Current Faves: Love in the Kitchen

 Fun Fact about my upbringing:

One of the things my mom became known for saying in conversations about love and marriage was "Sex starts in the kitchen!" 

She and my dad would wink and laugh, while my brothers and I would cringe and be like "Ew, please stop?"

(In case you've never heard this quote before, it's referring to the wives that get turned on when their husbands do the dishes or some other 'acts of service' love language. It's not referring to any sort of memory of me walking in on my parents doing it WHERE WE MAKE THE FOOD.)

(That would have made this whole intro about how one time I called the police and never spoke to my makers again.)

Anyway, rest assured that 'acts of service' is not my primary love language so when I write about a bunch of things that are kitchen and food related, none of my jokes will be any more off-color than usual.

Here are some of the things I've been loving lately, that all happen to share that theme: 

1.) The Best Sponges Ever

Just so you know, I do see the hypocrisy in me implying that there wouldn't be an overt amount of sex jokes in this post and then immediately writing about something called "Scrub Daddy." I get it, okay?

But I'm also not sorry because these sponges are amazing! And actually, Scrub Daddy's wife- Scrub Mommy- is even more amazing!

This sponge is flexible, scratch-free, odor-resistant, and temperature controlled (meaning it stays soft and pliable in hot water for light washing, and firm in cold water for tough scrubbing.) 

Get one of the Scrub Parents at your local grocery store and enjoy washing dishes like you never have before! 

(Which apparently could lead to getting some action from your spouse if they're into that?)

(In which case- YOU'RE WELCOME!)

2.) Feed These People by Jen Hatmaker 

I got Jen's cookbook for Christmas and my life hasn't been the same since.

I've been collecting and reading cookbooks since I was a teenager, and I don't think I've ever come across one written by such a kindred food spirit, who so aligns with my way of cooking and eating. Because... do I love dishes that are elevated and complex and beautiful and ethnic, AND ALSO ones that are convenient and trashy and comfortable and delicious? YES! All of the above! I want it all!

And guess what? So does Jen. She gets us, you guys. And she's gifted the world with a book full of recipes and comedy that will make your mouth water and tears stream out of your eyes from laughter. 

This is one of the sections. I told you that she gets us.

I have made more recipes out of this cookbook than I ever have out of one before, because they are 
1.) DOABLE, and 2.) meals that people I live with will (and did!) enjoy.
And truly- I have yet to come across one thing that I didn't absolutely love.

Both the Veggie Gratin and Sweet Potato/Black Bean Burger are so good, they will make you momentarily forget or care that you're a carnivore. From the section 'Food for Hippies.'

And you're dead wrong if you think that some of the first things I made weren't the Diner Cheeseburger Sliders with Hot Trash Sauce and the Potato Chip, Bacon, and Raspberry Grilled Cheese, because all those words are just drooly clickbait for me. And I feel like it goes without saying that they were both pure magic.

Straight of the section called 'Food for Your Picky Spouse or Spawn.'

 l also made both Braised Short Ribs and Honey Mustard Pecan-Crusted Salmon, straight out of 'Food For When You Want To Seem Fancy', because apparently I was feeling all sorts of bored fancy during winter break.

(Oh and these were both spiritual-level food experiences that we are still talking about, months later.)

You guys, if you have gotten to this point without adding it to your Amazon cart, I don't even know what more I could say to convince you. That's just between you and God now.

3.) Trader Joe's Kentucky Bourbon

History was made when, this past January, I became a bourbon gal.

Never before had I particularly enjoyed this liquor, but Luke's 40th birthday was right after New Years and one of the gifts I had gotten for him was a bottle of single batch Buffalo Trace bourbon. We shared a few pours of it, both neat and on the rocks, and just like that, I became a convert. 

Then the next time I was at Trader Joe's, I was chatting with one of the cashiers that I've become friends with after years of shopping there, and he told me that while Trader Joe's can't confirm this, it is famously rumored that their bourbon is bottled by the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, for Trader Joe's. It's one of their fastest selling items, and both customers and TJ employees constantly rave about it.

So of course I bought some, and Luke had me and our best friends do a blind tasting of the two bourbons. We all thought they were both delicious, and only noted a slight difference, so the vote for our favorite was marginal.

But you guys, the one we liked better turned out to be the Trader Joe's bourbon!

That, I kid you not, goes for $14.99 a bottle!

So basically whether you fancy yourself a bourbon connoisseur or you just want to try making some classic cocktails (as you can see, I love me the occasional Old Fashioned), this is a low cost, high reward purchase.

4.) Trader Joe's Pork Belly

Sorry, did I not mention that 80% of this post (and my whole life) is basically just me being an unpaid advertiser for Trader Joe's? Well now you know. 

In the refrigerated foods section, near the salads and hummus and pizza dough, Trader Joe's offers a variety of different meats that come fully cooked and re-heatable. In that section, you will find this package of pork belly, which you can do delicious wonders with in less than 2 minutes and for around $6.

In addition to going well in sandwiches, on salads, and in ramen... this bad boy makes a taco worth dying for.

Dice up this pork belly, crisp it up in frying pan, and put it in a flour tortilla with avocado, pickled onions, pico de Gallo, and/or some queso fresco; and you will have people proposing marriage to you mid-bite.

Or if you're already married (and your love language is more like mine), your spouse will be telling your mortified teenagers "Sex starts with tacos!" in no time.

Make sure to grab this on your next TJ's run. Life-changing Mexican food and some low-key childhood trauma is just one stop away!

5.) Trader Joe's Pizza Dough

In the refrigerated foods section, near the salads and hummus and pork belly, Trader Joe's carries bags of fresh pizza dough for about $1.50 each.

This has been my go-to pizza dough for almost a decade, because it's soooo good. I usually buy a few (both original and garlic & herb) to throw in the freezer, and eventually make Stromboli out of them for an easy and delicious dinner that everyone loves. Make sure to add it to your shopping list!


6.) Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Peppers and Onions

Sure, this might make it up there on the long list of Silliest Things Elise Has Shamelessly Gotten Excited About (see also: Scrub Daddy), but will I ever feel bad about sharing yummy things that are also fast and easy? Um..No. It's just not in my nature.

Whether it's in fajitas, pasta, eggs, paninis, or on pizza or brats- this little bag of flavorful goodness saves you the time of chopping, and still gives you that flavor and texture that us onion/pepper fanatics are crazy about. Grab one for $2.99 in the frozen section and let the rest of your life finally begin.


Well, that's all folks. I feel like I've left you with a lot of fun shopping to do, and as usual, please reach out once you've been converted, so we can bond over our love for delicious kitchen things.

Unless it's sex stuff. Keep those deets to yourself.

(Talking to you, Mom.)


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