie!


OK, the doctor will be pleased to know, we skipped the dang pie!  But I just love these display cases!  In case you want to go:

Deer Valley Airport & Restaurant

Deer Valley Airport Restaurant

…and Merry Christmas:


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Filed under AZ, Christmas, Christmas trees, Food and Drink

Atwood Cafe in the Hotel Burnham

State Street Entrance

Gleaming floors and vintage Chicago warmth welcome you to the Hotel Burnham via the State Street entrance.  Just to your left in the photo (above) are the open doors that lead you right to the Atwood Cafe where you’ll find:

Cozy Views of State Street

Afternoon sunlight spilling in from Washington Avenue

Afternoon sunlight spilling in from Washington Avenue

Yes, we had to wait 90 minutes (this is how we spent it), but it was worth it!  (Make a reservation if you’d rather not take the scenic route to lunch!)  If you love food and quotes, the menus here will bring delight:


However, a bloody mary is only truly tempting if I can add fresh horseradish ~ and there was none available.  (Note to self: pack fresh horseradish.) Kidding.  I’d never admit that I would do that!

On to ordering:

Lemon poached loch duart salmon nicoise

VERY pleased with my salmon nicoise salad.  It was a “big salad” as stated on the menu and the salmon was perfectly prepared.  (Sometimes cooked salmon can get “fishy” on me and I love fish so it’s really off-putting when it goes so far that I don’t like it.)  You’ll note the pickle and onion off to the left side – garnishments of the angus burger across the table that didn’t have a chance of being photographed!  The salt-pepper fries were outstanding, too!

** I had a really tough time choosing: would love to hear if you’ve had the “crispy lobster rangoon” or the “graham cracker fried calamari”…**

We’d have ordered more main course food but it was the day after Thanksgiving and we thought we’d surely be satiated with what we’d ordered.  We were pleased that we underestimated our bellies since that left room for a bit of dessert (ok, we were plenty full but the dessert menu had so many options!)

Mid-way through warm Michigan apple-walnut dumpling

I show you this dish, already slightly devoured – an homage to the aroma, the appearance of this delectable dessert – irresistible.  I lost my head.  The camera-phone slipped to the floor.  It was the “When Harry Met Sally” Meg Ryan diner moment.  Phew.  Ok.  You get the idea.

Peppermint always brings a girl back to her senses, so it was the white peppermint hot chocolate for me:

That IS a giant homemade marshmellow!

In the end, yes, we felt like we could leave the table with an “oink” but we came in just under the advisory of a very well known celebrity:

Pig with sage advice

The quote above is from the dessert menu and is well heeded advice, there are so many desserts here I’d like to try.

Thanks in advance for recommendations ~ OR if you haven’t tried one, which one sounds too good to pass up for next time!?

warm roasted banana-white chocolate bread pudding
banana caramel
lemon-buttermilk panna cotta
summer berry compote, fresh mint
fresh key lime tart
toasted coconut crust, blackberry coulis
summer strawberry shortcake
vanilla-butter pound cake, lemon custard, chantilly cream
fried fresh peach pies
cashew brittle, bourbon sauce , vanilla bean gelato
brown sugar cheesecake
creamy butterscotch sauce
warm tart cherry dumpling
lemon curd gelato, apricot compote
vanilla bean crème brûlée
fresh raspberries
dark chocolate soufflé cake
rum zabaione, chocolate sauce
gelato and sorbet
selections vary daily
prairie fruits farm artisan cheese plate
little bloom on the prairie: Champaign, Illinois
krotovina: Champaign, Illinois
roxanne: Champaign, Illinois

FYI: The Atwood Cafe is located at 1 West Washington, Chicago, IL 60602

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Filed under Chicago, Food and Drink, Restaurants

No-Bake Turkey Cookies

That’s right.  It’s that time of year again.  That time when people like me freak out because our kitchen skills are numbered and surely we have to bring at least a presentable dessert.

Not to worry for there is the adorable “turkey cookie!”  No baking involved.  Some assembly required!  (Good practice for the next big one, Christmas.)

These couldn’t be easier.  Here’s the metamorphosis from plain Keebler fudge stripe to able-bodied bird:

The “body” is a Milky Way bite-size.  (If you can’t identify the beak, even I can’t help you.)  The feet are Brach’s dark chocolate stars.

All you do is melt some chocolate (I use the leftover stars) – that serves as the “glue.” Press each piece together & wait for it to dry.  As shown, I place the chocolate star last and let them set like so:

(That way the star won’t be pushed forward – you want the star centered at the base.)

The most difficult part some years (I’ve been making them since 1988) is that I can’t find the components.  This year, Wal-Mart actually had everything.


Feet- Stars work best; I used Hershey’s kisses a couple times & those aren’t bad (Personal preference: dark chocolate looks better to me both on body and feet)

Bodies – The 1988 body style was a “coconut drop.”  Coconut drops come in bags with wax lining and I last found them at Walgreen’s, circa 2006.  Trouble was: a lot of family and friends weren’t crazy about coconut.  The 2009 body, as I mentioned, are milky ways.  (These are truly tasty and work well but you can’t put much pressure affixing the head otherwise the whole thing caves in a bit.)

Other tasty bodies are Reese’s peanut butter cups (if you don’t mind the milk chocolate look) or Mound’s (getting back to the coconut origin in case you can’t find the drops.)

Whatever you use…one thing’s for sure…these are as tasty as they are easy!!  All that’s left to do is to be thankful for “no-bake turkey cookies.”  Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Filed under Fall, Food and Drink, Off the Plate of a Culinary Illiterate

Hunter and Gatherer of Dining Value

“Hunter/gatherer” days are in the past for many of us.  Our modern lifestyle is abundant, but can be expensive.   We dine out often and I do hunt for great restaurants and gather information to make our dining-out lifestyle as affordable as possible.

I regularly use three excellent resources for exceptional value. When first referred to this site, I thought certainly, “scam!”  BUT NOT SO!  I paid $1.00 each for $25.00 gift certificates to fine restaurants.  We were at “Crab Landing” in Half Moon Bay when the moment of truth came.  I handed over my at-home printed $25 gift certificate.


$25 certificate

Voila!, $25.00 was subtracted from our bill!  I used another at Avalon for my first visit to their establishment –  I had one of the finest dining experiences of my life.  I have a certificate for King Crab in Chicago – a place I regularly enjoying going anyway. Whether it’s looking for a new place to try or visiting and old stand-by, is a simple way to increase your buying power.  Though the regular price shows $25 certificates for $10, after you sign up, they’ll send you promotions.  Today, if you enter the coupon code “ENTREE,” they’re only $2.00!  I still think it’s too good to be true, but sometimes life is that way! is great!  I’m signed up and use their free service to make reservations.  The benefit of opentable is that you have many restaurants at your fingertips, plus you accumulate “dining reward points” for booking through them.  (I find it also helpful when traveling – you can put in an area or zip code and it gives you list of nearby eateries.)  You only need 2,000 points to receive a $20 dining certificate.  We visited Farallon in San Francisco and that was a 1,000 point reservation in itself! (Farallon was amazing, worth every spendy cent.)

Jellyfish Bar, Farallon

Jellyfish Bar, Farallon

Third, when I’m just undecided on whether to try a particular restaurant, I’ve found to be a great source of reviews in bulk – seems the quantity and quality of the reviews are exceptional!  It was what ultimately made my choice to even go to Farallon as we only had one night in SF and wanted a very special, memorable experience.  OK, just one more shot of Farallon:

Main Dining Room, Farallon

Main Dining Room, Farallon

So, that’s a recipe for success (at least has been both satisfying and financially rewarding) for us when dining out.  Yes, it takes a bit of time to hunt for opportunities on-line and gather information, but it becomes quick and easy once you’ve done it a couple of times.  Probably just like when man first began hunting with bow and arrow…

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Filed under Food and Drink, Restaurants, Travel

Oh, the Wine I Will Drink


Wine. I really like it.

I especially like the ones with a good finish. That said, I’m giving it up 100% while pursuing two other finishes: the 50,000 words in the month of November required to “win” NaNoWriMo and the 13.1 miles of the  P.F. Chang’s Rock-n-Roll half marathon in Phoenix on January 17, 2010.

I’m devoting most of November to writing furiously while living in Chicago (I’m calling it “ChiMo”), but will have to tromp back to Phoenix if I freak out from the cold weather.  To stay warm there, I’ll be running…the races I’m aiming to do in Chicago: The Trick or Treat Trot, The Turkey Trot and The Rudolph Ramble.  I was logging what I’m doing, (also logging at NaNoWritMo) and it occurred to me that I’m not logging what I’m not doing.  Drinking wine!

I thought that it deserved at least an “honorable mention” in this physical and writerly fitness endeavor, so I’m handling it here.

My wine-forgone diary:

October 17, 2009 – The Carefree Station – oh man, what an extensive wine list, actually, all types of wines, beers and spirits, not to mention many several dinner menus.  Highly recommended!

October 18, 2009 – Shugrue’s in Sedona – WOW, talk about a view! We came for lunch.  Incredible menu.  I had the ahi tacos & hub had the chicken fingers (cf). I wince when the cf is ordered on such an amazing menu…but the chicken had the last laugh. I’ve never called a cf “amazing” but these were.

Sipping day...

Shugrue's...sipping day...

If you’re in the Valley, Northern Arizona, Chicago-land/suburbs, or Las Vegas, where’s a great place I can go and not have a glass of wine?

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Filed under Food and Drink, Wine-forgone diary

Kitchen Karma?

I begin this post by searching: “Patron Saint of Cooking” as I’m sure that I’ve done something to offend…

My cousin was sweet enough to send me this cookbook and to mark the “easy” recipes for me.  I set out to make my first recipe, “Corn Bread Tamale Pie.”  So I don’t make the error of overlooking an ingredient when copying recipe (learn from experience), I schlep the giant cookbook to the store.  I’m CERTAIN I have every item I need!

When I get home, I open this brand new “can of corn.”  I do a double-take, thinking I must have grabbed what was on the shelf next to it.  But no, this time…

When Your Can of Corn is a Can of Beans

There's green beans in my can of corn

The Joy Hope of Cooking

Now, who is that Patron Saint because I’ve got some groveling to do.  (…to be continued)

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Filed under Food and Drink, Off the Plate of a Culinary Illiterate




I’m not afraid of making guacamole!!  As a self-assessed culinary illiterate, it’s the one item with which I’ve always had success.  (Early on, I did go through a “bloody-thumb phase” when every knife stroke was a threat to keeping my fingerprint intact.  It was a tomato-specific injury.  I learned quickly: get a better blade & “slow down.”)

I was asked by @TheModartist (or as I think of him, “Talent Incarnate”) on Twitter: “Is your guac recipe secret?”  And it is.  Even to me.  A secret that reveals itself each time I make it!

The one thing that’s sure is you need the avocado (I know this sounds obvious, but I’ve read where recipes sneak in sour cream to make up for “not all” avocado & that’s not my style).  And it seems I will always put large quantities of cilantro in it.  Tomatoes & onions are good for color and taste.  Don’t ask me “how much of each.”  I have no idea.  Whatever you have on hand seems to work alright.  Add some hot sauce or peppers if you need some “whooaaahhh” and salt if you are eating it without chips.

Here’s how last night’s began:

IMG_0872Some wine is always nice (especially for it’s numbing ability if you are in the “chopping your thumb” phase), but I don’t usually put it in the guac.

Ready to be Combined

Ready to be Combined

Here, I have successfully cut everything (oops, I just noticed the lemon – it’s good to add some juice to keep it from turning brown.  If I know we’re going to eat it all on the spot, I usually skip the lemon.)  The one thing’s for sure, you DO want to mash the avocado nicely before mixing in the other ingredients.  I just noticed my little supervisor there in the background.  She tends to rally round if someone’s in the kitchen for any period of time.  She is Gyp-C

Did you notice that knife!

Yes, it’s red for tomato.  Kind of like, “cut by color,” but hey, I need all the help I can get!  Here’s the whole line:

PureKomachi Knives (Colorful ones)

PureKomachi Knives

I always like it when something functional can double as “art.”  They make a colorful addition to a regular brown wall, yes!?  The three other ones just look a little “fierce” to kind of balance it all out.

So, back to GUAC!  There’s not much left to tell.  Except other ingredients that have been known to find their way into the pot:

*  Pine nuts

*  Dried cranberries

* Butterscotch chips

*  Chilis

*  Jalapenos

*  Pepper

*  Garlic

*  Shrimp

I’ve had excellent table-side GUAC at two places.  One in Santa Fe that, for the life of me, I can’t recall the name of right now (there was a tree in the middle of the restaurant though & I want to say it was in a hotel) and the second is here.

My neighbors came over for dinner a few weeks back and I’d made that night’s GUAC.  He exclaimed, “This stuff is great!”  Fortunately, every time I make it, it seems to be “great!” although each time it’s a little bit different.  I attribute this to: don’t think you can go wrong with GUAC!  Nevertheless, a good bowl of it is always a boost to the fragile culinary ego.



Filed under Food and Drink, Off the Plate of a Culinary Illiterate