I’ll pretty much watch any show on the Food Network, but over the years, I’ve definitely developed a few favorites. Ina Garten’s recipes are always foolproof; watching Giada De Laurentiis cook in dangerously low-cut shirts never gets old (and her food is darn good as well). I love Chopped and old-school Unwrapped, but most of all, I love Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Something about the passion people have for their little underground restaurants, the always delicious-looking and yet entirely unpretentious food, and the thrill of maybe recognizing one of the featured restaurants makes me tune in pretty much every time I see it on. Well, like, every time. For real. I can’t stop.
Guys, GUYS. I have a problem. I’m totally, completely, and helplessly addicted. To a SALAD.
What’s wrong with me?
Before you all start freaking out, taking my temperature, and generally worrying that I’ve lost my mind, let me clarify. Panzanella is a bread salad. (“Ohhh,” you say. “That explains it.”) You take hunks of fresh bread, fry ‘em up in a skillet with olive oil/butter/both (insert sheepish grin) and toss those babies with fresh veggies, some protein if you want, and homemade vinaigrette. It’s my new favorite summer meal, a perfect blank canvas with a whole world of possible combinations and customizations. Sometimes it is a struggle to make anything else for dinner, because I just. Want. Panzanella.
Chocolate chip cookies will forever have a place in my heart as one of the first things I ever “baked.” Nothing would make me happier than buying break-and-bake chocolate chip cookies with little peanut butter cups in them, throwing 11/12 onto a baking sheet (I’ll let you figure out what happened to the 12th), and under-baking them by about 2 minutes. I’d have a perfect dessert ready in less than 20 minutes, hot and gooey and met with praise and excitement from everyone around the house. Making those cookies was what made me realize I love baking – the ability to make people so happy with a combination of butter, chocolate, and love was, and continues to be, my favorite feeling.
As a long-time vegetarian, cooking meat of any kind is definitely something I still don’t feel totally 100% comfortable with. Don’t get me wrong – I love pretty much every kind of meat, and am constantly bookmarking, Pinning, and otherwise saving meat-based recipes. I totally understand the homey appeal of a roasted chicken, the ease of throwing some steak on the grill for a quick dinner. But when it comes down to it, I’m just not that pumped about removing the skin from a piece of fish or getting all up close and personal with some raw chicken. I do it, because I love the end result, but there’s definitely that ew-gross-squeam factor there.