I’m Monica, a writing-baking-cooking-entertaining-working mama, and an American living with my husband and almost two-year-old son, Henry, in Brussels, Belgium. Cooking and baking are my favorite pastimes and ways to show love. Lucky for me, my family, neighbors, and co-workers are very appreciative food consumers. I definitely don’t want to eat everything I make by myself!
My Cooking Journey
I will be the first to admit that I haven’t always been an avid cook. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed to confess that, looking back, I didn’t help my own Mom all that much in the kitchen. I have many fond memories of eating the cozy, comforting meals she consistently prepared, even though she must have wanted to collapse after long days at work, but I am shamed now to realize how little I pitched in. Fast forward to me in my mid-20s, post-college, and it’s little wonder I was afraid of raw chicken breasts. (So .. pink! So jiggly!)
One thing that could always draw me into the kitchen, though, was baking. (Hello, massive sweet tooth.) So before long, I began to experiment more with baking on my own. Cookies, cupcakes, a cake here and there. I quickly found that I loved the precision of baking and, even more, loved the feeling of making something celebratory to share with others.
In all honesty, I didn’t embrace cooking as well as baking until I started dating my now-husband. My motives were pure, undeniable, and such a cliche: cooking delicious, homemade food was a way not only to his heart, but a way to offer something simple and loving to his two wonderful kids, now my amazing step-kids. For any step-mamas out there, you know that finding your role can be tricky, to say the least, especially if you are an unassuming sort and if you are supplementing two incredible, engaged parents. Especially in the early days, I felt comfortable leaning on food to demonstrate my care and affection.
This is not to say it wasn’t a learning curve. I can remember cooking for the four of us on Sunday nights, and comically overestimating the amount we would eat. Like eight pieces of chicken, a pasta dish, and a humongous salad for four people. (I mean, you’re trying to impress, it would be the worst to not have enough, right!?) But it’s been several years, and little by little I’ve grown more confident in the kitchen, and learned to love making food to nourish my family and friends.
Along those lines, the recipes you’ll find here are intended to be family-friendly and accessible. As a result of my own self-taught experience, I truly believe that anyone can learn to not only cook, but to enjoy cooking, if you have the desire. I strive to prepare simple, flavorful meals with real ingredients. We eat fish and meat, and I am in the never-ending process of learning more about how to source those products, and all our food, in a sustainable way. I love pasta and my sweet tooth has not diminished with time, so you’ll find plenty of comfort foods and desserts alongside salads and healthy mains that you can feel great about feeding your family.
More About Me
Cooking, baking, (and blogging!) are some of my most beloved hobbies, but for a day job, I am a career diplomat, currently working at the US Mission to Belgium. When I’m not at work or in the kitchen, I enjoy running, reading, exploring the city, drinking wine, traveling, and just building towers or any other activity with my little guy. I’m a proud Hoya and recently earned a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology. I’m a Terrible Towel-waving native of the Pittsburgh area, but not-so-secretly dream of pulling up stakes and moving one day to the American West.
I’m glad you’re here and hope you find recipes worth making! If you have any questions, about the site, recipes, life or travel in Europe, or anything else, please reach out, either directly or via social media. I would truly love to hear from and connect with you!