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  • The Chopping Blog

Bushwacker Cocktail

  Does anything hit the spot better than a frozen drink on a hot day? I don’t think so! I have had my fair share of tropical pina coladas, daquiris, frozé, and frozen margaritas during the summer. ...

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Cherry Cheese Danishes for an Easy Holiday Breakfast

One of my favorite childhood memories was going to church on Sunday and attending the coffee hour hosted by one of the parishioners after the service. I was probably 8 or 9 years old, and she had ...

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Whipped Goat Cheese with Warm Bacon and Dates

  I'm excited to share this fun, festive and delicious appetizer that will start your holiday parties off right: creamy whipped goat cheese topped with a caramelized mixture of rosemary, honey, ...

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For a Pescatarian Party, Make Salmon Coulibiac

  When both of your siblings are vegetarians/pescatarians, it makes menu planning for holidays like Thanksgiving a challenge. The traditional turkey and ham don't work as entrée options when the ...

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Easy Healthy Dumplings Children Can Make

  As an educator, I am constantly looking for recipes that are easy to execute, fun and delicious!

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Make your Own Cream of Mushroom Soup

  With Thanksgiving around the corner, the sales of canned cream of mushroom soup are off the charts. In fact, 40% of the entire year's sales of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup are attributed to ...

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Try a Mashed Potato Board for Thanksgiving Leftovers

As we hit this midpoint of November, most people either know where they are going for Thanksgiving and what menu will be prepared for the big day. We’ve all probably clicked on every recipe online ...

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Thai Take Out at Home

  My family loves Thai food, and whenever we order takeout or dine-in, we pretty much such stick to our favorites. We always order the fresh spring rolls, green papaya salad, a curry of some sort, ...

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Healthy Chicken Bake

  I’ve had my food blog for just over 14 years, and one of the questions I get asked a lot is to lighten up a recipe or favorite family dish. Recently a woman reached out to me and asked if I could ...

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How to Make Vanilla Extract

  Vanilla has become very expensive in the past few years due to vanilla beans being difficult to grow. This flowering plant is incredibly labor intensive. Climate change plays a huge role in these ...

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Green Tomato Chutney

  The time has finally come for most of us in the northern U.S. to harvest the last of what we can from our summer garden. Personally I pushed it as far as I could (to the extreme detriment of our ...

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Apple Whiskey-Glazed Turkey Apple Cheddar Meatballs

  I recently spent a girl’s weekend in Galena with one of my best friends, Julianne. I had never been before and enjoyed soaking in the small-town vibes, quaint shops along main street, the country ...

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Learn How to Make Chicken Marsala Like a Pro

  Chicken Marsala is one of those special dishes that seems only possible to enjoy in a restaurant prepared by a chef, but that’s definitely not the case. Not only is it an approachable recipe to ...

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Cold Cherry Soup

  When the final days of warm weather begin to alternate with autumn chill, it makes you appreciate that warmer weather, and celebrate it. I’ll do a casual survey, thinking of all of the summer ...

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Classic Tomato Soup

The farmers markets will only be around for a few more weeks, so this is the time I stock up on vegetables and freeze them for later use.

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It’s Chili Season

  Summer has come to an end, and fall days are upon us. Chilly fall nights always put me in the mood to make hearty foods. There are so many different versions of chili, and everyone has their own ...

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Happy Independence Day Belize

Belize is a small Caribbean country on the northeastern coast of Central America, bordering Mexico to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east and Guatemala to the west. Belize is the home of my ...

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Sopa de Guias con Chochoynes: Oaxaca Squash Vine Soup with Masa Dumplings

  I love to garden. I love the physicality of it, I love the beauty of it, the pruning, tending and watering. I love eating fresh produce that I grew myself, and “seed to table cooking” is incredibly ...

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New Cupcake Class: Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too

  I’m so lucky to work alongside such talented chefs and assistants at The Chopping Block. They give me inspiration, motivate me and teach me new things (culinary and otherwise). We are truly a team ...

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Boost your Mood with Food

  Have you ever gone through a period of time where you just don’t feel like cooking? You get stuck in a rut and find yourself going out to dinner, driving thru or ordering takeout way too much than ...

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Old Fashioned Peach Cream Pie

  When I moved to Southwest Michigan, I did it for several reasons, the number one being its close proximity to Chicago, where The Chopping Block is based. I love Chicago, but I also longed to live ...

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Healthy Homemade Fruit Popsicles

  Homemade fruit popsicles are an easy, healthy and refreshing treat to make for your kids this summer! They are made with only natural ingredients so you can feel good about giving them to your ...

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Farmers Market Season

  I love this time of year. My garden is blooming, and the farmers markets all around Chicagoland are in full swing! It seems no matter where you live, there is a farmers’ market in nearly every ...

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Going Stir Crazy: Intro to Stir Frying

  Stir frying is one of the world's great cooking techniques. It's fast, can create hugely divergent types of dishes with a tremendously diverse array of flavors, and it's relatively simple. With ...

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The Secret Beach: An East Coast Inspired Cocktail

  Earlier this month, my family and I traveled to New Haven, Connecticut to visit my brother, sister-in-law and nephew. For the most part we stayed in New Haven, because we had a lot of work and ...

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A Pastry Revolution

  In summer I am pretty much always looking for an excuse to have a nice little treat. To be honest, most of the year I am looking for an excuse to treat myself (and my wife, I suppose). Finished all ...

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Smoked BBQ Oyster Mushroom Sandwich with Chili Crunch

  It’s no secret that I love to grill! I’d venture to guess that I grill 5-6 days per week from Spring to Fall. From beef ribs, to hard cider chicken, to jalapeno poppers, to grilled eggplant to ...

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My Favorite Peanut Sauce

  If you are like me, you think peanut sauce makes everything better. When I eat spring rolls, I likely consume more peanut sauce than the then spring rolls themselves. I just can’t stop dipping my ...

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Risotto is a Late Night Rescue

Risotto is not my first go-to dish in the summer. Steamy rich starches sound better on a frigid February night than a heat index July evening. However, arriving home after a late night working ...

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Blueberry Oat Pancakes

  All the summer fruit has been delicious lately, and one of my favorite fruits is blueberries! Be sure to pick some up on your next visit to your local farmer’s market.

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The Return of the Comeback Sauce

  Last weekend, my family and I spent the weekend in Nashville, Tennessee mainly to visit Vanderbilt University, but also to eat as much BBQ, hot chicken and ice cream as possible. I have heard so ...

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Bars

  We all have foods that remind us of certain people, or places, or a favorite memory, or season, and the combination of strawberry and rhubarb hits all of those notes for me. I’m always on the hunt ...

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Spring Onion Noodles

  As a chef, I am always interested in expanding my knowledge and craft of cooking. I like to challenge the way that I think about cooking and eating on a regular basis. I have been cooking a lot of ...

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Adobo: Verb, Noun or Adjective Part 2

  In my last blog, I discussed adobo “the verb” as in the act of preparing food by marinating and simmering it in a vinegar/salt marinade. Today, let’s talk about adobo the adjective/noun. This is ...

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Adobo: Verb, Noun or Adjective Part 1

  Language and parts of speech always fascinate me. I look at words with multiple meanings and get caught up in how they are used in a sentence or how to put action to the word. This interest started ...

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The History of the Truffle

  Before understanding the high desire of the truffle, one must understand the history of the truffle and where it began its journey. A truffle is a fungal fruiting body that develops underground. ...

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Boldly Nutritious: Harissa-Roasted Potatoes & Chickpeas

  You know that one friend who inspires you to reinvigorate your wardrobe? They make a colorful, printed head-to-toe pantsuit seem chic, but effortless enough for everyday life? They can wear an ...

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Grilling Season is Here and We Have the Meats

  The National Restaurant Show just wrapped up last week in Chicago. This great show has been hosted by our city for 100 years, and in 2019, we celebrated the 100-year anniversary spectacularly! This ...

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Black Bean Dip for a Healthy Choice at Cookouts

  In January of this year, I declared it the year I was going to get in shape and lose weight. For those of you who don’t know, I lost 70 pounds in 1999-2000 and maintained that weight loss for years.

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A Lemony, Sweet and Salty North Carolina Treat: To Tweak Or Not To Tweak

  A couple of years ago, while watching an episode of Cook's Country on PBS, I discovered the North Carolina Lemon Pie. It immediately got my attention because the crust was made entirely out of ...

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Haitian Heritage Month – A Growing Appreciation of Haitian Food

  When I met my husband almost 11 years ago, I was already a self-proclaimed foodie. I enjoyed trying new foods, new restaurants, and new cuisines, and my husband had to quickly learn not to eat ...

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Anything Goes Green Goddess Dressing

  The spring rain makes everything so lively and exciting. It invigorates me almost as much as the sun. With every raindrop, I start to anticipate all the lovely things that will hopefully grow from ...

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Lemon Cake with Blueberry Sauce: A Chopping Block Classic

  When I first started working at The Chopping Block 20 years ago, the bulk of our curriculum revolved around the Building Block Series. In this series, there were 24 classes, and each menu focused ...

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How to Use a Mortar and Pestle

Who knew that something so small could be important for so many people and various industries? The mortar and pestle is a set of two simple tools used from the Stone Age to the present day to prepare ...

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Warm Weather Dessert

  As spring awakens, I quit seeking out rich, warm, spicy treats and lean toward cool and clean. There’s nothing like an 88 degree day in May to make one reflect on their memories of the seasons, so ...

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French Vanilla Ice Cream For Any Occasion

  Growing up, I ate more ice cream then I probably should have - a gallon a week to be exact. For others, ice cream may have been reserved as a treat, only eaten on special holidays or occasions such ...

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More Recipes for your Le Creuset Mini Cocottes

  The number one question I get asked when I am on the retail floor at The Chopping Block is: What are these cute little Dutch oven thingies and how do you use them? If you are not familiar, cocottes ...

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Spring Brings White Asparagus Season

  I recently returned from a vacation to Germany where I am originally from, and I had the amazing opportunity to spend time with my siblings for an entire month. Of course, we cooked a lot and since ...

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Do-Ahead Backyard BBQ Sandwiches for a Crowd

Since I live alone, people reach out to me all the time asking how I eat things like beef roasts or pork roasts, if I am typically just serving one person – me!

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The Perfect Beginner’s Bread

  Baking bread can be an intimidating undertaking for even an experienced home cook. There are so many new variables to consider, and vocabulary to master, not to mention all the different types of ...

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Spooning with The Chopping Block at the Mart

  How do you preserve a memory? Are yours sparked by pictures? Can you inhale a certain aroma and be taken back in time? Maybe there is a particular sound that uploads a hard drive in your mind? It ...

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A Tale of Two Frostings

  Those of you who follow me on Instagram may know that last week was a total cake-a-palooza of a week for me! I had three cakes to bake: one for my niece’s baptism and two birthday cakes. To stay as ...

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Eat Healthier with an Air Fryer

Air fryers are a hot countertop appliance right now - with good reason. The high heat blown quickly around the cooking chamber by a fan allows you to achieve a crisp crust on the outside just as if ...

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Lemon Orzo Soup

  My daughter used to work at Panera many years ago. When she got the job, I envisioned her chopping up carrots and celery for the soups and simmering them in the back kitchen before customers ...

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A Four-Ingredient Tomato Sauce That Lives Up to Its Hype

  I’ve been known to spend hours upon hours researching recipes online, their ratings and the numerous comments left by people who have made that recipe. I’m fascinated by them! And none has ...

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Homemade Pizza in 20 Minutes

  Yes, you heard that right - fresh homemade pizza, start to finish in 20 minutes. For most of us, that is faster than you can order delivery, a whole lot faster! Now that I think of it, it may be as ...

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Not Your Mom’s Tuna Casserole

  I think it would be fair to say that lately there has been a little sticker shock at the grocery store. The factors can be explained by higher wages, supply and demand disruptions caused by the ...

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Minestrone for your Knife Skills Vegetable Bounty

  Every few weeks The Chopping Block hosts a Knife Skills class, which I quickly found to be incredibly valuable for any developing cook. Over the span of a two hour course, I witness twelve eager ...

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Perfect Polenta Pie

  We’ve all noticed the price increases at the grocery store, especially in the meat and fish departments, so in order to save some pennies in my household, I’ve been trying to cook more ...

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Get Must-Have Kitchen Tools During our Sale at the Mart

    It's almost spring in Chicago, and for me personally, that means spring cleaning, organizing closets and sorting through my kitchen. I'm sure you can relate. Right now, I am looking at my spice ...

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Chopped Broccoli Salad

If you live in a climate that has seasons, like Chicago, by March you are so over winter. When I drive into parking lots and see piles of dirty snow, I wonder sometimes why I live here!

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Mexican Soup Shortcut

When we think of making Mexican food at home, you may often turn to the classic tacos, burritos or quesadillas. But Mexican flavors punch up a bowl of soup like no other. 

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Grandma Ruby’s Peanut Butter Fingers

  I think it is surprising that I haven’t written a million blogs about my grandmother Ruby, her recipes, her cooking and her garden. She was one of the most influential cooks of my childhood. Ruby ...

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Cajun Chicken Andouille Pasta

  It’s almost time for Mardi Gras, and while I’ve not had the true experience of being in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I’ve enjoyed many a fun food-filled trip in the Big Easy!

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Using Meat as a Seasoning Agent

  When you live in a household of vegetarians, and you are a devout omnivore, there’s a certain degree of existential soul-searching that occurs. Asking “Why are we here?” garners many answers, but ...

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Know your Lentil Power

  Lentils. They are probably one of oldest new foods we are trying to incorporate in our diets.

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Easy Vegan Swaps

  I will be honest: I am not vegan. When I was at my healthiest, I drastically reduced my intake of animal proteins, dairy, and processed foods and it made a world of difference in my overall feeling ...

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The Best "Crab" Cakes Actually have No Crab

  Who knew that healthy eating could be fun? When I first decided to move into plant-based eating, I was completely afraid that I would have to leave my favorites in the past. As I was always a lover ...

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Taking Cocktails to the Next Level with Orgeat

  As a good host when you have friends over, you ask them for their preferred beverages. Some say just water, others ask for wine and a few ask for cocktails, but from the back of the crowd one ...

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Triple Chocolate Pudding Pie

  This pie isn’t for amateurs. This is a hard-core, chocolate-lover's dessert, so get ready for the ultimate chocolate experience. This pie utilizes three different types of chocolate including cocoa ...

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Marbled Tea Eggs

  Happy New Year of the Tiger! I love when my blog posts coincide with the Chinese Lunar New Year. We lived in Beijing from 1997-2000, and this celebration remains close to our hearts. It was always ...

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A Meat Fest Weekend in Chicago

  For the past couple of years, I have had the amazing opportunity to help a dear friend of mine with the Chicago Beefsteak Event, an annual event hosted at the Dank Haus, the German cultural center ...

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Miso Red Curry Soup

  I can eat soup 365 days a year, but somehow it tastes better when the temperature is below freezing. You should always have a piping how bowl of soup while you watch snow fall outside.

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Getting Fancy in the Instant Pot

When home cooks think of the Instant Pot, we may consider it a convenience tool, mainly used for cooking dried beans quickly or perfectly steaming eggs that are a cinch to peel. While the Instant Pot ...

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Chinese Sausage Fried Rice

Growing up during the 70’s in a small Iowa town didn’t really expose me to much in the way of Chinese food. My mom made a few attempts at cooking Chinese food, mostly inspired by the “Chinese” ...

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How to Make Homemade Italian Sausage: A Step-by-Step Guide

  Italian sausage is one of my favorite pork products, because it can be used in so many delicious applications from pasta sauce to meatballs, used as a pizza topping, added to stuffing or in stuffed ...

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Tapioca Pudding is Ultimate Comfort

  We have a second fridge in the basement, which is convenient for shopping overflow, preparing for parties, and storing the ice cream maker bowl should the whim strikes. The truth is though, we’re ...

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Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

  It’s no secret that I have a huge sweet tooth! In my opinion, it’s not a meal unless it ends with dessert. My love of all things sweet has gone on for as long as I can remember, and I enjoy making ...

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Culinary Siphons are Not Only for Whipped Cream

  I used to love when my mom would buy Reddi-Whip when I was a kid; it was such a fun treat to eat right out of the can. It wasn’t until I grew up and went to culinary school that I started to whip ...

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Buddha Bowls: A Blank Canvas for Healthy Eating

  Like many of you, I'm starting off the new year on a healthy kick. Dry January (a pledge to not drink any alcohol for 31 days) in combination with a healthy diet and a continued commitment to ...

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Steamed Mussels with Chorizo: Approachable Surf and Turf

  When we think of surf and turf, images of lobster dipped in clarified butter and juicy steak typically pop into our heads. That’s an excellent, luxurious and delicious way of uniting sea and land, ...

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Stuff Meat for Impressive Dishes

This is the time of year to go all out with your cooking, whether you are hosting elaborate holiday parties or small family gatherings. A lot of people, myself included, look for something different ...

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Eggnog from Scratch

  Black Friday was developed to usher in that next important time of the year: Eggnog Season. In any given year, I may possibly have just one single glass during those five weeks until Christmas. But ...

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Cast Iron Skillet Brownie with Bourbon Caramel Drizzle

  'Tis the season to learn how to bake! I absolutely love the holidays and one significant part of this time of year for my family is baking. My sister hosted her annual cookie decorating party last ...

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Appetizer Centerpieces

  I love the holidays and planning a jolly assortment of appetizers to fill the table. Usually, I go overboard and make a huge variety of bite-sized delights. Check out my other festive holiday ...

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Celebrate Christkindlmarket Season with this German Dessert

  If you live in Chicago and have walked around the Loop lately, you may have seen people with a very fancy mug in their hands. They are coming from the annual Christkindlmarket and are enjoying some ...

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Cooking for One

Being an empty nester and living alone, one question I get asked all the time is “Why do you bother cooking for just yourself?” My answer? “I’m worth it!” And so are you.

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Mrs. Miller’s Chocolate Cake

  I do not know who the heck Mrs. Miller is, but I do know she created one amazing chocolate cake recipe. Although this recipe is credited to Mrs. Miller, in my heart and mind, it is a Charlotte ...

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Brussels Sprouts on the Stalk for Thanksgiving

  I absolutely love Brussel sprouts. We didn’t eat them much in my house growing up (my dad still turns his nose up at most green vegetables), but I’ve come to love them in my adulthood. I’ve had ...

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Thanksgiving Taboos and To-do’s

  When there are hundreds of articles this week detailing how you should prepare for Thanksgiving, why should you read this one? Because this is one that will really save the day! You don’t need a ...

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Chicken Cacciatore: The Perfect Braised Dinner for a Chilly Night

  Chicken Cacciatore is an Italian country-style braised dish perfect for the cold weather that includes onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, peppers, herbs and tomatoes. The word cacciatore means ...

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Smoke Some Cheese

When I first got my Weber Smoky Mountain smoker this summer, I envisioned eating lots of smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, salmon, shrimp and tuna. That's definitely happened to my delight, but I ...

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