Cooking from scratch, baking with love for family and friends

 
By Sally Sigan
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/26/2017 6:32 AM
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  • Cook of the Week Kim Schroeder in her Lake Zurich kitchen.

      Cook of the Week Kim Schroeder in her Lake Zurich kitchen. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Rocky Road Fudge Bars, top, and banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies made by Lake Zurich Cook of the Week Kim Schroeder.

      Rocky Road Fudge Bars, top, and banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies made by Lake Zurich Cook of the Week Kim Schroeder. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Our Cook of the Week, Kim Schroeder from Lake Zurich, has a personal rule she lives by that her friends and family really appreciate.

"I never show up anywhere without something I've baked."

The hard part she says is deciding what to make.

"It's definitely easier when someone gives me a flavor or some kind of hint!" she laughs.

Kim learned to cook and bake by spending time in the kitchen with her mom and grandmother.

"It was back in the day when everyone was always in the kitchen."

Mocha cupcakes with white chocolate frosting made by Lake Zurich Cook of the Week Kim Schroeder.
  Mocha cupcakes with white chocolate frosting made by Lake Zurich Cook of the Week Kim Schroeder. - Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Kim was the one who cooked for her roommates in college, and she is pretty sure it was her cooking that won her husband's heart. They were the first to marry among their friends and family, and so it fell naturally to them to be the hosts for holidays and special events.

"We entertain quite a bit," she says. Even though her adult children are currently spread across the country (and the world, as one daughter is currently in Japan) they hosted Easter this year for their family. The family Easter bread (a Polish tradition) was shipped ahead of time to her son.

"He's a great cook, but baking? Not so much." She laughs. Her twin daughters know how to bake.

Another personal rule Kim adheres to is cooking from scratch.

"I really value fresh food, and cooking from scratch isn't hard to do if you have fresh ingredients. I'm fortunate that I have the time. My daughters are busier, but they will prep their food in the morning so that they can put fresh food on the table at night. It takes practice, but even the grocery stores are making it easier for people to cook from scratch, you can even find spiralized zucchini! From the blogs and magazines I read, it seems that everything is moving in that direction. Meals can be simple and quick and fresh." She is looking forward to the farmers market season, where she often visits three markets a week and she looks forward to planting her garden.

Grilled vegetable and orzo salad alongside Graduation Party Chicken made by Lake Zurich Cook of the Week Kim Schroeder.
  Grilled vegetable and orzo salad alongside Graduation Party Chicken made by Lake Zurich Cook of the Week Kim Schroeder. - Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Kim enjoys experimenting with ethnic cuisines, especially for entertaining. Today she shares a family favorite, a chicken dish that works especially well for serving a large crowd. You marinate the chicken and then grill it, glazing it along the way.

"It's one of my kids' favorites. You can make it ahead and it doesn't get dried out."

The Schroeder's also eat a lot of seafood, "We try to be healthy. At least once a week we have a vegetarian meal."

The real truth, however, is that Kim likes baking best.

"Baking is my favorite. I probably make more cookies than anything, but I like baking cupcakes, cheesecake and pies." Every Christmas, in addition to platters of cookies, Kim and her daughters make cinnamon rolls to give to friends and family for their Christmas breakfasts.

Kim also likes to make tiny desserts.

Lake Zurich Cook of the Week Kim Schroeder adds feta cheese to her grilled vegetable and orzo salad.
  Lake Zurich Cook of the Week Kim Schroeder adds feta cheese to her grilled vegetable and orzo salad. - Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

"Everyone is watching their weight and they are more likely to eat dessert if the servings are small, so I make mini-desserts. People will avoid a big cupcake, but most people will eat a mini-cupcake." Kim likes to make her cheesecake on a sheet pan so that people can just enjoy a small square.

Not surprisingly, Kim's favorite tool in the kitchen is her KitchenAid mixer.

"I'm wearing it out. There is one frosting -- the best frosting in the world -- that has to be whipped forever." She doesn't share that recipe with us today, as it is labor intensive, but she is sharing a recipe for mocha cupcakes with white chocolate frosting, a combination of coffee and chocolate -- what could be better?

"I grew up in a family where there was always homemade cookies or cake. We didn't eat a lot of sweets -- unless they were homemade."

Now that's a personal rule we could all bite into!

• To suggest someone to be profiled here, send the cook's name, address and phone number to food@dailyherald.com.

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