Gruyere Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions

To anyone that is curious about some things I said in my last post, the family member in the hospital is one of my sisters and she is doing much better now. I therefore have now returned to breathing normally for the time being. To everyone that has written me kind words of encouragement – I know you don’t know me and I don’t know you, but we might be friends for life. Thank you, for reals.

That being said, I need comfort food. I want pasta, cookies and chocolate. And cheese. Lots of cheese. If anyone hands me a salad I’m going to throw it right back at them. This has not been the kind of week that raw vegetables can fix.

This sandwich is just what I need. It has onions that have been slow cooked until they’re brown and oh so sweet, paired with sharp Gruyere cheese. If you think Gruyere is an expensive cheese that only snobs buy, don’t worry, I used to secretly believe the same thing. Until I found out how delicious it is and then I realized it was one of those things in life you can’t skimp on, whether you’re a food snob or not. Sometimes delicious is just expensive.

BTW – this bread was baked by my stepfather’s good friend who retired and decided to pursue his lifelong dream of being a bread baker. This entails getting up insanely early (like, 3:00AM)¬† 3-4 days a week to bake bread in his custom built oven. As awesome¬† as this sounds, I have to say one thing: there are a lot of things I dream about doing one day, but NONE of them involve getting up before the sun rises. Ever. But I’m glad he feels that way, cause his bread is amazing. Almost as amazing as this delicious grilled cheese.

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Long Week

It has been a long week. A long, uneven, eventful week.

A close friend got her dream job – she is going to be a full time employee at Disney Studios, which is what she has wanted for as long as I’ve known her. She got this job through nothing short of hard work and being unrelentingly optimistic, and she has earned it, all by herself. I am so proud of her I can’t see straight.

An old friend from college passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly. Life has a way of reminding us how very fragile it is. I hadn’t seen him for 4 years, and through a random series of events we were able to catch up this past June. I had no idea it was the last time I would ever see him. I found out he died on Facebook, which has left me wondering yet again if my relationship with Facebook is a love or hate one.

A very close family member went into the hospital. The status of this is still pending so that’s all I can write for now.

Another close family member’s wife gave birth to their first child. Mother and daughter are both healthy and beautiful. Life has a way of reminding us how truly miraculous it can be.

As I said, it has been a long week. Sometimes we have good weeks. Others, are bad. And then there are weeks that leave us speechless, not sure whether to rejoice or cry, and feeling guilty for doing either. I wish that I had a silly video or photo to post, but right now this is all I have. Thanks for reading and spending a few minutes of your week with me.


I don’t think Mickey would approve

This is my cousin Emily. Don’t let that innocent watermelon eating face fool you, she is not to be trusted. When we were about 10 years old my parents took us on a trip to Disney World and one afternoon we came up with a HILARIOUS game at the hotel pool where we would go under water, rip our bathing suits off and then slip them back on before coming up to the surface.

Remember the good ole days when all you needed to do to be entertained was rip your clothes off in a public place in daytime? sigh…

Okay, so this was all clean, innocent fun until yours truly got her bathing suit tangled up and COULDN’T GET IT BACK ON. Instead of remaining calm and simply standing in the pool with just my head above water until I could untangle it, I went in to full panic mode and would only come up for a quick gasp of air before ducking back under the surface and trying to fix the suit by staring at it underwater with my chlorine-soaked eyes. You can only imagine how well this went.

And you know what my loyal cousin Emily did? She laughed her ass off. She laughed so hard that she was completely unable to help me at all, which only contributed to my panic. Soon I was near tears for fear that I was going to have to get out of the pool naked and explain to my parents how my suit had magically flown off my body and then been tied into knots, and Emily was laughing so hard she was in danger of cramping up and drowning. Which honestly, would have served her right.

I did eventually get the suit back on, no thanks to Ms. I-like-to-laugh-at-other-people’s-naked-misfortune. All I can say is that the next time I find myself without clothes in public and need assistance – I am sooooo not gonna call this girl.

Caprese Pasta Salad

True story – I used to be scared of making pesto. It seemed fancy, which often equates to being difficult. Then I found out the truth: pesto is herbs, garlic, cheese and some toasted nuts all ground together with oil, all with approximate measuring. Very easy and very, very not scary. I used 3 “verys” in that sentence, so you know I’m being serious.

Traditionally you use pine nuts, but I’ve been known to sub in walnuts and even macadamia and it still was heavenly. Basil is also the standard herb, but sometimes I throw in a little parsley, and my neighbor once told me you can make mint pesto. That pretty much sums up why I’m never moving. It’s hard to find good neighbors like that.

Here’s the thing about measuring – don’t go too crazy on being precise. If you really love garlic, throw in an extra clove. If it doesn’t look green enough for you, add in more herbs. Seriously, with ingredients like these it just isn’t going to taste bad, no matter how hard you try.

This pasta salad caused quite the controversy at my house, all because I have family members that hate basil, which I imagine made me feel the same way they felt when I confessed to being a Democrat (horrors!) and so we couldn’t agree as to whether pesto is delicious or not. I never knew that there could be such an argument, it’s like debating whether puppies are cute. OF COURSE pesto is delicious, I would use it as toothpaste if I could. Or, you know, on my pasta salad.

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From China to Taiwan

Here’s a little weekend fun for you:

Go to Google Maps, and click on “directions”. Then enter “China” as your starting point and “Taiwan” as your ending point.

Scroll down to instruction #48:

Yes indeed. After turning left it recommends that you swim across the Pacific Ocean. I suggest that on this particular trip you pack lightly.

Even better: change your starting point to “United States” and then find instruction #31:

Since this distance across the ocean is a bit longer, I guess they recommend that you upgrade to a kayak instead of your arms, although one could debate the merits of each option. This also suggests that if you were to choose a kayak to cross from China to Taiwan you are obviously a weenie.

Question – has anyone, in the history of the world, gone across the Pacific Ocean in a kayak?

My favorite part actually is instruction #33. Imagine the guy that kayaks his ass across the ocean only to arrive and wonders A) What am I supposed to do with this kayak now and B) Where the F*CK is Kuilima Dr.??

Coon Dog Day, 2011

Last weekend told my cousin Polly I was going to the Coon Dog Day parade and asked if she wanted to join. I explained it by saying, “The parade is completely open to whoever wants to be in it, no registration required and oh by the way did I forget to mention it’s a podunk Southern mountain town that has been known to have real live Hillbillys?” And then she was all like “I am IN!”

So here’s what happens when you go to a small town festival in the South that allows anyone with a pulse to be in their parade:

People will just drive their busted up old trucks down the street with a couple of their buddies sitting in the bed. Who need to decorate when you have a paint job like that?

You have people who finally figure out something to do with their stuffed raccoon collection. Of course – staple them to a golf cart. The flamingo of course got to come too since it wouldn’t be fair to leave him at home alone.

You get to see the Hillbilly Clan in all their glory (I am not making this up or being a judgmental snob – just read the sides of those cars).

A side note – those women on the bottom right photo were completely drunk out of their minds and it was all I could do not to jump up there and join them. Continue Reading →

Best Potato Salad

When I first started writing for A Cozy Kitchen I wrote a post about how I hated mayonnaise. So much so, in fact, that I came up with a potato salad recipe that was mustard based instead of mayo. Although I still stand by that recipe and would eat if for breakfast, lunch and dinner if people wouldn’t look at me like a crazy person, I have to rescind my earlier mayonnaise comments, cause I have just discovered the BEST potato salad, and lo and behold, it is covered head to toe in mayonnaise.

I mentioned this as a suggestion for the 4th of July, then I took my own suggestion, then congratulated myself on being so smart to suggest this. It was a good day. I can sum up why this is so delicious in five words: pickles, whole-grain mustard, fresh dill. I’m pretty sure if you put that combo of ingredients on anything it would taste delicious. Even ice cream. I stand by that.

Well… I can at least say with 100% certainty that if you mix all of that into some mayonnaise and pour it over potatoes it is HEAVEN. I think you should give this a try. Like, now.

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Family Photos

For some reason whenever you put a camera in front of my cousin Emily and her dad, Steve, instead of smiling for the camera they try and figure out what kind of funny face they can make. Which is how this happened.

And then this.

They kept going, even when my camera decided it no longer wanted to focus.

Eventually Emily started to tire of the antics.

So my Aunt Sara got in on the fun.

And then we all ate watermelon. The End.

4th of July Suggestions

The 4th of July is in two days. TWO DAYS people. This is the Olympics of grill-outs, the World Cup of picnic food. I have big plans, mostly involving food. Here’s how it goes:

First, I am going to whip up a big pitcher of this Ginger Limeade my friend Adrianna made. I am drooling just looking at the photo. Adrianna – *hugs* #MissYouLots

I really want to make this Cajun Shrimp Guacamole from What’s Gaby Cooking?, but only if I’m allowed to do a face plant once it’s done. Otherwise I should probably leave it alone – I’m not good at self control.

I want this and I want it now. Please and thank you.

Ideally I would find something to drown in this Bourbon Orange Coriander Barbeque Sauce from Joy. Question – is it rude to eat BBQ sauce with a spoon?

I’ve had my eye on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for years. Literally people, years. It’s like if potato salad and egg salad had a wild and crazy night together and ended up with this crazy love child. Maybe I’ve been intimidated, maybe I’ve been worried I would eat the whole bowl and embarrass myself. But I’m going for it now.

I really, really want to believe that I have the technical skills to pull this recipe off, cause they look so pretty. But deep down, I know that is just not true. Le sigh…

Instead, I’ll make more of this. So easy, delicious, and perfect for a hot summer barbeque.

Happy 4th of July to you & yours! What do you have planned?