• The Chopping Blog

Dry Wine: How Sweet It Is

Stop me if you've heard this one. A German walks into The Chopping Block. He approaches the counter and asks, “Do you have any wine I could taste?” The guy behind the counter (probably me) ...

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Salads that Will Make You Smile and Fill You Up

  I love to make healthy salads that leave me full and gratified. Here are some tricks to making delicious salads that won’t leave you rummaging through your kitchen cabinets an hour later looking ...

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Food Comics: Bibimbap

We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he shows us how to make one of the most popular ...

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Love Craft Beer? Tour Chicago's Lagunitas Brewery

In the past couple years, hundreds of craft breweries have been opening up around the country. According to The Hop Preview, there are 66 breweries in the Chicago land area alone. One of the largest ...

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Let the Good Times Roll at Mardi Gras Madness

  Mardi Gras is right around the corner making me long for the the scents and tastes of New Orleans. It is truly one of my favorite cities on earth with its unmatched charm, romantic beauty and ...

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Resist the Drive-Thru in Favor of Quick Healthy Meals

All I wanted to do was pull up to the bright light, speak my order into the backlit menu, order a burger and fries, then sit on the couch and relax. I’m just like you, but my schedule fluctuates: ...

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Native Tongue Presents: The Grocery Store to Home Cycle

  There are many misconceptions about healthy eating: it’s too expensive, it’s difficult, it’s time consuming. Healthy eating might seem intimidating, so let’s break it down step-by step from the ...

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Chocolate Crazed? Here's Why Your Body Reacts to Chocolate

Chocolate is a very complex food, not only in how it is made, but in how it is perceived. Chocolate stirs up emotions, especially pleasure, when we receive and eat it. You may have indulged in ...

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Best French Toast Ever

That's a pretty big claim. I can think of a hundred different ways to make a crazy-delicious French Toast. But this one is my absolute favorite. It is simple but incorporates a special little twist ...

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Sopa Azteca: The Ultimate "Company Soup"

  Growing up in Chicagoland in the 70s and 80s, I don’t remember eating much ethnic food.  We were a meat and potatoes kind of family.  And is with most families with three children with three ...

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Making Dessert for your Valentine: Score with Strawberry Pasta

  Box of fancy candies? Cliché. Chocolate covered strawberries? Done to death. Conversation hearts? We're not in grade school anymore! So what to do when you need a unique crowd pleasing... or date ...

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Why Sharing Food is So Special: A Valentine's Day of Memories

  For our past three Valentine's Days together (in three different Chicago apartments; that's real estate for ya!) my boyfriend and I have each made each other a surprise dish to impress each other ...

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Cioppino: The Perfect Seafood Lovers Stew

  Fall and winter are two of my favorite seasons. The meals during these times tend to be a bit heartier, comforting and warming. Those seasonal meals deliver the perfect warming hug to help get you ...

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Making Extracts: The Essentials

  Extract (noun): a preparation containing the active ingredient of a substance in a concentrated form.

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Bar Basics

Have you ever tried to make a cocktail only to discover that it is way too strong, too watery, or too sweet and have no idea how to fix it? Knowing a few ratios and bar basics will help. Making a ...

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Ooey Gooey Chocolate Lava Cakes

  With Valentine's Day lurking around the corner, it's time to eat chocolate! I don't need an excuse to eat chocolate, but I feel better about indulging when everyone else is doing the same.

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5 Cooking Tools That Will Work Hard for You

  Stocking your kitchen with the right tools can be a daunting task. There are a lot of resources to consider, places to shop for cooking tools, and it can all get a little overwhelming. Plus if ...

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Grocery Shopping for Summer: What’s in a Bodybuilder’s Fridge?

  As a personal trainer, I work with lots of people who want to lose weight. No matter how hard and how often you exercise, if you aren’t eating in accordance to your goals, you aren’t going to have ...

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A Cheesy Valentine Meal That Can't Be "Beet"

Valentine’s Day is just under two weeks away. Did you forget? It’s easy for this holiday to sneak up on a person, and next thing you know it, you are scrambling to find a dinner reservation. Do not ...

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Macaron Mania

  They’re petite, delicate, colorful and come in endless varieties that melt in your mouth. Yes, I’m talking about macarons! Macarons seem to make any occasion more special, and we’ve certainly found ...

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A Treasure Map for Food Adventures

  I recently rated three mobile wine apps I felt helped me in selecting wine and tracking my tastes. I wanted to follow up on that with a second post about finding the right cheese pairings for wine. ...

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Food Comics: Broccoli Feta Pasta Salad

We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he shows us how to make a tasty pasta salad and ...

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Why Budget Friendly Grocery Shopping Doesn’t Have to Be a Nutritional Nightmare

As often as we find BOGO deals for junk food, it still comes as a surprise that so many nutritional foods are actually fairly cheap and budget friendly. Knowing what to shop for and when to buy is ...

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Homemade Doggy Treats for Your #1 Valentine

  Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and we all know who makes the best valentines… our furry friends! Instead of buying store-bought treats, make your sweet pups some homemade biscuits with ...

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Fall in Love with Le Creuset

  Iconic, indestructible, intimidating? Since 1925, Le Creuset has set the standard for homemade haute cuisine.

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Cast Iron Conundrum: Le Creuset or Lodge?

The answer to this question is YES! I actually suggest both of these brands. While they are both cast iron and can perform many of the same functions, I’ve found it worthwhile to have several styles ...

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Acid and Fat: The Yin and Yang of Cooking

Understanding how acids and fats affect the flavor and texture of our food can be an ace card in your cooking game.

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The Power of Polenta

  Polenta is an ingredient that may sound exotic and unapproachable, but it is in fact, easy to make, and even better… it's delicious! Every cook knows you should always try a food at least once, ...

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Simply Delicious: Maiale al Latte (Milk-Braised Pork)

  The classic Italian dish of Maiale al latte (milk-braised pork) is one of my favorite examples of the rustic simplicity of Italian cuisine. The origins of Maiale al latte are hotly debated with ...

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Starbucks' Copycat Muesli Bread

  Whenever the New Year rolls around I always have my fair share of “resolutions.” Lose weight is always the number one year after year, but after that, at least for the month of January, I like to ...

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Vegan Almond "Ricotta" - A Non-Dairy Decadence Made Easy

Who doesn’t crave a creamy bubbly lasagna, or a decadent stuffed ravioli? Who wouldn’t want to indulge in a sweet and crispy cannoli, or sweet & fluffy crepes? These classic comfort foods all have ...

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Go-To Formulas for Clean Eating on a Weeknight

Many of my clean eating cooking class students express the same desire to me: they want to be able to just open their fridge and cook a delicious, healthy meal from what they have on hand, without ...

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Mushrooms On My Mind: The Tale of a Fungi

"Yuck! Mushrooms!" How many times have I heard that exclamation from the mouths of kids (and many of my beloved adult friends and family). If you are a mushroom hater, I understand you: the texture ...

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The Simple Way to Cook a Simple Steak

One of our more popular classes at The Chopping Block is Steakhouse DIY. Many of our students sign up for this class for the simple reason that cooking a steak at home can be a terrifying experience. ...

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Agar Agar: The Gelling Agent So Nice They Named It Twice

Agar Agar sounds like something a molecular gastronomy food scientist would have and only they would know what to do with it. But the truth is, it is very easy to work with and readily available at ...

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A Healthy Smoothie to Start Off the New Year

It’s the first week of January, and people all over the world are making resolutions. A common resolution is to try and lead a healthier lifestyle by eating better food. A simple and delicious way to ...

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Sophisticated French Food Made Easy

There’s something magical about garlic, cream, white wine and fresh herbs. Maybe it’s because when you simmer them together they play a beautiful ballad. Perhaps it’s simplicity at its best. Maybe… ...

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Why Buy What You Can Make? DIY Spice Blends

One of the most common thing students at The Chopping Block say they want to master is the ability to not have to follow a recipe. They want the confidence to throw flavors together and be able to ...

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A Cure for your Winter Blues: Snacks and a Movie

Now that the holiday season is winding down, but the weather outside is still chilly, hibernation season is in progress. This is a time when we’re licking our financial wounds from spoiling our loved ...

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Are you ready to get Bread-y? Top Tools for the Home Baker

  Cold weather outside means it’s time to wake up your oven and warm up with some fresh, homemade bread. Bread making can be intimidating, but with the right tools and a few helpful tips, you’ll be ...

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Food Comics: Pasta Carbonara

We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he shows us how to make an easy yet impressive ...

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I Can't Believe It's Not Champagne

  The year is almost over, and that means it's time for everyone in the food blogosphere to start talking to you about that Champagne, which you will presumably be drinking sometime in the very near ...

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Peruvian Superfoods to Try in the New Year

  I recently took a ten-day hiking trip to Peru with my family. Every year we get together to explore a new region of the world. This year we chose Peru. None of us had ever been to South America for ...

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A Spectacular Holiday Dessert: Buche de Noel

Since my Thanksgiving Cornucopia was so much fun, I decided to tackle another favorite recipe from my childhood - the Buche de Noel or Yule Log. Between wrapping presents, hosting a holiday party or ...

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Zinfandel + Meat = A Pairing You Can't Pass Up

Let me tell you a little story about a bottle from Sonoma County. It was a fine bottle, made of the best type of glass… the kind you put alcohol in. It shone with promise and purpose, excited about ...

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Chocolate De Abuelita

  It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here! The event I’ve been waiting for all year! No, it’s not that holiday this weekend where we celebrate by buying stuff. It’s the time of year where everyone ...

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Cooking with "Nothing" in the Fridge

  It's an inside joke at my house that there is never anything in the fridge to make a meal. At least every time my girlfriend checks, that seems to be the case. I, of course, immediately welcome ...

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Basil: An Herb for All Seasons

  To some it's a powerful culinary ingredient, to others basil holds religious and medical significance, while others simply put it on their bruschetta. Basil is common and one of the oldest herbs ...

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Miracle Cure For Bland Food

A few months back, I had purchased some fresh black truffles for a dinner party I catered, and I had a small piece of truffle leftover.  I, of course, was not going to let that truffle go to waste ...

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Homemade Snickers Bars

  I am a competitive person by nature. Not sure if it’s growing up with a twin sister and we competed against each other at times, but if there is ever a contest going on that I can remotely ...

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French Onion Palmiers: Vegan Holiday Appetizer

  Frozen puff pastry! It’s amazing. It’s light. It’s flaky. It comes out of the oven all golden, crunchy, and fluffy. It’s so convenient. It’s in almost every grocery store freezer section. And one ...

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Japanese Homestyle Foods You'll Want to Make in January

  While we love making sushi and ramen from scratch (like, love-love), we couldn't help but want to share with you some of our other favorite Japanese dishes to make in your home kitchen. If sushi ...

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Essential Cleaning Supplies for Every Kitchen

There are so many cleaning supplies on the market. Even a simple trip to the grocery store for cleaning supplies leaves me feeling a little overwhelmed. But while the options seem unlimited, there’s ...

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Chiang Mai Feast: A Deep Dive into Thai Food

I first fell in love with Thai food as a teenager. I loved the sweet, salt, sour and spice that is synonymous with Thai cuisine. The more I ate it, the more I loved it. It wasn’t until college, ...

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The One Chef Everyone Should Know

                              It is impossible to begin to teach people how to cook without referencing something or someone from the past, whether it be a technique, a recipe or enlightened culinary ...

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Eating for Luck: Our New Year’s Eve Extravaganza

  While many people associate the New Year as the perfect time to start healthier eating habits, there are also a lot of people that ring in the New Year by superstitiously eating a variety of ...

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Edible Holiday Gifts: The Sweet, The Spicy and The Salty

If you’re looking for a host gift, a stocking stuffer, or something to put under the tree, edible is best when it comes to gifts. These homemade gifts are minimal effort and maximum tasty so you can ...

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‘Tis The Dip Season

While celebrating the holidays, cheering on favorite sports teams, and avoiding the winter cold, people want to eat their favorite dip dishes together. That being said, after the fifth cheese-based ...

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The Dish to De-Stress: Homemade Pasta

  I have three great loves in my life:  my husband, my puppy and making homemade pasta. Okay, okay… maybe there are a few more things and loved ones that rank above making homemade pasta, but it is ...

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Impress Your Guests with This Easy and Elegant Appetizer

Because this is the time of year when a lot of us are hosting holiday parties, I'm inspired to share a very simple and impressive recipe for your next party that your guests are sure to love.

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Homemade Candied Nuts, a Christkindlmarket Classic

Chicago's Christkindlmarket is a wonderful tradition full of sights, smells, and flavors of the holidays. From ornaments, to toys, to the famous German Gluhwein, there's something for everyone. But ...

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Pokémon GO for the Wine Enthusiast

What do Pokémon GO and wine have in common? Well, if you're like me, they're both subjects you know little about.

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A Holiday Horn Of Plenty: The Cornucopia

The cornucopia, a symbol of abundance and nourishment used to grace many a Thanksgiving table but seems to have fallen on hard times these days. Be it made of bread, woven wicker or something a ...

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Five Tips for Better Chili

  I know, I know. You already have the world's greatest, undisputed, competition-winning-if-you’d-ever-submit-it chili recipe. You have that special tequnique of stirring counter-clockwise in your ...

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Food Comics: Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas

We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he shows us two ways to utilize all of your ...

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Short Ribs are Not Short on Flavor

  If you aren't craving Thanksgiving leftovers today, I have a dish that is hearty and satisfying and also helps warm up the house on a cold day. Better yet, it's not turkey!

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Celebrate Tamale Season

For Thanksgiving, I didn’t grow up eating green bean casseroles, canned cranberry sauce, or soggy bread that was shoved in a turkey cavity and left to cook there. Nope! Thanksgiving meant using ...

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Forget Plain Sugar, Sweeten with Simple Syrup

  You have a $20 bag of coffee and your new French press. Now, it's time to put away your granulated sugar and elevate your coffee with simple syrup. Simple syrup is easy to make and has multiple ...

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Soup, The Ultimate Comfort Food

This time of year when it’s starting to get chilly, my favorite comfort food is a nice warm bowl of soup. As the temperatures started to drop this past weekend, and I was eyeing the beautiful ...

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From Baking Pan to Bowl: Lasagna Soup

There is an old proverb that says “The way to a man’s heart is through their stomach.” So when I had the opportunity to cook for my husband for the first time, it was late May, still a bit cool ...

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Vegan Holiday Decadence: Chocolate Candy Cane Tart

One of my secret guilty pleasures about being vegan is proving to many skeptics that plant-based food is delicious, rich, and satisfying. Despite this proving to be quite the challenge at times, it ...

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What the Heck's Up with Honey?

  How does that Cole Porter song go? "Bees do it"? I don't think Porter meant "fall in love"; I think he meant make honey. Put on your beekeeping outfits, because not only are we going to explore ...

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Caring for your Wooden Cutting Boards and Utensils

Wooden cutting boards and utensils are a great addition to any kitchen. They look great, and they can last a long time if taken care of properly. The trick to getting a long, productive life out of ...

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Just the Tip: How to Fix a Broken Knife Edge

After having taught more than a few Knife Skills classes here at The Chopping Block, there’s one constant question I’m asked during the “How to sharpen a knife” portion of the class: What do you do ...

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Taste of Thanksgiving

  Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. It’s full of family, friends, and lots of amazing food – all of which I’m incredibly thankful for. So often, we take for granted how many ...

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Homemade Pickles for your Thanksgiving Table

  I love pickles. I love the crunch and vinegary bite! They are such a great accompaniment for so many things and the possibilities are endless when it come to making them. You can pickle so many ...

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The Comeback of The Old Fashioned Cocktail

Ten years ago when I started bartending, Old Fashioneds weren’t a “thing”… at least not one that you wanted to drink. This was a time when bitters were scarce, misused and misunderstood, bar spoons ...

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Minimal Dishes, Maximum Reward

In life, you've got to take the good with the bad. Or in my case, the dishes with the food. I hate doing dishes and most people who live in Chicago apartments know that a dishwasher is a luxury. ...

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Homemade Ravioli: Squash-Filled Bundles of Love

  It's that time of year when the grocery stores are displaying bins overflowing with beautiful winter squash. I was inspired by the fall bounty of butternut squash that was on sale, so I added it to ...

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Rooting for Ginger Root

  Okay, I admit it. I am a ginger addict. From its warm and earthy aroma to its sharp and spicy flavor, its lure is undeniable. Not to mention its health benefits!Ginger contains gingerol, which is ...

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The Gift of Good Fortune... Cookies

One of the big-time benefits to living in the great city of Chicago is the vast array of cuisines that are at our fingertips. It doesn’t take much to happen upon authentic food offerings from a ...

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Food Comics: French Meat Pie

We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he shows us how to make one of his family's ...

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We Appreciate You

  This year we are celebrating 19 years of getting the country to cook through education and entertainment in our classes, private events, and retail products. None of this would have been possible ...

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Stop Treating Spaghetti Squash Like Pasta

It sounds like a cruel trick to make you eat healthier like “turkey bacon” instead of “bacon” or “real corn” instead of “candy corn.” Every time its name gets mentioned we hear the same question: ...

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Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

This recipe has been floating around my house for years. It’s from one of my favorite cookbooks, Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. For some reason, I had never made it before recently, which ...

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Did You Miss Apple Fest?

  We're still reeling from the amazing Apple Fest that took place in Lincoln Square at the beginning of this month.

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The Bitter Truth

In the past 15 years, cocktails have gotten more and more complicated. Mixologists behind the bar can make creating a drink look like chemistry, rather than an adult beverage. But you don't need ...

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Bread Baking 101: Skillet Bread

  I consider myself to be more of a cook than a baker. And that’s mostly because I love savory food over sweet food. So when I bake, I mostly make bread. Now I know working with yeast can be ...

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Vegan Vanilla Rum French Toast

I love breakfast and brunch! When I have the time, I love cooking a giant hearty breakfast, whether it's for myself, my boyfriend, or a full room of people. I also love showing people that vegan food ...

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Clean Eating Boot Camp with Chef Alia Dalal

  Chef Alia Dalal taught her first hands-on cooking class at The Chopping Block this past Saturday, and it was a total success. Clean Eating Boot Camp was a fun-filled, educational day of learning ...

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When Good Things Go Bad: The Art of Vinegar

  In general, when things spoil within the realm of food and cooking, it is seen as a negative thing. “Controlled spoilage” however, is the creation of some of life’s greatest and tastiest foods. ...

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Universal Stone: A Shortcut for Tough Cleaning Projects

  We carry a few cleaning products at The Chopping Block, but none are as versatile as the Universal Stone. The number of surfaces you can clean with this little stone is pretty huge, ranging from ...

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Knife, A Neighborhood Steakhouse

I dine out quite often, but I rarely go to steakhouses. You might assume that’s because I’m a vegetarian or just not a fan of red meat but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I am a hardcore ...

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Three Ways to Get Your Kid to Cook

  I'm lucky that I was brought up in a house where both of my parents excelled at cooking, and we ate a home-cooked meal almost every day. But as a child, my parents didn't really allow me to do much ...

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Game Night: How to Work with Venison

Fall is great for many reasons: changing leaves, cooler weather, Halloween, and hunting season. My husband enjoys deer hunting, and I enjoy eating venison and spending time in the country. Hunting, I ...

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Use a Cast Iron Pan To Cook Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Dessert

  I’m often asked when teaching a cooking class about the virtues of cast iron. It’s one of the easiest questions to answer, as well as one of the most difficult ones. Most home cooks love the ...

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Greek Pastitsio: Not Your Typical Casserole

I love a good casserole - layers of tasty goodness coming together to make a meal that fills the stomach and soothes the soul. Now, Pastitsio isn't like any of the quick weeknight meals I enjoyed as ...

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Homemade Pierogi: No Special Equipment Needed

I love any kind of dumpling. If there’s filling inside dough, I’m in.

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Homemade Hot Sauce Packs a Punch

I grew peppers in a garden for this first time this year. We planted ghost peppers, hot banana, bell peppers, jalapeno and cayenne peppers, and they flourished in the late-summer heat here in ...

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Time to Make the Donuts: Easy Apple Fritters

  Just last weekend, my family and I went to an apple orchard in Fennville, Michigan, called Crane Orchards. It’s perpetually packed on the weekends, and for good reason!

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Soup-er Easy Avgolemono

With the arrival of fall comes changing leaves, light jackets, pumpkins, and soup! Growing up, fall meant “Cream of Chicken Sundays.”  Every Sunday, my family and I would go to our favorite Greek ...

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Figs Should be a Familiar Fruit

Every day here at The Chopping Block, we create a tasting sample that highlights one of the gourmet ingredients we sell (and use in our own kitchens). We are known for our Truffle Salt popcorn but ...

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Make Your Pipe Dreams a Reality with These Piping Tips

Somewhere along the line, cupcakes became “the thing”.  They are all the rage these days with their interesting flavor combinations and beautiful decorations. The only problem is that their growing ...

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Announcing Chicago’s First Clean Eating Boot Camp

As the resident wellness chef at The Chopping Block, I spend a lot of time thinking about our relationship with our food. Chefs are known to obsessively tinker with flavor and plating. Some ...

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A Delicious Moldy Cheese Butter

  Cheese is known for many things including taste, mouthfeel, texture, and smell. Each cheese has its own specific flavors, some are mild and some are extremely pungent. One of the most flavorful ...

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Reducing Balsamic Pumps Up Flavor

  Let’s be honest, sometimes we get a little sick of putting ketchup on everything, right? I mean, it’s the perfect combination of salty, processed sugar, and funny sounds when you squeeze it out but ...

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It’s Time for Another Installment of Apple Fest

If you are an avid reader of The Chopping Blog and a loyal customer to our Lincoln Square location, I don’t have to explain to you what Apple Fest is. But if you are a newcomer, then get ready for ...

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Food Comics: Salmon with Balsamic Thai Chili Glaze

We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he shows us how to make Salmon with a Balsamic Thai ...

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DIY Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

If I were told that I could only have one food for the rest of my life, it definitely would be pizza.  If you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s you most likely only went out to eat if it was a special ...

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Bao Down to Yummy Steamed Buns

  I recently taught one of The Chopping Block's more popular classes, Dim Sum and Then Some. One of the recipes in this class is Bao, which is a steamed bun filled with chicken, pork, vegetables or ...

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Bring Some Routine to your Kitchen Cleanup

There’s a lot to learn about routine in a professional kitchen. From the order of tasks that need to be completed to open, to the timing observed when preparing ingredients and dishes, to the ...

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Creamy Soups: Hold the Cream

Fall is synonymous with soup. The possibilities are almost endless, and there is nothing quite as comforting. As the weather gets colder, a warm thick soup is just the ticket! We all love a creamy ...

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Got Sad Looking Herbs? Make a Simple Syrup!

  Does this sound familiar? You need two or three tablespoons of an herb for a recipe. However, your grocery store only sells herbs in large bunches, so you have no choice but to buy the whole ...

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Mastering Wine and Food Pairing with our New Guide

Pairing wine and food is not as simple as the old rule of white wine with fish and red wine with meat. It's much more complicated than that, but despite what some wine experts would have you believe, ...

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For the Love of Pasta

  Flour + Water + Eggs + Salt + a pinch of magic = True love!  I absolutely love making pasta from scratch.  How can something so simple be so delicious?!  I find it remarkable that you can make one ...

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Cocktail Party Idea: Drinks from Toronto

  Last weekend I drove up to Toronto and discovered that not only is it a culturally and culinarily rich destination, but the city contains one of the most creative cocktail spreads I'd ever ...

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That's Peachy Part Four: The Return

  It’s that time of year when I get to once again share my love of the peach.  

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Your New Favorite Fried Chicken

  I am an absolute fiend for using leftovers. In fact, my mania for using every last bit of EVERYTHING in the kitchen has been known to make a few eyes roll around the house. But when I looked into ...

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Building Confidence with a Late Summer Harvest

  One of the best parts about being a member of The Chopping Block team is that when you work for a place that is so passionate about education, you end up learning quite a bit along the way! So when ...

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Wrap That Weenie: A Tale of a Cozy Sausage

  Creating and writing new recipes is one of my favorite jobs here at The Chopping Block. It's an extremely enjoyable and creative process, but sometimes I feel challenged when I come across a dish I ...

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Classic Chicken Stock: Your Go-To Kitchen Liquid

  I remember how my view of cooking completely changed when I learned what a stock was and how to make and use them. At Kendall College, I was taught a simple yet critical component to cooking that ...

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How to French (Im)Press with Homemade Cold Brew Coffee

  Some coffee drinkers enjoy their brew hot, some cold, some black, some with all the sweet fixings. Me? I enjoy my coffee cold.  Ice cold and strong! Earlier this summer, I discovered cold brew ...

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A History Pop Quiz

  Quick quiz! How long has popcorn been a popular snack? 50 years? 100 years? 6000 years?

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A Flavor Boost When You're in a Pickle

One of the beauties of cooking is that even a simplistic dish can be a flavor-filled pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoy making those dishes which have two million elements to them and ...

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Tackling a Flaky Foe: Croissant Making in Paris

  For many who love baking, homemade croissants represent a particularly challenging prospect. So for those of us that don’t even like to bake, croissants can be downright terrifying! And let’s just ...

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Know Your Herbs

A lot of us don’t want to admit this, but summer here in Chicago is winding down, and it's already starting to feel like fall. But the farmers markets are still going strong, and there is an ...

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Bacon Inside a Burger is Better

We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he shows us how to make a Rosemary Bacon Burger ...

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Spatchcock and Roll

Ya’ll like chicken? Of course you do, it's like the official bird of America (Editor’s Note: No, it isn’t)! Chicken is so good that we will tell people that whatever exotic food is on their plate ...

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A Taste of Japan

A year ago my best friend Tyler and I visited Japan to celebrate his 30th birthday. In true #TBT fashion, I’m throwing it back and remembering all the incredible sights, smells and eats from that ...

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Chicken Tinga: As Addictive to Say as to Eat

Cooking a balanced and well-composed meal doesn’t require anything other than a few ingredients and a couple of simple techniques. The Chopping Block shows you this every week in our new ...

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Getting Figgy with Balsamic Vinegar

I have always loved the combination of sweet, savory and salty. Sweet and savory can't go hand in hand without salt. Salt bridges the two together to create some pretty incredible flavors. 

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Condensed Milk Veganized

One of the most convenient dessert ingredients at the grocery store is condensed milk. Often used to make custards, pies, cheesecakes, and especially quick & easy fudge, condensed milk is a quick way ...

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Quesadilla to the Lunch Rescue

 What are you eating for lunch today? If the answer is "I have no idea!" then how about a quesadilla?  

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Caring for your Cast Iron

Caring for cast iron can seem daunting. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about seasoning and cleaning cast iron, but I hope to clear those up with a few simple tips. Cast iron skillets and ...

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You Say Tomato, I Say Yes

While I’ve always loved the abundance of farmers markets in the city during the summer, I thought it would be a bit more gratifying to grow my own vegetables this year. Admittedly, my garden quickly ...

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Indian Dosa: A Thin Pancake Thick on Flavor

  If you have ever been to an Indian restaurant, chances are you have seen someone eating an enormous thin pancake, served with various chutneys and sauces. What is that crazy thing? It's called ...

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Raise a Glass with The Chopping Block

Last year around this time, I decided that I'd apply myself, use the resources The Chopping Block has in abundance, and start really learning about wine and liquor. What a year it's been. Between the ...

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From Grub Hub to Sticky Sriracha Chicken Thighs

They say the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. So, here goes. I’m a recovering Grub Hub addict. 

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A Beginner's Guide to Fresh Herbs and Spices

  When it comes to the use of herbs and spices, many of us think we’ve got it down pat. I know there was a time when I thought I was doing it right by shaking in some chili powder and dried oregano ...

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Fresh Picked Sweets From the Garden

  One of my favorite smells of summer is the sweet and pungent aroma of my herb garden on a hot afternoon, and one of my favorite challenges is finding ways to use every single clipping! If you're a ...

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Eggplant Parmesan 2.0

  I've been on an eggplant kick recently for good reason. Eggplant is so versatile and delicious! I know… not everyone likes eggplant, but hear me out. One bite of this grilled version of Eggplant ...

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Too Many Cucumbers will Leave You in a Pickle

It’s hard to believe that we are halfway through the summer already. It seems like only a few weeks ago that that I was planting my herb and vegetable garden and eagerly awaiting the first tasty ...

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Take a Gamble on Shishito Peppers

Apparently I’m obsessed with Shishito peppers. I say “apparently” because the amount of times I order them while dining out seems perfectly normal to me, but my friends think it’s excessive. So what ...

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Prickly Pear Margaritas are Fun Summer Cocktails

I’ve always been intrigued with the vibrant pink color of the prickly pear. A couple of weeks ago, I spotted some on sale while grocery shopping. I figured… why not? It’s my day off so let’s make ...

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Dry Your Eye: How to Chop Onions without Crying

A very kind and tolerant person once said “There are no stupid questions.” I think there are lots of stupid questions, like “Will this holographic Charizard card be worth enough for retirement?” or ...

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You Need to Have These Cooking Tools

There are some cooking tools that are essential to any home cook's success. I recently put together a list of what I think everyone needs to have in their kitchen.

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New Summer Drink Trend: Frozé

As a native Chicagoan, I can attest that we complain about two things: the never ending construction and the weather. This summer is no exception— it’s hot! We need something to cool us down and make ...

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Chicken Pot Pie Just Like Mom's

  This may be a bit more of a fall and winter dish, but I recently happened to have on hand some extra pie dough, a chicken and some stock. Not to mention it's been a long time since I tasted that ...

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Supper in a Snap is Your Solution to Weeknight Meals

We all lead busy lives. Whether you work a 9-5, 7-7 job or are a stay at home mom/dad, it can be hard to get a quick and healthy meal on the table every evening. The Chopping Block's new series, ...

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Bad to the Bone: Dry-Rubbed Country Ribs

Traveling 946 miles to New Orleans is a long trip. The drive from Chicago is a little over 14 hours. In those very long 14 hours passing through the middle of ‘Merica you are bound to get hungry (we ...

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Brown Sugar Sriracha Popcorn: Sweet, Spicy, Crunchy Love

The one skill all employees at The Chopping Block master quickly is how to make perfect stovetop popcorn. If you have ever been to one of our cooking classes or private cooking events, you’ve ...

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How to Eat at Chicago Festivals

  Chicago summer means festival season. Every weekend there is a different festival with between 25 to 100 food vendors to choose from. This past weekend I attended Windy City Smokeout, a BBQ and ...

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A New Knife Can Change Your Life

  Some people lust after Mercedes Benzes, but my junior high friends and I, we dreamed about having our own refrigerator when we grew up. Call us kooky, but we spent many a sleepover swapping future ...

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The Continuation of A Chef’s Travels Through San Miguel de Allende

  Every year, for an entire month I travel to one of the most charming, beautiful and quaint colonial cities in Mexico, San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato. For those who have read my ...

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Taking Care of Your Le Creuset

  A customer recently poked his head into the dishroom at our Lincoln Square location. He wanted to know whether or not Le Creuset cookware was difficult to clean and whether it was worth the ...

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Berry Delicious Pie

Summer is great for a lot of reasons: beaches, barbequeing, sunshine and tons of delicious fresh produce. Berries especially are in season during the summer months. I love berries and can never get ...

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Roasted Broccoli, Three Ways

If someone tells me that they don’t like a particular vegetable, I always suggest they try it roasted first. This is particularly true with broccoli. It truly makes all the difference in the world ...

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Passport to Paris

When I realized that Bastille Day was coming up this Thursday, July 14, I figured that was a good excuse to indulge in some French food (as if I even needed an excuse)! Bastille Day, for those that ...

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A Food Swap Changed This Mom's Life

When I first heard of the Chicago Food Swap a few years ago, I knew it was something special. A food swap is an event in which a group of people who have made something edible out of their love for ...

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Eating Well in the Wild: A Guide to Campfire Cooking

I recently returned from a 6-day backpacking and canoeing trip through a remote section of Superior National Forest with my girlfriend and another couple. We covered approximately 60 miles with 250 ...

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Why You Should Add Sorghum to Your Diet

  Would you like to know about the new food trend coming down the line?

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10 Tools to Transform Your Treats

  Baking is a science and every scientist needs the right tools for the job. Here are ten basics that will take your baking game to the next level.

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Dinner and a Show at Alinea

  The past few months have been a whirlwind of epic meals: birthday dinner at Le Bernadin; Nashville Hot Chicken at its birthplace, Prince’s; rabbit and truffles in a cave in Rome; and salsiccia ...

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5 Kitchen Hacks with Your Everyday Utensils

  It is said that your hands are your best tools in the kitchen. I believe this to be true with every ounce of my being, but what about the second best tools? Not all tools have to be ...

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Make Summer Pesto Now for Year-Round Use

Pesto changes everything.  It’s amazing with pasta, vegetables, poultry, seafood, pork or great as a spread for a sandwich.  Whatever your preference, it’s a great recipe to know. Now is my favorite ...

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Quick, Easy, Healthy, Weeknight Grilling Fare

Do you wait until the weekend to fire up the grill? Why wait when you don't have to? Grilling outdoors can be a quick and easy task any day of the week.  

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Corny Tips on the Perfect Ear of Corn

A very kind and tolerant person once said “There are no stupid questions.” But I think there are lots of stupid questions, like “Will there be another X-Men Movie?” or “Does this fedora look good?” ...

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Big Apple Food Frenzy

I recently returned from a mini-vacation to my favorite city outside Chicago, New York City. I try to visit New York every year to catch up with friends, explore neighborhoods, and try new and ...

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Street Food: The Best Kind of Summer Food

  There's something so whimsical and nostalgic about walking up to an elaborately designed food truck and ordering something delicious right off the street. It's almost as if you’re a kid again, only ...

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Bringing Pinterest Recipes to Life

I love, love, LOVE Pinterest! If you’re anything like me, you probably spend several hours a week on the site looking up new recipes to try. You may be searching for a recipe for a quick and healthy ...

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Festival Food Worth Making at Home

It's now summer, so it's a great time to relive Summercamp and dream about other festival food I will eat this summer. Festival food has evolved into its own subculture, such as Crawfish Monica at ...

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Supper in a Snap

  There are often times I come home at the end of the day and go on a search through my pantry and refrigerator. I want something delicious for dinner, however the search usually ends pretty quickly ...

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The Quest for the Best Bloody Mary

I love summer in Chicago. Admittedly, and not surprisingly, a large part of my affinity for Chicago’s summer has to do with food. I love the variety of food at street fests (Burger Fest is my ...

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Squash Blossoms are Awesome (Especially when Stuffed & Fried)

  When summer begins, most people get excited for beaches, vacations and school being over. But what makes ME a happy summertime girl? Farmers markets! From unique varieties of herbs, to almost ...

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Five Favorite Kitchen Tools to Elevate Home Cooking

  Somewhere in the sea of available kitchen gadgets, we know that there are some Holy Grail tools that will make prep, cooking and clean-up a breeze. These are the workhorses of the kitchen, and to ...

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Ready for Grilling Action: Keep It Clean

Grilling season has finally arrived! Chicago winters seem to last forever, but that only makes the grilling season that much more special. Cleaning your grill isn’t quite as exciting as firing it up ...

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Food Comics: Summer Sangria

We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he shows us how to make a Strawberry Peach Sangria ...

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VersaTHAIl Green Curry

  To many, Thai food seems intimidating. It has lots of unfamiliar ingredients and seemingly difficult cooking techniques. However, Thai food from scratch is easier than you may think, and with a a ...

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Adventures in Preservation: Dehydrated Rhubarb

  Spring is one of the most magical seasons for a cook. Farmers markets are opening throughout the city, rare seasonal produce start appearing in grocery stores like fiddlehead ferns, ramps, or my ...

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Become a Grill Master with our New Guide to Grilling

If you haven't already broken out your grill from its winter hibernation, what are you waiting for? Summer is finally here!

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Eat and Explore Chicago's Neighborhoods

There's no question Chicago's neighborhoods are full of culture and culinary treasures. One local chef is bringing attention to the culinary secrets in two of her favorite areas through walking ...

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Roasted Poblano Mac and Cheese

It’s barbecue season and, while I love grilling up a storm, sides are often my favorite part of a barbecue. Beans, greens, potato salads, and my personal favorite, mac & cheese are easy dishes to ...

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Avoid a Sugar Overload and Learn How to Can and Preserve Naturally

Refined sugar is public enemy number one today. So, what's a home cook who loves to can and preserve summer fruits and vegetables to do? Can the natural way!

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A Look into the History of Spam and Why You Should Try It

With Memorial Day now behind us, a long weekend that many take advantage of for quick, mini-vacations, I found myself reflecting on some of my past travels. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose a ...

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Canning Tomato Salsa: A Labor of Love

  It's almost that time again! I'm referring to the art of making summer last throughout the fall and winter months. I don't have any magic tricks up my sleeve to accomplish this task… just some ...

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Exploring Island Cuisine

  I love to travel because I find exploring local food to be one of the best ways to experience other cultures. My friends and family have learned to accept that I’ll ask cab drivers to pull over at ...

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Aw Shucks: A Beginner's Guide to Oysters

When I think of summer, I think patios, rose and oysters. Technically, oyster season used to be the complete opposite of summertime (with old adages telling you to only eat them during months with an ...

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How to Make Homemade Nutella

I’ve debated purchasing a Vitamix for years. Will I use it? Is the expense worth it? As a professional chef, I’ve known the answer all along. The answer is yes!

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Time to Make the Donuts and Peach Fritters

    I've never made donuts from scratch. When I was younger, I improvised by opening a can of biscuits, deep frying them, and tossing them in sugar. So, it's no surprise I jumped at the chance to ...

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Facing a Fear of Cooking Braciole

  Braciole is an Italian dish that has always had a very soft spot in my heart. This is a dish of meat worthiness for those who aren’t aware. It’s a thin slice of top round, flank steak or even pork ...

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The Light and Dark Side of Roux

Nothing is more satisfying than learning how to change the texture and consistency of a sauce. A great roux can take something that was once watery, and in a matter of minutes, transform it into a ...

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Tofu 101: Taking the Blech out of the Bean Curd

A culinary staple originating from East & Southeast Asia, tofu has made its way to the Western world’s food scene over the past few decades. It is low in calorie, cholesterol-free, and high in ...

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Latin Flare at Café Tola

  One of the great things about moving apartments is exploring new surroundings. While I have lived in Lakeview for most of my time in Chicago, I seem to pass at least one place every week I haven’t ...

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How to Make a Pan Sauce

What's not to love about a pan sauce? It looks (and tastes) fancy but takes virtually no effort, can be made with pantry staples (especially if wine is considered a pantry staple), and is made in the ...

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Chicago's Farmers Market Season is Here

Farmers' market season is now open in Chicago, so here's a preview of some of my favorite local markets.

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Avoiding Cleaning Your Oven? Follow These Steps for an Easy Clean

It seems like our ovens are always on at The Chopping Block. From baked granola and frittatas in the morning to roasted vegetables and meats at night, we’ve always got something in the oven. And of ...

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3 Easy Tips to Make Grocery Shopping Simpler

I used to hate grocery shopping. I would go into the store thinking it would be a 15 minute trip and it would turn into 40 minutes. I would go in for two things but leave with a cart full, and ...

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Something Missing in your Dish? Add a Dash of Tabasco Sauce

I grew up with Tabasco sauce on the table, right next to the salt and pepper. Sometimes the salt even has Tabasco in it. Avery Island in South Lousiana, where Tabasco began, is just a few miles away ...

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Skip Store-Bought and Make Your Own BBQ Sauce

  It's BBQ season, and I love BBQ. Last year, my husband configured our modest kettle girl into an offset smoker that successfully smoked ribs, pork shoulders, turkeys and even a 14-hour passion ...

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DIY Granola

  There are lots of great store-bought granolas, but one of my favorite simple pleasures in life is warm granola. Fresh from the oven and filling the room with a smell I can only describe as “warm ...

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Escape the Wine Rut by Choosing Bubbly

  It’s been almost a month since I’ve embarked upon a great adventure in the study of wines. It began with a complimentary wine class for The Chopping Block staff called “What’s In A Sip?”, and now ...

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It's Always a Good Time to Make Cookies

Who doesn’t love making cookies? With two young boys at home, I find myself making them pretty often. They like to help out and appreciate eating the cookies even more when they are a part of the ...

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Giving Back One Noodle at a Time

  This blog post is a bit of a departure for me. Instead of writing about a specific recipe or skill, I'm going to share my fun and rewarding experience about giving back to my community.

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Food Comics: Vegan Peanut Butter Mousse

  We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he tackles Vegan Peanut Butter Mousse.

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Traveling Toddler Treats

It's travel season, and last month, my family set out on one of the great trials of parenthood: taking a toddler on a plane. We asked for lots of advice before we left and the one common denominator ...

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This Bird is on Fire: Nashville Hot Chicken

I took a quick food tour through some Southern states sampling BBQ, shrimp Po’ Boys, grilled oysters, crawfish and beignets last week. Despite a bevy of delicious meals, the standout winner was a ...

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Coconut Macaroons: An Easy and Elegant French Dessert

French food gets a bad rap oftentimes for being an unapproachable and difficult-to-cook cuisine at home, only to be enjoyed in expensive, upscale restaurants. I am here to tell you that some of those ...

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No Ice Cream? Try this Dairy Free Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet

You know what's terrible? Not being able to have ice cream on a hot day. I’m lactose intolerant which means growing up in a Mexican household that put dairy on everything was torture. I remember ...

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New Orleans Eats

New Orleans, also known as "The Big Easy", is synonymous with jazz, culture and amazing food. Near the end of April, Jazzfest, an annual music festival, takes place over two weekends, featuring all ...

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Vegan Date Night: Truffled Polenta Cakes with Wild Mushroom Ragout & Garlicky Greens

  If you have ever set foot in The Chopping Block, you’ve probably seen (and hopefully tasted) our signature truffle salted popcorn. Everyone who works here has a jar of truffle salt in their kitchen ...

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Finding Fresh Fish

Growing up, summer started when Dad brought home the first catch. Striped bass grilled in foil over a bed of sliced zucchini and summer squash was and still is a staple for family dinners. This would ...

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A Small Peek into the World of Japanese Snacks

  There's nothing like traveling to Japan to make you call into question things you assume to be routine. Hand soap in the bathrooms? Optional. Rare, even. But a flush system with more buttons than a ...

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Pasta Versatility: How to Make and Use Homemade Pasta

  I love all things food, from picnics to paella to peaches and now, my latest obsession is pasta. I love teaching Pasta Workshop at The Chopping Block because we show students how to make their own ...

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Hate Doing Dishes? Get Your Pots and Pans Clean with these 4 Easy Tips

Cooking allows you to experiment, use your hands, and create an amazing finished product. Sharing that food with your friends and loved ones is even better. But as fun as cooking a dish and sharing ...

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How to Eat and Drink Prickly Pear

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the Southwest knows about the deliciousness that is the prickly pear. Yes, that spiny cactus is edible!

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Honey Mustard Roasted Chicken

My husband and I love honey mustard. When given the opportunity, we will slather it on just about anything and everything. So it should be no surprise that it’s the centerpiece of one of our favorite ...

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C is for Cupcake: How a Group of Kids Encouraged Me

I’ve had it in my head lately that I would like to create some sort of program that involved kids who are interested in food. It would be educational, yet fun and something I could do on my own time ...

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Hand Butchered Meat: A Dying Art Revived

  I’m a true ‘Chicago culinary foodie geek’ and my husband Mark is a true ‘Chicago history buff geek,’ so sometimes our conversations result in amazing and interesting treasure hunts. We recently ...

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Working with Duck Part 2: Duck Confit

Last month, I wrote about making Consommé. I used most of two whole ducks to prepare that recipe. What I did not use in the Consommé were the four leg and thigh portions. These I turned into Duck ...

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The Best Burgers in Chicago: VPT

Let's face it; springtime in Chicago hasn’t been the most exciting thus far. With my seasonal allergies acting up, random downpours of rain, and being pelted by snow recently, I really need something ...

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Go Gluten Free with our New Guide: Gluten-Free Gourmet

Going gluten-free is not a sentence to a life of boring and tasteless food. It is possible to give up wheat, barley and rye but not sacrifice flavor, texture or enjoyment of food!

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Shepherd's Pie: A Family Favorite

We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he illustrates how to make his grandmother's ...

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What is Kugel and Why is it so Good?

  Kugel. Never heard of it? You’re not alone. Most of the time, when I say kugel, people either look at me with a strange expression, or they say, “Bless you”.

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Travel the World in Each Bite and Sip

  I am a big lover of travel, especially when it involves food and wine. There is no better way to learn about a culture and what it holds dear than tasting its foods and wines and sharing them with ...

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Living Large with Leftover Easter Candy

  I've never been one to leave well enough alone; in my world there's always a way to make it bigger, better, and tastier. I attribute a lot of this mentality to growing up in a whole family full of ...

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Whipped Cream: A Versatile and Easy Complement to Any Dessert

There are many things in life we take for granted. For example, I will eat the same beloved foods time and time again, but don’t always ask myself the question, “How is this made”? It’s an important ...

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Feeling "Le Bern"

I had the pleasure of revisiting one of my favorite restaurants, Le Bernardin in New York City, a few weeks ago. I’ve been lucky enough to have celebrated a few milestones tucked into its chairs or ...

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The Dark Side to Garlic

In Star Wars, there is a light side and a dark side. The light side represents good, while the dark side represents evil, anger, and a  farmboy regressing against his father. But in the case of ...

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Vegan Comfort Food: "Oyster" Mushroom Po' Boy with Pickles & Remoulade

Before veganism started to make its way into mainstream eating, society was convinced that vegans ate nothing but lettuce. I remember having to work hard to convince my own friends that vegan food ...

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The Cake Cafe: Dublin, Ireland

  I have been feeling the need to travel these past few weeks. It could be the slowly approaching summer months or it could be the need to stumble across a new restaurant. In lieu of my wanderlust ...

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Vegan Turmeric Milk: A Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Immune Boosting Drink

  Turmeric milk is the superhero of the hot drink world. And unlike Hot Chocolate and Coffee, it contains no caffeine and far less sugar, but is just as, if not more rich and satisfying. It aids in ...

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An Ode to Breakfast: Greens and Grains

Breakfast is, by far, my favorite meal of the day. My answer to the hypothetical question about the single food I would choose to eat for the rest of my life? Breakfast food, always. (Yes, I am well ...

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Seed to Sip Coffee

When my husband and I first started roasting, I knew nothing about coffee. I was a tea person. Coffee was not something I really ever thought about, let alone considered roasting. I didn't even ...

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The Best Horchata You will Ever Drink

I have three favorite drinks that I prefer to drink on a nice, warm sunny day: hibiscus water, tamarind water, and one of my all time favorites, Horchata. My family tends to make all of these drinks ...

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Put an Egg on It

For most of us, cracking an egg is one of the first jobs we were given in the kitchen as a kid, scrambling eggs are one of our first recipes that we’re trusted to make and not burn down the house. As ...

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Comfort Food: The Healthy Remix

Trying to create “healthy substitutes” of your favorite comfort foods can sometimes be a challenge. Is it even possible to replace one of your favorite dishes with a healthier version and have it ...

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All Natural Easter Eggs

Growing up, the annual ritual of dying Easter eggs was a big deal in my family. Not content to simply dip boiled eggs in brightly colored dyes, we were constantly looking for ways to make new and ...

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Wine Spotlight : Mas de Gourgonnier

I recently took Fine Vintage, Ltd.'s WSET Level 1 course— so I’m learning about wine! Wine is about savoring the moment and paying attention to what we’re consuming.

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Food Comics: Simple Bolognese

  We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he tackles Giada De Laurentiis' Simple Bolognese.

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Chowing Down(ton): A Downton Abbey Farewell Dinner

  Last week, viewers all over the United States bid a fond farewell to one of England’s favorite TV families. The highs and lows of Lord and Lady Grantham and the Crawley family have entranced a ...

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Wines to Make Friends With

Did the title get you wondering what this post is about? Great! Keep reading. Because the wines I talk about will most certainly help you make new friends. So, you should befriend them…

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Kitchen Shoes that are Comfortable and Stylish

Meet Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the geniuses behind Animal, Son of a Gun, and Jon & Vinny’s, some of LA’s trendiest restaurants.  Image via: jonandvinnydelivery on Instagram   These chefs have ...

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A New Trick to Roasting a Chicken

  One of the things I love most about my job is that there is always something new to learn. It doesn’t matter if it’s from another chef, assistant, retail associate or manager, or even a student ...

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How to Make Consomme

Soups and sauces have long been my favorite aspect of cooking, so I had a lot of fun when I recently taught the Soups and Sauces portion of The Chopping Block's Culinary Boot Camp. One of the soups ...

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Food Evokes Memories

You know what I’m talking about when I say food evokes memories. It’s the smell of your mom’s homemade biscuits that used to wake you up on Sunday morning, the sound of popcorn being popped that ...

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Arroz con Pollo: One-Pot Family Favorite

  I have to admit that the inspiration for this dish came from an effort to clean out my freezer. We always have some frozen protein stashed somewhere in there, since I like to buy the family-size ...

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10 Methods to Cook your Way to a Clean Kitchen

A pantry can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse. We have been finding this out since we moved into our new condo last April and have had the cursed blessing of a pantry. The blessing side of it ...

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Why Popcorn is the Best Snack

  If you've been to The Chopping Block, you know we love to sample out the products we carry in our retail stores. We usually offer a variety of popcorn with different seasonings such as our famous ...

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Claiming Empanadas as Mine

It’s hard to say exactly why, but I’ve been thinking a lot about where I come from lately. Which, of course, is nowhere in particular — I was born in Miami to parents who were not exactly attached to ...

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The Only Four Knives You Need in Your Kitchen

  Knives are to cooking like addition and subtraction are to math. They are the basic building blocks upon which most of cooking is built. Now, you may be thinking that's so boring (at least that’s ...

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Beef: It's Wellington for Dinner

I was talking to my brother on the phone recently, and he started asking me a bunch of questions on how to make Beef Wellington. He had seen a video online and decided he would give it a try. This is ...

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Heavy Cream Veganized

In my college years, I got the majority of my culinary knowledge by watching cooking shows… religiously! However, this was in the mid 2000s, where almost all the celebrity chef recipes were laden ...

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Drinking Craft Beer in Kansas City

  Since my start at The Chopping Block, I have become much more accustomed to trying new food. It becomes a hobby when everyday there is a new flavored popcorn or appetizer for the store tasting. So ...

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Prep your Kitchen for Summer Cooking Now

With this week's warm weather blast, it looks like winter is winding down. When that happens, the days of binge watching Game of Thrones also come to an end. But while you are watching TV during ...

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Kitchen Pain Point: The Spice Cabinet

I don’t know about you, but my spice collection is one part of my kitchen that I would rather not think about. Most of my kitchen brings me so much joy; I love my wire fruit basket, shelf of baking ...

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Rescue Food and Build a Healthier Community during Restaurant Giving Week

As a member of the food community, The Chopping Block not only aims to get the country to cook but also prides itself on taking responsibility for our impact in our local community. Part of that ...

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Salt and Pepper are Basic but Essential

It’s said that spice is the variety of life, and for good reason! Spices are a very important factor when it comes to your food. Not only will they enhance the flavor of your dishes, they will also ...

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Experience Paris in Chicago with Crêpes

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I woke up on Saturday morning knowing two things for certain: one, we were ravenous; two, neither of us felt like dirtying up, or rather cleaning up, egg-soaked sauté ...

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Weary of Water? Infuse It for Flavor

  In my quest to live a healthier lifestyle, I decided to cut out almost all soft drinks and juices out of my life and drink a lot more water. In the beginning that was such a struggle for me because ...

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Make Focaccia to Use Up Extra Food

Focaccia is a simple, rustic and versatile bread that can stand alone, or as accompaniment to soups and sandwich fillings. It’s one of my favorite recipes because it’s a great way of using what you ...

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How to Throw a Paella Dinner Party

  One of my favorite meals to prepare for an intimate dinner party is paella. Paella is one of those one-pan meals that, if done correctly, is something truly outstanding. I usually serve a few ...

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Last Minute Valentine Treats

  When you are a pastry chef, the bar for edible Valentine's gifts is set pretty high. In years past, I've slaved over elaborately layered tortes, hand painted candies, and even a foot-wide fortune ...

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First Encounter with a Purple Pig

It has been a while since I have ventured out to try a new restaurant, so last weekend I made plans with my girlfriend to stay downtown and try something different. We decided to visit The Purple Pig ...

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Huge Love For Little Pies

There are two types of people in this world: pie lovers and liars. I LOVE pie. Pies will never make you feel lonely, tell you to get a gym membership, or hog the blankets at night. You can fill them ...

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Wines for a Perfect Valentine’s Day

  I don’t like to celebrate Valentine’s Day the traditional way: dining in packed restaurants and overpaying for food and wine are not my favorite things. But I do love to celebrate. So, I cook at ...

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Make Moussaka to Be a Better Cook

  Lamb, eggplant and tomatoes, oh my! I’m referring to the classic Greek dish Moussaka, and if you haven’t already tried this dish, you’ve been missing out. But, don’t feel bad… I’m going to teach ...

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A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen: Three Organizing and Cleaning Tips

If there is one thing anyone in the culinary world knows, it's that cleaning and organizing is 50% of cooking. But you don't have to be a professional chef to adopt some of the tried and true methods ...

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Taking Things Slow with your Crock Pot

I have said it before and I will say it again. I am not a lazy person. I know, I know: The Queen doth protest too much! But we all have our moments. We all have our days. Those days when we come home ...

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My Bloody Valentine: It's Blood Orange Season

Blood oranges are one of my favorite fruits. Their sweet and tangy flesh yields a distinctly vibrant juice and they are a great addition to salads, salsas and your snack drawer!

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3 Tips to Enjoy a Meal for Digestive Health

    The easiest way to avoid processed food is to cook your meals at home. At The Chopping Block, we teach you how to do that in our cooking classes and private events by working with quality, fresh ...

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Food Comics: 40 Clove Chicken

We are pleased to introduce Food Comics from The Chopping Block where our resident Cartoonist Tom O'Brien illustrates his cooking adventures. Here, he tackles Alton Brown's 40 Clove Chicken.

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An Exercise in Pescetarianism

At the end of December, I decided to go vegetarian for the month of January. And, to be completely honest with you, I technically I opted for pescetarianism, since I allowed myself to eat fish on ...

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Vegetable Enchiladas are Easy and Healthy

Most of us need to incorporate more vegetables into our diet. Why not wrap them in a corn tortilla and cover them with tomatillo salsa? I wanted to cook something fairly healthy to give to some ...

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Egg White Substitute for Vegans is Made of What?

  Depending on their usage, common egg substitutes have been tofu, cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca, applesauce, bananas, chickpea flour, ground flaxseed, and various commercial egg replacements. ...

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Farm to Table, Coffee Style

Now that a true Chicago winter has finally arrived (meaning temperatures have dipped below zero), I will gladly opt for hot coffee in the morning rather than my usual iced beverage. Even with an iced ...

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The Best Camp to Send Your Kids to this Summer

I feel the need to pre-empt this blog post by letting you know a little bit about what kind of person I am. I am one of those people who is honest and can’t even tell the tiniest of white lies ...

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The Spiralizer Makes Vegetables Fun and Delicious

  Fact: I love cooking gadgets. So when I got a spiralizer for Christmas, I was really excited! It’s turned out to be one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. The spiralizer makes it really easy to ...

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Fishing Adventure Gets You Hooked on Fish

Now that we are deep into winter and I have to schlep through the snow and cold to and from work, I sit here reminiscing of my wonderful vacation to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The sun was ...

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January is Cookware Month

  There are so many different types of cookware available now, it may overwhelming to decide which kind to purchase. Students often ask me: What’s the best cookware to buy? I believe you should not ...

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Say No to Processed Foods by Eating Clean

How is it already the middle of January? I had every intention of starting the year with a clean slate and trying to undo the eating and drinking damage done during the holidays. But with traveling ...

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Cooking Gives Back to the Community

  Knowing that I’m obsessed with all things food, my friends will sometimes ask me if the meals I cook for myself are epic. I’ll think about it for a second, knowing the answer I’m about to tell them ...

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A New Year: A New Food Conscious Lifestyle

  As we enter the new year, we all have our set of resolutions with the most common ones being promises of exercising more and eating healthier. While the two certainly go together, one tends to be a ...

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A Better Butter

Years ago I visited a friend living in Ireland. We spent days bumping down country roads in broken-down buses, drank gallons of cider, and hours drying out our rain-soaked everything. I loved the ...

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Ricotta Gnocchi: Little Dumplings of Goodness

A couple of weeks ago my daughter, Delilah, really wanted to make ravioli from scratch (a blog post for the future!), so the whole family got together and busted out some dough and made a ricotta ...

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Year of the Smoothie

  It’s the time of year when we all come out of our collective holiday food coma and realize that we may have packed on some holiday pounds, are feeling a little sluggish, and would like to spend ...

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Use the Right Oil for the Job

Since I started teaching cooking classes at The Chopping Block, one of the most common questions I get from students is why we use two different types of oil to cook with. So I decided to take a ...

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Bubbly Cocktails Can Brighten Your January

  In the day and age of the fancy cocktail, I must admit: I am not a big cocktail person. I love the idea of a cocktail, a civilized way to end the day and ease into the evening, surrounded with ...

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Non-Dairy Milks: Which One Should I Use for Cooking?

Whether you are vegan, lactose intolerant, or just trying to cut back on dairy, there are so many great non-dairy choices out there. Soy, rice, almond, coconut, hemp, hazelnut, cashew, oat, the list ...

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It’s Time for Easy Soup Season

Soups are one of my favorite foods, next to breads. If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know I’ve become a little bit obsessed with baking different types of breads. But with a new year, it's ...

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Ringing in the New Year around the World

I love New Year’s Eve. I love the excitement as the clock strikes midnight around the world, and the anticipation as the new year heads steadily towards me in whatever time zone I may be in. Last ...

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A Hidden Gem in Massachusetts

  Five years ago, I moved to this beautiful city of Chicago. Five years ago, I let go of the habit of visiting my hometown bakery at least three mornings a week in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Yes, this ...

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A Chili Worth the Extra Work and Wait

One of the greatest things about living in a city like Chicago is being able to experience the change of the seasons. My favorite season happens to be fall. It’s the time of year when we start ...

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Why I Hate the Number 220 and Other Brittle Misadventures

  Christmas may be over, but that doesn't mean the holiday cookies, candies, and all other sorts of sweets has to end. During this time of year, I make brittle. A lot of it.

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An Ambitious Winter Cooking Project: Phở

  As we enter the post-holiday period when the seemingly endless supply of Christmas cookies disappears and aspirational resolutions are looming, we Midwestern food lovers have to find ways to fill ...

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Dim Sum – Another Way to Share a Meal

Dim Sum? Some what? If you’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy dim sum, you’re missing out! Small dishes, wheeled on a cart to your table providing you the chance to try a number of dishes? I’m in. ...

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Tis the Season for Baking

  As a savory chef, this may be blasphemous to say but the best part of any meal for me is the dessert. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic and one of my favorite treats are chocolate truffles. I love ...

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Speedy Simple Supper: Creamy Broccoli Soup with Cheddar

  The holidays are in full swing. Soirees, holiday parties and family get-togethers have filled your days and nights for the past few weeks. Perhaps you even celebrated with us at The Chopping Block ...

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An Untraditional Pancake for a Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmastime is finally here, and I am among the many that are thrilled by this fact. I love so much about this time of year. I really enjoy all the traditions that come along with the holidays – ...

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Wintertime is Chili Time

December is one of my favorite months. It's the last month of the year, my birthday month, there are holidays are being celebrated, and then there's the start of winter. This year, meteorological ...

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Escaping the Chicago Winter to South Florida

Allow me to tell you about my recent Florida escapade! A dear friend of mine, living in Germany now, is in charge of planning our annual vacations. We have known each other for a very long time and ...

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Cheese Making at Home Part 4: Goat Cheese

One of the cheeses I was most excited to learn to make this summer at my two-day cheese making class at the Ploughshare Institute in Waco, Texas was goat cheese. Although it is an assertive cheese, ...

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Crema de Vie is No Store-Bought Eggnog

I feel like eggnog is something that people either love or hate, like mushrooms or tequila. Personally, I was optimistic when I had my first taste of seasonal, store-bought eggnog. I opened the lid, ...

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For the Love of Coconut Macaroons

  The Christmas season is here, and it is a time filled with joy, family, friends, and desserts... lots and lots of desserts. I recently hosted a Christmas party with friends. I was in charge of ...

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The Easiest Holiday Appetizer: Cocktail Weenies

  My favorite thing to do this time of year is to count how many times people say “I love Christmas.” I think at this point in our lives and in our society, we can all just assume that most people ...

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Ring in the New Year Greek Style

Growing up there were a lot of different things I loved about the New Year holiday. As a child, it was watching the ball drop and banging pots and pans in the street at the stroke of midnight. As a ...

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Easy and Edible Holiday Gifts

  It’s the time of year for gifting. I don't know about you, but whether it's for a co-worker, the host of a party you're attending, or family members - there are a lot of people on my Christmas list ...

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After-party Wine Tips: Storing and Using Open Bottles

  It’s December. Surely, you will have a gathering of friends and open some bottles of wine. If you have ready my blog posts for the last couple of months, you know exactly what wines to choose for ...

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Profiteroles: An Elegant and Easy Way to Say Happy Holidays

  There's no need to spend hours in the kitchen concocting a laborious dessert this holiday season. Let's embrace the “less is more” mantra, and make a stunning (but do-able) dessert that will ...

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Life Lessons in Bread Baking

If you read my last post you already know that I have a new found love of baking bread. There is just something very cathartic and meditative about the entire process. Something happens when I’m ...

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Be a Better Baker with our New Holiday Guide

December is the only month of the year when it's perfectly acceptable to set the diets aside and let the cookies, candy and cake reign. After all, it's holiday baking time! But baking for a crowd, ...

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Leftover Potatoes? Turn Them into Pancakes

  Need to get rid of yet another holiday leftover taking up valuable fridge real estate? Try these easy cheesy mashed potato pancakes. With a start to finish time of about 15 minutes and an ability ...

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Sourcing the Classics for Holiday Baking

  Over the years, my family has curated a menu of holiday “must-haves.” Thanksgiving turkey and mashed potato recipes picked from Gourmet magazines of years past, Christmas beef tenderloin and ...

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The Best Bread Pudding I’ve Ever Had

Last week, I taught the "Fall Vegetable Harvest" cooking class at The Chopping Block. I was so impressed with the outcome of one of the recipes that I wanted to recreate it at home right away: ...

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Switch Up Your Cookie Swap Sweets

I am now back from a three-week long venture in Australia and New Zealand, and of course discovered some amazing food along the way and just have to share one of my favorites with you. One of my ...

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You Successfully Tackled Turkey - Now On To Soup

  You nailed the turkey yesterday, didn’t you? Then you enjoyed that epic turkey sandwich at midnight… the one with the stuffing and cranberry sauce. But now you’re wondering what to do with the rest ...

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A Twist and a “Roll” on Thanksgiving Leftovers

  I am going to admit something that could get me into trouble. I don’t really like Thanksgiving turkey. In fact, I actually dislike it. I much prefer a roasted chicken with its crispy skin and ...

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Say Cheese... Platters

  One of my favorite things to do at The Chopping Block, besides teaching cooking classes of course, is making cheese platters. I know that it may seem like a weird thing to obsess over, but for some ...

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The Endless Variations of Homemade Vinaigrettes

  Making food from scratch versus buying prepared products has so many advantages: not only do you have more appreciation for the finished product but you'll enjoy the process of creating it. You can ...

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Warm Up with Gluehwein this Holiday Season

  As a German living in Chicago for a while now, I have embraced the American holidays, especially Thanksgiving. For me, Thanksgiving is basically a “friends-giving” holiday since I usually spend it ...

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Family Cooking Night - Meals You Can Make and Enjoy Together

Families cooking and eating a meal together has become less of a tradition these days, due largely in part to an increasing amount of worldly distractions that leave family bonding time and a nice ...

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Give the Gift of Cooking with Gift Cards

As you start to think about your holiday gift list, you may be overwhelmed trying to come up the perfect present. Maybe you know someone's favorite store, but have no idea what to pick out within it. ...

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Holiday Baking is Easy with Hazelnut Cupcakes

The holiday season is upon us; the turkeys are gobbling and the sleigh bells are ringing in the distance. The holidays are a time to get our fill of friends and family and lots of food, which makes ...

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Tour de Airport Culinary Adventure

I love a good food tour. A friend of mine recently went to New York and did a Pizza Tour, my old bakery here in LA is always one of the favorites on a walking cupcake tour, and of course there’s the ...

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How to Make Fresh Pasta without Eggs

I was recently craving fresh pasta for dinner, but my oldest son has developed a problem with digesting eggs. I did some research and found a number of eggless pasta dough recipes that I liked parts ...

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Your Thanksgiving Survival Guide

It's T minus 14 days until Thanksgiving. Do you have your game plan mapped out yet?

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10 Tips for Doing Your Holiday Baking Like a Pro

  It's holiday baking time, the season where it's perfectly acceptable to fill our kitchens with cookies, cupcakes, candy and pies. Whether you are baking for a crowd or just a very special someone, ...

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Focaccia: The Perfect Dinner Party Dish

I recently made dinner for my best friends, and told them I would make anything they wanted. They weren’t craving anything in particular, so I headed to the grocery store to see what produce stood ...

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Wine Tips for Parties 101

  Last month, I wrote about some great wines to take to a party. But what if you are hosting a party? What wines will please your guests and be budget-friendly? The wine tips from last month apply ...

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CSA Boxes: A Beginner's Guide

  We all know that eating locally is the best option. We’ve been told that meals made with seasonal and organic ingredients are better for both the environment and our bodies. However, it's not ...

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The Latest in a Chef’s Travels Through San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

  Anyone who knows me well is aware of my love and fascination with the small beautiful colonial city of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I have been traveling there for the past 8 or so years for ...

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Braciole: Ultimate Italian Comfort Food

Braciole, pronounced bra'zhul, is a soul-satisfying dish that hails from Italy. It consists of a thin piece of meat, breadcrumbs, prosciutto, cheese and sometimes, but not always, hard-boiled eggs, ...

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Cheese Making at Home Part 3: Labneh "Yogurt Cream Cheese"

I will be honest. I had never actually heard of Labneh prior to my cheese making classes at the Ploughshare Institute in Waco, Texas. I was not only intrigued about the cheese making process but also ...

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Bread Baking Inspiration Thanks to the Brits

I love cooking shows. No matter how terrible the cooking show is, I will watch it. I love how dramatic they can become, I love how personal they get, I love everything cooking shows. So it really ...

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Seeking Fall Comfort Food? Try Tuscan Soups Like Ribollita

 

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How to Pickle a Peck of Peppers

One of my favorite things about working with food and cooking is that there is always something new to learn. There are so many ingredients, styles and techniques that we have virtually endless ...

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How To Do a Tim Tam Slam

Just one day from now, I will be boarding a flight that will take me to the other side of the world. My husband and I have long been anticipating our three-week trek through Australia and New ...

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Mull this Perfect Spicy and Sweet Halloween Treat Over

Cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, apple and orange are all the classic scents and tastes of fall. Add to that candy, costumes, candy, pranks, candy, scary scenes, oh, did I mention CANDY – and you ...

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Has Creativity in Food Gone too Far?

One of my favorite things about Chicago is the array of dining options. I love going out and seeing what the chefs of this great city are doing with food. It is exciting to see the creativity that ...

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Embracing Fall with NorPro’s Apple Master

Fall is often a mere blip in our city’s seasonal existence, before the long winter comes rolling in. Not this year! After a rather mild summer, Chicago is enjoying a slow, warm transition to fall. We ...

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Sugar Skull Fun for Halloween

October is my favorite month of the year. The leaves are changing colors, the air is getting colder and the best reason of all is coming up soon: Halloween! Halloween is a holiday that carries a lot ...

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Make Buttery Dinner Rolls This Thanksgiving

It’s not only fall and bread-making season, but it’s almost time for Thanksgiving! It’s my favorite holiday, and that is probably because of the giant feast I get to prepare and indulge in. The ...

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Eat Healthy During the Holidays

To me, holiday meals are all about quality—sharing the best meal you can with the best people you know. It’s not about having the most complicated dishes, the most expensive ingredients, the most ...

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Scared of Sugar? Try these Healthy Halloween Treats

So this whole Halloween thing has me wondering… who was it that decided that the requirements for Halloween treats had to be either sugary, buttery, or both sugary and buttery? My teeth just ...

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Chili

When the leaves start falling and the air outside gets colder, I like to make my go-to chili recipe. There is something so comforting about chili to me in the midst of fall and winter. If you read my ...

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Fall For Your Local Farmers Market

I love to attend farmers' markets all over the Chicago area during this time of year. It's so lovely to walk around basking in the sight of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, artisanal and ...

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Switch Up Slaw with Kholrabi

One of the more popular private corporate events we host at The Chopping Block is a team building activity called Iron Chef competitive cooking. Each team gets two different proteins and a mystery ...

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It's Bread Baking and Pumpkin Season

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year  - time to dust off those hearty comfort food recipes that have been lying neglected since the thermometer crossed that 50 degree line back in the spring. ...

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36 Hours in Paris

36 hours in Paris: three croissants, two Steak Frites, a Croque-Madame, four macarons, multiple Café au laits, a Crème Brulee, countless glasses of champagne and a few very fond memories made!

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Artisanal Grits are True Southern Food

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Fun and Food-Friendly Party Wines

The party season is upon us and that means one thing: fun wines. I love discovering wines that turn every party into a great experience. Often, we go to parties without knowing what food will be ...

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No Ice Cream Maker? The No Churn Ice Cream Trend is For You

I've noticed a lot of articles about no churn ice cream lately. From the Huffington Post to Martha Stewart, food writers proclaimed their love of these ridiculously easy-to-make recipes that require ...

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Taking the Easy Pumpkin Way Out

It’s not that I’m a lazy person. Really. Just… some days you really want dinner to be as simple as possible. I had one of these days recently. It was on my day off and it had wonderfully turned to ...

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Cheese Making at Home Part 2: Cream Cheese and Yogurt

I must say I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t know that cream cheese was made from sour cream when I arrived at my two-day cheese making class at the Ploughshare Institute in Waco, Texas. ...

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Red Beans and Rice Cake: Korean Food Adventures, Part 1

Just over a month ago, I stopped by The Chopping Block on my way to the Korean embassy in Chicago. Now, I'm writing from Deokso, South Korea, miles away from everyone and everything I knew.

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From Scratch Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are a treat I enjoy only once or twice a year. I should really eat them more often, but here’s my dilemma. I buy the tubes of cinnamon rolls from the store, and I know they are ...

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When Life Gives You Cucumbers, Learn How to Pickle

When life gives you cucumbers, make pickles. That’s how the saying goes, right?

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Food Fit for Football

It's my favorite time of year: football season. Tailgating, Super Bowl parties, eating food with your fingers. How can life get any better? For me, it is all about the food, game and friends. Whether ...

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Which to Use: Food Processors vs. Blenders vs. Immersion Blenders?

Kitchen space is a valuable commodity, so do you really need a food processor and a blender on your counter? What about that immersion blender stuck in your drawer?

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We're Proud to be a Part of Chicago's Food Museum

Less than one week ago, Chicago welcomed its first food museum. Foodseum is a free, pop-up museum currently featuring an interactive exhibit "The Hot Dog and Encased Meat of the World." The museum ...

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Fall Baking: It's Time for Cookies and Apple Fest Pie

As the temperatures begin to dip here in Chicago, it is important to rejoice in all of the fun fall baking we can look forward to now that we can finally turn our ovens on again! The two desserts I ...

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The Amazing Roasted Red Pepper

"That's my favorite smell, and I want it in a candle!"

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Our New Website is Now Award-Winning

In April of this year, The Chopping Block launched a new website. At over 100 pages, it was a labor of love and took almost a year to complete. We knew it was the right move when we started receiving ...

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A Twist on Tradition: Tres Leches Cupcakes

I have recently decided to get in touch with my family's roots. Of course, there are many ways to do that. But I decided to honor my heritage by making some of the food that my parents remember ...

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Everything You Need to Know About The Big Green Egg

You may have heard of it before, but just what is the Big Green Egg? The Big Green Egg is the Rolls Royce of grills and smokers, and it really deserves this title.

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Are You Baking in your Cast Iron Pan?

During my travels last month, I stayed with friends in their new house. As the curator of an amazing museum and an authority on rare books and maps, their lives are full of cool stuff. I expected ...

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Kale Chips Reinvented

I am often inspired by the students who take cooking classes at the Chopping Block. Let me give you an example.

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A Slice of Spice Pie

I love pie. Sweet, savory, fruity, meaty, I love 'em all. There is no such thing as pie season, pie is for every season. One of these days I'll get around to making a "Pie of the Month" calendar, but ...

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Papa's Hot Peppers: No Canning Required

As much as I hate that summer is coming to an end, this time of year does bring back a fond childhood memory. No, not back to school… but my Papa’s Hot Peppers.

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Chicago Loves Pierogi: Learn to Make it in our Cooking Class

There's no question we love Pierogis in Chicago. With such a strong Polish culture in our city, we've all likely tasted the traditional dumpling which can be made with either sweet or savory ...

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How to Make Bagels

I am not a baker, and that's okay. You don’t have to be well versed in baking procedures to learn how to make bagels. It's not hard. It just takes a little time and patience, because there is ...

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In Defense of Sweetness in Wine

Sweetness in wine is a funny thing. Take Riesling. Every time I mention it, I see facial expressions that tell me it’s not a favorite. When I ask why, the answer is “I don’t like sweet wines.” But ...

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Easy Canning at Home: Making Savory Pepper Jelly

Our Summer Canning and Preserving class, which features a new menu, is coming up in a few weeks! Because it’s a new menu, I went ahead and tested a couple of the recipes to ensure they worked well, ...

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Cheese Making at Home Part 1: Butter, Buttermilk and Sour Cream

I just got back from a two-day cheese making class at the Ploughshare Institute in Waco, Texas. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the class. When I take classes, I am always looking for ways to ...

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This Isn't Your Mama’s Peanut Butter and Jelly

I might have made the most delicious peanut butter and jelly in all of mankind. It is quite possibly the most perfect PB & J that civilization has ever seen. Even if you say to yourself right now, ...

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That's Peachy Part Three: They're Back

Out of all the food blogs I’ve written, the ones I’ve had the most fun with and enjoyed the most have been about my favorite place to travel, San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, and the fresh summer ...

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How I Became Brave Enough to Cook Fish

I am a forgetful person. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to overcome it. No matter how many post it notes I make or how many ‘reminder’ apps I download for my phone, I will forget something.

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The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg

I recently bought LeCreuset Egg Cups. Why? Because they are so cute! Then I had to figure out how to make the perfect soft or hard-boiled eggs so that I could use them.

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The Great Vanilla Debate

When it comes to cooking with vanilla, there are quite a few choices like pure vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste and vanilla beans. There's also vanilla sugar, infused vanilla syrups; the list goes ...

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Easy Breezy Breakfast Bars

This summer has seen an abundance of juicy and tart blueberries in the city. My mom reminds me that blueberries were the one food that she ate excessively when she was pregnant with me and rightfully ...

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Poke - An Appetizer with a Hawaiian Flair

I always find new dishes to love when I travel and my recent trip was no exception. Last month, I was in Hawaii for a wedding and one of the appetizers we were served became my new favorite dish: ...

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The Great Bubbly Debate: Champagne vs. Prosecco vs. Sparkling Rosé

Bubbles should not only be reserved for New Year's Eve or special occasions. I tend to enjoy the crisp, fizzy deliciousness of sparkling wine year-round, with and without the addition of orange juice ...

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The Poblano Pepper Challenge: One Pepper, Three Different Dishes

Every now and then it’s good to challenge yourself, and this is especially true in the kitchen. This challenge can vary from kitchen to kitchen, but it can perhaps look like this:

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The Dangers of Lacto-Fermented Foods on Your Nasal Passages

I am a preserver by nature. I pickle, I can, I cure. But what most people don’t realize is that vinegar is not the only way to preserve vegetables. You can also make lacto-fermented foods, which is a ...

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The Building Blocks of Cooking: Tools and Equipment

In the first part of the Building Blocks of Cooking series, we covered essential spices, vinegars and oils that home cooks should have in their pantries. This month, we'll highlight kitchen tools and ...

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Tabouleh, Tabbouleh or Tabbouli

It doesn’t matter how you spell it, it’s a healthy and delicious side dish! Tabbouleh is a Lebanese dish that is typically made of parsley, mint, tomatoes, onion, bulgur and seasoned with olive oil, ...

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Eggcellent Eggs

Eggs: so simple yet so complex. Their uses, versatile and preparation methods, almost endless. As one of my staples in my fridge, I’ll enjoy eggs for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack on any given ...

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Summer Dessert: Watermelon-Roasted Jalapeño Sorbet

I was working toward a degree in elementary education a few years ago, and one of my classmates was having a snack between classes. It was slices of fresh watermelon sprinkled with chili powder. I ...

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Expanding the Palate: Teaching Yourself to Drink (Well)

Back in college, when my friends and I had just hit our 21st birthdays and had more free time and spare change than sense, we decided to figure out the drinking world through random selection. We'd ...

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Love Wine Blends? Tell Me What You Really Like

Recently, several customers looking for wine have asked me for ‘blends’. It catches me by surprise. I don’t quite know what they mean. Sure, I know what wine blends are, but do they want a light, ...

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A Pretty Pickle: How to Pickle Grapes

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The Maine Event: Seaside Lobster Mac and Cheese

Summer for the Mast clan this year included a rare vacation. As us kids are slowly moving further and further from our hometown of Goshen, Indiana (think Houston, Fargo, and for me, South Korea later ...

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Cast Iron: Your Must-Have Camping Cookware

Taking a camping trip is something my husband and I have always wanted to do with our kids. We told ourselves that as soon as our little ones got a bit older and more independent we would take the ...

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Need Help Planning the Perfect Picnic?

We have so many opportunities to enjoy meals outdoors here in Chicago, from concerts at Ravinia and Millennium Park to Movies in the Parks to simply finding a quiet spot along our beautiful lakefront.

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Today Was a Blondie Day

Have you ever woken up in the morning and asked yourself, ‘What’s the best thing I’m going to do today?’ On a good day, the best thing I usually do is brush my hair or make sure my dog goes outside. ...

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How I Learned to Love Mustard

I was a very plain child growing up. My tastes were simple and modest. I did not like jelly on my peanut butter sandwiches. I only liked vanilla ice cream. And Cheerios were my go to cereal. I wasn’t ...

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Make Space for Others: At the Heart of Hosting

After every meal at The Chopping Block when entree plates are cleared and dessert is dished, I can hear the intervals of conversation between family or friends and sometimes perfect strangers who ...

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The Perfect Recipe for Picnic Fare under the Stars

Some friends and I recently went to a free concert at Chicago’s beautiful Millennium Park. The forecast was for a gorgeous night with great picnicking weather! It was a perfect night for laying down ...

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Gone Fishing: How to Grill and Fry Fish

When I was a little girl, my father would often take my siblings and I fishing during the summer. We usually would go to my Uncle Paul’s pond in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Uncle Paul had a catfish bait ...

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Back to School: Clean Eating Edition

I’ve always been a total learning junkie. Even back in the day I was a Class A nerd, taking classes like Etymology and Philosophy in addition to my usual high school course load. I’ve continued my ...

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How to Make Sushi at Home

Just because I am a chef doesn’t mean that I am absolutely comfortable preparing every type of food. For instance, I certainly cannot claim to be an expert when it comes to making sushi.

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The Power of Parmesan Cheese

Just recently in a class I was teaching at The Chopping Block, a question was asked about how to finish a risotto without parmesan. To which I responded, why wouldn’t you want to finish your risotto ...

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Greek-Inspired Picnic Fare

What do you do when you discover a small patch of sandy beach on the shores of Lake Michigan that looks essentially untouched? You channel memories of your favorite beaches in the world and begin ...

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Let's Call it Toad in a Hole for Brunch

Back in seventh grade home economics class, I learned a classic way to prepare eggs: dropped into a piece of bread with a hole in it on a frying pan! Over the years, I have learned from various ...

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Professional Chefs Make Mistakes Too

When I talk to home cooks, many share with me that they are afraid of trying things in the kitchen because they will make a mistake. They are worried they will create a “disaster” of some sort and ...

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The Building Blocks of Cooking: Spices, Vinegars and Oils

Is your pantry stocked well so that you are set up for success in the kitchen? Or do you find yourself running to the store for last-minute ingredients all of the time? If you are a newer home cook ...

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Easy Summer Entertaining

Once a week I get together with friends for food, drinks and silly reality shows. We all bring a dish to share, and I usually use it as an opportunity to try out a new recipe on my very patient ...

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Four Ways to Enjoy Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of my most cherished summer produce items. I always advocate eating, cooking and using seasonal ingredients at their prime. In my opinion, it should be a crime to sell tomatoes in ...

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Homemade for Sale

Do you make the best blueberry jam on the block? Have a cheese straw secret that is requested anytime you attend a party? Are your pickled peppers the talk of the town?

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Outdoor Dining and Drinks in Chicago

Almost nothing says “Chicago Summer” more than enjoying an outdoor beverage (and considering my last two blogs have been about hot dogs and my CSA box – it’s pretty apparent that anything summer ...

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Imperfect Produce Makes Perfect Frozen Treats

Professional chefs have a lot of rules they live by. Three of the most famous are probably:

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Throwing an Excellent Wedding Party on a Budget

I wrote about weddings a while back, but that was before I had officially announced my upcoming nuptials to my family. Now six months later, my partner and I are well into the swing of planning ...

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You Can Teach an Old Dog New Kitchen Tricks

I’ve been cooking and barbequing for 40 years and have tons of experience. So even as a new member of The Chopping Block’s team, I was skeptical that I might learn something new in a recent hands-on ...

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Barbequed Ribs: Low and Slow

When I was young and had just graduated from culinary school, I took a job as a corporate executive chef, and I was a little cocky. One of my first things I had to make was barbequed ribs. I did it ...

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Pina Coladas and Mai Tais Make for a Great Cocktail Party

This past Independence Day weekend was finally a taste of summer weather – sunny days and cool nights. What better way to take advantage of time off and great weather than a cocktail party on the ...

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How to Chill Wine Properly

If you have ever come to one of my wine classes at The Chopping Block, you know that I insist on wine being served at the right temperature, a temperature where the flavors and aromas can shine.

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Canning Cheats

If you have a friend with a fig tree, you likely have been gifted bags of figs from time to time. Last weekend, I was the lucky recipient of an extremely large bag of figs from friends. I kept the ...

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Gifting and Using Moroccan Tagines

Instead of using a traditional registry for their recent wedding, my friends advised their friends and family to give used kitchen supplies as gifts. While scouring the kitchen in search of a ...

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New Craft Spirits Program Serves Vodka Perfect for Moscow Mules

I know it's not grammatically correct, but it's a solid question: how do you vodka? I like to vodka cheap, strong, with soda water and maybe a little bit of citrus. Perhaps you like to vodka with ...

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The Protein Myth

If you were to pick up a fitness magazine or stop by your local gym, you’d likely hear mention of the latest health crisis in America: WE NEED MORE PROTEIN.

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Lemon Meringue Pie: The Perfect Summer Dessert

I really do enjoy baking, but I am much more comfortable on the savory side in the culinary world. I have my go-to desserts that I like to make when we entertain… dishes like fruit crisps, cookies ...

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New England Lobster Party in Chicago

I think the next best thing to beer is lobster, so I must share with you the amazing time I had at a recent New England Lobster class.

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Tuning Out & Plugging In: Crafting Your Music Menu

Cooking and music are two very separate entities that compliment each other in many occasions. As a class assistant at The Chopping Block, crossing back and forth between the back of house and dining ...

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Dough by Hand

If you're in a cooking class or private party that I happen to be assisting at The Chopping Block, you will more than likely hear me say, "The best tools in the kitchen are your hands!"

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How to Make Mango Sorbet in Just 10 Minutes

I made homemade sorbet. Impressed? I know, right! And guess how long it took me? Here's how to make mango sorbet in just 10 minutes.

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Food Markets Near and Far

As an interest in local food and the farm-to-table movement grows, there has been a rise in farmer’s markets and food halls. But in some parts of the country (and the world, for that matter), these ...

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It's White Asparagus Season

I noticed some really good quality white asparagus while visiting Whole Foods the other day. It made me think about how abundant this vegetable is in this country compared to ten years ago. 

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An Adventure in Frying Cheese Curds

Some days, things just fall into place.

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Recreating my Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in Chicago

Grilled cheese is just one of those things that you just can’t get enough of. It's a comfort food from your childhood that now needs to live up to your adult palate.

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Homemade Pizza Dough is Fast and Easy with a Food Processor

Whenever I teach one of The Chopping Block's pizza-making classes, I always demonstrate to my students how easy it can be to make dough using a food processor. They are usually impressed, and I hope ...

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The Summer of CSA and Farmers Market Inspiration

While the weather may not be cooperating, Chicagoans are ready for summer! We are pushing through the cold and rain to attend baseball games, concerts, festivals and farmer’s markets. Considering the ...

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Sip One of our Favorite Summer Cocktails: Pina Colada

As a pastry chef, sugar is just kind of what I do. Whether it's creamed with butter, spun into sticky clouds of cotton candy, pulled into colorful confections, sprinkled on cupcakes, or burned into a ...

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How to Dry and Preserve Morel Mushrooms

I purchased a house in Michigan last August and have been excited to go morel mushroom hunting like I used to when I was a kid. I have gone out over the years with my brother but haven’t had any ...

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Porking Out in the Mile High City after our Whole Hog Class

As I've mentioned before, I spend a good chunk of the summer traveling. My other job takes me all over the country, and one of the things I always try to do is explore the culinary scene of the ...

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Bunna: An Experience in Ethiopian Cuisine

I have always enjoyed eating Ethiopian cuisine and recently was fortunate to experience a charming vegan Ethiopian restaurant called Bunna Café, in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn. Nestled between ...

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Throw Your Dad a Bone for his Father's Day Gift

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Come on a Summer Wine Adventure

Summer is a time for adventures in wine. Gone are the cold days of winter, when we reach for the familiar because we need comfort. When the sun is shining, fresh foods are tempting us in the markets, ...

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Everything you Need to Know about Rye Whiskey

Some new craft spirits have been making their way onto our shelves here at The Chopping Block. We have painstakingly chosen spirits that are either made locally or have some connection to the ...

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Eating for Wound Healing

Almost three months ago, my cousin sustained a terrible injury to her leg – I’ll just say it involves a double break and massive interior leg burns. Pictures of her injury wouldn’t help with anyone’s ...

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Worry What to Bring to a Potluck? Everyone’s a Winner at a Potluck

I love potlucks. There is nothing that fills my heart more than seeing a huge variety of dishes out for me to sample.

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Stumped on What to Get Dad? Our Father's Day Gift Guide can Help

Buying a Father's Day gift can be hard. If your dad is like my dad, he pretty much has everything he needs. And if he doesn't, he just goes out and buys it for himself. When we do find what we think ...

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Knife Skills: Breaking in the Cutting Board

“A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one,” is one of the first lessons Chef Hans shares with a full house of 18 students who are curiously comparing knives at their individual stations. Most ...

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I Fell in Love with Fried Oysters in Seattle

I have always loved the East Coast, specifically Cape Cod, where I would travel every summer. Some of my favorite moments back on the Cape are mostly food-related: fresh oysters, chowder, salt water ...

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Southern Food Expedition

My girlfriend just recently moved from Detroit, Michigan to Columbia, South Carolina. Although green with lush countryside scenery, Columbia does not have much entertainment to offer and isn't much ...

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How to Throw a Crawfish Boil in Chicago

I have never been to a crawfish boil, nor had I ever even tasted a crawfish until my recent Crawfish Boil class at The Chopping Block. I had no idea what I was getting into (in a good way.)

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Pigs Heads are Not for the Faint of Heart

There is a distinct possibility that I am a little too obsessed with pork. In my tiny little Chicago apartment, I have a curing cave for making cured meats (mainly pork). I recently pulled out a ...

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Rock the Rolls and Make Your Own Bread for Meatball Subs

I’m making meatball subs this week. You may think that meatball subs are strikingly similar to my sausage and peppers, but this is entirely different. This time, I also baked the rolls!

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A Chef's Tour of the National Restaurant Show in Chicago

For the past 96 years, Chicago has hosted the National Restaurant Show, or NRA. Unfortunately, the four-day show is not open to the public, but it’s considered a sort of Disneyland for chefs and ...

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Chicago Hot Dogs, Hold the Ketchup

Each time my parents come to visit Chicago, I try to outdo their last trip. I fill it with new tours and restaurants and all things Chicago – luckily our vast city has a ton to offer, and I can ...

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Pinch Some Tails in our Crawfish Boil Class

One of my favorite classes to teach at The Chopping Block is Crawfish Boil because it means we are beginning the transition from spring to summer. It's also tons of fun! In this class, you’ll not ...

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Accidental Grilling in Chicago

A couple of weeks ago, right about when the mercury hit 50 degrees, we rearranged our front window at The Chopping Block Lincoln Square to feature this display.​ I have never seen so many adults with ...

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Red Beans and Rice: A Twist on a Cajun Classic

Here in Chicago, it is the time between spring and summer where winter still likes to make itself known. It is kind of cold outside and everyone is waiting, oh so patiently, for continuous warm ...

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Vegan Desserts can be Delicious

What do you think of when you read the phrase "delicious dessert"? Sugar, for sure. Chocolate, perhaps? Butter? How far down your mental list would you have to go before you thought of anything with ...

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Homemade Pies with our Favorite Pizza Recipes

Everyone likes pizza. It’s one of those meals you can eat any time of the day. It can be enjoyed for dinner, a late night snack, lunch or even breakfast. There are no rules to pizza, other than to ...

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I Left My Heart in NOLA

My family and I don’t have the opportunity to travel very much, and when we do it’s usually in the Midwest. It’s a very cost effective way to get out of town (especially when we can stay with friends ...

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Let’s Get Herbal: Creative Ways to Use Herbs

Do your attempts at home gardening look like mine?

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Learning to Eat with my Eyes

“We eat with our eyes, not with our mouths,” my grandmother used to tell me, as I peered over the plastic-covered dining room table at the paprika-dusted deviled eggs, the poor man’s steak served ...

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Santa Monica Farmers Market Inspiration

It may be because I live in Chicago, and this seems to be the longest winter ever this year, but after traveling to Los Angeles lately, I could not get enough of the sunshine and nature’s beauty. But ...

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How to Choose Wines for Parties

Spring and summer are party seasons. But if you are hosting, party planning can be stressful.

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A Trip to South Florida: Good Rum and Cuban Sandwiches

My wife and I just got back from a vacation to South Florida. As per most vacations, it was far too short. But we did get to enjoy a few of my favorite delights: Cuban Sandwiches and a Dark and ...

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DIY Edible Gift Ideas for Mother's Day

Did y’all know that it’s Mother’s Day, like, next weekend?! It is! I totally swear. You’re probably all like, ‘dang, I was really hoping to buy my mom a car this year for Mom’s day, but I definitely ...

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Awaiting Beer Garden Season with Belgiums

My two fondest memories of this time of year involve beer and risotto.

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Texturally Inappropriate

When people are learning to cook, they learn about flavors. What goes together, what does not. How different cooking techniques can lend different flavors to the same ingredient. The more advanced ...

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In Search of Hard-Crusted Bread in Chicago

Bread is a big part of our diet in Germany, however, it's not the kind of bread you find at the grocery store. I'm talking about what we call “artisanal bread” here in the States. For example, in ...

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Zero Percent Food Waste

Here at The Chopping Block, we are committed to making a difference in the lives of others. We know that within our kitchens we have the ability to get the country to cook through the hands on ...

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Kitchen Experimental

I have been trying out a bunch of new recipes lately – a Mediterranean twist on mac and cheese, some new sauce recipes, and a brownie garnished with sea salt – which have helped me to develop some ...

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Easy Dill Dishes

Dill was thought to be a good luck symbol by the First Century Romans, according to the Food Lover's Companion. The herb has been around for thousands of years and has been used for both culinary and ...

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Hidden Treasure of Chicago

When you have a friend coming to Chicago for the first time, where do you take them? What places do you put on your "must see" list to make sure Chicago will leave a great impression? How about a ...

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I've Got Seoul

I’ve interrupted my regularly scheduled blog (Boot Camp, Part 2) to talk about something equally as awesome: the Touch of Seoul cooking class I recently took. What would have otherwise been a mundane ...

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Homemade Chicken Soup

I googled chicken soup recipes the other day. I was getting over a cold and craving it. I was also curious if there was some miraculous gourmet thing I could do to add some variety, like mix in ...

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Back to the Basics Part 4: Sauce Robert

In my last post on how to make demi-glace, I decided to continue my trip back to the basics by creating a meal around this lovely sauce. I also am going back to the master for inspiraton, Auguste ...

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At Home in the Kitchen

This time of year always reminds me of my initial decision to move to Chicago. I had lofty expectations for food adventures in the big city - I would eat at the best restaurants, I would sip fabulous ...

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A List of Champion Breakfast Ideas

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's also my favorite meal of the day.

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Springtime in Seattle for Cooking Inspiration

I have a secret identity. You all know me as Luke, the mild-mannered Retail Associate at The Chopping Block. What you might not know is that, during the spring and summer, I am also Luke, the ...

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Real Customer Service: Is it a Thing of the Past?

As part of the retail team at The Chopping Block, servicing our customers is the main focus of my job. Providing our customers with excellent service, education and great gourmet kitchen products is ...

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Why Rebrand The Chopping Block?

I cannot tell you how many people have asked me the following questions over the past few months:

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Craft Spirits are Here

It’s been a long time coming, but we are pleased to welcome craft spirits to The Chopping Block's beverage program. Staying along the same lines as our wine program, we are focusing on small batch ...

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Wines for Grilling and BBQ Season

Every day the temperature reaches at least 50 degrees, I see people grilling out. And that makes me think about the delicious wines I will enjoy with grilled foods this spring and summer. Let’s face ...

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I Got this Vegetable in my CSA, Now What Do I Do with It?

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of doing several cooking demonstrations at the Good Food Festival at the UIC Forum. It was an amazing day of great food, CSA farmers, cheese and meat producers and ...

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The Return to College Cooking: Part 3

It’s been a few months since my last class at The Chopping Block, and if my memory serves me, it was Macaron Workshop with Chef Kim. Virginia is far, far away from Chicago, as I’m reminded whenever I ...

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Stuffed, Rolled and Fried

As the curriculum coordinator at The Chopping Block, I am in charge of creating the menus and recipes for all of our cooking classes. I really love my job, but I find that I’m hungry all of the time. ...

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10 Ice Cube Trays - Ranked

I’m a huge fan of ice. How about you? Cool! We’re on the same page!

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Tropical Fruit Passion

I took a break from Chicago's cold weather this winter to fly to tropical Miami Beach, Florida. It was between 75 and 80 degrees and sunny every day we were there. It’s funny what warm weather does ...

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The Search for the Perfect Fried Dough

There is seemingly no end to the variations of fried dough. Each culture seems to have its own: churros, zeppole, paczki, fritters, donuts. I personally have what one might call a slight addiction to ...

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Interested in Boot Camp? Join us for a Special Showcase

Last year, we started a new tradition called The Chopping Block Classic. The Classic is an event we host to showcase our gourmet retail, cooking classes, private events and gift card offerings. If ...

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A Trip to Chicago

My sister recently took her first trip to the United States to visit me. Living in Chicago, we often forget how truly lucky we are to live in such a wonderful city. Despite the winter, we still can ...

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What Would Mom Cook?

Being an adult can be hard. I’m young enough to admit this freely, yet old enough to realize that adulthood is an ever-changing landscape of successes and obstacles. After a particularly tough day, I ...

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Burger Fervor

Who doesn’t love a good burger? It’s the perfect vehicle for a myriad of ingredients. You name it; you can put it on a burger. There are so many choices of buns, condiments, cheeses, spices, and ...

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Inflammation Fighting Foods

I am sure that I am not the only person that finds starting a new diet challenging – the knowing we need to is not the hard part, it really is in ‘the getting started’.

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Butcher Babe & Boot Camp Blogger

Before I started working at The Chopping Block, I was seriously considering going to professional culinary school. I was convinced that in order to fulfill a lifelong passion of being considered a ...

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Sharpening vs. Honing your Knife

Chefs treasure their knives more than any other tool in their kitchen. They carry their knives where ever they go in those thin black rolls you've seen slung over shoulders in white coats. Borrowing ...

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Back to the Basics Part 3: Demi-Glace

Ah, spring. Isn’t it funny how happy everyone who has made it through a long winter becomes when it turns 50 degrees and above? I know I'm in that group. Now I need to find the time to go and hit ...

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How I Ate That Horse. And A Donkey.

While I was living in Sicily, Italy, I got to discover amazing Italian cuisine: citrus fruits straight from the tree to the table, “the best” olive oil (according to Italians,) pasta (with ...

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The Best Part of St. Patrick’s Day: Irish Soda Bread

Every year around this time, I can’t help myself from bringing home a corned beef from the store, to transform into the quintessential Irish American way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Admittedly, ...

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Do You Like Good Food?

Of course you do, or else you wouldn’t be reading this blog! But the phrase “Good Food” means different things to different people. Is Good Food simply food that tastes good? Or maybe it’s food ...

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Hula Pie Recreated at Home

Earlier this year, I shared a tale of Hula Pie from Hawaii. I finally got an opportunity to recreate the Hula Pie at home so I wanted to share the process via some pictures. You'll remember this pie ...

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Tom’s Tex-Mex Casserole

I love Mexican food. I started eating even more burritos, tacos and enchiladas while living next to a neighborhood Mexican restaurant. The food was cooked to order: fresh, inexpensive and very ...

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Cakespiration

Cream. Sugar. Egg yolks. Starch. Gooey yumminess. I love the creative process of crafting a cake for a close friend or relative, so I always ask the recipient about their favorite ingredients or ...

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Food Blogging for Beginners: A Month In Photography

When I decided to start blogging for The Chopping Block, I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing. After all, I read Thug Kitchen and watch My Drunk Kitchen, and The Chopping Blog is filled with ...

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Queso Yum Yum: The Most Delicious 3-Ingredient Meal

Sometimes less is more, and that’s certainly the case with queso yum yum. Have you ever heard of this dish? Probably not (at least not by that name). I hadn’t either until last weekend. As you can ...

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What Wines the Pros Drink

I am a sommelier. I teach wine. I write about food and wine. So, my students and clients tend to think I drink expensive wine all the time. The truth is, those of us who are in the wine industry ...

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Return to College Cooking: Part 2

In my recent return to college, I’ve experienced some of the highs and lows of cooking with the reality of college roommates in a small town on a limited budget.

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Give Chickpeas a Chance

Let me start off by saying this: I don’t like the word “chickpea.” It’s boring. I prefer the other one– Garbanzo bean! That name is obviously crazy more fun. Right? “Chickpea” is definitely your bla ...

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Hummus (in no) Time

Hummus is one of my favorite snacks. I love its versatility; not only does is go with chips, crackers, and veggies, it can also be made with almost any spices or ingredients I have on hand. Plus, ...

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Energy Packed Snack for Kids

I recently had the honor of volunteering at a local elementary school to teach kids about the importance of preparing and eating healthy after school snacks. Of course, when I asked them about their ...

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A Chicago Gathering

My partner and I have a small group of wonderful friends who share the same passion for food and wine as we do. It was his birthday last week, and we made reservations at a fairly new restaurant in ...

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And the Award Goes To...

It's awards season: the Golden Globes, Emmys, Grammys, Academy Awards - even the James Beard awards! Perhaps the “Oscars of the Food World”, The James Beard Foundation Awards, in the spirit of their ...

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San Miguel de Allende & Top Chef: Inspiring Combination

San Miguel is my favorite city in Mexico. Heck, it’s my favorite city on the planet. I spend a month there every year and if I could spend more time there, I would.

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Back to Basics Part 2: Espagnole Sauce

In the first part of this Back to Basics series, I walked you through making a rich beef stock using the bones from a standing rib roast. Now I'm going to take that wonderful stock and take it to the ...

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My Switch to Coconut Oil

This post isn’t about the nutritional differences between coconut oil and other oils. Yes, I’ve Googled the nutrition of coconut oil versus olive oil, and I’m sure you can do the same. They’re pretty ...

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Spam Musubi – A Hawaiian Treat

Aloha! I don’t know about you, but I am ready for summer. Winter in Chicago is finally getting to me, and I find myself dreaming of warmer days and warmer places. For me, one particular place that ...

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Russian Piroshki: From Grandma with Love

Last weekend was Valentine’s Day, which is all about our loved ones. When I was a small girl, I loved weekends because that's when my family would get together and do something fun. A lot of times we ...

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In Search of the Ultimate Pâtisserie

Many years ago, as a young college student, I was fortunate to spend six months in a small French town southeast of Paris called Tours. At the time, the dollar was quite weak and during the first ...

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Reconstructing Ramen

“Everything old is new again.”

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Pink is Where the Pie is At

My mother was not a great cook. But every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, she would make an amazingly tart lemony pink lemonade pie. I loved this pie. I dreamed about this pie. Every year, I ...

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Cheers to Champagne in Flutes, Saucers, Tulips & Coupes

Bubbly. Bubbles. Sparkling Wine. Cava. Prosecco. Champagne.

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Steakhouse DIY

So, how do you cook a steak?

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Croissants D.I.Y.

One of the many reasons why I love blogging for The Chopping Block is that I get to try new things at home that I probably would have never attempted before, like making croissants from scratch.

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Bread & Wine: A Book that will Nourish your Heart

It's always flattering when The Chopping Block is included in a book. It's even more exciting when that book is a joy to read.

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Kitchen Sink Cooking of Comfort Food

Winter hit us right in the face with over 16 inches of snow in two days. It had been somewhat of a mild winter here in Chicago, but not anymore!

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A Most Romantic Wine

Let’s face it, February is tough. Winter is in full swing, the skies are dark, the cold fierce. Then, there is the pressure of Valentine’s Day. If you are single, all that Valentine’s Day talk is not ...

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The Year of the Tater Tot

It’s official! 2015 is the year of the Tater Tot. I’m making it official. I gotta get the hashtag together and stuff, but ya know, it’s happening! It’s not like I’m pushing a product that doesn’t ...

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Me, Stew and Ragu

When I saw the menu for our Stews and Ragus class at the Merchandise Mart last week, I couldn’t help but cross my fingers and hope there were still seats available! Let me just say, I lucked out and ...

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The Thrifty Chef

Sometimes I find it hard to balance my culinary aspirations with my budget. I like to experiment with new ingredients and tools, but the cost of these items can add up quickly! With this in mind, I ...

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All About that Braise

No treble (a.k.a – high temperature and fast) – low and slow is the temp and tone. Yes, I’m a band geek and often play a game in my head when someone says a random phrase or word. I automatically ...

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Ramen Wars

Ramen: the authentic, Japanese noodle soup which I consume at least weekly is not that packaged, brittle, instant kind you’re remembering from college dorm days. The real thing is a glorious bowl of ...

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Hearty and Healthy Lentil Soup

Like so many this time of year, I am endeavoring to adopt healthier eating habits in 2015. I won’t lie, it’s been a struggle. I love cream sauces, bacon, ice cream, chocolate cake, you get the idea. ...

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Avoid Dinner Anxiety this Valentine's Day

Even though I’m a fairly laid back person with an "anything goes" attitude, my wife stresses, and has since we started dating, about choosing where to go for dinner. I’ve seen her almost have an ...

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Hold the Hellman's, I'll take Homemade Mayo

Do you know what I love? Mayo. Do you know what you can't really have when you're eating paleo/whole 30 diet? Mayo. Well, the kind you buy at the grocery store anyway. If you make it yourself, ...

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Back to Basics: Brown Stock

One of the highlights from my holidays was a meal I made with a standing, bone-in, rib roast with a sea salt and black pepper crust. I got this beautiful cut of meat from my new favorite butcher shop ...

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Let's Talk Cookbooks

Being a chef instructor at The Chopping Block allows me to share with our customers and students my recommendations for tools I think are vital for their kitchens. Tools such as a great knife, ...

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The Secret of Siberian Health: 7 Principles that will Change your Life

I often get the question: “Why don’t you ever get sick?”

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Bonnie’s Cookbooks Gets Another Chance

Up until last week, if you happened to be walking down West 10th Street in New York’s West Village you might have stumbled upon one of the most amazing treasure troves of old, vintage cookbooks, ...

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Mahalo, Maui for Hula Pie

Let’s start with a little analogy.

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2014 Street Food Winner

With the new year comes reflection and resolutions for many people. This year, I did not make any resolutions; however, I did take some time to reflect on the wonderful experiences I was fortunate to ...

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The Many Uses of Cream of Balsamic Vinegar

While working at The Chopping Block over the holidays, I had a few customers ask me about our Cream of Balsamic Vinegar. One woman told me that she was given a bottle over a year ago and has not ...

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'Tis The Season for Weddings

At last, the holiday season is over. Time to hole up someplace warm, pour yourself something incredibly alcoholic, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. All of the parties and presents have ...

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My Vegetarian Challenge

I love meat. There it is. Not to make it sound like we don’t enjoy eating vegetables alongside our meat-centric dinners (along with the occasionally entirely vegetarian meal), but my family is a ...

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3 Wine Myths Uncorked

No topic is burdened with more myths and fear than wine. We love it, but it scares us, and we have a million questions we’re afraid to ask for fear of sounding ignorant. The critics bombard us with ...

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The Return to College Cooking: Part One

In 2011, I started college at a small Virginian university called Eastern Mennonite; in 2015, I return. Unfortunately, this means I have left Chicago and consequently, The Chopping Block, although ...

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A Day at the West Side Market

The West Side Market is also known as Cleveland’s Public Market. Over 100 vendors gather to offer up their fresh produce, meats, cheeses, poultry, baked goods, spices, and prepared foods all inside ...

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The Case of the Mystery Beer Flight

I recently went to a fun little bistro-styled place in Downtown LA, or as everyone calls it there: #DTLA. It was a nice little stop after seeing Into the Woods. Regardless of how I felt about the ...

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Tamales are Red Hot

Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got 'em for sale

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More Spanikopita, Please

Like a good Boston girl, I spent my Christmas on the banks of the Charles River, indulging in seafood, Patriots football, and tons of family traditions. There are countless things I love about ...

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