Victoria Sponge with Gooseberry Compote

how to make a victoria sponge

My corner of the Chicago area is small, but surprisingly international. So it was the other day that I found myself in a conversation with four other people at a cocktail party none of whom had been born in the United States. There were two Brits, a Canadian, a Swede and boring old me. The conversation turned to food. Okay, I steered the ...

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Penne with Black Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Feta and Spinach

penne with black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and spinach

I've loved California Ripe Olives since I was a little girl when I used to eat them off the ends of my fingers at Thanksgiving dinner. Black olives are prized for their unique flavor, striking black color and firm texture. But did you know that California Ripe Olives are as good for you as they are tasty? An essential part of the Mediterranean ...

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July 2015 Chicago Food Swap Recap

Chicago Food Swap: Toffee

The Chicago Food Swap met on July 18 for a warm midsummer swap that ended with a bang. Naturally, I am referring to the thunderstorm that hit just as everyone was leaving the swap. I don't know about everyone else, but I got drenched on the short walk to my car. Luckily, my swap items were all protected. Another reason to package your items ...

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Panzanella (Tuscan Bread Salad)

bread salad

This recipe is everything summer cooking should be. It uses the bounty of the season. It is made ahead of time. And it's best served room temperature. Easy, fresh and beautiful to look at -- what is this amazing recipe you ask? It's panzanella, an Italian bread salad. So many cuisines have ways to use up leftover bread -- from French toast ...

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National Ice Cream Day: Strawberry Balsamic Basil

macerating strawberries

July 19 is National Ice Cream Day! Did you know that? Summer seems to have finally arrived in Chicago, after a cool and wet June. So it's time to pull out the ice cream maker that has been languishing in my Small Appliance Ghetto all winter. My family loves strawberry ice cream, but as I have mentioned before, I prefer strawberries when they are ...

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Bastille Day French Recipe Round-Up

quiche Lorraine

Today is le quatorze Juillet, or Bastille Day, the French national holiday. In honor of this festive day, which is celebrated throughout France with parades and fireworks, I am rounding up all of my French-inspired recipes. I hope that one of these inspires your Bastille Day celebration. I am a devoted Francophile. A French major in college, I ...

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Beginner Peach Jam

small batch peach jam

We have all had the experience of watching our farmers' market or CSA fruits and vegetables start to get a bit long in the tooth as the week wears on. Maybe you bought two quarts of peaches thinking you would make a cobbler and then time got away from you. Maybe the member of your household who you can usually count on to eat all those cherries ...

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Penne with Pesto and Peas

pesto pasta

In one of her early books, Ina Garten of the Barefoot Contessa fame, has a recipe for pasta with pesto and peas. Now don't get me wrong: I love Ina as much as the next girl. To this day, I am holding out for an invitation to spend the day cooking with her in the Hamptons. But her recipe for pasta with pesto and peas is all kinds of wrong. ...

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Arugula with Grilled Peaches, Hazelnuts and Parmesan

salad grilled peaches

The July meeting of the Chicago Food Swap is less than two weeks away. I am very excited about this particular swap. Not only is it the height of the season for local produce, which means all kinds of delicious homemade and homegrown swap items, but we also have an amazing sponsor for this event: Villa Gabriella Organic. Villa Gabriella imports ...

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Grilled Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers with Creamy Harissa

morningstar farms chickpea burgers

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GrillWithATwist #CollectiveBias With the Fourth of July around the corner, many of us are planning a backyard barbecue to celebrate this favorite summer holiday with family and friends. These days, planning a party can mean taking into ...

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Jam-Filled Hand Pies

how to make hand pies

I recently spoke at one of my favorite conferences for food bloggers, Eat Write Retreat. The topic of my session, naturally, was food swapping. Zuzu helped me put together my first-ever Keynote presentation -- that's like Power Point for Macs -- with a lot of photos and jazzy effects. Maybe a few too many jazzy effects, but that is the risk you ...

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Southwestern Tuna with Rice, Corn and Black Beans

rice salad with tuna

My love for tuna is well-documented. And when I think tuna, of course I think Bumble Bee, the brand that was always in the pantry when I was growing up. While I adore a tuna salad sandwich for lunch as much as anyone, I also know that this healthy, lean source of protein is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can star in all kinds of dishes, ...

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June 2015 Chicago Food Swap Recap

chicago food swap

The Chicago Food Swap had its June event on the 14th and if you needed proof that summer was here, the fresh and delicious swap offerings would have convinced you. Not were there plenty of fresh herbs and even some healthy-looking plants on display, but one swapper brought homemade strawberry buttermilk ice cream.  It tasted like summer in a ...

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Skirt Steak Soft Tacos with Chipotle Crema

skirt steak marinade

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #KingOfFlavor #CollectiveBias Is there anything better than a summer weekend? My family just wrapped a perfect summer weekend of baseball, swimming, and a cookout with friends. Of course, it was also Father's Day, so I had to make a ...

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Cold Strawberry Soup

cold strawberry soup recipe

Did you happen to catch me on Fox-32's morning program, "Good Day Chicago," discussing ways to preserve the strawberry harvest? You will recognize many of the projects I mentioned from last week's strawberry posts. It was such a fun segment to film and I always love talking about the Chicago Food Swap. I have one last strawberry recipe to give ...

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Rhubarb Syrup

rhubarb recipes

I've been cheating on my favorite spring fruit, rhubarb, with all these strawberry posts. Sure, it is easy to love sweet, juicy, photogenic strawberries. No one looks at a quart of strawberries at the farmers' market and thinks: "But what will I do with them?" You know exactly what to do with them: eat them out of hand. Slice them on your cereal. ...

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How to Use a Flat of Strawberries: Strawberry Mango Fruit Leather

how to make fruit leather

Another day, another strawberry post. I'm still working off that same flat of strawberries I bought at the farmers' market last week.  Today's project is homemade strawberry fruit leather. You may recall that I tried my hand at mango fruit leather a few months ago. That project was fun and easy and everyone enjoyed the results. So when faced with ...

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How to Use a Flat of Strawberries: Strawberry Vanilla Syrup

homemade strawberry milk

This is my second post in a series on how to use a flat of strawberries in five days. Every year at this time I remind you guys that at many farmers’ markets the price for a flat of strawberries, which is eight quarts, is the same as the price for six individual quarts. That is a great deal, but only if you actually use all the berries before ...

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How to Use a Flat of Strawberries: Strawberry Maple Granola

diy granola

  It is time for my annual post on how to use a flat of strawberries in five days or less. Every year I remind you that at many farmers' markets the price for a flat of strawberries, which is eight quarts, is the same as the price for six individual quarts. That's like getting two free quarts! But buying a flat of strawberries is only a ...

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Rhubarb Buttermilk Mini Bundt Cakes

rhubarb bundt cake

Maybe I should start calling this blog West of the Rhubarb. I'm clearly obsessed with this old-fashioned fruit-that-is-really-a-vegetable. It's tart! It's pink! It's versatile! Rhubarb is bae. (My eleven year old me that I couldn't write that. So naturally I did.) The other week, I arrived at the farmers' market late, something that I hate to ...

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Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Mint


With summer comes the desire to eat cool, crunchy salads. My interest in Middle Eastern cuisine has give me a new appreciation for humble cucumber. So often cucumber is relegated to the side: an afterthought thrown in to provide a hint of green or an element of crunch. Here in a refreshing, herbaceous salad, this unassuming summer vegetable is ...

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A Weekend in Nashville (with Kid)

pied piper in nashville

My family took a whirlwind trip to Nashville this past weekend. It was like one of those New York Times travel articles, "36 Hours in Nashville." As soon as we landed, we unloaded my daughter who was to spend the weekend with her best friend who moved to Nashville a year ago. So me, my husband and eight-year-old JR were free to indulge our inner ...

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Rhubarb Jam Bars

rhubarb recipes

I made these delicious bars last year at this time as a dessert to bring to the Swim Team Potluck. Guess what event is this Sunday? That's right: the Swim Team Potluck. I think it's time to trot out this recipe again.  It absolutely kills me that my husband doesn’t like rhubarb. WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE? Rhubarb is tart — not cloyingly sweet like ...

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Green Garlic Chimichurri

how to make chimichurri

I almost hesitate to call this sauce chimichurri because it deviates in a few key ways from the traditional Argentinian recipe. You know how the food police can be! But then again, any condiment with this much parsley and garlic and that goes as well as this one does with grilled meat deserves to be called a chimichurri. Chimichurri is simply a ...

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Rhubarb Eton Mess

rhubarb sauce

It's rhubarb season and I am tickled pink. (Get it?) I adore this old-fashioned early spring fruit that always cooks up in a brilliant shade of hot pink. I love to preserve it, bake with it and create rhubarb-flavored versions of classic desserts. With spring and farmers' market season upon us, you may be bringing home a lot of fresh, seasonal ...

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