A Halloween Love Story

I love Halloween! It's just a great holiday, if you ask me. You get to eat a bunch of candy, dress up, and best of all, you don't have to buy anyone anything! Yep, my kinda holiday. But for me, Halloween is also special  for another reason because it is the day when my husband and I made things official. It's pre-marriage anniversary.

Today marks 8 wonderful years of together for Daren and I, which is no small feat... thank the gods that we are out of the 7 year itch phase, anyway! Haha. But, I thought that, in the name of love and anniversaries and all, I would tell you the story of how Daren and I met and came to be.

It was a week before Halloween, 2003, and I had gone over to a friend's house to hang out... I was newly broken up with a boyfriend, and looking to reconnect with old friends. We had grown bored at her house, and so we ventured over to her sister's house, just down the road. Her sister wasn't home, but her roommate, Daren, was. The minute we walked into the house, it was like looking through one of those fish-eye lenses--- I saw him and only him.

We spent the night partying, sitting side by side on his yellow leather couch and watching TV. There were other people there, and surely they joined in our conversation, but I swear I didn't hear a word they said. The night went by, and my friend and I left... I didn't even get his phone number.

Lucky for me, a week later (Halloween) there was a party in their neck of the woods. My friend invited me to tag along, and I accepted, asking only one question, "Will Daren be there?" She didn't know, but I had already concocted a plan: I was going to sleep over at his house, and share his bed that night. The truth was, Daren being 6 years older than I, I thought that perhaps I wouldn't prime dating material... what I did know? I was a great lay, and I wanted to sleep with this gorgeous man! Now that, I figured, I could accomplish.

Fast forward to the evening, I am all decked out in my German brothel whore costume, and my friend drags me to a bar. She says casually, "we are just going to grab a drink, and we'll be on our way." What she failed to tell me was that was where Daren was working. I turned the corner, and there he was! I tried my very best to play it cool.....

"So, um, you going to this party tonight?"

"Maybe," he says, all cool and stuff and looking so hot, "I don't really have a costume."

"Well, do you have a suit? You can wear that and be my date." I was going for broke on this one.

"I think I do have a suit, actually." He seemed a little shy, so I went in for the kill.

"You know, I was thinking, I would like to stay at your house tonight. We can have sex, and then if you like me, you can ask me to dinner."

It was about that time, without another word spoken that my friend whisked me away and we went to the party.... I waited, and waited and waited for what seemed like an eternity. The party might have been fun, I don't remember because I was consumed with the thoughts of whether or not Daren would show up to the party....in a suit.

It was 5 of 11 o'clock and people were starting to leave. It was becoming apparent that I had to leave, and I thought my chance was blown. He wasn't coming. And then, as we were nearly exiting the door, there he was: in a white suit, looking dapper, and as though he had rushed to make it. I tried to hide my utter elation.

He offered me a ride, and suggested we go to another party. I didn't hesitate. In the driveway of the party, we ended up kissing. Well, making out is more like it, and I felt these little tingles all over my body. It was at that moment when I realized that Daren was a real gentleman. "Can I ask you to dinner now?" He asked me so sweetly, but I was obsessed with seeming like a "no strings attached" kind of gal. "You can ask me tomorrow," I said with a smile.

The next morning, after what can only be classified as wonderfully passionate sex, he asked me to dinner, and I said yes. And the rest, as they say, is history. That was 8 years ago. When I think of it, I always smile because for the very first time in my young life, I wasn't looking for a relationship... and in that moment of not looking was when I found the one person I had always hoped was out there: the one for me.

I love him a million times more today than I did then, of course. My love only grows deeper with each passing moment. It's funny how love grows and morphs over time and turns into something you never expected....and could never live without. 

The Crazy Cat Ladies

You’ve heard the term “crazy cat lady” used to describe that woman who has more cats than dates. Her house sort of reeks of litter box, and you can’t understand why in the world she needs so many ceramic statues of cats on her mantle... nor do you understand her need to wear knitted sweaters with kitties on them. But wear them she does.

Women like cats, it seems... I assume there are men who loves cats, too, but you never hear anyone going on and on about the “crazy cat man.” And I was starting to wonder why.

What is it about women that makes them become crazier over animals, in general, than their male counterparts? Is it because women, despite their best efforts, are natural caretakers and when they feel a lack of that certain something in their lives, nothing fills it like a feline?

Cats are, after all, sort of like men. They are often fussy, only wanting to come to you when it’s convenient for them. You can be having a perfectly wonderful pet session with a kitty, and then, the next you know, they bite your ass in a fit on rage and run off... obviously, just like a man. And they are private about their emotions, but when something is wrong, they cry like little babies, over and over until they get your attention.

So I guess in some ways, the cat is a preferable trade off for the single gal, especially on a temporary basis. But for many crazy cat ladies, they cross a threshold into the world of asexuality where they no longer date or even hope to pursue dating. They become so inexplicably tied to their throngs of furry coated friends that they seem to have forgotten that men ever existed.

Thank god that cats were never quite my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong--of course I have A cat. Everyone needs one, just like everyone needs a life mate, but that is where I draw the line. One little ball of chaotic fur is about all I need to fulfill my propensity for pet-style torture. And I love my cat, don’t get me wrong, but our relationship is more of careful observation than anything else.

I am more of a dog person... dogs are a little more social, and while people do get a tad cuckoo over their dogs, it is somehow more socially acceptable to have figurines of your wiener dog (yup, I got at least 2 or 3) than it is to wax nostalgic about your cat’s “awesome personality.” Still, even with all of these things considered, I secretly follow those posts my friends make on Facebook, doting on their cats....and I am still guilty of watching cat videos on YouTube. [I mean, seriously, have you see the cat and llama videos? They are to die for!]

So what can be said for the crazy cat ladies of our society? Are they lonely? Are they just fed up with men and have traded them in for psychologically complicated companions with which they can’t communicate? Perhaps we’ll never know. Maybe they have crossed the point of no return in the dating world, or something has snapped inside them. I mean, if I had 26 cats, something in me would probably snap, and it would be likely to have been my wallet.

Whatever the case, society takes diversity, and somehow, although we haven’t got the answer just yet, crazy cat ladies are an intricate part of our ever-morphing matrix. Who knows, perhaps they have the key to the universe, and as it turns out, cats are the smartest creatures on the planet... they just knew they couldn’t trust their secrets with just anyone--especially gals in relationships because the first place they go is to their companions, thereby spilling the secret to the universe. And by that time, the cat’s outta the bag.

Pasta: Fresh Vs. Dried

I have some pasta issues....  for years and years I bought my own pasta, that is, until I learned just how easy it was to make my own. Then I was sort of on a kick about making my own pasta. Why in the world would I pay for something that I could make myself? I felt like I was superior because I could whip up my own batch of pasta.

Then, I was having this huge dinner for my friends and family when my sister-in-law was in town for the weekend... and I was making meatballs. Well, the meatballs were the highlight, I should say. I also made my own pasta sauce and my own salad. But I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if I made my own pasta, I wouldn't have a second to socialize--and I wanted to socialize.

So I did what any normal person would do: I bought pasta. From the store. But I felt so guilty about it. I am Italian... this kind of behavior was unacceptable... what would my guests say? Would they judge me for not making my own pasta? I swear, I was worried, and as each guest came in, I humbly confessed my sin to which each one had the same incredulous reaction.

No one expected me to make my own pasta except for me!

Everyone was raving about the meatballs, the salad, the sauce, the homemade dessert... no one was worried about whether or not the pasta was made from flour and eggs. It was only me. And then, several weeks later, I was watching "Everyday Italian" with Giada de Laurentiis, and she laid it on the line: in Italy, she says, dried pasta and homemade pasta are equals. I breathed a sigh of relief.

The thing is, as a home chef, you have to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. If the two are equal, then you have to toggle. I have to toggle. Sure, if I want ravioli, it's homemade pasta! That would be the star of the dish, right? But f the meatballs are supposed to take center stage, let the dried pasta out of the box!

And in fact, there can be some really great dried pastas! I like the more expensive, handmade pastas, or the imported pastas... though I know that most pastas can be cheap, I opt not to go for those as much unless I am buying the classic "spaghetti."

So now you know what a Bossy Italian Wife prefers: there are times when each pasta (homemade or dried) is appropriate! They are both equally good in their own right, especially if you want your pasta al dente! 

BIW Versus The Political Climate

Is it just me or are things getting tense out there? This Occupy Wall Street stuff has really inflamed a lot of people.... I used to be the type of person who just loved to debate politics; I felt so passionately about it and I wanted to share that passion with everyone. Nowadays, I stray away from political banter, especially with people who don't share my views. It's not that I am not open for discussion, I just really don't want to offend the people I care about.

Not all people I care about seem to share this outlook.

I have to say that sometimes it's hard to go on Facebook because a lot of people like to use FB to share their political ideals... I get it. Sharing is caring, for some. But it also adds to a political climate that is less than desirable. I am endlessly tired of the American people being so very divided. I don't think it serves us, or our government when we all scramble to hurl insults at the other side.

It seems that people really like to box themselves into different parties; republican, democrat, that sort of thing. And that is fine... it's much like people who choose to affiliate with religions. Often times they gain support and strength from these things. However, it seems that it also comes with another [perhaps unintended] side effect: competition.

I look around and it's "I think this, and you think that." People have a notion that if they are republican and someone else is democrat that these things are juxtaposed, and so therefore there are "sides." While we don't all believe the same things, we are a part of the human family, and certainly I believe that we have much more in common than we think we do. Indeed, I used to be the kind of liberal who thought that all republicans were either rich or crazy.... am no longer that kind of liberal.

I am a huge fan of the Dalai Llama, and for changing my view on politics and religion, I have him to thank. I used to think that everyone should be liberal, and there should be one world religion, but I have come to realize that our diversity is precisely what protects us as people. The Dalai Llama explains that without diversity, we are not afforded the same opportunities. And that rather than trying to convert or change anyone, we should simply respect their beliefs.

If you encounter someone from another religion, for instance, you should never try to convert them to your belief. Instead, you should ask them to follow their beliefs "as sincerely and truthfully as possible." This is how they will gain the most benefit. We should extend this to politics as well.

Suffice it to say that we all believe [or should believe] in the greater good of society. So you are a republican, and someone else is a democrat, and the next guy is an independent. You should all try to follow your beliefs as sincerely and truthfully as possible. Don't try to convert anyone to your beliefs.... belief is personal, and I believe it should be. Instead, practice tolerance and know that our diversity is what keeps us fresh and able to function in a multicultural society.

...Because in the end, we are all just people, and we are all in this together. 

Sick Days & Chicken Noodle Soup!

Oscar, laying in bed
Some days you just don't want to get out of bed. This was the case a couple of weeks ago in my house as my husband came down with a bad round of sickness, and the very same week, our beloved dachshund, Oscar, came down with a fatty tumor that had to be removed surgically. There was nothing to do but make chicken noodle soup.

Lucky for us, the fatty tumor was extracted without too much fuss, and eventually my husband's cold subsided, too. But it was a reminder: it's fall and it's coming on cold and flu season. Every household needs a good chicken soup recipe for this season, if you ask me. And actually, it's not all hype. Eating chicken noodle soup when you have a cold helps to loosen up those sinuses, and it feels just so good going down.

This isn't a hard recipe, but it is my own, and I think it tastes (as Julia Child would say) very "chicken-y." It's a big step up from my chicken soup of yore. Once upon a time, in high school, I had a boyfriend who was very sick. He was complaining of a fever, sore throat, the works. So, as any dutiful girlfriend would do, I made him chicken soup. The only problem was that I was, at the time, a very inexperienced cook. The chicken soup was flavorless and just downright awful. After consuming an entire bowl, he admitted to me that it was, in fact, awful. I felt terrible about the soup and it has haunted me ever since.

You will need: 

4 chicken thighs, boned & cut up (if you prefer white meat, go for it, but I like dark meat!)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
celery heart and a couple of stalk, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup corn, frozen or fresh (I used frozen b/c the season for corn was the pits)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
several fresh basil leaves
handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
2 cups egg noodles
small palmful of salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste


In a large soup pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink (about 8-12 minutes).

When the chicken in cooked, add the garlic, celery, carrots, and onion. Stir and cook for several minutes until onions are getting translucent and the veggies are getting tender.

Add the corn, stock, broth, water, basil parsley, salt and pepper to the pot and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until you are nearly ready to serve. (this is great because you can let it simmer and stew while you attend to your sicklings!)

15-20 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, add the egg noodles and cook for time specified on the package. Salt and pepper to taste and serve to your ranks!
YUM! Chicken noodle soup makes everything all better! 

Total Scrapple Melt Down

Scrapple is a food that instantly turns some people off.... they don't like the idea of "leftovers" pressed together into a cake-like meat block. Then again, there are million of people who will eat a hotdog without thinking about it, so.... I happen to be of the opinion that if you're going to bother killing a pig at all, you might as well got in "whole hog" and eat the entire thing. That means I like scrapple.

As much as I like scrapple, I must say that just weeks ago, I had meltdown over it. Yes, it's true... I had a meltdown... over scrapple.

Scrapple, as simple as it may sound, is not simple at all to cook. It's a testy concoction. I suppose I had forgotten that because I hadn't eaten it so long, so when I suggested breakfast for dinner, I thought that I was essentially off the hook for the evening. Wrong. SO wrong!

It started out innocently enough. I know that to really make the scrapple scrap, you have to turn it as little as possible...like once, at the most. So I decided on 10 minutes, each side. I buttered my skillet, and I was ready to go on medium high heat. I had this in the bag.

I waited and it seemed like everything was going well. I was ready to turn my scrapple, and I was only going to turn it the once. And then it happened: I went to turn it and I completely lost my nerve and the scrapple, piece by piece, began to crumble and fall into disrepair.

And as the scrapple fell apart, so did I. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn't gotten that job... maybe it was that I was suffering from breakfast for dinner syndrome. Maybe it was just the scrapple itself, but I felt like a failure; a complete and utter failure. And I cried as I cursed the scrapple, and simultaneously yelled at my husband that the scrapple itself was "stupid."

In the heat of the moment, I walked away from the kitchen, and the breakfast for dinner, and especially that stupid scrapple. I was astounded that I couldn't even flip scrapple. I could truss a chicken. I could make my own pasta, gnocchi, and spaghetti sauce. I can make soups that have layers of flavor... but I could not turn the fucking scrapple.

It was a melt down of epic proportions--a meltdown like I haven't had in months. But there it was, over the leftover of a pig. Thankfully, my husband came to the rescue and he was cool, calm, and collected. HE could flip the scrapple, and he did. He finished the dinner, and we ate it. It was satisfying as Sunday morning.

And that's life. Sometimes, someone else has to take over to get the leftovers of something and make them into a meal. Strangely, it's the little things that push us over the edge when we least expect it. Luckily, we have people like great friends or loving husbands to help us flip the scrapple and wipe our tears. And thank god that we also have insight, to allow us to look back and realize it wasn't really the scrapple that got us in the end at all... it was the pressure we've put on ourselves to achieve things greater than breakfast for dinner...

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Many of you may know that I have been trying my hand and more and more desserts so that I am more adept at baking in general. That meant I had to get in there make an American classic: chocolate chip cookies. The last time I made chocolate chip cookies I must have been a teenager... though I don't actually remember the last time. This is a sad revelation, I know.

Lucky for me, my friend Jenn was over that day so that I wouldn't have to try and tackle these cookies myself. She is a bonafide cookie veteran. She and her father bake dozens upon dozens cookies for the holidays, and she is no stranger to chocolate chip cookies.

Let me say that these cookies were pretty straight forward. We used the classic Tollhouse recipe, which called for a TON of butter and a lot sugar to boot... but if you are going to have a cookie, you shouldn't be worried about the caloric intake in my opinion. The hardest part of this recipe? Not eating all the dough before it cooked...

And this is a good minute to talk about raw eggs.

"They" say that you aren't supposed to eat raw eggs because of the risk of getting salmonella. Of course, this is probably wise, but I find myself unable to follow this rule, especially when it comes to baking. Savory cooks don't really have to use a lot of raw eggs, that is, but when it comes to baking, raw eggs are in the doughs. And this brings me to the point: I nearly always taste the dough.

It's not always because of the tastiness of the dough itself, as it was in this particular case of the cookies, but mostly I want to get a feel of how the pastry might turn out. I find that tasting the dough is a generally good measure for the ultimate taste of the dessert...sure, it might not rise, or something else could go horribly wrong in the baking process... but taste is important.

So what do I personally say about raw eggs? Well, in our food supply which is  often subject to ridicule, and sometimes recalls, you can never be too careful. Buy higher quality eggs, if you can afford to. I cannot always afford to, but what can I say? I'm living on the edge and I'm willing to take the risk!

Now, here's the best thing I learned all day besides just how much I love cookies: how to freeze the dough for later use. Sounds like a no-brainer, but I swear, had it not been for Jenn, I would perhaps not have thought of it at all! She makes some, and then she rolls them in plastic and freezes some! This way, you can pop 'em out of the freezer and bake off fresh cookies whenever the urge arises. (Dangerous, I know, but lofty nonetheless.)

For the original Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, click here.

Things No One Tells You... About Marriage

I have said it before, let me say it again: marriage is strange entity. It is, by far, the strangest thing I have ever gotten myself into...even though many, many parts of it are wonderfully strange. Sometimes, when I think about my marriage in terms of “forever,” I still get nervous, and I don’t think that there is anything wrong with admitting that. Here are some things that no one tells you about marriage (or at least not before you actually get married.)

Marriage may not be a job, but it’s work 

Good relationships take work. (well, probably so do bad ones, too, but that is for another argument.) Mine is no exception. We have had to humble ourselves, concede points, shut up, break down, and admit things about ourselves that we would rather shove in a closet with those skeletons. But you do it because you are committed.

I think a lot of people go into marriage thinking that it is just going to work out because there is love. This is partially true, but it certainly isn’t the whole story. Being in a working relationship that is healthy means really being able to let your guard down and not worry about being right so much... I know this because I am still trying, but the work put in is totally and completely worth it.

You go to bed mad (yes, you really do)

Not everything just gets settled instantaneously, though I concede (see how great at conceding I am getting?!) that it would be nice if they did. They don’t. You will go to bed mad sometimes because people bust your chops when you live them 24/7 and sometimes it takes time to get over. You might even have a bad dream about your spouse because you went to bed mad; it ain’t purdy, but it’s the truth.

Your spouse will say something you never thought possible 

Surprised don’t just come in the fun variety. Someday your spouse will say something that infuriates you to the very core. People--couples--fight, and generally they can fight fair, but sometimes the line gets crossed. That’s all I have to say about that.

You will be challenged 

Don't think that after you get married you can just check out. The other person needs you and will be challenged to meet those needs. You never know what those needs entail--sometimes you have to challenge them to be themselves... sometimes they need a shoulder to cry on. There will be needs, and you will be challenged.

You will be loved 

When you are at your worst and you feel that you have nothing left, your spouse will (or should) be the person who shelters you against the world. We never know what awaits us in life, but our husband or wife should be the person there no matter what. I have never, ever felt the type of support that my husband has given me, and when I think of how great he has been to me, at times, I am quite overwhelmed. Sometimes you don’t quite know how you will pay it back... and then, you do. You always do.

What's Cooking?

Boy have I been at it lately in the kitchen... my cooking expeditions have lead to me to wonder if should be worrying about my waistline more, but I just can't help myself! A couple of great dishes I made in the last couple of weeks were chicken pot pies and homemade sweet potato gnocchi with spinach and mushrooms.

Chicken Pot Pie! 

Brown your chicken in a pan

Add veggies, and cook for several minutes
Then add your flour and chicken broth and cook and stir
several more minutes

Using individual casserole dishes, spoon filling in. 

Cover with puff pastry and brush with an egg wash

Pop them in a 425 oven until golden brown and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Spinach & Mushrooms 

Home eggless gnocchi's are lift and airy! 

Boil them in water 

Make your spinach and mushroom sauce 

Sprinkle with parmesan and serve! YUM! 

Adventures in Short Ribs

Salt & pepper your ribs! 
Short ribs are a juicy bit of rib that are great when braised and in hearty sauces. I have long seen them on various cooking shows, being bragged about as if they were the holy grail of ribs or something, and I wondered about them. I have been getting more "into" meat lately, and trying to explore recipes with new kinds of meat. After seeing a recipe of Giada de Laurentiis', I was left dying to try her recipe for short ribs.

Short ribs can be found in the meat department of your grocery. Of course, I think it's better if you can get them form a butcher, but I wasn't able to do that this time around. Don't be embarrassed, either, if you don't know what a short rib looks like... I didn't! I just went right up to the man in the meat department, and I asked him to show me the short ribs. He was only too happy to help! 

With my short ribs in hand, I ventured home to enjoy making my first short rib. When I declared to my husband that I was taking on short ribs, his mouth started to water, so I had even more confidence! I knew that the recipe would time consuming, but I am not afraid of that. Nothing troubles me less than spending a day in the kitchen. 

Brown them on all sides! 
Like I said, I was intrigued by Giada's recipe, so I wanted to try that one specifically. You can get that recipe here. I did make a few changes, though. I omitted the panchetta (for budgeting reasons) I followed the recipe up to the point of discarding the bones of the meat, but then I did not shred the meat. Close to the end, I added a handful of whole brussel sprouts, to add a little green without a lot of fuss. Leaving the the meat intact, I served it over a creamy polenta from my In The World Kitchen cookbook. I did top it with the chocolate, though, and let me tell you, that was amazing! Don't miss that step, or you will live to regret it. SO yummy! 

Add the sauce ingredients and stir 
I loved the combination of the chocolate, polenta, and the meat. The meat was tender and the sauce was amazing! It had a great beefy flavor, but it also had a robust tomato taste as well. This recipe for the short ribs had me turned on to this great cut of meat. Why had those people raved about short ribs? Because they really are so great! I recommend trying this recipe, or any recipe you aren't intimidated by, with short ribs. If you are into braising meat, this isn't hard at all, and if you aren't into braising meat, just know that it takes time, but not necessarily a lot of hands on time. It's about letting the meat really get tender (over time.)

I added a handful of thyme,
tied with twine,
for extra flavor! It was delicious! 
Another note on this recipe.... call me a copycat, but on the show Giada was using an enameled cast iron pot. For our wedding, we had been gifted a lot of cast iron cookware. I had received two dutch ovens (in two sizes) and then, months later, another one, this time enameled, also arrived on our doorstep, bringing the number of dutch ovens to 3! I put the third (enameled one) in the attic, and intended to give it to the next person who got married. Who needs three dutch ovens? I thought...

Apparently, I am the woman who needs three dutch ovens! Not liking the bottom sizes of the ones I was using, I pulled the third one out of the attic to see if I liked that one any better... and I did! There is a distinct difference between cast iron and enameled cast iron. I am not sure if I exactly prefer one over the other, but I certainly like them for different reasons. 

I find that sauces can be more difficult to tackle in traditional cast iron...but in the enameled cast iron, they are better. Still, with enamel, nothing sticks, but you can also use soap, which is a plus. You might have to watch the heat a little more with the enameled pots, but it's worth it. I would say that every chef should have at least one of each to compare for themselves.

The finished product was mouth watering & impressive! 

Top 5 Foodie Shows!

I am certainly a foodie. I am SO into food that some days, I think I am literally going nutso over it. I make too many trips to the grocery, and by far, food is eating up most of my money. But who am I to care, I am too busy eating great food to notice my dwindling funds!

Sometimes, though, a gal has to take a step back from the stove in order to learn a little more about her favorite medium, and so I also watch a lot of television. This includes a lot of shows that revolve around (you guessed it) FOOD! Here are my favorite shows for the foodie in you!

#5- Kitchen Nightmares
I love seeing Gordon Ramsey in action; he’s a culinary genius. And I also love seeing the train wrecked restaurants he miraculously turns around. Also a plus? I feel right at home yelling at the television during the show. “C’mon you donkey!”

#4- Top Chef: Just Desserts
Desserts not your forte? Not mine, either... well, at least that is what I thought until I started tackling them. This show helped me gain some confidence in the dessert department, and it’s also very entertaining. It’s got that same Top Chef format that we all love, but with the sweet twist of desserts.

Let’s face it, desserts and pastries are pretty, and fun to look at.

#3- The Chew 
This is a great new show on ABC during the day. They give the run down on entertaining and cooking, and it’s talk meets cook, which I love. It’s like The View, with more testosterone and calories!! Definitely DVR this show so you can watch it when you get home from work. I just love it.

#2- Top Chef 
The original Top Chef show is just great. I have learned a lot about food from the show and been inspired to great culinary ideas. I am also a HUGE fan of savory foods. I most often am reaching for something salty before I reach for something sweet, and so I love the combinations. I love watching what the chefs can come with in the heat of the moment.

#1- Anna & Christina’s Grocery Bag 
My mother saw this show on the Oprah Network and insisted I DVR it (because it comes on at 6:00 AM!) I did, and I was so excited by how much I loved it. The two women are hilarious, and they test cookbooks in allotted amounts of time and then invite a real chef from that cooking genre over to rate their performance. It’s funny, it’s real, and it’s just the type of thing I love to do at home!

Laundry Night is NOT Date Night....

The other day I opened my “daily couples horoscope” and it actually said to me, “even laundry night is like date night,” when it came to spending time with my “honey.” And that left me thinking, WTF are these people thinking?! I’m married, and laundry night is NOT fucking date night.

Maybe I was being a little bit sensitive about the whole thing since my husband and I had a talk about this subject a couple months previous. It was a nondescript Wednesday but for the fact that this conversation ended up getting tossed around. My husband brought up some issues he was having and I believe the words “lack” and “passion” ended up in the same sentence.

To this news, I was incredulous. I was absolutely beside myself. How in the world can a person request passion without romance?! When--I asked him--was the last time he romanced me? I want flowers... which he says are a waste of money. I want him to cook dinner... of which his version is chicken nuggets and corn (and I wish that were a well-placed joke, but it’s not.)

This is the point--romance begets passion and vice versa! They are a self fulfilling prophecy. In my relationship, there has always been passion, with a sprinkling of romance. I am not the frilliest of ladies.... I am high maintenance in some ways, sure, but not in the department of romance. I can generally get by. Or at least I could, until my husband said those two words in the same sentence.

Only at that moment did it dawn on me that perhaps my eh-hem of eh-hem is because my needs have changed. What worked before doesn’t work anymore. I mean, for gosh sakes, I am nearly 10 years older! What in the heck have we expected...to go with status quo in this particular department forever?! Well, yea, I guess we did. My bad!

The relationship is getting older. It’s about to turn 8 years old in a few weeks, after all, and as we grow together, we know that things are changing, but we don’t always know the remedy to the portions of the changes that we don’t like. Frustrating, I know, but not the most unfixable problem in the world. What I do know? Laundry, especially at this stage of the game, is not romantic, and it certainly isn’t a date.

Laundry, for me, is pretty much a solo sport. I’m not complaining, it’s just one of my departments. I can get a stain out of pretty much anything, and I am proud to report that I can separate loads like a bandit! I no longer mix tie dye and whites or towels and clothes. I’m great at it, but it ain’t sexy.

Dates are romantic. Dates have dresses and make up and dates have “sexy.” Dates tell you that you can order anything on the menu. Dates think that your flaws are beautiful and that your body is perfect. Dating is like a great game of grown up “make believe” and that is what I love about it. When you’re married, though, dating is not the same, which is why it makes it so much more important.

I am not sure whether I should thank my horoscope for this revelation or if I should hate it for calling laundry a date for those women who might be in the beginning of a relationship and actually mistake laundry night for date night...like in those movies, where couples are folding each others laundry in the laundry mat. Either way, I want to be a great date to my husband, and I want him to be a great date to me.

That horoscope was a swift kick in the psyche to remind me that being romantic wasn't a one way street and that settling never was (nor is it now) an option. We should be passionate. Sometimes life is overwhelming, sure, we get that. But we've gotta dig it out... and dig it we did!

While I worked on making more room for that marital passion, he worked on the other because, as with any good relationship, ours is a work in progress. For us, maybe it’s a little bit easier because our canvas is love and paint is desire, but by discussing these things, we have broken out of the normal old routine and into something more special. And one thing is for sure: no one in my home is calling laundry night date night!

Chocolate Pie Showdown

Some of you might know that I have been on a dessert bender lately; I was always under the misconception that I was a "cook" not a "baker" and so I just didn't try... I know that this was lame, which is why I am glad that I have sought to change this. Since I had already tackled raspberry ricotta cheesecake, tiramisu, and key lime pie, it was time to take on a new challenge: chocolate.

On a Saturday, I woke up and was stricken with a need to make French Silk Pie (get the recipe here). The next day, having left over chocolate in my pantry and guests coming that night, I thought to myself, "why not make another chocolate pie and have a showdown!" I decided to go in a more America direction and made a chocolate cream pie with meringue (here is a similar recipe).

Tackling chocolate pies wasn't as hard as I imagined it to be. I was intimidated by melting the chocolate properly and making sure not to burn the milk or cream... I was worried about the pies setting properly, etc. Let's face it, baking is tough business, and there is a lot that can go wrong. And it's not like cooking...because when you are cooking, there is always room to salvage whatever might have gone wrong in the process. Not so in baking!

My concerns, though, we unfounded in the end as my baking skills seemed to have come to the appropriate level for the recipes I was making. Here are pictures of the processes! As for who won the chocolate pie showdown? Well, the consensus among my guests was that both pies were good, although totally different. Overall? The favorite was the French silk pie.

French Silk Pie: 

Melting the chocolate went slowly, so patience was
required, but totally worth it

Homemade whipped cream... oh yes !

Then it's added to the melted chocolate mixture 

And it gets so creamy and dreamy.
Add it to the shell, and then let it set in the fridge for several hours

Top with (even more!) homemade whipped cream and
chocolate shavings and this dessert is a dream! 

Chocolate Cream Pie w/ Meringue 

Well the ingredients look similar 

The mixture looks like pudding, though, when it cooks
up on the stove! 

Whipping up some meringue 

Pour the hot chocolate filling into the shell 

They say that it's important to spoon the meringue into the
shell whilst the filling is hot! 
It got a little messy, and I had to get in there
with my hands

Out of the oven: let's just say, my "whispy peaks" leave
something to be desired! Haha. 

This tasted "American" to core, and yummy. The contrast
between the top and the filling was just perfect!