Thursday, April 30, 2015

The "You Can Stay" Risotto

What's your favourite dish that your partner makes? Although my boyfriend Chris has a knack for creating magic in the kitchen with pretty much anything he touches (though he will be the first to deny it), my hands-down favourite dish that he makes is his Wild Mushroom and Saffron Risotto. Yes, I have stated how much I enjoy making and diving into a plate of my own risotto, but no matter how much practice I get, mine never seems to be as dreamy as Chris'. Chris' risotto always tastes just a bit creamier, the rice always has just a bit more bite, the seasoning is always spot on, and the presentation, well just look at that picture and try not to drool! 

We have this running joke in our home ever since I moved in in September, the "you can stay" joke. Whenever one of us does something kind for the other one (doing laundry, folding laundry, making dinner, cleaning the condo, etc.) we always joke that "ok, now you can stay." Thank goodness for this food blog of mine, which forces me to cook on a daily basis, giving me the reassurance that I "can stay." Well Chris, as long as you continue making your send-me-to-heaven risotto, you will always, and I mean always, have permission to stay. 

Listening To

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Say 'Hello' To fredi Magazine's Newest Food Expert!

Friends! I have such cool news to share! I am so very happy to announce that I have recently become one of fredi Magazine's food experts! What does this mean exactly? This means that I will have the opportunity to write a food article in each quarterly issue of fredi, as well as contribute to their food and drink blog. What's even more awesome about this exciting new endeavour? Firstly, it's been so amazing to have a super cool team to report to, who has already given me so much creative freedom in creating each new article. Secondly, it's an absolute honor to have my name and articles right next to the inspiring entrepreneur Rose Reisman, who is also fredi's food expert! 
Check out my first article for fredi on my latest obsession, Cauliflower! Inspired by a recent food hack that I created for making cauliflower "rice," I created a vibrant and fresh Green Goddess Cauliflower "Couscous" with green peas, asparagus, and a bright kick of lemon! Click here to see the recipe for yourself!

Listening To:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Food Hacks Recap

Eggs-In-A-Ham Basket
Eggs-In-A-Ham Basket - Taking an extra couple minutes on your weekend morning to prepare breakfast doesn't have to be a chore, well, that is if you have a handy food hack up your sleeve! Introducing my Eggs-In-A-Ham Basket, the answer to your weekend morning hunger woes! With as little as five-minutes of prep time and 20-minutes of baking in the oven, you can deliver a delicious dish that will make your belly happy and put your mind at ease! By simply fitting slices of ham into greased ramekins, cracking an egg inside, and topping with cheese and barbecue sauce, you have done all the work required for the ultimate quickie morning bite. It's just that easy, and all the more appetizing than a bowl of cereal!
Valentine's Day Cake
Valentine's Day Cake - With Food Hacks on the brain this past Valentine's Day, not to mention a busy schedule and a limited budget, I turned to my collection of hacking tips and tricks to come up with something interesting and striking for my loved one. Ever since I was first appointed the title of being Kraft's 'Ultimate Food Hacker,' I have been dying to try a hack for making a heart-shaped cake, using only one square pan and two circle pans. The hack looked so incredibly simple to execute, and the results were gorgeous! Sure enough, my heart-shaped cake turned out beautiful! It was absolutely delicious, and featured some of my boyfriends favourite flavours, pistachio and orange! 
Banana Peanut Butter "Ice Cream" In Chocolate Bowls
Banana Peanut Butter "Ice Cream" In Chocolate Bowls - I recently heard of a hack for making ice cream that sounded far too simple to be true. The hack apparently took mere minutes to make, required only a food processor, and was even dairy free! I didn't believe it was possible! The hack stated that by blending frozen, chopped bananas in a food processor, you will be left with the best ice cream! With low expectations, I began making this wild sounding "ice cream." To my complete shock, the "ice cream" turned out incredible! Creamy and sweet, I couldn't believe how much this mixture of bananas and fixings tasted just like ice cream! What was equally wild was the chocolate serving bowl that I served the ice cream in! By dipping the ends of small balloons into melted chocolate, letting it set, and carefully popping, I had created the tastiest serving bowl ever! 
Spicy Chicken Hard Tacos
Spicy Chicken Hard Tacos - How does one cater taco night to reflect both hard and soft taco shell enthusiasts without having to purchase both types? You know the answer! With a food hack! By simply draping small, soft tortillas over the bars of an oven rack and baking until crisp, you will have the most perfect hard taco shells ready to be stuffed with your favourite fillings! What I love about these homemade hard taco shells is that the width between the bars of the oven rack creates a flat base for your shells, eliminating the issue of having your hard tacos topple over and spilling the filling onto your plate. 
Waffled Has Browns
Waffled Hash Browns - Just like the waffle iron stepped in to deliver an incredibly crisp crunch to my Grilled Chicken Caesar Wafflewich, the waffle iron once again acted as the perfect tool for achieving the ultimate hash browns! When I say 'ultimate' I truly mean it, because these babies were, dare I say, better than any hash browns I have ever had at any restaurant! With the most dreamy, crunchy crust, and a light and soft interior, it's insane to think just how simple these hash browns were to prepare. What I really loved about making hash browns with this method was being able to step away from the waffle iron as the potato shreds cooked, allowing me to prepare the rest of my breakfast spread and set the table. Crispy, soft, with an herbaceous hit of ranch dressing, your breakfast table is begging for these!
Mini Corn Dog Bites
Mini Corn Dog Bites - Corn dogs have got to be one of the most fun carinal foods, but truth be told, they aren't exactly the easiest thing to make at home. They're messy, they're repetitive, they require deep-frying, and they can only be cooked a couple at a time. Let's face it, I wasn't planning on making corn dogs at home anytime soon until I came up with the easiest way to make this beloved fusion dish using a mini muffin tin. A mini muffin tin is the perfect tool for this hack, allowing you to create tiny, bite-sized corn dogs by filling the muffin cups with cornbread batter and a hot dog surprise in the middle. No mess, no repetition, no deep-frying, no problem! 
Mexican Cauliflower "Rice:
Mexican Cauliflower "Rice" - Though there are so many fantastic new ways to prepare cauliflower that have caught my attention lately, there's one cauliflower dish that has me the most inspired. Thanks to its insanely simple preparation and absolutely delicious results, I can't stop obsessing over cauliflower "rice"! Cauliflower rice is just as it sounds - simply cauliflower made to look, feel, and taste just like rice. All it takes to achieve this wonderful rice-like texture is a quick pulse of chopped cauliflower pieces in a food processor. Cook in a skillet with a little butter until tender-crisp. That's it! Can you believe it's just that easy to hack cauliflower into a low-carb, high-fiber comfort food favourite?
Crispy Stuffed French Toast
Crispy Stuffed French Toast - There's nothing worse than soggy french toast! What makes french toast really incredible is the inside is soft and fluffy from the infused egg custard, and the outside gets nice and crisp. It's not always easy to achieve that crisp exterior, risking the chance of burning the outside or drying out the inside, and that's where the food hack comes in! By coating the egg-soaked bread in crushed cereal, you will easily be able to achieve that mouth-watering crisp exterior that breakfast dreams are made of! To enhance that textural contrast even further, I stuffed the french toast with velvety Philadelphia Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cream Cheese! Hungry yet? 
Mini Deep Dish Pizzas
Mini Deep Dish Pizzas - With pizza nights holding a special place in my heart, I was so excited to try a hack for making mini, individual deep-dish pizzas using store-bought biscuit dough baked in muffin tins! What drew me to this hack was memories of making my own personal pizzas with my family. I love that this hack encourages personal expression, allowing each member of the family to dress their pizza as they wish! 

Stay up to date with all my food hack recipes, tips, and tricks, follow me on the Food Hacks Twitter account: @FoodHacks

Listening To

Monday, April 27, 2015

The 100 Day Project

Goals have always been something that I've struggled with. True, I've always been the type of person to set goals, but the problem arises when it comes to accomplishing those goals. I'm proud to say that I have accomplished many of the goals I've set for myself (though I still have many more to go!) but the real problem is in the struggle to accomplish them. It's not that the goals are often ever that difficult to achieve, it's more about my internal demons, my doubts and fears, that keep me and overwhelm me from moving forward in a positive way. I have a horrible habit of making small issues and stresses larger than life in my own mind, which bogs me down and tricks me from doing the things that I love and make me happy. 

I'm always looking for new ways to be inspired and motivated to achieve my goals, so when I first heard about The 100 Day Project, I was immediately intrigued. The 100 Day Project was started by the magazine The Great Discontent, which delves into the stories of inspiring millennials who are striving to achieve, you guessed it, contentment. It's about those creative people who are choosing to dig their own path and stray from the norm in order to achieve their hopes and dreams. The 100 Day Project was started for people just like me, who get overwhelmed by one final large goal. This project is not about setting a goal to achieve in 100 days, it's about consciously focusing 100 consecutive days of your life on one creative pursuit. It's about valuing the process and journey of creation, and embracing new directions and goals which may arise.

With a newfound love for food photography I knew that I wanted my 100 days to be about learning this new art form. Though I haven't exactly followed all of the rules, choosing to not post a photo of my progress on my Instagram account every single day, I can say that since beginning this project on April 6th, I have already learned so much about myself. This project has reminded me how much happiness art and creativity brings to my life. It's reminded me to focus on the little things that make me happy like being active, writing in a journal, and taking the time to be focus on my talents (so that they don't disappear!). 

The next step for me is making writing in my blog apart of my weekly routine once again. I've been focusing so much on taking photos, that I feel I've neglected my writing. I don't think it would come as a surprise to say that I've once again been overwhelming myself with the goal. I've been stressing over what the heck to write in each entry that I've forgotten how moving and effective a blog can be with just a few words. I want to make an effort to share my process with my readers (or should I say reader, hi mom!) and find the joy in sharing those pieces of my life once again. Some entries may be quite short, with just a simple caption, while others will surely be my typical long ramble of nonsense. The point is, I don't want to feel like I have to keep my entries consistent with the rest of my blog. I want to start embracing the beauty of the process once again, even if that means that my blog may look a little funny and disjointed for a bit. Then again, this process may inspire me to take my blog in an entirely new direction. Who knows! But I feel the need to express this change as a way of introducing my new perspective on creativity and goals. I hope that you enjoy following along on this journey with me. 

To learn more about The 100 Day Project, click here!

To follow my progress of The 100 day Project, follow me on Instagram

Listening To:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Chasing Dreams of The Perfect Blueberry Muffin

When I was around eight or nine years old I was invited to my friend Nikki's cottage to stay over for a few nights of pre-teen debauchery. My sister and my mom drove me up and were invited to stay for the day. Us kids spent our day jumping off the dock, playing games, exploring the forest, and making up dance routines to our Alanis Morissett cassette tape. It was one of those perfect summer days that I don't think I will ever forget, and will continually find myself attempting to recreate, nostalgic for that carefree freedom of being a rambunctious nine-year old. Despite our wonderful day full of fun and memories, the only thing my sister can remember is what we ate. Sure my sister Justine was only six or seven years old at the time, making it tricky to remember a random day up north with your sisters friends, but Justine can still remember every little detail about Nikki's mom Darlene's blueberry muffins. 
Ask Justine about those blueberry muffins and the first thing she will say is that they were the best muffins she has ever had in her life. She will then proceed to give a detailed description of the taste, texture, and ratio of blueberries to cake, and will end on a comically sad note, declaring that no other muffin has come close to being as perfect as those muffins on that special day, so many years ago. 
Recently Justine slipped into her wistful retelling of The Great Blueberry Muffins of 1996-ish once again, but this time instead of letting her fall into a pool of self pity at never again having such a moist, sweet, and perfect blueberry muffin (oh the melodrama!) I decided to take matters into my own hands and attempt to recreate more than just the wonderful memory of good friends enjoying a beautiful summer day in nature, I was going to recreate Darlene's muffins! 
Because I hadn't had the muffins since my age was a single digit, the first step in recreating "the best blueberry muffins ever" was finding a recipe that at least looked like Darlene's blueberry muffins. Pinterest came to rescue and led me to a recipe on the blog Yammie's Noshery that looked just like Darlene's. The interior image looked exactly like the pale and fluffy muffins that Justine loved so much, with the same blueberry-to-cake ratio, and even a light dusting of sugar on top just like Darlene's turbinado sugar topping. Though the muffins turned out quite tasty, they still need some work to get them near the caliber we were hoping for. The muffins were a little too sweet, a little too oily, and just a bit too dense. Although these muffins weren't the perfect ones we were hoping for, this recipe is a great start to begin playing with that I feel confident will eventually result in those muffins that Justine remembers so fondly. Below I have included a revised version of the Yammie's Noshery recipe based on my own personal feedback. Please note that I have not tested these alterations yet, I can make no promises on the result! Please give my revisions a try and let me know what you think! And Darlene, if you're reading this, care to share your beloved blueberry muffin recipe with the Rose girls? I think it's clear based on our almost 20-year search for the perfect replica that we will be forever grateful! 

Slightly adapted from Yammie's Noshery
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup fresh blueberries
about 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease a standard muffin tin or line with paper liners (or parchment paper as I did in the photo!).
  2. In a large bowl combine the sugar, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla extract until well blended.
  3. In a small bowl stir together the sour cream with the baking powder until dissolved. Stir into the wet ingredients.
  4. Stir the flour and salt into the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the blueberries.
  5. Evenly pour the batter into the muffin tin about 3/4 of the way up. Top each muffin with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
Listening To:
Alanis Morissette - Hand In My Pocket