The Writing Process Blog Tour

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TO BLOG OF COURSE!


I had the honour of being asked to participate in “The Writing Process Blog Tour”.  What a great idea!

The concept is to get bloggers to get to know one another and to have a venue to introduce their blog, and other blogs to a wider circle of people. Social media at it’s finest 😉

Once nominated you have to answer a few questions about your blogging process (which I will do further on) and then thank the person who nominated you (which again I will do) and then nominate 3 fellow bloggers who’s posts will then keep this going hopefully and we can all learn something interesting from each post. My only problem was several of the people I nominated are already doing this blog as they were nominated by someone else! That just goes to show you how great their blogs are so I encourage you to check them out (see blogs I follow for several).

So to begin I would like to thank a fairly new follower of my blog called oceanviewkitchen (click on the name for the link). This is such a great site – full of fabulous recipes and mouth watering photography. The recipes are usually quick and easy to make (always a good thing) and are just right for the season.  I am really enjoying reading this blog on a weekly basis. It’s worth checking out for some truly creative and delicious looking recipes.

The next step involves answering some questions about my writing process  – so here goes…..

1) What am I working on?

My day job (and sometimes night job 😉 ) is as a creative director.  I have run my own business for almost 20 years now specializing in graphic design and print production. Most of our clients are corporate but we do lots of non profits and some outside the box work that is always fun.

Cooking has been an outlet of creativity for me for a number of years and even more so in the last 2-3 years.  I have been cooking for others as a side line for a couple of years now (often older people and households where both parents work and cooking time is often not readily available and many times when a newborn is introduced into the family). The foods I prepare for these people is based on a healthy, low salt, low fat menu that is easy to heat up and always tasty.

I should qualify that I love to cook but am not so keen on baking.  Don’t get me wrong – I love baked goods and some of the blogs I follow make the most incredible baked goods that just looking at them is like food heaven.

For me cooking involves making something from an ingredient or dish that has inspired me me. I rarely follow a recipe and if I do it is more of a guideline to which I add my own 2 cents. I love to be creative and add an unusual ingredient to something just to give it that extra flair.  One of my pet peeves though is having to throw food out that has gone off in the fridge.  I like to create something that uses up the ingredients I have on hand in the fridge or pantry. Simple, quick and tasty!

 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think everyone who blogs brings something unique and different to the food they make.  Even if you are following someone else’s recipe – many people will add their own “touch” to it. I can’t say that what I do is very different from other bloggers except that we all create in our own ways and with what inspires us – to that end we are all different yet very much the same.

 

3) Why do I write what I do?

Simple – I am a foodie!  I love cooking for others and developing a meal from start to finish is such a creative process for me that I savour very last drop of it. I will start planning a dinner party meal weeks in advance and tweak it until I am happy. What I love about blogging is that you can write about what you want and getting the reinforcement from other bloggers that they like what you are writing is INSPIRATIONAL! This seems like a great spot to include a thank you to those that follow my blog. I feel a real community spirit with the readers and with those who’s blogs I follow and with those who’s blogs I come across through recommendations and just surfing the blogsphere.

 

4) How does your writing process work?

Generally I write about 1 of 3 things; 1) a recipe I have developed, 2) food I ate at someones home and 3) restaurants I have visited.

I take pictures anytime I eat out either at a restaurant or at a friends place, find out how it is made if I can, and then come home and write my blog on it which I then schedule for publishing.  I will usually have about 2 weeks of blogs written ahead of time so I am not rushing.  I started writing 2 blogs a week (Wednesday and Saturday) but found it hard to come up with something twice a week.  Now I tend to do a new blog every Saturday and often Wednesdays (if I am not writing a review of a diner party or restaurant) I will reblog someones post that has caught my eye and I think people would like.  Generally that post is something of a fairly healthy nature and again follows the plan of quick, easy and tasty. It’s also a great opportunity to introduce others to new blogs.

I must say I have changed the way I write this blog – When I started writing a blog I realized it had a more formal tone but as I got more comfortable writing I noticed my tone eased up and now I tend to write as though I am having a conversation with fellow readers. I am a very informal person and I like feeling like I am talking to people through my blog and not at them. This community has become just that…a community.

 

So who is next?….

One of my absolute favourite blogs to read and follow is called The Vegan 8. It used to be The Health Flavor but Brandi has revamped and redesigned her blog to be all about vegan cooking and baking. I am still not sure how she manages to be so prolific in her recipes but rest assured they are out of this world.  So creative and absolutely mouth watering.  The photography is outstanding and I am not just saying these things because she has graciously accepted my invitation to continue the writing process blog but because I truly believe it.  The other end of Brandi’s blog is that it doesn’t use more than 8 ingredients!  Perfect! And many of the recipes use the same base ingredients so you are not always running out to buy something special for that one recipe, another factor I really like (using what you have on hand). I encourage you to check out The Vegan 8 blog but I warn you…once you see and try any of the recipes you will be hooked!

 

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this and I hope it inspires someone to start their own blog on whatever interests them. Be sure to check out Brandi’s The Vegan 8 blog and check out some of the blogs I follow (see the left side panel of this blog).

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Conversion Chart

I saw this chart on a blog I follow called Simply Delicious.  Thought it was a very handy tool so I am sharing it with you all.  It’s worth keeping on hand. This chart was created for the recipes on the Simply Delicious website but it provides a good reference tool for all.

 

 

Simply-Delicious-Conversion-Chart

Birthday Dinner and Dim Sum Lunch

A few weeks ago I celebrated my birthday and had a couple of outstanding meals which I thought I would share with you. The first was on my birthday at dinner with my friends Ted and Judy (you remember them, the fabulous chefs….)

Ted bought 4 live lobsters and between them made the most fabulous lobster pasta I have ever had. I promise I am not just saying that because they will read this blog. It truly was a meal fit for  a queen (that would be me that night I think as that’s what I was made to feel like).

Here are some pix of the meal and the process involved.  Keep reading though as the second birthday meal was equally wonderful and quite a surprise!

Lobster Pasta

lobster pasta2

lobster pasta 1

Here is a list of ingredients and a basic idea of how it was made:

Spelt pasta

4 lobster boiled then sautéed in a bit of butter and garlic – I know I know butter…but it was my birthday 😉

Snap peas, blanched baby spinach and roasted grape tomatoes with garlic and olive oil

Put all together and finish with a bit of chopped parsley and fresh ground pepper

AWESOME!!!!

Next on the list of birthday celebrations…

I had planned a lunch with my oldest friend Fern (friends since we were 8 years old). We were going to try a new Dim Sum place around the neighbourhood where we grew up. We arrived and I thought I heard her say table for 6 but didn’t think anything of it until I saw Deena who was also one of my BFF’s growing up (again since we were 8 years old). I look around and realize there are other settings at the table and lo and behold in comes Marla, Nadine and Penny – 3 more of my childhood BFF girlfriends!

Well that was a lunch to remember – we recounted our childhoods in detail reminding each other of how bad we all were and the fun we had.  We sat and stuffed ourselves with amazing Dim Sum for over 3 hours!!!! Kudos to Fern for organizing and I have to say it was so much fun seeing everyone and finding out what each one is doing.  What a wonderful afternoon. Now, while the excuse was to surprise me for my birthday – we all pretty much had birthdays within 6 months of the event so it was decided it was an all around birthday celebration! Fern even supplied the “minutes of the meeting”  Too funny!!!!  See below:

Microsoft Word - Doc1.htm

Now that’s a Birthday Celebration!!!  Thank you everyone!

Chicken Enchiladas

I mentioned in a previous post I have been doing a bunch of cooking for my friend Darren which gave me a great excuse to try out some new recipes.  Darren was great and agreed to be my tester for a few weeks. Here is another one of the new recipes I tried and I think turned out well. The pictures don’t do it justice. (I apologize as the pictures were taken from the leftovers – which is my food 😉 )

Note: this can be made vegetarian by eliminating the chicken and perhaps using tofu.

enchilada

This looks like a ton of food I realize in the picture but it is on a small bread plate not a dinner plate. Once again I would consider this comfort food and on the whole quite healthy.

Ingredients:   Serves 8

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast sliced in thin lengthwise strips (similar to fajitas)

1 onion, chopped

1.5  cups low fat yogurt

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (you can use a low fat cheese here – I used an old cheddar for the extra zing)

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch black pepper

2 cups of pasta sauce

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 cup chopped  pepper (any colour will do)

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 – (10 inch) whole wheat flour tortillas

1  jar salsa  (about 1.5 cups)

3/4 cup shredded cheddar or any cheese you like

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté chicken till cooked. Drain excess moisture.  Add the onion, yogurt, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano and ground black pepper. Heat until cheese melts – about a minute or two. Stir in pasta sauce, water, chili powder, chopped pepper and garlic.

3. On a plate – lay one torilla flat and spread a portion of the mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Fold over the ends and place in a baking dish with the seam side facing down. Cover with salsa, the left over sauce from the pan  and the remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 20 minutes.

4. When serving, add a spoonful of yogurt on top and rice on the side (or in my case red and white quinoa with vegetables).  The rice/quinoa helps to absorb any extra juices from the enchiladas.

Crockpot Freezer Cooking

This was posted on a facebook friends page (Katherine that would be you!) and I thought it was a brilliant idea.

The crockpot is one of my favourite tools especially in the winter months.  The food that you cook is so flavourful and rich tasting and just overall comforting. When I saw this idea I thought it was so so smart. Check out the blog it came from (Kojo-designs).  This person has created a months worth of meals prepped in one afternoon – all to be cooked in the crockpot.

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The beauty is that you just toss everything into the crockpot in the morning and at dinner you have this amazing fully cooked delicious dinner! I will add to the “idea pot” here and tell you that when I make a brisket or anything with lots of sauce, I save the leftover sauce and freeze it so that if I make the meal again or something similar I can just throw in the frozen leftover sauce and it saves time and money.

I also have a vacuum sealer so the food doesn’t burn in the freezer.  Great investment.

 

Thats my blog for today – Enjoy!

 

 

Lemon-Dill Orzo Salad with cucumbers, Olivers and Feta

Great salad for stretching out summer just a wee bit longer.  This is from a blog I follow called FOOD 52.  They have some great recipes from a bunch of different bloggers.  Check out the site. It’s very creative. This recipe and photo is by Sarah Fioritto

By Sarah Fioritto food 52-orzo-salad-005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Boats

I have heard it is often tough to get kids (and some adults) to eat vegetables – personally I love veggies but that is me.  I came across a recipe that I thought was really smart and delicious.  Zucchini Boats!  I am attaching the link to the blog that featured them along with the photo from that blog.  Use your imagination (and your kids imagination) for toppings. Enjoy!

http://www.prouditaliancook.com/tag/zucchini-boats

 

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Grilling in the country

Spent a wonderful Canada Day long weekend in around the Lindsay/Peterborough area at my good friend Victorias place.  It was like a spa for the mind and body.  We had planned on experimenting with cooking up new food ideas so I was very excited.  Some worked really well while others not as much.  I decided to blog even the mediocre in hopes perhaps someone could recommend how to make it better.  Here goes several meals so keep reading after the first:

Brown Rice Paella (not your typical version)

paella1

While this looks really good….it was lacking in intensity of flavour. We didn’t do the typical spicing which is probably why it was lacking in flavour.  Instead we opted to try lime and cilantro to flavour it for a lighter tasting paella.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice (we should have used instant rice but used regular brown rice as it was what we had)

10 large raw peeled shrimp

1 lb of mussels

1 cup of frozen green peas

Juice of 1 lime

1 lemon cut in quarters (to sprinkle over dish)

Fresh coriander

Directions

We marinated the shrimp in some lime juice and coriander first.

Cook the rice in chicken or vegetable broth until just about ready then add the frozen peas, shrimp and then the mussels on top.  Cover and steam for about 5 minutes.  Very quick and easy but the thing that made it taste okay was we added hot sauce to it on our plates.

Please feel free to comment any ideas you think would have improved on the flavour (other than the traditional style).

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Tomato and Feta Salad and Grilled Vegetables

Grilled Turkey burger

tomato and feta salad

This was amazing – We made these burgers in a way I had never made burgers before and low and behold they were awesome!!!!

We did not have any bread crumbs so we used large flake oatmeal instead.  Who would have thought!  Okay every gluten intolerant person probably knows this but we didn’t so it was amazing to learn.

No real need for instructions here as you just combine all ingredients which included the following:

1 lb. ground turkey

1 sweet onion – I caramelized the onion but you can just sauté it.

About 1 cup of large flake oatmeal

Dijon mustard – 3 tbsp

2 cloves of garlic minced

A splash of hoisin sauce

A splash of BBQ sauce

(use any condiments you have in your fridge that you think you might like)

A pinch of black pepper

1 egg

The mixture seemed very wet so we made the patties and put them in the fridge and like magic by the time we went to cook them (about an hour or two later) they had firmed right up! – apparently the oatmeal absorbs moisture (I know all you people that knew this are thinking “Well of course it does” but we really didn’t know – I am not an oatmeal eater so I never use it).

The fun part for us both was grilling on a tiny charcoal grill – after several attempts we got it going and that little sucker really got hot (we kind of charred a couple of the burgers in the process but they still tasted amazing).

Burgers on BBQ

Add to this a roasting pan full of baby carrots from the farmers market fresh that morning, japanese eggplant and asparagus topped with a bit of shredded parmesan cheese and you have a fabulous meal.

Grilled veg

What could be better to add to this meal than a salad of fresh tomatoes with feta cheese and basil from the garden fresh picked and you have the perfect summer meal. (oh yeah I also sautéed some mushrooms to put on top of the burgers…)

Lastly – for lunch Victoria made this yummy Niçoise salad with some fresh tomatoes, baby white potatoes, 2 hard boiled eggs, fresh quick cooked asparagus with a dijon dressing that was absolutely delightful!  So fresh and tasty.

nicios salad

You now know pretty much everything we ate that  weekend 😉

Pretty darn awesome I have to say!

ReBlog – Food on My Mind by RycePapers

Great column on food and eating by my friend Victoria on her blog RycePapers.  Food for thought that’s for sure. Here is the first paragraph to get you thinking:

“The book “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink got me thinking more mindfully about what I eat.  The author outlined some of the tricks companies use to influence our eating and buying habits.  And what surprised me most was Wansink discovered we make over 200 food-related decisions every day!”

Check out the blog!

http://gailvazoxlade.com/othervoices/food-on-my-mind/#comment-5470