Behind The Scenes,  Series

15 Favorite Food Memories to Celebrate 15 Years of Big Flavors

Food can make life’s moments so special. To celebrate 15 years of food & recipes on Big Flavors, today I’m sharing 15 of my favorite food memories.

Orange block with white text that reads: 15 Favorite Food Memories to Celebrate 15 Years of Big Flavors.

Today is a special day. It’s my 15-year “blogiversary”!

Food is tied to so many special moments in life. Have you ever eaten something and been transported back to a moment in time?

Or smelled something cooking and recognized it and felt emotional?

Positive or negative, food memories can impact us on a daily basis.

I thought it would be fun to take a little trip down memory lane to share 15 of my most memorable food moments to celebrate 15 years here at Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen.

But first, a little bit about how my business has evolved to where it is today.

Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen first hit the web back on August 1, 2006. I’ve written a celebration post of some sort almost every year (not sure what happened back in 2008!) and this year is no exception.

So far, 2021 has been wonderful for my small business. I’ve been able to reach more people than ever thanks to virtual cooking classes and live events. We’ve cooked together, laughed together, cracked eggs together, and made lasting bonds that I truly cherish.

I’ve also finally gotten my email newsletters going with a good rhythm to share my best kitchen tips, recipes, and menu recommendations each week. If you haven’t signed up for Extra Helping and would like to, you can do that right here!

I very much appreciate all of the wonderful messages, comments, shares, and feedback I’ve received from my all of you.

Whether you’ve interacted with me on social media, left a comment and star rating on one of my recipe posts here on my website, showed off a photo that you took of one of my recipes, or ran into me in the grocery store and chatted about cheeseboards for 20 minutes (it’s been known to happen), I appreciate each and every one of you.

The world has been an interesting place since life changed back in 2020, and I’m glad that things like food and cooking have been able to bring us together.

Overhead view of ingredients laid out for macarons.

Food Memory #1: Flour Fight

When I was in middle school, I was at my aunt Jan’s farmhouse out in the country. My cousins and I decided to bake something together.

While we were measuring out ingredients, one thing led to another and we ended up having a full-on flour fight* in the kitchen.

It was a blaaaaaaast, but OMG we made a huuuuuge mess.

My aunt was… let’s just say less than pleased when she walked into the kitchen. It was coated in powdery flour dust, and so were we.

Looking back on it, I don’t know how my aunt let us leave that room alive. She was finding flour in cracks and crevices in her kitchen for months (if not years!).

*Note: I do not endorse food fights. They’re wasteful and messy, albeit a lot of fun in the moment.

Food Network Star Jason Smith speaking to the NY Dairy Tour bloggers.

Food Memory #2: Cooking for a Food Network Star

Back in 2018, I went on a press trip with the American Dairy Association Northeast up to the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

You can read about my trip here if you’d like, but one of the stand-out moments (other than the cheese cave!!) was being part of a dairy-fueled cooking competition that was hosted by Food Network’s Star Jason Smith.

It was my first time cooking in a professional kitchen, and I swear it was just like it looks on TV – the film crew came over just as I was getting my bearings and getting my game plan ready.

Judges eating Burrata Pizza with Prosciutto and Pickled Grapes during a cooking competition

I made this Burrata Pizza with Prosciutto and Pickled Grapes, and it was a big hit with everyone who tried it!

ADANE posted a fun video of him interviewing us during the cooking portion of the competition. You can see my part around the 4:30 mark, and again around the 22-minute mark.

Waaaaay back when I was dating my now-husband, I was visiting New York to spend some time with him before I went back to college out in Wisconsin.

We were heading to a birthday party for our friend Marilena and I wanted to bring something homemade.

Mind you, I was in my late teens (maaaybe 20) at this point and hadn’t yet had a ton of experience in the kitchen.

There was one thing that I had been baking with my mom for years and I knew it would be a hit: peanut butter cookies.

Pressing the tines of a fork into peanut butter cookie dough.

So I went and grabbed the ingredients from his mom’s pantry and got to work. Something felt a little “off” while I was baking them, but I figured it was just the fact that I was in a different kitchen using different tools, etc.

We all know that a freshly baked cookie is one of life’s simplest pleasures, right? So I bit into the cookie that I had made a hundred times before…

…and it was TERRIBLE.

I had no idea what was wrong with it. I had my then-boyfriend taste it. He agreed that something was seriously off. His dad came in and tried one and he said they were great.

They were not great.

I told him they weren’t great – they were like doorstops! Dense and just… not at all good.

We called his mom into the kitchen and showed her all of the ingredients that I used to make them wondering if maybe something was off.

She looked at the canister of flour and said, “Why did you use pancake mix?”.

The canister was labeled flour.

She liked to store pancake mix in it.

Frustration ensued, and we asked if there was any actual flour in the kitchen. There was, it was not labeled as such.

We scrapped the cookies and started over. They turned out great.

If you want to make awesome peanut butter cookies, this classic peanut butter cookie recipe is fabulous. Just don’t substitute pancake mix for the flour.

A stack of peanut butter cookies - the top one has been bitten

Food Memory #4: Desserts with my Grandpa

My grandpa was a really special guy. He was kind, funny, and a big kid at heart.

One of the special things we did together after a day of playing golf or woodworking was to share a dessert.

Our go-to was to take a Klondike bar and share it. Nothing fancy – the standard vanilla ice cream bar coated in chocolate.

The way we split it was he’d cut straight through the foil wrapper (on an angle if he was feeling fancy) to divide it into two pieces.

Something about peeling back the wrapper and sharing it with him as our own little treat always made my day.

Simple pleasures like that can truly leave a lifelong impression!

Small cutting board filled with sliced pickle treat appetizers.

Food Memory #5: Snacks for Dinner

Me and my mom used to eat a lot of snacky type food as dinner.

Whether it was a plate full of pickle treats, some slices of cheddar with salami, crackers, and pickles, or air-popped popcorn, we could turn anything into the main event.

We’d assemble our snack plates, head into the living room, and watch TV while munching on our assortments.

Now that I think about it, even though I had Lunchables occasionally as a kid, I bet these little snack assortments are part of the reason I love making cheeseboards so much to this day.

Food Memory #6: The Reason I Don’t Like Corndogs

There aren’t many foods on my “will not eat” list, but corndogs sure are.

It doesn’t make sense. I love cornbread. I enjoy hot dogs. But the corndog combo was ruined for me when I was a kid and I just haven’t been the same since.

I was at a babysitter’s house back in elementary school. Me and her daughter were chasing her son around the perimeter of their above-ground pool with sand in our hands.

Her daughter hit my hands so the sand would fly out into her brother’s face. He cried and told his mom that we were being mean, and I got in trouble. (Her daughter didn’t for some reason).

She made me stand in the corner (does anyone else remember this weird punishment from the ’80s??) for an hour and then forced me to eat a corndog even though I was upset.

A few weeks later, my step-mom made corndogs for all the kids at her house and the smell of it jogged some memory, and… let’s just say I got pretty sick from it.

I’ve tried to eat corndogs since but I just can’t do it. The smell still makes my stomach turn.

Just goes to show you how deeply those associations can run!

Empty plate with utensils, pints of Guinness, and a bouquet of flowers.

Food Memory #7: The Day My Slow Cooker Died

You can read the story of what happened on Saint Patrick’s Day 2011 in this post.

TL;DR: my slow cooker died and I came home from work to a raw, spoiled meal that had been sitting at room temperature all day.

The reason this memory stands out so much is that I found out 2 days later that I was pregnant with my son.

So corned beef and cabbage is always associated with the happiness of finding out that my world was going to be forever changed.

If you want a killer recipe for corned beef and cabbage, I got you!

Overhead view of 3 slices of Dutch apple pie with ice cream on some

Food Memory #8: Winning a Blue Ribbon

When my son was in second grade, his school had an apple pie baking contest.

I was excited to enter my family’s favorite Dutch Apple Pie. It’s a recipe I learned from my aunt and have been enjoying since I was a kid.

It was fun to make this dessert and have it be judged by a panel of locals, including a local baker and one of the school district principals.

My pie was awarded first place, and it was such a fun day!

There were a lot of fun family activities at this fall harvest event, and we had a wonderful time.

My son didn’t win the whipped cream pie eating contest that day, but he suuuuure had fun trying!

If you want to try this award-winning pie for yourself, get the recipe here!

Adam Richman, Dino Covelli, and Ashley Covelli.

Food Memory #9: Adam Richman is the BEST

I’ve met Adam Richman twice (so far). He is one of those celebrities that truly shock you with just how down-to-earth and wonderful they are in person.

The second time we met was at a cookbook launch party event in NYC.

We were chatting while he signed copies of his book, Straight Up Tasty, for me and my husband (AKA his doppelganger). It came up that I had lived in Wisconsin and he asked what part.

I did the typical, “I lived in a suburb of Milwaukee” bit since nobody out in New York has heard of Waukesha or Mukwonago, Wisconsin, but he asked which suburbs and he knew them!

And not just knew them but KNEW them.

As in rattled off some of his favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in those towns and everything.

He is such a sweet guy, and he let me interview him for Big Flavors afterward, and even threw out a cooking challenge that I fully accepted:

Nailed it!!

Adam Richman, Dino Covelli, and Ashley Covelli.
Ashley Covelli and Alex Guarnaschelli.
Ashley and Dino Covelli at an outdoor evening event in NYC.

Food Memory #10: Food Network NYC Wine & Food Festival Blue Moon Burger Bash 

Living close to New York City, I’ve been to quite a few epic food events. One of the most memorable was the Food Network NYC Wine & Food Festival Blue Moon Burger Bash back in 2014.

This was such a fun way to have a night out on the town with my husband, stuffing our faves with an assortment of burgers from a wide range of chefs.

We didn’t realize just how big this event was going to be when we first got there, and thought we’d each eat an entire burger (slider-sized) from each chef before casting our votes for our favorite.

Very quickly we realized that we could not even come close to sampling every burger there. We shared bites from as many booths as we could before voting for our favorites.

I chose Chef Robert Irvine’s Bavarian burger & dill potato salad. It was outstanding – I walked back over to him for a high-five because it was just.that.good.

Dino Covelli, Marc Murphy, and Ashley Covelli.
Meet & greet with Chef Marc Murphy, whose delicious LAMB-MARC burger won top honors from the judges.

It was a star-studded evening hosted by Rachael Ray and judged by Anne Burrell, Adam Richman, Nick Mangold, and Andrew Zimmern.

It was one for the record books for sure! You can read my recap of the event here if you’re interested.

Nothing beats Grandma's recipes! These traditional roll out sugar cookies are a Christmas dessert that keep my grandma's memory alive. Get ready to break out the cookie cutters and decorative sprinkles for these festive treats!

Food Memory #11: Grandma’s Christmas Cookies

To this day, it just doesn’t feel like Christmastime without making, decorating, and devouring a batch of my grandma’s roll-out Christmas cookies.

I make this recipe for other occasions as well – they’re the perfect soft, delicious cut-out cookies that hold their shape while baking.

These are fun to make and decorate with kids. I even made a bunch of these for a cookie decorating party that I hosted at my local library several years ago.

They were a huge hit with everyone there!

Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 2: Top Chef All Star Marcel Vigneron

Food Memory #12: My First Celebrity Interview

Back in 2015 I had the pleasure of chatting with Top Chef All-Star Marcel Vigneron at a Stonefire Naan food truck event in New York City.

I was surprised by how not “over the top” he was in person. He had so much passion for food and cooking, and it really came through during our conversation.

And I only made ONE joke about foam. If you watched his season of Top Chef, you know why.

This event kicked off a series that I ran for a while on this site called Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen, where I’d interview chefs and make their recipes at home and share the results.

You can check out the full interview here, and you can also check out how his Chimi-Verde Dip recipe came out when I made it at home (spoiler alert: it was AWESOME!!).

Making Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Food Memory #13: Cooking with My Son

This is an ongoing memory that I’ve been loving so much.

Looking back at these older photos of us cooking together gives me allllll the feels.

Cooking with kids is such a fun way to get them involved in doing an activity together with you.

I have so many great memories of cooking with my grandparents and want to make sure my son has lots of opportunities to get in the kitchen to cook with me.

Sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle to get him to agree to stop playing Minecraft to come to cook with me, but once we get past that hurdle it’s always a good time.

Currently, his favorite things to make are tacos (especially on Tuesdays), our family’s very favorite broiler kebab sheet pan meal, mini pizza bagels, hummus with homemade pita chips, and any kind of cookies, and sweet corn muffins.

If you’re looking for a fun activity to do with your kids in the kitchen, check out my events schedule. I offer kids’ classes regularly and they’re a ton of fun!

Food Memory #14: My First Goat Cheese Experience

Believe it or not, I was a super picky eater as a kid.

I grew up in the Midwest. I grew up in a house where we didn’t eat seafood and there were a lot of foods on my “ick” list.

After moving to New York in 2004, I slowly but surely started trying more and more adventurous foods.

The first time I encountered goat cheese was on the rooftop terrace of my husband’s cousin’s Upper East Side apartment in NYC.

The evening was so lovely. There was great wine, great food, and this… log of cheese that had me really concerned.

Goat cheese just sounded like it would taste “funky” to me.

But I decided to suck it up and take one tiny taste to be polite.

Let me tell you… that first taste was so incredible that I had to physically refrain from devouring the entire log right there.

These days, goat cheese is one of my very favorite ingredients! It’s a beautiful addition to any cheeseboard and something that I include in lots of recipes.

One of my favorite goat cheese recipes is this one for Garlicky Goat Cheese + Herb Stuffed Peppadews. Give it a try – it’s a bite-sized treat that packs a ton of flavor!

Family making Turdilli & Chinudille together

Food Memory #15: Cooking with My Father-in-Law

I couldn’t end this list without mentioning something that encompasses so many fond kitchen memories.

My father-in-law was an amazing human and one of my best friends.

When I first moved to New York and lived in his home with my now-husband, we would cook together in his kitchen all the time.

I learned so much about food and cooking from him. He was originally from Italy, then lived in Belgium before moving to New York.

We cooked up a storm on many occasions, drank our fair share of wine together, and always laughed the whole time.

I’ve shared some of the recipes that I learned from him, or that we created together here on Big Flavors over the years:

I have a few more recipes that I’ve already photographed but haven’t written up yet, because I’m still pretty torn up from losing him to cancer back in March of 2019.

Those recipes and memories will make their way here eventually, and I love that his memory has lived on through so many kitchens all over the world.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane!

There were loads of food memories that didn’t make the cut, but I had so much fun reflecting back on these special moments.

What are some of your favorite food memories? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

Doing some online shopping? Check out my Amazon shop page for recommendations!

Check out my latest posts…

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.

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