There is one item that is rarely on my grocery list anymore: vinaigrette. It is the easiest thing to whip up and takes just as long as shaking up a bottle of the pre-made stuff. Well, almost, but you get my point. I was reading my Cooking Light magazine a few weeks ago looking for new dinner inspiration and saw this Dijon Vinaigrette buried in the side bar. Once again I was reminded that sometimes the best recipes – the keepers, the ones you will make again and again – aren’t the cover photos. They are the little teeny tiny recipes that many people skip.
Truth be told, my experience with wild rice came in the form of a white and wild rice pilaf that occasionally graced our dinner table on holidays growing up. It usually came from a box, and I honestly never thought about it again until the next holiday rolled around. Fast forward to my life in Minnesota, and I quickly learned that wild rice holds a place of reverence in this state. No sharing the spotlight with white rice here. So here is my first official homage to this wonderfully native grain: Wild Rice with Pistachios and Cherries.
You know how there are some memories that are etched in your brain forever? I can still vividly remember my sixth grade teacher (yes, I know I’m dating myself here) walking into class with tears in her eyes telling us that President Reagan had been shot. And I’m pretty sure we can all remember exactly where we were on 9/11. Another memory that is quite clear for me is the very first Thanksgiving that I hosted. My mom wasn’t there to answer my questions or help me out with cooking. It was just me and Kevin (who was my boyfriend at the time), and we were hosting his whole family, some of whom I was meeting for the very first time. No pressure, right? Kevin’s attitude was, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a turkey!” Hmmm…turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries…oh, and meeting people who were not yet my in-laws. Talk about a stressful day!
I know a lot of families out there who don’t mess with Thanksgiving dinner. You have the same things every year, and you love it. Sharing your tried and true favorite dishes with loved ones is part of what makes the holiday so endearing. Our family is not one of those traditionalists. My mom has always spearheaded our Thanksgiving meals. We always have turkey, but she likes to dabble in new dishes each year to keep the rotation interesting. (I think that’s where I inherited my love of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.) But even she kept some things the same when we were growing up. My brothers always insisted on that 1970’s staple, the jello mold (sometimes with fruit, sometimes without, but always with Cool Whip), and I couldn’t eat my turkey without a side of those Birds Eye frozen peas and onions. It’s funny the things we hold dear sometimes. Since I can no longer find that side dish from my youth, I went on a hunt to find a suitable substitute, and I hit the jackpot with these Peas with Pancetta and Shallots.
Need a quick and low effort meal for Halloween night? I’ve got just the thing. Set up a baked potato bar with these Crock Pot Baked Potatoes. Spread out everyone’s favorite fixings, and let your family loose to load up their spuds before the (inevitable) sugar crash later that night.
One question that Lisa and I often get from other food bloggers is how two people can blog together: “How do you figure out who does what?” When you’re a solo blogger, you have control of everything (for better and for worse). When you’re part of a team, you don’t always have that luxury. But for Lisa and I, the division of labor came naturally. Lisa easily gravitated to the social side of blogging, spearheading everything related to social media. I prefer to do more work behind the scenes, snapping pics and editing posts. Fortunately we have similar tastes in food, so it’s usually pretty easy to agree on what foods we’re going to make and post…except when it comes to beets.