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Blogger Spotlight: Steph in Thyme

Blogger Spotlight: Steph in Thyme


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This week, we’re proud to feature Stephanie Kirkos in the Blogger Spotlight. For those new to the column, every Friday, we highlight a member of The Daily Meal’s Culinary Content Network, a limited group of bloggers who write about food and drink.

We look to this group of talented food writers for inspiration and participation in The Daily Meal, whether for restaurant recommendations or new recipes to try out for dinner. Our editorial team covers All Things Food and Drink, and we tap the CCN to keep up to speed on what is happening around the country and the world — whether that means fine dining or home cooking.

Stephanie Kirkos is a Culinary Content Network blogger and creator of the blog Steph in Thyme. She’s based in Boston, and her blog focuses on meat- and gluten-free recipes for everyone — not just vegetarians, vegans, or people with gluten sensitivities. She created her blog in 2014 after she and her husband noticed that they felt physically better after cutting meat out of their diets.

The Daily Meal: What is the mission of your blog?
Stephanie Kirkos:
To offer inspiration and creative approaches for delicious, wholesome meat-free and gluten-free meals — and not just for those who are gluten-free and vegetarian, for everyone.

How did you get started?
When my husband and I first began transitioning to a vegetarian diet over a year ago, we found ourselves falling into a pattern of making the same foods over and over. To prevent boredom from dulling our experience with food, I began writing down recipe ideas to keep our vegetarian approaches exciting and interesting. Knowing I was likely not alone in the desire for delicious, wholesome meat-free meals that also happened to be gluten-free, I decided to share my creations. Soon thereafter, Steph in Thyme was born.

What are some foods you can’t live without?
A big bowl of phở (Vietnamese noodle soup), a platter of dolmadakia (Greek stuffed grape leaves), and tacos. Lots of tacos.

What are some foods you can’t stand?
Cauliflower and carrots. I really want to like them, but I always nudge them off to the side of my plate. I also can't eat anything flavored too strongly with cumin.

Which blog post are you most proud of?
On January 1, I shared a Creamy Vegan and Gluten-Free Rigatoni One Pot Pasta with Lemony Broccoli recipe. It was a cold winter day, and the last thing I wanted was a detox smoothie or salad. I went against the trend by posting that kind of creamy comfort food on New Years' Day, but it ended up getting shared on Finding Vegan's Facebook page. Over 1,000 people visited my blog post in just a few hours. Several commented on Finding Vegan that they made the dish that night, sharing how they loved it and the flavors. Reading those comments was such a rewarding moment, and I found purpose and meaning in blogging I hadn't experienced before.

What is your biggest blog blunder?
I was adding a collage pin to Pinterest, and I copy and pasted the URL from my post's preview window instead of the live blog window. So the pin I added to Pinterest linked folks to a preview page they couldn't access. Eek! I caught the error when I was looking at my Google Analytics and saw a visitor was on a preview page. I'm super careful now about what pages I have open when I copy and paste.

What is your most memorable comment from a reader?
I shared a recipe for a vegetarian sushi roll on my 30th birthday. This reader's comment and story made my day:

“I love sushi! Funny story. I came to this post and said out loud ‘mmm... sushi sounds good’ as I was talking to my husband and follow up with, ‘Funny thing it’s sushi Tuesday!’ {he doesn’t like seafood, so I almost always get sushi with my girlfriends} To which he replies: ‘I’ll take you on a sushi date!’ So thanks to YOU I get to have sushi tonight and I couldn’t be more excited — so thank you!!!”

It was fun and rewarding to read that my post, even in a small way, had a positive impact on a reader’s life.

What is on your cooking playlist?
The Hall & Oates station on Pandora is always playing when I'm working. It's the soundtrack of my life.

What are your favorite food blogs?
I'm a longtime fan of Minimalist Baker, Love & Lemons, Sprouted Kitchen, and My New Roots. Recently, I've been loving Dishing Up the Dirt, Dolly and Oatmeal, and Local Milk.

Any favorite food apps?
Believe or not, I don't have any food apps on my phone. My apps are primarily social media, photo, and blogging tools: Buffer, VSCOcam, Afterlight, MailChimp, Dropbox, Regram, Google Analytics, Evernote, etc. I discover blogs and recipes primarily through the Twitter and Pinterest apps.

What is the best thing about blogging?
Blogging is an amazing creative outlet. I love how I can channel my passion for food and share what I create in the kitchen with people all over the world. Interacting with readers is a highlight of blogging — I've become good friends with people I've never actually met in person, but feel like I've known for years.

Worst things about blogging?
Cleaning up the kitchen after spending a day shooting three to four recipes. I often need to go for a run or leave the house on an errand before I can begin to tackle clean-up.

Do you have a recipe you’re currently obsessed with?
Grilled veggies — of all forms, all flavors. Chimichurri portobello mushrooms, herb-infused olive oil-brushed eggplant, vegetable skewers marinated in pesto. I want all my meals fresh off the grill!

What would even your most loyal followers be surprised to learn about you?
I grew up in a military family and lived a good part of my life in Europe and Asia. I was exposed to diverse cuisines and flavors from a young age, which helped me develop both a sense of fearlessness and creativity in how I approach food.

Five of your all-time favorite posts:

  • Creamy Purple Potato and Leek Gratin
  • Dinosaur Kale Salad with Golden Beets and Raisins
  • Spiralized Zucchini Noodles with Mint Pesto
  • Caramelized Fennel and Shallot Pasta with Creamy Burrata
  • Spiralized Root Vegetable Casserole with Vegan Shallot Alfredo Sauce

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake

You won’t find a more decadent dessert than this flourless chocolate almond cake!

This flourless chocolate almond cake is rich, luscious and all about the chocolate. There’s one pound of chocolate in this thing, for crying out loud! One whole pound. Most chocolate desserts require less than half that amount.

It’s got a great dense and fudgy texture, which is exactly what you want in a flourless chocolate cake. It’s a delicious cross between cake, a brownie, and chocolate fudge. Almonds are a unique addition and help give the cake a nutty texture and flavor. Serve it with whipped cream and/or fresh berries for a special decadent dessert!


Steph wants

Craving baked blueberry goodness? This is the best way to use up the fresh blueberries that’s been sitting in your fridge and it requires only 40 minutes or less. You should already have most of these ingredients in your pantry so it’s quarantine friendly.

For the seasoned spot prawn eaters — here are my favourite ways of cooking spot prawns to inspire you to get creative this year!

All those years of grinding out coursework and pulling all-nighters before finals have finally paid off. Here's my journey at Simon Fraser University the good and the bad.

Sharing my favourite 2020 Valentine’s Day date ideas & affairs in Vancouver — you’ll find something exciting no matter if you’re single, heartbroken, jaded, or in a happy relationship

Feeling nostalgic or just simply under the weather? I've rounded up 6 of my go-to lunch spots in Vancouver for Asian comfort food.

I’ve been wondering lately if there are there more bubble tea joints or retail stores on Robson Street? Are bubble tea joints taking over our shopping district?

In celebration of Konbi winning Restaurant of the Year from Bon Appétit's Hot 10 Restaurants of 2019, I decided to recreate their infamous Egg Salad Sandwich and dress it up! This recipe is super easy to follow and based on how I romanticize the Japanese Egg Salad Sandwich

Hey ma — I’m on TV! Never have I imagined that one day I’ll be on national television when I first started my blog.

When it comes to the perfect date night, most of the time it’s not so much what you’re eating but more about the company. So if someone offers to take you to Elisa, you know they really like you because the food, wine selection, ambiance and service is impeccable.


Give Your Immune System Support

Keeping your home clean is just one tool you can use to help avoid sicknesses this year. Making sure your immune system has the support it needs is just as crucial. Thyme Thymol is a great choice for this. And if you do happen to get sick, it’s also useful for helping to clear the respiratory system. Just add 2-3 drops to your diffuser. Try combining with along with Rosalina, Spruce, or Fir needle to help ease congestion and promote better air quality.


I wish I could say I was one of those people who could enjoy a healthy smoothie for breakfast (then share a picture over Instagram, of course). Maybe during the summer after a morning run, but certainly not during the winter. As the snow pounds Boston and feet pile up in my backyard, the last thing I want is to sip a cold smoothie.

As the snow pounds Boston and feet pile up in my backyard, the last thing I want is to sip a cold smoothie.

This hot, hearty, and filling Garden Vegetable Breakfast Bowl is more my morning style.

A few years ago, I ate a scrumptious breakfast at Elizabeth’s Table, an organic restaurant in downtown Saratoga Springs, New York. Sadly, the restaurant has since closed, but their breakfast bowl certainly made an impression. So much so that I had to ask the chef his secret for perfectly cooked kale.

It was soft but still had texture, and it didn’t get lost among the other vegetables. I was having trouble with kale at the time, it seemed to either came out too tough or too soft.

The chef’s trick was steaming the kale before sautéeing it with the other vegetables. I know what you’re thinking – why not just steam the kale completely and skip the sauté step altogether? I don’t want to sacrifice flavor for over-simplification. I add the slightly steamed kale to the skillet with the other vegetables to make sure it picks up the scallion,

I know what you’re thinking – why not just steam the kale completely and skip the sauté step altogether? I don’t want to sacrifice flavor for over-simplification. I add the slightly steamed kale to the skillet with the other vegetables to make sure it picks up the scallion, garlic and lemon zest flavors, which make for an all around more flavorful bowl.

When I eat vegetables, I try and eat the rainbow. This breakfast bowl contains just that, including (purple) kale, zucchini, yellow squash, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, and scallions.

The garlic and lemon zest create a balance between savory and bright, with a few crumbles of goat cheese adding a subtle tang.

I love that with one soft slice of a poached egg, it falls apart and melts into each and every bite. You can certainly add a fried egg or even a pile of scrambled eggs to this breakfast bowl, or omit the egg entirely. It’s a breakfast bowl your way.

I would love to hear from you. What kind of breakfast person are you? Smoothie? Oatmeal? Chia bowl? Eggs?

Garden Vegetable Breakfast Bowl

A hearty, vegetable packed breakfast bowl brightened with lemon zest, tangy goat cheese and topped with a perfectly (easy!) poached egg.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, coarsely chopped (about 5 cups)
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 stalks scallions, both white and green parts, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow squash, cut into ¼” pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into ¼” pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, julienned, cut into ½” long pieces (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • crumbled goat cheese, to taste

Instructions

  1. Set a steamer basket in a large pot filled with about 2″ of water (making sure the water isn’t touching the basket). Place the coarsely chopped kale in the basket, then cover. Heat to medium-high and steam until soft, but not wilted. Remove from steamer basket and set aside.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add green and yellow squash and shiitake mushrooms, toss to combine. Cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until softened.
  4. Remove cover and add carrots and lemon zest. Toss to combine and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Add kale and tomatoes, toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Remove pan from heat

Essential Oils for Cold & Flu

Just when we think cold and flu season is over, it seems to start back up again. According to the CDC, flu season has just peaked, which means it’ll be a while before it’s through. Thankfully, essential oils are great at helping you fight the symptoms and find relief before your sickness gets worse.

Generally, essential oils and blends that help with cold symptoms include tea tree, lemon, Thieves, rosemary, thyme, RC, basil, copaiba, and eucalyptus.

To help relieve your cold, combine 5 drops lemon and 5 drops thyme with 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) jojoba oil. Rub the mixture on your back, chest, throat, and back of neck 2–3 times a day.

Essential oils and blends that help with influenza include tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, RC, Raven, Thieves, clove, copaiba, ginger, and lavender.

Diffuser blends are also a great way to help fight cold and flu viruses! Simply add a blend to your diffuser, and breathe in the aroma to clear your head and fight the germs. Here are a couple blends to try.

When it comes to cold and flu, there are so many different viral strains that these illnesses can be difficult to treat. Each person might experience different symptoms, so here are some ideas to help them.

Coughs: RC, frankincense, eucalyptus, tea tree, myrtle, cedarwood, peppermint, sandalwood, Thieves.

  • Mix 1 drop eucalyptus and 1 drop lemon with 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) honey. Slowly stir a third of the honey mixture into 1 c. (240 ml) warm water, and drink slowly. Repeat multiple times a day.
  • Combine 1 drop eucalyptus, 1 drop tea tree, and 1 drop lemon with 1 tsp. (5 ml) jojoba oil, and apply over chest and back.

Stuffy Nose/Congestion: Eucalyptus, peppermint, RC, Di-Gize, Breathe Again, cedarwood, coriander, cypress, fennel, ginger, rosemary.

  • Drop 2 drops eucalyptus and 1 drop peppermint in the corner of the shower stall or bathtub ledge before showering, and breathe in the vapors.

Nausea: Ginger, peppermint, AromaEase, lavender, cardamom, clove, Di-Gize, juniper, nutmeg, rosewood, spearmint, tarragon.

Sore Throat: Thieves, tea tree, oregano, eucalyptus, bergamot, geranium, ginger, lavender, sandalwood, thyme.

  • Add 4 drops Thieves and 1 tsp. salt to 1/4 c. (60 ml) warm water, and stir until dissolved. Gargle the solution for 30 seconds, and then spit it out. Repeat multiple times a day, or until the sore throat is gone.
  • Mix 3 drops eucalyptus and 2 drops lemon with 1 tsp. (5 ml) honey. Dissolve the honey mixture in 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) warm water. Pour into a small spray bottle, shake well, and spray 3–4 times into your throat as needed.

Fever: Peppermint, lemon, lime, eucalyptus, clove, basil, bergamot, fennel, fir, ginger, lavender, tea tree.

  • Blend 2 drops peppermint and 2 drops eucalyptus in a bowl of cool water. Dip a washcloth in the water, and use it to sponge your forehead, back of neck, and feet.

Here are other posts that will help you deal with cold or flu.

For more ideas and specific usage methods, consult the Reference Guide for Essential Oils.