My BFF recently shared this conversation between herself and her 4-year-old daughter, E:
BFF: We’re having stir fry tonight.
E: Did you learn it from Aunt Becca?
BFF: No, why?
E: Well, you learn a lot from her.
E, I promise I’ve learned more from your mom than she has from me, but get ready for a few more Aunt Becca inspirations. Maybe I haven’t been writing about food lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating it. And despite all this, I have also been losing weight, albeit far, far more slowly than I was before autumn arrived and, with it, my taste for warm, heavy foods full of cheese (the other food of my people).
Because I have enjoyed an awful lot of amazing food lately, I’m listing them all here for you to try at home. BFF, this means you.
Granola. My mom has a pretty good granola recipe she pieced together from several other recipes, but I found that this one from BuzzFeed of all places satisfied what I was really looking for in a granola this month. I used almond butter and honey as the sweetener, and I added dried apricots, prunes, and raisins afterward for a sweet fruitiness. I’ve already made two batches and it keeps disappearing. My mom and I can’t get enough.
Chipotle Turkey Chili. If you don’t like kidney beans, you don’t like the chili I grew up with. I thought I didn’t like chili, but when I was in my 20s I realized my mistake. Follow this recipe from my friend’s friend in Pittsburgh, complete with ground turkey and black beans, and thank me later. This month, I replaced the black beans with lima and aduki beans, which I don’t entirely recommend, although the aduki beans were ok. Best to just stick with the black beans in the recipe, though.
Orange Honey Tilapia. I’d been wanting to make this one since the weather was hot, but Mom and I kept being not-in-the-mood-for-fish on the days I planned to make it. So when I did finally wrap the fillets in little tinfoil packets and stack them in my crockpot, it was with great anticipation, and you know, I don’t think I’ll ever make fish any differently. Like the chili, make this today and thank me later. Or better yet, thank the lady who actually came up with the recipe. Crockpot 365 is the best.
Addictive Chicken Tenders. Don’t lie. You saw that and thought, “Seriously, Becca? You’re including chicken tenders? What next, tater tots?” Well, yes, probably. But that’s because my BeFF found a fantastic recipe that includes cheese, herbs, and paprika. I don’t usually say “mmm” past the first bite or two, no matter how good a food is, but these had me expressing delight from first bite to last. And if you have enough self-control to save some for later, they reheat really well, too.
Auflauf. In Marburg, Germany, the cafés along the cobblestone streets specialize in this dish, which most dictionaries translate as “souffle,” but which isn’t that at all. Picture a casserole of twice-baked leftovers smothered in cheese sauce and you’ll be more on the mark. I make mine with tortellini, potatoes, spinach, and broccoli, and it comes out of the oven still bubbling. Anyone interested in the recipe? I could post it here if I get any requests!
French Onion Soup. It took a lot longer than I expected, and it involved a rather uncomfortable meeting between my thumb and several heating elements, not to mention frustration at my mom’s broiler not working exactly the way my old broiler did (because different ovens, yo), but I would make this again in a heartbeat. If you have time to stir onion slices in butter for 45 minutes and then simmer said onions in beef broth for another 30 minutes, then do yourself this favor. I made this two days ago and am already plotting a repeat next week.
Egg-Free Biscotti. My BeFF has an egg allergy, so if I get a chance to make an egg-free dessert for her to enjoy, it’s always fun. I surprised her with these the other day when she came over to make French-style hot chocolate (picture the thick-as-anything cocoa at the end of Chocolat), and frankly, I’m still doubting that I actually made these. There are lots of biscotti recipes out there (that I haven’t tried) that require several eggs, but after eating these egg-free ones, I wonder how anything could be better.
(In retrospect, I probably should have photographed my creations to share with you, but in the moment, I was really just more interested in eating them.)
For lunch today I’ll be having the last of the biscotti because I forgot to pack an actual meal for lunch, and I’m not convinced the train I’m on has a dining car. Train, you ask? Yes! You find me chugging along to Philadelphia for a weekend visiting old friends and new, with the magic wifi access that’s new since the last time I traveled with Amtrak. After writing about all this food, though, my stomach is growling and no doubt concerning the young lady in the seat beside me. So I’m off to see if I can find a dining car. Or maybe just dig out the three biscotti and tuck in.