It has been a really exciting year for me.  I had the amazing opportunity to compete on a nationally televised culinary cooking show, MasterChef Canada, to be on The Marilyn Denis Show and various other television programs and also to participate in multiple cooking events.  I also took part in producing my first magazine publication with an amazing team.  The most exciting accomplishment of 2014, however, was having my second son, Dylan.  I never expected the challenges I had ahead of me, being a mother of two, but my boys are literally my everything and I am so grateful for the challenges they bring into our life.  They teach me so much about myself.  With those challenges comes unequivocal joy – they literally make me and my husband so content.  Our life with them is perfection, in our eyes.  

With cooking, I am constantly learning and growing.  I love being creative in the kitchen.  Cooking helps me keep balance in my life.  A life which could often be very organized and structured.  

Here are 10 things I tried cooking for the first time & learned about myself in 2014:

1.  I made my own infused liqueur and now I have a list of new alcohol-related recipes I want to try.  Such as, making bitters and infusing vodka with all sorts of spice variations.  I love the idea of making your own cocktail ingredients!  Check out my post on making your own Italian Limoncello here

2.  I made jam for the first time.   I never realized how easy it was is to make!  I guess watching my mother make it as a child seemed more complicated.  I love using my own home made jam on my toast in the morning.  I feel so accomplished!  Check out my recipe for Peach Cardamom Jam here

3.  Greek food!  My favourite take-out option is Greek food.  It’s literally the one thing I never attempted to make on my own because I just figured it was something I was always going to order.  It is so simple and a great option for a dinner party.  It is light, casual and fun!  Check out my recipes for Greek Take-out at Home here.

4.  I stayed organized.  Now that I have another child to take care of, being organized is more important than ever.  For my sanity I make meal plans for the week and grocery lists.  It is cumbersome to prepare but saves me a ton of time and stress during the week.

5.  Catering takes an army.  I made cannoli for the first time and catered an event.  One thing I always say is that I don’t think I could ever cater.  What pressure!  I was asked to participate in CIBPA’s Master Chef Event and with the help of my friend, Irene, we catered a dessert for over 150 people!  Check out our recipe for Deconstructed Cannoli here.  We created this recipe and we are so proud of it!

6.  I taught my first cooking class this year at Le Dolci – a doughnut making class!  Teaching cooking is not something that came easy to me.  I had to constantly get past the fact that people are there because they want to be and not because they were forced to be.  The assumption of mine that students don’t take pleasure in their, say, high school classes because they could be boring is a stigma that I attach to teaching my own cooking classes.  Here is a recipe for my toasted coconut doughnuts.

7.  One thing I discovered about myself is that I don’t enjoy being a critic.  I enjoy eating out but I do not enjoy reviewing restaurants and Chefs.  I enjoy paying compliments to the Chef personally if I enjoy the food but being a food critic is something I could never do.  After being on MasterChef Canada and being criticized by people who didn’t know me at all and by people who have no credibility when it comes to cooking really taught me something.  I will never judge when I don’t know the full context of the situation.  It’s not fair for anyone.  Who am I to walk in to a restaurant and give my opinion?  I cook well and I like good food but that is the extent of my credibility.  You won’t find any restaurant reviews on this blog.

8.  Indian food is not scary to make!  Growing up Italian, Indian food was never something we ate.  I grew up not knowing anything about Indian food.  It wasn’t until I was older that I started to venture out and try new foods.  Now I cook Indian food all the time.  Check out my post on meeting Chef Vikram Vij who inspired me to cook Indian food and my recipe for eggplant curry here.

9.  Making Spaghetti alla Carbonara with fresh pasta noodles takes it to a whole other level.  Here is my recipe for fresh pasta.  Making all the components from scratch really change a dish.  Chefs always say that but until you try it for yourself you don’t really get an appreciation for made-from-scratch meals.  Check out my Spaghetti alla Carbonara recipe here.  I also made a lasagna from scratch this year for the first time (I used to buy the pasta sheets from the store).  I made my own fresh pasta sheets, bolognese sauce, and bechamel sauce.  Never have I had bechamel sauce in my lasagne before but it literally changed everything I thought I knew about lasagne.

10.  Cinnamon buns are pretty easy to make!  My second fave dessert of all time are cinnamon buns.  I always bought them but never made them myself.  After reading countless recipes and all the talk about proofing and what not, I was often discouraged.  I finally decided to just try them and I was so surprised with how easy and delicious they were!!!  Check out the recipe here.

I sincerely want to thank everyone who reads this blog and I want to thank all of you who support me.  I am humbled by the amount of love I have received this year.  I hope you continue to follow us and that me and my guest bloggers can keep inspiring you.  Here is an archive of all of our recipes and posts to date.  Take a look and try some new things out in the new year.  If you ever have any questions, hit me up in the comments section and I will respond or find me on Social Media and send me a message!  I will have a lot more inspiring recipes to look forward to in 2015.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy & prosperous New Year!

With Love,
Jules for Daily Tiramisu