November 17th, 2014

Mini Whipped and I trekked to Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook to review the musical Camelot. It was an afternoon we will likely both remember forever.

One of the great joys of raising children is the ability to rediscover the world through their fresh eyes. There is only one “first” for everything and a child’s world is filled with them. The wonder and excitement of new things are contagious. Watching my daughters’ eyes light up and their breath quicken as they try new foods and enjoy new experiences conjures memories that carry me on their wave of discovery.

Some months ago, I was offered tickets to see Camelot, the musical currently playing at Drury Lane Theatre. Mini Whipped is 6-years-old, loves music and is full of drama so I thought it might be the ideal opportunity to introduce her to musicals. I still remember watching The Sound of Music at our civic theatre and feeling overcome by the music and dance, which sparked dreams of performing throughout my childhood. (I cast myself as Annie but sadly only had the hair, not the voice.)

CATEGORIES: Chicago Finds & Favorites, Discussions & Ideas | Link to this post
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October 24th, 2014

Anyone else love oatmeal as much as I do?


Steal cut, old-fashioned, Scottish-style, quick cooking…. give me an oat in any form and I’ll be happy. In the cooler months of the year, oatmeal is my blank breakfast canvas and plays well with nuts, seeds, chocolate, coconut, spices and syrup. I’ve also taken to blending old-fashioned oats into flour and adding them to baked goods for that nutty taste they bring.

When I saw the email offering a copy of OATrageous Oatmeals for review, I didn’t think twice. I wondered just how much further I could expand my oatmeal repertoire. Not only does the author offer new hot and cold breakfast options but she uses oats in a number of savory stews and other main dishes.

CATEGORIES: Book Reviews | Link to this post

October 20th, 2014

I’ve got your Saturday morning all figured out for you.


There are recipes to keep on hand for when you notice brown specs on your bananas and don’t want to waste them. And, there is a different category of recipes for which you plan ahead, buy bananas, and put them in a paper bag to ripen in order to satisfy your ingredient requirements. These pancakes were invented for the first category and have graduated immediately to the second. BUY BANANAS now so you can eat these banana bread pancakes on Saturday morning.

Almost always, my over ripe bananas are used to make this banana bread recipe. I go for this whole wheat version when I am planning to use them for school lunches or feel the need to be a bit healthier. Most of the time when I veer from my standby recipe, I am sorry. It is so easy and so foolproof, I’ve found that it can’t be trumped.

CATEGORIES: Breads & Breakfast | Link to this post

October 6th, 2014

Two cans, a little chop, a touch of zest, a drizzle and a sprinkle. That’s all it takes to create a healthy, easy lunch.

For those of us with kids, we are well into the school routine, which for us includes packing two kid-friendlly lunches each morning. It took us awhile to get that juggling act down and to even consider packing healthy adult lunches too.

I’m constantly on a mission to eat healthier foods (mostly as a counterbalance to my passion for baked goods.) Years ago, I remember that one of the most surprisingly popular posts on the blog Orangette was a simple doctoring up of a can of chick peas. I often remembered that when I haven’t been shopping and find a lonely can of legumes in my pantry.

CATEGORIES: Main Dish, Salads, Sides & Snacks, Vegetarian | Link to this post

September 15th, 2014

A little slab of bacon on hand = a whole lot of flavor waiting to be unleashed in new places.


I bought this little piece of uncut bacon the other day. I had no plans for it but it seemed like a good thing to have in my refrigerator as the weather cools and comfort foods start calling. We all tend to fall into food and cooking habits. As someone who loves cooking and experimenting, the daily grind requires some no-brainers. Many of us probably buy over half of the same groceries ever week. I try new recipes and buy the required ingredients but rarely do pantry staples and my go-to weekly meals change.

CATEGORIES: Discussions & Ideas, New Ingredients | Link to this post

September 8th, 2014

Watch a cooking demonstration, get an autographed sneak preview copy of Martha’s book and hang out together! Who’s in?
Martha Stewart copy

I have been impressed with Martha Stewart’s ability to transform living spaces, create delicious meals, and even craft useful items out of everyday things lying around, like a female MacGyver with a perfect bouffant. But I am most impressed and in awe of Martha Stewart’s business savvy. There are a lot of talented women who can garden, craft and cook but there are very few who can build and oversee an empire for decades.

CATEGORIES: Book Reviews, Chicago Finds & Favorites | Link to this post

August 26th, 2014


This past spring I visited Green City Market in Chicago where a farmer introduced me to dry cobs of corn. He explained how I could put them in a paper bag and pop the corn in the microwave, no oil needed. I bought them mostly out of disbelief and as a fun experiment to try with the kids.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized | Link to this post

August 19th, 2014

Read on to learn how you can win this beautiful book, which includes recipes but also reads as a cultural culinary adventure.

charcuteria Though I dream of a life where I have the time to gather obscure ingredients, purchase new equipment and design a space in my basement to cure freshly crafted sausages, this book is most likely to live on my coffee table. And, it is worthy of such placement. Jeffrey Weiss has written a notably unique book for the American readership; Charcutería is a detailed exploration of the traditional meat-curing and butchering techniques from the Iberian peninsula.

CATEGORIES: Book Reviews | Link to this post

August 12th, 2014

A few things that I’m excited about this summer.


Once again, I have been a delinquent blogger. Well, I have been too busy enjoying summer. And, dealing with my daughters broken arm, a sewage flood in the basement and a change of employees at my office. But, I don’t mean to complain because none of the hardships this summer have been of a critical nature and I’ve been enjoying many wonderful discoveries along the way. Some of which, I would like to share with you….

1. Steigl Radler

This grapefruit-scented beer is taking the summer of 2014 by storm. I discovered this beer by accident while watching the World Cup finals. Knowing it might be a long afternoon at the bar followed by a requirement to return home and responsibly take care of my children all evening, I scanned the extensive draft beer list at O’Shaugnessey’s and chose Steigl Radler for its low alcohol percentage. When the tall glass arrived, the bright scent of grapefruit wafted off the foam. My first sip was an eyebrow raising, eureka moment. Since then, I’ve been ordering Radler wherever I can find it and bringing cans home to have on hand. Steigl Radler is my idea of summer sipping heaven. And, for those of you who are disheartened by the under 3% alcohol content, I’ve been told many times that a shot of gin poured in the glass is what the cool kids are doing. 

CATEGORIES: Book Reviews, Chicago Finds & Favorites | Link to this post

July 20th, 2014

Simply, easy, and one I want to remember.

This goes in the “quick and easy” category. I won’t oversell this recipe as anything overly special or interesting. But, I want to remember this simple dinner idea when I am trolling my own blog looking for inspiration in my repertoire. Lately, I hesitate so often before taking a photo or sharing things on this blog that don’t seem worthy. There are SO many amazing food blogs these days, gorgeous visual search engines, Pinterest… seemingly endless places to find fantastic ideas or just surf food porn. We are living in an age of communication abundance and faced with my own inability to keep up with it all, I am hesitant to add more music to the noise.

CATEGORIES: Main Dish | Link to this post

June 19th, 2014

During our visit to Greece, I am stuffing myself daily with as many fresh apricots plucked from the trees as I can.


It has been 3 years since we have been to Corfu, Greece where my father-in-law was born and raised. My in-laws have retired to their island home. With our kids now 3 and 6 years old,  the long voyage seemed manageable again so we traveled to Greece for a family vacation. The sights, flavors and smells are so different and such a welcome reprieve from our everyday. Our girls have quickly become accustomed to village life, running around in their tank tops, playing with their cousins who live a stone’s throw away and plucking fresh vegetables and fruits from the garden as daily snacks.

Last time we were here in July and the nectarine tree ripened offering us dozens of the best stone fruits I’d ever had. In past years, we have enjoyed figs and kumquats. This year, we are treated to two mature trees full of apricots. As we walked around the winding streets of our village, Alepou, I saw dozens of overly ripe apricots littering the way. What horror for a Chicagoan to see perfect stone fruit wasting from the trees – I vowed to not let a single apricot from our yard go uneaten!

CATEGORIES: Breads & Breakfast, Sides & Snacks | Link to this post

June 6th, 2014

And, recipes for a Thai Ginger Cooler and Ginger Lychee Martini. Perfect summer sipping.

Please VOTE! I’m a finalist. You can vote for my infusion on the Prairie Organics Facebook page by clicking like on the post about my creation here

I’ve always been intrigued by infusions. Though the concept is simple, it feels a bit magical that you can put something delicious in liquid and even if removed, its essence or flavor is forever imparted. From my experience with chocolate, I have marveled at spice-infused cream that creates intoxicating chocolate truffles. Fresh herbs can completely alter oils while berries bring aromatic sweetness to vinegar.  What feels like a patient, delicate process brings about such powerful flavor transformation.

CATEGORIES: Drinks & Appetizers | Link to this post
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