Healthier Holidays and Gail’s Crudité with chili and lime

The following is a true story that I am not in the least bit proud of but have decided to share anyway.

You see, last year’s extravagant holiday eating and drinking caught up with me in a bad way and the ensuing consequences left me with a resolve to do things differently this winter.

How did this happen? Well the parties started early in December and carried on until well after New Year’s, as they do every year. Many of them were mine, including my annual cookie swap, where rum-spiked eggnog and fruitcake truffles abounded. My Board Game Café party for New Year’s Eve included a pre-party, the main party, and an after party in the wee hours of the morning.

I’m the first to admit that I took things too far. For four straight weeks I said yes to all the decadence that the holiday season had to offer – and then some. Another bowl of trifle. An additional cookie or two. A second round of drinks. After all, it’s Christmas, right?

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Weekend links: The Simple Bites Kitchen edition

Things have been quiet here on the blog as I’ve been keeping busy with cookbook promotion. This stage feels a lot like the fourth trimester after delivering a baby, complete with similar exhaustion and elation.

I’ll share more about my book tour later in the month ( I am currently in beautiful British Columbia if you are following along on Instagram) but today I wanted to spotlight a few people in my community of food creatives. They have been cooking from The Simple Bites Kitchen and sharing recipes and stories with their own readers.

I’ll also link to a few features in old school media; this dear book baby of mine has been getting a fantastic response and I’m just so thrilled that it has been well received.

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A pumpkin recipe round-up

November First is always the day I buy my pumpkins to roast and preserve for winter.

There’s a farm up the road that displays them proudly all October, right through to the 31st, and then as soon as the calendar turns, they are tossed into the back of trucks and carted away. If I am there early enough in the morning, I can save a bunch from the rubbish heap – and save a pretty penny in the process.

Tomorrow, I’ll fill my trunk with pie pumpkins (also called sugar pumpkins) and dedicate a portion of my day to scooping seeds, roasting the squash and turning it into puree. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial of what that looks like, in case this is new kitchen territory for you.

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Five reasons to plan a fall picnic

Now that the weather has cooled off doesn’t mean you have to head indoors for good. With a bagged lunch, a thermos, and a quilt from the backseat of the car, you can still have that picnic you were too busy to plan in August.

It just so happens that our recent decision for a lifestyle change has introduced a lot of new topics to discuss as parents. Do we buy a home or build new? Lakefront or ocean? Do we travel before the move or after? Start a business or stick with what we’ve been doing?

Uninterrupted conversation is rare between Danny and I when we are at home with the kids. It’s hard to unpack a topic and take the time to look at it from all angles. So we’ve taken to meeting up for a picnic lunch once a week, weather permitting, and then going for a walk afterward.

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Fall Baking Kick-Off: Win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer

Last weekend, we hosted our annual pie social and over sixty of our friends showed up on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Guests who love to bake came bearing pies of all kinds, until my table was filled with fifteen homemade creations. Some were bursting with local fruits such as blueberries, apples, pears and raspberries, as well as rhubarb. Others featured nuts like pecans or coconut, and a towering Banoffee pie held sliced bananas under a mountain of whipped cream.

We had classic pumpkin pie, too, as well as a huge pot of hot spiced apple cider to accompany the desserts. It was an afternoon to remember.

Surveying the spread, one thing was apparent: my friends are as excited for fall baking as I am.

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