Tag Archives: comfort food

It Made The List

22 Sep

I’ve always been in love with it. Some people take it too far and it becomes an uncontrollable obsession and I get that, but for me it’s always been love.

I love food especially the good kind. And it so happens that my relationship with it went up a notch thanks to The Sopranos.

I dove into the cookbook this weekend in an effort to get out of an emotional funk. The beach worked its magic as usual but once I got home there was something still lingering there, and seeing how dinner was just around the corner I thought I’d comfort my soul. My taste buds were thanking me too.

A savory and hearty mix of tomato, ditalini, cannellini beans and  Pecorino Romano cheese was making me appreciate all my senses. Especially the kind that can taste and smell flavorful. And the thing is it was a simple recipe, just a couple of ingredients but the combination was amazingly delicious.  So much so that the dish has made my list. My comfort food list. Do you have one?


For someone who grew up in a dysfunctional family, for someone who’s a writer, for someone who’s a mother of two, for someone who’s ever been married, for someone who’s in the George Costanza phase of life, for someone who’s ever had a bad day …

Pasta e Fagioli.





That’s got to be on your comfort food list.

Have you had it?

If not, I strongly encourage you to either get it or make it.  The Sopranos Family Cookbook happened to have a great recipe. I love the library and appreciate all the culinary literature they have on hand. I wasn’t much for cookbooks prior to me 12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge. I only read fiction or nonfiction. But I realize I’m a fan. The thing with cookbooks is that they too open you up to new discoveries, Comfort Food Lists discoveries, which can eventually lead to Bucket List Adventures. And I’m all for that.



12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge … You Better Have a Glass of Milk

28 Mar

I love my family. I do. But just like any normal dysfunctional family you love them even more when there is a buffer zone.

Space … it’s essential.

And I was loving the 2,000-plus miles between us while she was on vacation. I felt like Independent George. I had no extra stress piled on me, no free-parenting-advice being thrown my way on a daily basis, and no Univision or TeleMundo. Well in truth I don’t mind Univision or TeleMundo, but what drives me crazy is the bad dialogue being exchanged between two really good-looking people in one of the four telenovelas she watches. The fact that I have to witness it because she clamps onto the remote control with a kung-fu grip burns me out.

For a month I had the luxury of watching television shows while they were actually on the air. No need for the DVR as I was in charge of the remote control.

And now that power is gone … that buffer zone is gone.

This called for some chocolate.

But not just any chocolate … a 12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge type of chocolate.

I went for the big one: Black Magic Chocolate Cake.


Dude...definitely working it's chocolate magic to make me feel better.

Dude…definitely working it’s chocolate magic to make me feel better.


Chocolate on top of chocolate on top of chocolate.


I felt the occasion called for it and the Chocolate Magic didn’t let me down.

Rich. Moist. Decadent. Badass. Definitely a chocolate lover’s dream. It made me eat in slow motion — the kind of slow motion where you close your eyes, tilt your head back, take a deep breath, and just stomp your feet twice because it’s so good — yeah.  It made me completely forget about the non-existant buffer zone. It worked its magic and made my night, and what was even more amazing was that the recipe was easy to follow. No crazy steps or extra attachments needed. Just my kind of baking. The simple kind with extraordinary results.

But I’ve gotta say, you better have a big glass of milk when you dive into this … hmph … maybe two glasses.



  • butter for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup brewed strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 bag (12-ounces) semi sweet chocolate chips, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 stick butter


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Butter and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. You should have a thin batter.
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes; remove cakes from pans to wire racks.
  • Cool completely before frosting.
To prepare the frosting, place chopped chocolate in a medium mixing bowl; set aside.
  • Place whipping cream and butter in saucepan and cook over medium heat to just a boil.
  • Pour cream mixture over chocolate; whisk vigorously until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  • Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Remove from fridge and stir; refrigerate about 1 more hour or until spreading consistency.
  • Spread about 1/4 to 1/3 of frosting on one cake layer; top with the other cake layer and spread frosting on top and sides of cake.


Recipe courtesy of Diet Hood


This Meal Went Beyond Paper Plates … It Deserved Barcelona

25 Mar

With so many mouths to feed and the massive amounts of Dawn and Palmolive destroying my youthful hands, I gravitated toward using paper plates.



But after washing breakfast plates, pots and pans; followed by lunch plates, pots and pans; then dinner plates pots and pans, I’ve decided to take short cuts and help myself out a little bit. I didn’t even mention the bottles…don’t get me started on the Dr. Brown baby bottles and their million parts. Dude.

So I’ve become a Dixie chick. Not a country-singing-I’m-Not-Ready-To-Make-Nice Dixie chick, but the paper plate kind. They’re awesome. They save me at least twenty-to-thirty minutes a day. And in Guat time that is really important. But sometimes a meal comes along where I have to use the Barcelona Dinnerware. It’s just that good.

Tonight happen to be one of those nights. I actually took the night off from eating yesterday because of my incident on Friday night. But I felt better today and made my comeback in the kitchen.

What did I make?


Meatloaf Muffins. They’re so awesome I literally patted myself on the back. But these were not just any meatloaf muffins, they were Rachel Ray’s Meatloaf Muffin Recipe.

Now I know I complain about her recipes totally sucking the 30-minute mark. Most of her recipes are all pretty tasty, but there are no 30-minute meals at my house … more like an-hour-and-a-half meals. But regardless of the time on this particular recipe I always thoroughly enjoy a tasty, savory comfy cozy meal that makes me close my eyes when I take the first bite.

Do you know how good food has to be to make me close my eyes and shake my head?


My relationship with food goes up several notches with this dish. I don’t care about calories or portion size in general, and this meal… hijole! … just puts me over the edge. Claim-Jumper size portions. It had celery, peppers, onions, Uncle Dougies Barbecue Sauce and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce. I don’t really impress myself much, but today … dude … I was so money. 

This meal deserved the Barcelona Dinnerware plate. The earthenware with the beautiful glazed finish that makes everything look better. It deserved to be laid out in total awesomeness. No Dixie plates on this one.

As the night came to an end after baths for the kids, stories for my son and bedtime for both of them, I walk down to see a sink full of dishes.


But this time I didn’t mind it too much. It was a well-deserved mess.


Aisle 19, The Long-Lost Cookies, and My Dad

17 Mar

I never thought I’d get emotional in aisle 19. I’m not the type of chick that turns on the waterworks quite easily, but there I was … in the cookie aisle, having a moment.

It wasn’t because I’m an emotional eater or I was having Oreo withdrawals from Weight-Watchers-point calculations. No … I happen to come across something that sparked a childhood memory with my Dad. It happens from time to time, in random places, but I usually keep it together.

I hadn’t seen these in over twenty-five years, and I’m sure they were in aisle 19 all along, but I seldom run my cart down that aisle. And when I saw them, I remembered … I remembered … and all I could think about was my Dad and how much I missed him.

As I’ve mentioned before, we grew up in a tough inner-city neighborhood, but that didn’t necessarily mean we didn’t have a slice of something special. Every so often my Dad would drive out about thirty minutes on the freeway to take us to a place called Carnation.

We’d all pile in the brown supreme station wagon and venture off to this restaurant that specialized in making its own ice cream.  Oh. For the love of banana splits made with rocky road and marshmallow topping.

I couldn’t wait to finish my meal, because I knew dessert would be coming shortly. We would all get whatever we wanted, no limits. My sister usually got two scoops of chocolate chip, my mother strawberry, our cousins mint chip … me … I’d go for the banana split … and I’d never have to share. Usually we’d go to other restaurants or 31 Flavors and I’d always have to share my two scoop sundae with someone. But at Carnation … my dad made it a point to splurge. No sharing required, but if you wanted to … you could.

The only thing I absolutely did not share were these cookies that were neatly surrounding my awesome banana split. I’d get six … two for each scoop.

Light, crispy, and sweet. Awesome.

Just as I finished the last one, I’d always want more. But it never happened. Six and that was it. The waitresses weren’t much for extras, so I’d always come home longing for more.

Until one day …

After we had piled back into the station wagon, my Dad remembered that he had left his wallet in the booth. He left all of us there in the parking lot, with our seat belts on, the radio blaring something from the Spanish station KLOVE, and the windows rolled down because the air-conditioner was on the fritz. We were in the shade so it wasn’t too bad.

It took him a while to return. But when he did he smiled and we rushed back home. As we were trekking up the stairs to our apartment building my Dad told me he had forgotten something in the car. It was for my sister and I. He said it was in the front seat.

He tossed me the keys and I went to go get it. As I opened the car door, I saw a brown paper bag in the driver’s seat. I opened it up … it was a box of the sugar wafer creme-filled cookies. A box!

I turned to look at the stairs, my Dad stood there smiling.

He passed away about a year and a half ago and I miss him every day.

So when I saw the cookies on aisle 19 I just had to buy them. I fixed myself up a nice banana split with six cookies, the only thing missing was my dad, his cup of coffee, and our conversation.

I Love Hawaiians…The Creators of This-Is-Not-Your-Life Chocolate

3 Feb

I was having one of those days again…unfortunately it was back to back. And normally I would have wallowed but I found something that turned it around. The cocoa plant. This time it worked. Not because it was a KitKat or Twix. Not even because it was a Ghirardelli Square. But this time it was Hawaiian. I came across a box of Big Island Candy and it was over. 

Sitting there savoring the two pieces of rich milk chocolate hypnotized my brain and my heart just took over. It was chocolafied. As I sat there I remembered my letter. It’s probably taped up in the customer service representative’s cubicle. 

Image via Bigislandcandies.com

Image via Bigislandcandies.com

Dear  Big Island Candies Customer Service,

Recently we received a Big Island Candy gift basket filled with cookies, chocolate covered cookies, Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Rocky Road Milk Chocolate, and Hawaiian Crispy Milk Chocolate. The quality and flavor of your cookies and rocky road was incomparable and quite savory. In fact I hadn’t tasted anything like it before and believe me I’m an experienced chocolate connoisseur (I’ve got the cavities to prove it).

I was convinced I would never purchase any other kind of store-bought chocolate. I wouldn’t go back. I couldn’t! But alas, something put a chink in my chain. A Tylenol to my Chocolate Fever. Kryptonite. I was extremely disappointed with the taste and caliber of the Hawaiian Crispy Chocolate in the gift basket.

I understand that you create many different flavors, ingredients, and textures for your products in an effort to produce something delicious, new, and diverse. However in this case I don’t know if it was your ingredients or the final product itself, but this chocolate was not up to par.

I was sitting down after a hard day of work and wanted to unwind. You see, I’m a substitute teacher for an inner city school district grades 6th – 8th and the only thing that hasn’t stopped me from suicide is chocolate. That fact in and of itself should let you know how agonizing and unbearable my day went. The need for great chocolate was adamant. I was looking forward to forgetting the disrespectful insults of the day, the prophylactic attached to my doorknob, and the dean of discipline referral slips crumpled up in my pocket. I needed a moment of serenity, but your chocolate failed this time. My comfort food didn’t placate my emotional status. In fact it kicked it up a notch. I ended up getting into an argument with every human being in the tri-state area, including my husband and he chalked it up to PMS. However, I don’t get PMS…I get chocolate withdrawals. Needless to say, he slept on the couch and I had no Big Island Chocolate.

This chocolate left a nasty bitter taste in my mouth that shook my newly found fondness for your product. I have enclosed the entire box (minus the piece I attempted to digest). I truly hope you can remedy my situation with either a box of the rocky road chocolate which I knew was of fine quality or the same crispy chocolate which was filled with questionable-tasting ingredients (bad batch perhaps?).

I would like to continue believing that your homemade chocolate and cookies are my “serenity now” necessities required after a difficult day of teaching today’s youth values, morals and grammar.

About five weeks later I got a small box of Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Rocky Road,  a large sampler box, and a catalog.

Dude I love Hawaiians. They make these this-is-not-your-life chocolates. They’re awesome.