Red Flannel Hash



2 beet roots

2 russet potatoes, cooked

2 sweet potatoes, cooked

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 cup fresh spinach, chopped

Handful of Italian parsley, chopped

½ cup olive oil


Peel and quarter beets.  Toss in small bowl with ¼ cup olive oil and one clove chopped garlic.  Spread out on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until beets are soft.

If you don’t have any leftover cooked potatoes, use raw potatoes.  Cut sweet and white potatoes in small squares approximately the same size as the beets. Toss in olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic sprinkle with salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning. Spread out on another baking sheet and bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Recipe can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated up to this point.

When you are ready to serve, heat the rest of the oil in a skillet and sauté the onion, add the roasted sweets and white potatoes and stir gently until they are heated through.

Add fresh chopped spinach, stir, turn off the heat and cover to keep warm

Lastly, heat the beets in a separate pan so they don’t bleed too much.  When the beets are hot add to rest of mix and turn out into a serving platter and sprinkle top with the chopped parsley.


Brunch requirements and a recommendation

Sunday brunch is not a necessity or a requirement. I see it as a luxurious option with no compromise allowed.

During the week I’ll settle for “cheap, hot and fast.” at a “Get ‘em In and Get ‘em Out” breakfast mill. However, my preferences for Sunday brunch are quite extensive:
• No dress requirements (real or imagined)
• No hassle
• No bums’ rush
• No waiting in line
• No fast food
• No frazzled server
• Maybe I want a drink, but I don’t want to feel pressured or unwelcome if I don’t
• Maybe, I want to bring a section of the Sunday paper with to avoid and/or encourage conversation.
• Yes free parking
• Yes comfortable seating
• Yes large portions of good fresh food
• Yes pleasant service
Johnny O'Hagan's on Urbanspoon
I know, that’s a long list and sometimes I’d rather just stay home rather than strain my brain and the “Google” trying to figure it out.

So here’s my pick. Johnny O’Hagan’s at 3374 N. Clark.

Free parking in Wrigleyville is unheard of but Johnny O has a small lot on the south side of the building. The seating is quite cozy. Actually, this is the coziest place I’ve been since my grandma’s kitchen. The tables are tucked away in cozy little nooks that allow goodly amounts of space and yet still have good views of the rest of the place. “People watching” is part of the reason for not staying home.

Recommended is the Irish breakfast. It is a huge, hearty platter of all things breakfast good: eggs, potatoes, sausages, bacon, tomatoes, and beans. I felt strong enough to plow a field or shovel snow after downing only a “Half” portion.

It’s Not Just Stale Bread

Don’t you dare throw away that state bread; instead, use it to make croutons, bread crumbs, bread pudding or stuffing.

Not all types of bread are good for all of the recipes.   Example- an old apricot Danish won’t make good croutons or bread crumbs but it will make delicious bread pudding or stuffing for a pork roast or a turkey.

Is it Italian bread? Make bread crumbs or bruschetta or crostini.

Is it sliced whole wheat? Make croutons for salad and soup.

Is it rye bread?  Make stuffing for pork roast.

Is it egg bread? Make French toast, stuffed French toast, Monte Cristo sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, or pannini.

Is it Danish or croissants?  Make bread pudding, French toast casserole or strata, or stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey or load it up with herbs and stuff it into a thick cut pork chop or a chicken breast.


4 cups dry rye bread, cut into cubes or torn into small bits

2 tablespoons butter

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 cup green cabbage finely chopped

1 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon savory

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon sage

Melt butter in large frying pan over low heat.  Cook vegetables until they soften and then add the bread bits, the stock and the herbs.  Remove from heat and stir until bread is moistened.  This stuffing is excellent for a pork roast or thick cut chops.  Dust the outside of the roast or chops with a mixture of salt, paprika, white pepper and quickly brown outside of meat in a pan over high heat.  Transfer meat to baking sheet or pan and cook in 375 degree oven until thermometer inserted in thickest part reads 160 degrees.

Skewerz-An Urban Paradise


"Get Stuck On The Stick"

A Chicago location could not be more urban than 1560 N Damen. Skewerz is located next to the Blue Line El stop at the crossroads of North, Milwaukee and Damen. When you enter the tiny twelve seat space you are instantly transformed to a calm, friendly paradise with food that is surprisingly reasonably priced.

As the name implies, almost everything is served on a skewer. Skewers can be ordered singly or as a dinner including your choice of rice and condiment.  Skewer choices are Lemongrass Tuna, Lilikoi Salmon, Filet Mignon, Mango Pineapple BBQ Chicken, Tofu, or Vegetable skewerz.   The special recipe condiments are house made daily and  include Red Curry Peanut Sauce, Peanut Sauce, Coconut Sambal,Chili Sambal, Jalapeno Sambal, Mango Chili.

There are a few notable  exceptions to the theme.  The first exception  is “Chicago’s Best” grilled artichoke appetizer served with a lemon aioli dipping sauce, another delightful variance is the smokey good Pulled Pork Pita.

Former fine dining chef, Michael Haren, has created a healthy, upscale alternative to food on the go at surprisingly affordable prices.

Mike only uses the light & buttery, omega rich grape seed oil for dressings & frying. He uses an exotic variety of nutrient rich herbs, spices & ingredients that are so masterfully balanced, the dishes will appeal to even the simplest palate.
Skewerz is open late night (’til 5am on weekends) and serves delicious tropical cocktails in the Tiki Lounge. The individually crafted cocktails include the expected  Mai Tai and Rum Punch and the more exotic Liliokolani Martini, Ginger Lychee Martooni and Wiki Waki Woo.

Because there is no convenient parking, Skewerz offers “Text/Curb Service” If you call ahead for pick up, they will text you when your order is ready and run the food out to the curb when you arrive.

Click here to view menu

A little piece of paradise under the "EL"

Chicago’s Fireside

5739 N. Ravenswood Ave
Chicago, IL 60660


There is plenty of parking on the street and at night and weekends you can park in the lot next door.
Usually you have to settle for fast food if you are out late at night. Fireside has one of the few four o’clock licenses left in the city and they keep the kitchen open late.
FIRESIDE provides speedy delivery seven days a week for lunch, dinner and late night pizza. If you really are not up for any human contact, you can place your order online at the FIRESIDE website
Many locals have made Fireside their home away from home. It truly is a public house. It’s like a second living room or a big enclosed front porch where your friends and neighbors stop by. You can just stop by knowing that someone will be there to share stories and trade gossip and maybe share a meal, snack or just friendly drink or two.
The patio is open year round. It is large and comfortable in any weather because it is covered and heated. It can be back yard comfortable or dressed up for a special occasion like a wedding or a private party
There is truly something for everyone here. There is an extensive menu for everything and they keep updating the choices . If all the menus were bound together in one book it would weigh in like the yellow pages
• Beer – ever changing line up of craft beers as well as all the standard favorites in bottles and on tap
• Wine List – varied selection of domestic and imported wines
• Kids – inexpensive menu with all the things kids eat
• Brunch – 150 ingredient “Build Your Own” Bloody Mary bar
• Lunch – hot and cold sandwiches, salads, weekly hot plate specials, homemade soups
• Dinner – starters, pastas, ribs, sandwiches, ribs, seafood
• Pizza – thin crust with lots of options and specialty pizzas
• Appetizers – standards and varied weekly choices
• Weekly Specials – lunch, appetizers and dinner
• Desserts – homemade apple pie, chocolate pie and changing special desserts
• Catering Events are hosted on site or they can deliver
Yes, there is a real, wood burning fireplace in the serene and cozy dining room
The bar bustles and the bartenders are “small town” friendly. There are darts, TVs and a great juke box. You can come here to watch a game or just read the newspaper or check your email with the free Wi Fi
• Half priced bottles of wine on Tuesdays
• Half priced appetizers on Wednesdays
• Complimentary appetizer buffet on Friday after work from about 4 to 7pm
• “Build Your Own” Bloody Mary Bar and Weekend Brunch
• Specials and promotions for every imaginable season and event
10. EVERYBODY BELONGS TO THIS FAMILY. I’m not sure about Hoosiers and Michiganders; but so far, I have not come across any native Chicagoans who have not had some contact with the FIRESIDE.
It’s probably because they have been open for such a long time and they do a bit of everything. I’ve talked to people who have been to FIRESIDE for:
• funeral luncheons
• late night food while in college
• weddings
• baby showers
• pizza and a game
• company Christmas party
• birthday celebration
Fireside on Urbanspoon
It seems like at one time or another, for one reason or another EVERYONE has been to FIRESIDE . It is not unusual for entire families (3 or 4 generations) to meet at Fireside for lunch, dinner or brunch.

While waiting to meet a friend on “Half Priced Wine Tuesday” I got into a conversation with Joe. Joe is a retired gentleman, wine lover and a regular fixture at the bar. At first, I thought he was the owner because of the way he greets new comers and tells them the history of the place and the neighborhood. Opened in 1904 as the Fireside Inn, they used to rent the upstairs rooms to families who came on the train to bury their loved ones at Rosehill Cemetery and the local farmers and merchants traveling between the farms and the markets in the city.

Joe brags about the large portions of delicious food as if his wife was in the kitchen; but no, he’s just one of the faithful regulars who are proud to feel at home here.

FIRESIDE is a Chicago institution that makes you happy and proud to be a Chicagoan


Click here to view menu
Fireside on Urbanspoon
Call toll free: (877) 878-7433
Local Numbers: (773) 561-SIDE or (773) 561-7433
Email :
Monday – Friday 11am-4am
Saturday 11am-5am
Sunday 10am-4am

Dining Room and All Weather Outdoor Patio
Kitchen open 11 am until 3 am everyday
Sunday Brunch 10 am until 3 pm

Delivery hours
Friday 4 pm – 3 am
Saturday 4 pm – 3 am
Sunday Noon – Midnight
Monday – Thursday 4 pm – Midnight

1. The Fireside loyalty program “Friends and Family” is not a priority with the staff or the customers. It has a long list of qualifications and rules.

2. All the breads are uninspired. The house made bread is pasty tasting and the quality of buns and breads for the sandwiches is poor.

3. Bottle beer cooler doesn’t keep the Heineken very cold

Peaches and Cream Strata

This recipe is fast, cheap and easy. Every time I make it someone asks for the recipe. Well, everybody, here it is for all to see. They ate it up so fast I almost didn’t get a picture.
peaches and cream strata

6 cups of stale bread, approximately
6-8 fresh peaches or 1 large can of peaches in syrup
8 ounces of cream cheese, cut into small cubes
6 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

bits and pieces of stale bread

bits and pieces of stale bread

add cream cheese to bread cubes

add cream cheese to bread cubes

Add the peaches

Add the peaches

sprinkle chopped walnuts

sprinkle chopped walnuts

Pour cream mixture

Pour cream mixture

Ready to store or bake

Ready to store or bake

Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 25 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Published in: on August 6, 2009 at 3:15 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

Roasted Tomato Pizza Sauce

This is simply the easiest, most delicious sauce for your homemade pizza. I have spent whole afternoons simmering tomato sauces but this recipe beats them all in taste and convenience. It can be made in the same time span as making fresh pizza dough. It can be made from fresh or canned tomatoes with little difference in the final product.
8 to 10 medium sized ripe tomatoes or two cans diced tomatoes
8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano

Roughly chop the fresh tomatoes or drain the juice from canned tomatoes
Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and toss until the tomatoes are completely covered with oil and spices

Scrape tomato mixture onto baking sheet and spread into a single thin layer.
Bake in low oven, approximately 275 until just before the tomatoes start to turn color
You don’t want them to get too brown, just a little at the edge. It may take an hour and a half. That’s it. You’re done.

While you are roasting the tomato sauce, you can make your dough and let it sit on the warm oven to rise.

If you are making a deep dish pizza in a pan, first cover the crust with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Then you can just spoon this thick, chunky sauce directly onto the cheese covered crust, add your ingredients, spices, more cheese and bake. If you are making a thin, crispy pizza you may want to throw the tomato sauce into a blender and give it a whirl so you can spread it evenly. In either case, it is simply the best pizza sauce.

Homemade chicken soup

chicken vegetable soupAlmost every culture has their own version of chicken soup, and it is universally revered for its ability to make things better. It is said to cure a cold and make a house a home. This American version has nourished my family through sickness and health, good times and bad. If you are going to spend two days making soup stock then you might as well make enough for your friends, family and to stock up the freezer.

3 whole chickens, throw them in a large pot whole or cut up. If you can get whole chickens with feet that would make an even tastier stock.

Trim the tops and bottoms of 3 stalks of celery Add these to the stock pot and keep the nice middle pieces for the final soup, and some for snacking.

3 large yellow onions
Put the ends, skins and ugly pieces in the stock. If you want your soup to be light in color, do not use the skins of the onions. The skins will turn the stock dark and brownish. Reserve some of the nice middle pieces for the final soup.

Add the carrot tops and peels from two bags of carrots (about 2 pounds)
and a handful of parsley and a couple bay leaves. Put all this in a large pot and cover with water. Let it simmer as low as possible on the stove for at least two hours.

Strain the stock through a colander. Strain it again through cheesecloth into a clean container and refrigerate. When the stock cools off, skim the fat off the top. At this time, you can freeze some or all of the stock.

Pull all the chicken meat from the bones, dice meat and refrigerate. Discard the bones and vegetables peels. We will add the chicken back just before serving so it doesn’t get stringy and fall apart.

When you are ready for soup, return the pot of the clean stock to the fire and add nicely chopped carrots, celery and onions. Add two or three chopped tomatoes or a small can of diced tomatoes with the juice. Simmer until vegetables are tender. A few minutes before serving, add the diced chicken. Add salt to taste. Simmer very gently until chicken is hot and serve with a little grated Parmesan cheese on the side. This is a big pot of soup, so next time you reheat a bowl of the soup add a little cooked rice and a squeeze of lime, or some left over cooked noodles or pasta.

Published in: on July 3, 2009 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Pineapple Upside Down Skillet Cake

Using the old iron skillet makes me feel like a country girl.

8 teaspoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 can pineapple rings
2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg
2/3 cup water or milk

Maraschino cherries for garnish

Heat oven to 400.
Heat butter in an 8″ iron skillet until melted.
Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Arrange pineapple rings on sugar-butter mixture in pan.
Mix dry ingredients together in a big mixing bowl.
Mix water and egg and then add to dry ingredients
Beat vigorously for about 20 seconds
Spoon batter over pineapple rings evenly.
Bake until knife tests clean 25-30 min.
Turn pan upside down on plate and allow to cool for a few minutes. Remove pan and garnish each ring with a cherry. 6-8 servings.

Chicago Pizza

060106_216more pizzaActually, I am the last person who should write about pizza.  It’s not that I don’t have specialized knowledge, passion or experience.  I have made pizza, thin and thick, by hand and by machine.  I have taught pizza making classes.  I’ve owned and operated a pizza delivery business. The reason that I shouldn’t write about pizza is because I’ve never found a pizza that I didn’t love.  My life is a pizza version of  “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one your with.”

I love the thin pizza of Vito and Nick’s.  I love the thick pizza at UNO and DUE. I love Lou Malnati’s, Marie’s, Lucky Vito’s, and Giordano’s.   I love the greasy Connie’s pizza. I love Home Run Inn,  Jack’s pizza and Tombstone pizza (all frozen).  I love the slices at Costco just as much as the slices at Bacci or Damenzo are on Taylor Street.  I love pizza bagels, pizza on pita, pizza on tortillas, French bread pizza, tomato bread, and focaccia.  I love all combinations of tomatoes, oil and cheese.  I love bruschetta. I love pizza puffs.

You see, I’m hopeless.  I can’t really pick a favorite kind; I’m getting slap happy thinking about all the pizza I have enjoyed. The best pizza is the one that I have in front of me. A big part of the problem is that I live in Chicago.  We Chicagoans are blessed to the point of confusion.  Every neighborhood has a gem of a place and they are all a little different and they are all really good.

This is the recipe that I use at home when I am not eating frozen pizza, or delivery pizza.

It makes one thin crispy pizza the size of a cookie sheet or a flat baking pan.  It can also make a thick pizza in a round cake pan.  And, of course, they are equally good, fresh from the oven.

Basic Pizza Dough

1 packet dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup olive oil

2 ½ cups flour


Pre heat your oven to 450 degrees.  Oil your pan or baking sheet.

You must understand yeast to make any kind of dough.  Treat your yeast as if you were making a bottle for a baby.  Warm and sweet is good for a baby.  If the water is too hot, the yeast will die.  Too much salt will retard the growth of the yeast.  Dissolve the yeast packet in the warm water and sugar.  Let the mixture sit in the warm bowl for a few minutes until it starts to bubble and grow.  Then add in the oil and salt. Stir until mixed and then add in flour.  Knead flour until it is a smooth ball.  Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm place away from any breeze. You’ve got to keep the baby warm.  If it cools off it won’t rise.

When the dough doubles in size, punch it down, knead it a little and roll it out on a floured board until it is the thickness and shape that you desire.  You can’t over handle yeast dough.  If it doesn’t turn out right the first time, let it rise again (in a warm place) and start over.  Just like the baby it loves attention.

I could write on and on for the rest of my life about the kinds of sauce and toppings that you might put on your pizza.  However, I will trust your judgment and creativity.  The only words of caution that I have are “Not too much sauce on a thin pizza.  If you love lots of sauce, make a thick crust pizza.

I can’t tell you exactly how long to cook your pizza because I don’t know if it’s thin or thick, or what toppings you put on it. I would put the pizza on the lowest shelf so that the crust gets to cook before the cheese gets too brown. Generally, a thin, lightly sauced pizza will take 12-15 minutes in a 450 degree oven. If you are making a thick pizza, turn the oven down to 375 and let it cook about 25 minutes.

Buon appetito!!

Published in: on June 15, 2009 at 10:31 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,