Roasted Potato Salad with Mustardy Old Bay Dressing + Chive Blossoms

Roasted Potato Salad with Mustardy Old Bay Dressing | @withfoodandlove

The number of beautiful new cookbooks released this spring is astounding. Where seasonally inspired, whole foods eating meets comforting bowls and dishes comprised mostly of plants and embraced as the new normal. Some of my favorites are Bowl + Spoon by Hugh + Sara, The Easy Vegetarian Kitchen by Erin {I wrote more about this one here}, My New Roots by Sarah, Seven Spoons by Tara, and lastly A Modern Way to Eat by Anna. All of these books fill me on a primal level, leaving me with endless inspiration, and simply put, pure joy. And it’s these words, from Anna that sums up my thoughts on experiencing food. Thoughts, a lifestyle really, I aim to leave my clients with.

“…I also believe that eating should be joyful, and as soon as rules, pressure and diets are linked to eating, we lose track of that joy. While I eat healthily almost always, I also feel strongly that eating is one part of our fallible humanness. So there is a place for the odd too-good-to-pass-up chewy salted caramel brownie alongside a clean bowl of grains and greens.

I want to eat in a way that satisfies but leaves me feeling light and happy at the same time. Too much healthy food leaves me miserably hungry, but equally, I don’t like to rely on a lot of heavy carbs or dairy to fill the gaps. I use spice, texture, flavor, and easy grains to satisfy without heaviness.” – Anna Jones, A Modern Way to Eat

Roasted Potato Salad with Mustardy Old Bay Dressing | @withfoodandlove

Roasted Potato Salad with Mustardy Old Bay Dressing | @withfoodandlove

Roasted Potato Salad with Mustardy Old Bay Dressing | @withfoodandlove

Anna’s book although not entirely gluten-free {but with lots, and lots of naturally gluten-free recipes} celebrates the way I eat. Focusing on fresh, vegetarian meals crafted around what’s available either from my garden or farmers’ market and sneaking in splurges wherever/whenever necessary. Eating naturally gluten-free can be effortless with an abundance of gluten-free grains like quinoa, millet, oats and rice. And come late spring and early summer when so many vegetables and fruits are starting to flourish, eating gluten-free is too easy.

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Italian Stuffed Artichokes a family heirloom recipe for food52!

Italian Stuffed Artichokes | @withfoodandlove

I’ve been wanting to share this recipe with you for a really long time. But I’ve always struggled with whether or not I should. Mostly because, I try to keep this space full of creative clean eats and this recipe is filled with cheesy-carby goodness. But the truth is, I do eat stuffed artichokes, and sometimes in the spring when they are perfectly in season I eat far too many of them {if that were a thing}. And as a blogger and health coach and voice in general I think it’s important for me to be transparent about my food choices. Because surrounding ourselves with an overload of ‘food rules’ is exhausting. I think it’s a good thing to worry a little less about what’s healthy or unhealthy and just eat good food that soothes your soul.

And also, I felt like I needed to protect this recipe. It’s sacred to me and it has come to represent everything I know about cooking and nourishing others through food. Prior to taking professional cooking classes, almost everything I had known about preparing food was learned from my mother and grandmother and aunts. From as early as I can remember, I have loved cooking. Working in the kitchen with the older matriarchs just felt super natural to me. One of my earliest cooking memories is me in the kitchen, wobbling on a chair, wearing an apron far too big for my tiny frame, learning how to stuff an artichoke. I don’t remember following any recipe, we cooked with our hearts and tasted as we went along. To this day, I don’t follow a recipe when I make these. But! I emailed my nana {yeah she’s so rad, she emails} and got the ‘recipe’ to share with all of you.

Italian Stuffed Artichokes | @withfoodandlove

Italian Stuffed Artichokes | @withfoodandlove

Italian Stuffed Artichokes | @withfoodandlove

The moment I bite into a stuffed artichoke, so many memories come flooding back. Most are from my childhood, of sharing meals and experiences with my very large Italian family. Also more recent ones of me making and sharing these with the people in my life that I love the most. If I were to craft up my last meal, stuffed artichokes would be the star. If I want to impress dinner or brunch guests, stuffed artichokes are on the table. They’re comforting and nourishing without being too fussy.

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Mango Banana Pudding Popsicles with Granola

Mango Banana Pudding Popsicles with Granola | @withfoodandlove

For the past 10 years I’ve lived in apartment buildings in large cities without any outdoor space at all. Now, I’m finding myself in the Midwest, and I still don’t know how this happened. I never saw it coming and I didn’t have much of a choice but, so far the slower pace of life has been good for me. Since moving here, three things have radically improved the quality of my life. They may sound trivial, but this is real and they’re things I’ve been dreaming of having for years. The first, now this is a big one, I have a house with a driveway. I actually get to drive our car and come home and park it with ease. No more letting the car sit for weeks, too afraid of facing the traffic, but even more afraid of the lack of parking spots when coming home. No more spending hours of my life circling for parking spots. If you live {or have ever lived in a real big city} you know what I’m talking about, I don’t even have to explain it further.

The second, is Forest Park also known in my home as Forest Park Forevs. I live within walking distance to this magical place. Chris and I try to go about 4 – 5 times a week. Sometimes just for beautiful bikerides around the lake + boathouse and sometimes for a picnic on Art Hill and recently, I’ve been getting my rollerblade on hard. But still, we’ve only seen just a small portion of this gigantic place. This is my spot to decompress from life’s daily stress. My spot to relax, to get lost, to feel reprieve.

Okay lastly, I have a backyard. You guys, a real backyard! And, yesterday we bought an outdoor dining table, and we had our first grilled meal. Farmers’ market veggie fajitas with asparagus and spring onions and proper cocktails, like real adults. I want to spend all my days in my backyard. Besides the park, this is the real dream-maker. AND the most exciting part – today is the day Chris and I are finally putting in our garden beds. After caring for our babies for quite some time now, watching them sprout up from seed, form mature leaves and potting them up to grow bigger roots. Now they’re beautiful little plants begging to be put in the ground. I’ve never had a backyard as an adult, this is my first real garden experience aside from the gardens I had growing up. So, go big or don’t do it all {or whatever that saying is} right? We’re {when I say we, I mean Chris} building {3} 4 x 6 beds. This is basically two-thirds of our backyard, but there’s still enough room for the table and grill so.

Mango Banana Pudding Popsicles with Granola | @withfoodandlove

Mango Banana Pudding Popsicles with Granola | @withfoodandlove

Mango Banana Pudding Popsicles with Granola | @withfoodandlove

I have always been prone to anxiety, and through diet and lifestyle changes I’ve been able improve it. But living in the city for so long definitely changed me. The fast pace, constant looming fear and threat of violent crime and the {usually} unwilling and unhappy city folk forced me to put up huge protective walls. I loved living in Philadelphia, but after a while it was like each time I set foot outside my apartment a constant surge of adrenaline and cortisol was released and streaming constantly. It was hard to ever feel at ease. Coming to the Midwest was about opportunity – to support my husband’s career, but also to give my mind a break. My anxiety hasn’t gone away altogether, it probably never will, but the way I deal with it has evolved. The drastic change from city living to living in a city that allows me to have a backyard and driveway, has given me room to breathe. Let my guard down. Feel safe.

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Creamy Polenta with Crispy Beets + Dill Pistachio Pesto

Vegan Dill Pistachio Pesto | @withfoodandlove

Today is all about Erin, the creative genius behind Naturalla Ella, a seasonally inspired vegetarian blog that I’ve been following for years. And, if you love easy veggie eats there’s a real good chance you already love her blog too. First up! Let’s talk about Erin’s beautifully thought out new book, The Easy Vegetarian Kitchen. I really love the way this book is organized. It’s so intentional in every way and I so appreciate that. It contains 50 classic vegetarian recipes, all accompanied with four seasonal variations – I know, so smart! The book is in stores now so go snag it or jump down to the bottom of this post and enter to win a copy!

Polenta is a dish every home cook should master. To keep in his or her back pocket for when breakfast/lunch/dinner feels uninspired. It is so versatile – seriously, it can be eaten so many ways. I really enjoy it creamy, I blogged about this creamy coconut polenta with red curry roasted spring onions last year and it continues to be a standby in my home. Basically, it’s just comfort in a bowl. Today I’m bringing you {a slightly modified} version of Erin’s creamy polenta with crispy beets recipe. In the book, the recipe is made with dairy and I’m sure it’s mad delicious that way, but for now I’m going light on the stuff and polenta can be pretty creamy and tasty without it. So I went with a dill pesto topping instead. I really can’t get enough of fresh dill in the spring. So if you’re into it too you might want to double up on the pesto recipe, it’ll stay good all week in an airtight container and it’s great on roasted vegetables, grain bowls, eggs, pastas – really, it’s awesome on everything.

Creamy Polenta with Crispy Beets + Dill Pistachio Pesto | @withfoodandlove

Cripy

And, also! Erin’s having a little babe and it’s due out in the world VERY soon!! So today myself and a bunch of sweet bloggers who adore Erin too are throwing her a little virtual gathering of sorts. Below is a list of the party people, you should for sure check them out. A big special thanks to Ashley, Sonja, Alex + Melissa for organizing!

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Spring Veggie Fried Rice with Ramps + Kimchi

Spring Veggie Fried Rice with Ramps + Kimchi | @withfoodandlove

You may have noticed that last week I didn’t post a new recipe and that I wasn’t very active on social media. There was a tragic loss of life in my family, one that hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m still recovering and I will probably feel the sting of this for a very, long, time. I’m not ready to talk about it, I’m not sure I ever will be on this platform. But for now, the show must go on, as they say – heavy heart and all. This week I have a new spring inspired, ramp-filled, veggie fried rice recipe for you. Also, I’m keeping the words short and sweet because, it’s Monday, my brain is spent, it’s really late as I type this and I haven’t eaten dinner yet. I think those are all qualifiers for an essential list. So here are some things/recipes/links that make me happy and provide ample inspiration for this big beautiful giant life we have the privilege of living with the people we love.

The photography on Sarah’s latest post, has me feeling full.

Brooke, has some words on the Impostor Syndrome that are definitely worth checking out.

Shelly’s rhubarb + strawberry muffins are screaming spring, and I love it.

Elenore is bringing it with these powerful porridges, breakfast three ways you guys.

I just got the My New Roots cookbook in the mail and it is a beaut – you need to have this in your life.

Also, I got my hands on Erin’s new cookbook, more on this one soon…

And, this little guy and this little guy should be arriving any day now, yay for cookbooks!

Michael Pollan he’s so great, and he’s got some stuff to say about organic food/farming/eating and we should all listen up.

I’ve got an interview up on Cordella Magazine, I talk about failure + food + other stuffs like how I was picked on for being a fat kid.

And a gentle reminder {shameless plug} that there’s 10 days left to vote for your favorites {including me} in the Saveur Blog Awards.

Spring Veggie Fried Rice with Ramps + Kimchi | @withfoodandlove

Spring Veggie Fried Rice with Ramps + Kimchi | @withfoodandlove

Spring Veggie Fried Rice with Ramps + Kimchi | @withfoodandlove

This spring veggie fried rice is packed with local produce – ramps you guys, finally! Ramps, if you are unfamiliar, are a pungent combination of spring onions and garlic and you can eat the whole thing, so you’ll want to chop up the entire bulb and leafy green. Now ramps are seasonal {early spring only} and regional, so you might not be able to find them where you live. If you are left rampless you can use some thinly sliced shallots and handful of spinach. It won’t be exactly the same, but it’ll definitely do.

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Espresso-Braised Spring Onions + some pretty major news!

Espresso-Braised Spring Onions | @withfoodandlove

It was just a normal Thursday afternoon, actually I remember feeling quite uninspired and blah. I was alone when the email came in. I saw the subject and thought, well this just has to be a mistake. Some kind of cruel joke maybe? I opened it, I read it ten times exactly. And then, I ran around my house like a full-on lunatic. My heart was racing, I was screaming/gasping for air. I think I did like a crazy little dance for a few minutes. I definitely scared my cat. I read it once more, out loud for final confirmation, and then I immediately starting calling all of my essentials.

You guys, I’m a finalist in the 2015 Saveur Blog Awards. What. The. Hell. My heart is overflowing and my brain feels like it might explode. I’m just totally {still} trying to wrap my mind around all this. For the most part I have been floating on cloud nine. My hard work has paid off with such esteemed recognition. But, some days I’m like how did this even happen? I’m good enough to deserve this? Wait, maybe this IS a mistake and they haven’t caught it yet. I have so deeply admired the work of both the present and past year’s nominees and winners. I just can’t believe I’m among this group of superbly talented people.

It is with the most sincere gratitude that I thank you for reading and supporting my blog. Seriously, without you guys following along I wouldn’t be able to do the work that I love. Thank you if you nominated me. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for your emails and messages and real life hugs. Just, THANK YOU.

If you could take a moment and vote for With Food + Love in the Special Interest category, I will love you forever! It takes just a sec, I promise. Get your vote on by clicking HERE!!

Espresso-Braised Spring Onions | @withfoodandlove

Espresso-Braised Spring Onions | @withfoodandlove

Espresso-Braised Spring Onions | @withfoodandlove

As I mentioned in my previous post, spring really is here in St. Louis! My backyard is turning into a crazy jungle, the spring vegetables are slowly trickling in and I’ve begun to really embrace my new home and make it mine – especially my kitchen. I’ve got my new knife strip up and I potted up a bunch of little buddies. With each passing day I’m feeling more and more like myself here in the Midwest.

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Raspberry Chamomile Cream Sodas

Raspberry Chamomile Cream Sodas | @withfoodandlove

One of the best things {maybe the only thing?} about moving to a brand new place in the dead of winter is slowly discovering what your world looks like in color. Winter is such a monochromatic scene of greys and browns, it’s pretty easy to lose sight of what your world looks like all vibrant and stuff. The past few weeks here in St. Louis have been like, full on solid springtime. The days have been warmer and sunnier and longer. The leaves on the trees are beginning to bud and the daffodils are now fully grown. And even though I can’t find very much locally sourced spring produce {mini rant on this here} – I consider myself pretty lucky as my east coast friends are still getting slammed with snow. I’m really sorry you guys!!

Since this blog is a reflection of my real life, I try to be as transparent as I can. A few weeks ago, I talked about eating pizza and how I try not to take my relationship with food all too seriously. Today I wanna talk about eating foods that are out of season in the wintertime. I get it, you get it, we all get it, eating locally sourced foods are good for us and good for our world and good for our economies. But also, it’s okay to bend the rules – especially to save your sanity. Because sometimes, in the dead of winter {or in the early spring before your farmers’ markets are open and any local produce is available you} you just need a little brightness in your life.

Raspberry Chamomile Cream Sodas | @withfoodandlove

Raspberry Chamomile Cream Sodas | @withfoodandlove

Raspberry Chamomile Cream Sodas | @withfoodandlove

I find myself craving foods {mainly fruits} like pineapple and mangoes and berries in the cold months. Kind of like how you find yourself daydreaming of lying on a beach in the Caribbean and all you want to do is take a vacation – and if you could get there, your brain would be in a much better place. I find it more than acceptable to buy these foods out of season, on occasion, when you need/want them. This past winter, I was on a real frozen raspberry kick. I bought them at Trader Joe’s by the cartload. I put them in smoothies, I put them in cereals and sometimes I just popped ’em back for a little frozen snack.

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