A Beautiful Mess – Creativity Chaos

It isn’t until the mini loaf pan with lemon raspberry batter in the individual slots and the oven closes that I feel my intense focus shift to one of hope.

I pause to savour this moment. The moment where my creativity has been challenged and now it is up to a bit of heat to finish the process. The moment where my energy shifts to anticipation.

It is also the moment where the true depth of my creative chaos becomes evident. When the stack of measuring cups, shells of lemon rinds and egg dribble breaks through my muse and into my consciousness.

“Wow, what a beautiful mess.” I think to myself.

My kitchen, to me, is like a painter’s studio. It’s where I thrive, creative, exhaust myself and recharge. It’s the room I crave after an intense day at work. When deadlines loom or my mind is numb from the amount of output during my work day, I come home and throw myself into making a noodle bowl or black bean taquitos with homemade queso.

My measuring spoons are my paint brushes. My mixer a canvas.

Standing in my kitchen, with a mix of hope and anticipation, I feel the calm after the storm. I look forward to the clean-up as the last phase of the process and to take my mind off the waiting for the timer to signal my creation is done.

There is a calming to the chaos.

And I can’t wait for the next storm.

I Dream of Pie Tin Pancakes

Pie tin pancakes.

That was the words that popped into my head when my cat head-butted me awake at 3:08 this morning.

Half awake, I rolled over and said, “I just had a dream about pie tin pancakes.”

“So, a cake?” My husband said, with his eyes closed. Apparently, the cat had stopped by to say hello to my husband in his brutish manner moments before crossing over to my side of the bed to offer me the same salutation.

“No, a pie tin. Like a large pancake. Baked.” I whispered. My interrupted REM was beckoning me back.

“A pie cake.” He said and rolled over.


Normally, my nocturnal ideas evaporate by the time I put my feet on the floor and my glasses on my face. But not today.


The idea of a giant baked pancake lingered long after I got up and shuffled out to the kitchen for my first cup of coffee.  As I worked out the details of how long it would bake and at what temperature in my mind, I couldn’t ignore the growing sense of excitement.

I like the idea of creating something new using just a bit of flour, some baking powder, an egg, some melted butter, and a well-greased pan. Success wasn’t guaranteed, but failure didn’t seem that important.

Baking is an exercise in hope. It is mixing together ingredients, popping it in the oven and hoping that it turns out. Putting faith in your skills and anticipating success.


That was the magic I created in the kitchen as I crafted a pancake in a pie tin (well, a glass one for I wasn’t sure how it would come out). I was so engrossed in the process, I barely noticed the presence of my husband.

“That’s what I love about you,” he said, interrupting my concentration.

“That I make you breakfast?”

“That you dream about something and get up and make it,” he smiled.

Well, who can resist pie tin pancakes?

By the way, they turned out pretty awesome. It was a giant pancake that could be sliced up and sauced up with orange syrup and blueberries.

Sometimes our dreams can be sweet — and doable.

Note: Pie tin pancakes are easy to do. Make your favourite pancake recipe. Grease a pie tin with a bit of butter. Pour the batter in the tin. Bake in the oven for 17 minutes at 375 degrees. Bam. Breakfast is done.

Wait! I Can Make That: Taco Pizza

Two words. Taco Pizza.

Those were the two favorite words in high school. Taco Pizza was what we ordered when working late on the yearbook. It was what my parents ordered as a special treat when they didn’t feel like cooking. It was what I craved when I would visit during my college years.

Taco Pizza was the specialty of the local pizza joint, Pizza Barn, in my hometown of Gardnerville, Nevada. The small town outside of Carson City, at that time, didn’t have Dominos or Little Caesars. As far as pizza options on Friday night went, parents of hungry kids could pick up a frozen pie or make a call to Pizza Barn.

I haven’t been to Gardnerville in years since my family relocated and only recently heard that the restaurant has served it’s final slice.

Heading into playoffs weekend, I decided it was time to recreate my favourite pie for the epic showdowns between the best of the best of AFC and NFC.

When it comes to making my favourite foods that I get elsewhere, I’m always a bit leary. How can it possibly live up to my teenage memories? Will it taint my memories, forever changing the fond recollections? Or . . . my biggest fear . . . I will nail the recipe and then it becomes a staple in my current life.

I decided to risk it. I made the taco pizza as I remembered it . . . with a few changes due to my current diet.

Since those carefree days of my youth, I have become lactose intolerant and I don’t eat a lot of meat (vegan-ish). I replaced hamburger meat with braised tofu crumbles. Or I was going to. Turns out my tofu had turned so my Taco Pizza base was just refried beans with enchilada sauce.

I used lactose-free cheese blend and not my usual vegan, a happy medium for both my husband and I.

The recipe is easy. Spread out some dough (fresh made, picked up from the bakery or made from the box). Add the base layers which is beans, browned & seasoned hamburger or meat alternative. Add some cheese and pop in the oven.

What makes taco pizza so amazing is the “keep hot, hot and the cold, cold” method. Where one normally cooks all the toppings with the pizza, Taco Pizza’s siren allure comes from the cold toppings. Like a regular taco, you add the tomatoes, jalapenos, lettuce and avocado after the bubbly, cheesy base emerges from the oven.

After the first bite, I realized my greatest fear had come true. I can make the childhood pizza I loved in my own home. Anytime I want. And as an adult, there is no one here to say “we can’t have Taco Pizza for dinner every night.”

Overcoming My Aversion to Salads

Salads, for a long time, were a necessary evil. The “have-to” chomp side dish that injected a healthy dose of vitamins into a meal. It was something to get through to get to the good (and usually cheese covered) stuff.

I believe my adult adversion to salads stemmed from my childhood experience with the dish.

My mother used salads as a way of cleaning out the fridge while upping our nutrient intake. Lettuce, ham, bacon bits, broccoli, cheese chunks, spanish olives, and whatever else looked like it would give it a flavour boost.

In short, she loaded it up.

I realize I was looking at it all wrong. It’s not “filler” if it’s loaded! And loaded . . . can be healthy.

It’s only been in the last couple of months that I have embraced the leafy dish with gusto. Spring mixes, herbs and leafy veggies have distinct flavours that meld together when piled high on a dinner plate. There’s a touch of sweetness and bitterness that create a taste explosion.

In addition, the greens are further enhanced with the toppings or additives. One of my favourite recipes incorporates snap peas and marinated beets (pickled) with tuna.

Loaded Tuna Salad - Summer Dishes Salads
Loaded Tuna Salad – Recipe from “So . . . Let’s Hang Out”

The BLT Breakfast Salad capitalizes on the flavour combination of warm bacon, soft boiled eggs and mixed greens. It is an easy salad (less than 20 minutes) that is both delish and filling.

BLt Breakfast salad

The Chicken Parm Salad uses pesto and lemon as a dressing tossed with greens, tomatoes and goat cheese for an Italian spin. Chicken tender strips drudged through breadcrumbs and baked add protein and flavour.

Chicken Parm Salad - Summer main Dishes

Do you have a favourite salad? How do you load up the flavour? Share your fav recipes with me! I’m looking for more!

— Weegee

Focus More on Ingredients, Less on Directions

PotatoSalad1“Potatoes, mayo, eggs, onion, vinegar, pimentos, relish, celery, salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne.” My mother rattled off  the ingredient list for her mashed potato salad, a family favourite.

“How much of each?” I was ready. Pen poised to scribble down the famous recipe.

“Depends on you.” Wait. What?

“Okay, so how do you make it?” I asked for clarification and she once again uttered the less than helpful statement.

Or so I thought. Once again, my mother had hidden a life lesson in three words.

What’s your recipe for success? Do you have one? Or is it one you’ve jotted down from a source only to revise it when you locate something better?

I am a self-improvement junkie. I read books on how to make the most of my mornings or how to be an introvert in an extroverted universe. I subscribe to magazine that empowers entrepreneurs. My tablet reader is filled with articles on how to make the most of my time or unplug from technology. I listen to speeches on the power of choices or how our attitude influences our views.

Each writer, speaker or post has this subtle, subconscious tagline that says “I’m going to serve up to you the recipe for success.”

Well, if it worked for them . . . it should work for me. Even better, they did the hard work. I just have to implement it.

But in reality, they only share their personal ingredient list for their own famous side dish of life. They are sharing THEIR success story or definition of success.

What is often forgotten when we step into the kitchen to create our own menu for life is that we have a different set of expertise, likes, history, experience and views.  Even if my mother had given me the exact recipe for her famous Mashed Potato Salad, mine would taste different. I dig the zing spicy mustard can add to the side dish.

We are all looking for that secret success recipe. We seek input on what worked for someone else or the next step that will ensure success.

The recipe for success is what is inside each of us. It’s the ingredients we pick up on the way such as history, experience and self-improvement TEDTalks. It is learning how to bounce back from rejection or failure. It is how you inspire others. It’s how you view the world. It’s integrity.

The key is to focus on what you have rather than how to do it. Having the key ingredients will ensure a masterpiece.

Depends on you.

Thanks, mom.