Two of my passions in life are food and children. For as long as I can remember I have played with food. My first memory of cooking by myself was when I was about 5 years old. I found a large chunk of chocolate in the kitchen, so I grated it all up, stirred it together with some cool whip and called it chocolate mousse. I can remember pulling up a stool in the kitchen when my dad would make his notorious “brick muffins” and being so excited to help him add an ingredient or stir everything together. My mother always put a gourmet spin on all of her cooking. Growing up my best friend Emily never wanted to eat dinner at my house because my mom never made any “normal” dishes. By “normal” at the time, she meant kid friendly food. No, my mother never served hot dogs, mac and cheese, or any sauces from a can or mixes from a box. Instead we would have spaghetti sauces that simmered all afternoon, fresh seafood or dinners with an ethnic flair. Cooking shows always caught my eye when I was little. The Frugal Gourmet was always my favorite! My neighbor Betsey and I watched a whole episode once with pen and paper in hand, jotting down every ingredient and step along the way. Using our notes, we gathered everything we needed from our two houses and prepared the whole meal as if we were hosting our own cooking show! When I left my mothers nest and it was up to me to forage my own food, you would have never thought that I had an interest in cooking. The only food that I prepared was ramen noodles or hot pockets and going to Taco Time or Crown Burger was as gourmet as it got. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I felt like I had to master the kitchen.
One night while I was pregnant it hit me that I definitely wanted to be the kind of mom that always had cookies baking, a beautiful dinner to serve my family and healthy breakfasts to start the days right. At the time, the only cook book that I owned was a super fancy French cook book. I busted it out determined to whip up something amazing and become a chef instantly! I choose a recipe for a puffed pastry with some sort of velvety cream filling. Lets just say… I failed. If today I came across a recipe that involved kneading a pound of butter into flour with your hands, I’d skip it. You learn as you go. And I did.
I slowly started cooking more and more as my son was growing up. When it came to dinners, at first I got a lot of my recipe ideas from good old Paula Dean and Rachael Ray. Then, I became obsessed with cook books! I’d buy a book and cook my way through almost the entire text. That certainly kept me busy for a couple years and never at a loss for what to cook for dinner. As far as those healthy breakfasts that I had longed to prepare, I went back to my first memories of cooking with my dad and brought back the muffin! My dad always made really dense, nutrient packed muffins full of bran and dried fruit. I made my muffins with whole wheat flour and fresh fruits, not dense and totally yummy! It was the perfect “on the go” breakfast that I felt great about serving. I would make a batch every night before I went to bed and whatever we didn’t eat, I would take to work with me and share with co-workers. It wasn’t long before I became The Muffin Anne. Friends and family enjoyed my muffins so much that I started getting requests for orders of muffins, as well as cakes and other baked goods.
Being a preschool teacher, it wasn’t just my muffins I was welcome to bring to work, I was also able to bring my love of cooking to work. My co-teacher Lori and I would come up with recipes to go along with all of our weekly themes. Seeing how much the kids enjoyed cooking in the classroom was really inspiring to me. After having my second child I decided to focus my working with kids, solely to involve cooking. I started carting a portable cook top, pots, bowls and ingredients to schools for in the classroom cooking classes. I eventually opened a small cooking workshop in Louisville, called Ciao Chow to hold my cooking classes for kids. At my location I ended up hosting parties mostly. I had a high demand for children’s birthday parties and adult night cocktail cooking parties.
Currently now with three kiddos, my husband and I reside in Gainesville, Florida, where I am a stay at home mother, to focus all of my time and precious energy on my amazing family. I am still constantly writing, testing and eating new recipes as well as coming up with crafty kid activities that are fun for the family. I am obsessed with my home, always reorganizing, decorating and DIYing. When I find the time to take a break from my crazy non stop household, I love to share my craftiness with you! Whether its cooking, crafting or just my latest idea for a muffin, hope you enjoy!
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