Friday, November 28, 2014

Holiday Party Staple: Chex Mix

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!

As usual, I spent yesterday in the kitchen with my mom prepping dinner for thirty-five family members. A daunting challenge, but we always have a great time. We were assigned to bring:

  1. one 18 lb turkey
  2. gravy- (dairy free- as my sister is lactose-intolerant)
  3. cranberry sauce
  4. bourbon glazed sweet potatoes
  5. roasted orange balsamic carrots 
  6. two pumpkin pies
  7. one apple pie
  8. one four berry pie 
  9. olive tapenade
  10. chex mix

Of course, you can just buy chex mix in a bag at the grocery store, but you don't know how much you are missing out until you try this. Homemade Chex Mix is one of my family's favorite party snacks, a holiday staple if you will. We like to make big batches at a time and freeze it, so it's one less thing we have to do during the holiday bustle.

This is how you really start a party:
Chex Mix:

6 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Lawry's seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
9 cups Chex (3 cups each -wheat, corn and rice)
1 1/2 cups honey roasted peanuts
3 cups pretzels
2 cups cheddar gold fish or cheez-its

1. Combine melted butter or margarine, worcestershire sauce,garlic powder, onion powder, and seasoned salt: mix well.  Pour cereals, nuts, pretzels, and gold fish into a large foil pan.
2. Pour margarine/butter  mixture over cereal mixture .  Stir until mixture is well coated.
3. Bake in 300 degree oven for 30  minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.   Spread on absorbent paper to cool.  Store in airtight container.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fresh Thyme and Good Times: Marinated Olives

It's finally warming up in Chicago, and I'm putting the herbs in our garden to good use. Fresh thyme always means a good time! 

Olives are such a versatile ingredient, but sometimes I love when they just shine in their own spotlight. When we were in Paris, I always looked forward to snacking on the marinated olives at the table, while we waited to order and for our meal to arrive. 

Even though I found an older recipe from the NY Times, you can never go wrong with a classic dish. Most culinary professionals would probably say to use olives that have not been pitted- but I like practical shortcuts. I would still recommend using pitted olives. First, you don't have to worry about someone chipping a tooth...but really, with pitted, you can use them for more than just an appetizer. I like to chop mine up in a salad, or slice them up as a fresh layer of flavor in a sandwich. With a little twine tie, this would make a great hostess gift. Or, be selfish and treat yourself! We like to pack them up and take them as part of our picnic when we have Ravinia lawn seats. 

Marinated Olives: 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 bay leaves
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, green shoots removed, thinly sliced
Strips of rind from 1 lemon 
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (I used dill seeds) 
2 cups imported olives (black, green or a mix) (about 3/4 pound)
1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, bay leaves and garlic in a small saucepan and heat just until warm over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon rind, thyme, rosemary and fennel seeds.
2. Place the olives in a wide mouthed jar and pour in the olive oil mixture. Shake the jar to coat the olives. Refrigerate for two hours or for up to two weeks. Shake the jar a few times a day to redistribute the seasonings.
Lasts for about two weeks. 

Bon App├ętit!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Girl and the Grill: Grilled Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto

I conquered the broiler last year, but now I turned it up a notch and have started on mastering a new hot skill; the grill. We love using the grill on a hot day because we can make dinner quickly without adding extra heat inside the house.

These have made an awesome summer appetizer in our house, as we wait for our brats and burgers to grill. I'm biased though, because wrapping anything in proscuitto might be delicious to me :)

You could also try adding some rosemary or goat cheese for a fun twist!

Grilled Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto

Credit: ©

-Thinly sliced prosciutto
-Olive oil

1. Slice figs in halves
2. Wrap thin slice of prosciutto around each half. One piece of prosciutto per fig seems to work best
3. Drizzle with olive oil. I don't add salt because the prosciutto has such a salty flavor.
4. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side. So about 10 minutes total. Should form a grilled shell around the Fig.
5. Eat!

By: Maggie Dunphy

Friday, August 2, 2013

La Fournette: A Bite of Paris

I was picking up my Big Ten 10k race packet in Old Town with my friend Laura, when I spotted a little bite of Paris in the middle of the block.

We saw a sign for La Fournette, and my inner foodie started jumping up and down like a crazy child in a candy store. La Fournette was the French bakery/deli that Chef Gale Gand and her baby intern chef Jess had been raving about for the past year. Gale completed her culinary training in France, so she always knows best.

And just like that, I was back in Paris for 20 minutes (they were about to close, or I would have spent all day trying everything) of pure heaven. We decided on croque monsieurs for dinner- the best grilled cheese and ham sandwich/panini you might ever have in your life. Ingredients are not used sparsely as the cheese overflows and creates a savory layer of crust around the sandwich.

La Fournette: Croque Monsieur

For dessert, we grabbed colorful and sweet macarons. They were definitely on the same level as a French bakery in the heart of Paris. My personal favorite is the pistachio with hazelnut filling.

La Fournette: Macarons 
La Fournette: La Macarons 
Also, I grabbed a couple breakfast treats for the next morning. When we were in Paris, I would always start the morning with a Brioche, kind of like sweet bread roll. Light and airy with a little sugar to add a touch of sweetness. Ryan is traditional and prefers a chocolate croissant.  La Fournette is simplicity done at perfection.

La Fournette: Chocolate Croissant 

La Fournette: Brioche

 By: Maggie Dunphy

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Double Trouble Blueberry Muffins

These are seriously the best blueberry muffins I have ever made, make sure to put this in your index. It has the perfect berry to "cake" ratio, and they will melt in your mouth. I wish I could wake up every morning to one of these. 

Muffins are great because they can work for multiple occassions. Breakfast, brunch, or an office morning snack for your coworkers- you can't go wrong. 

Little Cooking Magic Trick- if you toss the blueberries with a light dusting of flour before mixing in, they are less likely to all end up at the bottom. 

 Double Blueberry Muffins

Credit: Gale Gand

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin or line the cups with paper liners. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth. Add 1 cup of the sugar and mix. Add the eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt and mix. In a shallow bowl, mash 3/4 cup of the blueberries with the back of a fork. Add to the batter and mix.

With the mixer running at low speed, add 1/2 of the flour, then 1/2 of the milk, and mix. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Fold in the remaining 1 3/4 cups whole blueberries by hand until well mixed. In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon. Use an ice-cream scoop or large spoon to fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over the muffins and bake until golden brown and risen, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan at least 30 minutes before turning out.

By: Maggie Dunphy

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lazy Lemons: Lemon Bars

There is nothing much better than an extra long lazy weekend! Happy Memorial Day! 

And we get a second lazy Sunday, tomorrow! Unfortunately, the Chicago weather has been gray and chilly. So, these are the perfect guilty snack. 

These are the best lemon bars, I have ever made. They are the perfect ratio of crust and custard, and sweet and tart. Refreshing and delicious! Make sure to slice them small as they are very rich. 

Lemon Bars

Recipe courtesy of Barefoot Contessa


For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Reinventing the Wheel: Rice Krispie Pops

Hi all! 

Guess who's back.....Long time, no blog, right!? 

A year hiatus was much needed and I'm ready to get in front of the stove yet again. Also, working on cooking more healthy recipes this time around (of course, not in this post though).  

Sometimes I feel like taking a break allows us to refocus and gain a different perspective. Working and commuting along with real world fun, unfortunately has cut into cooking, photography and blogging time. It's all a juggling act, but I've been missing my me-time in the kitchen. So here we go again! 

With a new layout, a fresh perspective and a fun little twist on your basic rice krispie treat, my cooking love affair has begun once more. 

Rice Krispie Pops 

  • 2 tablespoons butter (the real deal)
  • 1 package regular marshmallows or 4 cups mini ones
  • 6 cups of Kellogg's Rice Krispies Cereal 
  • Also need- chocolate for melting. 

1. In microwave-safe bowl heat butter and marshmallows on HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth.
2. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

4. Wait 15 minutes, until cool to the touch. Slice into rectangles. Remove from the pan and pinch one end of the square together to make an arch. Put on popsicle sticks (I used 1/2 a stick for each), and place on a sheet pan in the fridge for 10 minutes. 

5. Meanwhile, heat up chocolate by microwaving in 15 second intervals and stirring. Should take about 2 minutes total. Make sure it's smooth. 

6. Dip or use spoon to coat half the rice krispie with melted chocolate. Place on pan with wax paper and sprinkle with sprinkles!

7. Move the tray to the the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes to set the chocolate. 

Wah-lah! You have made beautiful and delicious treats. Perfect for a birthday party or summer picnic. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Not Your Hippie Hummus

While hummus is often thought of as a hippie vegan dish; there is no need to be biased and it can really be enjoyed by everyone. I have become addicted to hummus on everything thanks to my cousin Megan and her husband Micah. Hummus is great because it can serve as a multipurpose dip/spread. You can use it as a healthy dip with pretzels as a snack and I recently started to use it as a spread on sandwiches with lettuce, slice tomatoes and avocado. Delish!

When I made it for the boys during my crazy cooking frenzy last week, for some reason they liked to dip the cheese pretzel bites into it. Not sure how I feel about that, I would be wary! Might just be a strange boy thing. 

My favorite hummus recipe is by Barefoot Contessa. I like that she adds Tabasco sauce because hummus is always better with a little bit of a kick. The lemon juice also makes it really fresh. Using Tahini scares me a little bit still as it's a bit of a foreign ingredient in my kitchen, but it really blends well with the overall flavor. I bought this giant jar at Garden Fresh for under $5.

Making fresh hummus is seriously way better than store bought, there actually is a huge difference in the taste. I definitely suggest taking the 5 minutes to throw it in your blender. Your taste buds won't be sorry!

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas
  • 8 dashes hot sauce
  1. Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it's minced. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature. 
Source: Barefoot Contessa

By: Maggie Dunphy

Friday, March 30, 2012

It's Actually Easy Being Green Salsa: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

I love to cook all the time. However, when I am really stressed, I sometimes overdo it...a bit. Last week, Indiana University made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. I was home for spring break for the previous games against New Mexico and VCU. My mother couldn't wait to get me out of the house.  Mom's mantra for the week was "Deerfield is not a college town, and you can't scream with all the windows open in the house." But Mom, this is INDIANA! Unfortunately, she is not a Hoosier and did not quite understand the concept. 


Hands down, one of my favorite memories at IU will always be watching Watford hit the 3 in the last seconds to beat Kentucky. Our unranked program, beat the #1 basketball program in the nation. Thus, I was completely on edge the entire week awaiting our fate when Indiana and Kentucky would meet again in the Sweet Sixteen round. The game was at 9:45 at night. My day ended up consisting of making: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (this recipe), Hummus, Cheese Pretzels, and Barbecue Wings. Thankfully I was cooking for a house of guys, who definitely appreciated it. Even with the nonstop cooking action all day and completely exhausting myself, I could barely watch the game. Every basket made or missed, we edged even further onto the edge of our seats. Everyone had different ways to deal. Some paced, some had to leave the room,  some yelled at the refs and I buried my head in a pillow. I had never felt so tense before. 

Even though, Indiana did not go on, we gave Kentucky a run for their money. I am so proud of everything Tom Crean has built back for our basketball program. I'll always be an avid Indiana Basketball fan, even when I'm not living in Bloomington next season. Thanks for a great four years and showing the country what potential the Indiana Hoosiers have in years to come. This is Indiana. BANNER UP! 

   Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1 pound tomatillos, husks discarded 
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled 
2 large jalpeno peppers 
1 white onion, quartered 
juice of 1 lime 
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon sugar 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Heat oven to 500 degrees.  Place tomatillos, garlic, jalapenos and onion in an ungreased baking pan.  Cook stirring once, or twice until vegetables are charred about 15 minutes: set aside to cool.  Remove stems(but not seeds from peppers: discard.  Peel garlic.
2. Transfer ingredients to a food processor; process until coarsely chopped.  Transfer to a medium bowl; stir in lime juice, cilantro, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper until well-blended.  Salsa will keep, refrigerated, up to 4 days.

Recipe based on: Rick Bayless 
By: Maggie Dunphy