Matza-quiles or Mexican Matzo Brei

mexican matzo brei for passover

I think for many people observing Passover, breakfast is the hardest meal of the day. Oatmeal is out. Cereal seriously not okay. Toast verboten. Granola a no-go. So, what is left to eat in the morning? On weekdays, when he is in a rush, my husband downs some yogurt and an apple, which is a very healthy, but maybe not the most satisfying, … [Read more...]

The Only Brisket Recipe You Will Ever Need

brisket recipes

I was all set to make chicken for Passover this year. I had a terrific recipe worked out and given that I was hosting a Seder on the second night of the holiday, I figured that my guests would appreciate a lighter entree. And then my husband asked me if I would please make brisket. "Your brisket is special," he cajoled. Well, how could I resist … [Read more...]

Passover Menu: Chocolate-Covered Matzo Toffee

passover desserts

So much of cooking for Passover seems to be about making up for what we can't have during the eight-day festival. Many Passover recipes, especially those for Passover desserts, claim to be "as good as" a regular dessert made with flour and leavened. The author cheerfully declares that he or she would eat this Pesadich dessert all year round - it's … [Read more...]

Chicken with Dried Fruit and Almonds for Passover

passover recipes

The Jewish festival of Passover begins next Monday at sundown. Mondays are busy nights around here so I am planning to host a Seder on the second night of Passover, which thankfully is somewhat traditional. It's still hectic to host what amounts to a large dinner party on a weeknight, so I am already starting to prepare some of the dishes ahead of … [Read more...]

Recap of the April Chicago Food Swap

scones at the Chicago food swap

This past weekend the Chicago Food Swap returned to The Chopping Block, the spacious and beautiful cooking school located in the iconic Merchandise Mart, for its April swap. And it was an outstanding afternoon of sampling, swapping and shopping. As I said in my opening remarks to the group, when we are at The Chopping Block, it is like the … [Read more...]

Spring Cooking: Asparagus, Ricotta and Lemon Flatbread

asparagus pizza

When people ask me what my blog is about, I say that it is about fitting ambitious food into family life. This recipe is exemplifies what that tagline means to me. This flatbread can either be a quick weeknight meal or a cool, all-from-scratch, DIY project depending on how you approach it. You can make this seasonal, vegetarian flatbread in no time … [Read more...]

Turnip Greens and Potato Frittata

how to use turnip greens

I have always maintained that if you have eggs in your refrigerator, you have the makings for a perfectly good dinner. Whipping up a quick omelet will get dinner on the table far quicker than ordering pizza. Add a green salad and you have a complete meal that is perfect for when it feels like there's nothing in the house. If you have a few … [Read more...]

Review of Preserving by the Pint

pickled turnips

My friend Marisa McClellan changed the way Americans think about water-bath canning with her iconic blog Food in Jars. Writing from her apartment in downtown Philadelphia, Marisa showed a new generation of cooks that preserving fruits and vegetables food was the logical extension of their interest in local, seasonal produce from CSAs and farmers … [Read more...]

Scenes from the Naples Farmers Market

naples farmers market

My family just returned from spring break in Naples, Florida. We have been going to Naples since 2004 and we love the area. Southwestern Florida is less developed than some other parts of the state and is filled with natural beauty. There is a protected mangrove swamp near my mother's house that we cross every time we go to the beach. Sometimes we … [Read more...]

Mariano’s Simplifies my Passover Shopping

mariano's chicago grocery store

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. Popping into Mariano's, my favorite Chicago grocery store, this week I noticed that the Passover displays are out in full force. Is it really that time of year … [Read more...]

French Patisserie Meringues

how to make meringues

When you think about French pâtisseries, or pastry shops, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? An impossibly flaky, buttery croissant? An almost-too-beautiful-to-eat tarte aux fruits? A towering croquembouche encased in spun sugar? Rows of brightly colored macarons? Sensible choices all. But for me, the favorite French pâtisserie … [Read more...]

Change How You Think of Gluten-Free

gluten_free_cookies2

Today's post is sponsored by Udi's Gluten-Free, the premier gluten-free brand in America, and I was selected to participate in this campaign by The Motherhood. Many of you know that my daughter, Zuzu, was allergic to wheat for the first seven years of her life. At that time, Zuzu was also allergic to eggs, dairy, nuts, sesame and peanuts. In … [Read more...]

Understanding the Terminology in the Meat Case

how to buy meat

Today’s post is sponsored by Illinois Farm Families, for which I serve as a Brand Ambassador. You can read more about my role as a Brand Ambassador here. What do you look for when you buy meat? Is taste the most important factor in your purchasing decisions? Is it price? Safety? Sustainability? Do you see terms such as "organic," … [Read more...]

Meatless Spaghetti a la Carbonara

vegetarian pasta recipes

Today's post is sponsored by Safest Choice Eggs as part of its March Meatless Meals Party. Before March 31st, enter to win one of two Safest Choice Prize Packs, worth over $450, containing a $200 Amex gift card, a 10" inch Lodge Round Fry pan, a set of Sur La Table mixing bowls, a year's supply of eggs and more. When I was a little girl, one … [Read more...]

Hamantaschen Galette for Purim

hamentaschen galette

Saturday at sundown, the Jewish festival of Purim begins. Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from an evil government minister, named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish community in ancient Persia. In essence, Purim is the Jewish "carnival" holiday -- every culture has one -- where people are encouraged to dress in … [Read more...]

Baked Rigatoni with Roasted Cauliflower

cauliflower baked pasta

Last week, when I was planning my week of meatless meals, I had intended to make a baked pasta dish with cauliflower that I had read about in the April 2013 issue of Food and Wine. When my husband saw the recipe, however, he practically had a heart attack -- a preview of the actual heart attack that he would have had after eating the dish, which … [Read more...]

Chunky Red Lentil Soup

lentil recipes

Since I started cooking with lentils about two years ago, I have become increasingly enamored of these little pulses. They are a great source of vegetable protein -- the third highest level of protein by weight among legumes -- and relatively quick-cooking. Unlike dried beans, which need to be soaked prior to use or take long to cook, lentils are … [Read more...]

Change Up Your Squash with Risotto

how to make risotto

I'm making all meatless meals this week. No, it's not in anticipation of Lent. Rather, we are atoning. Last weekend, we took the kids to one of those Brazilian steakhouses where men dressed as gauchos circle the room and slice hunks of meat off pitchforks for gluttonous guests. And that's after you have loaded up on vegetables, cheese and cold cuts … [Read more...]

Family-Friendly Brunch at GT Fish and Oyster

chicago brunch

When you are a parent who is passionate about great food, you usually have to choose between exciting food and being with your family. In other words, when you are with your kids, you eat at safe, inexpensive, family-friendly places that leave you uninspired. Other times, you hire a babysitter, leave your kids behind and venture out into the world … [Read more...]

Make Gougeres (and Feel a Little French)

make-ahead appetizers

As longtime readers of West of the Loop know, I am a confirmed Francophile. There was a time in my life when I thought I might become an ex-pat and live in France when I grew up. A year of actual living in France cured me of that notion, but I still love all things Gallic, the food perhaps most of all. If you go a French person's house for … [Read more...]

Get Ready for National Agriculture Day

national ag day

Today’s post is sponsored by Illinois Farm Families, for which I serve as a Brand Ambassador. You can read more about my role as a Brand Ambassador here. Those of us who live in cities and suburbs rarely get a chance to express our appreciation to the farmers and ranchers who raise and grow the food that we eat. Moreover, most of have very … [Read more...]

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

goat cheese and roasted red pepper dip

Dip is a sore subject in my house. With a husband who doesn't like mayonnaise, sour cream or even really cream cheese, I struggle to come up with a dip that people in my house will actually eat. Under normal circumstances, I might not even try. If I were hosting my book club or some similar event, I might indulge in one of those Barefoot Contessa … [Read more...]

Homemade Tortellini? You Can Do It!

how to make tortellini

2014 is turning out to be the year of fresh pasta. Ever since I took the Pasta Workshop at The Chopping Block, I have been cranking out homemade pasta -- literally -- every few days. I have a habit of getting obsessed with a new skill or piece of equipment and when that happens my poor family ends up eating the same food for weeks. At least with … [Read more...]

Visiting Eataly Chicago

chicago grocery store

Eataly Chicago, the latest colonial outpost of Chef Mario Batali's culinary empire, opened just two months ago to record-breaking crowds. How record-breaking? After more than 120,000 visitors during the first week, Eataly Chicago had to close for a day just to restock. In other words, Chicago broke Eataly. Take that, New York! I can't stand … [Read more...]

Chicken Tinga Tostadas for Easy Weeknight Mexican Flavor

easy chicken tinga

If someone asked me to name my favorite trick for making weeknight meals easier, it would be this: roasted split chicken breasts. If you roast several chicken breasts over the weekend, or whenever you have time and then shred the meat and save it in the refrigerator, you have the makings for at least two or three quick and easy weeknight dinners. … [Read more...]