• Entrees,  Recipes

    Warming up with Ramen

    Any Chicagoan knows—spring here is MADDENING. Just last week, a beautiful 70-degree day turned freezing in a matter of hours. Good thing we have ramen for the April and May nights where BBQ weather turns blustery. I rarely cook Asian food—my inexperience with the flavors and techniques has always been intimidating. Regardless, I studied up, experiemented, sampled my broth as I built the flavors, and ended up with a recipe that got two enthusiastic thumbs up from my taste tester. 5 from 1 vote Print Easy chicken ramen Thanks to a little help from my local grocer, Ramen becomes an easy weeknight meal.  Course Main Course, Soup Cuisine Japanese Prep Time…

  • Entrees,  Gluten free,  Holidays,  Recipes

    Smuggling pumpkins

    It’s an impossibly beautiful, crisp and sunny Chicago fall, my uterus is now the size of a pumpkin (how festive!), and the cooking strike in Casa DiCosola continues. Dinners these days consist of cinnamon toast crunch, apples and peanut butter, fun-size snickers, english muffins and string cheese (yes, all in one night; no, not necessarily in that order). Good thing I have this little fall-themed gem of a post in my back pocket from last year. In a sea of pumpkin pies, pumpkin breads and pumpkin lattes, these pumpkin pork enchiladas are a refreshing change of pace. Pumpkin pork enchiladas You’ll need: Enchiladas One batch of carnitas (recipe here) 4 cups…

  • Appetizers,  Entrees,  Recipes,  Salads,  Side Dishes

    Greens on greens on greens

    My garden is filling in nicely, and all this green has me inspired. This pasta salad is a little taste of spring—exploding with nutritional superstars. There are enough greens to make it healthy, but enough pasta and cheese to make it a treat. Dave devoured it, so you can trust that it’s delicious in spite of itself. Don’t skimp on the lemon—it brings the taste to the next level. Go green pasta salad You’ll need: 1 lb pasta 1 cup peas 3 cups baby arugula 12 stalks asparagus 12 large brussels sprouts 4 green onion stalks, chopped Juice from one whole lemon A block of pecorino or other hard italian…

  • Entrees,  Gluten free,  Holidays,  Paleo,  Recipes,  Side Dishes,  Uncategorized

    Beef at its best

    A couple of Saturdays ago, I dragged my cooking club ladies down the paleo rabbit hole—with quite astonishing results. We gorged ourselves on shepherd’s pie, shrimp cakes, lettuce wraps, bacon-wrapped dates, meatballs, key lime pie, chocolate banana pie and last but not least, insanely rich, beef short ribs—bursting with flavor and piled high atop rosemary and bacon-studded sweet potatoes. Dave eyed the feast from afar, then dove in for the kill as the girls distractedly lingered over paleo-approved palomas. As for the short ribs, I hesitate to even call them paleo. Nothing is sacrificed, nothing left to be desired. The only thing that could possibly make this dish better is a loaf…

  • Entrees,  Gluten free,  Paleo,  Recipes

    Paleo perfection: chicken curry with cauliflower rice

    This paleo stuff isn’t for the weak-willed. Carb cravings sneak up on you when you least expect them. To survive, you need some serious substitutes—dishes that make you forget the fact that bagels, cheese, candy, crackers and every other guilty pleasure you can imagine are no where in your near future. For me, one of those dishes is this paleo curry. I was highly skeptical of the “rice.” Dave, true to form, was skeptical I could get him to like cauliflower. Lucky for both of us, this carb-substitute came through in the clutch. If you are going grain-free, paleo, gluten-free, or any other variation of this carb-free torture, this will…

  • Entrees,  Gluten free,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    Hot, spicy and a little bit sweet

    Where’s your mind going? I’m talking about the soup, people. While sweet potato fries usually get all the love, this soup deserves a little attention. Velvety, rich, sweet, savory—and with a sneaking heat that will warm on even the coldest days—you’ll want to keep a batch of this stuff on hand all winter long. Sweet potato chorizo soup You’ll need: 2 large sweet potatoes 3 tablespoons butter 1/2 yellow onion chopped 1 cup chicken stock 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp nutmeg 1/4 tsp white pepper 8 oz chorizo Sour cream for garnish Crumble chorizo in a skillet and cook on medium heat until cooked through, stirring constantly—about 5 minutes. Remove…

  • Entrees,  Recipes,  Travel

    Mexican done right at Café Poca Cosa

    There are some things that make me proud to claim Tucson as my hometown. The breathtaking Santa Catalina mountains. The constant sunshine. And Café Poca Cosa—almost certainly the best restaurant in the city by a desert mile. There’s no question that owner Suzana Davila’s creative, authentic and upscale Mexican cuisine (sans guacamole and sour cream) could survive thrive in any of the country’s cutthroat culinary proving grounds—from NYC to Chicago. But pleas from restauranteurs to open locations in other cities have fallen on deaf ears. Suzana—and her melt in your mouth chicken mole and moan-inducing tamale pies—are staying put in the Old Pueblo. And that makes me smile. Another thing that I…

  • 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,…

  • Entrees,  Recipes

    Beer-battered perch

    Delicious as the may be, it’s a wonder that people eat perch. They are notorious for swallowing the hook; they have sharp, spiny fins that will slice your hand open when you try to release them from said hook; and you have to catch dozens of them to get a decent meal out of it. Not to mention how tedious they must be to filet. I, myself, have no firsthand knowledge of that last part, since, fishing for them as a child during summers on the St. Lawrence river, I actually didn’t think they were edible. We’d catch them, yell for our dad or uncle to come release them and…

  • Entrees,  Recipes

    Chinese, minus the takeout box

    The only reliable thing about Chinese food delivery is the fortune cookie at the bottom of the bag. Wait, no, I take that back. I recall a traumatizing meal in which, after finishing my mediocre orange chicken dish, I reached into the takeout bag only to feel napkins and chopsticks. The memory is burned into my brain. Assuming you do get your prophetic little treat, your meal isn’t totally ruined. But everything else is a crapshoot. Soggy egg rolls, chewy mystery meat, limp veggies, dry rice: all potential land mines packed neatly in gleaming white takeout boxes. Forgo your next round of Chinese Takeout Roulette, spring for some real chicken and…