How to build a tiered cheese wheel ‘cake’

This week, I sent out invitations for my annual jam swap, a birthday party for Noah, and our Thanksgiving celebration; ready or not, we’re heading into a new season of entertaining.

If you read my last post, I’m singing the praises of keeping the party out of doors this fall, however, this simple tiered cheese ‘cake’ is perfect for any well-attended event from a grown up birthday bash to a festive holiday party.

Cheese platters tend to be rather sprawling, which is fine if you have all the table space in the world. However, for the recent wedding reception we hosted here on the homestead, I was limited to, ahem, the space of canoe (that story coming soon).

I had to tighten up my whole buffet and a stacked cheese platter in the shape of a wedding cake seemed perfectly apropos.

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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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How to get kids cracking making Cheese Crackers and Wheat Thins

Homemade edible gifts for my children’s teachers are a sure thing to leave my kitchen come school’s end. I feel like it is the least I can do after the educators have poured their energy into my children all year.

The goodies are our way of expressing our thanks and vary from year to year from chai spiced granola to honey whole wheat chocolate chip cookies. Now before you read on, please understand that I am playing to my strengths here. I’m not trying to make myself out to be some kind of perfectly pinteresting supermom. Making and assembling edible gifts is easy and fun for me, so I run with it whenever the opportunity arises. I couldn’t be crafty like my friend Amy if I tried and I don’t enjoy shopping, so I head to the kitchen and dream up something delicious.

It’s important to me to have the boys get involved in making the gifts to teach them to give back and to show appreciation in a tangible way. This year I had thought about canning something, perhaps strawberry rhubarb jam or strawberry caramel sauce, but I tend to do most of my canning on my own, without three kids ‘helping’. They are pretty proactive in the kitchen, but that vat of boiling water still makes me nervous.

White Pepper & Parmesan Crackers :: Simple Bites #recipe #snack #crackers

We settled on homemade crackers, a project I expected to be loads of work but well worth the effort. It turns out I was half right. Many hands made light work and we flew through the task, ending up with about 20 dozen absolutely delicious crackers. I even had time to snap a few photos as I knew I had to share both recipes here with you.

If you’re into homemade pantry staples, then read on for two recipes: Everyday Wheat Thins and White Pepper Parmesan Coins. [Read more…]

Spring produce and Cheesy Ramp Pull-Apart Bread

Yesterday, a glance at the weather for the remainder of the week convinced me to abandon the dishes and the laundry and head outdoors. If I was to get only one day of sunshine, I’d better make the most of it.

Today there is a slight stiffness to my shoulders from the garden work and my fingernails need attention, but the raised beds are half planted. The roots of the small seedlings will be kept damp with the coming rain and that is one less chore for me. It feels good to be a step ahead of things, at least in the gardening department. Let’s not speak of the state of my house. The kitchen alone is shell-shocked from Danny preparing two meals on Mother’s Day, bless his heart.

While I worked around our homestead and Clara amused herself by poking grass (and the occasional stick, yikes!) into the chicken coop, I kept a bowl handy to collect edibles. Salad ingredients don’t always show themselves as lettuce leaves and cucumber slices; sometimes you have to think outside of the box.

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A Spring Onion Tart

When I was a child, onions were one of the few vegetables I loved to eat.

Generally they came in the form of pizza topping, but after a while onions started to adorn my sandwiches, and I sought them out whenever my mom cooked up a vat of her beef stew. Once I discovered the joy of roasted garlic, I was hooked on alliums for life.

One of the building blocks of cooking, alliums deserve a place in pretty much every meal. Granted, not everyone loves them as much as I do. I’ve been converting my 6-year-old to an onion fan, slowly but surely, because I’m sure he has an amazing cooking career ahead of him and he needs to understand the onion. Or at least, be able to throw together a fantastic pasta sauce and garlic bread.

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