Mucho Gusto

Sunday Soup for the Studious Soul

College often demands earnest attention to lectures, readings, and all other lengthy requirements of a syllabus, even as colds cultivate in cramped classrooms. The Boston College sickness season is a perennial event, problematically produced by the petri dish of peers. The weekend then becomes the relief for recovery as coursework never else delivers an allowance for momentary cessation of responsibilities.
Yet, the days between the elation of Friday and dimness of Monday, always remind us of time’s brevity. Ever so quickly, seasonal depression stirs into the strains of Sunday, and we regret the skip of Saturday’s self care. The evening then necessitates immediate assistance to soften the frenzies forged from flus and freezing temperatures before the week begins once again.
It requires a remedy — cure to ameliorate the perpetual feeling of remaining under the weather and below the blankets. As I self-diagnose with such sickness, I run to fill my prescription: some Sunday soup for the studious soul.
This chicken and orzo soup is truly just a take on the traditional, and classic chicken-noodle. However, I love the way the orzo absorbs the flavor of the broth and spices, and am eager to share a few of my chosen additions of ingredients that pledge to brighten the flavor and reinvigorate your taste buds, either intact or dulled by the winter wear on your sinuses. Yet, most importantly, this recipe extends my sincere suggestion to share with friends and family who need to find a similar sanctuary in a serving of soup.

Rx: Chicken & Orzo Soup


2 chicken breasts

Extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Garlic powder 

1 cup diced celery

1 cup peeled and diced carrots

1 cup diced yellow onion

6 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon nutmeg 

1 teaspoon curry

2 quarts chicken stock

20 sprigs fresh parsley

15 sprigs fresh thyme

16 oz orzo pasta


Preheat the oven to 350℉. Generously coat the chicken breasts with olive oil and place on a sheet pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Bake the chicken breasts for 25 to 30 minutes, until cooked through. The time will vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

As the chicken is roasting, add two tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot over medium heat. As the olive oil begins to sizzle, add the diced celery, carrots and onion. Immediately stir to coat the vegetables in the olive oil and then add the minced garlic. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to add the spices, including the nutmeg, curry, salt and pepper to taste, as well as two cups of the chicken stock. As the ingredients become fully incorporated into the small portion of broth, continue to add the rest of the chicken stock and stir with the additions of the fresh parsley and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil and then add the orzo pasta. The orzo will take roughly ten minutes to cook. Be sure to mix occasionally.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the chicken from the sheet pan and place on a cutting board. With a fork, scrape the chicken to pull it apart, making it easier to incorporate into the soup. When the chicken is fully pulled apart, gently add it to the broth with the orzo and stir to incorporate into the soup. Test the soup to see if you need to add any more salt to your taste, or add another cup of water if you prefer more broth/want to reduce the density of the soup. Serve and enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Mucho Gusto

Roasted Beet Hummus

An evening ago, in our post-dinner dialogue, my roommates and I found ourselves discussing pink. Eventually, as we chatted about buying rose-colored trousers and all the things we love to witness in its warm pigment, we slowed on our appreciation—and mostly lack thereof—of the color during our childhoods. We quieted as we realized how our former distaste for pink interlaced with a mutual fear of femininity. 

It’s an odd sensation to consider how society stigmatizes a color and how it can scandalize and embarrass an individual’s love for a simple shade. Yet, despite how ridiculous the phenomenon may appear, a societal aversion to pink prevails, often without contention. 

As I’ve stepped out of the frame of my Boston bubble and into an entirely new life, I’ve been working to redefine the dimensions of my desires and discover “who I am.” While I typically run from entertaining such cliché objectives, I’ve chosen to invite and welcome the introspection and appraise my personal authenticity. It’s an objective to discover what I truly enjoy and leap to an occasion where I can finally adore the things I’ve been habitually afraid to embrace. Pink is one of these things. 

In recognition of one of my favorite colors and in this trial, I’ve attempted to weave pink into my life when the opportunity arises. As I enjoyed Lebanese mezza the other week and smiled at the pink on my plate, I wanted to recreate the dish to embolden my love for the color. So, without further delay, here’s a roasted beet hummus recipe that promises the perfect magenta hue and delivers pink the respect it’s due. 


3 small cooked beets

1 can chickpeas (15 ounces)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 lemon, juiced

¼ cup tahini

½ teaspoon honey

Kosher salt to taste

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup parsley


Preheat the oven to 375℉. Remove the stems from the root of your beets and place them in a colander to rinse under cold water. Keep rinsing until the beets are clean—this may take some additional scrubbing. Wrap the beets tightly in foil, drizzle with olive oil, place in the oven, and roast for one hour. Check the beets by inserting a knife in them to make sure they are tender, and then place them in the refrigerator to cool.

Once cooled, peel and chop your beets. Drain and rinse your chickpeas and mince the cloves of garlic. Then combine the chopped beets, chickpeas, garlic, lemon zest and juice, tahini, honey, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Blend the ingredients on the lowest setting, slowly adding the olive oil until the mixture is smooth. 

Transfer the hummus into a serving bowl, garnish with fresh parsley, and indulge with warm pita or whatever you desire. Enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of AmbitiousKitchen

Mucho Gusto

A Coconut Shrimp Creation

Some people simply have a unique dexterity for design—an aptitude for artistry that extends to each modality of their lives. My mother, Lisa, and her friend, Helen, embody such distinct nature. While their professional lives reflect a gift for fabricating magnificent spaces with exquisite interior design, their talent refuses to switch to idle in other dimensions of their days. Their creative minds constantly remain simmering, awaiting new opportunities to cultivate taste, beauty, and movement. 

Their lives are their labs, every action an experiment. This recipe recounts their most recent undertaking: a test kitchen for sweet and savory coconut shrimp. This dish presents the perfect summer appetizer with the ease of skillet. Typically, coconut shrimp is fried, but this recipe works to revise its traditional preparation to create an appetezier that is fit to anyone’s cooking ability, without the fuss of frying. With simple ingredients and a few steps, this dish is easy to make but guarantees to portray anyone behind the stove as a widely-experienced creator of cuisine. 

The credit for this recipe can be served to Helen and Lisa, who delivered the perfect balance of savory and sweet in this dish to bring us a new twist on coconut shrimp — just in time to reacquaint ourselves wish seafood for the season. 

Sweet and Savory Coconut Shrimp


2 pounds colossal shrimp uncooked, frozen (approximately 30 pieces)

½ cup liquid coconut oil 

¼ cup rice wine vinegar 

1-2 tablespoons hot honey

2 tablespoons lemon marmalade 

¼ teaspoon smoked sea salt 

3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce

2 cups coconut flakes, sweetened 

½ cup salted butter, melted

¼ cup chive blossoms for garnish 


First, defrost the shrimp by running them under cool water in a strainer or leave them out at room temperature until thawed. If not already done, rinse the shrimp and remove the shells.

To prepare the marinade, combine the coconut oil, rice wine vinegar, chili garlic sauce, lemon marmalade, hot honey, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended. Taste the marinade to make sure there is a balance of sweetness, heat, and salt.

Place the shrimp and marinade in a sealed gallon plastic bag to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Always remember that fish doesn’t need to marinate as long as meat.

Once sufficiently marinated, heat your grill or grill pan on high. Lightly oil the surface. Using a pair of tongs, remove the shrimp and place them on the grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until pink and the edges begin to caramelize. Remove the shrimp and place them in a bowl while you complete the other steps.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, toast the coconut, constantly stirring until the coconut begins to brown. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave. When the coconut is toasted, remove it from the burner, and add the melted butter and hot shrimp to the pan. Toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, place the shrimp on an oblong platter. Once in place with the slotted spoon, place more coconut on top. Garnish with the beautiful edible chive purple poms. Serve with toothpicks at room temperature, and enjoy!

Mucho Gusto

A Crispy Crowd-Pleaser: Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

 “The brussels sprouts never fall from the favorite,” is a thought that I would never expect to stir in my mind as I deliberate what to bring for the perfect potluck performance. 

For most of my life, brussel sprouts only entertained the twiddling of my fork on the margins of my plate. They were never to be eaten or looked at, only self-served as a politeness before exclaiming that “I’m too stuffed for more.” Needless to say, I would have never considered them as more than the most distasteful green vegetable—a competitive title to receive by my judgment. 

My mother tried everything to make them more palatable to my pickiness, even going as far as to wrap them in a circumference of crispy bacon but to no avail. I planned to abstain from their bland, unappetizing character. 

And so, I successfully avoided them for several years, all until my freshman year in college, when an upperclassmen teammate cooked them for dinner and insisted that their caramelization in balsamic vinegar and maple syrup would guarantee I change my mind. 

Now, they consistently perform as a personal favorite and my most confident crowd-pleaser. This recipe adapts and honors the first bite of brussels I enjoyed, with my additional lessons from trying to recreate the perfectly crisp, salty-sweet mouthful which assures to adjust any anti-brussels attitude. 


1 pint brussels sprouts

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oven to 425℉. Trim the bottom of the brussels sprouts. Slice each brussels sprout lengthwise (from top to bottom) once or twice depending on its size. I have found that only slicing the larger brussel sprouts in half makes it more difficult for them to crisp and cook evenly. Since you will typically grab a mixed bag of brussels sprouts, it is important to survey your sprouts and decide which ones will need an extra slice. Once cut, move the brussels sprouts to a large mixing bowl.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze, and maple syrup. Stir well so that the ingredients can mix evenly. Pour the dressing over the brussels sprouts. With a large spoon, toss the sprouts until they are evenly coated in the dressing.

Evenly distribute the brussel sprouts onto a baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the brussel sprouts in the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until the sprouts are beginning to crisp on the edges. Be sure to shake the pan to toss the sprouts every 5-10 minutes so they cook uniformly. Once cooked and crisped to your liking, remove from the oven, serve, and enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of feedfeed

Mucho Gusto

Homemade Garlic Butter

Consumed by a need to overachieve, I often find myself with a constant craving for complexity. The incessant demand to consistently create an innovative and sophisticated palate coincides with my refusal to accept a shorthand of perfection. 

Recently, I’ve noticed how these tendencies manifest themselves in my cooking—a desire for elaborate recipes and flavors which present themselves as manifold. With a vast assortment of ingredients and possibilities, it is easy to entangle ourselves in the complicated. Yet, in an effort to resist my inclination to overachieve, I’ve sought to revert to the simple and truly appreciate the bounty in the basic. 

In order to fully avoid the persuasion of the perplexing, I’ve chosen to prepare and savor the simplest spread of all—butter. Butter is distinctly a commonplace in many of our meals, with its genius largely ignored; but there’s nothing that quite matches the comforting enjoyment of its soft and smooth texture that’s accompanied by the perfect complement of salty and sweet. Whether it coats a warm slice of sourdough or melts perfectly on your steak and roasted vegetables, it serves a crucial function. 

This recipe is simple yet possesses unlimited potential as you can decide to omit any of the additional ingredients such as the garlic or parsley or include your own personal flair with the addition of honey or truffle. While butter is rather simple to make, its homemade preparation guarantees gratification. From this experience, I’ve learned that more often than not, it’s the creation of small and simple things that leave us feeling the most accomplished.


1 cup heavy whipping cream

½ teaspoon salt, preferably flaky sea salt

4 cloves garlic

¼ cup finely chopped parsley


Pour the heavy whipping cream into the bowl of a stand mixer, or if you intend to use a hand-held mixer, a mixing bowl with tall sides to avoid spillage. Begin stirring at a low speed, gradually increasing the speed to beat the cream as the mixture starts to thicken. 

As the mixture starts to resemble whipped cream, continue to mix at increasing speed until the cream reveals the thick, lightly clumpy butter consistency. At this point, you should be able to see the separation between the fat solids and the liquid buttermilk that rests on the bottom of the bowl. 

Pour the mixture into a fine-mesh strainer to allow the liquid buttermilk to drain, leaving you with thick, creamy, homemade butter. The drained buttermilk is useful in other recipes, including pasta sauces, if you would like to reserve it for later. When you are left with the aggregation of fatty solids in your strainer, continue to rinse under cold water to allow the butter to further mold together. 

With your hands, work to shape the butter into a ball, place it in the container of your choice, and move it to the refrigerator for 30 mins to cool. During this time, finely mince your garlic cloves and chop your parsley. Then remove the butter from the refrigerator and fold in the garlic, parsley, and salt until evenly combined. 

Spread your delicious butter spread on a warm piece of sourdough or any delicious food of your choice (it is just as delectable by itself as well). Enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Cooking Classy

Mucho Gusto

Truffle Pesto Pasta

Returning to my cinder-block dorm apartment on a sub-20℉ Boston day rarely encourages a homemade meal that requires me to leave the comfort of my couch and cozy blankets. Yet, as last week witnessed another devastating Groundhog Day turnout, with the celebrated Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter, a new cold-weather recipe is a must.

While we cannot forgo our down jackets and our clunky snow boots, we can find a way to delight in the dreary. I have always found that the best recipes deliver their delicious aromas down the hall, and allow us to stir and simultaneously warm our hands and blushing cheeks as we stand pensively over the stove. 

This recipe is what I’d like to consider an elevated mac n’ cheese, a revamping of the most classic comfort food. This truffle pesto pasta calls upon the mild, nutty flavor of Swiss cheese to complement the rich flavor of basil, pine-nut pesto, and truffle salt. The ingredients in the sauce guarantee a creamy, and soft texture. And while the mix of pesto and Swiss cheese provides a light coating to the macaroni, they caution to overpower your taste buds and drown the pasta. Baking this dish with a final layering of Swiss cheese is the perfect finishing touch, in addition to the finely chopped fresh basil that gives a professional flair to a simple meal. 

Unfortunately, the next few weeks promise to test our willingness to prepare dinner ourselves, with the ease of dashing dinner to our door at our fingertips. However, this dish reminds us that we hold the skills to savor, even in the event of seasonal sorrow. 


4 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons salted butter

½ cup whole milk

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

½ cup (4 oz) pesto

16 oz macaroni pasta, or the shape of your choice

1 teaspoon truffle salt

¼ cup pasta water

1 cup fresh basil, chopped


Finely mince the four cloves of garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic once the olive oil begins to sizzle. Add the salted butter to the skillet, stirring slowly in combination with the olive oil and garlic. Once the butter is melted, add the whole milk and ¾ cup of grated Swiss cheese, and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. I often use a macaroni-style of pasta for this recipe, as the shape helps scoop the sauce in every bite, but any type of pasta can be used. 

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the pesto and truffle salt to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the pan with the sauce, saving the pasta water. Cook the sauce for one minute and then add ¼ cup of the pasta water. Let the sauce simmer for another 5 minutes, as the starchy pasta water helps to bind and thicken the sauce. Transfer the pasta to an oven-safe dish, add the last ¼ cup of Swiss cheese to the top of the dish, and place in the oven to broil for 3 minutes. Serve hot with chopped, fresh basil as a flavorful garnish. Enjoy!

cover photo courtesy of odd box

Mucho Gusto

Snowball Cookies

‘Tis the season of painfully cliché Hallmark movies: the constant reworking of the same plot line tinted with near-overwhelming Christmas cheer. The holiday finds the return of an independent working girl to her small, gossiping hometown to coincidentally reconnect with a high-school not-so-sweetheart. Christmas carols and gift wrapping turn into an irritating almost-kiss under the mistletoe. The directors test our patience, leaving us waiting until the last two minutes of the movie to see their lips finally collide under the first fall of snow. 

Everything in these movies approaches a sense of being extraordinarily overdone, but nevertheless, they perfect the feeling of home. Each film bestows the warm, cozy, holiday atmosphere complemented by the recurrent scene of Christmas cookies by the fire light. Every time I switch the channel to Hallmark, there is an incessant desire to have cookies on standby and to fantasize about awakening to Boston beautifully frosted the next morning. 

As temperatures are quickly dropping, I am longing to see the first fall of snow to remind me why the exchange of a light jacket for my bulky puffer coat, that still fails to keep me warm, is worth it. Images of how nice it ought to be to attend college in Florida run through my mind, but the magnificent glisten of snow in Boston calls me to be thankful for the unwanted chill. Hopefully, we will be seeing snow sooner rather than later, but until then, these snowball cookies guarantee to satisfy our winter appetites and give us something to reach for when our televisions tease us with the perfect holiday setting. And even better, they will promise to leave us merry as exam season rolls around. 


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for rolling/dusting the cookies

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flour

½ to 2 cups ground pecans 


In a large bowl, cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and lightly warm in the microwave or, preferably, remove the butter from the refrigerator, allowing it to soften for 10 minutes at room temperature. If you choose to microwave the butter, be careful not to heat it for too long; you are looking for a soft but not melted consistency. Next, cream the butter with an electric mixer on its lowest speed setting or whisk by hand until you see the fluffy texture that is desired. 

Add in the remaining ingredients—the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, flour, and ground nuts. I typically use pecans, however, you can adjust the choice of nuts to your preference. Ground walnuts and almonds are also commonly used with this recipe. Mix the ingredients well and then chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 325℉. Roll out the dough into 1-inch balls and place evenly on ungreased baking sheets. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. While the cookies are still warm, roll them in confectioners’ sugar to give them that dusty, snow-ball appearance. Let the cookies cool, and then roll them in the sugar once again to make sure they are evenly coated. Enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Delish

Mucho Gusto

Veggie Bolognese

Earlier this morning, I was still mourning the tragic loss of my sense of taste. Sipping on my black coffee — a cup that I would never choose to drink on an alternate occasion but not for the fact that its utter lack of flavor resisted any amelioration by a sweetener or cream — I may have felt a tear slide down my flushed cheek. 

Testing positive for COVID-19 has been quite the teaching moment. As I tried to look on the bright side of things, I imagined the extra opportunities to cook with the absurd amount of lonesome time on my hands, yet I found myself disappointed. Cooking felt useless when the meals I plated all tasted like, well, nothing, and the process itself consumed all my energy. Yet, this experience has shown me how inextricably intertwined my life is with food. It has allowed me to be grateful for the joy it brings me in the evenings, with my neck crooked over the stove, and in the mornings, as I indulge in my first bite of oatmeal. 

Fortunately, my pathetic reminiscence of food and cooking was put to a seizing halt, as on the night of the seventh day after testing positive with COVID, my taste buds reawakened, in fulfillment of my deepest desire: they ascended into flavor heaven. 

So, here, brought to you live from my quarantine kitchen, is my rendition of a vegetable bolognese that promises to resurrect the most muted of taste buds. To be completely honest, this recipe is a by-product of “wow is this really all I have in the fridge” and “oh it feels good to smell oregano again. But I was significantly impressed at the somewhat random occurrence in the saucepan. Still, given its creation by my mildly unreliable taste buds at the moment, if it is a miss, I urge you to blame COVID-19 and not the cook. 

The dish is perhaps a misuse of its title as bolognese without its classic meat base, but if you’re looking to enjoy this Italian cuisine favorite in a vegetarian style (by choice or convenience) it mimics many of the same hearty flavors with its robust spices.


2 red bell peppers

1 package baby bella mushrooms (roughly 10 mushrooms)

1 white onion

Olive oil

4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)

1 tablespoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 box pasta

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ tablespoon dried basil leaves

Parmesan cheese to taste


Thinly slice the mushrooms and peppers lengthwise, and then dice the white onion. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and cook for roughly 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and hot red pepper flakes and cook for one minute. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1½ teaspoons of pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil to the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. I often use a shell-style of pasta for this recipe, as the shape helps scoop the sauce in every bite, but any type of pasta can be used. 

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce.  Add the nutmeg and basil to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes.  When the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the pan with the sauce, saving the pasta water. Cook the sauce for one minute and then add ¼ cup of the pasta water. Let the sauce simmer for another 5 minutes, as the starchy pasta water helps to bind and thicken the sauce. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese on the side. Enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Dishingouthealth

Mucho Gusto Uncategorized

Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

The recent semesters—remarkably short of socialization—deliver an unmistakable sense of urgency to compensate for lost time. There is a distinct flavor of the moment that demands us to take lessons from our quarantine kitchens, indulge our taste buds, and endeavor in entertaining and gathering again. 

This recipe comes from trial and error and the nearly forgotten, yet adorned, busyness of rummaging around the kitchen, awaiting the impending arrival of guests. Inspired by the spirit of entertaining and by the curiosity of flavor, I tried my hand in making bacon-wrapped, goat cheese stuffed dates this past week. It’s an appetizer that I biasedly chose due to its glorious description of bacon-wrapped, but also, in part, by reason of its more creative nickname as “devils on horseback.” 

Something of its nontraditional title reminded me of the forthcoming autumn season, humorously prompting me to imagine the headless horseman. Also, I’ve found that something about food named after devils rarely disappoints. And even more so than its playful name, these dates fit perfectly for fall with their warmth when they are pulled right out of the oven, and with the tasty explosion of their diverse set of flavors and textures that arrive in every bite. 

For this recipe, the sweet and chewy dates contrast with the tangy, smooth, and earthy flavor and texture of the goat cheese. The crisped, caramelized bacon on the exterior completes the bite. And the finely chopped candied pecans on top perfectly balance the saltiness of the bacon. These dates pair exceptionally well with the accompaniment of a charcuterie board. Not only do they provide a delicious addition, but guarantee to draw in one’s eye on an appetizer spread. 

So whether you are entertaining your friends or just looking to cook for yourself, I’d highly recommend testing this recipe. Who doesn’t like to gloat about the amazing date they had the other night?


6 ounces goat cheese (1 small log)

24 Medjool dates

12 slices thinly sliced bacon

1/3 cup honey

¼ cup brown sugar

Kosher salt 

½ cup candied pecans


Preheat the oven to 400 ℉ and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Split the dates in half lengthwise, being sure not to slice them all the way through. After removing the pit, stuff each date with goat cheese, just enough for the dates to still be able to close with its contents. Then slice your strips of bacon in half, making the pieces more fitted to wrap around each date. After wrapping each date with bacon, puncture the dates with toothpicks to hold the bacon strips in place, and then move them to the prepared baking sheet. 

Once the dates are separated on the baking sheet, evenly drizzle them with honey and lightly sprinkle them with the brown sugar and a pinch of salt. The coating of honey and brown sugar will help the bacon caramelize in the oven. Finely chop the candied pecans, sprinkling them on top as well. Bake the dates for 20 minutes or until bacon is crisp to your liking, remove from the oven, and allow time to cool. Enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Walder Wellness


The Sixth Love Language

In the ceremonious birthday week of my mother, I’ve come to reflect on her most distinct love language—food. My mother is a leading exemplar of the argument that food is, in fact, the sixth love language, posed next to touch, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and words of affirmation. Elegant and poised, she softens our hearts with beautiful meals that are never served on a cold plate. However similar, this love language label is not to be confused with “acts of service.” Her cooking is to be enjoyed as a collection of metaphorical words in its own right, strung together as an equally magnificent sentence of affection. 

There is something unique about food that defines itself to be a new dimension in expressing love. It is an indescribable, all-encompassing experience, when performed, shared, and enjoyed. There was once a time when I was young, aflame by my own feminist ideology, and holding onto a slight resentment of cooking, hating comments that combine a woman’s worth with the quality of her cuisine. Pulling away from the kitchen in fear of becoming tailored to an ill-fitting, pre-modern identity, I disserviced myself in a way, inhibiting the commencement of my favorite hobby. Now, learning to reweave the conversation, I have replaced the idea that cooking is a responsibility with the idea that what I produce in the close corners of my kitchen carries a derivative of affection that I am not forced to, but desire to share with others. It is expressive and filling, in more than one way. 

I thank my mother for teaching me to love cooking and how to show love through cooking. Her plated meals, and her beautiful glide through the kitchen, radiates a passionate warmth. Despite the common linkage between cooking and motherhood, I love to see how she adopts it as her personally chosen language of love for everyone she meets. Now, living apart from my mother, I aim to recreate the tender atmosphere she nurtures in our home. Every Sunday morning witnesses me dancing in the kitchen in harmony with the percussion of my spatula on the counter. The symphony of the hour complemented by the sizzle of butter in the pan and, of course, the quintessential and corny accompaniment of Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” playing its soft tune in the background. Palms down on the counter, slowly tapping my fingers, I await the browning edges of gooey batter, perfectly content in my patience. Where restlessness finds me almost everywhere else—grocery store aisles, books with elongated plots, and slow traffic in Chestnut Hill—cooking pancakes pauses time and pleases me with a sense of peace as I think of others’ pending smiles and satisfied stomachs.

From all this reflection, my current penny thought is this: of course, you should make an effort to cook for others if you wish, but also let others cook for you. The catch is that you should make sure to sit and watch. There is a perfect mutualism present in this event. Keeping my mother company as she prepares a meal for me (and vice versa) arrives in synonymy with a sentiment of love. I’ve spent too many evenings tucked away while someone else is making a meal for me, missing out on the unmatched experience of seeing someone show me affection in their favorite frame.