Early Summer Risotto with New Garden Vegetable & Herbs : Simple Bites #recipe

Early Summer Risotto with New Garden Vegetables

I can’t quite remember when risotto went from being a favourite menu item when dining out to a weeknight staple around our table; a go-to comfort food that changed with the produce brought by each new season.

It may have been when my Italian culinary school chef tutored my class on the art of the risotto, instructing us never to rush the dish or the rice would guess our haste and become gummy rather than creamy. Perhaps I became less intimidated to cook the classic dish after testing it out frequently on Danny when we were newlyweds.

At any rate, I eventually discovered that the cheesy rice dish was an indispensable vehicle for getting my children to eat vegetables. Ever since, I’ve seldom been without the basic ingredients for risotto: chicken or vegetable stock in the freezer, butter and Parmesan cheese in the fridge, rice and onions in the pantry.

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An authentic campfire breakfast (Recipe: Sour Cream & Onion Potato Packets) | Simple Bites #recipe #breakfast #camping

Cousin Camp Out (Recipe: Sour Cream & Onion Potato Packets)

I‘ve been camping ever since I was about ten, when my sister and I would sling a backpack of food and blankets into a canoe and paddle off to spend the night on a nearby island.

We’d build beds out of moss, sleep under the stars and wake up early for a dip in the lake. It was completely magical – and I still can’t believe my parents let us go! Nowadays, I camp with my young family, crash in a tent and stick to provincial campgrounds over wilderness, but our camping trips are every bit of an adventure as my childhood excursions.

This past weekend we invited a couple of the cousins and grand parents over for a backyard camp out on the summer solstice. It gave us a chance to test out our gear before we head next weekend for two nights of country camping with friends.

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Middle Eastern Taco Salad with Roasted Chickpeas, Tangy Avocado Dressing | Simple Bites #salad #recipe

Middle Eastern Taco Salad with Roasted Chickpeas, Tangy Avocado Dressing

Last Saturday I pulled together a salad for a barbecue with bits and bites of ingredients I had on hand – and it turned out to be one of the best dishes I have enjoyed this year.

You’ve probably been in a similar situation before: committed to bringing a dish to a gathering yet totally uncomitted to going shopping for said dish. Having a well-stocked pantry and a garden that is starting to produce aids and abets the creative process. That was certainly the case for this Middle Eastern taco salad.

I started by listing the leftovers I had on hand: half an avocado, a bit of roast chicken, a quarter of a red onion, the end of a block of feta cheese. Lettuce and cucumber could be found in the garden, along with oodles of oregano and mint. Now I had a direction….Greece. But I wanted to go further East. I rummaged around and turned up a can of chickpeas, a bag of pita chips and whole cumin seed in the pantry. Now I was set to play.

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The secret is in...the sauce on the side | Simple Bites

The secret is in the sauce…on the side (3 recipes)

We’re a family that dines together for seven dinners a week. This time around the table is important to us and is a crucial step in our journey to build a healthy family food culture.

But? This commitment to the family dinner has its rocky moments. On a nightly basis we’re dealing with spilled milk, tossed food, stormy attitudes and questionable manners. Oh, how our children’s manners are a work in progress (look for a post soon on how we’re working to improve them).

Some nights it would be a whole lot easier to serve up sandwiches on paper plates and then sit down to a hot! spicy! delicious! meal ourselves after we have tucked the munchkins into bed (and on the rare occasion, this is what happens), but we’re committed to that dinner hour.

Today I’m sharing one tip that has brought peace to the table – at least as far as the food is concerned; attitudes and pesky squabbles still need an intervention! This tip has helped to keep everyone happy with their food, especially Danny and I, who love full flavour dishes and are crazy about sauces.

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Veal Pot Roast with Root Vegetables (slow cooker) | Simple Bites #recipe #slowcooker #dinner #eatseasonal

Veal Pot Roast with Root Vegetables (slow cooker)

Mid-winter is my preferred season to haul out the slow cooker. The weather is frigid, requiring heartier dinner fare to make up for all the energy we spend trying to stay warm.

Yesterday’s Sunday dinner was a slow cooked veal roast, seasoned with orange zest and surrounded by an assortment of root vegetables. To say it ‘hit the spot’ after a mainly meatless week of meals would be an understatement.

It spurred us on to bundle up in toques and scarves and spend an afternoon ice skating. The city maintains a winding skating area along the river’s edge around this time of the year and it winds and bends with views of the snowy island directly opposite. It was the perfect opportunity to let go of the stress of the week and gather fortitude for another seven days. [Read more...]