Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I started summer break off right with a trip to Europe - I will mostly be staying in Holland and Paris. Please excuse my absence for another week while I'm off galavanting through old cities, strolling down cobblestone streets and doing my best to soak in the beauty of these places.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Culinary School Week 29

This was my last week of the semester. It was exhausting and exciting and frustrating all at the same time. On Monday I had my final practical in my hot foods class. The instructor didn't tell any of us which proteins we would be assigned for the practical we just showed and were able to choose from a pile of meat. In the pile was lamb, pork, scallops, sole fish and tuna. We had 4 hours to create a menu, get all of our prep together, and then cook 4 appetizer plates, 4 salads, and 4 entree plates. I came up with a menu that was totally out of my comfort zone and went to work. I decided for my proteins I would use sole fish for my appetizer and use a rack of lamb for my entree. I wanted all my plates to be cohesive so I went with a middle eastern theme and used spices like turmeric and smoked paprika and coriander and cumin and garam masala and saffron and lots of other yummy thing to season my meats with. The pressure of this test was crazy! At first I felt like I had so much time but it went so quickly! I kept looking at the clock thinking is that right?? Has an hour and a half really gone by and my lamb is still in the plastic wrap!? But somehow I pushed through. I was so busy cooking away and getting plates up that I DIDN'T EVEN GET PICTURES. I don't want to talk about how mad I am. Ughh! My menu went something like this: spiced Sole fillets over caramelized peppers with a lemon beurre blanc, middle eastern salad with chickpeas, tomatoes fresh pita and a dijon vinaigrette, and a herb roasted rack of lamb with a cherry balsamic gastrique with sauteed zucchini and saffron rice pilaf. It really was all delicious beautiful food that could have used some tweaking but for the amount of time I had to prepare and lack of preparation I felt like I did pretty dang good. I made pita bread for crying out loud! Anyway I got a good grade and went home sweaty and exhausted but happy. The rest of the week I spent scrubbing the carbon stains off pots with harsh chemicals. I think I'm down a few brain cells, but those pots look good.
And with the end of the week here I can happily say that it wraps up my second semester of culinary school! I can't believe I'm here, I made it through two semesters of this grueling schedule - and I'm proud of myself. Sometimes I wonder why I'm doing it, sometimes I don't have a reason good enough (in my mind) to make up for how crazy tired or frustrated I am. But sometimes I come home from class so satisfied and full of accomplishment that it completely makes up for all the negative. I have found my niche, and it feels good. I get all summer off but will be back in the kitchens next fall for my restaurant class (come eat at my restaurant!), and my advanced baking class (hello wedding cake design!). See ya next fall UVU!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Today, three years ago I married Adam.
It was a magical, whirlwind of a day.
It was beautiful and warm, and all the people I love in the world were there supporting us.
I though my heart couldn't get any more full than it was on that day, but I'm slowly learning that it continues to grow, day by day, year by year, with each anniversary I have somehow fallen more in love with that guy I married back in 2010. 
This year we traveled a lot, met new friends, I followed my dream to culinary school, Adam graduated from college and found a job he loves, and so much more.
I don't know what year four will have in store for us, and that's ok, because I do know that I will have Adam by my side and that's all I really need.

Read about our love story here.
Anniversaries One and Two

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Few Updates

1. I'm still alive! Here I am! Breathing! Living!
2. Finals/Preparing for Europe was a bad idea - the timing?! What was I thinking??
3. It's finals week.
4. I leave for Europe on Saturday.
5. ^^^ Saturday!!!!!
6. Tonight is my mystery basket final. Real life chopped. Except I fail if I can't figure how how to properly pair candy hearts with leg of lamb and I don't win $10,000 if I pass.
7. ^^^ Please bless that I don't have to cook leg of lamb tonight.
8. One day last week I ate 4 Kneaders cookies. I'm feeling stressed. Don't judge.
9. Last weekend that sweet guy I'm married to whisked me away to the mountains for a little pre-anniversary celebration.
10. We ate brunch at Stein Eriksen's lodge.
11. ^^^ $$$$$ most expensive waffles I've ever eaten.
12. On our real anniversary (this Wednesday) I have mandatory kitchen deep cleaning at school. Boooo!!!
13. ^^^ :(
14. Adam got a new job!
15. He is the VP of Marketing - and oh man he is excited.
16. I'm proud of him.
17. To finish here's a cute picture of us:

18. Happy Monday!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Culinary School Week 27

This week we covered healthy cooking, Asian cooking and then had a big Italian feast later in the week. For the Italian dinner I made these fun little Parmesan rings to hold Caesar salad. They were adorable and tasty but were mostly just a time consuming pain. The semester almost over and looking forward I have two beastly practical exams and then I'm free. I'm so looking forward to having my summer off, no classes, no homework. Just lots of free time for motorcycle rides and Adam.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Wild Rice Pilaf

A rockin' side dish is one of my favorite dinner time components. Yummy mashed or roasted potatoes seem to be a staple around our table. But more recently this wild rice pilaf has been a regular. It's easy to make and has simple yet delicious flavors. It goes great with just about anything. My favorite things to serve it with is this chicken cordon bleu and these tasty baked chicken breasts. The rice is full of earthy flavor thanks to the mushrooms, and is brightened up with some fresh herbs. It 's all really great. However if mushrooms aren't your thing simply omit them. This rice is quite versatile and most importantly very delicious. 

Wild Rice Pilaf
2 ribs celery, chopped small
1/2 shallot, minced
1 cup mushrooms, halved and sliced
2 tbsp butter
1 cup wild rice blend(such as this one, I can usually find it at Costco)
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

In a wide and shallow pot, melt butter. Saute shallot, celery and mushrooms in butter over medium - high heat until they become fragrant and tender. Add rice and toast until pieces begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, thyme and about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper each. Cover pot with a tight fitting lid and bring to a boil. Once the mixture has boiled lower heat to a simmer and allow the rice to cook for about 40 minutes, if the rice remains crunchy let it go longer. Just before serving season with more salt and pepper and fresh parsley, tasting to adjust.

*Button or cremini mushrooms work well in this, but I prefer whatever is on sale, and if that's neither I usually choose cremini because of it's mild flavor and small size.

* If you didn't want to use a shallot, you could mince up half of a small yellow onion if that's what you have on hand.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Culinary School Week 26

This week started off on a high note with breakfast cookery. The bad news is that maybe I ate 4 nutella stuffed crepes, a raspberry pancake and a bowl full of yummy granola. The good news is that I have mastered the art of crepe making in a frying pan. I managed to get those crepes so paper thin you could read through them and oh, they were delicious. Much to my chagrin we finished the week off with a big catering event. I got to serve. That explains the face in the photo below. Sweaty and ticked off, that's what I'm calling it. "Would you like an hors' d'oeurve? No? Ok I'll walk away and come ask you again in 3 minutes. Enjoy your sparkling pear juice. Jerk. Kind gentleman." That is real life right there. Repeat awkward interaction over and over and over. But at least I can make crepes.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Individual Strawberry Shortcakes

I'm not sure there's a dessert that epitomizes spring quite like strawberry shortcake does. It's the perfect spring treat. Sweet strawberries are in season and they pair ever so nicely with fluffy whipped cream. Sandwich it all between a soft and flaky scone and you have yourself one satisfying dessert.

Individual Strawberry Shortcakes:

For the Vanilla Bean and Cinnamon Scones:
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, cold
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk, cold
1/4 cup half and half, cold
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

For the topping:
1 tsp vanilla 
2 tbsp milk 
2 tsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and incorporate it into the dry ingredients.

In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, half and half, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean.
Pour wet ingredients slowly into the dry ingredients incorporating with a wooden spoon or your hands, slowly moistening the flour. Continue to gently work the flour and milk mixture in the bowl until it comes together. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and gently and briefly knead (or fold) it to finish incorporating the ingredients.

Using your hands shape the dough into a 10'' - 12'' circle (dough should be about 1'' high). Use a rolling pin to even the surface and spread the dough out a little. Using a 4'' biscuit or cookie cutter cut round scones and place them on a parchment lined, or greased sheet pan. Re-roll scraps, being careful to not over work the dough and continue cutting until all the dough has been used. Brush scones with the milk and vanilla mixture then sprinkle with the 2 tsp sugar.
Place the pan of scones in the freezer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Remove the scones from the freezer and put them right in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown.
When the scones are done, remove them to a wire rack to cool.

For the Macerated Strawberries:
7 cups strawberries, sliced
2 tbsp sugar
1 lemon, juiced
Zest from 1 lemon

In a large bowl combine strawberries, sugar lemon juice and zest. Gently mix until berries are coated in sugar. Allow mixture to sit in the refrigerator for about an hour, or until the berries have begun to release their juices. (Can be made 4 hours ahead and left to sit in the refrigerator).

For the Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1 pint whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl whip cream until it begins to become thick, add sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Taste and add more sugar and vanilla as needed.

To Serve:
Using a serrated knife slice the scones in half, so that it's like a hamburger bun. On the bottom half scoop about a cup of strawberries with their juices and place onto the scone. Top with whipped cream and finish with top half of the scone. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Berry and Bleu Cheese Spinach Salad

Spring and summer = salad season. It's during these months when produce becomes ripe and is readily available to toss with some lettuce and a little dressing. For me the perfect salad consists of something sweet, something salty, something crunchy and cheese. Bleu cheese to be exact (but I'm not picky). I love the sharp creamy flavor of bleu cheese. I especially love it with sweet berries. This salad may be the epitome of salad perfection in my book. If bleu cheese doesn't do it for you, try feta or another crumbly cheese.This is a wonder spring/summer salad to serve at your next bar b que or get together, or grill up some chicken and call it dinner for your family. 

Berry and Bleu Cheese Spinach Salad

2 romaine hearts, chopped
12 oz (2 bags) baby spinach
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1/2 pint blueberries
4 oz bleu cheese
1/2 cup candied pecans (or walnuts)
1/2 cup poppy seed dressing

Toss the chopped romaine and spinach together in a large bowl, add sliced strawberries, blueberries, cheese and pecans, toss gently to mix. This can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 hours before serving (if you wait longer the spinach might go limp). Just before serving toss with dressing or serve it on the side.

Quick Sugared Pecans:

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons sugar

For the pecans, melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the spices and 1 tablespoon of sugar and then the pecans. Toast the nuts, stirring often, until the color deepens slightly and they are lightly toasted, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and toss with the remaining sugar. Let them cool completely spread out on a sheet pan or large plate before tossing with the salad.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Celebration

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. First of all there's the candy, which is arguably the best holiday candy of all (cadbury creme eggs...need I say more?). Then there's the egg hunt, the annual Easter dress, the strawberry shortcake, all wonderful aspects. But lastly (and most importantly) the meaning of Easter is so full of hope and love it's such a beautiful message, and one that is well worth a day of remembrance.
 We started off our Easter celebration with our annual midnight egg hunt. My mom and step dad hide glow stick stuffed eggs all over the yard, and then my siblings and husband and I are let loose to gather them up. Because there are no little kids around we have to get creative with the hunt to keep things interesting. This was my moms brilliant idea.

 On Easter morning we went to church as a family and came home to check out our overflowing Easter baskets.
 The best Easter gift was a ticket to see the stage production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Hale Center Theater in Salt Lake City, with my mom and sisters.
(I can't wait!)
And of course there was the Easter dinner. My mom and I worked away in the kitchen preparing this fabulous chicken cordon bleu with roasted asparagus and wild rice pilaf. We also had a delicious berry and bleu cheese salad.
 We finished our meal with individual strawberry shortcakes. I made cinnamon and vanilla bean scones. They were basically the perfect place for a pile of sugary strawberries and a heap of sweetened whipped cream.

It was a wonderful Easter spent with people I love, eating good food and, remembering the sacrifice of our Savior.

I hope you had a wonderful Easter as well.