• How to create a grazing table
    Appetizers,  Cooking Tips,  Featured

    How to create a grazing table (that won’t cost you an arm and a leg)

    “Seriously?” he said.  One look at my grazing table and my husband’s too-much-money-spent-on-food radar went bananas. But for such an impressive and massive spread, it’s a deceptively cost-effective way to feed a crowd. It just looks expen$ive … which is sorta the point. It’s loaded with veggies (cheap), various carbs (cheap), dips/hummus (pretty cheap), and the pièce de résistance: fancy cheese and charcuterie (not cheap, but worth it). I made one of these for a party a couple weekends ago and now I CAN’T STOP making and thinking about them, mostly because they save me from myself. Old me would plan for WAY too many apps and snacks, buy hundreds of…

  • dry rub chicken wings
    Cooking Tips,  Paleo,  Recipes

    Dryglazed wings

    Our sad little  gas grill is extremely neglected. After a few winters left uncovered, blanketed in snow, it’s now pocked with rust, covered in a thin layer of dust and coated with remnants of burger and bratwurst from a rare summer BBQ in 2012. So when it came to testing out my Grill Master Kit and Dryglazes, courtesy of the folks at Urban Accents, I took the stovetop route—with a little help from my trusty grill pan, of course. In spite of my grilling aversion, my wings—coated heavily in the Caymen Citrus Dryglaze—were fantastic. Moral of the story: Grill or no grill, Urban Accents makes the good stuff. The Dryglazes…

  • bear hug cookies
    Cooking Tips,  Dessert,  Holidays,  Recipes

    5 steps to perfect royal icing sugar cookies

    I always get suckered into those point-of-purchase-displayed royal icing sugar cookies. You know, the ones at Starbucks, decorated in the theme of the nearest popular holiday? That hard, sugary icing gets me EVERY. TIME. Upon investigation a few years back, I discovered that recreating these diabetic-coma-inducing treats seemed like way too much work, so I abstained from homemade in favor of the overpriced coffee-shop variety. But after my macaron-baking adventure, I gained some newfound patience in the baking department and decided to give it a whirl. Just like the macarons, royal icing sugar cookies are an art and a science—and almost every recipe out there completely oversimplified things, especially when…

  • Cooking Tips,  Food Photography

    Milk and cookies

    I’m happy to report that after nine months of a pregnancy-induced cooking strike, everyone in Casa DiCosola is once again well fed. Our newest addition is perhaps the most nourished of us all—and he has an appetite that trumps even his mama’s. In his three short months on this earth, this little meatball has managed to more than double in weight! Knowing that every ounce, every roll, every dimple comes from my milk makes me prouder than anything in this world. Even in the sleep-deprived stupor of a 2 a.m. feeding, I’m bursting with love and joy. With every gulp, his little hand rhythmically opens and closes on my chest—and…

  • Cooking Tips

    Better with Butter in Women’s Health

    I’m famous y’all! Well, as famous as I’ve ever been (but not quite as famous as my husband, the Taco Bell TV commercial star). You can catch me and this little blog o’ mine in the May issue of Women’s Health magazine. The article is “50 cooking tips that will change your life,” and I’m in some pretty great company. I may be a little biased, but it’s a fantastic read, and I learned some great new tricks. Some of my favorite below: “Don’t throw out those last drops of jam in the jar; shake up a fruity vinaigrette instead. Add equal parts oil and vinegar to the jar, give…

  • Cooking Tips

    Q&A with culinary rockstar Graham Elliot

    Anyone who uses the phrase “Butter is [INSERT FOOD NAME HERE]’s best friend” is a man after my own heart. That’s why talking bacon, branding, and yes, butter, with Graham Elliot was one of the most exciting experiences of my blogging career. The fact that he’s down-to-earth, warm, passionate and eloquent was the buttercream icing on my cake. Better with Butter:  What would you say to home cooks who want to go “off recipe”? Graham Elliot:  I think the most important thing is unlearn everything you’ve been taught, and that’s similar to anything that has an artistic bent to it—music, sculpture, poetry, etc., etc. To look at a recipe—a lot…

  • Cooking Tips,  Entrees

    Pasta procrastination

    Does your kitchen equipment taunt you? Maybe it’s a stand mixer, gathering dust on your countertop. A cast iron skillet peering out from behind those lower-maintenance pots and pans. An immersion blender that hasn’t seen any action since 2003. For me, it was three gleaming KitchenAid pasta attachments and a still-packaged pasta drying rack—staring me in the face every time I reached to grab their more popular cousin, the pizza stone. Then finally, a year after I got them as wedding gifts, it was their turn. Fresh pasta (Adapted from Mario Batali’s fresh pasta recipe) You’ll need: 3 1/2 cups of flour  5 medium eggs Water to moisten as needed…

  • Cooking Tips,  Dessert

    Macaron mania

    When it comes to baking, I can get a little obsessed. Exhibit A. So when I decided to make notoriously tempermental macarons, I had the sneaking suspicion that it wouldn’t be a one-and-done deal. Still, I had NO IDEA what an art—and a science—it actually was. I dove in naively at first, using what I now know to be a laughably imprecise recipe that does beginning macaron makers NO favors. Thanks a lot, Martha. Regardless, my first batch of lavender-lemon macarons came out half decent, considering I used totally inexact measurements, unsifted almond meal and under-mixed batter. More on that later. Anyway, I chalk the fact that my macarons had any…

  • Cooking Tips,  Dessert,  Recipes

    Orange overload

    Orange is not my favorite color. Not by a long shot. Unfortunately, I now have no choice but to embrace it—as my company’s new branding revolves around a wildly intense shade of it. My vehement protest against the change was to no avail, so I’ve adopted the if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em mentality. A turning point in this acceptance came after baking this little beauty for the agency rebranding celebration: Not only did it turn out beautifully, but I won the party’s orange food contest (a small consolation for having to stare at the orange, agency-branded coffee mugs, drinking glasses and other tchotchkes that have recently infiltrated my workplace). This post isn’t a recipe,…

  • Cooking Tips,  Entrees,  Holidays,  Uncategorized

    Food Buzz 24×24: Talking Turkey—3 Turkeys, 3 ways

    Hope you all are slowly coming out of a nice Thanksgiving food coma (and just in time to enjoy the last of the leftovers!). Obviously, this post is too late for this year, but be sure to flag it for next year if your turkey-cooking skills could use a little work. As some of you may know, we have crowded, rowdy Thanksgiving every year at my parents’ house in Tucson—complete with tequila shots and sports gambling. The food is always amazing, but the birds don’t get as much love as they should. The 50 or so lbs of turkey are my dad’s job, and suffice to say he’s more of…