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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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. ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

Cranberry Ginger Granola (Nut-Free)

homemade granola

For years I have struggled to find a packed lunch that JR would eat. More often than not, sandwiches came home with only a few bites missing. I tried to pack his favorite dish, macaroni and cheese, in a thermos but even that came back half-empty at best. When I asked him why, he answered that it wasn't very good at room temperature -- something I ...

Read More »

Cold Asparagus Soup


It is definitely asparagus season and although I won't be seeing any local asparagus for a few more weeks, if you live somewhere south of me, you may already have them at your farmers' market. Lucky. Meanwhile, I will content myself with fat, prosperous-looking, organic asparagus flown in from California. I gravitate towards thicker asparagus ...

Read More »

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Food-Obsessed Moms


A Mother's Day present is best when it is something indulgent. Something that a woman would absolutely love to have, but that she would never buy for herself -- because it is too expensive, or frivolous or impractical. Some women dream about gardening; some about music. Some dream about decorating and others about fashion. Me, I dream about ...

Read More »

Chicken Escabeche Tostadas for Cinco de Mayo

authentic mexican tostadas

Chicago knows its Latin food. With a large and thriving Mexican population and some of the country’s best Mexican restaurants — need I mention Rick Bayless? — Chicagoans understand that the cuisine of Mexico is one of the finest in the world and extends far beyond tacos and enchiladas. With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, it is a great time ...

Read More »

How to Shop at a Farmers Market

what to buy at the farmers market

With May right around the corner, farmers' markets are starting to open up all around the country. Sadly, I still have a few more weeks until my beloved Oak Park Farmers' Market, home of delicious, freshly made doughnuts, begins. I can hardly contain my excitement. For those of you in warmer climes, the wait may be much shorter. As a home ...

Read More »

April 2015 Chicago Food Swap Recap

chicago food swap

The Chicago Food Swap's April event had a very special guest: food preservation expert Cathy Barrow of the blog Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen. Cathy is touring the country promoting her new, award-winning cookbook Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry and stopped by the Chicago Food Swap to sign some books and, yes, swap with us. Cathy had sent ahead ...

Read More »

How to Cook with Mangos (Beyond Just Smoothies)

how to cut mango

Today's post is sponsored by the National Mango Board and I was selected to participate in this campaign by The Motherhood.  Kids from India to Ecuador feast on mangos. In fact, mangos are the most consumed fruit in the world. But what about American kids? Do they love mangos? Do you know how to use this delicious and versatile fruit beyond ...

Read More »

What I’m Cooking Spring 2015

gluten free brownies

You might think that because I have turned in the manuscript for my upcoming cookbook on food swapping that I would be more relaxed. But you would be wrong. I am trying to take advantage of this lull while I await my editors' feedback to work on the proposal for my second cookbook, an idea about which I feel particularly passionate. I know that the ...

Read More »

Passover Dessert: Mini Pavlovas with Lemon Curd

passover desserts

This is the dessert that I wish I had made for my Seder last year: bite-sized meringues shells filled with luscious lemon curd and topped with a juicy strawberry.  The dessert that I actually made was saucer-sized meringues filled with sliced, macerated strawberries and topped with a dollop of lemon curd. They looked great . . . but there was too ...

Read More »

Passover Menu: Chicken with Dried Fruit


The Jewish festival of Passover begins next Friday, April 3, at sundown. Fridays 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, so I am already starting to prepare some of the dishes ahead of time ...

Read More »

Chocolate-Covered Matzo Toffee


Less than two weeks until Passover begins! Time to start planning the Seder menu. So much of cooking for Passover is 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 leavening. The author cheerfully ...

Read More »

Cheddar Horseradish Spread


With warmer weather in sight, March Madness on television and spring holidays right around the corner, it is time to invite some friends over.  My husband and I have attended several cocktail parties in the past few weeks to meet prospective members of our pool and tennis club and seeing so many friends and neighbors after the long winter reminded ...

Read More »

March 2015 Food Swap at The Chopping Block


What a difference a month makes! While we all had to trudge through a blizzard to make it to the February swap, it was sunny and mild in downtown Chicago the day of the March Chicago Food Swap. For this event, we returned to The Chopping Block, Chicago's premier recreational cooking school, located in the iconic Merchandise Mart. This was the ...

Read More »

Chocolate-Covered Blueberry Bread Pudding

bread pudding recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LoveDoveFruits #CollectiveBias You know how kids ask, as soon as they have finished eating: "Can I have dessert?" At least my kids do that. The truth is, I feel much the same myself. Forty years on this earth have not diminished my sweet ...

Read More »

DIY Pokemon Cupcakes

how to make pokemon go cupcakes

As the deadline for my book manuscript approaches, I find more and more ways to procrastinate. This week, the project that was more compelling than my work was making cupcakes for JR's eighth birthday party. Confession: I do not usually bake for my children's birthday parties. Some years ago, I found a baker in my area who makes amazing custom ...

Read More »

Apple & Gorgonzola-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

apple and bleu cheese stuffed chicken breast

Today’s post is sponsored by Riveridge Produce, a Michigan grower and distributor of twenty-four delicious varieties of apples. Look for Jonagold Apples from Riveridge Produce at a special price of only $.68 per pound in Mariano's stores all over Chicago from February 19-25. Did you know that it is still apple season? It is! Many varieties ...

Read More »

Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust

chicken pot pie recipe

Chicken pot pie must be such a great way to use up leftover chicken and vegetables. How often do you have leftover chicken and vegetables though? It's not a common occurrence around here. If I waited until I was stuck on how to use all this leftover chicken to make chicken pot pie, I would be waiting a long time. And my family is not that ...

Read More »