Category Archives: recipes

Insta-gramma cake

So I know I’m late to the game, but I’ll admit my blogging has been taken over by my instagramming. If you’ve read this blog at all since I started it in 2008, you know that I love taking photos almost as much as I love writing and eating…from tabletops to heaping desserts and perfect salads. That is why I’ve taken to instagram because I can make said food shots look even better then they tasted. But if you follow me (elizabites_Chi) you will see all kinds of shots, like this one of an old-school recipe from my grandma for “good” Passover Cake. I framed this as a gift for my mom, and we marveled at how in the hell you go through almost a dozen eggs to pull this off…(but she did and I remember it being awesome). Passover is long past, but I love stumbling upon this card, stains, typos and all..

Retro Passover Cake

Retro Passover Cake

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Schooled in croissants at Baker & Nosh

Croissants made by moi

Croissants made by moi


I used to be a croissant junkie. I had to give it up when, well, having them for breakfast made me want to take a nap by 10AM, and frankly I couldn’t find any decent ones around town. So when I was invited to do a croissant baking class at Baker & Nosh in Uptown, I jumped at the chance not only because it’s always been a mystery to me how one achieves the perfectly flaky, buttery texture of the French delicacy, and it had been so damn long since I’d had one, I was ready to dive in and learn. The adorable cafe and bakery started offering bread and croissant classes on Monday and Tuesday evenings last year, with pastry chef/owner Bill Millholland leading the buttery, doughy foray into perfectly golden croissants, baguettes and more. Four-to-six students gather around a large wooden table in the back of the cafe, and immediately jump into into mixing and rolling of the dough and butter (an entire, um, pound per batch), in multiple steps that involve rolling, folding, rolling again, flour dusting, folding, rolling, folding repeat. Feeling and rolling the dough gave my laptop-weary fingers a nice respite, even though I learned that my rolling pin maneuvering left little to be desired. Eventually we learned to cut, twist the dough into plain croissants, jam-filled, and used the scraps for pain au chocolat and cinnamon twists. Brushed with a little egg wash, Bill throws them in the oven and monitors the baking until a batch of a dozen golden flaky beauties emerge and are packaged up for you to wow your family or office, or hoard for yourself. Baker & Nosh, 1303 Wilson Ave.

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The Spice House

A somewhat off-beat (but pretty awesome) brownie recipe had me scouring the internets for maple sugar, and my choices to obtain the rather pricey ingredient were down to ordering the stuff straight from Canada, Vermont (OK, or Amazon), or heading to The Spice House. It was time for me to step into the Old Town spice shop I’ve passed a million times, and I’m glad I did…

Spice House, Old Town


The robust spice aromas hit you as you enter, and you don’t quite know where to look first. I knew the place was amazing, but you really need to step inside to truly take in the colorful, rich bounty of spices, sugars, salts, rubs and blends stored in labeled jars (not to mention salt and pepper mills, oils, gift boxes, dehydrated sweet corn for god’s sake!)

Organic spices


Tomato powder??? I mean...


As I searched out the ingredient I needed, my eyes trailed towards tomato powders, Hungarian paprika, hickory smoke salt, Bronzeville rib rubs…I could go on, but I had to focus…

Maple sugar, pricey but delish!


Finally, on a shelf in the back, I found what I was looking for (all $12 a cup of the stuff), and my brownies, like the Spice House, rocked it (please see macrobiotic brownie recipe explanation in the comments below). The Spice House, 1512 N. Wells Street

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Guest blog spot: Catherine’s Vegan Shamrock Shake

Mystery candy post guesser Catherine was hell-bent on getting her guest post in by St. Patty’s Day, but alas, her healthy take on the sickly sweet McDonald’s Shamrock Shake took a few days longer than expected to perfect. Inspired by her love of all things mint, Catherine’s soy-based shake is a thinner take on the heavy (or “thick-ass,” as she put it) fast food shake, but 10-15 minutes in the freezer will thicken it up if that is your thang. Food coloring was added merely for photo aesthetics, and although she was ready to throw her impressive creation in a damn paper McDonald’s cup, I’m glad she opted for a tall and virtually unwaxy, glass, and she also gets photo direction props for the backdrop!

Shamrock shake arsenal


Catherine’s Vegan Shamrock Shake
1 serving
Soy vanilla ice cream 1 cup
Soy milk, unsweetened (or vanilla) 3/4 cup
High-quality peppermint extract 1/2 tsp
Green food coloring (optional) 2-3 drops
Peppermint or spearmint leaves for garnish

Blend all ingredients and garnish with fresh peppermint or spearmint leaves.

Vegan shamrock shake

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Recipe: Ice box cake

Who calls a refrigerator a damn ice box anymore? No one, really, but my family, who still loves whipping up a retro delicacy known as ice box cake (aka refrigerator roll). Less complicated than a gingerbread house, but just as tasty, ice box cake is ridiculously easy to make, and kind of reminds me of Show Biz Pizza Place/Chuck E. Cheese birthday cakes (think whipped cream frosting and Oreo cookie-esque cake). The presentation isn’t the greatest, but I promise an instant hit if you show up to a holiday party with one in tow. And if you’re looking to make any other holiday goodies today, don’t forget about the award-winning pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe previously posted. Whatever you gorge yourself on, have a safe and happy holiday..I’ll be taking a short break from posting, but will be back in full force in 2009, with more features, coverage of my impending January travel adventures and more!
Ingredients:
1 box Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (look for the yellow box)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups heavy cream, whipped or 1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed.
Method:
1. Stir vanilla into whipped cream or topping
2. Spread 1/2 tablespoon whipped cream on each wafer.
3. Begin stacking wafers together and stand on edge on serving platter to make 14-inch log.
4. Frost with remaining whipped cream.
5. Use toothpicks to cover cake with plastic wrap and chill for 4 to 6 hours.
6. Garnish with chocolate curls, slice on a diagonal and serve.

Layer whipped topping in between wafers

Layer whipped topping in between wafers


Cover log with whipped cream topping

Cover log with whipped cream topping


Use toothpicks to hold up plastic wrap and chill 4-6 hours.

Use toothpicks to hold up plastic wrap and chill 4-6 hours.


Deliciously messy after being chilled, be sure to slice on a diagonal

Deliciously messy after being chilled, be sure to slice on a diagonal

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Cake Wrecks

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Ack…I promised an ice box cake recipe this week (see pic on above box) and failed. Soon. In the meantime, enjoy one of my favorite blogs on the art of the cake wreck. These cakes are in no way a reflection of how my ice box cake turned out, but I’m thinking of submitting a photo of the ridiculous cake my parents bought for their Yorkshire Terrier’s birthday last weekend. Oy. I keed not.

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Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


Aside from apple pie, my sister and I also like to whip up some mean pumpkin chocolate chip cookies in the fall. These are ridiculously easy to make, are totally addictive and originally came from a “Best Cook on the Block from Bay View” cookbook snagged from our Ma. The original baker, Mrs. Johanna Chars, suggested doubling the recipe as 1 pint of pumpkin contains 2 cups (plus they freeze well and there’ll be more for you to down in one sitting).
INGREDIENTS
1 cup cooked mashed pumpkin (commercial or home-canned)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 egg
2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp milk
1 cup chocolate pieces
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
METHOD
In mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg. Stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In small bowl dissolve baking soda in milk, stir in batter. Mix batter well. Stir in chocolate pieces, nuts and vanilla. With spoon drop on lightly greased cookie sheet. Cookies will not spread much during baking. Bake at 375 degrees F 10-12 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen cookies, 2 inches in diameter. Delish.

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