Culinary New Years Goals

So, it’s the beginning of a new year and everyone is making New Year’s resolutions and setting goals. In the past I’ve skipped the whole, “new year, new me” pledge because deep down inside I knew that I wasn’t going to follow through with anything on my list for any substantial amount of time. This year, however, I changed things up and set a few goals for myself. Personally, I decided that I would read at least one book a month (I’ve started with a Harry Potter book. I’m a big kid, I know! Honestly, the older I get the more I love HP!!) and I’ve decided to challenge myself to go out more.

In addition to setting a few personal goals, I also set a few culinary goals. I’ve decided that I want to become a stronger baker, learn to make pasta and expand my culinary repertoire to include some culturally diverse dishes. I went to the library (hint-hint: a library is a great place in general, but a lot of libraries have a ton of great cookbooks. You can check out as many as you want and keep them for an extended amount of time. It’s a great way to make recipes from of the best and most popular books without spending a ton of money) and randomly found this cookbook entitled, “Persiana”. All of the recipes seem great and packed full of spices and flavors. I’ve decided to start my culinary exploration with Middle Eastern food and I can’t way to make a ton of recipes out of that book.

New Year’s resolutions are always challenging to keep, whether they are personal goals, professional goals or culinary goals. I think the key to sticking with them to choose small goals and to not beat yourself up when you, “fall off the wagon”. So here’s to those of us who have set goals for 2019! May we try a little harder, push ourselves a little more and reach our goals!

This was my first attempt at making pasta. The pictures turned out great, but the pasta…not so much. It kind of all fell apart when I started to cook them. I’m determined to make good pasta this year!
I want to make the PERFECT pound cake!

Beef Stew

I’ve never been a big fan of beef stew until I made some a few months ago. Maybe my tasted buds have “grow-up” but the stew was just so warm and hearty. The beef was so tender and the potatoes and carrots were hearty and cozy. The whole dish just gave me the feeling of being wrapped tight in a warm,  blanket. I was probably experiencing a carb high but whatever the feeling was, it was great.

This past weekend, I made another batch of stew and it was just as good at the first time. Typically, beef stew has red wine in it and a bit of vinegar but this time I left those ingredients out and I think it made the dish even better. Being able to customize a dish exactly to your taste is one of the best parts of home cooking.

I would seriously encourage all of you to try out this recipe. If you’re on the east coast like I am, the forecasters are calling for a bit of snow this weekend. This stew would be the PERFECT snowed day meal. If you do decide to make this beef stew, be sure to leave me a comment and let me know how it turns out.

Happy Eating!


4 stalks of celery                                              5 carrots                                           1 shallot

1 yellow onion                                                2 cloves of garlic                     1 lb of beef for stew

1 stick of salted butter                                  1/4 cup of flour      4-6 cups of chicken/beef broth

Fresh thyme (according to taste)                3 golden potatoes           1 can of peas

Salt/Pepper/Garlic/Onion powder to taste


  1. Dice 3 stalks of celery, 3 carrots, shallot, onion and garlic into small pieces.
  2. Season vegetable and cook in a dutch oven until soft in a bit of butter or oil. Remove from pot when done.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, season the meat. Season with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder.
  4. Using about a tablespoon of flour, very lightly sprinkle over meat.
  5. Transfer meat to a lightly oiled pot (used the same dutch oven that the vegetables were cooked in) and brown on all sides. Be sure not to completely cook the meat. Remove from pot when done.
  6. Using the butter and flour make a rue in the same dutch oven. To make a rue, melt the butter in the pot. When hot, swiftly wisk in the flour stirring constantly. When the mixture begins to smell like “cookie dough” pour in 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Be sure to wisk fast during the entire process or the rue to be lumpy.
  7. After your rue has been made, add in the remaining chicken broth and stir together.
  8. Chop up the remaining carrots and celery into big chunky pieces. Quarter the potatoes
  9. Combine the meat, diced vegetables, carrots, thyme, and celery into the pot and cook for about 20 minutes. Taste along the way and add seasonings if desired.
  10. After about 20-25 minutes, add in potatoes and peas. Cook until potatoes are done.
  11. Eat, enjoy and be happy!


A few notes about this recipe:

– I cooked everything in the same cast iron pot so that I could retain as much drippings/flavor as possible. Plus I didn’t feel like washing a TON of dishes.

– As usual, I didn’t measure out the seasons. People’s tastes vary so much so season this dish according to your taste. Use your best judgment!

Dress Up Your Table With These Spring Inspired Plates

Hey There,

Spring is finally here!!! For a while, I didn’t think it was going to come. I mean we had snow flurries here in Richmond during the second week in April and I know that some parts of the country were experiencing snow storms up until the last week in April. I feel that each year spring comes later and later and that the spring season gets shorter and shorter. It seems that it goes from snowing one day to blazing hot the next. I guess that’s global warming for you! We definitely need to start being a lot kinder to our plant. But anyway, I digress. So since spring finally decided to show up, I thought that it would be fitting to highlight some of my favorite spring dishes.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Pier One and Anthropologie and picked up a few new dishes to add to my collection. I try to do this every couple of seasons just as a way to spruce up my tablescapes at my family dinners.  Since the real-life kitchen on Wellington is small and devoid of any real storage space, I have to be very selective with what I buy. I try to pick plates that can be used for multiple seasons. I try to pick pieces that are inexpensive, and I like to pick pieces that compliment my existing dinnerware (which is white and gold) so I usually just buy salad plates. When I host dinner, at least 12 people come every time. Now I love my family and I love entertaining but I certainly don’t want to spend a ton of money buying 12-18 new plates all of the time. So while I was out, I picked up the plates below. They all remind me to spring and I can’t wait to play around with them. As you can see from the pictures below, I was in a “blue” mood. I think the blue dishes will pair nicely with my white/gold dishes and make for an interesting table. Now, there were only a few quantities of each of the blue dishes, so I am hoping to pick up a few more plates and create a mismatched tablescape. I’ve never created a mismatched table, but I have been studying them on Pinterest. I am hoping that I can pull it off! I don’t want it to end up looking haphazard and messy so if you have any suggestions on how to create the perfect mismatched tablescape then, by all means, please share your wisdom with me.

Be sure to check out my new additions below and tell me what you think. Also, tell me from where you like to purchase your spring inspired tableware. Oh, and check out my Pinterest board, “Dressing the Table” to see some of the other spring-inspired dishes that I love. If I had room to store them all and an unlimited amount of money, I would honestly buy every single dish pinned on that board and then I would host dinner parties and family dinners every week.

See you in my next post!

~Samantha J.