Dinner & Roses To-Go: Summer-Bries Pasta

brie pasta dinner vegetarian basil recipe

Brie Pasta Plated and Ready

On Monday nights for a series of 16 weeks twice a year, I engage in a very sophisticated evening with a select group of friends in the City. It’s a weekly meeting of the minds and

dinner pasta vegetarian roses brie cheese sauce

So much hope on one tray

exchanging of incredibly insightful and valuable information. An opportunity to explore human behavior on an intimate level. To live – just for a moment – inside the lives (and hot tubs) of beautiful women and six-pack ab-ed men on their journey, their quest for love …..For the purpose of simplifying, let’s call it ‘Book Club’ – but know that it is oh, so much more. I mean, there are roses involved.

The west 86-ers (friends who live there) generally host and always provide an incredible meal to feed our minds and souls as we solve the world’s problems and follow the young hopefuls through the ups and downs of budding romance. Once in a blue moon, I offer to bring dinner, I mean, I’m the food blogger, right, this should be my job. Yet, on these occasions, I often find myself at a loss for what to bring. I don’t want to default to the go-to easily portable casserole family – this is a fancy evening after all – there’s generally evening gowns and a champagne toast. There are always tears. I brought my chicken milanese on one occasion and it was well-received, a good complement to this intellectually stimulating evening. So, when I offered to bring dinner for what was certain to be the most dramatic series finale ever, the pressure was on.

It would have to be a rose-worthy feast. One that could not only comfort us through the disappointment of a potentially heartbreaking end to the journey but could also support an exuberant celebration should the evening end in true love. There were other factors to consider as well – it had to be easily portable, not require too much ‘cooking’ as in tiny NYC apartments any heat thrown from the kitchen is too powerful for even the strongest of A/C units during a heat wave. It couldn’t be too salty (I tried to kill this group once before with an exceedingly salty, like dead sea salty, pulled pork dinner – that was a Des-Aster).

So, I borrowed a page from me mum’s culinary delights and made a Summer-Bries Pasta.

Tiny Kitchen Tips:

  1. basil brie pasta dinner vegetarian recipe

    Basil Bunch

    Fairway NYC has the best deal on Basil in town…but, you have to buy a giant bunch of it – so, plan to use some for a freezable pesto sauce or other basil-easy delights

  2. This recipe is too much…you can easily cut in half if your ‘Book Club’ isn’t that many people

Summer-Bries Pasta (serves like 85 people…or 6)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cloves Garlic  you can go to three cloves, you can do 2 cloves garlic and 1/2 a shallot – it’s your call
  • 1 1/2 Cup Basil Leaves
  • 1 Pound French Brie
  • 1 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Container of Compari Tomatoes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs of Linguini or Boccacini or any other ‘ini’ pasta

Always Mise En Place – it’s just fun and makes you feel chef-like:

brie pasta dinner recipe

Mise En Place

1.  Cut the tomatoes – the entire box – into bite-sized pieces – like little cube-y-ish – and put into a large mixing bowl

dinner pasta summer brie campari tomatoes

Campari tomatoes – selected bc they are sweet and delicious

2. Mince the cloves of garlic and toss on top of the tomatoes in the bowl

dinner pasta  brie tomatoes garlic summer

No mincer? No worries, just chop super small – I used my microplane, just be careful!

3. Chiffonade the basil leaves and…uh huh…toss on top of the garlic and tomatoes

dinner pasta vegetarian cheese basil

Beautifully Chiffonade-d Basil-y Goodness

4. Remove the rinds from the brie and then tear into smallish pieces – like smaller than an ice cube and bigger than a marble…Throw the pieces of brie into the basil-y, garlic-y, tomato-y mix

brie pasta summer dinner vegetarian

Triple Cream Brie – two is too few, four is too many

5. Pour the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil over the brie, basil, tomato, garlic mix and toss gently to combine

dinner vegetarian pasta summer easy cooking

Mixed….And, now let it just sit

6. Add salt and pepper, cover and let the mixture sit out on your tiny kitchen counter for the day…at least 2 hours, but the flavors meld and intensify the longer it sits…I left it for no fewer than 5 hours…

NOTE: It will look runny and odd…do not fear — I already did that for you – no, there’s not too much olive oil or too many watery tomatoes…relax. It’s all good.

7. Boil the pasta about 1-2 minutes shy of the recommended cooking time, drain and immediately toss with the tomato-y, basil-y, garlic-y, brie-y mix

The brie will melt into an incredible cream sauce……yum.

8. Garnish with a few more basil leaves/pieces and serve warm

Book Club is more about getting together with friends than it is about watching the Des-bacle. Next time you want to bring dinner to a crew, just remember –  The journey to find love isn’t always easy, but this portable pasta dish truly is a bries.

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Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler: 3 Days in The Big Easy

emeril's new orleans chicken restaurants

Chili Glazed Farm Chicken: Emeril’s New Orleans

I spent this past weekend in New Orleans. Yeah, that’s right – in the Big Easy. I learned a lot over the course of just three days. And, thought maybe a photo essay of the journey (I use ‘journey’ a lot now because of ABC’s The Bachelor) would be the best way to share.

Where it all began: A rough start

nyc snow delta to new orleans

I woke to this view from my apartment..Not promising for travel…

And the snow was only getting worse. Still, those nice people at the delta.com flight status board assured me that my 11am flight would be ‘on time’. And, I headed to the airport. Only to find that my flight had been canceled. And, I was rescheduled on a much later flight. Much much later….

lga delta direct to msy flying new orleans

My original flight posting

lga to msy direct delta airport dining

Posting the delay…upon delay…upon delay

But I made some friends which helped to pass the time….I mean we were all in the same situation….

dining at LaGuardia

Bob the Brit, NBFF at LGA

chef lga to msy flight delay delta

Young chef and all day LGA pal

And, we ate some food, and maybe drank a little – which helped:

delta to msy from lga dining

Cool way to keep busy and order food at LGA – Order on iPad…

And, we met all kinds of people during our long long wait…

bachelorette party new orleans lga to msy direct delta

Yes, the ‘bride’ is wearing a penis head band.

After about 12 hours at LGA (with a detour to JFK and back), my flight finally took off and I was on my way…

Upon arrival just shy of midnight, a friend and I took a stroll – read elbow to elbow walk through very happy (read drunk) people on Bourbon St. We stopped just once to have a quick drink at a piano bar…nothing notable – then back to the hotel and to bed.

Saturday Brunch with Friends at Brennan’s in the French Quarter

mimosa's brennan's new orleans brunch

Began as it should – Mimosas in the Garden at Brennan’s

There are a few things one must try in New Orleans…many of these are alcohol based:

milk punch New Orleans brennan's brunch

Milk Punch – Like a Grown Up Milkshake

brunch brennan's new orleans dining

Mel not loving her first Bloody Mary

For brunch, I had Eggs Sardou: an amazing plate of poached eggs on artichoke hearts and a bed of creamed spinach…Hollandaise sauce on the side:

poached eggs at Brennan's new orleans

Paprika on One, Chives on the Other

And….Of course, we ordered cheese grits for the table. YUM.

cheese grits brunch brennan's new orleans

Cheesy Cheese Grits

For dessert…The Bananas Foster Flambe is a MUST:

brennan's new orleans bananas foster

The Bananas Foster is a MUST order: This is the Before shot

brennan's bananas foster new orleans

Drama! Flambe-ing of Bananas Foster – During the Flambe Process

bananas foster flambe brennan's new orleans

And…Plated

That night, we all attended a wedding at The Foundry in the Warehouse District. A couple of things I didn’t know about New Orleans weddings.

1. After the ceremony, all guests join the bride and groom in what’s called ‘Second Line;’ – a brass band lead parade around the block. Really fun and a great way to get the party started.

2. Apparently….you can include a drag queen performance. This was our late night wedding entertainment:

wedding drag queen new orleans

You could see her giant panties through the dress

After the wedding we not so wisely braved the crowds of people on Bourbon St. I mean, we just had to get giant drinks in collectible cups. A couple of notes about life on Bourbon Street:

1. There is no ban on open containers of alcohol…except that booze must be in a ‘go-cup’ which any bar will gladly give you as you walk out the door. In New Orleans, creating the most sugary, insanely boozed up cocktail and then crafting a desireable keep sake container, is a sport

grenade drinks Bourbon St new orleans

The Grenade: Fruity Boozy and in a Keepsake Container

2. While the drinking age is 21, New Orleans differentiates between the age of purchase and the age of consumption. SO….if you are 18, your mommy or daddy or guardian or creepy older boyfriend can buy you a drink and you are then allowed to drink it. This came in handy as we had an 18 year old with us.

boozy cocktails on bourbon street new orleans

And… We also had these…Shark Attack!

We were back to the hotel after a quick dance at Oz – which made our gay friends happy as it’s a gay bar – and tucked in bed by the crack of 4am.

Sunday…We classed it up and went to one of the most historic and notable restaurants in town.

Galatoire’s Brunch (note the big meal at Galatoire’s is Friday lunch…but since we didn’t make it to New Orleans in time for that, Sunday brunch would have to do)

Galatoire's New Orleans restaurant

Galatoire’s Lovely Logo’d Glass

A few tips to fitting in at Galatoire’s:

1. Everyone has his/her own waiter…I mean like the regulars go back and request a specific waiter. Some of the waiters have been there for years…like 35 years. As we didn’t have such history, we were assigned a great waiter named Murphy – I highly recommend him!

2. Don’t ask to see a menu – no one who is anyone does that! Your waiter will guide you to the most amazing dishes – trust him.

3. Get the Oysters En Brochette. It’s oysters and bacon deep fried and delicious

galatoire's brunch sunday menu

Fried, Salty, Briny and Amazing Oysters En Brochette

4. Try the turtle soup. You can’t do that at Brennan’s because Brennan’s back yard has a pond with turtles basking in the sun…It would just be rude to order turtle soup there. Our waiter at Galatoire’s, Murphy, brought us a sample as he knows it’s a New Orleans must have

turtle soup new orleans galatoire's

Yes, there are real turtles in there

5. Go with someone who is willing to share. My dining date and I split the lamb chops with mushroom sauce and the redfish…Well, Murphy split it for us….And, a side of the creamiest most amazing potatoes au gratin:

galatoire's lamb chops and redfish

So So good…And, love the sauce soaked white toast

amazing potatoes au gratin galatoire's new orleans

Potatoes Au Gratin, Not So Rotten

6. And….Have a martini. It’s the right thing to do in such a cool, old school venue.

After brunch, we took a walk – read: tried to walk it off. We popped into Carousel Bar to visit with the newly married couple and have a vodka soda. Then took a food coma nap before preparing for dinner.

Emeril’s New Orleans: Sunday Dinner

Emerils logo

This is Emeril’s original restaurant. It’s located in the warehouse district, so if you’re staying in the French Quarter…It’s a bit of a walk. Though, really, after all you’ve eaten, you should walk. We took a cab.

Because we were hungry – go with it, you’re in New Orleans – we ate:

Emeril's New orleans appetizer

Angel Hair with Mushrooms in a Taso Cream Sauce

And we also had….

Emeril's new orleans menu dinner

Roasted Filet Mignon…And, more potatoes

emeril's new orleans chicken restaurants

Chili Glazed Farm Chicken

Emeril's new orleans souffle

Oozing Chocolate Goodness Inside

Luckily, we also saved room for dessert. After all, we didn’t have dessert at Galatoire’s. At Emeril’s they have an amazing chocolate souffle…but, order it when you order your meal as it takes :30mins to prepare. Well worth the calories!

We paired it with a lovely Schramsberg rose.

Amazing dinner…and a great farewell meal. Definitely better than the eggs and grits I had at the airport Monday morning.

After our three day dining, drinking and wedding dancing extravaganza, I’m in love with New Orleans. And, while the good times certainly rolled this past weekend, the only thing rolling now is the fat on my satisfied stomach.

But the temporary weight gain is totally worth it. And, all I can say is: Get to New Orleans and laissez les bons temps rouler!

I’m Keeping the Table: Two Meat Lasagna

dinner party table setting lasagna 365 brand

Dinner Table Set and Ready. And yes, that’s my recycling in the background.

When I first moved to NYC, people had dinner parties. Sure, we were young and couldn’t really cook so the food fare was far from fabulous. Sometimes it was even sorta gross. But, we had dinner parties anyway. It was a big deal…acting all grown up and stuff.

I love a good dinner party…but, no one seems to have them any more. Much more a rarity than the norm. Maybe it’s because our apartments are small and a lot of us just don’t have the space for a sit down dinner.

It’s true…space is at a premium in NYC and sometimes difficult decisions must be made when choosing how best to maximize the limited space. I mean, when I moved from my house to this apartment…I gave away, yes gave away, about 2/3 of my kitchen stuff…When confronted with the choice between giving up some of my shoes or storing a second Le Creuset 6 qt pot…You know what won out.

Everyone told me my dining room table would be too big for this apartment. It’s true. The table is enormous. Even without the extensions that live in a lovely climate controlled storage space in CT, I can easily seat 8.

blizzard 2013 on tv

Nemo!

So, because I cook AND I have a proper dining table in the ‘dining area’ of my apartment, I host dinner parties. And, there’s no better excuse for a dinner party than a good old fashioned snowstorm.

Last night the posse rallied chez moi to ride out Nemo – the Blizzard of 2013. For storms, I tend to make comfort food. Good, crowd pleasing, stick to your ribs, comfort food. And, last night was no exception.

Lasagna (Serves 8)

Small apartment tip: If at all possible, have a dining area in your tiny space.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Barilla brand no-cook lasagna sheets – you only need 1 box, but get two as you’re bound to break at least one of the sheets. Trust me.
  • 1 – 1.25lbs of ground beef – I used 93/7 because it was on sale at Whole Foods
  • 2 sweet Italian pork sausages…OK, they didn’t have any yesterday, so I bought some awesome Pork Broccoli Rabe sausages
  • Whole Foods 365 brand ricotta cheese

    365 Brand

    1 1/2 Cups of whole milk ricotta cheese…normally I am a Poly-O loyalist…but, WF has its own brand and I was trying to avoid a 2 grocery store day.

  • 1/2 Cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 24oz jars of Sauce…I use a combination of 2 parts marinara sauce + 1 part vodka sauce. Note the 365 Organic Marinara sauce is a 25oz jar…that was AOK. And, you don’t really need all three jars…but you need more than 1 jar of the marinara. And extra sauce for leftovers is good.
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded or grated good mozzarella cheese
  • McCormick’s or similar Italian Seasoning
  • Olive Oil

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees

1. In a large saute pan (mine is a 3 qt non-stick All-Clad one) heat about 2 TBSP of olive oil over medium heat

2. Remove the sausage from casing and break into pieces and drop into the heated olive oil

browning sausage lasagna recipe dinner

Brown don’t burn the sausage

3. Cook the sausage completely….Then remove from the saute pan and set aside

4. Add the ground beef to the pan and brown

browning beef for lasagna 365 brand

Use a wooden spoon to break up the beef

5. Drain the excess oil from the pan and then re-add the browned sausage to the browned beef

beef and sausage lasagna recipe

Because 2 meats are better than 1

6. Sprinkle about 1 TBSP of Italian Seasoning over the meat/sausage. If you don’t have Italian spice (horrors!) just use a combination of dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, basil. Whatever feels Italian-y.

7. Pour in 1 complete jar of marinara sauce and about 1/2 C of the vodka sauce over the meat

365 sauce lasagna beef pork recipe

Dump in and Stir to Combine

8. Stir to combine and then simmer on low for 5 minutes

9. In a small sauce pan, heat 2 cups of marinara sauce over low heat

10. In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with the parmesan

2 meat lasagna recipe 365 brand

365 brand ricotta and freshly grated parm

11. Layer up the Lasagna:

  • Coat the bottom of the lasagna pan with a layer of the marinara sauce heating in the small sauce pan 
  • barilla no cook lasagna sheets

    No Fuss

    Using a small spatula, spread the ricotta cheese-parm mixture on one side of 4 Barilla no cook lasagna sheets…Some cooks will tell you to soak the no cook sheets in warm water before using them, but you really don’t need to. So, don’t.

  • Place the cheesed lasagna sheets cheese side up onto the sauce layer
  • 365 brand ricotta lasagna beef

    365 Ricotta Schmear on Lasagna Sheets

  • Sprinkle about 1/4 Cup of mozzarella over the ricotta/parm lasagna sheets
  • Cover the cheese with 1/3 of the meaty sausage-y sauce
  • beef and sausage lasagna laying

    Cover with 1/3 of the Meaty Goodness

  • Repeat 2 more times
  • Cover the final meat layer with a layer of the no cook lasagna sheets
  • Using the remaining non-meat sauce, cover the entire lasagna – be generous. It’s the sauce that will heat and steam to cook the no-cook lasagna sheets.
  • Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and about 2 TBSP of grated parm over the  lasagna

11. Cover the lasagna with tin foil and put into the oven for :45mins

12. Remove the tin foil and bake an additional :05 – :10 mins

13. Remove from the oven and let stand for :15mins. This is important….It will make the lasagna easier to cut into free standing servings

beef and pork sausage lasagna recipe

Let stand for :15mins before serving

Eat.

My table is too big for the apartment. I know that, I do. But, as long as people will still come to dinner, I’m keeping it. I might even go out and get two more chairs.

Because Smaller Things are Cuter: Petite Lasagna

Little things are cuter! Petite Lasagna

Small things are somehow cuter. Babies are cuter humans. Puppies are cuter dogs. Doll houses, cuter houses, cake pops, you get it….all cuter simply because they are smaller.

If that is true, than why are we so intimidated and fearful of cooking for fewer people. Or, God forbid, cooking for…gulp…one.

There’s a song about a breakup that I first heard in the ’80s when forced to listen to a quasi-muzak station at work and its lyrics have always stayed with me. Though originally written by Burt Bacharach, the kids today may know it because it was also featured on Glee in 2010.

Burt Bacharach Week on Glee

That aside, the lyrics are ridonk:

One less bell to answer / One less egg to fry / One less man to pick up after / I should be happy / But all I do is cry.

Seriously. Those are the lyrics. The singer lost her man and it is so so sad. And, the saddest part is – sigh, wipe tear – that now, every morning she only has to fry ONE egg. One – the loneliest number – the most feared amount of eggs to ever have to fry. Breaks me up every time I hear it.

But then, I think, first of all, what man eats only one egg for breakfast? And, secondly, who cares?!?!? You’ll find someone else to fry an egg for. Until then, enjoy the peace, quiet and fewer plates to clean.

I’m relatively certain that the saddest part of the single egg fryer’s life isn’t having a plethora of unfried eggs in the fridge. I’m actually completely sure of it.

Cooking for fewer people just isn’t sad. Embrace it. Last night I wanted lasagna. I had most of the ingredients already but I didn’t have six people coming to dinner.

Here’s what I did:

Petite Lasagna with Spinach and Chicken (serves 2 – even if 2 is you and your leftovers)

Preheat Oven to 450 degrees

1. Make the spinach mixture:

  • Cheesy Spinach Mixture pre-Chicken

    Heat a saute pan over med heat with 2 tbsp of butter + 2tbsp olive oil

  • Saute 2 cloves of garlic diced and 1/2 shallot diced until fragrant – about 2 mins
  • Add in one 10oz package of defrosted and squeezed dry chopped spinach – stir
  • Add in 2 tbsp of cream or milk – last night I only had 2% and it was fine
  • Add in 1/2 cup of Ricotta Cheese – stir to combine
  • Turn off heat and add 2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese
  • Add salt and pepper to taste – remember that the parmesan cheese is salty
  • Stir in 2 breasts of cooked chicken meat diced or shredded – I used a rotisserie chicken – face it, you’ll never make chicken as good at home.
  • NOTE: I also didn’t stir the chicken in, because I thought there would be some left over and I didn’t want it all spinach-ified

2. Make a Bechamel Sauce

  • Bechamel Sauce Perfectly Coats Back of Spoon

    In a sauce pan over medium heat melt 2.5 tbsp of butter

     

  • Using a whisk, stir in 3 tbsp of flour – cook for about 2 mins
  • Whisk in a combination of 1 cup whole milk (again, I only had 2% and it was fine) + 1 cup of chicken stock
  • BTB (bring to a boil) RTS (reduce to a simmer) and continue to stir until the béchamel sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Remove from heat and add 1/4 tsp of Salt and about the same of Pepper. You can add a pinch of nutmeg here as well

3.

Sweet Potatoes, because that’s what I had

Cut 1/2 of a peeled sweet potato into fry size pieces, lightly cover with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for :20 mins – tossing a couple of times during the roasting.

I only had sweet potatoes but roasted squash or zucchini or egg plant or whatever you have and like would be just fine.

TURN OVEN DOWN TO 350 degrees

4. Shred 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. I didn’t feel like getting the cheese grater dirty, so I just cut the cheese…into small cubes

Get out a 9x5x3 loaf pan (see Banana Bread Recipe)

5. Use no-cook noodles. I had some fresh ones in the freezer that I defrosted in the fridge earlier in the day. Place 4 noodles (or enough to create 4 layers of noodles in a 9x5x3 loaf pan) in warm water just for 1 minute to soften

4. Layer the lasagna

Mise En Place for Lasagna

  • Put enough of the béchamel sauce to thinly cover the bottom of the pan
  • Put one layer of lasagna sheet(s) on top
  • Spread on a layer of the spinach, cheese and chicken mixture

Petite Lasagna Layer 1

  • Add a few of the roasted sweet potato fries – or whatever veggies you have and have roasted. There are no rules here. I like the sweet potatoes because they’re pretty.

Add the Sweet Potatoes – Pretty Colors!

  • Sprinkle on some of the mozzarella cheese and pour about 1/4 cup of the béchamel sauce over it
  • Layer on another layer of the lasagna sheet(s)

REPEAT – creating a complete second layer of spinach, chicken, sweet potatoes and cheese…and a little béchamel sauce

5. On top of the second layer, add the final layer of lasagna sheet(s), cover with about 1/3 cup of béchamel sauce, a sprinkle of mozzarella and some grated parmesan

Oven Ready Petite Lasagna

6. Cover with tin foil and bake for :35 minutes

7. Remove the tin foil and bake another :10 minutes

8. Remove from the oven – it will be bubbling – and let stand uncovered for :10 mins before serving

Lasagna out of the oven ready to cool…

If dinner is for you and someone else, great. If it’s just you dining with your leftovers….Go ahead and pour yourself a glass of wine. Sit in front of the TV. Eat and enjoy. See, was that so sad?

NO! No it was not. This lasagna is petite, smaller than most, and thus, cuter and better.

By the way, this morning for breakfast, I had one, absolutely deliciously fried egg.

One Happily Fried Egg

Not as it seems: Herbed Spaghetti Squash

Things are not always as they seem. And we’ve all fallen victim to items or people pretending to be something they are not.

When I was in college, my very smart roommate had neglected to fulfill her science requirement. And, suddenly she had just one semester left to do so. As a non-science scholar – she majored in Russian and International Studies or something – finding an easy class was her only goal. She certainly didn’t want to waste any of her brain space on sciency stuff. She just needed to earn the required 3 credits and be done with it.

Geology 101

So, since all of the football players did it…she elected to take ‘Geology’, otherwise known as ‘Rocks for Jocks.’

Taking Geology would not only fulfill her science requirement, but would also ensure that she would be surrounded by the tall, fit and fabulous members of the famed football team – yay. Two birds, one stone – pun intended.

Sure, we teased her about both the participation in ‘Rocks for Jocks’ and the calculated exposure to all of those giant ballers. But, to have the chance at a husky boyfriend and an A in science was all worth the taunting to her. In fact, she considered it a brilliant plan.

As the semester started, her hopes for an easy A and football boyfriend were high. She preened before class – you know, like wearing an oversized oxford, stretch pants and pearls – and even applied a little mood lipstick – the kind that started green and then turned bright red to reflect one’s sexy mood.

From the very beginning of the semester something wasn’t right. Maybe the footballers were just busy with practice or training or something and had to miss class. Or, maybe they had sent all of these seemingly geekier guys in their place. Either way, they weren’t there…This was not turning out as she planned.

Actually, nothing was. Geology was not the easy A she had counted on…why were they studying the tides and phases of the moon, landscapes, terrains. Why was Geology so hard?

The night before the final, she was cramming like she had never crammed before. Going in to the test, she was only toting a B average and couldn’t believe her Easy A was slipping away from her. How did this happen?

The phone rang. I picked it up. It was another friend who was also in her Geology class and cramming for the test…I listened as he asked if our friend was studying …He had some questions or needed some notes.

Then he told me something that confused me. I asked for more information. I asked if he was certain. After a little more clarification, he convinced me (almost) and I told him my roommate would have to call him back.

Still not wholly believing him, I went slowly into the other room.

I approached my roommate who was poring over the pages of her highlighted textbook. Beads of sweat forming on her forehead. Her left hand frantically scratching out snippets to memorize in her notebook.

I gently and quietly asked if I could see her Geology textbook.

Puzzled and a little angry – She looked up from her study bean bag chair.

I insisted and, finally, she handed me the book.

I closed the book and looked at the cover…twice to be sure.

Hmmm. I shook my head.

Geography Textbook NOT Geology

There it was…bold letters and all: Geography. She had been taking Geography all semester. All semester. Ah, that’s why it was super hard, they never talked about rocks AND there weren’t any footballers in the class!

My super smart roommate had fallen victim to the tortures of Geography all the while believing she was studying Geology.

One dish that can fool you into believing you’re eating one thing when you’re eating something entirely different is spaghetti squash; the squash that presents as a pasta.

Herbed Spaghetti Squash (serves 4)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

1. Very carefully hack a small spaghetti squash in two

Butchered Spaghetti Squash

NOTE: I cut the bottom and top off. Evening the bottom allowed for the squash to stand upright. Eliminating the top made the slicing in half more manageable

2. Place cut side down in a baking dish, add about 1/2 an inch of water, cover with aluminum foil and put into the oven

3. Bake for :45 minutes then flip the halves over so they are cut side up. Re-cover with aluminum foil and continue to bake for an additional :15 minutes or until the flesh is very tender

4. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

5. Remove the seeds and then using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the skin

Spaghetti Squash Forked

6. Heat a skillet with 2 tbsp of butter and add:

  • The forked spaghetti squash flesh
  • About 2 – 3 TBSP of Herbs: Chiffonade of Basil, Chiffonade of Sage, Chopped Chives and Chopped Parsley

Herbs: Sage, Basil, Parsley and Chives

Spaghetti Squash Heating Through with Herbs

7. Toss to combine and then transfer to a serving bowl

Herbed Spaghetti Squash

8. Top with sliced cherry tomatoes and grated parmesan cheese. Serve hot.

Herbed Spaghetti Squash Table Ready

These days, my super smart roommate is a bigwig lawyer living in the middle east. I googled her and that’s what it says on some oil company’s website. There she is in her lawyerly pose – The only woman on the company’s board of directors.

But, I’m  a little skeptical. She’s barely lived in the US since earning her law degree. And, did I mention that she speaks Russian? My other college roommates and I are pretty certain that she actually works for the CIA.

Perhaps she is the ultimate charade – fooling us all into believing she’s just a corporate lawyer, when really she’s heading up covert operations in the middle east. After the Geology – Geography incident, we all know anything is possible. And, nothing, not even a bowl of spaghetti is ever truly as it seems.