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Welcome to my blog!

This blog is a snapshot into what I am currently
doing in both my personal and professional life.  My hope is that you will get a better idea of both my photographic style and of who I am as a wife and mother in my every day life.

You will see that I LOVE my clients and the fact that I get to be creative every day.  I see my job as so much more than the art of photography, it is an opportunity to get to know my clients and share life with them.  I am inspired and challenged every day by the couples and families I get to photograph. It is such a unique privilege to capture such momentous occasions in people's lives.  Because I build a relationship with my clients, I often feel more like a friend and guest rather than a vendor.  I love having the chance to celebrate along side the people I get to work with and to give them images that will help them remember and honor these precious moments for years to come.

Thanks for celebrating these moments with me!

Eating out of the Box {Greek Style Chicken Kofta Dinner}


I’m going to start this by saying this meal is one of my best yet.  It was Sunday afternoon, the first week of NFL was on the Chappell t.v. all day and I wanted to make something for John that would go well with a beer and football while still taking into consideration our seasonal veggies and the 87 degree weather outside…needless to say, this meal was a hit.  I am a huge lover of any and all Greek cuisine and whenever we are overwhelmed by cucumbers, a Greek meal is the first to come to mind.  Koftas are oval shaped lamb patties eaten in warm pitas and topped with a yummy cucumber/yogurt sauce.  And while I LOVE the rich flavor of lamb, I decided to do something a little lighter and less intimidating to most home cooks, ground chicken.  But since ground chicken has less fat it easily dries out and is bland, so I added feta cheese for fat and richness and diced onion for flavor and moisture.  Right now is a strange time around here because in NC we are still getting plenty of summer veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants, all while our fall veggies are starting like turnips, carrots, potatoes, kale etc.  So this meal is a mix of both summer and fall coming together to create something light and rich, tasty and but very simple to make and most importantly (in our house at least) something that goes well with beer and football.  So here is MY version (and there are many others out there) of a Greek favorite…

Chicken Koftas

1 lb ground chicken

1 small onion very finely diced (or 1/2 med to large onion)

4-6 oz crumbled feta cheese

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

pinch cayenne pepper (more if you like things spicy)

salt and pepper

Directions:

1.  Place everything into a medium sized bowl and gently mix well with your hands or a fork.  Do not over work the ground chicken or it will dry out.

2.  Once well mixed, pat mixture into one large mound and divide into 4 equal sections.

3.  Take each section of the 4 sections and gently pat into 2 oval patties until you have 8 patties of equal size.

4.  Heat 3-4 TBSP olive oil over med-high heat in a large skillet.  Add patties a few at a time to the pan and cook until brown on both sides and cooked through the middle about 10-15 minutes.

5.  Remove from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up some of the oil then serve warm on warmed pita bread and topped with sliced tomatoes and the cucumber-Greek yogurt sauce.

Cucumber Greek Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients

1 small to medium cucumber very thinly sliced (if the cucumber is larger cut slices into 1/2 moons)

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 TBSP fresh mint leaves finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  Combine all ingredients in a small to medium bowl, let sit for 15 minutes or so to allow the cucumbers to release some of their liquid into the sauce.

2.   Serve as a dip or use on top of the chicken kofta pita sandwiches.


Oven Baked Root Veggie Chips

Ingredients

a combination of various root veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and turnips

**(you could also add some apples though I wouldn’t recommend them dipped in the hummus)**

about 1/4 cup Olive Oil

Sea salt

Pepper

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2.  Thinly slice a combination of veggies using a mandolin or the mandolin blade on your food processor to about 1/8 in thick slices.

3.  Toss liberally in olive oil and then in a single layer, line 2 baking sheets with the veggie slices

4.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes making sure to rotate the pans about 10 minutes in and flipping the chips once they are beginning to crisp up and brown on one side.

**keep a VERY close eye on them…it is a fine line between a crisp chip and a burned one.  Everyone’s oven will cook them a little differently so they could take shorter or longer than the estimated time.  I throw them in while I am prepping the rest of  meal so that I am standing right in front of the oven while they are cooking**

Non-traditional Homemade Hummus

1 15 oz can Garbanzo beans drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can Cannelini beans drained and rinsed

1-3 cloves garlic (depending on how garlicky you like hummus)

1 TBSP fresh rosemary

1 TBSP fresh thyme

1-3 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice

about 1/4 c olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  In your food processor first place garlic cloves and pulse until the garlic is finely chopped.

2. Next add the beans and herbs and pulse until finely chopped.

3.  Add lemon juice and then stream in olive oil until smooth and creamy (though you can cut back on some of the oil if you want to save some of the bean liquid or you can substitute up to a few tablespoons of water).  Salt and pepper to taste (you can also add more lemon juice at this point).

4.  Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika.

Enjoy!!

Eating out of the Box {Rustic Roasted Potato Salad}

Since we decided to grow our own on top of doing a CSA, we have had PLENTY of potatoes this year so this summer has been full of finding new fun ways to serve the classic potato.  I came up with this new take on an old favorite to take as a side to a dinner we have with friends (the main course being an amazing rack of bbq ribs…um yum!  I wanted more texture and a fresh take on the typical mayo drenched, everything tastes soft and about the same, yellow potato salad (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that stuff, but I wanted something new and different).  This potato salad works great as a side or could really be a meal in and of itself.  It is best eaten pretty quickly after it is made, I would even recommend while it’s still warm because the potatoes tend to dry out if stored in the fridge overnight.  So here is a new take on classic potato salad, enjoy!

Roasted Potato Salad

Ingredients

8 cups potatoes cut into large bite sized chunks (about 1-2 inch bites)

1 cup Italian sausage (sweet or spicy depending on your preference) diced

1 small onion thinly sliced

5 cloves garlic peeled but left whole

olive oil

salt and pepper

Dressing:

1/4 c apple cider vinegar

2 TBSP grainy mustard

2 TBSP mayonnaise

2/3 c olive oil

1 tsp honey

1 cup parsley roughly chopped

1 cup basil roughly chopped

zest 2 lemons

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425

1.  Toss potatoes and garlic in enough olive oil to lightly coat them all.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and place flesh side down on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Do not turn or flip potatoes, just roast until flesh is golden brown in color on the outside and soft on the inside.  About 20 minutes.

2.   Meanwhile, in a small pan brown up the sausage over med high heat.  Once the sausage has browned add the sliced onion and toss.  Remove from heat.  You just want to slightly soften the onions not to completely cook them.

3.  In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, mustard and mayonnaise.

4.  Slowly whisk in the 2/3 c olive oil until you have a smooth and creamy vinaigrette.

5.  Salt and pepper to taste.  If it seems to acidic, cut the acidity with a tsp of honey.

6.  Add lemon zest and chopped herbs and stir.  Leave to allow the herbs to macerate.

7.  Once potatoes are finished roasting and have been allowed to slightly cool, place in a large bowl along with the sausage onion mixture.  Dress with the vinaigrette and herb mixture and carefully toss until potatoes are completely coated.

Serve as a meal in and of itself or as an amazing side.  Can be served slightly warm, room temperature or cold but serve the day it is made.

Enjoy!

Eating out of the Box {Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pizza}

First off, let me apologize to my amazing blog readers for the huge lack of posts the last few weeks.  A terrible combination of sickness and internet problems has forced me to stay focused on being a mom/wife and having to put the food blog on the back-burner for a little while.  I do hope that this trend is about to change, at least for the time being, and I can get a couple of posts up but no promises can be made right now.  I have been so excited to post this recipe for weeks and weeks now.  It is our family’s favorite summer pizza (Hayston included) and we eat it almost weekly when eggplant and tomatoes are coming in full force.  It is delicious combination of tangy, fresh, and nutty.  I adore eggplant but it cab be a bland veggie with a weird texture so many people don’t love it.  But tossing it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar right before roasting it on high heat brings out all the best in the yummy purple veggie.  So, if you think you don’t like eggplant try this recipe out before you decide for sure!  Just beware that it is tremendously addictive and an entire pizza can easily be consumed in one sitting!  So here is one of our favorite summer pizza recipes…enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pizza

Ingredients

1/2 recipe of Pizza Dough

1 large eggplant peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds or moons

2-3 TBSP balsamic vinegar

couple TBSPs olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large tomato sliced into 1/2 inch rounds or moons

handful of pine nuts

about 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

pizza sauce of your choice

about 4 oz goat cheese

large handful of fresh basil roughly chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 425

1.  Toss eggplant with basalmic vinegar and a couple tablespoons of olive oil so that each eggplant is nicely coated, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

2.  Spread evenly on a rimmed cookie sheet and roast eggplant until lightly browned (about 5 minutes on each side). Set aside.

3.  Roll out dough and place onto a large rectangular cookie sheet or a pizza stone. Top with pizza sauce and a thin layer of mozzarella cheese.

4.  Evenly distribute roasted eggplant and tomato slices around the pizza.

5.  Sprinkle on toasted pinenuts and goat cheese.

6.  Bake at 425 for about 20-25 minutes or until the dough is crisp and the goat cheese is beginning to slightly brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil.  Allow basil to begin to wilt on the hot pizza and serve hot.

Eating out of the Box {Stuffed Bell Peppers}

I cannot believe it is August!  Such a great month for produce here in NC.  This is the month where tomatoes, peppers and eggplant really pick up along with juicy melons and soon we will even have raspberries.  One of our favorite meals this time of year is this Stuffed Pepper recipe.  This meal is simple, hearty and really wonderful with an ice cold beer.  These stuffed peppers include pretty much everything we get in our CSA box this time of year and is a great way for me to finish off our veggies the day before the new box comes.  And for all of you working cooks out there, the filling for these peppers could easily be made ahead of time or you could go as far as stuffing the peppers over the weekend so all you would have to do is throw these babies into the oven to warm them up and brown them off.  These adorable little guys make an awesome meal to serve guests and are much less work than they appear to be.  Delicious meal in no time! I’m also including what I’ve started to call my Disappearing Salsa recipe because every time I make this stuff it is gone before I’ve had the chance to photograph it.  These photographs are of the last 1/2 cup of the salsa after we had devoured the night before and immediately after photographing it, Hayston and I finished it off.  Apparently, we and our friends cannot get enough chips and salsa!  So if you are a salsa lover too, this really simple salsa recipe will change the way you view that stuff you buy at the store.  Your friends will be utterly wowwed by the idea that you made such amazing salsa yourself and it really takes no time at all, you basically just throw a bunch of stuff in a food processor.  I would serve this yummy salsa with anything, but of course it goes really well with this smoky, crisp and delicious stuffed pepper recipe.  So here are some delicious ways to use up sll of that wonderful August produce….

Stuffed Bell Peppers

olive oil

6 medium to large bell peppers (any color bell pepper would work here)

2 ears of cooked corn, kernels removed

2-3 medium squash (any mixture of summer squashes would work here, zucchini, mediterranean, zephyr, yellow etc.)

2-3  medium fresh tomatoes diced

1 can black beans drained and rinsed

1 jalepeno finely diced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 medium onion diced

1 TBSP cumin

1 tsp coriander

3 TBSP apple cider vinegar

2 cups Monterey Jack cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 can diced tomatoes

**optional to add shredded chicken, ground beef, spicy sausage or pork to this dish, but if you do this you may have to taste the filling and adjust the spices accordingly**

Directions

1.  Heat olive oil over med high heat and saute diced onion and jalepeno until onions are opaque.  Add garlic and heat through for about 1 minute.

2.  Add squash and saute about 5 minutes or until soft.

3.  Add diced fresh tomatoes, black beans, corn, cumin, coriander, vinegar (and any meat if you are opting to do so) and heat through.  Simmer on low for about 5-8 minutes to reduce down the sauce and develop the flavors. Remove from heat.

4.  Preheat oven to 425.

5.  Carefully slice the tops of the peppers off and remove all seeds and ribs.  Do not discard tops, you will use them.  If the peppers are uneven on the bottom and rocking, carefully slice off a small piece so the pepper stands up without wobbling.

6. Begin to layer the filling into the pepper.  I usually fill it about 1/3 full then top with a layer of cheese and then repeat.  Once the pepper is filled to the top, sprinkle on remaining cheese and replace the pepper tops.

7.  Spread the can of diced tomatoes in the bottom of a 9×13 pan and then place peppers in the pan as well.

8.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pepper begins to brown nicely from the roasting and the cheese is melted.

9.  Serve warm with rice.

Disappearing Salsa

Ingredients

2 small onions

3 cloves garlic

1 bell pepper

4-5ish large tomatoes (during the winter months you can substitute this for a large can of whole Roma tomatoes minus the juice)

1 large handful cilantro

1 fresh jalepeno (or you can use about a TBSP of canned jalepenos)

juice of 3 limes

salt and pepper to taste

**you will need a food processor or a good blender for this recipe**

Directions:

1. Chopping everything into large chunks.

2.  Put the onions and garlic in the food processor (or blender) first.  Pulse until the onion and garlic is very finely diced.  Add the bell and jalepeno pepper.  Pulse a couple times again.

3.  Add the tomatoes and lime juice and cilantro. Pulse a few times until you have a nicely textured consistency…I don’t like mine completely pureed, I like to have keep some texture to it.

4.  Taste and add salt and pepper.  If you like it spicy or acidic, you can add more jalepenos or cilantro at this point as well.

5.  Store in the fridge (if you don’t eat it all in one sitting like we tend to do).