What’s the best way to roast a Thanksgiving turkey?

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: November 25, 2015


The best way to roast a turkey? Let the debate begin
Your dad does the best grilled turkey. Only way to do it, you swear. Wait, what about granny’s cornbread-stuffed bird, roasted bronze and filling the entire house with a delicious perfume?

Let’s be honest: There are, perhaps, more “best” or “perfect” turkey prep methods on this planet than there are turkeys at any one time: Smoked. Deep-fried. Braised. Butterflied. Poached, sous-vide style, in a vacuum-sealed bag.

And, of course, the classic roasted.

Yet even that preparation is open to interpretation. And arguments. To stuff or not to stuff. To baste or not. Though the big bird has long dominated Thanksgiving tables, cooks everywhere are still searching for the perfect method.

Here’s our argument: They all work. So pick the one you like and ignore Uncle Fred.

We can help. Whether you’ve never roasted a turkey, or are looking to change the way you roast it, we’ve got five popular methods along with a few things you need to know to master each. Just thaw the bird (in the refrigerator, with a pan underneath), roast to 165 degrees internal temperature then let it rest about 30 minutes to distribute its juices.

Maybe you’ll quiet the turkey debate and go back to arguing the merits of fresh vs. canned cranberry relish.

Under the skin
Tucking stuffing under the skin helps keep the meat moist and adds flavor. (Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune)
Now, please could you pass the gravy.

High-temperature roasting

Simple, no-fuss approach. This recipe is from Ruth Reichl’s new “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life” (Random House, $35).

High-heat turkey: Heat your extremely clean oven to 450 degrees. Rinse and dry a 16-pound turkey and bring it to room temperature. Put it on a rack in a roasting pan, add a cup of water, put it in the oven, and forget about it for an hour. Rotate the pan, make sure there’s still about a cup of water in the bottom (if not, add more), and cook for another hour and a quarter to an hour and a half, until a thermometer in the thigh registers 170 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the turkey to rest for half an hour before carving. That’s all there is to it. Really.

Key: Oven must be perfectly clean; old drippings and spatters can produce lots of smoke. Use turkey as close to 16 pounds as possible. Be sure it is completely thawed.

Crispy skin
The stuffing helps crisp the skin because the pork-based stuffing bathes it in fat during roasting. (Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune)
Getting under the skin

Butter, herbs or even stuffing, is tucked under the skin. This method puts moisture plus flavor on the breast meat which can become dry during roasting. Also helps with crisping skin.

Starting at the neck opening, slide your hand under the breast skin. Gently separate skin from the meat, reaching all across both halves. Stuff with softened butter to which you’ve added chopped fresh herbs, minced garlic, spices, etc. Or tuck in some of your favorite stuffing; one with a fatty meat to moisten the bird is best. Want a recipe? We like one from British chef and TV cooking show star Jamie Oliver (see below).

Key: Work carefully to loosen the skin to avoid poking holes in it. Distribute mixture as evenly as possible.


Makes for a juicy, flavorful bird. And you can choose a brine (salt-water mixture) with flavors you like.

Be sure time is on your side. Skip the store-bought brines: You have everything in your kitchen to make your own. Figure 1/4 cup salt for every quart of water, then add a liberal amount of seasonings. We like this bourbon brine from Tribune Newspapers columnist JeanMarie Brownson: In a large food-safe plastic bucket or container, dissolve 1 cup dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup coarse salt in 2 cups very hot water. Stir in 2 cups cold water, 1/2 cup bourbon and 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes. Put the turkey in the brine. Add enough cool water to completely immerse the turkey. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Key: Bird must be completely thawed before brining begins. Always soak bird in brine in the refrigerator; some recipes brine overnight, others suggest 12 hours. Discard brining liquid. Pat bird very dry before roasting. Brining will increase saltiness of pan juices.

Don’t stuff it

The bird will roast faster, saving you 30-45 minutes roasting time. And you need not worry about food safety issues that may arise with temperature variations between the stuffing and bird.

Fill the cavity with herbs (sage, thyme, parsley) plus wedges of onions, oranges and apples. Place bird on a rack in a roasting pan and roast at 325 degrees, 15 minutes per pound.

Forget basting

Regularly basting a bird with butter or pan juices is time consuming and annoying and lowers the oven temperature every time you open that door.

You can still get bronzed skin by liberally applying fat (often butter) to breast and legs before roasting. We like this trick: Soak a double layer of cheesecloth (large enough to cover breast and legs) in melted butter then drape it over bird for first hour of roasting before removing to finish roasting. Make sure bird sits low enough in oven so cloth does not touch oven’s top coil.

Key: Browning too fast? Cover with foil to continue roasting to the required temperature.

Roast turkey with herby pork and apricot stuffing

Prep: 1 hour

Cook: 3 hours and 40 minutes plus cooling and resting time

Makes: 8 servings

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “Cook With Jamie.”

Olive oil

1 sprig fresh sage, leaves picked

6 strips pancetta or thinly sliced bacon

1 bulb garlic, broken into cloves

4 medium red onions, peeled

2 ribs celery, trimmed, chopped

1 big handful breadcrumbs

1 handful dried apricots

10 ounces ground pork

Zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of grated nutmeg

1 large egg

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 small sprigs fresh rosemary, plus a few extra

12-pound turkey, at room temperature

2 carrots, peeled

1 large orange

2 tablespoons plain flour

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock

1 Heat the oven to maximum. Heat a saucepan until medium hot and add a splash of olive oil, sage leaves and the pancetta or bacon. Peel and chop 2 garlic cloves and 1 onion. Add garlic, celery and onion to saucepan and fry everything gently until soft and golden brown. Take the pan off the heat, add the breadcrumbs and, while the mix is cooling down, chop the apricots roughly and stir them in. When the stuffing has cooled down, add the pork, lemon zest, nutmeg, egg and lots of salt and pepper, and mix everything together well.

2 Chop remaining onions in half and slice carrots thickly. Give turkey a good wipe, inside and out, with paper towels, and place it on a board, with the neck end toward you. Find the edge of the skin that’s covering the turkey’s breasts and gently peel it back. Work your fingers and then your hand under the skin, freeing it from the meat. If you’re careful you should be able to pull all the skin away from the meat, keeping it attached at the sides. Go slowly and try not to make any holes. Lift the loose skin at the neck end and spoon the stuffing between the skin and the breast, tucking the flap of skin underneath to stop anything leaking out. Pop the orange in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm it up and stuff it into the cavity. Weigh the stuffed turkey and calculate the cooking time (about 15 minutes per 1 pound).

4 Place the bird on a large roasting pan, rub it all over with olive oil and season well. Surround with the chopped carrots, onions and remaining garlic, cover with tinfoil and place in the oven. Turn the heat down right away to 350 degrees, and roast until the juices run clear from the thigh if you pierce it with a knife or a skewer. Remove the tinfoil for the last 45 minutes to brown the bird.

5 Carefully transfer the bird to a cutting board and loosely cover with foil; allow to rest, at least 1 hour. When the resting time’s nearly up, skim the surface fat from the roasting pan and add the flour and stock. Place the tray on the stovetop and bring to a boil on a high heat. When the gravy starts to thicken, strain it into a bowl. Carve your turkey, serve with the gravy and dig in!

Source: Judy Hevrdejs; Chicago Tribune, November 25th 2015

Algonquin Ranked in ‘Best Small Cities’ Report

Categories: New Homes Chicago | Posted: November 6, 2015

downtown algonquin
City dwellers looking to make the move from Chicago to a smaller city may only have to look as far as the suburbs.

Northwest suburban Algonquin was ranked among the best small cities in the country based on quality of life and affordable living costs, according to a report from the personal finance website WalletHub.

Among 1,268 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000, Algonquin was ranked 25th. Some of the factors in the study included housing costs, cost of living, unemployment rate, income growth, population growth, quality of school systems, average commute time and the number of restaurants and coffee shops in the city.

The top-rated small city in the country is Princeton, New Jersey, according to WalletHub. Although Princeton ranks first in “economic health” and seventh in “education and health,” it falls drastically short in the “affordability” rank at No. 1,144.

Source:NBC Chicago, Colleen Connelly, November 3rd 2015

Madison is Among The Top Cities Where Millennials Are Taking Over the Housing Market

Categories: New Homes Madison | Posted: October 1, 2015

millenials in housing market
The Cities Where Millennials Are Taking Over the Housing Market-Hint: Not in the most expensive cities.

Millennials are dominating the Des Moines housing market. That’s an odd piece of information that seems a little less odd—and a little more important—the longer you ponder it.

Roughly 60 percent of borrowers who used a mortgage to buy a home in Iowa’s capital city during the first half of 2015 were aged 25 to 34, according to data from That compares with a national average of 37 percent, and makes Des Moines the most millennial-friendly city in the U.S. Here’s the rest of the top 10.
mad blog

Most of those cities don’t enjoy reputations for being particularly hip. What they are, generally, is cheap—and probably a little hipper than they get credit for. That makes a difference as young homebuyers finally shake off the effects of the recession and enter the housing market.

Historically, people 25-34 have made up the largest share of homebuyers, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for (More specifically, Smoke cited data that showed the age cohort is the most likely to take out a mortgage to buy a home, rather than to refinance.) The explanation is straightforward. People in their early 20s are less likely to be ready to buy, and people past their mid-30s are more likely to have already bought.

The millennial generation has bucked that trend, for reasons that have been cause for disagreement and consternation. Slow wage growth, student loan debt, a preference for city living, and a tendency to start families later have all been posited as reasons millennials have been slower to buy than previous generations.

The new findings may lower some of the alarm about first-time homebuyers. Thirty-seven percent of mortgage borrowers who bought homes were millennials, up from 31 percent in 2014. A survey conducted by, meanwhile, found the most common reason millennials decided to buy homes this year was that they were making more money.
madison blog

It helps that it costs a lot less to buy in Des Moines, where the median listing price in August was $218,000. (In San Francisco, it was $738,000.) But it’s also easy to forget that there are attractive jobs in all kinds of places—about half of jobs in science, tech, engineering, and math are located in the 20 biggest U.S. metros. The rest are in places like Huntsville, Ala., and Lincoln, Neb., cities that offer the appeal of lower costs of living. “It’s so 2012 to say young people are doing miserably,” said Smoke. “This age cohort is benefiting from the kind of economy and job growth we’ve been having.”

Source: Bloomberg Business; Patrick Clark September 28, 2015

Verona Fest 2015

Categories: New Homes Madison | Posted: September 25, 2015

verona fest
What is Verona Fest?

The 6th annual Ice Arena Fundraiser “Verona Fest” at the rink in will take place Saturday, September 26th 2015. The event was started to help the arena’s financial trouble; it was such a huge success and so much fun; we want to do it every year! There will be Bounce Houses, Inflatables, Games, Auction/Raffle, Badger FB Viewing Party,
& 3v3 Youth Hockey Tournament!

Verona Fest will be full of activities that should entertain all ages. The event date is moved this year to the fall to help kick off the start of hockey season in Verona!

The event is again hosted by Ice Inc. (volunteer group for arena operations), Verona Youth hockey, Ice Spirit Girls Hockey, & the Wildcat High School Hockey program.

We are very proud of the facility that we call home. Like any nonprofit group, the Ice Inc operates on a very tight budget. We are currently seeking sponsorship to help fund increasing day-to-day operating costs and much needed upgrades to the facility.
All donations are tax-deductible contributions. There are multiple levels of financial and non-financial support options ensuring that any size business or family can be a part of this historic weekend. Sponsorship information is included, as this would be an excellent opportunity for you to participate in helping hundreds of kids to skate at Verona’s “hometown” Ice Arena.
Thank you for your time; hope to see you at Verona Fest

Source: Mike O’Brien: President, Ice Inc. Board Joel Marshall: Executive Director, Eagles Nest Ice Arena

District 301 Offers Great Schools for Highland Woods Residents

Categories: New Homes Chicago | Posted: September 22, 2015

country trails
District 301 Offers Great Schools for Highland Woods Residents

School is in session! That’s great news for residents of Highland Woods! Children in Highland Woods are fortunate to attend the schools of the highly rated Central Community School District #301. Check out more information about the schools below!

Country Trails Elementary School
This great school is right within the community of Highland Woods, so children have a short commute or can even walk to school! The new school, opened in 2007, is constantly earning awards, including the 2012 Academic Excellence award from the state of Illinois, with over 90% of students meeting or exceeding standards on the ISAT.
Keep current by checking in on their website.

Prairie Knolls Middle School (6th and 7th Grade)
Academics are highly rated at Prairie Knolls, with average test scores in the 90th percentile in the state. The school also provides a variety of sports, including basketball, football, cheerleading, volleyball and wrestling, and music activities like orchestra, jazz ensemble, band, chorus and more for any interest area.

Central Middle School (8th Grade)
The goal of Central Middle School is an enjoyable, motivational learning environment that promotes respect for all members. The school prides itself in communicating with students and parents, maintaining high expectations, promoting college and career readiness, and engaging an enjoyable learning environment. The school offers activities and sports for all interests.

Central High School
The school lives its mission to provide quality education within a nurturing environment which enables all students to become life-long learners who strive for excellence and who are responsible contributors to our ever changing global society. At Central High School, your high school aged children will love being Rockets. The dedicated teachers and staff provide a quality education, and the school offers several clubs, sports, and activities for all students.

Keep current by checking in on the #301 website.

Source: Crown Community Development -August 2015

Doors Open Milwaukee in Historic Downtown Happening this Weekend

Categories: New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: September 18, 2015

milwaukee bus tour

Saturday, September 19th and Sunday, September 20th, 2015 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

DOORS OPEN MILWAUKEE is Historic Milwaukee’s most ambitious project. As a nonprofit organization, Historic Milwaukee, Inc. has been dedicated to increasing awareness of and commitment to Milwaukee’s history, architecture, and the preservation of our built environment through education and advocacy since 1974.
The fifth annual DOORS OPEN MILWAUKEE event will open the doors to over 150 wonderful buildings free-of-charge to the public –buildings that hold hidden treasures and special stories – from churches to office buildings, theaters to work sites, museums to hotels, clubs to universities; all sites of historic, architectural, cultural, or commercial interest.

The event has two major components: 1) design your own itinerary to visit over 150 buildings that will open their doors (often with guided tours, no tickets necessary); 2) join one or more in-depth tours that are ticketed (find details under the “Event Guide – In-Depth Tours” section of this website).

Doors Open Milwaukee is turning five years old. With more than ever to see this year, we pulled out all the stops and had our friends at SRH Marketing create this amazing video to give you a sneak peek!

Over 150 Buildings In-Depth Tours Public Tours

U.S. Army Corporal Jesse Murphree to receive keys to custom-built home at ‘WELCOME HOME’ Celebration Event on Sept. 12, 2015

Categories: Giving Back, New Homes Tampa | Posted: September 11, 2015

Afghanistan veteran U.S. Army Corporal Jesse Murphree and family will receive the keys to their new custom-built home in our Lago Del Rey community on Saturday at the 10:00 AM dedication ceremony. Tampa builder William Ryan Homes joined forces with the non-profit Building Homes For Heroes to lead the project’s building efforts. This year, William Ryan Homes has served as the lead sponsor for not only this home, but also a second to be completed by year’s end. Read the rest of this entry »

Why White Kitchens Stand the Test of Time

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, Uncategorized | Posted: August 23, 2015

006_Kitchen 1
Kitchen fads come and go (RIP, avocado and harvest gold), but when it comes to enduring value, the white kitchen is champ. Here’s why.

A white kitchen lets you put personal touches — artwork, accent colors, accessories — on display.

If you’re ready for a major kitchen remodel, then you’re about to drop some serious cash. The “Cost vs. Value Report” from “Remodeling” magazine says the average kitchen redo closes in on $57,000.

So how do you keep your expensive new kitchen from being the leisure suit of design, with an ROI that disappears faster than sour milk down a sink drain?

Two words: white kitchen.

“White has stood the test of time because it’s clean and fresh,” says award-winning designer Mick de Giulio, of de Giulio Kitchen Design in Wilmette, Ill. “And those two words — clean and fresh — are classic words for describing a great kitchen. There isn’t a better way to approach design.”

Roll back a few years to get a handle on white’s popularity. In the 1920s and ‘30s, white was about the only color offered by manufacturers. To paraphrase Henry Ford, you could have your choice of any color at all, as long as it was white.

That made sense. White was associated with sanitation and health, and to a population not far removed from a deadly worldwide flu epidemic, household cleanliness was all-important.

Times have changed, but white’s healthy glow endures. Dirt just can’t hide in an all-white kitchen.

White is Marketable

Since it began keeping records, the Home Appliance Manufacturers Association says white appliances have outsold all other colors.

Ditto cabinets. White regularly tops the list of the most popular kitchen colors in the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s annual survey. For 2013, 67% of respondents said that white was their first choice for cabinetry. It simply refuses to go out of style.

That’s good news when it comes time to sell your house. White’s universal simple beauty takes the worry out of marketability.

It Feels Good
Color therapists tout white’s positive vibes — it represents happiness, innocence, and purity.
As the brightest color, it reflects light and makes even small kitchens feel spacious.

White Has Inner Beauty

Think of white cabinets as monochromatic? Not so. Cabinet doors and trims create shadow details and layers of contrast that give white depth and lasting architectural interest.

It’s the ultimate neutral — every color looks great paired with white. Light fixtures, cabinet hardware, and tile accents come alive.

“It’s a great easel to build upon,” says de Giulio. “Artwork and accessories explode in a kitchen that’s white.”

It’s the Ultimate Design Tool

White is a charming shape-shifter, able to morph into any kitchen style.

“It’s popular with traditional, contemporary, and transitional clients,” says Jamie Gold of Jamie Gold Kitchen and Bath in Bonita, Calif., who consults for building professionals on kitchen trends.

And because it’s a standard color for any manufacturer, it’s your ally: You’ll find white cabinets, tile, counters, faucets, sinks, and appliances to fit any budget.

It Lets You Be You

Snowy cabinets, countertops, and appliances are the perfect backdrop for your favorite colors. Paint walls, add color on open shelves; all that stuff is easy to change out when your mood flips or fashion dictates.

You’ve Got Options

Appliances: Although stainless steel has been the finish of choice for more than a decade, white appliances are dominating again.

Manufacturers have responded by introducing variations of white, such as polished enamel that looks like white glass.

Or you could get rid of appliances altogether, concealing them with panels that match your cabinet door style. First, choose appliances that accept decorative overlay panels, then order the panels from your cabinet manufacturer.

Countertops: If you want to go white, you can’t go wrong with Carrara or Calcutta marble. It’s been looking great in homes for thousands of years; it’ll look good in yours.

Alternatives include:
Solid-surface and quartz-type countertops come in dazzling whites.
White laminates will save you 50% over stone and solid surface countertops.
Want one-of-a-kind? Unique white concrete is the choice of high-end architects and designers.

Cabinets: White cabinets come in every style, material, and price point imaginable. You’ll find them off-the-shelf at big-box home improvement centers, and at custom cabinet shops.

Should Everything Be White?

Not at all.

“You can have stainless steel appliances or even black in a white kitchen,” says Alan Zielinski, past president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and owner of Better Kitchens in Niles, Ill. “The key is keeping everything in balance. You don’t want an oversized, non-white appliance to become this big punctuation mark in the middle of your kitchen. Scale your choices carefully so white predominates.”

You can mix in other finishes, too, especially time-honored neutrals:
Wood is a great companion for white. Wood flooring or wood butcher-block island countertops are top mixers.

Glass feels clean and gives a white kitchen pop without adding color. Glass-front upper cabinets are winners.
Stainless steel is color-neutral, but add it carefully. Today’s kitchens are open to living areas, so you don’t want to create an uncozy look. But a stainless range hood or pot rack adds a dash of glam that pairs well with white.

What are White’s Drawbacks?

“I can’t think of one bad thing,” says de Giulio.

Source: John Riha HouseLogic

Algonquin Library to host 2nd annual storytelling festival

Categories: New Homes Chicago | Posted: August 19, 2015

story telling

ALGONQUIN – An upcoming storytelling festival in Algonquin will provide stories, music and history for people of all ages.
The second annual Fox Tales Storytelling Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 30 at Algonquin’s Main Library, 2600 Harnish Drive, Algonquin, according to a release from the Algonquin Area Public Library District.

Attendees will hear from storytellers Paddy Lynn, Sandi Sylver, Linda Gorham and Megan Wells – some of whom have local ties. The festival will include music from Susan Salidor, Bill Robinson, Hanes & O’Meara, and The Frothy Boys, the release said.

Local historical societies and living history reenactors also will be there to share some of McHenry County’s history. The James Bus will be on site, courtesy of the McHenry County Historical Society.

The free program is being held in cooperation with the Lake in the Hills Parks and Recreation Department, the Algonquin Area Public Library, and the Algonquin Events and Recreation Department.

Source: Northwest Herald by -Allison Goodrich

4 Reasons to Buy a Home Now

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: August 10, 2015

blog aug 9
Is it still a good time to put your money in real estate? Here are four reasons why it might be a good idea:

Interest Rates Are Low
“Interest rates have been creeping up, but they’re still extremely low,” said Svenja Gudell, senior director of economic research at Zillow. Right now, mortgage rates across the nation are at about 4%. Gudell believes the Federal Reserve will begin raising short-term interest rates by the end of the year, but she expects them to stay relatively low.

According to Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree, this historically-low interest rate environment can provide a compelling reason to lock into a real estate investment.
“At some point we’ll look back and say ‘wow, rates were really low,’” he said.

Home Prices Are Stabilizing
The latest S&P Case Shiller home price index shows prices increased less than analysts expected in May, but are still up almost 5% year-over-year, for residential real estate in 20 metropolitan regions across the U.S.
Some hot markets, like New York and San Francisco, are seeing record-high prices and bidding wars due to low inventory. But Lebda says builder confidence is growing, and as new homes are added to the market, price appreciation will slow down.
“Builders are buying big swaths of land and building homes, so supply will come up,” he said.
James Zboril, president of Tavistock Development Company, is one of those developers adding to the country’s housing supply. Zboril says his firm is on track to sell 475 new homes this year in the Lake Nona development near Orlando, Florida.
And in Manhattan, Leslie French, founder and CEO of East Egg Realty in New York, says while she’s seen record high prices, “new condos have been entering the market and there are many more slated for 2016, which should create a better balance between supply and demand, possibly slowing the rise in home prices.”

Owning Is Cheaper Than Renting
Zillow’s Gudell says buying is more affordable than renting. In fact, she says home buyers are spending about 15% of their monthly income on their mortgage payment, while renters are spending 30%.
“Currently, homebuyers can breakeven on a home purchase in two years or less in 23 of the top 35 housing markets,” she said.
Of course, there are barriers to owning, including difficulty saving for a down payment, especially with higher rents, Gudell said.

It’s Easier to Get a Mortgage
Lebda says financing is getting easier as lenders are taking on more risk than they had been following the financial crisis. He said while the average down payment is 15% of the purchase price, there are new rules that allow some people to buy with a down payment as low as 3%.
According to Holden Lewis, senior mortgage analyst at in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, deciding whether it’s a good time to buy is personal.
“It’s not unsafe like it was in 2004 or 2005,” he said. “It has more to do with whether a person is ready and whether or not their job is secure.”

Source: Fox Business July 29th 2015 Kristin Bianco is a financial news anchor and contributor

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