Monday, December 12, 2011

Gee's Nuthorns

This year I participated in something amazing to get me into the holiday spirit: The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!  I knew the second I joined what cookies I would be making: nuthorns.  This is a very special cookie to me.  My grandmother used to make these every year when I was little.  She would send them to everyone in the extended family... and we are Italian, so let's be honest, big family.  She passed away a few years back and the cookies haven't been made in quite awhile.  So in her honor, I present to you, Gee's Nuthorns!

I would like to thank Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil and Julie from The Little Kitchen for planning this ridiculously awesome cookie extravaganza.  I would also really really like to thank the ladies that sent me cookies. :)  Kathia from Pink Little Cake sent me chocolate milk cookies, Mary from Passionate Perseverance sent me Specaltius cookies, and Julie from the semi-reformed nerd sent me cinnamon spice brown sugar cookies.  They were all quite delicious!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chanterelle Truffle Risotto

Due to traveling and preparing for my office party, I have taken a brief hiatus from blogging, but alas, I am back.  This recipe is for chanterelle truffle risotto which is really a treat, you see.  The Green City Market continues throughout the winter at a mostly regular schedule (which is incredible if you ask me!), and I was able to get some beautiful dried chanterelle mushrooms for a very reasonable price.  I also managed to find a whole black truffle at Chelsea Market in New York.  Without question I bought it.  I have not been able to find any for sale here in Chicago, does anyone have any clever insights I am missing?  Anyway, these finds resulted in risotto.  I am obsessed with risotto because you can do anything with it.  You can turn leftover vegetables into creamy bliss.

So this is what I did!  First I soaked the dried chanterelle mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes.  It's worth waiting to start on the dish for this because you can use the leftover liquid for your stock.  I chopped and sauteed some cremini mushrooms as well as the chanterelles.  Then I chopped a shallot, also from the people I got the mushrooms from, River Valley Ranch.  These shallots are monsters because they grow them in the compost from the mushrooms!  I sauteed it in some butter, then I added a cup of risotto to the pot and added more butter to get it nice and golden.

I add just a quarter of a cup of white wine for flavor and let it absorb.  Then you add whatever liquid you are using about 3/4 of a cup at a time.  You want to stir it constantly and don't add more liquid until everything has been absorbed.  I used about 2 and a half cups of that mushroom liquid (after straining) and 1 1/2 - 2 cups of beef stock.  You can use vegetable stock or chicken stock as well.  I added a teaspoon or so (maybe more, I am obsessed) of black truffle paste to the risotto to add an extra earthy layer to the dish.  When the risotto is done (25-30 minutes, taste test!), I add the mushrooms to it and let them soak up some flavor and reheat.  Then I topped with parmesan cheese and some of the black truffle.  It was hearty, and warm, and delightful in every way.  I wish I had more pictures to show you because it was incredible.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season so far :)

Chanterelle Truffle Risotto

Dried Chanterelle mushrooms
Cremini mushrooms
1 cup of risotto
1/4 cup of white wine
1 shallot
Mushroom liquid from rehydrating chanterelles
2 cups of stock (I used beef)
black truffle paste (optional)*
olive oil
parmesan cheese for topping
black truffle (optional)

*For those of you that are on stricter financial diets (such as myself), purchasing truffle in things like salts, oils, or paste is very economical.  It lasts for a very long time and it tastes very strongly of truffle.  If you are in the Chicago area, I suggest checking out Provenance because they are very choosy about their vendors and they sell very high quality products.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Do you ever see a cookbook and just have that feeling that it's going to be filled with sheer genius?  When I was at a book sale at the end of the summer, I saw Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef and knew that there would be something special inside.  I find Jamie Oliver inspiring.  He makes these wonderfully hearty, healthy dishes in a sustainable way.  He has inspired me to be more conscious about my food consumption and purchases.  When I got this cookbook I read it in a night.  He is incredible.  He has a tomato soup recipe that doesn't require milk or cream and is out of this world.  I just want to cook my way through this entire book.  I know that every recipe will be incredible.  This particular recipe is his minestrone.  It is so hearty and satisfying.  It has become a staple in my freezer and I make it for everyone!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beautiful Beets

A couple of posts back, I wrote about my Dad's incredible salad dressing.  I discussed what you should and shouldn't skimp on, and casually mentioned the joy of beets.  But I feel like I didn't do them justice.  You see, beets are brilliant.  They are healthy and they are filling.  They make salads worth eating.  They also make goat cheese taste better than I ever thought possible.  The craziest part about all of this is that until this summer, I was never even aware of how tasty beets are.  I don't have a genius recipe for you.  I just have a simple way of preparing them that I found in Mark Bittman's How to Eat Everything cookbook app.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mediterranean Chicken

I think it's very important to always have several dishes that you can whip together in a pinch.  This is a wonderful dish that will forever be in my repertoire.  It's tasty, healthy, and you can personalize each piece of chicken to the eater's taste.  You could serve this to guests or eat it when you're home alone one night.  I am all about taking the time to cook a wonderfully delicious meal, but this is truly the best of both worlds.  And it's filling.  Throw a pot of chicken stock and quinoa on the stove and you've got yourself a very filling and satisfying supper!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Bounty of the Squirrel

This summer I was accused of being a squirrel.  This is a true statement, indeed.  The way I made jam, canned tomatoes, and made pesto was most likely quite the spectacle.  It makes me happy that many of my favorite bloggers also participated in these endeavors, and now I'm quite happy to say that when I work late and I get home at night, I have my own personal stash of homemade pesto to turn to for a healthy, satisfying meal... although mine comes from the freezer not a tree.  Right.  Making pesto is easy, very cost effective, and tastes much better than store bought, I think.  You can buy basil in the store, but I am definitely partial to making this in season.  Farmers markets sell gigantic stems for $2.

Friday, November 4, 2011

CBN Tribute Party: Food Demonstration

The Chicago Blogger Network put on a wonderful event at Tribute on Wednesday.  It was my first CBN event and I had a lovely time.  My favorite part was a food demonstration that Chef Jared gave for some of the food bloggers!  He taught us how to make the most incredible dish: The Big Nasty.  Oh, yes.  The next time you are in the mood for some amazing down home cooking, order this!  It is a cheese biscuit with the most amazing fried chicken topped with homemade pork sausage gravy and the other side of the cheese biscuit.  Oof.

I met three wonderful women at this demonstration: Pilar, Lori, and Christina.  The photos I have posted aside from this first one, which is courtesy of Tyler from Darkroom Demons, are from Pilar.  Thank you!

This is Chef Jared!
And this is his head pastry chef showing us how to make some insane cheese biscuits!

This is homemade sage pork sausage gravy.  Lovely!
The assembly: the fried chicken is in place on the biscuit topped with the gorgeous gravy!
The final product. Beautiful!
The best part: Tasting!
This dish was paired with two incredible wines by Steve Cox at Tribute.  They were the 2006 Francine et Olivier, Savary Chablis from Burgundy and the 2011 Palmina Dolcetto from Santa Barbara.

This is my good friend Sara and my new friend Pilar!

This is Amy!
After this we went out to the party and met a bunch of bloggers.  I can't wait to get to know them all better!  We left with some really fun tote bags!  Thank you to Chicago Blogger network for the tote bags, sharpies, and putting on the event, and to those who supplied us with some really fun products: New Era Cap for the Chicago Blackhawks hat, Loopt for the bottle opener and sunglasses, Kind Bars for the snack bar, Pop Chips for the bag of chips, Freshii for the gift certificate, Tzar Ultra Lounge for the gift certificate, and Pink Papaya for the hand scrub and cream.  Thank you very much to Tribute for hosting the event, food, drinks, and the opportunity for everyone to receive 10% off if they show this photo while dining there!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Dressing Makes the Salad

I have a challenge for you: never buy a bottle of salad dressing again.  Or at least try this dressing, and then think about it.  Store bought salad dressing is a money guzzler, can sometimes be full of preservatives, and isn't as good as homemade salad dressing.  Also, making your own salad dressing is easy and takes barely any time!  Most of the ingredients are probably already in your fridge!  When I moved back home after college I stopped eating preservatives entirely.  This recipe for dressing is a creation of my dad's.  It is amazing and it has evolved over time.  I absolutely love this dressing... it seriously makes me want to eat salad every day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Kitchen

Some of you may know that I have recently moved into the city (yay)!  This means that I have carefully chosen an apartment to fit my needs... which means I have a kitchen.  I use the table as a counter and the coffee table as a place to cool things fresh out of the oven, and I absolutely love it.  Yesterday my best friend Emily and I decided that we were going to cook enough food to last both of us a month!  It was insane, absolutely insane, and we pulled it off.  My next blog posts will be covering all of the food we made!  It really is possible to eat healthy and be extremely busy... it just takes planning!  Here are some photos of the cart and the finished products!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Healthy Weeknight Pasta

I absolutely love to cook, I really do, but there are some nights that I just don't want to get into a big project.  But I don't want to be stuffing my face with unhealthy stuff either (this is way easier said than done... cheese and bread, oof).  I was in the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and I was perusing the aisles (does anyone else, LOVE grocery shopping), when I came upon a glorious thing: whole wheat, quinoa pasta?!  YES.  It is only made of whole wheat flour and quinoa flour.  AND, it's delicious.

Friday, October 14, 2011


There are few dishes that are easier and more delicious than bruschetta.  There are many different ways to make it and they are all delicious!  Yum. I made this recipe awhile ago, and since I am moving tomorrow, I thought this would be a great easy recipe to post!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Canning Tomatoes

When a recipe calls for canned tomatoes, usually I run to the grocery store and pay $1-$2 for a can.  Last fall I got the idea in my head that I had to can my own tomatoes.  I just needed to understand what it took to really get a can of tomatoes myself.  I feel like it's easy to forget that not so long ago people had to can tomatoes to survive!  So I went for it.  Ian and I drove out to the farm I get my CSA from to pick up our 1/2 bushel of tomatoes.  When we got home from our very long road trip I went for it because it was bothering me that they were just sitting in their box, unloved.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


It is October so tomato season should be over, right?  Well, in Chicago it has been a gorgeous fall and because of this, there are STILL tomatoes coming from my tomato plant!  These pictures aren't of my tomatoes, but they are of some amazing tomatoes that I found at the farmers market earlier this season.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blueberry Peach Cobbler

The absence of my blogging doesn't mean that I haven't been cooking up a storm.  I have achieved almost all of my summer cooking goals including canning my own tomatoes!  This beauty of a dessert dates back to when I went to visit my sister in Massachusetts.  We adapted it slightly from Paula Dean's peach cobbler recipe simply by adding blueberries.  It added a great amount of flavor.  Considering the time of the year now, I would suggest adding raspberries instead of blueberries!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Blueberry Jam

This summer has permanently converted me into a homemade jam fanatic.  Jam is a time consuming job, but I promise that if you are suffering through a Chicago winter with some homemade jam on toast, it won't be so bad.  Maybe you should ask me if I still mean it in February, but for now I swear by it!  I made this batch of blueberry jam when I was visiting my sister, but today I made five more jars to have for myself in Chicago.  It's fantastic.  Yep.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Homemade Olive Bread

Ever since I got into cooking, I have had this fear of making bread... and pie crusts... and other baking, dough-y things... it's so gooey and precise.  BUT, since I was with Kristen and she has made bread before, we decided to try it out.  We chose to make an olive bread - because apparently Kristen likes olives now?  It turned out perfect!  Next time I will add some fresh rosemary and thyme!  For those of you that have the same block as me, try it out.  Get some friends together for an afternoon or evening, watch a movie, and let the bread rise.  The time will pass before you know it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mushroom Risotto

I made this mushroom risotto for Ian's birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I want to post about it before I get wrapped up in the fun I had cooking with Kristen in Massachusetts.  This was his birthday dinner, and it was delicious.  We also went to Longman and Eagle with a friend to celebrate.  If you have never been, go.  Book a flight if necessary and follow the signs to the outdoor beer garden because it is a glorious place.  The foie gras is out of this world too.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Look at Things to Come!

Hello everyone!

I am out in the Berkshires visiting my sister, but we have been cooking a bunch!  I will be back soon and look forward to posting about making our own cheese and homemade blueberry jam, as well as recipes I've made at home like mushroom risotto and peach ice cream.  I hope everyone is enjoying this sunny heatwave! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Strawberry Jam of all Jams

Everyone has heard it: once you make something homemade you'll never go back.  Well, this is most definitely the case with strawberry jam.  Last year my sister picked seven pounds of strawberries and made jam.  Then she made blueberry jam (which I was supposed to participate in, but the stupid bushes weren't ready yet), and then she made apple butter.  So all of late last summer and fall I envied her stock of homemade jams and swore that next year would be different.  You all saw the amount of strawberries I picked... so I am sure you are aware that it was indeed different.  Kristen is at the point where making jam is no big deal. She can just talk on the phone when she's doing it!  I am certainly not at this point, but I intend to be by the end of the summer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Strawberry Saga, Part 1

Last weekend I decided it would be a fantastic idea to go and pick as many strawberries as possible and figure out how to use them after.  It was a brilliant idea... for the first 3 containers.  BUT, there was a sale.  And being the wise shopper I am, who am I to say no to a buy five 4-quart containers, get the sixth free.  Oh, and also, they didn't look that large in the fields.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spaghetti Squash- it's like pasta, but not!

Ian and I just spent a beautiful long weekend in California, and I must admit, we ate until we couldn't move.  Yesterday I started craving vegetables.  Weird, I know.  However, this is not completely random (as many things I do are).  My family decided to get a farm share from Angelic Organics and the first drop off was last Wednesday, the day before we left!  I had two delicious salads with some of the produce before I left and was eager to get home and use the rest of it.  So I did!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chocolate Truffles. Nom nom nom.

When my sister came home, she brought this recipe from Pioneer Woman with her (Pioneer Woman: you make me laugh... there are no words.)  She insisted that we make these and who am I to say no to chocolate truffles.  They are surprisingly easy too.  The result was pure chocolatey genius that made everyone happy.  Make these as a gift or for no reason.  They will all be eaten, I promise.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

I'm not sure what my mind block is on making pie.  But right now I have one, and I had more rhubarb so I decided to try another recipe for a crisp.  I must admit that this one was much better.  This recipe is from Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  If you haven't read it, I really suggest checking it out!  She and her family eat locally for a year and grow their own food.  She makes taking on such a task actually feel normal.  They have recipes and neat anecdotes throughout the chapters.  She's also hilarious.  I have been trying to get most of my food from farmers markets and eating that way instead of grocery shopping.  While I definitely couldn't say my diet is based on only local foods, I think that I have made significant progress and I really enjoy trying to eat around my weekly catch.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


In the past couple of weeks it has turned warm, my sister visited, and we have started a vegetable garden.  It actually feels like summer!  I have been cooking a lot, just not blogging... whoops.  BUT, I have a couple of awesome recipes that are perfect for days like today.  This guacamole recipe was the first recipe I came up with on my own.  In college it was a hit and now I love to make it for a warm summer day like today.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fresh Tuna Salad!

This past week has been spent eating my way through Chicago.  And it was truly glorious... especially Big Jones.  If you don't feel your arteries clogging with this meal, you have truly failed.  But this is a MUST try at least once in your life.  Ian had a waffle cooked in duck fat, with duck confit, and a duck egg.  Yumm.  I have been so bad about being true to my usual healthyish eating lifestyle that I was truly craving some high quality, home-cooked food.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bison Stir Fry

Every time I come home after a night of cooking at Froggy's Restaurant, I feel so inspired to try new recipes with ingredients I've never used before and see what happens.  I feel so clever when I do this, although the fumes of whatever I cooked have usually gone to my head by this point.  On Friday I made a bison stir fry using a bunch of left over ingredients from the farmers market and a bison sirloin.  Bison is absolutely incredible and if you've never tried it, do it... now.  It's lean, tender, and filled with flavor.  It's also a very fast cooking meat so if you're in a hurry or feeling lazy, it's perfect.  I love stir fry because it's so healthy and there are so many ways to make it that it's never boring!  It's also a great way to clean out the fridge (and freezer- ours is filled to the max with meat... literally.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Seasonal Dessert!

Usually when Ian and I go to a farmers market I am the one that stares at the fruits and vegetables and he goes right for the baked goods and food that is cooked there.  He found the best tacos ever at a farmers market in Kenosha.  But last weekend, he was the one that went right for the... rhubarb.  I had never had rhubarb until I made this dish, but I was in such shock that he requested something other than pastries that I got it without thinking twice.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Duck Egg Omelet

I mentioned in a post about going to the farmers market that I picked up some duck eggs and had no clue what to do with them.  I asked several people and they all suggested that I make omelets with them.  So I did.  Another suggested I grab some semolina flour and make pasta, which is an excellent suggestion, and I plan on attempting on another day!  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tarte Tartin

"But what I liked best was watching people eat the food I had cooked, leaning in to listen to one another.  Good food, I saw, was about more than merely eating."  Ruth Reichl, Garlic and Sapphires

When I find quotes I like I am going to include them in the blog... like this one!  Ruth Reichl was the New York Times food critic and the editor of Gourmet magazine, and her book is so much fun to read.  Especially if you enjoy reading about any kind of food.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Butter? Yes, please! (Hollandaise Sauce)

I know you wouldn't think it based on this blog post (and many others in here), but I actually eat fairly healthy.  However, today there is no time for healthy because I made hollandaise sauce; it was delicious.  And it wasn't just any hollandaise... it was Julia Child's hollandaise!  You may remember in my post about artichokes that I recommended making hollandaise if you are feeling fancy.  On Friday I bought my first batch of artichokes for the season, so I decided that this kind of fancy would be perfect.  It isn't too hard - just watch it carefully and get ready for an arm workout!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pollo alla Calabrese

Today was an absolutely beautiful day!  I wanted to spend the whole day outside!  And since Ian's apartment is approximately ten degrees warmer than the hallway, cooking for the whole afternoon wasn't a priority today.  Usually it doesn't bother me, but today I was just so happy sitting by the window reading that I lost track of time!  At dinner I wanted something healthy but filling.  I have adopted this Pollo alla Calabrese recipe into my repertoir as a simple, but delicious "go-to" meal.  It is a wonderful mix of hearty and refreshing, if that makes sense.  This recipe is from my new favorite cookbook called My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino.  This is a cookbook that is full of family recipes from southern Italy.  I love the family stories and the gorgeous pictures!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Last week, in addition to making honey lavender ice cream, I decided to try vanilla bean ice cream.  I am a huge fan of David Lebovitz so I decided to go to him for advice.  If you have never heard of him, take a look at his blog.  He is hysterical and he is an incredible pastry chef!  This recipe was absolutely perfect.  It is easy to understand and it is without question the best vanilla ice cream that I have ever had.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My Favorite Potatoes!

I have always been obsessed with potatoes.   And my sister has not (especially mashed).  But that's all changed now.  We usually have some sort of a potato dish with our major holiday meals, and my absolute favorite is a scalloped potato dish that was in my mom's head until my dad wrote it down.  I think we tweak it a tiny bit every time, but this is what we usually do.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's Complicated (Honey Lavender Ice Cream)

It's Complicated is one of my mom and my favorite movies.  It gets funnier every time you watch.  Seriously- try it out.  The first time I watched it, however, the only thing I could think about was: honey lavender ice cream... I MUST try this!  And so begins my relationship with home made ice cream.  I wasn't even sure if a recipe existed, but of course there was a recipe from Martha Stewart herself.

I have made this recipe several times, and it will be in my repertoire for the rest of my life.  This isn't for the faint-hearted, mind you.  If you don't have a real sweet tooth, it may be too much for you.  Just kidding... but not really, very rich!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Real French Toast!

For those of you who celebrate: Happy Easter!  I usually spend Easter with my family cooking, and this year has been no different.  I started off making a gorgeous French toast.  My dad made our favorite Nieman ranch bacon and my mom made a wonderful morning cocktail: orange juice + prosecco.  Yum!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hearty Smoked Salmon Hor D'oeuvre

At my house, we occasionally have nights where we don't want to cook a full meal; we break out the hearty appetizers and munch away.  Tonight we had shrimp cocktail, foie gras from the freezer (which was delicious!), and this smoked salmon appetizer, which I have been making some version of since I was about 8.  It is delicious and easy and you can put whatever kind of spin on it that suits your own taste! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday is for Steak!

Yesterday I decided I wanted to make a warm and hearty dish since it's apparently winter again in Chicago.  I went for a classic steak and potatoes meal and put my own spin on it.  A few weeks back I used a Groupon that Ian got me to a really fun store called Oh Olive!  As you might imagine it is an olive oil store.  I got a bunch of tiny bottles of different oils and vinegars for marinades and just because they looked fun.  I decided to marinade my steak with truffle oil and an 18 year balsamic vinegar.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fish on a Weeknight!

It's Friday!  I don't know about you, but after a long week I love to have a wonderful, warm meal.  Tonight was a gross, rainy day and it was way too cold to go out.  Plus it's much cheaper to stay in and have a meal that you made.  I know that it can be difficult to cook in the week, but the recipe I made tonight was simple and delicious.  I made trout a la meuniere from Emeril.  It is a cajun take on sole a la meuniere ("Fronch fries, Fronch beans..." Better Off Dead anyone?), and it's much more affordable.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Carrot Soup that Tastes Good!

I know what you're probably thinking.  Carrot soup looks--sometimes tastes--like baby food.  BUT, this recipe makes carrot soup exciting and complex.  I got it from my sister who found it in a Maine Soup cookbook.  She was home visiting last year and made this for our family, and we all loved it.  I love exchanging recipes with other people because it opens me up to new ideas I never would have thought of on my own.  Never in a million years would I ever have picked out a carrot soup recipe on my own... honestly saying it in my head grosses me out.  But this is delicious... and you should try it!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Farmers Market Success!!!

It doesn't take much to get me really excited about food.  So it should come as no surprise that when I realized there was a farmers market in Chicago during the off-season, I was absolutely ecstatic.  A few weeks back we went to the Family Farmed Expo.  We only went to the part that had the booths, but there was tons of information.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Don't Just Eat the Artichoke Hearts!

When I am looking up recipes for artichokes I usually only see recipes that call for using canned or frozen artichoke hearts.  But I'm here to tell you that you are missing out on the best part!  Ever since I was a little girl, my dad has been making artichokes--and I think I am willing to say that they are my favorite vegetable... I think...  We have been using the same recipe for years, and it really is a classic and a favorite in our house hold.  Here's what you do:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I feel like the best way to start this blog is to explain the thrill I had last night in finding the Flirty Cupcake truck for the first time.  I only recently discovered it on twitter, and once I did I started following it's every move.  Well, upon arriving to my boyfriend Ian's apartment I see that the cupcake truck is in Lincoln Square.  My heart started pounding and I knew I had to go and find it with him.  So we wandered out (without internet phones) to hunt it down.  We got there early and I couldn't find it.  Discouraged, I started roaming up and down the streets hoping they didn't run out (as if I know anything about the quantity of cupcakes that a truck can hold.)  Finally, I saw it and I started to run... and then stopped because I felt like chasing down a cupcake truck is a little pathetic for someone my age.