Two Tropical Drink Recipes

passion fruit liqueur

After spending one of the afternoons of our tropical, Costa Rican vacation in a wine-tasting class -- albeit a wine-tasting class in a open lobby overlooking the beach -- you might think we were done with improving ourselves. But no! As soon as my sister-in-law and I heard that our resort also offered a Mixology class, we immediately signed up … [Read more...]

Wine Tasting in Paradise

how to taste wine

My family is on vacation in Costa Rica this week with my mother and my brother and his family. I have traveled to some of the great cities of Europe, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean and I can safely say that Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. And the Costa Rican people that we have met have been, to a person, … [Read more...]

Back to School with Door-to-Door Organics (and a Giveaway!)

healthy after school snacks

Today's post is sponsored by Door-to-Door Organics, an online grocer specializing in organic produce and natural groceries delivering throughout the Chicago area.  Today is when I break the seal on talking about back-to-school. Yes, it is time to start thinking about school supplies, packing lunches and, of course, after-school snacks. I … [Read more...]

How to Bake with Yeast

tips for baking with yeast

Once, a dozen years ago, when I was a young bride living in a hip Chicago neighborhood -- I wasn't always west of the Loop, you know -- I tried to make challah from scratch for Shabbat dinner. The dough never rose and, when baked, my loaf was so dense that I could have hit my husband over the head with it and knocked him out cold. Scarred by … [Read more...]

July Chicago Food Swap Recap

chicago food swap

The Chicago Food Swap returned to Wicker Park, and the funky confines of co-working loft Free Range Office, for its July swap. It was a small but lively gathering peopled mostly by returning swappers with a few new faces scattered here and there. Located on the second floor of a converted glove factory, Free Range Office is filled with light and … [Read more...]

Scenes from the Farmers Market

shopping the farmers market

At least once every year, I like to bring my camera with me on one of my early Saturday morning trips to the Oak Park Farmers Market to capture the abundance. Mid-July is a heady time at the farmers market. The tables are groaning with fruit from the Michigan orchards. Stone fruits of all kinds, from cherries to apricots to peaches and plum, … [Read more...]

Farmers Market Find: Gooseberries

gooseberry recipes

I freely admit that I am a sucker for the most unusual item at the market or on a menu. Sometimes my instinct to try that new-to-me food can backfire, such as the bitter and grassy corn shoots in my salad at the Zingerman's Roadhouse. (Some things are just not for eating, folks.) But nevertheless, I press on. So it was that I passed by all the … [Read more...]

A Weekend in Ann Arbor

Where to eat in Ann Arbor

It had been just over twenty-four hours since we arrived in Ann Arbor and I simply could not eat or drink another thing. Clearly, I had failed as a professional eater. Bon Appétit has a feature called The Big Fat Weekend where one of the editors spends a weekend eating and drinking his or her way through a city and then writes an article filled … [Read more...]

Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic-Lime Reduction

best grilled vegetables

It's the lazy days of summer and I am feeling lazy too. I barely want to lift a finger, let alone make dinner. Luckily, it is also grilling season. That means that I can enlist my husband to make dinner. Thank heavens. Here is what we ate for dinner the past two nights. Saturday: grilled chicken sausage, grilled vegetables and tabbouleh. … [Read more...]

June Chicago Food Swap Recap

food swaps

For a foodie event, there is hardly a more prestigious location than Sur La Table, the beloved kitchenwares emporium. So when Ali Banks, the resident chef at Chicago's swanky Sur La Table store on Michigan Avenue, reached out to me about hosting a food swap in her kitchen, I was falling over myself to say yes. While Michigan Avenue is inevitably … [Read more...]

Strawberry Balsamic Basil Ice Cream

strawberry basil ice cream

It's high strawberry season in the Midwest. Farmers market tables display row upon row of ruby-red berries capped with jolly green stems. At my house, we've already indulged in strawberry shortcake, strawberry rhubarb pie and I've put up nine jars of a strawberry-rhubarb- jalapeño jam. While I am certain that my husband would not have objected to … [Read more...]

Culinary Tour of Devon Avenue

chicago culinary tours

Does your city have ethnic neighborhoods filled with markets, shops and restaurants where recent and not-so-recent immigrants can recreate a little of their homeland here in the United States? Most cities do. All over America there are Chinatowns, Koreatowns, Greektowns, Little Saigons, Little Odessas and Little Italies. Some of these neighborhoods … [Read more...]

Mariano’s Makes Summertime Living Easier

summer pasta salads

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. #MyMarianos #Collective Bias Summertime and the living is easy. Nowhere is that more true than Chicago. Winter is brutal and spring inevitably a wet, cold disappointment, but summer in Chicago is glorious. The days are warm and sunny; every weekend boasts a different … [Read more...]

Summer Cooking: Spicy Caprese Pasta

summer pasta dishes

I'm hot. You're hot. She's hot. We're hot! Sounds like a bad wedding band, right? As fond as I am of party hits from the 80's, today I am actually just talking about the weather. It went from cold and rainy to sweltering and humid overnight in Chicago. Yesterday was the first day of the year where I had absolutely no interest in eating hot food. … [Read more...]

Elegant First Course: Cold Pea Soup with Mint

pea soup recipe

The appearance of shelling peas at the Oak Park Farmers Market on Saturday meant that I could make one of my all-time favorite recipes this weekend. A recipe that is only in play for a few weeks each year: cold pea soup with mint. Luckily, this recipe is also a favorite with my soup-loving husband, so when I put it on the menu for Father's Day, he … [Read more...]

Sautéed Turnip Greens with Green Garlic

how to use hakurei turnips

There is a saying in cooking, or maybe gardening, along the lines of: what grows together, goes together. As spring turns into summer, and farmers markets all over the country begin to overflow with fresh, local fruits and vegetables, it can be helpful to keep that axiom in mind. If you are not sure how to use your farmers market, or garden, … [Read more...]

Father’s Day Dinner: Lighter Chicken Parm

lighter chicken parmesan

Is it a bad sign that when I made my husband's favorite dish for dinner this week, he was terrified? Had I bought something expensive? Was the car totaled? There had to be some bad news. Why else would I make chicken parmigiana on a random weeknight? (The truth is, I was just in the mood for it myself. Also, I bought a handbag.) Yes, my … [Read more...]

How to Make A Watermelon Basket

fruit salad in a watermelon basket

Turning whole watermelons into adorably shaped bowls for serving fruit salad is a Pinterest staple. Having once carved a round baby watermelon into a bloody brain for a second grade Halloween party, I felt like I needed to redeem myself by making one of these less macabre watermelon shapes. JR's first grade class Author's Tea was on the agenda for … [Read more...]

Farmers Market Find: Green Garlic

how to use green garlic

If you have visited your local farmers market this spring, chances are you have seen a lot of spring onions. But are you sure it was green onions that you saw? Could it possibly have been green garlic? The two crops look very similar. And, of course, they are related as onions and garlic are both members of the allium family. (Other cousins include … [Read more...]

Restaurant Review: Sepia

sepia review

Today, May 26, is my twelfth wedding anniversary. My husband and I got married on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. I wrote more about my wedding, and how we served corn pudding at dinner, in this post. For today, I only bring up the fact that it is my anniversary because I am reviewing the restaurant we went to … [Read more...]

How to Get the Most out of Shopping at the Farmers Market

how to shop the farmers market

This Saturday, my beloved Oak Park Farmers Market reopens for the season. It can't even tell you how excited I am. Zuzu has swim practice across the street from the farmers market from 9-10:30 am and my plan is to spend that entire hour-and-a-half browsing at the market. Ninety minutes at the farmers market is not too much for me. As a home … [Read more...]

May Chicago Food Swap Recap

Chicago food swap

The Chicago Food Swap had its May event this past Sunday, May 18, at Green Home Experts, a "green" lifestyle boutique in Oak Park. This was the third time that owner Maria Moran opened her store's doors to the Chicago Food Swap and, just as before, it was a perfect location for a swap. On a sunny spring afternoon, Maria's garden center was a … [Read more...]

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

national chocolate chip cookie day

Today, May 15, is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. I don't usually pay attention to these made-up food holidays but I will take any excuse to write about, or make, chocolate chip cookies. I think homemade chocolate chip cookies are just about the best dessert in the world. Willpower and restraint go out the window when I am presented with a … [Read more...]

Ramps Two Ways

how to cook with ramps

It's spring and that means that foodies everywhere are losing their minds over ramps. For the uninitiated, ramps are a variety of wild leek with a mild garlic flavor.  They have a small bulb at the bottom and a leafy green top. A staple of farmers' markets, ramps are apparently hard to cultivate and tend to be available only for a few weeks in the … [Read more...]

Smoked Turkey Banh Mi

vietnamese sandwich

Zuzu came home from school dejected the other day because she had not gotten her first or even second choice for her class project on French-speaking countries. Instead of Canada or Belgium, Vietmam was the country Zuzu had been assigned. My first thought was: you dodged a bullet there, kid! I would absolutely love to do a school project on … [Read more...]