Recovery from Alcoholism – Wordless Wed w/Linky

Today’s wordless Wednesday post was a no-brainer for me when I scrolled across this photo which was taken at a recent photo shoot. I was struck by the lighting, the warm tones remind me of my perspective.

In this image I’m standing in a horribly dirty alley with trash strewn all around me and yet….there’s the perfect lighting which ended up in a lovely photo.

Beauty in the mix is what I’m always seeking in my recovery from alcoholism.

 

SoberJulie Recovery from Alcoholism

Please feel free to link up your Worldless Wednesday posts and thank you for your comments!



Peanut Butter Brownie Recipe

Easy recipes are the key to my dessert success, I openly admit that I’m not the most amazing cook but I’ll tell you when I nail it, I nail it! This Peanut Butter Brownie recipe is ridiculously simple and sure to impress anyone you share it with. This past weekend was Thanksgiving here in Canada and my sister generously offered to host 22 of us in her home. I offered to bring a dessert and had planned to make my Cheesecake Cups when my nephew asked for brownies.

Well I’m not one to back down from a challenge so I did what any good net-savvy woman would do and turned to Pinterest. Once again I was drawn to images of Peanut Butter Brownies and so here I am offering you what I ended up developing after trying a few batches (much to the delight of my neighbourhood children samplers).

Peanut Butter Brownie Recipe

Peanut Butter Brownie Recipe @SoberJulie.com #recipe

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (18-19 oz) Brownie mix
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup chocolate frosting

Preparation:

Peanut Butter Brownie Recipe

Preheat your oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine brownie mix, butter, cream cheese and egg. Mix until dough becomes very thick and sticky and spoon into bottoms of 18 paper-lined muffin pan cups. Place in the oven for 18 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

 

Peanut butter brownie recipe filling WM

In another bowl stir together peanut butter and powdered sugar.

peanut butter brownie recipe in cups WM

Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon onto the top of each cooled brownie cup, frost and enjoy!

peanut butter brownie long WM

 

Peanut Butter Brownie Recipe
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Julie Elsdon-Height
A delicious Peanut Butter Brownie
Ingredients
  • 1 box (18-19 oz) Brownie mix
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup chocolate frosting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl combine brownie mix, butter, cream cheese and egg.
  4. Mix until dough becomes very thick and sticky and spoon into bottoms of 18 paper-lined muffin pan cups.
  5. Place in the oven for 18 minutes.
  6. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
  7. In another bowl stir together peanut butter and powdered sugar.
  8. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon onto the top of each cooled brownie cup, frost and enjoy!

 

 

 

Cream of Potato Bacon Soup Recipe – Cuz Baby It's Cold Outside

I come from a long line of potato lovers, perhaps this is because my Irish Grandmother insisted that potatoes were served with every meal but if I typed that I’d be guilty of stereotyping right? Cough. It’s been 5 months since my fantastic parents moved into our home and knowing my Mum’s love of potatoes I’ve been amassing copious amounts of potato recipes to try. My most recent favourite is a Cream of Potato Bacon Soup recipe which Mum ad I played with until we hit a winner.

Cream of Potato Bacon Soup Recipe

Potato Bacon soup recipe square WM

Ingredients:

Cream of Potato Bacon soup recipe ingredients

  • 8 good sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 pound of bacon, cut into slices
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red onion, cut into slices
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of sour cream for garnish
  • 1/4 cup green onion for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Begin by cooking the bacon in a dutch oven until it’s at your desired crispness. Once bacon is done, remove it from the pot and drain all but 1/4 cup of the grease. Add the onions and garlic to the bacon grease and saute until the onion turns clear and softens. Add in the cubed potatoes,mix to ensure they’re well coated in the grease. Saute for  4 minutes and add in the bacon. Now you’ll pour in enough chicken stock to just cover the potatoes. Put on the lid and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

cream of potato bacon soup recipe fry

While this is simmering, get out another pan and melt the butter with medium heat. Add in the flour and cook, whisking consistently for 2 minutes. Now add in the cream, continue stirring constantly until it comes to a boil and thickens.

cream of potato bacon soup mixing

Once your cream mixture has thickened, stir it into your potato mixture in the Dutch oven. Next transfer half of the mixture into a blender and puree it.

potato bacon soup recipe in blender

Transfer the puree back into the pot and stir well.

potato bacon soup recipe in pot

Now you simply have to season to taste using the green onion and sour cream. Pour into bowls and enjoy!

cream of potato bacon soup recipe collage

Cream of Potato Bacon Soup Recipe- Cuz Baby It’s Cold Outside
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Julie Elsdon-Height
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
A delicious Cream of Potato Bacon soup recipe
Ingredients
  • 8 good sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 pound of bacon, cut into slices
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red onion, cut into slices
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of sour cream for garnish
  • 1/4 cup green onion for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cooking the bacon in a dutch oven until it’s at your desired crispness.
  2. Once bacon is done, remove it from the pot and drain all but 1/4 cup of the grease.
  3. Add the onions and garlic to the bacon grease and saute until the onion turns clear and softens.
  4. Add in the cubed potatoes,mix to ensure they’re well coated in the grease.
  5. Sauté for 4 minutes and add in bacon.
  6. Pour in enough chicken stock to just cover the potatoes. Put on the lid and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
  7. While this is simmering, get out another pan and melt the butter with medium heat.
  8. Add in the flour and cook, whisking consistently for 2 minutes.
  9. Now add in the cream, continue stirring constantly until it comes to a boil and thickens.
  10. Once your cream mixture has thickened, stir it into your potato mixture in the Dutch oven.
  11. Next transfer half of the mixture into a blender and puree it.
  12. Transfer the puree back into the pot and stir well.

The Secret to Easy to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

Growing up we had eggs on our table constantly, from big English fry ups on the weekends to cold salad plates my Mum almost always included eggs. One would think that I’d be a STAR at boiling and peeling my own hard boiled eggs but I must admit that I’ve failed in this area for most of my life.

Way back when I was a hip 20-something gal I found myself craving an egg salad sandwich. I pulled out my one pot, added in the water and salt and let it boil on high for about 10 minutes. What resulted was not a lovely boiled-egg as I had hoped, I ended up phoning my Father whose laughter could be heard for miles.

31apyad2sCL._SL500_AA300_

As a married woman I was determined to master this and thankfully my husband’s grandma gifted me a little appliance which made it simple. It was shaped like a chicken and clucked when the eggs were done! It was adorable and produced perfectly cooked eggs every time!

For a long time I had the pleasure of serving up these eggs, peeling was simple….until it kicked the bucket and I realized it was time for me to grow up and make my very own boiled eggs. I Googled the steps and was convinced I had the knack, until batch after batch came out with super tight membranes which made them un-peelable.

What the heck is the key to making the perfect easy-to-peel boiled egg?

Exasperated I did what I know best, I asked someone in the know. Turing to my cousin who happens to be a chef (and a Brit who loves to mock me) I bared my soul, knowing that he would laugh at my inability to master a basic kitchen skill. In typical style he did take the Mickey out of me for a bit but then gave me the key….the SECRET!!

The Secret to Easy-to-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

Easy to peel hard boiled eggs

It’s very simple really, place your eggs into your pot and fill with water until it’s approximately 2 inches above the eggs. Add in 1 tablespoon of vinegar for every 6 eggs, do NOT add salt as this seals up natural cracks and makes the membrane under the shell difficult to peel.

Now place the pot on the stove and turn the burner onto high. Once the water boils you’ll need to start a timer, for white eggs it’s 7 minutes and for brown eggs it’s 9 minutes.

Once they’ve reached the required time remove the pot from the burner, drain the hot water and put the eggs under cold tap water.

easy to peel hard boiled eggs

The membrane pulls off easily

easy to peel hard boiled eggs open

Perfect hard boiled eggs

Peel and enjoy!

hardboiled eggs

 

Big Family or Craving Quiet at Walt Disney World? The Cabins at Fort Wilderness has it all #DisneyHaunt

Travelling with our family of 4 should be a simple thing, a standard room fits a “normal” family of our size easily and it should be a no brainer right? Not so much for our little crew I’m afraid. We just don’t fit into that little box and only realized this by trial and error. We have 2 very different girls who are 7 and 9, we knew this before ever booking a hotel room for the night but we had NO idea how different their sleeping needs are until we were stuck in hotel room at bedtime with one yelling at the other to be QUIET!

You see we have one daughter who chatters herself to sleep while the other seeks utter silence and darkness to drift off to slumber. This has proven to be a HUGE challenge in the past when we’ve had to share accommodations, to the point where we now book rooms which allow them to sleep apart. These little darlings also need downtime, the ability to decompress from the events of the day and to clear their little brains of sights, sounds and just relax.

We recently had the pleasure of being invited to Walt Disney World by Disney Canada to experience #DisneyHaunt. Walt Disney World is one of our favourite vacation spots which I’ve written about in a number of articles which you can find HERE. Cabins at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World really hit the mark for our family’s accommodation needs, let me show you in more detail..

Fort Wilderness Cabins

With over 750 acres of forested property, Disney’s Fort Wilderness resort and campground truly makes you feel like you’re escaping the hustle and bustle. Our little cabin set the tone immediately, it was rustic and cozy.

The Cabins

Disney Fort Wilderness Cabin Outside

Chelsea presenting our cabin!

Each cabin is well thought-out, with your own driveway you are assured space for your vehicle which you may want as this resort is quite remote. There is a bus system within the resort but it can take up to 20 mins for a bus to arrive and get you to the point where you transfer to the outer Disney buses to the theme parks. This may not matter to many people, but it’s nice to have the parking available for those who choose to rent a vehicle.

The cabins also have their own decks, we enjoyed this as it was another space for us to rest and enjoy watching the creatures walk through the forest. One evening while sitting on the deck with my husband we had an armadillo walk past our deck which I can honestly say was a first for us.

Disney Fort Wilderness Cabin

The cabin interior

Walking into the cabin you’re greeted with vaulted ceilings, a full kitchen, sleeping accommodations for 6 and a full bathroom. There is daily housekeeping and they even do your dishes! If you don’t feel like shopping you can easily phone over an order for groceries which will be delivered for a small fee.

The Murphy bed in the living room

The Murphy bed in the living room

Our cabin had a Murphy bed which we adored, it allowed us to separate the girls at bedtime and assured each a solid night’s sleep.

cabin at fort wilderness Kitchen

Fully Equipped Kitchen

The well appointed kitchen comes equipped with all of the tools and dish ware we needed. There is even an outdoor BBQ if you are the grilling type.

Fort Wilderness Cabin Bedroom

The Bedroom

The bedroom was lovely, it continued with the rustic flair and had adorable bunk beds, along with one for us adults! The mattresses were comfortable and provided good support for my bad back.

WildLife at Fort Wilderness

Over the entire property we were surrounded by nature and its inhabitants. We saw deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, armadillo, lizards, horses and more. The children especially loved chasing the lizards and even managed to catch a few…thankfully no lizards were harmed in the hunt.

Disney Fort Wilderness Turkey

Wild Turkeys Wandering

Disney Fort Wilderness Lizard Catching

Lizard Catching

Activities

At the Cabins at Fort Wilderness there are a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy. From the white sandy beach to checkers games to horse carriage rides you can find something for everyone.  There is the Meadow Swimmin’ Pool which features a corkscrew waterslide, whirlpool spa and kiddie pool or a fort-themed water play area with tot-friendly slides. Just down our cabin’s road there was a “quiet” pool which we enjoyed.

Disney Fort Wilderness Chess

Enjoying an intense checkers match

The resort has free wifi which you all know I used and loved. There is also TV in the cabin which the girls enjoyed later in the evenings.

If you’re a family who craves quiet time like ours or happen to have more than a few children, you really should check into staying at The Cabins at Fort Wilderness. It is a great option to regroup and rest after spending hectic days at the them parks. We highly recommend it and hope to return soon!

Disclosure: We were given our stay free of charge while attending #DisneyHaunt. All opinions are my own.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cups Recipe $400 Giveaway #EggItForward

Here in Ontario it’s Thanksgiving weekend which always gets me to thinking of the blessings in my life. As I take the time to truly reflect on my journey, I’m struck by the amazing opportunities, people and gifts I’ve been given. There were times in my life when I had much less, when my health failed, when finances were in the gutter…so many times when people would step in with a gesture of kindness which would change my negative perspective. I can remember right after my first daughter was born I found a homemade meal on my doorstep with a loving note from someone wishing us well. It probably the BEST meal we’ve ever eaten and reminded us that we had folks pulling for us.

With this in mind I’m so happy to have teamed up with This Lil Piglet to invite you all to #EggItForward to someone in your life. We are giving you a chance to win $250 towards your local food bank AND $150 Burnbrae Farms gift basket, including coupons. Details about this fantastic giveaway are at the bottom of the post…way below these delicious photos…oh and be sure to check out This Lil Piglet’s Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecake, you’ll thank me later.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cups Recipe

Strawberry Cheesecake Cups Recipe @SoberJuilie.com #EggItForward

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup  graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup  plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 3 Tbsp.  butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 pkg.  (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp.  vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam
  • 6 strawberries
  • 1/4 cup chocolate syrup

Preparation:

Begin by heating the oven to 325°F.

Mix the graham crumbs, 2 Tbsp. sugar and butter until they are well blended.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cup base

Now press the graham cracker mixture onto bottoms of 18 paper-lined muffin pan cups; I found it easy using an ice cream scoop.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cups Muffin tin

Set aside the muffin tins and beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cups mixing

Now pour the cream cheese mixture over crusts in the muffin tins.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cups before baking

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until centers are almost set, then cool completely.

Spread evenly with 1/3 cup strawberry jam, (I was far too generous and ended up with very messy cheesecake cups), garnish with fresh strawberry halves and drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cups Recipe @SoberJulie.com #EggItForward
Strawberry Cheesecake Cups
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Julie Elsdon-Height
Serves: 18
Lovely Strawberry Cheesecake cups which are perfect to take to gatherings.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam
  • 6 strawberries
  • 1/4 cup chocolate syrup
Instructions
  1. HEAT oven to 325°F.
  2. MIX graham crumbs, 2 Tbsp. sugar and butter until blended; press onto bottoms of 18 paper-lined muffin pan cups.
  3. BEAT cream cheese, remaining sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crusts.
  4. BAKE 25 to 30 min. or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 2 hours.
  5. Spread evenly with 1/3 cup strawberry jam. Garnish with fresh strawberry halves and drizzle with chocolate sauce.

#EggItForward Giveaway

#EGGITForward

One lucky Canadian winner will recieve a donation of $250 in their name to their local food bank AND a $150 Burnbrae Farms gift pack full of swag and coupons.

 

It’s simple to enter:

  1. Often food is used to show our appreciation. First tell me how you give thanks using eggs around Thanksgiving in the comments below.
  2. Pin one of the 2 finished Strawberry Cheesecake Cup images in this post to Pinterest.
  3. Mandatory Entry: Using Instagram via Twitter or simply Twitter, tweet your favourite recipe you use to #EggItForward and include another fellow Twitter pal. You can either tweet a picture of that recipe OR just tell us in a tweet using the hashtag #EggItForward using the following format:

For example: ” @BurnbraeFarms I would share my Strawberry Cheesecake Cups with @ThisLilPiglet #EggItForward “

Note: You can tweet directly on Twitter using a statement OR via Instagram through to Twitter using attaching a picture to your tweet. You can enter as many times as you want on Twitter BUT always use this format.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Heading to St Pete Beach to stay at a Tradewinds Resort in Florida

As a family, each of us has a different wish list when we’re planning a holiday. While I’d enjoy spending all of my time shopping and relaxing in the sun, my family has different interests. As you can imagine it can be quite a challenge to find a vacation which hits everyone’s wants and needs (sleep is a priority!).

In the past few years we have fallen in love with Florida, its warm climate, friendly people and fantastic customer service has never let us down. We are actually here in Orlando now, after spending a few days having our minds blown at Disney we are staying steps from the outlets which pleases me immensely! Tomorrow we are heading down to Island Grand, a Tradewinds Resort on St Pete Beach.

TradeWinds Entrance

We specifically chose Island Grand because it has something for everyone in our family at a resort that is not an all-inclusive located right on the beach.

TradeWinds Island Grand has completed all phases of a $20 million renovation project! Renovations include guest rooms, suites and specialty units; meetings space, lobby, Grand Palm Colonnade, and more!

A 20-acre beachfront playground, TradeWinds Island Grand was created with fun in mind. Bask beside one of five heated pools. Let the kids play at the KONK while you indulge in a massage or a romantic dinner. Explore our impeccably landscaped grounds by paddleboat along the meandering waterway. Give our concierge a call to arrange a fishing, golf or snorkeling excursion. At the Island Grand, your choices are limited only by your imagination. You pack your things, we’ll pack your stay.

Activities & Services at Guy Harvey Outpost

The choices here seem endless but each of us has made a wish list of activities which we can enjoy. Many are provided free of cost, and a few will be special treats.

On my list is the Body Works Spa, I’d love to see about getting a pedicure after doing so much walking. I also plan on making good use of the cabanas on the beach, I’m picturing myself utterly relaxed watching the kids play in the water.

CabanaHero3 (2)

Sydney cannot wait to check out Fish Tales with Captain Tim and the Splash Island Water Park. How amazing that there is fishing themed activities for our little angler, honestly this is rare to find located directly within the resort.

Watersports Hero 3

Chelsea is looking forward to having her hair braided on the beach and swooping down the High Tide Water Slide which is right on the beach.

HTS Hero Volleyball

My husband is easy to please. He wanted our own kitchen to prepare meals using local foods, shopping close by and a gorgeous beach. Guy Harvey Outpost has all of his requests and MORE, I cannot wait to see which activities he’ll choose to try.

You can find out more about Tradewinds Resorts on Twitter @TWResorts or FB on their Tradewinds Island Resorts page.

Keep an eye out for my updates over the next few days as we experience all they have to offer. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Disclosure: I was provided a stay at this resort for purposes of review; I was not compensated. All opinions are my own. 

Looking for a Restaurant to Please the Whole family? #MandarinON

When given the choice of where to eat our kids will always scream they want to go to Mandarin!

pink logo

As someone who has recently developed a taste for Oriental foods, in the past I shied away from dining at Mandarin…boy I didn’t know what I was missing! This is a restaurant which caters to all tastes, the atmosphere is amazing, the customer service is stellar and the food…oh the food is delicious!

buffet shot

What began as a small Á-la-carte restaurant in Brampton in 1979 has transformed over the years to the buffet style restaurant which has 20 locations across Southwestern Ontario. Each location’s award-winning buffet has an extensive soup and salad bar, grill tables, a prime rib counter, a sushi corner, and a variety of hot foods showcasing the best in Chinese Canadian fare. An array of desserts and an ice cream sundae bar offer the perfect end to the meal. Take-out and delivery are also available at every location.

Mandarin is committed to customer service, their missions statement is certainly upheld each and every time we visit!

“Every customer must feel welcomed as soon as they arrive. Every customer must be happy and smiling when they leave.”

Mandarin Moon Festival

Recently I was presented with the chance to take our family to experience the Moon Festival at Mandarin. We knew the girls would be super excited and to make it even more of a celebratory dinner we decided to include two of their friends.

Mandarin Outside kids playing

When you enter Mandarin the atmosphere immediately speaks to you. The restaurant was totally dressed to celebrate the Moon Festival and there a gorgeous pond which spans the waiting area at the front of the restaurant. The children were fascinated watching the Koi swim around the area and it kept them occupied as I went to the desk.

mandarin pond

 

The staff greeted us all warmly and our reservation was confirmed. We didn’t have to wait long, right on time we were led through the restaurant by our host who happily explained the entire layout and the legend of the Moon Festival.

Once upon a time there was a famous archer, Hou Yi, who with his arrows was able to slay mankind’s worst enemies, ferocious beasts that inhabited the earth. Yi was married to Chang-O, a beautiful but inquisitive woman who had been an attendant of the queen mother of the west before her marriage. Now at this time, there were 10 suns that took turns circling the earth-one every 10 days. One day, all 10 of the orbs circled, together, causing the earth’s surface to burn and threatening mankind. The wise emperor of China summoned Yi and commanded him to kill but one of the suns. This Yi proceeded to do. Upon the completion of his task, Yi was rewarded with a pill, the elixir of life, and advised: “make no haste to swallow this pill, but first prepare yourself with prayer and fasting for a year.” Being a wise man, Yi took the pill home and hid it under a rafter while he began healing his spirit, In the midst of this, Yi was summoned again by the emperor.

While her husband was gone, Chang-O noticed a beam of white light beckoning from the rafter. She followed it and a fragrant perfume, discovered the pill and swallowed it. Immediately, Chang-O found she could fly. Just at that moment her husband returned home, realize what had happened and began to reprimand his wife. Chang-O flew out the window into the sky. Yi sped after her, bow in hand, and the pursuit continued halfway across the heavens. Finally, Yi had to return to the earth because of the force of  the wind.

His wife reached the moon and there, breathless, she coughed and part of the pill fell from her mouth. Now, the hare was already on the moon and Chang-O commanded the animal to take pestle and mortar and pound another pill so that she return to earth and her husband. The hare is still pounding.

As for Yi, he built himself a palace in the sun as Yang (the sun and the male principle), Chang-O as Yin (the moon and the female principle).

Once a year, on the 15th day of the full moon, Yi visits his wife. That is why the moon is full and beautiful on that night.

It’s a romantic legend which we all appreciated and the decorations were gorgeous. Once we were seated at our table our very engaging server arrived to explain the buffet system to the children and take our drink orders. She had a great sense of humour and totally understood the kids, even to the point of teasing them about eating dessert first.

Mandarin family

There was much banter and the kids boasting about who was going to eat the most….and off we went to experience the buffet. To say there’s something for everyone is the understatement of the year! From salads to desserts Mandarin has thought of every dietary need, low sugar, low sodium…it’s all represented in their delicious dishes.

Mandarin Buffet

The staff at Mandarin were very conscious, we were paid close attention to with offers for drink refills and even warm facecloths to clean up before and after our meals. And in case you’re wondering how the kids did…..well I think that they’d agree the buffet at Mandarin kicked their butts!

Mandarin after dinner

If you’re in Southwestern Ontario, grab your family and head over to your local Mandarin to experience the Moon Festival before October 20th! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

WIN a Trip to Bahamas from Mandarin

In celebration of the Moon Festival, Mandarin is giving away an all inclusive trip for 2 to the Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort in Nassau Bahamas! Head over to Mandarin’s Facebook page and share your story of romance with the one you love to enter.

 

Apple Maple Pecan Skillet Pancake Recipe

With Autumn in the air here in Ontario it’s the perfect time to head out to the apple orchards and begin some baking. The choices are endless, from apple pies to apple brown betty we love them all! Today I decided to try something different, I wanted to incorporate some good old Maple Syrup and delicious pecans. This Apple Maple Pecan Skillet Pancake recipe can be used for either a breakfast or dessert dish. It’s a lovely breakfast on a Saturday morning or accompanied by some ice cream for dessert.

I hope you all enjoy it!

Apple Maple Pecan Skillet Pancake Recipe

Apple Maple Pecan Skillet Pancake Collage

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 small McIntosh apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, split into two portions
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup pecans, broken into small pieces

Preparation:

Begin preheating your oven to 425 degrees.Next peel your apples, coring them and cutting them into 1/4 inch slices.

Apple Dessert

Melt the butter in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Once melted, throw in your apple slices and allow them to cook for about 6 to 8 minutes until they’re soft.

Apples cooking

Add in the brown sugar and cinnamon and continue cooking on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until they’re caramelized.  While they’re cooking, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and flour. When the apples are lovely and soft, gently pour in your batter and move your skillet into the preheated oven for 12 minutes.

Apple Dessert Mix

After 12 minutes, pull out the skillet and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar over the top. Drizzle the maple syrup onto this lovely creation, sprinkle the pecans on top and return to the oven for approximately 5 minutes or until it’s all nice and brown.

Apple Maple Pecan skillet pancake
Apple Maple Pecan Skillet Pancake Recipe
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Julie Elsdon-Height
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
A lovely dessert jammed with caramelized apples, maple syrup and pecans
Ingredients
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 small McIntosh apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, split into two portions
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup pecans, small pieces
Instructions
  1. Begin preheating your oven to 425 degrees.Next peel your apples, coring them and cutting them into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Melt the butter in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Once melted, throw in your apple slices and allow them to cook for about 6 to 8 minutes until they’re soft.
  3. Add in the brown sugar and cinnamon and continue cooking on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until they’re caramelized. While they’re cooking, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and flour. When the apples are lovely and soft, gently pour in your batter and move your skillet into the preheated oven for 12 minutes.
  4. After 12 minutes, pull out the skillet and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar over the top. Drizzle the maple syrup onto this lovely creation, sprinkle the pecans on top and return to the oven for approximately 5 minutes or until it’s all nice and brown.

Bloggers Pitching a Brand Series – Laying the Groundwork

So you’ve started a blog! Being a blogger is tons of fun! Whether you’re writing about your life in general or a specific niche, me thinks we can all agree there has to be a passion for the craft or we’d all go cra-crazy quickly. As I sit here typing away I can easily remember how jazzed up I was in the early days of blogging, what power there is in sharing my thoughts and dreams here in my little spot on the web. Eventually my blog developed and I found that my inbox was becoming jammed with opportunities to review products but unfortunately not the products I would have chosen. Somehow I don’t feel the need for a moustache trimmer..but that’s just me. I decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns and pitch brands I’d really like to work with.

Having the idea to pitch brands is good and all but it’s worthless if you don’t know how. There is an art to it which is unique to each and every blogger but perhaps I can help shed some light into pitching for the newer bloggers out there with my Pitching A Brand series. This is the first of the series, which will help you with the groundwork bloggers do before the actual pitch is sent.

Pitching a Brand

6 Tips To Prepare for Pitching a Brand

Know Your Own Brand

Before you begin seeking out opportunities with brands you need to have a hold on who YOU are. When I say YOU I mean your brand as it is seen outwardly. Take stock of who your brand is today, at this EXACT moment online before you even develop a strategy.

If you’ve decided you’re becoming a “Healthy Eating” blogger and REALLY want to work with health-based brands you’d better look the part with your online interactions. Photos of you mowing down on fast food via Instagram aren’t going to help your pitch. Perhaps you want to slant this to your advantage, how about a “Life Change to Healthy Eating” as your brand focus instead?  If you indeed are making changes to your brand, get them underway before you begin pitching so that people can see and validate your voice.

Google your blog name and take a look at what you find with fresh eyes. Imagine you’re seeing your brand for the first time, what do you think it’s about? This is actually a good practice for seasoned bloggers, sometimes we aren’t in touch with our outward impact simply because we’re immersed in our brand’s activities.

VALUE your voice!

If you have readership, you have power! Each and every person on social media/blogging has the opportunity to create a buzz with their followers and you simply must understand the power of that. Bloggers should know who their readership is and what they’re interested in, this will help you to choose which brands to pitch.

Know the Brand You’re Pitching

My advice to bloggers who are just starting out is to look around your home and choose brands which you already use. Get yourself online and check out any campaigns they’ve done in the past and see if your blog is currently a fit for their brand personality. By getting to know the brand on social media, you’ll have some insight on what they appreciate in a campaign and can asses whether or not you have the ability to deliver the quality of work they expect.

Clean Yourself Up

Before you pitch your brand, take the time to get it your blog looking the best it can! Make sure your design is sharp and fully functional. Clean up any broken links, update your About page, replace any photos of poor quality, ensure your avatar is consistent across your social media platforms and all are linked together and current. Make it simple for people to find you and put your best foot forward wherever you are online.

Establish a Rapport

Assuming you’ve chosen a brand you’d like to pitch, get online and begin interacting with them. Unless you’ve already been conversing with them directly, you’re a stranger to them. Why not write a blog post about your favourite product from the brand or chat about it on Facebook or Twitter.

Brands receive copious amounts of pitches and you need to set yourself apart by showing you are an existing customer who values the products/services. This should come from a place of authenticity and be a simple interaction which genuinely reflects how you feel. Don’t waste time with a few tweets if you really have no interest, believe me it shines through!

Think Outside of the Box

If you’re going to pitch a brand you’ll need to know who you are, what you’re capable of and what sets you apart. This is the time to think outside of the box and brainstorm something unique for the brand you’re seeking to work with. Take your time with this, have a look at what avenues there are to choose from (Vine, Instagram, Pinterest) and find an angle which suits your readers expectations while giving the most bang for the brand’s buck!

 

Establishing yourself as a trusted blogger who works with brands takes time and energy. It’s a system which has failed when bloggers or brands aren’t clear on their abilities or expectations. Taking some time to ensure you are ready for taking on a campaign will make a world of difference, you’ll have the confidence to send your pitches to those brands you dream of working with.

Stay tuned for my next post in the Blogger Pitching Brands Series where I’ll outline how to develop a solid pitch.