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Classic Potato Salad

It was recently Victoria Day weekend in Canada and Memorial Day weekend in the US, or as most people observe them: the unofficial beginning of summer. And what is more summery than picnics and backyard grilling? Not much. I made a huge batch of this potato salad this last weekend for our first dinner party/BBQ in our new house. Just a couple of our best friends and their kids, but it was a lively gathering and the weather was perfection. This Classic Potato Salad hearkens back to the nostalgia of picnics and checkered blankets, of big metal coolers and jugs of tart lemonade. It’s as old school as it gets and we like it that way. If you like a potato salad that’s not so creamy and less traditional, try my Balsamic Potato Salad instead, but if you’re craving that Classic Potato Salad combination of egg, dill and and creamy dressing, this is the one.

This is absolutely a simple recipe and it comes together quickly, the cooling of the boiled potatoes being the longest part. Everything else is a quick chop, stir and toss. Make sure that you do have the time to properly chill it and that if you’re taking it for a potluck or picnic, which I absolutely suggest you do because it’s a crowdpleaser and this recipe makes a lot, be sure you’re keeping it cool as it sits out and is served. No one wants to tangle with potato salad that’s been sitting in the sun. (more…)

Light and Tropical Ambrosia Salad

I was pleasantly surprised by the (super official and unbiased – ha!) Instagram poll with a picture of my Light and Tropical Ambrosia Salad. So many more people liked it than I expected! Usually if the words Ambrosia and salad come up together they are met with moans of disgust, often misguided, and a litany of bad childhood memories of overly sweet, gloppy concoctions that were too “retro” to be cool and just felt out or date and unappetizing. I always think of that scene in Edward Scissorhands where he’s being fed all the ambrosia salads by the eager and repressed housewives of the neighbourhood. The kitschy pastels, the questionalble gloppity-gloop of it all, it always makes me smile. He’s so clearly repulsed and overwhelmed by a confection that is named for the food of the gods. Thank you, Tim Burton, for that nostalgic absurdity.

This particular Ambrosia I am calling Light and Tropical Ambrosia Salad because I have kept it more refreshing and focused in its flavours. If you look into Ambrosia recipes from the last 60 years or so you will see that there’s almost an Ambrosia for every cook out there. Much like other “salads” of its day, the term salad seems to just mean “all in one bowl”. For the uninitiated, Ambrosia seems to always include a few key elements: gelatin, whipped cream, and marshmallows. The combinations of fruit, and sometimes vegetables, is vast, with dividing lines drawn around specific additions – to add maraschino cherries or not, for example. (more…)

Sticky Chicken Bowls with Cauliflower Rice

Sticky Chicken Bowls with Cauliflower Rice

Around here we are pretty much obsessed with all sorts of “bowl” meals. The Buddha Bowl craze seems to be sticking and while it seems that the true Buddha Bowls are vegetarian of vegan, they have inspired many home cooks and restaurants to take a bunch of something delicious that goes well together and put it in a bowl. Voila. Burrito bowls, Tex-Mex Bowls, Breakfast Bowls, Smoothie Bowls, basically anything can go in a bowl and it makes for a fuss free, casual presentation and a great excuse to put together lots of fresh, fun ingredients and call it dinner. Or art.

These Sticky Chicken Bowls with Cauliflower Rice are as easy as can be and ridiculously healthy. This really should be called the Redemption Bowl because I put it together the day after a dinner of fried chicken and two bite brownies. But those nights happen, right? Sometimes you have to go with the urge to splurge or just throw your hands up and order take out. For the nights where you’re feeling somewhat more invested in your health and meal planning this particular Bowl is easy to prep and cook and it’s filling but light with regular rice swapped out for super flavorful coconut-lime cauliflower “rice”. Add a quick slaw and any other veg you like and you’re on your way to dinner Nirvana.

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Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts

I am such a sucker for all things raspberry. I’ve posted lots of raspberry recipes here before these Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts. There were these amazing coconut macaroons and this stunning cake, oh and this cake too and this simple galette … Just search “raspberry” and wander through the berry patch, so to speak.

Raspberries have such a potently magical flavor to them – they always taste like summer. In fact they are, to me, one of the most transporting of flavors. Even in the dead of winter when it’s grey and raining, or the streets are covered in snow, if you pop a ripe raspberry into your mouth, you get a fleeting reminder of warm days and sunshine and being outside. Nothing else quite does that for me.

These little Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts are so easy to make and require very little effort for a really stunning result. With the completely acceptable “cheat” of frozen tart shells you can whip these up in no time and take them somewhere to share with friends, or just make them for yourself. The recipe is easily halved to just make 12 …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vanilla Strawberry Birthday Cake

Vanilla Strawberry Birthday CakeSometimes you picture something in your mind before you make it and it looks so good in your imagination that you brace yourself for the reality knowing it may not be as good. Other times you make something and you exceed your own expectations. This Vanilla Strawberry Birthday Cake exceeded my expectations and I was excited to knock my own socks off with it. I used my favorite white cake recipe and kept it simple with strawberry jam between the layers and really soft, simple almond butter cream. Since it was my birthday, I made it a bit special with some amazing mauve spray roses and an all over petal effect in the frosting.

It’s a lovely cake, easy to work with and there are no tricks here. The recipe is easy to follow and doesn’t take long to make. When you’re choosing fresh flowers for a cake make sure they are non toxic/edible (obviously) and do your best to source organic blooms and give them a bit of a rinse so you don’t end up with pesticides or pests in your cake. For this cake I simply trimmed the tiny roses and stabbed them (gently placed them?) into the frosting. I had enough to cover the whole surface but I really like the aesthetic of a sort of halo or crown of flowers along one side, sort of organically spilling across the cake’s top. Roses are technically edible but there is no bonus to munching on these pretty petals, they don’t taste like much, guests can simply remove them from their slice as they go. If you don’t want to waste the roses and rosebuds you can rinse them and float them in a bath (so luxe!) or float them in a pretty shallow bowl as a centerpiece or decorative arrangement. Alternatively you could freeze them into ice cubes to float in a punch bowl or to pretty up your water glass.

But back to the cake …

It’s lovely to look at but I promise it’s even better to eat! More pictures and the recipes are after the jump. Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments! Happy baking!  (more…)