• The Chopping Blog

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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.

Read More

Read More

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, ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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… ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

‘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 ...

Read More

Read More

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.

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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!

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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. 

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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. 

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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”.

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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.

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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. ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 – ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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, ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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: ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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, ...

Read More

Read More

Seeking Fall Comfort Food? Try Tuscan Soups Like Ribollita

 

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

Artisanal Grits are True Southern Food

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

Kale Chips Reinvented

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

Read More

Read More

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, ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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, ...

Read More

Read More

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. ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

Imperfect Produce Makes Perfect Frozen Treats

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

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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!

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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. ...

Read More

Read More

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, ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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 ...

Read More

Read More

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, ...

Read More

Read More

Cupcake Boot Camp: The Secret to the Perfect Cupcake

I love baking, especially baking experiments, so when I heard that The Chopping Block had a Cupcake Boot Camp – I think my heart started to beat a bit faster. Four hours, four delicious cupcake ...

Read More

Read More

Line Not Long Enough? Try Community Supported Fishing

The concept of “Community Supported” is everywhere these days. The one that is most familiar is Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, where individuals can buy a share of weekly or monthly goods ...

Read More

Read More

The Pickle Guys

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you might remember that I am a pickle fiend. On a recent trip to NYC, we were walking around the Lower East Side and stumbled upon The Pickle Guys. In a ...

Read More

Read More

I Got Gnocchi, do you?

Last Wednesday in Chicago was especially hard due to long commutes, long meetings and long days without sunshine. Instead of going home and succumbing to this winter’s wrath (and my sweat pants), I ...

Read More

Read More

Want to Learn Everything Culinary Schools Teach?

I have been pondering for some time a cooking school curriculum that teaches students how an experienced chef approaches cooking. First, I had to consider what a chef does that an experienced home ...

Read More

Read More

Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes

Today is Christmas Eve and one of my family’s favorite meals of the year. If you read my blogs, you will know that no event happens without some sort of feast, and Christmas Eve is certainly no ...

Read More

Read More

Easy Thanksgiving Appetizers

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday, and I love to prepare the big meal every year. Since I like to keep the main course and sides traditional, the appetizer portion of the menu is where I get ...

Read More

Read More

Life List: Learn to Use a Knife

Cooking, and food, were passions I shared with my dad. Every Thanksgiving, while the rest of my family stayed far away, I would spend the day with him in the kitchen – dressing the turkey, preparing ...

Read More

Read More

That's Peachy

The thing that I love most about summer, and what saddens me the most when it ends, is the great abundance of fruit. It’s the summer months that bring us such an array of sweet and delicious fruits. ...

Read More

Read More

Corn in the U.S.A.

Mark Twain once probably said that “Perhaps not enough has been written on that greatest of all natural achievements, the simple ear of corn.” While it’s true that corn has gotten a fair amount of ...

Read More

Read More

Gluten Free? It Happened to Me

I was recently diagnosed with a gluten intolerance. I started experiencing symptoms about a month and a half ago: my stomach hurt and felt very bloated. You know when you just don’t feel right and ...

Read More

Read More

Cooking from the Heart Rather than Recipes

Whenever I cook for my family, I tend to disregard recipes. Not to thumb my nose at cookbooks, but I cook from my heart when I'm surrounded by my family, especially when I'm making cookies with my ...

Read More

Read More

I Got the Blues

Some people consider Memorial Day the start of summer, but I always know the heat is on once my favorite festival commences at the beginning of June. I look forward to this every year, and since ...

Read More

Read More

Healthy Habits Start Early

It's hard to believe that my son is six months old! He now sits at the dinner table with his bottle but scoots closer to the food on our plates to have a better look. He looks up at us with that ...

Read More

Read More