Category Archives: Kitchen Magic Photos


When life throws me curve balls, I turn to my crazy, foodie dreams and… apply for reality TV. Next Food Network Star, Chopped (Amateur), and now Master Chef. It’s arguably my favorite of the amateur competitions, and while the cooking time limits scare me to death, why not? My mom’s terrified Joe is going to rip me a new one on live TV, Dad wants leftovers, and the Magician is fully supportive.  I’ve got nothing to lose, except an afternoon at an open call, meeting some equally food-obsessed folks. Oh, and maybe a finger tip, but it is re-attachable right??

For the audition in October, I will serve one plate of stunning food to a panel of expert judges. Sounds simple enough, but there’s a few tiny…(ahem, LARGE) caveats.

1. No kitchen or access to heating equipment.

2. You have about 5 minutes to plate your dish before serving the experts.

3. You can only bring what you can carry into the audition room, and yes, you do have to bring your own plating vessel and utensils.

4. You could be standing in line for who knows how long.

Soooooo?? What to cook?? I think something hot is too risky because of number four, so I’m leaning towards a cold or room temperature dish. It will need to refined, yet reflective of my “Mutt” style cuisine (part Tex-Mex, part Southern, part Vietnamese, part French, etc.). Perhaps, a new take on a Bahn Mi, an Asian spin on a scallop ceviche, or maybe a lobster tostada? The Magician suggested my signature Dr. Pepper Ribs.

Dr. Pepper Ribs

And while they are tender and meaty with a sweet and spicy vinegary tang, they don’t qualify as  “a restaurant dish” in my eyes. I have one month left to figure it out, and cook the new best dish of my life. I conquered the Food Experiment so I think I may just have a real shot at this. What would you cook?



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Hatch Chile Season

When August graces us with unbearable heat and sticky humidity, I always look forward to Hatch green chile season. Trucked in by the ton from their native New Mexico, they grace produce departments for about four to six weeks until early September. I fell hard for these babies when living in Santa Fé. They have a mild heat (to my and the magician’s palate anyway), and can add a Southwestern flavor to a plethora of dishes…mac and cheese, crab cakes, cornbread. The list goes on.

I decided to get a little wild with the chiles this year, and pair them with lobster tails I bought on sale. The result…a Texas twist on a lobster roll that was sweet and succulent with a touch of spice. And while Mainers may disagree with my interpretation of the New England classic, I don’t think my fellow Hatch chile lovers will. Enjoy!


  • 3 lobster tails, boiled for 10-15 minutes until bright red, meat removed from shell, and delicately chopped
  • 4 Hatch chiles, roasted, skinned & seeded, roughly chopped
  • 1 ear of shucked sweet corn, roasted in husk at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes
  • 2 Tbsp. Hatch sweet Onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Light Mayo
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 wheat buns, hollowed out
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Chives
  1. Mix the first 7 ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl. Adjust the mayo, lime, and salt/pepper to your individual tastes. Let the mixture meld in the fridge for 30 minutes-2 hours.
  2. Toast the wheat buns, and let cool for a minute or two.
  3. Assemble the lobster rolls by adding the lettuce first, then a heaping portion of the lobster mixture, and top with finely sliced chives.

Serves two


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Pinning it Up

These days my go-to social media site is Pinterest. If you want to know what I am cooking, look no further than to my Delicious board. 201 pins and adding more daily…Don’t even ask how many wedding pins I’ve posted. The magician is well aware I have disguised several nuptial boards. (No pressure honey.)

Pinterest is becoming the best search engine for recipes, dominating Google when it comes to image search results . The beautiful photographs of casseroles, salads, pastas, and desserts instantly sell me on Pins. With the click of one button, the chosen links and recipes are magically saved into my ever growing database of culinary ideas so easy to re-access on my board. The days of clipping magazines and assembling cute binders of collected recipes that I only bother look at when moving are long gone.

I still don’t follow recipes wholeheartedly, but my pins serve as nightly inspiration when I take to my kitchen. So what have I been cooking lately? Let me share a few Instagrams of my kitchen adventures. Enjoy!

Tossed Crunch Salad with Homemade Nectarine Vinaigrette

photo (1)

Bastille Day Steak Au Poivre…perfectly cooked

photo (2)

Mashed Potato Tostadas

photo (3)

Chicken Bahn Mi with Asian Slaw

Bahn Mi

Sparkly Cherry Limeade Cocktail



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Week 13: WMWS Cooking Class

Almost two weeks ago, I hosted a late afternoon cooking class for an intimate group at my friend Alex’s house. The farm fresh menu included:

Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Crostinis
Black Drum en Papillote
Roasted Tomatoes with Basil Pecan Pesto
Pecan & Roasted Garlic Couscous (recipe not included)

Wine and summer cocktails flowed, as I instructed them on to how prepare this elegant, dinner-party-perfect meal. While they wined and watched, my dear friends Jen and Tim photographed the entire preparation so I could share each stage of this Indian summer supper with you. So without further ado here are my step-by-step photo recipes for week 13.

1. Start with a nice bottle of wine, preferably equipped with a pouring aerator.
0. start w good aerated wine

2. Roast a green, red, yellow, and orange bell pepper at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, rotating each pepper every 15 minutes until their skins have browned and puffed up. Transfer the peppers to a brown paper bag, fold the bag up, and let them cool for 15 minutes.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, skin, core, and de-seed them. Then, slice each pepper into long, thin slices. Combine them in a bowl with a sprinkle of salt & pepper, a dash of olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Add a whole clove of garlic to the pepper mixture. Let them marinate for at least 4 hours, or up to 1 day ahead of time.
2. Marinated Roasted Peppers

3. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice a whole wheat baguette into 1/4″ slices. Lightly brush each side with extra virgin olive oil. Toast the crostinis until they are crisp, about 10-15 minutes.
1. toasted crostini tsg

4. After the crostinis have cooled, lightly spread them with goat cheese. If goat cheese isn’t your thing, try Boursin or cream cheese. Or, skip the cheese altogether, but who am I kidding? That is just crazy talk.
2.5. spread crostini w goat cheese

5.Top each crostini with a spoonful of the marinated peppers.
3. building bruschetta

6. Add a chiffonade of basil to top each crostini.
4. final bruschetta

7. Take a bite and enjoy!
5. eating bruschetta

Now on to the entree…Texas Black Drum en Papillote. This a French preparation that sounds fancy and complicated, but it simply means to cook fish in parchment. It is an effortless preparation. I used 4oz portions of black drum because it’s a moderately priced regional fish from the Gulf of Mexico, but you can switch it out for tilapia, salmon, halibut, or whatever fish fits your budget. This recipe will serve 6.

1. Start by softening a stick of unsalted butter. When it’s soft and creamy enough, add a handful of chopped chives and combine. Tear off a square of plastic wrap and place the butter in the center. Start rolling the plastic wrap around the butter, and form it into a log. Chill in the fridge for up to 1 day ahead of time.
7.5. slicing butter

2. Thinly slice 1 pound of cremini mushrooms.
6. thinly sliced mushrooms

3. Wash a lemon and trim both ends off. Slice the lemon in half lengthwise, then slice each half into 6 thin half moons.
7. sliced lemons

4. Tear six squares of parchment paper and fold each one in half. Take each parchment sheet, and start layering the ingredients on one half of the paper. First the mushrooms.
8. layering en papillote

5. Then top the mushrooms with a cleaned and rinsed 4oz portion of black drum, a pinch of kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, two lemon half moons, a thin slice of the chive compound butter, and a sprig or two of parsley. Repeat this five more times. Each portion should look pretty like this.
9. fish prior to cooking

6. For each portion, fold the parchment over the fish and fold each edge to create a neat sealed package. Store the packages in the fridge on a cookie sheet. The packages can be assembled up to 8 hours in advance.
9.5. folding parchment

7. Toss two packages of washed cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons or so of olive oil on a cookie sheet.
10. tomatoes pre roasting

8. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. When it’s hot, roast the tomatoes and the black drum for 15 minutes.
12. everything in oven

9. While the fish rests for a few moments, toss the tomatoes with a few spoonfuls of pesto. Feel free to use prepared pesto or give Ina Garten’s recipe a try. To give her version a Texas twist, substitute the walnuts and pine nuts with a 1/2 C. of roasted Texas pecans.
14. Tossing tomatoes w pesto

10. Serve the black drum en papillote still in its package with the roasted tomatoes and couscous. Letting each person cut open the parchment is half the fun of this dish. When they are finally opened, the delicious aromatic steam erupts from the package and the fish is cooked to flaky perfection. Bon Appetit!
15. final plate with parchment

Thanks again to everyone who attended the class. And, especially Jen & Tim for the fantastic photos!!

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Farmhouse Magic: Week 9

Farmhouse Magic: Week 9

1. Square Birthday Blueberry Pie for my dear friend Lynn

2. Quail wrapped in bacon and stuffed with a cream cheese jalapeño given to me by my co-worker and friend, Grant. I topped it with a red wine cherry reduction and served it with a salad of butterhead lettuce, red onions, bing cherries, and balsamic vinaigrette.

3.The magician and I celebrated National Hot Dog in style with grilled Hebrew National haute dogs. On the left, my Austin spin on a Chicago dog included: sharp cheddar, a zesty pickle spear, cherry tomatoes, red onion, pickled jalapeños, celery salt, and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds. On the right my Asian inspired dog included: Thai crab salad, avocado slices, mango (which was later removed…too sweet), Sriracha, and black sesame seeds.

4. Thai rice noodles tossed with shiitake mushrooms, button mushrooms, garlic, hot peppers, green onions, black sesame seeds, spicy shrimp broth, and coconut milk.

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Week 8: Top 8

1. I got published.

Photo courtesy of The Alcalde

2. Steak + Mashed potatoes = happy magician

Steak Night at Andy's

3. Colorful veggies

Week 8

4. Sandwiches


5. My very first homemade pie crust

My very first homemade pie crust

6. Peaches in my new Anthropologie Bowl

A Big Bowl of Peaches

7. Juicy Tomatoes


8. I got in a pickle.

Picnik collage

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Farmhouse Magic: Week 1

Picnik collage

1. Fiery roasted pork tenderloin topped with tropical salsa over rice
2. Fancy Cuban served accompanied by kale chips
3. Pan-roasted chicken thighs topped with a lemon pan sauce, served with balsamic-roasted golden beets, red potatoes, purple carrots, and onion
4. Peach-kiwi rocket pop

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