I’m going to go ahead and throw it out there now: I’ve got a crazy-busy week ahead. Our office is having one of our “insane” weeks, which happens now and at Homecoming. I’m excited because each day means a different crowd we’re catering too. However, it also means being at work late every night this week and losing some of my “catch-up” time for blogging. The timing couldn’t be better, though, since Will is about to start plowing through the end of his semester. After that he’ll be leaving me for Italy and then an internship in Blacksburg, so I imagine the blog posts will drastically decrease at that point! Hah! But for now, I won’t let student academic prize, SAC senior dinner, senior spring day, 50th reunion weekend or Olde Guarde celebration get in my way…just let me know when I’ve made it to next Monday.

I’m sure you’re not terribly surprised to see another harissa dish up on the blog this week, after our how-to that was shortly followed by our tagine dinner. However, I bet you weren’t expecting to see it combined with cauliflower. What a weird little vegetable. I think of it as an albino broccoli, but without some of the great flavor you can achieve with a fresh head of its green counterpart. But what is enticing about cauliflower is that you can pretty much shape its flavor to be whatever you want, because it is so neutral! When I came across this recipe on Pinterest, I jumped on it since the harissa was only about two weeks old. I had been wanting to try a cauliflower recipe (just like Brussels sprouts, it had been on the “to try” list) and this one seemed like an appropriate first step. Despite one of my favorite blogs publishing a cauliflower-based cookbook, the timing with the harissa seemed appropriate, so I jumped on it. I decided I could be a big girl and make it myself for one of the nights Will was busy with class, to have ready when he got home…

It’s Friday, which means the weekend is here! Will’s playing the song “Happy” as I type this, which seems to be the most appropriate thing you can do while preparing for a good weekend. We are so lucky to be having some friends come stay with us this weekend, in addition to also having some other friends come to town this weekend, too. It’s going to be the best of the best times. And we’re so lucky to get to cook for them! This, however, is not what we’ll be making. Instead, this is an easy weeknight recipe we made recently from our new(ish) Budget Bytes cookbook. True to BB’s style, this involves a few key ingredients, a bunch of stuff you have on hand, a relatively quick cook time, and a filling meal at the end of it all. This is definitely a classic BB’s recipe and one we could easily see ourselves making again. We jumped the gun a little bit by making it before spring truly hit, but the pineapple made us think of warm places and ocean waves. Enjoy this straightforward, quick weeknight meal!

So you know, I’m only a month behind on this post. But that’s okay, you’ll have it around for next year! St. Patrick’s Day is always one of our favorite cooking days, as evidenced by our array of Irish recipes that tend to pop up during that time of year. We so rarely cook with meat, that making a big, hearty pot of some sort of beef stew is just the most satisfying type of meal we can cook to celebrate our bits of Irish heritage. Particularly after traveling in Ireland, there are certain characteristics I look for in Irish meals that aren’t based on butter, cheese or heaviness. In fact, while usually straightforward and not elegant, Irish food does have a wider array of qualities to it than people expect. During my time there I enjoyed everything from medieval meals to blood pudding to many full Irish breakfasts. But those were only the traditional foods. I also enjoyed modern European cuisines, many crepes, and kernels of sweet corn tucked into even the most basic of meals, like a tuna sandwich or pizza. While the purpose of Irish food is to be filling and hearty, the experience of eating Irish is centered on the communal meal shared with people you love. And that, my friends, is why we turn to our traditional Irish stews and breads to celebrate our heritage.

Ohhhh do I have a good one for you today! This is another old favorite, similar to turkey burgers and chicken peanut curry in the sense that we make it often but have never blogged about it. Never fear, because our go-to tagine meal is here. The reason a lot of our food is heavily Middle Eastern-influenced is because when we were undergrads, Will spent a summer studying abroad in Morocco. Being the main chef in our household, I’m sure it won’t surprise you that he inspired by the food that he had while abroad and as we transitioned from being undergraduates to “real people,” his recipe choices were reminiscent of his time in Morocco. This has proved to be a good thing, as a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean diet is full of grains and fresh veggies, moreso than some other cultural foods. As a result, I’m sure you’ve noticed from the blog we have a varied recipe collection, lovingly referred to as “ethnic” (despite that term rubbing both of us the wrong way, as academic types). However, despite the terminology, I hope that this blog has introduced you to more global recipes and has helped you to see that they are sometimes not as complicated or intimidating as you may initially think – I know it has helped me learn that!

If you don’t like spicy things, you probably don’t need to read any further. I don’t usually dissuade people from reading my posts, but this is hands-down the spiciest thing we have ever made. Bring tears to your eyes, burn your mouth, fire-breathing spicy.* But that’s the fun part about it! We love our spicy foods, as I’m sure you can tell, so it did not surprise me in the least when Will said he was going to attempt to make homemade harissa. Me being the lover of spicy things slightly more than Will, highly encouraged this decision. He decided to make it to go along with a tagine dinner we were making for two of our lovely neighbors, who are willing to try most things we cook. Only slightly before they arrived to eat, the harissa was done and we tested it. Needless to say, we were equally shocked as to what Will had made in that tiny little Mason jar! It really only seemed edible in the smallest of doses, which in a way actually makes it kind of perfect.

I’m almost caught up! I’m almost caught up! And by almost caught up I mean that I’ve got about one week left before I can post about what we’re making in real-time again. Hooray! Prepare yourselves for a flurry of posts again this week, beginning with this ice cream recipe, because who doesn’t love ice cream?!?! This batch of heavenly goodness is one that can only act as a special treat, mostly because the Bailey’s makes it a *tad* more expensive than other ice cream recipes we make. But it had been a very long time since we had whipped anything up and we figured why not try something new and exciting for our first ice cream batch since we’ve been married? The result was most excellent and when I found this a week later still in the freezer, it was even better. There’s nothing more fitting for bridging the winter-spring season of March than a touch of the Irish holiday combined with the first tastes of spring. Invest in the Bailey’s, go forth and make ice cream!

Homemade Waffles

Posted by Megan | Breakfast

Nothing says happy Saturday like a homemade brunch recipe! This is the absolute best for a springtime morning, packed with fresh berries and simplicity. We’ve had a waffle maker for years and all attempts at waffles (with the exception of brinner) have been entirely unsuccessful. We are happy to report this recipe was the one that finally worked! Inspired by leftover buttermilk from making Irish Soda Bread on St. Patrick’s Day, we chose to make this buttermilk-based recipe to help use it up. We perused the cookbooks we have and the internet before finally settling on this selection from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.

I love going to the library. I love the sense of being surrounded by an untold number of books with an endless supply of stories. Fiction, non-fiction, historical, autobiographical, cookbooks, travel books, etc. I love it all. As a kid, going to the library was always one of my favorite things to do. I typically was up too late at night reading and got in trouble more often for that than misbehaving. I loved the public library for their large array of books and I loved the familiarity of my small elementary school library, where I checked out the same books on horses and cats so many times that at one point, the librarian gave me my favorite books when doing a spring cleaning, since I had been the only person to check them out in at least a decade. I ate up the American Girl series for breakfast and finished off dessert with The Babysitter’s Club. I loved getting involved in the stories of girls around my age doing really cool things and having awesome adventures and I often made attempts at writing my own American Girl-style stories.

It’s charming. Sometimes I’ll take the time to edit pictures and type up recipes, but then leave the “dialogue” part of the blogpost blank. Or on occasion, I’ll leave myself some notes in case I find myself typing up a post a month or so after we’ve made the food. And on certain occasions, that “note” I’ve left myself looks something like this:

These are the moments I shake my head and roll my eyes at myself. I mean seriously, how did I think that would be useful? Other than in this instance, it’s 100% the truth and really the only way to describe this recipe. I think the multiple exclamation points appropriately portrays the enthusiasm I have for this meal.