I think everyone has a few favorite meals that have earned their position because of childhood tastes and nostalgia. Mine include flank steak with mashed potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs, and garlic chicken. For Rachel’s birthday, we decided to keep the actual day low key and cook at home, since other her birthday celebrations included a weekend trip to Vegas and a huge group barhopping on Main Street in Santa Monica. Up on the menu were two of our favorites — garlic chicken and mashed potatoes. The recipes were old classics, but the “cookbook” was new. I love technology in the kitchen!

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I made all three pounds at once, even though we didn’t finish them in one go. I love Trader Joe’s and the store’s “Rico Suave” potatoes. I too enjoy holidays, ketchup, and hanging out in gardens. Potatoes and I are a match made in heaven!

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My method for mashed potatoes is really simple. Peel and dice potatoes, add to boiling water and cook until fork-tender. Add butter, milk and salt to taste and beat until smooth. Unfortunately I sent some of the potato skin peels down the sink and the garbage disposal got massively clogged. Luckily our apartment has really great maintenance people who fixed it the next day and even wiped down the sink. Thank goodness, because potato peels yield the worst looking grey sludge, yuck.

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The chicken was fairly simple too. My dad knew the recipe off the top of his head, which goes to show you how easy it is to make and how often we requested this meal growing up!

Nostalgic Garlic Chicken

4 Boneless Chicken Breasts
4 to 6 Garlic Cloves – crushed (pressed work best)
1 Stick Butter
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat over to 425.
Mix Bread Crumbs & parmesan cheese together in a bowl.
Melt butter in saucepan and add garlic; cook long enough to infuse flavor, maybe 1 minute.
Remove from heat.
Take Chicken and roll both sides in melted butter/garlic then dip in bread crumb/cheese mixture.
Put chicken on baking pan or glass casserole dish and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Yum!

I made two enormous chicken breasts and cut each into half. I didn’t have a garlic press on hand so I ended up scraping off some of the excess garlic before cooking. Next time, I’ll be sure to press the garlic for a more even coat. All together, plus peas — so delicious!

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Served with a bit of wine.

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Another childhood tradition is ice cream cake to celebrate birthdays. Growing up, it was always Haagen Dazs, then Dairy Queen. In Los Angeles, I’ve had to resort to Carvel cakes from the grocery store, but this year, I discovered Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cakes. The mini icing-filled cones on top are enough to win me over.

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You can pick any two flavors of ice cream, with either cookies or brownies in the middle. I went with Phish Food (chocolate ice cream with marshmallow and caramel swirls, and fudge fish pieces) and Clusterfluff (peanut butter ice cream with marshmallow and peanut butter swirls, and caramel pieces)…plus brownies in the middle.

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I ate three slices and they were awesome.

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