join me on my great kitchen adventure


I took French for 7+ years, yet I still feel pretentious and awkward when I use French (or foreign) names of recipes.

Why say “a la mode” when you can say “with ice cream”?  Why say “cacciatore” when you can say “with sauce”?  I probably sound so ignorant and nationalistic right now.  Additionally, I understand that using the language of where the dish originated is, in a sense, an everlasting homage to its creators.  And I agree that it tends to make a dish sound “fancier”.   But I feel like doing so creates a language barrier between the speaker and those who are unfamiliar with a dish.  In my ideal world, everyone could read the menu at a fancy restaurant and know exactly what is offered, without feeling embarrassed of their lack of knowledge.  They wouldn’t pass over the Coq au Vin for the Spaghetti with Meatballs.  And most of all, they wouldn’t feel like a dish with a foreign name was out of their cooking league.

Food should bring people together, and I wish language barriers didn’t hinder that. ~sigh~

In my ideal world, everyone would also agree to never plan important things before noon and bedhead wouldn’t exist.  So maybe it’s a good thing that I’m not the one making any big decisions…

These are pastry puffs filled with ice cream and topped with melted chocolate.  If I had just come out and told you that from the beginning, you would have been drooling from the very start, and inhaling them at an obscene rate.  Which is exactly my intention.

Read the rest of this entry »


Pesto Pasta (with Spinach)

I remember opening my fridge to some strange foods growing up.  I’d look across the lunch table to see a kid with a ham sandwich and oreos, only to look down and realize I had pesto and pita bread, with a side of fig newtons.  To my small, 8-year-old mind, this just wasn’t fair.  Why did my mom always buy us the fruit leathers and not the fruit roll-ups?  Why did we always have pita chips instead of pringles in the cupboard? And lastly, what was with all the weird, unpronounceable cheeses in the fridge?  Heck, I just wanted cheddar.

Admittedly, this did me a lot of good.

It occurred to me very early on that just because I didn’t see these foods in my peers lunchboxes didn’t mean that they weren’t delicious.  I’ve spent the rest of my years loving every bite of unconventional food that comes my way, and snacking to my heart’s content on foods that do my body good.  I never had to struggle with balancing my nutritional intake because it now comes naturally.  Of course you can make an entire salad out of spinach, and it’s delicious too.  In the same way, you can put pesto sauce on your pasta instead of tomato sauce and reap all the benefits of basil and pine nuts while enjoying every delicious bite.  I live in a win-win food world: good taste and great health can co-exist happily.  Thank goodness for that, because I am way too lazy to keep track of all the food that goes flying into my mouth.

So I guess that’s the benefit of buying your kids nice, wholesome foods.  They’ll spend their whole childhood grumbling, until finally they grow up and realize that they lucked out.  Unfortunately, it’s still too late to take back those years of begging for dunkaroos.  Whoops!

Read the rest of this entry »

Lemon Blueberry Bars

I’m going to start my first recipe with a confession: it took me a while to appreciate the taste of lemon.  I got along well with most other citrus fruits, but I admittedly have a sweet tooth, and the zesty taste of lemon was always too bitter for my liking.

Luckily, I’ve had a turnaround over the past year, and now can’t get enough of it.  Lemon in my water.  Lemon on my sole.  Lemon-scented hand lotion.  Lemon sorbet and lemon starbursts.  I really never thought I’d see the day.  Also, there’s something about cool, mellow lemon that pairs perfectly with warm breezes and showing a little skin finally.  It’s starting to warm up here in Madison, and I’m looking forward to an entire week of sunny, 60 degree weather.  To celebrate, and prepare, I made a batch of lemon blueberry bars to stash in my fridge.  So tart, so tasty, and a breeze to make.  They’re a perfect breakfast, lunch or dessert.  In fact, they’re perfect to eat whenever, really.  And by that, I mean all the time for every meal forever.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you that they’ll be gone in 24 hours, and your friends will find you in a mellowed-out, lemon induced-coma.  You can thank me later.

Read the rest of this entry »