April 17th, 2014

I want one of these SO badly, but first we have to make sure they get made.

Imagine next Easter peeling back the shell of your hunted eggs and finding a real GOLDEN egg inside! It is within the realm of possibility. What makes golden eggs? Duh…  The Golden Goose.

CATEGORIES: Discussions & Ideas | Link to this post

April 15th, 2014

Don’t worry kale, I am not a fair weather fan. I’m here to stay.

I’ve read a number of reports that have claimed that the kale trend is past its peak. It is time to move on to cauliflower in all forms and preparations. In the past year or two, the tough, leafy green has risen from anonymity to find its way onto a majority of notable restaurant menus and into the kitchens that line Main Street. And now its over? Not for me.

CATEGORIES: Salads, Vegetarian | Link to this post

March 31st, 2014

It’s hard to believe… we made it through the winter.

Today was over 60 degrees. It felt like heaven. The spring bulbs were NOT killed by the polar vortex! Their stems are already a few inches out of the ground. I can see my backyard! Only a few small patches of ice remain. Sure, there is an ungodly amount of dog poo speckling the parkway and the kids are tracking mud through the house but I DON’T CARE – SPRING IS HERE!

CATEGORIES: Discussions & Ideas | Link to this post

February 17th, 2014

Seeking colorful, flavorful food to break the blasé mid winter blues.

I’ve never run a marathon. But, I bet that this time of year in Chicago is a lot like mile 18. You’ve run a long, long way. You are tired, perhaps even painfully tired. But, the finish line is not really in sight. It’s during this phase of the race that you have to dig deep and find some extra “oomph” inside to keep going.

It takes a lot of energy to keep warm, shovel cars out of a foot of snow, and help kids in and out of winter gear a number of times a day. The pace of work doesn’t slow down and little is left for creative thinking in the kitchen. I’ve been falling back on many of my easy, “go to” standbys. Last week, I had the urge to dust off my initiative and bring some interesting and uplifting flavor back to our dinner repertoire.

CATEGORIES: Soups | Link to this post

February 13th, 2014

Thank you to those of you who entered the Rum Giveaway. Jane R. is the lucky winner. Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized | Link to this post
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February 10th, 2014

This Valentine’s Day, consider serving a luscious, sip-able dessert.

Most of the United States has experienced extreme weather this winter. Born and raised in Michigan, I have never minded snow and cold. But, I must admit that this Chicago winter is testing my coping skills. I recently heard on the radio that last year at this time, we’d had 9 inches of snow. This year, we have already had over 60 inches. Our entrance way is a constantly slopped with snow sludge and boots, snow pants and mittens are strewn across the floor. Ice cycles the size of my toddler are hanging off the gutters of our old house and the furnace is having trouble keeping up.

When I received an email from the folks at Blue Chair Bay Rum with descriptors of the island lifestyle and a promise of tropical flavors, my nostalgia for warmth insisted that I pay attention. They offered me an opportunity to try their rum and create a new cocktail for Valentine’s Day. I was further intrigued to learn that Blue Chair Bay Rum was inspired by Kenney Chesney. Though I am not familiar with his music and don’t listen to much country, the whole project piqued my interest because it was such a departure from my day-to-day reality.  I decided to play along with the hopes of a momentary, gustatory reprieve from this icy winter.

CATEGORIES: Desserts & Sweets, Drinks & Appetizers | Link to this post

January 27th, 2014

Just imagine the aroma of a freshly cooked waffles wafting out of the internal air pockets with every fluffy bite you take.

Sometimes my 5-year old has great ideas. Last Saturday, she requested homemade waffles for breakfast. We didn’t have any buttermilk so she had to settle for oatmeal. Instead of whining about her loss (a habit we are trying hard to break), she suggested that since we were going to the grocery store, we could pick up some buttermilk and enjoy waffles for dinner.

Eating decadent breakfast foods for dinner never ceases to excite me. A carb-centered, syrup soaked meal in the evening feels like breaking a rule and getting away with it. So, we had a Saturday evening family date giggling like 4-giddy kids as we enjoyed a weekend waffle dinner.

CATEGORIES: Breads & Breakfast, Buttermilk Love | Link to this post

January 15th, 2014

A healthy, easy snack option that won’t break any resolutions.

I’m still carrying around the “extra holiday 5″ and haven’t quite mustered up the determination to completely alter my loose eating habits. The polar vortex and sub zero temperatures followed by regular old winter weather has continued to give us validation that the extra insulation isn’t so bad.

We had an amazing holiday break and a few weeks into the new year, I’m still not back in a routine. This weekend, I’m planning to return to weekly meal planning along with strategic grocery shopping so we can enjoy more interesting, healthy weeknight fare.

CATEGORIES: Kid Friendly, Sides & Snacks | Link to this post
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December 12th, 2013

Need to keep kids occupied while preparing for a dinner party? Get them involved in the right kind of tasks.

It’s amazing what some zig-zag scissors and scrap paper can do to keep a small child occupied when they have a goal and feel important. My kids love to help me cook and especially bake. Our oldest daughter used to sit on the countertop near the knife block and study everything I did, only assisting when asked. My husband and I felt so proud of ourselves that we disciplined so consistently and confidently with great success. Then the second kid came along.

Our younger daughter was given to us to prove that it was innate personality and not our “style” that kept the eldest from wreaking havoc. When we bake, the little one eats handfuls of dry flour. She sprinkles spices into things like a hysterical mad scientist whenever I turn my back. And she has no fear of electrical appliances and their on-off switches. This is most dangerously coupled with a lack of respect for the usefulness of putting lids on blenders or making sure the KitchenAid beaters are lowered into the batter.

CATEGORIES: Kid Friendly | Link to this post

December 11th, 2013

Congratulations to Donna Alamul who won the book One Bowl Baking! Thank you to everyone for your comments – my list of holiday baking is a mile long thanks to all your inspiration. There are a lot of sugar cookie lovers out there. Does anyone have a favorite sugar cookie cut out recipe they want to share?

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December 5th, 2013

A new baking book, just in time for holiday cookie exchanges and feeding houseguests.

Every now and then a cookbook comes along that suits you just right. When I first heard about One Bowl Baking, Simple From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts by Yvonne Ruperti, I was skeptical. I was concerned I’d find short cut or gimmicky recipes that were more focused on the  ”one bowl” concept than on the outcome.

When I started flipping through the pages, my skepticism quickly turned to interest and after trying a few recipes, I am a fan. One Bowl Baking is one of those books that will earn a treasured spot on my small kitchen bookshelf rather than filed in my culinary reference library on my basement bookshelves. Pages are sure to be tattered and soiled with batter over the years and family favorites will even possibly be committed to memory. The photography is beautiful, the typesetting easy to read and the recipes are approachable.

CATEGORIES: Book Reviews | Link to this post

November 29th, 2013

It doesn’t have to be over for pumpkin. Not yet.

The big day has come and gone. Millions of pieces of pumpkin pie have been consumed. Leftovers may still be lurking but the spotlight has already moved away from pumpkin and is heading toward gingerbread and egg nog. I, however, am not quite ready to say goodbye.

These waffles were a new addition to my repertoire this year. We made a heap of them and froze half the batch, warming them in the toaster oven over the past few weeks. I’ve decided to make one last batch and hit the snooze button on the end of pumpkin season. The added benefit of this recipe is the aroma that fills your house while the waffles cook.

CATEGORIES: Breads & Breakfast | Link to this post

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