Take Your Taste Buds on a Trip

The wanderlust bug has been biting me BAD recently. And it’s really not the best timing, considering the whole husband-and-three-kids thing…much less the paying-bills thing. Plane tickets are so far out of the realm of possibility that I’m resorting to fantasies of stowing away in oversize carry-ons. (I’m short; I could probably get away with it.) So what’s a girl to do when her heart says “Seoul!” and her wallet says “Seriously?”

I’ll tell you what I’m doing: I’m booking a trip to my kitchen to make my globe-trotting fantasies a reality—food-wise, at least. Because even if I’m not noshing on chicken Florentine in a 19th-century piazza or chicken teriyaki in a bustling Tokyo cafe, I’m still enjoying some awesome eats from the comfort of my kitchen. And no flight delays, either! 

We’ll start our trip stateside with a Korean-American soul-food dish that’s easily my latest passion: Cheesy Beef Ramen. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Korean restaurant or street-food vendor, this five-ingredient dish might be familiar. And if not, believe me when I say that a poached egg floating in noodly broth, accompanied by melted cheese and crunchy green onions, is one of the finest flavor-and-texture combos I’ve tried. Trust me on this one.

beef_wellingtons

A quick (and imaginary) hop across the Atlantic, and I’m sitting down to a plate of Individual Beef Wellingtons. These flaky pockets of puff pastry filled with mushrooms and tender steak are an English classic—just don’t let the fancy name and appearance intimidate you! You can get these mini entrées browning in the oven with just half an hour of prep.

chicken_florentine_casserole

I’ve mentioned my love for creamy-spinach-everything before, and this Italian-inspired Chicken Florentine Casserole is no exception. (And my kids love the bow-tie pasta, so we’re all good at this table.) It’s creamy, filling and completely delizioso. And although the crumbled bacon is a very American addition, I wouldn’t leave it out. Because, y’know…bacon.

chicken_teriyaki

After cruising 6,000-plus miles eastward in my private jet (because this is MY fantasy, and I deserve the full VIP treatment), I’m landing in Japan for a plate of teriyaki—Quick Chicken Teriyaki, to be precise. The sweet-savory flavors of this dish get me every time, and since this recipe calls for time-savers like bottled teriyaki sauce, it’s a breeze to throw together. Half an hour well spent? Oh yes.

veggie_tortilla_casserole

Onward to Mexico, where this Layered Vegetable Tortilla Casserole fully and utterly completes me. I’m not even joking. It has the perfect amount of spice from chipotles in adobo sauce, combined with tender layers of corn tortillas, hearty potatoes and a ridiculously cheesy topper. And my ordinarily carnivorous husband adores this bake. WIN.

sour_cream_beignets

And just for lagniappe (or “a little extra,” if you’re not up on your French Creole), I’ll end this world excursion with one of my favorite sweets: Sour Cream Beignets. (Yes, they’re essentially doughnuts…but doesn’t it feel classy to say “ben-YAYZ”?) Adding sour cream to the dough mix makes them moist and slightly tangy, perfect for pairing with dark coffee.

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