Welcome to my blog. My blogging journey began about in August 2009 as a photo-a-day blog which has since transitioned to combine my love of good food and photography. Today, using as many local and fresh ingredients as we can, my boyfriend and myself spend time researching recipes, making our own adaptations, cooking, taking photos, eating, and finally reflecting on all or part of the above listed process here. I hope you take the time to not only read and look at our photos, but please cook some of the recipes yourself. You are invited and encourage to leave feedback as we continue our culinary journey!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Chilled Cherry-Plum Soup

 I cooked this one per the recommendation of my friend Anna Marie. I was very curious about a cold cherry soup (I love cherries!) and this seemed perfect for summer. And the best part is she wrote this recipe up and e-mailed it to me, so this recipe and write up is all thanks to Ms. Anna Marie. Thank you! I love when that happens. (Does anyone else want to do that?)

This recipe was very enjoyable. I wouldn't make it often, but for the occasional fruity indulgence it was delicious.

Chilled Cherry Plum Soup
(from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, by Mollie Katzen)

1 1/2 lb red or black plums
1 lb pitted sweet cherries
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp honey (or more to taste)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
a pinch of dried crushed mint
thin slices of kiwi or lime for garnish

Pit the plums and chop coarsely.  Put cherries, plums and salt in a heavy saucepan (about 2 1/2 to 3 quart size).  Place on low heat, covered, and cook for 5-10 minutes.

Add ginger, mustard, wine and honey, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool.  Either puree half in a blender or food processor and return to the pot, or puree with an immersion blender until still a bit chunky.

Whisk in the buttermilk and mint and chill until very cold, at least a few hours.  Serve with floating lime or kiwi slices as garnish.

And the best part of cooking a recipe that uses wine as one of the ingredients...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Cream Sauce

With D still in Italy, I knew I had to get another meal in with mushrooms. Although I am a huge mushroom fan, D only likes the dried porchini mushroom type...so while he is gone I take whatever opportunity arises in order to add them to recipes.

This recipe was easy to prepare, flavorful, and the best part is that I had plenty of cream leftover for sausage and cream pasta.

Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Cream Sauce
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts (about 5 oz each)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1.5 cups baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onions
Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Heat oil in a skillet and begin cooking the chicken on a medium temperature. Cook until browned and then transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add onion and mushrooms to the skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes and then add dry white wine. Simmer until nearly evaporated and then pour in broth. Cook for two more minutes, until broth is reduced by half, and then stir in cream and minced green onions.

Add chicken to the skillet and let chicken simmer in the sauce for 1-2 minutes. Serve warm.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sausage, Kale, and Red Potato Soup

In case you are wondering, yes, I actually did cook this one in the midst of the 100+ degree heat. I know, horrible horrible planning, as usual. But somehow this recipe appealed to me and I would definitely repeat it...but  maybe on a cooler day next time.

Sausage, Kale, and Red Potato Soup
2 Italian sausages
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, sliced
6 cups chicken broth
1 lb red potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small bunch kale, copped
1 cup milk

Remove the skin from your sausage and crumple over the stove. Cook on low until browned.  Remove the sausage from the skillet and add carrots and onions and cook for 10 minutes, until soft.

Place all 6 cups of chicken broth in a large saucepan and add the sausage, onions, carrots, along with diced potatoes and kale. Let the soup come to a boil and then let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes, until potatoes are cooked. Stir in one cup of milk and serve.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Strawberry Melon Gazpacho

And now...brunch part deux. To compliment the french toast casserole, I made a fruit gazpacho that I found on the Whole Foods website. Since I made the recipe as it is written on Whole Foods, you can find exact directions here. To me, this had a strong cucumber taste and next time I might use half a cucumber instead of the entire thing.

Thanks to everyone who came over and joined me for brunch. Until next time!

Friday, July 22, 2011

French Toast Casserole

I had been wanting to make this one for awhile, but had no excuse...so a couple of weekends ago I invited a few people over for brunch in order to test this recipe out. The French Toast Casserole was a huge success: everyone loved it, it made great leftovers, and not only that but since I used the slow cooker I was able to smell it all day. And, as I described to my guests, it smelled like breakfast at summer camp. Oh, the memories.

French Toast Cassserole
1 french baguette
2 cups milk
6 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspooons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup chopped pecans

Begin by lining your slow cooker with aluminum foil and spraying with a non-stick spray. The aluminum foil will prevent the casserole from sticking to the edges of your crockpot. Heat oven to 225 degrees. Chop the french baguette into 1 inch pieces and bake about 40 minutes.

read into slow cooker. Whisk together milk, eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a bowl and then pour the mixture over bread. Mix brown sugar and butter in a bowl and then stir in nuts. Sprinkle this mixture over your casserole.

Cover and cook about 4 hours on low.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I've been making some site visits at work lately with our CEO. A few weeks ago we found ourselves in Humbolt Park around lunchtime, we were in an area where there was not much in terms of restaurants, so after driving a few blocks we decided to try a diner-looking establishment at Grand and California called Feed. The restaurant is small: only about 25 people could find a seat inside, and even that would be pushing it.

The restaurant serves southern comfort food and has the decor to match. Lots of BBQ, baked beans, corn pudding, spinach, and the list goes on and on. I felt a little bit embarrassed to take photos of my food, but I absolutely had to...everything was awesome. You have to go out of your way to visit this establishment, but the reviews prove that it is worth it. I need to go back for breakfast...I want to try the biscuits and gravy!

I had a pulled pork sandwich with french fries and succotash (I had never had succotash before but it was ah-maz-ing!). Everything was good actually, and I don't even like BBQ that much. My boss had three sides: succotash, beets, and some type of greens.

I beg you, go give this fine neighborhood a little love! (And bring cash, as they are cash only).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blueberry Yogurt Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I tend to go in phases with this blog and my cooking. About four months ago I went through a 'soup' phase. Lately, I find myself very interested in breakfast/brunch items, as you can see from my last post: Strawberry Cake. A french toast casserole is coming up as well...

Normally I would not make pancakes for dinner. In fact, I don't even really like pancakes. But when I saw this recipe featured on my favorite food blog, I had to adapt the recipe and try it myself. Daniele would never approve of pancakes for dinner, so I invited a friend over (Dan, the famous blog contest winner. I've been told he has to turn down people for autographs all the time) since Daniele happens to be away. Dan and I happily spent our Friday night cooking (and eating) these pancakes.

Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Melt half of your butter and stir in the other unmelted half. Set aside for a moment. In a bowl, whisk together yogurt and eggs together. Add butter, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, mix your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix wet and dry ingredients together and mix thoroughly.

Add blueberries and chocolate chips to the batter. Heat 1 tablespoon butter on a skillet and when melted, add 3-4 scoops of approximately 1/2 cup of batter. Flatten batter in skillet and flip after about 5 minutes. Remove pancakes from skillet when cooked through. If you want to keep the pancakes warm while you cook the remainder, preheat your oven to 200 degrees and put the finished pancakes on a baking sheet in the oven while you finish cooking the rest of the batter.

Enjoy with your favorite toppings (whipped cream, maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, ice cream) and whatever you do, don't drop half the batch on your kitchen floor like I did! Don't worry, I ate them anyway.

Sorry, these photos are not high quality. Oh well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Strawberry Cake

My reader numbers have been low lately, so hopefully this will be a recipe that gets them back up. It is afterall, one of my favorite recipes since I have started this food blog experience over a year ago.

I'm not a big dessert person, but for one reason or another I really like fruity cakes. Maybe because there is some level of nutritional value to them so I can justify overindulging, I don't know. Not only does this one taste delicious but it also looks beautiful. Surprisingly easy to make, and yet if you are entertaining, I promise this one will impress...

Strawberry Cake

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, warm
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1  egg
  • 1/2 cup  milk
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 10 inch springform pan. Mix flour, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl,  beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Then, mix in egg, milk, and vanilla to the butter mixture. Add in dry mixture until smooth.

Pour cake batter into the springform pan. Add strawberries to the top of the batter and sprinkle them with about 2 tablespoons more sugar. Bake cake for about 50 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Enjoy immediately. Make plenty for leftovers.

Kid tested. Mother approved.

Monday, July 11, 2011


For you Hyde Parkers, Medici isn't anything extraordinary. But if you are visiting Chicago from elsewhere and wind up in Hyde Park, Medici is one of the places I'd suggest. My parents were in town last weekend and I took them there. With a menu that appeals to a broad audience, it's a good pick for a party with a range of food tastes. And you can bring your own beer! Or wine!

Although I usually order a hamburger (their hamburgers are oh-so-tasty), I thought I'd try something a little bit different and go with the salmon burger. Boy am I glad that I did. Not only was it a slightly healthier choice then the traditional hamburger, but it was cooked just the way I liked it and topped with a HUGE scoop of tasty guacamole. Heaven. The only mistake I made was to order the potato salad instead of the fries...not that the potato salad was bad but...next time I'll stick with the french fries.

So if you happen to wind up near Hyde Park, or are looking for something new to order at Medici---check this one out.

P.S. I'm not trying to get political, but Obama eats here. You can even buy a t-shirt that tells you so. I couldn't convince my father to purchase it, however...

Saturday, July 9, 2011


I had been eyeing this recipe in my slow cooker cookbook for some time, and when Daniele left for Italy, I knew it was time to give it a shot. This recipe has eggplant (which D does not like) so I wanted to make it for a more approving audience. Coincidentally, the recipe is also vegan and therefore, I was able to invite a friend of mine who is vegan over for dinner. We both enjoyed this version of ratatoille, so much, in fact that I completely forgot to take a picture until the second helping! Sorry about the slightly messier-than-usual photo, but just know it is due to the fact that this recipe was enjoyed immensely!

  • olive oil
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed seeded, and chopped
  • garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 can (12 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese (not added in the vegan version)
Begin by heating olive oil in a skillet and browning eggplant on all sides for about 10 minutes.  Place in slow cooker. Repeat with onions, bell peppers, garlic, and thyme and cook until vegetables are soft and browned. Stir in flour.

Drain tomato juice from the diced tomatoes and add to the skillet. Mix together and pour in slow cooker. Add the rest of the tomatoes to the slow cooker and cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Top with fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste, and Parmesan cheese if desired.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lemony Swiss Chard Pesto

And here I am blogging about yet another thing that I would not be allowed to cook if D were here. This time, not because he doesn't like the ingredients, but because it is obviously against the rules to cook an Italian recipe with non-traditional ingredients. Clearly, every pesto needs to be made with basil, parmesan, olive oil, and pine nuts (according to D). Sorry sweetie, but you are so wrong. I'll need to try a brocolli pesto before he returns next month...

Lemony Swiss Chard Pesto
1/2 bunch swiss chard, washed and chopped
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine swiss chard, lemon zest and juice and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add parmesan and begin to process. Slowly stream in olive oil and process until a smooth paste forms. Serve over spaghetti.

Admittedly, this is not my favorite pasta sauce, but it was nice for something different.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grilled Veggies with Goat Cheese and Basil

With Daniele gone, my eating habits transform almost completely vegetarian in an instant. It's not that I don't like meat, it's just that I feel healthier and I prefer the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in the summer. And with Daniele not putting the pressure on to eat meals with meat in them..I simply don't do it.

Also, it's difficult to cook for one, therefore, simple is better. I like to use few ingredients with strong flavors to really savor the taste of the fresh produce. Yum.

This one truly is simple, and I recommend it for a night you need to cook for yourself...or, it could even be an impressive side dish when entertaining.

Zucchini and Summer Squash with Goat Cheese and Basil
-1 summer squash, sliced vertically
-1 zucchini, sliced vertically
-1/3 cup crumpled goat cheese
-1/4 cup chopped basil
-olive oil
-lemon juice

After slicing your vegetables, place on a grill. Or, I used a George Foreman. Grill zucchini and summer squash for about 5-7 minutes, flipping once if necessary. Top the vegetables with a hint of salt and pepper, as well as a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Place goat cheese and chopped basil on top of the zucchini and summer squash and enjoy instantly.