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

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buckeyes

Buckeyes

If you’re trying to expand your vocabulary, moving around the country is a good way to do it. (Not particularly cost-effective, mind you, but rich in life experiences. At least that’s what we tell ourselves while looking at our bank account.) Our friend from Wisconsin refers to water fountains as “bubblers.” Jason’s relatives in New Jersey call colorful ice cream toppings “jimmies,” not “sprinkles.” Folks in Ohio have a special phrase (“Beggar’s Night”) for the evening their kids go trick or treating. No one outside the Midwest seems to understand that an “open house” can refer to both an event for house hunters and a graduation party. And it turns out the Texas A&M chant of “Gig ’em, Aggies!” is not short for “Go get them!” but actually refers to the practice of “gigging:” taking flashlights into swamps, shining them in the eyes of frogs, then stabbing the unlucky amphibians with a spear. (Because, Texas.)

Apparently “buckeye” is one such regional word—and I count myself fortunate to have it in my Hoosier vocabulary. Continue reading