Sweet Lamb Tagine

Lamb Tangine 1

If you couldn’t tell, 2013 was a very busy year for me. Not a single blog post! As much as I wanted to take photos of the food I was cooking and share them with my family and friends, sleep deprivation took over. My daughter was born in February, and being a first time parent was a big change. I thought maternity leave would be a perfect time to try new recipes and get back into the kitchen after a very tiresome pregnancy. I guess no one told me that when the baby was napping, the only thing I would want to do was sit in my sweat pants and eat Wheat Thins and hummus while catching up on year old episodes of Downton Abbey and Top Chef. The little amount of energy I had remaining was used toward such fun tasks as scrubbing spit up out of my clothes or cleaning a never ending pile of bottles. 2013 was definitely one of the most exciting years of my life, but it was also geared solely to my daughter and to motherhood. Since Naia (my daughter) is now almost a year old and finally on somewhat of a schedule, I am hoping to find some balance this year and do more of some of the things I love (cook, eat, and share!). And as Naia grows older, hopefully she will enjoy being my sous chef…. 

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Grand Marnier Caramel Crepe Cake

Half Crepe Cake

Well it’s already that time of year, and as per usual it snuck up on me….again. Since catering is my full-time job, this time of year always goes by way too quickly because of the ridiculous amount of holiday parties we cater at work. This year was a little strange because all of our clients packed their parties into a 2 week period. Since Thanksgiving was early this year, the weekend of December 1st was just too early I guess for people to start thinking about spreading their Holiday cheer. So the last couple weeks were hectic, with everyone wanting their event on the same days. I think one day we had food for 5 parties all leaving between Noon and 4pm. With a couple 14 hour days under my belt, cooking at home was sporadic at best. I love to bake holiday cookies and desserts though, and tried to take advantage of the little time I had (this of course was between holiday shopping, wrapping, nursery decorating, etc.)…. 

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Halloween Apple Cider

I know it has been forever since I have posted a blog. This whole baby thing has kept me busy. Fall is my favorite season though, and I have been busy in the kitchen lately with a bunch of apples and pumpkins. A couple weeks ago the Fam and I went to Apple Hill in Placerville, CA. We started this tradition just a couple years ago, but it is one that I love. I would like to say we drive 2 hours to California and pick apples at the orchards in order to have the freshest, most organic, and local apples at home for the rest of the season. I guess that is part of it, but really it is to gorge ourselves on apple cider doughnuts, apple fritters, and to drink local beer (well not this year for me) and apple cider. This year we took Luigi’s mom and grandma who just moved to Reno this past month (yay for more babysitters!). They moved from Denver where there is not a lot of apple growing. I think they were impressed with the amount of apples (and people), but not with our foliage. Don’t get me wrong, the drive through Tahoe in October is beautiful, but the Aspens in Colorado this time of year can’t be topped.

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Brioche Rolls

Almost two months since my last blog post. What have I been doing this Summer? Slacking off? Cooking nothing? Living off rice and beans? Not exactly. My little garden has taken some of my time. Who would have thought 200 sqft could be so much work? But Luigi and I have also been cooking up a little something of our own. A little something that has zapped most my energy this Summer and had me spending more time on the couch than in the kitchen.  

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Burger Me

It’s only the second day of Summer and I already have grilled hamburgers under my belt. And not just any burgers. Burgers that I ground myself using Thomas Keller’s recipe. I am not a big meat-eater though; I am just as happy with a big plate of fresh grilled veggies as I am with a NY steak. I never usually even eat a whole burger (my husband and I will split one). But since my new house has a natural gas hook up for my BBQ, and the thing reaches 400F in 5 minutes flat, I thought what better way to break it in with a tender, delicious, juicy burger. That being said, ground beef freaks me out a little. I have worked in enough restaurants for the past 10 years to know where scrap meat goes. Also, the whole pink meat thing that has been surfacing around the internet the last couple months I find to be a real big turn off. So how can you enjoy a burger and know that is fresh and 100% pure beef from primal cuts of meat? Grind your own…that’s how…. 

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Asparagus and Mascarpone Omelette

I can’t believe it has been two weeks since my last blog post. I told my dad the other day that life just gets in the way! It’s not because I have been slacking, but because I have been extremely busy. Since I have gotten back from vacation the weather has been beautiful. This means massive yard work, and a re-construction of our new garden box (pics and post to come). Warm weather and the arrival of Summer also means Wedding Season. So 13 hour work days and 6 day work weeks are not uncommon. And when you are this busy, why not paint your master bedroom? Or offer to help cater your husband’s work party for 300 people on the side? Or host a two day garage sale? Why do I punish myself? I love the longer days of Summer because I can accomplish so much more, but sometimes I think I need to slow down and enjoy the season…. 

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Farm Living

Look at that face! It’s almost too cute to eat. I know that sounds wrong, but I love lamb (don’t worry, the sheep in the picture is too old to eat, he’s safe). I don’t usually get to meet my food before I cook it (or eat it), but living on a farm brings new meaning to the phrase “farm to table.” During my vacation earlier this month I spent 3 days on a farm in Pennsylvania (click here and here to read more about my trip). Even though I went to an Ag College (UCDavis), I am an urban girl through and through, and know very little about farm life. My mom’s cousins though live in a farmhouse built in the 1800′s in a small Pennsylvania town, and they raise a menagerie of barnyard animals. Since becoming a chef I have gained a new appreciation for how ingredients are grown and raised, and I was really looking forward to this part of my trip. … 

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Spring Potato Salad

While I was on vacation this past month I missed the first pick-up of my CSA box. This is the first time my husband and I have belonged to a CSA, and I think up until last year we had never even heard of Community Supported Agriculture. Basically we prepaid for the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons, and now we own a small share of local farmland. Every two weeks we pickup fresh local produce that has been specially set aside for us at our neighborhood Whole Foods store. We joined the CSA so we could support local Nevada farmers that use sustainable practices, eat produce that is at the height of its season, and save half the money of what we would pay at the store. Most of the produce from the CSA is harvested the same day we pick it up, so it is much fresher than what is at the grocery store and lasts a lot longer…. 

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Bourbon, Ice Cream, & Southern Fare

Life this past month has been extremely busy: a new house, three states, old friends, distant family, cocktails, ice cream, grits, baby lamb, spring asparagus, bagels, udon, pizza…the list goes on and on. After just nine days of frantically unpacking as many boxes as possible at the new house, I packed my bags and headed to the east coast to vacation in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Manhattan. The first part of my three leg tour was a long-awaited trip to catch up with my closest girlfriends from high school. Although it has been 13 years since our days at Reno High, it felt as if we were all 16 again and times hadn’t changed (well, except for maybe the addition of liquor (legally) and no curfew). The three days we spent together on the coast were filled with old memories, laughter, giddiness, new memories, and of course food…. 

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Salted Caramel Cheesecake

So I am finally just getting back into the groove of things after the move, and now I am going to throw a wrench into the daily routine by going on vacation! Trust me, I am not complaining about getting away, I am just thinking about all the stuff I’ll have to do when I return. Since the house we bought was a short sale, the yard is in disarray and is in need of some TLC, especially if I want to get a garden planted in time for Summer. I have also been dealing with computer issues (more than just issues, I got to find out what the “white screen of death” on a macbook is) and haven’t been able to upload photos or write blog posts about my most recent forays in the kitchen. I finally have the computer under control though (thanks to my husband’s buddy who is a mac expert and determined my hard drive was shot) and can share this ridiculously rich and creamy salted caramel cheesecake I made this past weekend…. 

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