Thanksgiving Gratitude 2014

Better Late than never….



I love Thanksgiving! It is truly my favorite meal to make of the year, not because we have the same traditional things, but because it’s tradition to be together with my family. I am so glad we get to keep this tradition alive and thriving with my nieces. This Thanksgiving was also my brother’s birthday, so it was an extra-special occasion.


My sister and I braved the grocery stores on Wednesday morning so I could get all the ingredients for a meal that pretty much fed us for what seemed like a week, but that’s the best part of Thanksgiving–cook for a day or two and then either just reheat and eat or think of something else to do with the rest. I’m glad my sister came with me to the grocery store because I really dislike having a cart and having to maneuver one when the stores are super crowded, so she took care of that for me, which was a great help! Thanks, Keek.


So after a few stops and various places with enough groceries to just pack the fridge almost to explosion, I had a good idea of what we were going to enjoy. I’m not the type of person to ponder the menu a month or even a week in advance, I just looked at the ingredients and made things, which is my favorite way to cook. I’m grateful I have a family that pretty much let’s me have full reign over what we eat for Thanksgiving, trusting and knowing I’ll make those traditional dishes that they like each year while incorporating some new ones.


So here it is, Thanksgiving 2014 from Unrivaledkitch. I hope your families and friends feasted over great food, good company and tons of togetherness and gratitude. I’m grateful for all of you who take a gander at my food musings, for all the support, and I wish you a very happy holiday season.


Here are the past 4 years of Thanksgivings documented on I love that these memories are here for me to look back on.

2010 2011 2012 2013  003020 012  026 028 029 030 031  043 045 050

019 061



Thanksgiving 2014 Menu


Celery Root Soup with Spicy Sausage, Crispy Pancetta and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Herb and Citrus Brined Turkey with Roasted Vegetable Turkey Gravy

Celery, Scallion, Olive, and Zucchini Turkey Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes

Candied Yams with Bruleed Marshmallow

Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted Mushroom Medley with Fresh Thyme and Garlic

Red Potato Gratin with Button Mushrooms, Roasted Leeks, Kale and Parmesan Mozzarella Bechamel

Granny Smith Apple,Green Anjou Pear and Melted Date Cranberry Sauce

Crookneck Yellow Zucchini, White Zucchini and Green Bean Casserole with Celery Root Cream and Sausage

Hot Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Raisins and Granny Smith Apples with Brown Sugar Caramel Cream Sauce, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Whipped Cream


Mom, Dad and Grandma’s Contributions

Honey Baked Spiral Ham

Deviled Eggs

Spinach Dip, Pimento Cheese, Green Onion Dip and Vegetable Platter and Crackers

Bachan Jello

Pumpkin Pie

Carrot and Banana Muffins
What a delicious feast! Thank you everyone for sharing in this gratitude filled holiday.



Little Brother’s Big 25 and Recipe for Pork Chop “Saltimbocca”

As time goes by, it seems that things change and we get lost in the adult whirl wind of life. Though I don’t believe I’m truly an adult at heart, the time has come to come to grip with the fact that I’m not a kid anymore either. I’ll always find humor in being young forever; the people around me of all ages are so young at heart that I could never age myself by dwelling on a number. Seeing as my great-grandma is 97 years old, she’s proof that there’s still so much life to live and no number is going to change that.  My brother is now 25, which is insane. He’s accomplished so much for being 25, I’m proud of him every day.
Me, Kyle in the red and my sister Kristen behind
Kyle, Kristen, and Me
I always picture us so young, but we aren’t and that’s okay too. We’ll always be running around making fun of each other, punching and talking trash to one another, no matter how old we are. I’m so glad to have such an amazing family.
Happy birthday, I love you little brother.
So for Kyle’s birthday I made dinner for our family and his wife’s family as well. There were 11 of us at the table, enjoying each other’s company and the food that was made. I fashioned this menu from some things that came to mind while utilizing my limited refrigerator space after Thanksgiving and refashioning some left over at that.
Balsamic, Honey, Spinach and Arugula Salad with Cucumber, Tomato, Mozzarella and Red Onions
Caprese Salad with Imported Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Chicken Marsala with Roasted Baby Bellas, Shitake Mushrooms and Steak Button Mushrooms
Center-cut Pork Chop “Saltimbocca” with Crispy Sage,  Prosciutto di Parma, and Bruleed Mozzarella Cheese with Champagne Sage Beurre Blanc
Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes
Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Parmesan and Banana Peppers
Tri-Colored Rotini Pasta with Parmesan Cream Sauce, Roasted Green Beans and Honey Baked Ham
Saltimbocca which translates in Italian to Jumps in mouth, can be prepared in a variety of ways, and originates from different places in the world. Traditionally it is a Roman, Italian dish, which includes veal, sage and prosciutto that is rolled and cooked in a sweet butter wine sauce.  This recipe isn’t traditional, but a bit of a spin on what I know to be saltimbocca. I love the use of pork chops in this dish because it’s an elegant way to make an affordable delicious meal, since veal can be costly. So the next time you have pork chops and want to try something new, think about this.
Center-cut Pork Chop “Saltimbocca” with Crispy Sage,  Prosciutto di Parma, and Bruleed Mozzarella Cheese with Champagne Sage Beurre Blanc
15 sage leaves
4 tablespoons butter
5 center cut (½ inch to ¾ inch) pork chops
5 slices Parma prosciutto
5 slices whole milk mozzarella
1 cup  dry white wine or brute champagne (I used left over from the past evenings festivities)
1/2 cup vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Garlic power
¼ cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Season pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides.
Place in the bottom of large sauté pan, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Heat until sizzling.
Add sage leaves to hot oil mixture and fry until lightly crisp, about 5 minutes (careful not to burn). Then remove from oil and set aside.
Add one more tablespoon of butter to pan and heat until melted.
Then add prepared pork chops.
Depending on thickness, cook on each side about 3 minutes or until golden on each side.
Place in baking dish and add two leaves of sage to each pieces of pork, one slice of prosuitto, and top with one slice of mozzarella.
Add remainder of butter, lemon juice and wine to pan and reduce by half on medium heat about 5-7 minutes.
Then add stock to pan as well and reduce for an additional 5 minutes.
To finish, add cream to sauce until thickened and the sauce comes together loosely.
Taste for seasoning
Add ½ of the sauce to the bottom of the baking pan with the pork.
Finish pork chops off in 400 degree oven for 6-7 minutes, but depending on the size of chops. You can use a meat thermometer to make sure it reads 150 degrees in the center of the chop.
Lastly, place pork chops in the broiler to brulee cheese to a golden brown.
Place on platter to rest 5 minutes.
Heat sauce and ladle over top of chops, adding extra sage for garnish.
Serve with mashed potatoes or your favorite vegetables.

Lake Tahoe Catering Part II

If you missed Catering in Lake Tahoe Part I please review here. Thank you!

After we got everything out of the Jeep, we finally got a little sleep in time to wake up and make it to the property for the walk through. During a walk through, you are able to talk with the staff and see where the set-up, plating and other equipment and cooking will have to be done on the day of the wedding. The wedding took place at the Valhalla at Lake Tahoe on the Tallac Historic Site.The ceremony was to take place on the beautiful shore of the southwest side of the lake and preceding events in the grand hall, just adjacent to the lake.  We walked through the property and I took notes about the width of the space, table space, counters and refrigeration that we would need. We were told that we could plate outside and had a couple of chats about how the front of the house and the back would work together to get things out the best we could. The space was very small, so to the eye it looked as if it would be a little challenging, but we knew we would maneuver past the obstacles.



Once we finished the walk through, we stopped at a couple of stores and had lunch at Bert’s Café  which was this awesome little diner on highway 50. I had a pastrami sandwich with potato salad, Brandon had eggs Benedict and we shared some biscuits and gravy. All the food was really good and the service was pleasant and attentive. We talked about the game plan, a bit about the food and menu, and what we’d be doing and completing the rest of the day.

After a nice double shot of espresso, we worked the rest of the evening prepping until the verge of insanity: peeling and slicing cases of potatoes and pears, blanching asparagus and purple carrots, mincing and dicing a plethora of veggies and fruits to accompany the immense amount of intricate details, so easily overlooked when people think of eating in general. But when two people are responsible for the ups and downs of the whole meal, those details are the first thing on anyone’s mind. I cooked for about 11 hours straight, which is not normal for me anymore, so indeed it took a bit out of me. Brandon steamed ahead hitting about 14 hours, including stints with high altitude brownie baking, which included a couple of batching to the round bin; roasting chicken; 5- Hour Energy hallucinations in the wee hours of the morning; and struggling with my potato and pear gratins, which seemed to have to cook for more than five hours—crazy—to be completely done without burning or scorching the cheese and cream. The oven was our worst enemy of the trip.


This is the menu we accomplished:

Cheese Board

Cotswold cheese cheddar and chive cheese, blueberry vanilla goat cheese, goat Gouda, triple cream brie, manchego, dried bing cherries, rosemary salted candied walnuts, calabrese salami and red grapes

Bread basket and crackers

Three Passed Appetizers

Diced Mango, roasted corn, and watermelon with watermelon vinaigrette served in Endive leaf

Roasted Balsamic Chicken Greek salad with goat cheese and roasted pepper atop hot house cucumber slice with scallion

Sliced Herb encrusted fillet Mignon atop an open faced buttermilk biscuit, whole grain Dijon mustard, watercress and caramelized shallots

Plated Salad Course

Mixed green salad in butter lettuce cup with honey mustard vinaigrette, heirloom tomatoes, mandarin oranges, avocado and candied walnuts

Plated Entrée Choice of One

Grilled Alaskan Halibut served with pear and potato gratin, roasted asparagus and purple carrots with heirloom yellow cherry tomato, basil and white wine sauce

Roasted Chicken Breast stuffed with Calabasitas (Spanish style squash and cheese preparation) served atop pear and potato gratin, roasted asparagus and purple carrots with heirloom yellow cherry tomato, basil and white wine sauce

Roasted Poblano Pepper stuffed with Calabasitas (Spanish style squash and cheese preparation) served atop pear and potato gratin, roasted asparagus and purple carrots with heirloom yellow cherry tomato, basil and white wine sauce

Passed Dessert

Rocky Road Brownie Bites

Mini Coffee and Mint Chip Ice Cream Cones


Our day of executions started with the preparation of the final touches. We started at about 9:00 a.m. getting everything packed, finished prepping offsite and making the final adjustments, before we moved onsite.  I candied walnuts and finished popping brownies from the tins and pressing and poking potato gratins for their final warming and cooking through, while Brandon took 75 8-ounce portions of halibut to grill. We cleaned up, situated and packed coolers and hot boxes, then packed the car to make it to our onsite cooking adventure around 1:00 p.m.

When we got on site we unloaded the car with the expectation of using outdoor space for plating and final touches, but as soon as I started to prep out there, a swarm of bees started buzzing around my prep station. Lucky for us, we had a side room that was not mentioned during the walk through, but we were able to plate and finish in that room—a godsend. The convection oven was still outside for our heating of the main courses. Two other people joined us to help do last minute touches and plating. I finished making sauces, making the cheese board, organizing elements of each course, tasted and plated, while Brandon overlooked the other two helpers and started heating the elements for the main course. We worked as a cohesive team, checking and rechecking each other with the least amount of bother the two of us could manage with one another, which can be a difficult task for the two of us at times. Overall, I think we had one of the best catering experiences I’ve ever worked.  Kudos Bistecca!

Anyway, we moved from cheese to apps, got everything ready for entrees, worked and plated entrees, then cleaned up between and went to desserts. It all flowed pretty well with barely a hiccup. I love service for catering; it’s a natural high and a wonderful feeling of seeing everything come together. At the end of the night we packed the rest of our things, chatted about what we’d do differently and what we could do better next time, then made it back to where we were staying by 11:30 p.m. The next afternoon, we made the long trip back and it seemed like we had just arrived in Tahoe. The whole trip was such a great and satisfying experience—I’d definitely do it all over again.

As you can see I’m missing some pictures but cooking takes precedence over photographing when it comes to something like this. I hope you enjoyed this journey with us. If you have any catering needs or questions please feel free to contact me at



Happy Hanukkah

As you all know by now I’m interested in all things food. Especially holiday food… I love the laughter, togetherness, and honest good will the holidays have to offer and I’m very fortunate to be able to share these times with my family and friends and even show them off a bit to people less suspecting. I show my appreciation for people in different forms of food. Nothing I make doesn’t have my soul in it… But I feel like that wasn’t always true…I remember mindlessly trying to keep my mind in things that I couldn’t love every day like sandwiches. slicing deli meats, and scooping store bought gelato but I tried every day. I would wake up in a daze of something and try for the life of me to make a difference every time I made something. But it got tired and even if you love something more than anything there is no way that some how you have to have a break from it. I got to that point I needed a break. I needed my creativity to live inside me once again. And by powers unbeknown to me I’ve been able to show what I love to myself 1st and foremost and then to others. I love cooking more than anything but unfortunately sometimes you end up resenting things that you never knew you could. I’m glad I’m away from that environment. Anyway I woke up this morning well seeings as I don’t sleep till 5 am, this afternoon… I decided that I wanted to make some kind of 1st night of Hanukkah dinner. Which was good because I came to find out that we were supposed to be going out to dinner with my mom and dad and grandma anyway so they could just come over for dinner instead. I’m not Jewish just so you know. But I grew up with plenty. So I’m familiar with some of the customs but not all of them and i can’t really say at all that this was a traditional anything because I’m not traditional at all but I googled some stuff and i saw some recipes that I thought I could make pretty tasty and this is what came out.

Menu… Homemade Three apple sauce Potato,carrot, and zucchini kugel Sweet pea, mint, and chive with roasted tomato Spaetzle Lemon thyme roasted whole chicken Potato Latkes with horseradish Avocado, Cucumber, and sliced almond mixed green salad

So anyway to say the least the meal was put together last minute, there were lots of lovely apples at the store. So apple sauce seemed natural. Though I’d have to say I could of blended it much less but i was pulling something out of the oven and forgot about the blender… opps… I used golden delicious, fuji and granny smith cinnamon stick and some brown sugar. Kugel! which I can only describe as potato stuffing kinda I don’t know I thought it tasted nice with a little extra love in it. I’ve made Spaetzle before but in a kinda Italian way with meat sauce. So I thought the peas were really interesting kinda strange pasta dish haha I think so did everyone else. But I’ll eat it… I love peas and mint. That’s one of my favorite raviolis…   I’m pretty good at roasting a whole bird. This one was really tender and lovely. I love lemon and thyme. Latkes are wonderful. I made them pretty crispy but they were still really tender in the middle i like that contrast and I love horseradish anything. so all together I would say a successful 1st Hanukkah dinner put together by yours truly

My Thanksgiving

I believe in over indulgence on thanksgiving and I don’t really make any excuses on this day.   The dishes on holidays are so intense. My kitchen is immaculate which is insane because it was a complete disaster all day. Lots of family lots of food…

Menu… some stuff not pictured cause I was busy… Apps- maple bacon shrimp, spinach dip, roasted red pepper pimento and scallion spread on crackers Main Dish Brown sugar and marshmallow yams, Spiced rum and orange candied pineapple yams, Mashed potatoes, Sweet sugar brined Herb roasted Turkey, Roasted carrot and Onion giblet gravy, Honey Baked Ham,Fresh Green Bean Casserole, Slow cooked spinach and Broccoli gratin, Wild Mushroom and caramelized onion rice, Herb Red wine vinegar Cucumber salad, Cranberry Jelly, Mac n Cheese and Smoked turkey and roasted giblet, zucchini, and pork Stuffing. Dessert Carrot Cake, Lemon Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, and Pumpkin Pie

Turkey process Mid roast \


Cyrus’s 1st Birthday Party Finished Catering

My life turns this…


Into this Fruit, Cheese, and Vegetable platter assorted melon some strawberries,and grapes the vegetables carrots, broccoli, celery, and cucumbers jack cheese, cheddar squares Deviled eggs trio of salad a Purple and Green Coleslaw with Salted almonds and honey granny smith apple vinaigrette, Tomato Bell Pepper Balsamic Feta Pasta salad, and Olive, scallion, and egg Potato Salad pigs in a blanket melted cheese and hot dogs wrapped in croissant dough, turkey pin wheels with assorted cheese and red onions, Romain lettuce and tomatoes , honey paprika chicken sliders, and Braised apple cider beef sliders Pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese clove filling and candied pineapple

Cyrus’s 1st Birthday Party Food Photos

honey paprika chicken legs raw roasted shredded and ready for sandwiches apple cider and brown sugar braised beef

1/2 way cooked shredded chicken and finished beeg some salads granny smith apple and salted almond coleslaw Greek Pasta salad

Green onion mash potato salad