Note: Thank you all SO MUCH for your kind words and enthusiasm about my eCookbook news! I’m sorry I wasn’t able to respond to everyone individually but know that each and every comment means the world to me. If you haven’t joined the Facebook team yet, you still can!

garlicky kale with fire-roasted tomatoes + cheesy brown rice farina "grits"

Oof, that title is a mouthful.

And the recipe is, too. A delicious, delicious mouthful.

First things first: Have you ever tried farina? I grew up with the wheat cereal version from the blue and white box with the boy on the front who’s SUPER happy to be eating a bowl of it — which I assume can only be true if he added about a half-cup of sugar and a few dashes of cinnamon on top, as I did. It was the only way that stuff would taste good and not anything remotely like slop.

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t quite aware of its versatility as a youth or I got really, really overloaded on all the sugar (nahhhh, that can’t be it), but I haven’t had a bowl of farina in many moons. That is, until I was introduced to brown rice farina. And everything changed.

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sugar snap pea salad with miso dressing

Life happenings/observations lately:

1) It’s been cold here. You know this. But what you don’t know is that because of said cold, I’ve upped my not-leaving-the-house-today attractiveness by wrapping my yoga pants/baggy sweatshirt-clad self in a blanket, kind of like an adult-size burrito, and walking/sitting like that inside all day. SO COOL, I am. But also, not freezing.

2) If someone could invent a completely non-alcoholic red wine that actually tastes like decent red wine and could ship me about a trillion bottles of it, I’d be so, so happy. Non-alcoholic Manhattans would be great, too. Oh, and sushi. BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL I WANT. Sigh.

3) Can we talk about maternity leggings? I’m not going to lie, guys, they’re amazing. Good talk.

4) I’m turning into that person who watches — nay, binges on — Friday Night Lights greatly in part because I have a weird marriage-crush on the Taylors but also: Tim Riggins. The end.

5) I made this salad, and it was like the salad angels opened wide the heavens and rained down into the salad all the magical deliciousness that a salad could possibly have. The end again.

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loaded mashed potato stuffed biscuits

I don’t know about you, but I’m fiercely battling some cabin fever these days. These winters, they get to be long, too long (and too cold, brrr) and come mid-January, I’m ready for it to be over. But it’s far from that, unfortunately.

So… what to do, what to do…

Obviously, you make brinner and turn it into a party, that’s what.

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everything bagel popcorn

I’m not the kind of person who can eat popcorn — or any snack, for that matter — as a meal (homegirl needs real food for breakfast, lunch and dinner) but let me tell you, I can definitely pack it in between those times. Sometimes I eat it plain, sometimes I eat it with a little butter and salt, sometimes I toss it with melted peanut butter and/or chocolate and now, I’m going to be eating it like this. Forever and ever. And ever.

My obsession with everything bagels goes way back (back to the dark ages of photography as well, apparently. Apologies to your eyes), so it’s no surprise that I’m a bit smitten with this combination. There are crumbled-up bagel chips, sesame seeds, garlic, onion and caraway seeds in there. Oh, and butter and salt. I mean… when you’ve got those players in the mix, it just doesn’t get much better.

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dad's white chicken chili

In addition to being really into breakfast foods, my dad is seriously into chili.

True story time: One of his semi-real goals is to open up a restaurant that serves chili and hot dogs and call it “Dis Place.” I know. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know where that idea came from, or why he wants to serve just those two foods, but it’s perfectly quirky and awesome. Just like Dad.

My dad typically makes two kinds of chili: red chili, with loads of beans and ground beef and tomatoes and chopped veggies, and this white chicken chili. The former, I believe, is his original recipe (which I need to share, too, one day) while the latter is a take on Melissa d’Arabian’s recipe. In both cases, my dad is famous for them. Well, in our immediate family, at least. But we’re really big fans.

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creamy shrimp cocktail dip

Hi, hello! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. We celebrated ours with my family in Chicago a day early on Monday, then flew back to Minnesota on Christmas Eve in time for Christmas Day with the husband’s family before he shipped off to work the night shift (blech). Meanwhile, I did my wifely duty by holding down the fort at home, wearing my new pajamas, drinking hot cocoa and watching “Friday Night Lights” on Netflix until I passed out at 9 p.m.

I think it’s safe to say we all need a week to recover from one holiday before diving into the next — New Year’s Eve. But in case you’ve already got that holiday on the brain, I’m here with a yummy-nummy shrimp cocktail-inspired dip for ya. It’s got cream cheese and shrimpies and tangy cocktail sauce and combined it turns into — well, just about the best thing ever, really.

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