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 .

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Garlic

Have you ever noticed how adding lemon can transform the flavors of so many different foods? It's such a simple ingredient and it really brightens things up. This is a game-changer for broccoli. As Mike and I continue to experiment with easy sides to pair with our usual dinners, I really wanted share this one. It also gave me a chance to play with this gorgeous plate that my Mom gave me to use for my shoots. Love those details. 

The recipe is so easy and very healthy... and as swimsuit season approaches, I'm all over it. 

Enjoy!

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on April 5, 2015 .

Asparagus Risotto

My love affair with risotto started when Mike cooked it for me on our second date. I wasn't much of a cook back then and figured risotto was something he could make in my rice cooker. When he pulled out my pots and pans that had been collecting dust for years, I remember thinking I was in for something delicious. That, and Wow - I'm dating a guy who can cook! 

I'm going to admit that I've never actually made risotto before. Mike and I will be married five years this September and to this day, he still is the only one of us that makes it. It's what I like to call his specialty... and it draws me in right from the beginning. As the smells intensify during the preparation, it makes me feel so loved... and incredibly hungry. 

Mike doesn't usually follow a recipe when he makes risotto because he's made it so often he could do it with his eyes closed. However, he recommends a book called Risotto that he picked up long ago at Williams-Sonoma. It has several approachable risotto recipes all written by Pamela Sheldon Johns

I hope you get as much love from this meal as I do. 
Enjoy!

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Plate is from Anthropologie.

Posted on March 29, 2015 .

Sailor-Style Mussels

I love mussels. They're cheap and super easy to make at home. Even if you're not a seafood fan, you can just grab some rustic, grilled bread and dip it into the creamy broth. Delicious.

Mike was inspired by a recipe he found on Serious Eats and this is the best flavor combination we've had yet. The recipe calls for homemade mayo, which we also included in the recipe link below. It's also easy to make and comes together really quickly. Don't use store-bought mayo. We all like to cut corners where we can at times, especially for weeknight dinners, but store-bought mayo won't combine with the sauce well. Everything comes together in about 20-25 minutes.

You don't have to go out to a restaurant to enjoy mussels. Give this a try. You won't be disappointed... it's such a nice break from the usual work week routine.

Enjoy!

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on March 22, 2015 .

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Big shout out to Gina and her blog, Skinny Taste for introducing me the deliciousness of whole wheat pancakes! She actually rewrote her original recipe to make sure it was perfect. Her research definitely paid off. I've been making these for Mike and myself for a while now and I was so excited to do a shoot on this truly delicious recipe. 

When I first heard "whole wheat" I was wondering if the pancakes would be flavorless and bland. However, with the subtle hints of cinnamon and vanilla they are actually way more flavorful than I was expecting. These fluffy 'cakes can be enjoyed on their own, but since I'm a sucker for really good maple syrup, I always pour it on. 

This recipe quickly became my go-to and is now the standard bearer for all weekend breakfasts at casa de Baroni. Thank you, Gina, for opening my eyes to how pancakes can be healthy and delicious!

xo

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on March 15, 2015 .

Honey-Roasted Carrots

We all have go-to recipes when the work week gets busy, but sometimes it can start to feel repetitive and boring. Chicken and salad, again? Mike and I have started experimenting with new side dishes to accompany our usual chicken, pork or fish dinners. It's an attempt to make our week night dinners feel fresh again without reinventing the wheel.

These tasty Honey-Roasted Carrots are incredibly easy to make. I originally found a similar recipe in Food & Wine magazine, but I simplified it to fit into our busy week night dinner plans. All you need are: carrots, butter, salt, pepper and, of course, honey. It's simple, yet delicious. The honey really brings out the sweetness in the carrots and the flavors pair really well with most dinners. 

I also decided to submit this recipe to Food52 for their 'Best Recipe with Honey' contest because it's super easy and incredibly delicious. If you're not familiar with Food52, it's a website that brings cooks together to share recipes, ideas and support within the food community. I highly recommend checking it out because it's always nice to expand your community and gain a little extra inspiration in the kitchen. This was the first recipe I've submitted and I definitely plan to submit more. Maybe I'll see you on there!  

Enjoy the recipe!

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All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on March 10, 2015 .