New Rules on the Use of Antibiotics on the Farm

farm animals

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. A little over a year ago, when I returned from one of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) series of Food Dialogues,  I wrote a long post about my thoughts on the use of … [Read more...]

BBQ Chicken Flatbread

barbeque chicken pizza

I must make a pizza or flatbread for dinner at least once a week. It's my go-to meal for especially hectic evenings or when I'm just feeling lazy. It's so easy to make pizza at home and the results are delicious, and healthier than ordering pizza, not to mention less expensive. Not only are pizzas and flatbreads easy and quick weeknight meals, … [Read more...]

Winter Fruit Pie for National Pie Day

winter fruit pie

When I learned that January 23 is National Pie Day, that was all the excuse I needed to plan to bake a pie. I am not an expert pie baker by any means. But pie appeals to me as a traditional and all-American dessert. You guys know that I am a sucker for lost arts -- hence all the canning -- and pie-making, these days, seems to fall into that … [Read more...]

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

lasagna rolls

There are so few foods that all four members of my family will eat. I can get three out of four easily. Zuzu, JR and I will eat bacon; my husband won't. Zuzu, JR and my husband will eat cantalope; I won't. And my husband, Zuzu and I will eat many, many things that JR won't. The best chance I have to get all four of us on the same page, … [Read more...]

Cheddar Apple Chicken Sausage Bites

superbowl party foods

When my husband was living in New York City right out of college, he threw an annual Super Bowl party, the signature elements of which were a big pot of chili and a sign on his apartment door with the number of the game in Roman numerals. After he left New York for law school -- which was the best thing he ever did because that was where he would … [Read more...]

Key Lime Curd for Teatime, Dessert and Beyond

how to make key lime curd

I am still playing around with the Key limes that I brought home from Florida. But even if I had to rely on my local grocery store for citrus fruits, I would still find plenty of delicious varieties to chose from. This is truly the best season to be exploring the versatility of citrus fruits. A casual stroll through your grocery store's produce … [Read more...]

Warm Up with Argo Tea

argo tea chai

Today’s post is sponsored by Argo Tea. Argo Tea has a special offer for West of the Loop readers to warm up this month: receive a free oatmeal with purchase of a signature drink at any Argo Tea cafe location. Argo Tea is also giving away a special gift to two West of the Loop readers: a tea gift set and a $50 gift certificate to its website. See … [Read more...]

Key Lime Meltaways

key lime recipes

Continuing on my theme of cooking with citrus fruits -- a perfect January theme -- today I present the Key lime. Smaller than its cousin the Persian lime, which is the variety we usually see in stores, the Key lime is particularly juicy and acidic. It has a smooth rind, a greenish-yellow color when ripe and lots of pesky seeds.  Key limes also have … [Read more...]

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Asian Chicken Noodle soup

Is it cold where you are? Is the ground covered in snow? Yeah, tell me about it. After the coldest December in twenty years, Chicago is bracing itself for an even colder January. I came home from two weeks in sunny Florida to 18 inches of snow and below-freezing temperatures. It has been a shock to the system to say the least. What we all need … [Read more...]

Meyer Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake

Meyer lemon tree

In January, just about the only excitement to be found in the produce section is in citrus. All the other fruit has that anemic, flown-in-from-the-southern-hemisphere look. Summer vegetables like peppers, zucchini and tomatoes are expensive or tasteless or both. And while I love cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, root vegetables, and winter squash, by … [Read more...]

Interview with a Farm Wife

il farm families

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. This month, as part of my Brand Ambassadorship for Illinois Farm Families, I am bringing you an interview with Kristen Strom: a mother, a teacher, a blogger and the wife of a farmer. Kristen … [Read more...]

Last Minute Gift: Thyme-Infused Sea Salt Caramels

how to make caramels

I was running around Oak Park yesterday taking care of some last-minute holiday errands when I ran into one of my canning students. She pulled me aside to ask if I had any last-minute edible gift ideas. Apparently her son thought the gift that she had picked out for his teacher was not going to cut it. I could have acted all superior and claimed … [Read more...]

The Ultimate Cranberry Orange Scone Recipe

cranberry orange scones

This is perhaps the third scone recipe I have published. How often can one person make scones, you may ask. Well, you see, I often have some of my girlfriends over for coffee during the week and when I do so, I like to make a special treat for them. But I have a limited time -- maybe an hour -- in which to bake something between dropping my kids at … [Read more...]

Lemon-Scented Jam Thumbprint Cookies for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap


Since swapping food has become such a big part of my life, this year I decided to participate in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is just what it sounds like: the food bloggers who participate receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. You send each of them one dozen of the same kind of cookie. You … [Read more...]

Cooking Tips from Marcus Samuelsson

march samuelsson demo

Last week, Macy's Culinary Council, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, invited me to attend a demo by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson at the State Street Macy's store. Everyone knows Marcus Samuelsson from his many television appearances and, of course, from his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster. I have long been a fan of his and … [Read more...]

Roasted Garlic Hummus for the Chicago Food Swap

hummus without tahini

Last Saturday was the second anniversary Chicago Food Swap. It's amazing how this community has grown in such a short time. From the dozen or so swappers at that first event in December 2011, the Chicago Food Swap has grown to a community of several hundred people with events that regularly draw eighty or ninety.  Each swap, it seems, is a mix of … [Read more...]

Low-Fat Holiday Treat: Chocolate Mint Meringues

low fat cookies

This is a recipe and post from a few years back, but the story is so classically me and the cookies are so tasty and seasonal, I just had to bring it up from the archives. Enjoy! It all started with the Meyer lemons. I was doing my just-buy-the-necessities-because-we-are-leaving-town shopping trip last week when a display of vibrant yellow … [Read more...]

Latkes for Hanukkah Dinner

potato pancakes

Yes, this year Thanksgiving falls during Hanukkah. Yes, everyone is talking about the culinary mash-up of these two holidays. I even wrote a freelance article for the local weekly paper about how to merge Thanksgiving and Hanukkah food traditions. (To sum up: I recommend going with sweet potato latkes and challah stuffing.) But Hanukkah lasts for … [Read more...]

Gala Apple Orchard Salad

salad with apples and craisins

Today’s post is sponsored by Riveridge Produce. You can find Riveridge-brand Michigan apples in all Roundy's supermarkets, including Copps, Rainbow, Pick ‘N Save and Metro Market throughout the Chicago area, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Just in time for Thanksgiving, all Roundy's stores will be selling a plastic pie clamshell that includes apple … [Read more...]

Interview with a Field Mom

illinois farms

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. For several years, Illinois Farm Families has sought bridge the divide between food consumers and food producers through its Field Moms program. This program brings mothers from the Chicago … [Read more...]

Tips from a Pie Contest Judge

pecan pie

One of the fringe benefits of being a food blogger is that sometimes people ask you to judge food contests. This has happened to me exactly twice. Earlier this year, I judged a contest to determine the best frozen yogurt-and-topping combination -- the "coolest combo contest" -- by Yumz Gourmet Frozen Yogurt. (Given my husband's devotion to frozen … [Read more...]

Enjoy Jonagold Apples from Michigan

squash apple soup

Today's post is sponsored by Riveridge Produce. Look for Riverridge Gala, Honeycrisp and Jonagold apples from Michigan for your holiday table. Whether you want to make an amazing apple pie, a refreshing salad accented with crunchy apples, or a sweet-and-spicy squash and apple soup, such as the one pictured here, Riveridge apples will make your all … [Read more...]

Giovanni Rana Pasta Review

artichoke heart ravioli

Many parents find pasta to be a quick and easy weeknight meal that satisfies kid and adult palates alike. I know I fall into that category. Although I rely heavily on dried pasta, I sometimes like to serve my family fresh, filled pastas such as tortellini and ravioli for variety and as a way of adding more protein to the meal. Fresh pasta must be … [Read more...]

Recap of the November Chicago Food Swap

chicago food swap items

What's the best way for a food lover to celebrate her birthday? With a food swap, of course! This past Sunday was both my 40th birthday and the November Chicago Food Swap which took place at The Chopping Block, Chicago's premier recreational cooking school. Given that the Chicago Food Swap has been my passion project for the past two years, holding … [Read more...]

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

how to make cranberry sauce

The Oak Park Farmers Market ended recently. I’m always so sad to see the market end for the season. Not only does it mean the end of my Saturday mornings spent browsing beautiful, locally grown fruits and vegetables, but also it is a sure sign that winter is on its way. On the last day of the market, I try to buy fruits and veggies that will freeze … [Read more...]