Year Two | A Blogoversary Giveaway! {CLOSED}

Bonjour friends!

Guess what? In the midst of celebrating my own birthday (plus the birthdays of special friends and Halloween), I missed the two year anniversary of this here blog of mine. Two years! That is total crazy town. While I don’t always have the time to post as often as I’d like, this place has become a safe haven for me – a place where I can share my thoughts (and of course, recipes) and completely be myself. As soon as I figure out a way to squeeze 30 hours of living into 24, this is the first place where I will happily spend more time.

To mark this momentous occasion, I thought I would do a lil’ recap of my top 10 favorite recipes that I’ve posted on the blog so far. Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

1.Kindness Cookies

2.Banana Bread Oatmeal Pancakes

3.Curried Cream Cheese Dip with Dried Cranberries, Green Onion, and Pine Nuts

4.Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets

5.Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

6.Red Lotus Martini

7.Nana’s Cinnamon Buns

8.Cranberry Oat Scones

9.Mac ‘N’ Cheese, Your Way

10.Chocolate Skor Cookie Dough Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes

And now, onto the real reason you’re all here, the giveaway! Without you, this blog would be nothing. YOU are the reason I write, share, and vent the often ridiculous contents of my brain. You’re all gems, and to thank you, I want to give you all the chance to win this little diddy of a gift – some of my favorite kitchen tools and treats!

What you see here…

1. Stainless steel measuring spoons. To get those cupcakes/cookies/cakes juuuuuust right.

2. Two deliciously soft grey microfibre dishtowels (these are great for cleaning glasses).

3. Cute cupcake liners! And good quality too.

4. My favorite spatula by Tovolo – double-ended means double duty. I use this for mixing, scraping, spreading, you name it. Trés fab.

5. The most wonderful olive oil I have ever tasted, from Evoolution, a local boutique olive oil and balsamic vinegar store.

6. My favorite herbal tea, Yogi Egyptian Licorice. (Yogi also gives good advice, as demonstrated in the first photo in this post).

7. Two of my favorite chocolate bars – Sea Salt and Orange Intense, both by Lindt. For those midnight/morning/afternoon chocolate cravings.

Contest is open to residents of Canada and the continental United States. To enter, leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite kitchen item is. 

For additional entries: 1) Subscribe to Once Upon a Recipe, 2) “Like” Once Upon a Recipe on Facebook, 3) Follow “@onceuponarecipe” on Instagram, and/or 4) Follow onceuponarecipe on Pinterest, and leave me an additional comment telling me that you did so (for each additional item). Deadline for entries is Friday, Nov. 16 at noon MDT. One winner will be chosen at random. 

*Disclosure: This contest is sponsored by me, myself, and I, along with my deep affection for you lovely peoples!

More recipes to come soon friends! Happy Tuesday! xoxo

28 Lessons for 28 Years

Today is my 28th birthday. Happy birthday to me!

And because it’s my birthday, I don’t have a recipe to share with you today. Instead, I have some words of wisdom for you to chew on (pun intended). You see, it’s easy to scowl and complain about getting older. But guess what? Another year older means another year of experiences, lessons, and hopefully, a more enriched life. And that is nothing to complain about. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve thought and I’ve reflected, and I’ve come up with this list. I’ve seen a few other bloggers create these kinds of posts on their birthdays, and I found them to be very intriguing. And when I started to think of all of the things I’ve learned in my 28 years, I was amazed at all of the lessons that squeeze themselves into life, every day.

Here are the 28 most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my life so far. I don’t doubt that there are many more to come. Bring it on, life.

1.Stay true to your friends ’cause they’ll save you in the end. (Thanks Sam Roberts). My friends are responsible for 50% of my sanity (and some of my insanity too).

2. Be good to your parents. (My parents are responsible for the other 50%. Love you Mom and Dad).

3.Life is too short to not eat dessert, at least once a day in a while. So order the damn dessert. And for goodness sake, enjoy it! No complaining about how it’s going straight to your butt/thighs/love handles. That’s rude. Respect the dessert!

4. “I really regret that workout.” ~ No One Ever. Sweat it out! Your body and mind will thank you. (And then you can do more of #3). Winning!

5. Some people are just douchebags (or douchebagettes). You can’t change ’em, so don’t even try.

6.On that note, surround yourself with people that love you for who you are, respect you, support you, and make you feel good about yourself.

7. Be thankful. It’s so easy to focus on what you don’t have, but try to focus on all of the wonderful things that you do have.

8. Smile. It makes you look pretty and it attracts good, happy, smiley people to you. We all need more good, happy, smiley people in our lives!

9. Tell the people in your life that you care for them. Don’t assume that they know. Family, friends, significant others, tell them you love and appreciate them.

10.Travel. See other places. There’s a whole world out there! (I’m workin’ on it!)

11. Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now. Look at the big picture. Immediate gratification isn’t everything.

12. Sometimes you have to give up on people. Not because you don’t care, but because they don’t.

13. Cereal can totally pass for dinner. Totally.

14. Trust your intuition. It’s called a gut feeling for a reason.

15. When you think you’ve had a bit too much to drink, it’s probably already too late.  Drink water. Late-night greasy food usually helps. Advil doesn’t hurt either. You’re going to feel terrible in the morning. But don’t worry, the memory of the pain will only last until the next time you decide to make bad decisions.

16. Wear fabulous underwear, even if you are the only person who is going to see it.

17. Spend time alone. Cook for yourself. Go places by yourself. Live by yourself, if you can, even for a short while. You learn important things about yourself when you’re hanging out with just you. “We must be our own before we can be another’s.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

18. Don’t let comparison steal your joy. You are your own person, and the fact that you are not like everybody else is a truly wonderful thing. (Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and tell this to my 13, 16, and 18-year old self. And let’s face it, my 27-year old self too).

19. Try new things as often as you can. Take up a new hobby. Play a new sport. Join a club. You might stumble across something that you really enjoy. Plus, trying new things = meeting new people. And meeting new people is fun!

20. Try not to be so hard on yourself. I’m lookin’ at you, kid.

21. A good friend comes to the rescue with a listening ear, the absence of judgment, encouraging words, wine, and a skillet cookie. Never underestimate the healing power of a skillet cookie.

22. Learn to play an instrument. It’s sexy.

23. You are much stronger than you think. (You really, truly are. Believe it.)

24. Give a crap about your appearance. It’s reasonable to let yourself slide on occasion. And by slide I don’t mean wear your pajama pants to the grocery store. We’re talking a small slide here, more of a skid really. Get dressed, brush your hair, and make an effort. You never know who you might run into.

25. Learn how to graciously accept a compliment. When someone takes the time to pay you a compliment, chances are that they did not do so just to hear you negate what they’ve said. Accepting a compliment does not make you vain or stuck up. If someone tells you that you look great/did a great job/are great, they probably mean it (and it’s probably true). Simply say thank you. PS. I am so bad at accepting compliments. Workin’ on it!

26. Sometimes when it seems like things are falling apart, they are actually falling into place. There is a crazy order to the universe, but rest assured, the universe is not trying to make your life miserable forever. It is just guiding you along to where you are supposed to be. Have a little faith.

27. If you can’t walk in them, you shouldn’t be wearing them. No really, clumsy is not sexy. Toppling over is not sexy. Looking like you’ve got a broomstick shoved up your hoo ha is not sexy. It just isn’t. And while you’re at it, put on a freaking jacket when it’s 30 below! Hypothermia definitely isn’t sexy. Yeesh.

28. Wine. That is the answer, don’t ask questions.

Thanks for reading friends, today and every day. I appreciate you more than you know.

And on that joyous note, I’m outtie. Party time! xoxo

Some Things and a Pizza (Zucchini, Tomato, Feta, and Balsamic)



















Well hello there strangers. Long time no see. Don’t worry, I’m not blaming you. I take full responsibility for our lack of chatting lately, and the lack of sharing going on around here. You see, I’ve been on holidays for the last week and a half. I wish I could say that I’ve been on a beach or lounging lakeside somewhere far away from here, sipping on cocktails and exerting myself as little as possible. But no, this summer I’m having a little staycation right within my humble abode. As lovely as vacations are, staycations can be rather delightful as well. Staycations allow a person to forego the stress of packing, gratuitous spending, long days of traveling, and instead allow one to do things that need doing around the house (ie. tackling that dang room, which for the record, I still haven’t tackled), relax less than should be necessary while on holidays, and be productive with important projects, such as one’s food blog. While I am definitely succeeding with the first two things, clearly I have missed the mark on that last one. #epicfail













Trust me, I had the best of intentions going into this staycation of mine. I had envisioned baking or cooking up something fabulous on a daily basis, sharing a recipe with you every other day, and basically overstaying my welcome on the interwebs over these couple of weeks. But the thing about staycations is, they allow you to really live, and put responsibility aside when other things come up – things like invitations for patio drinks at 2pm/4pm/8pm on a beautiful summer day, a sporadic trip to the park to sit and read a good book, sleeping in way later than necessary, random backyard/living room yoga, or quick little road trips to visit friends that you just don’t see often enough. My mantra for my holidays? You only live once. YOLO! And sometimes, when you’re in the thick of YOLO’ing, blogging takes a back seat for a short while. PS. If you require further deets about YOLO’ing, Joy and Tracy got ya covered.



















However, I did manage to whip up this simple and delicious summer pizza, and after taking the first bite, I snapped a couple of photos so that I could share it with you. But first, a couple of things…

First of all, I joined Pinterest. Finally! I realize I’m a bit behind the eight ball on this one, but better late than never. Too be honest, I was a little stumped by Pinterest when I first checked it out a few months ago (pins? boards? say what?), but a friend gave me a quick tutorial last week (thanks J!) and I am officially obsessed. OBSESSED. If you wish to follow me, you can search for me under onceuponarecipe.

Secondly, I caved on another social media front and now Once Upon a Recipe has a Facebook page! Check it out here.













And now, onto the good stuff, a fabulous pizza that I created last week. What started out as a venture to use up some of the market produce that was on its last legs in my fridge ended with one of the most delicious pizzas I’ve created in a long time. I don’t really want to call it a recipe, but here are some guidelines for you.

Zucchini, Tomato, and Feta Pizza with Balsamic Reduction

Start off with a pizza dough of your choice. I used some fresh dough from my local Italian market, but if you want to make your own, go for it! I have a great recipe for whole wheat pizza dough that you can find here.

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. The cornmeal will help create a nice crispy crust! Stretch out your dough to the desired thickness (I made mine quite thin), and brush with olive oil. Cover with thinly sliced veggies of your choice – I used zucchini and grape tomatoes, as well as thinly sliced fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese, and season with good sea salt (I used fleur de sel) and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

You can eat this pizza as is, and it will be delicious. But if you want to take it over the top, make a quick balsamic reduction (pour 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and allow to reduce to about half over medium heat), and drizzle it over the hot pizza. OMG. YOLO, indeed.













More recipes coming up soon friends, pinky swear! xoxo

Las Vegas by Instagram

Hello again! I’m back home and officially fully recovered from my trip to Las Vegas. There was lots of drinking, lots of eating, a little gambling, little/lots of shopping, and a bit of pool lounging (in the hot hot heat). What a place! I had fun, but I am happy to be home. So is my liver. 😉 And stomach. Let’s just say that Las Vegas is not very diet friendly. I have never seen such huge portions in my life! I’ve been doing a little bit of detoxing, but I promise, we will be back to regularly scheduled programming soon, starting off with a delicious summer drink recipe. That detox didn’t last too long, did it?

See you soon friends! xoxo

PS. I’m happy to report that with the money Mickey made on the streets of Las Vegas, he has entered into a rehab program and is working hard to overcome his addiction. 😉

Find me on Instagram @onceuponarecipe for more photos of my daily foodie life! I love making new friends on IG!

Hello, Goodbye, See You Soon


Hi friends. This is just a quick hello to let you know that I’m jetting off again for a short little trip. Las Vegas, here I come!

Of course, I had fully intended to feed you with another recipe prior to my departure, but life got in the way (as it tends to do sometimes) and I am here empty-handed. I promise to remedy that upon my return here at the end of the week. I’ll be thinking of you as I soak up the hot sun, drink plenty of bevvies, shop till I drop, and maybe even do a little gambling (I have budgeted approximately $10 for this activity – don’t want to waste precious shopping funds). Until then, peace out! <3

New York by Instagram

Dear Friends,

After six days in the Big Apple, I am home. I had a blast exploring the city with my BFF (thanks K!) and have decided that it would be impossible to ever experience boredom in NYC. Highlights included front row seats to Wicked on broadway, walking the Brooklyn Bridge, setting foot in Trader Joe’s for the first time (if only my suitcase had been bigger!) and catching some fabulous live music at the Rockwood Music Hall. Oh, and I saw a celebrity! Bill Pullman. I took a photo, but it was taken from so far away, you can barely make out his face. If you’ve never been to New York, get there in this lifetime. It’s worth the trip.

Here are (more than) a few snaps of what I got up to in the past week. I missed you and can’t wait to share a new recipe with you soon!



PS. If you are an Instagram user and would like to follow my daily foodie (and more) life, you can find me by searching @onceuponarecipe. See you soon friends!

Holiday Wishes | Last-Minute Gifts For The Procrastinators



















It’s Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas Eve!

Are you ready? Have you picked out or made something special for everyone on your list? Are your sweet treats ready to be devoured? Are you ready to share and celebrate with those you love?

I’m ready. It’s been a long, sleepless week, but I’m ready.

For the less-organized, I have some last-minute gift ideas that can be ready in no time. And better yet, they will have been made by you. Home made = thoughtful, sweet, lovely.



















Vanilla Extract

Who wouldn’t love it? I followed these instructions from the always reliable Joy the Baker. I’ve made vanilla extract before and it was truly fabulous.



















Vanilla Bean Sugar

Head on over to Skinnytaste to find out how to make your own Vanilla Bean Sugar. It’s unbelievably easy and totally awesome!



















Lemon Pepper Rosemary Salt

Wickedly easy, delicious, and can be used on meats, fish, veggies, and in soups, stews, you name it! Here are some lickety-split instructions. The recipe is from O Magazine, Dec. 2008.

Ingredients: Grated zest of 2 lemons (about 2T) Fresh rosemary leaves from 2 branches (about 3T) 1 T freshly ground black pepper 3/4 cup coarse sea salt In a food processor, process the lemon zest, rosemary, and pepper until finely chopped, about 1 minute. Add salt and pulse until salt forms smaller crystals and mixture is blended, about 30 seconds. Pack into glass jars with tight-fitting lids and store in a cool dark place for up to 2 months.

PS. I found the small jars for the salt at the local dollar store, and the larger jars at Ikea. Mason jars for the vanilla are from Michael’s.










I’m not sure that I’ve ever met a soul who doesn’t like cookies and who wouldn’t be tickled to receive a freshly baked batch of such delicious treats. Last week I got together with a group of lovely ladies and we had a blast making these gingerbread heads. Serious fun people.

Looking for other cookie ideas? Why not try…

Cherry Almond Butter Cookies

Neapolitan Cookies

Christmas Biscotti

Kindness Cookies

And I highly recommend giving someone you love some crack for Christmas – Christmas Crack.

Time to start the celebrations. I’m getting fueled for my day with strong french press coffee and cookies for breakfast. I’m kidding…maybe. No matter how ready you are for Christmas, I sincerely hope that the coming days are filled with love, happiness, and lots of good food and drink. Merry Christmas my dear readers, I’m thankful for you all. Best wishes for the holiday season. <3

A Hello and a Winner



















Hello! I’m back! For reals!

I am all moved in to my new place. And by “all moved in” I mean that all of my stuff is physically inside of the house. Turns out I have a lot of stuff. There is little organization going on in this space at present, except for the living room and…the kitchen. Naturally, the kitchen was my top priority.

And today, for the first time in what feels like forever, I spent the afternoon in my new kitchen, experimenting. Unfortunately, two of my recipes failed miserably. Le sigh. Ok, maybe just one of them was an epic fail. The other – a cookie recipe – is still edible, but certainly not shareworthy. And the third was a masterpiece, but I’ve already shared it before. Definitely the best version yet.

So, while I am unable to deliver a recipe today, I didn’t show up empty-handed. I am giving you a daily dose of cuteness with the above photo. How sweet is my little decorating helper?! And…it’s also time to announce the winner of the Cooks Illustrated giveaway!

Randomly drawn just minutes ago, the winner is…

Kim Bee – “Yeah I do! Love this magazine. Good luck with the move. And the dating!! Stay away from the microwave! Have a great weekend!”

Congratulations Kim! Please send your name and complete mailing address to onceuponarecipe[dot]amanda[at]gmail[dot]com and your subscription will be ordered immediately!

Thank you to all of you lovelies for sticking by me during all of this moving commotion. I hope you’re all getting into the spirit of the season! Stay tuned for some new treats this week!  <3

Things | And A Giveaway

Hi friends.

I’m going to dump on you a little bit here mmmk? You cool with that?

1. I’m sorry I haven’t shared a recipe with you in so long. I’ve been in the kitchen, making deliciousness, wanting to share it with you. But it’s so damn dark around here! Daylight savings happened, and now it is dark before I even set foot outside of the hospital at the end of the day. I arrive at work, it’s dark. I leave work, it’s dark. Somebody help me. My biggest concern should be the lack of daylight my poor self will be seeing for the next 6 months, but instead, I am most troubled by how this darkness affects my ability to take decent photos. I despise using a flash. Hmmmf. Help.

2. I want to make and eat all of these. In one sitting. And these. Help!

3. Long ago, someone sent me an email entitled “The Most Dangerous Cake Recipe!” – a 5-minute microwave chocolate cake recipe. As in, you make a chocolate cake in a coffee mug, in the microwave. I made one, due to some mad cravings (see #2). I’m not going to lie, it was pretty terrible. I would much rather put in the hour-long effort required to make a real chocolate cake, but clearly I was desperate. It reminded me of the cakes I made as a kid with my Easy Bake oven…a weird, spongy texture, not very much flavor. But I still ate half of it. And now I feel sick. What is wrong with me?! Help!!

4. I am moving in exactly 18 days. And I haven’t started packing yet. Help!!!

5. I have ventured back into the mysterious world of dating. Help!!!!

6. But seriously, HELP!

Phew, that feels better. Thank you for listening.

Now, on to the good stuff. Free stuff! This is the very first giveaway on Once Upon A Recipe! Aren’t you excited?!

Who wants a one-year subscription to Cook’s Illustrated magazine? Yeah you do!

Cook’s Illustrated is one of my favorite foodie magazines. Best. Recipes. Ever. Foolproof.

To Win: Leave a comment below (say hi, tell me what your favorite foodie magazine is, tell a crazy story, whatevs) and subscribe to Once Upon A Recipe. It’s that easy. Open to everyone. ‘Cause I love you. Enter before November 30, 2011 at 12:00pm Mountain Time. One winner will be randomly selected and announced after Nov. 30. Good luck!

And whatever you do, don’t make that microwave chocolate cake. Bad idea.

*Giveaway sponsored by me, myself, and I. ‘Cause I love ya!

Happy Thanksgiving from Canada!












Hello friends! Just a quick hello here today. If you live here in Canada, you are probably celebrating today (and likely earlier this weekend too) with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. I want to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! As I grow older (in fact, I will be turning another year older tomorrow – eek!) I am reminded constantly to be thankful for what I have, and for the people in my past and present who have shaped me into the person I am today. Life is peppered with challenging and difficult experiences, but it is those experiences that teach us the most about ourselves and help us figure out the kind of person we want to be. Thank you to all of the people in my life – past, present, and future – who have and will continue to contribute to my life in meaningful ways. I cherish all of you.

Now go and eat! 🙂

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