My 2014 Culinary and Blog Goals

Looking back at what I had planned for 2013, boy was I way off.  This year has knocked me on my butt way more than once. I lost my bloggy voice, my beloved Sous Pug headed to the Rainbow Bridge, and I did not do as much retail therapy as I used to.  My priorities changed.  My outlook changed and, to be honest, I changed.  The person I was years ago is not the person who I am now and, quite frankly, the one that I am now – I kinda like her – even if she is a bit “outspoken.”  With all that has happened, I learned that there is truth in the saying that some people are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Some things I am very thankful for this year is the power of friendship. I’m blessed that there are some amazing people that have come into my life, both from the past and current, which have kept me on sanity’s path – especially after losing Wiggs. They have been amazing and I look forward to lots of adventures with them in 2014.   Another added bonus – I have a ton of new amazing blogs to read going into the New Year. While I would like to look back and spotlight what happened this past year, I get a bit teary so let us just look forward shall we?… 

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Looking Back At The Best Tried and True Recipes of 2013

This is a sponsored post. My opinions, as always, are my own

Cooking In Stilettos Best Tried and True Recipes of 2013 | Cooking In Stilettos

This has been a whirlwind of a year. As I’m starting to think back to all the blessings that 2013 brought, I’m also thinking of how my cooking has evolved over the past year. It’s been a long way since my original “let’s try to burn water” style that I started with so many years ago.

When Foodie asked us what we thought our best recipes for 2013 were, I thought long and hard and focused on recipes that I knew were loved by friends and family, took me out of my comfort zone or I improved upon using skills I learned over the past 5 years. These, my friends, are my absolute faves for this year.
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Celebrating Food Babbles’ Blogiversary With A Creamy Hazelnut Martini and a Giveaway

Creamy Hazelnut Martini | Cooking In Stilettos

When I started blogging eons ago, I never knew what a wonderful path it would take me on and the fabulous people blogging would put in my path.

One of the most amazing bloggers I have been thrilled to know is Kate from Food Babbles.  If you don’t read her on the daily, you need to.  She’s got the biggest heart, the most adorable family(and one is a fashionista in training – love that!), is a first responder with her work as a medic.  Of course, she’s a foodie at heart and Food Babbles is a testament to her amazing culinary skills!

Food Babbles turns 3 this week and Kate is throwing a blogiversary blowout with a blogger giveaway with some of my must read daily bloggers.  Look at who is celebrating with Kate:

Taking On Magazines Food Babbles Crumb Chocolate, Chocolate and More Cooking In Stilettos Created By Diane Juanita's Cocina Diethood Cravings of a Lunatic Try Anything Once That Skinny Chick Can Bake Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker It's Yummi

She’s celebrating this soiree with a bang  – specifically a 5 Qt. Kitchen Aid Mixer  – and you are going to want to toss your hat in the ring for the chance to win this lovely in a color of your choosing.

Kitchen Aid Mixer | Food Babbles Giveaway … 

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Come Visit Me At The Redhead Baker – It’s All About the Beer Baby!

Harvest Pumpkin Ale Short Ribs - A Guest Post at The Redhead Baker

Y’all know The Redhead Baker, right?  I discovered her site some time ago and it hit my must read daily list. Coleen is a gem and a fellow Philly gal so I was thrilled when she said that she was letting some bloggy buds guest at her site to celebrate all that is Cooking With Beer.

Coleen was kind enough to let me bring a dish to her soiree so I ran to WholePaychex, talked to my fave beer guy and brought what I think is the perfect fall beer to the party – a Pumpkin Ale.  Then I did what he might have thought was unthinkable – braised some short ribs with it. Seriously – who says you can only braise the short ribs in vino or stock – pshaw! It’s all about the beer baby! Of course you can add a sip or two for the cook – I mean you do have to taste your ingredients – quality control and all…. 

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Cooking ‘Round the Web

Going to keep this short and sweet for your weekend reading because this gal is heading to NYC to visit with an old friend from the “recovering publicist” days – lots on the agenda and I’m definitely going to have to head to the Chelsea Market and, if time permits – the Saks shoe floor.   (MB – consider yourself warned 😉 )

So – let’s see what lovely finds I found around the web this week

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Did you know that there’s a site devoted to BBQ and it’s by one of our fave peeps – Kim aka Lunie? You need to check out Kiss My Smoke and get her recipe for Smoked Cherry Pork Chops with Rainier Cherry Salsa

Speaking of cherries – I’m loving this Cherry Granola Breakfast Parfait from The Messy Baker.

Lauren from Healthy Delicious learned a little something when making these Jerk Chicken Tacos with Tropical Salsa – let’s just say, I learned something new after reading her post.

Well – after we got a little healthy, why not get a little sweet, right?

Joanne from Fifteen Spatulas shows that Cream Puffs are not at all hard to do – after this post, I think even I could do it and not burn down the kitchen.

Check out these Brown Butter Chocolate Melt Cookie Sandwiches from Angie over at Big Bear’s Wife.

Alida’s Kitchen has a Biscoff Buttermilk Pancake recipe that’s perfect for a weekend morning. After all, Biscoff is a good way to start the day :)

Finally – I don’t know about you but I ADORE plums – I actually love them more than I love cherries. However, one problem is that I don’t cook with them more. This recipe for Plum Swirled Cheesecake Bars from I Can Cook That has me thinking of ways to include plums more in my recipes.

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What fabulous recipes did you come across on the internet this week – any with plums?

The One Where I Lost My Bloggy Voice

Lately, I’ve been at a crossroads – to write or not to write. Over the past few months, I lost that creative inspiration. As a blogger, you can read so much of “This is how you do XYZ”, food photos start to look alike, the writing voices seem to sound the same and it’s a bit overwhelming. Not to mention, there’s so much about blogging that everyone has the “magic formula” however, in all reality, what is right for one might not be right for another. It’s like 20 different things coming at you, pulling you in so many directions that you finally find yourself stomping a stiletto and {virtually} screaming “ENOUGH”

It all came to a head for me these past couple of weeks and I reached the end of my rope. Between work, home, commitments, I just wanted to curl up into a ball and pray it was all a really bad dream and, much like the infamous dream episode of Dallas, I’d wake up and it would be a new day and all would be right with the world. Reality – notsomuch. The last thing I wanted to do was log into a computer, post some recipe “just because” and call it a day. Sure, I have recipes backed up to post but the writing voice – that wasn’t there. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone to essentially phone it in.

When I started Cooking In Stilettos way back when, I made a promise to myself that it would be fun. Lately, the fun has been missing and that’s not an option any more. I used to write because I wanted to write – not because some advice says I should post 3-5x a week, 2x a day, 1x a day – post at 9am – post at 7am – no no post at 3pm – yadda yadda yadda. I think you all would whap me with a stiletto if I ever did that. I think I’m on blogging advice overload and I don’t know where to begin.

So – here’s my plan:

What I do want to do is try an experiment for April – play in the kitchen, leaf through cookbooks, blog when the feeling strikes me and not get caught up worrying about “OMG am I doing this right”. Quite frankly, writing is my form of expression and when that is stifled, that is never good. Add to that, the dreaded self-sabotage monster, the “blogger comparison” trap and getting caught up in all the back end and – well, let’s just say Calgon couldn’t even take this gal away. I want to make Cooking In Stilettos fun again – an escape from the day to day, some recipe inspiration, some shopping inspiration (because, that’s another thing that’s taking a back seat – Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, Crate and Barrel and I need a catch up time, stat!) and a few other things that I’ve been mulling about forever but have been afraid to try.  There will be sponsored posts from time to time (hosting this spot is not free, sadly – nor is the other myriad of expenses incurred while blogging – but that’s a whole other post) but those posts have to hold muster to the same posts I’d do for the day to day.

One of my favorite people, Peter Shankman, once said “having audience is a privilege, not a right” and he’s absolutely correct. I am blessed to have y’all drop by my little corner of the web and don’t think for a moment I’m not appreciative of that. The least I can do is make it a welcome spot for y’all – heck – if I could hand a cocktail through the computer screen, I would.

So thank you for sticking by me and let’s see if I can inject some “za za zu” into this spot again.