Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Pizza Dough

This is the second time in my short Daring Bakers career that I'm out of town at the end of the month, so I'm once again going to give you an abbreviated Daring Bakers post, since I'm headed to Mexico in the morning and still have way too much to do before I leave! I think I've finally masted Blogger... I've finally figured out how to post this in advance, so I can write this post today, Tuesday, and it will automatically publish next Wednesday when the Daring Bakers all reveal their posts. Wish me luck ;)

This month's challenge was not much of a challenge to me, since I'm married to a former pizza making college kid. Joe worked at our local pizza place in Columbia, Missouri when we were in school, and he's carried on his pizza making skills since we got married. Our Kitchen Aid mixer has been a great help in past pizza making pursuits, since it does the kneading for us. This challenge did involve a different dough recipe than we usually use, though, so there was some challenge in trying a recipe that was very different from our usual one.

This month's recipe was chosen by Rosa at Rosa's Yummy Yums. She had originally been planning this challenge with Sher of What Did You Eat, but Sher unexpectedly passed away after suffering from a heart attack this summer. Since Sher had suggested the idea of making some kind of authentic pizza dough, Rosa chose to go on with that idea to honor Sher. So as you look around at various Daring Baker's pizzas this month, think of Sher and all the bakers she inspired!

I tried to keep an open mind about the dough recipe we chose, even though it was soooo different from my usual recipe. This dough has yeast but stays cold and doesn't actually rise, and it ends up as a pretty wet dough. I followed the directions completely, but the dough I ended with was too soft to be tossted. I did hold it on my hands to spread it out, but it was so soft it would have torn through if I'd tried to toss it in the air. That was a bummer, because I really wanted to try tossing my pizza dough. Here's a couple previous pictures of Joe doing it with our usual pizza recipe, just to show off his skills...

First at our old apartment...

Continuing the tradition at our new condo...
There was no way I could have even attempted to throw the dough from this recipe, but I did like how easy it was to shape it into a thin circle for baking.

I also had a bone to pick with the two day process. Since it still needs two hours out of the fridge before you can prep it, this isn't a very weeknight friendly meal. We could prep dough Friday and bake pizza Saturday, or prep Saturday to bake Sunday, but with my commute home we wouldn't eat dinner until at least 8:30 if I attempted to use this dough on a weeknight.

I did really like the thin crust that resulted from this dough, and for that I would call this recipe almost worth it. I would have to say, though, with the time and energy it took to make this recipe, I would rather go to one of the many "wood oven pizza" type places all over Chicago. I love making pizza at home, but I think I'll continue making it in my less authentic way. Oh, and the smoke alarm kept going off when my oven was turned all the way up to 500 degrees, which was a hassle during cooking :( This was a good recipe to try, and I wouldn't blame people for liking it, but for me I think I'll go with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality and just keep my usual pizza dough recipe.

I will post my usual dough recipe another time, since it's mostly just stored in Joe's head and I'll have to make him type it out! So stay tuned for another pizza recipe in the near future.

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

See you later...

I'm leaving for a much needed vacation today, so I won't be posting for a week or so. I know I've been absent the last week or two since I started my new job, but I hope within a few weeks I'll be settled and ready to start cooking and blogging like before. Than you all for your well wishes with my new job! Things are going well so far, but I'm coming home later than usual and exhausted, so there is going to be some adjustment as I settle in. Hopefully within a couple weeks I'll be mostly used to the new position, and by the end of this year it'll be old news. Thanks again for your thoughtful encouragement, you guys are great! I'll have a drink for my blogging friends while I'm laying by the pool in Mexico :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chicken Marsala

A special guest for the night...

So this is Joe, Erin's husband, I've decided to take over the blog for tonight. What can I say, the poor woman needs a night off every once in a while. I also should mention that this is my first attempt at blogging ever! As a financial analyst, I spend my days writing reports about numbers and ratios, so I just hope to god that this isn't as tedious as the swill that I normally churn out.

Anyways, a while back I got the urge to do some cooking, and although I'm not the gourmet that Erin is, I feel like I can make a competent attempt at following a recipe, and I feel like Giada's recipes are an easy place to start. Looking through a few cookbooks, what made chicken marsala jump out at me? Let's see...5 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of mascarpone, a ton of can this not taste good?

Here's the recipe:


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, each breast cut crosswise into 3 pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus whole sprigs, for garnish
  • 12 ounces dried fettuccine


Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cool slightly.

While the chicken cools, melt 2 tablespoons of butter to the same skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and mustard. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain. Toss the fettuccine with 3 tablespoons of butter and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Swirl the fettuccine onto serving plates. Spoon the chicken mixture over top. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve.

All in all, I'd have to say that I was pleased with the way everything turned out. I may toss in just a bit more mustard next time around to really make that flavor pop out, but overall this dish was really rich and satisfying just so long as you're not counting your calories.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Roasted Green Beans with Cremini Mushrooms

I want to share this recipe for two reasons...

First, last week was really long and this was one of the only decent things I cooked. I started my new job, which is great, but the training left me devoid of energy by the time I got home each night. On Thursday I decided I needed to cook something, because even though I was exhausted I was seriously missing spending time in my kitchen. So I want to share this because it's one of the only new things I have to share.

Second, this is really a fantastic combination of fall flavors. I know it's getting a bit late to cook green beans, but as long as they look decent and are reasonably priced I will keep using them. Green beans are my favorite vegetable, so I have a hard time letting them go at the end of summer. Cremini mushrooms seem very fall like to me, and take on a great flavor when roasted. This is a simple yet elegant side dish; easy enough for a weeknight, yet nice enough to serve guests.

This is one of those recipes that doesn't have exact measurements. I'll give you guidelines, and you can make it your own. And if you don't have any, go buy some Herbes de Provence. I use it to season so many dishes, and I find that a little goes a long way. Frequently, when I want to add some seasoning to a dish but don't have a specific plan, I add a sprinkle of this herb combination and find the seasoning ends up perfect.

Roasted Green Beans with Cremini Mushrooms

1 lb fresh green beans
1 pack cremini mushrooms (approx 6 oz)
2 shallots
3 cloves garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper
herbes de provence

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Trim the ends of the green beans. Clean and trim the mushrooms, then cut into quarters. Slice the shallots into thin pieces, and mince the garlic. In a large bowl, mix the first four ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and herbes de provence, and toss to coat well.

Spread the green beans evenly on a jelly roll pan lined with a silpat (optional). Roast for about 25 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. The beans are done when they're tender and starting to lightly brown. Be careful not to overcook, and get lots of the shallots and garlic on your plate with the green beans. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's Roasting Season!

I didn't realize what cooking technique was missing from my kitchen until the weather started feeling like fall. Yes, if you're also living in Chicago, you're probably wondering what I'm talking about! But remember a couple weeks ago when we pulled out our fall coats before the weather went back to the 70's? That's when I made this dish :)

The cooking technique I'm referring to is roasting, and in the last month or so I've been reminded of how much I enjoy roasting veggies. I bought a head of cauliflower at the store a while back, and didn't have any specific intentions of what to make with it. When I got home I remembered a combination that I had really enjoyed last fall. I think I found the recipe somewhere online, but it's really flexible depending what you have around. Just toss together the key ingredients, add extra herbs or seasoning you're craving, and roast for 20 or 30 minutes. This mix of ingredients might surprise you; cauliflower can be a lot more tasty than you might expect!

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower
2 cloves garlic
zest and juice of one lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Optional- fresh thyme or other herbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the cauliflower into manageable pieces. Put into a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle minced garlic, lemon zest, and salt and pepper on top; toss to coat. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning once or twice, until cauliflower is becoming tender and golden brown.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ready for the weekend...

I know, I know, is there ever a Thursday night when I'm not ready for the weekend? It hasn't been a bad week at work, but I'm still very ready for a couple days of staying home, sleeping in, and just the usual weekend relaxing. We're going to see Ben Folds on Friday night, a spontaneous decision we made last night which I'm very excited about! We're also going to watch the Chicago Marathon on Sunday morning, which means we'll most likely get up pretty early. The rest of the weekend is pretty open, and a weekend with not too many plans is usually my favorite type of weekend.

I'm posting this recipe tonight for a reason. I hope a few of you read this on Friday and are inspired for this weekend. I'm talking breakfast here... the kind of breakfast you could only justify on a weekend morning when there's no reason to rush out the door. As most people do, I love weekend breakfast. It could be at home, or at one of the restaurants near my house; weekend breakfast has the flavors and ingredients that are not even a possibility when I have to leave the house by 7:00 am on weekdays.

Following is the recipe for my favorite part of weekend breakfast... potatoes. I don't care if they're hash browns, diced, roasted, whatever. Potatoes are usually my #1 priority when eating out for breakfast. Last weekend when I realized we had potatoes at home, I knew it was time to make some of my own. And I happened to have fresh rosemary and thyme in the fridge, which were the perfect seasonings to go on the potatoes. I hope you have a chance to try these potatoes, or that you make up your own version. I doubt you'll find a more satisfying side dish for your weekend breakfast!

This is a loose recipe, so I'm not exact on the measurements. Go with flavors that you like; trust your own taste.

Potatoes (smaller, new yellow ones)
small onion, diced
1 tbsp rosemary (amount depends on how many potatoes)
1 tbsp thyme (amount depends on how many potatoes)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes, leaving skins on. Dice the onion, and chop the herbs. In a bowl, toss all ingredients together.

Heat a skillet on medium. Add potato mixture, cover, and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If they brown much, turn the temperature down; the goal is to soften the potatoes first and then brown the outside. Cook with the lid on until the potatoes are soft when pricked with a fork.

Take the lid off and turn the heat up to medium-high. Continue to cook, only turning once or twice, until potatoes reach desired level of crispiness. Serve with a tasty sun dried tomato omelet made by your awesome husband, or with any other breakfast treats :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ile de France Goat Cheese

I recently had a chance to try a second type of french cheese from Ile de France. I had really enjoyed the Camembert I tasted a few months ago, so I was eager to taste the goat cheese to see what I thought of it. I enjoy using goat cheese in recipe for the creamy zing it adds to dishes. I wanted to taste the cheese on its own, but also decided to use the cheese in a couple different recipes.

I have determined that I like this type of goat cheese (the dryer, crumbly log type) for using in recipes, but I prefer other cheeses when I'm just eating with crackers or something simple. The Ile de France goat cheese is not a bad one-- in fact, I found it to have a nice tangy, creamy taste. I think it's a texture thing, though, that makes me prefer softer, more spreadable cheese when creating a cheese platter. For recipes, though, this simple goat cheese was a great addition to any dish needing an extra layer of flavor.

First, two dishes without pictures to illustrate. I love adding a chunk of goat cheese to mashed potatoes, especially now that it's fall and mashed potatoes seem so appropriate. Just mix the goat cheese in with some heavy cream and salt and pepper; instantly your mashed potatoes will be elevated to a new level. I also used this Ile de France goat cheese on top of a fresh place of spaghetti with marinara sauce. If you add crumbles on top of the hot sauce, it will melt in an add great flavor to the sauce.

I also wanted to use the goat cheese in a recipe, especially since Ile de France is hosting a recipe contest. In keeping with the French background of this cheese, I decided a tart would be the perfect dish. For nice fall flavors, I sauteed crimini mushrooms with shallots and garlic, then added artichoke hearts to the mix. I made a custard of eggs, cream, and goat cheese, and poured it on top of the tart. The result was rich and creamy tasting, with earthy vegetables complementing the goat cheese flavored custard. The buttery crust held it all together. I can't wait to have a dinner party sometime soon, because I know this will make an impressive started with a simple salad.

Pâte Brisée- Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt

8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2-4 tsp ice cold water

In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and butter. Pulse about 10 seconds, until it resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and mix again for a few seconds, until the dough starts to come together into a ball. If the dough is too dry, add ice water 1 teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface, shape into a disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3o minutes.

Tart Filling
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium shallot, finely chopped
5 ounces crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp herbs de Provence
3 artichoke hearts, cut into eighths
salt and pepper

1/4 cup cream
2 eggs
5 ounces goat cheese, softened

First, make your Pâte Brisée. Let it chill for at least 30 minutes, then let stand at room temperature before using it.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while you work on the tart filling. While the dough is resting, heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the
shallot and garlic and saute for about 2 minutes, until softened. Add the crimini mushrooms and saute about three minutes more, stirring to avoid burning the onions and garlic. Gently add the pieces of artichoke hearts, stirring carefully so they don't break apart. Season with herbs de Provence and salt and pepper. Set aside.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. For mini-tart pans, trace with a knife around each tart pan, leaving about 1/2 inch border around the tart pan. Press each circle of dough into the tart pans, cutting off any extra dough. Blind bake the tart shells for about 10 minutes, until they start to turn golden.

In a blender, mix the two eggs, heavy cream, and softened goat cheese.

Take each pre-baked tart shell and carefully heap the artichoke and mushroom mixture into the shell. Pour the goat cheese mix on top, being careful not to have it overflow. Bake the tarts for about 15 minutes, until the custard is completely set and does not jiggle when you shake the pan.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pappardelle with Chicken and Mushroom Ragù

I just ate the leftovers of this pasta for lunch, and I would have to say that it was one of the best pastas I've ever made. Seriously, delicious. I picked out this recipe from earlier this week when I'd had a crazy day at work and just wanted to go home and cook something fun for dinner. I am a huge mushroom lover, and eat chicken more than any other meat, so this recipe jumped out of the "quick and easy recipes" list as a perfect pasta dish. I was intrigued by the pappardelle, because it's a type of pasta I've heard of but never actually tried. The picture on epicurious sealed the deal; a stop at Whole Foods on the way to the train, and this pasta would be tonight's dinner.

Chicken thighs make this taste more 'meaty' than white breast meat, which makes it quite satisfying. I also like that it called for crimini mushrooms instead of regular white button mushrooms; again, very satisfying. I added artichoke heart quarters to this dish, because I had them in the freezer from Trader Joe's. They're frozen like regular veggies and not marinated in oil, so they don't taste too heavy. Artichokes were a perfect addition to this dish. I really loved the pappardelle, too. It was wide, which made it very easy to scoop the perfect sauce to pasta ratio onto the fork. I think Pappardelle would be one of the easier pastas to make by hand, too, and I would love to sometime try to make it from scratch.

The recipe is easy, satisfying, and quick to make. With a nice salad and tasty bread, this could make a great pasta meal to serve friends. And the flavors were perfect for fall, with the cooler weather we've been experiencing lately. This is from the October issue of Gourmet, so you might even be able to find it on the news stand still, if you hurry!

Pappardelle with Chicken and Mushroom Ragù

from and October 2008 Gourmet Magazine

6 ounces cremini mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon chopped rosemary
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
1/2 pound dried pappardelle
5 ounces baby arugula (about 8 cups)

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Pulse mushrooms and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Season chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
Add mushroom mixture, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.

Add vinegar and cook until evaporated. Add chicken and tomatoes (with juice), then simmer, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon and stirring occasionally, until sauce is just thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pappardelle in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente.

Add arugula to sauce and stir until wilted. Stir in drained pasta and cook 1 minute.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Some blogging insight...

It was early January 2008 when I started this blog. I have come to determine that I love blogging; what a great hobby it has become! My blog inspires me to cook, my dining experiences make me want to write; blogging is a past time that has really become a part of my life. If you're a fellow blogger reading this, you probably know what I mean.

I really enjoyed reading the blog Dine and Dish today, because Kristen really spoke to me when she discussed "the hazards of blogging". Her blog is amazing... I would love for my blog to someday be like hers. I strive to make my blog as good as it can be, but I still sometimes have to step back and ask myself, "why am I doing this?" It's easy to get caught up in getting more comments, having more subscribers, and other little things that make my blog seem successful. But really, when I stop and think about it, I'm blogging mostly just for me. I want to keep track of my cooking and dining experiences in my kitchen and around the wonderful city of Chicago. I also love having the chance to connect with other people who enjoy cooking as much as I do. When I look at the goals of having this blog, I would have to say I feel really good about where I am with it.

I feel like a tease, though, because a week or two ago I mentioned that I was thinking about having a contest that people would enter by giving me suggestions on how to improve my blog. Now, I don't think my blog is perfect, and I think there's plenty of room for improvement. But I think I need to just slowly work on that on my own at this point. So the contest is on hold... I think I'll make it a celebration instead! I only have three more months until I've been blogging for a year, so I'm going to plan sometime involving a blog giveaway at that point. That gives me time to settle into a new position at work (I got a promotion, yeah!), and to plan a blog event that's a bit special and fun.

So, if you managed to read that... thanks for reading, commenting, and/or being a part of the blogging world I enjoy so much. And if you're a blogger, too, thanks for sharing your blog with me as well!

I'll be back tomorrow with a recipe as usual :)