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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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, ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Risotto with peas and pancetta

People are always impressed when I cook risotto. Dave knows better: Delicious it is; a culinary achievement it is not. Not to say that I don't appreciate artfully crafted restaurant risotto. Or that the inventor of the dish isn't a genius. That person deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. But I digress. Risotto is perhaps one of the easiest, no-brainer, no-measurement-needed, no-recipe-needed meals you can make. So much so that I hesitate to ...

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