Mary Reidy, Mount Prospect
Mary Reidy of Mount Prospect says she was a bit apprehensive, but intrigued, too, about entering the Cook of the Week Challenge this year.
"I am quite nervous, but I am looking forward to the mystery ingredients. I think this new one-and-done format will be a challenge -- so I'll give it a shot," she said.
As an empty nester, Reidy usually cooks for her husband and herself, but she cooks for family and friends as well, and uses fresh herbs and vegetables from her garden. "I cook crowd-pleasers for entertaining and try new recipes on a few guinea pig family members," she said.
Reidy says she's up for learning new approaches to cooking, and she savors eating a variety of foods.
"My children have been adopting more vegetarian and plant-based eating, so I have been adjusting menus and learning along the way," she said. "I consciously try to learn new cooking techniques and ingredients as well. When I am cooking, I am in my happy place -- whether it is in my kitchen or especially outside at my grill.
"Meals, parties and holidays are where my family and friends come together to eat, converse, laugh, and rate my food," she said. "A family joke during a meal: 'It's like a five-star restaurant around here!'"