New Things and Changes Coming!

Lately, I've been getting a little bored with blogging. Making a recipe, photographing it and blogging it to share seems so "blah" for whatever reason. I figured so many food blogs are out there that do this... why add to the mix? Or more importantly, I ask myself, "What can I do to make myself stand out from the rest? Does the world really need another food blog to share recipes? What kind of substance do I have to support my blog aside from trying a recipe and encouraging others to try it?"

If you've been following my blog, you'll notice my "culinary adventures" often include sharing interactive experiences I have with food. These monthly "adventures" help keep my culinary point of view interesting, educational and different from other blogs since I strive to do much more than post a picture of a recipe I made - both in and out of the kitchen. Slowly I will be taking my blog/website in a new direction that goes beyond sharing recipes. In addition to recipes, I'll be focusing more on the experiences people have with food with an emphasis of teaching folks something, very much like how I organize and manage my culinary social group, What's Cookin Chicago. I love the interaction of food and culture as it pertains to people and society... and my blog will be capturing how food truly shapes who we are and what we do.

Soon, you'll notice some changes where I'll be transitioning my focus towards my group, What's Cookin Chicago. It's a group I'm very proud of because in just over two years, we have done so many things and come so far. Did you know...
  • What's Cookin Chicago currently ranks as the 5th largest out of 473 Cooking & Recipes meetup groups worldwide?

  • What's Cookin Chicago currently ranks as the #1 most active Cooking & Recipes meetup groups worldwide?
It's time to highlight the members who make this group so worthwhile. You'll get to meet some of my fellow Chicago foodies each week, as they will have a more active role here on the site and will give you a closer glimpse of my "culinary adventures" from a different perspective, through their culinary voices.

One of the new features on my blog will be a Weekly Recipe Review, where everyday people of various kinds of palates will be tasting healthier versions of dishes and sharing their comments. From this feature and their feedback, you will be able to:

1. view a few healthy recipes based on a specific theme or ingredient, each offering a twist to a standard way of preparation or recipe... which will include nutritional information as well

2. learn about individual Chicago food enthusiasts ("foodies") and their culinary preferences

3. check out varying reviews of the same recipes with constructive criticism, allowing better insight on the recipes themselves

In addition to the upcoming Weekly Recipe Reviews, you can still expect to see my usual culinary adventures including...

My Chef Spotlight Dinners highlight a specific chef or a group of chefs for the contributions they have made to the culinary community. Each month friends prepare a dish of the chosen chef(s) to share for a potluck dinner I host. Together we enjoy & talk about our dishes, the chef(s) & their contributions and have a wonderful evening with friends & food.

Most people are familiar with Holiday Cookie Swaps, but I've taken it a step further to incorporate the idea & concept throughout the year. Every month, friends prepare the chosen food that can be easily shared and/or portioned. When we get together, everyone takes home their portion of all our offerings to enjoy for themselves.

Being an organizer of a cooking group, my friends and I definitely spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen. In the past, we started out working in a commercial kitchen but we got too big! So these days I'll host various cooking classes & interactive cooking events in my home. Here you'll find the different events I've hosted focused on specific foods and/or food themes.

As an avid movie fan, I especially like movies that that has a definite culinary viewpoint as part of the story line. To combine both food and film, I created these events where attendees prepare a potluck dish inspired by the chosen culinary inspired movie and we watch the movie together.

Chicago is made of many different neighborhoods rich with diversity. Often times, exploring the city's neighborhood will make you feel like you've traveled many miles away, fully immersed in the cultures that surround it. Check out the different culinary neighborhood tours I've hosted where I've shared Chicago's diversity with friends through food.

Chicago is a cultural city and why not pair music and food with a new event series?! Here you'll find recaps of the picnics I've hosted along with menus and ideas for things to make your picnics delicious and refreshing.

After a trip to the wine country of Sonoma & Napa, CA, I was inspired to learn more about wine. I love researching about food and sharing what I've learned with others. Every month I host an event, 'Wine & Dine', and friends come over to learn about specific wine varietals and enjoy tasting many of them over paired foods of a certain theme/cuisine. These links capture the wines we've tasted along with the types of foods we served them with.

Tasting Sessions takes the principle behind a wine tasting nine steps further and features step-by-step instructions for hosting different types of tastings including: wine, chocolate, tea, honey, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, cheese, apples, beer and cured meats. It's a unique concept of ?deep tasting,? opening up the palate by slowly savoring a food or drink in a structured fashion.

So stay tuned... I'm looking forward to offering something other than just recipes to share in the food bloggersphere!


  1. Love the concept.

  2. Great concept. It definitely makes you stand out a little more and it highlights what Joelen's Culinary Adventures is all about!

  3. I am looking forward to your new adventures!

  4. This sounds wonderful, Joelen! I love to see what you come up with :)

  5. Looking forward to it!!!!

  6. Joelen, I can't wait to see where you take this...great concept, wonderful ideas. And congratulations on the success of your cooking group, those statistics are impressive!