Category Archives: Recipes


Winter Solstice has come and gone; the days are slowly getting longer once again.  It will take awhile though.  The days may still be short and dark, but our homes are cozy and warm and bright.

We still had our 2016 Christmas tree out in back by the fire pit.  My husband set it on fire on the first day of winter to “burn the troubles of the old year away” or something like that.  It was just something fun to do to recognize the shortest day of the year.

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Yesterday we took a drive into Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  We visited the Third Ward District in the afternoon for shopping, and to have an early dinner.  Later on, we planned on attending the Twilight Tour at the Pabst Mansion.

My favorite shop was called Mod Gen, a modern general store.  The shop was very cute and quite busy.  I snapped this during a slower moment.

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 I love when shops mix vintage pieces with new wares.

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Ever wonder what to do with that collection of yardsticks?  They make cute paneling.  This paneling went up about 20 feet!

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We quickly worked up an appetite walking around in the cold.  It was still early for a sit down restaurant so we found the Milwaukee Public Market, a bustling place filled with food stalls of prepared food and grocery items.  We got sandwiches, wraps, and juice at the Green Kitchen and picked up some cannolis to bring home.  We had a view of the river while eating.

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We arrived at the Pabst Mansion before the Twilight Tour started.  Because we were early, we got a parking space right on the property.  While we were waiting, we had a view of the west entrance of the mansion.  This is where there is a covered portico; it is where the horse and buggies would pull up.  This entrance to the mansion is quite high with no stairs.  It really gave us the feeling of how high off the ground the carriages must have been, and what it must have been like to step out of a carriage.

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This is my photo that I took last night, but there is a more complete photo of the facade on their website.  Do you believe this is open for all of us to wander through and explore?  It was especially magical last night as it was completely decorated for Christmas.  There were decorated trees in all of the rooms on all three floors!  Pictures cannot convey what is was like to be here, but I took as many as I could with my phone.  I wanted to remember the magic and show you as best I could what is was like.

These are the first photos I want to show you; there are too many for one blog post, so you will have to check back if you want to see more.  I’m going to jump to a room on the third floor because, well, you can see why.   This is the Principal Guest Bedroom where one of the Pabst daughters and her husband would stay when they visited.  It was decorated by a couple of local doll clubs.  It is overrun by Teddy bears getting the room decorated for Christmas.

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Some of you asked for my Mom’s Birds’ Nest cookie recipe.  Here it is.  I’m warning you, though, they taste much too good, and disappear much too rapidly!

Birds Nest Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature

1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

2 egg yolks, unbeaten

1/2 t. vanilla

2 c. sifted all purpose flour

1/4 t. salt

2 egg whites, unbeaten–put in small custard sized cup

1-1/4 c. semi-finely chopped nuts

jam, preserves, or jelly of your choice

  • Cream butter until light and fluffy, gradually add in brown sugar.  Then, add egg yolks and vanilla, mix well.
  • Whisk sifted flour and salt together in a separate bowl, then add to butter mixture.  Mix only until combined.
  • Shape dough into 1-inch balls; dip into egg white then roll in nuts.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet, 1-inch apart.
  • Bake at 350° for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven to add the indentions (but, don’t add the jelly yet) for the jelly.  Use the end of a wooden spoon or thimble to gently make the space for jelly.  Put cookies back in the oven for an additional 8 minutes.
  • Cool slightly, and fill indentions with jam, about 1/4 teaspoon.  The jam will skim over after about an hour or so.

Don’t forget to “test” a few to make sure they are “good enough”.  It may take a few cookies before you know for sure. 😉

That’s all for today, my friends.  Watch for more photos from the Pabst Mansion.  (Wish I could go back today.) *sigh*

Enjoy your day! ❤

Sweet Potato Chili

Who’s in the mood for some cozy smells wafting through the house?  Ah, the smells of fall food; it’s like no other season.  This fall chili is made in the slow cooker, so it does just that (and when it’s done cooking, it’s impossible to NOT have a tiny bowl).

I had some requests for the sweet potato chili recipe that I made on my anniversary, so here it is.  I made it again on Wednesday and took some photos (because I love to see the process, and hopefully you do too).  Let me add that I always add or delete something according to what I have on hand.  It’s a good recipe to change up a bit to use what’s in the pantry and to suit your taste.

sweet potato chili 308Sweet Potato Chili

2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into (about) 3/4″ slices, then quarter those slices.  Or change to your liking (this would affect cooking times), I like chunks.

1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, use diced if you like chunks, crushed makes it saucier.

2 15 oz. cans of beans, this time I used pinto and kidney, but am always changing the combination.

2 small or 1 medium onion, chopped

4 small cloves garlic, or to your taste, minced

1 jalapeno, chopped, (optional)

1 red bell pepper, chopped, optional, can use other colors too

2 t. chili powder

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. salt, to taste

1 t. cumin

frozen corn, about 1 cup, didn’t use it this time, but last time I did

water, 2 cups to start, you can add more as needed to get the correct consistency

I don’t always have bell peppers, but they are a great addition; you can use any color.  I didn’t add corn this time because I had a tube of polenta which I sliced, then pan fried, and added to the top of each serving of chili.

My sweet potato chunks fill a 4 cup glass measuring cup to overflowing.  Of course, you can have a little more or less.

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sweet potato chili 313All of the ingredients go into a slow cooker.  After two hours of cooking on high, the chili is starting to simmer, but still has a ways to go.

sweet potato chili 316And, after 5 hours it is DONE!  Yum!!!

sweet potato chili 322The chili took 5 hours on high.  After 5 hours the sweet potatoes were still firm, but cooked through; if you cook longer they start to break up which is okay, if that’s what you like.  You could probably make the chili on the stove, but I wouldn’t add as much water.  The two cups is needed for slow cooking.  Also, if you want to cook on low heat, the original recipe said 6-8 hours.

We seemed to enjoy the polenta on top more than the corn in the chili.  My daughter added some sliced avocado to her bowl and I added a dollup of plain yogurt.  I also forgot the cinnamon this time, but it is really good in it, so I’d add it if you like cinnamon.

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sweet potato chili 326My slice of polenta was sliced a little thick, and I didn’t give it a chance to brown which I would recommend.

I love using the slow cooker.  It’s like having your own personal cook (or mom) preparing dinner right in your kitchen.  It’s even better coming home after work or shopping and having dinner ready and the house smelling yummy.

That’s all there is to it!  Enjoy!

A Happy Fall & Memories for a Special Person’s Birthday

Happy Fall to everyone!  Yes, it’s here even though it still feels like summer here in northern Illinois.  I wonder does it look like fall anywhere?  Here it is still very lush and green due to all of the rain we’ve gotten recently.  With the exception of a few leaves here and there, I cannot find any golden, reddish, or orange hued trees yet.

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My Grandma was one of the most special people in my life.  It would have been her 103rd birthday today.  She’s been gone 8 years and I still miss her as much as ever.  She was only 48 years old when I was born and we always lived close by, so we spent lots and lots of time with her and my grandpa; I have tons of wonderful memories of her.

I looked for photos of her and I together and sadly there are very few.  I think it was because she was always preparing meals and taking care of everyone; she hardly ever sat down.  Here’s one of her helping me eat soup.  She was always making soup and to this day I love soup and make it more than anything else.


1964-893-vShe had a little garden in the back of their two flat in a Chicago suburb where they lived in the 1960s.  When I got older she would send me out to her lettuce patch to pick leaf lettuce for dinner.  I still use her vinegar and oil dressing recipe for my salads.  This is her recipe from so long ago.  I keep it in the refrigerator and use as needed.  The olive oil gets solidified in the frig, but 30 seconds in the microwave makes it pourable again.

Vinegar and Oil Salad Dressing

2 oz. apple cider vinegar

2 oz. olive oil

4 oz. water

1 t. garlic powder

1 t. salt

a sweetener, my Grandma used Sweet and Low, but I use 15 drops of Stevia.

Shake up everything in a salad dressing shaker or jar and pour on salad as desired.

Oh, I just thought of this story she told me a few years before she passed.  She NEVER ever had a doll!  Do you believe it?  Well, I couldn’t believe it, so for her next birthday I hand painted a round wooden box to look like a cake and placed some Kelly dolls inside dressed in the types of outfits I was making at the time.  She was so happy and displayed the little dolls on a shelf in her apartment.  She always supported my creative passions.

Happy Birthday Grandma and I miss you SO MUCH!

Love you, Grandma!  ❤ ❤ ❤

Thanks so much for reading along and sharing a few of my memories of my Grandma.  Who do you have from your childhood who was extra special in your life?