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  • The Chopping Blog

Blueberry Oat Pancakes

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

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The Return of the Comeback Sauce

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

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Bars

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

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Spring Onion Noodles

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

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Adobo: Verb, Noun or Adjective Part 2

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

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Adobo: Verb, Noun or Adjective Part 1

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

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The History of the Truffle

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

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Boldly Nutritious: Harissa-Roasted Potatoes & Chickpeas

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

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Grilling Season is Here and We Have the Meats

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

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Black Bean Dip for a Healthy Choice at Cookouts

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

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

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

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Haitian Heritage Month – A Growing Appreciation of Haitian Food

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

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Anything Goes Green Goddess Dressing

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

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Lemon Cake with Blueberry Sauce: A Chopping Block Classic

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

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How to Use a Mortar and Pestle

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

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Warm Weather Dessert

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

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French Vanilla Ice Cream For Any Occasion

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

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More Recipes for your Le Creuset Mini Cocottes

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

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Spring Brings White Asparagus Season

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

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Do-Ahead Backyard BBQ Sandwiches for a Crowd

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

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The Perfect Beginner’s Bread

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

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Spooning with The Chopping Block at the Mart

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

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A Tale of Two Frostings

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

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Eat Healthier with an Air Fryer

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

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Lemon Orzo Soup

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

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

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

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Homemade Pizza in 20 Minutes

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

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Not Your Mom’s Tuna Casserole

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

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Minestrone for your Knife Skills Vegetable Bounty

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

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Perfect Polenta Pie

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

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

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

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Chopped Broccoli Salad

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

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Mexican Soup Shortcut

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

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Grandma Ruby’s Peanut Butter Fingers

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

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Cajun Chicken Andouille Pasta

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

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Using Meat as a Seasoning Agent

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

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Know your Lentil Power

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

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Easy Vegan Swaps

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

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The Best "Crab" Cakes Actually have No Crab

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

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Taking Cocktails to the Next Level with Orgeat

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

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Triple Chocolate Pudding Pie

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

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Marbled Tea Eggs

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

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A Meat Fest Weekend in Chicago

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

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Miso Red Curry Soup

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

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Getting Fancy in the Instant Pot

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

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Chinese Sausage Fried Rice

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

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

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

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Tapioca Pudding is Ultimate Comfort

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

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Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

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

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Culinary Siphons are Not Only for Whipped Cream

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

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Buddha Bowls: A Blank Canvas for Healthy Eating

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

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Steamed Mussels with Chorizo: Approachable Surf and Turf

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

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Stuff Meat for Impressive Dishes

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

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Eggnog from Scratch

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

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Cast Iron Skillet Brownie with Bourbon Caramel Drizzle

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

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Appetizer Centerpieces

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

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Celebrate Christkindlmarket Season with this German Dessert

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

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Cooking for One

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

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Mrs. Miller’s Chocolate Cake

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

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Brussels Sprouts on the Stalk for Thanksgiving

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

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Thanksgiving Taboos and To-do’s

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

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Chicken Cacciatore: The Perfect Braised Dinner for a Chilly Night

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

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Smoke Some Cheese

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

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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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