Central Illinois’ WCIA 3 Features John Boos on Their “Made in Illinois” Series

Central Illinois’ WCIA 3 Features John Boos on Their “Made in Illinois” Series

Short Video Reviews John Boos & Co. History and Tours Company Manufacturing Plants

WCIA Channel 3 serves Central Illinois, including such heartland communities as Springfield, Decatur and Champaign. Not far away is the small town of Effingham, Illinois – the longtime home of John Boos & Co. Boos is the nation’s leading manufacturer of butcher block products – everything from small cutting boards to wood-topped kitchen islands, tables and carts, as well as stainless steel work tables, cabinets and compartment sinks. WCIA’s Ryan Burk, host of the ciliving “Made in Illinois” series visited Effingham recently to learn more about John Boos – the man, the company and the brand. The result is this excellent short video: http://www.illinoishomepage.net/ciliving/made-in-illinois-john-boos-co

In the late 1880s, John’s father, Conrad Boos, harvested Sycamore wood (nowadays Boos mainly uses Rock Maple, American Cherry and Black Walnut, plus Red Oak). He converted slabs of Sycamore into 3-legged tables upon which local blacksmiths would hammer and pound. The wood slab and legs proved to be excellent shock absorbers – able to withstand repeated blows of hammer on anvil. Sensing an opportunity to expand their product line and budding business, the younger Boos presented their sturdy wood tables to local butchers who immediately embraced them and effectively named what we know today as the butcher’s block.

According to Boos’ VP of Sales and Marketing, Ted Gravenhorst, “Boos & Co. prospered during the first half of the twentieth century, managing to survive the Great Depression, and in the 1940s expanded their product line to include work tables and countertops. A little known fact,” he continued, “is that during WWII 80% of our production was earmarked for use by the military.”

Gravenhorst explained that today the company is a powerhouse in both the residential (mostly wood products) and food service (mostly steel products) segments of the market. “You can find Boos stainless steel tables in such major sports venues as Metlife Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, University of Phoenix Stadium and Cowboys Stadium. Demand is so strong we built a brand new steel plant in 2012. And we expect to break ground on a new wood plant later this spring.”

Mark Shook, owner of Butcher Block Co., a leading online seller of kitchen furniture and accessories, reports he’s delighted to be a John Boos dealer. Shook contends, “Boos is one of those rare brand names that consumers know and respect, especially professional chefs and gourmet cooks. They know if it carries the Boos name it has to be great. The company is renowned for using top-grade materials and paying exceptional attention to detail.”

For more information please visit: http://johnboos.com and https://butcherblockco.com.


Kathleen Grodsky
[email protected]
website: https://butcherblockco.com
phone: (877) 845-5597


Valentine’s Day Treat – Salted Caramel Peanut Stacks

Valentine’s Day Treat – Salted Caramel Peanut Stacks

Ah, love! Valentine’s Day is creeping up on us, and is the perfect time to celebrate your love, whether it be romantic, parental, dog-focused, whatever! The point is to let your loved ones know they are loved, and Sarah is back with more treats to help you drive home the message (but not to your dogs this time). These bars are easy to make and would be a perfect project with the kids, but your significant other will love them, too! Teach us how to love, Sarah!

Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day. Of all the mushy Hallmark holidays, this is the big one. And if you want your beloved someone to know just how gooey sweet your feelings are, do I have a recipe for you! Better yet, it involves very little actual cooking or baking. After making this recipe a few times, it’s easy to eyeball the amounts you need.

Sweet and salty recipes are a great boon to the baking world. With the saltiness to cut through, the sweet element can be even sweeter, and these cookies have a great crunch to go with the ultra smooth chocolate topping. This recipe (adapted from here) does require a food processor if you want a smooth caramel, and pulsing the peanuts and peanut butter cups a few times is going to help these bar cookies hold together better.

These Salted Caramel Peanut Stack Bars are an ideal treat this Valentine’s Day! Share the love!

Salted Caramel Peanut Stack Bars

  • Club crackers
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup whipped topping
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (16-20 graham crackers)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups chocolate peanut butter cups
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/3 cup Nutella

Start by lining a 13×9 baking pan with foil. This will keep everything from sticking and help hold your bars together while they set. Arrange a single layer of crackers flat on the bottom.

Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, and whipped topping in a saucepan, bringing to a boil. Keep an eye on it and stir often. While this is going on, pulse your graham crackers into a fine dust. Set aside and put your peanuts in the food processor for a few seconds – you want smallish pieces, but not a fine dust. Set those aside and run your peanut butter cups through the food processor for a few seconds.

Once your caramel has started to boil, stir constantly and add your graham cracker crumbs. Let this simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the vanilla and sea salt.

Make sure you are completely ready with the peanut butter cups and peanuts at this point, because the next parts happen fast. Pour half the mixture over your crackers, doing your best to spread evenly (this part is tricky). Before the caramel starts to cool, spread the chopped peanuts in a thin layer, then the peanut butter cups.

Pour the second half of the caramel mixture on top of the peanut butter cups. This is trickier to spread evenly, since your peanuts and peanut butter cups aren’t solidly set or attached to anything. It doesn’t need to be perfect! Press a second layer of crackers on top.

Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, until melted. Stir in the Nutella. Spread this in a thick, even layer on top.

Pop your bars in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set. Even after cutting, these are best kept in a cool place, or the refrigerator, until you’re ready to serve.

Valentine's Day

It’s hard to know how to classify these, exactly – half cookie, half fudge, completely a delightful, gooey, salty-sweet treat. The salty crackers, peanuts, and caramel easily stand up to the richness of the chocolate butterscotch hazelnut topping and peanut butter cup layer for a surprisingly well-balanced bite. They’re easiest eaten in small 1-inch squares, not cut into brownie-sized bars. Cutting these is tricky, but a very large, very sharp knife seems to be the best way to do it. If your bars are falling apart, press the pieces together as best you can. These are great as gifts in a little tin, or wrapped up in cello paper with a pretty ribbon and tag. Every time I’ve made these, some want to fall apart, but I’ve never brought home leftovers from an event!

Valentine's Day

What are your slam dunk cookie recipes to give as gifts? Are you aboard the salty-sweet dessert train? Happy Valentine’s Day!

John Boos & Co. Announces New Kitchen Island and Work Tables

John Boos & Co. Announces New Kitchen Island and Work Tables

Butcher Block Market Leader, John Boos, Looks to Tap Consumer Preference Shift to Walnut

Every year Effingham, Illinois-based John Boos & Co. announces changes to the company’s product line a broad assortment of butcher block furniture and accessories. “In making such decisions, they analyze sales trends and they research changing consumer tastes to identify trends,” explained Boos’ Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ted Gravenhorst.

In planning their 2016 product line, Boos designers were influenced by two trends in particular: increasing demand for end-grain style butcher blocks (which are made by standing short wood pieces on end in a checkerboard-like grid) and growing popularity of American Black Walnut (the darkest species of hardwood that reveals tan and cream colors, plus medium to chocolate browns.)

Kathleen Grodsky, VP of Marketing at Butcher Block Co. https://butcherblockco.com a leading Boos online dealer, provided details on the two new, end-grain butcher block tables Boos is rolling out. “Their edge-grain Grazzi Table in Rock Maple has always been a big seller for them, so its exciting to see John Boos come out with an End-Grain Maple Grazzi Table. Its 2-1/4-inch thick top will be massive 60 long and 28 wide,” she shared. “They’re also looking forward to offering the Walnut Harvest Table. It’s topped with a 4-inch thick, black walnut, oval end-grain butcher block that’s 60 by 30.

Boos also announced new Walnut Gathering Blocks, which will be available in three sizes: 25 x 24, 36 x 24 and 48 x 24; plus Blended Walnut Classic Country Work Tables in a variety of sizes and shelving configurations. All of these tables can be ordered with colored bases to add even more flair to kitchens, pantries or dining rooms. The thirteen color options include walnut, cherry and gray stains; warm shades such as natural maple; and such bold paint colors as Barn Red, Clover Green and Caribbean Blue.

About John Boos: Boos & Co. makes premium butcher block countertops, furniture and cutting boards; plus stainless steel work tables, enclosed base cabinets and compartment sinks . Their products are regularly featured on cooking shows on Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

About Butcher Block Co.: BBC is a leading online seller of kitchen, dining and cooking products made by John Boos & Co. as well as other major manufacturers.

For more information about us, please visit https://butcherblockco.com

Contact Info:
Kathleen Grodsky
Butcher Block Co.
Phone: (877) 845-5597

Football = Butcher Block Co.

Football = Butcher Block Co.

There’s a lot of talk about The Big Game… certainly a relevant and timely subject to blog about.  But having already blogged about great game-day appetizer recipes or tips for entertaining guests for the big game, I really wanted to do something fresh and unique.  But how do you connect the culmination of football season to the biz of butcher blocks?  Well thanks to some creative writing by my son, Mathew Grodsky, he has cleverly laminated these two subjects together.

Loyal readers, Superbowl 50 is right around the corner! A day that revolves around two major sports franchises bumping heads while the rest of us huddle around our television screens. Why have we become so enamored with football? There are many theories but a likely one is because the struggle that these teams face to rise up as the cream of the crop every season speaks to us as Americans. It is relatable to us because we strive to be the best in our endeavors every day. A warning, this blog is not a series of inspirational metaphors on American work ethic. Instead, it’s about “relatability”.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the euphoria that comes with America’s greatest sporting event, let us not forget that football relates to ButcherBlock Co. in, oh, so many ways. Seriously.

If you think about it, football players devote themselves to being masters of their craft in an effort to be superb in their profession. They are truly elite athletes whose commitment through long labor hours is all fueled by their passion for the game. Similarly, creating butcher block requires skilled craftsmanship, a devotion to long labor hours, and a fiery passion. At Butcher Block Co. our John Boos craftsmen have created an elite line of products. See where I’m going with this?

Superbowl 50 is a showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. Many speculate that this will be the final game for Broncos’ seasoned quarterback Peyton Manning as he has struggled to find his rhythm this year and has looked a bit overused. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As it relates, seasoned butcher block may look worn but it still retains its great character, integrity and strength while appearing worn as a result of years of love and use.

Nevertheless, Manning should be entering this game with high confidence given his team bumped off the New England Patriots, a team shrouded in controversy due to the deflate gate scandal of last year when footballs were allegedly made flatter than a butcher block countertop.

Denver’s strong side linebacker, Von Miller, is a fifth-year linebacker and three-time Pro Bowl selection whose 49 career sacks represent the sixth most in the NFL by a player through his first four seasons. Wide, thick, and sturdy atop a set of broad legs, ButcherBlock Co. features John Boos’ largest AA block built just like Von Miller, and certainly just as durable.

Denver had seven penalties against the Patriots in the championship game against New England. Going forward, they will need to avoid silly penalties such as having 12 men on the field. Every football fan knows there are only 11 players allowed on the field per team while ButcherBlock Co. allows customers to select 11 differently sized team-mates for the Boos AA block.

If the Broncos are to have any success in this game against Carolina, their offensive linemen will need to protect Manning in the pocket; if they do it right then Manning should resemble an island because no one should be around him – preferably he’ll resemble a Catskill Craftsmen Island with drop leaf, allowing him extra space in case he needs to drop back and throw a Hail Mary.

The Broncos certainly have their work cut out for them as their opponent is fired up and on a scoring hot streak. In Sunday’s NFC championship game between the Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina quarterback, Cam Newton, proved he could air mail long bombs down the field to his wide receivers seemingly without consequence. That kind of superb “shipping” was something the Cardinals failed to duplicate, but seems to be right out of the Butcher Block Co. playbook given their offer of  free shipping on all furniture purchases!

The Panther’s head coach and former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator, Ron Rivera, has led his team to a nearly perfect season. He should be feeling pretty proud these days considering the Bears put him on the chopping block in 2006 – not to be confused with the chopping blocks at ButcherBlock Co. which include a plethora of affordable options. So if you ever have a defensive coordinator that needs to be fired you can simply pull out the chopping block.

Still not convinced football relates directly to ButcherBlock Co.? Well, this year the Superbowl will take place on February 7th, 2016. That’s 76 years to the day that Walt Disney’s second feature length film “Pinocchio” premiered in New York City, therefore solidifying the fact that this day could be about the magic of wood… and equally relatable to wood’s elemental contributions to ButcherBlockCo.’s finest butcher block furniture and accessories.

Yeah, I may be reaching here. But we can all look forward to great blocks at both the Superbowl and Butcher Block Co.!

2016 Kitchen Color Trends

2016 Kitchen Color Trends

Blog Color Trends The 2016 Pantone Color of the Year is actually a blending of two colors, warm Rose Quartz and cooler Serenity. This reflects peoples’ gravitation toward soft calming colors as they seek wellness in the new year. Maybe I was ahead of the trend two years ago when I painted my master bedroom a lighter shade of Serenity because I was absolutely seeking a calming, spa-feel in my bedroom.  If you recall, last years’ color of the year was Marsala. While I loved the color for the fashion industry it was not my favorite color in the kitchen. And again, this year I would not go out and paint my kitchen rose or light blue (although there is mention of a deeper blue making an appearance in walls, surfaces and appliances in 2016).

Kitchen color trends for this year include texture and contrast such as a light and dark color mix between cabinets, walls, countertops and flooring. And accent colors make a splash with pops of color on neutral backgrounds.

Blog Color Trends So the kitchen trends include soft neutrals like classic white, creamy white, tan and soft gray as backdrops for adding color and visual texture. Cabinet trends include finishes that highlight the natural wood grain. The paint experts announced shades of white as their color choice for 2016. The Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year is Alabaster which “provides an oasis of calmness, spirituality and ‘less is more’ visual relief”; The Benjamin Moore Color of the Year is Simply White. White and grays have become so popular in the kitchen that they are no longer trendy, rather they are now considered classics. These neutral palettes provide for endless design opportunities.

Blog Color Trends

John Boos “classic white” Butcher Block Tables include the Calais, Jasmine and Grazzi.

Clean, contemporary lines continue to dominate kitchen design. A contrast in materials and textures is apparent throughout the kitchen. From floor to ceiling different finishes mix lighter and mid-tone grains with neutral backgrounds. No longer is it necessary to match your wood species or grain styles.

Blog Color Trends

Color is deliberately being used to make a statement; deep rich reds, greens and blues for walls and kitchen islands; or just a punch of color used sparingly in neutral kitchens.

Blog Color Trends

Our John Boos Butcher Block Furniture is available in 13 different colored bases. (Shown above are Clover Green and Slate Gray)

Are you remodeling your kitchen in 2016?  We can help you discover the right Butcher Block furniture or countertops to fit your style and decor.  Give us a call at 877-845-5597 or visit us at www.ButcherBlockCo.com.  We are happy to assist!

Interior Design Trend-Spotters and Influencers Announce 2016 Color of the Year Picks

Interior Design Trend-Spotters and Influencers Announce 2016 Color of the Year Picks

Increasing stress and strife make soft, muted colors even more popular.

Just in time for the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) that will take place January 19-21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the nation’s leading observers and influencers of design trends have announced their selections for color of the year for 2016.

Both Benjamin Moore and Behr announced classic, off-white shades as the most on-trend colors entering 2016 – Simply White and Ivory Keys, respectively. In making its annual selection, Benjamin Moore’s experts track trends in home furnishings, fashion, art and architecture. The company’s creative director, Ellen O’Neill, expressed the design industry’s growing affection for white. “White is not just a design trend, it is a design essential, she said. “It was inevitable that we would ultimately recognize white as our Color of the Year.” Five of BM’s top-selling paint colors are variants of white. Simply White is considered the most neutral among them, gauged under various lighting conditions.

Sherwin-Williams and Glidden might have used the same crystal ball in forecasting their Alabaster and Cappuccino White, respectively, as 2016’s most popular paint colors. In explaining the benefits of Alabaster on our otherwise over-stimulated psyches, Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing at Sherwin Williams offered, “Alabaster represents a straightforward and necessary shift to mindfulness. It provides an oasis of calmness, spirituality and ‘less is more’ visual relief.” In much the same way, Glidden’s lightly-tinted Cappuccino White, described as a “calm and creamy neutral that pairs well with other delicate colors to create a warm, peaceful color palette,” aims to warm a room and to soothe the weary soul.

PPG and Kelly-Moore Paints each reached similar, but slightly different conclusions. PPG named their Paradise Found – a soft, soothing green – their color of the year. It “represents the ease & rejuvenation one feels in nature,” according to a company post on Pinterest. Kelly-Moore, surveyed interior designers and members of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) who selected K-M’s Horizon Gray as the 2016 stand-out. Mary Lawlor, Manager of Color Marketing, agrees there’s a shift to softer, calmer colors, including gray, stating, “Gray continues to take center stage for neutrals and this atmospheric mid-toned gray provides comfort and versatility.”

Color experts at Pantone, whose Pantone Matching System (PMS) helps ensure uniform color standards in printing and in the manufacture of paints, for example, for the first time ever named two different interior colors of the year: serenity – a light blue, and rose quartz – a soft pink. VP Laurie Pressman of the Pantone Color Institute explains that “these two inviting shades embody the mindset of tranquility and inner peace consumers seem to be looking for. In the kitchen, whether in tabletop, countertop appliances, flooring or walls, the combination of these two shades helps create a welcoming and comforting space.”

Echoing the sentiment in favor of multiple color picks and roses and pinks in particular, Sara McLean of Dunn-Edwards Paints concurs: “I believe that the combination of colors tells the story. It’s about the entire palette and how a collection of colors evokes a feeling.”

This information was compiled by Butcher Block Co., an online seller of John Boos butcher block tables and islands available in a wide variety of colored bases. BBC strives to stay atop kitchen design trends and to share such information with visitors to its website (https://butcherblockco.com).


Kathleen Grodsky
[email protected]
website: https://butcherblockco.com
phone: (877) 845-5597

What’s Trendy? Low-Carb Veggie Noodles!

What’s Trendy? Low-Carb Veggie Noodles!

Veggie Noodles are the latest trend in the food world, and I’ve got to admit, I kind of love it. I LOVE vegetables, and I’ve been using spaghetti squash as an occasional pasta substitute for years. With the introduction of the spiralizer, I can now make noodles out of zucchini and other squashes, carrots, and just about any other firm veggie! You don’t have to use it as pasta, though. Another great way to use veggie noodles is to simply prepare them as a side dish. Sautéed in a little butter or olive oil with garlic and salt, they make a great addition to any meal. This is one trend I’m happy to jump on board with! Lucky for you, Sarah W. is also a spiralizer fan, and has a spectacular zucchini noodle and meatballs recipe to share with us. This one is particularly friendly if you are on a low-carb diet. Take it away, Sarah!

I have a foodie confession to make: I am not a huge fan of Italian food. Pasta has never been a religious experience for me the way that it seems it should when gauging my social media feeds. (I am fully aware that Italian food consists of more than PASTA, and have indeed eaten my share of other dishes. All are quite good! It’s just not my favorite food genre.) People. Love. Pasta. I am not a finicky eater, but when I go out to eat, I prefer to order something I couldn’t easily make at home, and when I’m cooking at home, my comfort spices include chili powder, thyme, cumin, and hot sauce.

That being said, whenever I picture cooking in the kitchen, it stems from the image of someone’s Italian grandma making sauce and noodles from scratch, stirring a bubbling pot smelling of garlic and love. To me and my fanciful brain, that’s traditional cooking. I just don’t do very much of it myself. So for this week’s blog, I decided to push myself back to basics and see if I could modern it up without being too crazy. The current trend of veggie noodles seemed like a good compromise.

We recently had our neighbors over for dinner, and they are pasta fanatics. I knew I wanted to make something at least Italian-inspired that would also be flexible enough for my current gluten-avoidance. Some Googling led me to this awesome recipe for Lasagna Meatballs, which I adapted and served with a choice of zucchini noodles or traditional pasta in fun shapes. I got a yield of 40 meatballs, which, including sauce and cheese, netted me 1.3 carbs per meatball. Not bad for those counting carbs! Your mileage will vary, depending on the cheeses (ricotta and mozzarella both contain carbs) and sauce you find around you, but this is a pretty delicious recipe that can be easily adapted to different diets by changing the base.

In order to make zucchini (or carrot or let-your-imagination-run-wild other vegetable) noodles, you will need a spiralizer. You can julienne your veggies, but they won’t have the same flexibility and movement that a pasta noodle does. I have a small, basic one and it’s served me well. Its size makes it easy to store since I don’t use it very often. Vegetable noodles are really trendy right now, and it’s easy to see why. They’re not labor-intensive; they can be tailored to go with a variety of dishes; they’re visually appealing and a way to get more color on your plate.

I had never made meatballs before, and these are a little wet, by virtue of the ricotta cheese. I skipped the breadcrumbs/flour usually called for in meatballs, and decided to use some extra Parmesan cheese instead. This was a good idea.

Zucchini Noodles with Lasagna Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey (I used turkey)
  • 1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage (I used sweet)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • parsley, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 cups pasta sauce (I used the lowest carb I could find – 5 carbs per serving)
  • 1-2 roasted red peppers
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 3 zucchinis
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine the sausage, turkey, eggs, ricotta, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic to make your meatballs. Dice or finely chop the roasted red pepper and add to the mixture. I found it was best to have some “rings off” time and combine this by hand. At this point, the meatball mixture is very wet.

Add ¼ cup of your Parmesan cheese. If you still don’t like the consistency, add another ¼ cup.

Form 1-2” meatballs and line them up on a large baking sheet. They can be somewhat close together, as they won’t spread while they bake. Pop in the oven for 25 minutes. Bigger meatballs may take more time. As mentioned above, I got 40 meatballs out of one batch.

Grab a baking dish and start loading your meatballs in. I was able to cram all 40 into a 13” x 9” dish. Cover with sauce. Cover that with mozzarella cheese, finishing up with the remaining Parmesan. Cook this for an additional 30 minutes.

Trendy Veggie Noodles

When you have about 20 minutes left on the bake, use the spiralizer to prep your zucchini noodles. These are fairly simple. Trim the ends of your zucchini. Hold the zucchini firmly in the spiralizer and turn so the blades cut the vegetable. This will produce noodle-shaped ribbons. These can be sautéed in a pan over medium heat for 4-5 minutes in butter. Twenty minutes out is a good time to start boiling water if you’d also like to serve pasta as an option.

Trendy Veggie Noodles

I served these to my pasta-fiend neighbors (while calling them “lasagna meatballs”) and got this reaction: “The meatballs themselves don’t seem like they’d be cheesy, but they’re really cheesy!” They were a hit.

Trendy Veggie Noodles

Have you jumped on the veggie noodle trend? What’s your favorite vegetable to use, and how do you prepare it?

Printer-friendly recipe: Zucchini Noodles with Lasagna Meatballs

Get Healthy With Homemade Stock and Soup

Get Healthy With Homemade Stock and Soup

Happy New Year! Seems like just about everyone I know, myself included, has the post-holiday yuck. Unfortunately, our dear friend Claire Hoenke caught it, too. But the magical thing about Claire is that, rather than wallow in her sickness, she gets motivated to whip up a batch of rich, restorative stock and then make matzah ball soup. Considering my soup skills are on more of a ramen level, this is pretty dang impressive. Claire assures me that it’s actually pretty easy to pull off, and I’m inclined to believe her, so let’s all learn/recuperate together.

Well, it’s 2016, and I’m starting my year off not with a bang, but with a deep, throaty cough. While my coworkers are all resolved this year to really stick to their diets this time and “get healthy,” my only resolution this New Year’s is to actually get healthy and get over this cold as quickly as possible. In the face of a pounding headache and a rumbling chest cold, I wrap up in my warmest pajamas and slippers and head to the kitchen for the best medicine I know: a steaming bowl of soup. I skip the canned stuff in the pantry. Store-bought soup might feel nice enough on a sore throat, but I’m pretty sure real healing only comes from the homemade stuff.

Luckily, stock is actually pretty easy to make. It can be as simple as throwing a whole chicken in a pot of water and just letting it simmer, but I like to introduce a little more depth of flavor into the stock by first roasting the chicken. The nice thing about stock is that you can basically throw anything into the pot. For treating congestion, I recommend hot peppers and ginger, to open the sinuses.

I am going more classic with my get-healthy stock, though, and sticking with the basics. Carrots, garlic, celery, and onions make a nice, all-around stock that you can use to make any kind of soup.


  • 5 pounds frozen turkey or chicken wings, thawed
  • Chicken giblets
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns

Healthy Stock Soup

(Notice how the juice groove on Claire’s block catches the veggies before they roll off the sides? That dual functionality has never occurred to me!)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken well, and then add the veggies into the bag with the wings and giblets. Add the oil and salt and ground pepper, and then mix them all together to coat. Spread everything in a single layer over two rimmed baking sheets and roast, turning once, for 45 minutes to an hour, until the vegetables are slightly browned and soft and stick to the pan a bit.

Stock Prep 6

Transfer everything from the pans into a large soup pot and add 16 cups of water. Pour about a cup of water into each of the baking pans and scrape up the browned bits. Empty the pans into the soup pot, add bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns, and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours, until the stock is deep brown and reduced by about 5 cups. Take a nap in the meantime; your body needs to conserve energy.

Healthy Stock Soup

When the stock has reduced, strain it through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a sauce pan, if you’re using it right away, or storage containers, if you’re saving it for later. Throw away the solids. Let it cool completely before covering and storing. After your stock has cooled, the fat will form a layer on the top. This is pure culinary gold. Carefully skim it off and save it for later. As for storing the stock itself, I like to fill an ice cube tray and a gallon freezer bag for the freezer, and an air-tight jar for the fridge. You can keep the stock frozen for up to three months, but once it’s thawed, it goes quickly, so if you don’t have soup scheduled for the near future, freeze the whole batch.

Now you have your soup base, but what’s the next step? This rich stock will happily make any kind of soup you like, but for me, there is only one way to really treat a sore throat. If you were raised by or near Jews, chances are good you’ve had at least one bowl of matzah ball soup in your life. If so, you know the powerful restorative properties that the steaming golden broth and soft, fluffy balls possess. If not, trust that no amount of Nyquil or Tylenol can soothe the way this soup does. This is where that schmaltz (the rendered fat) comes in.

Matzah Ball Soup

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons schmaltz
  • 1/4 club soda or chicken broth
  • 1 cup matzah meal
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

With a fork, beat the eggs well in a medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Take another nap while your mixture chills. When you wake up and you’re ready to cook the balls, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Dip your hands into cold water to prevent the dough from sticking and form the mixture into balls. They can be anywhere from one to two inches in diameter, depending on your preference. Carefully drop each ball into the water and reduce to a simmer. Cook the balls for 30 to 45 minutes, until they start to drop a little below the water’s surface.

Heat your stock in a separate soup pot, and carefully transfer the cooked balls into the stock. You can add other things to this soup, like carrots or celery or chicken, but sometimes I prefer the simplicity of just a perfect matzah ball in some very good broth, maybe with some fresh dill or parsley to round it all out. This recipe makes about six servings, so it should last you through most of a week of your illness.

Healthy Stock Soup

From my home to yours, I wish you a Happy New Year. Here’s hoping you have paid sick leave and someone to make this soup for you while you lie in bed and re-watch the entire run of Gilmore Girls. Ess gezunterhait!

Printer-friendly recipes: Homemade Stock and Matzah Ball Soup

German Study Confirms Superiority of Boos Wood Cutting Boards over Plastic

German Study Confirms Superiority of Boos Wood Cutting Boards over Plastic

German University Compared Hygienic Qualities and Found Wooden Boards to Be More Sanitary.

For years, plastic was favored over wood as a surface on which to prepare food, based on the fallacious presumption that germs could easily penetrate wood, which is porous and susceptible to knife scarring, and could be difficult to eliminate. But that presumption was turned on its head in 1993 when University of Wisconsin food microbiologists Dean Cliver and Nese Ak released findings of their study: “that wooden cutting boards kill bacteria that survive well on plastic boards.” (source: http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/docliver/Research/cuttingboard.htm)

Cliver and Ak contaminated wood (7 different species) and plastic (4 different types) boards with Salmonella, Listeria and E coli bacteria – all known to produce food poisoning. Overnight the boards were exposed to cold or room-temperatures and normal or high humidity. According to Cliver, results consistently favored wood over plastic by a wide margin.

A separate, more recent study conducted by Dr. Ulrike Kleiner at the Laboratory of Hygiene Research at the Anhalt University in Bernburg, Germany compared NSF-certified John Boos hardwood maple cutting boards with professional-grade, plastic cutting boards made in Germany. Kleiner reached a similar conclusion:

“With proper care and cleaning, high-quality hardwood maple cutting boards that are certified do not pose a greater health risk and are equal to or better than plastic ones.”

(source: http://www.johnboos.com/mailchimppdf/WOODvsPLASTIC-GERMANSTUDY2015-V1.pdf)

Kleiner used test boards for cutting either chicken breast or lettuce, then manually cleaned (using dish soap, a scouring pad and warm, running water) and dried (using paper towels) the boards. He measured residual food waste and residual germ presence after each daily cleaning for 4 weeks. At the end of the test, Kleiner observed little difference between the John Boos wood and German plastic boards used for cutting lettuce; whereas he recorded a marked difference between the boards on which chicken was cut. The oiled, wood Boos board was far superior. Still, he noted that food waste and germs built up over time, even on the oiled wooden boards, reinforcing the need for regular, thorough cleaning and drying.

About Butcher Block Co. – BBC is an online seller of butcher block cutting boards, countertops, tables, carts and islands. The company is a leading distributor residential and commercial kitchen products made by John Boos & Co.

For more information please visit: http://johnboos.com and https://butcherblockco.com.

Kathleen Grodsky
[email protected]
website: https://butcherblockco.com
phone: (877) 845-5597

New Year’s Party Dishes To Keep You Upright ‘Til Midnight

New Year’s Party Dishes To Keep You Upright ‘Til Midnight

New Year’s Eve is the day on which a lot of us let loose a collective sigh of relief. The holidays are coming to a close and it’s time to party away all the stress that has built up. Do yourself a favor and follow in Claire’s footsteps on this one: make easy, prep-ahead, spectacular party food that will satisfy the crowd without causing you even the smallest amount of stress. We all know and trust Claire’s ability to feed people, but this menu is above and beyond the call of duty! She makes it all sound so easy, and assures me that it is. Claire, help us ring in the New Year!

I love holiday cocktail parties! I love dressing up, I love champagne, and I love finger foods. Christmas and Thanksgiving are great for dinner parties, but a New Year’s Eve party is like the cherry on top of the holiday party sundae. Everyone has been through the holiday wringer by then, and they’re all ready to just throw down.

If you find yourself hosting on New Year’s Eve, the best thing to do is stock up on the booze and put out lots of irresistible food to keep everyone grounded.

My parents and my sister and her family are all going to be here for Christmas, and they are staying on through New Year’s. I get along really well with my family, and we are all really close. Even still, I think it’s safe to expect one or two flare-ups over the course of their stay, and I predict that by the end of it, we’ll all be ready for a little break, so I’m throwing a party to lighten our spirits. I’ve decided that I am going to go easy-route on everything for this thing. I’ve skipped party invitations in favor of a Facebook event invite, and I have a menu planned out that I can do almost entirely ahead of time, so I won’t have to miss out on any actual partying. The name of the game here is to keep everyone… not sober, necessarily, but sober enough that they will still be upright by the time that ball drops. That is why our menu will consist of rich and flavorful meats, cheeses, and breads. The more carbs and lipids your friends and family ingest, the more cushion there is to absorb all that Champagne. So let’s get into it!

This year, I am serving toasted open-face prosciutto sandwiches, spiced lamb in puff pastry, and, of course, a cheese board. With the sandwiches, I think it’s better to keep it simple. You want people to feel comfortable walking around with these, so keep the ingredient list down, and the quality high. Just a thin smear of whole grain mustard, some Gruyère, and a slice of prosciutto on some very good bread is all it takes to have your guests coming back for more.

New Year

The lamb puffs are a recipe of my own invention, and hot damn, am I ever proud of this one.

Lamb Puffs

  • One pound ground lamb
  • One sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • Three tablespoons panko
  • Three tablespoons milk
  • One shallot, diced small
  • One egg, beaten
  • Fresh ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • White pepper
  • Ground coriander seed
  • One teaspoon kosher salt

In a small bowl, combine your panko breadcrumbs and milk. In a medium bowl, combine lamb with the shallot, a couple of shakes each of your dried spices, salt, and the milk mixture. As with many of my own recipes, I didn’t pay very close attention to how much of each spice went into the bowl, but I’d say approximately 1/8 tsp each. Then grate about an inch of peeled ginger into the bowl, and mix it all together until just combined. You can use a fork, but I think you get a better mix if you just go in with your hands.

Roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 10 inches across and 14 inches long, and then cut it length-wise into three evenly-sized strips. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the pastry out on the sheet. Portion your meat mixture into thirds, and spread each one out in about an inch-wide stripe down the middle of each piece of pastry. Fold the sides over the meat and use the beaten egg to help seal it. With the pastries seam-side down on the baking sheet, cut small diagonal slits at one inch intervals along the top of each one and brush the tops and sides with the egg. If you are going to serve them right away, set the pan in the freezer to chill for thirty minutes before baking. If you are making them ahead of time, tightly wrap the entire sheet in plastic wrap before freezing. They will keep for up to two weeks in the freezer, and there is no need to thaw them before baking.

New Years When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425°. Bake the chilled or frozen pastries until they start to puff up, about 15 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 350°. Continue baking until the meat is cooked through and the pastry is golden and completely puffed up, about another 25-35 minutes. Transfer them to a cutting board and let them cool slightly, and then use your cuts as a guide to slice the pastries into one-inch pieces. Eat the ends yourself, because you want to keep a uniform look on your serving platter, and anyway, let’s face it, you just deserve it.

New Years For dessert, I am going super simple with a classic icebox cake and Champagne Jell-O shots. The Jello-O shots are so easy to make, and the wow-effect to work ratio is definitely in your favor. I used this recipe but there are actually dozens of recipes out there, and I’m sure they all work just fine.

New Years I will say one thing about these, though; don’t scrimp on the Champagne. Since it’s basically just Champagne and gelatin, you absolutely need to use a Champagne (or prosecco or any sparkling wine) that you would enjoy drinking on its own.

New Years The real dessert star here is the icebox cake. If you’ve never made one, get ready for your new favorite cake to make. The ingredients are as follows: Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers and homemade whipped cream. That’s it. I like to kick mine up a notch, and I fold some booze into the cream. It really elevates this simple dessert to a new level, and it’s so easy.

Icebox Cake

  • One or two boxes of Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
  • Two pints heavy whipping cream
  • Two tablespoons powdered sugar
  • One to two tablespoons vanilla or liqueur of your choice

In a large bowl, combine cream, sugar, and vanilla or liquor. I used Boulard Calvados, which is a really lovely apple brandy, but limoncello, Irish cream, Drambuie, or really any liqueur you prefer will work here. Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Carefully stack the wafers using layers of cream to bind them. I made mine in a ring shape for a round platter, but you can shape it any way you like, even including that ultimate holiday dessert classic, a yule log. When you’re done stacking and shaping, use the whipped cream to cover the outside of the cookie log.

New Year

There should be a little bit of leftover cream, which you should cover and reserve. Loosely cover your cake in plastic wrap and set in the fridge to chill for at least four hours, and up to 24. The wafer cookies absorb moisture from the cream and puff up, so when you are ready to serve, use the reserved cream to cover up any cracks in the cream or places where the chocolate has bled through. To get the layered effect, cut the cake at a deep angle so that the knife goes through several cookies. I like to serve my icebox cake with some kind of topping, like some Luxardo cherries or this incredible homemade cranberry ginger jelly.

New Year

Happy New Year, from my kitchen to yours! This holiday season, let’s remember that the real reason we get together is not to get lit and embarrass ourselves in front of everyone we know. Enjoy your drinks responsibly, and when your family is about to push you over the edge, try to focus on the love. If that fails, just remember that you can always shut them up with a big mouthful of cheese!

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