Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I don't know about you, but I don't care to turn on the oven much in the summer time. I love the fresh tastes of summer and appreciate light lunches in the scorching Kansas heat. This panzanella salad was a perfect start to a nice day by the pool when we were home visiting my parents. (although I did turn on the oven to make croutons, but we did that at night when it was a touch cooler!) Can't wait to have it again soon!

Bonnie has put out a wonderful new cookbook. It's really beautiful and I am excited to try a lot of things out of it. This recipe is adapted from her new book.

Panzanella Salad
homemade croutons (always make extra because they are really tempting to snack on, especially for men passing through the kitchen)
cucumbers, seeded and diced
tomatoes, seeded and dices
bell pepper, chopped
minced red onion
chopped fresh basil leaves
chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
extra virgin olive oil
white wine vinegar
shredded Parmesan cheese

Yes, I noticed I didn't put amounts. I didn't measure and instead used what I had and then made the dressing to taste. If you love tomatoes, use more of those, if you hate peppers, don't use those. You get it.
For the dressing, as a rule of thumb, it's typically 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. In my world, it's more like 2 parts vinegar because I like vinegar. Add in your garlic, salt, and pepper to taste for your dressing, then drizzle it over everything.
I combined everything but the bread and cheese the night before to let the flavors mingle, then added the bread and cheese about a half hour before service. It would be really easy to eat this all week if you just did that every day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy Anniversary to us!

Three years...many more to come!
 Last week in Florida, one night at dinner we somehow got started talking about the best parts of being married. There were lots of good reasons already given that I could agree with, but I had to add that I love that my husband makes me laugh just about every single day. Thanks babe, love you!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Culinary School Part 3

I have to say that despite the terrible trip home, Year 3 of culinary school was my favorite! A lot of my friends from Year 1 and Year 2 were there, which definitely made it more fun. A lady who teaches in my district also went, which was different from the years before and also fun. I'm so glad I got to go three years in a row because we had a little core group who all went together the last three years and it has been so fun having that relationship with teachers from around the country. Every year we go out together in the evenings and explore the local fare.
I was a little disappointed at first when we got the email saying they had changed our location. We were supposed to once again go to Le Cordon Bleu Orlando, but they were in the middle of some curriculum and class changes, so we changed to Daytona State College. It was DSC's first year of hosting so they weren't quite sure what to expect from us, but I think we convinced them they should keep hosting in the years to come:) If you know anyone looking for a culinary school but not wanting to pay an arm and a leg in tuition at one of the better known names, this is a great place for them to go. The staff is all so friendly and extremely knowledgeable. I really couldn't even believe all the information they had to share. I know they have forgotten more about food than I will ever remember. They also had great tales of the history and science to go along with everything, which made everything make more sense and more memorable. They were friendly to each other, too, which I think speaks highly of their department and what they have going on at DSC. Plus, they're just a few minutes away from the beach which makes everything better:)
The third year was much more relaxed and focused on more ethnic foods, which I was really excited about. I have to admit that I rocked out the Mediterranean food day:) Everyone was there to have fun and learn and we ate plenty of great food!
 We got (very) VIP access to the Daytona racetrack.
 The kitchen where they prepare food for over 25,000 people. The other 200,000 people bring their own food or eat concession stand fare like hot dogs, hamburgers, funnel cakes, and the other good stuff:) They had a race Sunday and they were smoking ribs on Tuesday when we went.
 This is the very VIP part of our tour. Bill France, the founder of NASCAR, has a suite on the top floor. It's gigantic and has an awesome view. Here's just a small part of it.
 Our great chef instructor, Dave Weir, demonstrating some fruit and vegetable carving.
 Dinner at some place with the word Deck and Down Under in it. Every time I tried to say it, I got it wrong. Beautiful location and this was our view from our table. Well, I didn't stand there the whole time, but the spot behind me was our view:)
 Dinner at somewhere else with a pretty view! We ate at JB's fish camp in New Smyrna Beach one night and that was a fun place to eat! I got seafood everywhere we went. Some of it was awesome, some not so awesome, but we had a great time!
 Lamb kebabs on Mediterranean day.
 Tabouleh (minus a couple lbs of parsley) on Mediterranean day. I seriously woke up in the middle of the night after eating this wishing I had some more.
 Barb and me with our roasted red pepper hummus and tabouleh.
Some more of the spread. I guess I only took food pictures on two days. Oops!

 Grilled endive with peppered citrus fruits, citrus vinaigrette, and candied orange peel (or as we called them, orange jujubees:).
 Green salad with crab cakes. I ate a lot of crab cakes this week!
 Pork tenderloin stuffed with spinach, cream cheese, blue cheese, garlic, and roasted yellow tomatoes.
 Since we were the first class to go through, we got a picture of us framed for them to hang. They loved it...even made the Dean a little misty eyed:)
Beautiful building. Only three years old and a great facility. Loved the entryway!

It was a great experience. I am really looking forward to attending the Spotilght Series next year! This year was on sustainable agriculture, so I'm hoping to have a similar topic next year!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I held an iguana in Mexico. He was really soft and friendly.

 Bear tried to learn how to swim. I think this picture is a good portrayal of how he does it. He looks like a person who was thrown overboard not knowing how to swim. His paws go straight up and down with head completely out of water. Trying to work on that teamwork so Bruno doesn't have to bring the whole haul:)
 Working on finishing the basement...obviously still in progress!
 Had an excellent time at the beach with excellent friends. It was beautiful and the resort was awesome!
 Spent lots of time here while at the resort...lots of chairs in the water plus I had my own floatie!
 Spent a beautiful evening on the beach.
Looking forward to a lot more of these things this summer. Headed back to HOT Florida for another week of culinary school next week!

Honey Mustard Pork Chop with Crispy Potatoes

I haven't been around for a while (and I clearly have not been working on my photography skills!). I got all caught up in the end of school, time at the lake, workin' on my tan, vacation, and summer curriculum work! When we sat down for this dinner, I told Norris I couldn't even remember the last time I made a hot dinner at home! I have made a few things here and there, but haven't taken pictures. I'll link to a few of the recipes because I've been relying on old favorites plus a couple of new ones.
I love thinly sliced potatoes baked until they're crunchy, so this was right up my alley. I even garnished with tarragon from my driveway! (that sounds weird...the pot with the herbs sits in front of the garage so the dogs don't eat them, so it's on my driveway, not herbs growing in the cracks or anything:) The last point I have to include is that this is seriously easy and it smelled awesome while cooking. Less than 30 minutes start to finish!
Happy Summer! Hope you're soaking it up!

Honey Mustard Pork Chops with Crispy Potatoes

5 small Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
4 small pork chops
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp paprika
fresh tarragon, chopped

Preheat oven to 450. Toss potatoes with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. Arrange in single layer on lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. (I sometimes bake them a little longer if they're not quite crispy)
In the meantime, season pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
Combine honey, mustard, and paprika in a small dish.
Place chops in heated pan and top with part of the honey mustard glaze. Cook on this side for about four minutes, then flip and cook on other side for about four more minutes, topping with the rest of the glaze. Cook pork chops to your preference.
Garnish with fresh tarragon.