Taxes for Food Bloggers: Deductions.

For many of us food bloggers, blogging is a way of LIVING THE DREAM (AKA making money by doing something we really enjoy).  While making money is wonderful, from a tax perspective, the lower your net income (that is, income earned less eligible expenses) the less tax you have to pay come April 15th.  My first Taxes for Food Bloggers post discussed the important issue of determining whether your blogging activities are business or hobby related.  Once you make that key determination, the next step is to identify any expenses you’re able to deduct to offset your blogging income.

 

Tax Deductions for Food Bloggers

Good news, friends.

There are LOTS of eligible expenses you can claim on your tax return, but before you can deduct an expense, you must determine whether the expense was incurred solely for blog purposes, solely for personal purposes, or a mixture of both.  Generally speaking, expenses related to personal usage (i.e., not blog related) are not tax deductible.  (Insert collective “dangit” here.)  Mixed-used expenses must be allocated between the portion related to personal use and blogging use.

For example:  HOME INTERNET EXPENSE.  Let’s say you spend $50 a month for internet.  If your blog is the sole purpose for having internet access at your home, the whole amount ($50 * 12 months = $600) is deductible.  Granted, most of us access the internet for more than just blogging, and thus, home internet is a mixed-use expense.  Bloggers must determine the proportion of their total internet usage time that relates to blogging usage versus personal usage.  So, if a blogger determines his or her home internet usage to be 60% blog related, then 60% of the expense is deductible (60% * $600 = $360), while the remaining 40% ($240) is a nondeductible personal expense.  Make sense? (more…)

Broccoli, Leek, & Potato Soup {vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, whole30 recipe}

I wrote this Broccoli, Leek, & Potato Soup post as part of a series for Tasteful Selections Potatoes, which is sponsoring Katie’s Krops, an awesome hunger-focused nonprofit fueled by kid-run gardens, through January 2016 (details below).  

This January, I’ve committed to refocusing on healthy living.  Just like the rest of humanity.  Sure it’s cliché, but in my mind New Year’s Day is like hitting the “reset” button on the Nintendo.  While I’m normally pretty health-focused, things got a little crazy last year (as they do every year), and I’m thankful for this month to refresh.  At this time last year, I was timidly beginning my first Whole30–a nutritional reset program focused on super clean eating for thirty days–and I’m doing the same this year.  When I mention the Whole30 in conversation, I often get concerned looks and questions of “wait… what the heck do you eat?”  In a nutshell, the Whole30 rules out grains, sugar, beans, soy, dairy, unnatural ingredients, and booze.  Which leaves us with protein, fats, and veggies.  Lots and lots of veggies.

Broccoli, Leek, & Potato Soup Recipe {vegan, gluten free, whole30}

(bowls by JMNPottery)

The secret to a successful Whole30 (or any clean-eating program, for that matter) is planning, and my plan includes batch cooking tons of vegetables each week.  This week, for example, I sautéed an entire head cabbage, roasted three pounds of brussels sprouts, sautéed three bell peppers and two onions, bought a giant container of baby spinach to toss in EVERYTHING, and made this hearty Broccoli, Leek, and Potato Soup.  More vegetables than a vegetarian, as they say.

Broccoli, Leek, & Potato Soup Recipe {vegan, gluten free, whole30}

Growing up, my mom had an unstated rule that all dinners required something green.  From a simple salad to frozen broccoli steamed and tossed with lemon juice–there was always something green on the plate.  I blame this “rule” for turning my potato leek soup green.  Mom taught me well. (more…)

Easy as Potato Pie {vegetarian & gluten free recipe}

I wrote this Potato Pie post as part of a series for Tasteful Selections Potatoes, which is sponsoring Katie’s Krops, an awesome hunger-focused nonprofit fueled by kid-run gardens, through January 2016 (details below). 

There’s something simultaneously romantic and nostalgic about gathering for a meal while you’re still in your PJ’s.  And with all the eggs, potatoes, cheese, and bread, breakfast is the clearcut best meal of the day.  The problem with breakfast, though, is that most of us are too tired or too hungry to throw together a hearty meal first thing in the morning.  Oftentimes, I circumvent this issue by having a pre-breakfast snack.  Which, since I’m already starving, ends up being the equivalent of a normal-sized breakfast, and ultimately results in me eating two meals worth of food.  And then I have to go for a run when I really just want to curl up on the couch and drink my coffee dangit.

Kale & Onion Potato Pie

Easy breakfasts are key.  I call this easy recipe “Potato Pie” because it has lots of potatoes and it’s shaped like… a pie.  The concept here is simple:  thinly sliced potatoes, eggs, and whatever vegetables or leftovers you have on hand.  Use of a food processor makes quick work of the potato slicing, and using thin-skinned baby potatoes means no peeling is required.  I prepared this version of potato pie with kale, but there are lots of options.  Broccoli, squash, or mushrooms?  Perfect.  Cheese is always welcome.  To keep things light, I used a mix of whole eggs and egg whites, but if you aren’t on the egg white train, just use a dozen eggs.

The key to making a good potato pie is making sure the fillings taste great on their own.  Season them until they’re good enough to eat solo. Then be sure to season the eggs before you combine them with the potato mixture.

potato pie {gluten free vegetarian breakfast recipe via FerventFoodie.com}

Few things beat sharing breakfast with your loved ones, buy you can add a little more love to your meal by purchasing Tasteful Selections potatoes.  Through January 2016, Tasteful Selections is sponsoring Katie’s Krops, a non-profit organization that donates crops from youth-run gardens to help feed people in need by donating a portion of the profits from specially marked bags of Tasteful Selections’ Ruby Sensation and Honey Gold Potatoes.  So pick up a sack of their potatoes and give this Kale and Onion Potato Pie recipe a try!  If you’re interested in learning more about Katie’s Krops, check out this video.

potato pie gluten free vegetarian breakfast recipe via ferventfoodie.com

Kale & Onion Potato Pie Recipe

(serves 6)

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 pound baby potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 ounces of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large oven-safe skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Once bubbly, add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for several minutes until the onions begin to soften.  Add the potatoes and stir to distribute the onions and butter, season with salt and pepper.  Cover the skillet, reduce heat to medium, and cook until potatoes are almost fork tender (about 10-15 minutes).  Remove the lid, add garlic, and sauté for one minute.  Add the kale, stir to combine, and cook until the kale wilts.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the eggs and egg whites, season with salt and pepper, and whisk to combine.  Add eggs to the sauté pan and use a spatula to evenly distribute.  Cook until the edges begin to set, then transfer the skillet to the oven.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the eggs are nearly set.  Remove skillet.  Turn oven to broil.  Broil potato pie for 1-5 minutes, until the top of the pie is firm.

German Potato Salad {vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free recipe}

I wrote this post as part of a series for Tasteful Selections Potatoes, which is sponsoring Katie’s Krops through January 2016 (details below). Thanks, Tasteful Selections, for sponsoring this post and for growing the adorable baby potatoes I used in this German Potato Salad recipe.

In my family, potato salad is a big freaking deal.  My Grandma June has been making her family-famous potato salad since before I was born–it’s been at every family dinner or cookout I can remember, just a bowling-ball-sized mountain of potatoes, green pepper, celery seed, and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.  Last Thanksgiving, I asked Grandma June where she originally found the recipe, but she couldn’t remember—she said she made it once back in the seventies, and it tasted good, so she just kept on making it.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how legends are born.  One time, my stepmom made Grandma’s recipe using Miracle Whip instead of Hellman’s, and the family was absolutely horrified.  NO ONE ate it, and she never attempted Grandma’s potato salad again.  Then, a few years ago, Grandma June passed the torch and transitioned potato salad making duty to my sister, Jenny.  Lucky girl.

German Potato Salad

While I still love Grandma’s potato salad, especially on a hot summer day, my tastes have grown up a bit over the years (how do you say that without sounding snotty?).  It’s true though–kids love mayonnaise.  Last week, I watched my two-year-old nephew, Silas, lick the mayonnaise straight off a ham and cheese sandwich, leaving all the “good stuff” in his slobbery wake.  These days, I find myself craving tangy vinegar-based salads instead of mayo, which is how this healthy, vegetarian version of German potato salad came to be. This recipe is simple to make, requiring little hands on time. It’s no fuss, especially when made with these cute Tasteful Selections baby potatoes (no washing or peeling needed), and can be served warm, room temperature, or cold.

Bonus:  through January 2016, Tasteful Selections is sponsoring Katie’s Krops, a non-profit organization that donates crops from youth-run gardens to help feed people in need by donating a portion of the profits from specially marked bags of Tasteful Selections’ Ruby Sensation and Honey Gold Potatoes.  If that’s not reason enough to pick up a sack of potatoes and try this German Potato Salad recipe, I don’t know what is!
 German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad (serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • 24 ounces potatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with water until the potatoes are covered by several inches. Salt water generously and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer until the potatoes are just fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside.

Meanwhile, while the potatoes are simmering, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, stir in the onion.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the dill and cook one minute more. Remove the skillet from the heat, then add the green onion and vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the potatoes, generously season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine, mashing potatoes slightly as you stir.

This German Potato Salad is delightful served warm, room temperature, or cold.


German Potato Salad

Taxes for Food Bloggers: Business or Hobby?

Eater, writer, bean counter.  So say my business cards, yet I’ve never touched the topics of accounting or taxes on this here blog.  I mean, taxes…  Blegh.  Am I right?  But after attending the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle last week, I got to thinking.  Did these foodies know food blogger conference expenses are tax deductible?

Business or Hobby?

You dedicate all of your free time to your blog.  It’s like, a second job or something.  Right?  That’s how most serious food bloggers feel about their blogs, but the IRS may see it differently, and that could majorly impact the Federal tax due on your blog earnings.  Whomp. Whomp.

bad-meal

 

So, is your blog a business?

For purposes of this analysis, lets assume you have not set up a separate legal entity (LLC, S Corporation, etc.), and that you are running this “business” as a sole proprietorship.  This is the bucket most food bloggers fall into. (more…)

Phyrefly: the new way to save money dining out in Charlotte

1436994445743I first heard about Phyrefly through social media stalking, and then again on Charlotte Agenda.  Then I bumped into Phyrefly founders Kaitlin and Josh Krogh at a Piedmont Culinary Guild event, and then AGAIN at #weloveclt last month, which I took as a sign I needed to try out Phyrefly already.

So, what is Phyrefly?  It’s the self-dubbed Hotwire for restaurants.  Meaning you log into the site, check out the various deals available, and select one based on location and price range.  The specific restaurant is not revealed to you until after the offer is selected, just as Hotwire doesn’t reveal the specific hotel until you’ve committed to the deal.  You can browse Phyrefly deals by neighborhood, price point, food type, user rating, and ambiance.  Bonus:  these are all local restaurants.  No chains.

Double bonus:  unlike Hotwire, Phyrefly currently doesn’t charge you upfront—which means there is no fee if you decide to pass on the Phyrefly offer once the restaurant is revealed.  (Though this will likely change in the future, once the beta stage is complete.)

This concept is exciting for three reasons.  1.) it gets diners to step outside their usual routines, 2.) it helps restaurants fill tables during off-peak hours, and 3.) it saves you money.  Boom. (more…)

Where to eat at Charlotte Douglas Airport

Sure, everyone complains about the parking and the construction, but after spending too much time in some straight up nasty airports the last couple of years (I’m looking at you, LaGuardia), I’ve really come to appreciate and enjoy Charlotte Douglas.  After my return flight home from visiting family in Ohio last week, I stopped into the new 1897 Market and was blown away by all that they’re doing.  I mean, local sourcing at an airport restaurant?  Come on!  That’s when it hit me.  Charlotte Douglas is actually pretty awesome.

This is my third post for the #DesignCharlotte campaign, a cool program (details below) encouraging Charlotteans to share their favorite things in the Queen City.  Not surprisingly, my first two posts were completely about food.  Interested?  Check out my Foodie Guide to Charlotte and Foodie Guide to Charlotte Restaurant Week. (more…)

1897 Market–the Charlotte Douglas Airport Game Changer

The typical airport meal is frantically grabbed from a cooler on the way to a connecting flight or begrudgingly eaten to pass hours waiting out a delay.  Which raises the question, does anyone actually like eating at the airport?  When I asked my boyfriend what came to mind when he thought of “airport food” he responded:  bags of nuts and bottled water.  This is sad.

Take a moment to ponder.  What comes to your mind when you think of airport food?  Is it chef-driven menus and hormone-free meats?  How about handcrafted cocktails and locally sourced produce?  Scratch-made pizza and local beer?  Not so much, huh?  This is precisely why 1897 Market at Charlotte Douglas Airport is a game changer. 

1897 Market Charlotte Douglas Airport

1897 Market is the newest concept launched by HMSHost, the world’s largest provider of food and beverage service for travelers.  1897 Market (named for the year HMSHost was founded) is a one-stop urban gourmet shop, with full-service dining room, raw bar, exhibition kitchen, grab-and-go, and retail marketplace wrapped into one.

Located in the Charlotte Douglas Airport Main Atrium, near Concourses A and B, this is HMSHost’s flagship store.  Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a sit-down dinner, cocktails or last-minute souvenir, the Market is the answer to all of your gastronomic traveling needs.2015-08-04 08.10.43 (more…)

3 Bangin Brat Relish Recipes {as seen on WBTV}

It’s cookout season–and any excuse to celebrate gets my vote!  Brats are the perfect backyard barbecue food; they’re easy to cook and super simple to customize, just by switching up your relish and toppings.

BRATS 3

I spent the morning hanging out with WBTV talking Bratsgiving!  Check out the video below!

Without further ado, here are three brat relish recipes inspired by some of my favorite foods:  banh mi, bruschetta, and guacamole!

BRATS 4


 

BRATS banh miBanh Mi Brat Relish

Do Chua (Pickled Carrots & Daikon)
1/2 pound large carrots
1/2 pound daikon radish
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1.5 cups distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Water

Chipotle Mayo:  1/2 cup mayonnaise + chipotles in adobo sauce + 1 squirt of lime

Garnish:  1 jalapeno, finely chopped + chopped cilantro

Do Chua:  cut the carrots and daikon radish into thin matchsticks, then place in a large bowl.  Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar.  Using your fingers, massage the salt and sugar into the vegetables for 3 minutes.  Rinse and drain.  Place vegetables in a 1-quart glass jar, add vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, and water to fill the remaining space in the jar.  Cover the jar and shake vigorously to dissolve the sugar.  Let sit in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

Chipotle Mayonnaise:  in a food processor, puree the mayonnaise, 1 chipotle pepper, 2 tbsp adobo sauce, and 1 squirt of lime juice until smooth.  (Remaining chipotle peppers and adobo sauce can be frozen for later use.)

To serve:  slather chipotle mayonnaise on the bun, add a brat, then top with Do Chua, fresh cilantro, and chopped jalapeno.


 

BRATS - bruschettaBruschetta Relish

1.5 cups Roma tomatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Combine all ingredients, except cheese, in a bowl.  To serve, place brat on bun, top with bruschetta and freshly grated Parmesan, if desired.


 

BRATS - avocado relishAvocado Relish

2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/3 cup red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped
1 lime
1 large ripe avocado, cubed

Combine cilantro, red onion, garlic, salt, pickled jalapenos, and juice of half a lime in a bowl.  Add avocado, and stir gently, taking care not to mash the avocado.   To serve, place brat on bun, top with avocado relish and additional lime and cilantro, if desired.


 

Queen’s Feast – Charlotte Restaurant Week Guide

Ahhhh it’s that time of year again.  Charlotte Restaurant Week.  Twice a year here in Charlotte, over 120 restaurants offer prix fixe dinner menus to the masses.  Queen’s Feast, as we call it, actually runs TEN DAYS, and it can be an awesome but overwhelming experience.  Don’t ye fret!  I’ve got some tips for planning your best Queen’s Feast yet!

This post (and my Best Charlotte Restaurants Post) were written in collaboration with the #DesignCharlotte campaign, a cool program (details below) encouraging Charlotteans to share their favorite things in the Queen City.  Of course my favorite thing is FOOD.  Set let’s get to those Charlotte Restaurant Week tips!


Charlotte Restaurant Week - Queens Feast

TIP #1:  SET A GOAL

First things first, we need to set some goals.  What is it you’re hoping to get out of restaurant week?  An incredible deal?  An incredible meal?  Those two don’t always go hand in hand.  So, dig down deep inside and ask yourself the tough questions.  Are we pinching pennies or living large this time around? (more…)