spaghetti squash and black bean tacos

spaghetti squash and black bean tacos

I love spaghetti squash. Sure, it tastes great, but my inner five-year-old also really enjoys the way the cooked squash turns into shreds when you scrape it with a fork. So weird. So cool.

Squash in tacos might sound a little weird, but variations on the theme are pretty common, as most squash takes very well to spicy Mexican flavors. This recipe in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is the first I've seen to use spaghetti squash, but while unexpected, it works really well. Spaghetti squash retains a little bit of crunch, adding nice texture to the tacos. Beans, queso fresco, and onions round things out, but the spiced squash is the star here.

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pumpkin chocolate chip loaf cake

pumpkin chocolate chip loaf

Okay, it's offish, fall is here. Which apparently means it's time for pumpkin or something?

Seriously, though, when did seasonal appreciation for pumpkin turn into yearly pumpkin hysteria? Pinterest has been 89% pumpkin since late August. Pumpkin spice coffee selfies litter my newsfeed. I posted a filtered picture of a can of pumpkin on instagram and a lot of you "liked" it. A can of pumpkin. I'm starting to become suspicious that we've all been conned by a multi-year marketing campaign by Starbucks.

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roasted salmon and broccoli with chile-caper vinaigrette

roasted salmon and broccoli with caper-chili vinaigrette

Salmon and broccoli, all in one pan and spruced up with a spicy and salty vinaigrette? It's like you were reading my mind, Bon Appetit.

Tonight's dinner is also a great example of the way I usually eat. Yeah, some nights (aka the entire week before an exam) are "microwave some Trader Joe's frozen entree" nights, and when I have time I undertake more ambitious meals, but usually I need some source of protein and vegetables and if they are prepared together, all the better.

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roasted pistachio ice cream

roasted pistachio ice cream

Yep.

Oh, sorry, were you waiting for me to say something? I got distracted by the close-up of homemade ice cream. Really delicious, super creamy, pistachio-full ice cream.

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Burgers with blue cheese and sherried Vidalia onions

burgers with blue cheese and sherried vidalia onions

I grew up in Chicago, so there's not a part of me left that can be surprised when the thermostat shoots right past 90 in July and the air feels like it sticks to you. I have learned many a coping mechanism, central air foremost among them. I can recommend popsicles, a dash through the neighbor's sprinkler, baring more skin than you cover, and doing all of your cooking outside on the grill.

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bacon tacos with spring greens and caramelized onions

I started up my CSA for vegetables a few weeks ago, and have been veritably drowning in spring greens since. Before my first CSA, I had not heard the term “Asian greens,” and now I can recite to you the names and general descriptions of several types of Asian greens. From the familiar bok choy to mizuna to several varieties of Chinese cabbage, I’ve seen it all. Continue reading

almond-rhubarb cake

Spring was slow to arrive to the Midwest this year, and the spring crops accordingly late. So while others have moved on to the abundance of strawberries, it’s still pretty much all asparagus and rhubarb here in Chicago. I was thrilled to finally be able to pick up some rhubarb at the market, with little more of a plan than “bake it in something.” Continue reading

ramps carbonara

Finally.

Last spring, my quest for ramps was epic yet ultimately futile. Turns out you have to get to the farmer’s market when it opens at 7am, and I think the earliest I ever managed was 8am. 7am on a Saturday is a lot to ask, even for ramps. But this year my neighbor introduced me to a vegetable delivery service which supplies ramps, and I can finally be a proper foodie.

If you are unfamiliar with ramps, they are a seasonal craze that has admittedly gotten a bit out of control in recent years. They’re really a wild form of onion, and were once so abundant along Lake Michigan and the Chicago River that Chicago takes it name from a Native American word for ramps. They smell grassy and garlicky and tastes like a cross between onion and garlic, its sharp punch of flavor mellowed by a touch of sweetness. They are admittedly delicious, but what makes ramps the unicorn of the allium family is their short season (a brief few weeks) and their wild provenance. Continue reading

cherry almond scones

If I was in any way on top of my game, these would have been posted Sunday with an ode to my mom. You know, kind of how every food blogger ever does it. But I am most definitely not, so you get them on Wednesday with assurances that my mom is awesome (hi Mom!).

 

I had not made scones in an unforgivably long time. For those unfamiliar with scones, they really do taste best out of the oven and shortly thereafter, and lose much of their appeal after a day. However, scones freeze beautifully, so you can make a batch and then bake as needed. But since I lack a large enough stomach to eat 8 scones in a day as well as freezer space, scones were on my “delicious but impractical” list, even though as baked goods go they’re easy to make. Continue reading

cream cheese pound cake

Alternative titles for this post:

“I might have just failed microbiology, but whatever” cake
“Procrastination through blogging”
“Baking as the most appropriate response to stress”
“The natural light in my kitchen is so much better now, check it out!”

Midterms are the worst. Finals suck too, don’t get me wrong, but they are generally followed by time off. Midterms you study until you want to cry, then you have to go back to class the next day and start over again. For some reason, my school saw fit to curse us with a Friday exam followed by a Monday exam, and I decided that called for pound cake. Continue reading