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


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.


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.

2013 Culinary (and Blog) Goals And Reflecting on 2012

First of all – can someone contact Father Time and ask him where this year went? One minute I’m yippin’ about it being the end of 2011 and now it’s the end of 2012. So, with that said, let’s take a moment to look back on the past year and plot out the culinary (and blog) goals for 2013.

2012 was a bit of a continuation of 2011 with continuing medical issues with the Sous Pug. He’s had yet another surgery, recently learned he now has diabetes and, as of this weekend, his vet might have an idea as to what is causing him so much drama – which means more research, more tests but there is a light at the end of the tunnel if this pans out.  I will say, I’ve learned more about my own strength through caring for him and, when it comes to your family, you will do whatever you can to make them better. As I firmly stated before, the Rainbow Bridge was not an option – we are in this for the long haul. While that has clipped my wings severely, the end result has been well worth it. There have been other issues that have diverted my attention a bit but, again, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” right?

2012 was the year of the blog conference.  I headed down south to the Food Blog Forum – Orlando and I can’t tell you how much that time with some of my favorite people, meeting new blog buddies and learning from some seriously fabulous food bloggers changed my outlook. Will I go in May this year – perhaps – all is contingent on the Sous Pug. Do I recommend you going if you have a chance to attend Food Blog Forum – absolutely!  Susan from Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy has a great outlook on her time there (and links to other attendees’ reflections).  In May, I also took a spent the day with the SITS Girls at Bloggy Boot Camp and I learned so much in one day that my head was swimming for a week after.

Another highlight of this year – I was honored to be part of the Emeril #SeriousSandwich bloggers.  Through this, I {virtually} met some amazing bloggers that are on my “must read daily” blog list and got to blog my way through Emeril’s latest cookbook.   Added bonus:  I learned how to make a Monte Cristo and not burn down my kitchen – score!  (Sidenote:  I think there needs to be an Emeril goal of some sort for 2013 – in 2011, I was a guest at Emeril’s Table, this year I honed some serious sandwich making skills – hmmm… what can happen in 2013?)

Cooking In Stilettos has grown by leaps and bounds and I want all of you to know how thankful I am for each and every one of you. You inspire me to get my stilettos into the kitchen, you inspire me to write and, most of all, you inspire me to bring you the best day after day.

Now that I’ve gotten all mushy, let’s look to 2013 to see what I’m adding to my to-do list:

  • Ok – I did take a cooking class in 2012 – specifically, one on canning from the fabulous Marisa from Food In Jars. However, that pasta class and I have been not doing the tango so – and with y’all as my witness – in 2013, that pasta class and I are a definite.  I also plan to take at least one more class at Sur La Table in King of Prussia and I will spill all the goods here – pinky swear or y’all can smack me with my own stiletto. Deal?
  • With all of the day-to-day, blog posting took a bit of a nosedive and, quite frankly, I’m dealing with some Catholic guilt here with letting you all down. For the record, I’ve had a Come to Jesus with my creative muse (and a good Gibbs’ style stiletto smack) and I vow to have at least 2 – 3 recipe posts a week and some other interesting content.
  • Photography goes hand in hand with recipes.  Now, I must confess that while my photography has not been the best over the years, I have gotten better and, for 2013, I plan to improve my shutterbug skills. I hope that by the end of 2013 you will see a marked improvement.  Time to learn how to use that DSLR!
  • While I’m not sure about my traveling wings, I would definitely like to attend another blog conference – whether it’s Food Blog Forum, BlogHer Food or IFBC – that’s all up in the air.  Again, if you have an opportunity to attend one of these conferences (even virtually), do it!
  • I think some things around Cooking In Stilettos needs to be changed a bit – a bit of a perk-up. Do I know when – not yet, but expect to see a face lift of sorts around here. I just need to plot, plan and do a bit of creative accounting.
  • As blogs are not cheap, in 2012, I made the move to Glam for my ad provider for Cooking In Stilettos and I look forward to working with them more in 2013.  I adore the crew at Glam can’t thank Monica, Erin and the Glam crew for talking me off the ledge more than once.
  • Thankfully, writing for Cooking In Stilettos has opened the doors to writing for other publications and sites and, in 2013, I’m hoping to continue on with my writing.
  • On the personal front, I’ve revisited my 2010 Culinary Goals and have decided to do a modified version of The Chic Life’s “Eat In Month Challenge”. I haven’t worked out how it’s going to play out with Wiggs’ schedule and my morning ice coffee necessity for the 9to9, but I do think I’ll be putting my Vue to good use in January.
  • Also, to go hand in hand with the Eat In Month Challenge, I also think I need to get the stilettos back to the gym because, in true Elise Elliott fashion*, I learned that some of my best ideas come to me while working out. Who knows – January might get off to a great start.
  • Also, another goal I plan on accomplishing is to get my “house in order” both with organizing the entire abode (dealing with a blind pug is not the easiest – it has to be blind pet friendly), the kitchen/pantry chaos, and things on the home front. When things are disorganized or the mind is in chaos, everything suffers and that’s not good. With all that’s going on with Wiggs, a sense of calm would be very helpful (and that also helps the writing too, imo.)
  • Finally, I can’t stress enough how much I adore the Food Blogging Community. Through this community, I have learned the wonders of Google+ (which you can find me more actively playing on in 2013), have been exposed to new ideas and culinary inspiration, and am in awe when I read their blogs.   The Food Blog Community is an amazing one and, in the words of Bruce Springsteen, takes care of their own.  So, with that in mind, in 2013, I want to pay it forward and mentor a couple of new bloggers when they are just starting out.  There are so many times I think “If only I knew then what I know now.”  Hopefully I can help spare someone else the days of smacking the head on the desk.

All in all, I think 2013 is going to be quite the year, filled with lots of opportunity, amazing content, delicious dishes, a bit of {virtual} retail therapy, some amazing blogs to discover and so much more.


What are your goals for 2013?



*Elise Elliott – First Wives Club. If you haven’t seen the movie – go see it. Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton are CLASSIC.

12 Days of Giftmas – Gifts for the Food Blogger

We are in the final stages of wrapping up the 12 8 Days of Giftmas* and it dawned on me – what does one get the Food Blogger in your life or what do you tell people to get you?   Here are a few suggestions – whether you are new at food blogging or a pro, I’m sure there’s something for everyone.

12 Days of Giftmas - GIfts For The Food Blogger - 2012

12 Days of Giftmas – Gifts For The Food Blogger – 2012

1. One book that should be in every food blogger’s library is Food Blogging For Dummies by Kelly Senyei. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this book is a treasure trove of information and will help you take your blog to the next level. When I started blogging years ago, I had no idea of what I was doing, essentially I have been flying by the heels of my stilettos. I wish I had this years ago – would have saved me some serious grief. In 2013, expect to see some changes to Cooking In Stilettos and it’s all from stuff I have learned from Food Blogging For Dummies.

2. Another book I love and adore: Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More by Dianne Jacobs. Dianne’s blog is also a must read daily – my eyes have been opened to much that goes on when it comes to food writing on what to and not to do.

3. Food Photography is not my strong suit but I’ve gotten a bit better over the years. One of my 2013 homework assignments is to work on my shutterbug skills. Gone are the days of the point and shoot (that fell in the spoonbread batter) and while I adored pictures, I still have to learn how to use my Canon Rebel XSi . For the food blogger that wants to learn some photography skills, may I suggest these two lovelies: Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling by Helene Dujardin and Focus On Food Photography for Bloggers (Focus On Series): Focus on the Fundamentals by Matt Armendariz. Both Helene and Matt are amazing photographers (their blogs amaze me on the daily) and you know that the lessons learned from both of them will be priceless.

4. If anything I have learned from Jaden at Steamy Kitchen (well, I learned a ton at Food Blog Forum this year but this really stuck with me) is the use of lights when you have none. I invested in these Lowel EGO Lights some time ago and, confession, I haven’t used them yet. I know – I’m mortified. They have been in my back office, forgotten about in their little box and I’ve seen the magic they can do for food photography. Resolution – in 2013, these lovelies are getting a new spot in the front room because natural light is not often found in my dark abode. Want a prime example of how they can take your photos from nice to fabulous? Check out Jaden’s post on what it did for her photographs.

5. Camera lenses are always a good thing for the food blogger – just make sure to find out what camera they are using. One of my investments this year was a lens for my Canon Rebel XSi that is apparently one of those coveted lenses – Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras.  After hearing the high recommendations of some fabulous food bloggers, well, I put back the stilettos and got this lovely.

6. One phrase we should all remember for 2013: “Back Up Your Data” because you never know what’s going to happen. Think of all the blog posts, the photography, etc – one swift oops (like when the sous pug and evil minx broke the laptop) and it’s history. A good portable hard drive always helps – There’s a great version for MAC (the G-DRIVE mobile Portable USB 3.0 1TB Hard Drive) and when I used to have a PC, I used a good portable hard drive by Seagate (Seagate Backup Plus 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive)

7. Finally – you can never go wrong with gift cards. Think of Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, Crate and Barrel – it’s endless. Plus – there will be some killer sales starting after the holidays and in January so they can get some fabulous props and items for their kitchen. Many stores are also doing the virtual gift card so that’s helpful for last minute shopping.

What would you get your favorite food blogger (or what do you want to see wrapped and ready for you this holiday season?)


12 8 Days of Giftmas


*With all that has happened recently, while it’s still part of the 12 Days of Giftmas series, we’re only going to do 8 Days this year. Regular posting of recipes and Fab Friday should resume right after the Christmas Holiday.

[FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate and/or referral links which help offset the cost of hosting this site. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own]