• Gluten free,  Holidays,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    “Stuffing” our faces

    As always, Thanksgiving in Tucson was full of friends, family, fun and food comas—lots of them. While I’m the last person to let dietary restrictions rain on my pig-out parade, I felt inclined to make a gluten-free dish for my dear nana (A thinly veiled attempt to become the favorite grandchild? Maybe). The resulting creation was a sweet potato “stuffing” inspired by a work potluck dish a la creative director of the century, David (A thinly veiled attempt at a raise? Maybe.). This stuff is FANTASTIC—even if you aren’t foregoing gluten. While it won’t replace the good-old Pepperidge-Farm-stuffing-in-a-bag variety my family loves so much, it’s definitely a holiday side worth…

  • 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,…

  • 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…

  • Holidays,  Recipes

    Happy birthday boof

    Today is Merle’s (aka Boof, Boofie, Nugget Face) first birthday—and the perfect excuse to dress him in a humiliating but painfully adorable little cone-shaped hat and feed him lots of T-R-E-A-T-S (my fellow dog-owners catch my drift). In honor of our spoiled little piggy, I whipped up a cake with puppy-tested, mom-approved ingredients—and the results were drool-worthy (at least for the canine set).   Pumpkin-peanut-butter puppy cake You’ll need: 1 cup flour 1 egg 1/3 cup peanut butter (natural, lower-sugar varieties are better) 2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin-pie mix as that has sugar and other ingredients in it) 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/3 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup…

  • 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…

  • Entrees,  Recipes

    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 even give an actual recipe. Here’s the thing: In my opinion, many of the things that go wrong with risotto come from using a recipe in the first place. Make risotto the way I do, and this dish it utterly…

  • Recipes,  Side Dishes

    Bring on the beans

    Let me start by saying: Holler if you love baked beans. Like, really love baked beans. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one. Sure, most will take a modest scoopful from the BBQ buffet line, but few make a plate in which their hot dogs/chicken/ribs/etc. are swimming in a sea of ’em, like I do. In my quest to convert the non-believers, I served up a crock-pot-size vat of these beauties, studded with an entire pound of pork belly: Pork belly baked beans #ratingval# from #reviews# reviews Print Author: Adapted from thepioneerwoman.com Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 6 hours Total time: 6 hours 15 mins Serves: 10-14  …

  • Entrees,  Recipes,  Sandwiches

    Veggie burgers for the carnivore in your life

    No offense, Morningstar, but your veggie burgers don’t hold a candle to these babies. While I can’t say they’ll satisfy cravings for a big, juicy hunk of ground beef (but let’s be honest, what veggie burger will?), they’re a ridiculously addictive, filling and flavorful meal option that anyone—even the most meat-and-potato midwesterners in your life—will thoroughly enjoy. Chockfull of fiber and veggies, they’re healthy to boot. I first encountered these at Atwood Cafe in downtown Chicago—and since spent a few random afternoons reminiscing and searching Google for the recipe. Recently, when the food memory popped into my consciousness, a search yielded the recipe. FINALLY. They’re as delicious as I remember…