Grilled Scallops with Lemony Salsa Verde

I love scallops... but I really need to be in the mood for them. They are so incredibly rich on their own, and they always seem to be drenched in butter or paired with a tasty risotto. They're kind of like the friend who's the life of the party. You love hanging out and always have a blast together, but you're exhausted afterward and need a bit of a break for a while.  

When I read about pairing scallops with a lemony salsa verde in Bon Appétit, my interest peaked. Mike and I have been on a seafood kick lately and are constantly gathered around the grill, so I was really excited to give this a try. And, let me tell you, it's a game changer. The combination of the olive oil, chives and parsley work perfectly together while the cilantro and lemon shine through with so much brightness. Add salt and pepper slowly to your liking and you'll be surprised at how these flavors lighten up the dish... you may find yourself wanting to hang out a little more often. It's an absolutely perfect summer recipe. 

Enjoy!

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on June 22, 2015 .

Grilled Head-On Prawns with Garlic and Parsley

It was a great weekend for grilling and outdoor food shoots!  Even though we all want more sun on the weekends, overcast clouds are a photographers' favorite, with their soft, balanced and beautiful light. 

I have several easy and delicious recipes for the grill coming soon, and it all starts with this great one - head-on prawns with garlic and parsley

First things first, prawns are simply the larger versions of shrimp. Second, you don't have to use head-on prawns in this recipe. You can easily make it using shrimp that are already peeled and de-viened, if you'd like.

So, why use the head-on prawns? For me, there are two reasons: 

One, the flavors are much more complex and delicious because you have the meat and fat from the head cooking with the rest of the body. Fat always makes things taste better. You can even suck the head meat out, if you're feeling adventurous. It may just change your life. 

Two, I love getting my hands dirty. Peeling and eating shrimp is such a laid-back way to eat such a delicacy. I like to call it a casual luxury. 

I've never worked with head-on prawns before, so deveining them was a new experience. The first one was slow-going, but then I really got the hang of it. You simply use kitchen sheers to cut the back of the shell open, exposing the vein. It comes out easily, especially if you run the shrimp under cold water while removing it. 

The combined flavors of the crushed red pepper, garlic, parsley and olive oil are perfect for giving the shrimp a little extra kick without being overpowering. This truly is one of the easiest recipes I've tried. You'll have to give it a shot yourself and let me know what you think, especially if you leave the head on. Go for it!

Enjoy!

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on June 15, 2015 .

Etsy

As you all know, I took some time off from the blog in May to travel but to also focus on finishing up an exciting project. Well, the time has come to fill you in on what that project was all about. 

I am very excited to announce that after getting several requests for prints through Up Close & Tasty, I have decided to open my first Etsy shop selling my food + travel photography!

You can find the shop here: ReganBaroniPhoto 

I would love it if you would favorite my shop and share with your friends! I will be adding new work regularly to keep the store fresh and interesting. So, stay tuned for those updates! 

There are a variety of print sizes available and if you don't see a size you need, you can request a custom order from me. The possibilities are endless! I have been working closely with two amazing print labs over the last few months to ensure that the print quality is amazing and the process is efficient. It generally takes 3-5 business days to get your print since I drop-ship my orders directly from the lab to your door step. It saves time as well as money, which is always a good thing in my book.

My prints are available on three different materials of your choice:

High-Quality Lustre-Paper
This means the photo has the color saturation of a glossy print, but with a matte-finish for no glare. It's beautiful. 

Canvas Prints (custom request)
This means the photo is printed on museum-quality canvas using archival inks and finished with a protective, lustre-coating. No frame needed. The depths of the canvas range from 3/4 of an inch to 1.5 inches. I recommend 1-inch depth. 

Wood Prints (custom request)
This means the photo is printed on wood. No frame needed. It's really unique and completely stunning. I love how the photo color is sharp, yet you can see hints of the wood through the image. It can be printed with no border or up to a 1/2 inch border on the print. Keyholes are in the back to ensure it's easy to hang on the wall. It's a rustic, yet beautiful display of the photography.

* All canvas and wood prints are custom requests.

If you have any questions or custom requests, please reach out to me here on the blog or through my store. Be sure to check it out, favorite it and share it with everyone you know! I absolutely love all of your support. 

ReganBaroniPhoto

xo

All Images © Regan Baroni 2015. 

Posted on June 13, 2015 .

Spicy Asian Peanut Noodles

rbaroni_ucat_peanutnoodles_1.jpg

I love how dinner parties bring friends and family together. With everyone's busy schedules, it sometimes feels like a miracle when people can stop the day-to-day grind and sit down to enjoy a meal together. My good friend Bomie made this cold, peanut noodle dish for us when she and her husband Clay hosted a dinner party recently. In the midst of talking about work, kids and upcoming adventures, we all took our first bite and were immediately silenced by the amazing combination of flavors. We all had at least 2 or 3 servings and I immediately requested the recipe from Bomie so I could make it again and share it with you. 

When you find a recipe that is so delicious and easy to make at home, it's like hitting the jackpot in your own kitchen. My advice is to chop the veggies first. Then, prep the sauce while the noodles are boiling. It all comes together so easily that way. Heat lovers: I added Sriracha to my plate for a little extra kick. I don't recommend adding it to the whole batch since everyone's spice level is different. It's delicious with and without the extra kick.

You'll have to let me know what you think! 
Cheers!

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on June 7, 2015 .

Peach Chutney Pizza with Prosciutto and Goat Cheese

Hey there! I'm back from a very busy month of May with a side of travel for a little r&r. I'm a firm believer in taking time to regroup to keep your inspiration fresh and your determination strong. We snuck down to Sanibel Island for a few days and crunched our toes in the sand, played in the gulf, collected shells and even caught a couple of sunrises. It had been a long time since I had made the effort to get up for a sunrise, and I'm so glad I did it. It was so peaceful and yet full of energy. 

While we were there, I also spent some time researching recipes in Southern Living Magazine and Coastal Living Magazine. In the midst of gorgeous beach houses and bright, cozy cottages, I found this awesome peach chutney and prosciutto pizza recipe. I made a few minor tweaks to keep flavors balanced between the sweet peaches and the salty prosciutto for my taste. All of the flavors get along really well together in this recipe. You'll have to let me know what you think.

There is much more to come including some awesome summer recipes, new restaurant features and another exciting update that I'll fill you in on later this month. Thank you for sticking around to see what I'm up to... Stay tuned for more!
xo

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on May 31, 2015 .

Grilled Octopus

Whenever I'm at Standard Market, I can't help but spend time in their seafood section. Even if I'm not going to buy anything, I love checking out the varieties of shell fish, oysters and whole fish available. Everything is incredibly fresh and clean. If you see something that you haven't made before and wonder how to make it, the fish mongers at the counter are always willing to lend a hand with tips and recipe recommendations... which is why I ended up buying some tenderized octopus for Mike and I to grill.

I'll admit that handling the octopus was... interesting for me. When I held it, the tentacles felt like they could wrap around my fingers as if it were trying to hold my hand. I don't think I've ever truly appreciated how beautiful octopus is until I handled one myself, without a fork and knife. The details were so well-defined and beautiful to shoot. Getting the best, freshest ingredients is so important in capturing how special a recipe can truly be.

Believe it or not, this is very easy to make. You basically rub it with olive oil, grill it and then squeeze the juice from one lemon (or lime) over the top. We ate ours with pico de gallo and it was absolutely delicious and refreshing... very similar to a ceviche. Check out the recipe link below.

As I mentioned in my Cucumber Salad post, I will be taking a mini break from the blog for the next couple of weeks and will be back in June. I will be traveling and completing a much anticipated photography project. I'll share more with you when I get back. I'm very excited about what's to come and hope you'll stick around. Be sure to follow me on InstagramPinterestTwitter or Facebook to get extra updates along the way.

Cheers and have a great rest of the month! 
xo

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on May 10, 2015 .

Cucumber Salad

There's something very refreshing and easy about cucumbers. There are many ways to use them, but I tend to use them most as added flavor to my water or in this really delicious cucumber salad recipe.

For the shoot, I used a mandoline slicer to slice the cucumbers into thin ribbons, but you can easily serve this by thinly slicing the cucumbers into thin rounds. I just love how the ribbons fold and curve around each other guiding your eye through all the pretty ingredients of the salad. 

This salad is really easy to throw together and will be so enjoyable as you sit back and take a break to enjoy the sunny spring weather.   

Speaking of breaks, I just want to give you all a heads up that I will be taking a mini break from the blog for the rest of May. There is another recipe post scheduled for Monday, May 11 and then I will be traveling and focusing on completing an exciting photography project that I've been working on. I'm so excited to share more with you in June, so I hope you'll stick around to find out what I've been up to... 

And, be sure to follow me on Instagram, PinterestTwitter or Facebook to see some updates along the way!  

xo

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on May 7, 2015 .

Offset Artist

Purple Asparagus, by Regan Baroni

Purple Asparagus, by Regan Baroni

Something incredibly exciting has happened... I was invited to be a contributing artist on Offset, a premium image licensing site that showcases commercial and editorial imagery. (!!!) It was a normal Tuesday afternoon until I got the email... and then I nearly fell off my chair with excitement. There is SO much talent on Offset! What an honor to be invited to share my work along side the many amazing and inspiring artists! 

Check out these two beautiful videos that showcase their vision here and here.

The wide range of stunning photography and illustrations is growing everyday. Take a look around - it's hard not to get inspired by what you see. 

Offset Team, thank you for selecting my work! I am so honored to be a part of this!   

All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on April 29, 2015 .

Homemade Strawberry Jam

It's strawberry season and I have been wanting to make homemade strawberry jam since the leaves started turning last fall. I had read about how easy it is to make, so I decided to check out Barefoot Contessa's recipe (I love her!), which calls for lemon juice, lemon rind, sugar and of course, strawberries. Sounded easy enough.

I'll admit it took me a couple tries to get the jam to actually set to that viscous gelatin-like texture we all love. My first attempt came out really tasty, but incredibly runny. Have you heard of pectin before? I hadn't either, but Healing Cuisine by Elise made it a lot more interesting than it sounds.

I have a habit of using much less sugar than recipes call for because I tend to shy away from over-sweetness. I figured since the strawberries were delicious on their own, I'd go easy on the sugar. With jam however, you really do need to use the amount of sugar the recipe calls for (or you can substitute the sugar with a low-sugar pectin) because it gives it that thick, gooey richness that gels with the toast perfectly.

On my second attempt, I used the exact amount of sugar the recipe required and it turned out sweet, tangy and delicious. Enjoy!

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on April 19, 2015 .

Birchwood Kitchen

Birchwood Kitchen has been a favorite Chicago spot for a long time. Back when Mike and I lived in Ukrainian Village, we would frequently walk to Bucktown to get brunch or dinner here. This intimate BYOB has so much charm, the food is incredibly fresh and local and it even has an outdoor patio to enjoy on those warm summer days & nights... it's hard not to fall in love with this place. 

All of the Birchwood trees they have in and outside of the restaurant were brought in from Wisconsin by the owner, Judd Murphy, which is where the restaurant got its name. Their patio, with 10-12 tables for dining, has several varieties of herbs growing during the summer months, including basil, chives, tarragon, mint, rosemary and parsley. They light up the evenings with their hanging globe lights and it feels like you're dining in someone's private backyard. 

When I came into shoot for Birchwood, it was a rainy April day. However, even on rainy days they get packed. Despite the busy time, the staff was (and always is) incredibly warm and friendly. You can cozy up at an intimate table near the gorgeous front windows or grab one near the back where you're surrounded by exposed brick and the delicious smells coming from the open kitchen. Each table is decorated with freshly selected flowers that are placed in old salt and pepper canisters. I love those kinds of details. 

The two dishes featured in my post include the Open-Faced Asparagus Sandwich with toasted sourdough, roasted asparagus and spring onions, basil goat cheese, chorizo, and crispy white beans served with a petit green salad made with pickled and fresh vegetables & lemon vinaigrette and the Chopped Salad with romaine lettuce, onions, pickled carrots, cucumber, bacon, hard-boiled egg, crispy chickpeas, blue cheese, lemon-buttermilk dressing. Their menu has daily specials and they also have catering services for event planning. 

The casual and inviting environment paired with their locally inspired menu go hand in hand with making everyone's experience intimate, warm and incredibly satisfying. Thank you for having me, Birchwood Kitchen! We'll definitely be visiting you again soon.  

xo

All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on April 12, 2015 .