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  • The Chopping Blog

Classic Niçoise Salad makes a Return

  Summer is in full swing, and we are trying to make the best of it! One of the high points of my summer so far has been teaching one of my favorite classic dishes: the Niçoise Salad in a recent ...

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Honey Nut Granola

  If you’ve been following my posts, it is probably fairly obvious that breakfast and brunch foods are some of my favorites. With that being said, I couldn’t leave out my trusty granola recipe. I’ve ...

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Hard Cider Can Chicken with Spicy Pickled Peaches

I spend a lot of time on my deck, especially these days, and it was truly my saving grace during quarantine! I often work from my deck, but on weekends, I love to spend the afternoon relaxing out ...

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Conchas: A Mexican Sweet Treat

  I love having adventures in the kitchen, and I love making recipes that are totally unfamiliar to me. Both of these occurred when I tried my hand at making conchas, a traditional Mexican sweet ...

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Mushrooms and Polenta

  One of the things I love most about farmers markets is discovering that something unexpected is in season. I always buy whatever it is, whether it was on my shopping list or not, and rush home to ...

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Follow this Rule for Every Type of Grill

  Summer has officially started, and I know many of us are excited to spend a lot of of it outside grilling! Here in Chicago, we are moving into phase 4 of re-opening, which means restaurants can ...

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Burek: A Meat-Filled Phyllo Pie

  A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of my Burek in The Chopping Block's private Facebook group with the promise of the complete recipe to come. If you are not familiar with our TCB group, you ...

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Yes, You Can Make Pop Tarts from Scratch

  I was feeling a bit ambitious this past weekend, and decided to try making pop tarts from scratch. I thought it would be a really great way to start Father’s Day morning, and my husband and kids ...

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Bubble Pizza

  I often crave pizza, but don’t have the time to make it from scratch. My favorite pizza crust recipe requires one proofing, so instead, this quick and easy bubble pizza is my go-to. I love that ...

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It Doesn't Get Much Easier than Muffins

  The stars must surely be in alignment because: our markets are now bursting with berries; we all need to get out of our ruts and treat ourselves and loved ones to something special; and this ...

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Caulifredo: A Cheater's Guide to Almost Alfredo and  Pesto

  Like a lot of other people over the past few months, I’ve chosen to rely on a delivery service for my shopping. Normally, I love to go to the grocery store. I love the colors of the produce, the ...

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Turn the Heat Up or Down in Homemade Harissa

  I absolutely love the flavors of Middle Eastern and North African cooking - the warm spices of cumin, cardamom, turmeric and cinnamon to name just a few; the freshest vegetables including tomatoes, ...

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Berries and Cream Stuffed French Toast

  Sunday brunch will always be my favorite memory. My family would frequent the local Hickory House, which had a good ole’ fashioned country buffet – pleasantly filling our bellies until supper. Or, ...

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Ali's Famous Coffee Cake is a Friend Maker

  Long ago, I had just moved to a far-away town where I knew almost no one. Once the unpacking was nearly finished, I sat for a minute in the front window and wondered how and when I might make new ...

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Summer Sides to Center Stage

  You’ve heard the description, “the table was sagging under the weight its food”?  This phrase is usually attributable to Thanksgiving dinner or summer barbecues, and conjures up the delights of ...

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Scallion Pancakes

I know, I know… by now you’re not shocked that I’m coming to you excited about pancakes again, but hear me out - my latest adventure in pancakes took a savory turn and it’s my favorite chapter of my ...

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Take Summer Up a Notch with Fish

  It’s finally summer, the season for all sorts of celebrations. If for no other reason than I-just-want-to-feel-like-myself-again, I think livin’ it up a little and getting a bit fancy “just ...

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Green Bombs of Kale, Spinach, Chard and Other Leafy Greens

  Are you one of those people who sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box eagerly in the winter and then, when deliveries start, you are dismayed by piles of kale, chard and spinach?

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Grilled Artichokes with Garlic Aioli

  Being from a little town in Iowa, I had no exposure to whole fresh artichokes growing up. I had never seen one, never eaten one and certainly never cooked one. I had tasted jarred and canned ...

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How to Make a Lattice Pie

Has your baking streak ended now the country is beginning to reopen and stay at home orders are being lifted? If you've been like so many of us over the past few months of quarantine, you've been ...

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Ethel's Daughter: Quarantine Sourdough Bread Baking

  Bread is a very important food in my German culture. In fact, we eat bread with almost every meal in Germany. I count myself fortunate to live near a great bakery called Phlour, a family-owned ...

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How to Make Mouth-Watering BBQ Chicken

One of my family’s absolute favorite, finger-lickin’ dinners consists of BBQ chicken, baked beans, braised collard greens and cornbread. This meal is the ultimate plate of soul food and leaves us ...

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Simple Sheet Pan Paella

  Everyone I know is suffering from quarantine fatigue, and you may be too. But there have been a few upsides to this forced exile. We have returned to the kitchen to make many more meals at home ...

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Want to Live to be 100? Cook the Right Foods

  If you’re like me, your cookbooks are getting a workout during these stay-at-home days. I find it’s easier to keep busy and refrain from wallowing when engaged in physical tasks. Of course cooking ...

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Scones, Biscuits and Shortcakes

  I regularly make scones or biscuits for breakfast as a special treat. I love making these for so many reasons but especially because I think it is nearly impossible to find a good scone, or at ...

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Pork Stew in Salsa Verde: A Delightful Mexican Dish

  A very good friend of mine gave me this recipe, and we have cooked it several times now. He learned it in Mexico from his grandmother, and he comes from the city of Puebla where this is a regional ...

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Honey Buns Reimagined

  Growing up, my husband was accustomed to the luxuries of convenience store snack cakes and assorted pre-packaged cookies. Whereas at my house, my mom baked and made pretty much everything we ate.

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Summer Grilling isn't Cancelled

Memorial Day weekend is always called the unofficial start to summer. In years past, the long holiday weekend was a time for first of the year beach vacations, large barbecues with friends, swimming ...

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Where There’s Smoke, There’s Salmon: DIY Hot Smoked Salmon

  Last time I went grocery shopping, the salmon looked really fresh, so I bought a couple extra portions. I had no idea what I was going to do with them at the time, but I couldn’t resist the ...

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Cooking in the Time of Corona

  Do you ever daydream about cinnamon rolls, or am I the only one? I could eat them all day every day. One of the very first things I decided to bake during the shelter in place order was ooey-gooey ...

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Mango Mania

  Up until just a week or so ago, the weather in Chicago was still pretty chilly (below 40 degrees at night), and we’d been in quarantine for 2 months. My social media continued to remind me of trips ...

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No-Cook Spring Soup

  In my highly personalized and largely antiquated recipe system, there are folders. Started in my twenties, these old-fashioned colored cardboard folders have been stuffed lovingly over the years, ...

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Duck Egg Tagliatelle with Morel Mushrooms and Asparagus

Those of you that follow my blogs regularly know I love to forage for mushrooms. I have to write at least one blog a year on how to forage, clean and cook wild mushrooms. If you want to learn more ...

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How about Breakfast for Dinner?

  Adjusting to a new routine, as we go through these strange times, may be a challenge; however, we may actually find that we can break away from it and have some fun, especially in the kitchen!

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Lemon Blueberry Streusel Muffins

These fluffy and moist muffins are sure to become a family favorite. The pairing of bright lemon and sweet blueberry is a quintessential Spring/Summer flavor combination – and one of my personal ...

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How to Roast Pork Shoulder and Turn it into Hog Wild Recipes

  During this stay at home order, I have been trying to be very smart and creative when it comes to grocery shopping. Since March, I have only been to the grocery store twice! Before this pandemic I ...

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Homemade Tamales: Check This Off Your Bucket List

  Who doesn’t love tamales? Masa dough with a sweet or savory filling wrapped in a corn husk, steamed to fluffy perfection is the way I like to sum up this delicious Mexican dish. But this is ...

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Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Short Ribs

  Short ribs are one of my favorite cool weather, comfort foods and quarantine has seemed like the perfect time for comfort food. Braising short ribs may take a few hours, but they make the house ...

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Pasta Doesn't Always Have to Be Perfect

There's nothing more comforting right now than a big plate of pasta. That's why we chose Cacio e Pepe, the popular pasta dish which means "cheese and pepper" in Italian, for our first Cook Along ...

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Quick and Easy Peanut Butter Pie

It's no secret that I am a rather lazy baker. When I do make the effort to bake, it is mostly for other people’s enjoyment, not necessarily my own. The first thing I baked all on my own was a pan of ...

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Cinnamon Roll Pancakes with Dalgona Coffee

  I was at a culinary crossroads the other day. My fiancé wanted me to make my mom’s sticky pecan cinnamon rolls for breakfast, but I knew that request would take a few hours by the time I had a ...

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Lemon Lime Soda Cake with Fresh Raspberries

  Quarantine has really stirred (see what I did there?) up my love of baking. I’ve always loved eating and making desserts, but I find myself really enjoying experimenting and trying new recipes. ...

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Banana-Nilla Pudding: A Fun and Delicious Family Activity

  Now that I have a bit more time on my hands, I have been spending even more of it in the kitchen than I typically do. And, because we’re sheltering in place, I’m always looking for fun activities ...

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Rhubarb

  As a general rule, I think people like to cook what they like to eat. The exception being you don’t really love sweets but your wife has a sweet tooth and your three kids can’t get enough cookies, ...

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Kefir: An Immune-Boosting Superfood

  Kefir is an ancient healing superfood from the Caucasus Mountains that has provided microbiome support for over 2,000 years. It’s a probiotic-rich drink with protein, calcium, and vitamin D. The ...

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Meet your Bread Baking Challenge with this Pretzel Focaccia

    If you've joined our private Facebook group, you might be cooking even more than your standard three meals a day. After all, what good is a quarantine unless we are challenging ourselves in the ...

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Rekindle your Love for Kitchen Equipment

  One of my first quarantine projects was taking everything out of my kitchen cabinets and drawers, cleaning the surfaces and reorganizing the contents. I had an appliance drawer that was a chaotic ...

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How to Make English Muffins

    My favorite style of English muffins is the sourdough kind, but that method is a bit involved. This is the recipe that you can use when you wake up in the morning, decide you want a fresh-baked ...

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Revisit your Family Recipes

  During this unprecedented time of quarantine, you might be tackling some kitchen projects you've had on the back burner for a while. That could include reorganizing and taking stock of your pantry, ...

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Baked Apple Pancake

  While the current state of the world, given the COVID-19 situation, is uncertain and concerning, I’ve tried to make the most of my time practicing social distancing. I’ve found joy in the simple ...

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Time to Turn to Comfort Food Like Lasagna

  It seems that everything eventually comes full circle. All of the things I enjoyed as I child have gained popularity in the last five years or so. All of the toys I was so fond of when I was a kid ...

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Empanadas: A Tasty Miami-Style Handheld Treat

  Empanadas are the ultimate snack food. Theses dough-wrapped treats can be filled with a wide variety of fillings ranging from meat, seafood, vegetables and cheese that are typically baked or fried ...

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Why You Should Stop Frying Fried Rice

  I just moved to upstate New York a few weeks ago and have been spending more time scarfing bagels and sorting through boxes than whipping up meals in my new kitchen. The fact that I went from a ...

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Shrimp Diavolo: The Perfect Weeknight Meal

    This recipe is packed with flavor and uses very simple cooking techniques. Shrimp Diavolo is a classic, slightly spicy Italian dish (where you control the heat by determining how much chili ...

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Food Comics: New and Improved 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. Tom used to make Alton Brown's version of his favorite ...

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Chocolate Mousse, the Cheffy Way

  As a professional chef, I love throwing (and attending!) dinner parties, and I’m not shy about going back for seconds. But I’m also not one to skip dessert, so when it comes to the sweet stuff, I ...

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Spice Up your Weeknight Chicken

Most of our hands-on cooking classes at The Chopping Block focus on preparing several dishes which result in a delicious meal that our guests enjoy at the end of class. However, one question that we ...

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Sourdough Starter Tips for Beginners

  If you are like me, you’ve never made a sourdough starter nor cared for one. The responsibility of having something else besides my cat to feed did not seem like something I wanted to take on. I’ve ...

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Simply Satisfying Salmon Marinades

  Salmon is one of my favorite fish options whenever I go out to dinner. Normally, I am quite satisfied with my selection, and I am often left wanting more but when I went out to eat a couple of ...

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Making French Crullers is Easier Than you Think

  Our new Donut Boot Camp course has inspired me to make fresh donuts at home. This is a project I would typically save for the weekend, but with my family and I going out of town this weekend, ...

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Mocha Pudding with Ginger Snap Cookie Crumble

  This recipe contains high quality chocolate pudding, topped with whipped cream, toasted coconut and crumbled ginger snap cookies. For chocolate lovers, this more than hits the spot!

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Don't Wait for Market Season to Make Pizza

By the time we are getting to the end of January, I start to think about windows being opened, a warm breeze coming through my kitchen window, and me grabbing my farmers market basket to see what ...

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What Happens when you Instant Pot a Whole Chicken?

  I must admit, I was pretty averse to getting an Instant Pot. For me, it’s a pretty pricey investment for a fancy pressure cooker. I finally caved on a Black Friday deal on the larger 8-quart ...

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Banana Coconut Upside-Down Cake

My obsession with upside down cakes hasn’t ceased, nor has my conviction that my mom makes the best banana bread on the planet. After travelling last month to the Southern Caribbean islands of Aruba, ...

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Kitchen Gadget Recipe Remix

  Last year for Christmas I asked for a few small kitchen appliances, and my family listened. I was gifted glass canisters, a hand blender with attachments, a dual ice cream maker and new drinking ...

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There’s No Bone Broth In This Chicken Soup

  I am currently watching football, snow has recently fallen, and I am cuddled up on the couch with my fiancé. This is it. This is what I’ve been waiting for - soup weather! When it’s 60 degrees ...

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Meatless Monday Night Football

  Like many of you, I grew up in a football-obsessed family. My dad played back in the stone age, my brothers all played in high school and some on college teams, and now my nephews are either alums ...

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Secrets for Perfect Pancakes

  A lot of people make a big show of saying they “don’t like pancakes” or that they “prefer waffles” as though they were somehow mutually exclusive. Well call me very lame (as many do), but I think ...

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The Perfect Meal to Celebrate the Leap Year

  Once a month, I meet with several of my colleagues to discuss new and exciting ideas for class curriculum. It's a great way to allow everyone's creativity to come to the table, and it's exciting ...

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Reach New Heights with France’s Most Famous Omelette

  I love eggs. I eat them on the daily in simple scrambles, fancy poaches and omelettes... lots and lots of omelettes. Eggs are such a basic pleasure that it’s a shame we limit them to breakfast here ...

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Lime Curd Bars with Coconut Crust

  I recently had a dinner party themed around citrus carnitas tacos, and I wanted to change up what I was going to make for dessert. Almost every dish I made that night contained lime in it, so I ...

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Easy Naan Bread

I used to be afraid of using yeast in recipes. I think it was because I had one failed attempt, and I thought to myself “Well, I am just not meant to be a baker!” 

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Transform your Instant Pot into an Air Fryer

It's no secret that I love a useful kitchen gadget. I heartily embraced the Instant Pot when it came out and still use it regularly for any dish with dried beans, to make yogurt, pulled pork, hard ...

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Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is nothing better than a chocolate chip cookie, and everyone always thinks they make the best one.  At The Chopping Block, we had so many employees sure that they made the best chocolate chip ...

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This Class is Going to Be Egg-cellent

  During the past year at The Chopping Block, I have taught a lot of cooking classes. One thing that I can always count on is students asking questions, which I love. And if I don’t know the answer, ...

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Learn How to Cook in the New Year

Our mission here at The Chopping Block is to get you cooking. We know life can get in the way, but cooking at home is more healthful and less expensive than eating out, and it brings people together.

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Proustian Guava Jam

  As a professional chef, and all around human person, I have tasted a lot of pastries in my life. They are pretty much all amazing, but there is one that I tasted recently that will live in my ...

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Learning to Love Lentils

  One of my favorite foods to work with in unique ways is lentils. Whether they are red, green, black, yellow or brown, it makes no difference because each one has a unique flavor and texture. ...

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It Just Might Be Time for Chicken in Chocolate Milk

  Yes, you read that right. I will present to you “chicken simmered in chocolate milk,” but first, this blog is less about the recipe and more about making a recipe your own and the downfalls that ...

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A Zestier Take on Cranberry Sauce

  When you make a meal for others, do you ever find that they will try something you had no idea they don’t care for, only to have them announce that they really like the way you’ve prepared it? And ...

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This isn't your Childhood Salisbury Steak

A lot of foods evoke a certain level of nostalgia in me. Dishes that you had as a kid that maybe your mom or your grandmother made can transport you back to that time and place with just a simple ...

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How to Make Marshmallows from Scratch

  If you love marshmallows as much as my family does, then you'll definitely want to try this recipe. I have always wanted to try making homemade marshmallows, but have shied away because it seemed ...

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The Best Gravy You’ve Ever Made

Turkey may be America’s most tolerated meat. Where people relish a thick juicy steak, savor a sweet rich pork chop, and crave the comfort of roast chicken, eating turkey is regarded with the ...

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Why make a Sweet Cheesecake when you can make a Savory One?

  If you love cheesecake like I do, you need to make this savory Mushroom Cheesecake Tart.

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Get Cracking with these 15 Minute Holiday Crackers

  I’m not going to lie, I love a good dip. For years I’ve been whipping up the classiest of condiments, the tastiest of toast toppers and the sexiest of spreads but I’ve got to admit, I’ve been ...

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Fall Risotto

I had never heard of risotto until I met my late husband who is half Italian. I can say that now, because he wished he was 100% Italian (his father was born in Florence, Italy) but his Mom was born ...

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Kladdkaka: the Swedish, Chocolatey, Sticky, Gooey, Thin Cake with the Coolest Name

  Sometimes I search for desserts that challenge me but that are still quite simple to make. Kladdkaka was that type of dessert for me. Plus for me, the name alone screamed, “bake me!”

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Apple-Bacon-Caramel Croissant Bread Pudding

  It’s not fall in my mind until Apple Fest happens in Lincoln Square. This year we baked over 800 of our famous Apple Pies, and we had Lincoln Avenue smelling amazing for the better part of a week. ...

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Chilly Outside? Then Make Chili Inside

  Despite the fact that the weather has not actually cooled off very much yet, Autumn is here and so is the typical fare of that season. Thick, creamy soups, meaty, luxurious stews, and savory, ...

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The Recipe for Real Chicago Style Giardiniera

Even if you are a Chicago native, you may not realize that Chicago has its own version of Giardiniera. My father-in-law who was born and raised in Chicago recently moved out west and went into shock ...

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What’s Your Favorite Black Food?

Black food is all the rage right now, from bread made with charcoal to inky cocktails. With Halloween right around the corner, I couldn’t resist stirring up something a little “darker” than my usual ...

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Why You Should Try this Deep Dish Pizza Right Now

  I have lived in Chicago all of my life. I grew up eating Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s, and eating from plenty of other deep-dish pizza places. I want to emphasize that I have a bottomless love for ...

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Beef Stew Weather is Coming

One of my favorite dishes my mom made growing up was beef stew. Beef was on our table at least two nights a week, if not more. That’s probably where my love of beef stems from, however I have a twin ...

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Easy Homemade Tomato Paste

  I got a little ambitious at the farmer’s market the other week and bought a lot of end of season tomatoes at a great price. The week got away from me, and I found myself with a lot of the tomatoes ...

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Not your Mama’s Meatballs

  As we head into the cooler months, my mind begins to dream about all of the yummy comfort foods. Whether its one of the many French classics I love to make such as Coq au Vin or Beef Bourguignon, a ...

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Savor Summer with Peach Basil Bread

  Like a lot of you, I’m really trying to hold on to those last few days of summer. I’m still enjoying the harvest from the garden on my deck, eating outside whenever I have the opportunity and going ...

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From Mess to Masterpiece: Cinnamon Roll Correction

  Recipes usually have some sort of story attached to them explaining its history, how and why it has been modified, and the most important tips and tricks to make it work in your home kitchen. My ...

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This is Not Mom’s Meatloaf

  With Summer rapidly drawing to a close, I feel the call of some of my favorite cold-weather dishes beckoning me to cover the grill and come back to the oven. Slow-braised meat dishes, roasted root ...

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Vegetarian Harvest: Falling for Brussels Sprouts

  It appears that summer is hanging on as long as possible, and I'm totally cool with that. The longer I can wear flip flops the better! But, because I develop the curriculum at The Chopping Block ...

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A Playbook of Healthy Game Day Food

  If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, even the most basic vegetables can take on loads of new flavor notes if cooked properly. With football season fully underway, watch parties ...

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Too Many Tomatoes, Onions and Squash? Try a Tian

  Another Summer is coming to a close and, if you live in the Midwest like me, your garden is probably exploding with veggies. But by this time, you’ve eaten a dozen BLT’s, you’ve canned so many ...

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Lemon Macarons with White Chocolate-Lemon Ganache

  Vibrant macarons can now be found in a variety of stores. The idea of making macarons yourself can be a daunting task at first, however, macarons are easier to make than you think! There are not ...

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