Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dippity Do Dah

Janet here:

Like Rachel, I don't give two hoots about football or the Super Bowl. (See her post here about the event as an excuse to make nachos. Hah!) But others in my family — namely the males — care about such things so I liked to make watching the game a little special. It was a chance to gather together in front of the fire and nosh on some specialty goods (i.e. stuff that wasn't around the house that often the rest of the year like all the Doritos you could ever want and soda, something I rarely bought for our kids.).

Typically we'd have some kind of dip and then make-your-own subs, a favorite of S and G. I can remember going shopping with S and how excited he was as a little boy to pick out the chips and the sub makings. It's really a happy memory for me.

Our dips back in those days were fairly straight-forward because "strange" items like onions or veggies were not popular. Now, I'm happy to report, the palates have grown up with the boys. I made this spicy bean dip over the holidays and it was scarfed up in minutes. It's super easy.

What's your favorite go-to dip for family and friends?


Spicy Black Bean Dip

makes about 2 cups

canola oil
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 teaspoons canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
salt to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
about 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

In a medium pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauces, and saute until the onions are softened. Add the beans and 1/3 cup water. Simmer until the water evaporates, about 5 minutes. Cool for a few minutes.

In a food processor, process the bean mixture until coarsely mashed. Add the lime juice, chipotle chilies and salt. Puree until smooth.

Add the sour cream, jalapeno and cilantro. Pulse until just incorporated. Season to taste and then serve it up with chips and veggies.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In Preparation for the Super Bowl

Rachel here.

Ok, so I really don't care about football. Once the Eagles are out for the season (John's team) I get to stop dreading the Super Bowl and the potential for his very deep and meaningful investment (read: tense) in watching it and I get to start just getting excited about the excuse to eat food that, on a day to day basis, I feel obligated to curb my desire for.

Super Bowl.
What a great combination of words!
I am picturing a bowl...filled with something super.

Like hot wings...

or nachos.

Or--wait--better yet:

Hot wing nachos.

Yes, life really does get this good.

See, a few weeks back the most recent issue of the Food Network magazine arrived at our house. It had a pull-out booklet on 50 variations for nachos. John pulled it out and read aloud from it periodically, even going so far as to call it food porn. Clearly we were going to need to make nachos and pronto.

We tried the buffalo chicken version, omitting the celery because it just seemed gross to us. That's one down and 49 to go. Though I'm not entirely sure when the Super Bowl is (it's soon, though, right?) I can only hope that it gets here soon so we don't make our way through the whole list--you know, in the spirit of the season.

Don't these sound good? Read the list and let us know which variations on this tried and true classic sound best to you (or that you've tried). What do you do for the Super Bowl?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tex Mex Comfort Food

Hey Rachel
My go-to comfort food is Mexican, and with the Northeast looking as if it's going to be blasted this week with its third snowstorm in as many weeks, I just might have to make this tasty meal. Oh, wait, no I can't because I'm still on my detoxing food plan. Argh. Somehow stir-fried veggies with wild rice is just not going to cut it.

But I digress. This Tex Mex dish is an easy weeknight meal and includes, if you're feeling very pressed for time or lazy, a rotisserie chicken if you want. It will be our little secret.

I'm not sure why Tex Mex is so comforting to me. I'm sure it has something to do with the carbs and cheese. Now that's a combination I can get behind. :)

Anyway, do me a favor and make it this week and send vicarious warm, cozy thoughts from CA, where it is, as you annoyingly like to remind me, 60 degrees and mostly sunny.
In the meantime, I'd love to hear from some readers. Do you have favorite comfort food when the weather outside is frightful? If so, what is it? Do you go for sweets? Carbs? Salt? And why does the weather make some of us (I can't be the only one can I???) feel like eating certain kinds of food?

Quesadilla Pie
serves 4-6

1 10 ounce can of green or red enchilada sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 8-inch tortillas
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus extra for the top
1 3-4 pound rotisserie chicken shredded OR (for the ambitious) 3 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
1 cup salsa

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
If you're not using a rotisserie chicken, saute the chicken slices in a skillet with a little olive oil and some chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.
In a small bowl combine the enchilada sauce and cream. Spoon 1/4 cup of the sauce mixture into the bottom of a shallow 2-quart caserole. Top with 1 tortilla and a third of the cheese, chicken, onion and zucchini. Place a tortilla on top and repeat twice more to form a total of 3 layers. Top with the remaining tortilla, sauce and cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more. Slice into wedges and enjoy!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Back Breakingly Good Bacon Burgers

Rachel here.

It is my distinct pleasure today to introduce to you all for the first time the culinary stylings of my little brothers (ok, little they are not--and definitely not littler than me--but any older siblings out there know as well as I do that they'll always be my baby bros). The recipe they have to offer today is--no joke--a recipe for the best burgers I have EVER eaten (and this is coming from a girl who likes her beef and likes it bloody). Read and then head to the kitchen. You won't be sorry.

Gerrit here.

For the first time in two decades S and I are taking over the helm in the kitchen arena; be VERY afraid. Why, you ask? The menu for the evening is simply a turkey burger, complemented by turkey bacon. What's the worst that could go wrong? A charred bird?

Wrong. Try a flavor explosion in your mouth, one so powerful that the salivary glands on your tongue beg for mercy and an immediate reduction of flavor. I am, of course, speaking hyperbolically; however, the flavors are quite explosive by design, so enjoy and do not be afraid to stylize the recipe and make it your own!

Historically, we are both BIG fans of big-taste burgers. Over the years, from barbecues to fast food joints to fine-dining establishments, we have experimented and explored the wide variety of burgers out there. Our family, generally speaking, does not consume (and never has) red meat, not even the occasional burger. There is where I, and especially S, stray from the beaten path. I love beef burgers and often order one when out when presented the opportunity. S takes things one step further and is an appreciator of steaks, ribs and more, albeit rather infrequent consumption.

As mentioned the typical Reynolds household burger is of the turkey variety, and let's be real meat-eaters — it’s less flavorful than its beef counterpart. We desired to create a more flavorful burger experience, not only for ourselves, but for the beloved and beautiful cooks Janet and Rachel who have so selflessly cooked for us over the years. We decided to hit the grocery store and hit it hard; the following is the resultant beauty...

S here –
I played what could be considered the sous-chef role for most of the preparation of this meal, and will therefore give advice with regards to this side of the operation. My first words of wisdom: Be liberal in the siphoning of freshly-cooked bacon pieces for your personal supply. This is, after all, a deserved perk of being in charge of the single most delicious ingredient in the recipe.

I would also state the fairly obvious advice of trying to think a couple of steps ahead in the recipe (key with a gourmet platter like the B.B.G.B.B.) and try to anticipate what your head chef and burger master will need. Our family kitchen is on the smaller side, so the importance of keeping tasks going and ingredients flowing were evident very quickly to us.

Most of all have fun making this meal, though. I had a blast with G making this meal and I think it may be the first substantive thing I’ve ever made in the kitchen more than once. The whole idea is to treat yourself to a decadent, satisfying chowdown, and the more you enjoy creating your burger, the better it will taste. See for yourself!

Triple-Cheese Turkey Bacon Burgers avec Fried Egg
serves 4 (ridiculously large portions)

8-10 slices turkey bacon
2 lbs. ground turkey
1/2 lb. mild cheddar
1/2 lb. Sharp cheddar
1/2 lb mozzarella
4 oz. Crumbled Blue Cheese container (will last more than one meal)
4 eggs

Spices Used:
minced onions, garlic powder, Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy, Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple, Frank's Red Hot Sauce, Worcester Sauce, EVOO

I did not measure out any spices or sauces, however, the following philosophy should clear up any confusion and also could be the motto for Rush Limbaugh's next hiring campaign: Apply liberally.

Put some EVOO in a big pan on your biggest burner, and warm skillet to a high level. When nice and hot, cook the bacon strips (think 2-3 strips per burger depending on bun-size) and keep warm in oven once cooked.

Depending on the residual amount of bacon fat left, add a little more EVOO.

While the bacon is cooking, or your sous-chef cooks the bacon, prepare the patties. I made each patty a half pound and did not regret it for a second. Patty preparation includes: spicing both sides of the burger with every spice mentioned. My personal approach involved a light coating of each spice, evenly distributed over the surface-area of side of the burger. For the onion and garlic, I did not apply to the patties, but rather spiced the bottom of the pan and let the burger juices cook in the two flavors.

Progress to date: Bacon cooked and warming, Patties prepared, time to cook the patties!

Cook patties on pan two at a time; get another pan going if you feel like it. Flip four-six times, each time noting how the meat is cooking and adjust accordingly. (An adjustment may include making a cut in the bottom of the patty to let in more heat and to allow the flow of juices when pressure is applied with a spatula.)

While burgers cook, toast and butter BOTH sides of the bun (otherwise the burger may fall apart heehee.)

Place patties on burger with a layer of each cheddar blanketing them. Place bacon strips on top of the cheddars, add mozarella on top of bacon, add crumbles of blue cheese on top of the mozzarella. Place in oven while eggs quickly cook.

Throw eggs on top of hot pan, fry them leaving yolk in tact, and place on top of Blue Cheese.

Dot the top of burger blood red with Frank's Red Hot Sauce and add ketchup as well.

Cut in half and enjoy the layered beauty that is the BBGBB!!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Food as Poison??

This post is going to be a little different because it's all about what not to eat. Or more specifically what I'm not allowed to eat for the next 17 and 1/2 days and counting.

Despite the regular derision by my now mostly adult children, I go to an acupuncturist and have for at least 15 years. I don't go regularly but every time I have an issue this very clever man has, for the most part, been able to fix it...a point my children conveniently like to ignore. Anyway, he's been trying to get me to do this purification cleansing program for a few years and I finally decided to give it a shot. If it will actually help me sleep through the night and eliminate some of my sinus issues, it will be worth it.

In the meantime, however, it royally sucks. While I am really really really trying to think of this as a gift of health to myself, the categories of favorite foods I can't eat is long. The no's include, but are not limited to:

protein except through this disgusting powder that I have to drink in a "shake"
grains except brown rice or wild rice
nuts and seeds--bye bye wonderful homemade granola

I also have to take 30 — yes 30 — supplemental pills a day. Fun this is not.

The idea is that I've likely consumed over the years a number of foods that maybe my liver and kidney and intestines don't actually love. Add in environmental toxins and my body is potentially a walking Superfund site. It's a theory that I general buy into, although it seems kind of ironic on some levels. I've been a vegetarian for over 30 years and have been one of the early fans of organic and local food. Yes, I drink coffee (I would kill for a tall skinny caramel latte right now) and I like my wine and Cranberry Corkers, but mostly I feel as if I try to feed my body fairly well. Sure, I love chocolate, but what about all those studies saying dark chocolate (in moderation I know I know) is good for you?

But I will persevere. The first two days I had a headache behind my eyeballs that ignored Tylenol and a ache in my head behind my right ear weirdly. Today they're gone. There are some other indicators that this might actually be doing something positive but I won't scare you with those details.

I'll let you know how I'm doing. In the meantime, I have realized that mixing ice and water with some fruit helps the shake go down, but trust me: This photo looks a lot better than this thing tastes. Now if I could add a little vanilla yogurt...


Monday, January 17, 2011

Peanut butter!

No photo today because, though I went out to buy batteries and other sundries, I only came home with 2/3 of what M and I set out to get. Yeah, it was one of those days...So, my camera is still dead and our dishwasher still needs detergent. I'll fill in these shopping holes tomorrow, though the dishes in the sink loom a little more ominously than the missing photo for this post does.

But anyway.

I made peanut butter! I love peanut butter. Love love love love the stuff. I've been eating it by the spoonful since I was a kid. I like it with apples and pretzels, jelly and bread, on rice cakes and with bits of chocolate. I'll eat it creamy, but I prefer it chunky.

We had some Aunt Ruby's peanuts in the freezer, doing their darndest (and, in all fairness, succeeding) at keeping fresh in there. They're such phenomenal peanuts that I've long thought they would lend themselves to some incredible peanut butter. The only thing holding me back from making it all these years is that they're so freaking good on their own. Anyway, we were low on peanut butter and I neglected to buy more at the grocery store (a trend may be emerging here...) so I googled peanut butter recipes after combing my cookbooks and discovering that none of them included their own.

I was delighted to discover that making peanut butter takes minutes. Minutes! As in, like, 3 or 4. I may never buy peanut butter at the grocery store again now that I've made this discovery.

Click here for the recipe I used. I omitted the salt because the peanuts I used were already salted. Also, they were already roasted which, admittedly, made this extra simple for me to execute. The roasting seems easy enough, but it takes more time.

Anyway, you should make your own peanut butter. Today. It's that good. And if you love peanut butter like I do, don't tell anyone in your house about it so you can eat it by the spoonful from the fridge whenever your heart desires. Or tell everyone you know and let them have a taste so they know that you truly love them.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Things I Feed (3:30 pm-Stray Cats)

This is the first post in a new bimonthly series by our illustrator, John Dezort. Tune in every other Friday for his illustrated take on his life told in recipes. Currently, he's building a series entitled "Things I Feed" and we hope you enjoy it as much as we are.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shortbread: The Final Post

While I rarely utter these words — and those who know me well, know just how rarely — I give up. Shortbread is beyond me and I refuse to embarrass/frustrate myself any longer. Despite the annoyingly simple recipe — I mean it's FOUR ingredients for God's sake!!!!! — my shortbread just doesn't cut it.

After Rachel's and my attempt to make a double batch and the resulting completely edible but ridiculously silly looking shortsand (see post here), I decided one day last week to just make a single batch while Rachel was at the movies with her brothers. I figured I'd bring out the final product and just say, "Hah! I can make shortbread too."

Obviously the karmic gods were on to this hubristic disingenuous strategy because while this shortbread held together, it did not have the right texture, that crumbly buttery goodness that makes shortbread a baking wonder. Again, it was edible but it wasn't right and so I give up. All my shortbread from now on will be Walker's or, if Rachel is feeling generous and perhaps just a tad smug, gifts from her.
Oh, Ma. You really can't bake shortbread, can you? While I assure you that this is definitely as pathetic as you feel like it is (*wink, wink*), worry not. On my to-do list before school starts back up next week is to make you some shortbread and send it your way. Yes, I will be placing your initials on each piece, too, just so you remember with each bite that not only was it made with love specifically for you but it was made by hand with time for embellishments because it's that freaking easy.

My real gift to you is this, though: You make better granola than I do. I've been disappointed each morning since I came back to California not to be eating your seriously, seriously good granola for breakfast. Mine's fine, but yours is awesome. AWESOME.

Wanna do a swap? I'll send you shortbread and you can mail me granola.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day? Soup Day!

We're in the middle of a full-on nor'easter here in New England. It's been snowing all night and shows no sign of letting up. Peter, S and G are all snug in their beds upstairs while I, chronic semi-insomniac, am up.

I am a fan of winter overall, at least in the beginning. Talk to me in March and I'll tell a very different story. But today, with the snow falling and everywhere whisper-quiet, and the house feeling as cozy as a favorite sweater, I feel content. It's a perfect soup day, don't you think? Just the right antidote for those still crazy enough to shovel their driveways (that would be us, thanks to an odd Luddite anti-snowblower/plow streak in my husband) or for young children who come in fresh from playing in the snow or, if you plan to spend your wintry day indoors (sensibly) by the fire, for just the coziness factor. Nothing warms up the stomach and soul like a good homemade soup.

I'm not sure what I will make later today but soup is definitely on the agenda. I made this creamy leek soup a couple of weeks ago inspired by a recipe in Every Day with Rachael Ray, though, and it was delicious and I offer it up to you in case you're on the soup prowl. If you don't have all the ingredients, don't worry — improvise! Happy slurping!

Creamy Chicken and Leek Soup
serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, white and green part split lengthwise and then sliced crosswise
4 ribs celery, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 32 ounce container chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into small chunks
1 pound fresh gnocchi
1/3 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon paprika


In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks, celery, and salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened over medium heat, about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken and cook about 5 minutes until the meat is lightly browned. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the cream and lower the heat to simmer. Add the gnocchi and cook about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, sherry and paprika and serve it up.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mashed Potato Tacos

In a truly inspired gift-giving moment, G gave my mom and me each copies of the same cookbooks for Christmas. Since we've been in the same place we decided we'd give a recipe a whirl (ok, I didn't make anything, just ate...but still). My mom whipped up these Mashed Potato Tacos for an appetizer on my final night in Connecticut and the five of us stood in the kitchen together, oohing, aahing and trying really, really hard not to keep making them so that we'd have room for the fabulous salmon she was making for dinner.

This is just one of those recipes that should be wrong. Mashed potatoes as tacos? Really? Let's just say it worked and thank you Sam "The Cooking Guy" Zien. Don't think, readers. Just make these and be prepared to be awed.

Basically you warm some corn tortillas, spread some sour cream on them, spoon on some mashed potatoes and top with chopped scallions, hot sauce and crushed potato chips. The recipe is here. We have already begun to fantasize about additions. Bacon? Melted cheese? Swoon.

Friday, January 7, 2011

An Unexpected Dividend

Janet here.

For the first time in a year, everyone is home. The holidays are over and while a number of people are still calling for command visits by or to Miss M and Rachel, in between our family is grabbing moments together. The "Just Us" has changed forever of course, as it absolutely should. But I am enjoying watching our children engage and reconnect — over a game of Monopoly, in a video game face-off and just sitting by the fire bantering.

We had a little unexpected moment tonight because we had Rachel all to ourselves. G and S were headed to a basketball game and M was in bed so dinner was the three of us. I lit candles in the dining room and made a tasty dish from Rachael Ray's new cookbook, Look + Cook, which I've been planning to try for a while. It was tasty but I think I will always remember it because the three of us had a brief moment together again of just being. And then Miss M called :)

Chicken Cutlets Brasciole
serves 4 (I reduced everything a bit to make it for 3, using 3 chicken breasts)

1/2 cup very hot tap water
handful of golden raisins (I didn't have any so I used five prunes)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (I forgot this and it was still tasty)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 slices white bread, torn into pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO in Rachael speak)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped (I used dried and about a teaspoon)

Put the raisins in very hot tap water. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium low heat. Watch them so they don't burn. Set them aside to cool. Place the parsley, lemon zest, garlic, bread, cheese, raisins and nuts into a food processor and pulse into a stuffing.

Butterfly the chicken by cutting into and across the breast, but not all the way through. It opens like a book after that. Pound out the cutlets and season with salt and pepper. Fill the breasts with the stuffing, roll and secure with toothpicks.

Heat the EVOO and butter in a large skillet over medium-heat. Brown the chicken all over for 7-8 minutes. Then remove from the pan and deglaze the pan with the wine. Scrape up the drippings, stir in the tomato sauce and tarragon and return the chicken to the pan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Slice and serve. As Rachael would say, "Delish."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Shortsand...or What Not to Do When You Make Shortbread

So Rachel and I are actually in the same house with the Divine Miss M and thought wouldn't it be lovely to make something together rather than virtually? I asked for shortbread because I've never made and LOVE it. I've never made it because it smacks of pie crust to me and we all know how well I do in that category. (Read about my phobia here and my feeble attempt to get past it at Thanksgiving here)

Anyway because I am such a shortbread fan and because S is as well, I figured we'd just double Uncle Bub's recipe. I mean more is always better right?

Sadly, as this photo will show, some recipes are not meant to be doubled apparently. What we ended up with is shortsand, not shortbread. It's edible but you need to stand over a plate or you will simply have disintegrated crumbs on your chest or the floor.

When my mom suggested we make shortbread together I was totally game. The recipe I usually make around the holidays is super easy and incredibly delicious so it seemed like the perfect thing to whip up together during M's nap. Though my mom revealed to me that she does indeed possess a standing mixer, we went at it together by hand this time for convenience (her mixer has collected roughly 23 years of dust in a cupboard in--of all places--the bathroom...she seems to have only used it one time and, in that one time, broken one of the attachments). I'm pretty sure this wasn't the problem, though. One of the things I learned in my years working in a restaurant kitchen is that not all recipes lend themselves to size alterations through simple doubling or halving of ingredients. For whatever reason, it just doesn't always work. Thinking we needed a double batch due to the number of interested eaters, we casually doubled the ingredients. Eeh....nope. My only real complaint is that the recipe didn't fail in terms of not being edible. This means that when we make it again tomorrow I'll find myself having consumed an obscene amount of butter and sugar. Somebody's gotta eat it all, right?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Did Someone Say Brownies?

As soon as Sandi sent this recipe and I saw the pictures, I wanted to make them immediately. The only reason I haven't made them yet is because of the holidays. I can guarantee, however, that they will be on the baking radar this coming weekend.

I've eaten Sandi's food and a few of her baked goods, and I can attest that this is a woman who knows her way around the kitchen. So, folks, trust this recipe and get baking! But you don't have to take my word for it: Here's what Sandi has to say about these scrumptious delights...

I’m not sure how long I have been baking these brownies, but I know that they are the consensus favorite among our sons, their families and friends. Then there’s my brother, who started the tradition of eating them frozen — and who still checks the freezer immediately on his arrival. Don’t block his path to the kitchen!

It’s an easy recipe, especially if you have a kitchen scale and use the weight measure for the peanut butter instead of trying to pile it into a measuring cup. Don’t use the “all natural” kind of peanut butter or the brownies will be unattractively oily. It’s worth the effort to have mini chips on hand, since they do distribute more evenly, but you can use any size chip you like.

The only trick is to watch the baking time, since they overbake quite easily. I also try to remember to rotate the pan halfway through so that they brown evenly.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies

2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter—9.25 oz. by weight.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces chocolate mini-chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and peanut butter together with the sugar until it lightens. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add vanilla. Gradually add flour, then the chips.

Spread in a greased 12x17 inch (half-sheet, jellyroll) pan and bake on the center rack for 30-35 minutes. Let cool in pan and then cut.

And one more photo to get you salivating.....

Monday, January 3, 2011

My New Best Friend

The holidays are over and a new year is upon us. Time to think new thoughts and so it is that I kick off this year's postings with an admission. Regular readers know that I have prided myself on doing things the old-fashioned way. Let the other — read lesser — cooks rely on fancy schmancy gadgets that dice in seconds and knead dough in minutes. I remained true to the cooks of yesteryear who made the food the old-fashioned way. Like the Smith Barney commercial, they earned it.

So I eschewed the cadillac Cuisinarts and pasta makers and ice cream makers and felt ever-so-slightly superior when my pie or bread or soup came out tasting just dandy without all those geegaws. Obviously, my thinking went, my food was superior if for no other reason than it was made sans gadgets.

I clearly was not only wrong but delusional.

Over the year as Rachel and I have written this blog and she touted the wonders of her machines or made a recipe in half the time it might take me, I began wondering whether or not I was just being pig-headed. So I asked Santa for a small Cuisinart for Christmas and I am here to tell you, I was an idiot. After only one use, I fell totally, thoroughly in love. It chops, it dices, it minces, all of it in seconds and without a mess. What was I thinking?????

The downside, of course, is that I am now in full lust mode for every kitchen gadget ever made. Sur La Table catalogs are like porn, with just about every page turned down for the next must-have item. Where will it all stop? Who knows? But now I'm just enjoying being in love.

What's your favorite kitchen utensil or gadget? If your kitchen was on fire, what item would you grab and run?