Embracing winter with Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

During an interview, a podcast host once asked me if given the choice, would I prefer to stay in a cabin in the woods or a chic hotel in the city. You can probably guess my answer.

I find cities to be draining and nature is where I recharge. This is why I carved out an urban homestead for our family, even though we live in Greater Montreal suburbia. This is also why we jumped at the chance to hibernate for a few weeks in the deep woods when our extended family offered up their mountainside cabin to us last month.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to write about our trip to British Columbia yet (it would mostly be photos of mountains and the ski hill), but the decision to share this baked oatmeal recipe was inspired by those slow cabin mornings.

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The Best Ham and Egg Breakfast Sandwich (freezer-friendly)

Any hand-held breakfast-on-the-go that can sustain me for over eight hours deserves to be documented on this blog and passed along to you.

As I rushed out the door to the airport last Saturday morning, with a stash of warm ham and egg breakfast sandwiches tucked into my bag, I never imagined we’d be stuck in an airplane on the tarmac for nearly five hours before take-off. We had an 8:15AM departure, and the plan was to enjoy a leisurely lunch during a three-hour layover on our way to the small ski town of Smithers, BC.

But as it turned out, a winter storm had other plans for us, and that cheesy breakfast, eaten on the way to the airport at 6AM, was my last meal until about 4 in the afternoon.

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Cheesy Leek and Lentil Rolled Omelet with Artichokes

Over the holidays I hosted brunch a few times here on the homestead and today’s recipe was a hit at every gathering.

Serving brunch is my favourite way to pack friends in around the table when it is bitterly cold outside. Danny brews countless pots of French press coffee and I set up a hot cocoa bar for the kids, complete with homemade marshmallows. Everyone is happier in the morning (meaning the younger crowd) and as most of our friends have small children, it makes sense to get together early and wrap up by nap time.

I always like to bake when I’m hosting brunch –  scones, spiced swirl buns, citrus madeleines – there are always tried and true baking recipes to rely on for these special occasions. However, when it comes to rounding out the menu, I always get stuck when it comes to eggs. I’ve never been a fan of strata, and frittata is something I make for dinner when I need to clean out the cheese drawer. So what to make when you want to serve eggs to a crowd and are looking for something a little more exciting than a scramble?

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Fresh tomato + peach Caprese salad with wild blueberries & thyme

I‘ve been enjoying a tomato salad nearly every day this month; it’s effortless eating when the tomatoes are ripening on the vine in my backyard and the kitchen garden is packed with herbs two feet tall.

Often the tomatoes are paired with briny olives and salty feta in an easy Greek salad and other times I dice them up for a Kale Tabbouleh with Cucumber, Mint and Garlic Scapes. Another favourite – and real crowd pleaser – is my Bloody Caesar Shrimp Salad, which combines tomatoes, celery and shrimp into a tangy dish perfect for quick Sunday lunch.

A recent creation that proved to be most delicious was the addition of sliced, fresh Niagara peaches to a Caprese salad. I served this riff on a classic at the start of the harvest dinner we hosted on the homestead a few weekends ago, and promised you the recipe. It’s a salad I serve at every harvest dinner, mostly because it is so delicious when prepared in season, but also because it is very easy.

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Sour Cream Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote

My decision to serve panna cotta at our recent Canada Day party was influenced by a culinary lesson learned in London: the simple goodness of panna cotta should not be discounted in lieu of flashier desserts.

Creamy, light-as-air-panna cotta is scrumptious on its own and even better when served with a seasonal fruit compote. These days I have all the local strawberries I could wish for, both in my backyard garden and at the markets.

Hence a patriotic red and white dessert made the final menu on July 1, but on merits far worthier than colour alone.

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