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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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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(Red) wedding fare.

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Alright. I know it’s June, and June is hardly the time of year for comfort foods here in Jersey, but I (and about seven million other people, I reckon), are in need of some comfort after last night’s long-anticipated (by book readers, anyway) episode of Game of Thrones. Obvious disclaimer: There are spoilers here.

I devoured the entire series in the summer of 2011, shortly after the first season of the show wrapped up, so I knew what was coming in episode 309, aptly (and chillingly) titled “The Rains of Castamere.”

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Since first finishing the series, I’ve become somewhat obsessed, and have read the books at least two times each. I’ve read the passage in which Game of Thrones’ penultimate scene transpires several times. I braced myself. I was smug. I listened to this on repeat. I was anticipating the Internet-wide meltdown that would inevitably take place around 10 P.M. I knew what was coming, and after the obligatory book-chucking that comes with reading that particular chapter, and working my way through the Kubler-Ross Model (and laughing when my dad sent me an email after reading the chapter with the subject line “HE’S KILLING EVERYONE!”), I was prepared.

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This will convert you into a macaroni salad fan. If you’re weird like me and didn’t already like it, that is.

Originally posted June 2012.

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Dear Macaroni Salad,

If you don’t mind, I’m going to be frank with you — I never really liked you. Now look, I’m not saying this to hurt your feelings, but I’m just trying to establish an honest relationship with you.

It wasn’t your fault, really. I’ve just never really thought that macaroni should be served cold. Macaroni, in my eyes, has always been at its best served hot, slathered in tomato sauce and topped with two or three big ol’ meatballs. Or baked in a plethora of cheeses. Heck, I even enjoy macaroni on its own, with just a bit of melted butter and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

But cold? Macaroni had no business being served cold. And especially not with celery. The starch salad that always won my heart was that of the potato. I know you’ve had your fans, Macaroni Salad, but I was not one of them.

Not until this came along…

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This delicious, spicy, smoky, COLD macaroni dish that I would happily make on a weekly basis. This macaroni salad that I made last night and just polished off the leftovers of for lunch. This macaroni salad that you must try to make on your own. Seriously, I demand it.

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An impromptu dinner party.

Originally posted February 2012.

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I hadn’t planned on feeding six people on a Thursday night, though I did invite pretty much everyone who could see my Facebook page over for penne with vodka sauce and garlic bread. Not only because I happen to like my friends. And cooking. And feeding people. But I was supposed to make dinner for my sister, who is in Jersey with her two awesome dogs until May, while her husband finishes up his combat training in Texas. But she had to cancel, so I had lots of pasta and bread and a hunk of pancetta roughly the size of my head, and there was no way I was letting any of that go to waste, or even go uneaten. I had gotten myself psyched up. I was going to make this dinner, even if I had no one to share it with but my cat.

But, I invited over my former roommate, and Colin came home with three of our friends in tow, so pasta for two or three quickly became pasta for six. (I was so glad I’d grabbed extra cans of tomato sauce on my last trip to the grocery store.)

And while normally, sitcoms and movies would have you believe that last-minute dinner parties are enough to turn you into this — or this — I was totally in my element, and happy to spend the night with a group of awesome people.

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