One of my favorite foods in the entire world is homemade granola. If you find yourself thinking that sounds weird, or random, or strangely healthy, I hate to break it to ya, but you’ve never had good granola. Good, homemade granola is slightly sweet, wonderfully crunchy, and chock-full of delicious extras – nuts, dried fruit, warm spices, coconut, or pretty much anything else you could think of that would be delicious smothered in a little butter and sugar and baked up to crispy perfection. It’s fake health food at it’s finest, and it’s absolutely delicious served in a big bowl with milk and berries, eaten stranding at the counter over the container by the handful, or my personal favorite, as a topping for Greek yogurt and fruit for a wholly satisfying breakfast that’s quick enough for any workday morning but also indulgent enough for a lazy Saturday.
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.