Photography update #4

It’s been another week of making and updating recipes and photos.  I think I’ve gained 5 pounds since I committed to re-doing all of this!  Maybe I should take it a little easier this week?  Although, I know the people I share the food with have appreciated the push to improve myself.  I try not to make stuff just for the sake of photos – I try to have a purpose for making something specific.  Like someone coming around for dinner.  Like having to use up ingredients in the pantry.  Like we were going to have this for dinner this week anyway.  But then I just get a craving to make a particular recipe for no real reason.  And I enjoy it.  A little TOO much, maybe?  Oh, if only you all were here so I could share the love (and food)!

I’ve said this is now a photography update, rather than a handover, because Grant has been really busy recently, so I’ve taken most of these new photos … Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that – if you don’t like the photos I could have always blamed them on him.  But now the secret is out and I’ll take responsibility for whatever you give me!

Again, I’d love your feedback – let me know if you think I’m actually getting any better!

 

Old photos

 

New photos

 
Almond coconut cookies  -> Almond coconut cookies (800x600) Almond coconut cookies
Raw energy bars   raw-energy-bar-800x600 Raw energy bars
Egg muffins  -> egg-muffins-800x600 Egg muffins
2015-02-19 Mint chocolate brownies  -> chocolate-mint-brownies-800x600 Chocolate mint brownies
Chocolate cake - dragon -> chocolate-cake-800x600 Chocolate cake
Dairy-free chocolate peanut butter ice cream -> chocolate-peanut-butter-ice-cream-800x600 Chocolate peanut butter ice cream

Can you see an improvement at all?  Any other suggestions?

Again, if you have any suggestions as to which recipes you’d like me to re-visit, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to oblige.  And dedicate that photo (and recipe) to you!

Thanks for reading – I’d love to hear from you … just comment below, or follow me on any of the social media sites using the buttons on the side menu.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

Photography handover #3

Another update of photos and recipes for you.  I spent a lot of time outside taking photos of all the recipes I’ve been re-making in the kitchen inside and updating for your enjoyment.  It’s for your enjoyment, really.  I got nothing out of having to taste all of these recipes again.  Do you believe me?!

What do you think?

 

My photos

 

Grant’s photos

 
Quinoa and roast veggie salad  -> Veggie and quinoa salad (800x600) Roast veggie & quinoa salad
Peanut butter choc chip ice cream   Peanut butter ice cream (800x600) Peanut butter choc chip ice cream
Pancakes by Grant  -> Pancakes by Grant (800x600) Pancakes by Grant
Peanut butter s'more cookies  -> Peanut butter smore cookies (800x600) Peanut butter s’more cookies
Spinach peach salad -> Spinach peach salad (800x600) Spinach peach salad
Chocolate peanut butter pie -> Best ever chocolate peanut butter cheesecake (800x600) Best ever chocolate peanut butter pie

Can you see an improvement at all?  Any other suggestions?

I’m having fun re-visiting all these recipes again … and am happy to share the results with those of you who live near me.  If you’re interested, please let me know what you’d like me to make (and take updated photos) to share with you and I’ll do what I can!

Grant bought me a new light box so hopefully I won’t be stuck taking photos outside, especially since winter is coming up.  I’ll see how the photos turn out from that … and again ask for your opinions.  Because you are the most important at liking my photos!  That’s all of you!

Thanks for reading – I’d love to hear from you … just comment below, or follow me on any of the social media sites using the buttons on the side menu.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

Photography handover #2

Last time I started updating the photos on this website, using photos that I asked Grant to help me out with.  I am honestly happier with the photos that we are taking now, but would always welcome suggestions for the recipes and the photos.

Here’s the latest installment of the photos that we’ve taken, with the before (my photos) and after (Grant’s photos) shots.  As I mentioned last time, I’m updating the recipes as I go, so make sure you check back on a regular basis to see what’s been cooking at our place!

My photos

 

Grant’s photos

 
Oatmeal granola cookies  -> Oatmeal granola cookies (800x600) Oatmeal granola cookies
Almond blueberry granola   Almond blueberry granola bow (800x600) Almond blueberry granola
No-bake oats and raisin bar  -> No bake oat and raisin bar No bake oat and raisin bar
Chocolate peanut butter cheesecake  -> Chocolate pb tofu slice (800x600) Healthy chocolate peanut butter cheesecake
Oat balls  -> Oat balls (800x600) No bake oat balls

What do you think?  I’ve been getting some good comments on Instagram for my new and improved photos – but would always love to hear from you guys as well.

I kind of went a little overboard with baking and obsessing over taking photos of nearly everything over the past week, so please spare a thought for my poor family.  Yes, I’ve already got enough photos to share with you for a third installment … but you’ll have to wait for next week.  And I need to stop baking so much (and eating so much) to catch up with all the recipes.  Oh yeah, relaxing on the weekend outside of the kitchen …  What’s that again?

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

Photography handover #1

My last blog post talked about how I wanted to get more involved in social media – Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, as well as Twitter.  Well, it’s been a steep learning curve in the short time since then.  I have realized that my photos just aren’t up there with what’s needed to get people’s attention.  So I did what any normal person would do – and complained about it to everyone nearest and dearest to me.  Grant bore the brunt of it, I’m afraid, but being the awesome husband he is, he gave me a lot of suggestions.

I started to take them on board, and then realized that I am really not that creative with visual graphics.  Creativity in the kitchen?  Yep, not a problem.  Creativity in looking through a camera lens?  I think you’ve got the wrong person!  So I asked Grant if I could coerce him into being my ‘official website photographer’.  And he said ‘yes’!  Yay!  

I looked through all the photos on this website and realized I didn’t like really any of them.  And I told Grant that I’d be working my way through ALL of the recipes and making them again, just so we could improve on the photos.  I also told the guys at work to expect a lot of cookies and cakes since I didn’t really want all that stuff at home – it’s bad enough the amount that I eat while making them!

Anyway, we went down to the local cheapie store and bought some new dishes and placemats for accessories and here’s a few comparison photos from the first few photoshoots.  I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions for making the photos better! (I’m also happy to re-make all these recipes again if you’ve got some really good suggestions!).

 

My photos

 

Grant’s photos

 
Taco soup  -> Taco Soup P Taco soup
Gluten-free cornbread  -> Cornbread muffins red paint Cornbread muffins
Coconut peanut butter balls  -> Coconut pb balls (800x600) Coconut peanut butter balls
No oats granola  -> No oats granola P No oats granola
2015-02-24 Tortilla chips  -> Tortilla chips (800x600) Tortilla chips and red pepper hummus

I just showed the draft of this post to Grant and he thought I was blaming him for the horrible photos.  Well, he was blaming it on our ‘point and shoot’ camera mainly.  I still think they are 1000x better than my attempts!  What do you think?  And this way he may actually get the expensive camera he’s always been wanting.  I’m glad that my hobby and his desire are colliding so well!

The side effect of this is that I made a really awesome pumpkin pie on the weekend – and was going to post the recipe on this website for you all to share with me.  But, the photos looked terrible, so you’ll just have to wait until I can make it again, and get the photos to look half-way decent!

Anyway, stay tuned.  When I re-make the recipes (for the photos … the enjoyment of eating them is just secondary!), I’ll also be updating the recipes so keep checking back to see what’s new on the website.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

Social media expansion

I am one of the most inept social media people out there.  I signed up for Twitter a few years ago and had a bit of success while I was doing my US National Food Day Quest (which lasted for nearly a year until I realized I wasn’t having fun any more).  Since then I’ve just been posting here and there with new recipes and getting more ideas for me to try out in the kitchen.

Until now.  After my recent experimentation with developing recipes for Veggie Fries and having success with them publishing recipes from little ol’ me, I thought I may have some further potential with developing more contacts in the industry and learning new tricks and recipes.  I had a chat with one of my friends who has a food blog which has just skyrocketed off (thanks Laura – check out her website at Joy.Food.Sunshine) and she recommended going on Instagram and Pinterest, as well as connecting with some local food bloggers on Facebook.  

So me, being the ever-interested-in-learning person that I am, took her advice and I now have accounts for each of those social media sites.  And you can follow me on them!  Here’s the details (do you see a trend in the usernames??):

Twitter: sarahcookathome

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cookathome.info

Instagram: cookathome.info

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/sarahcookathome

Or, if you don’t want to search, you can just click on the buttons on the toolbar!  To be honest, that’s what I would do …!

Anyway, any tips or tricks you can give me to continue to share all these awesome recipes would be greatly appreciated!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

Cupcakes or donuts?

Welcome back to cooking with kids!  It’s been a while, but Abby hasn’t stopped coming up with new and interesting ideas for me to test out in the kitchen.  Sometimes she helps.  Sometimes she doesn’t.   I think her watching of food shows has slowed recently – but she’s still got a few crazy combinations of ingredients and flavors she wants to try.  And that’s where this experiment comes in.  

If you remember, she was really into cupcakes a while ago.  Now, she wants to revisit her ideas for cupcakes and make them into donuts.  Hmmm.  I’m not entirely sure where this is going, but I’ll go with the flow for a while I guess.  This experiment (as written on our family whiteboard in the dining room):

  •  Chocolate donuts, peanut butter glaze with caramel drizzle and chocolate chip cookie.

Yeah, I wasn’t too sure either.  But we were invited to a friend’s house for a BBQ and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to show off Abby’s creativity (cough!).  However, just to complicate matters, our friend is allergic to rice – who knew there were more special snowflakes out there apart from me?  Unfortunately, most donut and cookie recipes that I was thinking of used all-purpose flour.  Which normally wouldn’t be a problem apart from me being gluten intolerant, and most gluten-free flour mixes use rice flour.

Thinking cap on …

And I came up with this:

  • Chocolate donut using my healthy donut recipe (here), includes oat flour, bananas, maple syrup and a whole host of all natural ingredients
  • Chocolate chip cookie using the almond butter cookie recipe (here), includes almond butter, honey, dairy-free chocolate chips and eggs
  • Peanut butter glaze – a simple combination of peanut butter, honey and a little bit of almond milk
  • Chocolate frosting – a mixture of dairy-free chocolate chips and sour cream (leftover from many other experiments!).

Abby had a go at decorating the way she wanted them to look:

2016-07-23 Chocolate donuts

Kind of looked like UFO’s …  I shared a half of the ensemble with Grant and we both felt it was way too much ‘bread’ type stuff.  Very chewy and missed out on all the flavors.  So Abby and I went back to the drawing board and came up with this:

2016-07-23 Chocolate donuts final

Basically we scraped the cookies off the top, with whatever peanut butter glaze came with them.  Then crumbled the cookies and literally stuck the crumbs on the donuts.  A very sticky process, that resulted in many comments from Abby, but much better for the overall taste and texture combination.

And the ultimate test?  At the BBQ, almost everyone that was there took at least one home with them to have at their leisure.  They were a great success – and all without processed sugar (and rice!).  

Unfortunately Abby still wants to try HER combination with real ingredients (read: proper sugar and flour).  I’ll see how long I can delay her (hoping this is just a passing fad …!).

Thanks for reading!  Feel free to comment, share and/or try any of these recipes – I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!

Sarah (and Abby!)

Veggie Fries!

I’m so excited!  I’m so excited!  Why?  Well, I have just had some of my recipes chosen to be published by an honest-to-goodness food company!  

Veggie Fries are Frozen French Fries made from a blend of all natural farm grown vegetables, legumes and potatoes, chopped and blended together with herbs, spices and just a pinch of sea salt.  They are vegan, non-GMO certified and free of the top 8 allergens including gluten, soy, dairy and wheat (see eatveggiefries.com).  

veggie-fries-NEW-980x360

They sent out a request for volunteers a few weeks ago and my internal experimental cook jumped up and down and told me to do it.  So I have been trying lots of different things, and some of my recipes (see the recipe section of their website) were published on the Veggie Fries website this week.  And I am still jumping up and down with excitement!

I should point out that I was given coupons to obtain their products for my experimentation and I was sent a gift pack with some Veggie Fries swag after these were published … Grant and I had a lot of fun doing a ‘photo shoot’ to show off the swag!

But I am loving the challenge!  I’ve got some more ideas for using Veggie Fries … including in desserts.  Anyone for a peanut butter dessert using Veggie Fries?  Or chocolate and Veggie Fries?

All I know is that I’m having fun.  And helping out another company.  And that’s good enough for me!

Please feel free to check out the Veggie Fries website (repeat eatveggiefries.com) and products (if you live in the US).  And my recipes as well!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

 

Strange cookie ingredients

I had a bizarre idea a few weeks ago – what can I put in cookies that people wouldn’t necessarily think of putting in cookies.  And my brain started whirring.  Then I spent a very enjoyable day in the kitchen baking a number of different types of cookies, basically using up a whole pile of ingredients I had lying around.  And here’s the result:

2016-06 Strange ingredient cookies

Some of these I’ve just posted recipes for (i.e. the ones that worked) and some I just had to throw in the trash (those I’m not going to give you the recipe for!).  So going from the ‘Sarah’s kitchen kettle’ clockwise:

  • Pineapple cookies – recipe posted here
  • Sour cream sugar cookies – basically tasteless
  • Pistachio choc chip cookies – using instant pudding mix, recipe posted here
  • Chocolate cream cheese cookies – ok, but not dazzling

And then I remembered when I first started working in my new job, I would hold ‘guess the mystery ingredient’ competitions.  You know how it is, you want to make a good impression, meet new people etc.  And I remembered the cookies I used (funny how all of them are peanut butter based!):

  • Chickpea chocolate chip peanut butter cookies (recipe here)
  • Quinoa peanut butter cookies (recipes here for the no-refined sugar version and here for the ‘normal’ sugar version)
  • Peanut butter mystery cookies – using ketchup (recipe here)

It took a while for my colleagues to guess the ketchup and the chickpea cookies but the quinoa ones they guess within about 30 mins of the competition starting.

Anyway, I’m always looking for other interesting ingredients to make into cookies and I’d love your feedback.  Please write in the comments section below if you have any ideas for me to try, or any recipes you may have with ‘strange’ cookie ingredients.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

I bake … therefore I run

I realize I haven’t posted many new recipes recently.  Don’t worry, my dear friends.  I’ve got stacks of yummy new things for you to try out.  Things that range from spicy Thai cucumber salad to flourless tahini cookies just to name a few.  I just need to download the photos and get my butt into gear and put the recipes together.  I have been baking and cooking up a storm recently – and had a stack of fun doing it too!  And, as always, you are aware of my tendency to sample a lot of the batter while baking, so I’ve been trying to look after the eating/exercise balance again.  

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on which way you look at this, I was coerced into joining a team from work to run a Ragnar relay.  For those of you who don’t know what this is, check out this link … Ragnar.  Basically it’s 12 people, running almost 200 miles overall in a relay race.  Each person runs 3 times, for varying distances and at varying difficulties.  It all takes place over about a day and a half, with very little sleep or downtime.  I’ve been training a lot, running 5-6 times a week to get my legs trained for this.  And the race was this weekend.

I did 16 miles in total – two in the heat of the day and one at night time.  And got very little sleep overnight.  But I had an awesome group of people in the van with me, and they put up with me.  

I had a great time training, and with all the running (and baking), my weight actually stayed relatively stable over the past month or so.  I now know how much exercise I need to do if I want to keep up that level of baking … maybe I should cut down on both sides!

I came home this afternoon and baked.  As I do.  And I made these awesome peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  And I’ll put up the recipe for them shortly.  But trust me, it was worth the many hours I had to think about recipes …

Anyway, just wanted to check in and let you know that I’m still around, still baking and cooking, still planning on giving you lots of options for having fun in the kitchen.  Stay tuned for the recipes!  And feel free to comment on anything you read here!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home,

Sarah

Our ‘P’ week

A few weeks ago, Grant and I were in our local grocery store and saw some Spanish chorizo sausage.  One of our favorite snacks many years ago was cheese, crackers and chorizo.  So we thought we’d have a night where we would have this in front of the TV (for Friday night family time!).  I started thinking about other snacks we could have, like carrots, celery, cucumber … and realized they all started with the letter ‘C’.  So we continued the theme and had some chicken nuggets, corn dogs, chocolate, cookies and watched Cats and Dogs.  It was our ‘C’ night.

I thought it was just going to be a one-off thing, you know, that special night that the kids look back on in the future.  The very next day, Henry wrote on our white board where we put up what meals we’re having for the the week, ‘P’ night.  So we started thinking about what we could eat.  And came up with a VERY long list.  I looked at the list and they were all really good sounding meals.  So we made it into a ‘P’ week.

It was a long week of preparing many meals, but it was lots of fun.  Some things we made, which aren’t shown above, were pancakes (my pancakes were terrible, the kids worked out really well) and a potato/shepherd’s pie … that one ended up on the floor while I was trying to multitask.

Oh, and we watched Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.

See below for links to recipes:

So it was fun … but then Abby wanted a ‘D’ night … what have I started!

Thanks for reading – hope you enjoyed the adventures.  Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

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