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  • The Chopping Blog

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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Mango-Ginger Bread Pudding

  As it starts to turn cold, I like to reminisce on summer, especially teaching kids and teens culinary camps. In particular this week, I thought about a specific recipe that we made for Kids Baking ...

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How to Make Wiener Schnitzel Like a German

Now that the weather has turned cool, we start to crave comfort food. One of my favorite dishes to make in the fall and winter is schnitzel. This traditional German dish has so many varieties, and it ...

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Roasted Delicata Squash and Carrot Soup

If you know me, you know how much I love delicata squash. I've shared recipes with you before for deep fried and baked delicata squash, biscuits or "delicuts" as I like to call them and gnocchi. I am ...

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Ube: The Purple People Pleaser

  Have you seen the purple food craze that has been all over the internet recently? From ice cream to donuts, to cakes and cocktails, very violet food creations are all the rage right now. The ...

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5-Ingredient Potato Gratin: The Ultimate Fall Side Dish

  In my house, it’s not officially fall until we make potato gratin, a comforting dish of thinly sliced potatoes, cream, garlic and cheese, baked until bubbling and golden brown to perfection. It’s ...

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Mac O' Lanterns

  It finally feels like Fall in Chicago, and Halloween is just around the corner! While Halloween puts lots of attention on candy and all things sweet (Reese’s are my favorite), I was racking my ...

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The Tale of Fettuccine Alfredo

  Dim the lights. Gather in a circle. Put a flashlight under your chin. You are about to hear one of the scariest tales of blog writing ever to be told.

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Amaro Never Dies

  I came late to the enjoyment of bitterness. In my late teens, I had to ease myself into drinking coffee one heaping tablespoon of sugar at a time. It’s not just me though. In the U.S. we have a ...

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Amaro: What's Old is New Again

The world of cocktails mimics fashion - there are trends and styles reappear from time to time. What was once your grandmother's favorite dress is back en vogue and what was once your grandfather's ...

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Down-home Pot Roast

  When I was growing up, my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents convened almost every Sunday night at my home for card night! There was no money, booze or foul language involved in these card ...

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Homemade Soft Pretzels with Honey Mustard

  Before I started working at The Chopping Block, I was not comfortable with making doughs. But thankfully, the chefs here really know how to break this task down for any home cook to tackle. And ...

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Two-Ingredient Handmade Pasta

  I’m not only a chef instructor at The Chopping Block, but I also develop the curriculum you see on our monthly calendars. It’s a big job that requires the help of my fellow colleagues, so once a ...

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The Power of Black Garlic

  I first heard about black garlic a few years ago when a chef friend gave me a few cloves to try. I thought it was interesting, but I didn't really do a deep dive into the product because you ...

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Ramen 101

  Ramen is a noodle soup dish that was originally imported from China and has become one of the most popular dishes all over the world. You may only know ramen from your college days of the instant ...

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Butternut Squash Bread for Fall

  It's no secret how much I love fall. I’m enjoying every minute of the weather cooling down just enough to make me want to open my windows, wear boots and hoodies, enjoy all the changing foliage ...

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Apple Coffee Cake Muffins

  Show of hands: how many of you get so excited to go apple picking and then come home and pour all the apples out of the bags only to realize you bought enough apples for your whole block? Or is ...

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Comparing Apples to Apples

  Now that fall is here, there is one food that seems to be trending over and over… pumpkin. Actually, it is all about the pumpkin spice and not the authentic food. My question is why don’t we start ...

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Treat Yourself to a French Breakfast and Make a Clafoutis

  The French dish called clafoutis (kla-foo-tee) sounds very complicated and intimidating, but it’s actually the opposite. Don’t be fooled by it’s fancy-sounding name! It’s a very ...

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Bulk Up your Burgers

  Grilling season is one of my favorite times at The Chopping Block. Who wouldn’t want to have a chef make food for you in one of our demonstration-style grilling classes like Italian Surf and Turf ...

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Apple Cider Donut Bundt Cake

  I absolutely love fall and all the things that come with it – cooler temperatures, beautiful foliage, pumpkin patches and warm drinks, but I get most excited about everything apple!

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Instantly Mediterranean

If you love your Instant Pot and air fryer as much as I do, or even if you haven't even taken your appliances out of the box yet, today is a big day. Instantly Mediterranean by Emily Paster is here, ...

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Soups are the Key to Season Transitions

It is hard to believe that summer is winding down, and we are getting closer to fall. Fall is a beautiful time of year, and when you are in Chicago, you hope for a nice long fall season, because we ...

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Maqluba Makes Use of the Season's Bounty

  Every gardener and every friend of a gardener I know is currently faced with the dilemma of what to do with late summer's overflowing gardens. Zucchini as big as a football, copious amounts of ...

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Butter Chicken: A Delicious Dinner in 3 Easy Steps

  Butter chicken is one of those iconic dishes most people love to order at their favorite Indian restaurant, but would never dream about making from scratch. It’s too time consuming and involves so ...

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Awesome Sauces

  When coming up with an idea for dinner or creating menus for classes, I always try and think of how to tie all of the ingredients together and nothing does that better than an awesome sauce. To me, ...

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Edible Cheeseboards for All Parties

I love a good food trend, especially if it involves carbs. I jumped on the Garden Focaccia bandwagon as well as Pretzel Focaccia last summer, tested the no-churn ice cream trend a few years ago, ...

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Delicata Squash Two Ways

  It is almost Delicata squash season! I have seen a couple of people on Instagram already start posting recipes using my favorite vegetable. Not sure why it has such a short season, but when I get ...

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Boast about Your Bruschetta Board

  Do you ever think about where words for food come from? There is more to it than just the etymology to consider, there is also a semantic shift.

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Coctel de Camarones: Summer's Perfect Appetizer

  I really miss our annual, month-long vacation trips to the lovely, idyllic town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Soon after arriving, we always make it a habit of stopping in at one of our ...

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Cooking from the Farmers Market

    I love farmers markets. Not only do you get access to the best tasting, seasonal produce picked at its peak of flavor, but it has traveled just a short time between the farm and market to get to ...

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Watermelon-Tomato-Feta Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

  I absolutely love watermelon. It’s delicious and refreshing, and there’s just something about it that screams summer! I make every effort to eat, drink, and incorporate as much watermelon in my ...

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Grilled Peach and Avocado Salsa: Your Next Go-To Summer Condiment

  We’re so lucky to have neighbors that leave Michigan peaches at our doorstep! Because buying peaches at the grocery store can be such a gamble, and after being disappointed time after time I don’t ...

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Oklahoma Style Fried Chicken

  I started cooking in restaurants when I was fourteen. My mom was able to land me a job at MP’s Chicken where the only items on the menu were fried chicken, coleslaw, French fries and honey buns. ...

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Picking Fresh Blueberries? Make Scones

My mom and I just got back from a trip to Michigan for a long weekend. One thing neither one of us had done before is pick blueberries so we quickly remedied that! They are one of our favorite fruits ...

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Breaking Bread

  During this pandemic just about everyone jumped on the bread bandwagon. I think learning how to make sourdough bread was basically everyone’s bucket list recipe during this time - so much so that ...

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Savory Monkey Bread

Growing up my mom always made something she called pull-apart garlic bread. It was pieces of bread dough covered in garlic butter, piled in a loaf or Bundt pan, and baked until golden brown. It was ...

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Picnic Panna Cotta: A Refreshing, No-Bake Summer Dessert

  I was recently tasked with bringing dessert to a family dinner, but with the hot weather beating down on us I immediately knew there was no way I was going to fire up my oven to bake anything. So I ...

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Fancy Figs? Make this Ice Cream

If you have a fig tree (or access to one), you know the season is short and sweet. It's literally about two weeks during early July where I live in Florida. During those couple of weeks, anyone who ...

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Apple-icious Treats

  How odd to talk about apples now, right? We have an abundance of fresh Summer fruits and berries available, and I’m suggesting you cook with apples? But stick with me for a minute! What’s one of ...

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How to Work with Phyllo Dough

  Frozen phyllo dough is a great time saver: you can create appetizers, pastries and desserts without having to make the dough. Traditionally, phyllo dough is made by stretching a flour-and-water ...

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How to Preserve and Harvest your own Grape Leaves

  My dear friend Kathleen introduced me to stuffed grape leaves or Dolmas. She was a consummate entertainer; she really knew how to throw a fun party. She was an equally great cook; her food was ...

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The Lowdown on Lobster

  I am going to let you all in on a little secret which may probably shock you: I don’t love lobster like most folks. This may be an unpopular opinion, but that is where I stand! Lobster has always ...

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Farmers Market Fritters

Show of hands: how many of you go to the first few farmers markets of the summer and buy all the things, only to get home and wonder, now what do I do with all this vegetable bounty?! 🙋🏻‍♀️

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Switch Up Flag Cake for Brownie Fruit Pizza this Fourth of July

For as long as I can remember, I’ve made a flag cake every Fourth of July, and it’s become an integral part of my summer holiday tradition. I often spent the Fourth of July on a Sebec Lake in Maine ...

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Lolla-pea-looza: How to make Sweet Pea Hummus

  I’m not sure the return of fresh peas can match the excitement of the return of summer concerts, especially Chicago’s beloved Lollapalooza, but it is something to be celebrated. Pea shoots, pea ...

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Take PRIDE in your Food

PRIDE. It is such a powerful word that means something different to everyone. When I hear that word, I feel it is a word of strength, honor and dignity. It is one of the best words to describe the ...

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Peaches, the Perfect Summer Fruit

  I’ve never been a huge fan of the summer months. Even as a kid, summer wasn’t my favorite time of year. All the other kids would be relishing summer months off from school. But, I couldn’t wait for ...

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It's the Season for Stone Fruit Jam

  Summer officially starts this weekend, farmers markets are in full swing, and seasonal fruit is plentiful! A couple of weeks ago, we held a hands-on pie and tart class, and I had some leftover ...

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Sloppy Joe Sliders

  I love to entertain, and since the world is starting to finally reopen, I’m really excited to get back to gathering together with friends and family to enjoy and share delicious food. One of my ...

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Father and Son Bonding with Burgers

  June is when Summer kicks off and Mother Nature teases us from time-to-time with hot weather days. It gives us a reason to hang out at the beach and pull that grill out, as we celebrate Pride ...

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The Perfect Strawberry Pie

  Until I was seven years old, I lived on a small homestead - my grandparents lived on one side and my great grandparents on the other. We grew sweet corn, my grandparents grew green beans, my great ...

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Tempeh 101

  If a sci-fi movie and a high school biology class had a child, it’d be tempeh. It sort of looks like a brain and involves fermentation (a process that is just as complex as a brain’s), but don’t ...

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A Go-To Summer Salad: Mexican Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad

  My family and I love Mexican food, and it’s something we enjoy at least twice a week. Because it’s our go-to cuisine when cooking at home, and because there are so many different ways to express ...

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Summer Corn Bisque

“Biz, why are you making soup – it's summertime?!” I know I might get asked that question, but truth of the matter is that I love soup 365 days a year.

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Grilled Pineapple with Bourbon-Butter Sauce

Grilling season is in full swing at The Chopping Block, and one of my favorite grilling classes is New Orleans Brunch on the Grill. We make Cajun grilled shrimp skewers with remoulade, BBQ baked ...

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Summer Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

Seeing as I’ve got less than ninety days to rock a wedding dress, I’m really making an effort to make healthier eating choices and up my exercise. Luckily, I’m a veggie lover, so eating vegetables ...

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A Salad for Strawberry Season

  Strawberry season leaves me swooning! I can’t help it. For me, it’s the sign that Summer has really, truly arrived… and with it, all the fresh and wonderful foods that the season brings. With this ...

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A Chocoholic's Guide to Cacao

  I want to let you all in on a not-so-secret confession: I am a chocoholic! They say a day without chocolate is like day with no sunshine, but I wouldn’t know because I eat a bit of chocolate every ...

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Apple Pie Empanadas: A Perfect Hand-Held Treat

  Who doesn’t love empanadas? They are the perfect size hand-held treat, and can be sweet or savory depending on what mood you’re in. Savory empanadas can be filled with meat, seafood, cheese or ...

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Shrub Cocktails All Summer Long

As life slowly returns to some semblance of what it was like in 'before times', I've been thinking back over the past year. Most of it was pretty awful thanks to the pandemic, but there were a few ...

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Don't Waste One Spring Ramp

The first sighting of a robin. The vivid green on the grass after it rains. A redbud tree bursting with blooms. All of these things help remind us that we are in a new season of the year and it makes ...

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Buffalo Blue Cheese Burgers

  I absolutely love burgers. I mean, what’s not to love? Earlier this year, I successfully waited in a line to get free Big Macs for a year, so if that doesn’t prove my love of burgers, what will?

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How to Grill Baby Octopus

    We officially kicked off grilling season last Wednesday with a hands-on grilling class on Cinco de Mayo. On Saturday, we had our first demonstration class on the Lincoln Square patio with one of ...

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Stuffed Pork Tenderloin 101

  When I went shopping last weekend, pork tenderloin was on sale so I decided to pick up a couple. I had no idea what I was going to do with them at the time, but after some serious brainstorming, I ...

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All About Asparagus

  Spring has arrived and with it comes one of my favorite vegetables: asparagus! While asparagus is luckily usually found year-round in grocery stores, like most produce, it has a peak season. You ...

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How to make Rhubarb Curd

  My mom worked full-time and between work and taking care of four kids, it didn’t leave a whole lot of time for baking. We didn’t have a lot of money, so buying premade cakes and cookies was not an ...

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Quiche for Every Meal

    I'm a sucker for quiche on any menu. When I'm traveling, I always seek out the best bakery in town to try their quiche. Paired with a green salad tossed with a bright vinaigrette, quiche is the ...

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Brandade: Your New Favorite Dip

  I remember first trying brandade when I was in culinary school and experiencing a moment of euphoria. Brandade is a Mediterranean dip consisting of pureed potatoes, salt cod, garlic and olive oil, ...

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Burnt Basque Cheesecake: A Cheesecake Like No Other

  For several months now, I’ve been toying with the idea of baking a Burnt Basque Cheesecake. The idea was first brought to my attention by my partner Fernando, who stumbled upon the recipe and ...

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Everything Bagel Strata

  I’m passionate about a lot of foods – flats over drums when it comes to wings, smooth over crunchy if debating peanut butter, cheese curds over mozzarella sticks when I’m digging into fried cheese, ...

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10 Veggie Soup

I am one of those people who gets super pumped with every season changing. I love the sunshine in the summer, the color wheel of fall, the peacefulness of a winter snow and the regeneration that ...

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Notoriously Good Gnocchi

  There is nothing more special to me than perfectly light, fluffy, pillowy gnocchi! Sometimes that texture can be hard to achieve, though. I know I have eaten my fair share of dense and tough ...

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Make Mexican Shrimp Cocktail This Weekend

  The first time I ever experienced coctel de camarones (Mexican shrimp cocktail) was 21 years ago when my husband and I drove all the way from Chicago to Ensenada, Mexico on the Baja peninsula. Talk ...

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Sheet Pan Dinners are Easy to Make and Clean Up

  If you are on social media, you are likely familiar with popular cooking trends such as simple sheet pan dinners, and the viral baked feta dish that really took off recently. I personally love ...

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Whole Wheat Pita Bread, Step by Step

      My first experience with pita bread was 40 or more years ago in the small Midwestern town from where I am from. I don’t exactly remember what was in the pita, but I do remember thinking pita ...

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Mini Quiches for Easter Brunch

Easter weekend is almost here. This year is flying by so far for me. How is it April already?  I’ve been asked on my Instagram page “Biz, do you have any Easter recipes?” And I literally don’t have ...

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Yes, You Can Make Gyros at Home

  When we think of gyros, most of us imagine a slowly spinning, glistening cone of delicious meat waiting to be shaved and nestled in a fresh pita or piled on top of a salad. It’s savory, juicy, full ...

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Here Comes the Sunchoke Tart

  You know, for a minute there I thought we might never see each other again. It has been over a year since my last blog post was published on The Chopping Blog, and what a year it has been. We’ve ...

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Fires, Family and Food: Celebrating Women's History Month

  As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we honor the women who have placed a stamp on history and acknowledge today’s trailblazers who are known to break barriers. The moment someone says a woman ...

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Citrus is my Main Squeeze

  Most of us are fortunate to be able to enjoy all types of citrus all year long. You may not know this, but citrus season is actually during winter. Citrus is the perfect little pick me up to get ...

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Waffled Reuben Sandwiches

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! By the time you are reading this blog, you probably already have your corned beef and cabbage cooking, your green shirt pressed and maybe a pint or two in the fridge. If you ...

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Triple Boozy Irish Brownies

  What’s better than a delicious fudgy brownie? A triple boozy brownie, of course! When I studied abroad 15 years ago, I spent a weekend in Dublin, Ireland. It was a beautiful place with friendly ...

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Shrimp Burgers: A Crustacean Fixation

  I love working with shrimp because they are very accessible, versatile, simple and quick to prepare, high in protein and omega 3s, low in fat, and most importantly… delicious! I always have a bag ...

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Mini Cherry Lattice Pies

We are starting to see warmer temps and the snow melting in Chicagoland, and I can smell the spring weather right around the corner. For whatever reason, spring season makes me think of pie!

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Gumbo YaYa: A Lesson in the Louisiana Soup

  Once we are able to safely travel again, New Orleans is at the top of my list, specifically for Jazz Fest which is hopefully happening in the fall. Not only does this city have the most amazing ...

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Baked Goat Cheese and Tomato Pasta

If you frequent social media, specifically TikTok, chances are that you’ve seen the viral baked feta pasta. I absolutely love one dish wonders, as I call them, where you essentially create an entire ...

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Step by Step Chocolate Mousse

  As I look out my window, it is hard to believe that spring is around the corner. There is about two feet of snow in my yard, and snow shoes are the ideal footwear for the trek from my home to ...

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Fresh Spring Rolls: A Fun Way to Eat Salad

  We’ve all been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, but what about the COVID-15 (or even 20) weight gain? It’s obviously been a stressful year, and to top that, it’s been cold and snowy for many, ...

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Lacto-Fermentation & Lessons I have Learned

  When I want to learn, teach, or write about a new culinary technique, I tend to go down various rabbit holes of online research, cookbooks, recipe testing, and trial and error to figure out how to ...

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Risotto Rules for an Impressive Dish

Risotto is always a popular dish in our cooking classes, and I love making it for dinner parties and giving tips to my friends. Knowing how to make a good risotto is something I think every home cook ...

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Remembering My First

  There is classic saying that you always remember your first. Does that phrase ring true for you? I thought of that today because this is my first “official” blog post for The Chopping Block, and I ...

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A Salmon Hater becomes a Salmon Lover

  I had so many food issues as a kid. Most of them are behind me now, except when it comes to coconut. I have to admit to still holding on to my strong dislike for it. As hard as I’ve tried, its ...

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Air Fryer Blooming Onions

  My fiancé touts himself as the superior gift giver in our relationship, and I really can’t argue his point. His gifts are thoughtful, practical and luckily for me, are often geared towards my love ...

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