Posts tagged under Food. Show all posts.
When it comes to feeding our families, it can be remarkably difficult to make a meal that is universally appealing to all the hungry mouths at the table. As a somewhat picky eater myself, I understand and accept this concept, but as chief-cook-in-residence it can be a challenging one to navigate.
After years of feeding a family, I’ve learned that I don’t believe in forcing anyone to eat something that elicits gags and groaning, but I am a firm believer in the one bite rule. In other words, at least one bite must be taken from each item on the plate. As Karen Le Billon states in her book, “You don’t have to like it, but you do have to taste it.” In my experience, what starts off as one bite eventually ends up as three or four before you know it.
Another thing I’ve learned is that if one of my kids detests something, like a burger for example, and I serve it in a new and inventive way, the previously offensive food is now one of interest. It doesn’t matter that I was only creative out of necessity (no buns in the house, only four pickles in the jar and barely enough cheese to feed a mouse), the bottom line is that being inventive made me realize that while my kids won’t always happily nosh on what’s before them, they are more interested in trying something if a food can be seen in a new light.
How are you dealing with your picky eaters these days?
My children have many friends who suffer from a variety of food allergies, most of which are anaphylactic. They occasionally come to our house for lunch and dinner, and I’ve been known to feed those kids classroom and after-school snacks. I’m very cautious when feeding them, as anyone would be.
Last week, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences was held in Windsor, Ontario, and academics gathered to discuss everything from book censorship to brand power. For the first time, a small study was done—and shared—on the social implications of children who live with food allergies. Researchers presented that these young people often suffer from loneliness and social isolation.
The kids that were interviewed for the research (all ages 8 to 16) shared tales of the barriers that make them feel ‘different’: being invited to birthday parties and not being able to eat the food served; having to sit far away from kids who are eating possible contaminated items; needing to take the time to read ingredient labels before eating something; having to avoid most restaurants, fast food outlets and variety stores that their friends are frequenting; walking around with an EpiPen at all times; and generally feeling nervous, anxious and embarrassed over their situation.
I was saddened to learn that young kids are feeling this way but it makes sense to me. Because some of those who were interviewed are now in their early teens, I’m wondering if things have gotten better for the younger kids who suffer, due to more social awareness surrounding the allergies. Experts seem to think so, now that Ontario has passed the Sabrina Law (schools need to be trained in anaphylaxis care and have an action plan in place).
I’m curious though, if your child is anaphylactic, or suffering from any kind of food allergies, is it any better for them socially than the kids who were interviewed for the study? Is there anything that other parents and friends can do to help them feel less isolated?
Picnic season is officially upon us, and I couldn’t be happier. There’s some sort of magical law that makes anything eaten outdoors taste better automatically. So I try and take full advantage of dining al fresco whenever the opportunity presents itself. Plus, there’s also the bonus of not having to clean the dining room table that’s usually littered with tiny crumbs and water spills.
In an effort to come up with something other than cookies to tuck into our picnic basket, I baked up these blackberry crumb bars. Not only are they incredibly tasty, and not too sweet, they’re also versatile and can be customized with whatever berry is in season. They travel well, and make just enough to feed a large group without too many leftovers.
I froze a few extra pieces that I had on hand to see how they would hold up, and I actually enjoyed them a little more after they were chilled. In the future, I will likely pop these into the freezer as soon as I cut them, and then I’ll pack them up straight from there. By the time we eat, they’ll be cool yet soft, and perfectly pleasant for a hot afternoon.
What are some of your favourite picnic snacks to pack?
Find the full printable recipe here: Blackberry Crumb Bars
It likely won’t shock my husband to find me in the kitchen come Sunday, whipping up some of his favourite foods for our annual Father’s Day dinner. What will surprise him, though, is that he won’t see me slaving over a hot stove preparing a meal worthy of the dad that he is.
I have a new motto this year, which is ‘make it quick and make it early.’ Anything that can be prepared easily, and in advance, is going to rise to the top of my to-cook list—like these simple steak sliders.
The grilling of the meat can be done up to one day in advance. If you prefer, feel free to cook it on the stove top if you don’t want to fire up the barbecue for just one piece of steak. Assemble a few sandwiches, add a festive looking toothpick to hold them together, and set them out on a platter for lunch or dinner along with a few of his favourite salads.
Are you cooking up anything special for Father’s Day this year?
Find the full printable recipe here: Easy Grilled Steak Sliders
Last week, Disney announced that all products advertised on their child-oriented TV channels, radio stations and Internet sites will soon need to comply with a new set of nutritional standards.
Effective in early 2015—it can’t be any earlier due to existing advertising contracts—the Disney corporation will no longer accept advertising materials that contain candy, sugary cereals, fast food and popular, yet mostly unhealthy, grocery store items.
Instead, the company wants to position themselves as a brand that families can trust, and taking note of the increase in consumer interest in nutritious food is just one of the ways they intend to do this.
However, programming won’t be the only thing affected by the new Disney guidelines. They also plan on reducing the sodium in the food served at their theme parks, and aspire to create fun promotions advocating exercise and healthy eating.
I’ve read a few articles on this topic in the past week, and while some folks are praising the company for finally acknowledging corporate responsibility, others wonder what’s really so bad about eating a bit of junk food every once in a while. There are also the skeptics who see this a just a move designed to keep moms happy, which in turn will keep them purchasing Disney products and DVDs for their kids.
What do you think? Is this just about the bottom dollar for the company, or are they really trying to make a difference for the kids? Would you be more likely to purchase a Disney product or vacation knowing that they’re taking a stand on childhood nutrition?
Writing about ‘good food for busy families,’ Liz chronicles the culinary adventures that are the result of feeding her two daughters, Emma and Katie. Packed with pretty pictures and unique recipes (I loved her Spelt Parmesan Gougeres and Mini Pizza Buns), her blog is a wonderful source of inspiration for moms who are looking for something a little different to feed their family.
I recently caught up with Liz and asked her a few questions so we could all get to know her a little better. Here’s what she had to say:
1. Tell us, what does your typical breakfast look like?
A latte, and either a scone or some vanilla yogurt.
2. Name 10 things you currently have stocked in your fridge.
3. Which ingredient are you currently loving or using in a new way?
Coconut oil. Although I’m still trying to decipher whether it’s the miracle product that some people are saying or if it just makes everything taste better.
4. If you’re listening to music while you’re cooking, what would be your ideal soundtrack?
A little Pink Martini, Rodrigo Y Gabriela or something French cafe-ish.
5. Chocolate or cheese?
Both. And sometimes, even together (cheesecake brownies)!
I’m having a little love affair with frozen treats this season. I’ve been making popsicles of all varieties for my kids, and it seems that I have amassed quite the collection of wooden sticks, paper cups and funky holders. Part of the charm of the traditional ice-lolly is not only how it tastes, but also how it looks.
The following frozen treats popped up in my inbox early last month and I knew immediately that they would be perfect for mid-June. Now that school is winding down, we seem to have a lot of kids continuously coming in and out our door these days, and keeping a steady supply of these on hand is an easy way to feed them all.
Are you a fan of frozen treats? What are you currently whipping up?
Find the full printable recipe here: Berry Swirl Ice Pops
Last year I made a s’mores kit for Jackson’s teacher. It was her very first year teaching, and while she received one large class gift that all the kids contributed to, he wanted to put together a little something just from him. Since then, we have made this gift box several more times; it’s been a summer party favour, part of a birthday present, and even a thank you gift.
To make the kit, I picked up a small (approx. 5” x 7”) wooden box at my local dollar store, and painted it with a light acrylic green paint. We filled the box with a package of homemade marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate squares. Because we weren’t sure of the teacher’s summer plans, we included the directions for making s’mores in the microwave, oven and over a fire so she would be able to assemble them wherever she would be. I downloaded a cute campfire font and used that for the recipe card, as well as the front cover of the gift box.
Any plans to visit friends at their cottage this year? I would definitely take up a few of these boxes to leave behind as a thank you for hosting you and your noisy kids!
DIY S’mores Gift Box
How to Make:
Preparations are underway for my family’s annual Canada Day party. Now in it’s 7th year, the first weekend of July is spent with our favourite people devouring copious amounts of seasonally tasty food, playing popular backyard games (think three-legged races, tetherball, etc.) and facing off in my handmade Canadian trivia game, pitting the men against the women to see which demographic knows more about their native land. This year’s trivia theme is food (no surprise there!) and I’m sure the questions I’ve come up with are going to stump my guests.
As the hostess, I’m in charge of appetizers, the main (read: meat), desserts and drinks. Our family rounds out the meal by supplying the sides, which, in my opinion, are often the tastiest items on the menu, but also the most work.
In an effort to keep things simple, I’m turning to roasted strawberries to serve as the highlight of my dessert menu. I’ve yet to decide if they’re going to grace the top of homemade sundaes, mixed into a mess or combined with biscuits and whipped cream to make shortcakes. Regardless of how I serve them, I’m certain they’ll be the talk of the table.
Find the full printable recipe here: Roasted Strawberries
Part of my summer entertaining manifesto is to keep everything as simple as possible, while still delivering big and impressive tastes to my guests. We host quite a lot of dinners and social gatherings in the summer months, and I’m always on the look out for easy-to-execute lip-smacking appetizers to make for my visitors. These tartines fit the bill perfectly.
While the name sounds highly impressive, tartines are really nothing more than slices of buttered bread topped with a little something. It can be as simple as some store-bought jam and a slice of aged cheddar, or fresh produce that’s paired with fragrant herbs and oils.
I recently opted for the latter, and they were the hit of the meal. The lightly buttered bread was grilled and covered with two different toppings: chopped avocado, lime juice and fresh cracked pepper, and sweet tomatoes, bocconcini cheese and fresh basil. There is no recipe for these, just use what you have on hand and adjust the seasonings to taste. I like to drizzle a little olive oil over my avocado mixture, and kosher salt really heightens the flavour of the fresh tomatoes and cheese.
When it comes to back-pocket recipe ideas, this one is currently sitting within easy reach, and I wouldn’t hesitate to make a platter of these just for dinner for the family when it seems far too hot to cook.
What are your favourite appetizers for summer entertaining?
Despite the slew of canning and jamming books that landed on my doorstep in the past few months, I’m still not completely smitten with the idea of “putting up”. I know I should want to do it, for how could any respectable food writer not jump at the chance to spend their days preserving fresh produce, but I honestly just don’t love it that much.
Having said that, I do like to make the occasional item if something about the recipe intrigues me; which is exactly what happened with this honey strawberry jam. The Green Market Baking Book is devoted to 100 recipes that are naturally sweetened, and the strawberry jam tucked within the pages was no exception.
One of my food goals for 2012 was to learn more about using alternative, and less-processed sugars in my cooking. Any homemade jam recipe that doesn’t call for several cups of granulated sugar is worth trying at least once, and I’m happy to report that not only was it easy to make, but it also tasted great. Texturally, it’s slightly thinner than a regular jam, but that doesn’t bother me at all.
Are you into preserving? What are some of your favourite things to make?
Find the full printable recipe here: Honey Strawberry Jam
My go-to dinner this summer is taco salad.
Not only is it completely family-friendly, and makes for an excellent week night dinner, it’s also a total winner when it comes to entertaining, feeding a crowd, or hosting a dinner party. The flavours pair perfectly with the warm weather, and many of the items required are in season making it an economical choice as well.
I like to serve my taco salad family-style, allowing my kids or my guests to help themselves to the items they like best. The platter in the photograph above typically feeds six people—and if you’re entertaining, I’d suggest making a few of them and scattering them over a buffet table accompanied by bowls of grated Monterey Jack cheese, creamy guacamole, flavoured sour cream (think chipotle, lime and cilantro), crispy tortilla chips, sliced limes, chopped jalapenos and fresh salsa.
Feel free to swap the seasoned ground beef for grilled chicken or fish, or keep the meal completely vegetarian by offering a few different kinds of beans for the protein portion of the meal.
Does your family like taco salad? What are some of your favourite toppings?
Find the full printable recipe here: DIY Taco Salad
I’m staring down a packed fridge this week, wondering how we are possibly going to eat all the food that’s within. I’ve managed to purchase more produce that we can possibly eat, mostly because the summer harvest is early this year, and it just looks so inviting.
It’s really the box of zucchini that has me scratching my head as I ponder the possibilities for using up my supply over the next few days. I’ve done the requisite loaves (with chocolate chips!) and biscuits (with cheddar!), I’ve sautéed, grated and sliced and added it to many of my cooked meals, and until yesterday morning I was convinced that I had given my zucchini more personalities than it could handle—until I decided to make use of it raw.
Which is how the very best egg salad sandwich was born.
Hard-boiled eggs, a touch of creamy mayo and grainy mustard, fresh herbs, a grind of salt and fresh ground pepper, combined with raw zucchini, has yielded what can only be dubbed as the best sandwich ever. It seems impossible to believe, but give it a try and I think you’ll see that I’m right.
What’s even better is that the kids like it. They really do. They may think the ‘green stuff’ is chopped herbs, and who am I to correct them. While I’m not in the habit of filling their foods with hidden items, I’m not opposed to letting them believe it’s parsley that’s tucked in with the eggs if that’s truly what they think they’re seeing.
What are some of the interesting ways you’re using up your summer bounty this year?
Find the full printable recipe here: Egg Salad with Zucchini
These awesome cookies will impress everyone at your table.
The kids won’t know they have a secret ingredient—they’ll just know they taste good. But you’ll know they’re packed with healthy lentil purée.
So it’s your choice: make cookies because they taste great or because they’re great for you!
Find the full printable recipe here: Chocolate Chip Lentil Cookies
This book was on my must-read list for about two months before I finally got around to picking it up, and I can assure you it was definitely worth the wait. I have devoured each and every story that accompanies the simple yet essential recipes tucked within the pages, and each one inspires me to get into the kitchen more than the last.
Authoritative, practical and down to earth, The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila is packed with recipes for 101 common foods that can be made instead of bought. From dairy and cereals to frozen foods and candy, the author shows us that with just a little planning we can all take control of our pantries and fill them with homemade versions of things we typically buy in the store.
The magic of this book though is that every recipe is approachable and useful and can be executed by the humblest of cooks. For example, I was intrigued by her recipe for pie crust because her method is completely different than any other I’ve encountered.
She suggests using a stand mixer in lieu of a food processor to make the dough, and I have to confess, she’s right about it resulting in a fool-proof technique that’s easier than any other I’ve tried (side note: I’ve made her recipe eight times in the past month. I keep making the dough and freezing it, just to see if I can get it to NOT work. I’m happy to say it’s perfect every single time).
Next on my list of recipes to try are the toaster pastries, hamburger buns, and homemade nut butters.
Which one would you most like me to share here?