Archive for the ‘Main Courses’ Category

Disclosure: This post contains sponsored content in conjunction with Barilla.

It’s hard to believe, but just a few weeks ago, #MainSqueeze and I were in Italy, eating our way through Florence and Rome one pasta (and pizza) at a time. Our epic honeymoon adventure included stops in London, Florence, Rome and Krakow. Although we’ve been back for at least three weeks, I think I’m still adjusting!


Katie Carrico Rome, Italy


Dawid and I are not your typical “stay in one place” vacationers – we want to see the sights, sounds and, most importantly, tastes while we’re exploring a new city. People always say in their recommendations, “Go to X or Y museum while you’re there,” and typically, we forego these recommendations, because if I go to a museum, I want to see ALL of it; much like when I go to a new city, I want to see ALL of it, not be cooped up in a museum (and have to eat museum food).


Katie Carrico Dawid Klimek


This week I was beyond thrilled to be invited to the Barilla® Collezione event at Spiaggia for a super special lunch where Top Chef winner, Joe Flamm, made us lunch using Barilla Collezione pasta. I’ve somehow also never been to Spiaggia, so I was incredibly excited, and then when I heard who the special guests were, my excitement hit the roof! Lunching with us on Tuesday was tennis SUPERSTAR, Roger Federer, and gold medal Olympic Alpine skier, Mikaela Shiffrin, both Barilla brand ambassadors. Roger and Mikaela are in town for this weekend’s huge Laver Cup tennis tournament (described to me at our lunch as “the World Cup of tennis – you can actually get free tickets to the Fan Zone featuring the Barilla Masters of Pasta Cucina here!). We were treated to a pasta cooking demonstration with Chef Joe and the special guests, where Roger let us in on the tidbit that he ate SO MUCH pasta growing up (and still).


Spiaggia Lunch


Mikaela Shiffrin, Joe Flamm, Roger Federer


In honor of our main course at lunch, Chef’s beautiful Pomodoro Fresco using Barilla Collezione Rigatoni as the star (which truly brought me back to Italy, where I ate pasta for every meal!) I decided to create a vegetarian pasta using my other new love from Italy – extra virgin lemon olive oil. I honestly can’t get enough lemon olive oil these days, with its rich, tangy flavor, and the results of my Garlicky Lemon Pasta Primavera were something I would be proud to serve Roger Federer, you know, if he just happened to swing by for lunch….


Garlicky Lemon Pasta Primavera
Want to create your own pasta perfection? Barilla Collezione makes it easy for you to get experiment and get creative in the kitchen! Each Collezione pasta shape is crafted into a traditional Italian bronze cut to create authentic Italian pasta with a texture that’s like homemade pasta, making your sauce of choice stick to the pasta.


Garlic Lemon Pasta Primavera

Garlicky Lemon Pasta Primavera

  • 1 Box Barilla Collezione Casarecce Pasta (this is my favorite pasta shape!)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 pint mushrooms (any kind you like!)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 handful asparagus, stems trimmed, and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 ear of corn, cut from cob
  • 1 zucchini, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin lemon olive oil (use a healthy squirt of lemon juice into your olive oil if you don’t have this on hand)
  • 1 TBSP Italian herb mixture
  • Salt & Pepper (I am LOVING French grey salt these days)
  • Parmigiana Reggiano, to top
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on box. You want your noodles to have an al dente texture – i.e., don’t overcook them to mush! They should be firm to the taste. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking wash and prepare the veggies. In a large frying pan, cook the garlic and onion on medium high heat. When they begin to soften, add the mushrooms.
  3. Once the mushrooms have started to brown, add the zucchini and asparagus, cooking just until tender. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and cook until they begin to give off juice. Quickly add the pasta to the pan. Turn to simmer.
  4. Whisk the herbs, lemon olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste) and drizzle over the pasta until coated. Serve immediately with or without Parmigiana Reggiano.

Note: What I love about this pasta is you can use almost any veggies you have in your fridge, so it’s perfect for whatever fresh veggies you have on hand! If you don’t happen to have all the ingredients above, substitute with what you have, and it’s sure to be just as delicious!


Barilla Pasta Primavera

Barilla Garlic Lemon Pasta

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30 Recipes for the Holidays!

Well, Dining at my Desk Readers, I did it. This is the first year I’ve actually created a blog post for each day in December (though have tried valiantly since 2010), and overall, yes, I’m exhausted, thank you for asking. From the beginning to the end, we’ve had soups, side dishes, breakfasts, cookies, ice cream and even a mashed potato and fried chicken cake, but the recurring theme throughout all the recipes is they came from members of Chicagogrammers.

What is Chicagogrammers, you ask? It’s a group of Instagrammers based in Chicago, and it’s free and easy to join. I founded Chicagogrammers with my amazing blog wife, Chrissy, of The Hungary Buddha Eats the World, and this post wouldn’t be complete without a humongous THANK YOU shout out to her and her amazing organizational skills, follow-through and creative powers. She’s just the best. Next big thank you to all of our truly outstanding and inspiring members. While I highlighted the food bloggers here, it’s important to note we have a wide array of lifestyle, fashion, travel, parenting and beauty bloggers we count as members. We’re Chicago-based Instagrammers, bloggers and influencers, and I think 2017 is going to be a great year for us!

Ok, now down to business. I’m here to recap all 30 days of these insanely delicious recipes, so get ready for a feast for your eyes!!

Drunken Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

(1) Drunken Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream: Comes to us from none other than co-founder Chrissy of The Hungary Buddha Eats the World. Boozy ice cream ranks right up there on my personal scale of top foods I want to eat either separately or combined. Enjoy!

Gluten-free Cranberry Oat Bars

(2) Gluten Free Cranberry Oat Bars: These little dandies are from Marie at Lady Ace Kitchen. They’re for all of you people who can’t tolerate or just don’t like gluten, which I’m convinced is people who only like eating desserts.

sweet potatoes 1

(3) Maple Bacon Sweet Potatoes: Ok, technically if we’re counting this as a Chicagogrammer, that’d be me, because these were served to a group of bloggers at a Morton Salt event, which was QUITE tasty. These were seriously some of the best potatoes I’ve ever eaten.


(4) Rosemary Shortbread Cookies: Oh, these sweet little savory cookies come to us from Ellie of the breathtakingly gorgeous blog, Hungry by Nature. Seriously, visit her blog RIGHT NOW. It’s worth soooo many drools. Hi, Ellie!


(5) Lambrusco Sangria: If you all haven’t heard of The Kittchen, pull yourselves out from under your rock and say hi to Kit, the wonderful blogger who also founded our lean, mean blogging machine The Windy City Blogger Collective. She’s in her kitchen all the time whipping up goodies and treats, and this sangria looks particularly delish if I must say so myself.


(6) Perfectly (Gluten Free, Paleo) Fluffy Pancakes: Another fabulous blogger, Katie of Personally Paleo, gives us the recipe for her super fluffy gluten-free, paleo pancakes. I’m personally not paleo, but her site is full of awesome recipes for those who are!


(7) Fried Chicken, Cornbread, & Mashed Potatoes Layer Cake: Hmmm. As of most of my recipes of the day, I never got around to making this…cake, but I really, really want to. This crazy concoction comes to us from Caitlin of Public Lives, Secret Recipes. Another amazing blog to check out when you have a minute!!


(8) Herb-Roasted Squash with Quinoa & Cranberries: Meet Anne of ASquared. Anne and I actually go back a ways in our (other) professional lives, so it’s always fun to give her a little shout and love, and she’s loving us right back with this delicious quinoa dish. Ok, after January 2, this is going on our dinner menu forever!

Cream Cheese Pineapple Pepper Dip

(9) Cream Cheese, Pineapple & Green Pepper Dip (Dorothy’s Dip): Oh, this one I ACTUALLY MADE, can you believe it?! It’s from a new friend, Alana the blogger behind the fabulous party blog, The Jolly Hostess. A combination of slightly strange ingredients comes together in this dip to, as Tim Gunn would say, make it work. This is the easiest dip, and is so good!!


(10) Crab Rangoon Pull Apart Bread: Oh, this was a HUGE hit on Instagram, and still not quite certain why we haven’t made it yet… It’s like, all my favorite things – carbs and cheese and faux crab. It’s from Alison of Rosie Discovers, another fantastic blogger who’s also a member of Chicagogrammers!

Little Lemon Snow Bites

(11) Little Lemon Snow Bites: Ok, here’s another recipe I actually had blogged about before. These little cookies are so refreshing – sweet and tart, and everybody loves a cookie with a filling. Plus candy is an actual ingredient, so that’s pretty exciting!


(12) Smores Cereal Bars: I love Smores, and these cereal bars look like no exception to the kinds of goodies I love most. Michelle from Honest & Truly, gives us another lip-smacker of a recipe. She’s got tons of other recipes on her blog, which are a good mix of naughty and nice for your new year’s resolutions!

Beef Ragu

(13) Beef Ragu: Hyam of My Midwest Kitchen brings us this complete winner of a recipe. Meat stew over polenta? Yes, we’re into that! This will also be going in our winter lineup for sure!


(14) Immunity Soup: This recipe is part of quite a long blog post recapping some of the events we went to this fall. One of my favorites was the opening of True Food Kitchen in River North, and to celebrate, I included Dr. Andrew Weil’s cleansing soup recipe. Seriously, January, I’m looking at you.


(15) Gingersnap Icebox Cake with Cranberry Mascarpone Whipped Cream: Omg, whoa. By far the most beautiful cake EVER, this icebox cake is from Danielle, a registered dietician who blogs at The Every Kitchen. Obviously this is a health food. Definitely check out her blog when you get a  chance – the pictures are stunning!

peppermint brownies

(16) Peppermint Brownies: These luscious holiday treats are from the lovely Christine of Lattes, Life & Luggage. Her blog is filled with great recipes, book recommendations and travel musings, and she’s an awesome member of Chicagogrammers!

Spinach Herb Lasagna

(17) Spinach Herb Lasagna: One of my personal favorite blogs is Make it Like a Man, where Jeff shows us how to make stuff, you know, like a man. If Main Squeeze were to make this, it would be a man making a manly meal for a very dainty and refined lady. Hmmm, I wonder where he would find one of those.

Salted Caramel Eggnog

(18) Salted Caramel Eggnog: Yay!! This boozy treat is from Maris of the fabulous food blog In Good Taste. Maris is a wonderful person and her blog matches her personality – it’s just truly great. Be sure to take a look when you get a chance!


(19) Funfetti Cookies: Basically there’s nothing I love more than cookies that mostly come from a boxed mix. Using prepared ingredients make things go a lot faster in the kitchen, and these look simply so good. They’re from Lephan, of the awesome blog Macarons & Lavender. She’s another fabulous Chicagogrammer I met this year!

Creamy Butternut Squash and Crab Bisque

(20) Creamy Butternut Squash and Crab Bisque: This is a unique one, because it comes from Kate of The Ginger List, an Instablog. So delicious and creamy, obviously crab is the perfect accompaniment to a butternut squash soup.


(21) Caramelized Onion Dip: Ooo, yum. Just looking at this dip makes me want to eat it ALL RIGHT NOW. It’s from Kathryn of Foodie Girl Chicago, just another fabulous blog from a fellow Chicagorammer.


(22) Cranberry Pear Spinach Rice Pilaf: This looks SO fresh and delicious, and I can’t wait to make this in the new year! This rice medley is from Maggie of The Love Nerds, and I’m really hoping to meet her in the New Year!

Classic Basil Pesto

(23) Classic Basil Pesto: Really, it doesn’t get much better than a simple pesto sauce on pasta…or anything. Kelly of Chicago Supper Club gives us the perfected version of this classic sauce.

Pecan Meltaways

(24) Pecan Meltaways: Again, sometimes the simplest cookies are the ones we keep coming back to over and over. Joelen of What’s Cookin’ Chicago brings us the recipe for these simple, delicious treats.

Smore Brownies

(25) Smores Brownies: Ok, I might have a real thing for smores. Obviously they are a great love of my life. Bringing us this gorgeous brownie recipe is Kelsey of With a Little Grace.

Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese

(26) Apple Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese: If you haven’t had bacon jam yet, you might want to rethink your life choices, and then start slathering it on your grilled cheese. Thanks for the great idea, Annie! Annie is the inspiration behind this grilled cheese and the fantastic blog, The Brazen Gourmand.

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

(27) Chocolate Blueberry Basil Smoothie: Oh January 1, you’re looming right around the corner, but Erin of Erin’s Inside Job reminds us that you don’t have to give us chocolate if you pair it with fruits and herbs!


(28) Tiramisu: Ooo, yeah. Pretty much the best dessert you can get in an Italian restaurant, and just a delicious choice anytime, Mrinalini of Mrinhearts brings us this scrumptious looking pudding.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

(29) Cauliflower Pizza Crust: Yes, January looms very large, and in the new year, we’re going to be eating a LOT more pizza on veggies crusts. Here to save our (considerably larger after the holidaze) butts is Jenn of Leasing Happiness.

(30) Cheesy Skillet Meatballs in Arrabbiata Sauce: Yeah, these are a whole skillet of yums. Brought to us by Allison of Life’s a Beacham, these little round balls of love are gluten-free and full of cheese! My favorite!

Ok, there you have it! 30 recipes from 30 awesome Chicagogrammers! Hope you enjoyed the drools as much as I did. Here’s to a fantastic 2017 – enjoy this weekend with your friends and family, and I”ll see you back here in January!



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Meatballs. I can’t really think of a better way to wrap up Recipe of the Day (tomorrow I’ll be bringing you the recipe recap!). There’s really nothing better than a cheese-covered ball of meat in a spicy tomato sauce. Allison, of Life’s A Beacham, even made these little guys gluten-free, for all of those who are watching your gluten! Yum. Oh, did I forget to mention…she’s a Chicagogrammer!!

Cheesy Skillet Meatballs in Arrabbiata Sauce



  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork (we used a premixed “meatloaf” package from the grocery store”
  • 1/3 cup Ian’s gluten free original panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jar Rao’s arrabbiata sauce (spicy)
  • Parmesan cheese- I used about 1/2 a cup
  • Shredded Italian cheese blend
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley- again probably about 1/2 a cup, but chop more for garnish

For the full recipe with instructions, visit Allison at Life’s a Beacham.



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I’m truly a little bit nervous on the logistics of how I’m going to eat like 4 bags of chips, 2 creamy dips and a large jar of cheese spread as well as a slew of Christmas cookies before I start up the ol’ diet on January 2. Should I be waking up every two hours to eat Swiss Almond cheese spread on chips? Not sure how I’m going to pull this one off, but have faith in me, dear readers. Anyhow, when things start back up again, I’m going to be eating a LOT more of things like this. Pizza with vegetable crusts. Vegetable crusts without pizza toppings. Things of that nature. That’s why I’m thanking Jenn of Leasing Happiness for this awesome cauliflower pizza crust!
Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower Pizza Crust


  • cauliflower (approx. 1 head per pizza)
  • egg (1 per pizza)
  • shredded mozzarella cheese (½ – 1 C per pizza)
  • shredded parmesan cheese (2Tbsp – ¼ C per pizza)
  • salt
  • pepper

For the rest of the recipe with full instructions, please visit Jenn at Leasing Happiness. She might be another Chicagogrammer!!

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Happy Day after Christmas! You may need a little something quick and easy today, so I’ve got Annie, a new Chicagogrammer and amazing blogger at The Brazen Gourmand, bringing you what may be the most delicious combination of grilled cheese I’ve seen in awhile! Check this out!

Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese

Apple Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese


  • 2 slices Sourdough Bread
  • 1 tbsp. Butter
  • 1 tbsp. The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread (I’ve personally not had this one, but I can 100% vouch for the Trader Joe’s version!)
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, thinly sliced
  • 2 slices Cheddar Cheese

For the full recipe with instructions, visit Annie at The Brazen Gourmand.

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Do yourself a favor – bookmark “Make it Like a Man” in your browser, if you’re into bookmarks, which I am decidedly not – just never got into them. But it doesn’t matter, because I do like to visit Jeff’s blog often to find out what I, a true lady, should be learning how to make…like a man (with a good dose of humor, which I admire). Last year he was the star of this Recipe-A-Day countdown with his Cherry Cakeughnut, and this year he’s back to inspire us all with this absolutely delicious-sounding Spinach Herb Lasagna.

Spinach Herb Lasagna

Spinach Herb Lasagna


½ lb smoky, peppered bacon
1 large, white onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 eggs
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 lbs ricotta, strained overnight
6 oz. mascarpone
1 package of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
4 cups of Herbed Béchamel (visit Jeff’s site to find out how to make this)
1½-2 lbs lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
3 cups shredded parmesan
1 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced thin or shredded

For the full recipe, and some truly delightful reading, visit Jeff at Make it Like a Man.

Spinach Lasagna


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