It's a vintage Pyrex tower!

Hey there! I can’t believe it’s been nearly 6 months since my last post. Time definitely flies when you’re having fun — and I’ve been having lots of fun, diving into a new cookbook project!

Introducing…The 8×8 Cookbook

No panini press this time, it’s all about the 8×8-inch baking dish (or metal pan). You know that little square dish that we usually pull out for brownies and cornbread? It’s also the perfect size for weeknight one-pan dinners, Sunday dinners, desserts, sides and brunches for a family of four to six (or, for a larger crowd, you can double the quantities to fit a 13×9-inch dish). In The 8×8 Cookbook I’m turning this versatile dish that most of us already own into a kitchen workhorse, with recipes for 88 crowd-pleasing “square meals” (get it?).

A team of 40 amazing friends and family members have been hard at work, testing the recipes as I’ve been finishing them. Each and every time a feedback survey comes in, I learn something incredibly valuable to make the recipe clearer, more accurate, more delicious or just plain more grammatically correct. I cannot thank them enough!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen a number of the recipes I’ve been working on over the past few months (as well as my growing vintage Pyrex collection). A few of my favorites so far (FYI, these are just my iPhone snapshots — I’ll be doing the “real” photography next month):

Top Row: Blueberry Cobbler with Cornmeal Cream Biscuits, Fluffy Baked Omelet with Pico de Gallo, Chunky Ratatouille Goat Cheese Pasta; Middle Row: "Shortcut" Chicken Enchiladas, Deep Dish Strawberry Lattice Pie, Kale, Mushroom and Onion Gratin; Bottom Row: Detroit-Style Deep Dish Pizza, Spinach-Pesto Lasagna, Croissant Bread Pudding with Espresso Butterscotch Sauce (sauce not pictured)

Top Row: Blueberry Cobbler with Cornmeal Cream Biscuits, Fluffy Baked Omelet with Pico de Gallo, Chunky Ratatouille Goat Cheese Pasta; Middle Row: “Shortcut” Chicken Enchiladas, Deep Dish Strawberry Lattice Pie, Kale, Mushroom and Onion Gratin; Bottom Row: Detroit-Style Deep Dish Pizza, Spinach-Pesto Lasagna, Croissant Bread Pudding with Espresso Butterscotch Sauce (sauce not pictured)

…and also Burnt Cheese Press

I’ve also started a publishing company! Burnt Cheese Press, LLC is officially a thing, and The 8×8 Cookbook is the first title I’m releasing. I will learn a ton this time around, and likely make my fair share of mistakes (we’ll call them “experiential learning opportunities”). My goal is to publish other authors going forward, and to explore content distribution options beyond traditional print publishing — electronic, apps, videos, merchandise, to name a few.

I have the incredibly talented design and editing duo from Interrobang Collective out of Portland putting the glitz and polish on this 8×8 project. We aim to earn a spot on many cookbook shelves with a beautiful collection of recipes people will love to cook and eat.

Join Me On This Journey

I’d love to share my progress with you! I’ve started an email newsletter for Burnt Cheese Press, which will feature recipes from The 8×8 Cookbook, updates on my publishing journey, decisions I’m faced with, lessons learned. Subscribers will be the first to know when the book is available for pre-order and hopefully I’ll have some fun offers as well. Join the email list here!

Whew. So that’s what I’ve been up to. It’s not without a little trepidation that I’m making this public today! But I’m shaking off those fears. I’m very proud of the work that’s been done so far on 8×8 and I couldn’t be more excited to cross the finish line and hold the first copy in my hands. I hope you’ll join me on this journey!

What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?

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Turkey, Bacon Lattice and Havarti Panini

Believe it or not, these Turkey, Bacon Lattice and Havarti Panini are the first sandwiches I’ve grilled in more than 7 months. I have been waiting for the right inspiration, and I got it this weekend when a fabulous new bakery, Manresa Bread (the first retail outpost for the two-Michelin starred restaurant Manresa), opened near me. I want to devote a whole post to Manresa Bread soon, but in the meantime, just gaze at the gorgeous levain I bought there on Saturday morning:

Levain from Manresa BreadThis levain was better than any I’d ever tasted. It’s my favorite type of bread for panini, because of its chewy density and crusty exterior. I felt like the time had come for me to pull out the ol’ panini press and grill something with this incredible bread.

And there was one more ingredient I was eager to try out on a sandwich…

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Devouring the 2015 Winter Fancy Food Show

January 16, 2015

So many booths, so many dreams! Imagine the world’s largest Whole Foods on a Friday evening…plus sales reps…and speed dating. At the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco on Monday, I was overwhelmed — dizzied, even — by the sheer volume of specialty food products and people looking to buy, sell, package and promote them. […]

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Diving Into Butter

November 3, 2014

My butter experience has changed, and I’ve been telling everyone about it. The initial shift happened during my 40th birthday dinner at Coi, in San Francisco. When it was time for the bread course, about an hour into our tasting menu, our server bothered to mention that the little individual loaves of Japanese milk bread he […]

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Those Cuban Sandwiches from the “Chef” Movie!

October 13, 2014

There’s a memorable scene in Chef — if you saw the movie this summer, you know the one — where John Leguizamo sways to Cuban music, massaging mojo marinade into a pork shoulder in a manner that probably deserves some privacy. When it’s falling-off-the-bone roasted, Jon Favreau, like a surgeon, shaves off a few test […]

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Why You Need This Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

October 1, 2014
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Because I’ve made them many times over the years and they’re the best pumpkin muffins I’ve tasted — fluffy, flavorful, unfussy, nice doming. Because even though baking with pumpkin can be kind of a seasonal fad, it’s a delicious one, so pumpkin on! Because now that it’s October you’re undoubtedly going to need to bring […]

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Smoked Sausage, Fig and Manchego Skewers plus Win a $100 Visa Gift Card from Johnsonville Sausage

September 29, 2014

To me, appetizers are the ultimate comfort food. They’re a treat – party food, or something to share when my husband and I are out at a restaurant. With just a few bites through which to deliver something delicious and memorable – the flavors and textures of appetizers can be bolder, more intense, maybe even […]

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A Surprisingly Good Apple Cake

September 23, 2014
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BOOM — the moment I came through the doors of the preschool my proud little boy shoved the little ziploc bag containing that day’s project right up to my face so I’d be sure to see it. “We made apple cake!!” Big grin, eyes wide and twinkling, legs jumping up and down — you can […]

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Well, hello!

September 8, 2014
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That’s me, smile-screaming on the kiddie coaster at Happy Hollow this summer. My little girl insisted we sit in the front row, for maximum thrills. I am so not a roller coaster person! But my kids got me on them at least four times over the past few months. And I have to admit, I […]

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Moving House

June 10, 2014
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An intermittent little eyebrow twitch reminds me that our departure from San Diego and move back to the Bay Area is a little more than two weeks away. I’ve been a giant ball of stress for the past few months and I have a feeling that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Selling our house […]

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