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Wild rice and bean soup

Wild rice and bean soup | www.ricottaandradishes.com

Do you find yourself reaching for richer, more filling foods–think chunky stews, rich casseroles and creamy pastas–when it’s chilly outside? I most definitely do, and this craving has come earlier than usual thanks to Mother Nature’s unexpected cold spell.

(Though it’s hard to complain knowing what Albertans were faced with last week. Hint: it starts with an “s”!  Brrrr…)

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Cherry tomato and bocconcini caprese salad

Tomato mozzarella salad

If you live in Ontario and have a vegetable garden (even a small one like mine!), you probably noticed that it took ages for the tomatoes to ripen this year. I don’t have a green thumb by any means, but my guess is that this had something to do with the unseasonably cool summer we had.

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Baked polenta with chicken and black beans

Baked polenta with chicken and black beans

Move over, pasta – it’s polenta’s time to shine!

As far as Italian food goes, polenta is pretty underrated.  This is probably because it is not as common in North America as other Italian-inspired mains like pasta, pizza or risotto.  But as rustic peasant food continues to gain popularity (think beef stew, baked beans, chunky soups, nose-to-tail cooking), polenta seems just right at the moment.

If you’re new to polenta, here’s a quick overview…

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Ants on a log

Ants on a log

It might still feel like summer outside, but there’s no denying that it’s already back to school season.  Cue Debbie Downer music!  Although it’s been years since I last set foot in a classroom, I still get that optimistic, hopeful feeling whenever early September rolls around.  Living in a university town helps fuel that nostalgia and excitement, and I never get tired of it.

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What I Ate Wednesday #4

Hi there and welcome to the latest edition of What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW)!  This is my fourth WIAW post and I’m still digging the process as much as when I first started. It’s still a bit of a challenge to remember to photograph everything (I always seem to forget snacks and drinks!). But when I do, I’m always sure to tell you about them so that the whole day’s worth of food is captured.

I’ll quit yapping now and get to the “meat” of the post (even though this day contained no meat! Ha ha).  I should note that when I use the term “vegetarian”, I’m referring to a lacto/ovo vegetarian diet which excludes most animal products but includes dairy products and eggs.

Here’s what I ate:

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Wedge salad with chickpeas, tomatoes, corn & feta

Wedge salad with chickpeas, tomatoes, corn and feta

When it comes to creating dishes for this blog, I come up with most of the recipe ideas months in advance and then do my best to shoot them a few weeks before they’re to be published.  These are the recipes I tell myself that I absolutely must make in a given season–a healthy burger recipe in the summer, for example, or a comforting stew in the fall.  (It being mid August already, I almost missed the boat on my summer burger recipe, but that’s neither here nor there!)

Other times a recipe will hit me out of nowhere and I know I just have to make it for the blog.  Usually this happens near the end of the week when the fridge contains a mishmash of different things that don’t instantly go together in your mind.  That’s exactly how this slightly unconventional but oh-so-right wedge salad recipe came to be.

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Asian beef burgers

Asian beef burgers

August can be a funny time of year; it has a very in-between feel to it.  It’s like the Sunday of calendar months – you know you have to work the next day, so instead of enjoying the entire day you’re already thinking about (and dreading) Monday.

News flash: it’s still summer!  Quit looking ahead to the fall months, worrying about what you’ll be doing, thinking and eating next season.  It’s tempting, but concerning oneself with what the next school year or quarter will bring is a serious buzzkill.  I’m guilty of this and constantly have to remind myself to stop anticipating the next phase because the present one hasn’t finished yet!

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11 summer salad recipes to try this month

11 summer salad recipes to try this month

Burgers, hot dogs, skewers and steak are great and everything, but to me summer food is all about the side dishes! I can’t imagine a barbecue without potato salad, a cottage weekend without corn on the cob, or an al fresco lunch without a simple yet beautiful salad made with in-season vegetables.

My new blog is officially five months old, so I figured I have enough posts by this point to feature my first recipe round-up – 11 summer salads to try this month.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, which is why I included recipes from other food blogs I can’t get enough of right now.  I hope you enjoy!
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Cucumber boats with Greek yogurt and everything bagel seasoning

Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you that I loooove me some snacks!  If I have one dietary downfall, it’s snacking.  By a long shot.

When done right, snacking is a great way to fuel up in between meals.  But the kind of snacking I’m talking about (and which I’m guilty of) usually involves processed, nutrient-poor foods eaten mindlessly for reasons other than hunger.

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Watermelon tomato salsa

Watermelon tomato salsa

Salsas just keep showing up on my blog this summer! Sorry for the repetition but I couldn’t help myself. Their fresh, refreshing texture and spicy flavour is practically addictive and oh so perfect for the season.

The ease of throwing together this simple watermelon and tomato salsa got me thinking about how much easier it is to cook at home during the summer months.  For some reason, as soon as the calendar flips to June, it feels as though there is less pressure, that there are fewer holidays to worry about and that less planning is required when it comes to making good food. This is a good thing because preparing more home-cooked meals is better for our health than dining out.

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