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Scalloped Potatoes

23 May

Karma. You never really think much about it until you want to believe in it.

About a month ago, a girl left a note on my car saying that she accidentally hit the back bumper when she was pulling out. She said she saw a scratch but didn’t think it was very noticeable. (The paint is peeling quite a bit already on my old beauty.) She left her phone number and name. When I got the note, I just smiled. My car is old. We were planning on listing it on Craigslist to sell it anyway. One more scratch wasn’t going to do much damage. I decided to send her a text message telling her not to worry about the scratch, and I thanked her for leaving a note. She was obviously relieved. I felt nice and sunshiney.

Now to the karma part.

Last week I scored two great deals at a coffee shop’s going-out-of-business sale. They were selling furniture, wall art, machinery, the whole bit. I was pleased to get a three-tier glass cake stand and a huge corkboard for $10 each (after some negotiations). I was feeling great as I walked outside with my treasures. I fleetingly admired a shiny black Mercedes-Benz parked beside me in the parking lot then went on with my life. I gingerly set the corkboard against my car as I loaded the cake stand in my trunk. Then came a gust of wind, and have you guessed yet? The corkboard went scraaaaaaaatch against the side of that previously admired Mercedes-Benz. My heart dropped. The good deal I just got on the corkboard was forever stained.

I knew what I had to do. I left a note very similar to the one I received a month ago. I left my name and number and my biggest apologies. Then came the waiting game. My day was ruined, and I felt terrified. Paint jobs on luxury cars? Not cheap.

I kept hoping that the karma wind would blow in my favor. Didn’t I just do a good deed on this same scale a month ago? (Granted, my car is junk and this car is a work of art.) But still, I hoped for that good karma. A day went by, no call. Two days, three days, four days, no call. One week, no call. I am slowly exhaling a tentative sigh of relief.

So far, karma is on my side.

Here’s a dish celebrating my (fingers-crossed) good karma. It’s so rich and creamy, I almost feel like it’s a decadent, savory dessert. This is a great side for the holidays. People feel better about indulging then. And this is an indulgent potato dish.

Chop leeks and throw them in a pan to cook until tender.

Slice your potatoes into thin rounds.

Spread potatoes, leeks, and cheese on the first and second layers.

Pour hot cream over the third and final layer.

Bake until bubbly and golden brown. (more…)

Garlicky Squash, Zucchini, and Tomatoes

14 May

Not to generalize, but I love mechanics. They are really trustworthy, helpful, honest, and open. They just want what’s best for you and your car. They take extra, extra good care of women. If you’re a nice lady, you can bet that they’ll try to save you as much money as possible.

That’s my experience, anyway. I’m neither bitter nor scorned.

Here’s a little snack you can make after you’ve been to the mechanic. You’ll feel healthy and renewed as you’re chomping on these babies.

This makes a great side to steaks you cook on the grill. Now go eat your summer veggies.

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Bean Dip

11 May

Raise your hand if you know where Alaska is.

If you look at a map of the United States, it always shows Alaska off to the side of the U.S. almost like a little island, floating there in the Pacific Ocean. (Go ahead, go Google it.) So is Alaska really located there? Do maps lie? Laugh all you want, but this is a serious point of confusion for me  people. A lot of people. Not just me.

One year my friends found out that I didn’t know where Alaska was. I mean, I sorta knew where it was, but not really. They made a point of incorporating U.S. geography in every subsequent conversation after their discovery.

Har har har. We can all look back on it now and laugh, but to be honest, I still don’t raise my hand when I ask myself if I know where Alaska is.

This recipe did not originate from the island of Alaska. This is a favorite family recipe on my husband’s side of the family, and it accompanies most holiday dinners and family get-togethers.

The dip takes about 5 minutes flat to stir up.

It can serve about 8-10 people—perfect for a party—or it can serve just one of those people who sit by the appetizer table and don’t move for 2 hours, eating chip after chip. You know who I’m talking about. (Sometimes that’s me, so I’m not judging.) (more…)

Cilantro Ranch Dressing

30 Apr

Ten minutes before midnight, my alma mater’s library closes, and something magical happens. In an effort to hurry the last studying stragglers out the door, the library wizards blare sorcerous music through the speakers. For most students, as soon as they hear that music, they know they’re done for. It’s impossible to study when Carmina Burana pounds in your ears. There are other students, however, who take full advantage of this musical showcase. Other students like me, for example.

Freshman year, a friend and I discovered this phenomenon. Instead of hurrying out the doors like good little first years, we decided to hide. Yes, hide. We hid in the stacks until the area was completely cleared out and then ran through the aisles jumping and dancing. It was exhilarating running around trying not to get caught. Very fun.

We also loved eating salads from a Mexican restaurant, Cafe Rio. They have an amazing cilantro ranch dressing that truly makes the salad. Here is a copycat recipe of it. Drizzle it on salads, eat it with fries, dip veggies in it, spread it on baked potatoes, use it as toothpaste. The sky’s the limit, people. (more…)

Rice and Beans

12 Apr

Rice and beans is like coming home. I’ve eaten this since I was a baby. My abuelita on my dad’s side made this for every family get-together. My dad made this at least once a week for dinner. Now I make this when I have a hankering for comfort food. (more…)

Baked Pineapple Stuffing

11 Apr

There are a few perks to being newly married. You stick your dirty laundry somewhere in the middle of your husband’s laundry pile, chances are he’ll wash your clothes, no questions asked, no harm done. (Of course, that only applies if he does his own laundry.) You automatically have a cool friend to hang out with every Friday night (and Saturday night and Sunday night and Monday night and Tuesday night and Wednesday night and Thursday night). (more…)