Roasted MacFarlane Pheasant, Celery, Chestnut Stuffing

Guided by market-fresh inspiration from farmer to plate, Chef Michael McDonald’s contemporary American cuisine Pheasantcelebrates daily life. A stylish Chicago West Loop restaurant, one sixtyblue captures the essence of leisurely dining at the American table.

“I’ve learned so much during my experiences in various kitchens, from forging relationships with purveyors to getting the freshest ingredients to Mexico, to handling the stress and volume of a top notch Manhattan operation.

Chef Michael McDonald says “I’m so happy to be back in Chicago, heading up the kitchen at such a reputable restaurant.”

Yield for two persons. INGREDIENTS:For Pheasant

  • Whole pheasant 1 ea
  • celery chestnut stuffing 2 cup: see recipe below
  • 12 pcs brussel sprouts, boiled in salted water till tender, quartered.
  • Diced bacon 2 oz
  • Chicken stock 3 oz
  • Butter 2 oz

1. Season pheasant with salt and pepper and sear the bird in a hot pan with a small amount of vegetable oil, turn bird on all sides to sear evenly.
2. Place bird in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes; to check make a small cut in thigh meat and juices should run out clear, not red
3. Let bird rest before cutting.
4. Cut the legs and thigh off and pick the meat from the bones, reserve.
5. Carve the breasts off the bone and reserve.INGREDIENTS:For Stuffing
Onion, chopped fine 1 Tbs
Celery, chopped fine 1 Tbs
Chestnuts, frozen is ok, chopped fine 2 Tbs
Garlic, minced ¼ tsp
Bread crumbs, course, dried 1 ½ cup
Butter, whole 2 oz
Chicken stock 2 cup
Parsley, chopped 1 tsp
Thyme, fresh, picked from stem 1 pcs
Sage, fresh, chopped 1 ps
Olive oil 1 oz
DIRECTIONS: 1.In a small pot, heat oil and add onion, celery and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat.
2. Add chestnuts, breadcrumbs, herbs, butter and chicken stock and cook all together.
3.Finish with picked leg and thigh meat, parsley and salt and pepper.
To Serve: Spoon the stuffing onto two plates. Use a ring mold if you want to make presentation better. Slice the pheasant breasts and arrange on top of stuffing. In a hot sauté pan, add bacon and cook until crispy. Add cooked brussel sprouts, salt and pepper and spoon over pheasant.

Northridge, CA: Rincome Thai Restaurant

papaya 2

Papaya Salad with Shrimp

Now, this is a restaurant that I have been to many times.  It virtually never fails.  Why do I say virtually?  Occasionally, the service is slow or not attentive but the Thai food served at this establishment is stellar.

I constantly go with a friend of mine.  We split the the Yum Woon Sen from the salad menu, a silver noodle with chicken which boasts of citrus flavor.  The servers always ask you for your spice level of choice.  Although, I love spicy food I would stick with low to medium spice so it doesn’t compete with the great citrus flavor of this dish.  Next, we always order the spicy seafood soup.  It is amazing.  Expect hot and sour flavors coupled with lemongrass.  Now as for entrees, you can’t go wrong with the yellow curry chicken or the Pad Thai.  We have also tried the appetizers including the shrimp toast.  Normally, I don’t like the shrimp toast that I have ordered at Chinese restaurants in Baltimore.  I mention the town because regionally even in the United States dishes may tend to be prepared differently.  I like the shrimp toast at Rincome.  My suggestion is not to let it sit is will taste greasy soon.  I have tried this with two people and I don’t think they were fans.  They cited the greasy taste.

As for the ambiance, it is great for friends or a simple date night.  The dress is casual.

Location17050 Devonshire St, Northridge, CA 91325
Telephone: (818) 366-5805


Film and Foodie Review: Chef

The Review: Chef is great little cooking film with some serious star power (Robert Downey Jr) for writer/director/actor, Jon Favreau.  He is the director of the Iron Man movies and co-star/writer of the 90’s classic film, Swingers.  His latest film is about a chef who has become stifled in his creativity while also recently dealing with the side effects of being a weekend parent to his son.  The ultimate crisis come for the chef when a food critic and popular blogger tweets his thoughts about his recent dining experience.  He also learns that his son refuses to play the part of a side order in his life.  And the rest of the adventure of this story unfolds from there.  No spoiler here,  check out this great little film.  Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey, Jr, John Leguizamo and Scarlett Johansson also star in Chef.

The Food:  The story takes place primarily in LA and Florida.    But it is in Florida that we watch the making of a Cuban Sandwich.  There is also multiple discussions about the opportunity to taste certain foods where the originate or gained reputation for authenticity.  We suggest making a Cuban sandwich and enjoying this film.  Click photo for recipe

Effie’s Chicken & Lemon Potatoes


Almost every American child has had meatloaf for dinner…it’s common to us and an easy meal… well in Greece what would be considered their meatloaf is this fabulous chicken dish…I went to Greece when I was 19 years old with my mom and my cousin Danielle. To this day, it’s one of those trips that I think was one of, if not the BEST vacation of my life! The sites, the beaches, the people and mostly THE FOOD! Some of the best meals I’ve ever had were on that tiny island in Santorini!

One of them was Greek Chicken and Lemon Potatoes. I’m not a huge chicken lover and I find it to be bland sometimes, but this chicken… I can’t even begin to tell you! It was so moist and packed so much flavor and the potatoes were crispy and rich! For years after, I tried a hundred times to make it just like they did in Greece and it just wasn’t the same… that was until my cousin Danielle, who was with me on that amazing trip to Greece so many years ago, married a fantastic Greek man, who’s mom Effie knew exactly what I was talking about when I said I had eaten this potato and chicken dish while there… so she shared this recipe with me.

Thanks Effie! It really is true, you really can relive an entire memory through a dish. In this case, I’m back on that Greek Island having the time of my life!  -Michelle Karam



6 Medium Yellow Potatoes Quartered

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)

1 teaspoon garlic salt

2 teaspoon oregano

½ cup lemon juice


1 whole chicken quartered

¾ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

¾ garlic salt

2 tabespoons. butter melted

1/4 cup lemon juice

Peel & quarter the potatoes. Place in bowl and combine with all ingredients. Let marinate, mixing it every so often so chicken and potatoesthatpotatoes do not discolor or turn brown.

Combine all of your dry seasonings together in a bowl and rub all over both sides of your chicken pieces.

Place chicken, skin side up, in roasting pan and drizzle butter and lemon juice over the top. Add potatoes all around the sides of the chicken, juices included. Roast,uncovered, in preheated,395 degree oven for 45 min to 1 hour.

Baklava, A Traditional Dessert Recipe

Traditional Recipe by Michelle Karam 

Baklava (/ˈbɑːkləvɑː/, /bɑːkləˈvɑː/,[1] or /bəˈklɑːvə/;[2] Ottoman Turkish: باقلوا [bɑːklɑvɑː]) is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, and is also found in Central and Southwest Asia.

Turkish etymologist Sevan Nişanyan claims an old Turkish origin (baklağı or baklağu).[6] Buell argues that the word “baklava” may come from theMongolian root baγla- ‘to tie, wrap up, pile up’.

This recipe was donated to us by Michelle Karam and placed on our other website back in January in 2010.


  • 1 Box Filo Dough from your frozen food section at your supermarket
  • ¾ lb unsalted butter melted & clarified
  • 2 c. walnuts finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon

  For the Syrup

  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Cinnamon stick


Lay open package of fillo dough and rest your baking pan on it and cut sheets the size of your baking pan. Immediately cover your sheets of fillo with a moist towel to keep the sheets from drying out & cracking. Mix together in a bowl walnuts, sugar & cinnamon.     Lay 5 sheets of fillo dough in the bottom of the baking pan and brush each layer with the melted butter. (YOU DO NOT NEED TO SOAK THE ENTIRE   SHEET-JUST COVER LIGHTLY) Sprinkle 5 TABLESPOONS of the walnut mixture over the top. Then layer on top of it 10 sheets of fillo dough, only buttering every 3rd one. Continue this process 3 more times, buttering each 3rd time. Butter top layer generously to cover along the edges.   Before baking, score dough into diamonds; brush again generously over each diamond to ensure the fillo will stick when baking.   Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Pull the pan out of the oven after 15 minutes and pour the rest of the warm butter that was remaining over each diamond. Fillo dough will puff up. Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes or until the top is light golden brown. When the pan is out of the oven, hold top with a spatula and tilt it to the side to try to drain any remaining butter.   Leave pan tilted for at least 5 minutes so that as much butter as it can will be removed. (May use some paper towels to soak up)   SYRUP: Add all ingredients together over medium high heat- once it comes to a boil and a syrup is formed, remove cinnamon stick.   COOL BAKLAVA. Syrup may be added to the baklava just prior to serving. If you add it too soon, the baklava will get soft and soggy.   You can keep the syrup in the refrigerator to store it.

Armenian Style Stuffed Grapeleaves (With Meat)

Everyone’s got their childhood memories.  For most children in America their earliest or first memories in the kitchen are grapeleavesprobably sticking their fingers in some sort of ooey chocolatey batter and licking the bowl clean or eating some raw cookie dough while mom or grandma was making some cookies…. Well folks, I have an entirely different type of “first time in the kitchen” childhood memory.  Stuffed grape leaves. Stuffed grape leaves you say?  Yes…and oh how amazing they were!

I still have the very vivid memory of standing in my grandmother’s kitchen with the leaves all lined up on the counter, the stack of cigar shaped leaves that were already done and running by and stealing a few of them before they were cooked.   She would be screaming as I whizzed by… “Don’t eat them raw! You’re going to get sick!” so began my trek of living on the edge!  I never got sick and still to this day, even when I’m making them myself I steal a few! (I don’t recommend that you do this by the way… you can get sick! HA!)  But back to my point… what was my point… oh! I know, my point was that I never got around to asking her for this recipe, nor did anyone else for that matter… she made them the best! As good as I’ve ever had, and over the years I’ve learned to adjust my recipe to what I think hers tasted like…I think I’ve come close!

Making stuffed grape leaves or Sarma as it’s properly called is sort of like the Ceviche I did yesterday… every region has it’s own take on how to do this… some make theirs with only rice and onions, some add parsley, some don’t… some use lamb some use beef… some add coriander some don’t.  It’s all about the region that you are from.

So here it is… the step by step guide with my little tricks for making Grandma Margaret’s Sarma – A.K.A. The best darn stuffed grape leaves you’ll ever eat! (did I just say darn?)


  • 1 ½ pounds of ground beef
  • 1 can or 16 oz of plain tomato sauce
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • ½ small onion finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 16oz jar of grape leaves

Preparation of the grape leaves and the meat filling:

Remove the grape leaves from the jar… this takes a little bit of jiggling to get them out… they are packed in brine, I suggest sticking a finger in there, and tilting it to the side to remove all of the liquid first, then gently pull the bunches out.  There should be 2 or 3 neatly folded bundles in there, depending on the size of the leaves.  Drain, open up the bunches and allow them to sit in some clean cold water for a few minutes to remove some of the excess salty-ness.

grape leaf

Once they’ve sat for a few minutes, begin removing the stems from each leave.  (If you leave the stems on, they will be too tough to chew)

While the grape leaves are soaking, in a separate bowl mix together the beef, rice, spices, lemon juice and ¾ of the can of tomato sauce- reserving ¼ of the can for use later. Now get in there and use your hands and mix mix mix! Making sure everything is combined well. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

meat in leaf

Get ready to roll….

Place the leave with the shiny side down, vein side up on a flat surface and spread out.  Place about a teaspoon to tablespoon (depends on leave size) and using the tips of your fingers, pinch it outwards until your’e about 2 inches from each edge.

Fold up the bottom of the leaf then the sides.

Roll upwards tightly.  Don’t roll it up too tight as while the rice and meat are cooking, they will expand and it will tear the leaf or unravel.

In a large saucepan or medium sized pot, lay a few leaves on the bottom of the pan.  Lay each stuffed grape leave side by side next to each other tightly, seam side up and continue making even layers.  Do not fill it all the way to the rim of the pan, as it will as I said expand and well, you’ll have a mess on your hands… or your stove rather.  Layer about 2 inches from the top of the pan and place a small plate upside down on top of the grape leaves and apply pressure to hold it down.

In a large measuring cup mix together:

  •  2 cups cold water
  • Remaining tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon crushed mint
  • 2 cups cold water
  • Remaining tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon crushed mint
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic (mortar & pestle it into a paste)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ lemon juice

leafs in pot

Pour this mixture over the leaves, making sure that they are covered just over the top of the edge of the plate on top.  If you don’t have enough liquid, add more plain water.  Cook on high heat until it comes to a boil and then reduce heat down to a low simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, making sure that the leaves don’t move around inside the pot.

You’ll know it’s cooked once you open it and the rice is cooked.


You can omit the cayenne if it’s too spicy for you.

Look for leaves that aren’t too thick.  Use only the flexible soft leaves

This meat filling can be used to stuff bell peppers, small eggplants, zucchini, or even tomatoes. You’d cook it using the same process.

Once you get the hang of rolling the leaves you’ll be on a roll… ha ha ha (bad joke)

Just know, they don’t have to be perfect!

I hope that you try this recipe… it’s a little bit a work… who am I kidding… it’s work!  But you’ll really love the end result!  I know I always did and still do!

Recipe by Michelle Karam

Bling Bling Wedding on a Budget

Bling wedding
Weddings are a beautiful representation of a couple’s love. In planning for that special day however sometimes expenses can get out of hand. Couples desire to have a champagne wedding but sometimes can’t afford the price tag associated with it. In today’s economy it may seem that having a wedding on a budget may be impossible. However sticking to some basic guidelines you will be able to have the wedding of your dreams and still have money in your pocket.

• Cut out things that are not tangible. Put money into items that will last beyond your special day.
• Look for decorating items that are able to be recycled. Candles add beauty to a centerpiece and can be incorporated into your home decor after your big day.
• Attend wedding shows. This is a wonderful way to get money saving ideas as well as enter giveaways for free prizes.
• Network with friends who have been married. They will have wonderful suggestions and might be able to steer you to vendors who can save you money but still give you the wedding of your dreams.
• Check out outlet stores for savings. This is a wonderful way to stretch your budget.
• Have a plated meal at the reception. Buffets tend to be more expensive and increase the cost of your reception.
• Having an open bar will increase the cost of your reception by at least 25%. Consider giving out drink tickets to guest. You will still be giving them some drinks but this will control your cost.

Following a few guidelines will give you a beautiful blinged out wedding on a budget. You will still have a day to remember and money left over.
Here’s to hoping your day is an elegant affair
Best Wishes
Nicole C. Bell
Elegant Affairs by Nicole

Do it Yourself: Mason Jars- Get Spicy!

Mason Jar #2

Get a little spicy with your holiday gifts and consider giving fresh salsa.  Salsa is a combination of tomatoes, chilies and other spices. It’s origins can be traced back to the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs. The Aztec lords used the spicy chili  and tomato

Image from

combination serving it on turkey, venison, fish and lobster. In 1571, the mixture was named  “salsa” by Alonso de Molina, a Spanish Franciscan priest who came to Mexico (as a child) shortly after the Cortes invasion.

Whether it’s mild or the kind that clears up both yours and  your neighbors sinuses; salsa sauce is a great gift to give at holiday parties. Make a big batch and give it to your coworkers. Now when you are making salsa and putting it in a mason jar, don’t fill it all the way up to the top and make sure there is no excess salsa around the rim. if you do not want to go through the canning process, make sure to tell the gift recipient to keep the salsa sauce refrigerated and it should last up to two months.

If you do the canning process for salsa then it can stay up to a year. See the following link to find out how to can salsa.

For both of these Mason jar gifts use a little decorative garland, mistletoe, a bow or some artificial holly to tie around or  drape your jar. Get creative! Have fun and get to giving out your mason jar gifts.

Written by Monica Johnson