Blogging and food go hand in hand

Blogging is a wonderful way to connect with your fans and build relationships and trust. For anyone in the food industry, blogging serves to connect people with your recipes and musings. You can use it to start a conversation – so much happens in the comments section of established blogs – and it’s a great place to start building those connections. It’s an opportunity to give your brand a voice and humanize the experience.

3 key points for companies in the food industry:

  1. Ask questions. The more questions you ask, the more likely people are to start talking.
  2. PostĀ beautiful photos. Eating is such a visual experience – if you can capture that in a photo, you’re half way there. I’m way more likely to make a recipe when I can see the result is beautiful.
  3. Answer all your comments. It’s great that people are starting to leave comments, but brands that don’t engage with their comments section let it fall short. Even if someone says they don’t like something, engage with them.

Do you have a tip for food blogging? Leave it below in the comments section. I promise I’ll answer. (See what I did there? heh heh) šŸ™‚

 

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Home made mayo

If there’s one thing I took from my experience doing a Whole30 (other than the obvious – added sugar sucks!) it was this mayonnaise recipe. I. love. mayo.Ā I remember seeing some Instagram post pushing avocado instead of mayo and I was all pffffft, I love avocado, but I’m not giving up mayo. But I knew that jar of Hellmann’s was complete garbage for me, so I just ate less of it and savoured it when I indulged.

A lot of people go into their first Whole30 thinking about the things they don’t get to have. I encourageĀ you go into it with excitement about the new things you’ll learn to make. You certainly don’t have to be doing a Whole30 to enjoy this simple mayo. You might even have all the ingredients in your cupboard right now.

Here’s a little video to show you how it’s done – full instructions are below.

Home made mayo

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup avocado oil (Whole30 says they don’t like avocado oil because the flavour is too strong, but I call their bluff. I think it tastes great.. and is actually very mild.)

1 room temperature egg

1/2 tsp mustard powder (or prepared yellow mustard if that’s what you have)

dash of salt

lemon juice

Method

Combine 1/4 c. oil, egg, mustard powder and salt in the blender. SLOWLY pour the remaining cup of oil into the blender while it’s running on low. It’s important not to rush this step or your mayo will not emulsify properly and you’ll end up with a runny mess (this happened to me my first try). Once all your oil is in and your mixture has magically thickened, add the lemon juice to taste and stop the blender once combined.

Use a spatula to transfer your mayo to a jar. According to the good folks at Whole30, this should keep in your fridge for one week past the expiration date on your egg carton. But don’t even worry, you don’t have to think about that – it’ll be gone well before then.

Get fancy

Now that you have mayo – you don’t have to stop there. Use this as a base for any dressing or dip you want. Think garlic, chipotle, fresh herbs, more lemon juice… it’s just the beginning my friends.

i really want to try a chipotle mayo. Have you made home made mayo before? What did you mix with it to make it special?

10 Things to Make This Week

Happy Sunday! Here in Vancouver it’s pouring rain (who could have guessed, right?) and it feels like the right time to think about what’s to come next week. Sundays are my favourite time to sit down and plan out the week – I write lists of food to make, lists of groceries to buy, lists of well… anything that needs a list. I’ve always loved lists.

So in the name of Sunday and in the name of lists, here is a list of 10 things you could make this week with links to the recipes.

1. Lemon Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken

I have made this beauty time and time again. It looks a little like the result of someĀ freak tur-duck-en extreme food video where a few guys get together and drink beer and try to make the most ridiculous meaty food item they can – but look again – it’s just a roast chicken with a few strips of bacon on it. And it’s delicious. Seriously – every person I’ve made this for has said it is the best chicken they’ve ever had. Plus, there’s a lemon up it’s butt. Have fun with that.

Lemon Roast Chicken Recipe by Jamie Oliver.

2. Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)Ā 

Fish_soup

My good friend Marlon started a YouTube channel called Bachelor on a Budget where he posts mouth watering recipe videos and this was one of the recipes I couldn’t not make. I also happened to have everything I needed already in my kitchen (I used coconut oil instead of palm oil) – can we all just agree this is the best feeling ever? I love a good trip to the grocery store, but it’s so satisfying already having everything in the house to make a delicious meal.

Moqueca Recipe by Bachelor on a Budget

3. Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chicken_enchilada_soup

Who else loves their slow cooker? Put food in. Do other things. Out comes dinner. Okay sometimes it’s not that simple, but this meal takes very little prep work (sautĆ© a few onions first and you’re fine) and you end up with a super filling, healthy and delicious meal.Ā This is perfect for Sunday lunch prep. But you’ll want to have some for dinner too, trust me.

Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe by Skinnytaste

4. MapleĀ Spiced PecansĀ 

Paleo_pecans

Ok, yum. I want these right now. This was the first thing I made when my Whole30 was over last November. I didn’t know about spiced nuts. My whole life, no spiced nuts. My old office used to be next to a Wendy’s and if I forgot a lunch I wouldĀ give in and grab a salad (emergency recommendation only) that came with spiced pecans. I researched how I could make these at home and found these babies. Cayenne, maple syrup, cinnamon, a little vanilla – whoah.

Spicy Maple Cinnamon Pecans Recipe by The West Coast Mommy

5. Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema

Fish_Tacos

Tacos are my favourite food. I grew up eating the kind of tacos where you buy the Old El Paso sauce mix and put everything in giant burrito wraps. While there is certainly a warm nostalgia around that meal, in my adult life I’ve fallen in love with the street taco style – small corn tortillas and a small handful of toppings. I usually make pulled chicken tacos because they’re easy, put I had fish and wanted to try something new. Plus, I love fish tacos. This recipe had an avocado crema with it. I love avocado. Perfect. I wish I had purple cabbage so it looked as beautiful as the photos from the recipe, but it tasted the same I’m sure.

Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce Recipe by Host the Toast

6. Home Made PizzaĀ 

Pizza

Serious question: Is there anyone who doesn’t like pizza? This is one of my favourite things to make because it’s easy, relatively quick, and everyone loves it.Ā If I can impress my mom, I know it’s good, because she’s a great cook. I won’t go on and on, because I already do in the recipe post – this recipe is already on my blog.

The Best (+ Easiest) Pizza Ever by ashes + acorns

7. Chicken andĀ Avocado Soup

Avocado_soup

As mentioned above, I adore avocado. I’m also a lover of soup. So I was delighted to find this recipe and even more delighted to discover that again, I had everything I needed to make it in my kitchen. Triple win.

Chicken and Avocado Soup Recipe by Skinnytaste

8. Avocado Pesto Pasta

Avocado_pesto

This is a great meal when you’re in a hurry. Creamy, garlicky, vegan (if Ā that’s your thing – or maybe your guest’s thing) and super quick.

15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta by oh she glows

9. Apple Rose Puff PastriesĀ 

Rose_Pastries

Okay now that you’re done staring at the beauty that is these little pieces of art – let’s talk taste. These are mildly sweet and super delicious. They’re the most beautiful pastry ever – and I discovered them while scrolling through my Facebook timeline. Thank you, 20 second food videos. Hint: I used a mandolin to slice the apples super thin.

A friend commented on my Instagram post of these saying it looks like slices of ham – I wonder what these would be like as a savoury breakfast pastry!

Apple Rose Puffed Pastries Recipe by To Simply Inspire

 

10.Ā DoubleĀ Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroon TartĀ 

Vegan Chocolate Pie

Oh, hello there. What a nice way to finish the week. This double chocolate pie is a) insanely delicious and b) super fun to make. Look at those swirls! One caveat: I wouldn’t attempt to make this crust unless you have a good food processor or high power blender – it even made my Vitamix break a sweat. I’m also realizing how much I needed my iPhone 6 – this photo was taken with an iPhone 4 over a year ago. I guess I’ll haveĀ to make it again… darn… šŸ˜‰

Double Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Tart by oh she glows

Enjoy! xo

PaleOMG

For the month of November 2015 I committed to doing my first Whole30.Ā You may have heard of this before, but if you haven’t, in a nutshell it’s 30 days of commitment to eating no sugar, dairy, legumes, grains (I’m lookin’ at you, quinoa) and alcohol. That sounds hard, right? Well, the first couple days were, but just because it involved being organized. After that, it was a wonderful, eye opening experience. I’ll write more about that another day. The reason I’m bringing it up is that with December creeping up while I was doing the Whole30, I knew cookies were on their way. I didn’t want to fall completely off the bandwagon because I was feeling so great from my sugar free diet, so I started researching paleo recipes for inspiration on refined-sugar free treats (the lesser of two evils, I suppose).

And that’s how I found paleOMG. Juli Bauer is the paleo author/chef/comedian/beauty who owns the blog – and man, is she entertaining. Let’s talk a little bit about her approach to social media.

image1 (1)
paleOMG book version. Best $25 I’ve spent!Ā 

In addition to the blog, paleOMG is present on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. paleOMG has 349,000 followers on Facebook, 26,000 followers on Twitter, 63,000 followers on Pinterest and 212,000 followers on Instagram. The content is not only focused on food and recipes as some food blogs are. Hers is the epitome of a lifestyle blog. She has posts regarding fashion, exercise, travel, and personal musings. In fact, most of her posts have some kind of dialogue in them.

Social media loves food pics. You can tell – check out that following on Instagram and Pinterest, two very visual channels. paleOMG knows people like nice photos, and delivers on that by creating beautiful content that always links back to the blo
g. Entice people with gorgeous photography, drive clicks back to website. Perfect!

What really sets paleOMG apart from other lifestyle/food blogs and brands out there is not the photography – it’s the use of social media to engage in conversation and Juli’s ability to keep it real.Ā She has a potty mouth, she tells it how it is and she makes no apologies for it. In the about me section of her blog, she straight out says she doesn’t care about the science behind paleo, she just loves the way it makes her feel. A far cry from people feeling the need to sound fancy and smart and justify everything they say. She just likes food, and that’s it.

She answers most of the comments on her page. She is there to talk to. The stories in her blog posts are real and human. This is so important on social media as it humanizes her brand. People love paleOMG because people love Juli.

Heck, I love Juli.

Vegan chocolate in a hurry

IMG_0335Is there really anything out there as delicious and satisfying as chocolate? While I’m not one of those people who is OBSESSED with chocolate, I do have a sweet tooth – especially after a savoury meal.

Flashback to my childhood: remember Icy Squares? Those amazing melt-in-your-mouth, somehow-feel-cold, sweet, delicious little cubes wrapped in colourful foil? Yum. I used to LOVE Icy Squares. Too bad they’re stocked full of unfortunate ingredients I can’t pronounce. But that flavour…

Queue: This recipe.

I’m not vegan, but I want to draw attention to the fact that thisĀ is delicious dairy-free, three-ingredient way to satisfy those cravings without all the junk. .

Vegan chocolate in a hurry

Get ready for this… it’s tough… (just kidding it’s super easy!)

Ingredients

1 part cocoa powder

1 part natural maple syrup (Aunt Jemima you have no place here!)

1 part virgin coconut oil, melted but not warm. (If you don’t already have coconut oil, get some, and get the good stuff. You won’t regret it.)

Method

Mix. Pour. Freeze. Eat.

Really. Mix it up, pour it into a dish with a lip on it. Freezing time will depend on the size of your pan and how thick it ends up. If you’re dying for chocolate like I usually am at this point, pour it thinner so it freezes quicker. Pull it out of the freezer and break into pieces.

Enjoy šŸ™‚

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

You know how everyone has those foods that bring them back to their childhood? Mine are my mom’s home made mac and cheese (nothing like it!) and bacon wrapped scallops. I have memories from when I was little of my parents making them after my brother and I had gone to sleep. I would sneak out of my bed and see them eating them while watching TV and tip toe my way over and give them a coy little smile until they handed one over.

The memories extend into my adult life, and while a lot has changed one thing that has stayed the same is we all love bacon wrapped scallops. Scallops are not the most budget friendly choice, so while I would love to eat them everyday, they are special occasion items. So you can imagine my pleasure when a coworker brought in what looked to be bacon wrapped scallops for everyone to snack on. I took a bite and there was an uncharacteristic, yet amazing, crunch. What a weird scallop. Wait – this isn’t a scallop. It’s a water chestnut.

What? Why hadn’t I heard of this? It had the same satisfying flavour I loved, and for $1.50/can instead of $15 a bag. WIN.

baconwaterchestnuts

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Ingredients

1 can whole water chestnuts

1/2 – 1 whole package of bacon, sliced into halves (depending on how many water chestnuts pieces you end up with)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 – 400 degrees – this recipe is not high maintenance. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil for easy clean up. If your water chestnuts are large, simply slice them in half. Wrap in bacon slice half and secure with moistened toothpick. Arrange on cookie sheet and put in the oven until they start to brown (about 10 minutes, although I didn’t really time them as much as just kept an eye on them) and flip over. Cook until bacon is as crispy as you like it, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t get toooo crispy. No one wants that. Unless you do, that’s cool too.

Let them sit for a few minutes, they’re darn hot. Eat up and enjoy!

PS I did some research after the fact and found several recipes that suggest marinating the water chestnuts in soy sauce and rolling in brown sugar before you roll them in bacon. Damn. I’m doing that next.

The Best ( + Easiest) Pizza Ever

I have a serious thing for pizza. Not just any old pizza though, I’m talkin’ about the stone fired goodness that comes out of the handful of amazing pizza joints (holes in the wall, really) popping up around Vancouver.

My favourite pizza place by far is Pizzeria Farina on Main St. Ā The best pie from Farina is, in my opinion, the Calabrese. Spicy calabrese, fresh arugula and salty black olives – what more could you want? Not to mention that crust. Crisp, blistered, thin and blackened. Delicious.

Now, I don’t have a fancy oven or a pizza stone or any of those fancy shmancy pizza making accessories, but the good news is, you really need next to nothing to make delicious pizza.

pizzacrust

Would you believe me if I told you all you need for an amazing crust is flour, salt, water and yeast? It’s true! I mix some olive oil in because I mix olive oil with everything.

Thin Crust Pizza Crust

Ingredients

Ā¾ c. warm water

1 tsp. instant yeast

2 c. all purpose flour

salt

crust

Method

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (or more if you’re feeling adventurous). Stir yeast into warm water in a small bowl. Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl. When you add the salt, add how much you think youā€™ll want, then add more. Salt makes the crust, I promise. Stir in the wet ingredients and combine until the dough looks rough. Move the dough to a smooth, clean surface and knead for 2-3 minutes until well combined and a smooth ball is formed. Set aside in a covered bowl for 30 minutes ā€“ 1.5 hours. Because this is thin crust, you donā€™t need to allow it to rise for long, so if youā€™re short on time, donā€™t worry. I just like seeing it rise, really. I think itā€™s part of the fun.

Youā€™ll see some recipes that do this and some that donā€™t. I like to ā€œpar-bakeā€ my crust a bit so it stands up to the sauce. I push it out into my square baking dish and pop it in the oven for 5-8 minutes. Take it outĀ and use a spatula to take it out of the pan.

Top that pizza. Remember the cardinal rule: less is more.

topped

Calabrese Pizza

Ingredients

6 strips calabrese salami

fresh mozzarella cheese

sundried tomatoes in oil

feta

fresh arugula (for topping)

tomato sauce (I insist on homemade. I’ll post that recipe soon. It’s so easy and so worth it)

My boyfriend doesn’t like olives so I often exclude them, but adding little black olives makes it even more delicious.

Method

Spread tomato sauce (remember, less is more) across par-baked crust. Lay out the salami strips and top with sliced fresh mozzarella, sundried tomatoes and crumbled feta. I can’t stress this “less is more” phrase enough. In a land of over indulgence, let me assure you that the less you put on the more lovely the flavours will be. Don’t overdo the cheese, don’t double layer your meat. You’ll believe me when you taste it.

Bake directly on rack of preheated oven until cheese is bubbly and edges are golden brown. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes and top with fresh arugula before cutting.

Share + enjoy!

done

Introductions

Hi, hello, bonjour.Ā My name is Chelsea. I have been interested in putting together some kind of lifestyle blog for a very long time now, and today I decided I’d take the plunge. My past experience with blogging has always been using it as a way to get my art out in the digital world (I’m a painter, by the way). It has been great to me, although you wouldn’t know it – I deleted my old blog in January with a goal of starting fresh, and between starting a new job and furthering my education I admit I have neglected it.

My issue with my other blog is that in addition to painting, I enjoy being creative in other ways as well, but don’t see my existing blog as a place to write about these other creative ventures. Thus, ashes + acorns is here to solve my dilemma.

This feels like the perfect time to sit down and start a new project. The rain is pouring outside for the first time in a long time. I pulled out my wool socks today. I just poured a cup of tea – decaf, it’s 9:30pm, I’m not crazy. September just feels right.

I’ve got a serious love for crafting, DIY, painting, ceramics, cooking, pretty things and dining out. I also have a deep love for the city I live in, Vancouver. You can expect snippets of those one week at a time. Bottom line: I’m excited.