The Shared BBQ Sides by Cynthia Raub

It's not summer until I've had my first bites of potato salad and cold pasta salad. Just like it's not Halloween, until I've had my yearly ration of a single Candy Corn (to remind myself that it's still not yummy). And just like it's not actually Thanksgiving, until I've had a slice of pumpkin pie and apple pie. The other week, I co-hosted a barbecue baby shower, and I made a tangy potato salad as a side. Amy helped me a ton by making a bright and fresh pasta for the mama-to-be and her 80 guests. I also served a classic cole slaw and featured a dessert table with an assortment of cookies! I used to be stumped with what to contribute to barbecues and summertime get togethers, but now I think I've got the formula down for a great party: something creamy (classic cole slaw), something with an abundance of fresh herbs (Amy's Pesto Pasta Salad) and something tangy and/or acidic (Mustardy Potato Salad). With fresh seasonal fruit, grilled meats, and a leafy salad, you've got the perfect menu for a delicious and thoughtful spread!

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Mustardy Potato Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

The Shared Holiday Barbecue by Amy Cantu

It finally feels like summer, and we love nothing more than to share big platters of delicious food with our family and friends! When we thought about our tried and true favorites, Cynthia's Mediterranean Turkey Burger came to mind immediately. These are my favorite kind of burgers - the kind that are filled with little bits of treasure. Nestled in these turkey burgers are feta crumbles, morsels of sun-dried tomato, and (for good measure,) tender spinach; there's enough good stuff tucked in there for adults to find these burgers irresistible, and nutritious enough to feel good about feeding them to the kids, (plus my kids love anything in patty-form)! For dessert, I couldn't resist the appeal of a big dish filled to the brim with layers of Polenta Cake with Olive Oil and Lemon, whipped mascarpone cream, and fresh berries - I feel happy just thinking about it. This Berry Trifle easily feeds a crowd and screams of summer parties on the patio, or even better, an Independence Day dessert, with its patriotic red, white, and blue hues.

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Mediterranean Turkey Burger 

Berry Trifle 

Polenta Cake with Olive Oil and Lemon

The Shared Slow-Roasted Pork by Amy Cantu

I paid the local butcher a visit with my 20 month-old, close to nap time. Bad move. My darling cherub was screaming and throwing snacks at passers-by, while I waited anxiously in line. When it was my turn, I quickly rattled off that I wanted a "big" pork shoulder and handed the butcher my credit card with an apologetic smile. I returned home with a 12 pound whole bone-in, skin-on, pork shoulder (a.k.a. The Beast). It was larger than a newborn baby. I cradled The Beast in my arms in awe. "Holy moly! What was I thinking?!" My husband opened the fridge that night and stood stunned in the face of The Beast. "Is this ours? Where did it come from?!" We stared at The Beast together. It was a thing to behold. "That there is Father's Day."

Cynthia and I were up to the challenge. Here's what we did with The Beast, and we hope you salivate and lust after it the same we did!

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Slow-roasted Pork with Crunchy Skin and Chimichurri Sauce

Pork and Broccolini Sandwich

In the Kitchen Now - Hasselback Potato Gratin by Amy Cantu

In my search for a potato recipe to grace our Easter table, I stumbled upon the Hasselback Potato Gratin from The Food Lab cookbook by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. These potatoes are a twist on Swedish Hasselback Potatoes, which are essentially fanned baked potatoes, and Potatoes Au Gratin - layers of thinly sliced potatoes baked with cream and cheese. Hasselback Potato Gratin gives you the best of both worlds: crispy potato edges encrusted with cheese and soft, creamy potatoes waiting just underneath. Genius. Simply Genius.

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Hasselback Potato Gratin

The Shared Valentine's Day by Amy Cantu

Chocolate Strawberries Red Velvet Brownies

Last Valentine’s Day, my then 3-year-old woke up and slipped into my room to cuddle, like he does most mornings. He whispered into my ear, “Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you, Mommy. But, I love you ALL the days.” And I melted into a wet puddle. I gave him an extra snuggle, and stored the memory away for the inevitable moments when I’d need to remind myself that he is more than a crazed, tantrum-monster. He’s absolutely right though; love is something we should acknowledge every single day with hugs, our time, words of kindness, and my favorite - with food.

This Valentine’s Day, Cynthia and I wanted to surprise the kids, the best way we know how - with food. Let’s have an (early Valentine's Day) party! I made to-die-for Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies and easy Chocolate-Covered Strawberries. Cynthia found cute paper straws that we cut up into “beads”, and the kids laced them together with pipe cleaners to make bracelets and necklaces. She also had adorable mini milk bottles with striped red and white straws that the kids drank from with giddy glee. Honestly, the enormous smiles on their little faces was the best Valentine’s Day gift I could have imagined. Nothing’s sweeter than that!

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Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

The Shared Pie by Cynthia Raub

Cooking is an arduous endeavor: planning, shopping, organizing, preparing, cooking, eating, and finally, cleaning up the mess left in the wake. This is especially true and frustrating when you are cooking for finicky young children. Despite the difficulties, cooking and enjoying home-cooked meals with your family can be incredibly fulfilling. By using your hands, tools and senses, you nourish your family with wholesome meals, creating important food memories and habits. It can get discouraging, and it can be difficult to find the time and energy to create a meal. With all the corporate services available to us today to help ease meal planning and cooking, we sometimes forget that we also have each other as a resource.

At The Shared Plate, we want to be generous and brave enough to share a meal with a friend - to ease their burden of cooking a meal, to develop new skills or hone the ones we already have in the kitchen, to show them that you care with a thoughtful gesture. Amy and I have created The Shared Plate to help ourselves, help each other, and help others. We want to explore all of the ways food can be shared in our communities, between family and friends. We aim to provide approachable, wholesome, family friendly recipes. And we hope to encourage people to cook for one another with an open and vulnerable heart - and in turn, receive similar acts of love graciously.

The idea for the blog came as Thanksgiving approached, and I was simultaneously dreaming and dreading all of the shopping, preparing and cooking that a Thanksgiving feast entails. I asked Amy if she would be interested in swapping pies for the holiday, so we’d be able to serve two pies while only doing the work of baking one type of pie each. (Without a second thought, she replied, “YES!”) We set a mom-date to bake together, and it was one of the most enjoyable and relaxing days I’ve had. Which, might have been because three of our four kids were not there while we cooked, but that’s besides the point! Cooking together allowed us to enjoy the moment and spend quality time with each other, while creating something special for our families to share.

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Apple Pie

Extra Smooth Pumpkin Pie