It’s no secret that moms have been doing some exceptionally heavy lifting this past year. Between virtual schooling, working from home or outside of the home, and navigating a year that has challenged our every notion of normalcy, moms have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic.

Sunday, May 9th will be our second pandemic Mother’s Day. Let’s make this one extra special for her. To give you some ideas, I’ve curated a list of winning food and activity pairings that are sure to make mom feel appreciated.


P.S. If you’re a mom reading this, feel free to treat yourself to any or all of these meals unapologetically. You deserve it.

A slice of golden quiche with a green spinach salad topped with strawberries on the side.  The food is set on a square, white plate that sits on a block of wood. Photo by Tias Paul.Photo by Tias Paul.

Roasted Red Pepper Quiche + Spinach Salad | Pekara Bakery & Bistro

I don’t know a mom who wouldn’t appreciate more sleep. Why not turn off the alarm clock (i.e., corral the kids) and treat mom to a breakfast-in-bed? I suggest this vibrant quiche and salad combo from Pekara to start her Mother's Day.

I ordered one of Pekara’s pick-two bistro lunch ($10) options: a slice of quiche, half salad, and soup. The quiche was a luxuriously creamy custard with slices of mushrooms and roasted red peppers. For my side, I opted for a full serving of their spinach salad (instead of the soup), which came with strawberries, bacon, walnuts, and a tangy balsamic and mustard dressing. The sweetness of the strawberries and tartness from the balsamic vinegar cut through the rich quiche flavors. The quiche and salad made for a substantial and well-balanced meal (with no sugar crash). A bonus: the colors on the plate were lovely. It is a meal Mom can savor with her eyes as much as with her taste buds.

Pekara Bakery & Bistro
811 W Springfield Ave
Champaign
8 a.m. to 2 p.m., daily

A brown cardboard box with various meats, cheeses, and fruits inside and decorated with carnation flowers.  To the left of the box is a pack of crackers.  Pink ribbons are at the bottom of the photo. Photo by Tias Paul.Photo by Tias Paul.

Grazy Goodness | GRAZE

Has all-day snacking turned into a professional sport in your home? Tell Mom you’ve gotten it handled with this Grazy Goodness charcuterie board ($55) from GRAZE. While this is certainly the most indulgent item on this list (for its price point), it is also the most swoon-worthy.

Our board was nothing less than a masterpiece. Every artfully curated ingredient was fresh, delicious, and high-quality. Fresh fruits (strawberries, grapes, dragonfruit, and raspberries), several types of dried fruits and nuts, dates, roasted chickpeas, four kinds of cheese (a soft Brie with fruit preserves, Muenster cubes, a wedge of Merlot Bellavittano, and cheddar hearts), two types of cured meats, chocolate turtles, and an assortment of crackers allowed us to create endlessly creative snack combinations. Plus, our box came decorated with fragrant carnations tied in pink ribbons. What mother wouldn’t love that?

GRAZE

In the center of the picture from top to bottom are the sliced meats and wings. A container of slaw is at the top left corner of the picture and breaded fried okra is below it.  On the right side of the picture, two containers of BBQ sauce are at the top corner and a slice of golden toast is below it. Photo by Tias Paul.Photo by Tias Paul.

Smoked Turkey, Wings, and Brisket | Smoky’s House BBQ

Now that the weather is cooperating, why not treat Mom to a picnic? Pack up the kids and head out to any of our great local parks. On the way, pick up a delicious three meat dinner combo ($25.99) from Smoky’s House BBQ to keep all those stomachs happy. 

This order from Smoky’s is one of our on-repeat meals because it never disappoints. For our three meats, I chose their smoked pepper turkey (a must-have), wings, and brisket. I added V&O slaw and fried okra for the two sides, and a slice of buttery Texas toast came standard. Smoky’s has the most amazing BBQ sauce selection. For this order, I opted for the lil’ heat BBQ sauce that had some warmth but no fire and the chipotle mango sauce which had a bit of tropical flair. This meal will please even your pickiest eaters; there are so many choices for their meat, sides, and sauce selection. So grab that picnic blanket (and badminton set) and take Mom outdoors for some fresh air, sunshine, and finger-lickin’ good food.

Smoky’s House BBQ
1333 Savoy Plaza Ln #8
Savoy
11 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily

In the picture, there are three black, plastic containers of food sitting on a white tabletop.  On the left is a square container with potato-crusted fish, a round container of cream sauce, and colorful roasted vegetables. On the right, there is an oval container on the top of the picture contained the crostini, white cheese, red tomatoes, and green microgreens. Below the oval container is a small square container with orange mango sorbet, red strawberries, and blueberries. Photo by Tias Paul.Photo by Tias Paul.

Burrata Crostini, Potato-Crusted Whitefish, and Mango Sorbet | Silvercreek

Do you have a mom who misses dining out? Re-create the scene at home with a fresh table cloth, some glowing candles, and an amazing three-course meal from Silvercreek. Their prix fixe menu ($29.95) will give Mom a taste of a date night out without leaving the comfort of home. With three courses and multiple options to choose from, she’s sure to find a combination she loves. 

For my dinner, I chose to go with the burrata crostini, potato-crusted whitefish, and mango sorbet combination. The first course was burrata crostini, and it was a harmonious study in texture and contrast. It featured toasted baguette slices paired with basil puree, creamy burrata, a sweet brown sauce (reduced balsamic vinegar perhaps?) and was topped with fresh microgreens and cherry tomatoes. The basil puree was a silk dream, and the sweetness of the brown sauce brought all the other flavors to life. For my second course, I had a potato encrusted whitefish drizzled with cream sauce plus pancetta-roasted vegetables. This dish was elegant in its simplicity: the natural flavors of the ingredients were allowed to shine. Finally, a generous serving of mango sorbet with fresh fruits provided a refreshingly light finish to the meal.

Quick tip: if you’re going to get your sorbet for carryout, take your own ice pack.

Silvercreek
402 N Race St
Urbana
W-Sa 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. + 5 to 9 p.m.

In the forefront of the picture is a bottle of white wine with a blue “Prairie Sunshine” label and a glass of wine.  The glass and bottle sit atop a wooden block.  Behind these, we can see a black cast iron dutch oven and a bronze lamp. Photo by Tias Paul.Photo by Tias Paul.

Prairie Sunshine | Wyldewood Cellars Illinois

Do you have a mom who loves to unwind around a crackling fire? Prairie Sunshine ($15 a bottle) from Wyldewood Cellars Illinois is a great wine for her. It was a Riesling-like grape wine that was crisp and refreshing with a clean finish. It was not dry; it was just sweet enough to be pleasant. It was a neutral wine that really goes with any kind of activity (relaxing bath? Netflix and chill?), but DeAnna at Wyldewood Cellars assures me it goes particularly well with toasted marshmallows.

Not sure if this is the right wine for your mom? Take advantage of the staff’s knowledge at Wyldewood Cellars and turn the wine sampling into an event. Drive over to their adorable storefront in St. Joe across from The Wheelhouse and let Mom try Wyldewood’s selection of fruit wines. Then, let her choose her favorite bottle to bring home.

Wyldewood Cellars Illinois
218 E Lincoln St
St Joseph
M-Sa 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Su Noon - 6 p.m.

Top image by Tias Paul.