A YEAR OF BLOG HIGHLIGHTS AND FAILS!

This time one year ago I made my first ever MattawaMum Blog post, and just to “celebrate” I decided to finally put up the new design I have been talking about for SO long! My husband is a genius and had the whole site completed within an hour or two… but then I had the project of re-editing every single one of my posts to fit the new design, and since there were close to 250 of them, it took a while! But it was actually fun going through them, and finding recipes I forgot I even had!

As I was going through each post, I decided to pick my top favorite cooking recipes, baking recipes, and photographs from this year, but then I had an even better idea–to include some of the posts that didn’t make the cut along with some total and utter FAILS i’ve had during this past year too! I didn’t start this Blog to show off my cooking, baking and photography–I started it so I could LEARN those things… so it’s been quite the adventure, and these pictures will prove it!

Here are some recipes that never got published:

1. English Pancakes: I made traditional English pancakes on our national “pancake day” smothered in lemon and sugar, and although they were delicious, I thought my pictures and the recipe was just kind of boring!

2. American Strawberry Shortcake: This summer I really wanted to make an AWESOME strawberry shortcake, but although this recipe looks pretty, it was actually SO bitter I took one bite, and spit it right out! NOT a good recipe… 

3. Traditional Philly Cheesesteaks: the beef was kind of tough & cheese whiz kind of disturbs me, so I decided not to write this one up

4. Home made vanilla ice cream: I actually found the simplest, most amazing recipe and forgot to write it up! I should get on that… 

5. Chocolate Torte: this dish was yummy, I mean–it’s a warm chocolate torte made from scratch (how could it not be?) but for the amount of work that goes into it (grinding almonds to make flour and all kinds of crazy stuff) I decided it wasn’t quite delicious ENOUGH to make the work worthwhile.

6. Moroccan Chicken Tagine: I just made this the other day actually, and it was delicious, but it called for WAY too many crazy ingredients: preserved lemons that take a week to make? Harissa (a tunisian hot sauce) –yeah that’s easy to come by! (NOT) so I decided I would find a simpler recipe. 

7. White Chocolate Brownies with Raspberries. Don’t let the looks deceive you: they look divine, but they’re so bitter and NOT good at all!

8. Mini Beef Wellingtons with Mustard Cream Sauce: These were HEAVEN! But there was nothing mini about them… they looked and tasted almost exactly the same as Gordon Ramsay’s version, which I already posted about and am such a fan of… so I didn’t write these up. 

9. Tilapia Francese: My husband told me that Tilapia eats poop, and it put me off for life. So I don’t want any Tilapia recipes on my Blog & I refuse to cook it ever again! 10. Balsamic, Basil and Strawberry Smothered Pork Chops: Pretty, but tasted like pure licorice. 

11. English Fish Pie: This was probably the best fish pie I have ever had… but it’s still FISH PIE! :-/

12. Banana Custard: my favorite dessert growing up in England! I didn’t Blog it because it was too simplistic… but it’s super yummy!

13. Spaghetti Carbonara: good, but not good enough! I’m still trying to find a recipe that wows me!

14. Perfect Lemon Bars: I found a recipe on pinterest for meyer lemon bars which were SO perfect and amazing, but I forgot to take pictures of them for my Blog. When I remade them they came out looking like this; I messed them up a 3rd time, and just quit! 

15. English Sticky Toffee Pudding: This was okay… but okay is not good enough when it takes all afternoon to make! 

16. Crock Pot Pulled Pork: I have never made anything super delicious in a crock pot! This pork was watery and bland… if anyone has a KILLER Pulled Pork crock pot recipe, i’d love to know it! 

17. Peaches and Cream stuffed French Toast: I have made this a couple of times now, and my husband and I LOVE, love, love it! I just need a prettier picture to write it up! {i’m on it!}

18. I made a pretty Summer Fruit Tart with mascarpone, but I didn’t write it up because I didn’t actually get to try it… so I can’t tell you if it’s good or not! 

19. Martha Stewart’s Chicken with Grainy Mustard Cream Sauce: WHY in the world didn’t I write this one up? It’s divine! And simple too. Just my style… 

20. Lamb Korma: I tried 3 or 4 different recipes before I just invented my own, it was good… but had way too many ingredients in it, and was pretty crazy! I am determined to find a good Korma still though! If you have a delicious korma recipe, send it on! 

These are just a few that didn’t make the cut because they just didn’t taste or look good enough. These following recipes didn’t make it on the Blog because they were just HUGE disasters…. so here’s my top 15 FAILS of this past year:

1. BBQ Chicken: Remember how I said I set my chicken on fire and it put me off grilling for the rest of the summer? Here’s the evidence…

Wow.

2. Coconut Macaroon FAIL: I was determined to find an awesome recipe for these, because they’re one of my favorite cookies…

Well, attempt #2 was worse than attempt #1! And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse than that… it did…. here’s attempt #3. My last attempt! 

3. More burnt food on the grill… I think I still posted this recipe!

4. My first Pad Thai attempt. More like noodles and bean sprouts on a plate… 

5. Pork Ragout: It didn’t quite fit in my crock pot! Even if it did, it would still have been a disaster!

6. Home made pitas are not as easy and good as Pinterest makes them look!… 

6. Huffington Post Raspberry Rolls: These took me ALL afternoon, I followed the recipe to a T and they came out tasting super bitter and looking like this: not cool Huffington Post! I am huffing to you! 

7. English Rhubarb Fool: I feel like a fool for even making this! 

8. Classic Gazpacho: I don’t know if it was just the recipe, or if it was me… but this was GROSS! Almost put me off Gazpacho’s for life… 

9. Prosciutto, Arugula and Melon pizza: a bad combination. 10. Fettucine Alfredo: with just a little bit too much cream…

11. Fish Tacos. Enough said. {P.S> the smell of these lingered in my house as long as it lingered in my mouth… weeks!}

12. Cashew Chicken? I think! 

13. Dog Food in Lettuce Cups: I blame my food processor. 

14. Attempt #2 at PF Change lettuce wraps… better texture, but still not great!

15. Beef quesadillas… it was a good idea.. until they started falling apart! 

For every two to three posts, there was one post that was not Blog worthy at all! But here are the recipes that made those mishaps, and all the hard work totally worthwhile! Looking through these ones, I feel as if I have come a long way from where I was a year ago!

1. Gordon Ramsays Beef Wellington: A year ago today I put down the boxed mac n cheese, and threw myself in deep by making the most complicated thing I could think of: Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington! It turned out SO amazing that it really gave me the confidence and inspiration I needed to make other gourmet dishes. His beef wellington is pretty close to perfection!

2. Dungeness Crab Cakes with Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad: I learned how to cook and de-shell a crab… probably my most intimidating dish of the year–but the taste made the work SO so soooo worth it. One of the best thing’s i’ve ever eaten. 

3. Strawberry Spinach Salad with Candied Walnuts, Feta and Home Made Raspberry Vinaigrette: my favorite salad in the whole world!! I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. 

4. BBQ Chicken: This dish requires a little work, but the results cannot be beat! This is the BEST BBQ sauce I have ever had, and I won’t ever look for another recipe again, because it’s seriously the real deal! YUM!

5. Strawberry Gazpacho: Beautiful, elegant, delicious & simple! The perfect Summer dinner.

6. Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata with Couscous: This is utterly and totally divine, and yet it takes minutes to make! This is my new go-to dinner when i’m in a pinch for time! 

7. Baked Eggs: I am SO glad I discovered these! They take minutes to put together, and after 20 minutes in the oven, you have a simple, elegant and delicious weeknight dinner that’s so french and gourmet! 

8. Crisp Goat Cheese Salad: my husband was freaked out to try this, but one bite and he was sold! He still asks me to make it for him… and I have no problems with that, because it’s seriously AMAZING! 

9. Bombay House Chicken Tikka Massala: This is a hard recipe to beat! 

10. Beef Bourguinon with PERFECT English Roast Potatoes: I was SO happy when I finally mastered perfect English roast potatoes…soft on the inside, crispy on the outside (like armadillos!) Americans need to try these, because you’ll love them! 

11. Smoked Salmon Fettuccine Alfredo: The balance of the cream and smoked salmon in this dish is SPOT ON! 

12. Creamy Dreamy Risotto: It’s pretty darn perfect. 

13. Carabba’s Pollo Rosa Maria: I am kind of obsessed with Carabba’s Italian grill and with mushrooms… so this is a Sarah recipe for sure! 

14. Jamie Oliver’s Fish and Chips: They taste just like they come from an English fish and chippy! 

15. BEST Chicken Satay ev-er: Don’t even try to beat this recipe either!

16. Steak and Mushroom Pie: The picture is terrible, but I promise these are HEAVENLY! Best steak and mushroom pie I have ever eaten… blows all the store brought ones {in England} WAY away!  

17. Flank Steak Tacos: I’m not really a fan of Mexican food… but these started to bring me around!

18. New York Strip with Pommes Frites: YUM! 

20. Eggs Benedict. One of the first things I cooked on this Blog (with the help of my hubby), and it’s still one of my fave’s! 

When I first moved to Mattawa, I couldn’t bake a thing, and all the women around me put me to shame! Especially my mother in law who has a real talent for baking and makes it look SO easy! It’s pretty much thanks to her tips and tricks, and supplying me with the right tools I needed, that I was able to pick up baking and cake decorating as fast as I did! Here are a few of my favorite recipes from this past year:

1. Chocolate, Orange and Cream Roulade: A gourmet, English Christmas dessert. This is heavenly. Can I make one in September?

2. Traditional English Trifle: Just how my Mum used to make it! So yummy. 

3. Carabba’s Sogno Di Chocolata: Layers of Brownies, Chocolate Mousse and cream drizzled with chocolate syrup: that’s a hard combination to beat for any chocolate lover (like myself!) 

4. Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies. These were really simple and fun to decorate and they look so darn cute! 

5. My shortbread recipe: I know the photo isn’t all that great (it was one of the first things I blogged) but I promise this short-bread is one of the best you’ll ever try! (Just don’t look at how much butter’s in it!) 

6. Oreo Cupcakes: HEAVENLY! I make these all the time… for any occasion I can think of! 

7. Mango and Sticky Rice: this recipe tastes exactly the same as the mango and sticky rice I had when I lived in Thailand. I could eat this every day! 

8. My Carrott Cake Recipe: After being way too overwhelmed with carrot cake recipes, and having a hard time finding one that was awesome… I decided to create my very own perfect carrot cake recipe! It pretty much rocks! 

9. My Apple Pie Recipe: This is the one dessert I don’t make from scratch, but Betty Crocker pastry and Pink Ladies make the PERFECT combination for an apple pie! Trust me! 

10. Chocolate Souffle… probably my all time favorite dessert. I think I need to make another one of these ASAP. 

11. English Banoffee Pie: Toffee {boiling sweetened condensed milk} bananas, cream and chocolate, is probably one of the best dessert combinations ever invented! 

12. My marshmallow Fondant Recipe: I use this ALL the time to decorate all my cakes and cupcakes and would be lost without it! It’s cheap, it tastes SO much better than store-brought kind, and it’s so easy! Marshmallows+powdered sugar in the microwave! LOVE IT! 

13. My Mother in Laws Snicker Doodles: No one makes Snickerdoodles as well as she does, and she was nice enough to let me post her family recipe, which is PERFECT! 

14. Raspberries with Frozen Greek Yoghurt: This recipe doesn’t taste healthy AT ALL, yet it is! It’s so sweet and the texture’s so perfect.

15. Banana bread with Warm Vanilla Bean Glaze: My favorite banana cake recipe turned into the most delicious banana bread on earth, (thanks also to my mother in law for giving me that idea!) And then topped with a warm vanilla bean glaze to make it extra amazing!

As well as learning how to cook and bake, a year ago today, I also decided that I wanted to start learning photography. At first it was because I wanted to take beautiful pictures of my family to capture our memories and adventures, but soon I was lucky enough to take photos for friends, family and other people here in Mattawa. So here are a few of my favorite pictures over the past year:

I know this is really cheesy, but this just seems like a good time to thank my friends and family and everyone who reads my Blog. There have been SO many times over this past year where I have wanted to quit because I just didn’t think I was good enough, it was too much work, and I just didn’t see the point in it, but then I would get a really nice comment from one of you–and it just made me keep going! So, thanks for your encouragement. I hope this Blog inspires you in some way, and I really hope you keep reading, because I have lots of plans to make it even better and to keep improving as I have over this past year!

Love, Sarah <3