Whip Smart Kitchen

Recipes, methods & musings for the whip-smart home cook

Blog beginnings plus an incredibly useful, easy recipe

Salad, Italian, Recipe, VegetarianLeannda CavalierComment

This post was originally published on my old blog. This version may contain minor edits and updates. The original is preserved at Recipe Repository

First, I want to tell you how happy I am you’re still here if you got through Friday’s post. Looks like you’re my ideal reader! Thank you!

Friday I told you who I’m blogging for, why and the most important message I want to send you about cooking. Today I’m going to tell you my entrepreneurial story… and then give you a recipe I use at least once a week!

I’m writing this as part of Alex Beadon’s 7-day Feel Good Blogging Challenge. I’m a little behind everyone else participating because it came at a bad time for me, but whatever, I’m finishing it anyway!

Looking back, I think I’ve always been geared toward entrepreneurship. I love helping people and I love talking people into trying things. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I can be insufferable to some people on Facebook comment threads. I want to solve your problem and give you my full experience with things right there in the comments.

My reaction to someone asking for cooking advice is similar to a dog hearing the doorknob turn when his owner gets home from work. “YOU CAME BACK! TRY HITTING IT WITH THE BROILER FOR A FEW MINUTES!”

I’m just trying to help!

I toyed around with the idea of a food blog for about two years before I actually got serious about it, partially because people kept asking me to start one. I delayed it a long time because of fear of what other people would think and because I was a little nervous I wouldn’t have enough to say. Oh boy, I was so wrong on that count.

I mentioned in my last post that I was underemployed for nearly two years before finding my current full-time job this February. In January I happened upon one of stylist Hilary Rushford’sInstagram posts promoting her Instagram marketing class. I had been keeping my skills fresh with tons of webinars and this one actually looked fun, so I signed up immediately. During a Q & A toward the end of the class she mentioned she was thinking about hiring some brand ambassadors. I sent an email volunteering to help her out, not really expecting to hear back. A few weeks later I began helping maintain customer service on her 25k+ account along with three other talented ladies, for which she generously gifted us her full Instagram with Intention course. That was the beginning of my descent into the world of online entrepreneurship.

The day after I finished Instagram with Intention I scoured Hilary’s site for more info and landed on a video where she mentioned Marie Forleo’s B-School. I looked Marie up on YouTube and it was over. I was doing it. Seriously, if you want to do anything in this world, watch one of her videos. You’ll be doing air punches and cartwheels all the way to whatever it is you wanted.

She’s also hilarious, which is enough to keep me watching.

Related videos were a blessing here, because that’s exactly how I found entrepreneur Alex Beadon, the host of this blogging challenge. “How to Blog and Build a Following” showed up in the sidebar when I was watching one of Marie’s video. With that, I was down another (wonderful) rabbit hole, late for a very important date. Alex has been so supportive, and she is ALWAYS on. I am sincerely amazed at how much she’s taught me in such a short time.

I also found graphic designer Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company around the same time, either through Hilary’s IWI class or as another suggestion from Instagram. Her online course set me on my way to my next big project, the one I said I would announced soon in my last post.

I’m not getting paid for this, I promise. 

Being virtually surrounded by all these incredible people making the lives they wanted happen just with their passion, talents, the internet, a pinch of brilliance and ton of elbow grease… How could I not go for it?

Funny how things work out sometimes…

I finally found a full-time job in February. It’s shocking how quickly it happened after I searched for so long. I’m not a very woo-woo type of person, but I firmly believe that the change in attitude made it happen.

I went from feeling like a victim who had accomplished so much in my old job/school/home/life only to have it ripped away once I moved, to someone who was just going to go ahead and employ myself if no one else would. I would show everyone exactly what I could do, and it would be even better because it would involve my favorite thing: food. The fact that could use my skills in broadcasting, public relations and advertising just sweetened the deal.

The full time job means it’s happening a lot slower than I planned, but I’m just thrilled it’s happening, and people are starting to hop on board for the ride. I would love to think I could inspire and help someone as much as my forerunners helped me.

Thanks so much for reading, you have no idea how much I appreciate it. Growth with these kinds of things is generally slow (and a little painful), but every little bit is like a drug. A drug that vastly improves your life instead of ruining it and evicting all your friends/teeth.

Thanks =)

Okay, I promised you a recipe and you definitely deserve it after reading all of that. Enjoy!

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad

Serves: 2-4


  • 2 large or 4-6 small tomatoes*
  • 10 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 15 large basil leaves
  • 1 batch of balsamic reduction
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cut the tomatoes into ¼ inch slices.**
  2. Slice the mozzarella into ¼ inch slices.
  3. Chiffonade the basil using the following method: stack the leaves on top of one another, roll them up lengthwise (so that the middle veins don’t bend) and slice thinly across with a sharp knife so that you cut tiny spirals. After you’ve sliced through the whole roll, toss the spirals so that they separate into thin strips.
  4. On a platter, arrange alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella any way you want, I like to line them in a circle toward the outside of the platter, placing any odd ends in the middle.
  5. Sprinkle the basil on top (I like to put a bunch in the middle and then a few pieces over the tomatoes and cheese) and drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic reduction on top. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with extra balsamic reduction on the side.

*My faves are bulky heirlooms or romas in summer, camparis/kumatos in winter. You can always use 8-10 oz cherry tomatoes, but it greatly changes the flavor.

**Halve or quarter smaller tomatoes, much less work!

Balsamic Reduction


  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP honey, brown sugar or coconut sugar


  1. Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat.
  2. Turn down heat to low and simmer until reduced to about ⅓ and can coat the back of a spoon. This takes about 10 minutes but watch it closely because burnt vinegar is acrid, awful and can ruin your pan.
  3. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or more. It should look a little like chocolate syrup.
  4. Drizzle away!

Note: You’ll notice my photo features little balls of mozzarella. That’s called ciliegine. Ten ounces of it works just fine, and it doesn’t even need to be cut!