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Homemade Ketchup

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It’s hot dog season – and the tomatoes in our garden are already plentiful. I’m starting to get the urge to make a batch of homemade ketchup – perfect for burgers, steaks, and all those summery things you cook on the grill. (And if you ask my 10 year old, everything else.) Pick up some ripe tomatoes at the farmers’ market when they’re a good deal – or use those that may have been sitting on your kitchen counter too long and have gone a bit squishy. In ketchup, no one will notice the difference.

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Watermelon Popsicles

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If you’re concerned about the amount of sugar, artificial colours and flavours in typical frozen treats, here’s an easy way to make all-fruit popsicles to keep kids cool during the warm summer months. With its high water content, watermelon is perfect for pureeing and freezing in ice pop moulds – add a few whole berries to add an even bigger vitamin boost. 

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Watermelon Rind, Carrot & Pineapple Slaw

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How different is this?? A fresh, tasty coleslaw made out of white watermelon rinds! In addition to being environmentally friendly and economical (a great way to eliminate food waste), the rind is packed with citrulline and arginine, two compounds that aid in healthy blood flow! No one will guess what this crunchy salad is made out of.

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Bleu D’Élizabeth Cheese, Dark Chocolate & Date Bites

blue cheese bites

Ever tried blue cheese paired with dark chocolate? It’s divine! These fudge-like squares are deliciously different, and can be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them – perfect for summer nibbling.

This recipe features the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix winner in the Blue cheese and Organic cheese categories – Bleu D’Élizabeth, a beautiful organic semi-soft cheese from Quebec. But any blue will do – I like to support our local farmers and producers by choosing Canadian cheeses – some of the best in the world!

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Watermelon Salsa

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In case you haven’t tried it, finely chopped watermelon is a great addition to salsa – juicy, crunchy, slightly sweet; a refreshing contrast to the chilies, black beans, corn and spice. It tames the heat, and lightens it – it’s a great way to use up that enormous watermelon that might be taking up space in your fridge or on your kitchen counter. Serve it with tortilla chips or over grilled chicken or fish.

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Orzo Salad with Cherries and Lime Vinaigrette

Orzo Salad with Cherries and Lime Vinaigrette

We love a good picnic salad. This one is made with orzo pasta and takes full advantage of summer cherry season. Feel free to use other fresh produce if you have it — strawberries would also work well and the kernels off of a fresh ear of corn would also be a tasty addition.
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Quinoa Salad with Chicken, Avocado & Oranges

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I love a big quinoa salad – not least of all because quinoa can be cooked and kept in the fridge to dole out into nutrient-dense salads all summer long. It’s gluten free, high in protein and fibre, and as technically a seed, it’s lighter in texture than most whole grains.

This combination makes use of leftover roast chicken (or pick one up at the deli if it’s too hot to cook) – try adding just about anything in season, or from your garden.

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Prosciutto-wrapped Brie & Watermelon

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It’s patio season – which means having some great nibbles in your repertoire that are easy to pull out and assemble without turning on the oven. These little bundles of joy are similar to the prosciutto wrapped melon of the eighties – the addition of a chunk of creamy brie puts them over the top.

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Balsamic Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula and Maple Drizzle

Caramelized Onion Pizza

A new cookbook by Katie Webster celebrates real maple syrup – it’s so Canadian, eh? Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup  is right up our alley – maple season came early this year, and our shelves are stocked with the sweet stuff from our neighbours out east. The hardcover cookbook is gorgeous, packed with recipes from appies to desserts – and of course breakfast – using pure maple syrup in ways we’d never have thought of.

This balsamic-spiked caramelized onion pizza caught our eye immediately – perfect for home entertaining, it’s easy to make, and the maple drizzle really brings it to a whole new level.

Thanks Katie!

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Mediterranean Watermelon Salad

watermelon salad

Summer is (almost) here – depending on where you live – and watermelons are starting to fill up produce shelves. We love a good watermelon salad – that juicy, sweet crunch goes so well with so many other ingredients – it’s a great way to rehydrate and delivers a healthy dose of lycopene. Here’s a unique salad for this long weekend’s backyard barbecue – it’s sure to be popular all summer long!
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Spicy Soy Chicken Salad

soy chicken salad
This is a little tweak on the original ladies’ recipe for Korean Chicken Salad. It’s got all of the rich soy sauce flavour (with a little bit of spice) of the original, with a couple modern updates. This meal-sized salad easily makes a full dinner for a family of four — if you don’t like iceberg lettuce, switch it out for your favourite green.

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Creamy Grilled Tandoori Shrimp

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This here is a combination of things I love: shrimp, cream, citrus, spices. Fresh mint and cilantro. It’s like an easy sort of curry, but not heavy, and quick to toss on the grill. I love things that are easy to grill, and don’t require you to hover nervously with your tongs, meat thermometer at the ready. While the apple trees are in bloom, I’m inviting some friends and neighbours for mojitos in the back yard, and these will be on the menu.
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Nicole Gomes’ Apple Beer Mac & Cheese

mac & cheese
For the 2016 edition of the Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off, our friend Chef Nicole Gomes was one of four of Canada’s top chefs to battle it out with their best gourmet Mac & Cheese recipe. The contenders all look amazing, but we gave Nicole’s a try – a 5 cheese version made with a splash of beer and a unique twist: grated apples, sauteed in butter. It was delicious, of course, and fed the family very well tonight. Thanks Nicole – and thanks Canadian cheese!

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Everything Brownies

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I’m a huge fan of brownies – and chocolate chip cookies – and Oreos. What if the three of them got together and morphed into the best of both brownie and cookie worlds? These brownies have a chocolate chip cookie dough base, sandwich cookies in the middle, and a fudgy chocolate brownie top. This is how to win friends and influence people.

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