Jalapeno Watermelon Cooler

Jalapeno Watermelon Cooler #drinkthesummer | The Solstice Table Jalapeno Watermelon Cooler #drinkthesummer | The Solstice Table Jalapeno Watermelon Cooler #drinkthesummer | The Solstice Table Jalapeno-Watermelon-Cooler-2
Watermelon season is the best!! It’s the quintessential summer snack. I have a special place in my heart for the Yellow Doll Watermelons we get from Springdale Farm. They are an heirloom variety with vibrant yellow flesh and adorable curlicues to boot. Typically they are crazy sweet but it’s still a little early in their season so they aren’t quite there yet.

This gave me a great excuse to develop a late summer cocktail around them for #drinkthesummer 2016 put together by Sherrie over at With Food + Love! I follow a lot of food blogs, like an embarrassing amount of food blogs and Sherrie’s is one of my favorite. She’s based in the Midwest (huge bonus points), focuses on fresh local produce and posts a fair share of cocktail recipes – definitely someone to recruit to the squad. With #drinkthesummer tons of bloggers are posting seasonally inspired cocktail (and mocktail) recipes TODAY! Scroll down to the end of the post for a full listing of all these delicious summer drinks! (more…)

Morel Mushroom Potstickers with Creamy Herb Dipping Sauce

Morel Mushroom Potstickers with Creamy Herb Dipping Sauce | The Solstice TableMorel Mushroom Potstickers with Creamy Herb Dipping Sauce | The Solstice TableMorel Mushroom Potstickers with Creamy Herb Dipping Sauce | The Solstice Table
You definitely want to keep it simple with morel mushrooms because they’re such a delicacy that it’d be a shame to loose their unique, buttery flavor in an over complicated dish (see the previous post for super simple creamy morel toasts) but sometimes you gotta mix it up. This is where these morel mushroom potstickers come in. They’re different from what I usually use morels for but their flavor still shines through and they’re crazy addictive. This recipe will make approximately 24 potstickers which you can use as an appetizer for a party or you could choose to just share them with a few friends and make them more of a lunch. I chose to pair these with a creamy dip because I love morels and cream but you could definitely serve these with a more typical soy sauce and rice vinegar dipping sauce which would make this dish completely vegan. (more…)

Creamy Morel Toasts

Creamy Morel Toasts | The Solstice TableCreamy Morel Toasts | The Solstice Tablecreamy-morel-toast-3
Every spring, just as we’re starting to get a few days above thirty degrees, I have the same dream. It’s starts out quite boring – it’s one of those dreams that seems like just an extension of your regular day. I’m going about my business walking the dog or coming home from work and all of a sudden I really start looking at my surroundings and there are morels everywhere. The more I look the more I see! There’s a patch growing next to my peonies! There’s a large yellow one growing next to my fence. I sometimes even spot a tip popping out of a snow bank just waiting for me to pluck it. I don’t think I have dreams where I am as happy as I am in my morel mushroom dreams.  Sadly I wake up to reality. It’s still March and we’re a long way off from morel season. Even when they are in season I never have luck like that. Have you ever been morel hunting? When I was younger and had more time we would spend hours on end traipsing around the woods looking for morels. Of the countless times we went I only found them once and when I did I found like 4. Regardless I was ecstatic! Foraging for your own food can be magical. (more…)

Michelada | A Spicy Beer Cocktail

Michelada Recipe | The Solstice Table
Michelada Recipe | The Solstice Table

Michelada Recipe | The Solstice Table
It is no secret that I love beer. I am one of those people (I can feel Sheila rolling her eyes already) who will sit and chat with my server about their selection of draft beers ad nauseum.  What type of hops? How long was it barrel-aged? Would you classify it as sessionable?  Is there more of a malt finish?  And so on and so on  – some real hipster shit. I am spoiled with the craft beer scene in Chicago. I feel like there’s always a new brewery I haven’t heard of or a must-try collaboration for the upcoming season. If you drop by my house I’ll have a few six packs of local stuff but what I always have on hand by the case load is Tecate. Some people sneer when I tell them about my affinity for the Mexican lager but it is my go-to beer all summer long. I don’t recommend drinking it straight but just add a generous squeeze of lime and you’re good to go. It’s everything I want in a summer beer. It’s light and not too high on the ABV making it quite sessionable. I can drink it when I’m just hanging out grilling in the backyard or I can drink it when I’ve come home from work and about to take care of business in the studio. (more…)

Mom’s Banana Bread

Mom's Banana Bread | The Solstice Table
There is one simple thing wrong with you – you think you have plenty of time. If you don’t think your life is going to last forever, what are you waiting for?

 I was harshly reminded this past month that there are no guarantees. We go through our lives assuming we have almost endless tomorrows but the sad fact is that we don’t. Our lives can change in an instant and we may have less time than we would have ever imagined.

Mom's Banana Bread | The Solstice Table
There were some health scares recently that brought this to the forefront of my mind, both for me personally and for my family. It’s hard to know what to do when your loved ones are in crisis; especially when you’re not physically there. The only thing I could think of was to cook because when you cook for people they feel cared for and I wanted so badly to let my family know that I care for them. (more…)

Cucumber Martini

Cucumber Martini | The Solstice TableCucumber Martini | The Solstice Table
As someone of Irish descent who thoroughly enjoys drinking, St Patrick’s Day is a day filled with joy. When I was younger it was a great excuse to get hammered in the morning, wear puke green sweaters and woo a lot. I’d look forward to kegs full of green beer and the chance to be overly prideful of my Irish heritage. It was a huge deal and I made an ass out of myself each and every year. (more…)

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus | The Solstice TableCilantro Jalapeno Hummus | The Solstice Table
There are places around town where I am simply known as the hummus girl. Like, Hey! So glad to see you! You’ve got the hummus right?! It’s quite an odd thing to be known for and you’d swear with the feverish way people ask about it that it would actually be code for marijuana. It’s really not though – it’s just that the hummus I sell at these pop up markets is that good! (more…)

Blood Orange Sorbet Champagne Floats

Blood Orange Sorbet Champagne Floats | The Solstice TableBlood Orange Sorbet Champagne Floats | The Solstice Table
I’m not the best when it comes to Valentine’s Day. It always seems to sneak up on me even though the stores are filled with giant teddy bears and colorful balloons-on-sticks at the start of the New Year. I’m not anti Valentine’s Day I just never give myself enough time to pull off something grand. Even if I don’t plan an overly romantic night out, I do love this holiday because you take time to appreciate your relationship and show how much you care for your love. I am a sap when it comes to romance so you better believe our first Valentine’s Day as married peeps is going to be a good one.

Blood Orange Sorbet Champagne Floats | The Solstice Table (more…)

Paczki – The Polish Donuts of Your Dreams

Paczki RecipePaczki Recipe
Back when I lived in Old Irving Park I used to pick up orders at a small Polish bakery on my way to work. Delightful Pastries was in Jefferson Park so it was a straight shot for me on my way to Niles. Delightful Pastries makes some seriously good treats! It’s run by a mother daughter team but really the whole family seems to be involved. Dobra & Stasia focus on using local, natural ingredients in all of their baked goods and the quality of the finished product definitely reflects this.

I would come in to pick up orders and there was always donuts, croissants or danishes waiting for me with the order. Often times the sunflower rye bread would be just finished baking and need to cool before being sliced so they would sit me down with some milk and a pastry while I waited. I took that time to peruse all of their different offerings and people watch all of the ladies coming into the bakery to order their morning treats. They would speak Polish and it would remind me of my childhood as my best friend growing up was Polish. I was always fascinated when I would hear her mother speaking Polish to relatives over the phone. We never spoke different languages to any of our relatives (they’re Irish Catholics through and through) so I found the Polish language wonderfully exotic and romantic. I no longer pick up from Delightful Pastries. We get deliveries from Dobra’s father once a week now but I occasionally find myself missing this simple morning ritual. (more…)

Healthy Grain Bowl Without a Recipe

Healthy Grain Bowl | The Solstice TableHealthy Grain Bowl | The Solstice Table

Healthy Grain Bowl | The Solstice Table
It’s official! We’re going to have an early Spring! I heard just this morning that Punxsutawney Phil saw no shadow so winter is over or soon to be over. (It was then also independently verified by our own Woodstock Willie.)  I’m not quite sure how any of this works but regardless I’ve got a good feeling about February. January was relatively mild in Chicago which is a welcome change from the past couple of years (I’m looking at you January 2014) but I still found myself having a hard time being motivated to make a healthy & tasty dinner at the end of the day. This is where the Grain Bowl really shines! It comes together quickly and can be adjusted based on what you’ve got on hand. No runs to the store required.