This is a story of an exciting trip around the Sun! The trip was called 2013. What a wild and crazy year. So many ups and downs. It’s hard to believe it’s almost over and in just a few days, we’ll be in 2014! Time seems to move more quickly as I get older. Have you noticed that too? I don’t like it. If anyone figures out how to slow life down a little, will you let me know? Thanks!
This year brought some AMAZING things into my blogging world! It’s fun to go back and re-live the adventure! Grab a cup of coffee, a few of those leftover Christmas cookies and sit a spell. If you see anything linked in blue, click on it! It will take you to the post and recipe and more in-depth details of whatever happened that month! I’m excited! Let’s get started, shall we?
In January I was still very happily unemployed (No more retail! Whooo!!) and I spent a week camping with my wonderful husband. We took our tent trailer and headed up the coast to Refugio State Beach! The sunsets were stunning and we enjoyed many long walks in the sand, checking out the tide pools!
It was very relaxing and a great way to start our year!
In January, I also went on three different foodie tours of Los Angeles! The first was a Delicious Dumpling tour, then Thai Town and finally a tour of Little Tokyo! My favorites were the Dumplings and Little Tokyo! The Little Tokyo tour brought back many memories of my childhood and the dumplings…
I still have dreams about these dumplings… mmmmmm!
My favorite recipe in January was Baked Potato Soup! A brain storming session after our camping trip created this hearty, cheese-filled soup. It’s perfect for warming up on a cold winter night.
In February, I got a job teaching Transitional Kindergarten at a local pre-school! It was exciting to be back in a classroom and back to a regular M-F job!
My new Web-site and Brand Logo Project began that month too. I celebrated my birthday (My favorite holiday of the year!!) being sicker than a dog. Part of the benefits of being in a classroom again, is little people lovingly sharing their germs with you! HA! I think I spent three months being sick, but it didn’t matter. My students are adorable!
Hands down, my favorite recipe in February was French Onion Soup Sandwiches from Joy the Baker.
These sandwiches are a spin on French Onion Soup and were a huge hit in my kitchen! The caramelized onions and drippy, gooey cheese made a perfect meatless meal.
March began with a Chowderfest and ended with a Cupcake Festival! It was a pretty sweet month!
My favorite recipe in March was a different twist on quiche! Very non-traditional, this Quiche had a thick hash brown crust and is filled with layers of cheese, sausage, ham and veggies! Delicious!
April had less adventuring, but plenty of great food! These fresh strawberry biscuits were very popular, both on Pinterest and Facebook! They’re so simple to make and the taste of fresh berries popping in your mouth when you bite into them is what I imagine heaven will be like!
I was blessed to bake and share cookies for San Bernardino Share Our Strength, No Kid Hungry Bake Sale! These Vanilla Sugar Shortbread Wedges are still one of my favorite cookies. They’re made in a cake pan and then cut into perfect portion wedges.
May brought several exciting things!
First, my new website and logo launched!! My friends Mike and Melissa over at Nerdy Connections worked some very long hours, came up with a PERFECT logo for my IMPERFECT kitchen, did an incredible job transferring everything and then, patiently helped me understand how to work this new site! They are still there to answer questions and walk me through anything I may need. They’re great people! There are rumors I may have made them hungry while they were working with my food pictures though…
Isn’t it great? I love it!
I attended my very first Food Blogging Conference in May too! I went to Camp Blogaway here in the San Bernardino Mountains! It was an eye-opening experience and I loved every single moment of my time there!
The food! The incredible sponsors! The learning experiences! It was a perfect weekend and I am looking forward to going back again in 2014!
For Mothers Day I got an ice-cream maker! More on how that wonderful appliance plays into my year later!
My favorite May recipe was Sausage Gravy! This is a family favorite for both breakfast AND dinner! By no means is it a “healthy” recipe, which is why we don’t have it very often, but it sure is delicious!
June brought the end of the school year and a free summer to FILL with foodie adventures!!!
For the second year in a row, I volunteered at Taste of the Nation Los Angeles to benefit No Kid Hungry!
My two favorite foodie friends and I jumped right in and gave our time and love to this very worthy cause!
My favorite June recipe was this amazing grilled chicken and peach salad!
Perfect for summer! This recipe included a giveaway of Organic Girl Greens. If you’ve never had their baby spinach, you are missing out on THE BEST spinach in the world! They didn’t even pay me to say that. It’s just true. :-)
July was FULL of recipe testing, trips to farmers markets, and late breakfasts with family and friends. I was blessed to take a cooking class with my friend Jyll and I entered my very first recipe contest!
The contest was for an original Ice Cream Recipe. Who could have ever imagined what this peach ice-cream would bring? Yep, going to make you wait a little longer for that part of the story!
I met and got to see my friend Ally win the Dole California Cook-Off!
My favorite recipe in July was this Triple Berry Sauce!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE berries and this sauce is a great multi-tasker for breakfast, over ice-cream or anything in between!
August was even busier than July! There was another food-filled walking tour, a donut class (I learned to make homemade Apple Fritters! YUM!), an Interview with some amazing Bee Keepers, a trip to Beverly Hills for a cookbook launch party at Duff Goldman’s bakery and a class on Latte Art!
In August, I learned I could attend the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle Washington! You probably heard me squeal with excitement. Not only is Seattle one of my favorite places on the planet, I was pinch-me excited to attend my SECOND ever food blogging conference! TWO conferences in one year?!? I felt so blessed!!
And if all that wasn’t enough, at the end of August, I learned I won the GRAND PRIZE for the ice-cream recipe contest I entered in July. How bizarre to enter your first contest and end up taking the Grand Prize! I was blown away!! I won a GORGEOUS, bright, shiny-red 7 quart Kitchen Aid Mixer with the Ice Cream Maker attachment!!
Isn’t she stunning? Her name is Lucy! ;-) Over the last few months, we’ve become very good friends! I’d have to say, August was a very, very good month!
My favorite August recipe, goes hand in hand with July’s recipe! This is Cheesecake for Two! If you happen to make this cheesecake and just happen to spread some Triple Berry Sauce over the top of it, who am I to argue? P.S. You have great taste!
September came and I was invited to Follow Chef Ari Taymor around the Hollywood Farmers Market! Poor me, getting to know the owner and head chef of Alma, Food and Wine Magazines number one new restaurant in the US. Yeah, it’s a hard life and one I am very thankful to have! Such opportunities amaze me! I know how lucky I am! Chef Ari and his wife are kind, genuine people and it was a fun morning!
I also learned I was accepted into the 2014 Master Canning and Preserving Program! They only take 16 people each year. SIXTEEN! The program starts the end of January and I’m so excited to learn how to can and preserve more successfully, and be able to save more of the things from our garden during their peak! VERY exciting!!
Later in the month, I went to IFBC!!
I met Dorie Greenspan! I met Andrew Scrivani! I learned SO MUCH about blogging and photography while I was there. Oh, and the food (especially the seafood!) was extra incredible! I will never forget IFBC. That trip ROCKED!
My favorite recipe from September is this Deep Dish Pizza for Two! It’s made in a cast iron pan and on nights when it’s just my sweetheart and I for dinner, this is one of our “go-to” meals! It’s fabulous!
You might have heard another loud and very excited scream coming from Southern California in September! Remember the Ice Cream Contest with the Peach Cobbler Ice Cream and the Grand Prize spiffy red Kitchen Aid Mixer? Well, as it turns out, winning a National Ice Cream Contest, also won me a spot to compete in the dessert category of the World Food Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada! That was the HIGHLIGHT of my year! I was so excited! I am certain I didn’t sleep for the first three or four days after I found out I was going!
October was completely filled with training for the World Food Championships.
Not only was I making and trying new desserts, but I was getting up early every morning to bake! There was a time limit for the competition and the time from when I woke up in the morning, to when I needed to leave for work, was perfect for practicing. I tested (and rejected) so many dishes! I’m certain my co-workers were tired of chocolate, but they were great about giving me honest feedback! Media people were calling (very flattering) and I made and submitted my first “audition” video! The WFC will be broadcast on TV sometime in early 2014! It was a tremendously exciting and exhausting month! I even posted a Countdown to WFC! I learned a new technique I was CERTAIN was going to win my category and propel me into the Top 10! Remind me next year, and I’ll share it with you.
A good friend shared these little guys on her Facebook page and they went VIRAL! No kidding! Hundreds of thousands of shares for my Melted Snowman Cookies – more than a Justin Beiber post! Can you believe it? Cookies simply make the world better and these made lots of folks happy this year! It was thrilling and humbling to watch that unfold!
My favorite recipe for October were these incredible Baby Kale-sadillas!
Not only did they NOT have sugar in them (SUCH a bonus when you’re making dessert every single day and twice, sometimes three times on weekends!) but they are hearty and another great meatless option! Make them for your vegetarian friends and see how quickly they disappear!
I did manage to escape the pressure of WFC training for a day or two in October. We went to Santa Barbara at the end of the month to see one of my culinary idols! Alton Brown started his Edible Inevitable Tour!
A LIVE stage show, all about food! We were sitting fairly close to the stage (in the splash zone) It was an incredible day, with incredible friends! Oh, and I got a new Chicken Timer that WILL BE signed by Alton Brown!! One day, you’ll see. :-)
Life fell apart in November. It’s very difficult for me to write about the last two months. The emotions are still fresh and the wounds are quite deep. We were set to leave for the World Food Championships on November 6th. There were parties planned in Vegas, media meetings, meet-ups with fellow bloggers I’ve only known online, hotel reservations were set and paid for, friends were coming along to support me! As we were excitedly packing the car and typing out final recipe cards for the competition, we got a phone call that my Father-In-Law had a stroke.
We headed to the hospital that night (November 5th), not knowing what to expect. The short story is we never made it to Vegas. We spent seven days with our family in ICU before we lost my Father-In-Law on Nov. 13th. Our world stopped for a long time after that. There were things that needed to be done, of course. Decisions, funeral arrangements, travel plans for relatives who were coming in from Holland, etc. I haven’t blogged beyond what I felt I HAD to do. Which for November and December so far, have been three posts total vs. the normal 8 – 10 I write each month. I signed up to do the Great Bloggers Cookie Exchange at the beginning of November and had to force myself to send the cookies to my matches. They went out a week late, my head really wasn’t in it. The holidays have been very hard. This next year as we meet each milestone of first time things without Opa, I know it will be an emotional and challenging time.
So, while the first ten months of 2013 were completely amazing, the last two have really sucked! Just like my kitchen, life isn’t perfect. There will be good times and bad times. That’s just the way of it. I AM looking forward to starting the Master Food Preservers Program next month! I’m hoping to attend at least two food blogging conferences again this year, but mostly, I’m looking forward to cooking and sharing again. I’ve missed my kitchen and I’ve missed all of you! We’ve grown so much this year! I could never have done all these things without the love and support of my husband and children, a few very good friends and great number of you on Facebook who have prayed for us, shared stories and recipes, been there to listen and offer encouragement and have kept my page active, when I didn’t have the heart to do it. I LOVE YOU ALL!
Cheers to an amazing 2013 and all the best for an even better year in 2014!!