The other night, Ed walked in from work as I was chopping an onion. “Taco salad?!” He smiled at me, all shiny-eyed and dimply.
He was right, but how did he know that just from the onion?
“I didn’t know, but I always hope you’re making taco salad.”
It’s true. My husband is obsessed with taco salad. No matter how recently in the dinner rotation we’ve had it, he will suggest it. No matter how much meat we cook, he eats almost all of it. Our version of taco salad is basic: the fillings for a taco piled into a bowl and tossed. Ed loves to be freed of the constraints of the shell so that he can go wild with the amount of fixings.
How wild? The only vessel large enough for his “salads” is a stainless steel mixing bowl.
mixin’ the fixin’s
In general, I hesitate to recommend a recipe that requires a really specific piece of equipment. Mostly because I know how I react to them myself–every summer I get hugely and irrationally annoyed when the Bon Appétit grilling issue rolls around. I don’t have a grill, Adam Rapoport! Give me a break and some indoor recipes! (I have strong feelings about BonApp, clearly). But sometimes a recipe is so tasty it cries out for an exception, and this is one of those times. The specialty equipment is an ice cream maker, and the dish is an Aperol spritz float. Pinned on a whim, mostly because of the gorgeous photos, this has quickly become my new favorite high on fanciness and low on effort dessert. A little sweet, a little bitter, and very celebratory–just the way I think the end of summer should feel.
I feel like I’m finally starting to relax in the kitchen. I used to be a ball of nerves worried over every grain of salt, but lately I’ve been trusting myself to play around a little. I will add a spice, swap an ingredient, or skip a step and still end up with something tasty. My relationship with this guacamole—my favorite for years—pretty well tracks my path to culinary relaxation.
In my fantasy life, I always cook to music– probably something French and perfectly casual cool, and usually in a kitchen that closely resembles Ina Garten’s. In real and not quite as elegant life, the TV is almost always on in the background, scrolling through the saved up silliness on our DVR. But this dinner calls for something very different from a previously recorded episode of the Bachelorette, and somethinig very specific. This dinner needs Frank Sinatra. It’s such a lovely long simmering sauce, Italian in sensibility but actually created by a French(ish) family, and it makes me want to slow down, have a glass of wine, and sing along to The Lady is a Tramp while I slice garlic. This is a pasta simple enough for a weeknight, but with a definite relaxed weekend vibe. And oh is it good.
I’m pretty sure it’s frowned upon to describe recipes as “easy” and “delicious.” Critics might say that the terms are overused, vague, and lazy. I guess I sometimes agree with that, but I also think that the terms are perfect for when something takes little effort (verging on foolproof) and the results are “so good,” “tasty,” or any other loose phrase that essentially means “GIVE ME MORE.” These oatmeal-raspberry bars are the epitome of easy and delicious. Prep time clocks in around 15 minutes, the ingredient list is short, and the bars are tart, buttery, crunchy, juicy, rich, and fresh. Plus, as of this week in central Illinois, they’re seasonal, too.
I had my first blondie at Ruby Tuesday. Back in high school I ate at Ruby Tuesday more than any other restaurant. Not that my options were endless, but with a Ruby’s, a TGI Friday, and an Applebee’s all in spitting distance, I still always chose RT. I went with my boyfriend, I went with my sister and her best friend, I went with my girlfriends. Sometimes all in the same week. And if I had room for dessert after a basket of pumpernickel bread sticks with honey butter and a plate of loaded cheese fries, I was getting a blondie. Always. Even the Oreo Tallcake couldn’t sway me away. I’ve had blondies here and there over the last several years, but they haven’t come in my way much since I stopped making frequent Rubys trips. Until I tried Ina Garten’s recipe, and suddenly found myself wanting them almost as often as I did back in high school.
leaning tower of treats.