Category: Food

pumpkin dip

November 15th, 2011   |   FoodLife

Each year I look forward to the fall and Thanksgiving for pumpkin flavored dishes. One of my favorites happens to be pumpkin dip.

There is a delicious pumpkin dip on But if you are looking for a lighter option, my mom has a healthier version that has a very similar flavor.

  • One 8oz cool whip
  • 1 box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg will work in a pinch)
  • 15oz canned pumpkin
  • Gingerbread men or graham crackers
  1. Thaw cool whip. Mix pumpkin, dry vanilla pudding mix, and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. Fold in thawed cool whip and serve.

The Art of the One-Dish Meal

I think there are a few things about cooking that intimidate people, but I’d guess one of the main things is the idea of putting together a meal. I get why it’s intimidating: you have to figure out what goes with what, find recipes for each dish, and then time everything correctly while cooking. It’s a lot to think about! And it’s why I love one-dish/one-pot meals. I love the idea of getting everything I want in a meal with one singular recipe. They also tend to pack lots of flavor! The most common one-dish meals are things like soups, stews, casseroles, crock-pot meals, stir-fries, etc.

The essential elements of a one-dish meal

  • A satisfying protein. Some of my favorite easy proteins to use in one-dish meals like soups or stews are beans, pre-cooked chicken sausage, rotisserie chicken, and tofu. None of those need to be cooked, so it makes incorporating them into a recipe almost foolproof.
  • A flavorful fat. For me, no meal is complete without some form of (unprocessed fat). In a one-dish meal, I recommend butter, cream, coconut milk, coconut oil, or olive oil.
  • Lots and lots of veggies. You can really go nuts with the veggies, but a good place to start is always mire poix: celery, carrots, and onions. Trader Joe’s sells a pre-made version that’s so convenient when prepping soups, stews, or sauces.
  • Herbs and spices! My best advice is to have a heavy hand with the seasoning when cooking a one-dish meal. Italian spices like basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc., are pretty safe, as are non-spicy flavors like paprika, pepper, and citrus zest. And though you don’t want to go overboard, you’ll probably want some salt, too.
  • A dash of carbs. I tend to leave carbs (rice, pasta, potatoes etc.) out of my one-dish meals completely, but a little goes a long way if you can’t imagine living without them. Grains and starches don’t have much bang for your buck, and they tend to act as “filler” (big on bulk, small on flavor). However, as long as you tread lightly, adding a few potatoes or a small amount of rice, starches and grains can be a nice way to bulk up a one-dish meal.

Bringing it all together

Slow and low heat is the method for a successful one-dish meal. The longer and slower you cook it, the more flavorful the dish will be. In fact, many one-dish meals (again, think soups, stews, casseroles, etc.) taste progressively better as the flavors have time to marry. Crock pots make wonderful one-dish meals! Baking at a low temperature, simmering, or slow-cooking are all good methods of cooking one-dish meals. Don’t forget: one-dish meals tend to freeze well, so these types of dishes make for perfect make-ahead lunches and dinners.

All-star one-dish meals

Some of my favorite one-dish meals include:

Do you prefer one-dish or multiple-dish meals? Either way, share your favorite soup, stew, or casserole recipe!

light pumpkin dip dessert

November 16th, 2010   |   Food


While looking at the MML stats I’ve noticed that my mom’s Pumpkin Dip has been getting quite a bit of hits through Google (people are probably searching “healthy pumpkin dessert”). So I thought it might be a good idea to re-share the dessert since Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

What I personally love about this dip is that it’s pretty low-cal – which in my book means I can eat more of it.


Linda’s Pumpkin Dip

  • One 8oz cool whip
  • 1 box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg will work in a pinch)
  • 15oz canned pumpkin
  • Gingerbread men or graham crackers
  1. Thaw cool whip. Mix pumpkin, dry vanilla pudding mix, and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. Fold in thawed cool whip and serve.

grandma’s macaroni and cheese

September 20th, 2010   |   FoodLife

Good morning! I’m launching the Diversey collection on Jess LC tomorrow and have plenty of work ahead of me (lookbook, programming the online pages, uploading product shots, drafting an email blast, MML posts, and so on) so I have my little hands full of things to do. But in the meantime, I thought I’d re-share this recipe for mac and cheese via my mom, from my Grandma Constable. It. Is. So. Good. And easy, oh so easy. I made it last night for my friend Cathy and her husband.

Judging by the (lack of) leftovers, I’d say it was a huge hit! Try it yourself. I promise there will be no regrets!


Yum. This wonderfulness is my dinner tonight. I got the recipe from my mom, but the cheese sauce is actually from my Grandma’s Cheesy Onion recipe. Since I had all the ingredients on hand except for the cheese, this was a logical, delicious, and inexpensive dish to make. I used to be intimidated by the homemade cheese sauce, but it is really easy since it requires the microwave(!). Try it and let me know what you think.


Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 box pasta (I used whole wheat), cooked and drained
  • 2 C milk
  • 4 T flour
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1/4 t paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and cook pasta.
  2. Melt butter and stir in flour, pepper, and paprika. Whisk in milk. Cook in microwave for 8 minutes on power level 8 (stir 2-3 times during cooking).
  3. Stir in shredded cheese until melted.
  4. Add sauce and noodles to greased casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Let stand for 10 minutes and enjoy!


For those who like a softer, unbaked mac and cheese you can call it quits at this stage like my brother, Mikey C.


step it up: sweet potatoes

February 16th, 2010   |   Food

Good morning! After being gone last Thursday and Friday at the trunk show, being out of the office over the weekend, and taping our March Spring video yesterday, I have a lot of work to do today. One of those “I’ve-been-out-of-the-loop-the-mountain-of-work-seems-pretty-big-and-I-don’t-quite-know-where-to-start” kind of days. I think a well planned to-do list and a good sense of humor will help me gain some traction.

That said, I’d like to share my friend, Stephanie’s favorite sweet potato recipe. She’s kindly taken pictures of the process below and above you’ll find her video explaining the process in person. It’s such a great recipe I’m making it for the third time later this week.

Yum! Keep these potatoes in their foil wrappers in your fridge and grab as you need throughout the week. They are super sweet with their own caramelized skins and can be heated or eaten cold. The perfect afternoon “sweet” snack.

semi-homemade garlic pizza

January 22nd, 2010   |   Food


Happy Friday! This week’s End of the Week Exfoliation will be up tomorrow morning. I am looking forward to this weekend as I have a coffee chat with a very dear blog friend on Saturday and dinner tonight with a close Chicago buddy. I hope your weekend is dry, sunny, and relatively warm!

It’s been a looong time since I’ve posted any food recipes. Mostly because I don’t generally cook that much (hello, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, turkey wraps, and Chicago restaurants). But today’s recipe is a new favorite and so simple to prepare.

While dining at Piece in Bucktown a few months ago, Erwin and I discovered the joys of garlic as a topping on pizza. It was incredible. And now we are recreating a knock-off version every week or two. We’ve started to cook frozen pizzas while simultaneously roasting two heads of garlic. Once the pizza and garlic are finished cooking, we add the garlic cloves on top of the pizza slices. It’s that easy.

Take a look.





Cook the garlic on 425* for 20-30 minutes, until golden and soft. Cook pizza as directed.

Once the pizza and garlic are done, carefully pull each garlic clove out of the shell and place as much as desired on the pizza.


(We add Parmesan and red pepper flakes for extra flavor.)

There you have it. Such a simple twist on a no-brainer dinner.

mom’s chocolate chip cheesecake

November 30th, 2009   |   Food


Good morning! I’m feeling quite relaxed after a “long” weekend starting semi-formally on Wednesday. Though I did a trunk show on Friday, the break from regular studio hours was nice.

I attempted to keep my exercise output as high as my food intake over the past week. I was reasonably successful, however this recipe is one of the major causes of my workouts. It. Is. Amazing. And now, it’s also gone. I gobbled the majority of this wonderful treat myself with some help from Erwin and my cousin, Danny.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving as well! And if you have any holiday parties coming up where you need to bring a treat- this cheesecake is an excellent choice.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

You know those memories you have from when you are a small child that stick with you decades later? Well, I remember my mom making a chocolate chip cheesecake for my dad’s birthday when I was less than six-years-old. Though my culinary tastes at the time were (somewhat) less refined back then, I was right on the money about this dessert. It was then, and is now, simply incredible.

So good in fact, I believe it to be tastier than even my favorite flavors of The Cheesecake Factory or Eli’s Cheesecake. Below is the easy recipe in photos followed by the directions. I even made it slightly less fattening by using 1/3 Less Fat Philly Cream Cheese and Non-Fat Condensed Milk. You can’t tell the difference.









Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

18 crushed Oreos                           14 oz. Eagle Brand Condensed Milk

¼ c. melted margarine                     3 eggs

3- 8 oz. cream cheese                       2 t. vanilla

1 c. mini chocolate chips                 1 t. flour
Combine crumbs and margarine.  Pat in bottom of 9″ spring form pan.  Beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Add eagle brand.  Beat until smooth.  Adds eggs and vanilla.  Mix.  Toss ½ c. chocolate chips with flour.  Stir into cheese mixture.  Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips over top.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Cool.  Chill.

DIY: gold chevron paintings

November 18th, 2009   |   FoodLifeStyleWardrobe


Ohmygoodness. I am so excited to share this project! I have had this idea floating in my head for months and now I get to share the results. The concept of painted chevron first came to mind after reading Kelly + Olive’s post about DIY Chevron. I followed their instructions and used the pattern linked to their post.

Here is how it works.

Materials Used:

  • 3 22×28″ stretched canvases (each one cost about $22)
  • Bronze gold acrylic paint ($10)
  • Large, soft bristled brush ($10)
  • 1 roll blue painters tape ($4)
  • Chevron pattern stencil found on via Kelly and Olive (free)


First, I printed out the stencil three times to get the right length for my canvases. I carefully trimmed the paper to include just the zig-zag and then taped them together to get the correct width.


Do these canvases look familiar? I decided I can always recreate the string art look on new canvases, and in the meantime save some $$ by reusing the two I already had.


To transfer the zig-zag pattern from the paper stencil to the canvas, I used a thumb tack to mark each of the points on the zig zags. I did this for both stripes on the stencil and then used blue painters tape to fill in where the white zig-zag was on the stencil. The thumb tack prints helped me know where to start and stop the tape.


I found lining up a whole bunch of tape makes the process quicker.


Once canvas was complete with the zig-zag, I taped the sides as well to keep them white. I also used a credit card to smooth down all the lines and make sure there wouldn’t be any paint leaking into the stripe pattern.

A few people have mentioned they have had trouble with the paint not seeping into the tape. As I mentioned, I used a credit card to smooth down the lines pretty well before painting. Also, my paint was pretty thick, not runny, so it didn’t seep through very much. Of course there is a bit of bleed on mine, but not too noticeable from far away. I hope you find a method that works for you!


After that, I just needed to paint the canvases with a solid coat of paint. It didn’t take nearly as much paint as I thought it would. I got all three canvases painted with one tube of paint, and I still have paint left over. The canvases needed about 20 minutes to dry and then I removed the painters tape.

I love how the metallic bronze paint shines against the solid white stripe.


Voila! The finished product. Courtney and Lauren came over and helped me hang the art - with thumb tacks! Who knew.

caramel apple oatmeal

November 4th, 2009   |   Food


As far as most frequently eaten meals go, I think oatmeal has been topping my charts for the last six months. Ever since I discovered the joys of Cheesy Oatmeal (don’t judge until you’ve tried it), I’ve been eating oats for breakfast. And as my old coach on the Michigan Men’s Crew Team (I was a female coxswain my freshman year of college) would say “Oats move boats.”

Which pretty much just means they are good for you and give you energy for long, hard workouts.


Anyways, back to today’s new oatmeal recipe. I came up with this yesterday morning and it was so good I decided to repeat it today as well. The recipe is simple and uses seasonal ingredients I have in my house right now: apples and caramel.

I don’t know about you, but enjoying caramel for breakfast in something “healthy” just seems… awesome.

Here’s how it works in photos, and I’ll explain the process in writing at the end of the post.




Look at all that fiber!


Caramel Apple Oatmeal



1-2 apples (any kind), chopped

Dollop of caramel dip

Drizzle of Agave syrup (optional)


  1. Chop apples into small pieces and saute with non-stick spray for 4-6 minutes until soft and sweet. Drizzle agave syrup on the apples mid-way through for extra sweetness.
  2. While apples saute, cook oatmeal as directed. Steel cut oats rather than instant oatmeal works best, in my opinion. Use a large-ish bowl to make room for the apples.
  3. Once apples are softened, transfer them to the oatmeal bowl. Mix caramel (as desired) and cinnamon into mixture.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

PS- I believe the photo of the “softened apples” is actually apples just chopped, pre-saute. Opps.

taking a daily “happy” vitamin

September 30th, 2009   |   FoodLife


I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for quite some time. In fact, I have a little memo in my Blackberry where I keep ideas for future posts, and this topic has been sitting there since May. The idea came from an article I read in Body + Soul written by Cheryl Richardson (one of my favorite contributors). The article was called “Your Feel Good Plan” and talked about how we take suppliments for our health but we don’t take time to do things we enjoy and make us happy. She believes by carving out specific time for the things we enjoy, we will decrease our stress and improve our health. It’s not necessarily a groundbreaking idea, but I liked the concept of making joy a ritual to honor daily.

Her suggestion in the article was to seek out at least one thing that makes you happy and do it everyday. She also recommended making a list of several things you enjoy and picking among them each week. We go out of our way to eat vitamins each morning, but somehow these small acts of joy can slip by in a busy schedule.

My New Happy Vitamin

I thought about the idea quite a bit. I contemplated what I would do as my “happy vitamin.” I wanted to choose things I don’t already do. Cooking came to mind, but I cook pretty regularly and it seemed a bit too utilitarian. I wanted to do something that had no “practical use” or social aspect, since those actions were already incorporated in my life.

What has become my new happy vitamin is the simple act of coloring. A few weeks ago my Prismacolor colored pencils resurfaced among a sea of boxes. They had only been used two times since high school, but for some reason I kept them tucked away. Recently I decided to sharpen them and put them in a vintage glass near the tv – hoping that I would one day begin sketching again.

They sat there for two weeks, untouched.

Then finally, after staring at them between episodes of Chopped and Greek, I decided to try to sketch some flowers in a vase on the counter. I found myself being pretty critical of my work and frustrated that I wasn’t automatically as good as my high school ability. And that wasn’t relieving stress. I was creating another pressure on myself. The thought “I must now improve at drawing” was not a recipe for fun and relaxation.

So I took a step back. I thought about why I still had these color pencils despite countless exfoliations.

Quietly, a memory of my first experience in middle school with Prismacolor pencils came to mind. I used to be fascinated with Prismacolor pencils in art class. I loved how smoothly they colored inside ink drawings and how awesomely the white pencil (my favorite) blended two different hues. That was what I found joy in.

With that realization, I decided to print out coloring pages found online and color them in. No pressure, no inner critic telling me my perspective is off or proportions are wrong. Just the simple act of making the colors as bold and blended as possible.

Sometimes I don’t get around to coloring, but more often than not I color for at least a few minutes (or petals). I’ve even noticed on my runs near flowerbeds, that I take a closer look at the shading and naturally occurring color combinations for future coloring pages.

So what about you? Any coloring fans out there? Any other Prismacolor addicts? Other “happy vitamin” suggestions?

UPDATE (10/3): I find the coloing pages by Google Image searching the term “flower coloring pages” – and I print the ones I like.

bongo room, brilliant brunch

September 22nd, 2009   |   Food

Last Saturday before my trunk show, I scheduled date “night” at the Bongo Room. Last week my friend Amy mentioned the restaurant made pretzel pancakes covered in white chocolate and caramel. Needless to say, with my three favorite ingredients in the title, it got my attention. I dreamed about that dish all week long.

The Bongo Room on 50 S. Roosevelt St. (within walking distance of Museum Campus) was not easy to find. But they also have one on Milwaukee Ave. in Bucktown as well. It took Erwin and I about twenty minutes to find it due to road construction right outside the front door.

Check out their helpful sign during the road work.


Once we finally got inside and seated, I began to get anxious. The menu is one of those where I want to try just about every item. The burrito and croissant sandwiches really had me second guessing my pancake obsession, er decision. Check out the descriptions. I wouldn’t normally post a menu, but this one is worth it.



The most innovative brunch menu I’ve seen since Orange.

Erwin got the Eggs Benedict. It was pretty tasty and those potatoes were awesome.


And not to disappoint, here is the pancake dish that stole my heart. I enjoyed every bit of two of the three pancakes. But I recommend splitting one sweet and one savory meal meal with someone else.


So for those who live in Chicago, I definitely suggest visiting the Bongo Room as a fresh alternative to the popular Ann Sathers, Orange, or Stella’s. And to those visiting the Windy City, try this place out if you are planning on visiting the Field Museum or Shedd Aquarium. It’s just a walk or short taxi ride away from them both.

new snack and fabulous blog award

September 9th, 2009   |   FoodLife

Today I was going to mention my new obsession from Trader Joe’s, and then found out I was tagged by Rebecca with a Fabulous Blog Award (more on that below). The food crush is a new one I discovered yesterday at the T.Joe’s sample counter (who doesn’t love a good sample counter, really?).

While shopping, they handed out Ultimate Pretzel Rolls with melted cheese and ham. It was divine. I promptly bought a bag of rolls and decided to make them for dinner. But then I got to the frozen section and their BBQ Chicken Pizza called my name. With reluctance, I caved to the pizza, vowing to eat the pretzel in all it’s glory today for lunch.


I almost gave in and ate my midday meal at 10:26am.

But with perseverance, I survived until my normal noon lunch time and promptly devoured this roll seconds after photographing it.  Dabs of Dijon mustard on some bites, slivers of butter on others, this baby is good both ways. Or, it can be sliced and used as a sandwich roll as they presented it at the store. Any which way, the pretzel bread is soft without being mushy and surprisingly subtle.

This guy is going to be a great go-to during the rest of my marathon training. I can already tell.

Fabulous Blog Award

fabulousawardSpeaking of obsessions, I found out this morning that Rebecca of The Pink Orange and Ella Minnow Pea tagged me in her Fabulous Blog Award winners. And as such, I am responsible for recounting 5 things I’m obsessed with. Well, the first was shared above in my ode to the Ultimate Pretzel Rolls. The rest can be seen below.


Sounds strange to have an obsession over an inbox, but in my case it is true. I love getting mail for the business (aka: orders) or comments and emails from the blog. Either way, I get excited when I check my inbox.



Not going to lie. I already have my future puppy’s name picked out; it’s Elsie. I like Westies (and Frenchies, too) so much that my running partner, Bernard will text me how many Westies he saw on a run without me. My family has a Westie named Mackenzie (photographed) who started my love affair with the breed.

One day Erwin’s going to get me one, I just know it…. right hun?


Zig zags have my attention right now. I love how they look in bold alternating colors. So much so that I have a future project for my studio waiting to be completed incorporating lots of chevron.

My New Apartment


Yes, if you can’t tell by the recent posts, I moved to a new apartment last week which is currently taking up much of my thoughts, time, and money. It’s a labor of love that is coming together, ever so slowly.

(note: blue couch waiting patiently to be replaced by sectional)

Reach Out


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