“Fancy” Pasta Salad

I grew up in the south.  Well, as south as North Carolina can be.  Which, depending on the area you’re in, can get pretty southern.  I love to tell people that in North Carolina the humans are outnumbered by pigs.  I don’t think this is actually true anymore, but when I was a kid it definitely was the case.  And man do we know how to cook em.  If you’ve never had North Carolina pulled pork barbecue, you’re missing out.  And if you want to really immerse yourself in it, go to a pig pickin.  It’s exactly what it sounds like.  You usually see them with the big oil drum grills.  And sometimes in the summer people set up their grills on corners and sell barbecue.  Ah, the south and your wanton disregard for presentation. Continue reading

Momma Julie’s Cinnamon Rolls

My family loves food.  We love to eat food, to prepare food, to talk about food.  We love appetizers and desserts.  We love food from all parts of the world.  We especially love food that you have to unbutton your pants after eating.  We are notorious for planning our next meal while still eating the first.  When my family gets together, you know that there will be good food and good wine.  I break any diet I may be on when I go home for a visit simply because of the food.

Due to our culinary obsessions, we have troves of recipes that have been created and refined over our many years of get-togethers and holidays.  Some my grandmother swears are original to our family, and some we stole and made our own.  All I know is that they’re tasty.

I think the most popular and frequently requested recipe is that of my mother’s cinnamon rolls.  While the inception of this recipe is credited to my grandmother, its current iteration is entirely my mother’s.  She will read this and tell me, “No, Ruthie was the one who yada yada yada…” but I disagree.  When I was a child, friends would ask about “your mom’s rolls” or their parents would ask me for “Julie’s amazing sticky buns”.  My boyfriend, Rich, tasted them once and can still recall their texture and flavor and would frequently tell me “Your mom’s were fluffier” or “Your mom’s had more butter” as I was attempting to recreate the recipe.

They are legendary.  Continue reading

The Hunt for Red Velvet

Since last we spoke, remember that unemployment thing? Yeah, that ended. And how. I suddenly found myself working 6 days a week and 10 to 12 hour days and finding time to actually cook things was slim. There have been a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (woo) and rice mixes. Then I decided it was time to take off this college/unemployment weight. Enter the salad and reduced calorie dressing (woo again). My food life has been really bleak lately.

And then, I realized: there a whole office of people that I see every day that I can foist my wares on! Yay for peer pressure! So as of late I have dusted off my baking cook books and been catching up on my blog reading making endless lists of delicious recipes to try and make other people shower me with their “oh my god”s and “this is amazing”s. This is fun. Continue reading

Baking is messy… Duh.

I realize it should be common knowledge that there’s no way to cook or bake and keep your kitchen absolutely spotless at the same time.  Could someone please bring my boyfriend up to speed?

After preparing for two days for a party that I was quasi-catering this last Saturday (more on that later), my kitchen looked like a flour/chocolate/sea salt/jalapeno bomb had gone off.  You try sautéing jalapenos without the seeds popping and causing little jalapeno chunks to fly about the room!  So Friday night, I sweetly walked into the living room and asked if Rich would do the dishes.  To be fair, there were a lot less dishes then as I hadn’t started baking round two, and his definition of “do the dishes” is wash what fits on the drying rack and call it a day.  He agreed and (two hours later) walked into the kitchen and took stock.  The next words out of his mouth were, “This is just not fair.” Continue reading

Candied Grapefruit Peels

I swear I thought there could never be a good use for citrus peels.  I’ve always seen these things in confectioners’ windows and wondered what they were made of since there was no way they could actually be made of that inedible, bitter, crap of a fruit’s outer shell.  Apparently I don’t know everything about candy.  Shocking, I know. Continue reading

Re-entering the Arena

I have had barely enough energy to move lately.  Apparently trying to find just the right dresser on Craigslist is really tiring.  But I did, in a fit of I-must-do-something-productive-before-I-stay-up-until-5-AM-again-ness, manage to find myself standing in front of my stove.  The burners were taunting me, daring me to actually cook something instead of just cutting open a frozen Barilla meal and calling it dinner.

I have been fantastically lazy in my approach to food lately, and I’m hoping being held accountable by the unseen internet blog masses will help me change that.  I find it rather amazing that having literally no schedule, no day job or anything that must be done that day, can actually fill your time.  I get up, check email, pet the cat, let the rabbit out, check email, haunt Craigslist for a couple hours, check email, look at job listings, check email, check email, check email, watch every show my DVR caught for me the night before (suck on that commercials!), check email, etc and suddenly it’s 2 AM and I realize all I’ve eaten that day was yogurt, diet 7-UP, pasta with butter and parmesan, and a glass of milk.  Healthy, eh?  I haven’t always been this way!  Ok, that’s quite possibly the biggest lie I’ve ever told. Continue reading

My Year of Living Dangerously

In December of 2008, I found myself with a brand-spanking new college degree and visions of the millions I would make before the New Year was out.  After about five months of job searching in my sprawling new city of residence, I realized that our tanking/-ed economy had thrown me flat on my ass.  Soon after, feeling my spiral of desperation firmly taking hold, I knew I had to find something else to pass the time.  Scouring Craigslist just really wasn’t doing it for me. Continue reading