Heights native exhibits artworks at Moraine Valley ‘Vestiges’ show

  • Written by Kari Nelson

JS pic 1In the print “This Could Really Happen,” Justin Santora explores the conflict between nature and manmade structures, a theme that is common to his work. Submitted photo.

Artwork by Palos Heights native Justin Santora will be on JS pic 2Justin Santora is well known for his prints promoting musical acts, from well-known rockers like Phish (right) to local bands struggling to make a name for themselves. Submitted photo.display from Monday, Feb. 10, through Saturday, March 8, at the Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery at Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills.
The “Vestiges” exhibit will include about two dozen prints, according to Santora, a 2002 graduate of Stagg High School who later graduated Northeastern Illinois University.
A reception for the exhibit is set for 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20. Santora will speak at 3 p.m.
Santora’s work “represents a universal struggle: the want to stay young, avoiding the conventions of adulthood with the desire for control over one’s life. It seems in our world these two ideas are often at odds with one another. His work uses themes of construction and disassembly to relate to his pursuit for security and his desire for autonomy.”

broaden your horizons

  • Written by Jackie Santora

This week

Rock, gem
and jewelry show

  Moksha Imports’ Holiday Rock, Gem and Jewelry show will be held this Saturday and Sunday, April 12 and 13, from noon to 4 p.m., at Tranzformation, 5528 W. Cal-Sag Road in Alsip.
  Ed and Sue from Moksha Imports (the original owners of Sanctuary Crystals) will be offering one of the finest selections of rocks, mineral specimens, crystals and jewelry in the Chicago area. (897-0778;

The Bridge Teen
Center events

  • Story Telling Through Painting 4:30 to 6 p.m. today (Thursday). The Bridge Teen Center, 15555 S. 71st Court, Orland Park, challenges you to come up with a story that you want to try and depict through a single painting, then spend the rest of the program relaxing and painting a canvas that tells your story. This is a great chance to spend a quiet afternoon working on a piece of art. Students will be using acrylic paint for this exercise.
  • Trivia and Game Night 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. April 11. Mimi’s Cafe will bring the food while The Bridge will provide the fun and games. Bring a friend.
  • Mandi Burnison 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. April 12, a high school night with live music from Mandi Burnison and BBQ from Famous Dave’s. This event is exclusively for students in 9th-12th grade and is free with a student membership application or $5 with a school ID. For more information call 532-0500 or visit
  • Easter Flowers 4 to 5:30 p.m. April 15, create your own flower arrangement to take home using normal flowers and making them look like bunnies.
  • Eggs Benedict with 94 West 4:30 to 6 p.m. April 16, National Eggs Benedict Day. Learn how to prepare this popular breakfast dish with Chef Tom from 94 West.
  • Obstacle Course Challenge 5 to 6 p.m. April 16, 23 and 30, The Bridge Teen Center wants to help make fitness fun by competing against other students in this obstacle course style workout. Open to all fitness levels. This free event is for teens in 7th through 12th grade. For more information call 532-0500 or visit
  • DIY Prom Hairstyle 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. April 17, save money by learning how to give yourself a beautiful prom hairstyle using things you probably already have lying around your room. This free event is for teens in 9th through 12th grade. For more information call 532-0500 or visit
  • Parent Program: Teens, Sex & Their Culture 7 to 8 p.m. April 17, will help you tackle the tough issues. Talk with a family counselor about healthy ways to talk to your teen about sex, the things our teens are exposed to at school and in the media, and how these things affect our teens today and in the future.


Dave Branigan
Music at Hackney’s

  Palos Park resident Dave Branigan is taking his solo guitar and vocal act to Hackney’s restaurant in Palos Park on Friday, April 18, at 8 p.m., with his music of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and more act.
  The audience will get a chance and see how this Palos Park resident is making the best of his retirement aside from acting and producing movies and participating in community theater.
  Branigan is one of the producers from Sole Productions. Its film, “You Don’t Say!”,will be playing at the Illinois International Film Festival in DeKalb this Sunday, at 6:30 p.m.
  Branigan’s music act coming to Hackney’s, 123rd and La Grange Road, called The Dr. Dave Experience -- 50s, 60s and More, is available for bookings. Call 254-0759 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  Branigan is a founding member of the ‘50s tribute band Ricky & The Redstreaks,
the ‘60s cover band The Chandlers, the ‘70s rock band EQUUS and a member of the salt and pepper soul band The Savoys.

McCord prepares
for Garage Sale

  Spring cleaning? McCord Gallery & Cultural Center’s annual garage sale will be held May 30 -31 and they are ready to accept those treasures that no longer have a place in your home, basement or garage. Please consider donating small-scale household furnishings, antiques, accessories, jewelry, children’s clothing and toys, games, puzzles, bikes, sporting goods and garden items.
  Drop off hours are Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donations will be accepted now through Wednesday, May 28 and are tax-deductible. All proceeds benefit McCord.
  McCord Gallery & Cultural Center is located at 9602 W. Creek Road (129th and La Grange Road) Palos Park. For more information call 708-671-0648 or visit


Top Pop Singles

  1. Diamonds, Rihanna, Def Jam
  2. Locked Out of Heaven, Bruno Mars, Atlantic Records
  3. Die Young, Kesha, Kemosabe Records/RCA Records
  4. One More Night, Maroon 5, A&M Octone
  5. Ho Hey, the Lumineers, Dualtone Music Group
  6. Some Nights, Fun., Fueled by Ramen
  7. Home, Phillip Phillips, Interscope Records
  8. I Cry, Flo Rida, Atlantic
  9. Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself), Ne-Yo, Motown
  10. Gangnam Style, PSY, Republic Records

Top DVD Rentals

  1. Men in Black III, Sony Pictures, PG-13
  2. The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros., PG-13
  3. The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony Pictures, PG-13
  4. Madagascar 3, Paramount Pictures, PG
  5. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer, 20th Century Fox, R
  6. The Expendables 2, Lionsgate, R
  7. The Bourne Legacy, Universal Pictures, PG-13
  8. Ted, Universal Pictures, R
  9. Brave, Walt Disney Pictures, PG
  10. Rock of Ages, Warner Bros., PG-13

Wolfgang Puck's Kitchen

by Wolfgang Puck

Bake a batch of holiday cupcakes

Every grown-up seems to become a child again as the holidays approach. We're humming carols. We're wearing festive outfits. We're all wondering, at least secretly, what presents we might receive - while hurriedly finishing up the shopping for the ones we're going to give. And, usually not so secretly, we're dreaming about all the delicious, sweet holiday treats we're going to eat.

Some of those treats we might actually bake ourselves, too. I know so many people right now who seem up to their elbows in sugar and flour, nuts and dried fruits and chocolates. They're pulling all their baking sheets and pans from the cupboards. They're trying to figure out how they're going to wrap everything, and to whom they're going to give it all.

So let me offer one little suggestion that might ease your mind about that last-minute holiday baking: Keep it simple. Bake a batch of holiday cupcakes!

Unlike fruitcakes, on which public opinion will be forever divided, cupcakes are universally loved. Who doesn't want to receive their own individual cake, one they don't have to share, one they can eat in a single sitting? It's like every child's dessert fantasy come true. No wonder so many cupcake shops have popped up in recent years.

But you don't have to go shopping and pay high prices to enjoy great cupcakes. They're so easy to make at home. Whether you have a stand mixer, or just a big bowl and a hand-held electric mixer, you can put together the batter in a matter of minutes. Pretty paper or foil cupcake liners (you can even find them decorated in holiday colors and patterns) eliminate the need to grease the pan - and they make unmolding and serving simple, and cleanup a cinch.

You'll find my recipe for buttermilk cupcakes easy. The acidity of the buttermilk gives them a pleasant tang, while also helping to keep them extra tender. (You could also substitute sour cream, for an even tangier taste, or canned coconut milk for its unique character.) A whole vanilla bean (you'll find jars of them in the spices section of your supermarket), its tiny seeds and pulp scraped out and included in the batter, adds remarkable flavor. And I can't say enough about how easy, and luscious, the chocolate frosting recipe is from Spago's executive pastry chef Sherry Yard.

Once you've baked, cooled, and frosted the cupcakes, decorating them is easy. Top each with a fresh berry, if you like. Or go wild with your favorite little candies, from traditional rainbow sprinkles to jelly beans or gumdrops to crushed pieces of red-and-white-striped holiday candy canes.

So, what are you waiting for? Make your inner child happy and bake a batch soon!


Makes 20
12 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large cage-free eggs
1 pound cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Semisweet Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)

Whole fresh organic raspberries or blackberries, unwrapped holiday candies, or other decorations (optional)

Set a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the butter in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl. Using the stand mixer at medium speed, or a hand-held electric mixer at medium speed, beat the butter until it looks light, pale yellow, and fluffy, about 1 minute.

With a small, sharp knife, carefully split the vanilla bean lengthwise. With the knife tip, scrape the seeds from each half and put the seeds in the bowl with the butter. Add the sugar and beat at high speed until the mixture looks very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes, stopping as needed to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the vanilla extract and break in 2 of the eggs. Beat until thoroughly blended, and then scrape down the bowl. Beat in the remaining eggs and scrape down again.

Over a separate bowl, use a flour sifter or fine-meshed wire sieve to sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In three batches each, alternate beating in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk until combined, stopping as necessary to scrape down the bowl.

Line 20 cupcake cups with paper or foil cupcake liners. Spoon in the batter, filling them about three-fourths full.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, then rotate the pan and continue baking until the cupcakes look golden brown in the center and darker brown around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes longer.

Remove the pan from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and spread them with the frosting. Decorate each cupcake, if you like, with a berry or candy. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until serving.


Makes about 4 cups
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
12 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar

Bring 1 to 2 inches water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl large enough to sit on top of the rim of the pan without its bottom touching the water. Stir the chocolate over the simmering water until melted. Remove from the heat and leave at room temperature until completely cool but still soft and creamy.

Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a mixing bowl using a hand-held electric mixer, and beat at medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes, stopping as necessary to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Use the spatula to scrape the melted chocolate into the butter mixture. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute longer. Use immediately to frost the cupcakes.