Frozen Bites Part 1: Simple Treats to Beat the Heat

My first son wore his toddler status like a badge of honor. He was into everything and anything as soon as he was mobile and I quickly had to figure out a few ways to keep him still more than five seconds. One of my favorite tactics was to plop him in his highchair and hand him a popsicle (usually frozen orange juice). It was always guaranteed to give me a sold twenty minutes to put dinner together or answer some emails.

Fast forward four years: I’m still making frozen treats, but now they are helpful to beat the heat and keep the peace between siblings. It is easy to remember that your brother is your best friend when you are both sitting on the back steps eating something lip-smackingly good.

Frozen treats are fun and delicious, no matter how old you are. This week we’ll be bringing you all sorts of simple ideas for frozen treats to make -and enjoy- with your kids. [Read more…]

Weekend Reading

It is safe to say summer has arrived here in Canada, at least I think so; we can always get unwelcome surprises. For the time being, though, it’s warm-but-not-to-hot, sunny, and perfectly suitable for sitting on the back porch spooning strawberry sundaes.

Around here, summer is about connecting. With family, with friends, both old and new. There’s something about entertaining outdoors that encourages casual eating, and makes the prospect of drop-in dinner guests so much more relaxing.

Although I can’t cook everyone of you an informal lunch, I’d still love to connect this summer — and beyond. Really quickly I’m going to highlight several of the ways we can do that and then I’ll share my link love. [Read more…]

Simple & Seasonal: Welsh Rarebit with Grilled Asparagus & Mushrooms

A recent pledge to Meatless Mondays as well as an abundance of gorgeous local asparagus has transformed our weekday meals. We’ve enjoyed various risotto and pastas with asparagus, asparagus pizza with fresh pesto, and most recently, Welsh Rarebit.

Welsh What?? I know, the name tells us nothing about the dish, but it’s really just cheese fondue, simplified; a creamy cheese sauce, spiked with a light beer, rounded out with mustard, and poured over toast.

Welsh rarebit (or ‘rabbit’ according to Gourmet Today cookbook) is something I remember eating as a child, as it was a favorite of my father. He hails from England, where the dish originated, and no doubt also enjoyed the comforting cheesy-bread as a child.

Now I’m serving welsh rarebit to my children, only the toast is whole-wheat baguette, grilled and brushed with olive oil, and I’ve tucked some greens in there as well to balance out the dish. It’s fast, fun and fresh. Best of all, it’s meatless. [Read more…]

The Best Do-Ahead Breakfast Foods

This June, my husband and I are hosting the highly anticipated reunion of my family. Coming from as far away as New Mexico and British Columbia, my two parents, three siblings, three siblings-in-laws, three nieces and two nephews will join our family of four. If you count it up, that’s seventeen mouths to feed, and I couldn’t be happier.

We haven’t all been together since summer of ’07; three years (and several grandchildren later) is just too long to be apart. Obviously, we have much to celebrate.

Since the countdown is actually weeks (2!) and not months away now, I’ve started the menu planning. Yes, I like to feed people. A lot. And I like to be organized. That means stocking the pantry and freezer, jotting down a loose menu plan, and reserving another side of local beef.

The sudden influx of house guests might leave some people feeling overwhelmed, but with proper planning, it can be quite manageable.

I’ve already outlined several ideas for do-ahead dinners in this post on warm weather batch cooking, and most of our lunches will be picnic-style, so all that is left to think about is breakfast. I love a big breakfast, after all, it’s the most important meal of the day!

Here’s what will be joining the strawberries in the freezer in preparation for our breakfasts… [Read more…]

Four Simple Methods for Freezing Strawberries

Strawberry season has just started where I live and I’m already stockpiling the precious fruit. This is the first summer that I have a deep-freeze and it is standing at attention, waiting to be packed full of produce, starting with local, sun-ripened berries.

OK, so you’ve been to the U-Pick or the roadside stand, and now you’ve got more strawberries than you know what to do with. Strawberries are sensitive to both heat and cold and are very delicate, so it is wise to ‘put them up’ as quickly as possible. Yes, they are best enjoyed just as they are: fresh and sweet, or perhaps stirred into a quick Strawberry-Rhubarb Micro-Mini Jam, but the majority of your berries should be frozen so you can enjoy them all year long.

While you feast on a bowl of berries and cream, consider your options for freezing the berries. Why yes, there are options! Please don’t lump the ruby jewels together in the bottom of a plastic bag, so that they freeze into an indistinguishable lump that is destined to become freezer burnt. Freezing strawberries is about the simplest preserving you will do all season. 

Here are suggestions for a few different methods for freezing strawberries. I use all of them, as they each have their benefits. [Read more…]