Foodie Friday – I don’t belong in the kitchen

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I don’t belong in the kitchen but you’ll find me in there anyway. I burn toast, under-cook eggs, over-cook pasta, and don’t put enough salt on anything. My go-to meal is avocado toast and scrambled eggs.

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I shouldn’t be allowed to hold sharp knives or peelers (I nearly lost a nail the other day) BUT as a 27-year-old adult, I feel as though I need to learn how to cook. I need to learn how to cook well and fast. My plan is to begin with easy meals and progress very slowly to more intensive ones. I’m not even going to give baking a try – not any time soon.

A few Sunday’s ago I decided to make the easiest soup in the world; a minestrone. Apart from all of the chopping and the peeling of the potatoes it was pretty straightforward.

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot, throw in chopped onions
  2. Once caramelized, add in chopped carrots and celery – let those cook for a minute
  3. Add in the canned diced tomatoes and beef stock (if you need more broth, add water)
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Let that simmer and add in your diced potatoes, chopped zucchini, green beans, and Romano beans
  6. Let this cook until the potatoes, zucchini, and green beans are soft (but not mush)
  7. Add in a bunch of spinach – once that’s wilted you’re ready to eat!

I understand that the above isn’t a recipe and I didn’t provide an ingredient list. It doesn’t have measurements or proper terminology but that’s how I’ve always watched my mom cook. She rarely measures anything and tastes the food as she cooks. She cooks from her heat and that is how I hope to cook some day.

What are your favourite homemade meals? Let me know!

Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

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Foodie Friday – Family Business(es)

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I’ve been surrounded by entrepreneurs and numerous men and woman who have taught me the importance of passion and a good work ethic my entire life. Many of my family and friends have inspired me to dream bigger, work harder, and continue to write lists filled with goals.

Recently two dynamic duos in my family have opened their own food related businesses and I’m using this week’s Foodie Friday to spread the word!

Core Fresh Bar

Core Fresh Bar is a company started by two of my cousins. They create, bake, and sell all natural, vegan, and gluten free treats. Their variety of treats include energy bites, cookies, granola, and the breakfast cookies. I’ve tried their  Brownie Energy Bites and Choco-Coffee cookies. Both are moist, flavorful, and the perfect snack before bed or after a workout. Learn more about Core Fresh Bar and their beliefs here. Let me know if you place an order!

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Mi Meals

Mi Meals was started by my sister and brother-in-law. They are two trained chefs who work in different restaurants but have always wanted to create their own menus and meals together. They have a passion for creating dishes that are delicious and healthy. They’ve wanted to start their own business for years and finally decided to take the plunge! Their meals are for people on the go who don’t have the time or energy to shop, prep, create, and cook their own meals. They have various options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I’ve tried them all (over the years). You can find them on Instagram – tell them I sent you! 

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Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

 

Foodie Friday – Carbs & Cake

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It came to me in a moment of panic. I was sitting at my desk on a Friday afternoon contemplating my next move (something I tweet about regularly) when it hit me. I have been surrounded by food my entire life and nearly every job I’ve had has been connected to the food industry.

I spent ten years as a waitress in the best mom -and-pop pizza shop in Bolton and for the last two years I’ve been a Customer Service Coordinator for a Spanish cured meat and specialty food importer. On My Pen, My Voice I had the pleasure of working with Brand & Buzzing on several projects that had me headed to the city to try out new products or new restaurants.

No matter how hard or fast I run from the food industry I cannot get away.  It seems that I’m only running in circles. Instead of fighting it I’m going to embrace it! Foodie Friday is all about my love of food. Let’s be clear:  I am not a chef, baker or cook. I have absolutely no culinary training but when I taste a dish that has my taste-buds singing or experience wonderful service I have to talk about it. So, let’s talk.

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Last weekend my sister turned 30! In order to make it a little more memorable, myself and her husband planned a dinner for her in the city. After calling around to several restaurants we settled on Terroni on Adelaide. I’d been to Terroni dozens of times and never had a bad experience. They easily accommodate large groups and allow you to bring your own cake (with a $4.00 per person serving fee) and balloons without issue.

What I love about Terroni on Adelaide is their warm and welcoming atmosphere. Espeically their entrance and main dining room. I was a little disappointed when were shuffled upstairs by the hostess and brought into the room where they must have all of their larger groups. It looked like a cafeteria to me and didn’t have the sophisticated and special vibe I was hoping for for my sister’s big day. Thankfully being in a room full of other large groups meant that we could be as loud as we wanted to.

The cafeteria vible was completely forgotten when our appetizers showed up. I have never had a bad meal at any Terroni location and last Saturday did not break that streak. From appetizers to pizza to pasta to their drool-worthy cappuccino, everything I ate was delicious and fresh. The portions are large and quality abundant so you’d better arrive hungry.

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Pappardelle alla Iosa – a homemade spicy sausage, mushrooms, green pea pasta paradise

Perhaps my sister’s favourite part of the evening was the cutting of her cake. A special birthday had to be accompanied by a special cake! I found Nicole from Lipstick Baker on Instagram and after a few brief emails we came up with the perfect cake. A coffee inspired masterpiece made of red velvet cake and the sweetest fondant I’ve ever tasted. The cake didn’t just look fantastic it tasted wonderful too! It was fluffy and moist, yet rich and filling. Check out her Instagram account for some more of her amazing work.

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What’s your favourite restauarant in Toronto?

I’m looking to try somewhere new for my birthday.

Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

Saying Yes!

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I can see the CN Tower in the distance on my drive to work. For a split second it’s as though I’m headed in the direction of my dreams. I’m headed to a place that is big enough to fit my aspirations. A place where it’s okay to still be figuring it out. A place where my bubble can burst and I will be flooded with new experiences, people, and places.

In the spirit of soaking up new experiences and driving toward my dreams, this week was dubbed “the week in which Vanessa does not cancel on plans made and also does not decline any invitation”. It’s not that I’m a flake per say, but plans always sound so exciting until I actually have to put on a bra and leave the house. This week I did not say no, I did not say maybe, I did not concoct and intense diversion or pray for a snow storm. I simply said yes, got dressed, and went out.

I went out almost every week night. I stayed out late and woke up early. I enjoyed dinner with my new aunts and cousins, watched episodes of Impractical Jokers (which is highly addicting!), went to a new restaurant with my old love/new husband (who put on cologne for the first time in YEARS since it was our first date night in months), hung out with my cousin Ashley, AND even traveled south of Steeles to join in on a podcast with Sociphoria and Amanda DiPasquale (from Be The Next Her). It was amazing to chat with Amanda, Amanda, and Patrick about social media, writing, creativity, the impact of full-time jobs on creative endeavors and much more! I don’t want to say anymore about it but I’ll post a link to Instagram and Twitter once it drops.

After a full week of saying yes I am anything but tired. I’m hopped up on the energy and positivity from the conversations I had with some pretty incredible people. Is this feeling available through intravenous?

Most Assuredly yours,

Vanessa xo

 

My Breakfast with Fate

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Fate can come in different shapes and forms; it can be personified as a person, place, coincidence, accident, letter, email, or sign. I met Fate mid-Sunday morning at a new diner close to home. This version of Fate came in a 5 foot 2 bundle of confidence and happiness complete with gorgeous eyes and an open heart. I call her Alanna, mostly because that is her name but I digress.

Alanna and I have been friends since high school and after we meet up I always find myself a smidgen more confident and a boatload more inspired. As always, our conversation went from love and married life to work, family, and friends. We talked about adulting and everything that goes along with it. What struck me most about our conversation was how in the last few years we’ve changed dramatically. Thanks to our own circumstances, we’ve become more confident, happy, and untouched by the opinions of others. We went from caring about what people think about us to completely not giving a f*&$. There is an incredible freedom that comes with letting going of insecurities brought on by other.

Eventually our conversation veered to our creative pursuits, she is one half of Out of the Blue and I’m a writer.  She asked me how my writing is going and it’s definitely going – fingers crossed that the literary agent interested in my work gets back to me in 2017 with some good news. We started talking about another story that I’ve been itching to write. A story that has been right in front of me for years but I haven’t sat down to let it all out. It would be really cool to see both perspectives side-by-side.  I think you should write this book, Alanna said.

The more we discussed it the more I realized that I had to go for it…

Writerly yours,

Vanessa xo

Mini-Honeymoon in Toronto

I’ve learned recently that the two questions newlyweds receive most are:

  1. Where are you going on your honeymoon?
  2. When are you having kids? (Please stop asking me this)

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With Christmas right around the corner and the simple fact that more than a week off work for myself and my husband wasn’t viable, we decided to spend a few days in Toronto. Alex was in charge of booking the hotel and stumbled on a great deal from The Shangri-La Hotel. I have only been to the Shangri-La once before for a book event years ago BUT I’ll tell you one thing, I COULD GET USED TO LIFE AT THE SHANGRI-LA! Apart from the stunning atmosphere, the location, and the luxurious suites, the service there is above anything I’ve ever witnessed. From friendly hellos, to offering to bring our coffee upstairs, to prompt room service, and giving impeccable directions, the entire staff knows how to treat their guests. If I ever decide to splurge on another staycation, I’d LOVE to have a girl’s weekend down there and really enjoy the pool and the spa too!

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Views from our sweet suite! 

We thought we would be all touristy and hit up the ROM, the AGO, and maybe even the Aquarium BUT we were completely exhausted from the wedding night and all of the stress leading up to it that we vegged out as much as we could. I even took a bath, A BATH, for the first time in years I sat down in deliciously scented warm water, closed my eyes, and sat in silence. Best weekend ever.

Apart from relaxing, we ventured out during the day, trying out new restaurants, coffee shops, and simply enjoying the gorgeous November weather. We had lunch at BOSK, dinner at Bestellen, and a late lunch with a few friends on Sunday at Patria.

We were blown away by the beauty and taste of each meal we had. I would recommend all three restaurants to anyone who finds themselves in the city and in need of a good meal.

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QUANTUM COFFEE FOR THE WIN – best hot chocolate in the city! 

Since Toronto is not foreign to us and we’ve spent many evenings walzting around town , our honeymoon seemed more like a regular weekend than something extravagent (the only difference was being referred to as Mrs. Buccella! <3). That may sound awful but it’s exactly what I love about us; we find joy in the simplist of things, in quiet evenings, excellent meals, and time with each other. Here’s to many more adventures as husband and wife!

Restfully yours,

Vanessa xo

Pizza Month @qmpizza

Pizza is one of my favourite food groups (pasta and coffee are tied for first). I waitressed at the best pizza place in Bolton for nearly ten years, so when I say that I understand pizza I mean it. From the dough to the sauce to the toppings, everything must be calcualted and made with love. My favourite pizza was made by Domenic Caruso during our lunch breaks. Although the pizza he made was normally thick crust to hold the toppings, for lunch he would make the staff the thinnest crust imaginable. The toppings included broccoli, prosciutto cotto, diced white onions, mozzarella cheese, NO SAUCE, and homemade spicy oil. It was heavenly. I’ve never come close to having pizza I enjoyed as much as my ex-boss’ until now!

Did you know that October is Pizza Month!? To celebrate I was sent a gift certificate for Queen Margherita Pizza by my friends at Brand & Buzzing. Alex and I used it as a an excuse for date night. We headed to the Annette location with nothing but time and empty stomachs.

We started with the grilled kale and fried calamari – both were amazing! Then moved onto the margehrita pizza. The dough was light and thin, the sauce not too sweet, the cheese utterly delicious, the basil and sprinkle of olive oil gave the perfect balance. Alex and I agreed that QMP would be our new go-to pizza place. 

Are you ready to celebrate Pizza Month? QMP is offering margherita pizza + beer = $10 at all 3 locations! 

Carb-lovingly yours,

Vanessa xo

P.S.  This isn’t an ad. I went, I saw, I ate, and I wrote about it. I don’t write about things, places, books, or meals I don’t like. There’s enough negativity in this world.