What’s in Your Salad?

Last month, a close friend of mine flew home to the Midwest to attend her 96-year-old grandmother’s funeral. It was a bittersweet trip; for years she had called her grandma every Wednesday evening to chat, even if she had to skip out on girl’s night to do so.

 

When she returned, we met up and she told stories of both her memories of her grandma and the week in South Dakota. She explained that at the memorial, at least 13 people brought homemade salads, but none of them contained any leafy greens! After living in sunny and healthy California for so long, she forgot about the potato, pasta, and jello (yes, jello!) salads of her youth.   Continue reading for recipe.

July 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Midweek Meals, Satisfying Sides. 3 comments.

Sweet or Savory?

A few months ago, a friend suggested an excellent idea for a blog improvement. As a thank you, I promised him a batch of his favorite cookies, white chocolate macadamia nut. I drove to the store the next day and bought the nuts, but then a bustling tornado of events swept through my life, leaving the unopened canister to collect dust on my countertop.

 

Last week, I guiltily noticed the macadamia nut can hiding behind a box of bran flakes cereal. I immediately wrote my friend for his mailing address, but in the meantime, I read through my CL magazine weekly recipe email and found one for a macadamia nut pesto. Hmm…   Continue reading for recipe.

April 28, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Midweek Meals. 2 comments.

Upside Down and Turned Around

A few months ago, my life turned upside down. Lots of germs attacked my body, weakened my immune system, and finally broke in to build themselves a home inside my cells. None of them were serious or life-threatening; each simply planned his visit to begin before the previous pathogen packed his bags and waved good-bye.

 

Family, friends, and loved ones worked night and day to make the weeks bearable and prevent me from falling into the self-pity holes I dug as a results of not running, not working, and rarely leaving the house. The bought me a plethora of crafts and coloring books to keep me from going stir-crazy from too much TV time.

 

It mainly worked, and I’m grateful for each smile and crayon. But still, moments existed where I began to count the sick days, and I started craving meals as mixed up as I felt. Breakfast for dinner, dessert before the main course, yogurt paired with French fries… Nothing was off-limits. Yet despite all of those crazy dishes, I still came up with a tasty one I’ll cook again and again: upside down “spaghetti.”   Continue reading for recipe.

February 16, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Midweek Meals. Leave a comment.

Pre-Wrapped Presents

Nearly every store offers some sort of sale, special, or layaway. Candy canes, twinkling lights, and ornaments practically jump off the shelves, while yards of wrapping paper, curly ribbon, and gift tags sneak into your shopping art to follow you home. It’s official: December has arrived in a whirlwind of cash, credit cards, and gift receipts. Although you probably don’t want to hear my frustration with the holiday spending obsession, I still readily buy one “gift.”   Continue reading for recipe.

December 7, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Midweek Meals. Leave a comment.

Restaurant Menus: More Than Just Tonight’s Specials

Artists draw their inspiration from just about anywhere. Sitting under a tree at a park, the three-year-old rosy-cheeked girl digging in the sandbox may become a painter’s next subject. Or ordering a chai latte at the local Starbucks, the cashier’s call to the barista and her loud echo may become the melody in a musician’s newest song. Or tensely studying in the library just minutes before an exam, the stressed-out college student may turn into the sculptor’s next piece.

 

Cooking is no different. Chefs find inspiration in all of the same—and some unusual—places, just like artists. As for me, your typical home cook just playing around in the kitchen, I find some of my best inspirations come from restaurant menus.   Continue reading for recipe.

September 1, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Midweek Meals. 4 comments.

Desert Inspirations

I recently talked with a friend about Arizona culture. While he’s convinced it only consists of prickly cacti, I grew up ogling at the colorful red dirt landscape and beautiful adobe houses. (I’m positive I’m the only person who ever looked like a tourist in a perfectly ordinary suburban neighborhood. The Arizonans are probably still laughing at me.)

 

Those childhood summer vacations to visit my grandparents were definitely memorable. Although stepping outside felt like entering an industrial-sized oven turned all the way up to “broil,” walking to the local Mexican restaurants was worth the heat. They teased me with their delicious southwestern flavors, using ingredients I’m still too timid to handle.   Continue reading for recipe.

June 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Have a Heart. Leave a comment.

“Saucy” Child Phase: The Sequel

I was about the weirdest kid when spaghetti night rolled around. First, I went through a stage where I only ate the noodles. Mom begged me to eat the sauce, but all I wanted was a big pile of noodles completely showered with Kraft parmesan cheese. (Real fancy, I know.)   Continue reading for recipe.

June 2, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Have a Heart. 2 comments.

Homemade Flourless Carrot Fettuccine

Noodles made from scratch that only take 10 minutes to make from start to serve? That’s my kind of meal! And with such beautiful, vibrant colors, you won’t ever use regular flour fettuccine again.   Continue reading for recipe.

April 26, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Midweek Meals. 7 comments.

Unintentional Love, Aisle 12

I wanted feta. I had planned out the perfect pasta dish, and all I needed was the cheese. But when I drove to the grocery store and browsed the cheese selection, the only feta in stock was contaminated with Mediterranean herbs. Sigh. I really craved that feta. So what’s a girl to do?   Continue reading for recipe.

April 7, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Midweek Meals. Leave a comment.

Lend a Hand

Which is easier: feeding a baby or stuffing pasta shells? While you scratch your head and puzzle over that question, I’ll explain my logic. Both require an apron or bib, a spoon, and lots of patience. On a good day, feeding a baby only requires two hands—one to hold the spoon and one to wipe her mouth. But stuffing pasta shells requires at least three—two to hold the slippery little bugger open and one to cram the cheesy filling inside.    Continue reading for recipe.

March 31, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Midweek Meals. 4 comments.

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