how to say thank you


I tend to show my appreciation with food.  Sweets send the message that much more directly.  A lemon bar is the equivalent of sending an Angelina Jolie look alike to deliver the message in person.

lemon bars

  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 lemons, juiced and zested (approx. 3/4 to 1 cup lemon juice)
  • confectioners sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt and butter. Process until butter is completely incorporated and the mixture looks crumbly. To test, pinch a bit of the flour mixture between your fingers, it should feel fairly dry, but still stick together and stay in the pressed shape.   Pour flour mixture into a 9×13 pan and press down with the bottom of a measuring cup or glass.   Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven.

While the crust is baking, combine white sugar, baking powder and 1/4 cup flour, mixing to make sure no flour lumps remain. Whip the eggs until light and add flour mixture mixing to combine. Add lemon juice and zest and mix to combine.  When the crust has pre-baked, pour the lemon mixture over it and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Allow the bars to cool completely before serving. This will help in getting them out of the pan.  Yes, it is really hard to wait that long, but it is also virtually impossible to get the bars out of the pan before they are cooled.  Sprinkle confectioners sugar on top before serving.

thai chicken soup


A couple of weeks ago, I randomly discovered a cute little Asian grocery a couple of blocks from my house.   Not too surprising actually, considering the south end of Edgewater borders “Vietnam Town” and an area filled with Asian grocery stores and fantastic Pho places.  Although this place is nowhere near 99 Ranch in San Diego, it’s great to have it so close by if only for a regular supply of Thai basil and lemongrass.

Thai Chicken Soup

makes 4 servings

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 limes, juiced and zested
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 jalapeno, cleaned of seeds and ribs
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, cleaned and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp chunk of fresh ginger
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into bite sized strips
  • 1 carrot sliced
  • 4 oz. of white mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 stalks celery sliced
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of whole fresh leaves of  cilantro and basil (Thai if available)
  • 2 cups cooked rice, (optional)

In a food processor, combine jalapeno, shallot, garlic cloves, lemongrass, ginger and lime zest.  Chop until smooth.  Saute mixture over a tablespoon of oil in a stock pot or dutch oven until the mixture is aromatic and slightly brown.  Add stock, coconut milk and lime juice.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Meanwhile,  slice chicken breasts into thin, bite size strips.  Once the soup is boiling, add chicken and allow the soup to come back up to a boil.  Once boiling,  add carrots, celery, mushrooms and bellpeppers.  Once the chicken is cooked (5 to 10 min), add rice and fresh herbs.  Take pot off heat.

strawberry gelatin


During the last couple of weeks, Chicago has finally welcomed warmth and the potential of summer.  We’ve been enjoying the outdoors, watching the tulips pop out and the trees get covered with flowers.  I’m officially in summer mode and to me summer somehow always equals berries!!

Relative to most produce, berries are a luxury.  They are comparably pricey, have short seasons, and are really one of those items better bought organic.  When you score a good batch you want to eat it fresh – no sense in wasting the flavor on cooking.  But sometimes, you really want that amazing flavor and aroma – the times when the sun is warm, the breeze is cool, and everything around you is screaming summer – yet the fruit hasn’t quite caught up with your cravings.  These are the times you reach for frozen.

Frozen berries are really the next best thing to fresh.  They are typically picked at the peak of ripeness, flash frozen, well priced, and available when your craving strikes.  I keep a Costco sized bag of strawberries in my freezer at all times just for that reason.  And now that the weather is making me crave fresh cool berry yumminess, I am tapping into the bag for a long time favorite – Jell-O!!!  No strawberry flavored powder involved.

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cherry and rosemary cookies


Somehow, the combination of cherry and rosemary seems completely normal when I think of it in the context of a savory sauce for pork.  The idea of spiky rosemary leaves in a cookie – not so much.  Yet it works – and results are something I have been obsessing over for months.  The original I sampled at our neighborhood bakery were incredibly good, but I felt a bit stuck between wanting to reproduce them and knowing that I would have a hard time keeping myself from eating the entire batch.  Today I caved and I must say the first attempt at replicating the recipe was fairly successful.  Although my cookies were not as dense and thick as the original, the flavor was neck in neck.

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