Quick Homemade Harissa from ‘Whole Bowls’

Step into any book shop these days and you will be greeted by a fresh array of new spring cookbooks. It’s hard to know which ones are keepers amid the wide selection.

A large percentage of these books come across my desk, and I spend many evenings reading them cover to cover. In spring and in fall, the busiest times for publication, cookbooks are my novels. I binge on them like a cult Nexflix show. A few make it to my kitchen, a handful more remain on my shelf, and the rest go on a pile to give away.

Fellow Canadian food blogger Allison Day has a new cookbook, Whole Bowls, and it landed in my hands a few short days before my Noah was diagnosed with pneumonia. This was a few weeks ago, when I was sufficiently ‘done’ with winter produce, yet I became excited to cook while reading Whole Bowls – the first sign of a great cookbook.

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Autumn Pesto Blitz (Oregano-Hazelnut Pesto)

If there is one fall tradition I uphold above all, it is making and freezing pesto. Pumpkin spice lattes we can take or leave, but we simply cannot be without multiple batches of homemade pesto as we head into winter.

I keep an eye on the frost warnings, but generally I harvest my herbs during the last week of September. All the basil is set aside for pesto – and a good bunch of the parsley and oregano, too. We like variety in our pesto; it makes up for the fact that we are decidedly unvaried in our use of the sauce. Yep, you guessed it: pasta. I am the mother of three children, after all.

Pizza closely follows pasta as a vehicle for enjoying homemade pesto. There’s hardly a winter pizza we make that doesn’t take a spoonful of the sauce, like this Brussels Sprout, Walnut & Pesto Pizza. Ohh, la la.

Here’s how my autumn pesto blitz goes down, plus a recipe for a new favourite: Oregano Hazelnut Pesto.

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The secret is in the sauce…on the side (3 recipes)

We’re a family that dines together for seven dinners a week. This time around the table is important to us and is a crucial step in our journey to build a healthy family food culture.

But? This commitment to the family dinner has its rocky moments. On a nightly basis we’re dealing with spilled milk, tossed food, stormy attitudes and questionable manners. Oh, how our children’s manners are a work in progress (look for a post soon on how we’re working to improve them).

Some nights it would be a whole lot easier to serve up sandwiches on paper plates and then sit down to a hot! spicy! delicious! meal ourselves after we have tucked the munchkins into bed (and on the rare occasion, this is what happens), but we’re committed to that dinner hour.

Today I’m sharing one tip that has brought peace to the table – at least as far as the food is concerned; attitudes and pesky squabbles still need an intervention! This tip has helped to keep everyone happy with their food, especially Danny and I, who love full flavour dishes and are crazy about sauces.

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Pepita Parsley Pesto via SimpleBites.net from Shaina Olmanson

Pepita and Parsley Pesto

It began a few weeks ago, that nighttime chill in the air that catches at the back of your throat, lingering against still bare shoulders, torsos clad in tank tops.

The market stalls piled higher and higher encouraging us to stock up for the long months ahead. My garden, still producing, has started to yellow and turn crisp as a result of the longer, colder nights.

In response to the changing seasons, as if a learned behavior turned habit, I purchase bushels of apples and boxes of tomatoes, and I cut back nearly all of my herbs: freezing some, setting others to dry, and pulsing the rest into pesto to be tucked into the freezer for a dark snowy winter day in the months ahead. [Read more…]

The most versatile sauce you’ll make this summer (recipe for chimichurri)

When it comes to grilling, my modus operandi is simple: use good quality products – of which there are many hanging out around the markets these days – and coat them liberally with a persuasive sauce, marinade, or condiment.

Are you familiar with chimichurri? This Argentinian dressing is one of my favorites, and boasts the freshest of flavors thanks to the marriage of simple garden herbs (parsley and oregano) garlic, jalapeño, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.

Vibrant and fragrant, this sauce is my go-to summer seasoning and makes a frequent appearance at my dinner table in the warm-weather months.

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