Another plea for #afundforjennie

I would like to tell you a story that will relate to a few of my last posts, and I’m hoping that it will inspire you to make a difference in a few lives…three in particular.

Today, as I was watering our garden, I paused and saw something very large moving close by,  I got scared for a second and then realized…oh, it’s OK, it’s just mama deer with her two young, shy, speckled fawns.

They pass through the yard a lot…most of the neighbors don’t like them at all.  They limit what you can plant, because they eat just about everything…especially everything pretty….roses (my favorite) and lush hostas, lilies and tulips (it’s like giving them candy). So, my garden has changed as the deer have grown in population.

But, I love watching the mother deer and her two daughters, I identify with them…I have a daughter, and I had to teach her how to make her way in this crazy world. Mama deer is a teacher too, she shows her fawns what to eat and of what to be fearful.  Sometimes, even though you know what you should be afraid of, your life can be ripped right from underneath you when you least expect it…not so much from something that you feared, but something you never expected.

That is what happened to food writer and blogger, Jennifer Perillo, when her husband Mikey died from a massive heart attack and left Jennie and her 2 young daughters alone and unprepared for life without him.   I too, was unprepared when my parents died a few weeks apart. I know what it is like to stand in a rushing stream, having to find your way to shore…by yourself.  It’s hard and it takes guts and perseverance and the will to go on.  I know Jennie has all these things qualities…and I know she has 2 precious little girls.

I want to do what I can to help them move forward by putting the Bloggers Without Borders donation button on my blog (which will be on my new design).  It is a great organization that has helped many causes, but right now, the cause is Jennie.  Her husband was ripped away from her and she needs our help to move forward to pay impending bills for health care and to keep the roof above their heads.

If you have ever been in this situation, you know what I’m talking about…and if you’ve never been in a hard place, then you’ve been blessed.

Please help me, help Jennie by contributing to the Bloggers without Borders #afundforjennie.  You can contribute any amount and 100% of the donations will go directly to Jennie.  Since my donate button is not up and active yet, just go straight to the Bloggers Without Borders site to contribute via your PayPal account, or, you can bid on the lovely prints from my generous husband, Jeff that are up for bid in my previous post.  Either way, you’re going to help 3 wonderful people that really need your help right now.

Thank you so much!

Bloggers without Borders auction to benefit #afundforjennie

This is a very special post to honor a very special person, Jennifer Perillo. You may remember my previous post, In Honor of Mikey, and that Jennie lost her husband Mikey, unexpectedly from a heart attack a few weeks ago.

This tragedy touched my emotions is a very deep way.  That is why I so wanted to help with this fund raising effort to help her.  My blog is about having dinner with your family and friends.  Jennie knows just how important this is…I’d like to quote Jennie, from an article that she wrote for the Food Network, just days after Mikey’s passing.

“As I try to learn a new kind of normal, there will be one constant to keep me going: food. The simple act of slicing some peaches two days after Mikey died gave me a sense of control when my world was lacking it. This is what food and cooking has the power to do.

This is why family dinners are important, and should be something we all strive to make part of our regular routines. It doesn’t require an elaborate or time-intensive meal. All it means is real food, made with real ingredients. Choose a recipe that fits your time frame. Pull out the crock pot if that’s your thing. Make a pot of soup as the nights inevitably grow colder, and you’ll have dinner for at least two meals the coming week. Instead of looking at dinnertime as yet another chore, seize it for the gift it really is — a time to come together as a family and talk about your day, say grace or clink glasses and cherish the moment with each bite.”

I have joined the organization, Bloggers without Borders, that has started a fund raising campaign to help Jennie in her time of need.  You see, she only has health insurance through December and then it will be more than her mortgage and she may have to buy out the mortgage, because it was in Mikey’s name.   She also needs help with many bills that are now hers alone to pay, and she recently found out the she is not eligible for Social Security benefits.  Scary stuff…some of you may have been in a similar situation, and know just what this fund will mean to Jennie and her two young girls.

The blogging community is a group of folks with very big hearts…if you would like to read more about Bloggers without Borders, started by Maggy Keet of Three Many Cooks and Erika Pineda-Ghanny of Ivory Hut, please visit the beautiful new website designed by Irvin of Eat the Love. The #fundforjennie project was started by Jennie’s great friend, Shauna James Ahern of Gluten Free Girl.

I would like to offer for this special auction (2) signed, fine art prints, “Vase of Roses” and “The Window” by my husband, photographer, Jeff Kauck.   They are sepia toned, ink jet prints that measure 13″ x 19″.  The opening bid is $100. for both.  The auction will end Monday night at midnight. If you would like to help Jennie, please bid on these prints in the comment section below.  100% of the proceeds will go directly to Jennie.

When my new blog design is up and running,  there will be a button to donate any amount you might like to give directly to Bloggers without Borders to benefit #afundforjenny through your PayPal account. Till then, if you need something beautiful to hang on your wall, please bid on these prints to help Jennie.

Thank you!!!

CBS Chicago Blogger Contest – I’m so honored to be a finalist!

CBS Chicago’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

I have just heard that Return to Sunday Supper is one of the finalists in CBS/Chicago’s  “Most Valuable Blogger” contest in the Family/Lifestyle category.  Wow!  I entered a few weeks ago and I’m really honored to be one of the finalists.

What this means to me is a validation of the message of my blog.  More and more of you are realizing the importance of eating dinner with your family and friends (without the aid of cell phones and computers).  You are making it special… perhaps by making someone’s favorite dish, or putting a few flowers from your garden on the table or just lingering over dinner, savoring every minute of the conversation.   Or maybe you had to get carry out, but you put it on real plates and used real cutlery and glassware, because you didn’t have time to cook, but you wanted to sit down to a meal with your family.

This blog is not about making fancy dinners, although we all sometimes like to do that for a special occasion.  It’s really about the effort of spending time with your family and friends.  So please, don’t beat yourself up if you have to rely on some prepared food when you are cooking…none of us can make our own pasta, sauce, or salad dressing all of the time,  but we still can add a bit of love and turn it into a good dinner.

The new design of my blog is almost ready and you will (hopefully) see it unveiled this week.  Till then, please validate the message of Return to Sunday Supper by voting…you can vote once a day!

Please click on the link below to vote:

Thank you for voting!!

A Change and A Thank You!

Some big changes will be coming in a few weeks.  The talented Lindsay Landis from Purr Design is improving the layout and design of my blog.  The first big change will be that everyone will be able to see it as it is intended to be viewed no matter which browser you are using. There will be more design surprises to look forward to as well.  One improvement that I am very excited about is the ability for you to easily print the recipes.

Before the changes take place, I would like to thank all of the people who have helped me get my blog to this point.  I really mean it when I say that I could not have done it without them!  That is the reason for this week’s image…these folks are the “wind beneath my wings”.

First and foremost I’d like to thank my husband, Jeff Kauck, who has taken most of the beautiful images on Return to Sunday Supper.  I have taken a few of the pics….but the ones that are truly beautiful, are his.  Thank you, thank you to my best friend and love of my life!Of course, I want to thank my ever so lovely daughter Dana, for her contributions toward the nutritional aspects of the blog.  Nutrition is her passion and it shows…Dana, you are the best!  Thank you!Next, I’d like to give a really big hug to one of my best friends Kate, who nursed me through the initial growing pains of writing the blog.  I’ll never come close to her skill for turning a sentence into sheer beauty, but she inspires me to try.  Thank you, dear Kate!

I’m not extremely tech savvy so I owe much gratitude for the help that I’ve received in this area to Aaron, better known as “the tech angel”.  He is always there to answer questions and offer help.  Thank you so very much, Aaron!

Lastly, I’d like to thank the folks who have contributed their stories to Return to Sunday Supper, making it a richer experience for all.  I’ve laughed and cried while reading so many of your experiences.  I hope to write about so many more of your stories in the coming months so that we can let the world know about the importance of sharing a meal with your family and friends.  Thank you!

Moving forward, I’m committed to making Return to Sunday Supper even better with interesting recipes, more stories and images.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!


In honor of Mikey – Creamy Peanut Butter Pie Recipe

Today,  Jeff and I sent Dana off to Italy with lots of hugs, kisses, and a few tears…a  long goodbye.  We honored her leaving us this way because when you travel you know that you aren’t going to see your loved ones for awhile and you know how much you are going to miss them.  But when you leave to go to work, or to the grocery store for eggs, you don’t say a proper goodbye…you just say “see you tonight…have a good day,” or “I’ll be back in a minute.”

I think that is why the sudden death this week of fellow blogger, Jennifer Perillo’s young husband Mikey has resounded so deeply and affected me in such a big way.  You see, my dear Uncle Jack died suddenly and I didn’t get a chance to say “goodbye” to him.  My beloved father was also taken away from me in an instant and I didn’t get the chance to give him that last big hug and tell him how much I loved him.  I was just left with this jagged big tear in my heart.  My loved ones were gone….and not only was I left without them, I never got to say “goodbye.”

Even though I don’t know them personally, when I read about Mikey, all of this came flooding back to me.  That, and the fact that they have two beautiful, young girls who will now be growing up without their daddy, and daddies are so important to young girls… believe me, I know how important Jeff is to Dana and how important my dad was to me.

I cried for Jennie, and I cried for the girls, and maybe I cried a bit for me too.  I hugged my family closer this week, told them that I loved them more and said “goodbye” with a deeper sense of meaning.

Later in the week, I read this post on Jennie’s blog,  In Jennie’s Kitchen about honoring Mikey by making his favorite pie this Friday.  It was on her list of things to do….but she didn’t get around to it.   How many times do we do this?  We really want to do something special for our family, but life gets in the way…so we put it off till tomorrow and sometimes tomorrow never comes.

Is there a special recipe that your family loves that you haven’t made in awhile?  Maybe for this week’s Sunday supper you can surprise them with that dish, or perhaps make this pie in honor of Mikey.

So, this special post is for Mikey, Jennifer and their two girls…I’m proud to honor you!

The recipe is adapted from Jennie’s site, I had to use a regular pie pan because I didn’t have a spring form pan, other than that, it is true to her recipe for Mikey’s favorite pie.


Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

Yield: Yield: 10-12 servings

Prep Time: 45 min

Cook Time: 10 min

Total Time: 55 min


8 ounces chocolate cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


You can either do the first part of the recipe by hand (as I did) or use a food processor.

Put the cookies into a medium plastic bag, using a rolling pin, roll them until they have become fine crumbs. Or you you can put the cookies into your food processor and pulse them until they are fine crumbs.Put crumbs into a bowl and add the 4 tablespoons of butter and stir till well combined.

Now press the crumbs into your 9 inch spring form pan and 1 inch up the sides, or you can do as I did, and press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of your pie pan.

Next, either melt the chocolate in your microwave or in a double boiler. When the chocolate is melted, pour it over the pressed crumb layer and smooth it out with a small spatula.

Then on top of the chocolate layer, sprinkle on the chopped peanuts. Now pop the pan into the fridge while you work on the remainder of the recipe.

Add the heavy cream to a mixing bowl and using a mixer (either a standing or hand mixer) and beat until it forms stiff peaks. Put the whipped cream into another bowl and put it into your fridge for later use.

In a mixing bowl, add cream cheese and peanut butter. Beat, using the medium setting till mixture is light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and gradually add the confectioner's sugar. Then add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and sweetened condensed milk. Increase the speed of the blender to medium and beat until your mixture is well combined and smooth.

Remove the whipped cream from the fridge and gently stir about 1/3 into the filling mixture (doing this will help lighten the batter so that it will be easier to add the remaining whipped cream). Gently fold in the remainder of the whipped cream.

Remove your prepared pan from the fridge and pour the filling into the pan. Next it's time to add the garnish if you like. I used some of the chopped nuts and the semi-sweet chocolate morsels, but Jennie also suggested you drizzle some melted chocolate of the top.

Pop the pan back in the fridge and let chill for at least 3 hours or even overnight before serving.

Enjoy!  This week, please do as Jennie suggests “share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.”