THE RAVINIA EXPERIENCE!! A CONCERT AND PICNIC UNDER THE STARS!

If your from the Chicago area and haven’t been to Ravinia, you NEED to go!! It’s located in a Northern Chicago suburb called Highland Park, and it’s one of the oldest outdoor music festivals in North America. The ambience is incredible! It’s a parklike setting on 36 acres with beautiful old trees. It happens every summer between June and September, with popular Artists performing a range of music from Classical and Pop, to Jazz. Theres an open air pavillion with reserved seating, but the main attraction is the LAWN. This year once again my Family and I attended the Tony Bennett concert. It’s just not summer unless we go to Ravinia at least once! My Son says ” It’s like a rite of passage into Fall ” and it certainly is!! Now, before I go on about the picknicking aspect of it all , I have to speak about Tony Bennett, what a class act! In his 80’s and sounds as good as ever! never misses a beat. This was his 23rd season at Ravinia, and the crowd loves him! it was a record night there. When he sang CHICAGO the crowd went wild! With beautiful weather and his voice being broadcast to the lawn audience, well, you can’t get better than that!! Now, about the picnicking, this is not for the faint of heart! This is DIE HARD picknicking that would put Martha Stewart to Shame!! The first time you go there you will be in AWE. Ill never forget the first time I went, I saw a complete Turkey feast on a silver platter no less, with linens and candles, flowers , It put our meager picnic to shame!! Since then,we have upgraded quite a bit, with our special “Ravinia Tables” and a 9×15 Decorative mat to stake our claim on the lawn! Once the gates open it’s a mad dash for the perfect spot! We have our favorite, and manage to get it everytime. ( Thanks to the runners!) Once the mats down we start to set up, as does, the whole crowd. I would say,this years menu was the best so far, we all really pulled it off!! Here was our menu:

APPETIZERS
Crab dip
Spinach and Artichoke dip
Blue and Brie cheeses
3 kinds of Hummus
Assorted crackers and Pita chips
Olives

MAIN COURSE
Pesto Pasta Salad
Mozzerella and garden fresh Tomato Salad
Grilled Chicken Kabobs
Grilled Shrimp Kabobs w/Mango Salsa
Italian lunch meat Stromboli
Grilled Vegetable Stromboli

DOLCI
Lemon Poundcake
Triple Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Fruit Kabobs

Plenty of Red and White Wine , and of course Coffee, for later!

I just want to say “Thanks” to Everyone who made it such a Great Evening!( you all know who you are) and look forward to next years RAVINIA EXPERIENCE!!!

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MELROSE PEPPERS


I felt I had to write a blog about Melrose Peppers. They are my Hubby’s absolute favorite!! He waits eagerly every summer when they appear at our local Italian store.
You won’t find them any where else, in fact many people don’t know what they are. I’ve had women and men come up to me as I was picking them out, asking “What do you do with these?” “How do you make them?” Well the answer is very simple. You have to rinse and dry them off, then you cut the tops off and scoop out the seeds(don’t worry if you don’t get all the seeds out cause they taste good!) Leave them whole, then saute them in a hot pan with olive oil, salt and pepper, a little granulated garlic till they get nice and brown, then lower the heat and throw in a small 8oz can of tomato sauce.( Italian brand preferred). Cook them till they are nice and soft, NOT mushy.
Every time I make these the smell brings my Hubby back to his childhood when his Mom use to make them. They are not a fancy food, they are just Good!! His famous words are (“I can make a meal out of these!!”) And he does, with some good Italian bread and a plate of Melrose Peppers he’s a Happy Man!!

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SUNDAY SUPPER

Last Sunday was a rainy day in Chicago, actually it rained all weekend so I decided to make homemade sauce with meatballs and sausage. The day before, my Hubby and I, went to our local Italian store to replenish my cans of San Marzano Tomatoes, and to get some fresh sausage. Although they are pretty pricey San Marzano Tomatoes are the BEST! There absolutely is no bitter taste to these tomatoes, none at all! My favorite brand is called Gia Russo, they make a great sauce!! They are worth every penny! You must try them, if you haven’t already. Throw a little fresh Basil in there’ and WOW! You can’t get any better than that!!!! Oh yeah, The aroma is out of this world!!! You can find my favorite sauces in my ebook, Italian Sauces My way, here’s the link.

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