Archive for November, 2012

I dont want you to like this post on FB, I don’t want you to respond, i dont want you to tweet or retweet – I just want you to think.

Yesterday on my walk to work I saw a homeless man eating out of a garbage can, and at first it didn’t really register.
I’ve almost become immune to all the homeless people begging around Chicago. But this man was different, he was minding his own business, not asking for anything. Just looking for food.

My second reaction was reaching in my pocket and pulling out all the money I had on my at the time -only six dollars- because I don’t really carry cash on me. I walked over and said; “Excuse me sir, please take this and get something to eat.”
That was it.

He said thank you twice and I put my head phones back on and walked to work like I do every morning, trying not to have contact with anyone and oblivious to things around me.That’s my way of telling people I don’t want to be bothered, or I don’t have change or don’t have time for your long story about hard times. I ignore the world by listening to my music. I am sure I am not alone, and I’m not saying its a bad thing. We all get into our zones and want to get from point A to B as fast and efficiently as possible. I went on with the daily rat race of life, doing what I do every day at work. But today was different, today I could not stop thinking about the homeless man eating out of the garbage can. Was six dollars enough? How much food can someone buy with 6 dollars? Someone was so hungry, that their hunger forces them to eat out of the garbage? I am sure this was not the first time I have seen a homeless person, or the first time i have seen someone digging through the garbage, but something was different. Maybe it was my view of life changing, or the fact I am getting older, or maybe this day on my walk, i just stopped and looked around. I don’t know?

We all use the terms; “I’m starving” or I’m so hungry I can eat anything “. But today I saw those phrases come to life. I saw a man so hungry he was eating anything, so starving his animal instinct came out and he was just looking for food.

I can’t stop thinking of him and how I could have helped more.  He was not begging for money or bothering people for change, not trying to run a scam. He was just hungry…maybe I should have walked him over to the restaurant and got him a hot meal and maybe something for him to take with him for later? Why didn’t I?

I take a lot for granted, I have a great family, a good job, and friends I lean on for help and advice. We all do, and I don’t want to get all preachy or make you think I am patting myself on the back for helping a homeless man, thats not my intent. I just don’t think I helped enough, I could have done so much more.


Here is a safe, easy and delicious side dish for all you who are procrastinators (like me) during the holidays.

Don’t be daunted by the ingredients- it’s actually pretty simple to make.

Chef Ryan’s Veggie Cheesy Gratin

 1 cup diced celery root
1/2 cup diced parsley root
1 cup diced parsnips
1 cup diced Yukon potato
1 cup cooked and shelled chestnuts
1 cup diced honey crips apples
1 cup diced butternut squash

Par cook all vegetables in a large pot of salted water separately

 They should be al dente. The potatoes will take longer to cook and the
squash will cook fast. This is the hardest part if the recipe. After the vegetables are cooked is smooth sailing.

Keep warm until needed.

 The cheese sauce:

4 TBSP Flour
5TBSP Butter
4 Cups Milk
2 cups clothbound Chedder Cheese or any strong chedder cheese
Salt fresh cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Melt the butter when hot and bubbly add the flour and make a roux.
Cook the flour butter mixture until is if fully incorporated and
starts to brown. Slowly whisk in the the milk, trying not to make an lumps.

Cook at med heat, stir constantly until thick. Add cheese and bring
back to a boil.  Season with slat and pepper to taste and add nutmeg.

Reserve until needed.

2 1/2 TBSP chopped fresh sage
1 TBSP rosemary chopped
2 TBSP chopped thyme
1 cup Chestnuts diced
1 cup or more Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup diced bacon rendered (optional)

In a large mixing bowl mix all the root vegetable together. Add 3 cups
of the cheese sauce the herbs , nuts and bacon.  Mix well and season with salt and black pepper. Add more sauce if you want it to be creamier.

 Place mixture into a casserole pan and sprinkle bread crumbs over the
top in a even layer.  Place in a broiler on med heat and let brown.

By this time it can be served if its hot. If its not – place in
a 350 oven for 20 min until bubbly and hot in the center.


Boston Little Market

Posted: November 8, 2012 in Drinks, Food, Travel

With less than a month until Little Market opens, the little hamster is running faster than usual in my head.  I have so many ideas and finishing touches to add to the already successful dishes that Chris and I have worked on.

I see Little Market as a neighborhood spot where people can stop in after a long day of running errands or work and feel right at home.  Most of the menu will be classic dishes that everyone has tried, so it’s very important to me that our food exceeds expectation.

One of the menu items is a classic lobster roll, and while we’ve tried several in Chicago…we also felt a quick trip to Boston was necessary.

Alfredo and I went and packed in as many local favorites  as we possibly could in a day and a half.





easy way out recipe

Posted: November 6, 2012 in Food, Recipes

Without fail, this is the time of year when I get a ton of texts and calls from people asking for easy recipes to bring to holiday dinners and parties.

I thought I’d share with one with you guys that has worked for me for years- my Butternut Squash Soup.

This recipe has been tweaked and I’ve added and changed the flavor profiles many times so feel free to make it your own. For example- I’ve recently added popcorn to the pumpkin seeds to give it added texture.

And I know a lot of you may think soup is intimidating, but I promise it’s not. If you have trouble I’ll even come help you.

Ok- the last part may be a bit of a lie…but trust me I’d just get in the way anyhow!

Chef Ryan’s Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Popcorn 

Serves: six         

Prep time: 45 minutes 


 3 tbsp  butter  

1           onion, sliced 

2           garlic cloves, chopped 

2 c        water 

3           butternut squash peeled, large dice 

1/2 c       heavy cream 

¾ c       organic local honey 

2 tbsp  chipotles, pureed  

How to make it:

 –    Melt butter in a medium saucepan, add onion and garlic and sweat until tender 

with no color. 

–    Add water and diced squash and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a 

simmer and let cook 20 minutes until squash is tender. 

–    Puree soup until smooth; add cream, honey, and chipotle puree and bring back 

to a simmer.  

Serve it Up: season with salt and garnish with popcorn-spicy pumpkin seeds. 


1 c        oil 

1/2 c       pumpkin seeds 

1 c        popped popcorn  

1 tbsp  sweet smoked paprika 

1 tsp    cayenne pepper 


pinch sugar 


How to make the toppings:

 –    In a large pot add oil and heat to 350 degrees. While heating, mix paprika, 

pepper, a pinch of salt and sugar together. 

–    Using a basket or strainer, carefully lower the seeds into the oil until they are golden brown, approximately one minute.

–    Remove from fryer and place seeds in a bowl lined with paper towel. Remove paper towel while the seeds are still hot and sprinkle with the paprika-pepper mix.