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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Spice Blends from The New York Times

My friend Peter shares a love of cooking and he is always sending me interesting links about food and food blogs.  This time he sent me something that I had to share.  It is a series of instructions on how to make your own spice blends. These come from the New York Times (including the photograph).

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/05/04/magazine/mag-04Eat-Spices.html?_r=2

I have one or two blends that I make for using on a variety of foods – my favourites being a blend of cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, chilli pepper and several other spices like mustard powder and a bit of sea salt.  The beauty of spice blends is that you can make them whatever you like.  I love Middle Eastern flavours so I tend to cook using many of those spices. Others prefer more of a BBQ flavour so they mix that style together.  Find a blend you like and experiment with it.  My only recommendation is that you don’t go overboard with one spice even if it is your favourite – it could wind up overpowering the flavour of the food.  Aim for a balance of flavours and you will be surprised at how much it adds to your cooking.

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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.

 

 

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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!

 

 

Dinner at Pizza Libretto (Toronto – Danforth Ave.)

Last night I had dinner with my friend Peter before we went to see the movie “Philomena”.  We decided on Pizza Libretto as it was in the neighbourhood and was fast service. Pizza Libretto serves traditional style Neapolitan Pizza. What does that mean you ask? Well it means it is cooked using all natural ingredients such as Marzano tomatoes in ovens imported from Italy and built by 3rd generation pizza oven makers in Naples. It also means the dough is naturally leavened with Italian Caputo dopio zero flour. Further, these specialty ovens cook the pizza at 900 degrees for only 90 seconds (hence the fast service).  All that being said you are probably wondereing “How good was the pizza?”

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Well Peter had the fresh arugula with Ontario prosciutto, garlic, tomato, oregano, basil and shaved grana padano cheese. His pizza was quite delicious and very fresh tasting.

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I chose the cremini mushroom with bufala mozzarella, goronzola, roasted garlic, rosemary, thyme and pecorino (I did ask them to leave out the thyme as it is not my favourite herb).

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While mine tasted fine – Peters was definitely better in my books – more flavour. I love mushrooms but I guess when they are only baked for 90 seconds albeit at 900 degrees – they don’t release much of their flavour so I found mine a bit bland.  Also the center of the pizza is very very thin and quite moist so you cannot pick a piece up with your fingers and eat it – you need to use a knife and fork. I am not saying this is a bad thing it is just different from that usual.

I will say that adding the hot chilli oil helped add flavour to my pizza.  Peters was certainly more flavourful though but same issues with the centre.

Portion size is big – I couldn’t finish mine. The cost for mine was $17 and for Peters – $16.  Not crazy high prices and it certainly was large enough to share along with a salad I think.

All in all – Yes I would go back but no, I would not order the mushroom pizza again.  I would try something different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Italian Baked Eggs (Gluten Free)

I came across this blog (which I now follow), and it looked like the perfect cold weather comfort bowl for either breakfast, lunch or dinner!  I saw it on a blog called nutritionist in the kitch. It seems she came across it on a site called Damn Delicious (that’s how blogs work – stuff gets linked around – although you always link it back to the original place the recipe came from).

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Check out the blog at the link below (photo is by nutritionist in the kitch):

http://www.nutritionistinthekitch.com/2013/11/25/easy-italian-baked-eggs-gluten-free/

I am including the recipe below but check out the site as it really is great.

Prep time 10 mins

Cook time 10 mins

 Total time 20 mins

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • ¼ cup prepared marinara sauce
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • ¼ cup part-skim mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons light parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • dash of salt
  • dash of pepper
 Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add oil to a saucepan and heat at medium, add in onions and sautee until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add in spinach and sautee until just wilted, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in marinara sauce and sautee until heated through.
  5. Transfer mixture to a ceramic soup bowl or individual sized ramekin.
  6. Crack in both eggs.
  7. Top with cheese and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, and broil for an additional 2 minutes until cheese is bubbling.
  9. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information

Serving size: 1 Calories: 290 kcal Fat: 18g Carbohydrates: 11g Sugar: 4g Fiber: 3gProtein: 22g

Cinnamon Nutmeg Pumpkin Soup – Nice Fall Soup

I posted this last year around this time and thought it was timely to post again so here it is.
This is a recipe from a website I follow called “dLife” – it is designed for diabetics but it has some great low carb recipes which is why I follow it. I have just copied and pasted it in here so you get the whole picture from a nutritional point of view.
Their recipes are quite easy to follow which is also why I like it. They also have an area where you adjust the number of servings you want to make and it automatically adjusts the amount of your ingredients to work for hat quantity.  Much easier than figuring it out on your own.
Here is the link to their website if you are interested.
Cinnamon Nutmeg Pumpkin Soup
Source: dLife A warm, creamy pumpkin soup spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.

Rating:     
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: EASY
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Nutrition Facts

Makes 4 servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 183.6
Total Carbs 12.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.5 g
Sugars 4.4 g
Total Fat 13.7 g
Saturated Fat 8.5 g
Unsaturated Fat 5.2 g
Potassium 355.1 mg
Protein 4.1 g
Sodium 50.1 mg
Dietary Exchanges
3 Fat
See the Detailed Nutritional Analysis
Powered by ESHA
 Servings 

 Ingredients

4 cup fresh cubed pumpkin , peeled and seeded
2 cup half & half
1 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (up to 1/2 tsp)
1 tbsp fresh chives , snipped as garnish
 Directions

1 Fill medium saucepan with 1″ of water.
2 Add pumpkin and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Drain well.
3 In food processor, process pumpkin and half and half until smooth.
4 Return to saucepan and add brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
5 Heat mixture to boiling, and then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered.
6 Serve in bowls garnished with chives.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Mile Cassoulet Meal in the Country

I spent the other weekend at my friend Victoria’s place in the country.  It was a wonderful weekend full of art shows and country town drives.  We hit the farmers market on Saturday morning to get ingredients for dinner that night, still not totally sure what we were going to make but wanting to be inspired by the local produce.  We decided on a version of a cassoulet.  I had brought up smoked turkey and smoked chicken sausages from my local butcher shop that were already cooked but just needed a bit of grilling to brown them.  It was so delicious!!!!!

We got two meals for us and then another three meals to freeze out of the recipe which when we worked it out came to about $2.50 – $3.00 per serving at the most.  Full of great vegetables and flavours.  (As an aside – I added leftover cooked quinoa with vegetables to a serving I brought home and it was great).

Victoria also made a Caprese style salad on skewers for us – it was so good and so unusual. The secret is to soak the cubes of mozzarella cheese in balsamic vinegar for several minutes or longer before putting on the skewer. The cheese along with fresh basil from the garden and small grape tomatoes from the garden made for a wonder “salad”

Caprese salad sticks

Cassoulet 1

Casoulette 2

Ingredients:

1 onion

1 leek

2 medium carrots sliced

2 celery stalks sliced

2 garlic cloves – minced or chopped

1 can white kidney beans

2 bay leaves

1 large red pepper

1 small can diced tomatoes (we used Victorias homemade roasted tomatoes which gave an even smokier flavour)

Pepper to taste

2 large cooked smoked sausages (turkey or chicken) sliced (1/4″ thick max.)

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

8-10 large mushroom (large pieces)

Pinch of cumin

1-2 tsp of chilli garlic hot sauce – quantity depends on how spicy you like your food)

Parmesan cheese to top it with

Directions:

Sauté onions and leeks. Add all ingredients and simmer for 1 hour. When you plate it – add some grated or shredded parmesan cheese to the top and serve with a baguette to absorb any liquid

Serves 6

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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