Lasagna is unassuming. It knows it is the finest of comfort foods, and does not need precise lines or fancy garnishes to make it great.  It simply is.  Its combination of cheese and meat and vegetables and grains makes it a meal in itself. When I was living in Spain and eating the cooking of my Spanish host mama, my longing for lasagna was rivaled only by my desire for a warm chocolate chip cookie. 

 
 


I equate birthday cakes with love.  The entire time you bake a birthday cake, you are focused on the person you are making it for and are intent on making that person happy. You might even be thinking about how happy you are that this individual was born all those years ago, if you're mushy like that.  I made a cake this week for Ethan's birthday, and loved every minute of it.  He turned the big 2-4, a seemingly unremarkable age - unless you have a really killer birthday cake. Unbeknownst to him, I had invited a bunch of our friends over for a little surprise party for cake after supper, which gave me the perfect excuse to finally make that triple-layer cake I had been ogling - because you just can't whip up that kind of decadence on any old day! 

 
 


Roasted chicken.  This was the first meal that I cooked for company after becoming a new wife.  The idea of cooking an entire chicken in my own stove seemed lofty, yet attainable.  It seemed Betty Crocker.  It seemed impressive.  I made Ethan reach in for the giblets and screamed when he pulled them out.  I didn't know how to use my newly acquired meat thermometer, and was relieved that the pieces of chicken we sliced off in front of our friends was actually cooked.  It turned out to be pretty tasty after all. 

I have roasted a few more chickens since then, and to my delight the outcome has become increasingly satisfying and delicious.  Please, do not shy away from roasting chicken because it's an entire bird and has giblets.  The final product is elegant, affordable, and nearly impossible to destroy.  I want you to love roasting chicken.   Your family and friends will love it, I promise. Here's how to do it: