About Jan

Jan Scott is a Canadian food writer, party planner, and mom of two active tween boys. She is the home cook and creative behind Family Bites, a blog inspired by the simple recipes and party ideas she’s put to the test on her family. Prior to making the transition to freelance writer, Jan spent five years as a party planner for a private catering company, but shifted to working from home in order to spend more time with her growing family.

Asparagus - Header

Roasted Asparagus with Buttery Lemon Breadcrumbs

Our traditional Easter dinner is looking a little different this year.

My beloved first born’s birthday happens to fall on Easter Sunday, so we’re shifting things around to make space for both special occasions. My sister-in-law is hosting a multi-family dinner on the Saturday night of the holiday weekend, and I’m taking on Easter brunch the next day, reserving dinner later that night for Ben’s birthday celebration.

Seeing as he’s in charge of the menu that evening, I imagine we’ll be dining on pulled pork, poutine, and donuts for dessert, a decidedly un-Easter meal if there ever was one. In an effort to make up for it, I’m planning a buffet of seasonal spring foods for the brunch earlier in the day.

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Eat like the Irish: Baked Cheese Toasties

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! As we discussed last year, part of my family hails from the Emerald Isle, and as every March 17th approaches, I eagerly anticipate another chance to cook food from the country of my ancestors.

You’re probably already familiar with Guinness beef stew, Colcannon, and soda bread/biscuits, traditional and popular Irish fare, not to mention the many green dishes that take over the table at this time of year.

I love most of these dishes, I truly do, but I’ve been increasingly interested in wanting to know a little more about the meals that aren’t the most familiar or famous, but are the hearty plates that a home cook prepares for their family on a daily basis, like today’s toasties.

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Feeding Teenage Boys: An Update (Recipe: Quick Mushroom Ragu)

My approach to feeding my family has completely shifted focus over the last year as my boys have grown from tweens into young teenagers.

Their lives have changed along with their growing bodies, forcing a natural shift in our family’s approach to meals and food. A few years ago, I was petty confident I knew how to deal with ravenous appetites and the multiple meals my tweens required each day, and while I did well in that season of parenting, nothing prepared me for the days of packing school lunches for a 175-lb. child.

Please don’t be confused; my children are big and healthy, and the ample weight is evenly matched by the height, as my 13-year-old currently stands tall at a striking 6’1”. He’s the tallest person in our house right now; heck, he’s taller than anyone in our entire extended family, and his appetite just might be bigger than his body.

I’ve replaced traditional lunchboxes with food storage containers, and despite my best efforts to keep a well-stocked freezer and pantry, there are many, many days when I’m ill prepared for what the kids need to eat, especially when they show up at home with three to five friends, all of whom are equally as hungry as my own kids.

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Classic Gruyère Gougères: A make-ahead party snack for holiday entertaining

I’ve spent the past two weeks preparing myself for the upcoming holidays by stocking a sizeable portion of my deep freeze with an assortment of homemade chewy caramel candies, sugar and gingerbread cookie doughs, pie crusts, soups for quick and nourishing weeknight dinners, and no less than five different varieties of gougères ready for last-minute entertaining and party-going in the coming month.

Lest you think I’m hyper-organized (okay, maybe I am a little), most of it is due to the large amount of recipe testing I’ve been doing for my forthcoming book, and the fact that December is my busiest working month of the year, and there is simply no time to let myself fall behind when it comes to holiday preparations.

While all of the items I’ve stockpiled are essential sanity-savers, none are more important to me than the gougères I mentioned above. They are my secret weapon when it comes to holiday gatherings, and I always, always have a bag ready to be baked between December and January, when surprise visitors pop by or I’m in need of a last-minute party nibble.

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Make a savory galette for simple fall entertaining

There is no denying that my favorite time of year for entertaining is the early fall.

From cozy weekend harvest dinners to our annual outdoor Thanksgiving, I play hostess more in October than any other month of the year.

But as our family has grown – not in size, but in age – and our weekends are devoted to chauffeuring children around to various ice rinks and cheering them on as they play, my approach to gathering friends and family has changed ever so slightly.

To begin with, I try only to make recipes that can mostly be made in advance. I also choose those which can be doubled or tripled easily to take into account the growing appetites of the kids we know, now that they are all approaching the teenage years.

Lastly, I try to offer familiar comfort foods (who doesn’t love those this time of year?) in fresh and exciting ways. This year, the dish that fits into my entertaining arsenal quite nicely is a rustic savoury galette.

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