al fresco tablescape  | grilling

Get Grilling. Get Gathering.

In case you hadn’t heard, it’s officially grilling season and time to kick off a few months of outdoor entertaining.

Loyal readers will already know that I love dishing up an al fresco feast, be it a taco bar, a canoe buffet or a pie social. There are no limitations when you set a table outdoors; you can always add a few more chairs (as I do for my harvest dinners) and create a generous centerpiece -or three- out of wildflowers.

We recently gathered around the barbecue on my sister’s back deck and watched her and hubby Mike grill spiced kofta, colourful vegetable kebabs and soft pita bread. Grilling is such a spectator sport, isn’t it? The glowing coals are memerizing, the scents are enticing and there’s always action on the grill; of course people congregate here.

Naturally, the food was excellent, and I so enjoyed this deviation from the standard burgers and buns fare (although we love those too!) that I vowed to recreate the whole menu again for a future gathering of my own. And then I thought that if I appreciated the inspiration,  you might too.

[Read more…]

Ideas from a late- summer fridge | Simple Bites

8 ways to maximize refrigerator storage capacity when entertaining

Do you find yourself playing Tetris with your refrigerator on summer holidays or the average action-packed weekend? Trying in vain to squeeze one more platter of shrimp and tomato kebabs in between a watermelon and the ice tea jug?

Often the contents of a refrigerator are manageable on a day-to-day basis: however, as soon as you turn hostess, it fills to capacity—and over! Overnight, shelf space becomes precious real estate, and items risk getting crushed, or worse yet, spilled, from the influx.

Welcome to a common entertaining dilemma.

My very first apartment was a small loft with a postage stamp kitchen and a only mini-bar for a fridge, but I found ways to make it work—even with my love of fresh produce. Now, even though I have a regular-sized refrigerator, I still take similar measures to keep things organized when I’m entertaining.

Here are some creative strategies I developed to keep things cold and maximize the storage capacity of my fridge before a long weekend of entertaining.

[Read more…]

One-Bowl Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake with Roasted Rhubarb || Simple Bites

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake and a KitchenAid mixer giveaway

Today is our wedding anniversary, hence the cake.

It’s a light, lemony creation, which I’m serving up with a dollop of ricotta and maple-roasted rhubarb that was picked straight from my garden. Spring, long weekends, anniversaries – there is much to celebrate these May days and cake is just the ticket.

In addition to the recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake with Roasted Rhubarb, I’m sharing about the cookbook that has been living on my kitchen counter: Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipes to Cook from Scratch–with Smart Store-Bought Shortcuts When You Need Them. Oh, you’re going to love it.

And since we’re celebrating, our friends at KitchenAid want to give one lucky Simple Bites reader a brand new stand mixer! This post is packed, so let’s jump right into the fun.

[Read more…]

Soba salad

Behind the scenes of our photoshoot with Parents magazine

We started and ended the day in the yard; a team of twelve and one heck of an ambitious shoot list.

The day began slowly: we discussed our plan of action over cups of coffee while the morning sunlight warmed our backs. The day ended hastily around 4 in the afternoon, as the pitter patter of rain fell around our heads and we dashed to get everything  –food-equipment-children –out of the rain. It was an unforgettable day, for all sorts of reasons.

But let’s back up for a second. You may be wondering what is involved when booking a photoshoot and story with America’s largest parenting magazine. Did they just drop a comment one day on my Instagram and say ‘hey wanna work together?’. Uh, no. There was much more to it than that.

Here’s as much of the story as I can remember, and a bunch of iPhone photos from our homestead on that warm August day.

[Read more…]

Grilled salmon | Simple Bites

Weekend links and photos

Happy Mother’s Day!

I am writing this in hopes that you are lounging in bed or lingering on a sunny patio, waiting for breakfast or at least coffee and a croissant. I’m doing the same; don’t worry, this post was scheduled in advance!

Yesterday my Mother’s Day gift arrived: a load of earth, deposited on our driveway. We spent a good part of the day moving wheelbarrow loads of soil around to the four corners of the homestead. The raspberries got a top-up, the raised beds had a layer added, I dug a new bed for sunflowers, and all of my pots & planters were filled.

My back and shoulders a little stiff and sore, but I’m thrilled that we are now ready. to. plant! Today, however, is for relaxing: breakfast in bed, reading, and a long walk as a family.

Here’s what I’ve been reading and loving around the web this week:

[Read more…]