Monthly Archives: November 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

My friend Christine knows a surefire way to spur me to action. We were idly discussing her menu plans for the Thanksgiving dinner she is hosting for her family, when she said, “oh, I’ll just pick up some pies from the store.” Blame my long-sworn devotion to Martha Stewart, but those words are blasphemy to my ears. Homemade pies (and crusts) are a must! I immediately invited her over for a pre-holiday baking workshop.

Admittedly, my motives were not entirely altruistic. I spend the entire month of November poring over food magazines and blogs, inevitably with more recipes catching my eye than I could make if I served three Thanksgiving dinners. Perhaps I should thank her for providing an excuse to spend an entire Saturday in the kitchen testing pies.

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Food & Wine Entertaining Showcase

Reason #11,000 to love Chicago: sometimes you get to attend an event filled with amazing food (and wine) from your favorite Chicago chefs, at the MCA, on a random Monday night, for free….

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A huge thanks to Emily, aka Windy City Recessionista, for letting me bask in the glow of her winning ways, and to Billy Dec for the tickets!

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Birthday Spaghetti

It’s a little embarrassing to admit at age 29, but birthdays are still a big deal to me. As an adult, I have tried to dial back my enthusiasm to a respectable level, but as a child, being born the day after Halloween means your birthday is a culmination of a three day orgy of candy, glorious outfits, and presents. My mom, having been raised in a “birthdays are a BFD” household herself, implemented a firm policy of putting the birthday child in charge. The whole family would wake up early to have breakfast and open presents, followed by an afternoon classroom pizza delivery, then dinner and more presents with our grandparents. It’s easy to get used to that kind of celebration.

In keeping with my barely-concealed desire to be lavished with attention on the anniversary of my arrival in the world, this year I invited my besties over for a birthday feast. They brought copious amounts of wine and thoughtful gifts, and I in turn served up a coma-inducing spread of the ultimate in comfort food, spaghetti and meatballs.

It was the perfect menu for weeknight festivities. The meatballs and homemade tomato sauce required a little love and advance preparation on Sunday night, but there was no slaving over the stove on the evening of the party. Instead, I was in the dining room sipping wine and snacking on rosemary marcona almonds with my friends. A salad of arugula and shaved Pecorino Romano, tossed in a bracing red wine vinaigrette, and homemade garlic bread rounded out the meal. And for dessert, the best cannoli in Chicago, with a candle in mine, of course.

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