Baked spinach.

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My family was sitting around the dinner table one night in the mid ’90s. I was about eight or nine, still young enough to play with my dollhouse, but old enough to start stressing out about things like our house getting burglarized or burning to the ground. (I was a weird kid.) My sister must have been about six, probably missing a couple of her front teeth and generally being adorable.

Our mom had made zucchini for dinner, and neither of us really enjoyed it. I could handle it, but Katie – ever the typical showman youngest child – could. not. even. We were not rude, spoiled monsters, so we obviously did our best to eat stuff we didn’t like, but at that point in time, neither of us had much success conjuring up any enthusiasm. (Currently, we both dig it. THIS IS GROWING UP, KIDDOS.)

My mom asked us – probably in a sarcastic way that was meant to convey one or both of us was being ridiculous about something – what we thought the worst thing god could ever make us do was. I said something probably apropos of my weird, macabre, overly anxious childhood self, like, “Make you kill the people you love.”

Katie, however, was more…well, Katie about it.

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Tanya’s peach cobbler.

peaches

As much as I love fall, I’m not one of those people who starts heralding its coming in late August. I cling to the last few fleeting days of summer like they’re keeping me from drowning. Summer is my favorite, hands down, and here in Jersey, it’s far too short. I don’t need it to be cut any shorter by early arriving pumpkin beer (who wants to drink pumpkin ANYTHING when it’s still 86 degrees, guys?) and people trumpeting all over social media about how “FALL IS HERE!!!!” Because you know what comes next? Winter. And winter is lame. You all remember last winter, right? With its dirty mounds of snow sitting in parking lots until April, and how it was a miracle if the temperature broke like, 25?

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Baked chili cheese fries.

with burger

I wish my favorite food was something like kale. Or quinoa. Or a green smoothie. Not that I don’t like these things (well, I’ve never actually had a green smoothie. I’ll get there.), but French fries have my heart. This is not a good thing for me – especially with an annual physical coming up (I am certain I’ll be admonished for my mass spud consumption, which will probably show up in my bloodwork because there’s no way that my veins are not full of starch) – but it could be a good thing for you … especially if you’ve been hankering for chili fries but haven’t had a chance to make a pot of chili. And seriously, who’s going to make a pot of chili for the sole purpose of putting them on fries? I mean… you could, but you’d have to make the chili and the fries, and that, my friends, is not going to happen in this girl’s kitchen. Especially not on a Monday night. I’m sure Colin (the superior dish washer of the duo) is grateful for that, too.

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Workin’ on my night cheese?

Alright, folks, I’m going to be honest with you. This past weekend, I had hot cheese for dinner.
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Yep.
I threw some sauteed mushrooms on a hunk of brie, stuck it in the oven and served it with bread and a side salad. Helloooo, Sunday night.
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Cheesy baked polenta.

Baked polenta

A few weeks ago, I posted a link for something or other that I’d cooked up on my Facebook, and a friend from middle school, Jillian, said, innocently enough, “I’d be curious to see what you could do with polenta.”

In the 26 years I’ve been stumbling around this planet and devouring things, I had eaten polenta exactly one time. My reaction upon eating it was basically “WHY HAS NO ONE EVER TOLD ME ABOUT HOW GLORIOUS CORN MEAL CAN BE?!” It was kind of like the first time I had Nutella. OK, maybe it wasn’t quite as dramatic as my first experience with Nutella, but STILL. The polenta had goat cheese in it, so, you know…it was pretty magical in its own right.

So, I said:

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and got to work concocting a polenta recipe.

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