Cooking with Kelsey Nixon!

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I am officially back from ALT Summit! After spending a week or so in Salt Lake City for my first ALT blogging conference and visiting Park City to work on my skiing skills – I am wiped. My brain is actually about to explode from all the new things I’ve learned…which I will share with you all tomorrow!

But first things first. I had amazing time cooking with Kelsey Nixon from the Food Network as part of a series of sponsor dinners held on the Wednesday night before ALT actually kicked off. I also love that we are sort of the same height (see above). The night started off with me rushing to the venue straight from SLC airport after a two-hour mechanical delay at LAX – blergh.

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The 20 or so bloggers that signed up for the cooking class + dinner with Kelsey all squealed with delight when we saw the mini rainbow sprinkle cakes spread throughout the kitchen at Orson Gygi. They did double-duty as decor AND dessert – so smart!

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The dinner table was gorgeously decorated by Kelsey’s best friend from college who is an event stylist and planner. The gold cake stands were sourced on Etsy.

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Love this simple beverage station with pretty gold straws and flecked napkins

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The adorable Kelsey gives us the lowdown on how the night is going to work and shares her background in cooking and television. Kelsey shot an entire cooking web series with over 100+ episodes while she was in college. She did tell us that writing her latest cookbook, Kitchen Confidence was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. On top of that, she gave birth to her first baby right after she finished her book.

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Our appetizer pre-made by Kelsey Nixon – Antipasti Bruschetta

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There were about 8-10 food stations set up around the open kitchen and a couple stoves  for us to work with. My partner was the super cool Stacie Bloomfield of Gingiber (above right). Pssst – check out her online shop for some ultra-cute things! We were a great team. Stacie handled all the chopping and I kept an eye on the croutons and cooking the chicken. We both decided that cooking was really easy when all the ingredients were bought and laid out in front of us in an idiot-proof kind of way. If only cooking were always THIS easy. Also check out the lovely swag bags that Kelsey and her team put together (bottom, right).

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The vegetables, lemon wedges and thyme before the chicken

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Our finished masterpiece! Lemon Scented Chicken Thighs with Crispy Croutons and Carrots. Stacie and I were SO thrilled that we didn’t poison anyone with our cooking and our chicken came out with such a beautiful crisp crust. I have a knack for overheating the pan so the skin just seared up so nicely and quickly.

The beauty of this recipe is that the chicken juices drip right on to the bed of croutons and vegetables that it is sitting on when it roasts up in the oven. The big wedges of lemon flavour up the meat while keeping the whole thing moist.

Haricots-Verts-Almondine

Haricots Verts Almondine – You can buy these fancy green beans pre-washed and trimmed at the grocery store for around $4/pack to save you on prep time. This is such a simple and healthy side dish that I would definitely make again – it just looks beautiful and adds so much colour to your plate.

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Butter Braised Cabbage with Bacon

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Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon!!! Because everything tastes better with bacon. Kelsey shared a good tip with us – Trader Joe’s sells brussels sprouts already pre-shredded for you. So you can save yourself a lot of time and anguish when making this dish.

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Essential Yellow Birthday Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting for dessert. It was one of the most perfect cakes I have ever eaten. The cake itself was moist but firm enough that you weren’t biting into sponge or anything like that. The frosting was creamy and not too sweet – just perfect. It was impossible to not try and eat the whole thing. There was one for each person to take home at the end of the night and we did dive into the larger cakes for our dessert!

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The finished masterpiece from all of our collective cooking (above). I was thrilled that I chose the hands-on cooking class for my Wednesday night ALT Dinner selection. I wasn’t glued to my seat all night and we were all free to wander around during the cooking and prep process to network and make new friends. By the end of the night I had met almost everyone in the room and enjoyed a meal that we had prepared. Kelsey was a charming and lovely host, as were the folks at Orson Gygi – a family-owned kitchen supply store and cooking studio in Salt Lake City.

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Kelsey Nixon’s new cookbook – Kitchen Confidence is available on Amazon and features all the recipes we cooked above. You can also catch her TV show Kelsey’s Essentials on The Cooking Channel and now Food Network.