Archives for December 2020

The random food combos that make life better

So, like, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that sometimes I eat donuts for lunch or a couple of candy bars for dinner. (Let the record state that yesterday, I ate Merkt’s cheese and crackers for lunch). I also know that there are people who can happily devour a cheeseburger and fries at breakfast time, though that is most certainly not for me. For the record, none of these choices are bad decisions.

But I do occasionally make some truly odd combinations or just some slight variations that make a meal seem odd that sometimes I think to myself, I wonder if other people do this too.

Gummy worms and bears in a bowl of cereal
I would definitely try this combination crafted by the delightful Ryan McGuire of Gratisography (a website where I procure some of the images I use in blog posts because they are both amazing and free to use).

Thus the birth of this mind-blowing blog post.

The thought was initially stemmed from my most recent meal at the time of writing this, creamed spinach on Townhouse crackers. When I question a combination, I always Google it to see if other people have done it, and for this particular delicacy, I came up with a lot of casseroles that used crumbled crackers as the topping, but no one was talking about topping the crackers with the spinach.

So now, here I am, talking about topping crackers with spinach, so that one day, some hungry sap is going to Google it and see, well, this pink-haired chick is on board with this savory snackimeal. I’m just gonna do it. And I will have saved someone’s heart from potentially missing out on what their heart wants. I’ll be a hero.

Chrissy-style creamed spinach recipe for reference

There’s no picture, because I don’t always take a picture of my food, people.

  • 1 bag frozen chopped spinach (sure you can use fresh if that’s what’s currently wrinkling in your fridge).
  • 1/2 yellow onion minched (Chopped? Cut small? Whatever?)
  • Butter or olive oil to sautee the onion
  • One or two or three cloves of garlic, pressed/minced/squashed/whatever
  • A healthy pour of heavy whipping cream
  • Half a container of Philadelphia cream cheese (Use anything else and 1. You’re wrong 2. You’re wrong) or more if you want it to be cheesier/creamier
  • A LOT of parmesan cheese (fresh-grated from a wheel/hunk/whatever. I see you lazy fiends trying to skimp with that green can)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (“to taste” is my favorite recipe phrase, because I never measure anything)

Cook the spinach in a pan, then press all the liquid out through a strainer. Sautee the onion. Add the garlic. Turn off the heat. Add the cream cheese, cream, and parmesan. Stir until creamy. Add the spinach and salt/pepper. Add more parmesan, because you probably didn’t use enough. You could eat this as, like, a side dish with a respectable balanced meal…or you could put it on Townhouse crackers and devour it. You do you.

So now, I’m trying to think of other combinations I’ve mastered so that I can be a hero to more food Googlers. And my mind is racing a mile a minute, but falling short.

Because all I can think of is Philadelphia cream cheese. With green olives stuffed with pimento. And Club crackers. (Listen, each type of cracker has its place in this world. While that flaky, buttery Townhouse is a perfect complement to the savory creamed spinach, the briny olive and cream cheese combo needs the sturdy slab and mild flavor of the Club cracker. I used to use Ritz, but Club is superior for this one. Trust me.)

Is this a combination you know and love, or am I weirding you out again? I’ll never forget introducing Katie to this delicacy in the secret stairwell of our dorms where we met to hide from our equally terrible freshman roommates. She had never had it before, and now I still get texts about it. That and my guacamole. I kinda wonder why she never brings up vegetable mash, because that was also a winner (I believe it was some combination of shredded butternut squash, sliced red, green, yellow, and orange bell peppers, and onion with Lowry’s Seasoning Salt, which was the epitome of my college culinary experience).

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my little trip down weird foodie lane. And now I want to know some of your favorite food combos so I can feel a little less awkward about my choice of lazy meal-time options. Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email.

You really are my favorite people. Thanks for staying on this journey with me.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The best small businesses to support this holiday season

I love shopping local and small. I grew up in a small business family, and every customer helped put food on our table. Every customer helped me go to college. Every customer helped pay for my and my siblings’ school supplies and sports uniforms, camps, and fees. Shopping local and supporting small businesses is supporting the lifeblood of our country.

I still shop at big-name stores and brands. I prefer sustainable companies that pay decent wages and do good, but I’ll be the first to admit that I also shop on Amazon (that’s an affiliate link, and if you use it to do some of your Amazon shopping, this small-time writer might make a few pennies of commission for sharing the link with you, and it costs you nothing to do it. Do with that what you will) when I need the convenience or they have something I need. But I love supporting smaller shops.

The thing about small businesses, is that you’re getting more than just a product. You’re building relationships. You’re getting handwritten notes thanking you for your purchase. Some of my favorite businesses are even doing free local deliveries to help customers avoiding markets and stores in this weird pandemic life we’re living.

So I made a gift guide with some of my favorite small businesses to a little something for everyone this year. Many of these shops are local to me, but ship nationwide. I know some of these business owners solely because I purchase their products regularly. Some have been my friends since before they opened their businesses. And some I don’t know at all, but I am obsessed with their shops and products. A few of the links may be affiliate links, but most are just plain ole links to websites that house my favorite things. Go browse these shops. Follow them on social media (and engage with them to help boost their visibility!). Order gifts and some goodies for yourself too. And drop links in the comments to some of your favorite small businesses and shops.

25+ gift ideas from small businesses
Hey! If you do the whole Pinterest thing, can you share this with your friends? That really helps increase visibility of writers like me who make posts like this that support small businesses.

Foodie faves

Wanderlust sea salt: I love these Norwegian sea salt blends that come in a variety of herbs and spices. They’re always at my local farmer’s market, but you can buy them online because they ship nationwide! My favorite flavors are Wanderlust, Double Onion and Garlic, and Purple Haze. Don’t forget to snag the free samples that are available as well!

Gindo’s Spice of Life hot sauce: Another favorite of mine and Brian’s from the farmer’s market, these fresh made hot sauces include a huge selection of limited edition flavors. Brian goes through a Honey Habanero every other month and I love the Jalapeno Poblano and the Truffle Parmesan.

Carr Valley Cheese: If you didn’t expect a cheese suggestion from me, you haven’t been paying attention. Because driving to Wisconsin to get my cheese fix is currently out of the question, I’ve been ordering from my favorite cheese producer. They ship (though shipping doesn’t come cheap if you’re outside the midwest), and it is so worth it for the delicious magic that arrives on your doorstep. Current favorites include Black Sheep Truffle, Bread Cheese, Marisa, and Vanilla Cardona (which tastes a little bit like marshmallows and is SO GOOD as a low-carb dessert replacement).

Beauty essentials, clothing, jewelry and accessories

The Little Blue Hippo: I obsess over these amazing-smelling, gentle soaps (and even have a couple named after Brian and me — Nemesis is a beer soap and Brian’s fave and Quirky Lilac was a custom design and scent that I gave to the ladies of my wedding party!). Until Covid pushed me to return to pump soaps in the downstairs guest bathroom, we were exclusively using these beautiful bar soaps in all of our spaces. We still use them daily in our upstairs bathrooms.

Fintastic Configuration: I am mildly obsessed with this whimsical jewelry collection with nods to Disney and other magic. I can speak to the quality of each piece because I have 4 necklaces and a bracelet. The jewelry collection bags are also incredible. I know there’s a restock of items scheduled for this Friday at 7 pm EST in case you wanted to set a reminder like I do.

Oh Sew Exciting: These are my favorite cloth face masks! The ear loops are adjustable and they have easy flaps for re-looping if you ever need to. They’re also larger than a lot of masks, which is great for people like me who have big mouths and need a little more space. You can also order matching knotted bow headbands. (This is an order through Instagram DM shop, but I have ordered about a dozen or more masks this way!)

Once Upon a Tee Shirt: I love these Disney and Harry Potter graphic tee shirts with vibrant, colorful and unique designs. The magnets and stickers are also amazing! I love the character art and the selection of brightly colored shirts.

Miscellaneous magic

Art, stationary, cards, stickers, and more

Elly Lonon: This beautiful writer, satirist, and artist has cards, stickers, art prints, and more to fuel your punny, feminist, liberal, and quirky flames. I love everything about this shop from the colors to the creator. You should shop here too. While you’re at it, pick up her graphic novel, Amongst the Liberal Elite, based on her popular McSweeney’s column.

Self-Love Tool Chest: Body-positive messaging that focuses on self-love and mental health awareness in art prints, stickers, cards, and enamel pins. I am in love with the use of color and the incredible messaging.

Pew Pew Lasercraft: The woodworking brilliance of these pieces makes me so happy. They are nerdy and clever and fun. You can find incredible hand-made ornaments, home decor, photo frames, earrings, coasters, pencils and more.

Alaska Wild and Free: This beautiful shop is chock full of art, cards, coloring books, clothing, and more features the beauty and inspiration of Alaskan wildlife. Gorgeous colors and patterns adorn everything from mugs and sweatshirts to greeting cards, stickers, and wrapping paper.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!