Three Quick 3-Ingredient Appetizers (vlog)

Often the best bites at a party are the simplest ones. Ones in which each ingredient can be easily identified at a glance, (an important quality, unless you eat everything and don’t mind an occasional surprise) the canapé isn’t overly complicated and is easy to eat.

Tidy, bite-sized, and fresh are other qualities of a perfect little appetizer. I’m also partial to cheese, and nuts, apparently, as this post demonstrates. OK, I’ll admit it, I love nibbling my way through the holidays! Canapés are a must at events whether the occasion is an open house, a church reception or a rocking Christmas party.

Making appetizers isn’t work, as far as I’m concerned, but perhaps that is because I avoid the really finicky ones. Yes, it can be  repetitious to reproduce the same little item over and over, but it’s rewarding to see them all lined up.

And I’ll tell you a trick…I’ll often have all the ingredients prepped and a platter on standby for when the first guests walk in the door. As soon as they are settled, have a drink in hand, and offer “Can I do anything for you?”, well, I just steer them towards the ready-t0-be assembled canapés and put them to work!

Guests love to feel included, and since the party always happens in the kitchen, why not capitalize on that and speed up the work? Helping hands are another reason to keep your starters simple. Anyone can prepare the appetizers in this post, and with just three ingredients each, the shopping and prep are easy too!

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Sourdough for Starters (Recipe: Lazy Sourdough Apple Pancakes)

When we were growing up in rural Northern Canada, my sister Haidi worked at The Alpine Bakery, the town’s top bakery. Wednesday was the best day of the week because she invariably brought home my favorite loaf: the hefty Yukon Sourdough. It stood apart from the German Rye, the Ciabatta, and even the fluffy Potato bread; none of them came close to that crusty sourdough loaf with its soft interior, authentic taste and telltale holes.

The owner of the bakery always arrived earlier than everyone else to tend to his sourdough starter and get a few batches of bread mixed up and onto their first risings. No one knew the classified recipe, least of all my sister, and all attempts she and I made to duplicate the loaf at home were unsuccessful.

True sourdough is one of those things you can’t fake in the kitchen. You can substitute, as I do in this post, but the result pales in comparison to the real deal. The good news is, however, that anyone can learn to make a starter and, over time, produce genuine sourdough bread worthy of the bakery ’round the corner. [Read more…]

More than Mirepoix: Roasted Carrot and Cilantro Soup

September. These are the last fleeting days of summer and the return of the crispness of autumn, not to mention the kids to school!

For me, September brings to mind scarves and warm coats, piles of newly yellowed leaves, wood smoke hanging in the air like unspoken words and an end to the bounty of summer harvests; now is the time to be canning, freezing and otherwise preserving all of the best summer has to offer.

Not to be outdone by it’s summer seasonal counterpart though, there is much that is in season in September, including apples, pears, potatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, figs and of course, carrots.

Uncomplicated and easy to prepare, carrots are something everyone uses but don’t often think of as much of a star ingredient. They are usually thought of as a side dish or a background flavor, are always at the center of mirepoix (the aromatics forming the base of most soups, stocks and sauces, at least in French cuisine), and are often served raw on top of salads.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that carrots have a sweet flavor profile and when roasted, their natural sugars are enhanced dramatically giving them a caramelized, deep flavor and a wonderful meaty texture when made into purées for soups, such as this one. [Read more…]

8 Back-to-School Breakfast Ideas & Recipes

There’s one week left until school starts around here and we’re clinging to those last carefree, unscheduled summer days. They feel particularly precious to me for when the last one is crossed off, I will be waking my first-born early, making him a stack of pancakes for breakfast, and kissing him goodbye for his first day of school.

Oh. I’m going to miss him so very, very much.

Yes, after a relaxed summer, an early morning routine is headed our way and we’re busy getting prepared for it. I sat down to plan out some fast, wholesome eats for our week-day mornings and didn’t have far to look; in the short six months that we’ve been up and running, Simple Bites has amassed a variety of breakfast suggestions.

Here are my picks for back-to-school breakfast ideas. Follow the links to get the full recipes, then grab a pen and paper and make a shopping list, because, ready or not, it’s back to school time! [Read more…]

Ten Guilt-Free Non-Suppers

On most days, dinner comes together quite pleasantly around here. We have a weekly menu plan, I buy just what we need for a few meals (and no more) at the market, and a well-rounded supper comes together with ease. Then…there are other days.

Occasionally, dinner just doesn’t happen for whatever reason – a delayed appointment, a webinar gone into overtime, or just plain lack of motivation (if we’re being honest here) – and we eat what I’ve come to call ‘The Non-Supper’. It’s usually something fast, requires no cooking and generates minimal dishes.

I’m generally not proud of our non-suppers, but sometimes at the end of another long strenuous day (no nanny, cleaning lady or mother’s helper around here!), insufficiently powered due to lack of sleep and fear of a coffee overdose (if there is such a thing), a non-supper takes some pressure off and frees up time for something more important, like playing with the kids. [Read more…]