My New Obsession: {Dinner: A Love Story}

You guys, I am absolutely head over heels for one of the library books I picked up a few days ago. I love it so much that I might go so far as to say it has changed my life…no joke.  Dinner Cover
Dinner: A Love Story won me over as soon as I started reading. It’s a personal account of how the author, Jenny Rosenstrach, got into the habit of making dinner every night with her husband, and along the way she shares their favorite tried-and-true recipes. Now, you all know I love to cook; it’s one of my absolute favorite things to do. However, I definitely don’t cook every night for Kirby and I (and I’m not expected to, either) but because I’m currently not working, I figure it’s a fun and enjoyable way of making Kirby happy as well as showing my love for him. When Kirby gets home and a meal is on the table, it’s like I just bought him a brand new car and I’m sitting there with a new golden retriever puppy and fish tacos in hand (his favorite things)… I mean seriously, it makes him THAT happy. But I don’t do it all the time because life gets in the way and I wasn’t prioritizing it. Sure, there are nights when I would cook us some awesome fancy meal because the creative bug struck me and I just felt like being in the kitchen. But consistently? That hasn’t been happening. One thing we’ve talked about is how we feel our happiest, most relaxed and in-tune with each other when we’re sitting down for a home cooked meal together; it just feels right. Jenny talks about how when they were getting dinner on the table each night (and of course there were exceptions) everything seemed to fall into place. When we’re eating home-cooked meals together consistently we feel the same way. We spend time talking about our days face-to-face, we have leftovers for lunch the next day, and we’re nourishing our bodies with good food. It’s all good stuff :)

So it’s one thing to like the sentiments an author writes, but my question was: Does she back it up with amazing recipes?

Oh yes, yes she does.

I made her Salmon Salad, and it instantaneously became a hit in our little family. It was so good, fresh, and bursting with flavor, that I keep thinking about when I can make it again. Seriously you guys, make this. You won’t regret it. It’ll be love at first bite.  DSC02685 DSC02686

“Dinner: A Love Story,” by Jenny Rosenstrach

  • For the vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon or lime
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • For the salmon:
  • 1 salmon fillet (about 1 pound)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 potatoes (yukon gold, red or blue if you can find them), peeled and quartered
  • 2 ears corn
  • Handful of thin green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 5 to 6 scallions (white and light green parts), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To make the vinaigrette:In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, sugar, lemon juice and oil and set aside.

To make the salmon:Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper. Roast in a foil-lined baking dish for 15 minutes. (If you prefer to grill the fish, brush with a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of honey and cook over medium-hot coals, 4 to 5 minutes on each side.)

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until a knife slices through them with no resistance, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes to a large serving bowl. Add the corn to the same pot of water. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove to a cutting board, allow to cool, slice off the kernels and add to the serving bowl. Add beans to the same pot of water and cook for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, scallions and cilantro to the bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette and serve.

Serving Size: 4

Total time: 35 minutes.

DSC02688 DSC02694 What are your thoughts on sitting down for dinner each night with your loved one(s)? Is it a priority in your life or do you show your love and reconnect in other ways? 

I hope you guys have an amazing weekend! We’re going to be taking advantage of this amazing weather we’re having in San Diego :)

And I’ll leave you with a quote from the book, Dinner: A Love Story:

I was starting to shape a theory about dinner. I found that if I was eating well, there was a good chance I was living well, too. I found that when I prioritized dinner, a lot of things seemed to fall into place: We worked more effectively to get out of [work] on time, we dedicated time and place to unload whatever was annoying us about work and everything else, and we spent less money by cooking our own food, which meant we never felt guilty about treating ourselves to dinner out on the weekend. And perhaps most important, the simple act of carving out the ritual- a delicious homemade ritual- gave everyday purpose and meaning, no matter what else was going on in our lives.”


Cooking Stories and a Chilli Recipe: Wisdom from Steph’s Mom

Emily and I went up to our hometown a while ago and had lunch with my parents. It was a cloudy, rainy day and a mist was blanketing the redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains. It can be so magical when it rains there. It truly is a rain forest, and you feel like everything kind of just stops and all you need to do is curl up with a good book and stare out a window.

DSC01067 My mom seemed to read our minds and made us chilli and cornbread for lunch. It was THE PERFECT meal for that day. We chatted and watched the rain- their house, the one I grew up in, has windows covering almost every inch of the living and dining rooms. When you live somewhere like that, you want to always feel like you’re outside.

While we ate we asked my mom about cooking and how she got so good at it. She also gave us the recipe for the bomb chilli she made us. Enjoy!

What got you into cooking? Did someone teach you?

I was living over here as an undergraduate and I had been in the dorms up until then, you know, the dining hall and everything. I moved into a place by myself here and Mary Lou [her sister] came over one day (she was living in Felton here too with her husband) and she said “You have nothing in your refrigerator, how do you eat?” I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know. Taco Bell.” And she said “No, no no… I forgot, we never taught you to cook.” All of my other sisters got like, taught, to cook. I never got taught to cook. They were all getting married so they had to learn. DSC01049

So Mary Lou came over and she brought all these ingredients and these little empty tubs of margarine. We used to eat margarine in plastic tubs and she’d saved a bunch of them. So she brought those over and we spent all day cooking and freezing single-serving amounts in  these tubs. And we literally filled my freezer with 3 or 4 different kinds of food. For a while she had to call me in the morning and say, “Go get the thing out of the freezer so you’ll have something to eat this evening.”

“Oh ya…”

“You won’t have to stop at Taco Bell.”

“Oh ya…Okay.”

So that’s how I started. She taught me how to make those three things. Then she decided that she wanted to take a Spanish class on Wednesday nights. She was of course working full time as an accountant at the time, for O’Neill downtown. And she said “I won’t be able to take these Spanish lessons, Jerry [her husband at the time] won’t let me go to class if I don’t set it up so you come over and cook. So you take care of him- he comes home from work and you can cook him dinner.” So every Wednesday night I would go over there and cook Jerry dinner. I had the three recipes that she taught me that I had learned, but then she would leave me exact directions on how to make pork chops with peaches and white rice…every step, what pan to use, everything. So I would learn that way. How to make Swedish meatballs, tuna casserole, beef stroganoff, and macaroni and cheese… one of my favorites at the time. And Jerry liked it, too, so I would make macaroni and cheese and a salad. And so I learned that way- you know, the basics.

If you had the president coming over for dinner, and you wanted to impress him, what would be your go-to recipe? (This was Em’s question haha) DSC01061  

I would probably start with hors d’ oeuvres or something, and then I might do a cream of asparagus soup with a nice rustic bread, just to you know… fill him up before (laughs). Then I might make something kind of different… you know… quinoa with prawns and spices, you know? With naan bread. Something like that to make him think I was, you know… hip.

But my go-to recipe for anybody but the president, (laughs) is… Forget the soup. You get no soup. It is chicken cordon bleu (at least it has a French name) and it’s sliced open chicken breast with ham and cheese in it, and you bread the whole thing, and then you bake it. And you serve it with broccoli or asparagus or sliced heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella and basil. And maybe biscuits.

Super Easy Chili Recipe (from Steph’s grandmother):


  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (15 -16 ounce) can of corn
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Finely sliced celery
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • “Lots of” garlic salt with parsley
  • 1 (15 -16 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained or 1 (15 -16 ounce) can pinto beans, if desired


  • Cook beef, onion and garlic in 3 qt saucepan until beef is brown.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients except beans.
  • Heat to boiling, reduce heat to low.
  • Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in beans.
  • Heat to boiling, reduce heat to low.
  • Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired thickness.

Serve with cornbread and enjoy!




Santa Barbara Happy Hour

The other day Anthony and I needed some happy hour action. He just started a new job that’s almost full time, and we wanted to treat ourselves to some good beer and cheap food. A favorite place of ours is The Brewhouse.

IMG_0028 We love the beer, and it’s only a few blocks away from the beach!


image_5 I love sitting outside on their patio- the weather has been amazing lately! (Which isn’t surprising I guess. That’s why we pay the big bucks for rent.)

IMG_0031 The coolest thing about the happy hour at Brewhouse is what a great deal it is! You can get a hot dog and a pint for $5.50, or a burger and a pint for $7.50. Amazing considering how good their beer and food is.

image_3 image_2 It’s nice and casual, plus it’s a good way to go to a fun happy hour if you want to avoid downtown.

IMG_0043 IMG_0048 Living in Santa Barbara is not cheap by any means, but finding deals like this makes it possible for people like me (aka broke) to still have fun!

If you ever come visit Santa Barbara, or if you live here and haven’t been to The Brewhouse, I highly recommend it. They have a great brunch menu, too, with bottomless mimosas. If you have an Axxess card, you can get a 2-for-1 deal on brunch there! The Axxess card is also one of the only ways I can still go out to restaurants and afford it- there are over a hundred 2-for-1 deals all around town (including a bunch of wine tastings in the funk zone!). If you live here, it definitely pays for itself right away.

(This post is not sponsored in any way)

What is your favorite happy hour spot where you live? Or if you live in SB, tell me where I need to go next!

Southwest Pasta (for Dummies)


My name is Emily and I am a wonderful cook so I am going to tell you how to make this beautiful and yummy Southwest Pasta.

APRIL FOOLS!!!!!!!!!!

HA! It’s actually Stephanie writing this post. I actually made this pasta with my sister. I don’t know how it happened but I will try and tell you so you can make it too!

As you may have guessed, I am not exactly a cook. I don’t enjoy cooking like most of my friends- I’m usually the one who will do all the dishes afterward in return for eating all the delicious food. Emily always makes fun of me because I could seriously live off of microwaved quesadillas for way too long.

But I was staying at my sister’s place and we were hungry for something fresh but filling. Mary cooks for her family all the time, but shares my apathy for making food. With her help we threw together something fast and easy that we were really happy with. Hopefully this will come to the rescue when you are not feeling like a cook, but more like me: desperate for a good meal but only willing to do maybe 10 minutes of work to get it.


Southwest Pasta


  • Egg noodles
  • Chicken (optional)
  • Canned corn
  • Black beans
  • Chopped tomato
  • Fresh spinach
  • 11/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Cook pasta to package instructions and drain. Add cooked chicken, raw spinach, and the rest of the ingredients straight into the pot and stir on medium heat until cheese has melted and all ingredients are warm.

We messed around with how much salt and cumin we put in there, so definitely go with your gut- it’s probably better than mine. :)



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