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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Raspberry Peach Jam and DIY Fun

I used to have a backyard garden.
Every year it got more and more crazy, it's borders expanding, creeping, pushing farther than the previous year.  A couple of feet larger on one end, a couple of feet on the other.

It was so much fun.
I am not the most organized gardener.  My tomatoes grew into something resembling a jungle, my zucchini plants multiplied in numbers each year, growing big and beautiful with giant specimens that I don't even particularly like to eat.  I had an ever-growing number of different kinds of peppers and massive bunches of cayenne strung up to dry by my dining room window.

My husband would till my spot in the backyard each May, shaking his head and asking me hesitantly if I was sure I needed this much garden.

Yes.  Yes I did.
It's a bit addicting, watching a plot of brown earth grow and flourish.  The scent of tomato plants in the air as you meander through them, plucking their bright red fruit.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Strawberry Shortcakes and 70's Weddings

I remember not liking a lot of things as a kid that seem utterly absurd to me now.

Cream cheese.
Sour cream.
Mustard.
Dark chocolate.
Brussels sprouts.

I suppose that list is fairly normal when it comes to kids' tastes- isn't it strange that most of those foods are on my list of grown-up favorites?  I could definitely go for a toasted bagel slathered with a healthy dose of cream cheese right about now!

The list of things I used to love and I now have no interest in whatsoever has been turned on it's head a little as well.  I remember going crazy for gooey, sickly-sweet caramel treats, drink mixes whose flavor can best be described as "red", and scrambling for the slice of cake with the giant frosting flower at birthday parties.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Summer Mornings and Perfect Pancakes

I have always been an utter failure when it comes to making pancakes.

They don't seem that difficult, do they?
This shouldn't be something I can't do.

Yet I gave up on making pancakes years ago.  They just never turned out correctly no matter what recipe I used.

When my son turned seven a few weeks ago he asked me to make pancakes for breakfast.
What was I going to do, tell him "no"?
Of course not.  Especially not with this kiddo who is normally so picky about food.
Pancakes are something he was never open to eating until recently, so if pancakes were what he wanted, I was going to make pancakes.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Decadent Appetizers and Low-Key Birthdays

I turned another year older yesterday.

I've got to say, while getting older is certainly far superior to the next best option birthdays certainly lack the excitement that accompanied them when I was younger.  This may be the last year that I can say with certainty that I'm in my mid-thirties- possibly next year, but after that I'm certainly in late 30's territory.  Aging is weird.

My husband wanted to take me out for dinner last night, but if there's one thing that we know about me at this point it's that I love a good cheese board.  I told him that all I wanted was cheese and prosecco and he obliged.

So last night we feasted- a multitude of cheese, crackers, a loaf of sourdough bread from the German bakery near my sister-in-law's house that I had been stashing away in the freezer, flavored olive oil, and these guys- Honey Balsamic Bacon Goat Cheese and Pistachio Bites.

Boy, that's a mouthful of a name, isn't it?
Trust me, you want these in your mouth.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Chicken Fiesta Salad and Using Leftovers

I often have a problem when it comes to my husband's grilling, and it has nothing to do with his abilities.

Even as a not-so-lover of meat for the most part I can appreciate his skills at the grill, from smokey, moist, cut-it-with-a-fork pork loin to salmon and veggies for me and pretty much anything else you throw his way- he's up for the challenge.

The problem is he's a little too eager sometimes.  While he and our daughter are the only two in our house that can eat their weight in steak he has a tendency to cook for an army and the end result is that I find myself staring down a daunting amount of leftovers in the fridge.

Second problem?
Neither one of them is terribly keen on leftovers, and I'm not fond of wasting food.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Pasta Shapes and Picky Eaters

I'm of the opinion that there are few- if any- better shapes of pasta than cavatappi.


Not only are those corkscrews fun to to look at, the mouthfeel can't be beat.

Yes, I said "mouthfeel."  It's the only word that really works.  The textured outside, hollow inside, and curly shape are just perfection.  It's the only pasta shape I will ever use to make my famous macaroni and cheese.

The folds and frilly edges of farfalle are fun and the ruffled, bell-shaped twists of campanelle are wonderful as well.

But cavatappi...in my mind, it's pretty much pasta perfection.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Wanderlust and Wedding Cookies

Sometimes it drives my family a little crazy that I rarely make the same recipe twice, that I'm always on the lookout for something new to make as I inhale cookbooks as if they were novels and compile lists of recipes that I imagine myself making one day.


My kitchen cabinet is full of books whose pages tell the story of Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East.

I want to take it all in.  Every recipe, every ingredient, every cuisine.
I want to travel, see, and experience.
I want to see it all.  Do it all.  Try it all.
I want to learn everything possible about every subject I encounter.
Take in everything I can and weave it into myself.

I guess loving me requires, if not an equal desire to absorb the bigness of the world, at the very least an appreciation of my awe of it and some tolerance of my love of whimsy.

It seems such an unfathomable waste of this fantastical world not to experience as much as one is able.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Bread Dipping Oil and Girls' Weekends

My sister-in-law and I are kind of two peas in a pod.

I don't see her nearly enough, but every once in awhile I manage to get away for a weekend for some girl time and we get to hang out eating the things no one else wants to eat and drinking the things no one else wants to drink and doing the things no one else wants to do.

It's kind of wonderful, to be honest.  :-)

While we may try new restaurants or wineries or go to a museum or get a pedicure during the day, our evenings are always the same.  We pop in a movie that we will only half watch (if that), pour some wine, and create one amazing spread on the coffee table on which to nosh while we talk and laugh.

It's dinner and dessert and evening snacks all rolled into one.

There's always a baguette and crackers.
An amazing spread of cheeses.
Hummus, maybe some tapenade.
And flavored olive oil in which to dip our bread.

Heaven.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cuban Sandwich Sliders and the Joy of Easy Meals

At some point in the past few months I made a batch of Cuban Sandwich Sliders.

I have no idea why, or when.



All I know is that at some point in the craziness of life, school, and family of the past few months I made them and I photographed them.

Those pictures have been chilling on my camera ever since.
I didn't even download them.

What can I say...life's been a little crazy.
Another more, ahem, adult student and I were laughing with each other before class one day about the number of convenience foods we'd been relying on since school started- time to cook has been a luxury, most of my meals have gone un-photographed, and my goodness I certainly haven't had time to blog about them!

I have some catching up to do this summer, don't I?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Grilling Chicken and New Sauces

When my husband asked if he could take me out for Mother's Day I said "yes."


To be honest, I really had zero desire to adult.  Normally I would jump at the chance to whittle down my ever-growing list of bookmarks on Yelp, but after going full speed ahead with studying and finals for the past couple of weeks while simultaneously trying to manage my tooth pain until I had time to get into the endontist's office for a root canal, I was just kind of done.  I wanted to stick close to home and become very familiar with my couch.

So a couple of days after he asked me about Mother's Day I asked if he would mind terribly if we just stayed home, grilled out, and watched movies.
Of my choosing, of course, because it was Mother's Day and everything.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Warm, Happy Days and Fruity Drinks

Full disclosure, I'm pretty much a wine girl.

I don't like beer.  I don't like super-sweet drinks.  I do enjoy a margarita on occasion, but overall?
Wine.  Sometimes I might even do something crazy and unexpected like order a dry white instead of a dry red!

I'm crazy predictable in this area.

Yet the happy warm-weather bug bit me the other day and when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to cook I found a recipe for a Blue Hawaiian.

They're just so pretty!
I had never tried one, but I do love a frozen, slushy drink once in a while.

So off I headed to the liquor store for some blue curaƧao (which the lady behind the counter excitedly pointed out that I had pronounced correctly- yay!) and cheap rum (because...I mean...why spend money on the good stuff when it's going in a blender with fruit juice?).

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day and Macaroni Salad

Life is good, folks.
So good.

After taking an incredibly long break from school I'm now two semesters in and going strong.
I can't tell you how much I'm loving it.
My husband laughed at me the other day when I let it slip that I was sad the semester was coming to a close and I wouldn't have class over the summer.

Things I've learned so far on my adventure:
1) I'm still an overachiever.
2) I'd forgotten how much I love writing...but I love writing.
3) My kids are wonderful, amazing, people who both seem to like that I'm in school now too
4) I do not handle a cluttered house or lack of time to cook dinner well.  Working on that.