Joanna Miller

The Easy Way to Make Homemade Brown Sugar
My relationship with brown sugar is this: Either I’m in a baking phase and use it all the time, and when I go into the pantry to get more, it’s all gone. Or, I buy a box, forget about it, and discover in my moment of need that it’s rock-hard. I found a simple solution to both these problems: I started making my own brown sugar. It’s easy and takes just two pantry ingredients.
Recipe: Zucchini and Asparagus Strata
I’m ready to hit the Chicago farmers markets this week and stock up on all the super-fresh local produce I’ve been craving since last fall. I’ll most likely bring home as much as I can carry, and then I’ll be faced with the happy task of finding ways to prepare and eat it. This is one recipe I know we’ll be turning to, especially because it can be so easily adapted to use whatever ingredients look best.
Recipe: Spiced Oven Fries with Garlic Spread
Fries don’t really come to mind when you think about eating healthy, but these are baked in the oven and served with a light yet creamy garlic dip. Plus, they’re loaded with big flavor from a spice that’s having a moment right now. I recently tried a similar dish at a Lebanese restaurant in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood.
Recipe: Smoky Deviled Eggs with Greek Yogurt & Frizzled Shallots
If it’s a classic deviled egg you’re looking for, you best keep on moving. There’s no mayonnaise or mustard here, and we haven’t even bothered with any fancy piping. What we do have, though, is one pretty delicious bite. These deviled eggs are made with creamy, tangy Greek yogurt, flavored with smoked paprika and sun-dried tomatoes, and topped with crispy frizzled shallots. Easter in my house isn’t complete without a tray of deviled eggs.
Recipe: Mocha Crunch Steel-Cut Oatmeal
Oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfasts you can eat, and I usually like to keep the toppings pretty simple. But once in a while, why not make it just a little indulgent? Adding rich espresso and cocoa powder – and just a few nuts and chocolate chips on top – combines my morning bowl of oatmeal with my favorite winter drink, the mocha. The espresso and cocoa powder give the oatmeal lots of rich flavor, and a few chocolate chips on top just puts it over the top.
Is It Legal to Grill on Your Balcony?
We’re all about grilling this week at The Kitchn, but as city dwellers, we’re wondering if and when our grilling activities could land us in trouble, or facing a fine. Is grilling on the balcony OK in your city?Here in Chicago, grilling on a wooden balcony is technically a no-no, and yet we see them everywhere. Our fellow Kitchn editors have confirmed similar situations in other cities. New York’s laws against grilling in many places are apparently rarely enforced.
Eating at the Office: Pack a Lemon in Your Lunch Bag
Sometimes our lunches can start to feel a little gloomy — especially when we’re eating them under fluorescent lights. Lately, we’ve been tossing a lemon into our lunch bags, and it’s helped to brighten up our meals. We’re big on packing lunches that don’t require a lot of prep work at home – it’s hard enough to get out the door in the morning!
Springtime Refresher: Strawberry Sangria
Are you feeling the heat yet? It’s not even June, and we are in desperate need of a cool, refreshing drink. Strawberry sangria is light, sweet and usually effervescent – exactly what we want to sip on right now.With strawberries in season, this is the perfect time to try one of these recipes. Not only are they tasty – they’re so pretty too! Most are made white wine and something sparkling – Pellegrino, lemon-lime soda, ginger ale.
Recipe: Zucchini, Mint and Yogurt Spread
We get a lot of recipe inspiration from restaurant dishes. One recent meal inspired not only a recipe, but a serving idea, as well. We tried a trio of dips at Chickpea, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago, and the one that really got our attention was a zucchini, mint and yogurt spread called Koosa ma Laban. But we were also quite taken with all the wonderful colors in the restaurant’s decor and serving plates.
The Secrets of Bake Sale Best Sellers: Brownies, Cupcakes…
Do you have a bake sale coming up this season? Maybe you have a favorite recipe that always flies off the table? We put together our first bake sale last year and were a little surprised by some of the best sellers. We’ve got some tips and recipes below to help make your bake sale a success. When we organized our first bake sale last year, we took pains to choose recipes with really interesting flavors, thinking our creativity would win over potential shoppers.
Recipe: Rapini With Orecchiette And White Beans
We’ve had a string of cold and rainy spring days, so we’re craving something warm and comforting, yet still seasonal. Enter rapini – the bitter greens are a perfect match for white beans a little pasta in a dish that’s not the most beautiful, but is quite delicious.Rapini is nearing the end of its peak growing season in the northern hemisphere. We found beautiful bunches on opening day of one local Chicago farmers’ market.
A Little Of This, A Little Of That: Scrambled Egg Add-Ins
Now that we’ve shown you our favorite way to make scrambled eggs, lets talk about all the stuff you can add to put them over the top.We usually think of adding these sorts of ingredients to omelets or frittatas, but why not scrambled eggs too? Here are a few of our favorites:Extra CreamyA little cream is a classic scrambled egg ingredient, but if you don’t have any on hand or want to try something new, mix in some sour cream, Greek yogurt or even cream cheese.
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: Was It A Success?
Did you watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution? The six-episode season went by fast, but Oliver has extended the campaign beyond the show and continues to build momentum. What did you take away from the show?For our readers here at The Kitchn, we think, stressing the importance of fresh, home-cooked meals is sort of preaching to the choir. But it’s still a great reminder and wonderful to see people getting excited about healthy food for the first time.
Dom itp European Housewares & Gifts
We weren’t quite sure what to expect when we wandered into Dom itp European Housewares & Gifts. The store carries products made in Poland and the front half is filled with more traditional decorative items. But in the back, we found quite an interesting collection of cookware.We enjoyed poking around the store, checking out the various serving pieces and cookware. Most were pretty self-explanatory, but a few left us wondering (the Polish descriptions didn’t help us much.
Prepping Asparagus: To Snap Or Not To Snap
We’ve always been told to snap asparagus at the base to remove the toughest part of the spear – in fact, it’s a pretty fun kitchen chore. But a recent video from Food52’s Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (with guest star Amateur Gourmet Adam Roberts) has us rethinking this little trick. They are “anti-snapping.” Check out the video below to learn why, and get the recipe for a Thai-inspired asparagus salad with Meyer lemons.
Recipe: Chocolate Whiskey Pots de Crème
Pudding – the dessert many of us grew up on – has made a big comeback as a trendy treat. If the occasion calls for something a bit more impressive, we have the perfect fancy pants solution – bake your pudding in a water bath and call it pots de crème.OK, so the recipe and process is a bit different, but pots de crème are quite similar to the puddings we all know and love.
Store Review: The Coffee & Tea Exchange
We’re talking dessert this week, and what goes better with something sweet than a good cup of coffee, or maybe some tea? In Chicago, one of our favorite sources is The Coffee & Tea Exchange, a quirky little corner shop with a great selection.Located in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, The Coffee & Tea Exchange offers a wide selection and plenty of charm. Jars of teas, herbs and spices line the walls while coffee beans are stored in large barrels in the center of the store.
Beautiful Vegan Dinner Party Dishes
Throwing a vegan dinner party? There are plenty of meat- and dairy-free recipes to choose from, but we think a party calls for something a little extra special. We’re not talking about extra work – just dishes that are beautiful to look at and fun to eat. Here are a few that fit the bill.STARTERS• Roasted Eggplant Caviar – Eating this flavorful dip with basil leaves makes it a little extra fun.
Do You Have a Weekly Dinner Tradition?
Today is Thursday – does that mean it’s pizza night in your house? Maybe taco night? Many of us grew up expecting a certain meal on a certain night of the week, and it’s not just a thing of the past. Whether it’s the same meal or even the same group gathered to eat it, do you have a weekly dinner tradition?These weekly rituals are often planned around fun meals, giving everyone involved a little something special to look forward to during the day.
Side Dish Recipe: Greek-Style Lima Beans
A few years ago, our attitude toward Brussels sprouts hadn’t changed since childhood. In other words, we didn’t want anything to do with them. But they’ve enjoyed a bit of a resurgence, to put it mildly, and we discovered how delicious they can be. Well, we think it’s time another food many of us loved to hate as kids got its turn in the spotlight. That’s right, we’re talking about lima beans.
Have a Great Day! Sweet and Funny Lunchbox Notes
What’s in your lunchbox today? A sandwich, an apple and, what’s that? Something written on your paper towel? Aww. We might have been a little embarrassed by lunch notes as a kid, but now we think anyone who receives one should count themselves doubly lucky. Because not only did someone make your lunch for you, they cared enough to send a little extra love your way. Feeling all warm and fuzzy yet?
Store Review: Lillstreet Art Center Gallery Store
If you’re one who likes to spend lunch at a cafe, Chicago’s First Slice Cafe is a good choice, especially if you like to end your lunch with a slice of pie (and really, who doesn’t?). Located in the Lillstreet Art Center, the cafe shares a space with the gallery store where you can find one-of-a-kind dishes and serving pieces made by artists who have come through the center.
Leftovers in the Morning: Last Night’s Dinner for Breakfast
Most of us like a little breakfast for dinner every once and a while. Some eggs, bacon, maybe even pancakes or waffles – it’s not such a stretch. But how about dinner for breakfast? We don’t usually consider last night’s leftovers as a breakfast possibility (unless it’s pizza) but one of our favorite Twitter feeds has us reconsidering.As you may have guessed, the Tweets we’re referring to are written by Ruth Reichl.
Multitasking Meals: Eating Breakfast at the Office
Working in an office usually means eating your mid-day meal away from home, but what about breakfast? Do you prefer to eat before you leave for the day or have a little something at your desk?Breakfast at your desk can be a nice way to ease into the day. Going through the morning’s e-mails is always a little more enjoyable with a cup of coffee and a bite to eat.
Light and Healthy Recipe Resource: Planet Green
We’ve been keeping an eye on Discovery Channel’s Planet Green since Emeril moved over to the network two years ago. In addition to Emeril’s cooking contributions, the network has built up a nice archive of recipes for clean, healthy eating. Most of them are vegetarian, but there’s something for meat eaters, too – like tips on getting the most out of your free-range chicken.
Bar & Grill Style: Condiment and Utensil Caddies
Bar and grill establishments are great for grabbing a casual drink with friends, but they’re not usually at the top of our list when it comes to style inspiration for home dining. We think they’re on to something though with the tabletop caddies for various condiments and utensils. Here are four restaurant-inspired caddies that we’d be happy to have on our table, especially as grilling season approaches.
Healthy Snack Recipe: Spicy Baked Plantain Chips
Spicy, salty, crispy, crunchy. Plantain chips are just what we want in a snack, and this baked version is one we could happily munch on practically every day. The key to the perfect crunch? It’s all about picking the right plantains. Our first attempts at plantain chips were somewhat disastrous. Most of them burned and no amount of oil could keep them from sticking to the pan and falling apart when we tried to pry them off. Turns out, we were using the wrong plantains.
This Food Will Kill You: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution
Is the U.S. ready for a food revolution? Depending on who you ask, answers to that question could range from “Yes!” to “A what?” to “Sure, but hasn’t it been happening for a while? Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Eric Schlosser – ring a bell?” Well, there seems to be plenty of revolutionizing to go around, and Jamie Oliver is jumping in with a big network TV reality show set in “America’s unhealthiest city.
Fun to Say, Fun to Eat: 10 Ways to Use Guava Paste
Have you tried guava paste? We first encountered this sweet concoction in an empanada at our favorite Cuban restaurant. Guava, cheese and fried dough in one bite? Yes, please! But there are lots of ways to use guava paste. We’ve got 10 ideas for you below. Guava paste – also known as guayabate or goiabada – is a very thick puree of guava fruit and sugar, often with added pectin. The consistency is similar to membrillo, or quince paste.
Sweet or Savory: How Do You Like Your Irish Soda Bread?
It almost seems wrong pitting one type of recipe against another, but we realize that individual preferences can be quite strong when it comes to Irish soda bread. Did you grow up on the sweet Irish-American version? Are you a purist who sticks with flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk? Or do you like to experiment with a few modern twists?Last year, Susie shared her mother’s recipe for a sweet soda bread filled with golden raisins and caraway seeds, dusted with sugar.
Recipe: Savory Salted Goat Caramel Sauce
Top Chef Stephanie Izard is a little obsessed with goat. Perhaps it’s because her last name is a type of Pyrenees mountain goat in French. Or maybe she just finds it delicious. Stephanie stopped by the new Kenmore Studio in Chicago last night to make a batch of Salted Goat Caramel – a sweet/savory sauce that could be served with a variety of dishes. We’ve got the recipe below.
Blood Orange Polenta Upside-Down Cake
We highlighted several sophisticated citrus dessert recipes from Bon Appétit last week, but the Blood Orange Polenta Upside-Down Cake was the one that really called out to us. We’ve made similar cakes before and loved their simple preparation. This one turned out to be a bit more complicated, but well worth the extra effort.We did come across a few stumbling blocks with this recipe, but the results were pretty fantastic, so we think it’s worth trying.
Use It Or Lose It: The Bread Machine
I have a monster hiding in one of my kitchen cabinets. It made really odd noises the one time I used it, but mostly it just sits there, taking up space and collecting dust, haunting me. It’s name is the bread machine. Perhaps you have one of your own?My bread machine was a hand-me-down, and I knew as soon as I brought it home that I’d made a mistake. But hey, it’s hard to turn down free stuff! Turns out, it’s even harder to get rid of it.
Old-School Tools: Salt & Pepper Sticks from Manly Vintage
This is a bit of a warm weather tease, but we ran across this interesting set of salt and pepper shakers on sticks and couldn’t help sharing it. Has anyone seen something like this before? Can you guess what it’s for?They’re designed for the barbecue! Did you guess right?We came across this interesting seasoning set at the Vintage Bazaar in Chicago last weekend. We were a little puzzled at first, but the seller explained that they are used for grilling. Of course!
Bold and Bright: Citrus Desserts from Bon Appetit
Now that March is here, we’re officially pining for spring. For some of us, it’s still a long way off, but we think Bon Appétit’s new batch of sexy and sophisticated citrus desserts should hold us over. At least until the snow melts.First up, the Blood Orange Polenta Upside-Down Cake with Whipped Crème Fraîche. That’s probably all we need to say, but allow us to elaborate.