Planning a Party: 10 Questions that Help Define Your Menu

Easter is fast approaching and will be followed soon after by May with it’s wedding showers and graduation celebrations. Spring brings green leaves and new life and with the changing of the seasons comes plenty of opportunities for entertaining.

Will you be opening your home to guests in the near future? Do you ever deliberate over what to serve and wonder which direction a menu should go?

Each celebration is unique, just as each home is distinct, and there is no Party Template 101 that can be downloaded and executed for events across the board. Instead,  I’ve compiled these 10 questions to help you outline your party and define a menu that is perfectly suited to your guests, event, home, and budget.

Even a simple gathering can benefit from a little forethought and organization, and you may even discover along the way that planning is half the fun!

[Read more…]

Weekend Reading

A few of my little seedlings popped up through the earth in their trays by the window this week, and the last patch of snow is nearly melted from the snowbanks along our front walkway. Signs of spring are everywhere and are an encouragement to both the body and soul. We moved to our new property on a blustery day last December, and are looking forward to observing how Spring comes to our new home!

There was a wealth of interesting information around the web this week. Don’t you feel blessed to have so much inspiration at your fingertips? I am just in awe at the quality content that keeps popping up in my Google Reader.

Here are a few of my favorites: [Read more…]

10 Tasty Uses for a 4-Ingredient Tomato Sauce

Batch cooking starts with basic tomato sauce, I think we can all agree on that one. Having a few quarts of it in the freezer – or jarred up in the pantry – is reassurance of a quick hot meal in the future.

Tomato sauce is:

  • good for you – see ‘fun facts’ below;
  • versatile – I’ve listed ten quick uses, but there are many more;
  • seasonal year round – if you use canned tomatoes, as I do;
  • popular! Most children gobble up anything doused in it. This guarantee alone is worth a multi-quart stash.

The basic tomato sauce recipe I’ve included is ideal because of its down-and-out simplicity. I mean, four ingredients, folks! Canned tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic and salt, that’s IT. [Read more…]

A New Way to Menu Plan

Chances are if you’re considering integrating a menu plan into your life, it’s because you’re looking to simplify cooking. Let’s face it, we’re all busier than we’ve ever been, yet we don’t want to compromise on bringing the family around the table for good, wholesome food.

We’ve covered the basics of successful menu planing here on Simple Bites already, but I often get asked exactly HOW I decide what to make. It’s a very valid question.

Sure menu planning starts off easily enough with a sheet of paper labeled ‘M-F’, but it is after that we often tend to get stuck; chewing on the end of a pencil, waiting for inspiration to hit, while we flipping mindlessly through cookbooks or surf cooking sites.

It’s too easy to waste time trying to deciding what to make.

Today I’m excited to share with you a quick way to plan out the weekly meals by implementing a menu plan that takes into account YOUR unique schedule and helps outline an appropriate meal for each unique day. [Read more…]

Weekend Reading

My cheeks still feel wind-kissed from spending the day on my uncle’s sugar bush. Yesterday was our annual family sugaring-off outing to their 25-acre maple farm. There, over 300 trees are tapped for their precious sap and reduced over an open fire to pure maple syrup.

This traditional method of harvesting and reducing sap is becoming more and more rare; indeed just visiting my uncle’s property feels like I’m stepping back in time. In case you are interested in reading more about making maple syrup, I am including two posts I wrote following our outing last year for your weekend reading.

The pot of maple baked beans pictured above simmered on the massive cast iron stove all afternoon; we drank tea made with the boiling sap and licked maple taffy off of wooden paddles.

It was a delightful way to spend a spring day.

Here are a few more favorites that caught my eye this week around the web… [Read more…]