Tag Archives: comfort

Mushroom Mac & Cheese with Portobello “Bacon” and French Bread Crumbles

Mac & cheese is one of the happiest dishes there is.  I know what you’re thinking: “That’s just like…your opinion, man.”  Well, it is.  And I love it when I’m right.

Chanterelle Mac and Cheese with Portobello Bacon and French Brea

This one is particularly good because it’s full of mushroomy deliciousness.  I found chanterelles on sale and used those, but you could use any mushroom.  You’re probably better off with cremini or button mushrooms.  To heighten the flavor a bit, you might consider roasting the mushrooms first, or swapping the cheddar to something lighter like Doux de Montagne.

But especially great with this is the topping: a crumble of french bread, parsley, parmesan and chopped portobello “bacon.”  Which isn’t real bacon, obviously, and for meat-eaters, it won’t be the same.  It will, however, be delicious and an acceptable breakfast side for anyone, vegan or otherwise, as well as a great way to add some meaty, smoky elements into this dish while still keeping it vegetarian-friendly.  I got the idea for the portobello bacon from a friend, who introduced me to Libby Pratt’s blog.


Chanterelle Mac & Cheese with Portobello “Bacon” and French Bread Topping


    For the mac:
  • 1 pound large shells, cooked to al dente
  • 1/2lb mushrooms of your choice, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter plus 2 extra tbsps
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 4 cups milk
  • 5 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • For the topping
  • 1 large portobello mushroom cap, sliced and marinated in this marinade
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3-4 pieces of french bread, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan


    Make the mac
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Melt the 2 tbsps butter in a large pot w/ the olive oil. Add in the mushrooms and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked down and soft. Add in the salt and pepper, the rest of the butter and the flour. Stir to get everything well incorporated and cook for a couple more minutes. Add in the parsley and dijon. Add in the first two cups of milk, stirring well, and then the next two, slowly. Let the milk warm up and then add in the cheeses, 1-2 cups at a time, stirring constantly to give it time to melt and smooth out.
  2. Add in the cooked pasta and then pour the entire mixture into a large oven-safe pan. Cook at 400F for 30 minutes.
  3. Make the topping
  4. Drain the portobello slices. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add in the canola oil. Fry the portobello slices until browned and slightly crispy on the edges, 3-5 minutes per side.
  5. Remove them from the pan and drain them on paper towels. Add the tablespoon of butter to the pan and melt it. Toss in the breadcrumbs and toast them until crispy. Chop the portobello slices and add them to the pan, along with the parsley. Fold everything together.
  6. Pull the baked macaroni out of the oven and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top, and then the quarter cup of parmesan.

Do-It-Yourself Instant Cocoa Mix

I am about to take you on a fun-filled, wondrous adventure to a magical land called filled with flavor and delicious delights and that ever-so-sumptuous food of the gods.

That’s right, we’re going to make hot cocoa.

Photo Nov 24, 11 23 26 PM

Don’t say it.  Don’t tell me that you make hot chocolate all the time–“All you have to do is open the packet of Swiss Miss and add hot water.”  That’s not making hot cocoa.  That’s just barely making it through the day and being willing to settle for something, anything with a mere wisp of chocolate in it before you go insane and take somebody with you.

Now, while I am a fan of melting down shaved chocolate into a pool of lightly simmering, frothy milk in the celebrated winter ritual that is settling down with a piping hot cup of hot chocolate whilst mentally praising those brilliant Mayans, sometimes you don’t want to spend the time, effort or money to do that and sometimes you’re at work, mentally (or physically—although in that case, you have more serious problems than chocolate-deficiency) to a desk, or snowed in at home behind 2 feet of frozen little water pellets.  In those cases, you want–nay, you need–instant cocoa.

Photo Nov 24, 11 23 37 PM

But that doesn’t mean you should rush headlong into the arms of the Swiss Miss.  Not to impugn her honor or anything, but I hear she really gets around.  You deserve someone more special than that.  Someone unique and hand-crafted.  And I am love to play matchmaker.  Well, me and Alton Brown.

Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa

* 2 cups powdered sugar
* 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
* 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons cornstarch
* Hot water

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly.  Seal in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry.

To make hot cocoa, fill half a mug with the cocoa mixture and then pour in hot water or milk.  Stir, sip, smile.

If you want to make it even more betterer (yes, that’s right, even more betterer), you can make some snickerdoodles to dip into your cocoa.

Because…Pie, Part II: Winter is Coming

It snowed last night.  I don’t know if it had even frosted yet but last night, it snowed.

It’s made my husband terribly happy.  He’s a weird, cold-loving polar bear who has somehow managed to squeeze himself into a very convincing Josh-suit.  He loves the fact that it rained and then snowed last night, even though it froze the car doors shut.

Me?  I like the snow just fine, I suppose…as long as I’m laying in my warm bed (flannel sheets for the win!).  Or snuggled on the couch with a mug of cocoa watching How I Met Your Mother or American Horror Story.  Or basically not anywhere near the outside.  If it were possible to safely and inexpensively induce hibernation in people…I would do it.  In a heartbeat.

But alas.  I live in Michigan and snow is a thing.  Winter is real.  It’s not just a Game of Thrones meme anymore.


My only weapon against it is flannel sheets, fuzzy socks, and an arsenal of warm, heavy comfort foods.  I have decided this is going to be the Winter of the Comfort Food, officially.  Last week was lasagna.  I’m still working on perfecting it.  Then pumpkin pie.

This week, I turned my attention to pot pie.  I love a good chicken pot pie.  It combines my top comfort food (chicken stew) with pie crust.  There is literally nothing to not like about that.  And when made in ramekins or small baking dishes, you get single-sized portions.  Easy for distributing, and repackaging, and taking for lunch the next day.



I spent less than half a day making these, all told.  It seems like a lot, but most of it is “put it in the oven and let it do it’s thing” time.  I roasted the chicken, made the pie crust, cooked the stew…did everything except make stock.  I used store-bought because I didn’t have any on hand, but homemade would make it even more awesome.  It was a great way to spend a cool fall day.  It’ll be a great way to pass the winter ones too.




Roasted Chicken Pot Pie


    For the crust
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsps cold butter, diced
  • 4 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tsps dried herbes de provence
  • For the chicken
  • 3-4 pound whole chicken, cleaned and with the organs removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried herbes de provence
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 whole cloves of garlic
  • A little bit of chicken stock as needed for basting
  • For the filling
  • The white and dark meat from a 3-4 pound roasted chicken
  • The pearl onions roasted with the chicken
  • 1 leek, sliced and washed
  • 3 carrots, sliced into half inch rounds
  • 1 cup of frozen baby peas
  • 32oz of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 tbsp dried herbes de provence
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste


    Make the pie crust
  1. Do the step either before or while the chicken is roasting. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, herbs and butter in a food processor and pulse a few times until the butter is thoroughly chopped. Slowly drizzle in the cold water while you pulse the processor until the dough forms on its own into a rough ball.
  2. Remove the dough and place it on a floured surface. Pat it into a ball shape, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.
  3. Roast the chicken
  4. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  5. Mix the olive oil, herbs and sea salt together and rub them all over the chicken, especially under the skin over the breast meat. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic and rosemary sprigs.
  6. Place the chicken in a small roasting pan with the pearl onions. Roast for approximately 1-1.5 hours (about 20 minutes per pound, or until the juices run clear), basting as needed with a little stock.
  7. Let the chicken cool before pulling the meat off.
  8. Bring the filling together
  9. In a heavy-bottomed pan, melt the stick of butter. Add in the flour and stir together, creating a roux. Cook over medium heat, stirring as needed. You want to cook the flour taste out, but not burn the roux or let it get too dark--let it go for 10 minutes or so. Add the dried herbs and rosemary to the pot, and then slowly stir in the chicken stock. Let the stock simmer for about 15 minutes.
  10. Pull the meat from the chicken, give it a rough dice with a knife, and add it to the soup, along with the leeks and carrots. Let the soup simmer down until the stock has reduced by at least a third. Add in the cream, half of the parmesan, the pearl onions and peas. Taste it and add any salt and pepper as needed.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  12. Assemble the pies
  13. Divide the stew amongst your ramekins. I used four wide, shallow ones. The amount of pies you get will vary on your ramekin size.
  14. Roll out the pie crust and, using a pizza cutter or a knife, cut out circles slightly larger in diameter than your ramekins. Carefully drape the crust over the top of the ramekins, pressing the edges over the sides, sealing in the stew.
  15. Brush the crusts with a bit of egg wash or butter, and sprinkle each one with a quarter of the leftover parmesan. Place the ramekins on a large cookie sheet, and bake them in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the crusts are nicely browned.
  16. Serve and enjoy. They will be hot and delicious!

Wait, make that “Tortellini-Are-Little-Puffs-of-Heaven and Italian Sausage Stew.”  Kind of a long name, though.  I’ll work on it.

It’s been a very soup-y fall for me, for a couple of reasons.  1)Fall just seems to need soup.  I don’t know what it is but for some reason, fall is a soup season.  2)Soup recipes make a lot and it’s great for pouring leftovers into a jar and taking it work a couple days for lunch.  3)I rarely made soup before last year because I was convinced I was a failure at it.  I’m not nearly as nervous now.  Clearly if I can do, any idiot can.  But I repeat myself.

Continue reading

cheesy chicken soupSunday was a busy day.  I got out of bed–and that was an effort, let me tell you–and made breakfast, prepared bread dough, did the week’s grocery shopping, found out my Twitter account was hacked (again, apologies to all involved), roasted chicken, made stock, made soup and still managed to watch Squid Invasion on Netflix streaming and thoroughly freak myself out.

But the important thing here is the soup.  It’s my cheesy, chunky comfort stew.  I originally made it for Paul and Josh last week for dinner.  Paul and I had a very good trade going: if I made dinner, he would bring cinnamon pie for dessert.  (I freaking love cinnamon pie and Paul makes it brilliantly.)  And since I knew I was going to want to have a really large piece of pie for dessert, I figured I would make something for dinner that was simple (cause I was tired), quick (cause I was short on time), vegetarian (because Paul is not of the meat-eating persuasion) and filling without being super heavy (cause pie).  Oh and delicious, of course, because that’s how I roll. Continue reading

I’m on year two of a five year plan that was put into operation about 15 years ago.  I’m a little behind, I’ll admit.  But the plan, the plan is still good.  The plan is to take over the world.  At first I thought I’d do it with my charm and effervescent wit.  But that hasn’t panned out yet.  So now I’m thinking I’ll take a slightly different tack.  I’m going to take over the world through a slow, steady and judicious application of macaroni and cheese.

First, I get the world’s attention with irresistible bacon comfort filled baked mac& cheese.  Then I up the ante with a sophisticated, spring-friendly chicken, spinach and leek concoction.  And now I’m sealing the deal with this sassy chorizo, garlic and broccoli  mac and cheese.  It’s just a little taste of what my reign will be like: a macaroni in every pot.

Well, a penne anyway.  Or a rigatoni.  Maybe shells.  Or spirals. Continue reading

Wrap it up: shredded pork and red pepper salad

pork and red pepper wrapsI like weekends that are both productive and lazy.  Productive as in “I made a lot of delicious food.”  Lazy as in “said delicious food require very little effort on my part.”  It’s nice.  It was a good way to spend the last weekend of January 2011, alternating between lounging on the couch with Josh and the dogs and spending a few minutes in the kitchen here and there, whipping up something tasty and fun.  I made another batch of beef tallow, rendering down about 3.5 pounds of suet, and I made my very first brioche which was then used in a delightful but deadly french toast casserole with heavy cream, whole milk, eggs, raw sugar, vanilla and Vietnamese cinnamon.  However, one can only indulge so much without slipping into a coma.  I love good, hearty comfort food spiked with full-fat dairy as much as the next person, but not all comfort food has to be loaded down with fat.  Most, yes, but not all.  So Saturday afternoon, I made a delightful dinner of light and flavorful lettuce wraps to combat the growing comfort food coma.  Continue reading

Comfort Food: Three Little Pig Chili

It was ungodly cold in Michigan this weekend.  A high of 14 yesterday.  Fourteen. No, I didn’t really mean to type 41.  The 1 and the 4 were in the correct locations.  14 degreesFahrenheit.  I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, 14 is not a temperature.  It’s an awkward time in adolescence, yes, but it is not a temperature.  It is against everything that is right and holy in my world.

Luckily, to combat this, my office had a chili potluck on Friday, complete with 4 delicious chili concoctions to take the freezing edge off, as well as chips, cheese, cornbread, biscuits–all the necessary accompaniments–cookies and cupcakes.  It was delighful.  But all too soon it ended and I found myself on my own Saturday morning with the cold wind trying to slide into the creaky doorways of my house.  My house is a delight.  I enjoy it immensely.  After all, we did strive to pick a house that we adored, because I intend to live there until I die and then I’m going to haunt it (although admittedly, indeed, I do plan on retiring someplace warm and sunny, but I still plan on keeping and haunting this house).  But some days, the grand old house is a little less grand.  Like days where it’s 14 degrees outside.  My house is three solid layers of brick wall (so if that big bad wolf ever comes around, I’m golden)…and no insulation.  And all wood floors.  And single pain, 150 year old windows.  It just soaks up the cold like a sponge.  With Josh off playing some RPG game with friends, and the dogs out of the house playing at day care (you laugh but it’s the greatest thing in the world if you have a puppy, especially one that weights 95 pounds and is the size of a deer, like our mastiff), I knew that if I followed my instincts and just melted myself into the couch, cloaked in a blanket like a ghost and watched endless hours of the Cooking channel, eventually….wait, why didn’t I do that?  That sounds awesome. Continue reading

Baked Pumpkins: tasty meal in its own adorable bowl

Ever since we got a couple of adorable little pie pumpkins in our farm share back in October, I’ve planned on making this dish.  Sure, it’s two months after that, but thanks to the wonders of living in a 150 year old brick house that doesn’t retain heat very well, the pumpkins were still good and ready to go.

Like most of my…life in general, I didn’t really have a plan, more a set of guidelines: fill pumpkin, bake.  I happened to have some hot Italian sausage I picked up from Steinhauser Farms at the Lunasa market a while back.  I thawed it out to use in a pasta dish earlier this week and wanted to use up the rest of it and this seemed like a good way to do that.  I also had some extra sharp white cheddar and thanks to a stocking-up trip to the store, I got mushrooms and arugula as well.  That’s it.  That’s all there is to this recipe–five main ingredients and some seasonings and olive oil.  You put it together, you let it do its thing in the oven and you have these adorable little self contained meals. Continue reading

Lunasa Market Mac & Cheese

I miss my Needle Lane farm share.  Shopping for your own vegetables is just not the same.  It lacks the surprise and the built-in push to experiment with new things.  I suppose I could just go to the grocery store, stand in the produce section, blindfold myself and blindly grope around until I grab something…but I’m sure you can see how that will probably just get me a one way ticket to Bannination, population: me.  And on top of that, winter is looming like a giant, frozen marshmallow puff above our heads and soon the farmer’s market will be no more; in fact, some have already ended.  How will I hobnob with the salt-of-the-earth people who grow my food now? How will I get my fresh air market fix?

Well, I guess that’s where Lunasa comes in.  Luna-what-a? you ask.  Lunasa.  It’s a new-ish farmer’s market in Ann Arbor that we’re trying out for the winter.  From their website,

“Lunasa (loo-nah-sah) is an annual Celtic harvest celebration traditionally begun in August. Getting back to our roots and supporting local farmers and craftspeople is something we feel good about doing, for us personally, our families, our neighbors, and our local communities. Come celebrate with us!”

The market itself is kind of an interesting idea: it’s a cross between a membership club and a farmer’s market.  They do have “open house” days where anyone can stop by and shop around but for the most part, you have to purchase a membership to join and regularly shop.  At $40 a year, we weren’t sure if it would be worth it but figured we could give it a shot at least for this year.  And as a market-addict, I’ll apparently do almost anything for my fix….I said almostContinue reading

Comfort Food: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

It’s getting to be that time of year again.  Football season is in swing.  That’s good.  School has started up again.  That’s bad.  The days are bright and cool.  That’s good.  It’s darker in the mornings when I leave for work now.  That’s bad.  This post comes with a free frogurt.  That’s good.  The frogurt contains potassium benzoate.  That’s bad. But it comes with your choice of toppings!

(That’s a Simpsons reference, by the way.  If you got it, that’s good.  If you didn’t, that’s bad.)

But fall is also the time of year where I start thinking about, craving, making and eating what I consider to be the ruling class of the gastronomical world: comfort foods.  And that’s good.

Comfort food is not just a universal cultural icon, it’s a necessity.  It’s an inevitability, really.  It’s not just about favorites, it’s about associations.  And I have a lot of associations.  For instance, baked mac and cheese is one of my very top comfort foods because it’s a dish we always have at family holidays.  Apparently that’s not very common, but it’s a must for us.  And then there’s barbecue, which is more of a summer comfort food for me but really works all year round (I mean, I don’t turn down barbecue for just about anything).  I used to watch my dad make his neighborhood-famous ribs and homemade sauce every summer as a kid and it stuck with me.  Sugar cookie dough–because my mom used to make sugar cookies at Christmas time and I used to swipe the unbaked dough and eat it while watching my sister play video games.  Chili, because it’s the first comfort dish I learned to make on my own–and the first dish I ever cooked for a friend, in middle school.  And chocolate chip cookies because…well, I’m alive.  That’s reason enough.

And these are all things I find myself wanting in the fall and winter, as it gets colder and darker and a slew of holidays begins to creep forward (or sprint—Costco actually has Christmas stuff on sale.  In September).  So the time has come, the Lauren said, to talk of tasty things, of stews and soups and casseroles, of comfort foods and drinks.  Continue reading

Meatballs: A Love Story

This week has been a massive failure, culinarily speaking.  I think I ate out half the week, with the exception of last night, when Josh made Kraft Mac for us for dinner because I was too lightheaded to do anything but fall asleep after a very long day at work during which I ran around a lot and only actually ate one chocolate-banana smoothie and four homemade oreos.

These meatballs were the one gastronomical high point of my week, and that’s sad.  The meatballs aren’t sad; they’re fantastic.  What’s sad is that I have yet to follow them up with anything as delicious.  To make it up to you, and to my poor, poor belly, I think I will make some barbecue this weekend and post all the mouth-watering photos that I can.  That’s my gift to you.  Or it will be.  If I do it.

Anyway, I can’t really remember but I’m pretty sure I made these on Monday, before my week went completely to crap.  I really love meatballs.  I’m intrigued by them.  Not the “Why the hell would you do that?” kind of fascination that I have with meatloaf, oddly enough, but a simple curious adoration (I’ll do anything for meatballs but I won’t do that?).  In fact, if you recall, my previous iteration of this blog was chickenmeatballs.wordpress.com.  It’s one of my food goals to master the art of meatball making (along with icing, pulled pork, chocolate turtles, pancakes, biscuits and a few thousand other things—luckily, I think I’ve got the chocolate chip cookie down).  Well, this week I think I moved a tiny bit closer to my goal of meatball perfection.  Continue reading

Georgie Porgie Pudding and…well, really just pudding, I guess

Josh likes pudding.  And I like chocolate.  So chocolate pudding is a nice compromise for the both of us.  Plus, it was great to make this as a trial run since I’m sure I’m going to have to make it again at the end of the week….since Josh is getting his wisdom teeth out.  All four of them.  At once.

Chocolate pudding is the least I can do.

Well, no, bringing him home and leaving him on the couch to wallow in pain medication is the least I can do.  But then what kind of wife would I be?  And then there’d be no pudding. Continue reading

Meal in a pot: baked mac and cheese

I think there’s one basic truth in this world that we can all agree upon: macaroni and cheese is freaking awesome.  It’s like pizza-even when it’s bad, it’s still macaroni and cheese.

There’s a de facto rule in my family that every holiday meal must contain at least one pan of baked macaroni and cheese.  To not have it is a sin against God.  And taste.  And delicious flavor.

I do have a go-to recipe for mac-and-cheese that I like to pull out for such meals, and it never fails.  But tonight, I was on my own and I wanted to make something that would a) use up some leftover chicken from last night’s sammiches and 2)have all my carbs, veggies and protein in one pot.

I ended up combining influence from my usual recipe and from this baked penne with cheddar and leeks recipe from Bon Appetit, and threw in a few other things I had on hand. Continue reading

Chocolate chip (and pumpkin spice) cookies: best in the world?

We report, you decide.

So I know I keep saying that I hate to bake, and yet I keep baking things.  I really don’t like baking.  But I really do like baked goods.  And last night, I was bored.  Boredom + want dessert = make cookies.  Cookies are my favorite baked good of all time.  And after I spent a long summer testing out a bazillion different methods and recipes, I finally nailed down a perfect basic chocolate chip cookie.  I can churn out a batch in an hour.  I have this down pat.  And when the method is followed correctly, it makes perfect, round, soft, moist little cookies.  In fact, I actually make all sorts of cookies with it.  The base is a great delivery mechanism for all sorts of add-ins but chocolate chips are my favorite.

However, this time I thought I’d do something a bit different.  Not drastic, but different.  I said to myself, how about you throw in a little bit of cinnamon, since it is fall after all.  And then other me said, hell, why not just toss in some pumpkin pie spice?  It has everything.  It’ll work.  Trust me.  Then I thought, sure.  She looks legit.

So I did it.  Josh loved them.  And I have it on email record from several co-workers that they are “the best cookies I have ever made.”  And these people know their cookies.  So there you go.  Continue reading

Massive Brownie, courtesy of Afternoon Delight

This brownie must be shared with the world.

To look at, I mean, not to eat.  No, this sucker is mine.  It may take a few days, but I’m gonna get it all in my belly one way or another.  I am a tigress and it is my wounded antelope.

But no, I just wanted to share this.

This brownie came from Afternoon Delight, my current favorite brunch place in Ann Arbor.  Why are they my favorite?  Two words: frozen yogurt.  Two more words: For breakfast.  Two more words: That’s right.

Today is the first day of the fall semester at the university at which I work, and for my department, as well as most others, it’s…well, a crazy day.  To top it all off, the heavens are having a serious plumbing problem and it has been raining pretty consistently all day.  So already we’re off to a bad start.

And then my friend Brian walks in with three of these things, for me and two of my coworkers.  And the skies opened, the angels sang.  The peasants rejoiced.

I don’t know if, in that picture up there, you really get the full measure of just how massive this brownie is.  So to give you a sense of it, here’s the brownie standing next to a goomba:

Anyway, just thought I’d share, and now that you’re all nice and drooly, I’m gonna take my brownie over in the corner and nibble. Hope your day is good, and filled with chocolates.

Fall’s First Meatloaf

Happy Labor Day!

Well, there it goes.  The end of my summer.  Not with a bang.  Not really a whimper.  More of an “Ehhhhh I don’t wanna.”    Or a “Meh.”  A sullen “meh” though, not one of those nonchalant “I just don’t care” mehs.  Not here.

But instead of doing a giant barbecue (mmm barbecue) as a last hurrah to the last day of summer, I instead decided to put my best foot forward into fall with a dinner meal inspired by fall colors and fall comfort food: meatloaf.

All right, I’ll be honest.  I had my first slice of meatloaf about two years ago.  Seriously.  I’d never had it before that.  I always figured it was because my mom was a vegetarian, and while she made many meat dishes for the rest of us omnivores, why mold raw meat if you don’t have to?  Surprisingly, this was all apparently new to my mom, who is convinced that she made us meatloaf when we were kids.  In fact, when I told her she didn’t, she was absolutely taken aback and incensed and insisted on calling my sister to verify that she made meatloaf.  It went something like this:

Mom: What?  I made you guys meatloaf all the time.  Don’t you remember?  I used to put three strips of bacon across the top.
Me: Uh, no mom, I don’t know who you made that for, but it wasn’t us.
Josh: stifling a laugh
Mom: Well we’ll see what your sister says about this.  Picks up phone, dials.  Arica, didn’t I make you guys meatloaf when you were kids? Brief pause WHADDYA MEAN “NO?!” Continue reading

Chili and Cornbread are the new Hall and Oates

Dear Chili,

hey.  how ya doin?  It’s been a long time.  In fact, I think the last time we saw each other was the Chili Cookoff at work in March.  That was a great time, wasn’t it?  Remember I had you slowcooking in a crockpot in a corner of the office all morning, filing the room and hall with your gorgeous and spicy aroma, eventually making me so hungry that I almost killed a bear?  Ahh, memories.

It’s good to see you.  We had a good time tonight, you and I and Cornbread.  Cornbread is such a funny, reliable guy.  The two of you together are like a perfect pair and the three of us, well three’s company.  It was great when I diced a small medium onion and sweated it out in a couple good tablespoons of olive oil in my cast iron Dutch oven.  That’s the perfect pan for evenings like this.  You love how nice and hot that pan keeps you.  I know.  And on a rainy day like today, it’s especially excellent.  And then I chopped up three cloves of garlic and a poblano and green bell pepper and added them in with some salt and pepper, finishing out our little magic trinity.  Just that bit made the entire kitchen smell intoxicating. Continue reading