Friday, April 18, 2014

Sweet Potato & Apple Casserole

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For the most part, the Baron and I have very similar tastes. I especially like how he's open to trying anything and willing to venture into more exotic foods. But one common ingredient we don't share a love with are sweet potatoes. Joel and I can eat our weight in sweet potatoes! But the Baron? Oh no... he'll politely decline any offering of such dish. Well, if you're like me, you can appreciate Sweet Potato & Apple Casserole. Part dessert and part side dish, this cinnamon and nutmeg kissed Sweet Potato & Apple Casserole with a pecan and marshmallow topping is a great accompaniment to an Easter ham, turkey or pork roast...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dilly Potato Rolls

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It's Thursday! Yesterday was a busy, crazy day which left me away from the site. I was looking forward to sharing another Easter worthy recipe, like these Dilly Potato Rolls. These rolls are not gluten free and I have yet to see whether I can adapt this using gluten free flours. But if gluten laden rolls don't bother you, you're going to love this one. These were rolls made by the Baron's mom, Marnee. I rave about the recipes she prepares because they are always so good. Especially this one. Dilly Potato Rolls are speckled with fresh dill in a soft, tender crumb made with potato flakes and a crisp crust, perfect with a slathering of butter...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Harvest Salad

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Easter is this weekend... and if you're celebrating, have you figured out what will grace your Easter dinner table? This year, we will be spending it with the Baron's family and I'm sure it will be a delicious meal as it always is. All this week I'll be sharing some dishes that will surely be welcomed on any dinner table for Eeaster or anytime! Since we are in the midst of spring, a colorful salad is a great way to incorporate fresh vegetables. One of our favorite salads involves something sweet, savory, crunchy and creamy. This Harvest Salad brings together tender spinach greens with sweet dried cranberries, savory blue cheese, crunchy walnuts and creamy avocadoes that are tied together with a raspberry vinaigrette. If this doesn't get folks to enjoy eating spinach, I don't know what will!...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Monday! Weekend Recap 4/10-4/12

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Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend and enjoyed some good weather in your corner of the world. As for us here in Chicago, we finally had a real taste of spring with sunny skies and temps in the upper 70s! Sadly, it was long lived. There was a bizarre stint of hail in some areas and then today, a snow storm. Go figure. I guess Mother Nature isn't quite sure herself if it's spring yet.

Nonetheless, this weekend was another productive one for me with some relaxation mixed in. Friday night, the Baron and I ditched our original dinner plans of cooking at home and went out to our favorite Japanese steakhouse in the area. Yuri's of Japan is always a great time for us... not so much for the show but just enjoying watching people around us having fun. It's especially great to see kids there. We have yet to take Joel since we're not sure if he'll be ready for fire show and fast paced knife skills the teppanyaki chefs do. Perhaps next year when he's a bit older.

After dinner, we rushed home to catch the newest episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Do you watch this? We're huge fans of Gordan Ramsay and we couldn't miss the first episode of this new season... and it opened with a return to Amy's Baking Company. I won't even bother explaining because it's just better if you watch a bit of these restaurant owners in their tirade...


Saturday was a busy day for me. I went to check out 2 kitchens in the city to teach in since I wanted to find a new, more inviting place. After a couple hours meeting and talking with folks, I've finally found a place to call home for my teaching kitchen! I can't wait to settle in and teach some new classes going forward starting in June. The place I decided on is still renovating so pictures to come! For those in the Chicago area, I'll be based just on the border of Wicker Park & Humboldt Park, steps from the intersection of Western Ave and North Ave.

After checking out potential new spaces, my friend & 'sous chef' assistant Melissa had a private class to teach on French Profiteroles. It was such a fun time and the irony of my client is that her name is Sue Ellen who was also Filipina and is dating a Caucasian named Patrick. She also currently works in the same building I used to work in a few years ago just before I moved back to the suburbs. How crazy is that?! There are a few other coincidences between us after talking a bit more... but seriously? What are the odds?! Aside from that, we had a great time and they did a fantastic job making sweet and savory profiteroles.

Saturday night after teaching, the Baron and I made a few pizzas to take over to our friends who were hosting a potluck party in anticipation of the big Pacquiao vs Bradley boxing match. Being the early sleepers we are, we stayed up just before the fight started knowing we probably couldn't stay awake to watch the match in its entirety lol. But regardless, we had a great time hanging out, sharing a few laughs and enjoying the company and delicious potluck spread!

Sunday was our lazy day. The Baron and I initially planned on working on the yard and doing some yardwork but given the rainy forecast, we rescheduled for another weekend. I also had to reschedule a sushi class I was teaching since there weren't enough students signed up. So we ended up having a great brunch at Johnny's Chophouse... and we left so full, we didn't even need to have dinner until much later that night. After brunch we did some grocery shopping to stock up our pantry, fridge and freezer so I can get back into the cooking and baking mode in the weeks to come - I can't wait!

As for Joel, he enjoyed his weekend with his dad and cousins at the local waterpark. He was so tired from playing at the pool that he ended up taking a long nap the minute we got home lol. He woke up just in time to help make dinner (ravioli with meatballs and garlic bread). And that was pretty much my weekend. Now reflecting back, I'm anxious for another weekend to come around... and with Easter almost here, it's sure to be a fun one!

Silk Earth Month: Water Conservation!

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Silk loves water and is committed to conserving this natural resource everyday. In fact, drinking Silk not only provides delicious, plant-based nourishment, but also conserves water because producing Silk saves 500 gallons of water per half gallon over conventional dairy milk.

Silk realizes that conserving water is everyone's responsibility and Earth Month is a timely reminder that we can all do our part. In fact, Silk has launched a series of short, animated videos designed to celebrate, inspire and educate people about the importance of water. Silk is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to help advance water conservation efforts across the U.S. For every "share" of one of Silk's Earth Month videos, Silk will donate $1 to The Nature Conservancy (up to $20,000).

Check out Silk for some great ideas on how to conserve water now and going forward. In the meantime, here are some interesting water conservation facts and ways you can conserve water in your daily routine!

In the kitchen...

Fill the dishwasher. Never run the dishwasher when it's less than full. Doing so wastes more than water; it wastes power and your own energy as well.

Don't rinse with running water. Whether pre-rinsing for the dishwasher or after handwashing, fill the sink or a bowl with an inch of water to rinse the dishes. If you're using a bowl, that water can go into your compost or garden.

Use one cup a day. Designate one glass a day for your beverages and do fewer dishes every night.

Reuse your dishes. Many times dishes don't need a full wash to be reused. Examples would be a measuring cup used for water, a plate with only a few sandwich crumbs. Use things as many times as is sanitary before washing for more water conservation.

Wash dishes once a day. If you're hand-washing, save up your dishes for one wash and use a third the water. You can rinse them throughout the day with warm-up water to make your evening job easier. All rinse water can go in the garden or compost.

Scrub your hands with the water off. Similar to the military shower described above, this "soap and save" technique turns the water off while you suds up. You could save a quart or more per handwashing by only turning the water on to rinse. Compare it yourself with a plugged drain to see the amount of greywater washed away.

Tighten the faucet. Not turning the water off completely is an easy mistake and can waste several gallons before you realize it's still dripping.

Wash fruits and veggies in a bowl. Running water uses up to four times as much and is lost down the drain. Use a bowl instead and the water can be used in your garden when you're done.

Thaw frozen food without water. Use the fridge to thaw your food to conserve water and decrease contamination.

Store drinking water in the fridge. You'll use less water waiting for the tap to cool down and less ice is needed to keep it cool.

Silk wants you to help us celebrate water! Every time you share one of Silk's water conservation videos, Silk will donate $1 to The Nature Conservancy (up to $20,000) to help with water conservation efforts. 

I was compensated for this post but the views and opinions expressed in this post are solely mine. WhiteWave is providing the prizes for this program at no cost to me. This giveaway is not administered by WhiteWave or its affiliates, but solely by myself.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Roast Leg of Lamb with Potatoes & Onions

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Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
Easter is just over a week away... and some folks are starting to think about what will grace their Easter Sunday table. Regardless of whether you celebrate Easter or not, I'm a fan of Sunday dinners with the family. It's a perfect time during the week to sit down, catch up, think about the upcoming week and more importantly, enjoy the time together. This past week I was reminded in many ways how life is so short and how we should really treasure the time we do have. With that, the easiest way to bring people together is with food. So if you're in the food sharing mood, whether it be for Easter Sunday or just with loved ones at any time, make something special. Not sure what to make? This Roast Leg of Lamb with Potatoes & Onions will not only impress folks, but they may look forward to more meals with you in the future! A leg of lamb center cut is rubbed with fresh herbs, seasonings and olive oil before roasting on a bed of potatoes and onions, perfect for Easter Sunday or any dinner with loved ones...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Drunken Chicken Parmigiana

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Pasta dishes - what's your absolute favorite? I have quite a few which are on my top 3 list, making it hard to really choose an ultimate favorite. One of those that makes my list is a good Chicken Parmigiana. This version comes from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person over the past summer and I think she's done really well for herself. She's also a food blogger, turned Food Network superstar and mom. On weekend mornings, I'll have the Food Network channel on tv in the background while I'm putzing around the house and when her show comes on, I've found myself on the couch tuning in. That said, I've starting paying more attention to the recipes on her site and this specific recipe is one of them. Truly a comforting dish to me, seasoned chicken breasts are fried until golden brown before topping with a rich, flavorful tomato sauce and cheese. It's crunchy, cheesy, and defnitely a great dish to serve with spaghetti...
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