Stephanie Foy makes egg rolls

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Stephanie Foy improvises her way through dinner and nearly always hits the mark.


Jason Chiou | Staff Photographer

Stephanie's Egg Rolls


Jason Chiou | Staff Photographer

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Stephanie Foy makes egg rolls

Afraid to over-season? 'Use enough,' cook says

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print story Published: 7/22/2009 12:01 AM

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Stephanie Foy cooks by instinct and this simple motto, "use enough," because she likes "full-flavored food."

That goes for garlic, olive oil, butter, kosher salt (only kosher salt) and pepper.

"Those are my basic ingredients, and trust me, people say it's so good," says Stephanie. "You just have to use enough of it."

Stephanie's Fettuccini Alfredo, one of today's recipes, calls for a stick of butter and quart of heavy cream. In spaghetti sauce she can easily make room for a whole head of garlic in a big batch. For marinated sirloin steak she liberally coats the meat in olive oil and presses on half a dozen cloves of garlic.

"People are afraid to over-season things."

But not Stephanie, a Des Plaines resident who is so relaxed about cooking that she doesn't mind impromptu guests or the occasional flub.

"If six people were walking up my sidewalk right now I could put together dinner," she says. "We have people over constantly, especially in summer; it's not like work to me."

Stephanie keeps it simple and homey, and people keep coming back.

"I don't do fancy," she says. "But you always get good food."

To celebrate her birthday recently (the start of a new decade), Stephanie prepared today's Steak and Mushrooms with mashed potatoes and vegetables on the side for about 20 people.

"It didn't turn out as well as usual because I couldn't cook it as long," she says, but 11 pounds of meat and 10 pounds of potatoes nearly disappeared.

For a daughter's birthday recently Stephanie prepared baked mostaccioli, chicken tenders, Italian sausage, salad and vegetables for 40 to 50 people.

"I would rather have people here, sit and socialize, than go to a restaurant," she says.

Following recipes is too much effort, says Stephanie, so she doesn't, though she draws inspiration from her favorite food celebrity Rachael Ray and her cooking shows, magazine and cookbooks, especially "Yum-o!."

"I doctor them up; it just comes to me as I cook it," says Stephanie, whose ground beef Egg Rolls are the result of such improvisation.

Stephanie's usual "customers" include her two young daughters, husband, Patrick, and sometimes her grandmother who lives nearby.

Typical meals feature a main course, like pepper steak, stir-fry, pork chops or chicken and a couple of vegetables, sometimes roasted but always well seasoned.

She's confident enough in the kitchen that even when she doesn't have something planned there's no panic.

"I just look in the 'fridge and cabinets and make something up as I go along," she says.

Even her popcorn draws raves, and that's the first time I've heard that. She cooks it in olive oil and coats it generously with butter and salt.

"Maybe I use too much, but no one is complaining," she says. "My neighbors think I make the best in the world."

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