Sunday, September 14, 2014

IFBC 2014 - Seattle

International Food Blogger Conference 2014 Seattle

I'm heading to my first food blogging conference - IFBC 2014. Since it's in Seattle, the conference is just a hop, skip and jump away from Vancouver. I excited about it for many reasons:
  • the authors of The Flavor Bible are giving the keynote address - the most used reference book in my kitchen!
  • a chance to meet other bloggers - there will be over 400 bloggers in attendance!
  • meet a great list of sponsors including:

  • to learn more about:

      • food photography, 
      • writing, 
      • recipe development, 
      • technology,
      • wine!

  • shop
  • eat

  • The conference itself is priced right at $95 (not including hotel) - to receive the $95 deal, participants must write three posts about the conference (this is #1)!

    The conference is organized by and Sephyr Adventures and was the 1st-ever conference for food bloggers! I'm not sure what to expect but I can be hard to please - I'll be sure to let you know how it went and the things I learn!

    Friday, September 5, 2014

    Roasted Tomato and Jalapeno Salsa
    So far we have collected about 15 lbs of tomatoes from our little garden. I've made tomato sauce and kept some of the cherry tomatoes for snacks and salads. I would normally make pico de gallo too but this year I roasted a couple of pounds of tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic and onions to create this roasted salsa. I also roasted a nectarine I had on hand for some extra sweetness.

    We ate this salsa with homemade baked tortillas. You can use this recipe to make your own...just leave off the cinnamon sugar and sprinkle with salt and pepper before putting them in the oven.
    Almost ready - the jalapeno will blacken too.


    2-3 lbs tomatoes, halved
    3 jalapenos, stem removed
    1 red onion, cut into 1/2 inch rings
    1 nectarine, pit removed and halved
    1 head garlic
    1/4 c olive oil
    1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
    salt and pepper to taste


    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Space everything over a couple of baking sheets - leave room - you want to roast the ingredients not steam them.
    2. Sprinkle with olive oil and a bit of salt.
    3. Roast for about 45 minutes, until jalapenos are blackened, garlic is soft and tomatoes are dark.
    4. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
    5. Place everything in a food processor (including juices on pan). Process until desired consistency is reached. I like it a bit chunky but process longer if you prefer it smoother.
    Other salsa recipes to try:

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

    School Snack Mix

    My kids are old enough to make most of their own lunches. They can reheat leftovers for their Thermos and usually make their own sandwiches. For snacks, we keep a big bowl of treats that they can choose to go along with whatever fruit or veggies they pack. The bowl has a mix of prepackaged treats like granola bars and krispie treats but we also have homemade goodies too. These homemade treats might be healthy muffins, nut-free granola or my son's homemade cereal mix. The one I'm sharing today has pumpkin seeds, cereal, dehydrated raspberries, dried cranberries and mini Hersey kisses. My 8-year old loves putting everything into a big mixing bowl, swirling it around and placing scoops of the mix into snack size bags.

    Anything could go into your version of the mix. Other ideas my kids have come up with include:
    • flax
    • chia
    • hemp seeds
    • bran buds
    • raisins
    • sunflower seeds
    • nuts (unless you have a nut free school)
    • dried apricots
    • oats
    • granola
    • your favorite cereal
    This really doesn't need a recipe but here are the proportions we used for our School Snack Mix.


    4 cups cereal (we used Chex)
    1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
    1/2 mini Hershey Kisses (or other chip)
    1/2 cup dried cranberries
    1 cup dehydrated raspberries (ours are from Trader Joe's)


    Place everything in a big bowl and gently mix.
    Scoop into reusable containers or resealable snack bags.

    How many portions you get will depend on size of scoops. Ours made 8 snack sized bags.

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Fruit Salad Smoothie

    Lots of fruit along with a little plain yogurt and peach nectar makes this smoothie quick, easy and healthy. You can add whatever fruit you have on hand - fresh or frozen. At the cabin, soaking in some sun? Then maybe you want to kick it up a notch with the addition of a little tequila or vodka.

    Makes one smoothie.


    1 cup fruit - I used strawberry, orange & watermelon but any combo will do
    1/2 cup peach nectar (or other juice or even water)
    1/2 c plain yogurt
    a handful of ice cubes if NOT using frozen fruit
    1/2 tsp vanilla (optional but adds another level of flavor)


    Blend everything in blender or nutribullet until smooth. If too thick add more juice or water.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Pucker Up Lemon Loaf

    The heat of summer requires the refreshing taste and smell of lemons! This lemon loaf fits the bill with three layers of luscious lemon.

    Ever so slightly adapted from Epicurious


    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    2 1/4 cups sugar
    8 large eggs, at room temperature
    1/4 cup grated lemon zest (from about 3-4 lemons)
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    2 cups unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 tsp vanilla powder (optional)
    1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
    1/3 cup sugar (berry or castor sugar is preferable)
    2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, or more if needed
    5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


    Serves 16 per loaf.


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Spray two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
    3. In a large bowl, whisk together, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla powder (if using) and salt together in a medium bowl.
    4. In another large bowl (or stand mixer) combine the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
    5. Very slowly, pour the butter in bowl with mixer on lowest setting until combined.
    6. Add the sour cream and vanilla mix until combined.
    7. Add the flour mixture, one third at a time, folding gently after each addition until just combined. Try to not over mix. It will be a bit weird looking at my produce a few lumps – that’s ok.
    8. Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F., and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpicks inserted in the centre of the loaves come out clean.
    9. On wire rack, let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.

    1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the lemon juice and sugar. Once dissolved, cook for 3 additional minutes. Remove from the heat.
    2. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and invert the loaves onto the pan. Use a toothpick to poke all over the loaves.
    3. With half of the syrup, brush the tops and sides of the loaves. Once soaked into the cake, brush it again with rest of syrup. 
    4. Cool the cakes cool completely.

    1. Whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice. If the mixture is too thick (it should be pourable but thick), add up to another tablespoon lemon juice and mix again. 
    2. Pour the lemon glaze over the loaves. 
    3. The glaze will harden a bit.

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Blueberry Orange Smoothie

    We have an abundance of local blueberries in our freezer and a bag of almost too old oranges on the counter. So as an afternoon snack for the kids we made this smoothie. The ginger adds a little zing. Once peeled I throw the oranges in whole. In just a couple of minutes a healthy, sweet and delicious snack is ready!

    Note: if your oranges aren't juicy enough, add 1/2 cup of water to help blend things up!


    2 oranges, peeled
    1 cup frozen blueberries
    1 tsp grated ginger or 1 tsp ginger syrup
    water (if needed)


    Place everything in blender or Nutribullet.
    Blend for 1 minute.
    Makes 2 smoothies.

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Product Review - Nairn's Oat Crackers and Cookies
    Nairn's oat crackers with cream cheese and a variety of toppings:
    cucumber, green olives and chives, smoked chili pepper jelly,
    Kalamata olives and basil, cranberries.

    When Nairn's offered me a chance to review a variety of their line of Scottish oat crackers and cookies I immediately signed up!

    I received a big box of seven of Nairn's products:
    • Roughly milled oat crackers
    • Cheese oat crackers
    • Organic oat crackers
    • Sunflower seed oat crackers
    • Stem ginger oat cookies
    • Dark chocolate chip oat cookies
    • Mixed berries biscuits oat cookies

    What's in a name?

    Don't go in thinking these are North American crackers. If you do, you'll be disappointed as they aren't  as crispy and snappy as a typical cracker. They are really somewhere between a cracker and a biscuit. My son noticed that on their website the crackers are called oatcakes. Now that made more sense. I wonder why they changed the name for the North America market? I wish they had kept the original name as it describes the product better but I'm sure their focus groups didn't agree with me!

    Oatcakes are usually associated with Scotland and since I'm part Scottish (my grandmother and great-grandmother came from Dumfries, Scotland) I just had to give them another shot.

    Pile it on!

    They taste like....wait for it...oats! My favorites are the rough milled and the sunflower seed varieties - love the texture of each. If you want to eat them out of the box then I would recommend the cheese variety as otherwise they may be rather plain tasting. But that also makes them perfect for savory toppings and because these are nice and thick they can handle layers - think strong cheese, tuna, olives, chives, peanut butter, apples, hummus, cream cheese, smoked salmon, pepper jellies etc.

    Kids will love them!

    Once school starts up again I will be using them in my kids' lunch boxes. They get so tired of sandwiches but love it when I give them separate containers of crackers, spreads, cheeses, veggies, fruit, etc. that they can put together on their own. Nairn's oatcakes will be a perfect and healthier substitute for regular crackers. I think they will fill the kids up a bit more and give them a bit more energy compared to regular saltines.

    Don't forget the cookies!

    I loved the cookies! Perfect for dunking in tea or coffee. The chocolate cookies were my favorite - the little bits of dark chocolate were perfect little bites to satisfy my sweet tooth without being too sweet. I'm saving the stem ginger ones  to make a crust for a pumpkin cheesecake - I think it will make a great substitute for the graham crackers I normally use.


    • wheat free (NOT gluten free though)
    • easy to grab and go for lunches/snacks  as there are 4 packs of 6 crackers in each box
    • vegetarian friendly
    • low GI
    • stand up to heavier toppings and flavors
    • contain fibre
    • no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors

    • wish the packs had only 4 per pack as sometimes 6 is a bit too

    I will definitely be buying more of these when my stash runs out!

    For more info check out Nairn's sites:
    Note: Nairn supplied me with product but all opinions are my own.