Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Mint

cucumber-yogurt-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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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 ...

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Cold Asparagus Soup

asparagus-soup-lead

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 ...

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Food-Obsessed Moms

mothers-day-gift-ideas

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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Passover Menu: Chicken with Dried Fruit

passover-seder-menu

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 ...

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Chocolate-Covered Matzo Toffee

chocolate-covered-matzo

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 ...

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Cheddar Horseradish Spread

cabot-horseradish-cheddar-recipes

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 ...

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March 2015 Food Swap at The Chopping Block

chicago-food-swap

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 ...

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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 ...

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DIY Pokemon Cupcakes

how to make pokemon 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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Valentine’s Day Cheesecake Brownies

valentine's day desserts

In my view, the best reason to make brownies from scratch is so that you can add cheesecake to them. I’d turn down the chocolatiest, fudgiest brownie any day for a swirly, marbleized cream cheese brownie. The slight tanginess of the cream cheese is the perfect foil for the richness of the chocolate. Better than either cheesecake or a plain brownie, ...

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Better than Take-Out Vegetable Biryani

indian food at home

Sometimes the tail wags the dog around here. I had a big batch of cucumber and mint raita sitting in the refrigerator -- a recipe that I had developed for my upcoming cookbook on food swapping -- and needed to come up with a way to use it. I have always enjoyed heaping cool, refreshing raita on biryani, the spicy South Asian mixed rice dish, when ...

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Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: Blackbird

chicago restaurant week

Did you know that Chicago Restaurant Week is happening right now? From January 30-February 12, over two hundred and fifty restaurants in the city and suburbs — including some three and four-star restaurants — are offering special pre-fixe menus of three and four courses for $22 a person at lunch and $33 or $44 a person at dinner. (Tax, tip and ...

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Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

valentine's day treats

Did you catch me on WCIU's "You & Me This Morning" talking about homemade Valentine's Day gift ideas from the Chicago Food Swap? What a fun segment that was! If you would like the recipes for the projects that I demonstrated, you will find them all on the Chicago Food Swap website. I am posting the recipe for the Valentine's Day ...

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Cheddar Apple Pigs in a Blanket

super bowl party recipes

Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner. Are you hosting a party, attending one or just watching with your family? Whatever your plans are, you will need a killer game-time snack. Enter, my Cheddar Apple Chicken Sausage Bites. I originally posted this recipe last year at this time, but it is still a winner. So I am posting it again for all you ...

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Duck Fat Roasted Root Vegetables

roasted root vegetables in duck fat

When I was growing up, my mother typically made dinners that had a protein, a starch and a vegetable. Dinner was always followed by a green salad. I realized recently that I almost never cook like that. Most of my dinners tend to be one-pot meals, like soups, stews, braises and casseroles. Perhaps I will serve bread or salad on the side. But I ...

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Game Day Recipes from Stephanie Izard

macy's culinary council

I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. In the pantheon of Chicago celebrity chefs, Stephanie Izard ranks among my favorites. Not only was Stephanie the first woman to win on "Top Chef," my favorite television show, she is ...

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