• 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…

  • 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…

  • Blogging tips,  Food Photography

    Photo Files: Confessions of a prop-aholic

    My name is Jada and I have a problem. I can’t stop bringing home props for my food photography. Gilded glass bowls from estate sales; fabric scraps from JoAnn’s; paper straws from the dollar bins at Target. If $1 vintage pastel parfait bowls are wrong, I don’t want to be right … So, it’s only appropriate that the first post in my Photo Files series is: PROPS. Tips on using props to improve your food photos 1) Color. Not all food styling should be perfectly matchy-matchy. I get a lot of ideas for great color combinations from design and wedding blogs. Pinterest is another endless source of inspiration. Slight variations on complementary colors…

  • 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…

  • moody lighting tutorial
    Appetizers,  Food Photography,  Gluten free,  Salads,  Side Dishes

    Getting in the mood

    One of my biggest blog goals for 2013 was to step up my photography. It’s one of my absolute favorite parts of food blogging—sometimes even more than the actual cooking—so it’s been a fun, exciting and inspiring journey. I’ve also been insatiable when it comes to finding new resources that can help me take my blog to the next level, and I love that there are so many great bloggers out there who share their secrets on photography, blog monetization, post layout inspiration, etc. I’ve been saving these tips on Pinterest, and plotting my own series of posts to pay it forward (stay tuned!). One of the many tutorial posts…

  • 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…

  • Food Photography

    Foodie crush: Sonya Yu

    Are you on Instagram? Silly question, of course you are. If not, you must join and immediately follow Sonya Yu. For me, it’s her double F appeal: Food + Frenchies. I mean, COME ON. The Frenchie photos drew me, so imagine my surprise when, during my early-morning Instagram browsing, I discovered her glorious foodiegrams. **Squeeeeeeeee!!!** These delicious slices of life will, well, make you want her life. It’s a wonderland of adorable flat-faced pups that graciously pose for pictures (no bribes required?); perpetual brunching; breathtaking travel vistas; and achingly perfect floral arrangements. And, behold: her non-iPhone photography. Also, don’t mess with her, because she’s got the bear spray and samurai swords…

  • Appetizers,  Recipes

    Cheeseburger poppers

    I can’t always come up with witty post titles. Fortunately, this one should catch your attention in spite of itself. You really can’t go wrong when you stuff fresh, fiery jalapeños with ground beef and melty cheese, drench them in beer batter and fry them to golden-brown perfection. The homemade ranch is the icing on the cake. They’re big and gooey, which makes them a little tricky as a finger food. Still, the most macho men (and hardcore ladies) will take them to the face while hovering over the game-day app table without thinking twice. My advice? Grab a plate, hunker down, and go to town on these babies with a fork…

  • Featured,  Paleo,  Recipes,  Salads,  Side Dishes

    Eat your brussels sprouts (no really, they’re fantastic)

    Why brussels sprouts (and broccoli, for that matter) get a bad rap is beyond me. When prepared well, they’re a fantastic accompaniment to just about any meal. Also, it’s a fallacy that you have to add bacon to make them taste good. Of course, a little bacon never hurt anyone. Take it from my new fave paleo blogger and partner in crime, Nicole over at BaconIsHealthy.com. I digress. To prove to you all that brussels sprouts are amazing—and don’t need to be studded with pork fat to shine—I whipped up a recipe, and it couldn’t be simpler. Inspired by a delicious dish at my favorite lunch spot, I added parsley…

  • Appetizers,  Beverages,  Dessert,  Holidays,  Recipes,  Sandwiches

    Gourmet game day

    The best thing about game-day parties is the excuse to stuff your face and guzzle beer with zero guilt. Don’t show up to your Super Bowl party empty-handed. Seriously, don’t be that guy/gal. I’ve even taken you half of the way there, with this handy-dandy Super Bowl recipe list: You can thank me in free game-day betting squares. Dips Jalapeno popper dip Greek 7-layer dip Loaded bake potato dip Hot spinach dip White queso dip Sliders and sammies Spicy whiskey BBQ sliders Out-of-this-world veggie burgers Cheeseburger sliders Fried pizza sandwiches Philly cheesesteak with garlic aioli Crock Pot faves Slow-cooker carnitas Crock Pot picante chicken Crock Pot chicken, rice and green…