Girls’ Weekend 2017 and an Argo Grey Cup Win to Boot..!

November 27, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Christmas, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | 2 Comments
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Another year, another Grey Cup game (Toronto Argonauts won btw), and another girls’ weekend 🙂

In years’ past, the girls were obviously much younger and it was easier to get them to watch a Christmas movie with me while we camped out on the floor for an indoor picnic.  I can tell Lexy’s older and in High School now, because getting her to spend more than 20 minutes out of her room can be a struggle.

That is, unless you make cookies….

This year, we (by ‘we’, I mean ‘me/I’) decided to make Sugar Cookies.  I tried a recipe for Sugar Cookies years ago, but it didn’t turn out very well and was discouraged from ever making them again.  I did a lot of research this year and the batch we made were really good.  Lexy said the recipe is a keeper, so here we are.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup room temperature unsalted Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg

Method:

Cream together Butter and Sugars until well blended (about 1-2 minutes) and smooth.  Add Vanilla and the Egg and beat for another minute.  Add the Flour 1 Cup at a time, mixing after each addition.  Once all the ingredients are in the mixer, beat for 3-5 minutes.  The dough will be a bit sticky.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Pour dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and cover, then knead the dough until it comes together.  Shape into a rectangle or square.  Completely cover with the plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use, or at least 1/2 hour.

We made two batches of the dough.  When the second batch had been made and wrapped, the first one was pretty much ready to roll.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4” thickness.  You will need to dust your rolling pin as well as the surface – just don’t add too much flour.  You can also roll the dough between pieces of parchment paper if you find it too sticky.

Using your favourite cutters, cut out cookies and place the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Usually I use two baking sheets, and keep one of them in the fridge while I’m waiting for the other batch to bake.  Starting with a cold sheet pan helps prevent the dough from spreading – it’s a good tip for shortbread cookies. Reroll the scraps and cut cookies until you have the dough used up.

Bake each tray for 15 minutes, turning after the first 8 minutes.  Take them out just as they begin to brown.  Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Makes 19-25 cookies, depending on the size of your cutter.  Use rolling bands (like elastic bands for your rolling pin) or wood strips to ensure you have dough rolled evenly.

Royal Icing (a.k.a. The Royal Bitch):

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Water (plus several Teaspoonsful for thinning)
  • 1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Gel Food Colouring, assorted colours

Method:

Beat Meringue Powder and Water, using the paddle attachment, until it foams (about 1 minute). Add Vanilla and 1 cup of sugar at a time until it is all incorporated, beating well (slowly at first or you’ll wear the powdered sugar – don’t ask me how I know this) after each addition.  Beat the heck out of it for about 2 minutes until the mixture becomes light and airy.  You now have icing which you can use to ‘glue’ a Gingerbread House together.  Add the additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well after each addition until you get to Flooding consistency.  To tell if it’s right, run a toothpick or fork across the surface of the icing and it should ‘repair’ and disappear within 15 seconds.

Divide the mixture by the number of colours you want to use and place each part of the icing into a plastic sandwich bag or piping bag.  Add different food colouring to each batch until you get the colour you want to use.  Snip a very small hole into one corner of each bag (ensure the bags are sealed first … again, don’t ask me how I know this…).  Outline the cookies, close to the edge, then pipe a bunch of icing inside the line (think of colouring in a colouring book when you were a kid).  Use a toothpick to spread the icing around the inside of the lines. Add sprinkles or other embellishments if you wish.  Let the cookies dry on a rack for several hours until the icing hardens, then pack them away so you don’t eat them all at once.

Somehow Lexy’s class benefitted from all of our hard work and we were left with only 8 cookies. :-s  Apparently the class gobbled them up.  Looks like we’ll be making more …

 

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Are You My Mother…?

November 21, 2017 at 1:30 am | Posted in Birthdays, Christmas, Depression, Family Ties, Toeses and Noses | 3 Comments
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Yesterday I was told that she was so glad I was her Mom.

She told me how proud she was of me and my Father.

It wasn’t one of my Daughters who spoke those words, it was my Mom.

Any time lately when I call her, our conversations are nearly identical.  We’re caught in a hellish infinite time loop.

“Hello..?”, my Mom always answers the phone the same way, with trepidation and nervousness.

“Hi Mom, how are you?” My opening is always the same.

“Who is this?” She now sounds concerned.

“It’s me Mom, Kelly…”

“From where..?”

“Mom, I’m your Daughter…” I sigh, holding back tears because I don’t want her to hear me crying.

Sometimes hearing me say that phrase turns a switch on and she realizes who’s speaking.  Sometimes not.  It depends on the day, it depends on the last time I talked to her.

It’s so hard watching my Mom slip away from us, further each day.  My Mom’s Dementia is much worse than it was and she has been on a steady decline since the Summer, only a couple of months ago.

It seems lately that I’ve been getting a weekly phone call about her from the Nurses at her Long Term Care Facility.  Last week they found her sitting on the floor of her room, trying to rearrange the cables which lead to her bed.  She was confused and they weren’t sure if she fell, or just sat down. She’s been wheelchair-bound for the past two years since she fractured her Pelvis when a Resident pushed her while trying to gain access to my Mother’s room.

Two weeks ago, they called me to tell me they found her on the floor in her bathroom.  That time it was obvious that she fell and they were monitoring her for head injuries.

She thinks my Brother is my Husband, but she knows who my Husband is by sight – in person.  She doesn’t recognize people in photographs.  She doesn’t recognize herself when we show her a picture that we just took of all of us together.  “Who’s that?” she’ll point to herself, confused.

Sometimes she’s there.  I know she’s still in there somewhere, but the distance we have to travel to reach her gets farther every day.  She speaks to us in a combination of German and English, even though she hasn’t spoken more than a few words of German in thirty years.  That part of her Brain still functions sometimes. She doesn’t talk about Dad anymore.  He’s gone from her memory for the most part. I guess it’s a good thing that she doesn’t remember how much he suffered, the months before he passed.

We always fought from the time I was a teenager craving independence.  We were too much alike and butted heads often.  As the years went by and I had two wonderful girls, our weekly phone calls often ended up in yelling matches.  I would remind her of something coming up and she’d tell me that I never told her when I knew I did.  She would get insistent and stubborn and dig in her heels because I was wrong, I never mentioned that we were having Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or a Birthday, or my Sister invited them over when I had already asked them weeks before that.  It was frustrating.

When we would go visit, she would call afterwards and tell me that the girls must have broken the TV because she couldn’t get the clicker to work (she was pressing the wrong button).  “No one broke your TV…”, “Yes, they did…”, and so on.  When she moved into the Retirement home, the first few months we would have arguments about people coming into her room and moving things around when she wasn’t there, or taking her things.

She used to hoard items like there was a famine coming.  We cleaned out so many stale-dated products from her cupboards when they moved to an apartment, bagsful of flour and sugar.  She had a chest-freezer full of meat that had been there far too long.  Toilet paper and Paper Towels were another thing she stocked up on.  And still we’d fight.  It would infuriate me that I couldn’t get through to her about whatever it was that we were currently fighting about.

I had no idea at the time that it was a symptom of her disease.  Gradually I learned to have more patience with her.  Now she kicks her feet back and forth like a little kid when she’s happy.  She’s cute and silly and everything that you would expect from a three year old, except that she’s 92.

She hardly has any short term memory to speak of, that is if she can speak at all.  She babbles.  Sentences not quite forming from her lips, yet she knows what she wants to say – it’s just stuck in her head.  But she’s so happy to see us when we go to visit.  Lexy usually insists on going with us because she’s always been close to her Nanny.  Caity gets bored on the car and usually stays home.  Mom can’t remember their names, but refers to them as the Big One and the Little One.

It feels like I’m looking at my future and that is completely scary.  It’s depressing.  It’s maddening and there’s no hope for her except to keep visiting and calling and letting her know she’s not alone and she is loved.

I can’t sleep.  I toss and turn most nights that I’m not sedated.  Sometimes that doesn’t even help.  I no longer look forward to large gatherings full of food and family or parties or even getting dressed.  I know, it’s not about me, but that doesn’t make it any easier.  Some times you just need to wallow.

 

Let the Girl’s Weekend Begin…

November 26, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Christmas, Daddy-O, Family Ties, Food, Movies, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Alex is disappearing for most of the weekend since it’s Grey Cup time again.  The girls and I have the weekend planned.  We’re going to make Chocolate  Crunchy Shortbread Cookies, have an indoor picnic complete with Pizza and “Home Alone” tonight, and tomorrow we’re going to the movies with Grandma to see “Moana“.  Should be a great weekend, me and my big-little ones 🙂

Last year I found a copy of my Mom’s Shortbread recipe around the house somewhere.  I was so happy that I finally found a copy of the most incredible Christmas Shortbread that I had been searching for, forever.  My Mom can no longer bake or cook, or for that matter, even hold a coherent conversation any longer.  She can’t tell me her recipes because she doesn’t remember them.  Somehow, after I found the recipe I misplaced it, and it made me very sad – sad to the point of tears, over a stupid recipe.

So I searched the internet and stumbled upon the ‘Robin Hood Flour’ version of “Melt in Your Mouth” Shortbread Cookie. The ingredients, from what I could remember, were similar.  Damn they were good.  I cut up pieces of Dairy Milk with Crunchy (available at Walmart in the British Food aisle) and put them in the mix.  The cookies lasted until Tuesday. Except for the chocolate, they were my Mom’s recipe.  Mom used to shape the cookies into crescent moon shapes and after they were baked, she dipped half in melted chocolate.  Mom also sometimes added finely ground almonds to the dough.

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Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) Unsalted Butter

1 scant cup Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup Cornstarch

4 oz chopped Chocolate (if using) or more

“Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take your butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking so it will be nice and soft. This will make it easier for the sugar to mix in with the butter or shortening.

Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until very light in texture, about 5 minutes.

Creaming butter with sugar adds air to the batter, increasing volume to help better mix the flour into the butter mixture.

Add sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine flour and cornstarch in a separate large bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined.

Flour straight from the bag may be compacted. To loosen it, scoop it out of the bag with another container or spoon before pouring it into your measuring cup. This will help you get a more accurate measurement. Level it off with a knife to make sure you have just the right amount.”

Chop the Chocolate Bar into smallish pieces and mix them into the dough.

cookie and chocolatebatter 2

“Place ball of dough by heaping  tbsp (15 mL) on prepared baking sheets 2” (5 cm) apart.  Press down with a fork.

making cookiesmaking cookies 2

Place your cookies about 2” (5cm) apart to allow for spreading

Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.”

baking

cookies

Keep the dough in the fridge between baking and use a second cookie sheet – let the first one cool off completely before you use it again (put it in the fridge), this will help prevent spreading.  Take the cookies out a minute or two before the time they’re done to avoid brown edges.

You can either scoop out balls of dough, round them, flatten them with a fork or roll the entire batch into two logs and slice when chilled (this method is easier for decorating).  You can pre-cut chilled logs, wrap well and freeze for 2-3 months – you can have cookies whenever you want 🙂

I rolled two logs, put them in the fridge and let them chill for an hour then cut them when ready and prepared the next tray while the first was in the oven.  The prepared tray was put into the fridge until ready to bake.  This greatly reduced the spread.

Makes about 45 cookies.

Should be a good weekend 🙂

2015, My Annus Horribilis…

December 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Birthdays, Christmas, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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To paraphrase Queen Elizabeth II, 2015 is not a year on which I shall look back fondly. In other words, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’, a horrible year.  I am very much looking forward to its conclusion.

There is an old superstition that you must take down your Christmas Tree before the last bell tolls on New Year’s Eve. Otherwise you will be dragging all your baggage and bad luck from this year into the new year.  I’m not taking any chances, my tree and all the trimmings are already down.

This has been the worst year of my life.  I’m not exaggerating.  It really sucked and seemed to be never-ending.  If it wasn’t for the love and support of my family, I’m not sure what I would do, I probably would have lost my mind by now.

In January, I lost a very dear friend of mine to Cancer.  Randy was also a work colleague and his presence in the office is sorrily missed.

Photo by Aurélien Muller (http://www.maclupus.net)

Randy Moreau – Photo by Aurélien Muller (http://www.maclupus.net)

It took longer than I expected to get over Randy’s passing, especially when there were so many reminders everywhere.  There were mementos on my desk and on my wall; passing his many offices within our work walls; having to look up something in old files that we worked on years ago – all brought back strong memories of him.  French Macaroons and expensive Italian Cologne still make me smile.

On the heels of Randy’s passing, I had to deal with my Parents’ transition from their last home to an Old Age Home.  My Father was very sick with Cancer and my Sister kept the details from my Brother and I, and it seemed that he had more time than he did.  The last few months of his life, he had no discernible quality of life.  He was unable to self-ambulate, he couldn’t get out of bed without assistance and was getting to the point where feeding himself was difficult.  His pain increased nearly daily and we watched as the cancer raced through him, eating him from the inside out.  He was so skinny at the end, mostly blind and mostly deaf.  When he was in Palliative care, unable to eat or drink, he still knew when we were there – I’d call his name and he’d reach out his hand to hold mine, and try to talk.  I know he had things to tell me.  I knew he was dying.  I told him several times not to worry, we would look after Mom.  That was our job now.  He could rest in peace.  He passed away in early September, on an incredibly warm day – and on my Birthday.

I have not been able to get over his passing, as much as I try.  He was too important to me.  He was my everything, he was my Daddy.  I miss him, terribly.   I had an emotional breakdown during our family Christmas Dinner and couldn’t stop crying and had to leave.  I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s good time – I felt like a fool.  The emotions were still so raw. My Mother-in-Law told me something that a friend sent her after her Mother passed. She said: your Mother teaches you everything, except how to live without her.  Truer words were never spoken.

Dad 1923-2015

Dad 1923-2015

My Mom has Dementia which is continuously worsening.  We can no longer have a conversation with her other than a few sentences which are repeated over and over again.  She’s alone in her Old Age Home and it’s far from where we live.  It’s like I’ve lost her too…

The next wave came in November, my female cat, Charlie was looking very skinny.  She was still eating and drinking, but it was harder for her to jump up on the furniture and she wasn’t as social.  She would still bark at us any time we would pass by close to her, and loved to be petted.  She had the loudest purr I’d ever heard.  She started walking less and taking more frequent breaks.  She would let me cuddle her for quite a while (she was not a cuddler, but she was too weak to jump down).  I made an appointment at the vet, fearing the worst.  That day when I came home, she was lying down by her water dish, unable to get up any longer.  It was her time.  I miss my little girl, my Bobcat with the tufts on her ears.

Charlie (2000-2015)

Charlie (2000-2015)

Charlie’s brother, Maverick didn’t mourn her loss as we expected.  He searched for her for quite a while and on occasion we could hear him calling her, probably wondering why she wasn’t answering.  He had become more cuddly with the rest of us – he was always my cat – he sleeps with me every night and more often than not, requires play time or food around 2 a.m.  He hasn’t learned that I’m not supposed to be awake then.

Last weekend Mavvy started acting funny.  His head was down and he couldn’t hold it up on his own.  His pupils were wide and he and trouble walking.  His head even tilted on a 90º angle for a bit.  When he’d walk, it was like he was on crutches, his front legs stiff and straight out, his head tucked into his chest.  He couldn’t go up or down stairs, he’d bump into walls.

We took him to the vet, who suspected a Stroke.  He’s currently on a decreasing course of low-dose steroids and he’s almost back to his old self.  He’s not ready to go yet.  I’m not ready for him to leave.

So after all that, to say that I’m more than ready to see the tail end of 2015 tonight and ring in 2016 is an understatement.  I’ve always believed, silly or not that bad luck happens in odd years and good in even.  I’m so ready for my luck to change … Happy New Year everyone, may it be a good one…

Not Your Mom’s Cheesecake …

December 11, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Posted in Christmas, Food, Product Testing, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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…Unless your Mom is Julia Child.

‘Tis the season once again and tomorrow night Hubby and I are going out sans kids to our friends for a get together.  We were asked to bring a dish and this is my contribution.  If it makes it to their house that is … in one piece.

Have I mentioned that I’m in love with the President’s Choice Black Label line of products?  The foodie in me quivers in the food aisle at Loblaws any time I get near one of their new products.  My mind races as I think of ways to use them.  Here’s one.

**Just so there’s no confusion, this is more of an appetizer, a spread for crackers or Crostini than a cheesecake you eat like a dessert by the slice.  It’s a cake. Made from cheese.  Hence the name, cheesecake…. But savoury, not sweet … 😉

Savoury Roasted Garlic Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 2 Heads Garlic, roasted
  • 1 Medium Onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 Tsp Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Oregano
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 2, 1/4 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 2 Packages Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 2, 300 Gram packages of plain Goat Cheese, room temperature
  • 1.5 Cups toasted, unsalted Pistachios (get them in the bulk section already shelled), ground
  • 2 Tbsp melted Unsalted Butter
  • A 9″ or 10″ Fluted non-stick Tart Pan with removable bottom
  • Crostini and or Crackers
  • PC® Black Label Cherry Shiraz or Fig Cabernet Wine Jelly
  • PC® Black Label Bacon Marmalade Spread
  • PC® Black Label Pistachio Oil
  • Good quality Olive Oil

For the Crust:

Toast Pistachios in the oven for a few minutes until they crisp and are warmed through.  Cool thoroughly then place them in a food processor along with 1/4 salt and blitz several times until the Pistachios resemble coarse crumbs.  Pour into a bowl and slowly add melted Butter until the crumbs are moist and will hold a shape if pressed.  Mix well then pour into your Tart Pan and press into the bottom to form a Crust.  Chill in the fridge until the filling is ready.

crustIf you don’t have Roasted Garlic lying around, cut the tops off of two whole heads of garlic, but don’t discard them.  Place all the pieces in a piece of Aluminum Foil and top with a drizzle of Olive Oil.  Wrap the package tightly and put it in your barbecue over medium, indirect heat for an hour or until soft.  Using your barbecue serves two purposes:  one, you don’t stink your house up for days with the smell of roasting garlic; two, you get to annoy your neighbours for a while as it cooks outside.  Once the garlic is soft and brown, squish the cloves into a bowl, careful not to include the skin of the garlic cloves and mash with a fork to make a paste.  Set aside.

Sauté the sliced onions in Butter over medium heat until they get soft and begin to brown.  Set aside to cool.  Place in Food Processor and pulse a few times to break down the onions.  Set aside.

In a mixer place your softened cheeses and half of the Roasted Garlic and all of the onions.  Add the Oregano, Thyme, one of the 1/4 Tsps of salt and a few rounds of cracked pepper.  Mix on medium speed until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.  Taste and add more Garlic if you wish.  The mixture should be light and fluffy with no lumps from the cheeses.

cheese and onionsTake the Tart Pan out of the Fridge and pour the mixture over the crust.  Spread evenly using an offset spatula if you have one – if not, it’s not that important – and cover with plastic wrap.  Put in the fridge for several hours, or overnight (preferred) to allow the cheesecake to set up and all the flavours meld.

For the Crostini, slice a Baguette, thinly and place onto a cookie pan.  Mix a few tablespoons of Olive Oil with a tablespoon of PC Black Label Pistachio Oil and brush over each Crostini top.  Bake in a 350ºF oven until just brown and the crusts are crispy, set aside.  Repeat until all of your Baguette has been used.  Place on a platter along with crackers if desired.

When ready to eat, unmould the cheesecake and cut into 1″ wedges.  Place a slice of cake, a few Crostini and/or Crackers on a plate.  Add a spoonful of PC Black Label Fig Cabernet Jelly and a spoonful of PC Black Label Bacon Marmalade to the side of the plate.  To assemble, spread a bit of the cheesecake, ensuring you don’t forget the Pistachio crust on a Crostini, top with a small amount of Bacon Jam and a small amount of Fig Cabernet Jelly.  Try not to inhale it in one mouthful.  Try to resist eating the whole cake in one setting, you’ll want to.  It’s amazing.  Bon Appétit

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Finished 2fig cabernetPistachio Oilbacon jam

What to Do When Dad Goes Out With the Boys? Girls Night In, Making Cookies!

November 28, 2015 at 8:08 pm | Posted in Christmas, Daddy-O, Family Ties, Food, Movies, My Kid is a Donut, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Toblerone Shortbread Cookies to be exact…

Alex is off for his usual boys weekend involving much drinking, debauchery and Football, so I decided to make cookies with the girls and watch a Christmas movie (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) while drinking Hot Chocolate.  I dunno, but that sounds like a pretty good night to me …

Back to the cookies … I had a copy of my Mom’s Shortbread recipe around the house somewhere.  I found it after we moved my Mom from her Apartment to her Long-Term Facility this Summer.  I was so happy that I finally found a copy of the most incredible Christmas Shortbread that I had been searching for, forever.  Somehow, between then and now, I’ve misplaced the recipe and it made me very sad – sad to the point of tears, over a stupid recipe.

Last weekend I decided to try the Robin Hood Flour “Melt in Your Mouth” version because the ingredients, from what I could remember, were similar.  Damn they were good.  I cut up pieces of Dairy Milk with Crunchy (available at Walmart in the British Food aisle) and put them in the mix.  The cookies lasted until Tuesday. Except for the chocolate, they were my Mom’s recipe.  Mom used to shape the cookies into crecent moon shapes and  after they were baked, she dipped half in melted chocolate.  Mom also sometimes added finely ground almonds to the dough.

img_2090

Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) Unsalted Butter

1 scant cup Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup Cornstarch

4 oz chopped Chocolate (if using) or more

“Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take your butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking so it will be nice and soft. This will make it easier for the sugar to mix in with the butter or shortening.

Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until very light in texture, about 5 minutes.

Creaming butter with sugar adds air to the batter, increasing volume to help better mix the flour into the butter mixture.

Add sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine flour and cornstarch in a separate large bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined.

Flour straight from the bag may be compacted. To loosen it, scoop it out of the bag with another container or spoon before pouring it into your measuring cup. This will help you get a more accurate measurement. Level it off with a knife to make sure you have just the right amount.”

Chop one and a half of the regular sized Toblerone Bars into smallish pieces and mix them into the dough.

cookie and chocolatebatter 2

“Place ball of dough by heaping  tbsp (15 mL) on prepared baking sheets 2” (5 cm) apart.  Press down with a fork.

making cookiesmaking cookies 2

Place your cookies about 2” (5cm) apart to allow for spreading

Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.”

baking

cookies

Should be a good night 🙂

We might save some for Daddy when he gets home … maybe …

Last year we made a batch for the girls to take to their School’s Christmas party.   They didn’t contain either of the chocolate types because of potential allergies. After baking, the girls frosted them.  They were a big hit.

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Yet More Leftovers…

October 13, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Posted in Christmas, Food, Recipes | 1 Comment
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photo from www.pillsbury.com but mine looked like this!

Photo from http://www.pillsbury.com but mine looked like this!

Yes I know I recently posted another version of the pie but I needed to write this down before I forgot it, especially as it turned out really yummy.  Even the kids liked it, which says something.  I accomplished the impossible – make something that everyone wants to eat, and likes.

Yet another Thanksgiving has come and gone and another Turkey was cooked and leftovers made into a classic pie.  What you end up with is a version of this beauteous classic:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of leftover Turkey meat, your choice of white or dark or both
  • 1 cup frozen Peaches and Cream Corn
  • 2-4 cloves Garlic, minced (I used 4 large cloves because I love Garlic, but use to your preference)
  • 2 large Onions, diced
  • 1 stalk Celery, sliced
  • 3 small Potatoes, small diced
  • 2 medium Carrots, small diced
  • 2 medium Parsnips, small diced
  • 1 pint Cremini Mushrooms, quartered (or smaller if the mushrooms are large), or
  • 1 pint Shitake Mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups leftover Stock from the Turkey (or equivalent store bought Chicken Stock or Chicken base/bouillon)
  • 1 cup Milk (or half and half cream)
  • 1 cup leftover Turkey Gravy
  • 1 cup Cream of Mushroom Soup – about 1/2 can (optional) (I didn’t use it this time)
  • 1 tsp Poultry Seasoning, divided
  • 1 tsp Paprika, divided
  • 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Oregano, divided
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper, divided
  • 1 tsp coarse Kosher Salt, divided
  • 1 Stick (1/2 cup) Unsweetened Butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 2 packages frozen Deep Dish Pie Crusts (total of 4 pieces)

Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the onions.  Sauté for 5 minutes and add the garlic.  Sauté for a couple of minutes until the Garlic and Onions are fragrant.  Add the Potatoes and sauté for another 5 minutes.  Add the Celery, Carrots and Parsnips and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the Mushrooms and half each of Salt and Pepper, Poultry Seasoning, Oregano, Thyme and smoked and regular Paprika.  Stir and sauté until the Root Vegetables are almost completely cooked.  Add the diced Turkey meat and frozen Corn.  Reduce heat stirring occasionally.

Now with Chicken!

The Filling After the Meat Was Added

 

In a medium saucepot, melt the remaining butter and once melted and hot, add the flour, stirring to combine.  Add the remaining Spices and stir over medium heat for several minutes to cook the Flour through, browning the Roux slightly.  Slowly whisk in the Stock, careful not to pour in too much at once – let the sauce catch up before you add more.  Once the Stock has been added, stir until smooth and slowly add the Milk or half and half Cream.  Heat until bubbling, stirring occasionally.  When the sauce has thickened, add the Gravy and Cream of Mushroom Soup if using.  Heat through and pour mixture over the vegetable/turkey mix.  Combine and let cool slightly.

Chicken Sauce

Finished Sauce – Delicious!

 

Remove pie shells from the freezer and their boxes to thaw.

Pie Filling

The Completed Pie Filling – Sans Crust

 

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Divide the mixture between two pie shells.  Moisten the rim of the pie shell containing the filling with water and put on the top crust.  Crimp the edge using a fork and cut 3 one-inch slits on the top to allow the steam to escape.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pan half way if you don’t have a convection oven.  Allow pie to sit for 15 minutes before slicing.

Pie can be frozen prior to baking.  Partially freeze pie before wrapping to not damage the crust, after an hour double wrap in plastic wrap and foil.  Can be frozen up to two months.

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Update:  we had the second one tonight.  Baked from frozen 1.5 hours at 375°F.  It was better than Sunday’s version, the flavours all melded and it was fantastic. Not an understatement! 🙂  this is how the finished product looked before we devoured it…

Omg so good!

The Finished Product – OMG SO Good!

Leftovers? Yum!

September 10, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Posted in Christmas, Food, Recipes | 2 Comments
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Lately I’ve been into making pot pies.  It just started after Christmas or Thanksgiving last year when I had left over Turkey that I needed something to do with.  For years I’ve made Pot Pies, but that version usually was nothing more than a gravy mixture topped with biscuits.  Here are some variations I’ve made over the years…

First:  You need some Turkey!

Roast Turkey 101…

  • 10-15 lb Fresh Turkey, giblets and neck removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Package Pork Sausage (Maple Leaf makes a great Pure Pork Sausage just for this purpose)
  • 2 Slices dark Rye (Dimpflmeier makes wonderful Rye) bread (regular sandwich bread is also fine for this)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Large Onion Diced
  • 1 Large Onion Quartered
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Water
  • OXO Beef Bouillon (yes, Beef)
  • ½ cup Cornstarch or Flour
  • Bisto Gravy Mix

sunflowerRye

My Mom was the best home cook I ever knew.  She hasn’t really cooked in years because she’s getting on in years and has significant nerve damage in her hands and legs caused by Diabetes.  Happily though, I picked up a few things from her over the years.  Sadly, she’s also suffering from a form of Dementia and doesn’t remember a lot of things anymore, especially her fabulous recipes.  My Brother, however, knows a lot of them and reminded me how to make the stuffing.

The secret to a good bird is to salt it, heavily, the night before you intend to cook it.  The salt permeates the meat and imparts a delicate flavour that you can’t get without this step.

The night before I’m ready to cook, I prepare the fresh Turkey (I prefer the taste and texture of fresh Turkeys vs. frozen).  After washing the bird, inside and out, I pat it dry and place it on a cutting board.  At the base of the bird and the area next to the neck (do Turkey’s have shoulders?), loosen the skin with your fingers, removing it from the flesh but being careful not to puncture the skin with your fingers.  You can use a spoon to do this if you don’t find the idea too appealing.

Liberally salt the entire bird, ensuring you get some salt on the flesh, under the skin you just loosened.  Put the bird in a covered roaster and place in the fridge until the next day.

Half an hour before you need to put the bird in the oven (I cook mine 1/2 hour a pound at 325°F), take it out of the pan and place it on the cutting board, first draining any excess water/blood.  Wash the pan the bird was in to get rid of the water/blood/salt mixture.  Dust the bird all over, including inside the cavities, liberally with Poultry Seasoning.  You won’t need any salt as the bird is already salted.  Pepper can burn and affect the taste.  Next start on the stuffing.

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Sauté the diced onion until barely translucent.  Add the minced Garlic and sauté for a few more minutes.  Remove from heat.  In a large mixing bowl, place the Pork Sausage, and the sautéed Onions and Garlic.  Add 1/2 Tsp. Poultry Seasoning, 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper, and 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder.  Tear up the bread into smallish pieces and add them to the mixing bowl.  Mix the mixture thoroughly but not too much that it all breaks down.  Stuff this mixture into the cavity of the bird (make sure there are no giblets in there first!).

Fold the wing tips backwards under the bird so they look like this:

Turkey wing

Tuck the legs back into the skin fold by the bottom of the bird.  Place the bird breast side up, in the roasting pan along with the quartered onion and fill the pan 1/3 the way up the bird with water.  Dot the bird with pats of butter or margarine on the breast and the crevices of each joint.  Cover.  If the lid will fit, fine, if not, cover loosely with greased or non-stick Aluminium foil.  Cook the Turkey for ½ hour a pound, basting every 30-45 minutes, until you reach an internal temperature of 165°F. I know my Turkey is completely cooked when the drumstick jiggles effortlessly (although I still recommend purchasing a thermometer).

Place the bird on a cutting board, remove the stuffing, and wrap the bird loosely with Aluminium Foil allowing it to rest while you finish the gravy.  Pour the drippings into a saucepan and bring to a hard simmer.  Add the OXO bouillon (4-6 envelopes) and mix well.  In a mug, add the cornstarch or flour and 2 heaping tablespoons of Bisto gravy maker.  Carefully mix.  Add enough cold water to the mix to create a slurry.  Once the drippings have started to boil, add the slurry in a slow stream, whisking the entire time.  The gravy should thicken after a few minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Carve the Turkey and serve with your favourite sides.

Turkey Pot Pie – With Biscuits

  • Diced leftover Turkey meat, your choice of White or Dark or Both
  • 2 cups Frozen Corn
  • 1 cup Frozen Mixed Vegetables (optional)
  • 1 Large Onion, Diced
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Reserved Turkey Gravy
  • Fresh ground Black Pepper
  • Milk
  • Bisquick Biscuit mix

Sauté the onion until translucent and add the minced Garlic, sautéing for a few more minutes.  Add the soup and about a cup of gravy and ½ cup of milk.  The mixture will loosen as it heats but you can add more milk if you find it is still too thick.  Once the mixture has heated through, season with Pepper (and salt if you wish, but we find it salty enough).  Taste and add more gravy if you want it to have more of the Thanksgiving flavour.  Add all of the vegetables and heat for 2 minutes.  Add the Turkey.

Pour this mixture into the bottom of a casserole dish.  Mix the Bisquick Biscuits according to the directions on the back of the box (I mix a double batch).  Roll and cut the biscuits and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake as directed on the box but only for 5 minutes.  Take the biscuits out of the oven and place them on top of the Turkey mixture, fitting them as best you can to get the most number of biscuits on the top.  Bake in a 350°F oven for ½ hour.  So good.

Turkey Pot Pie – With Pie Crust

  • Turkey mix as above
  • Tenderflake pie crust

Follow the instructions for the Turkey mixture as above, but instead this time place it in a pre-made (or homemade if you prefer) pie crust. Cover with a second crust and cut steam vents into the top. Bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes. Delicious.

Maybe Next Year, Santa Can Help…

January 4, 2014 at 1:29 am | Posted in Caityisms, Christmas, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut | Leave a comment
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As I’ve often written before, my kids are my life. There isn’t anything that I wouldn’t do for them, but this time I don’t think there is anything that I can do.

It’s often been said that my kids are mini versions of me. Lexy looks just like me but with brown hair and Caity has most of my features but is a combination of both her parents. I realized lately just how much like me Caity really is.

Just before Christmas, we were watching the Santa Buddies movie while the girls ate their dinner. There is one scene where the ‘bad’ guy, Stan Crug (rhymes with Scrooge) – played by Christopher Lloyd, is asked by a sick boy’s father if he would donate a puppy to his son for Christmas. Crug denies the request and says that if he wants the dog, the Dad will have to pay for it. The Dad explains that they have no money for the animal and leaves, dejected.

Just as the scene ended, I could hear Caity crying in the kitchen. I asked her what was wrong and she said that the man on the screen was very mean and it made her very sad. She cried for about 10 minutes until the movie got happy again.

I cry during Grey’s Anatomy. I cry at Bell commercials. I cry reading sappy birthday cards at the drug store. The stage version of Les Miserables brings me to tears. I’ve always been this way. Work had been very stressful this past Fall and I would frequently end up in tears because of the tough decisions which were being made that I had no control over. A friend of mine said that I was born with a birth defect, my tear ducts are too close to my heart …

Caity appears to have the same condition.

Tonight the four of us were watching TV and during one of the countless marathons a commercial for one of those ‘save the children’ programs came on, with John Lennon singing “Happy Christmas/War is Over” in the background. There were many sad faces of destitute, orphaned children on the screen. Caity started crying again. Actually she started sobbing. Hard.

I asked her what was the matter and she said she was sad about the orphans. I tried to reassure her but nothing was working. I pulled her onto my lap for a cuddle, which is the one sure way of finding comfort for her and usually calms her down quickly. She sobbed on my shoulder.

She lifted her head and looked at me and said, “Mummy, I know what I’m going to ask Santa for next year…”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“I’m going to ask Santa to give all those Orphans new Parents so that they won’t be lonely at Christmas”.

I told her that was a lovely thing to do. Caity surprises me sometimes. She’s only six, but she already has so much empathy. I’ve always known her to be a sweet child who doesn’t like to see someone upset or hurt. She will always try to help them, especially at school. Yes, she can be a little devil and the world’s biggest pest sometimes, but she has the most endearing qualities too. It is very sweet knowing that she has complete and total faith in Santa, that he can do anything. I just don’t know how he will pull this one off.

I’m sure it’s because she’s been sick with Bronchitis this week and her defences are down, but she nearly made me cry tonight. Alex rolled his eyes at us and Lexy said that we should try to adopt a kid next year.

Earlier this year, Caity told me that she wanted to empty her piggy bank and give the money to someone who really needs it. Maybe this is an opportunity to teach the girls about charitable giving. We’ll have to look for a good cause or two to support. It sounds like something we can do as a family.

My Girls

Happy 2014!

January 1, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Posted in Christmas, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Toeses and Noses | 2 Comments
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I’m sitting here at the computer, with a warm glass of Sauvignon Blanc (simply because it didn’t make it back into the fridge after Midnight), waiting for my pies to finish baking.  More on that in a minute.  The girls are playing Disney Infinity and despite having every character currently available (Santa went a little nuts), they seem transfixed on The Incredibles characters.  Lexy must always play “Violet” and Caity ends up with “Mrs. Incredible/Elastigirl“.  My hand is swollen – a result of my Boxing Day fiasco (more on that later too), and it’s difficult to type.  I need to ice it and elevate it.  Or have another drink…

Last week after Christmas Dinner (a fabulous Turkey if I do say so myself…), I made the usual Turkey Pot Pie.  This time, however, I used actual pie crust instead of Bisquick biscuits.  OMG it turned out fabulous.  Even better the second meal when I had leftover Pot Roast gravy poured over top – yum yum!  I said to Alex that I could probably turn my standard Goulash or Beef Stew into a Pie, since we both enjoy the frozen beef pies, or pub pies – so why not make them?  I made the stew earlier today and let it cool slightly before putting the mixture into the pie shells.  I’m thinking this will make a couple of yummy dinners this week 🙂

The fun part of the Turkey Pot Pie adventure last week is that I severely strained the muscles in my left Bicep and Forearm.  I was at Target’s Boxing Day Sale at the ungodly hour of 6 am to pick up a couple of Kitchen Aid Pot sets that my Brother and I wanted.  I was fine lifting the first box, but when I picked up the second, it felt like a zipper was moving up the middle of my arm and then the pain started.  It hurt so bad I started crying in the store.  I hadn’t been in that much pain since I fractured my ankle many years ago.  It’s slowly been getting better, but certain movements still make it twinge and I can tell it’s not fully healed yet.  The fact that my hand is swollen too is a pretty good indication that I’ve done too much with it today.

I’m on vacation still until the end of the week, heading back to work on Monday.  I’m putting the girls in daycare and plan on taking some much-needed time to do nothing for two days.  They were home last week too because of the horrific ice storm which paralyzed Toronto and Durham Region – luckily our wires are buried, so we weren’t affected by the power outage, just the massive build up of ice over everything.  If you haven’t heard about the ice storm, you can read about it here, and here, and here.

Front LawnThis was my front lawn the night of the storm.  Our pretty Birch Tree had snapped on two of the limbs and the other just bent over under the weight of the ice build up.  There was half an inch of ice on everything, including my Husband’s car.  That was a lot of fun to chip off.  The driveway was even more fun.  And of course, every place you could think of had sold out of road salt.  Hopefully it’s back in the stores by now.

Something like 300,000 people in and around Toronto were without power for more than a week.  Toronto Mayor Rob Ford decided it wasn’t an emergency and everything was being dealt with as quickly as possible to restore power.  The temperatures dropped to more than -15C.

It was pretty nuts.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say for now.  Hope all y’all had a warm and wonderful New Years.  Let’s hope 2014 is better than 2013 – the curse of the odd year once again over.

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