Baked Macaroni and Cheese

One strange thing since I’ve been in Spain is that I will have moments where I realize that I’m just plain starving. Maybe my body is adjusting to a different diet, but all I know is that I randomly get hit with a thought of – man, I’m really freaking hungry. Davis arrived a bit after I did and sure enough, he goes through the same thing, a random and sudden realization that you are just ravenous.

It’s not for lack of eating; my pet philosophy is it has to do with the times that we’re eating and the types of foods just aren’t what we’ve come to know as being “filling.” I wonder if everyone has a similar adjustment when moving to a foreign country?

That said, I have been craving, and I mean, craving macaroni and cheese lately. It’s normally a fall/winter food, but for some reason I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It’s super dense and almost everyone’s version of comfort food. I can say definitively that it hit the spot.

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Cod with Dill Potatoes

At work this week, I was tooling around the interweb looking at food blogs for “dinnerspiration,” and I stumbled across an incredible photo from Sweet Amandine. To me, this picture embodied exactly the kind of dish you want to make during the summer. I called the photo to mind later in the week when we had a cod filet to use for our weekly fish dish.

Simple flavors always feel the most effective for me, and since cod is pretty delicate I didn’t want to completely overtake the flavor of the fish. I decided that all I wanted to top the fish with was some lemon slices and use roasted tomatoes as a side, and the result was a wonderfully simple, delicious dish.

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Carrot Soup and Stuffed Tomatoes

My husband and I used to have a system in our house where we would try to eat one vegetarian, one vegan, and one fish dish a week. This way, we were reducing our meat consumption each week by just a bit. When we started prepping for our move overseas, any kind of routine became pretty difficult and we sort of lost track of our old system. As we’re settling into a routine again, its time to get back to business, and I figured this was a good week to start.

I had eaten some Crema de Zanahoria at a local favorite restaurant recently and thought to myself, “there is no way I can’t make this at home.” After making a point to revisit the Fannie Farmer Cookbook this week, I went to do some recipe digging and as fate would have it, I found that it included a quite tasty-sounding recipe for carrot soup. I couldn’t be happier with the results; as Davis said, “this one is going into heavy rotation.”

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Deviled Egg Salad

In the south, we do deviled eggs at pretty much every function. Everyone’s gramma makes the best, and even though my husband’s aunt MJ’s aren’t too shabby, they don’t come close to my Gramma Ginger’s. He disputes this fact, but he just doesn’t understand.

One thing you have to understand about deviled eggs: they smell vaguely… fart-ish. Still, a perfectly done deviled egg is out of this world. Just ignore the smell.

Similarly, after living in New York for a few years I came to fall in love with deli-style egg salad. Piled sky high on some rye bread with some celery and a tad bit of mustard – if there are better ways to spend 5 bucks, I can’t think of it right now.

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Spinach Salad with Sautéed Green Beans and Curried Chicken

I have a sensitivity to coconut milk, which might be one of the more specific food allergies/sensitivities I’ve heard of, but I’m lucky in that its not an incredibly limiting affliction…except when coupled with Davis’ peanut allergy. With our powers combined, we have to show some pretty serious caution when going to eat Southeast Asian cuisine.

The bright side is that we can often find a compromise in curries. I happened upon this recipe when shopping through my refrigerator in an effort to use some chicken that I had intended for another dish. A dish that I had forgotten (*cough* gotten too lazy *cough*) to shop for on my way home, but that forgetfulness paid off in the end, because we were able to come upon a new favorite.

We like to put the chicken on top of a spinach salad and use the extra sauce as the base for a tasty salad dressing. However, you can easily eat this as a meat and two sides. It’s equally delicious with some simple rice, pan fried potatoes or steamed asparagus.

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Fusilli with Clam Sauce

I know this recipe doesn’t follow the strictly traditional version we’re used to seeing, which typically uses linguine. However, I like to make it with fusilli for the way the pasta catches the sauce. I typically use quinoa-based pasta and fresh clams. However, canned clams will do, and if you prefer standard linguine – go for it.

This recipe is easy and not super expensive, but it is dependent on the freshness and flavor of the ingredients to really stand out. Try to not buy the clams until the day you’re going to cook them, and if you need to shop ahead, make sure you put the clams in a bowl of cool water and keep it (uncovered) in the refrigerator. It will help keep them from opening, a trick I learned from Mr. Mark Bittman’s quintessential How to Cook Everything.

If you use fresh clams, it can be labor intensive to cut the clam meat out before you’re eating, so Davis and I just pick them out before we go to town on the bowl. When serving others, I cut out the meat ahead of time and toss it in the pasta. Either way, the pay off is there.

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Thoughts on Marion Cunningham & the Fannie Farmer Cookbook

** Please be warned, this is a sentimental post **

As a wedding present, my great-gramma Roxie gave me the Fannie Farmer cookbook as revised by Marion Cunningham. The inscription page reads, “to the home cooks of America, young and old.” At the time, I had no clear idea of what a “home cook” was. Cooking was something you most certainly did at home, but I had no idea how much the phrase would start to grow into my personal identity over the past 6 years.

I was by most people’s account a young bride at the age of 20, and home cooking for me, up to that point, had consisted of little more than spaghetti with pre-made sauce and salads topped with “ramen popcorn” (ie: broken up, dried ramen – a culinary delight). Seasonal vegetables were the vegetables in my father’s summer garden and little more than that.

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