Category: Kelly Donlea

248. Barrington EATS: Dining Out in Lake Barrington

 I live in Lake Barrington. That’s “far” out of town, according to some. But we enjoy our lovely wooded lot in Barrington Harbor. Ever come out my way to eat? Chances are you’ve been to The Onion or Kelsey Road House, but today I’ll tell you about all the restaurants we have here on the northwestern skirts of the Barrington area.

Chances are you may not have known about, or have forgotten about, a few of these local hot spots. So I decided to offer a refresher to whet your appetite for some great food, beer and time out on the town……

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238. Barrington EATS: Get Your Crock-Pot Cooking

 Fall. It’s a time of year when families are busy and warm comfort food returns to the menu. Crock-Pots are a great way to cater to both situations, providing a delicious, moist, steaming dinner that can be made in minutes at convenient times of the day (i.e. before taxi-time, after-school activities and toddler melt-down hour).  I recently gave individual cooking classes to three novice cooks looking for solutions for their hungry children. In addition to a basic soup base and a few simple dishes, we focused on the Crock-Pot. The reason for this is that I find meats in the crock pot are fool-proof.

Each of these inexperienced cooks said their frustration with cooking meats is that they always turn out dry. It’s true, there is a knack for knowing times and temps for cooking certain meats. But with slow cooking, and crock-potting, these cooking methods leave room for grace, and that’s just what unsure cooks need……

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233. Barrington EATS: Dinner Deliveries with Kelly Donlea

 If you’ve read my column here, you know that I like to talk about food. If you’ve wondered about my cooking, and have wanted to try it for yourself, now’s your chance!
I started my company Organizing Dinner to help people make dinner every night at home with less stress. I have written cookbooks, taught classes around town, and have both an online recipe blog and forum to provide continued support at The books are helpful, the classes a success, but still…. When it comes down to it some people just don’t want to cook. And I get it.
After hearing the plea “I just want you to cook it for me” many times, I finally conceded. I will continue to encourage and teach you to find success cooking in your own kitchen, but one day a week, I’ll do it for you.

Through my Dinner Delivery service, I make dinner for Barrington-area residents, and bring it to your home ready to eat (or frozen for future use, if specified). Following is the Dinner Delivery menu for September. Follow the instructions below if you would like to order a dinner for you, or someone else in town……

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220. Barrington EATS: School Lunch Life Savers

 Something big is happening in Barrington this coming Tuesday, August 21st. And if you can say what it is in the blink of an eye, this post is for you.  It’s the first day of school. Your days will no longer be punctuated by “when can we go to the pool?” “can you drive me ____?” and the constant need to provide kid fun. But it may be replaced by something else you find challenging: what to pack in your kids’ school lunches.

My 4th grade son Brian refuses to buy his lunch. He also won’t eat sandwiches. Well, not the normal pb&j or just lunchmeat ones anyway. So, after 4 years of packing him lunch, I have a five quick strategies that will help you pack healthy, unprocessed lunch foods your kids will eat……

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215. Barrington EATS: All Scream for Ice Cream

 What a blazing hot summer it’s been! What’s the best treat on a hot day? Ice cream of course.  My family and I have long visited Barrington’s top spots for ice cream, but we’ve also discovered some new destinations serving our favorite flavors and more in Barrington this year.
With about six weeks left of summer, I thought I’d take a minute to pass along our recommendations about the best places, old and new, to grab a few scoops around town……

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208. Barrington EATS: Pizza in a Pinch

 Smart Ingredients are those that can open up dinner options without and extra trip to the store.  There’s one Smart Ingredient that is not a common pantry item, yet its potential for dinner success is enormous. It’s yeast.  To be able to whip up a loaf of homemade bread to accompany some soup, or especially a super-easy homemade pizza crust, your dinner options are suddenly multiplied.

In my family, anything on a homemade pizza crust equals a successful dinner.  And with endless topping possibilities, I can always put one together with what I have on hand at home…. traditional red sauce and cheese, potatoes and cream sauce, goats cheese and roasted veggies, or in the recipe below, some leftover barbequed chicken.
RED STAR yeast is easy to find at your local grocery store, and comes in convenient single-serve packets or small jars. I find it very reliable for a great, easy pizza dough like this recipe with barbecue chicken on top……

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203. Barrington EATS: Quick Bites on Barrington Road

 I’ve lived in Barrington a long time. Long enough to remember no stop lights on Kelsey Road, and also to remember a time when there were very few dining options in town. It’s been a pleasure to experience things improve over the years. This summer alone two new quick-service restaurants joined several other town favorites on the six block stretch of Barrington Road from Route 14 to just past Lake Cook.

For the first time Barrington feels like the downtown I always thought it could be. Not your average run of the mill drive-thru mecca, but a destination of great places to lunch. Not that I mind drive–thrus, because our first stop on Barrington Road, just South of 14, has one. And it’s one for which I have been eternally grateful over the years……

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195. Barrington EATS: Feast Your Way Through the Farmers Market

 The Barrington Farmers market may be small, but it is mighty in the flavor department. There are many ways to bring home delicious, fresh and one-of-a kind tastes from our market each Thursday afternoon with a quick and easy trip to town. And, thanks to Barrington photographer Anthony Tortoriello, we can feast our eyes on the following beautiful images which capture the many colors of our market.

I like to start out at the East end of the market, entering from the “Harris Bank” end by the corner of Park Ave. and Grove St. My first stop is Wayne Miller Farm’s booth where the most delicious, fresh fruit is brought straight from Michigan……

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186. Barrington EATS: Hot Toppings for Your Diggity Dog

 Some of us may not be proud that the number one food consumed in America in July is hot dogs. But it’s true. 155 million alone will be consumed this upcoming weekend according to the National Hot Dog council. I much prefer eating healthier options, as I know many of you agree. But on an occasion like this, I say if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Dogs will be the option many places you go over the Fourth of July festivities, including our beloved Brat tent. And you can buy them cheaper right now than at any time during the year. I love experimenting with different flavors and condiments, and saucing up a hot dog the way they do it in other parts of the world can add to the fun.
If you are serving dogs this weekend, here’s some topping ideas from other parts of the country and world……

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168. Barrington EATS: Sub-Rosa – A Secret Worth Sharing

 Are you looking for something different to do for your next night out? Perhaps to view modern art while eating waffle sandwiches at the Gap, or fried eggplant and live music alongside iPads at the Apple store? That would be different all right! And it’s possibly what you will be doing if you join Deer Park Town Center’s new underground “Sub-Rosa” dining club and attend their first top secret event on Friday, June 22, a 8 p.m.  I can’t say for sure where on Deer Park’s premises this provocative dining event will take place because they’re calling it a delicious secret and a confidential culinary adventure. Sign me up!

Tickets are currently on sale for this veiled event, but the location and other details remain under wraps. All ticketholders will be sent an e-mail 24 hours prior to the event with clues for how to find the location (somewhere within Deer Park Town Center, but not at a restaurant or a location that has anything to do with food).  Once they arrive, guests will enjoy dinner, wine, entertainment and culture.
Sub-Rosa is a term that originated in Ancient Greece and means “Under the Rose.” It was understood that, when a rose was hung over the table during a closed-door meeting, whatever was discussed did not leave that room. Today, Sub-Rosa implies anything done in secret.  This type of dining event has become popular in New York and London, and thanks to our versatile Deer Park Town Center, now it’s an option in the Barrington area.
Marketing Director at Deer Park Town Center, Regina Verdico, decided to plan a Sub-Rosa event in our town after attending one herself. “The entire evening was such an adventure.  From finding the exact location of the event to the surprise element of the food being served, it was an experience that I will remember forever.”
Part of the fun comes from speculating what people will be eating off of and next to at this fun and funky event. I also am curious as to what they will eat, as the Sub-Rosa environment is one in which chefs are typically given free reign to showcase their styles and provide eclectic fare within their specialties.…

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162. Barrington EATS: Pick & Prep the Perfect Mango

 It’s Monday morning and I have mangoes on the mind. How many ingredients can you think of that go as well with fish as they do in a smoothie, yet can also brighten up a pizza? Mango is a surprising fruit, and can do all three.

Mangoes are ripe and ready this time of year, and this means they’re everywhere, they’re priced right and they taste great.  But how do you know how to choose the perfect mango to put in your grocery basket?  Here are a few pointers to help you pick and pit the perfect mango……

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155. Barrington EATS: The Coolest Thing in the Kitchen

 I look forward to this time of year for many reasons… the Fox River is open for boating, the days until the Barrington pool opens can be counted on our fingers, graduation parties, gardening and baseball punctuate the weekends, and at the grocery stores, the prices of cucumbers begin their steady descent to from over $1 per cucumber to their 3-cucumbers-for-a-dollar lows (expect late in the summer).

Cucumbers are a solid staple in my household, an item that I refer to as a Smart ingredient. It’s Smart because they always get eaten (don’t rot in the crisper!), and can round out SO many meals for my family. Both my kids and I will eat cucumber slices just as a snack. Think crunchy, like chips! They are a main ingredient in two of my favorite salads, (recipes below) 4 other salads in my salads cookbook, they add a great texture and liveliness to many of my kids favorite sandwiches, such as turkey and bacon, or ham and lettuce.…

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141. Barrington EATS: Cinco de Mayo a La Hacienda

 Cinco de Mayo is just days away and, if you haven’t made plans to celebrate, we have some ideas for you. The Mexican holiday recognizes the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when the Mexican Army had an unlikely victory over French forces. I think most Americans love to share in the holiday simply to have a day to celebrate our love of Mexican food and drinks and you’ll find your fiesta at several Barrington area hotspots this week, starting with La Hacienda at Deer Park Town Center.

La Hacienda will be buzzing this Cinco de Mayo thanks to a festive holiday menu and live entertainment……

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138. Barrington EATS: Chef Kelly Donlea’s Olive Tap Tip

 I’ve long enjoyed going to Pasquesi Home and Gardens in Barrington for unique houseware items, when I need to buy a gift and, of course, for my flowers and gardening supplies. Now I enjoy it for one more reason – it helps me make great food by carrying products by the Olive Tap.

The Olive Tap Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar emporium, located in Long Grove, has gotten me hooked on using their delicious oils and vinegars to make the salads from my 30 Spectacular Salads cookbook and many other dishes. I work with the Olive Tap often, creating great pairings with their oils and vinegars and my foods and demoing them at various events. The only problem is, when I run out, I don’t always have time for a trip to Long Grove……

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125. Barrington EATS: Easter Brunch & Lovely Leftovers

 In my opinion, the two best things about any holiday are family time and food.  And Easter is no exception. Traditions run rampant on Easter tables with lamb cakes and butter, family-favorite potato dishes, and more likely than not, hard boiled eggs and Easter ham.

Following are many, many ways to eat this Easter, which include making your own ham, ordering a pre-sliced honey baked ham, enjoying brunch in many unexpected places in Barrington and then using your leftovers to make breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Eat up Barrington!…

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