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So, y’all — I had to go to Houston at the last minute on Wednesday. (Was that yesterday? Also, see how I fit in here already?) Anyway, here I am trying to make good on my claim that I would actually post something. I’ve picked the easiest thing to write about so as to facilitate that attempt…

I have never been a fan (I almost typed “phan”) of Philly Cheesesteaks, probably because I don’t like steak, or whatever that meat is that they put in Cheesesteaks. But my dad used to make vegetarian sandwiches with peppers and onions on a roll that I’m pretty sure he called “cheesesteaks” (which made no sense as there was no cheese or steak involved), and I swear they were as good as the real thing. I wanted something dumb simple to make and the memory of those sandwiches came to me in a moment of inspiration, so I decided on sauteed fennel, peppers and onion on a roll with some chicken basil sausage.

Then I pan roasted some tiny baby potatoes with garlic and olive oil and added a mustard vinaigrette (just spicy mustard, cider vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper) and fresh fennel fronds at the last minute. I am pretty sure those descriptions suffice as a “recipe”, which is also to say that I made this last week and couldn’t really be more specific. The only reason I roasted the potatoes on top of the stove is that my oven doesn’t work right, so I’d recommend roasting them with some olive oil and salt on a sheet pan at 400 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes (depending on the size) or until nice and tender. The peppers, onions and fennel take almost as long to get them really soft and caramelized so the timing works out perfectly. I got some really tasty sundried tomato baguettes and the chicken sausage to finish off the sandwich. Delish!

I think I temporarily forgot I have a food blog. I promise, I have a few posts ready to go when I can get the motivation to edit the photos and write down the recipes. Which I’m hoping will be tonight. In the meantime, I am happy to report (well, happy is probably the wrong word) that after all my whining, it turns out that this July will have been the hottest month on record in New York. EVER. I feel vindicated, but it doesn’t make me want to turn on my oven any more…

This half-written post has been sitting in my drafts for a very long time now. I have been struggling with how to write about this salad, or whether to even include a recipe. Here’s the problem: I have a love-hate relationship with quinoa. I keep thinking I’ll just break it off for good, never to return to that curly grain, and then I see a recipe that looks amazing and I fall for it all over again. And then I regret it when it ends up a soggy mess.

Maybe I am not good at prepping quinoa, that’s possible. Or maybe I keep convincing myself that because it’s good for me I’ll like it. It looks nice, doesn’t it? I modified and merged a couple recipes from 101 Cookbooks to get to this particular salad. When I first made my quinoa it looked promising — fluffy and dry. I dressed it with an avocado-lime dressing, made in the blender with some plain yogurt. And I think that’s when it went south. I had sauteed corn, red bell peppers, zucchini and onion to add to the mix and topped it with goat cheese and pepitas. But it was….bland. Maybe I undersalted it, I don’t know. Sometimes, no amount of goat cheese can save a recipe.

File this one under “try again” — I think it needs some spice and a tangier dressing to overcome its quinoa-ness. I’m sure I’ll be buying a bag of this grain soon enough, and trying something new. Hopefully next time, my efforts won’t be in vain.

Sorry for the dearth of posts, y’all. I’ve been sick as a dog the past several days and nothing prevents me from cooking like the inability to taste anything. Here’s one thing I made Sunday, when I was starting to be able to breathe through my nose.

One thing that drives me nuts about all the food articles in the summer is that it seems like no one can write about anything but GRILLING. I get it, grilling is fun (or is it?), but for those of us who live in tiny apartments with no outdoor space much less a grill, it can be a bummer. I usuall skip all mention of grilled stuff, leaving me with potato salad recipe after potato salad recipe. And here I am, offering something grilled. Sort of.

I have this grill pan I got ages ago (cast iron) and I rarely use it. But I wanted to make a fruit salsa to go with my tostadas, and I realized I really, really like grilled fruit. You could easily not grill the fruit in this recipe and it would still be tasty.

I also cheated and bought pre-marinated chicken from Trader Joe’s — pollo asada — and used that here instead of marinating my own. It was super easy, I will say that. For a vegetarian version, I would just use some nice spicy black beans cooked with some onion and garlic.

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This is soooo not even funny anymore. My electricity bill is probably going to hit quadruple digits and going outside is actually like baking in an oven. Do people in hot climates drink to excess as much as people in very cold climates? I’m thinking it’s possible, because looking at a 10 day forecast with no relief from the insane heat is depressing indeed and I’m thinking several cold beers might do the trick.

Hopefully the second air conditioner on its way to the apartment now will provide some relief. Otherwise, I may just subsist on cold cubed fruit for the rest of the summer. It’s about the only thing I’m enjoying eating right now. So whatever possessed me to make anything involving actual cooking yesterday, I can’t say. I guess compared to turning on the oven this wasn’t so bad. If you have central air: go for this recipe right now. If you are suffering like I am, I may recommend waiting a couple of months.

Think of this recipe like the healthier version of mac & cheese — it’s got the nice, crunchy breadcrumbs (if that’s how you roll when you make mac & cheese) and some cheesiness, but in the healthy column it’s also got asparagus. I used anchovy paste in the breadcrumbs (sssh! don’t tell anyone you are doing this. they’ll never know and will love it) and if you wanted to forgo the asparagus or swap it for another vegetable, that would be totally doable. I mean it’s your life, who are you to let me tell you what vegetables to eat?!

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