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  • Writer's pictureAnnamarie Stedjan

New Year: Fierce and Focused

What's up 2021?! Happy New Year to you all!! I am so excited to start a new, as I am sure many of you are. I'm jumping into this year with more focus than ever. If there is one thing that last year taught me it is that you can't continue to help and give to all those around you if you don't have anything left to give. For me, that meant carving out time for myself to just be...whether that meant taking an early morning yoga class, meditating for 10 or 15 minutes or finding time to start reading again. I can't even tell you the last time I sat and enjoyed reading. I found myself getting lost in some really great books and loved every minute. I took time to talk and gather with the people that fill my heart with joy and laughter and because of all that, I was able to be present and helpful with my family. My kids, like many of yours I am sure, needed someone to be there to talk to, to guide them, to give advice, to comfort, to teach, to just be there in so many ways. I feel like we are coming through it together just a little bit stronger and a little bit more appreciative of the small stuff.

So, those are the positives that I can take with me and hold on to when I look back at this insanely strange year.

Present focus.... I am beyond excited that my online shop is now open and that you can purchase directly from the site! Thank you to all that have purchased already, gifting some of the Artisan Blends and other gifts over the holiday season. For those of you who haven't had a chance to check the shop out... you will find carefully handcrafted Artisan Blends that range from classic to sweet to super spicy. There is a little something for everyone! The Classic Combo is the most versatile spice blend. It can be used as a dry rub on chicken, pork or steak. Sprinkle over steamed veggies or toss the veggies in a teaspoon of the blend with a little olive oil before roasting them up! The Mediterranean Mix smells fantastic and is an herbaceous mixture that is perfect for fish and steak alike. You can even sprinkle it in low fat greek yogurt or sour cream as a dip for a crudité platter. For spice lovers you definitely want to grab the Peppery Punch. Have it on hand to sprinkle into chili, or tacos. Use as a dry rub on a NY Strip Steak for a little heat or just sprinkle some into a dipping bowl of extra virgin olive oil and dip a torn piece of freshly baked baguette into it! I glass of wine with that and I will call it a good night! If you are torn on which you would like best, try the Artisan Blends Trio, it's got a little bit of everything. Don't think I forgot about all the sweet tooth's out there! For you I have made a special well-balanced Spiced Cinnamon Sugar Blend. This is the perfect baking accompaniment. You can use it as part of your baking ingredients or simply sprinkle it on top of baked apples.... even a little sprinkle in your coffee or hot chocolate wouldn't hurt on these cold winter days.

You can also find some really cool handmade wine charms, or order a personalized stemless wine glass for yourself or for a wine lover in your life. There will also be some culinary art available soon as well.

Also, make sure to look out in the coming months for some new flavorings that are on the horizon. Sign up and join the Caper and Olive family to make sure you are the first to know when the NEW Artisan Blends will be available!

Focus forward.... I am pleased to announce that my in-home catering services are also available moving into this new year. As we begin to return to some kind of normalcy and still feel a bit more comfortable in our homes... gathering in small groups, my in-home catering services are there to ensure that you and your guests enjoy your time together without the worry of spending the vast majority of time in the kitchen. You should be spending that time with family and friends, laughing and talking, making memories and building relationships, catching up on all those lost months.

In-home catering is a pretty unique niche, so let me explain... I work with my clients to create a wonderful and memorable gathering, be it a sit down dinner for two to twelve or a buffet style luncheon or brunch. Even an hors d'oeuvres party for a book club or ladies night. Our services can be extended to guest favors as well, if you are planning a party for someone special.. table centerpieces, or color schemes. Whatever you need to make the occasion memorable, even if it's a "just because" occasion. I feel like we all need a little something to celebrate these days.

All the cooking is done in your kitchen, served in your home and of course clean up as well. The best thing about in-home catering is that it is completely customizable. Have us be involved as much as you would like or as little as you would like. All of this can be discussed during your free consultation. I truly look forward to meeting with some of you and making your next get together even more special and enjoyable. For sample menus and request forms just click here and it will take you directly to the page.


You didn't think I was going to end this journal entry without giving you a couple of recipes...did you? Two of my for breakfast and one for dinner. Let's get cooking...

So this Pecan Crumble French Toast bake is soooo delicious and it a perfect Sunday breakfast that can be prepped on Saturday night... #winning!! Slice up the challah bread the night before and lay them out on a sheet pan to dry out. Sounds weird, I know, but it is a step you do not want to skip. The "staler" the bread the better it soaks up the custard. You can even make the custard the night before. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, heavy cream, milk, sugar, vanilla extract and spices until they are really combined well. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator over night. BONUS: The crumble can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container. So on Sunday morning all you need to do is butter the baking dish, place the challah in the prepared pan, whisk up that custard and pour it over the challah and top with the crumble. TIP: Let the challah sit and soak in the custard for at least one hour before popping it in the oven. Then you can sit down with your cup of coffee and let the breakfast cook itself. Now that is what I call a relaxing Sunday morning. I never said this one was fat free, but Sunday is a cheat day anyway..right?! (lol). Also, just as a head up, this bake gets super puffy the last 30 minutes when the aluminum foil comes don't freak out, it will settle a few minutes after you take it out of the oven and let it rest before digging in.

We all feel it.... sometimes dinner is the last thing you want to think about after a long day of working, homeschooling and trying to keep your house in order now that everyone is home ALL. THE. TIME. So this recipe is perfect, not only because it's an all-in-one meat and veggie dish, which is always a plus, but it can totally be made ahead of time. If you have a pocket of time in the morning, this recipe can come together in just about 35 minutes. If you are a weekend meal prepped, by all means, get this one together into a baking dish and pop it in the fridge until ready to cook, or cook it fully and portion it out in lunch or dinner portions for the week. Super versatile and everyday ingredients is what you will find in these Sausage Stuffed Peppers. If you don't like or prefer to not eat pork sausage, by all means substitute chicken sausage. Either is delicious! The colorful peppers make a great presentation that kids love to see and they can chose their favorite color to eat as well. This is a cool and different spin on your regular sausage and peppers. They flavors are no-doubt Italian, just presented in a different vessel. Can't wait for you to try this one out for a busy weeknight meal! I hope you all enjoy as much as we do.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Even though things looked quite different this year, we truly did make the best of it. One night during the break I made dinner and the kids and I sat in the family room and watched "Soul." What a fantastic movie ...and with such amazing timing. It's all about passion and purpose, so keep doing you into 2021, and just"keep jazzing."

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