Wednesday, March 26, 2014


1.  This girl just turned 12 years old yesterday.  She is amazing.  At this point, her grade point average is a 95.  I don't think I ever had a 95% in any class.  Ever.  She is determined.  Strong.  Kind.  Talented.  We just love her!

2.  The stomach bug has been rampant in our house.  All three kids.  It started Saturday night and didn't let up until this morning at 10:00am. 

3.  I've been cooking.  Trying new recipes and sticking with some old favorites.

chilled avocado soup

peanut butter pie

chilled avocado soup

cauliflower gratin, flat iron steak, avocado soup

pizza with onions, peppers, and fresh mozzarella

4.  My newest obsession: poblano peppers.  And tomatillos.  They are so easy to prepare.  I have been popping them on a cookie sheet and broiling both sides for about five minutes until they're deflated and blackened in spots. 

before broiling

turkey sandwich with avocado, poblano slices, and fresh tomato

filled poblanos with ricotta, sharp cheddar, and breadcrumbs

5.  I prepared food for Rob's organization last night.  The event was held in a beautiful historic building WITH NO KITCHEN.  So, I prepared everything in my home kitchen* ahead of time.  I placed it in large aluminum trays and transported it all to my mother in law's house.  We heated the food, placed it into large rented coolers and transported them to the event.  We kept the food heated in chafing dishes and prayed it would stay hot.  I made appetizers, entrees, and desserts.  I only took a few pictures, and none at the event. 

I made seafood lasagna and tenderloin tips with mixed mushrooms and a red wine reduction sauce.  We also had caesar salad, grilled vegetables, carrot cake cupcakes, lemon meringue tarts, and chocolate truffles.  I slept all afternoon today.  I seriously don't know how people can cater full time.  It's no joke. 

spinach artichoke dip

roasted fingerling potatoes and beef tenderloins

croutons for caesar salad
*Disclaimer: Because I work as a personal chef, my home kitchen is not licensed.  I was only able to utilize my home kitchen in this case because I did not charge for my services. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Unless you like playing in the kitchen as much as I do, I'd file this post under more of a hobby endeavor. 

I have a client who requires a low sodium diet, which has stretched my cooking ability.  I do have to say, though, that while cooking without salt requires extra care, it's fascinating how much flavor can be created with spices. 

I try to brainstorm different foods that will taste nostalgic while sticking within that parameters of low-carb, meat-free, and low sodium.  I originally thought of a zucchini "lasagna", but I have to be careful with packaged foods.  I did some quick research on homemade ricotta cheese and found that it's super easy to make and that the result can be decadent. 

There are several food blogs I swear by, and smitten kitchen is one of them.  Back in 2011, Deb made ricotta cheese.  As she discusses, the method she uses is not technically the traditional way (traditionally, ricotta is made from the by-product of cheese making, whey).  So, if you're interested in making a ricotta-like product and happen to have whole milk, heavy cream, and a fresh lemon on hand - you're in luck!  The recipe (click here for her recipe) calls for salt, but I simply omitted it. 

Four cups of milk and cream produce about one and a half cups of ricotta, so there is a bit of waste - unless you keep and use the whey (I've got mine in a container in the fridge, still deciding what to use it for). 

this is halfway through the draining process

This was the finished product for my client: grilled eggplant and zucchini stacks with a roasted tomato slice, fresh mozzarella, and a smear of homemade ricotta.  This was labor-intensive, but decadent (especially considering this is meat and gluten-free). 

I still have a bit of ricotta left - it is creamy, rich and indulgent, while still remaining light.  If you have some extra time and the desire - go for it!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lemon Chicken with Potatoes

This was one of the easiest meals I've made in a while - and the one of the tastiest! 

I needed to make a meal for a family who'd recently welcomed a baby, but had several food allergies.  I think I must have seen something on Pinterest that led me to think that maybe lemon chicken would be a satisfying dish that they could enjoy even with their limitations.  Sometimes I can't remember where I get my ideas for food - or if they're ever original. 

With a quick google search, I found several recipes that I used to inspire me.  I used a mixture of chicken tenders and boneless, skinless thighs, but next time I'll use all thighs.  I also steamed some broccoli for a side, and it was the perfect accompaniment. 

This is flawless one pan cooking at its best.  The lemon flavor is very reminiscent of spring. 

I love that the potatoes get browned and crispy on the outside

Lemon Chicken with Potatoes

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (2 for each person)
2 lemons, juiced
2 lemons, sliced (you'll need 4 lemons total)
4 large yukon gold potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
salt, pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, oregano, or rosemary (I had parsley on hand)

1.  Place chicken thighs, lemon slices, and potatoes into large baking dish, overlapping if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
2.  Mix chopped onion, garlic, spices, lemon juice, and olive oil into mixing bowl.  Pour mixture over chicken pieces, potatoes, and lemons. 
3.  Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes. 
4.  I shook the pan every 15 minutes or so, to try to get as much browning on the potatoes as possible. 

the lemon slices become addicting - just a warning!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Longboat Key, Florida

Rob and I make it a point to get away for a week by ourselves each year.  This year, he had to be in Orlando for meetings and we planned to add three days of sun and relaxation on Longboat Key. 

When we left, this is what our street looked like. 

While we were gone, most of our county lost power.  My grandmother, aunt and uncle spent a night here with my mom and our three kids.  I heard it was real cozy.  :)

The day after we returned, our street looked like this. 

The first part of our trip was a little chilly and dreary, but we ended on a good note.  Sunshine, time together, and lots of good food were the components of the break we needed. 

this was the view from our hotel in Orlando - dreary and 50 degrees

We rented a 'villa' (I use the term loosely), it was perfect for us.  We were literally maybe 50 feet from the beach, and it was pure perfection.  I wouldn't describe our accommodations as five-star, but we really didn't care.  Sure, the refrigerator leaked, and the sofa was crazy uncomfortable, but we were on vacation. 

We spent our time walking on the beach and soaking in the sun.  We ate a lot of fresh citrus and local strawberries. 

We discovered a new (to us) place - Boca Grande, also known as Gasparilla Island.  It's a little fancy-schmancy, but the sights are quaint and timeless.  It was about an hour south of where we were staying. 

We also walked to an amazing restaurant for dinner - where Rob almost got picked up by two ladies.  It was hilarious.  I could see it happening from across the room and when I finally walked over, I heard him say, "and I'm Rob" probably helps that we were the youngest people on Longboat Key by about 30 years. 

I think our week away every year is one of the things that cements our relationship.  It is necessary for us to have time together without distraction. I find that I have to share my husband every other week of the year - I'm a firstborn and not very good with sharing. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Our Recent Travels to Upstate NY

In December, we took the kids to the Adirondacks in upstate New York.  We surprised them with three days of skiing as their big Christmas gift.  We rented the cutest cottage in Paul Smiths, NY, and skied at Titus Mountain.  We were less than an hour from Quebec, but none of have passports, so maybe that will be our goal for the next time.  I'd love to investigate some French inspired cuisine, and possible a maple sugar shack (featured on Bizarre Foods). 

I thought I'd show you a few pictures.  We didn't take many, but here are a few snapshots (some of them iphone photos).

This is just some of the stuff we needed to take.  And then the day before we left, our truck wouldn't start.  And there were no parts closer than Texas.  Thankfully, we were able to have our truck towed to the mechanic and we borrowed a much smaller vehicle from my father-in-law.  It saved a bunch on gas! 

we bought used skis and boots for the kids' at a local swap

I hope you don't mind all of the pictures of the cottage where we stayed!  It was just so quaint.  And clean.  It was perfect - three bedrooms, the perfect amount of space, no internet or phone signal.  Pure bliss.   We stayed for four nights and the price was $165 a night.  It was originally a cottage that was built for a community of loggers, in the late 1800's.  The new owners have completely renovated it.  It was immaculate.  I didn't think anyone could be more cleanly or organized than my mom, but Anne just may be!

mudroom with washing machine and drying racks for ski stuff
woodstove in the living room

the bedroom where Josh stayed
the girls' room

living room - they had a great library and lots of games!

I made all of our food ahead of time - $215 total for five days

(Well, now, that is not exactly true - we made a pit stop at a grocery store halfway through our trip and inhaled a rotisserie chicken in the car like we were a pack of hyenas.)

it was quite a process getting packed up each day

this was the girls' first time skiing - they did great!

having a blast!
love that guy!

And this......was the last guy.  Holy cold.  The wind chills were -15 degrees Fahrenheit.  It was icy and not fun.  Don't we look great?  Josh actually had a patch of frostbite on his face (that was completely covered). We took lots of breaks!

No, I hadn't been drinking. 
yes, -4 degrees.  That was the actual temperature, and our cue to head home.

We hope to return to the Adirondack region in the summer, not this year, but maybe next.  The outside activities sound amazing, the black flies do not. But, there is bug spray and we will use it.