Special Guest: Wear Flats to Dinner

Happy Sunday, all! I have a VERY special guest today. Vanessa of the amazing website/blog “Wear Flats to Dinner” is going to tell us about her hobby and share some favorites with us. She loves cooking and is always trying something new. It’s been so fun to follow her on Facebook and Instagram and see what she’s going to do next. Vanessa and I actually went to high school together and have recently reconnected via Facebook. I just LOVE what she does with WFTD and can’t wait for you all to get to know her a little better. Enjoy!

Interview with Vanessa

TH: Give us a brief bio…who are you, what should we know about you, and what do you do?

IMG_5125VC: I have a blog called Wear Flats to Dinner that I work on anytime I’m not at my 9-5, which is at a pharmaceutical company in San Francisco. Food and writing about it sums me up pretty well. Well, that and eating and sharing food with my husband and dog.

I recently read a Drew Barrymore interview in Bon Appétit magazine, and in it she describes being swept up in the sexy romance of the food movement. That description felt like someone was categorizing me and I very much identify with it. I want to bring the fantastic farm-to-table fare I’ve had at a restaurant into the small confines of my kitchen and recreate it for half the price.

TH: When did WFTD begin?

VC: WFTD began in December of 2012 officially, but I had been tinkering around with my own blog for about 6 months before that. I was hooked on the creative outlet a platform like WordPress gave someone like me, completely inept in the computer world of code, and I became obsessed with watching how to videos on the internet.

At first, I started blogging about what I thought people would want to read about, and nothing was really sticking for me. Finally, I had an Oprah-worthy “aha!” moment, when I decided to write about what I was doing every single day, multiple times a day anyway: cooking.

TH: Tell us where you came up with the idea for WFTD. What, in particular, inspired you to start this concept?

VC: What inspired me was wanting to be a part of a community outside my immediate family and friends. I love cooking for my husband, but there’s only so much feedback he can give when trying out a homemade balsamic dressing or blueberry cornmeal cake. There are really only so many ways to say, “Best thing ever!” and sometimes I don’t even want to hear that it’s the best thing ever. I want to know what it’s missing and how I can tweak it.

In terms of the concept, it has kind of taken a natural progression almost of its own. Sounds totally weird, but its taken different routes paralleling with where I’ve been in my life (time to bake a cheesecake, in the mood for more vegetables, learning my best girlfriend has Celiac’s etc).

TH: Is this something that you intend to pursue full-time in the future, or is it just a hobby? IMG_8416

VC: Such a good question! If anyone has an idea of how I can make this my job and live off that income, I am so open to suggestions! I have yet to really pursue an income stream in it because it has felt important to me to discover what this blog really is and I’m kind of learning who I am as a home cook in the process.

TH: What do you hope to accomplish through this endeavor?

VC: I hope to become really good at whipping up dinners and snacks and desserts with ingredients I already have on hand! For example, my blog has really pushed me to learn why something calls for smoked paprika. If I only have regular paprika, what will the end result really taste like? 

I also hope to inspire people to get in their kitchens and cook with yummy ingredients. Cooking has been such an incredible outlet for me and it doesn’t have to be something unattainable if your great-great grandma doesn’t hail from Italy and never passed down her secret to the best Bolognese sauce.

TH: Have you been able to make cool connections because of WFTD?

VC: Yes! Just reconnecting with you has been cool! I recently went to my first ever blogging conference and, this is going to sound so cheesy so I apologize for any nausea inducing descriptions now, but I really felt “at home” among people that were into the same kind of things I am.

TH: How do you stay inspired and/or motivated to keep writing topics and posting recipes?IMG_8249

VC: The cliché “you have to love it,” is a cliché for a reason. It’s definitely true. When I first started blogging about other things I thought would be good “blogging” topics, all those endeavors fell flat. I learned a lot in the process of starting and stopping and failing, but I wasn’t inspired and therefore it didn’t work. This project has worked for me because blog or no blog, I’m going to be in the kitchen wanting to tell people how easy it is to make Parmesan rosemary crisps.

TH: How many pairs of flats do you own?

VC: Ha! Not that many actually. Well it’s not like a massive shoe collection. I honestly love flats and they’re pretty much what I wear, but I have a few weddings coming up so I’ll probably break my flats trend then.

TH: What’s a cool or nerdy fact about you that you’ll tell us? 

VC: Can cool and nerdy be the same thing?! In January I went to Washington D.C. with my dad and sister to be a part of a protest outside the White House (it had to do with a tar sands oil pipeline that pollutes the air). That has got to go under some type of nerdy category. Oh, and my hubby and I sing to our dog with personalized lyrics to the tune of popular songs.

TH: What’s your favorite recipe?

VC: My favorite recipes are those that take pretention out and put accessible ingredients/methods in.

TH: More favorites? IMG_7467

VC: Favorite lunch:

Toast with avocado, goat cheese and tomatoes.

Favorite appetizer:

Popovers made in a muffin tin

Go-to snack at work:

Spicy candied nuts and jalapeno cheese

TH: Where can we find you (list all your social media sites, etc.)?

Website: http://wearflatstodinner.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/WearFlatsToDinner

IG: http://instagram.com/flatstodinner

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/vcallaway/boards/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wearflats

Tamar’s Cinnamon Rolls

Tamar's Cinnamon RollsAs promised earlier today via FB, I am posting my paleo-style cinnamon roll recipe. I made these yummy things this morning. My sister sent me a few different recipes for the above creations but each one seemed to contain too many steps or ingredients that I didn’t have. Therefore, typical to my (lazy) cooking process, I decided to improvise with what I already knew and had. And voila! These little beauties popped out of my oven and satisfied my craving for something yummy, without the price tag of guilt to go along with it. Here’s the recipe for those who would like to try it:

Tamar’s Paleo Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:

-1/3 cup coconut flour

-1/4 cup almond flour

-4 eggs

-1/2 tsp. xantham gum (used to make the dough a bit thicker)

-1/2 tsp. sea salt

-1/2 tsp. baking powder

-2 tbsp. raw honey (optional)

-5 tbsp. raw butter or coconut oil (softened but not melted)

For the filling:

-about 1/3 cup almond meal

-as much or as little cinnamon as you want

-about 2 tbsp. almond oil (add more as needed)

-4-6 drops of liquid stevia (tastes better than the powdered form)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Have a parchment paper lined baking tray ready to go. Mix all dough ingredients into a medium to large mixing bowl. Allow to sit for a few minutes so the dough can become thicker. In the meantime, make the filling by placing all ingredients into a small bowl. Allow filling to become the consistency with which you are happy. Then use a large spoon to plop a good amount of dough on your hand. With your fingers, smooth the dough into a 3″x1″ strip. Use a butter knife to spread some of the filling evenly onto the dough strip. Carefully roll up the strip into a cinnamon roll shape. Next, place the roll on the baking tray and slightly press it down with a spoon or the palm of your hand. Repeat until all dough is gone. Should make 8-9 rolls. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned and firm. Let cool on a cooling rack and serve with raw honey or raw coconut nectar drizzled on top. Enjoy!

This is the coconut syrup I use.

My breakfast from this morning: Over-medium eggs, lamb sausage, cinnamon roll. Yum!

So…give it a go and see how it turns out for you. I myself was very pleased with the result and my family loved them! By the way, I use Earth Balance soy-free spread instead of butter because I try to stay away from dairy as much as I can. (Which really means, as much as I can control myself from when it comes to cheese and butter. Everything else dairy makes me sick, so I don’t even try.) Note that you don’t even have to put anything on top of the roll but I wanted the “full” effect–as much of a full effect I could get. These little babies are definitely something I’d make again–AND they don’t break the budget. All in all, a win/win, especially considering the calorie count of a real, gluten-filled cinnamon roll compared to my creations. Happy Sunday and happy eating!