• Appetizers,  Dessert,  Gluten free,  Paleo,  Recipes

    A little nutty

    This diet that is. And how I begin to feel after a day of forcing down handfuls of baby carrots, hard-boiled eggs, oranges and boatloads of bacon. OK, so that last one isn’t so bad. Still, it’s nice to come home and grab for a handful of these sweet little nut clusters. It seems to put a band-aid on almost every Paleo-induced side effect. Carb cravings. Candy cravings. That unpleasant, heartburn-y, “queasy from eating too many raw, undressed vegetables” pit-in-my-stomach feeling (am I the only one that gets this, by the way?) Best of all, it’s super easy and arguably pretty healthy. Cavemen (and women)—forage your nuts! (Told you this…

  • Appetizers,  Recipes,  Sandwiches

    Acronym awesomeness: the CB&J

    When it comes to odd flavor combinations, this is nothing short of a revelation. Holding a tray of these out to my fellow party-goers on Christmas Eve, reactions ranged from “what the heck is cashew butter?” to “Blech. Figs. I hate figs.” Others just stared, smiling and nodding unconvincingly as I promised that, as weird as it sounded, these would be the best things to ever cross their taste buds. I set the tray down next to the usual suspects—Spinach dip, shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers—sure these melty beauties would go untouched. Fortunately, I was wrong. “What are these?” (right?) “Is that BACON I taste??” (no bacon, just cheese, fig…

  • Appetizers,  Dessert,  Entrees,  Holidays,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    A haunting in Roscoe Village

    I like horror—maybe a little too much, judging by my Netflix queue. Many a night, Dave flings the bedroom door open to find me in the glow of some weird B-grade horror movie. What can I say, I love things that are a little sick and twisted. Which is why I say, screw the cutesy Halloween decor—give me fake bugs and terrifying zombie props. Scouring Pinterest, I found some equally spooky Halloween bites: Spider web dip Refried beans, covered in a layer of guacamole, surrounded by a ring of salsa and shredded cheese, decorated with a “spider web” of sour cream. I put the sour cream in a plastic bag,…

  • Appetizers,  Gluten free,  Recipes

    Guilt-free snacking that actually tastes good

    It’s amazing how our expectations change in the face of dietary restriction. Case in point: My recent experience with these crackers … Sister walks into my kitchen. “Ooooh, homemade crackers?!” Nom, nom, nom … confusion … sad face … Me: “They’re low carb.” Eyes light up … expression turns to delight and ravenous hunger … dives in for more … “OMG, SOOOO good!” And despite her initial reaction, they truly are yummy—as long as you realize that nothing that has absolutely no carbs can taste like a food item that is typically made almost entirely of them. These almond-meal crackers will never taste like a crumbly, buttery Ritz, but when you…

  • Appetizers,  Side Dishes

    Devil is in the details

    As a cook, there’s nothing better than converting the non-believers. I’m talking about the moment when someone says “I don’t like (insert food item),” tries your variation anyway, and becomes wide-eyed with surprise and delight. “I DO like (previously detested food item)!” My Italian take on deviled eggs elicited this response. The potentially disastrous ingredient combination wasn’t lost on me—but I pushed ahead, mixed the yolks anyway, and came out with finger-food gold. You won’t be embarrassed to show up at your next party with these babies—even if they are in one of those ridiculous pastel-colored deviled-egg carriers.  Uovas Diavolos (Italian-style deviled eggs) You’ll need: A dozen hard boiled eggs…

  • Appetizers,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    Bacon cheddar hush puppies

    The smell of spring—and bacon grease—is in the air, and both are equally intoxicating. If you care to fill your kitchen with the latter, these little fried morsels will do the trick. While I’m tempted to recommend them alongside more fried food (fried chicken anyone?) they’ll probably seem less gluttonous as an appetizer shared among friends. I had to troubleshoot a little with these because my first batch was a little dry, so I suggest dropping one in the frying pan first to test, then adding a little more butter, cheese or perhaps a little dollop of sour cream to the batter if you need to moisten them up a…

  • Appetizers,  Food Photography,  Recipes,  Salads

    Beet “Lasagna” (and a new camera lens)

    Beets are one of my recent obsessions. The taste, the color, the nutritional benefits—what’s not to love? Even the most thrown-together beet and goat cheese salads look fantastic, but I wanted to really up the ante to break in my new Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG Macro Lens. The result of some kitchen experimentation and a little consultation with the The Flavor Bible was my very own Beet “Lasagna”: delicious slices of roasted red and golden beets sandwiching creamy goat cheese, crushed walnuts, razor-thinly sliced shallots, topped with crisp micro greens and drizzled with blood orange balsamic vinaigrette. It looks beautiful, tastes better, and is easy as can be. And the new…

  • Appetizers,  Beverages,  Cooking Tips,  Dessert,  Entrees,  Holidays,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    The one day a year when bingeing is socially acceptable …

    … is nearly upon us!! Hip-hip-hooray!!! As far as food goes, holidays don’t get much better than Thanksgiving. Last year’s Thanksgiving post pretty much covers things so I’m posting the link again (hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). There’s also my Southwest Thanksgiving post and the Paula Deen post to give you a little turkey-day inspiration. Also keep an eye out for a special Thanksgiving Day post. Happy gorging!

  • Appetizers,  Beverages,  Holidays,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Giving gracias

    I’m still recovering from the 48-hour cooking marathon, gluttonous spread and absolute debauchery that is our misfit-full, southwestern Thanksgiving celebration. Let me paint the scene: Colorful characters mingling over excessive amounts of tequila, criminal quantities of turkey (2, 15-pounders and a 20-pounder to be exact), all the trimmings with a southwestern flair, ridiculously perfect, sun-shiny, 75-degree weather, football broadcast on a backyard pool-side cabana bar TV… … and me slaving away in a hot kitchen. I kid, I kid. I have to admit I enjoy it. Besides, if I didn’t cook, we’d be eating pies from Costco (no offense Don) and canned cranberry sauce. OK, so we ate those things…

  • Appetizers,  Recipes

    The iceberg sunk this Titanic

    “Kate and Leo Tomatilllo (salsa)” Whaaaaa??? I know. I said the same thing when Dave suggested the name for my … errr … “his” tomatillo salsa for the Cars.com salsa competition. We were trying to think of something that rhymes with tomatillo (there isn’t much), when Dave blurted out “Kate and Leo” … as in Kate Winslett and Leo DiCaprio. *awkward silence* “Yeah, c’mon … cause, y’know … this salsa is TITAAAANIIIIC!!!” “Ummm, the Titanic sunk and hundreds of people perished.” “Well … yeah … but how funny would it be to put a still shot of that ‘I’m flying Jack … I’m flying!’ scene on the blog???” So there…