How to Buy the Right Cut of Meat – Part 1

difference between grain fed and grass fed beef

I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) in Seattle this past weekend. It was a whirlwind of friends, food and great sessions. Later this week, I hope to post some of the pretty pictures I took at the revered Pike Place Market and tell you all about the unique and delicious food I sampled there. (Piroshkies! Crumpets!) But … [Read more...]

Kids Sweet Kitchen Contest from Madhava Natural Sweeteners

madhava natural sweeteners

Today's post is sponsored by Madhava Natural Sweeteners, a legacy natural foods brand. Since beginning as a honey company in 1973, 
Madhava’s efforts have blossomed and they’ve created delicious new products using all-natural sweeteners, including Organic Coffee and Pancake Syrups, Organic Bake Mixes, Organic AgaveFIVE Sweetener and AgaveFIVE Drink … [Read more...]

Carrot Tzimmes for Rosh Hashanah

rosh hashanah recipes

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year holiday begins at sundown on September 24. One of my favorite holidays to cook for, Rosh Hashanah is a joyous occasion and the holiday meals are festive. As I explained in my earlier posts, traditional Rosh Hashanah foods are often sweet - to express our wish for a sweet new year - or round to symbolize the circle … [Read more...]

Round Challah for Rosh Hashanah

braided round challah

As I mentioned earlier this week, the Jewish New Year holiday, Rosh Hashanah, is right around the corner. The holiday, which lasts two days, begins at sundown on September 24. Rosh Hashanah is a festive occasion, as most New Year celebrations tend to be. Many Jews will mark the occasion with a holiday dinner for friends and family. I explained … [Read more...]

Rosh Hashanah Dinner: Chicken with Dried Fruit

what to make for rosh hashanah

As some of you know, I am in the midst of writing my first cookbook. The manuscript of the book, which will be about food swapping, is due in seven months. That sounds like a long time yet I have a lot to do in those seven months: research, writing, and, most important, creating and testing recipes. As a result, I have been posting here less than … [Read more...]

How Truvia is Sharing a Sweet Future

rainforest river

Today's post is sponsored by Truvia, a natural, great-tasting sweetener born from the leaves of the stevia plant, in partnership with the One2One Network. When my family visited Costa Rica last month, we were pleased to learn about the extensive social safety net in that country, which includes free education and health care for all Costa … [Read more...]

What to Do with Fresh Figs

chocolate dipped figs

Dip them in chocolate ganache, of course! Why? What do you do with fresh figs? It is definitely fig season and if you only know figs from the dried kind -- or even worse, Newtons -- you are in for a treat. Fresh figs are sweet, juicy and altogether luscious. Lending themselves to both sweet and savory preparations, fresh figs are the fruit you … [Read more...]

What to Do with Hatch Chiles

hatch green chiles

"Is it salsa time," asked the man in the produce section, gesturing toward my bulging bag of green Hatch chiles. "You know you can freeze them," I replied. "Really?" "Sure. You roast them, peel them and then freeze them in bags. That way you have them all year long." "Huh," said the man thinking this over. "Good to know." That exchange happened … [Read more...]

Costa Rica with Kids

costa rica with kids

My family just returned from an amazing week in Costa Rica. We stayed on the Papagayo Peninsula in the province of Guanacaste, which is located in northwestern corner of the country.  Costa Rica was the tropical paradise we had hoped it would be. The Pacific ocean beaches were stunning with fine sands, blue water and gentle surf. The landscape … [Read more...]

Two Tropical Drink Recipes

passion fruit liqueur

After spending one of the afternoons of our tropical, Costa Rican vacation in a wine-tasting class -- albeit a wine-tasting class in a open lobby overlooking the beach -- you might think we were done with improving ourselves. But no! As soon as my sister-in-law and I heard that our resort also offered a Mixology class, we immediately signed up … [Read more...]

Wine Tasting in Paradise

how to taste wine

My family is on vacation in Costa Rica this week with my mother and my brother and his family. I have traveled to some of the great cities of Europe, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean and I can safely say that Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. And the Costa Rican people that we have met have been, to a person, … [Read more...]

Coppervine Restaurant Review

scallops at Coppervine Chicago

Milk and cookies. Coffee and doughnuts. Foie gras and Sauternes. Some food and drink pairings are foregone conclusions. But beyond those classic combinations, most of us don't give food and drink pairings much thought. Do you know what wine to drink with tuna tartare? Or what beer to drink with a rare burger? Or what cocktail would pair perfectly … [Read more...]

Can-It-Forward Day August 16

Can It Forward Day

This Saturday August 16, Jarden Home Brands will host the first annual International Can-It-Forward Day with special guest, renowned chef and Bravo’s Top Chef judge, Hugh Acheson! I ate at Chef Acheson's Atlanta restaurant Empire State South last year and it was one of the more memorable meals of my adult life. Being a southern guy, Hugh knows all … [Read more...]

Back to School with Door-to-Door Organics (and a Giveaway!)

healthy after school snacks

Today's post is sponsored by Door-to-Door Organics, an online grocer specializing in organic produce and natural groceries delivering throughout the Chicago area.  Today is when I break the seal on talking about back-to-school. Yes, it is time to start thinking about school supplies, packing lunches and, of course, after-school snacks. I … [Read more...]

Cheddar Jalapeño Corn Pudding

cabot farmhouse legacy

My family cannot get enough sweet corn during the summer months. Once the sweet corn appears at the farmers market in late July, you can put me down for a dozen ears a week. Why buy fewer than twelve ears when corn is so inexpensive? I cook all dozen ears at the same time. Once the water is boiling, or the grill is hot, it is no extra work to cook … [Read more...]

How to Bake with Yeast

tips for baking with yeast

Once, a dozen years ago, when I was a young bride living in a hip Chicago neighborhood -- I wasn't always west of the Loop, you know -- I tried to make challah from scratch for Shabbat dinner. The dough never rose and, when baked, my loaf was so dense that I could have hit my husband over the head with it and knocked him out cold. Scarred by … [Read more...]

A10 Restaurant Review

where to eat in hyde park

One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago these days is Yusho, a small plates restaurant in the hot neighborhood of Logan Square featuring cuisine inspired by Japanese street food. So when I read that the chef/owner of Yusho, former Charlie Trotter's executive chef Matthias Merges, opened a new restaurant in Hyde Park, I read the review with … [Read more...]

Farmers Market Find: Red Currants

what to do with red currants

Perhaps you have noticed red currants, glossy and ruby-red, at the farmers market lately. If so, consider yourself lucky. It can be hard to find these members of the Ribes family. Even if you noticed them, I bet you did not buy them. They were expensive, right? And you weren't sure what to do with them. Red currants are shockingly expensive, but I … [Read more...]

How to Host a Bagel Brunch

what to serve at brunch

This past weekend, I hosted a baby shower for a friend who, like me, is an East Coast transplant to Chicago. Because my friend and her husband are both from New York, we decided to make New York the theme of the shower. The menu? A classic bagel brunch, of course! A bagel brunch is a relaxed and easy party to throw because you purchase most of … [Read more...]

July Chicago Food Swap Recap

chicago food swap

The Chicago Food Swap returned to Wicker Park, and the funky confines of co-working loft Free Range Office, for its July swap. It was a small but lively gathering peopled mostly by returning swappers with a few new faces scattered here and there. Located on the second floor of a converted glove factory, Free Range Office is filled with light and … [Read more...]

Scenes from the Farmers Market

shopping the farmers market

At least once every year, I like to bring my camera with me on one of my early Saturday morning trips to the Oak Park Farmers Market to capture the abundance. Mid-July is a heady time at the farmers market. The tables are groaning with fruit from the Michigan orchards. Stone fruits of all kinds, from cherries to apricots to peaches and plum, … [Read more...]

Farmers Market Find: Fava Beans

how to use fresh fava beans

Some foods really make you work for it. Fava beans definitely fall into that category. Any food that you have to shell not once but twice very much runs the risk of being not worth the effort. Luckily, favas -- which the British call broad beans -- have a distinctive, nutty flavor and a buttery texture that endear them to sophisticated eaters … [Read more...]

Farmers Market Find: Gooseberries

gooseberry recipes

I freely admit that I am a sucker for the most unusual item at the market or on a menu. Sometimes my instinct to try that new-to-me food can backfire, such as the bitter and grassy corn shoots in my salad at the Zingerman's Roadhouse. (Some things are just not for eating, folks.) But nevertheless, I press on. So it was that I passed by all the … [Read more...]

A Weekend in Ann Arbor

Where to eat in Ann Arbor

It had been just over twenty-four hours since we arrived in Ann Arbor and I simply could not eat or drink another thing. Clearly, I had failed as a professional eater. Bon Appétit has a feature called The Big Fat Weekend where one of the editors spends a weekend eating and drinking his or her way through a city and then writes an article filled … [Read more...]

Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic-Lime Reduction

best grilled vegetables

It's the lazy days of summer and I am feeling lazy too. I barely want to lift a finger, let alone make dinner. Luckily, it is also grilling season. That means that I can enlist my husband to make dinner. Thank heavens. Here is what we ate for dinner the past two nights. Saturday: grilled chicken sausage, grilled vegetables and tabbouleh. … [Read more...]