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  • The Chopping Blog

Butterscotch Pudding: An Oldie but a Goodie

  Way back when I started working at The Chopping Block in 2002, we used to run a series of classes called the Building Blocks. There were 24 classes in all, and each one focused on different ...

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Red Beans and Rice with Fried Chicken

  After returning from New Orleans on a Monday morning, I decided to make red beans and rice that night. Everyone knows Monday is red beans and rice day! 

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PB&J Cobbler

  I was recently in South Carolina for a reunion with some old gal pals from high school. We stayed at the home of one of the women and while we ate out one night, this gave us the luxury of being ...

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This Coffee Cake is Bananas

  I recently was faced with an abundance of overripe bananas, and while my go-to in this situation is usually my mom’s banana bread, I was inspired by Banana’s Foster, another of my favorite banana ...

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A Meal Planning Win: Veal Meatballs, Four Ways

I love being in the kitchen. It’s my favorite thing to do, even after a long day of work at my office job. But there are some nights when I know I’ll be working late, so a little planning on my part ...

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A Southern Tradition

  Every summer my family gets together for a reunion. From old to young, it’s great to have every generation together to share stores from the past and to make new memories. A lot of the fond ...

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Easy, Anytime, Oven-Baked Onion Rings

  Onion rings are one of those dishes I would never think to make at home. They are delicious, but who wants to deep fry in August? I certainly don't! But here lies the dilemma… I don't want to ...

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Got Fruit at Different Stages of Ripeness? Make Fruit Salsa

I love to have fruit around the house, but sometimes I end up with too much fruit to keep up with. Between farmers market season, CSA boxes, and impulse shopping at grocery stores, it’s easy for a ...

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Farmers Market Corn and Potato Soup

  I am a soup lover. I can eat soup 365 days of the year. Mind you, I am not eating soup on a beach, but in an air conditioned house or my office, so I am good to go. Midwest produce is just starting ...

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Chocolate Avocado Zucchini Bread

  A while back I shared my mom’s recipe for perfect Banana Bread, then I shared my recipe for Blueberry Zucchini Bread. Now, in my effort to reign supreme as the quick bread queen, I’m sharing my ...

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Mini Zucchini Bread Three Ways

I have fond memories of zucchini bread that my “summer” grandma made me. I had one grandma that lived with us, and the “summer” grandma lived in Virginia. To this day whenever I cut into a ...

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Family Cooking isn't Always Pretty, but it can be Delicious

  With a family of six, my oldest sister cooks about four times a week. While her cooking ranges from challenging to easy, I liked one of her recent meals because it was delicious, the kids were able ...

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My Chicago Style Deep Dish is More “Chicago” Than Yours

  My move to Chicago wasn't easy. It took me three months to find a job and about six before I had my own apartment. I wouldn't have been able to get by here without having some wonderful friends. ...

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Everyone Needs Friends with Figs

I'm lucky enough to have a couple of friends who have a fig tree that produces an abundance of fruit right on schedule every June. Each summer, they are generous enough to give me more than my fair ...

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No-Bake Fruit Tart Bites

  Well, Summer certainly took its sweet old time getting here this year, but since it arrived it’s been hot-hot-HOT! When it comes to cooking, for many of us that means trying to use our stoves and ...

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Need a New Way to Use Butternut Squash? Try it as a Dip

Butternut squash is synonymous with the autumn season, but it’s actually a year-round vegetable (technically fruit, I know). We all have that favorite butternut squash soup recipe we all love, and ...

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One Pot of Bolognese = Five Different Dishes

My late husband never ate leftovers growing up. His mom prepared exactly enough food for that dinner each night and that was that. He told me that he never even heard the word leftover until he went ...

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Pineapple Party

I’ve always loved pineapples. Not only are they delicious, and a real taste of summer, but they’re the universal symbol for hospitality, which we really focus on here at The Chopping Block!

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Recalling a Few Cookie Memories of My Youth

I’ve touched on some of the fondest food memories of my youth in a number of my blogs.  Those memories for me, like a lot of us, begin with meals and desserts prepared by our mothers and ...

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Summer Corn Salad for Picnic Season

One of my favorite things to do with out-of-town visitors in the summer is to take them to a concert in the park. There is nothing better than sipping wine and listening to music on a summer night ...

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Summer BBQ Bash: A Cookout without the Cleanup

Everyone loves a backyard barbecue, especially when you don’t have to do any prep, cooking or clean up! That’s why you and the whole family should join The Chopping Block for our upcoming Summer BBQ ...

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What-A-Melon: Four Ways to Use a Watermelon

I look forward to summer for two reasons – softball and watermelon. Since eating a softball is frowned upon, I’m focusing on a few of the amazing ways you can enjoy watermelon. The first step is ...

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Korean Flavors are a Hot Summer Trend

  You may have noticed an abundance of kimchi on menus lately. Korean flavors have been named one of the hottest summer food trends of 2018. We are lucky that we have one of the great experts in this ...

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A 'Special Occasion' Shrimp Wonton Soup

  Making any kind of dumpling is always a special occasion for me. You should always make dumplings for your loved ones, because that little bit of extra effort just shows that you love them and they ...

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Sweet Phyllo Dough Bundles

 It took awhile this year, but Summer is finally here and for me, that means easy, breezy everything! I like to cook outside more, heat up the inside less, eat with minimal preparation – and so much ...

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Vegan Cooking: Flaky Biscuits

If you’ve read my blogs, you know I love breakfast and brunch. I’m often working weekend mornings, but when I’m not, I love to make a big showy breakfast for my loved ones, and when I’m particularly ...

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Perfect Protein Pancakes

Over the last several years, my girlfriend has experimented with a lot of different varieties of protein pancakes. I think they’re one of the tastiest ways to get in a nice serving of carbs and ...

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Vegetable Tempura: A Fun Way to Eat Your Veggies

  I’m always looking for new and delicious veggie recipes for my kids to enjoy. It’s not hard getting my 13-year-old daughter to eat a variety of vegetables, but it’s a whole different story with my ...

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What does a Southerner Cook in the Summer?

  I am ready for my first “Summertime Chi” as a Chicago resident, and the persistant cold weather is finally gone. However, we can still expect some cool nights so in anticipation of those with the ...

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How to Cook with Pancetta

  Now that you know how to make pancetta, I wanted to provide a few tips on cooking with it and recipes that highlight those techniques. Although pancetta is edible in the same way bacon is, its high ...

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Le Creuset Mini-Cocotte Recipe: Gruyere Mac & Cheese with Crispy Bacon

  Last September, I wrote about the colorful round mini-cocottes from Le Creuset that we carry at The Chopping Block. Like ramekins, mini-cocottes are perfect for cooking individual portions, but you ...

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A Royal Recipe: Meghan & Harry’s Lemon Elderflower Petit Fours

  I’m obsessed with the upcoming Royal Wedding. As an L.A. girl who studied in London and always dreamed of bumping into some secret royal at the local Tesco and being swept off my feet, this is my ...

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A Quick and Easy Chicken Terrine

The thing I really love about cooking, and specifically charcuterie, is taking humble ingredients, and turning them into something special. A terrine is the perfect example of this idea. Today we are ...

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Key Lime Meringue Tart: A Sweet, Citrusy Vegan Treat

Vegan substituting in dessert is an interesting process. Obviously, substituting dairy has been easy. Need to substitute milk? No problem, there’s almond, soy, or coconut milk. Need to switch out ...

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Five-Ingredient Asparagus Bisque

  Now that spring has officially (and finally!) sprung, it's time to start cooking with the season and celebrating the arrival of warmer days.  There's a lot of spring produce coming on to the scene ...

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Get Saucy with our New Sauce Guide

How many of us grew up on broiled bland fish, dry pork chops or sautéed chicken that could have used just a little something extra on the plate? All of these proteins can easily be improved with a ...

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Street Food: Falafel Pita with Tzatziki and Fried Jalapenos

  I love meat. All kinds of meat – pork, beef, chicken – you name it, I’ll eat it! But, turns out I have a vegetarian daughter and a vegan daughter-in-law, so I have to make some meatless dishes once ...

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Brunch Eats: Blueberry Zucchini Bread

  Once or twice a year, a few of my girlfriends and I get together for a girls only weekend. We look forward to the getaway and use the time to relax and catch up. We change up the location each ...

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‘Tis the Season: Cooking in Sync with the Weather

  Someday, it will warm up. Someday, it will stop snowing. It has to, right? Right? Though the foreseeable forecast still casts a pall on my dreams of summer, I’m trying to look at the positives: ...

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Experimenting with Pulses

  One of the things I like about working at The Chopping Block is that our team shares their culinary experience and encourages everyone to experiment with different ingredients and cooking ...

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You say Potato, I say Patata with an Easy Spanish Omelette

  Tortilla de Patatas (potato omelette) is as ubiquitous in Spain as it is delicious. This potato omelette is found in tapas bars where it is served warm or cold, topped with aioli or not, full of ...

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The Kefir Cookbook's Story

I was ten years old when I tasted Kefir for the very first time. My parents and I had immigrated to America as refugees from the former Soviet Union nine years earlier, in 1976, when I was just a ...

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A Different Take on Bruschetta for Mushroom Lovers

  Last week at our Happy Hour at Lincoln Square, we featured this fabulous snack to go along with our featured wines, and it was delicious! 

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Competition Mac and Cheese

  I don’t think there is anyone I know who doesn’t love mac & cheese. My husband & I are certainly no exception, and I think my sister would tell you that I popped out of the womb asking for some! ...

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Great Eggspectations: Making Scotch Eggs from Scratch

As a recent arrival from the good old United Kingdom (Wales to be precise), there are many things I love about Chicago, and a few that I miss about home (pubs, hills and valleys, and the Metric ...

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Grilled Salmon Torta: A Fish Sandwich Like No Other

Tortas can refer to many different culinary treats such as cakes and flatbreads, depending on what country you're in, but the torta we're going to explore now is all about the sandwich from Mexico. ...

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Chipotle Delicata Soup

During the cold months (and here in Chicago, that sadly still includes April), everyone is all about the pumpkin and butternut squash. While those are great, I really get excited about Delicata ...

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PB & J Protein Smoothie Bowls

Smoothies are a delicious way to get in multiple servings of fruit, veggies, protein, fiber, and tons of vitamins and minerals. Plus, I’d argue most people would rather get in their nutrients via ...

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Beef and Spring Vegetable Lo Mein

Will it ever feel like spring in Chicago? While I am dreaming of grilling beef on my outdoor patio in weather that is not 40 degrees, this beef and spring veggie noodle dish will taste like spring ...

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Food Comics: Deviled Eggs

    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 turn those leftover Easter ...

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One "Stewpendous” Stew and Two “Souperstar” Soups

  I’m a huge fan of soups and stews! Whenever I go to a restaurant, if there is a soup on the menu, I’m more than likely going to order it. I love that a bowl of soup can either be the starter to a ...

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Don't Toss those Carrot Tops

Easter is just around the corner, and glazed carrots are always part of my holiday dinner. This year, I'm growing carrots in my garden from seed, so I was lucky enough to have a good batch of small ...

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Winter Squash Biscuits

I was recently in the mood to slow cook a spicy batch of chili on a cold Sunday afternoon. I wanted to cook and have the smell of savory food wafting through the house. Once the chili was in the ...

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Oh "Mahi" is this Fish Good

  Being raised in the heart of the Midwest, I'm certainly a meat and potatoes kind of guy. But I do love seafood when it is fresh and prepared well. I recently had the opportunity to work with some ...

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Insta-Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

  I finally succumbed to the pressure of the Instant Pot. I’d been curious about them for awhile but between my slow and steady Crock Pot  (See Taking Things Slow With Your Crock Pot) with reliable ...

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I’m Getting Hungary

  For the last few years, my husband and I have taken to international travel, particularly trekking across Europe, the Baltic, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, and (coming this fall) the Adriatic. ...

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Irish Soda Bread

Growing up, St. Patrick’s Day in our house meant a corned beef and cabbage dinner with plenty of potatoes and carrots tossed in. I remember my father being the one to take over the kitchen on this ...

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Fight for your right to Pâté

  Chicken Liver Parfait. The finest, smoothest and richest pâté known to man. People love ordering it at high end restaurants, but no one wants to make it at home. Up until recently, I wouldn’t want ...

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Make it to Spring with Sweet Potato Curry

One of my go to comfort foods this winter has been flavorful curry dishes. There’s something about the warm spices and aromas that makes these last few weeks of cold not seem so bad. I came across ...

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Spice Up Your Meal Prep With Chili

If you are looking to lose weight and/or perform better in the gym and you don’t have your nutrition dialed in, you will plateau very quickly. The easiest way to stay on top of your diet is to prep ...

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How to Make Apple Cider Syrup and Turn It Into Pie

Close to 20 years ago, one of our former chef instructors Lisa Futterman came to work with a recipe she clipped out of a newspaper for an Apple Cider Pie. It was the craziest pie I had seen. She took ...

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Weeknight Surf and Turf

  One question I get asked over and over on my social media channels is how do I cook a meal from scratch nearly every night of the week? I have a full time job in the city. My commute is about 90 ...

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For the Love of Crêpes

  Making crêpes sounds like an intimidating culinary task, but believe me when I tell you that they're as easy as, well… crêpes! They definitely have that “oo-la-la”, fancy French flair, but there's ...

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Food Comics: Toad in a Hole

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 classic British recipe ...

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Baking Bread in a Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Give me a savory recipe or an idea for any savory meal, and I’m on it! But if you ask me to bake a dessert, I would do my best, but not with the same confidence of creating a savory dish. So for the ...

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Peanut Butter Stuffed Banana Bread French Toast

  I recently had a dilemma that I feel most of you will be able to relate to. I’d had a busy weekend, and when I got back to the daily grind on Monday, I went to grab a banana for the road only to ...

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The Best Shrimp and Grits

  Shrimp and Grits are one of my all-time favorite meals. For breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, if they are on a menu, I’m ordering them! I’ve eaten them all over the country in every variation ...

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Turn Smoked Salmon into an Easy, Yet Elegant Appetizer

  The next time you are hosting a party worthy of an elegant appetizer, try this quick Smoked Salmon Mousse. You can make a couple dozen of these tasty bites in about 30 minutes if you have a food ...

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Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Whole Steamed Fish

  As you know from my last post, Chinese (Lunar) New Year is a big deal at our house: it’s the one holiday we brought back with us from China to celebrate with family and friends, ringing it in with ...

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Chocolate Pot de Crème with Caramel Sauce and Kahlua Whipped Cream

Even though Valentine's Day is behind us, there's no reason why you can't make sexy and sweet desserts for that special someone in your life all year round so that they feel appreciated. This is one ...

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Paczki Day: A Delicious Fat Tuesday Tradition 

  Paczkis (Poonch-Keys), the yeast raised, fried donuts often filled with jams and creams, are a Fat Tuesday tradition that are enjoyed before pre-Easter fasting begins. They are a Polish tradition, ...

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Sticky Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

I know I’ve divulged some of my mom’s secrets including her turkey soup and braised short ribs with chili biscuits in past blogs, and while those are both really delicious, I’m finally breaking down ...

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Keep It Keto with Cauliflower Pizza

  It feels a little odd to be writing about diet planning. For most of my life, I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and as much as I wanted. And then my perspective changed. These past two ...

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The Spice of Life

  As an advisory board member of the World Food Travel Association, I’m fortunate to travel to many countries around the world to work with local chefs and explore different culinary cultures. ...

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Combat the Cold with Cowgirl Chili

  Last week a few of my co-workers gathered together to test our skills and face judgement by our peers in a Chopping Block Chili Cook-Off. The chilis were varied, the competition fierce and the ...

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Try Bitter Greens Salad during this Bitter Cold

  I fell in love with this salad when I was the chef at American Girl Place in Chicago. It was one of our most popular items probably because it was so delicious! You can substitute any kind of green ...

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A Chinese New Year Valentine

  Having lived in Beijing a number of years ago, an annual tradition we took home with us was a big, loud celebration dinner for Chinese New Year. With that coming up just over a month away, my mind ...

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Sensible Snacks

A new year is here and many people have decided that now is the time to start creating some healthier lifestyle habits. Beginning a workout routine and aiming to eat healthier overall obviously go ...

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My Favorite Crock Pot Recipe: Pozole Verde

  When faced with brutal subzero temperatures this New Year, I went in to survival mode and immediately got to work in simmering up a hearty stew to warm the bellies of my loved ones.

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Thai Shrimp Noodle Soup

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but the new year is always a clean slate for me. I get all gung ho after maybe indulging a bit over the holiday season – and by holiday season I mean from ...

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Food Comics: Coq au Vin

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

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Found in Translation

It’s interesting how family stories change in telling (and sometimes meaning) over time.

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Gluten-Free Homemade Dog Treats

  As far as I know, my dog Mica is not gluten intolerant, but I figure if I can easily make a treat for my dog without flour, why add it? I try and be very careful with what I eat, so it only makes ...

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Short Ribs and Chili Biscuits – A Delicious Winter Meal

  It’s finally gotten cold in Chicago which means it’s the perfect time for whipping out that Dutch oven and braising something delicious! On a recent day off, I called my mom to ask for her recipe ...

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How to Throw a Kids' Pizza Party

  Everybody loves pizza. Whether it's New York all the way or Chicago-style only, neapolitan crust or deep dish, pizza is something I think people of all ages can get behind. I recently had my niece ...

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These Crispy Shrimp Will Leave Your Guests 'Wonton' More

  Holiday times seem to bring us to the kitchen a lot more than the rest of the year. We entertain at home or go out to holiday parties and bring food with us to share. Last month, I gave you an ...

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Go Dutch Baby

  Dutch Babies have been a Forneret-family obsession since we first discovered them at a pancake house in Palm Springs many years ago. Eggy, crisp and lightly sweet, these instantly became a ...

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Homemade Ice Cream… in a Vitamix?

We all know the Vitamix blender makes the best frozen cocktails, and it was one night, after a stellar round of Pina Coladas, I was inspired to make a pineapple sorbet with leftover frozen pineapple ...

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Calorie Conscious Casseroles

With the temperatures plummeting and hibernation season beginning in Chicago, sitting on the couch with some piping hot comfort food sounds pretty enticing. Winter is the season for mashed potatoes ...

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Buddha Bowl: The Ideal Vegan One Bowl Dish

  Eating healthy during this holiday season can be really hard. I’ve recently started adding more vegan/vegetarian meals into my daily routine. The recipes are easy and pretty quick to make for a ...

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Homemade Cranberry Pepper Jelly for the Holidays

Growing up, there were two things I could always count on every single Christmas. My great Aunt Selma and Uncle Jiggs would send us a two pound loaf of fruitcake. That would be unwrapped, put out on ...

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Tea Time: An Intermission for the Holiday Season

  If you're like me, this time of year can get a little bit stressful. The hustle and bustle of cooking, baking, traveling, shopping, and working a full-time job can take a toll on one’s sanity. I ...

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Foraging and Cooking Puffball Mushrooms

  My latest edition on foraging and cooking wild mushrooms features a relatively new mushroom for me: the Puffball. I grew up hunting morels but living in urban environments for the last 30+ years, I ...

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Emergency Holiday Dessert

Whether it’s a missing ingredient you could have sworn you bought or someone doesn’t bring what they were supposed to for your potluck, it happens every year. Don't let dessert be compromised! Take ...

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My Valencian Lemon Curd

There’s really nothing better than a food that can be eaten at every meal – and I’ve got the perfect recipe for an easy lemon curd you can enjoy any time of day. Even though lemon curd originated in ...

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Holiday Appetizer: Meatballs with Apple Cider BBQ Sauce

  This year seemed to fly by so quickly, and already the holidays are here again! I watched my oldest son become a teenager and my youngest son become a superstar of several sports. Those glorious ...

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Please Pass the Turkey Gravy

  Thanksgiving is coming, and I so love cooking for this holiday. I also love hearing about other people’s traditions, what they serve, what they enjoy cooking. In the midst of all this, though, one ...

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Bourbon Spiked Sweet Potato Pie

  While I do love a good pumpkin spice latte, I’ve never really gotten on board with loving pumpkin pie (though I’ll admit, The Chopping Block’s is delicious!). Truthfully, I’ve never roasted my own ...

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Let's Break Bread

Since the weather is nice and cold and staying in sounds more enticing than heading out, I had the urge to bake some bread this week. I decided to make a Dutch Oven Bread Loaf. The recipe was very ...

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Holiday Peach Pie

I consider myself more of a cook than a baker, except for two things – pies and bread!  Now that we are past Halloween, my Pinterest feed has been all about Thanksgiving, from appetizers to dessert. 

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Food Comics: Honey Lemon Chicken Kebabs with Hummus

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

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Beer Can Butternut Squash

If you’re someone who likes to get creative in the kitchen and try out new things, sometime it can be difficult to know where to start or how to experiment without ruining your dinner for that ...

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Pumpkin Puree isn't Just for Pie - Try it in Fresh Pasta

  By now you’ve probably been inundated with pumpkin this and pumpkin that, but I'm not done embracing the delicious and versatile nature of this seasonal fruit, so I hope you'll bear with me and ...

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Pumpkin Truffles: A Festive Vegan Fall Confection

It’s fall, which means pumpkin everything… unless of course, you’ve been getting your pumpkin spice fix since late August. Pumpkin is everywhere now, and sometimes it’s good to think beyond pies and ...

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Finally Letting Go of Summer to Welcome Fall Food

  Although fall is my favorite season of the year, it’s still really difficult to say goodbye to summer. The things I love most about fall are the colors, flavors, smells, spices and crisp weather ...

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Creamy Sausage and Potato Soup

When the weather turns cold, there is nothing I want more than a bowl of piping hot, hearty soup. I prefer a creamy soup that warms the soul. While I do enjoy a good soup, I don’t always have the ...

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French Bistro Savory Tart

When most people think of the south of France, they think of popular towns like Cannes, Nice and Provence but there’s another charming – and less expensive - region to the west called ...

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Warm Up in Cool Weather with Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits

Unless you live in the deep South, you have probably felt Autumn's cool embrace by now. This is a clear signal that my favorite months of cooking are here! Besides the great flavors and smells that ...

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The Joys of Jewish Preserving

  Crunchy kosher dills. Hamantaschen filled with prune levkar. Date honey and pomegranate molasses. Foods like these demonstrate how preserving has played an important role in Jewish cuisine, both ...

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Casual Cassoulet

  These rainy fall days have me craving one of my favorite comfort dishes - cassoulet. This traditional French dish is a hearty mix of duck confit, pork and beans that warmed farmer’s bellies for the ...

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Food Comics: Hot and Spicy Tomato Soup

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 the perfect accompaniment ...

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Butternut Squash Bolognese

  We had pasta a lot growing up for several reasons. First, it was a family favorite. Second, it was quick, and I am sure the third reason was because it was cheap. All those reasons still hold true ...

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Butternut Squash: The New Pumpkin

With the arrival of October comes pumpkin-spiced everything. From pumpkin spiced lattes to pumpkin pancakes to pumpkin pie, the flavor of pumpkin is everywhere. While I do love pumpkin in either ...

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Pumpkins and Cranberries: The Perfect Pair

  The pumpkin season is undeniably upon us. Just last week I went to the grocery store, and couldn't believe the assortment of pumpkin-flavored items available. There was everything you could imagine ...

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Best Tomato Soup Ever

We're nearing the very end of tomato season, so I want to celebrate them with one of my all time favorite go-to recipes.

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A Kebab, a Calzone and a Pita Walk into a Bar

  I just got back from a whirlwind vacation across Europe, gorging my way through five countries before rolling into Istanbul. Ahhh Istanbul--land of lamb chops so pink that even Mary would have had ...

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Autumn Apples

  I love autumn. While spring is all green and fresh and lovely, the colors of autumn are incredible. I love all that it brings: the beautiful changing colors on the trees, pumpkins, the slight nip ...

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Cool Weather is Baking Time 

  I have spent the last couple of weeks journaling my recent wilderness trip. I was hoping to have it ready in time for this month's blog, but stay tuned for it next month! In the meantime, fall has ...

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Food Comics: French Onion Soup

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 his favorite soup, Alton ...

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Apple Fritter Muffins for Apple Season

Three things prompted my blog post this month. Labor Day weekend 2017 marked the 19th anniversary of my Dad passing away. Like me, my Dad was diabetic, but he never let that stop him from eating his ...

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Breakfast for Busy People

  Breakfast seems to be the meal that most people have the hardest time making nutritionally balanced (if they eat it at all). Whether that's because people find fewer foods appetizing early in the ...

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Pork Involtini: Italian Grilling at its Finest

  Just because Labor Day has come and gone doesn't mean you should pack up your grill. Standing over a flaming hot grill during the height of summer can have its challenges, so take advantage of the ...

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Summer's Best Sweet Corn Risotto

  Sweet corn takes me back to my childhood more than almost any food. I grew up on a little acreage in Iowa and our mainstay was sweet corn. We not only grew it for ourselves, we sold it and traded ...

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Mexican Chocoflan: the Impossible Chocolate Cake

  It's been called “The Impossible Chocolate Cake” and “Magic Mexican Chocolate Flan Cake,” but I prefer calling it “Chocoflan!”  Chocoflan is a combination of chocolate cake on the bottom with a ...

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Homemade Bao for a Dim Sum Win

  I love the idea of sharing small plates when it coming to dining because it allows for such great variety to be enjoyed. I also think small plates always seem to make the meal more fun! I feel like ...

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Vegan Gnocchi: Potato Pillows of Goodness

There seems to be this unwritten phenomenon among The Chopping Block's employees, where after our Know Your Gnocchi class, someone who worked the class is inspired to go home and make gnocchi from ...

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Going Green with Fried Green Tomatoes

I’ve been enjoying the fruits of my garden all summer long--cucumbers, zucchini, hot peppers and so many cherry tomatoes but the one thing that I wait for all summer--my great, big, juicy heirloom ...

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Cast Iron Pancake Makes Brunch a Breeze

  Having friends and family over for breakfast or brunch is one of my very favorite things to do. Breakfast and brunch can be some of the most simple, delicious, and versatile meals!

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The Whipped Cream of Your Dreams

  Fluffy, light, sweet whipped cream. Is there anything better? During a recent birthday party at The Chopping Block's Merchandise Mart location, we had a whipped cream contest! Two teams of thre had ...

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Perfect Oatmeal

  It seems to me that most people kind of like oatmeal but don’t really love oatmeal. Most people may eat it because it is fast, cheap and healthy. Those might be the three big reasons to love ...

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Truffle Honey and Truffle Salt: Two of our Favorite Foods

  If you've ever stepped through the doors of The Chopping Block, you've probably sampled our famous popcorn and other fresh delicious treats featuring Truffled Salt. We sure do love this stuff ...

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Passport to Italy

Italy is one of those places you can’t help but love. You’re guaranteed a good meal nearly anywhere, anytime, in every region. My love of Italy started on a trip during middle school, so I knew when ...

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It's Grilled Zucchini Season

  When we were in Italy last fall, I fell in love with these wonderful little rolled zucchini bites that Rosella, our Agriturismo host, whipped up. I remember asking her what kind of cheese was in ...

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A Recipe to Convert Brussels Sprouts Haters

You either love it or you hate it. That’s how it goes with some foods. One such vegetable that most people tend to skew heavily one way or the other on are Brussels sprouts. As I teach the young ...

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Food Comics: Rainbow Salad

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

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Two Chefs are Better than One

  Even after cooking all day at work, I come home still eager to make a meal. I love to cook, but even the most enthusiastic chef has days where they would rather relax and have someone else take ...

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The Best Low Calorie Granola

I think it was in the early 80’s that I was introduced to GORP.  One of my teammates had it on a bus to a field hockey game. It had peanuts, raisins and M&M’s and it was delicious. It was deemed the ...

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Pineapple Pink Pepper Sorbet: A Light, Refreshing Summer Dessert

You'd think after last month’s butternut squash ice cream brainstorm that I was obsessed with ice cream. Well, I am! I'm also a big fan of combining unique flavor combinations… within reason of ...

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Focaccia: Bread Baking with the Seasons

Why wait until the cooler months when you can enjoy freshly baked, seasonal bread to accompany your summer soirées? You should bake bread this summer!

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Summertime is Pizza on the Grill with Beer Time

  My wife informed me that we would be having company for dinner last Sunday and that our guests would expect me to cook something delicious. I agree that's a fair expectation, but the situation put ...

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How to Beat Breakfast Boredom

Now that it is officially bathing suit season, this is the time when many people start to get really serious about healthy eating to keep that beach bod in check. One of the hard parts about ...

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Find a Friend in Farro

I have been a chef with The Chopping Block for almost 2 years now. In that short time, I have learned a lot more about cooking than I ever did in my previous 10 years in restaurant kitchens. A big ...

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Everything Bagel Quiche

  One of my favorite things about the weekend is being able to spend time in my kitchen in the morning before anyone else is up. I sip my piping hot coffee, and the only sounds are the birds chirping ...

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Summer’s Not Just For Kids Anymore with These Boozy Popsicles

  Hot days, cold pools, ice cream trucks and adult beverages--combine all of the delights of summer into one with these icy cold fruit, herb and liquor-filled treats! The recipes are simple, the ...

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Butternut Squash in Ice Cream?

I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that when you saw the title of this blog post, you said to yourself, “hmmm, interesting,” or “wait, WHAT?” 

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The Easiest Summer Appetizer: Parmesan Crisps

As the summer season begins, so too does entertaining season. One of the more frequent questions I get from students is about appetizers. Everyone seems to be a “deer caught in headlights” about the ...

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What is Your Food Delight?

  A couple of weeks ago Michael, a good friend from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico called to tell me that he was planning a visit to Chicago. He was coming in as a consultant to help generate ideas ...

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Paella Party

  Paella is one of those dishes that I love to eat, but seldom make at home. It’s one of those specialties you need to order in a restaurant for it to be made properly, right? 

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Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

  One of the biggest sources of inspiration in the kitchen for me are old and classic recipes. One of my most formative kitchen experiences was working in a innovative diner. It specialized in making ...

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Recipes + Grocery Lists + iOS App = MyRedBag

  As you may have heard, The Chopping Block has recently partnered with the iOS app MyRedBag to help make your at-home cooking experience easier and more enjoyable!

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Master Your Macros

In my last post, I discussed the different roles of the three macronutrients and how to roughly determine how many of them to be consuming each day. When it is all said and done, if your goal is to ...

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French Crullers and the Art of Easy Deliciousness

  My favorite dough, the pâte à choux, is back in another starring role. There’s nothing you can’t do with this versatile dough - from sweet Eclairs and Profiteroles, to Parisian Gnocchi and a ...

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Come Visit Us for a “Pizza” The Action

  Who doesn't love pizza? Everybody loves pizza! Sure, it's easy to pick up the phone and order one from the corner pizzeria, but it isn’t very difficult to make you own gourmet pizza, top it with ...

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Praise Seitan! A “Meaty” Vegan Staple Must

  “But… what do vegans eat?” If I had a nickel for every time i was asked that question, I’d have… well, I’d have a lot of nickels! Most people are aware of tofu, and even tempeh, as major vegan ...

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Taco Tuesdays with Homemade Flour Tortillas

I'm pretty sure Taco Tuesday is the best thing ever invented.  I love Mexican food and growing up, it was one of my favorite dinners that my Mom made me.  I say “me” because I know I am my Mom’s ...

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Easy Summertime Coal-Fired Pizza

  Summertime means grilled foods, sunshine, beaches, and pizza? Yes, pizza on a grill is something you may not think of doing, but you should!

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20 Years of Recipes for You

As you've probably heard, The Chopping Block is celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. We marked this milestone with two big birthday bashes last month that featured some of our favorite food ...

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Eat a Pita: How to Make Homemade Pita Bread

  Isn't homemade, fresh bread always better than anything you can find in the store? That's a rhetorical question. I have been thinking about making fresh pita bread for some time now, and I finally ...

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Use Quinoa to Make Gluten-Free Gourmet Pizza

  Not many people would be able to say no to a pizza straight out of the oven - the sight and aroma of a well-cooked pizza is enough to make your mouth water.

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Ground Turkey, The New Ground Beef

  I’ve been trying to eat healthier the past couple of months, so I decided to introduce ground turkey breast meat into my diet. On one hand, it wasn’t that difficult of a decision to make, most of ...

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The Return of Mario, Grilling Season and Mother's Day Ribs

I find it no coincidence that my return to the blog-o-sphere has coincided with another return… grilling season! Finally, we get to enjoy a bit of warm-ish weather, grab some new charcoal or fill up ...

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Cookies for Breakfast

I have a really bad habit of mismanaging my time before heading off to work or some other engagement. I will get into a productive mode that is hard to detach from, which then means a rush to get out ...

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Reminiscing over Mom’s Custard Pie

  After selling the family home in late 2016, I became the proud owner of some of my Mom’s kitchen items. Her original 1960’s Chrome bullet Mixmaster complete with meat grinder attachment and more ...

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Got Leftover Easter Ham? Make Split Pea and Ham Soup

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 what to do with that leftover Easter ...

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My Favorite Thing to Cook: Stuffed Chops

  One of the most common questions I get from students when teaching cooking classes at The Chopping Block is: "What's your favorite thing to cook?" 

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Challenge Yourself to Utilize Your Fridge This Week

As a meal planner, after I get home from the grocery store every Saturday, my fridge is pretty spotless – ready to tackle the week!

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Baby Pavlovas: A Light and Airy Treat from Down Under

  The world of meringue is completely out of my comfort zone. I prefer to cook savory food, but every so often there's a part of me that gets the baking bug. 

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This Italian Family's Manicotti Recipe is No Longer a Secret

  Some say “Home is where the heart is.” For me, home is where the food is. There is nothing better than the smell and warmth of a homemade pot of Marinara Sauce on the stove and a bunch of cheese ...

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Weekend Woes: Avoiding the Brunch Barrage

Chicago is a brunch city. There’s no doubt about that. On any given Saturday or Sunday morning, you’ll find yourself facing a one to three hour wait at the majority of establishments. The wait is ...

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In Honor of National Chip and Dip Day

  Whenever I host a party for friends and family, I put a lot of thought into what kind of a party I want to have. After all, if your're going to go to all of the trouble and expense, you want it to ...

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Springing into Spring

With Monday having been the first day of Spring, I’m into all things “fresh” right now. Out with soups and stews and in with veggies, seafood and wraps. I love this time of year because I feel like ...

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Food Comics: Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder

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 favorite dishes ...

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Mi Manca l'Italia: Reminiscing about the Best Food on the Planet

  It has been almost one year since my trip to Italy, and there’s nowhere I would rather be, and with a big bowl of pasta in front of me. Each time I visit I realize how different each region is and ...

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A 20 Year Classic of The Chopping Block: Crab Cakes

  I hadn’t cooked dinner in a while for my friends and wanted to make them something special. So I decided to make crab cakes. It all starts with real crab. This recipe has several ingredients, ...

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Easy and Elegant Sesame Seared Tuna

Chefs are a lot alike in many respects. We like to work in a kitchen that offers us opportunities to learn. Many of us have had more jobs throughout our careers than people in other professions ...

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New Meatless Meal Idea: Vegan Lentil Pasta with Kale Pesto

My daughter-in-law Lizz, who lives in Austin, Texas, the home of all that is holy - BBQ, is vegan. Yep, she's a short car ride from Rudy's BBQ that has the best moist brisket I've ever had and close ...

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Ugly Avocados? Make Chocolate Mousse

Oh avocados, my culinary love-hate relationship. I love how creamy and rich they are. I love that they make great guacamole, salsa, salad, and great spread on toast. I love that they're filling and ...

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Adventures in Cheese Making: Ricotta in Three Easy Steps

It's easy to make cheese at home. You need only simple equipment (a strainer, a pot) and ingredients you likely already have on hand (heavy cream, milk, vinegar, salt) and just a little bit of time. ...

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The Best Soup, Pho-Real

March in the Midwest brings some dreary rainy days, and dreary days scream for soup! One of my favorite soups is the Vietnamese soup Pho (pronounced fuh).

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Say “¡Sí!” to Chips and Salsa for Breakfast

  Getting your family fed in the morning before everyone rushes off to school and work is a very challenging task. You want breakfast to be filling, nutritious, and easy to prepare… all without ...

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Beignets: The Ultimate Donut

Donuts are good, but let’s face it, when it comes to food, New Orleans knows best, and beignets are the ultimate donut in my opinion. If you’ve been to New Orleans (perhaps for yesterday's Mardi ...

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Food Comics: Bibimbap

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

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Best French Toast Ever

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

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Sopa Azteca: The Ultimate "Company Soup"

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

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Making Dessert for your Valentine: Score with Strawberry Pasta

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

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Cioppino: The Perfect Seafood Lovers Stew

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

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Ooey Gooey Chocolate Lava Cakes

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

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

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

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Homemade Doggy Treats for Your #1 Valentine

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

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Cast Iron Conundrum: Le Creuset or Lodge?

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

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Acid and Fat: The Yin and Yang of Cooking

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

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The Power of Polenta

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

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

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

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Starbucks' Copycat Muesli Bread

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

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

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

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

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

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A Healthy Smoothie to Start Off the New Year

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

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Sophisticated French Food Made Easy

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

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A Cure for your Winter Blues: Snacks and a Movie

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

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A Spectacular Holiday Dessert: Buche de Noel

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

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Chocolate De Abuelita

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

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Cooking with "Nothing" in the Fridge

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

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Basil: An Herb for All Seasons

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

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Miracle Cure For Bland Food

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

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Homemade Snickers Bars

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

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‘Tis The Dip Season

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

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Impress Your Guests with This Easy and Elegant Appetizer

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

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Homemade Candied Nuts, a Christkindlmarket Classic

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

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Five Tips for Better Chili

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

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Short Ribs are Not Short on Flavor

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

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Forget Plain Sugar, Sweeten with Simple Syrup

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

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Soup, The Ultimate Comfort Food

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

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From Baking Pan to Bowl: Lasagna Soup

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

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Vegan Holiday Decadence: Chocolate Candy Cane Tart

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

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Taste of Thanksgiving

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

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Homemade Pickles for your Thanksgiving Table

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

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Homemade Ravioli: Squash-Filled Bundles of Love

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

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The Gift of Good Fortune... Cookies

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

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Food Comics: French Meat Pie

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

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Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

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

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Bread Baking 101: Skillet Bread

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

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Vegan Vanilla Rum French Toast

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

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A Flavor Boost When You're in a Pickle

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

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Bacon Inside a Burger is Better

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

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Chicken Tinga: As Addictive to Say as to Eat

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

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Getting Figgy with Balsamic Vinegar

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

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Condensed Milk Veganized

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

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You Say Tomato, I Say Yes

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

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From Grub Hub to Sticky Sriracha Chicken Thighs

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

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Fresh Picked Sweets From the Garden

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

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Eggplant Parmesan 2.0

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

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Chicken Pot Pie Just Like Mom's

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

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Brown Sugar Sriracha Popcorn: Sweet, Spicy, Crunchy Love

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

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Roasted Broccoli, Three Ways

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

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Festival Food Worth Making at Home

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

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Supper in a Snap

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

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Roasted Poblano Mac and Cheese

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

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

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

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Time to Make the Donuts and Peach Fritters

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

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

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

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DIY Granola

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

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It's Always a Good Time to Make Cookies

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

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Traveling Toddler Treats

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

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This Bird is on Fire: Nashville Hot Chicken

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

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Coconut Macaroons: An Easy and Elegant French Dessert

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

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Pasta Versatility: How to Make and Use Homemade Pasta

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

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What is Kugel and Why is it so Good?

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

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Whipped Cream: A Versatile and Easy Complement to Any Dessert

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

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The Best Horchata You will Ever Drink

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

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Comfort Food: The Healthy Remix

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

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Food Comics: Simple Bolognese

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

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A New Trick to Roasting a Chicken

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

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Food Evokes Memories

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

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Arroz con Pollo: One-Pot Family Favorite

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

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Why Popcorn is the Best Snack

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

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Beef: It's Wellington for Dinner

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

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Prep your Kitchen for Summer Cooking Now

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

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Make Moussaka to Be a Better Cook

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

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Vegetable Enchiladas are Easy and Healthy

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

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Egg White Substitute for Vegans is Made of What?

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

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The Spiralizer Makes Vegetables Fun and Delicious

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

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Ricotta Gnocchi: Little Dumplings of Goodness

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

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Tis the Season for Baking

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

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Speedy Simple Supper: Creamy Broccoli Soup with Cheddar

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

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An Untraditional Pancake for a Christmas Morning Tradition

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

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Wintertime is Chili Time

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

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Cheese Making at Home Part 4: Goat Cheese

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

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For the Love of Coconut Macaroons

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

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The Easiest Holiday Appetizer: Cocktail Weenies

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

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Ring in the New Year Greek Style

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

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Life Lessons in Bread Baking

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

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Leftover Potatoes? Turn Them into Pancakes

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

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The Best Bread Pudding I’ve Ever Had

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

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You Successfully Tackled Turkey - Now On To Soup

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

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The Endless Variations of Homemade Vinaigrettes

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

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Family Cooking Night - Meals You Can Make and Enjoy Together

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

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Braciole: Ultimate Italian Comfort Food

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

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Seeking Fall Comfort Food? Try Tuscan Soups Like Ribollita

 

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Switch Up Slaw with Kholrabi

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

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Artisanal Grits are True Southern Food

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

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

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Taking the Easy Pumpkin Way Out

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

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From Scratch Cinnamon Rolls

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

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Food Fit for Football

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

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Kale Chips Reinvented

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

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

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

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That's Peachy Part Three: They're Back

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

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Tabouleh, Tabbouleh or Tabbouli

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

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Today Was a Blondie Day

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

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Greek-Inspired Picnic Fare

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

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