Blood Orange Salad with Mixed Beans

reganbaroni_bloodorange_salad_2.jpg

As I work through the banking and financial aspects of my business, I've been in a bit of a photography holding pattern this week, so I decided to focus on moving my office.

I usually edit and write in the "third bedroom" upstairs, which is so small, it can't even hold a twin bed. It's a cute little room for an office, but I start to feel cooped up in there after a while. Now that I realize how much work is involved in starting a business, that space simply isn't big enough for those long hours spent on a computer. And, although I love to get out and about to work in other locations, I really need a new spot to work in at home. 

After a long morning full of editing in the tiny room last week, I was inspired to make this Blood Orange Salad with Mixed Beans that I saw in Bon Appétit magazine. It just looked so colorful and refreshing and trust me, it's just as delicious as it is pretty. As I enjoyed the salad and soaked in all the natural light pouring into our living room, it dawned on me that I need to move my office in here.

The back area of our living room has been begging for some love since we moved in. There's a lot of space and tons of natural light - it's basically a no-brainer. Since our house acts as my studio too, this move will also make it much easier for me to shoot tethered since my computer setup will already be downstairs. Tethered simply means that my camera is connected with my computer so when I take a picture, it displays nice and big on my monitor for me to review.

I'll be sure to share some pictures once it's complete! 
Enjoy the weekend and the salad!

xo

View / Print recipe

All Images © Regan Baroni 2016.

BBQ Ribs

Are you ready to get your fingers sticky and savor tender meat that's falling off the bone? You don't need a football game to enjoy these ribs, but since the Super Bowl is right around the corner, it seemed like a good time to share this incredibly delicious recipe that could easily become your gameday favorite. Mike hits a home run with these every single time (Yeah, I'm more of a baseball fan).

Football isn't really my thing. I will never understand pass interference or holding, but I love the consistency of getting together with our family and friends every Sunday to "watch the games" and eat delicious food.  

What I love most about Super Bowl Sunday are the commercials. There's usually one or two that really draws me in when I watch a brand set the tone for their year without telling me to buy something. 

They capture your attention. They make you put down the remote when you'd normally fast forward. They make you feel connected to something real for a moment. And, in a world over saturated with ads, it's very hard to stand out and be memorable. I hope to bring this kind of memorable experience to my photography someday.

I'm listing a couple of my old favorite commercials for you below. Not all of them are from past Super Bowls, but the messages are there... and they're good. 

What are some of your favorite commercials? 

View / Print recipe

All Images © Regan Baroni 2016.

Chrysler, God Made A Farmer

Google, Parisian Love

Valspar, Color for the Color Blind

January Recap

I've decided to include a monthly recap on my blog this year. A couple of my favorite bloggers do this, like The Kittchen and The Fox and She and I became inspired for two reasons.

First, what a cool way to remind readers of anything they may have missed and simplify the month into one post for them. Second, this is a good way for me to reflect on everything that I did in the last four weeks rather than focus on the never ending to-do list ahead. It's important to make note of your accomplishments and take time to reward yourself, so today I ordered a grande soy chai instead of a tall. 

January was a very busy, but very good month for me. I officially got my name Regan Baroni Photography and am head over heels for my new branding. You can check out my portfolio here.

Recipe shoots this month included:
Oysters on the Half Shell with a Cilantro-Chile Topping
...because I am obsessed with oysters.

Potato and Kale Soup with Lemon and Feta
...because my Mom is the queen of the best soup recipes.

Homemade Pizza with Cilantro-Pesto and Shrimp
...because cooking at home is a healthier way to enjoy the foods you love.

Quail Eggs with Chickpeas and Pico de Gallo
...because American Pride Microfarms delivers the BEST quail eggs every week.

Cold Storage: A Restaurant Feature
...because they serve oysters and Chef Chris Pandel is one of my favorites.

I've also officially launched my Recipes Archive in the top and bottom navigation, so you can scroll through alphabetically listed recipes separated into Sweet or Savory. You can also use the Search page if you're looking for specific ingredients or recipes.

It was quite a task to update all of the recipes to the new look and feel of the blog. Looking back on some of the older photography from 2013 was... interesting for me. I thought, 'Oh no, what was I thinking? Should I take that down?' It appears I had a thing with tilting the camera where the plate and composition looks slanted. Yes, slanted. See an example here and here.

But, I have to remember that we all started somewhere and without mistakes, there wouldn't be growth. Never settle. Keep taking pictures.

"Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I'm going to take tomorrow."
--Imogen Cunningham

See you next month!
xo

All Images © Regan Baroni 2016.

Cold Storage

My obsession with seafood just got kicked up a notch. I was recently invited to shoot at Cold Storage located in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood. The open, industrial space is beautiful and the smells and sights of fresh seafood made me feel right at home. 

The bar is the center point of the room with a tall, open ice chamber that holds oysters, clams, lobster and several other seafood varieties. You can't help but stare at it in awe. There are a lot of high top tables scattered throughout the room and round booths along the back wall where you can cozy up and slurp the night away. 

Chef Chris Pandel was very welcoming and down to earth. He showed me the space and handed me a menu and before I knew it, I had a giant seafood tower filled with king crab, ceviche, oysters, langoustines and other delicacies. I was able to taste the tower with the staff once the shoot was complete and needless to say, I'm going back for more. 

Pastry Chef Meg Galus brought out a tempting banana spilt that took me back to being a kid again. She offers a variety of desserts including sundae's, shakes, malts and... chocolate rootbeer cake? Yes, please.

I'm so excited to bring my husband, Mike and our friends to this spot. I think we'll come in for happy hour after work one night, which is Monday through Friday from 3-6pm where they offer $1 oysters and $3 drafts. I'd say it's a perfect way to reward yourself after a long, busy day. I seriously didn't think the West Loop could get any cooler, but it just did.

To the team at Cold Storage, thank you so much for inviting me to come in! I can't wait to come back! See you soon!
xo

All Images © Regan Baroni 2016.

Quail Eggs with Chickpeas and Pico de Gallo

I've been really into quail eggs lately. From my Mini Breakfast Sandwiches to this delicious Quail Eggs with Chickpeas and Pico de Gallo, my breakfasts have never looked so darn cute. I get my quail eggs from American Pride MicroFarm. They're one of my go-to stands at the summer farmers market. Luckily, in the winter months, they swing through town every Saturday to see if we need anything. It's such a nice perk because quail eggs are harder to find in my regular market. 

As a food photographer, I'm always trying to tell a story with my recipes. Last summer, Mike and I spent the fourth of July in rural Wisconsin. We escaped to a cabin on Anderson Lake, rented a pontoon and cooked over an open fire. Even though I love kitchens and all the gadgets, there's something very calming about the simplicity of cooking outside using only a fire and a skillet. 

This recipe requires 1 can of chickpeas, as much pico de gallo as your taste buds desire and a couple of sunny side up quail eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste with sprigs of cilantro for garnish and you've got yourself a simple, rustic breakfast that just might put your busy life on pause for a minute. 

Enjoy the weekend and happy Friday!
xo

View / Print recipe

All Images © Regan Baroni 2016.

Homemade Pizza with Cilantro-Pesto and Shrimp

We all have our favorite foods. One of mine happens to be pizza. Unfortunately, this isn't a top contender on the list of healthier eating. I'm not a cut-throat dieter, though. Just because I'm trying to eat healthy, doesn't mean that I have to cut out everything that I like to eat. That's just depressing. There are ways to eat healthier and enjoy the foods you like, without going overboard.

One of my greatest discoveries when I started learning how to cook was that I could control what (and how much) I was adding to a recipe. It sounds so simple, but it was a real eye opener for me. Cooking for yourself is a healthier way to eat, but knowing that you can adjust a recipe to make it work for you is a game changer. 

This Pizza with Cilantro-Pesto and Shrimp has two of my all-time favorite ingredients: shrimp and cilantro. The sauce is simply brushing the crust with extra-virgin olive oil and adding a few tablespoons of the homemade cilantro-pesto. I also included buffalo mozzeralla, but in moderation. This is a pizza recipe, afterall. Another favorite that I make at home is my simple Margherita Pizza.

If all this pizza talk is just sounding too unhealthy of me, you should check out my Super Green Smoothie that I try to make every morning post-workout. Don't worry, no cheese involved... just lots of nutrient-rich greens with some juicy pineapple to make it more than bearable. 

Enjoy!
xo

View / Print recipe

All Images © Regan Baroni 2016.

Potato and Kale Soup with Lemon and Feta

reganbaroni_ucat_potato_kale_soup_2.jpg

Happy Friday! It has been a busy week of "all things business" for me. From setting up my name, my account and insurance, I am ready to relax and take a break from the paper work. Everything is coming together, though and it's very exciting... still pinching myself a little... ok, maybe a lot. 

With all the business stuff going on, I haven't had as much time to cook or shoot this week. Luckily, I had a couple of soups on hand including this Potato and Leek Soup with Lemon and Feta. My mom made this for us when we were visiting her in Minnesota and it warmed us right up. It also happens to be my Mom's birthday today -- Happy Birthday Mom! -- and it seemed appropriate to share her amazing recipe with you today. 

The soup combines potato, kale and lemon with additional flavors of oregano and a pinch (or handful in my case) of crumbled feta cheese and rock cabbage microgreens. I picked up the microgreens from American Pride MicroFarm and they add a crisp, clean cabbage flavor that's nice and subtle. I think this soup is in the running for Mike's "favorite" right now. One of my favorite parts, besides the flavors, is that it comes together in under 30 minutes and makes a nice big batch to have on hand throughout those busier weeks.

Stay warm this weekend and if you're in the easy soup-making mood, definitely make this one and my Butternut Squash with Amaranth. They come together quickly and are a great combo to have on hand during the chilly weather.

xo

View / Print recipe

All Images © Regan Baroni 2016.

Oysters on the Half Shell with Cilantro-Chile Topping

Happy New Year! It has been a busy, but really great start to the year. From restaurant shoots to fresh features on the blog, here's what I've been up to...

While Mike and I were in Colorado over the holidays, I was asked to shoot at Rex's Family of Restaurants, including Rex's American Grill, Big House Burgers, The Laundry and his newest addition, Salt & Lime. It was a whirlwind, but so much fun to shoot for Rex again. I absolutely loved working with his team and despite it being their busiest week of the year, they welcomed me graciously and helpfully. I'll be sharing more details on the shoots soon, so stay tuned for some delicious sneak peeks. 

New on Up Close & Tasty...

New Branding
As you may have noticed, the blog has had a bit of a makeover with a new look & feel, including a new logo, colors and fonts. All the credit goes to an extremely talented Brand Designer, Diego Mota. Although I was formerly an art director and originally thought that I could do it all myself, I quickly realized that I didn't have the time or the vision. I needed to focus on my photography. It's been a good lesson for me - not just learning to ask for help when I need it, but recognizing all the talented people I have in my corner. I'm incredibly lucky and the blog is reaching new heights because of it. More details to come. Gracias, Diego!

Subscribe to UCAT
Another new blog feature is that you can now Subscribe to Up Close & Tasty! Sign up with your email in the right hand column so you can be the first to know about new posts, events and giveaways! Or, simply follow me on Bloglovin so you can get updates on all your favorite blogs at once.

Coming Soon on Up Close & Tasty...

Recipes Archive
I'm finally adding a Recipes Archive to help ease the search for existing recipes on the blog. Woohoo! They'll be separated into Sweet or Savory and listed in alphabetical order. Drinks will be added this year as well. Yes, that means a variety of tasty drink recipes are on the horizon! This will be available within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, you can use the Search page and type in specific keywords or recipes that you're looking for. 

Food For Thought
I'm also very excited to be building a Food For Thought section that will be launching early this year and added to the main navigation. This section will share ideas, experiences, tips and tricks based on my own adventures in photography, cooking and starting my business. A lot of people have been asking me to contribute photography tips & articles to their blogs, which has been so flattering and fun for me. It has inspired me to add a helpful resource on my own blog. If you missed my first Food For Thought post on the blog, Three Myths about Food Photography, check it out!  A couple of other fun articles are below... and there's so much more to come:

Image Brief Blog:
5 Savory Food Photography Tips

Wandeleur:
How To Take Mouth-Watering Food Photos

Recipes, Recipes, Recipes...
And, of course, more recipes are always on my radar, starting with these Oysters on the Half Shell with a Cilantro-Chile Topping. You know my obsession with oysters, so it's only natural that I kick off 2016 with a slurp. The topping is inspired by Dylan Fultineer, the Executive Chef at Rappahannock in Richmond, Virginia. It's amazing. If a cilantro-chile mix isn't your thing, you can also check out my recipe for a Classic Mignonette.

Enjoy!
xo

View / Print recipe

All Images © Regan Baroni 2016.

Happy New Year 2016

It has been quite a year. There were days that felt like they'd never end and yet, the year flew by. How does that happen? Looking back on everything, it's hard to pick my "favorite" moments, but two definitely stand out for me.

The first is that Mike and I traveled to Paris in February. It was one of the most amazing and beautiful trips I've ever been on. I feel so lucky that I could experience such a romantic city with Mike by my side. We ate oysters, sipped champagne, fumbled the language, explored cafes, became inspired by the art around us and walked what felt like thousands of miles within a city where there isn't a bad view in sight. I'm still gushing over all of it. 

The second is that I quit my "day job" so I could focus on photography full time. It had been an up and down year leading up to it because I was burnt out on my career in art direction. When your head is in one spot and your heart is another, it's definitely time to re-evaluate what you're doing and make a change. The re-evaluating is easy, it's the making-the-change part where you need to find the strength and confidence to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

Someone asked me at what point did I know that pursuing my photography dream was the right move. Three things came to mind right away:

This year, I was invited to be a contributing photographer for three commercial licensing sites: Getty ImagesImage Brief Offset. It made me think I must be doing something right with all of this. Lucky Peach magazine even contracted me to shoot with Rick Bayless for their breakfast issue. People want my photography?! How cool is that?! 

The second is how incredible my support system has been. My family, my friends and everyone who follows the blog... the excitement you express has such a positive impact. Every like, comment and new follower notification truly makes my day. 

The third is that I am happy when I'm taking pictures. Besides my love, Mike, it's my constant reminder to keep going... even when self doubt sets in, even when I worry about money, even when a shoot doesn't turn out the way I want and I have to start over... 

I always knew photography was so much more than a hobby. It's such a big part of who I am and I'm excited to show you so much more of me in 2016.

Farewell 2015... I won't forget everything you taught me. 

2016, Lets do this! 
xo

Images in order from top to bottom, left to right.
Click links below to see the post.

Mom's Plum Pie - Image available on Getty Images
My Shoot with Rick Bayless - published by Lucky Peach Magazine
Super Green Smoothie (perfect for those healthy new years resolutions)
Grilled Octopus - Image available for purchase on Etsy
Paris - Image available for purchase on Etsy
3 Cozy Winter At-Home Brunches - recipes by Kit Graham from TheKittchen - published on The Everygirl
Strawberry & Thyme Mini Tarts
Leftover Cranberry Sauce Popsicles
Tortellini Soup with Turkey & Spinach
Flank Steak with Grilled Corn Salsa
Mascarpone Cassis Dome by Sugar Fixé Macaron
Speck & Egg Pizza by Stix & Stones

All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.

Posted on December 31, 2015 .

Mini Breakfast Sandwiches with Quail Eggs

This summer while I was browsing our local farmers market in Downers Grove, I met the guys behind American Pride MicroFarm. I was drawn to the bright pink microgreens displayed at their stand and learned that they were Red Garnet Amaranth. After using them as a garnish for my Butternut Squash Soup, I continued to go back to them so I could try out the other special varieties of microgreens that they offer. 

Although the farmers market ended in mid-October, Bradford and John send out weekly emails to see if anyone needs anything throughout the winter. I love this because it's hard to find specialized microgreens at the local markets. I decided to order some arugula microgreens and a dozen of their gorgeous quail eggs. Although I typically love my Super Green Smoothie for breakfast, I was really excited to use the quail eggs for mini breakfast sandwiches. After all the holiday feasting, I thought a smaller-portioned recipe sounded pretty appealing.

You can't crack a quail egg like you crack a regular egg. The skin inside is much firmer (and more rubbery) than a regular egg. Use a serrated knife to gently cut a small portion of the bottom shell off, being careful not to puncture the yolk. I found this video from Martha Stewart very helpful and got the hang of it pretty quickly. If you're unable to get quail eggs, you can use regular sized eggs instead.

Everything comes together very easily whether you're making it for yourself or if you're having friends over for brunch. Add the ingredients of your choice. I used mini bagel halves, avocado, tomato, bacon and topped it off with a sunny side up quail egg, garnished with arugula microgreens. It was absolutely delicious. 

Enjoy!
xo

View / Print recipe

All Images © Regan Baroni 2015.