• 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…

  • healthy smoothie bowl recipes
    Beverages,  Breakfast,  Gluten free,  Recipes

    Smoothie bowls FTW

    My return to blogging has drawn me back down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest. And speaking of platforms that encourage hours of mindless scrolling, I must tell you: You haven’t lived until you’ve seen all 36,264 #grazingtable posts on Instagram. Srrrrsllly tho. Anyway, the point is, it’s been a long and intense search for inspiration to fuel my dive back into recipe creation, food styling and photography. So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon AlphaFoodie’s breathtaking smoothie bowls. I did not know this was a thing, but I’m fairly certain it’s part of the #grazingtable / #avocadotoast / #ramen conspiracy designed to keep us all wide-eyed and drooling…

  • Appetizers,  Featured,  Food Photography,  Gluten free,  Recipes,  Salads,  Side Dishes

    Salad art

    I’m thrilled by the inherent beauty in freshly picked herbs, shimmering with dew; cracked pomegranates with glowing crimson seeds; rustic french bread, steam billowing from an airy interior; and the list goes on—I could wax poetic about edible inspirations (did I borrow that from a fruit bouquet company tagline?) for hours. And capturing this beauty in a photo is almost as satisfying as devouring the finished product. So imagine my delight when I had the opportunity to pair up with May van Millingen—an artist who takes as much pride in documenting a plate of food, in all its fleeting glory, as I do—to work on a photo/illustration collaboration. I loved the…

  • 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…

  • 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,  Gluten free,  Paleo,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    Pickled pink (or blue?)

    Hello my wonderful readers, are you still there? I’ve been MIA for a couple months, but I think I have the best excuse of them all: I’ve got a bun in the oven … and it ain’t sourdough : ) We’re over the moon! But the nausea, food aversions and fatigue wreaked havoc on my blog activity—not to mention Dave’s dinner. In the first trimester, most of the time I could barely bring myself to eat, let alone cook something. And while the morning sickness has subsided, I still find myself disgusted by many foods, and turned off entirely by the act of cooking for myself (short of microwaving a…

  • 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…

  • Appetizers,  Recipes,  Sandwiches,  Side Dishes

    Ravishing radishes

      Spring has not quite sprung here in Chicago, and the natives are restless. We’re all ready for it, and the husband is ready for the plants to go outside. My seedlings—now more like full-fledged plants—are spilling out of their containers, straining toward the windows and begging for fresh air. Despite less-than-balmy temps, I’m willing the warmth to arrive—and maybe some fresh seasonal recipes will help. I don’t ever cook with them, but these radishes caught my eye last weekend, and just seemed very springy: fresh, dewy, earthy. I suspected the fatty, creamy richness of avocado might complement the crunchy spice of the radishes, and after paging through my trusty…

  • Appetizers,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    Take me back to Tuscany

    The weather in Chicago is seriously wearing on me. These days, I’m checking the 10-day forecast obsessively, waiting for the day that breaks 50 degrees. Come on 50. Fifty and sunny. And I’m dreaming about travelling, far, far away … … back to Tuscany and its rolling hills, dotted with grape vines, olive trees and medieval castles. Alas, a European vacation is nowhere in the foreseeable future, so I’ll have to settle on giving my mouth a vacation. Hmmm … that didn’t sound quite right. But you get my point. This cannellini spread is quintessentially Tuscan—simple, rustic, peasant food from the old country. And since we’re talking a little stay-cation of sorts, let’s do it…