Culinary School Lesson: A Hot & Cold (Plate) Relationship

Culinary School Lesson: Serve restaurant-quality food at home. Keep your hot food HOT, and your cold food COLD!

In my “What I Learned in Culinary School” series, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks that I learned from two years of working with some of the country’s best chefs. This will include big things like learning to work efficiently, and small things like how to cook bacon perfectly. All of them will be applicable to your home kitchen, making you a faster, better, and more confident cook.

It’s a fact of life that when you write a food blog, and/or have gone to culinary school, and/or have won a cooking contest, and/or generally cook in some capacity for a living, people think you are a huge food snob. They’re usually afraid to take you to their favorite restaurants, because they think you might turn up your nose if it doesn’t meet your lofty standards.

The fact is, I don’t have lofty standards at all. I’ll eat just about anything. If I order a burger and it’s a little overcooked, I’m not going to send it back. I’m going to eat the burger. If a salad doesn’t quite live up to my expectations, oh well. If I’m still hungry, I can make a snack at home later. I consider myself to be a good dining companion and quite easygoing.

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Orange Beef & Veggie Stir-Fry

Orange Beef & Veggie Stir-Fry - Kid-friendly takeout fake-out at home!

Do you guys remember my “niece” Laney? She’s my best friend’s daughter, and she’s pretty much the coolest kid ever. If you need to be reminded of the adorableness, here she is on a trip we took to a natural history museum last month:
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Tabbouleh Hummus

Tabbouleh Hummus - A big bowl of fresh, healthy Mediterranean dip!

I used to really, really hate the flavor of many fresh herbs. Especially fresh parsley and mint. Just smelling or thinking about either one kind of made me want to die a little bit. You know how in Sex and The City, Carrie tells servers she’s allergic to fresh parsley because she hates it so much? Yeah, that’s pretty much what I wanted to do (but never really did).

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Savory Sunflower Seed Muffins

Savory Sunflower Seed Muffins - Healthy buttermilk muffins flavored with ranch spices, cheese and sunflower seeds. The perfect addition to a family dinner!

How do you feel about the ham at Easter dinner? To be honest, along the lines of how the turkey is usually my least favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner, I could always take or leave the ham at Easter, too. This all changed a few years ago when a friend told me that her family always ate their Easter ham cold. After all, the ham that most people serve is already fully cooked. You’re just supposed to re-heat it in the oven, but you don’t need to (check the label of your ham to make sure it’s “ready to eat”). At first I thought this was a little strange. So…you have hot scalloped potatoes and other hot side dishes, but the ham is cold? What?

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Roasted Green Beans & Peppers with Oregano Breadcrumbs

Roasted Green Beans & Peppers with Oregano Breadcrumbs - A simple and flavorful side dish!

If I’m being honest, this post very nearly didn’t happen. For another year, I am completely, distractingly obsessed with the Decorah Eagle Cam. If you’re not familiar with these eagles, first of all: I’m sorry. If you click that link, you’ll get hooked.

The camera overlooks the nest of a family of bald eagles in Decorah, Iowa. You get to watch the two eagles raise their adorable eaglets each Spring. You see Mom Eagle fly off to go hunting and bring back a huge fish. You see Dad Eagle organize the nest and keep things tidy (quite the homekeeper, he is). You see both of them pluck food and put it into their eaglet’s mouths. And then you watch one of them hunker down on top of the babies to protect them while the other flies away in search of more food (the eaglets are fed like 20 times a day). Truly, it’s mesmerizing. Productivity for the Foxes Love Lemons staff (ummm . . . me) has never been lower.

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Creamy Veggie Pasta Skillet

Creamy Veggie Pasta Skillet - A hearty vegetarian meal that comes together in one skillet. Creamy pasta loaded with carrots, broccoli and peas.

Fun fact about me: when I was a kid, it seemed like I won nearly every contest or drawing I entered. I had the best luck! Random drawings? I won them. Coloring contests in the newspaper? I rocked those Crayolas. Reading contests? I read the most books. Contests to sell the most boxes of Girl Scout cookies? I went straight to the rich people’s houses in the neighborhood.

I even won “guess how many ____ are in this ___” contests. I distinctly remember the movie theater having a contest to guess how many gum balls or something were in a big jar. I guessed closest, and thus received an Adult XL size “Honey I Blew Up The Kid” t-shirt. Perfect for a nine-year-old girl, yes?

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