Meg Makes: Squash soup will warm you up nicely

My mom has made this soup for me twice this winter, and the second time, I realized I needed the recipe.

Its ingredients are simple, but the squash makes it hearty and the wild rice gives it a little something special.

Marcus Jackson/About Town: Sam's the man

CHAMPAIGN — Among the regulars at Sam's Cafe, the modest downtown diner, are athletes from the University of Illinois. Oftentimes, they'll complain to owner/chef Sam Issa, about having to wake up before dawn for 5:30 a.m. workouts or weightlifting sessions.

Meg Makes: Pining for summer with stuffed peppers

Last weekend's warm weather has me craving food that tastes like summer. I blame the neighbor brave enough to use his grill. His dinner smelled amazing.

My husband created this recipe a few years ago while on a sausage-and-pepper kick. They're originally meant to be cooked on the grill, but you can just easily bake them. They make a great side dish.

My Amish Home: Finding some sunshine on dreary days

"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Abstain from all appearances of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 22-23

To Your Health: Enjoy whole grains for burst of flavor (and nutrition)


Typically, this column focuses on fruits and vegetables that are in-season for Illinois. Since it is January and there are fewer items growing outside, it's time to discuss another favorite: whole grains.

There are two types of grains in our diet: whole grains and refined grains.

Today's Special: UI grad opens Chinese restaurant in Campustown

CHAMPAIGN — After operating restaurants in New York and Chicago, 2013 University of Illinois grad Yongzheng Dai has come home to launch another in the heart of Campustown.

Following a soft opening in December, Mid-Summer Lounge officially opened Jan. 16 in the former Casablanca Kabab House space at 623 E. Green St.

Dai promises authentic Chinese food.

Meg Makes: Swedish cookies are small but mighty

I'm always amazed how easily a great recipe can move through social networks.

Take this one for a Swedish cookie that's small but tasty.

Heather Tucker, the source of the amazing local honey I've been eating since fall, shared a batch of these with me.

My Amish Home: Surprises lay waste to best-laid plans

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day, God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." Genesis 2:1-3

Meg Makes: Tricky, twisty tart is worth the effort

My baking friends and I caught up this weekend after a too-long hiatus from trying new recipes. I wanted to use up the last of some local honey I was given last fall.

We tried a couple of different recipes, but the clear winner was this tart. The recipe originally comes from the National Honey Board. We doubled it with no issues.

My Amish Home: Looking to recharge in dreary days

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the Earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, created He him, male and female created He them.