I was first introduced to cookie butter, also known as Speculoos spread, on a trip to Europe. It reminded me a little of the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon spread my mom used to make, except that it was SO MUCH BETTER. Creamy, smooth and packed with flavour, it is fantastic on scones or toast, but it becomes almost life-changing when transformed into ice cream. Look for cookie butter and Speculaas (spice cookies) at a store that specializes in European food products.
Forget traditional tomato-based gazpacho - this refreshing, summery soup is packed with flavour and takes just minutes to make. You can add the ginger, shallot and garlic raw if you like, but I prefer to cook these aromatics briefly to mellow their strength just a little. Feel free to make it as mild or as spicy as you prefer; just be sure not to overwhelm the watermelon’s bright, fresh taste.
When I am planning an everyday meal, I usually start with the veggies and the protein comes second; I find this is a great way to focus on the fresh stuff and eat a little less meat. My family loves vegetables prepared this way and it's great for picky eaters because once you've coated things with pesto and panko breadcrumbs, it can be hard to tell which vegetables are which! If needed, it's super easy to make this a vegan dish – check the instructions below.
Although my family adores pie, ust about the last thing I want to struggle with when it's hot outside is rolling out pastry. With its shortbread base, gooey cherry filling and crisp crumble topping, this no-pastry tart is a trifecta of perfect flavours and textures. I like that it’s not overly sweet and is just as good a day or two after it’s been made. You can use either fresh or frozen sweet cherries to make this tart and still get the same results – just be sure to include the full amount of cornstarch if using frozen berries.
The last thing I want to do after a day packed full of summertime fun is to come home and start making dinner. This make-ahead chicken dinner is the perfect no-fuss, ‘just pop it in the oven’ meal. Full of family-friendly flavours like tomatoes and garlic, you can quickly assemble it the night before, then pop it in the oven the next day to roast while you decompress (aka drink wine) as it cooks. If you want to jazz things up a bit, consider adding pitted Kalamata olives and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice at serving time.
If ever there was a time of the year to be spontaneous, it’s summer. Free from the pressures of school schedules, impromptu entertaining becomes a happy possibility. Whether you’re hosting a backyard cookout, a cottage party, or a picnic at the beach, you want things that are easy to prepare but still show that you care enough to dish up something tasty. I like to keep a stockpile of goodies in the freezer along with some shelf-stable foods to make my summer entertaining a breeze. My summer staples are:
When I was growing up, gardening was a family activity. My dad’s childhood was spent on a potato farm in Prince Edward Island and my mom is just one of those people for whom the phrase ‘green thumb’ is completely insufficient. We always had abundant flower gardens wherever we lived, not to mention, a giant vegetable patch that everyone was expected to help plant, weed, and harvest. Today, at 87 years young, my parents still maintain a large property.
I know it might be hard to believe, but there are such things as cocktail emergencies…like when your BFF texts using all the rage emoticons, when you have a great day and want to have a spontaneous celebration or when the in-laws show up unannounced and you’re still in your PJs in the afternoon. This cocktail solves the problem of an unanticipated happy hour, and it does so with finesse. You can substitute ginger beer, dealcoholized beer or even sparkling water for the beer if you’d like a mocktail option.
I don’t know about your family, but mine is getting a little fatigued with quinoa. I love the stuff but admit to serving it perhaps a little more often than they would like. That’s why I’m shaking up my summer menus with a new-to-me superfood: freekeh, also known as cracked green wheat. It’s an ancient grain that is high in fibre and has a low glycemic index. It’s as easy to work with and as versatile as bulgur, its close cousin; the only difference is that bulgur is prepared from fully ripened wheat.
This recipe made me feel a bit like I was cheating on my husband (or maybe my hairdresser). Last year, I was all strawberry salsa, all the time. I loved it, consuming it passionately and often. But now that I’ve tried cherry salsa, I may never go back. One of the best things about this recipe, as with many salsas and chutneys, is that you really don’t need to measure things because it’s all about what tastes good to you.
I just love it when the internet offers up a really great life-changing (ok, maybe not life-changing, but definitely breakfast-changing) idea. I’m a big fan of the blog “Little Bits Of” and when Kelsey posted this idea, I went bananas (and peanut butter and avocado and ….). I tested out the simple but spectacular idea of sliced, toasted sweet potato this morning and even the gluten-addicted husband loved it. So simple, so tasty, so fantastic.
This recipe dates back to the 1950s or 60s, and it’s one which my Mom makes quite often to this day. It’s a great meal to make with kids who will have fun shaping the meatballs and will probably love the look of the puffed-up rice sticking out of the cooked meatballs (hence the porcupine name). I’ve replaced the original recipe’s sodium-laced canned tomato soup with tomato sauce and broth and upped the seasonings a bit as well, to reflect today’s tastes. I really like to use a combination of pork and beef for flavourful, juicy meatballs.
If there’s a gene responsible for devouring anything that’s been breaded and deep fried, I’m pretty sure the menfolk in my life both have it. I recently watched them mindlessly stuffing something brown and crispy in their mouths while watching sports and it occurred to me that I could probably wrap breadcrumbs around just about anything and they’d eat it. To test this theory, I made these crispy zucchini sticks.
You know that feeling when you’re lying in bed and you can smell fresh baking wafting up from the kitchen? Yeah, me neither. In my house, I’m the one whipping up delicious things first thing in the morning for my family members (and the occasional lucky houseguest) to enjoy. At least I get to taste the treats too, so that’s some small consolation. I have a bit of a weakness for breakfast pastries, fuelled in part by memories of daily trips to Parisian bakeries last time I was there.
I first made these cookies on a dreary, rainy day and I swear they brightened up the atmosphere in our house very quickly. They combine all of my favourite elements of a trip to a carnival – buttery popcorn, toffee and colourful candies – without a side helping of creepy clowns. Who’s with me on the creepy clown thing? Anyway, they’re delicious and super fun to make; they’d be a great baking project to enjoy with little ones.
I think it’s time we Canadians step up to the plate at home. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve always been amazed by the positive reception most Canadians enjoy when travelling the world and I’m ever so proud of our well-deserved reputation as international peacekeepers. I loved the way we opened our borders and our hearts to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees. Despite all this, I’m thinking it’s time for us to pick up our socks and maybe follow France’s lead.
I first tasted these delicious treats – an amped up version of the classic campfire favourite – at a weekend cottage party many years ago. Rich, gooey and decadently delicious, I probably would have told you back then that they go really well with rum punch, but now I’m more inclined to reach for a glass of ice-cold milk (or maybe a cold-brewed coffee) to enjoy with this yummy bar.
I think one of the reasons that kids like carrots so much is that they are naturally sweet and super crunchy. My family has always preferred the flavour and texture of raw carrots rather than cooked and I can’t say I blame them. I’m always looking for new ways to get these nutritional powerhouses onto their plates; this salad is a really popular option and gives me yet another reason to use my vegetable spiral cutter, though a grater works just fine too. The Moroccan-inspired spices are familiar and comforting, complementing the carrot’s naturally sweet taste.
Sometimes I feel like lunch is the most challenging meal of the day, usually because my husband has eaten last night’s excellent leftovers before me. As a result, I’m often too hungry or pressed for time to pull together something delicious.