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

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Indiana Corn and Potato Chowder

Indiana Corn and Potato Chowder

For a Hoosier prone to homesickness, September is the hardest month to live in Texas. You crave yellowing leaves and orchard apples and nights smelling of bonfires. Instead you get singed grass and sweaty clothes and swimming pools that feel like stagnant bathwater. Mums wilt in grocery store entrances. People sip pumpkin spiced lattes while sweat beads on their brows. Families go to football games in tank tops. Your Midwestern mind is troubled.

Which is why this weekend felt (oddly enough) like Christmas. Continue reading

Risotto with Bacon & Peas + Homemade Chicken Stock

Risotto with Peas and Bacon

What’s for dinner?

It’s a question I have either asked or answered most of the days of my life. I still hear it in our raucous little voices, our bodies bursting down the hallway to the chair where our mom sat reading the latest Karen Kingsbury novel or (quite possibly) “resting her eyes.” Her answer could make our day (Ham and cheese casserole!) or summon a terrible sense of dread. (Meatloaf. Ugh.) These days Jason is usually the one doing the asking, his variety of inflections—hopeful, dubious, confused—usually reflecting the aromas currently emanating from the stove. Continue reading