My favourite appetizer for easy warm-weather entertaining (Sweet Pea and Parmesan Tartines)

Part of my warm-weather entertaining manifesto is to keep my gatherings as simple as possible. This encompasses everything from table décor to beverages, and most importantly, food. We host several dinners and social soirées in the spring and summer months, and I’m always on the look out for easy-to-execute lip-smacking appetizers that deliver impressive tastes to my guests. Luckily, these tartines fit the bill perfectly.

While the name sounds highly impressive, tartines (or crostinis) are really nothing more than slices of toasted/grilled bread topped with a little something. It can be as simple as store-bought jam and a slice of aged cheddar, assorted spreads, cured meats, or fresh produce that’s paired with fragrant herbs and oils.

I typically opt for the latter, and they are almost always the highlight of the meal. Lightly buttered bread is usually grilled, rubbed with garlic and then covered with a variety of toppings. For spring, I’m smitten with the combination of sweet peas, Parmesan and mint, but you can use pretty much anything that’s in season.

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A sentimental Saveur award to share with you

In the spring of 1999 I found myself washed up in the city of Montreal after drifting around the world for months with just a backpack, a journal and my appetite. I had no job, no prospects, save a flicker of romance with a 20-year-old engineering student.

I knew that I loved food, and wanted to work with it in some capacity, and I knew I needed to stay in Montreal.

Money was tight, and I enjoyed as many dinners as I could at my future mother-in-laws’ table without wearing out my welcome. Still I always splurged (such as it was, back then) on the latest Saveur magazine.

Saveur understood my appetite for stories and recipes of food in all its contexts. It was a read that celebrated food culture and cuisine all around the world, and one that I cherished.

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Natural egg dyes, braided bread, lemon shortbread and other good ideas for Easter

lemon shortbread with lemon marmalade

My Easter plans are a little slow in forthcoming this year as I’ve been distracted by our forays into making maple syrup – our newest urban homesteading project. Look for a full post from Danny soon on our backyard sugar bush adventures later; we’re giddy with our progress.

Easter is a fantastic excuse to entertain and I will definitely be gathering a few friends and family around for brunch or lunch. The boys and I had a chance to bake cookies in adorable little bunny and chick shapes and make the thumbprint shortbread cookies above.

The rest of the menu will be inspired from the archives and a few old favorites I rediscovered when putting together this round-up. Of course, maple syrup will be the spotlight ingredient of the brunch.

Perhaps you’ll find an idea or two below for your Easter table.

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Clara turns one {recipe: Apple Spice Cake with Maple}

apple cake for baby birthday

Clara turned one yesterday, and after seven years of robot cakes, Cars pinatas, and Lego gifts, we celebrated our very first ‘girl’ birthday. There were spring flowers and garlands of pink hearts, cucumber sandwiches and strawberry cake, and the cutest little guests decked out in hair bows and pretty dresses.

Clara’s birthday party felt like not only a celebration of her first year and the bright light that she is in our lives, but a lingering farewell to infancy. I can see it plainly now, she’s ready to be a little lady, whether I’m prepared for it or not.

In the days leading up to the party, I keenly felt this milestone and the significance of it. While she was busy demonstrating her newest skill set to me, I was having flashbacks to the day she was born and the intimacy between a mother and her newborn.

first birthday party ideas on simplebites.net

I needed to say good-bye to those precious early days that I cherish so much. I needed to spend a few hours cutting hearts out of paper and stringing them onto garlands while I mourned the end of baby baths in the sink, cozy afternoon naps on my chest, and teeny, teeny pink sleepers.

I blinked back tears when I frosted the layers of her cake, and let them flow freely when I hung newborn images of her in a garland; photos where she was so tiny, she rested comfortably between my shoulder and the crook of my arm. I sighed when I cut cucumber sandwiches into hearts, and eventually made my peace with the milestone.

By Sunday, her actual birthday, I was ready to party. So, apparently, was she.

First birthday ideas on simplebites.net

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Traveling in Mexico: What we ate (Recipe: Guacamole Deviled Eggs)

Guacamole deviled eggs

I feel like I got the more technical information off my chest in my last post on traveling with kids in Mexico; so now we can get down to the really good stuff: food! I’m dying to talk taco and tequila, as we ate and drank our fair share during our two week stay. It’s kind of what our family does when we get together.

As I explained to Tsh in a recent Homefries podcast, my siblings and I bond best in the kitchen. We’re a family who cooks together, then sits down around a table to continue the conversation.

Here’s a look at how we ate, and a few recommendations for our favorite places in and around Lo de Marcos and Sayulita.

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