I had the pleasure of meeting my Mother-in-Laws family yesterday.  Even though Tony and I have been married almost 10 years, it was the first time meeting 80% of the people who were at the reunion yesterday!  My MIL is the matriarch of the family, having six younger brothers!

me and my mother-in-law Bonnie 😀

I am very lucky, because I love my mother-in-law.  The first time I met her, Tony and I had been dating a few months.  I walked into her kitchen and she was cooking dinner and food became our first common interest – and she is a wonderful cook.  Two of her most famous things to make are pumpkin and banana bread – she actually uses the bananas she grows in her backyard.  My grand nephew tried to take the banana bread with him, but Tony quickly hid it because he wanted it!

I need to get her recipe - my bread never rises that tall

Lake Geneva is only an hour drive from our house.  While we thought earlier in the week it might rain, it never did – it was a gorgeous day!

The house they rented was really nice.  Think more like a hotel, where everyone has their own room and bathroom, with a common area to gather in that had sofas, tables, coffee maker, dishwasher, refrigerator, etc.

And a pretty front door:

And each unit had their own private patio that looked out to Lake Como:

Hannah and my great nephew Sean spent a lot of time at the pool:

A bunch of us went to the resort’s bar to watch the White Sox game – sadly, they lost.  It was kind of pricey too – $4 for a Miller Lite!

They have bands in the afternoon and pretty soon the place was packed outside – even boats tied up to listen to the music (the band actually sucked in our opinion – at one point I think we heard the same song for the 5th time!)

Lake Como is a shallow lake, that's why it looks green all the time

The resort also had a private patio just for the family to use:

It was right next to the grill where I reheated the Italian sausage I had already cooked at home:

And Tequila Lime Chicken Wings:

Tequila Lime Chicken (per 2 pounds of wings) (printer friendly version here)

  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice (about 6 limes)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno, no seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 pounds chicken wings

Combine all the ingredients in a ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight.  Grill for approximately 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your wings.

I also made crock pot baked beans.  I did a test run of this last week at Meatfest 2010, the only difference I did in this recipe was use my own barbecue sauce, and switched out the kidney beans for black beans.

Crock Pot Baked Beans (printer friendly version here)

Makes 15 servings (3/4 cup: 403 calories, 11.7 fat, 53.5 carbs, 10.2 fiber and 21.7 protein)


4 cups butter beans
4 cups black beans
2 cups barbecue sauce
1 pound Italian sausage, diced
2 ounces of bacon, six slices chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Heat dutch oven to medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove to paper towel. Add Italian sausage and cook until no longer pink.
  2. Remove to paper towel with bacon. Remove all but a bit of the fat and add the garlic and cook until slightly browned.
  3. Add bacon, garlic and sausage to crock pot. Using two 28 ounce cans of butter beans, do not drain and add to crock pot.
  4. Using two 28 ounce cans of black beans, rinse well and add to crock pot. Add barbecue sauce, mustard, salt and pepper and stir well.
  5. Cook either low and slow all day, or on 4 hours if you are in a hurry.

Sadly, I forgot to take a picture and I stole one from the internet – it looks something similar to this, just think black beans instead of kidney beans!

As I was packing the car yesterday, I kept checking off stuff on my list: fruit tray, veggie tray, dips for both of those, deli try, condiments, etc.  As we pulled away I told Tony that I had a nagging feeling that I was forgetting something.  He’s like “did you pack the crock pots?”  Check.  “Did you bring tongs for the grill?”  Check.  It wasn’t until we were unpacking when we got there that I remembered I forgot the dips!

And this fruit dip is so simple and good – another one of my MIL’s recipes:

Vanilla Fruit Dip (printer friendly version here)(you don’t want to know the calories)

  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 6 ounces (1/2 a can) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 four ounce package instant vanilla pudding

Mix all things together well and refrigerate overnight.

I love this dip because its not overly sweet and I love the tang of the sour cream.  I did use reduced fat sour cream though.  Still mad I forgot to bring the dips!

At one family reunion, one brother wore an extremely ugly hat and that year the ugly/funny hat tradition was born.  My Uncle Bob chose this one, which I thought was hilarious:

It wasn’t until I downloaded my pictures is that I realized I hardly took any pictures of the family!  But my main concern was to make sure my MIL wouldn’t have to think about anything and enjoy spending time with her brothers and their spouses.  They truly enjoy each others company and it was a joy to hear the laughter from their get together.

We left as the sun was setting.  Everything went well and the food worked out great.  I hope they enjoy the rest of their week together and it was nice meeting you all!