Chicken flaurentine.

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Yes, yes, I know, that’s not how you spell florentine, but since I made this up, and my name is Lauren, you get flaurentine.

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Okay, I know. That was rather dorky, but that’s what you get when you come ’round here. Recipes with a side of dorkiness and occasional puppy pictures. You should know this by now.

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Ginger chicken noodle soup.

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Look, guys, I hate to be the bearer or bad news, but in the next few months, you’re probably going to get walloped with a cold that just won’t die. You’ll pop Sudafeds like they’re tic-tacs. You’ll end up with a little raw patch under your nose from excessive tissue use. Sleeping and breathing at the same time will become a science you just can’t master. Your coworkers will shoot you withering looks and lather on the Purell as you spew pestilence sneeze for the 498329420th time. But it’s okay, because I’m giving you a really delicious chicken noodle soup recipe that will CURE YOU when the inevitable strikes. Well, probably cure you. Maybe. I certainly believe in the healing magic of homemade chicken soup, but I’m sure the dish has its naysayers. Including Colin, I’m sure, who was not magically healed of his weird flu-thing after eating multiple bowls.

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Chicken scarpariello

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When I think of home, I think of a place that always smelled like vanilla or apple candles, with every window in the house thrown open to let crisp air and sunlight stream into every room. There was always at least one dog always underfoot, and classic rock records always played through the speakers of the stereo we my mom bought for my dad as either a birthday or Father’s Day gift. At night, Law and Order reruns were almost always on the TV (unless it was 7 o’clock, in which case, Jeopardy always, always won out, despite my dad’s increasing annoyance with Alex Trebek. Can Anderswoon Cooper just replace him already?), and on the weeknights where we weren’t treating ourselves to Chinese takeout, my mom was usually responsible for preparing something delicious, and she always delivered.

When I reached my 20s, I learned the secret to my mom’s delicious weeknight meals: The New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet. It was dog-eared and missing its cover, a well-worn weapon in my mom’s culinary arsenal. She lent it to me briefly before getting sick of my book-hogging tendencies and buying me my own copy, and I returned it with about two dozen Post its marking recipes I wanted to make.

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Cap’n Chicken Crunch. Crunchy Chicken Captain. Whatever.

Things I learned this week:
  • If you compare the subject of a personality profile to Willy Wonka, your chances of receiving about a metric ton of chocolate from said subject increase substantially.

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  • If there is a dog within a 50-yard radius of me, I will find a way to become best friends with it.

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And if this guy is anywhere in the vicinity, he will get monstrously jealous.
  • Air travel is still a tremendous pain in the ass. (Sorry, Slate.)
  • Upon hearing you hail from New Jersey, people who aren’t from the tri-state area will always be astounded when you don’t sound like you’re from Staten Island or the Bronx.
  • I only half-watched the last 30 or so minutes of it, but the movie “Something Borrowed” should be renamed “Everyone In This Movie Except John Krasinski Should Be Hit In The Face With A Shovel.”
  • Although there are horrible, cruel people in this world, the good will always outnumber them. By a lot.
  • Chicken tastes amazing when breaded in Cap’n Crunch and dunked in honey mustard.
OK, OK, so a few of those things I could have guessed (that Something Borrowed would be infuriatingly insipid, Patton Oswalt is better at saying things than I am), and some of those things I already knew (air travel is a major crapfest and Cap’n Crunch chicken is not, namely).

Chicken pot pie makes me do strange things.

Originally posted February 2013.

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Dear chicken pot pie,

Hi, I’m Lauren. How are you? I’m OK. I’d be better if I hadn’t poked a hole in my own eardrum the other day, but hey, what can you do, other than pop some ibuprofen and fervently pray to all the powers that may or may not be that it doesn’t turn into a horrifying, excruciating infection like the one that rendered me a weeping, painkiller-addled mess in 2006. But this isn’t about me, and my unfortunate eardrum problems. This is about you.

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First off, I am a huge fan. Always been. Growing up, my mom made some pretty delicious dishes, and her version of you was no exception. I usually got so excited about the prospect of putting a spoonful of you in my mouth that I accidentally seared my taste buds and dealt with that weird, stripped-tongue feeling for a few days. It was OK, though. It was a reminder of your utter deliciousness.

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Tortilla time!

Originally posted August 2012.

Good news, everyone! This next recipe is one that someone — gasp — shared with me!

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Yes, you heard (saw?) me. This didn’t come from someone else’s cooking blog, or a magazine, or the Food Network, or Pinterest. By the way, after claiming to be staunchly, adamantly against Pinterest, it has ensnared me and now I’m obsessed. I still maintain that it makes me sad that I don’t have a room made entirely of bookshelves, or an organized walk-in closet full of multicolored boots, but it’s fun, dagnabit, and addictive.

Anyhow, my mom concocted this recipe a couple of months ago, and it was a pretty big hit with my dad. It sounded delicious, so when I went over there with Colin and our mischievous, monstrous fur child this week, I asked her if she’d mind making it for us.

It was good, but good lord, was it spicy. Though, when she told me it was seasoned with adobo, I should have really seen that coming.

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Breaking through writer’s block with an ungodly amount of garlic.

Originally posted July 2012.

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It always bothers me when I post a recipe I found from some other chef/food blogger’s website (though clearly, not enough to refrain from doing so) because I feel so…un-innovative. I feel like really, all I’m doing is successfully duplicating something that’s already been done. I usually try to tweak things, or take a component from one recipe I’ve found and incorporate it into something else. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself, because really, I’m not trying to cash in on anyone else’s successes or claim them as my own. I maintain this website because it’s my own little way of dealing with writer’s block. It’s cathartic, in a way, to be able to come home after a frustrating day and chill out (or swelter, these days) in the kitchen, listen to some good music, take some mediocre pictures and put it all into words.

For years now, I’ve been dealing with seemingly insurmountable writer’s block…or rather, not dealing with it, unless you count staring at a blank notebook saying “well, that idea sucked” then rolling over and going to sleep as dealing with it. I’ve more or less been a writing machine since I decided to pursue a lit degree (and probable cardboard box dwelling) in 2005, but there is a colossal difference between writing for work/school and writing because youlove it and not doing it simply is not an option. I can churn out news and feature articles like it’s my job (because, well, it sort of is), but when it comes to writing for myself? It just doesn’t happen anymore. At least, not like it used to. I can’t necessarily lock myself in my room for days like I did when I was a teenager, emerging with some poem or short story or chapter of a yet-to-be-completed novel, but I can sit at my kitchen table and write about my adventures in the kitchen. That’s really what I’m here for.

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