Einkorn Cannoli Cupcakes

Cannoli Cupcake | FoodLovesWriting.com

When I was a kid, my parents would dart around the house in the final moments before company arrived, lighting candles, cleaning bathrooms, setting appetizers out just right. You could feel the energy in the air in those almost-game-time minutes—a sort of nervous, happy energy—something greater than the sound of my mom’s boom box playing its background harps or violins. When the doorbell rang, my dad would rush to the door, opening it proudly, beaming, welcoming guests inside as he took their coats and greeted them, motioning my brother and me to come say hi. Then, my mom would emerge from the kitchen, winded but obviously delighted at whatever was in her hands, prompting oohs and ahs and questions from the ones who’d been invited to come. Each one meal and its accompanying conversation would take two or three—maybe four or five with particularly talkative friends—hours before dishes were being cleared and the food getting wrapped up and people’s coats being pulled back out to usher them to their cars. But, as any host could tell you, its planning began long before, sometimes as much as a month ahead of time. Long before the good china was on the dining room table, I’d see my mom jotting down a potential menu and shopping list; I’d be around when she tested recipes before deciding to serve them to company; I’d be there the week of the dinner, when my parents talked about what they were making and at what time guests would arrive.

As an adult myself, I’ve followed my parents’ footsteps, often clumsily, feeling my way from the early days of solo hosting (where, once, my guest and I continued working on the uncooked chicken together after she arrived), to my current stage of couple hosting (where Tim and I tag-team the process).

Over time, I’ve grown more confident. Having one person for dinner isn’t stressful; having two is usually okay; but, last weekend, when we hosted Tim’s entire family for an early celebration of Easter and the annual April birthdays (of which, in his family, there are four), and we had ten people at our table more than once, I have to admit the experience felt completely new.

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Lemon Tarragon Pesto Dressing

Lemon Tarragon Pesto

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of too much [insert green here] must be in want of a pesto—or, at least, that’s how this recipe was born, as a response to too much tarragon in the fridge.

Now, I realize I won’t be telling you anything you don’t know when I say making pesto is easy but, it is. Pesto is a basic formula: greens plus nuts plus oil plus cheese plus salt (and plus garlic! and probably lemon!, at least if you’re asking me). Pesto is a basic process: combine ingredients in a blender or food processor and spin! But in return for your short ingredients list and easy preparation method, pesto gives you a killer pizza sauce, fantastic toast topper, the kind of thing to make eating a bowl of pasta a special treat. Sometimes, especially when it’s a pesto like the one in this post, I eat pesto all on its own, spooning a bite of it to my mouth, smacking my lips together in sheer delight once I do.

But, here’s a bonus trick I only learned last summer, one that’s taken the ways pesto improves my life up one more notch:

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Sara Forte’s Buckwheat Harvest Tart + The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

Sara Forte's Buckwheat Harvest Tart | FoodLovesWriting.com

If you haven’t already heard of The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook, named for the blog Sara and Hugh Forte keep by the same name, you’re probably not a food blogger (nor someone who follows The James Beard Awards, for which it is a recent nominee). Last summer, when the book first launched, I only slightly exaggerate that about nine out of ten food blogs I followed featured the book at one point or another. And it’s not hard to see why.

Like the blog, the Sprouted Kitchen book is gorgeous, filled with colorful, crisp images on every spread. The recipes are focused on whole foods, from lentil meatballs in lemon pesto (the closest thing to non-meat meatballs I’ve ever had!) to flourless chocolate-banana pudding cakes (souffle-esque and wonderful). While, true, we’ve mentioned this book briefly here before, last fall when we had Sara’s mashies n’ greens (our kale mashed potatoes), we wanted to highlight it again, partly because we love how kind and approachable Sara is—something anyone who’s interacted with her can see—and partly because of one recipe in particular that has blown us away: this buckwheat harvest tart.

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Roasted Vegetable + Herb Salad, for the People Who Can’t Do Everything (and for the Ones Who Can)

Roasted Vegetable Salad | FoodLovesWriting.com

I had a lightbulb moment last week where I realized I cannot do everything (including, this post seems to indicate, take a non-blurry photo of a roasted vegetable dinner). I was sitting in the dining room when it happened: Like most workdays, I had my laptop open before me, streaming sunlight to my right, and, just then, I saw the neighbor working in her yard and thought how I’d like to go say hi—right as my inbox pulled in two new emails, my phone rang, I noticed dust collecting on the floorboards and my open Word document reminded me of how much left on this project there was yet to do. In that moment—that split-second moment—where so many of my honest desires, from keeping a clean house to being a productive freelancer, collided, this single thought, clear as day, hit my heart: I am just a person and I cannot do everything.

Thing is, saying there are things I cannot do is humbling. In fact, I’m not sure I want to admit it to you. When you ask me to take on a project, I want to say yes—and get it to you faster than you’d expected. When you invite me to a social event, I want to say sure—and then be charming and easy and fun. I want to meet your expectations and I want to meet mine—and the worst part is that I’m just proud enough to think I actually can. I’ll turn myself in pretzels trying to work good, love good, friend good, give good, cook good, look good, decorate good, budget good. But I can’t. Not all of it, not all of the time.

This is the sort of thing lots of people are realizing these days. Two, if not three, of the articles I cited in the last post hit at this same idea, and there are many others, too. For example, I read a fascinating, funny post recently that talked about the guilt parents experience (I can only imagine!) but then, also, it did the thing that 90% of these articles do in response to those feelings, the same thing most of us do in response to people we view as more talented or beautiful or smart or successful or cool: it poked fun/criticized parents who weren’t struggling in the same ways.

In other words, to make ourselves feel better that we aren’t accomplishing X, we dislike or belittle anyone who is.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and about how it relates to blogging and all of life.

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On Banana Bread (but not really just banana bread)

Banana Bread Slice | FoodLovesWriting.com

Like cookies and reading and the beginning of spring, banana bread is something I would tell you I’ve loved a long, long time. In this blog’s infant years, I baked Joy of Cooking banana bread, Boston bakery banana bread and a banana bread with streusel topping that stole my heart. I baked Mrs. Newman’s banana cake and, a month into marriage, banana muffins. I’ve baked banana bread waffles and, more recently, sourdough banana bread French toast. I love banana bread; I get banana bread; when it comes to banana bread, what is there that’s left to know?

But then a few weeks ago, some friends had us over for dinner and served homemade banana bread for dessert, saying quickly that it was “half almond flour and half quinoa flour” and made with “almond milk instead of regular milk,” and, a few bites in, I was looking at banana bread in a whole new way. Afterward, I, of course, went home and, two days later, pulled out (yet another) a beloved banana recipe, revising ingredients as I stirred and poured, and whipping up the version pictured in this post.

The whole experience reminded me of one of the kitchen’s best gifts to us, not unlike a gift I’m regularly given here, at this site: the ability to see in new ways. I never knew adapting a banana bread recipe would be as simple as a one-to-one flour switch with half almond flour and half quinoa or that doing so would create such you’d-never-know-it-was-gluten-free results. Likewise, I’ve learned so many things here about areas of life I thought I knew, like friendship and creativity and writing, all from sticking around and chatting with you all.

With that in mind, and to thank you again for your support, encouragement and feedback on the last two posts, I’m giving you not only a revised version of my friend Kelley’s banana bread, which was previously posted here, but also a list of links to recent findings that have helped open my eyes in some way. Hope you enjoy these pieces as much as I have; happy weekending, friends!

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Cauliflower Enchiladas with Poblano Cream Sauce

(Psst… Did you hear Google Reader is retiring? Follow my blog with Bloglovin)

Cauliflower Enchiladas | FoodLovesWriting.com

As promised, here I am again, on another Tuesday, with another recipe—only, after reading your comments on that last post, today doesn’t feel like just another Tuesday. In the time since we last spoke, I’ve received kind emails and comments full of wise words and advice, and I’ve found myself stepping back a little, at least internally, asking myself what exactly this space should be. (I’ve also found myself breaking down crying in a Trader Joe’s parking lot, but that’s just me being real.)

Today, while I’m bringing you a recipe for the craziest, creamiest cauliflower enchiladas that Tim and I made last week and ate again for two more meals (it serves four to six, just note that now), I’m also bringing you a few more thoughts, as they likewise come pouring out of me, and not in the abbreviated way I’d originally planned.

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