St Patrick’s Day is just around the corner!

Many people think everyone in South Bend is Irish, since Notre Dame is known as the Fighting Irish. Well, I don’t know about the rest of the year, but of course we’re all Irish for St. Patrick’s Day!

South Bend hosts many festive events that weekend, including the annual St. Paddy’s Tent Party, to be held this year on Friday, March 12. Then on Saturday, March 13, we have a big parade that ends with the Greening of the East Race.

We have some great Irish pubs in town, including Fiddler’s Hearth, just a few minutes’ walk from the Inn. Start making your plans to come and spend St. Patrick’s Day weekend here in South Bend. It’s only a couple weeks away!

German Pancakes

If you are looking for a way to wow your family for a fun breakfast, this recipe for German Pancakes is just the thing.

2 tblsp. melted butter
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
½ tsp. salt

Coat a large oven proof  frying pan or a 9×13 baking pan with the melted butter. (If you prefer, you can use 6-8 small ovenproof dishes to make individual serving-size pancakes.)

Combine the remaining ingredients, whisking hard until frothy or using a blender. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake at 400 for about 20 min., until puffy.

For toppings, you may want to saute sliced apples or peaches (fresh or frozen) with cinnamon and butter, or use sliced fresh strawberries. Whipped cream adds a fancy touch. The pancakes are also delicious served simply with warm maple syrup.

Let me know how these turn out and what toppings your family likes.

Flowers in Winter!

People love to get flowers. And not just on the special days–Valentine’s Day, anniversary, birthday… Flowers are always a nice surprise. Flowers are a great way to tell your special someone, “I love you; I’m thinking of you.”

Here we are, in the middle of a long, snowy winter. Maybe a sunny bouquet is just what your wife needs to brighten her day. Or ladies, perhaps you can do a turnaround and get your husband a rose or a few beautiful flowers from the store you’re shopping at today.

Some of our most popular packages at the Inn include flowers. It’s always fun to see the reactions of the one being surprised with flowers as a special treat. Just remember, it’s always a good day to bring someone flowers!

Lime Salmon

The weekend is coming to an end, and maybe you are thinking about dinner plans for the week ahead. Here is an easy, healthy dinner recipe. The first time I made this recipe for a private dinner party, it got rave reviews. Sometimes simple can be as wonderful as a meal that takes hours to prepare.

Lime Salmon

salmon filets
salt and pepper
4 tblsp. butter
one lime

Season filets with salt and pepper. Melt butter and add the juice of the lime along with the zest. Grill or sautee the salmon on one side and then turn over and brush with the lime butter. Once the salmon is done, brush with more lime butter.

Very easy and so tasty. Serve with some steamed vegetables and a maybe a baked sweet potato and a salad, and dinner is ready!

Relaxing Mornings

A relaxing morning breakfast at The Oliver Inn

A relaxing morning breakfast at The Oliver Inn

Would you use the words “calm” and “relaxing” to describe your typical breakfast? Probably not. We wake up and hit the snooze button, then race around trying to get everyone in the house out the door on time for work or school, and our day starts with a flourish.

Here at The Oliver Inn one of our goals is to help our guests escape the normal morning frenzy. Our dining room table is set with china and lace and beautiful silver candelabras. The grand piano in the library plays soothing music while guests enjoy a gourmet breakfast. In the winter months, there’s a fire going. And the final touch—no clocks in the dining room.

We would love to welcome you to our morning oasis sometime. But if you can’t come to the Inn, why not recreate your own version of a quiet breakast? Turn on soothing music—maybe the radio, a favorite CD, or your iPod. Light some candles and build in a little extra time. It could make all the difference in the rest of your day!

Sausage Gravy and Heart Shaped Biscuits

The weekend is coming! Time to start planning some romantic surprises. I know weekends can easily be swallowed up with errands and projects, but try to add an extra hour in the morning to relax and spend some quiet time with your sweetie. You won’t miss that hour later in the day. Maybe serve breakfast in bed—or if that’s too ambitious, how about a cup of coffee or tea?

Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, heart-shaped biscuits and gravy make a romantic breakfast any time. Here’s my favorite recipe for Sausage Gravy. Make your own biscuits either from scratch or from a mix, and cut them out with a heart-shaped cookie cutter—or just use the ones that come in a can. (You can still cut them into heart shapes!)

Sausage Gravy

½ lb. breakfast sausage
1/2 stick margarine
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
good dash of Tabasco

Brown sausage and cook until crumbly. Drain and set aside.

Melt margarine and add flour. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on medium until the gravy thickens.

Add the sausage and serve over warm biscuits.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Do you love chocolate dipped strawberries? They’re incredibly easy to make, and you can surprise your loved ones with a treat that will make them feel very special. If you have small children they may want to help.

Combine 1 cup (6 oz.) chocolate chips (I like to use dark chocolate) with 1 tablespoon of solid shortening, like Crisco, in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for one minute, then stir until smooth. If the chips aren’t quite melted, heat the mixture for an additional 15 seconds at a time. Dip clean, dry strawberries in the chocolate and lay them on a sheet of wax paper until set. If you’re in a hurry, you can put them in the refrigerator to help them set faster.

You can dip other things besides strawberries, too–like pretzels, cookies, or other kinds of fruit. Be creative. And be sure to let me know how it turns out!

So much to do in South Bend!

Are the never-ending snowflakes getting you down? The dreariness of winter’s cold and snow and clouds? Do you need to get away and get out and do something fun? Look no further than South Bend! We have so much going on here that there’s a special Web site to cover it all. Visit ArtsEverywhere.com to see what’s going on the weekend you want to visit. Or plan your visit around a special event that interests you. Don’t forget to check out the eSavers link for special discount offers. You’ll find plays and concerts, symphonies, great dining, and of course a great bed and breakfast ready and waiting to pamper you. Most of the events in town are within walking distance of the Inn, so you can “go green” even in the dead of winter!

Fresh Baked Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite treats to make for guests is fresh baked cinnamon rolls. I found a good recipe years ago and have been making it ever since. Recently I came across a slightly different version and thought about trying it. You know how I love to try new recipes! But when I mentioned it to my son, he said, “Mom, why bother? Your cinnamon rolls are already the best.”

A nice thing about this recipe is that it’s very versatile. Making the rolls from start to finish takes about three hours, including rising time. But you can let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator, either before or after shaping the rolls, to save time in the morning. It’s a great way to greet your family with fresh, hot cinnamon rolls without having to get up too early. It’s also great for company, since you can do some of the work ahead of time. I hope you’ll give these cinnamon rolls a try—or come visit us at the Inn, and I’ll make them for you!

Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12

1 pkg. yeast
3 tblsp. sugar, divided
1/2 cup warm water
2 tblsp. butter, melted
½ cup milk
pinch of salt
1 egg
3–3¼ cups flour

Filling
1½ tblsp. melted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Glaze
1¼ cup powdered sugar
2 tblsp. melted butter
2 tblsp. milk

Proof yeast with 1 tblsp. of sugar in ½ cup of warm water for 5 minutes. Combine melted butter, milk, salt, and remaining 2 tblsp. sugar in a saucepan and heat until lukewarm. Stir into yeast mixture along with the egg and 3 cups of flour. Knead in remaining flour as necessary.

Let rise 45 min. to 1 hour in a warm place (or overnight in the refrigerator).

Roll dough into a 9×12 rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up dough and cut into 12 slices. Place cut side up in a greased 9×13 pan and let rise 1 hour in a warm place (or overnight in the refrigerator).

Bake at 400° for 16–18 min. Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over warm

Lamb Chops

Today I have a great dinner recipe for you—for Valentine’s Day or any day of the year. As much as we love cooking for each other, Tom and I are often too busy to make fancy dinners. But we try at least once a week to make time for an exceptional meal and a few relaxing minutes in our crazy life.

Rack of lamb of is always a treat. This recipe, which I created by combining a couple of ideas, works well with the nice loin lamb chops you often find at the store these days. The marinade is very flavorful and can even be used on a leg of lamb. If you’ve never cooked lamb, try this recipe. Lamb may just become one of your favorite dishes.

Grilled Lamb Chops
4 servings

2 lbs. lamb (either rack or loin lamb chops)
1 cup oil
½ cup minced garlic
2 tblsp. fresh chopped rosemary
2 tblsp. fresh chopped thyme

Mix together all ingredients except the lamb. Marinate the lamb in the mixture for 2–24 hours. Wipe off excess marinade and grill the lamb chops until desired doneness. If using rack of lamb, grill or brown both sides in a skillet, transfer to a roasting pan, and place in the oven at 350° until desired doneness.