• Salads

    Musings of an urban gardener

    February in frigid Chicago has me daydreaming about next season’s urban garden. Also, many of my indoor succulents are hanging on for dear life. I can’t wait to get them back outside and watch them explode in the warm, humid Chicago summer. Last year was fruitful … literally, if you count my teeny, tiny strawberries. I’m hoping it will be a successful potted perennial—and that this summer’s yield will be bigger than tic tacs. While I stare longingly at my snow covered pots, I’m dreaming about starting new seeds and running my hands through fragrant bunches of basil. Here are a few of the items on my list for this spring: Poppies.…

  • Appetizers,  Gluten free,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    Tortilla soup and tostadas, part dos

    It’s the end of the month and I’m falling off the paleo wagon. Still committed to a healthier diet, but God help me, I’m having some damn grains already. Corn and flour specifically. So here we go … The best kinds of recipes are highly adaptable. Take my tortilla soup. It’s a thick, blended, stew-style concoction that’s not for traditionalists, but delicious all the same. Beans, tortilla chips, vegetables, spices and chicken stock—in almost any variation—blended and topped with shredded chicken, cheese and tortilla strips, will yield something fantastic. It’s so thick and flavorful, it makes for good enchilada filling, nacho dressing and in this case, tostada topping. The first…

  • 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…

  • Appetizers,  Dessert,  Gluten free,  Paleo,  Recipes

    A little nutty

    This diet that is. And how I begin to feel after a day of forcing down handfuls of baby carrots, hard-boiled eggs, oranges and boatloads of bacon. OK, so that last one isn’t so bad. Still, it’s nice to come home and grab for a handful of these sweet little nut clusters. It seems to put a band-aid on almost every Paleo-induced side effect. Carb cravings. Candy cravings. That unpleasant, heartburn-y, “queasy from eating too many raw, undressed vegetables” pit-in-my-stomach feeling (am I the only one that gets this, by the way?) Best of all, it’s super easy and arguably pretty healthy. Cavemen (and women)—forage your nuts! (Told you this…

  • 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…

  • Holidays

    New year, new binges

    Happy 2013! In honor of another year gone by, I thought I’d share my top five most popular 2012 posts—so you can relive all the buttery deliciousness. Personally, it pains me to lay eyes on this carb-laden smorgasbord, as I have willingly subjected myself to 30 days of torture—in the form of the Paleo diet. We have my hubby to thank for that one. But seriously though, I’m already making some surprisingly delicious dishes—which I think will gain the approval of even the biggest grain and dairy lovers among us. Stay tuned for those. And in the meantime, enjoy my 2012 top five. Just not in my presence, as the…

  • Appetizers,  Recipes,  Sandwiches

    Acronym awesomeness: the CB&J

    When it comes to odd flavor combinations, this is nothing short of a revelation. Holding a tray of these out to my fellow party-goers on Christmas Eve, reactions ranged from “what the heck is cashew butter?” to “Blech. Figs. I hate figs.” Others just stared, smiling and nodding unconvincingly as I promised that, as weird as it sounded, these would be the best things to ever cross their taste buds. I set the tray down next to the usual suspects—Spinach dip, shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers—sure these melty beauties would go untouched. Fortunately, I was wrong. “What are these?” (right?) “Is that BACON I taste??” (no bacon, just cheese, fig…

  • 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…

  • Breakfast,  Dessert,  Recipes

    A bracket I can get behind

    When it comes to sweet sixteen brackets, I don’t have the best of luck. For me, March Madness begins with as much naive excitement as the locker room of your favorite Cinderella team … and ends with crushed dreams and a $50 deficit in my bank account. Here’s to hoping that the Solo Foods Sweetest 16 recipe contest—the focus of this post—brings happier results. Fortunately (I think), my fate rests in the hands of you, my FANTASTIC readers … As one of 16 (duh) bloggers chosen to participate in the contest, I was tasked with creating a dessert with at least one Solo Foods ingredient. Armed with pie fillings galore, I set…

  • 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…