Category Archives: Food

Paleo Dinner Party

Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –
I can cook. My husband however has an amazing passion for cooking.  His culinary interests surfaced over the last few years of our marriage and now he does the majority of the cooking and meal planning for our family.  As expats what has made living in England so exciting is easy resource to organic and local produce.  We can order our meat from the nearby butcher, pick up our fruit and veg from local food markets, and even have our vegetable boxes delivered from organic farms. In fact it has been months now since I last stepped inside a grocery store as we can get everything else we need delivered to the home.  This is a huge difference from living on military bases where you bought what you could find and tried hard not to shop on or the days after payday.  I believe being able to have such an amazing access to high quality, variety, and fresh foods have been the foundation of my husband’s journey  in cooking.  
In a month we will have my mum and sister over to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal in the Snowdonia region of Wales.  As we were researching places to stay our biggest concern was about having an adequate kitchen.  My family adores Ryan to pieces and they are so excited to have him cook for them again.  We have been compiling his favourite recipes as we look forward to entertaining with my family and our friends in Wales.  Which makes this a perfect opportunity to participate in an entertaining competition with Taylor Wimpey. I have been asked to put together a menu of a starter, main, dessert, and drinks to serve as I bring my family together this summer.  I am trying my best to keep this mainly paleo as my family all eats a similar diet.  Since we are a multi cultural family who has lived in many places I made sure to reflect different aspects of that in the menu and ingredient choices. 

Welcome Drink – English Garden
Starter – Bacon and Cider Mussels
Main – Courgetti and Meatballs
Dessert – ‘Get Some’ Ice cream
Wine – Sangiovese
Welcome Drink: English Garden
Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –

This will be directions to make per individual glass.
Four fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 a tsp of grated ginger root
3 slices of cucumber
1 tsp of stevia or fair trade raw cane sugar
Soda water
Put the mint, ginger, and cucumber at the bottom of the glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add one part gin to three parts soda water. Stir so that the ingredients mix throughout the drink. While you are stirring add the sweetener. 
The Starter: Bacon and Cider Mussels
Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –

1Kg of mussels, scrubbed clean and de-bearded. 
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
150ml of cider (an alcoholic cider, for my American readers)
1tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar and add water until the mixture equals 150ml 
One bunch of parsley, chopped
150gr of smoked bacon lardons
Grass fed unsalted butter
Coconut oil
Directions for Mussels:
In a pot (or pan that has a lid) melt a tbsp of butter and fry the smoked bacon lardons until crispy. Take the lardons out and set aside but keep the fat in the pot.  Melt a tbsp of coconut oil. Add the mussels, the cider, and garlic. Cover and let them steam for about four minutes or until they have all opened. You will want to shake them around in the pan occasionally to prevent them from burning. Take the mussels out and set aside, leaving the cider mixture in the pot. Add the parsley and half of the bacon and cook for two minutes.  Pour over the mussels and then sprinkle the remaining bacon over the muscles. 
The Main: Courgetti and Meatballs
Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –

Ryan’s Paleo ‘Courgetti’ and Meatballs
My family grew up in southern Italy and so Italian food has always been a quintessential part when we get back together.  What I love about ‘real’ Italian food in my home of Napoli, is that the dishes keep it simple.  You can taste every one of the ingredients with each bite.  It is probably why I am not a huge fan of ‘American-Italian’ food which can contain a lot of dishes that are covered in heavy sauces, smothered in cream and cheese, and have chicken thrown in for good measure. This recipe is perfect as I feel it meets my needs for Italian food while satisfying the needs of a Paleo diet. 
3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 chopped chille (omit if you do not like spicy)
500 gr of freshly chopped tomatoes
Fresh basil to taste, chopped
6 oz. of  wine, Pinot Grigio 
Sea salt to taste
Coconut Oil (or butter)
Directions for Sauce:
1 tbsp of coconut oil melted in a pot and add the garlic. Let the garlic cook on a medium low heat, just until it gets brown but before it gets crunch.  Follow with adding the tomatoes on an increased high heat setting.  Crush the tomatoes as you stir them in the pot until you get a thick liquid texture with chunks of broken down tomatoes.  If you are adding peppers, now is the time to add them and let them cook for two minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Let it stay on high heat until it starts to boil. Then cover and put on low heat to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  You do not want to cook all the water out of it, but if you wanted to simmer it for longer you can. 
For a family of four we use 3 courgettes. For two people I would suggest two. Take the courgettes and chop the ends off and discard. Slice the courgettes in a mandoline into your preferred size.  If you do not have a mandoline you can use a knife or if you wanted really thing noodles could use a vegetable peeler.  If you use the peeler you will then need to cut them into strips afterwards.  Put a colander in a large bowel and add the courgette noodles to the colander   Add enough sea salt to distribute evenly with the noodles to help suck the water out of them to make them pliable.  Set aside.
Time to Start the Oven: Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5
500 grams of meat
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 egg
This is per preference, but my husband likes to mix 250gr of minced pork with 250gr of minced beef. However if you want all beef or all pork you can use 500gr of your choosing.  
Directions for Meatballs
Crack and beat an egg in a bowl and mix with the meat and the onion and mix together evenly with your hands.  The size can vary but golfball size meatballs works well or you can make a bigger meatball per person.  Once your meatballs are formed take a skillet or pan and heat up 1/2 a tbsp of coconut oil.  Add the meatballs and cook them until they are nice and brown on all sides. 
Final Preparation
Take a casserole dish and add the meatballs. Take the sauce that has been simmering and pour on top of the meatballs. Put in preheated oven, uncovered, for about forty minutes.  Put the noodles on plates or in bowls, spoon the sauce and meatballs on top. If desired grated parmesan on top. Garnish with two our three basil leaves. 

Dessert: “Get Some” Ice Cream

This is a recipe from the Life hacker who bases a lot of recipes off of a Paleo idea. 
You can read more at:

4 whole eggs (pastured of course)
4 yolks (in addition to the whole eggs above)
2 tsp vanilla (I use Bulletproof Vanilla)
1 gram vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or 10 drops apple cider vinegar or lime juice to taste.
100 grams (7 tbs) grass-fed butter
100 grams (7tbs) coconut oil (or substitute half Upgraded Cacao Butter for amazing taste)
50 grams (3tbs + 2tsp) MCT oil (important for consistency)
80 grams (5.5tbs) xylitol or erythritol (or more to taste – you can add up to 160 grams if you want)
~100 grams water or ice (just under 1/2 cup; add less than you think you need, then increase the amount).
(optional) 1/4 to 1/2 cup of low-toxin Upgraded Chocolate powder

Directions for Bullet Proof Ice Cream:
Blend everything but the water/ice in blender. It takes a while to get the butter blended into perfect creaminess.
Add water or ice and blend some more until well blended. Ideally, you want a yogurt-like consistency for creamy ice cream, or add more water for a firmer, icier texture
Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and turn it on.
This will make perfect consistency ice cream. 

Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –

I recommend Sangiovese or if you want something with a twist of something different, Valpolicella.  Although if your guest prefer a white wine, you could offer the option of the white wine that you used from the sauce to compliment the menu. However I have to state that my sister is a level II sommelier and she most definitely take the lead when it comes to choosing and pairing wines with our meals this summer.  I look forward to hearing what she has to say about this menu.  
Final Notes: 
I do not like the negative connotation that the word ‘diet’ draws up as some think that its something you do for a short period of time to lose weight.  I believe that eating is a way of life. At home we have a diet that is based off of Paleo and is rooted around information you can find from the Bullet Proof Exec.  
This was a post for the Taylor Wimpey Dinner Party  competition.  You can read more about Taylor Wimpey and the competition here:


*Photography unless cited belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –

Easy Organic Chocolate Muffins

If you find something that makes you happy then stick with it. A simple statement I heard somewhere in the past. While looking back on the the good times as of late and the contentment found within I am finding things that make me happy. Going places, be it a country walk in the countryside or traveling places further off, experiencing new cultures, and being in good company are instant pleasers. The bottom line I have found is if I am doing something with my family, good times are bound to follow. 

I was recently asked to try out a recipe for organic chocolate muffins. They were described as being so easy to make that they were perfect for cooking with your children. Since everyone in my household loves to cook and bake I was eager to round up the ingredients for a special after school treat. The only amendments I made to the recipe was instead of smashed up chocolate, I used an organic cacao powder and I sprinkled some porridge oats before putting it into the oven to bake. My sons had so much fun making them and the whole family had fun eating them. The muffins were so delicious that they were all gone before dinner time the next day.

This recipe is for delicious organic chocolate muffins that kids will love to cook as much as they love to eat them. They are super simple, full of organic ingredients and taste extra delicious. Plus you only need one bowl and one spoon to make them. Perfect for both the kids and the parents who will be cleaning up afterwards.


1/4 tsp natural salt
1 large organic egg
125ml (4fl oz) organic milk
50g (2oz) unsalted organic butter, melted
100g organic chocolate (white, milk or dark – whichever is your little ones favourite) bashed and smashed up in a sandwich bag (i.e. The Fun Bit). Green and Blacks have a range of cooking chocolate that we’re addicted to.
Making the muffins:
Preheat your oven to 200C / 400F / Gas Mark 6
Take a big bowl and using a whisk or the classic wooden spoon, mix together the egg, sugar, milk and melted butter.
Then sift the flour, salt and baking powder into the bowl and mix it all together.
Add the small pieces of broken up chocolate and give it a good stir. It’s probably best to give the spoon a little lick at this point and make sure it tastes yummy.
Spoon the mixture into muffin cases so that they are 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes. They should be springy to the touch. 
Leave them in the muffin tray for 10 minutes to cool. Then gobble them all up with a glass of milk.

Q: Since my husband does the majority of the cooking, I like to do baking. My kids like to help us both out in the kitchen.  But what about you?  Do you cook or bake at home?  Have a favourite recipe you make the most?

Expat to Expat Q&A: Food

This is the second installment of Expat to Expat 
on the Q&A: Food
1. What is your favorite food tradition in your new country?  

The ‘Sunday Roast’ of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roasted or mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and sometimes stuffing. It like a less grand version of  Christmas dinner and my favourite thing to eat at the pub on a Sunday with my family. 

2. Where have you traveled to that you thought had the best food to offer?

Italy. Honestly I will nicely kick and scream before I have to eat Italian food in the USA because it 99.9% fails in comparison.  What I love about the food in Italy is that it is as diverse as its dialects so for example pizzas in Florence are like a cracker crust, pizzas in the birth place of Naples practically melt in your mouth.  Most of the food I have eaten in Italy (away from the touristy trap restaurants of course. Stay away from these as you will not only be over charged but it less quality) is made of simple but great ingredients.  Italian food in the US always seems to have to have something crazy with it like giant meatballs or chicken, crazy cream sauces, or covered in cheeses.  To be fair the best food and house wine I have had in many places in Italy has been in small hole in the wall restaurants or places where the locals frequent.  Plus any country that boasts gelaterias that carry a multitude of gelato flavours is great in my book!  

3. What is the typical breakfast where you currently live and would you eat it back home?

For my kids it is porridge made from porridge oats and with a little honey and cinnamon typically.  I actually grew up on this breakfast staple as well.  Here in England the typical breakfast is the traditional ‘Full English’ or a ‘Full Monty’.  This includes back bacon, poached or fried eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread or toast with butter, sausages, baked beans, and a mug of tea.  If you are extra lucky your breakfast will include my favourite black pudding, which is a blood sausage, or bubble and squeak. Bubble and squeak is made by mixing mashed potatoes with any left over vegetables and fried.  I have to add that the bacon in England is not like the bacon you get back in the US. In the US it is thin strips and sometimes if it is on your plate it is more of a taste factor and less of a ‘fill you up’ factor.  Here the cut of bacon is thick like a slice of ham at Easter and the taste puts American bacon to shame. 

4. What type of restaurant, either style or type of food, do you think is lacking in your new home?

Mexican. By mexican, I mean the type of mexican food that can be found in San Diego, California where the taco shells do not resemble the ‘El Paso’ store bought brand but the home made round tortillas.  Also boasting very spicy options. Mexican restaurants are very few here and the one we went too looked like it was catering to Americans who needed a break from only ordering fish and chips at every meal. 

5. Do you think your home expat home has a food everyone should try?

Not a particular food, but that you must go to a curry house, a typical Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant or takeway. Their menus can be quite extensive, so feel free to try something new every time.  They are to England what mexican restaurants are to the USA.  It was actually one of the things I was most looking forward too before we moved to England. Perfect for those nights that you do not want to cook. 

Actually now that I think of it I think everyone should try Cassava, it is a large white root and large source of carbohydrates. If not cooked and eaten it is highly toxic. If cooked it tastes amazing and is a perfect alternative to a white potato.  It is one of my favourites!

6. What is your favorite dish to prepare that you would never have made back home?

Being that I have always moved and have not had a ‘home’ per se I do not know how to quite answer this question as an expat normally would.  However from an eating stand point, blood sausage is something both my husband and I thought was initially gross. I remember seeing this before and in other countries, like Germany, growing up in Europe.  However we have both had it here and have cooked it here for our breakfast at home and we love it.  Referred here as Black pudding, it is a type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled.  It sounds revolting to me, however the way it looks prepared and the way it tastes, I would never had known thats what I was eating.  It is so tasty and a favourite with my sons as well. 

Also I have always loved ‘Beans on Toast’ which is not like american baked beans, but the English Heinz beans.  It is a favourite dish that is hard to prepare in the US because I have to find an British shop of imports.  Here it is a great staple especially for my boys’ tea. 

7. What is the oddest food in your new country?

In the neighbouring country of Scotland of the UK, I still find haggis to be quite odd.  Then again I have never tried it. Marmite is quite odd, but it is loved at home house on buttered crumpets or toast. 

8. If you could have a crate of one type of food sent to you from your home country, what would it be?

Hawaii and the food from the shrimp truck up in North Shore. 

9. What three foods remind you of summer?
Since we lived in Hawaii, which was like summer year round, these are the three foods that remind me of Summer:

  • Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. Though a soup, we ate this sometimes twice a week in Hawaii. It was also perfect cure all.
  • Fro Yo.  These were all over Hawaii and still popping up new chains while we were on the island.  I loved ordering the plain yogurt flavour and topping it with fruit, granola, and some mini chocolate chips.
  • Shaved Ice.  Especially the kind found in Hawaii that is not icy at all, but almost like eating finally grained snow.  You can get it there over beans and covered in condensed milk. 
10. What food from your new country are you surprised to enjoy?

Meat.  In California and Hawaii where my husband and I lived before we ate a lot of vegetarian or vegan options. I liked meat, but was not crazy about it.  When you read about how food is processed in the US, it really does not make you want to eat that much of it.  When we moved to England my husband, who already loves to cook, was really enjoying the ingredients he could find just at our grocery store or local butchers.  We now eat mainly paleo which is mostly protein/meat and vegetables.  I’ve probably eaten more meat in the two years we have lived in England than any two years in the last ten years I lived in the US. That surprises me and I’m still surprised how much I enjoy the way the meat here tastes.  Theres something to say about the ingredients you can get and how it can make or break a meal. 

Bonus:  Where was your favorite place you ever took a summer vacation to?

I did a vacation with my parents where we toured all over Europe using the trains.  One of our many destinations was Oslo, Norway and it still stick out in my mind as one of the most amazing and beautiful places I have ever been too in my life.  I remember getting of the train and stopping at a scenic restaurant outside to enjoy strawberries and sparkling water and loving our destination. I really look forward to returning there soon with my husband and sons. 

Found Love.  Now What?

Read the First Installment: ‘Weather

Coffee @ Camden in Bath, England

I headed into town today despite the fact that I will have nineteen children at my house tomorrow for my son’s party, and there is still much to do in preparation.  I felt like being spontaneous and so I met up with my husband on his lunch break to try out Coffee @ Camden in Bath.  Technically it is in Camden which you can get to from the Bath city centre in a mere five minutes.  If you happen to come on a nice day I highly recommend sitting outside.  Their back patio area is very nice and has a picturesque view.  Which was lovely especially when the sun hid back behind the clouds and it got a bit colder.  
My husband ordered an Americano with the Camden Club, which is served with kettle chips, and I ordered a cafe latte and the Frittata from their lunch menu.  The Frittata was delicious and it came with a side salad, bread, and chutney. The best part was being pleasantly surprised by the fact that the bread was still warm.  I could easily order the same thing next time if I do not try one of their five variations of panini. 
Since this was a rare ‘day date’ with my husband, I decided to treat myself to the cupcakes I had seen photos of from their Coffee @ Camden facebook page. I paired my vanilla cupcake with a hot chocolate complete with cream, marshmallows, and sprinkles for a full sweet sugar fix.  It hit the spot.

When you come you must ask about their amazing chili jam.  We bought a very large jar of it a week back from their stall near Milsom Place on a weekend. It literally goes quite well with anything. Toast,  chicken, eggs, crackers, or even just off a spoon. We must have tried it on almost everything because our jar is now almost empty. Otherwise I would have shared a photo with you. Maybe with the next jar. 😉 

Coffee @ Camden is open Monday thru Friday from 9am – 5pm 
with breakfast being served until 11am.  You can view their full menu here.
Coffee @ Camden
2 Claremont Terrace, Camden, Bath, BA1 3EH 

Travel: Dinner with mia familia in Napoli

I am very passionate about Italian food.
To the point that if you take me to an Italian restaurant outside of Italy,
I will tell you it is not ‘real’ Italian food.
My in-laws insist that that the family owned Italian restaurant
in their small midwest town is authentic because the owner is ‘I-Talian’.
However both the pizza and pasta sauces are so sweet,
you could have fooled me with a jar of processed Prego sauce.
Both do not sit well with my palette or my years from growing up in southern Italy.
I am convinced that any Italians cooking in America cook for the American palette.
Any American-Italians that cook food are cooking ‘American-Italian food’
which is not Italian food.
Which is great. Just do not confuse the two as one.
I am also a purist and I believe that you need certain ingredients like the
salty Mediterranean air to make anything truly authentic.
However I did find one place in Malibu, California that served the closest to the real thing.
I liked the food so much that I made sure to give my compliments personally to the chef.
He was Italian and I give him props for sticking with the pure tastes of Italy.

My husband has had to hear my views on Italian food since before we began dating.
We were in a traveling theatre group at our University and while on a trip
I held my foot down to our group for stopping at Olive Garden for dinner.
I will admit it: I am an ‘Italian food’ snob.
Ten years later my husband finally gets his first (and second and third…) taste
of this amazing food I have not stopped bringing up in conversation.
‘You were right’ he said.
Now he shares my burden.
The burden of all people who have lived or traveled to Italy
and have eaten their hearts out on the beautiful, mouth watering, delicious food.
When you live else where in the world and crave a pizza.
Not just any pizza but pizza from Italy.
Or for us we crave real Neapolitan pizza.
Any kind.
As my husband told my sons yesterday,
 ‘I’ve never had a pizza I did not like in Naples’.
It is comforting knowing I’m married to man who gets me
and who is equally passionate about Italian food.

The one story I used to tell him about often was eating at the houses of
Ada and Maria, two of the women at our Italian church on the coast of Bagnoli.
How the pasta was the best you would ever eat.
How you would be given seconds and thirds.
Followed by courses of salad, cheese, meat, and dessert.
You would eat past the point of being full, unable to tell your host ‘no more’.
It would be amazing.
This past summer my husband got to finally experience that  with my church family.
I will admit I was busy eating and savouring each bite to document the food fully.
But below is a little glimpse into some of the best food and memories
that a girl who grew up in Italy could ask for and then some.

The busy city of Napoli, Italia became my home twice in my life for a total of six years. 
The meal being prepared by Maria and Ada.
You will never leave hungry. Quite the opposite.   
Must continue to brush up on my Italian vocabulary to keep up in the passionate fast talking conversations.  
Delicious foods that were the ensemble to the main pasta course. 

*photographs belong to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All rights reserved. |
**Please contact if you want to use any photographs or for more information regarding photographic services. 

Pancake Day 2013

Pancake Day.  Could there be another day sweeter? Valentines Day is in two days time, but for now lets focus on the circular sweet goodness on my plate this morning.  Did I mention it was shaped like hearts?

Homemade Beet Pancakes are a perfect (all natural) colour option for Valentines Day. 
Traditional English Pancake with butter, sugar, and lemon served at Ella’s Yummy Delights in Brighton, England.
Homemade zucchini pancakes are a huge hit with my boys.  Here they are embellished with Nutella and fresh strawberries.
Heart shaped pancakes I made this morning with a sprinkling of a stevia & cinnamon mixture.

 Pancake Recipe:
140g flour
200ml whole milk
2 eggs
Unsalted butter for greasing

1. Start by sifting the flour into a medium sized bowl with a pinch of salt. Make a well in the center.  
2. In a separate bowl beat together two eggs, add the milk, and mix again.
3. Slowly pour the liquid into the well you created as you mix in the flour.  Do not over mix, just stir it all until all combined.
4. Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat. Once you hear the butter sizzling you can add the pancake mixture.  To make the hearts below use a spoon to pour the mixture slowly into a heart outline.  Then spoon some more pancake batter into the middle of the outline to fill in your heart.
5. Air bubbles will form when the pancake is ready to be flipped. If you have your heat on too high you will notice that when you flip your pancake it will be over cooked. Flip the pancake over with a spatula.  Once cooked on both sides place on the plate and repeat.

Extras:  If you would like to try out some of our veggie pancakes above (or just want to sneak in some extra nutrients for your family) you can add ingredients to the batter before you pour it on the pan.  For our Beets and Zucchini pancakes the vegetables are washed and then graded finely with a cheese grader or mandolin. We used two cups of beets to make pancakes for a family of four.  A little butter sometimes is all we need to top the veggie pancakes because they are so tasty!
51 Queens RoadBrightonEngland.

If you are in the Brighton area, I highly suggest stopping at Ella’s Yummy Delights. We enjoyed having our Pancake Day there last year and the service was lovely.  With their location near the Brighton rail station, it is a perfect first or last stop while you are in town. Thank you Ella’s for the delicious food!

*Photographs property of Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013
** Photograph of Ella’s Yummy Delights borrowed from their facebook page.

Valentines Day Gift

I have been asked ‘What and why would be the best gift idea’ for Valentines Day?’ 
For me days such as these are another excuse for me to have my DSLR out and my iphone camera ready to take photographs of memories to share and cherish.  The most important aspect of my life is my family and those precious moments we share together.  The best gift I could give or receive would be a memory for us.  One of my favourite things about living in England is being outside and taking country walks.  A Valentines day themed picnic  would be a perfect place to stage the day.  They say ‘that the way to man’s heart is through to his stomach’ and bringing themed foods like bacon hearts and chocolate dipped bacon roses would definitely make my husband happy.  To be fair though I would be just as happy. Definitely a pretty out doors location, good company, good food, good wine, and photographs to remember the moment forever. 

With much thanks to Pinterest these images are not mine, and you can find out more about them by clicking: 1) Valentines Day Picnic with themed Stationary 2) Bacon Hearts 3) Lamb Rose Bouquet which is something I would love to give to my Valentine.

 For the meat lover in your life! “Beef Bouquet” by British butcher Antony Bowness of Quality Standard Beef and Lamb located in Tewkesbury, England”

Let me ask you now:  What would be your best Valentines day gift idea and why?