The Bomb: La Bomba Rice Copycat

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It’s wedding season! While most dread wedding season, I love it.  I LOVE weddings. I love being in them, I love dressing up for them, I love all the hoopla that comes before and watching my friends start what I hope to be a happily ever after. You all know I’m a hopeless romantic.

Anyone in their 20s and 30s know it’s a thing. I had my first experience six years ago when Apple Crisp got married and for a while it was 2, 3…4 weddings a year. Lately…a stall. Last year I didn’t have any summer weddings. It was weird.   And sad.

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Cheesiness: Pão de Queijo, or Brazilian Cheese Rolls

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As my friends and I have gotten older, and grown into our current selves, we have all seemingly embraced those hidden artistic talents that tended to lie dormant all those years that we were plowing through books and earning degrees, memorizing chemical formulas or finance equations.  The years go by and all that information once-so-important-but-now-deemed-pretty-useless is forgotten.  I mean, the only time I write down chemical symbols is as ingredient abbreviations in recipes- can’t take the scientist out of the girl, I guess. 

The plus side of this is that all that extra room in our brains and time in our schedules have allowed us to each became proficient at what it turns out are some pretty useful talents.  None of us have let “the man” or the pressures of being a grown up or a parent stifle our creativity. Go us!

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Deep Thoughts: UNDISCOVERED

I started traveling, like, grown-up traveling, really about 10 years ago. I had done a few trips in high school, but the first time I really did anything on my own, not under the watchful eye of a chaperone, was in law school. I’d say then, I became a traveler. My group and I hit all the major hot spots, maps and guide books in hand, checking sight after sight off our must-see lists as we hopped through Europe with backpacks, a lot of excitement and a can-do attitude.

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The Travelers, “Lost” in Paris

However, I think I really became an explorer when I spent the semester in London. Most people I’d wager would say that study abroad changed them, and I’m here to tell you the same. I was in a “strange” land alone, truly alone, and I had 5 months to explore. While I did see the major sites, I also mostly wandered (and not because I got lost- horrible sense of direction, I have).  I learned to appreciate that cities have neighborhoods, each with distinct personalities, routines and quirks that allow them to stand on their own feet without being swallowed up by the larger city.  Every weekend I’d set off and walk for hours to discover the nooks and crannies that the city offered.

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The Aspiring Tart: Pastel de Acelga, or Brazilian Chorizo Pie

So here’s something so not in my wheelhouse. A tart. A savory tart. Whhaaaat? I don’t know.

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I was having a bit of a time finding something that I wanted to make when I happened upon a recipe for this tart, Pastel de Acelga.  I liked the idea of it, and figured there was room to play.

As I’ve mentioned more than once before, one of my reasons for my tart aversion is that I really dislike pie crust. Flour and butter do a lot of good things together but IMO, pie crust is not one of them.  The other is my dislike for fruit-centric desserts, which is a non-issue today.  Anyway, this tart traditionally has a crust on top and bottom, but in my attempt to minimize my crust anxiety, I decided to sub out the traditional topping for a toasty panko one and that suited my tastes quite nicely.

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Portuguese Perfection: Piri Piri Roast Chicken

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It’s Sunday. Let’s roast.

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But first, a little bit about me on this fine day.

Growing up, I was admittedly a goody-two shoes. Much in the same manner as Hermione Granger (though, minus the know-it-all-attitude), frizzy hair and all, I was the straight A student. The quiet, teacher’s pet. The well-behaved. The rule follower. Never the rule breaker.

It was unfathomable to me to not get an A on a test. An A or an A+. An A- happened maybe once in a while. That is, until I hit grade 5, and I met the explorers.

You know the explorers. Ferdinand. Magellan. Columbus. Vasco de Gama. That test, I failed. Twice. So many people did poorly on it the first go that our teacher let those of us who failed (those of us included me) take it again. It was such a traumatic experience that my scores were burned into my head. Sixty-five percent on test #1 and a mild improvement of a seventy-seven on test #2. Still, that’s no A. Far from it. A lesson in humility.

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Moqueca de Camaroes, or Brazilian Shrimp Stew

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So summer was here for a day and then I think that the collective hurrah! of the city of Chicago scared it away. It’s been cold, rainy and daily hopes of me grilling anytime soon are dashed by the constant rain, hail and yuck that is our every day.

Enough about the weather. I suppose we were warned with that April shower/May flowers poem.

I hate poetry.

However, I don’t hate soups and stews and as such I’ve had ample reason to bust out some oldies and goodies. Example: the African pumpkin-tomato soup of yore. SO good and just like the first time I made it, I was sad when my spoon hit the end of the pot. I’ll be making it again soon and very soon (and updating my pictures to boot- I ate this pot too fast. Whoopsy.).

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Breakfast Bundt: Bolo de Manga

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Happy Easter!

Did everyone have a nice day? I did. It was sort of a perfect one by any standards. After some gym time and church time, Tomato and I ventured out for brunch to Chicago Q, a yuppie-type barbecue restaurant (not a BBQ joint– different ball park), that I’ve been wanting to try. Though the service was meh to put it nicely, the food was great, and the company, well…the best.

Tomato and I rarely have a bad time together, and the two of us converse in the manner best exemplified on TV by Lorelai and Rory Gilmore…it’s fast, witty and jumps from one topic to another without transitions or logic.  Befuddling to those around us, we constantly amuse ourselves and are often the only ones laughing. Today as the stream of consciousness thoughts flowed around the table, we posited that Jennifer Lawrence and Mindy Kaling would be our perfect brunch companions.  I mean, why wouldn’t they? Anyway, as the conversation kept going, we kept pointing to the two empty chairs at the table referencing them as if they were sitting there with us even though THEY CLEARLY WEREN’T (though, judging by the amount of food that graced our table, you’d have thought there were four people eating).  I’d like to note that no alcohol was consumed during the course of this brunch.

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Babka Business: Chocolate Ganache-Covered Marble Babka

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Happy Friday! Happy Good Friday (though, I guess Good Friday really isn’t all that happy, is it?).

However, from where I’m sitting today, it’s looking pretty good. The sun is out (for now, snow later???? Pleeeease nooooooo!), the holiday weekend is ahead, and I’m pretty sure I heard birds chirping as I got out of the right side of the bed this morning…but maybe that’s just me.

Even if all of the above is just in my head, here’s something that, if you make it, may transport all of those good things into yours: a Chocolate Ganache-Covered Marble Babka.

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Chocolate, butter, eggs, chocolate, cream, chocolate.

That should do it.

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No Foolin’ Around: White Chocolate Pomegranate Fool

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I wasn’t going to make this today. I actually have a pretty fabulous chocolate marble babka to tell you about. However, to not capitalize on April’s Fools day would be, well…foolish. So for now, the babka must wait.

Fool has got to be one of my favorite words in the English language. It just sounds funny to me, and I think, as a descriptor, it can really describe a person or feeling so perfectly. How often can a word to that? Besides Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious…I can’t think of one (side note-I not only spelled that myself, but according to spell check, I did so correctly!).

Plus, it’s a word that’s been universally used throughout time.  Not like selfie or cray (could you imagine someone saying, “Thou art cray”?  No.).  Dating way back to Will Shakespeare’s, “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit” (#Truth) all way up to Mr. T’s, “I pity the fool!” (Yes, I did just reference Mr. T. Cool points to me)…it’s just such a good word. Don’t you agree?

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Deep Thoughts: The World Through a Traveler’s Eyes

Today, how about a little something different? 

While the main gist of what I do on these virtual pages is cook (mostly) delicious foods, what I cook and the choices on what I cook are influenced by the other part of that gist- travel. The world’s cuisine has so much to offer, and I’ve tried, and hope I succeeded, in making it pretty clear that you don’t need to see the world to eat it. 

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in actually seeing it. Quite the opposite. The world is all of our oyster and waiting and ready to be explored. I realize that travel isn’t everyone’s priority- to each his own-but at this point in my life, it surely is mine.  I know that life changes and people change and maybe someday, the thought of getting on a long haul flight for an eighteen day vacation will seem like more trouble than its worth. However, until that’s the case, I’ll be siphoning all my disposable income into my travel savings account where it seems to disappear at a faster rate that it grows.

So rather than a recipe today, some Deep Thoughts.  Don’t worry, this blog will still be 99.99% good eats, and I won’t bore you with all the deep thoughts that stream through my brain, but once in a while, the other 0.01%, they may relate to the aforementioned gists, and then, I believe, are worth sharing. Or, I just need to get the words out, and this is my vehicle for that. 

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