I was born in the south and my family has lived there their whole lives but I don’t really consider myself southern, though I’m definitely southern-ish. I have a strong attraction to southern states, people and food. It was really no surprise that I went back to the south for college, North Carolina to be exact.
My first friend (and best friend ’til this day) at college was a svelte costume design major named Tre. We went everywhere together, including the cafeteria. Rumor had it that our school was just one grade above prison food, which as you know re: Orange is The New black is BAD. Naturally since we were in the south, they had pimento cheese at the salad bar. And everyday Tre would eat pimento cheese on white bread. EVERY SINGLE DAY. (I opted for cereal.) I honestly never touched the pimento cheese because if you think it looks a little scary now in my pictures, imagine how it looked at the ‘one grade above prison salad bar’. Rough.
Today I teamed up with Frito-Lay to bring you one of those recipes I’ve always dreamed of making for the blog. I just needed a bit of a nudge…and by nudge I mean tasty FRITOS® corn chips in my possession. FRITOS CHILI PIE® is usually served in the bag. It’s one of those super fun recipes that makes you feel like you’re on a ranch. In my dream world that’d mean I’m on Hey Dude (do you remember that show on Nickelodeon, like, years ago?). It always made me want to go to Texas and live on a ranch but let’s be honest I’m not sure ranch work is my kinda thing. Eating chili and cheese on top of FRITOS corn chips in a bag is more my groove!
Over the next few days I’ll be taking over Frito-Lay’s Instagram account, sharing some of my favorite July 4th moments and snack combos. (Think sweet tea and grilled hot dogs!)
Frito-Lay is also giving readers and fans alike the chance to share their snacking moments in the Fun-Up for Summer Sweepstakes. To enter on Instagram or Twitter, upload a photo of your summer snacking moment with #FritoLoveEntry for a chance to win fun prizes. Full rules here.
Last Friday I bought a $13 movie ticket, along with a small bag of $6 popcorn, and joyfully watched the new Jon Favreau movie, The Chef. I loved it! Sure, there were problems with the movie, like the relationship between him and Sofia Vergara (seems a little unrealistic) but whatever, I took the ride.
Not to give too much of the movie away but part of it was shot in South Florida, where I grew up the majority of my life and it made me miss home in a way I never do. I miss my family, but I rarely miss Florida. My meh-ness toward Florida can usually be summed up with one word: humidity.
Despite the excessive moisture in the air, Miami does have a vibrancy and energy that I really do love. And I love all the Latin people (and food) in South Florida. It made me want the food of my peeps. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been obsessed with this Peruvian Aji.
If you go into a Peruvian restaurant, most likely it’ll be on every single table. We eat it with everything. The ingredients can be tough to find. There’s usually a bit of black mint and fresh aji amarillos peppers in the sauce. So, in order to make it as assessible, I altered the recipe below to be as United States-friendly as possible.
Aji amarillo past might be the toughest ingredient to find, though if you live near a Latin American market, it’ll most likely be there. It’s also online. If you can’t get a hold of it, you can always add a bit more jalapeño.
I have a feeling that none of you would be my friend in real life if:
#1 You could hear the voice I use when speaking to Amelia. We all have animal voices. Mine is just REALLY bad. And strangely enough, it’s gets more grating the more tired I get.
#2 You could see me (sometimes!) reach into my dirty hamper and take out dirty socks and put them on my clean feet because ‘they’re not that dirty and I like black socks to match my black Nikes.
#3 You could see how many dishes I dirty when making simple things like a salad, lettuce cups or coffee. ‘Working clean’ is for fancy chefs or people who are more organized in their brains than me.
#4 You could see how many times I open the fridge/freezer, take a swig of something and then return it (versus, you know, pouring myself a glass). But really, I live with only one other person and we make out all the time so it’s totally fine if I double-dip, right…
And now, hummus.
This hummus is a labor of love. I’m afraid that you’ll hate me because of this hummus recipe. I’ve made a super simple thing kind of more complicated but I think it’s worth it so please hear me out. Please!
This recipe starts with shucking a bunch of peas, which I honestly like doing. There’s something about repeating the same motion over and over that is soothing.
And then, I juiced the jackets! Whaaa! If you don’t have a juicer, you can totally skip this step, but I wanted the hummus to be as green as possible and I love the notion of waste not want not.
No matter who you are, you’ll like this recipe. You’ll LOVE this recipe if:
A. You grew up in the 90s and used to go to TGIFridays with your friends where you’d eat appetizers only.
B. You and your parents would go out to dinner at Olive Garden and you’d order fried calamari and the tentacles would terrify you, but you’d still play with them and give them voices.
C. If you went to Macaroni Grill and loved drawing (borderline offensive) things on the paper tablecloths in crayon.
I know I just described my 12 year old self here but I also did all of these things in college, too. Very little spiritual growth happened for me during that time.
My body is aching. I can’t tell if it’s from rigorous work-outs or just cooking my little heart out this week. Nonetheless, I’m about to get my hair professionally blow dried so all is ok in the world. It’s one of the greatest luxuries. If you’re a woman, you understand this sentiment; if you’re a dude, you’re probably confused why salons dedicated to just blow-drying even exist. The answer: because it’s important and blow-drying takes too long!
Last year I made my favorite Irish Soda Bread in the entire world. It was laced with brown sugar, whole wheat pastry flour and OMG there were whiskey-soaked raisins, which let me tell you, completely changed my mind about raisins.
I used to be one of those people who despised raisins. Like, if I saw a “chocolate chip cookie” to only then realize the CCs were raisins, serious side-eye, my friends. Serious. Nowadays I’m a grown-up who has the ability to enjoy some raisins in her baked goods. I’m an ever-evolving human.
So I’m on this sort of diet thing. It’s not a diet, exactly. It’s more of a don’t-eat-everything-you-want-which-includes-two-doughnuts-in-a-row kind of thing. I’m basically just trying to eat a bit healthier, though tomorrow I’m totally sharing something fun with you.
In the nature of this blog, which is a reflection of what I’m eating and obsessing over, there might be some more healthier recipes popping in and out over the next few months. This will never be a healthy-type blog; I simply love butter too much, but I am almost relearning how to cook and eat in a way. My default is always to finish things with a bit of butter. Bolognese? Finish it with butter. Sear a steak? Top it with a bit of butter? I’m learning how to not cook with so much fat.
I always know I feel better when I work out but it definitely takes effort to get in your car and drive somewhere to work out. I tend to make so many excuses. But right now I’m into it so I’m riding the wave. Also, if all this healthy/workout talk is boring, I’m sorry. Tomorrow I have pop tarts, ok? POP TARTS!
But today, fries that aren’t fries. They’re frauds. Delicious little frauds topped with lemony, garlicky yogurt, Italian parsley and sweet pomegranate seeds.
My whole goal in life is to take ordinary dishes I ate as a kid and make as fancy and fresh as I possibly can. Today’s project: quesadillas. Don’t get it twisted, I’ve indulged in the classic (very American) version of a quesadilla. It usually involved me, after school, needing some sort of snack. I’d sprinkle a gigantic flour tortilla with hot sauce and fill it with a ton of pre-shredded cheese. And there was usually a glass of lemonade and Total Request Live (TRL!!). I always had a soft spot for Carson Daly–he was almost too nice.
Today’s version is different. There’s pretty kale, Alpine-style cheese, a blistered anaheim pepper, a spoonful of beans and a sprinkling of corn. It’s the fancy quesadilla of my dreams.
So they did. And I began tinkering, playing around with different recipes. I love recipe writing, developing, making. It’s maybe one of my favorite things to do ever. And the fact that I can call it a job is dreamy.
My absolute favorite recipe I made are these Rosé Roasted Olives with Blue Cheese. I’ve been wanting to make roasted olives for such a long time. And seriously, the warm blue cheese with the sweet and dry rose and the olives. Ahhh! Best appetizer ever.
There was this Bacon Potato Habanero Cheese Soup that was dreamy, too. It’s the thing you want to eat on a cold day. It’s like eating a gigantic baked potato but lighter and daintier.
And there’s more!
For more cheese-centric recipes, here is the full list:
The Strata listed above is probably tied with the roasted olives. Before trying it out, I’d never made a strata before, which is essentially a baked bread pudding but savory and less bread-heavy. It’s the dream breakfast for house guests. If you’re throwing a bunch, make that! It’s one of those dishes you can make a few hours ahead and then bake-off when people show up.
Basically, make all of these cheese recipes because cheese is the best and is my favorite cure-all.
When I was a kid, my favorite American dish my mom made was Broccoli Cheese Casserole. I’m pretty sure she learned it off of the back of a soup can and every year when my birthday rolled around, I’d request she make this casserole. There was boiled shredded chicken, a few cans of soup (cream of mushroom and cream of chicken!), lots of cheddar cheese and broccoli. It was maybe one of the only ways I’d voluntarily eat broccoli.
I feel like we all have a dish we requested for birthdays or special occasions; it probably wasn’t fancy or elevated or all that impressive, but it just reminds you of home.
This tartine is inspired by that casserole dish and I first ate it at a bakery here in Los Angeles. I was so pumped that their iteration of my mama’s casserole had taken a whole new life, albiet a bit fancier one, it took me back. Way back.
For the full recipe and stuff, head over to PBS Food.
Two years ago today I went on my first date with my now boyfriend, Joshua. Up until that point I had dated all the wrong people; most of them were nice and fine but all were wrong for me. I arrived at the restaurant early and he arrived 15 minutes late, which makes me laugh when I think about it because it’s very telling of who we are.
He picked a (now closed but his amazing wine store lives on!) wine bar called Lou’s. It was a pretty ideal first date spot; it was dimly lit and quiet, but full of people, especially for a Monday night, and they served interesting, hard-to-find-wines with really good snacks. We ordered our respective wines – him a barnyard-y Gamay and I ordered a Malbec. There was a charcuterie plate, a burrata salad with roasted grapes and an order of pig candy.
As we ate, we talked about all sorts of things; happy things, funny things, random things and sad things, too. Josh asked me what my hardest challenge in life was thus far. I answered, and then he answered; and then I remember us just staring at each other, absorbing the other’s answer.
Some would say sad stuff is a terrible thing to talk about on a first date, but that’s where we were in our lives. Josh had just experienced the loss of his mom and I think when you’re really sad it’s hard not to mention it. I’m glad we talked about such things. And plus, I’ve never been good at adhering to dating do’s and don’t’s.
The next day I flew to my parent’s house to work on my book and I remember wondering what would happen. I was, for the first time in a long time, excited about getting to know someone, to dive deeper into their life and perspective on the everyday.
We went on a few more dates but a relationship wasn’t something Josh could take on at the time. I was pretty heartbroken and I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t even know him that well! But something just clicked; something with him just felt right. So, I left him alone, but couldn’t forget about him. We ended up running into each other almost eight months later; he was in a better place and so was I. And we’ve been pretty inseparable ever since.
We haven’t been together for a full two years, but the day we sat down for the first time and talked for five hours is a day I love to remember. So, of course, since I’m a romantic, I’m celebrating with Pig Candy.