Friday, November 30, 2012

Culinary School: Week 13

This week should be know as "burn out week" because that's what I am. I'm burnt out. Thanksgiving break did me a disservice I slept in and stayed up late and remembered what it was like to have a life. And it was nice. So nice. Then it ended. Abruptly. And I had to go back to harsh reality. Long days, zero time with my husband and the constant feel of flour under my fingernails. Husband tries to be encouraging and says things like "Only 3 more weeks, you can do it! " and all I want to do is slap him in the face. This busy schedule is catching up with me. Obviously. Getting to classes this week was like pulling out teeth. I had to come up with a reason why I had to be there every night. It was an internal debate on the way to class everyday. Monday was pretty easy convincing myself to show up to class because I knew we'd be making chocolate souffles. And oh, they were the most beautiful chocolate souffles I've ever laid taste buds eyes on. Tuesday, I had to turn in a research paper. Obviously a good reason to go. Wednesday, was breakfast cookery night. Stuffed french toast and crepes. Duh. And Thursday, all types of fresh pasta, and fillings. Fun. So although I wanted to come up with a reason to stay home every night this week I couldn't because it's culinary school. And every night of culinary school is worth going to. There's always something delicious to make, therefore something delicious to eat. And the possibility of being able to eat something delicious is always a good reason to go anywhere. Even school.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Hey Salt Lakers, surrounding area residents, and Utah visitors alike have you been to Pallet yet?
If you answered no you really need to reevaluate your priorities. Eating here should be at the top of your list. This is my current favorite restaurant. Unique food, in a unique space, with friendly staff and ah-maze-ing truffle fries. What's not to love? This little gem opened up earlier this year and I'm so in love. My mom and Adam and I tried Pallet last week for lunch and already I can't wait to go back for dinner.

I started off my meal with this sweet little concoction the West Shirley Temple. Named after West Temple the street in downtown salt lake. It's like a traditional Shirley Temple only with fresh mint and lime juice. It was delish.

The atmosphere is really fun, and eclectic, it's the type of place I want to lounge around in for a few hours with a good book and a good friend, that's probably thanks to the big plush pillows on the benches. Fresh succulents grace the restored wood tables and exposed industrial lights fill the space.
 But really it's the food that makes this place special. We started our meal with an order of truffle fries, and I really can't come up with words to describe how fantastic they were! Sprinkled with parmesan cheese and served with lemon garlic aioli, they were gone in like 45 seconds. Next up I got the pulled pork sandwich with white cheddar and onion strings with a side house salad, Adam got the burger and my mom got the house salad with chicken. All were equally delicious. (But if I had to choose one...that pulled pork...the sauce, the cheese, the ciabatta...oh man)
 So if you're looking for a fun new restaurant to try in the Salt Lake area go to Pallet. You will be glad you did!

Monday, November 26, 2012


Looking at old family photos (mom is in the middle), cozy by the fire at grandmas house,
Adam with his favorite blue lights, 4 pounds of butter for my 5 hour baking day, cooks illustrated teaching me to tie a turkey, tis the season of sparkling cider, front porch sitting on thanksgiving, friends on friendsgiving.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Belated Friendsgiving

Today I roasted my first ever turkey. The end.
Kidding not the end but whew! That should be celebrated in and of itself, but that's for another time. Today we celebrated thanksgiving again. This time we ate alongside our friends who had to work on thanksgiving or couldn't go home to celebrate with their families. I nervously accepted the challenge of fixing my first ever thanksgiving dinner. And now that it's over I'm really quite proud of myself. The task seemed daunting at first but once I was in my zone there was no stopping me.
I conquered my first thanksgiving dinner. 

I made an autumn sausage stuffing. Packed full of green apples, pecans,  cranberries, and sage. It was absolutely as delicious as it sounds.
I also made a chopped salad with two types of apples, candied pecans and white cheddar.

 Of course there was the turkey. And can I tell you how amazing it was? The skin was crispy and the meat was moist and flavorful and just divine. It's all in the brine I tell you. I let it sit in salty liquid overnight. The liquid was half water and half apple juice flavored with orange peel, rosemary, peppercorns, and brown sugar. Before I roasted it the next day I stuffed it full of fresh herbs and aromatics, onions, apples, even cinnamon sticks helped to contribute to the flavor of the meat.

Adam even carved it up like a pro!
The turkey was served along thyme-glazed carrots, garlic and Parmesan mashed red potatoes and homemade rolls. 

There was plenty of sparkling cider to go around and of course we finished off the meal with homemade pie. Chocolate cream, pumpkin and pecan. 
The chocolate cream pie was by far my favorite, but everyone had their own favorite picks.
It was a fabulous afternoon, filled with good food and great company.

Chirstmas Time at Temple Square

One of my favorite holiday traditions is visiting temple square at during the Christmas season. The lights, the nativity, the people watching. It's magical. And romantic. I remember visiting as a kid and wandering around the glowing lights with my family or church group, thinking about what it would be like when I would return someday in the future with my husband. How it would feel to be in love and married. Especially during Christmas time. Especially at temple square to see the lights. The 14 year old me longed for that day. Now it's here and to be honest it was worth all the excitement.
Walking around the temple hand in hand with my guy was a pretty great way to spend a Friday night. 
And he even bought me a cookie.
What have you done to kick off the Christmas season?

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Thanksgiving at my grandmas house brings back so many memories from my childhood. We sit at the same table, in the same room, with the same people, eating the same meal. It gets me a little nostalgic. The group grows with new additions and the food gets better with time but the sense of family never changes. There's nothing better than eating turkey and pie with people I love. 

Take a peek at what thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpas house looks like:

Thanksgiving morning spent setting the table, checking the black Friday adds and watching football.
 Mom and I prepare a salad and grandmas rolls rise.
The table is set and grandma lights the candles.   
 Pots and pans boil and bubble, rolls are buttered. 
 Turkey is carved and dinner is ready.
Candied yams served along side turkey and all the classic fixings. 
We finish off our feast with pie, apple crumb, blackberry and coconut cream are my favorites.
The rest of the evening is spent laughing, playing games and taking pictures with family.

I'm always sad when this day comes to an end, but somehow the leftovers help to ease my woes. I'm able to accept the fact that next thanksgiving is only another twelve months away.

Today was a very happy thanksgiving. I am thankful for this special day we have to celebrate all that we have been given with the ones we love. I hope you had a great holiday as well!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Eve

Today, the day before Thanksgiving, I am feeling thankful. For so many things. It's nice to sometimes just sit and think about the things we are blessed to have. And today I'm feeling completely overwhelmed with all that I have. Unfortunately it's a rare an occasion where I actually ponder and recognize the big and simplest of blessings. But today that changes. Today I am thankful.

I am thankful for family. For a husband who loves me unconditionally, for a mother who worries about me constantly, for a step dad who is smarter than me, for sisters who inspire me, for a dad who knows me, for grandparents and extended family who support me.

I am thankful for a Heavenly Father who loves me.

I am thankful for friends, who are cooler than me, and smarter than me and funnier than me.

I am thankful for my talents and abilities. The ones that come easily to me and the ones I continue to perfect.

I am thankful for my job and for my education. Two things that contribute to making me a better me.

I am thankful for cookies.

I am thankful for technology including but not limited to: my cell phone, the internet, cameras, electricity, netfix.

I am thankful for my home and everything that inside of it, including but not limited to: my bed (ha) I'm glad I have a warm place to sleep at night.

I am thankful for the opportunities and experiences I have had/will have. Even the difficult ones, or as I like to call them "learning experiences".

I am thankful for really good food.

I am thankful for beautiful things. For the arts. For music and interesting buildings, and clothing. For nature and theater and all things enriching.

For the rest of this holiday weekend I hope to keep this spirit with me. What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Reminiscent of the beloved pumpkin chocolate chip muffins these dense chewy bars have been a frequent visitor in my kitchen over the course of the last several weeks. Pumpkin and chocolate is one of my all time favorite flavor combos. It just pairs so nicely together and these yummy bars are no exception. They're pretty dang good. So if you're looking for more ways to get pumpkin and chocolate into your regular diet I suggest you give this recipe a try!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup pecans; roughly chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13-inch pan with parchment paper or foil and spray with non stick cooking spray. Leave an overhang on each long side so the bars can be easily pulled out of the pan once they are done baking and cooling.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled – it will look normal again when the dry ingredients are added.
Mix in the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans (if using).

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before lifting the bars out of the pan, cutting into squares and serving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

What I wore: Walk in the avenues

Coat: H&M Sweater Tights: H&M Boots:DSW Scarf: Street Vendor in NYC
This weekend was a bit chilly, chillier than these photos make it look. But husband and I decided to brave the cold and take a stroll in the avenues in Salt Lake. We had a lovely photographer (my mom) follow us closely to snap a couple of photos for our Christmas card this year. We had fun wandering this charming part of the city.

Beef Stew

This weekend was drizzly, and the wind was cold. I didn't mind it because I had no place to go, and because I made this stew. It was warm and filling and I ate it cuddled on the couch, wrapped in a blanket with family members scattered across the living room. The way a stew should be eaten. It's the perfect meal for a chilly day. The flavors of this classic stew are so delicious and comforting. I love all of the texture it's chunky and chewy and has lots of color and flavor. Serve with homemade rolls and make sure you make enough for second helpings!

Beef Stew

3 lbs chuck roast cut into, 1 1/2 -2 inch cubes
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp canola oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups beef broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
5 carrots, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
6-8 small to medium sized red potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp Minute tapioca

After the meat has been cut into chunks, pat it dry with a paper towel and season all the pieces with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large oven safe pot, heat oil over medium heat until the oil is rippling and hot. Sear half of the beef until it is well browned on each side, about 4 minutes. No need to cook it all the way through. Remove the meat and let it rest on a plate while you repeat this process with the rest of the beef. Remove the second batch of meat and add it to the plate.

Leaving the beef drippings in the pot return it to medium heat and saute onions with a bit of salt till the onions are translucent and fragrant. Add tomato past to onions and cook it stirring constantly for 2 minutes. The mixture may get brown, and might even look burnt, that's OK just let it cook. Slowly whisk in beef broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, scraping the bottom of the pot to remove browned bits. Add thyme and bay leaves.

Bring liquid to a boil and add the tapioca whisking to incorporate. Return the meat to the pot and add the carrots and potatoes. Cover the pot and cook in preheated oven for 3 - 4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are tender.

When the stew is finished cooking discard the bay leaves and place pot on the stove over low heat. It will stay warm until you're ready to serve.

*This can also be prepared in a slow cooker. Follow all the steps until you are putting the meat and veggies back into the pot and instead add everything to a crock pot. Cook on high for 5 - 6 hours.

*This can also be prepared on the stove top. Follow all the steps until you place your covered pot into the oven. Instead cover you pot with a tight fitting lid and let it simmer on a medium low heat for 4 - 5 hours, until the meat and veggies are done to your liking.

*Some grocers have prepackaged "stew meat", you could also use that to avoid spending time cutting up a roast.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Culinary School: Week 12

School is winding down, final exams are being scheduled and the days of fall semester are dwindling. There's a buzz in the air. To be honest I'm a little sad about it. I wish I could just keep doing exactly what I'm doing with the same students by my side and the same chef instructors teaching us. Taking a step forward into different classes with different instructors is a little nerve wracking but I suppose that's how I progress. This week in classes we had a catering event one day and the other days we covered dessert sauces in baking and eggs in cooking.  I was looking forward to learning proper ways to cook eggs but truth be told the "proper ways" were pretty darn similar to what I have been doing all my life. We learned to make a French omelet and an American omelet, a sunny side up egg and eggs over easy. All good stuff to know. In other news this week I did more dishes in class on Thursday night than I've ever done in my life. It was out of control. Here's to paying thousands of dollars in tuition money so that I can do dishes for 2 hours several times a week! :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Tree

Today we ate soup and listened to Christmas music and put up a tree in our living room with lights and sparkly ornaments (all against Adam's will, I'll have you know, except the soup - he liked the soup). For now the tree will be known as a "Thanksgiving Tree" for Adam's sake. But even he has to  admit that it's feeling pretty cozy and festive at our place right now.

 I'm debating whether or not I should sleep on the floor under my tree tonight, you know like I did when I was 7.  I'll let you know what I decide. :)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Culinary School: Week 11

This week classes were intense, but so awesome. I think my favorite day yet was Tuesday in baking. We made Pâte à Choux (Pat-ah-shoo) - which is a fancy way of saying we made eclairs and cream puffs. And oh man, they were good. The batter was pretty easy to pull together and once it was the right consistency we piped it into various shapes on sheet pans. Then baked it in a really hot oven the butter in the batter begins to melt and let off steam quickly causing the eclair or cream puff to rise. Then the oven is turned down and the products are left in the oven to dry out and brown. Once they were done baking we let them cool and filled them with pastry cream and dipped them in chocolate ganache or dusted them with powdered sugar. I had never made anything like them so it was a fun to try something so different. And they were absolutely delicious so that was good. In cooking skills this week we had our third practical exam on Thursday (the same day I started to get my first ever inner ear infection, let's talk about how horrendous ear infections are!?). Normally when we've showed up for past practicals we have a list of things to complete, medium dice carrots, make a specific sauce, grill a chicken breast, etc. This time it was different, and way scarier. We got a paper that said "Make a plate: include a protein, a vegetable, a starch, and a mother sauce. Showcase you knife skills with your vegetable and the more creativity you use (as long as it makes sense) the better score you will get ." I freaked out about  prepared for the practical all week I wanted to be creative but I didn't want to make something that I was really unfamiliar with. So I picked chicken and rice (haha) how's that for creative?! I decided that if I could make something somewhat simple but totally nail it, that would count for something. I got to class and I went to work I seared my chicken breast and then finished it in the oven. I sauteed my rondelled carrots in butter and thyme and I made my buttery Bearnaise sauce. My wild rice pilaf was where I let my creativity go a little wild (pun intended). I reconstituted dried wild mushrooms in white wine and then sauteed them in butter. I toasted my wild and brown rice with bacon, butter, garlic and onion, then added chicken stock. I let it simmer and finished it with fresh parsley, thyme and chives. I plated my dish and then served it to my chef. His first word was "wow", I smiled. I got a great review - he said everything was well seasoned and well cooked. I was really happy with how everything turned out, and was extremely proud of my creation. I am becoming a chef. I kind of like it.

Roasted Chicken over Wild Rice Pilaf and Buttered Thyme Carrots Topped with Peppercorn Bernaise Sauce

Eclairs and Raspberry Cream Puffs

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Blossoms

These cookies remind me of my grandma. My dad's mom. She made these cookies every Christmas. She would fill her little cookie jar on the counter with them and I remember sneaking one after the another after another. The conundrum always being: do I eat the kiss off the center first or do I bite into the cookie getting portions of the chocolate with every bite? It was a real problem, but either way you decide to eat it, I promise it will be delicious! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Blossoms

1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup white sugar for decoration
2 (9 ounce) bags milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees grease cookie sheets.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) cream together the shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and stir in the milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture until well blended. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven until the cookies have light browing arouond the edges. Remove from oven, and immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie while still on baking pans. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Awful Waffle

Have you tried the Awful Waffle yet? If you haven't you should because the food is great! I mean really, authentic Belgium waffles and frites (fries)?! Sign me up! If that's not enough to convince you to try it out their pizza is amazing too, so yeah...We tried a little of everything, a Belgium style waffle with strawberries and whipped cream, American style friets with dipping sauce and a bar b que chicken pizza. Haha I didn't realize how truly gluttonous that all sounded until I listed it just now. Don't judge us ok? The atmosphere is fun, and really relaxed - the space is so open and welcoming. It was a fun place to spend a little quality time together - we doodled on the chalk "board" tables for a long time after we ate, it was so awesome! So grab a good book and someone you like and head over to Awful Waffle for something tasty!    

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ode to the black maxi skirt

The article of clothing in my closet that makes taking off my pajamas early in the morning bearable. The skirt that doubles as a blanket, on brisk fall days. Black maxi skirt I love you.  When I spill my minestrone soup on you at lunch I never have to be embarrassed that someone might see your the bright tomato-y stain. You cover up all my spills and hide my love handles under your stretchy yoga pants-esq waistband.  Your soft cotton is so comfortable. You cover my unshaven winter ready legs and make me look chic when I feel far from it. You, black maxi skirt are the greatest thing that has happened to me since leggings. Thank you for always being there for me.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What I wore: Trip to Grandmas

Black Jeans: Urban Outfitters Chambray: Nordstrom Motorcycle Tee: Forever 21
Scarf: Nordstrom Shoes: Toms 
There's a big tree in my grandmas backyard. All the trees around it have lost their leaves and are standing bare next to this one - full of its bright yellow leaves.  It provided the perfect location to snap a quick photo before the last of the leaves come floating down.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


A love note on a chalkboard table, my all time favorite cheese, anna potatoes at school,
red lip stick smile, husband eating his favorite treat, the first snow,
 learning to fillet fish, coconut macaroons 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Culinary School: Week 10

Into the double digits - week ten!! This week school was good/frustrating. In baking it was pie week. We made apple, pumpkin, pecan, chocolate creme, and cherry. I was really looking forward to pie week, but it turned out to be sort of lame. I though I would breeze through it with no issues but for whatever reason my pie dough was just not good. It kept cracking and was crumbly and falling apart I had to re roll it 5 times for one pie because it just wouldn't stay together. Re rolling is not good because it makes the crust tough and not very flaky. All of my pies turned out mediocre at best. They were ugly and the crust was terrible. Ugh it was a mess. I felt defeated on Tuesday after I left class, with the resolution that I would never make a pie again. In cooking skills we had potato week. The chef wrote down recipe names on little strips of paper and put them into a pot we all drew out one recipe and then had to make it. I drew Anna potatoes, it's a version of scalloped potatoes but no cream or butter is used it's just potatoes, butter and salt and pepper, layered into a round frying pan, browned on the stove and then baked in the oven. They were good, but not as good as some of the other students, one boy made real scalloped potatoes with smoked Gouda. They were like a dream. I'm just not sure it gets better than potatoes, bacon and smoked Gouda. Seriously though, does it?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dear November

It's nice to have you here. You bring the holiday that is all about food, and with your arrival radio stations begin playing festive music. I get the green light to officially stop shaving my legs until at least April and we get to trade in homework sessions and answering the phone at work for eating turkey and making memories with family. Welcome November, thanks for coming.