Last night called for some cookbooks with some of my favorite grandes dames and a cheese soufflé. It's finals week and I am so bored with this paper, so I decided to reward myself for getting a chunk of it done yesterday!

How was your Friday night? Was it as FriYAY as mine?

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There are a few things I like to have on hand to make quick, lazy, yet delicious dinners! On the top of that list is puff pastry. I used one sheet three ways and each was scrumptious and satisfying. The first photo is my squash blossom tart with herbed ricotta. The second is my roasted bell pepper pesto and feta tart. The last was my reduced strawberry and balsamic sauce over vanilla ice cream on puff pastry. As you can see the possibilities are endless and fun and bound to satisfy yourself or a crowd! 

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When you crave something deeply, you must make it! Yesterday it was bacon jam, I needed it. My soul was aching for it.

Fortunately, it doesn't take long to make. In just 20 minutes my inner glutton was satiated. I put this batch on one of my favorite sandwiches. It's basically a grilled cheese sandwich on steroids (organic steroids, of course!) I used Irish cheddar, roasted red bell pepper, arugula, the jam, and butter ( #notahealthfood) then pan-fried it. My inner glutton would've been doing somersaults if I hadn't stuffed her full with this sandwich. Anyways, here's my recipe for bacon jam:

4-6 thick slices of bacon, thinly cut (I use scissors, it makes struggling with the fat much easier)

1/2 yellow onion (or 1 whole shallot) teensy diced

4-5 sprigs thyme (or a good pinch dried)

paprika

black pepper

1 tsp honey

1/4 generic bourbon

Take your bacon and sauté on med/high until just cooked and maybe a little crispy. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel.

Then take your teensy diced yellow onion and sauté them in the bacon fat (if you have loads of fat, drain about half) until translucent. Reduce heat to low, then add the bacon, thyme, black pepper, paprika and give it a good turn. Now add the honey and bourbon and let simmer until the mixture looks candied and glossy. Remove from heat, retrieve whatever vessel you want to put it in and enjoy. You can heat it up by using it in whatever you are cooking with it, like if you make this sandwich; it should get nice and toasty during the cooking process.

I'm thinking of making ravioli filling with it.

*The jars I use can be found just about anywhere cute jars are sold. Sur la Table, The Container Store, Target, or on Amazon

*A word about salt. I didn't use any because.... bacon

*you might find that my recipes need adjusting. That's ok, adjust. I estimated the amounts!

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I confess I'm not the biggest lover of summer. I will still try to find any way I can to wear button down, long sleeve shirts and sweaters; if I pair it with shorts it's summery right? Give me 55-70 degrees and I'm in my sweet spot (I know, I know. I'm a hopeless case). But I've always believed that if I'm cold there's always a way to get warm; but when you're hot, what am I supposed to do, remove my skin? Ew.

But, forever the optimist, I can find a reason to brave anything. For summer, it's the produce!!! Nature is in its glory! Everything is in season! It's a culinary free-for-all!! Tomatoes, squash, berries, stone fruits. Not to mention herbs like basil (pesto, anyone?), oregano, tarragon (my favorite), chives, mint, etc. The list goes on and on. It's the time of year to take a step back in awe at how awesome and truly remarkable nature is. It's our turn to treat her well and give our thanks by creating beautiful supremely tasty dishes. It's hard not to hum with excitement.

This last Saturday my bambino and I went to the farmers market and after treating ourselves to the local bakery, we treated ourselves to the stands. It's a quaint farmers market with few produce stands but what they offer is always delicious and varied in options. I chose spring onions, red potatoes, white radishes, and rhubarb.

I was never a rhubarb fan (In full disclosure, I never tried it before) until I had rhubarb bitters that I was bit by the bug. As I write this, I have a little vessel that will be bitters at the end of this week. I also made a strawberry rhubarb compote that can be used for anything; I put it on yogurt this morning with some granola, sinful! I have a laundry list for those spring onions. I made focaccia with a spring onion topping. I made a charred spring onion compound butter that I put on chicken, I grilled corn with it, and sautéed those red potatoes with it as well. The white radishes I'm going to pickle.

This is just the beginning of summer. I mean I know it starts in June but this is where we really start seeing what summer has to offer! I planted heirloom zucchini and the leaves are the literally the size of my face and blossoms are soon to come. I can't wait to share with you what I make!


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Hi, guys! It's me. It's been a really long time. I'm sorry for that, I've been knocking out life goals and junk. You know, adulting and all that jazz. I have missed though and wanted to take a moment to re-engage here by discussing with you how my son has made me a better cook. 

My sweet, willful, opinionated little toddler, J,  has sharpened my values in many areas of my life (Thus the increase in adulting and junk) but I have seen it the most in the areas of food and cooking. My attitudes toward food, the dinner table, and habits have been defined and then redefined the older and more participatory my son gets. He has ideas about what should be in the grocery cart; how much salt something needs; what types of cheese he'll eat in block form (bring on the Parmesan, Mama); and in which ways he will eat potatoes and eggs. Learning these rapidly changing tastes in food and habits has been the greatest asset to my cooking. Here are the top four ways:

1. Mysterious Food Items: I take J grocery shopping and to the farmer's markets all the time. It's come to be a very fun outing for me and him. For one, the more exposure he has to food the more likely he is to eat it. Secondly, it's important that he knows and understands what food is and where it comes from, it's important for him to understand that there human beings toiling away every day to make sure we have food on our table that he (WE) all take for granted. Seeing and engaging those farmers teaches him appreciation and respect for others because they provide something vital. 

However, the downside of these outings is that inevitably I get to checking out and somehow a mysterious ingredient has miraculously appeared in my cart or in the farmstand's hands and into my bag. I oftentimes don't realize that these ingredients have made it into the bag (mostly because I'm making sure J doesn't set the place on fire) until we've gotten home and I just stare at it while questioning my sanity. But in the end, I think it's great that these items make it home with us because now I have to find a way to use these ingredients and it's been a lot of fun reading about dragon fruits (a sorbet turned popsicle), kohlrabi (A soup), and buddhas hand (A simple syrup). My product knowledge has increased and I have found so many new and fun ways to use this produce. Moreover, J actually eats what he picked out!!!! Encouraging that kind of curiosity is so crucial and I wouldn't want to hamper that.

2. I've Gotten Smarter and More Healthful About Food: I've gotten pretty lucky because J is a pretty good eater. I feel like it's because I've blended not pressuring him to eat with the old school thinking that he'll eat when he's hungry; so I've eliminated snacking after like 3:30. Lately, he has been rather focused on pizza but that's ok because I'm armed with an arsenal of how to get veggies into him. The pizza crust has an amount of alternative grain like whole wheat or buckwheat subbed in. I always incorporate a veggie either directly on the pizza (I used asparagus recently, he loved it) or in a pesto (Which he ended up eating the whole bunch I made). In a tomato sauce, I either include carrots or spinach. If I make ravioli, I jam pack the filling with veggies. I've gotten a lot smarter and more creative because of this and as a result, J is a really adventurous eater! 

Furthermore, we eat together and usually the same thing. Which means I'm eating the same nutrients and healthy substitutions. This provides further encouragement and is better for me too. Now I totally understand that I have the time to do these kinds of meals and it's totally true. There have been many nights when J isn't cooperating where he's tugging at my pants and squeezing himself between me and the hot stove; I often think to myself lets just go to White Castle. However, I know how important this moment is for him to understand patience (I mean who is actually graciously patient waiting for food?); dinner time rituals; eating around a table with food lovingly prepared. This is the time where we connect and relax after a long day.

3. My Relationship With Food Has Changed: Let me just start out here by saying, I love chips and sweet treats. I mean seriously, I border on being powerless against them. Sometimes I gorge on these guilty pleasures more often than others; typically around finals time or stressful days. However, more and more it's starting to sink in that I'm Js number one example. Coupled with a dodgy family health history, I need to start paying closer attention to my eating habits and snacks. Reserving my food weaknesses for special occasions (And finals week, because I need SOMETHING!) 

I also want to make sure he sees a woman with a healthy relationship with food. I don't want him to see a woman who gets anxiety when she jumps off the wagon for potato chips and brownies. I want him to see a woman who recognizes that she has done so and adjusts accordingly, all while having a good time. I feel like we women have enough body image issues being pushed on us, and I don't want J to get sucked into the thinking that women should have anxiety about food. When in reality, women who enjoy food are the most fun. 

4. It's Changed the Way I View a Lovingly Prepared Meal: Cooking a lovingly prepared meal has really changed for me. It used to be sort of an arrogant act in the past.; A kind of "Look what I can do, aren't you impressed?" a peacock show for love interests. Or it was meant to soothe a broken heart or frustrating day for friends, assuming that my meal could wash away and replace the hurt with love and calories. Either way, both were acts stemming from ego and arrogance, not from a place of nourishment and fulfillment. But now when I cook a meal I think about the ways it will nourish him and leave him fortified. It has a whole new meaning, cooking meals. I want my meals to do more than pique a love interest or to temporarily soothe heartache. I want it to be his sense of home and safety*. It's true what everyone says when you grow a little being. You truly don't know what love is until you created it. Every time J gets hurt, or gets really upset when I leave, or gives me kisses or hugs I feel each so deeply it's all-consuming; so much so it can be scary and leave me breathless.

*I also want him to really like it. I get really let down when he snubs his nose at meals that I've really worked hard to prepare. There is no worse snub. 

My Sweet Baby J has been the catalyst for so many changes in my life, not a single one bad. But the single greatest change he's made is the one that affects my relationship with food. He's made it more fun, interesting, and a more fulfilling experience. 

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Greetings from Arizona, The Grand Canyon State. Those of you who know me are aware of how little I relate to this state. I hate how the sun makes my skin feel like bacon. I step foot in this arid wasteland, my sinuses immediately shrivel and rebel. Apparently my baby gourmand has inherited this trait as well. So we're both struggling to breath through our nose resulting in sleepless nights and grumpy mornings. 

It's not all bad. Really. In fact, if I were being completely honest with myself; This time around doesn't feel as awful. I mean, for now thing, the Whole Foods down here is pretty awesome. It's like a little Culinary Wonderland. I'm also not going through a deep heartbreak, which will have anyone resenting your surroundings (Even in Hawaii). Plus my busy baby gourmand is very eager to get involved with society *Gulp*. 

There is one thing that I enjoy about traveling the most. It's how it impacts my cooking. I like seeing what techniques I start using. What culinary projects I take on. What flavors I reach for. For example, in California it was light pasta dishes, fish and grilling. In Minnesota I gravitate to big hearty stews, deep fried foods and the crock pot. In Colorado I became interested in sausage making, gamey meats and more environmentally conscious foods/way of life (Which has now become a permanent way life). Now that I'm in Arizona, there's a resurgence in Latin flavors and dishes (Of which, I haven't had a real craving since before pregnancy). 

I look forward to the exploration of this geographical cravings. I can't wait to share them with you! 

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I'm sitting getting lost in a story. While my son gives indiscernible commands from his perch in the center of the island. He's helping Nana make pumpkin pie from scratch. He's a one year old, but he has opinions.  I sit back with myself and smile inwardly, content. It makes my soul glow watching my son get to have these kinds of moments.

I read so many articles about how to get families talking to each other again. Youths are getting lost in their technologies, but not in conversation with their families. I, like many parents, allow her son to play on her phone. To justify this, it's usually when I'm in need of my two hands: Getting dinner ready, cleaning the house, putting clothes on or changing his diaper (If only to keep his hands occupied rather than on his freshly shat in diaper) I won't download apps for kids, I don't need that addiction starting in his toddler years. However, I do have rules: No technology at the table when meals are present, during story time or otherwise one on one time with my son. I stick to this steadfastly, unless an emergency arises. I want my son to know that I am interested in him, in all the things that he has to say. I want him to be apart of activities, such as making pie, if only to bring a sense of unity in family and pride in his contributions. 

I want to be there for the small stories so that he will feel comfortable telling me the big ones. This is important to get instilled before i've lost him forever to his tribe, girls and whatever hobby he's chosen. I want to hear the stories that matter, the stories where his life will be changed (Again and again) and his hear how his values are morphing. I want to be there for him, up front and fully present, in the years he wants me there. I truly believe that it all starts around the table. I know for a certainty it has been for my family.

So I urge you to ban the phones and turn off the TVs.  Talk to one another and at the very least, feign interest. You might be surprised to find how interesting you all are! 

Bring Back the Dinner Table 


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I had too much fun with my Inner Pioneer Food Challenge in September. I wanted to keep the challenges going. The struggle was figuring out what to do next. I thought of doing Non GMO, but didn't want to be that "white girl" with those "first world problems". Then, mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed, the inspiration appeared. The stupendous Italian chef Fabio Viviani, enlightened his followers to the fact that October is (Not only breast cancer awareness month, so go check your ta's) pasta month.....
It's like he KNEW. 

What better challenge than a pasta challenge for this Ms. Italian at Heart. it's exactly what I was looking for. So after some serious cuddling with Baby Sous I brainstormed the details (With mini challenges of course). 

Every Sunday I will be making a pasta dish and sharing it with you! It doesn't HAVE to be from scratch! If you want to use pasta shells use them. If you want lasagna go for it. If you want to make ravioli you now know how to make pasta dough, if not follow this recipe:

3 Large Eggs or 4 Medium Eggs
Pinch Salt
1 1/2 cup flour

~ Mini challenge: Sub out the1/2 cup for whole or other grain. 
~ Mini challenge- Incorporating veggies either into your dough or sauce. For example, I put yams in with tomato sauce. Spinach with basil pesto. This is for the families with kids who don't like veggies

I want you to share with me what pasta dishes you're making this week; With the recipe in the descraption. This will be such a fun way to get new ideas and get to know each other. I strongly believe you can really tell a lot about a person by the kinds of pasta they eat. 

Here are some of my personal goals:

~ Sweet potato gnocchi. 

~Improving my pasta rolling game.

~Stuffing a pasta. Strange I know, but it has occurred to me writing this that I've never stuffed a pasta! *Gasps in horror at herself*

~Expanding my pasta recipe lexicon.

I hope you guys enjoy this challenge. It's a little more approachable. I hope we all learn some new recipes and get to know each other a little more. 





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It's over and I feel empty. 

How am I going to fill my days? 

I really enjoyed this challenge! I learned so much through my own  journey in this challenge. 

1. I learned how much planning it takes just to execute my recipes no matter how simple they were.

2. I learned so many new recipes and methods that I can't wait to apply them in future recipes. 

3. I learned how grateful I am for the advancement of the grocery store. 

4. I learned that my ancestors worked so hard to eat. Where my passion for food is a nourishing hobby. For them it was a way of life and still is for many cultures around the world. I have such admiration for these cultures who can make something so beautiful and delicious with very little. And be so proud, giving and grateful for what they have! 

5. My respect for the farmers who bring us these luscious fruits and veggies has deepened to a reverence. From here on forward I'll be paying closer attention to where my food is coming from. I'll definitely be cooking with more care. I'll definitely think twice before I throw out any bounty. 

So lets sit back and give ourselves a pat on the back for getting through a very first world food challenge. I hope you learned as much as I did. I hope you go forward with more respect for those who toil for your groceries. More importantly I hope you have a lot more respect for the cultures where this a way of life (And for those  who have much much less). 

I want to thank all the sites that offered the recipes, inspiration and visual step by steps. It's so great to see because it means we're not alone on our pursuit! 

Finally

When's the next challenge! What should it be? I'm thinking a christmas cookie challenge


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