Across the Table from Carrie Ann Inaba

Everyone's favorite Dancing With the Stars judge keeps in step with a new season, the man in her life and a few food favorites.

1. Music elicits emotion, as does food. Care to share your cravings?
I associate fruit with happiness, and soup and pasta with comfort and warmth. Mellow alternative rock makes me want watermelon and cucumbers—not necessarily together. Ballads and soulful songs—by Annie Lennox, Sting, Seal, Coldplay—make me want to sit back with a glass of wine and some good cheese and crackers. Life slows down—and it’s wonderful.

2. We hear you’re fond of cheese nachos. Details, please.
Jalapenos, cheddar and Monterey Jack piled on blue corn tortillas. Yum!

3. Who does the cooking, you or Jesse (Sloan)?
We split the cooking. I’m always making veggies with garlic, and I also like cooking salmon and quinoa with lemon. But he’s taken over the nacho making.

4. What food from your childhood years do you miss more than anything?
I recently became a pescetarian (someone who eats only plants, dairy products, eggs and fish), so I miss Spam. I grew up eating it at least once a month, whether it was in an omelet or udon or ramen.

5. Do you ever dance while you cook?
Yes, always. I play music when I cook, and if a good dance song comes on, I can’t help myself. Sometimes, though, if the song is too good and I get distracted, things burn!

6. Your Grilled Cheese Sandwich recipe is in Loukoumi’s Celebrity Cookbook. Sounds like it might be a favorite.
That simple Grilled Cheese Sandwich (see below) is my go-to comfort food. I don’t eat it often because I don’t want to spoil its specialness. I tend to eat healthy food, but I also believe in enjoying life. So on a rainy day with a good book, a grilled cheese sandwich with some vegetable soup is a wonderful warm meal that takes you back to your childhood happy place.

Carrie Ann’s Yummy Salad

Start to Finish: 20 min. Makes: 1 serving

6 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
1-1/2 cups spring mix salad greens
1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sliced cooked beets
1/4 cup rinsed and drained canned garbanzo beans or chickpeas
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 drops red wine vinegar
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook asparagus until crisp-tender. In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, cucumber, beets, garbanzo beans and asparagus. Drizzle with oil and vinegar. Top with feta cheese; sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Carrie Ann’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich

From Loukoumi’s Celebrity Cookbook. Carrie Ann Inaba is one of more than 50 celebrites—including Jennifer Aniston, Beyonce, Faith Hill, Eli Manning and Oprah Winfrey—who share their favorite childhood recipes and the stories behind them. A minimum of $2 from each book sold goes to Chefs for Humanity and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Sliced cheese: American slices always made me happy because I loved taking off the plastic wrapper. If you want to get fancy and experiment, you can use sliced cheddar cheese, pepper jack or even Swiss!

2 slices of your favorite bread. My personal favorite was sourdough bread, mainly because the pieces were bigger which meant my sandwich would be bigger and last longer. But you can use whole wheat, or white bread, or any type of bread you have available to you.

1 tablespoon butter.

1. Melt the tablespoon of butter in the microwave. When it’s soft and liquid like, spread the butter on one side of each piece of bread (these will face away from the cheese).

2. Put your cheese slices of choice in between the pieces of bread. Now you should have a cheese sandwich with buttery bread facing the outside. Put the frying pan halfway between medium and high. Put the sandwich on the frying pan and let it get slightly browned. Flip over and do the same to the other side.

3. When both sides are at the right color golden brown, remove and cut on a diagonal. Put on a plate and enjoy!

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