hoosier mama pie company on chicago ave.

Pie shops have a strong butter smell. Or should, anyway. Hoosier Mama Pie Company on Chicago Avenue smells exactly that: butter and more butter.

Owner/baker Paula Haney, an Indy native, opened her pie shop on Chicago Ave. in 2009, and her pies might be the best in the city. The pie crust is buttery, flaky goodness. The fillings range from strawberry rhubarb (my fave), apple (classic), Fat Elvis (chocolate, peanut butter, and bananas, natch), to different custards and chess arrangements. Dieters beware, pie lovers rejoice. You can fork the pie menu here.

5411 empanadas

If you have a hankering for savory pastries (who doesn’t?), empanadas could/should be your thing.

The Ham & Cheese empanada from 5411 Empanadas is kind of heavenly. A baked turnover containing slices of smoked ham with bits of oregano swimming in melted mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. That’s the Ham & Cheese.

5411 Empanadas started out as a delivery-only enterprise 10 years ago and now has a bunch of locations in the city. And Houston. Your tastebuds can thank me later.

the brown cow ice cream parlor in forest park

Another summer day, another opportunity to try ice cream. The line at Brown Cow in Forest Park was longish, but the ice cream was worth the wait. Ice milky in texture.

This one melted quickly. Messy but fun to eat when the temps are in the 90s.

The indoor lighting was dim, but the ice cream tubs were so bright. The yellow one in the lower right corner is vanilla cupcake.

strawberry sour cream pie from norske nook

Norske Nook. If you’ve hustled your way north to Eau Claire, you might know to pull off at Osseo for this Norwegian American bakery and restaurant.

My family has been pulling over for the Nook for more than 30 years because PIE.

I pulled over yesterday and promptly plopped myself down by the counter. Wanted to try something new, and Strawberry Sour Cream looked like a good wager.

Osseo Wisconsin Norske Nook Strawberry Sour Cream Pie

It was. Very light, with a strawberry whipped cream topping. I ate the entire slice.

Osseo Wisconsin Norske Nook

Osseo is a small town; approximately 1,700 people call it home. I don’t live in a small town but admire the persistence of places like Osseo. And bakeries with pie.

Osseo Wisconsin

Osseo Wisconsin

Osseo Wisconsin

petersen’s old fashioned ice cream parlor in oak park

I had resigned myself to ordering iced coffee when I wanted ice cream, and I stuck to that goal for… about three days. Ice cream somehow tastes better in the summer, so why not take advantage? Petersen’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor in Oak Park was a new place to try, so try I did.

Oak Park Illinois Petersen's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor

Mackinac Island Fudge was the flavor, and the ice cream was surprisingly fluffy.

Oak Park Illinois Petersen's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor Mackinac Island Fudge

This ice cream is 18% butterfat. Pretty decadent. Kind of makes me want to visit Mackinac Island for their storied fudge. Summer goals.

mario’s italian lemonade on w. taylor

Need to beat the heat and to kick it Little Italy style? Mario’s Italian Lemonade on W. Taylor is a sure prescription.

Chicago Illinois Little Italy Mario's Italian Lemonade Taylor Avenue

Founded in 1954 by Mario and Dorothy DiPaolo and still operated by the DiPaolo family today, this lemonade stand is a beloved gathering place. It serves Italian ice in an assortment of flavors. The signature lemon ice includes pieces of lemon rind and zest, which balances this drink’s sweetness. If salty snacks are your thing, Mario’s sells seeds, nuts and my favorite–pickled lupini beans, which you can eat with or without the shells. Nom.

bright colors are my jam

Bright colors are my jam, if I’m being honest. In a world of grey, beige, and greige, why seek any of those when you can surround yourself with vivid hues? I stopped at Cupcakes for Courage on Lake Street yesterday to pick up some baked items for a friend and was taken with the bakery’s bright green walls.

Oak Park Illinois Cupcakes for Courage

Oak Park Illinois Cupcakes for Courage

The baked goods are also decent and worth checking out. Cupcakes for Courage donates a portion of the proceeds to fund medical research for non-Hodgkins T-cell Lymphoma. To learn about this bakery’s mission, visit here.