Slow cooker Guinness short ribs.

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So, did everyone else at least have a lovely St. Paddy’s Day? I hope so, because I most certainly did not. Mine was just one of “those days” where it snowed all through my morning commute, the design program I use at work crashed on me 12 times in the span of an hour (I mean literally 12, no exaggeration), the yoga class I wanted to take was cancelled because the instructor was sick (probably drinking green beer instead), and my fridge and freezer stopped working. Thankfully, I had some new episodes of Sherlock to comfort me – seriously, if you need to cure a bad day, just watch the scenes where Sherlock and Watson get drunk during a stag night. Aside from these short ribs, it’s my favorite thing this week.

I love short ribs. Love, love, love. I think it was the Pioneer Woman who described them as little pot roasts, and she’s right. I usually make short ribs by braising them in some combination of beef broth, red wine, vegetables and herbs, but I found this recipe, which calls for using Guinness, so I got myself in the St. Paddy’s Day spirit and made a batch for myself and my friend Jess.

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Mashed potatoes with goat cheese and caramelized onions.

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It might surprise you to know that I’m fond of the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Now, to tell you the truth, I’m not the kind of person who really likes fixing things that aren’t food related. A pothole tried to eat my hubcap and it’s just been sitting in my trunk because I can’t be bothered to slap it back on. I’m like, the tire still works? Cool. I’ll let the car dealership handle the hubcap problem when I go in for an oil change. Oh, and ask Colin how long it took me to program the universal remote.

But when it comes to food … I’m always changing things, adding cheese, omitting parsley (because really), tossing in some garlic or bacon or a glug of wine to make a dish my own. But some foods are pretty perfect in their traditional state – like mashed potatoes. Whether you use lots of butter and cream, or sour cream, or cream cheese, traditional mashed potatoes are just tops. But (and isn’t there always a but?) that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment.

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My favorite roasted potatoes.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – one of my favorite things about being a grownup is that I can have roasted potatoes for dinner (or lunch. Or breakfast.) whenever I damn well please. I love their crispy outsides and the feeling of comfort that permeates as soon as you pop one in your mouth. I love the way they smell when they’re cooking. And while I’ve sampled many, many variations, this is the signature, tried-and-true version I make most often. Also, whenever I try making some other kind of roasted potato dish, Colin’s all like, WHY TRY TO IMPROVE PERFECTION*?

*paraphrasing.

I’m going to be honest with you – this recipe is a result of “I’m too lazy to chop garlic” and “Having fresh herbs/a garden is haaaard.” (It’s not. But having even the slightest semblance of a yard is a wistful dream.) I don’t even really measure the ingredients – but this time, I did. Just so I can share it with you fine folks. Unfortunately, most of my pictures came out horrible and sallow-looking, so here’s a picture of Sam looking super concerned. And super cute.

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Twice-baked potatoes with kale.

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Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, please welcome, for the very first time on this humble little blog … kale!

Kale has become an incredibly popular staple for healthy eaters over the past couple of years, and rightly so. It’s chock full of vitamins and minerals, and can be prepared in any number of ways.

For those of you who haven’t managed to incorporate this superfood into your diet, and are perhaps a little wary of this leafy green with its curly, tough texture, here’s a recipe that might help you open your arms (mouth?) to kale. Sure, it’s not the healthiest thing you could eat, but it is delicious, and it’s tangible proof that, as the great Bob Belcher once said, there’s nothing wrong with kale.

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Pasta with vegetables in a creamy yogurt sauce

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I’m not really one for making new year’s resolutions. Sure, I probably made some when I was younger, because I thought it was the “thing” to do, but it seems to me that more often than not, new year’s resolutions are about eating better, getting in shape, losing weight or something along those lines. Anyone who has ever frequented the gym knows that trying to get a workout in during January is all but impossible – really, it’s better to just wait ’til February, when the herd thins out – and I think that kicking off the longest, coldest, worst month ever (come at me, January fans) with a pledge to purge your diet of all things sweet/salty/carby/boozy is just a form of masochism, and I want no part of it.

In light of my resolution hangups, and as a tip of the hat to all of you who don’t share this mindset, I think I’ve found something that qualifies as both comfort food and a (quasi) healthy alternative. Also, it’s vegetarian-friendly, so, yay for that.

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Spaghetti bolognese

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So in case you needed any further proof that I’m slightly off my rocker, I’m here to let you know that, on a work night – a Tuesday night, to be exact – I decided to make a bolognese sauce. Why? Why would I make a sauce that requires three to four hours of cooking time if I wasn’t going to start cooking until 7:30 p.m.?

Well, for one thing, I was cranky. And cooking usually helps me deal with my crankiness. Also, what else was I going to do? Take a ride to the laundromat? Clean the apartment? Go to the gym? Psh. We all know that, if I hadn’t spent the evening cooking, I probably would have binge-watched Netflix and played Candy Crush until I passed out at, like, 10. At least making bolognese sauce was productive.

I actually called my mother on my way home from work and asked her if she thought I was crazy.

Me: “Would it be insane if I went home and made bolognese sauce?”
Mom: “Why would it be insane?”
Me: “Because it takes, like, three hours.”
Mom: “Oh. Well, do you have three hours?”
Me: “I guess?”
Mom: “Well then. It’s not crazy.”

That was really all the assurance I needed.

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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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Attack of the mac.

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A couple of my coworkers and I came up with a brilliant idea a couple of weeks ago. I’m not entirely sure how we got on the topic of macaroni and cheese, but we decided that, since it’s so versatile and so well-loved, it might be fun to have a macaroni and cheese contest in the office.

Because I’m a little obsessive, I decided to dedicate an entire Saturday to testing out three different mac and cheese recipes. I think it’s safe to say that Colin appreciated this display of insanity … even if it meant that the two of us passed out in cheese-and-bechamel induced comas on the couch by 10:30. Adulthood!

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Mushroom bourguignon

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So, in case your Facebook friends aren’t my Facebook friends and didn’t let you know that it snowed the other day (who needs a weather app when you have Facebook on your phone?), it uh, snowed the other day. Ugh. I feel like snow shouldn’t be allowed to happen until December and/or the trees are bare. Also, I think snow is pretty stupid unless it cancels everything unpleasant and involving operating a vehicle. Or a shovel.

I do an awful lot of moping when it comes to winter. Sure, I love my red pea coat, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but once the warmth and joy of the holidays pass, I gird myself for relentlessly gray and cold January (and February, and usually March) with only my pea coat as a bright spot. Unless you have a birthday, nothing good happens in January. Everyone’s in the midst of a holiday hangover, trying to content themselves with carrot sticks and sad salads when really, the weather demands stews and roasts and scoops of mashed potatoes. In December, it’s dark at, like, 5 p.m., but the presence of Christmas lights makes that okay. In January, that early, undecorated darkness is like a giant middle finger.

See? It’s not even Thanksgiving – I have more than a month before the hated post-holiday winter sets in, and I’m already woebegone.

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French onion soup

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I don’t know about you, but I looove me a bowl of French onion soup. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than cracking through that crispy lid of cheese, creme brulee style, and diving into a (scalding hot, often) bowl of buttery, caramelized onions in a savory, well-seasoned beef broth. And I’m not too picky about it, either. Sure, you can probably screw up French onion soup, but I generally enjoy even the most lackluster bowls. There’s a saying about pizza (and sex) that implies that even when pizza is bad, it’s still pretty good.

That’s a filthy lie.

However, when French onion soup is bad… well, it’s still pretty okay, and I’m still probably going to enjoy it. (My father is probably tremendously disappointed in me right now for saying that, and Dad, if you’re reading this, I’d like to remind you that pretty much all the other wisdom and good taste you’ve imparted on me has stuck. Except for MacArthur’s Park. I’m on Mom’s team in that department.)

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