Monday, November 16, 2015

What's Cooking?!........

It’s hard to believe it has been 6 months since my last blog post! Seriously… where has this year gone?! However with that being said it’s not really surprising when I think about what has been happening over the last 6 months!

When we started the year all cozied up and warm sipping Champagne by the fire at my parent’s house in Scotland we knew that 2015 had some big changes in store for us, and for the first time ever at New Year I was a little apprehensive about the coming year, rather than my usual optimism of fresh starts and new opportunities.

Over the previous few years Scott had been away from home for work more and more and so finally we accepted that the only way to stop that from happening and to have him at home more was to move from Vancouver Island over to the Mainland which would completely cut down on his travel time and absences from home. It wasn’t an easy decision, especially for me, as it meant moving to a new city where we literally knew no one and starting over. My last big move had been from Scotland to Canada and one that at the age of 25 I perhaps hadn’t fully thought through. I moved to follow my heart but didn’t appreciate how hard it would be over time being so far away from my family and friends, especially as we all got older and had our own families. So we thought long and hard and by the time we had gone through all of the pros and cons we realised now was the time to make the move especially since Ben was starting Kindergarten in September. So our house was put on the market in March, we spent some time on the mainland finding an area that we loved to move to and everything was a go! After that life just seemed non-stop! We sold our house, bought a house, said our goodbyes, attempted to enjoy the summer while homeless for six weeks (although found an amazing place to stay!), had my Mum & Dad over (thank goodness – what a help!) and finally moved in to our new home just before Ben started school!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pack up a Picnic with a little help from GLAD

Who doesn’t love having a picnic? When the sun is out it’s all I want to do! For some reason food eaten outdoors seems to taste better so whenever the opportunity arises we pack up some food, grab our blanket and head for a picnic. It doesn’t matter if it’s a grassy park, on the side of a river or on a sandy beach, it’s all about being outside and enjoying some delicious food while soaking up the sun’s rays!

When packing a picnic you need food that is portable so I love lots of different types of picky food! Transporting the food in one piece is key and with the help of GLAD products it is effortless.
Some of my favourite foods to make for a picnic include Chicken Drumsticks which we barbecue ahead of time and slather with our favourite BBQ Sauce. Served with some homemade Coleslaw it makes a fantastic picnic treat that everyone loves.

I absolutely love GLAD Lunch To Go Containers which have a separate little dressing cup attached inside to the lid for your salad dressing! No more soggy salads as you simply dress your salad as you are about to eat it. Genius! You could also use them for veges and dip which I always grab for a picnic. It takes moments to prepare, is healthy, delicious and again every loves it. Or how about making some homemade Hummus and popping some good quality extra virgin olive oil in the dressing cup to drizzle over the hummus at the last minute… Or if you are a chilli addict like me fill the little cup with some of your favourite hot sauce, such as Sriracha and then you can add a spicy kick to your dips. Yum!

For something sweet and refreshing I can never resist wedges of Watermelon and fresh Strawberries which I again just pop into a GLAD container. I pack a Snack bag for any Strawberry Husks to be thrown into which makes for easy clean up and don’t forget the wet wipes for sticky hands which I pop into Medium Storage Bags.

Snack bags are also great for individual snacks for any young family members. I pack raisins, crackers and even baby biscuits in them for a quick and easy bite to eat.

Of course if your picnic is a last minute adventure then there is nothing wrong with making up some quick and easy sandwiches with everyone’s favourite fillings, and if you are really stuck for time stop at your local supermarket or grocery store on your way and grab some of your families favourite foods.

So what are you waiting for?! The next time the sun is shining and you have a day off, pack up some of your favourite foods or head to your local deli, pop it all in a cooler or hamper and find a nice spot for you to enjoy. It’s what sunny days are made for and with GLAD products it’s easy!

Here are a few more of my favourite Picnic foods:

{Easy to make and great for anyone unable to eat Gluten.}

{Such a treat and make for an ultimate picnic! Just don’t forget the ketchup!}

{The ULTIMATE picnic sandwich!}

{For an extra special treat!}

{Who doesn’t love a good Pasta Salad!? If needing to be Gluten Free substitute the Pasta for a GF alternative – my fave is Corn Pasta.}

{Kicking things up a notch and making this an extra special picnic!}

{If you want to surprise children why not try Beetroot Hummus or Carrot Hummus for some fantastic all natural colourful food!}

A selection of Cheese, Hams and Cold Meats

{Transports well and doesn’t need to stay chilled. Simply wrap in Cling Wrap.}


Happy Picnicking!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Curried Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup

It’s amazing how comforting and nourishing a hot bowl of soup can be. This is a perfect soup to warm you up on a rainy day and it takes no time to make at all. Even better it is a delicious, filling soup that is completely gluten and dairy free!

I made this recently because I’d received some vegetables from my Mother-in-law as they were moving and she was emptying her fridge. I used what I had but don’t worry too much about exact quantities – if you have 1 sweet potato use it all, you just might need to add a little extra stock. I like this particular soup to have texture which is why I grate the veggies but if you prefer you could easily blend it for a smooth, thick soup.

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
4 carrots, peeled and grated
½ good sized sweet potato, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or grated on a microplane
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tsp curry powder
200ml coconut milk
1000ml vegetable or chicken stock
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan then add the leeks. Cook for a few minutes until softened but not browned, then add the grated carrots, sweet potato, garlic, ginger and curry powder. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to make sure nothing catches and then add the coconut milk and stock. Season with some salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave to cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Taste to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary then ladle into bowls while piping hot! 

*For extra spice add some fresh chilli, finely chopped and if you find the soup too sweet you could add a spritz of lime juice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Change of Diet ~ Entering the World of Wheat Free and Limited Dairy....

*Image courtesy of

Yes you read the title right!! For various personal reasons our Dr. has suggested that we try a Wheat Free Diet with limited dairy. Now if you know me (or have looked at the amount of recipes I  have under the pasta section!) you'll know that giving up wheat (albeit temporarily) is a b-i-g thing for me. Without doubt one of my favourite things in the world is a big bowl of Spicy Tomato Pasta and as for French Bread.... don't even get me started! However I am more than willing to give this a go so I thought if I'm going to do it I would share my experiences with you.

Now I know going Wheat Free isn't exactly a new thing and for many different reasons millions of people have jumped on the Gluten Free Band Wagon, I just didn't think I would ever be one but here I am! I'm not going to lie, when I initially started doing some research and looked for delicious wheat free recipes that were also limited in dairy it was overwhelming. My moods have been up and down over the past 5 days but I finally think I am getting there.... well to grips with it anyway. I still have a long road ahead and know I will have my cravings but today I am definitely feeling positive about things.

So what have I done? Well for starters, I haven't thrown out every item that has wheat in it. For now it's just been put to one side and instead today I replaced it with some gluten free alternatives. After doing some research I decided to try Corn Pasta rather than the Rice Pasta (which I have had in the past and really didn't like). I have also stocked up in Gluten Free Crackers (which I have yet to try) and lots of super crunchy Rice Crackers which I absolutely love anyway so no issues there. Since toast features heavily in my breakfast routine I've had to come up with some new ideas so today I made a giant batch of Granola* for us as well as some Granola Energy Bars courtesy of Dorie Greenspan's wonderful book Baking Chez Moi. I also have plenty of eggs in the fridge and this morning I had a delicious breakfast of Scrambled Eggs with Spring(Green) Onion, Tomatoes, Chilli and Coriander (Cilantro) with some Avocado on the side. It was delicious and I certainly didn't feel like I was missing out! A lot of Smoothies and Juices are going to be appearing so today I also stocked up with plenty of fruit (including frozen fruit for things that aren't quite in season yet), spinach and kale as well as Pomegranate Juice, Coconut Water and Almond Milk. I also bought some Coconut Yogurt which is another new item for me and yet to be tried (I'll let you know how I find all the new things!).

Monday, March 30, 2015

My Meat Free Week

Having just completed Meat Free Week I thought I would fill you in with my experience of the week I just had where I wasn't able to eat any meat, fish or seafood for 1 week....That's right 1 week, 7 days, 168 hours.... in reality a very short time. To all the vegetarians out there I apologise as what I'm about to say sounds pretty pathetic but this 7 short days actually felt relatively long and it turned out to be harder than I thought!

When I decided to accept the challenge I did it purely for myself...I wanted to see how I would feel going meatless for a week. Generally we eat meat free meals about twice a week and in all honesty I never thought anything of it. Eating meat 7 days a week is a big no-go for me... I simply find it to be too much. Cost aside (which would be far too much for my budget!) meat everyday is just overkill (sorry, no pun intended!).

For years I have been an advocate of buying better quality meat and simply eating less of it and I really do stand by that. There are many issues associated with our global meat consumption, notably the impact it has on the environment, animals (increased consumption has lead to inhumane farming practices for a start) and of course our own health. As posted on the Meat Free Week website "the U.N. has identified the livestock industry as one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems" so we really do need to stop and seriously think about how much meat we eat.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Meal Plan for Meat Free Week

Monday (March 23rd, 2015) is the start of Meat Free Week, a global campaign to create awareness of how much meat you eat and the impact that it has on our health as well as the animals and the environment. The challenge is to go meat free for a full week which includes ALL meat, fish and seafood.

Although we do eat quite a lot of meat I always try to have at least 2 nights a week where we eat vegetarian meals so I'm excited to have a full week of delicious vegetarian food (breakfast and lunch included), and no there isn't a nut roast in sight!

To make things easier for you if you are interested in taking part in Meat Free Week, I decided to share my weekly meal plan which is packed with delicious, nutritious recipes. All recipes have a link included so you can join me for the week or pick and chose as you like any recipes that appeal. For more meal ideas why not have a look at the recipes provided on the Meat Free Week website or alternatively check out Jamie Oliver's recipes dedicated to this fantastic campaign, or if you have a favourite vegetarian meal please feel free to share links in the comments section!

So what are you waiting for? Join me and hundreds of other people and go meat free for a week!

Monday March 23rd ~ 29th

                                  Monday  -        Slow Cooker Quinoa, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chilli
                                  Tuesday -         North African Squash & Chickpea Stew
                                  Wednesday -    Spicy Tomato & Mozzarella Gnocchi with Green Salad
                                  Thursday -       Grilled Halloumi with Quinoa & Beetroot Salad
                                  Friday -            Deliciously Dhal
                                  Saturday -        Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles with Tofu Brilliant Veggie Burger
                                  Sunday -          Vegetable Jalfrezi

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cookbook Review ~ The Wellness Kitchen by Paulette Lambert

The start of a New Year is always the time when resolutions are made to eat better, exercise more and generally lead a healthier life so it was the perfect time for me to put The Wellness Kitchen: Fresh, Flavorful Recipes for a Healthier You by Paulette Lambert to the test.

The Wellness Kitchen is a cookbook designed to show you how you can transform your body with simple, easy steps and wholesome flavourful foods. Paulette Lambert is a registered dietitian with 32 years of experience that includes appearances on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition and The Dr. Oz Show. It is not a diet book containing specific restrictions, fads or concepts that are “of the moment”. Rather this book is about presenting the reader with “the latest scientific knowledge regarding nutrition and health” and making healthy eating a very easy, accessible way of life that anyone can achieve.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is information about health, how to use the book for you in particular as well as general nutrition guidelines and a handy section on pantry basics and a 21-Day Food Plan for Health and Weight Loss. The third part is Caloric Meal Plans.

Part 2 of the book features the Recipes with chapters dedicated to Breakfast, Appetizers, Quick and Easy Main Dishes and A Little Sweet to name a few. With more than 100 recipes included there is plenty of choice that will tempt your taste buds and help to improve your health. With so many recipes to choose from it was hard to pick but in the end I tested 4 recipes.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

If you are looking for some fun last minute Valentine's Day projects then these Cookies, Cupcakes and Cake Pops are the ideal sweet treat! And of course I had to share some of my favourite cocktail recipes as well! Have a great day x


Rhubarb Mojito (not pictured)

Sweet Treats

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cookbook Review ~ Whitewater Cooks with Passion by Shelley Adams

Shelley is back and this time she is cooking with passion! The fourth and latest book in the Whitewater Cooks series, Whitewater Cooks with Passion, sees Shelley cooking new recipes using inspiration from her trusted family and friends as well as plenty of inspiration from around the world.

The paperback book continues with the same theme as the other books in the series with lots of beautiful, mouth-watering photographs to accompany a lot of the recipes. There are 7 chapters dedicated to recipes including Breakfast, Starters, Soups, Dinners and Desserts.

It didn’t take me long to start bookmarking plenty of recipes and in the end I tested 6.

Tested Recipes:

Green Curry Chicken with Roasted Eggplant and Red Peppers
Mango Cucumber Salad with Mint and Sweet Chilli Vinaigrette
Italian Wedding Soup
Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes with Raspberry Icing
Chickpea Flatbread
Indian Artichoke Hummus

The first recipe to be put to the test was the Green Curry Chicken with Roasted Eggplant and Red Peppers. We love Thai curries so I couldn’t resist this recipe especially as it was so easy to prepare – you literally put the ingredients in an ovenproof dish and pop it in the oven and forget about it. I was very hesitant about the amount of curry paste suggested but since I had the same brand as she suggested I stayed true to the recipe and I am so glad I did! The end result was absolutely delicious. It was a perfect Thai curry made without any fuss. I would serve this to friends coming round for a relaxed dinner without any hesitation. I did skip the cucumber you put on at the end because I couldn’t get the mini cucumbers suggested but also because I served the curry with the Mango Cucumber Salad with Mint and Sweet Chilli Vinaigrette which takes me to the second tested recipe.

I absolutely love mango salads with Thai curries so I had to make this to accompany the above recipe. The recipe does have quite a lot of ingredients but it’s still simple to make and really just a case of some chopping and assembling. The dressing makes a lot and to honest in future I don’t think I would use quite as much oil but it was delicious and full of wonderful flavours. As for the salad it was packed with bright flavours, great texture contrasts and lovely fresh and vibrant flavours. It was also a huge hit and brought a wonderful ray of sunshine to our plates and palates on a miserable rainy, grey January day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cookbook Review & Giveaway ~ How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman

It seems that for the most part everyone is just too busy these days and in order to continue to get food on the table and eat well we need food that is nutritious and delicious but in record speed. I’m not talking about every day because there are days (weekends especially) when I like to slow down and really take my time to cook, but during the week there are definitely days when I need something delicious for dinner that doesn’t take long to prepare and cook and will keep everyone happy. I’ve tried using my slow cooker which is ultimately long slow cooking (where you do nothing) with fast and easy preparation but so far have yet to be wowed so How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman seems like the perfect solution…Good food fast.

When I received my copy of How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman it was like Christmas had come early! The doorstopper of a book (and I mean a doorstopper) has over 1000 pages and is packed with 2000 recipes and lots of invaluable advice on ingredients, cooking techniques and plenty of other information that is both important and very helpful. When you flick through the book the first obvious downfall is that there are absolutely no photographs. It’s probably just as well since it is already a monster book and photographs would just add to it but if you are someone that has to have photographs you will be disappointed. Ordinarily I am that someone but for some reason it didn’t really bother me with this book once I had gone through it…. Maybe because it seems more like a culinary encyclopaedia ….regardless, with this book I was ok without the pictures.

The book has 14 chapters devoted to recipes including Soup and Stews, Pasta and Noodles, Beans and Tofu and Meat as well as additional chapters on how to prepare your kitchen for speed, how to shop for speed and lots of others fast strategies.

So what about the recipes?! Well the downside to reviewing a book with 2000 recipes is that it is virtually impossible to narrow down that many recipes and pick only a handful to test, especially because there were so many I wanted to try. In the end however I had to pick what really appealed and I finally chose 5 recipes which admittedly doesn’t do the book much justice when there are so many other hundreds and hundreds of recipes I want to make! Still time restraints and a limit to how long this review could be was of major importance so 5 recipes it was!

Monday, January 12, 2015

A New Year and a New Direction......

Happy New Year!! Sorry it's a little late but I've been on the down low for the last month as I was back in Scotland staying with my family for Christmas and New Year. I had the most amazing time (as usual!) but unfortunately the time flew by and we're now back home in Canada. That being said I am excited to get back into things, especially where this blog is concerned.

For those of you that read Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops on a regular basis (well as regularly as I update!) you will notice that last year I didn't post nearly as much as I wanted to or had initially planned to. It was all down to time I'm afraid and a lack of it. I'm still cooking as much (and still loving it as much) it was just hard to find the time to develop new recipes, test them a few times and then photograph them and write the post. You may also have noticed that what I was posting, especially the last few posts, were book reviews which I really enjoy, and so for the time being I will be focusing on that. If I get the opportunity to post a new recipe then I absolutely will but for now I want to concentrate on reviewing and testing out cookbooks.

For me, reviewing a cookbook takes some time. To truly test and review a book I think that you have to test the recipes. It's all very well saying a cookbook looks great, is filled with mouthwatering photographs and that the recipes sound good but what if they don't work? In my opinion it's a major fail because honestly why would you want that book?! Therefore I go through each book several times, reading the introductions and initial chapters and bookmarking the recipes that appeal to me. I then test as many as I can but for the point of the review always 3-4 which are tested by following the recipe exactly. If you have read any of my reviews you will know they tend to be quite lengthy but again that is because I am really testing the book and trying to provide as much information to you as possible.

Pros and Cons I see within the book are always top of the list, whether you need Specialty Ingredients that are difficult to buy and if I have learned anything new all feature in my reviews. Basics like whether there are photographs to accompany the recipes are always included and by providing a list of recipes that I have bookmarked I try to share a range of some of the recipes included and not just the ones that I have tested.

As well as that though I am always open to suggestions of anything else you consider important when deciding whether you want to buy a book or not, so please feel free to comment on what you want to see from a cookbook review.

I hope that despite a lack of my own new recipes (all my existing recipes can still be found in the Recipes Page) and rather a concentration on reviews you will continue to read Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops and enjoy the reviews that I do. With that being said I am really excited as I am currently reviewing three cookbooks (with more on the way) and can't wait to share them with you!

Happy New Year again! Let's hope 2015 is a wonderful, happy, healthy and safe year for everyone.

Lynds x

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