Laurie Wood, Palatine
Laurie Wood of Palatine says her favorite ingredient to cook with is eggplant.
"Since eggplant can be a very healthy dish, I often sautée it with squash, zucchini and tomato sauce for an easy and delicious ratatouille," she said.
As for her cooking approach, Wood says she's a recipe reader, but she might combine two dishes into something new. "I read cookbooks like novels and enjoy putting together several recipes to create a completely different dish."
"Since I still cook for young adults, I have side 'add-ons.'" She says she makes a general pasta, has sautéed vegetables, cooked meat or shrimp and two different sauces in separate bowls. "My family can add as much of the sides as they want and enjoy a delicious meal personalized to their taste preferences. My husband is a very adventurous eater, so I never have to worry about pleasing him. As long as dinner is being served, he will be at the table ready for anything," Wood says.
She was encouraged to enter this year's contest by her sister, Lynn Daugerdas. "I have followed the Cook of the Week Challenge and have attended the cook-off finale for years," she said. "I always try to pick a contestant who I want to make it to the finale at the beginning of the contest and see how far he or she goes. I want to see if I can keep up with these creative, foodie contestants."