Homemade Soft Pretzels with Jalapeño Beer Cheese

Homemade Soft Pretzels with Jalapeño Beer Cheese

For a girl whose lineage is mostly German, I don’t do much to represent my heritage. I know exactly ONE German word (duft blatt, which means “fragrant leaf” or “rose petal”) but only because it was the AIM screen name of one of my best friends from high school. I’ve never had schnitzel and refuse to eat sauerkraut. I don’t even drink beer, the carbonation (as with Pepsi and champagne and every punch ever served at a wedding or baby shower) making it completely unpalatable, despite my many attempts to choke it down. Which may help explain how I went nearly 29 years without attending an Oktoberfest. Continue reading

Pear & Ricotta Crostini with Honey and Hazelnuts + Homemade Ricotta

pear and ricotta crostini with honey and hazelnuts

When it comes to cooking, I seem to have a split personality. Sometimes the overly-ambitious, make-everything-from-scratch Chelsey shows up in the kitchen, flushed with thoughts of freshly boiled bagels or homemade strawberry preserves. She asks for ice cream makers and pasta machines for her birthday and doesn’t question spending $15 on a literal pinch of saffron. She gets up early for the farmers market and plans her weekly menu on lovely stationery, glowing with good intentions and Saturday morning optimism.

Then there’s the other Chelsey. Continue reading

Butternut Squash Soup with Crunchy Rosemary Topping

Butternut Squash Soup with Crunchy Rosemary Topping

For someone who so relishes the cooking and consuming of food, it may come as a surprise that I was once a picky eater. While the rest of my family chowed down on spaghetti and meat sauce, I’d twirl my strands of buttered noodles seasoned with Kraft Parmesan and Mrs. Dash. I refused to eat the skins of chicken nuggets, forcing my parents to follow a greasy (and often finger-scalding) ritual each time we visited McDonald’s. (They would have ordered me a hamburger, but I despised those, too.) When I was five, I told my mom I hated three things: green bean casserole, Satan, and meatloaf—in that order. At age seven, I sent back a Chi-Chi’s hot dog that arrived at the table with suspicious black lines (grill marks). And, at the pinnacle of my picky eating, I refused to eat the hot dog a babysitter prepared for me because she microwaved it for 25 seconds, not 18.

I was in high school before peer pressure forced me to expand my palate. No one wants to be the weird girl who still picks every single topping off her pizza, or the one who asks her new friend’s mom if she can use a chicken bouillon cube to season her Oodles of Noodles in lieu of the included packet. And at some point my parents decided they shouldn’t have to puree the chili beans of a girl with a driver’s license. (To which I say, touché.)

These days, I’m willing to try anything once. But the bar for what I consider “good food” is still quite high. Continue reading