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Food and I have a very personal relationship.

I was raised in a home where eating out was something special, something we did maybe twice a year. My mother cooked three meals a day — from scratch. I think we used potato flakes once in my life and Pappie knew what we had done and we never did it again. Every night for dinner we had three courses and sometimes four if I made dessert, which was often.

We always began dinner with setting the table.

My sisters and I were responsible for preparing the table; complete with water and wine glass for my dad, his cloth napkin, we used appetizer plates, and always a full set of flatware. While we placed the olives, cheese, salami, and bread on the table, my mom would have been preparing dinner for at least an hour already. She would have one pot of pasta water boiling, and one pot for sauce or topping for the pasta. On another burner there would be a pan ready to go for the second course meat selection, and another pan for some kind of cooked vegetable.

The salad was prepared one of two ways depending what was for dinner: salt, two spoon fulls of olive oil and one balsamic vinegar, or, salt, two spoons of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Appetizer on the first plate, salad in its own bowl, and the main course on the dinner plate. You can imagine the aftermath of dishes we kids were responsible for every night.

We always at traditional italian foods. The only time we ate a foreign food was when my dad would travel to a food convention which happened once a year.

Though I grew to love the crafted meals we had, I longed for foreign spices, textures and flavors. When I left for college and got my hands on my own kitchen I felt like I was reborn.

My childhood reality became challenged when I moved in with Jamie and his kids.

When I became a part of Jamie’s life, complete with his kids, cooking at home every night was not their usual. I would become anxious at how often we would eat out, about twice a week, worried that we would taint the children’s health and wellbeing.

After a long days work, picky eaters, and at one point in my life, a bakery to run, I quickly deemed the idea of eating out being an okay thing to do.

Happy that this balance of home-cooked vs. eating-out has come over me, I recognize that cooking a lavish meal can be daunting, but a few key healthy-ish fast meals are the ticket to every-day living.

My top 5 back-pocket meals are inspired by using few ingredients, pantry staples, and achievable in about 30 minutes. All from scratch. Take that 1950’s!

  1. Sudado Do Pescador
    • A quick and hearty fish stew, recipe inspired by a Peruvian restaurant in Florida. It means fish sweat, but its amazing! 🙂
  2. Beef Pho
    • For beef lovers, packed with good for you antioxidants and flavor.
  3. Pasta Primavera
    • A traditional Italian spring dish. It’s a bit like a deluxe alfredo.
  4. Pasta con Matarocco
    • Classic Sicilian dish we eat in the summer when the tomatoes and basil are at their best!
  5. Spring Rolls
    • Thanks to full gardens and sharing neighbors, this fast meal or snack is as fun to eat as it is to make.

More links to these recipes soon to come!