Cheese Tray

How to put together a Cheese Tray for appetizers or a light summer meal.

Cheese. It wouldn't be too far a stretch to say I live for it. In fact, I'm spending today on the road driving to Maine to hang out with some of my favourite bloggers and some of the excellent people at Cabot Cheese Cooperative. Cheese plus bread plus fruit plus a little good sausage equals a perfectly satisfying and good summer meal in my book; I've mentioned it before. This post isn't about that, though, it's about how to put together a great cheese tray with all of those elements. Oh, and there's a giveaway for a Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer, but first... CHEESE! I've already mentioned our well-loved Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil and bread summer staple meal but I want to talk about one that we bust out for really special occasions: the Cheese Tray. This one makes my kids whoop with delight. In short, it's cheese, fruit, bread, and sausage on a tray... or a platter... or a plate... Heck. Sometimes we just keep it all on the cutting board we used to cut it up. When we have bread, it goes on there, too. If we don't have bread, we use crackers. It's another one of those conversation starter meals. You eat, you talk about life, you combine things, you chat about your combinations. There's a little more art to the meal than just slapping a bunch of fromage on a tray, though. It's not difficult if you keep three things in mind: 1: The strength of the cheese. 2: The flavours of the cheese. 3: Give me your cheese Okay, I guess it's just two things you really … {Read on...}

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs from

There are a few things that I know are surefire hits with my menfolk and near the top of that list are grilled things, bacon, and hot dogs.  When I combined them the other night, the result was an evening of my young men promising me all sorts of doing of chores and favours if I would JUST make the dish again. What did I do? I made Grilled Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs. My husband swore that it was the best hot dog he'd ever eaten. Looking to impress the guys in your life? (Okay, and the bacon loving girls, like yours truly...) Make them Grilled Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs. It doesn't take much effort and what little effort it takes is well-worth it in return for the adoration you receive when you serve them. Honestly, it all started with me just playing with my food. I had some packages of not-top-shelf hot dogs I had bought at an irresistible sale price. I was looking at them and thinking about how I was going to have to bury them in something because I've married, given birth to, and raised a bunch of hot dog snobs. Don't look at me like that. There IS such a thing as a hot dog snob. My kids turn their noses up whenever I make anything less than a high-end dog. They prefer Zweigle's White Hots, Sahlen's Old-Fashioned Casing Dogs, or something kosher and all-beef. If they're at a baseball game, fireman's carnival or somesuch, they'll happily eat what my husband calls a 'dirty water dog', but if we're home, they want the good stuff. So as I stared at my package of questionable … {Read on...}

Party Hummus

Party Hummus- the best hummus ever served just as hummus should be. Hint: not cold.

What makes Party Hummus so wonderful? I'm going to tell you straight up, it's the best hummus I've ever had and -people?- I've eaten my weight in hummus many, many, many times over. It is the silkiest, richest, most indulgent hummus, not only because of the amount of tahini (hint: it's generous) but also because of the drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, the toasted pine nuts, the dusting of za'atar, and the handful of chopped parsley. But there's more. It's served warm or room temperature -never cold- which wakes up the flavours of hummus AND maintains the velvety texture. If all the hummus you've ever eaten has been cold, you are in for such a treat with Party Hummus! I feel obliged to tell you something. Unless you grew up in an Israeli or Middle Eastern household (which I didn't), there's a pretty good chance you've been eating hummus that wasn't as good as it could be for most of your life. I'm sure you've had good smooth hummus; I don't doubt that. But what you've been missing all this time is the true hummus experience: the way it's eaten all over the Middle East. Freshly made, silky smooth, and warm. TRUTH: you haven't eaten great hummus unless you've had it warm or -at coolest- room temperature. It's a fact that you taste foods better when they're warm. The heat releases volatile oils in spices and herbs, making them more fragrant. When it hits your tongue, it's not a shock- your taste buds don't shiver and contract, dulling the flavours of the food. In … {Read on...}

Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil

Herb and Garlic Dipping Oil for bread #summer

When it's steamy hot out, I don't want to spend time in front of the stove unless I have to. And if it's over 85°F I don't want to fire up the stove at all. This is our fall-back plan, our fail-safe, our go-to for a fast meal that is still company ready. We make Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil and serve it with a crusty loaf of bread that we either slice or tear, some fruit, and some cheese. This hardly counts as a recipe. Really. It's more of a reminder, really. It's a call to action. Or inaction, as the case may be. It's hot here now. It took long enough to warm up, but once it did, it almost instantly became both hot AND humid. I've got plenty of "must do" cooking in the summer; jams, jellies, preserves, pickles, etc... Those are non-negotiable. Those line my shelves for the winter months and we count on them being there. At the end of the day, when I've put in my hours of canning and preserving, I am not even CLOSE to feeling like scrubbing the kitchen and starting another project in front of the stove. In those moments, I call on things like what I'm sharing today. Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil. This is the linchpin of many of our hot weather meals. We add a crusty loaf of bread that we either slice -when we're feeling civilized- or tear into hunks -when we've run out of patience and want to eat NOW- along with some soft cheese, some fruit, and we're done. That's it. That's our meal. We take our time with it. There's something a little magical about this … {Read on...}

Shaken Iced Tea {Starbucks Knockoff} + Iced Tea Concentrate

Shaken Iced Tea {Starbucks Knockoff} and Iced Tea Concentrate from

I'm grateful that unsweetened iced tea is available at many restaurants now, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't flinch a little when asked to fork over $3 and change for a single, tall glass of plain old black iced tea, no matter how badly I wanted it. It's so easy to make your own high-quality iced tea concentrate at home and shake up your own glass with some ice and a little water whenever you need to quench your thirst. Why concentrate? Well, for starters, it takes up less room in the refrigerator than a giant jug-o-tea, but stick with me and I'll give you some other great reasons including directions on how to make flavoured teas! Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Spark Naturals Essential Oils. If you make a purchase using my coupon code or after clicking on a link, I receive a small commission which does not effect the cost of the items for you. I'm a sucker for a good, arctic cold, iced tea when the weather is hot. My mom used to make sun tea that was just about strong enough to melt the jar in which it brewed. She would stuff a quart jar with eight to ten Lipton tea bags, pour as much water in the jar as it would hold, tighten a lid on it, and stick it out in the hot sun to become sturdy stuff indeed. When it was roughly the colour of tar, mom would decant it over ice and drink it happily. I almost always had to water mine down not only because my mom is far tougher than me when it comes to caffeine tolerance, but because I found it more … {Read on...}