Anne (the mom who raised me – long story!) was an amazing home chef. Not necessarily the healthiest of cooks, but she wiped up weekly batches of creme caramel for me as a kid to make sure I got necessary amount of milk and eggs. Steak, potatoes and Raisin Bran were my top 3 food for years. I would do fruits and vegetables, but end of the day I was picky one! She could turn lemon into adorable easter baskets, wow guests with her roasted red pepper soup and many other soups, delight their taste buds lemon chicken (totally cream based and absurdly delicious) or chicken curry (aka chicken with all the fixins) and her Apple Pie & Chocolate Mouse Africaine would win anyone’s heart and stomach over. She studied all cuisines, made homemade ice cream (that was a fattening summer for all). She read cook books for fun, took classes, clipped recipes from the paper, and introduced the family to amazing restaurants. Looking through her cooking books, you could see when she made something, which guests were present, and what the event was. You can’t serve people the same meal twice!?! God forbid! While she would spend hours cooking up a storm either for immediate family or to host reunion parties for her college, Tom’s law school, or holidays I learned the masterful art of cleaning and Chinese fire drills. Never open a drawer of closet in the house! The art of tidying up and setting a beautiful table was a fabulous gift, but beyond kitchen prep and cleaning, I never really learned how to cook. I did learn what good food is suppose to taste like and ideally how to make it look pretty.

Then Rachael Ray entered my world in my early twenties! Delicious 30 minutes or less, simple, healthy (if you choose), tasty cooking. I started to understand the art of cooking with fun dishes like:

Pumpkin Soup with Chili Cran-Apple Relish (don’t skip the relish! It makes the soup!)

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Breasts With Cheddar Mustard Sauce

Tomato Basil Pasta Nests

And get this win! Anne loved everything I was making. Seriously shocking, but deliciousness is deliciousness regardless of where it comes from.

Everyone has always liked my cooking. I would host Taco Tuesdays with Braised Mexican Chicken with Black Bean and Corn Salad or Super Summer Salsa. But I felt my confidence, knowledge, technique, understanding to be lacking. So enter the 365 New Recipe Project of 2019. Time to build my confidence and understand a subject that I love to consume, but don’t fully understand the why behind my loves.

It started up in January and nothing but soups came out. The joke soup for sanity was created cause January was a particularly rough month. It was fun! My freeze didn’t get full thanks to the kindness of friends and family. February more soup. March soup soup soup. It started to get a little funner because people started sending soup recipes along. I cooked with new ingredients. I annoyingly called my cousin Win with advice, asking substitution advice reaffirming the belief that I needed a better understanding of how ingredients work together, and looking for the “you can do this Cous!” Then texts with photos of my proud creations started without the previous panicked photo calls. Some of the recipes became new favorites to me made again in 2020 because if you are making 365 new recipes there is no time for repeats.