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posted: 7/18/2012 6:00 AM

Hosting a party helps raise money to fight breast cancer

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  • Raise at least $50 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation by hosting a party and receive this platter designed by celebrity chef Jaques Pepin.

    Raise at least $50 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation by hosting a party and receive this platter designed by celebrity chef Jaques Pepin.
    Courtesy of 1000 Cooks for the Cure

  • Enjoy wine, cheese and live music under the trees at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle on Wednesdays through August 15.

    Enjoy wine, cheese and live music under the trees at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle on Wednesdays through August 15.
    Courtesy of the Morton Arboretum

  • Bill Zars/  Deb Pankey new column mug for food front.

    Bill Zars/ Deb Pankey new column mug for food front.


Sounds simple enough: host a party, cook up some delicious dishes, raise money to fight breast cancer.

Through their 1,000 Cooks for a Cure program, KitchenAid and Susan G. Komen are encouraging cooks across the country to host parties -- any kind of party from a ladies luncheon to a backyard barbecue -- at their homes between July 20 and 29. Instead of bringing a housewarming gift, food or wine, ask guests to bring a small donation for Susan G. Komen for the Cure to help in the fight against breast cancer.

Hosts who register their party on and raises $50 or more will receive a Villeroy & Boch "Pass the Plate" serving platter designed by legendary PBS cooking show host Jacques Pepin, a longtime supporter of the program.

The host also will be entered into a drawing to receive a "thank you" gift from Pepin: a three-day trip to New York to attend one of Pepin's cooking classes at the French Culinary Institute; a set of autographed Pepin cookbooks and dinner at the Institute's famed L'Ecole restaurant.

Once the dinner party's over the giving doesn't stop: You're supposed to pass that platter along with a homemade culinary treat. Each time the individually numbered plates are registered online at and passed along to others, KitchenAid will donate another $5 to Komen. (Still, I'd put my name on the bottom and hope that it eventually makes its way back to me.)

Up to the challenge: Entrees have starting coming in for our 2012 Cook of the Week Challenge and I haven't seen yours yet.

If you have a knack for cobbling together dinner based on what's in your pantry and fridge, then this contest definitely is for you. If you long to be that confident cook, then this contest will help you get there.

To recap: The Daily Herald is a looking for 16 home cooks to put their culinary creativity to the test in a series of recipe challenges. Each week I'll give two cooks the same three or four "secret ingredients" that must be used to create a recipe. Contestants will have several days to work with the ingredients and submit a recipe.

The person behind the winning recipe, as determined by a panel of judges, will advance to the next recipe round. The last four standing will put their talents on the line at a live cook-off Nov. 1 in Schaumburg. The winner will be named Cook of the Year 2012 and receive prizes worth more than $3,000.

The contest is open to home cooks 21 years and older (no professional chefs, please) who live Illinois; the four finalists from in last year's cook-off are ineligible to compete.

The deadline to enter is Aug. 1. The 16 contestants picked for the elimination-style competition will be introduced in the Aug. 29 Food section. Fill in the entry form at and remember to include an original recipe. The recipe should include ingredient amounts, clear directions and the number of servings.

Questions? Email

Toasting under the trees: The Morton Arboretum's Wednesdays, Woods, and Wine is under way for a second season. Held 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 15 at Arbor Court, the summer social features wines from Wente Estates, food and live entertainment. Former Bad Examples frontman Ralph Covert and his Ralph Covert Trio are on tap for tonight, July 18.

Tickets cost $15 ($10 for Arboretum members; Arboretum admission waived after 5 p.m.) and include one glass of wine. Additional wine and food is available for purchase. Seating is limited, so bring a chair or blanket if you want to relax. Details at

Enthusiasm required: Did you go all out at your Fourth of July cookout, coordinating your earrings with your fruit salad? Come Thanksgiving, is your from-scratch feast the envy off all your relatives? You might be the person Taste of Home is looking for.

The popular cooking magazine is looking for Taste of Home's first Mrs. Holiday, a new kind of ambassador for the holidays.

There's no evening gown or bathing suit competition (phew!). Rather the search for Mrs. Holiday seeks to identify an American woman, age 18 or older, who, according to press materials "embodies the spirit of the holidays, whether it be Valentine's Day, Independence Day or Thanksgiving. ... She's got memorable recipes combined with a celebration attitude, and is ready to serve up a helping to assist every American family in making the most of the holidays."

If that sounds like you, show up between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, July 19, at the Chicago Marriott Suites O'Hare, 6155 N. River Road, Rosemont. Choose your favorite holiday from the following: New Years, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Select your favorite holiday recipe and bring a copy of it with you along with the finished dish and any fun props, decorations, costume that will make you stand out from the rest. Do not wear anything with logos or anything all-black or all-white.

The public will have until Sept. 7 to vote on entry videos and recipes at A panel of experts will choose Mrs. Holiday from the top 100 finalists by popular vote.

The woman crowned Mrs. Holiday will receive $50,000 and will share her talent, recipes and enthusiasm with millions of Taste of Home readers around the country at live appearances, cooking segments and in regular contributions to Taste of Home magazine.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at or follow her on Twitter @PankeysPlate.

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