Sunday Dinner … Cannelloni…

September 19, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Caityisms, Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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We just came back from Curacao 🇨🇼, which was a birthday present to myself. It was a big one afterall, 50. Ugh.

The one good restaurant we ate at on the resort had a great Lasagne and I’ve been craving it since we came back. Instead of making the five hour plane trip again, I whipped up a batch, but spun it into Cannelloni.

I used blanched, fresh Lasagne noodles which were cut in half and rolled length-wise. This turned out to be the perfect size for a Cannelloni. The filling is Ground Beef, Onions, Garlic, Spices, Spinach, Mushrooms (don’t tell Caity), a bit of Béchamel sauce and a bit of Spaghetti sauce to moisten the meat. There are a lot of steps, but it’s worth it.

For the Filling:
• 1 Large Finely Chopped Onion (Reserve 1/4 Of The Chopped Onion For The Spinach)
• 2 Cloves Of Finely Chopped Garlic (Reserve 1/2 Of One Clove For The Spinach)
• 2 Lbs Lean Ground Beef
• ½ Tsp Garlic Powder
• ½ Tsp Oregano
• ½ Tsp Dried Thyme Leaves
• ½ Tsp Italian Seasoning
• Several Rounds Of Fresh Ground Black Pepper
• ¼ Tsp Coarse Kosher Salt

Brown the Beef and drain off the fat when almost cooked through. Add back to the pot.  Add the Onions and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. Push the beef to one side to create a little space for the Garlic. Sauté the Garlic, careful not to let it burn, then combine with the rest of the Beef mixture. When completely cooked, set aside.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

For the Spinach:
• 1 Block Frozen Spinach, Thawed In A Bit Of Water In A Saucepan On Low Heat Until Completely Cooked. Drain The Spinach In A Colander Which Is Lined With Paper Towel. When Cool, Squeeze As Much Water Out Of The Spinach As You Can And Put In A Saucepan.
• Reserved Onion And Garlic From Above
• Pinch Of Nutmeg
• Finely Diced (Duxelle De Champignons) Cremini Or Brown Mushrooms
• Several Rounds Of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• ¼ Tsp Coarse Kosher Salt
• 1 Tsp Butter

Sauté Mushrooms in Butter for 5 minutes, then add Onions and cook until the Onions are translucent. Push to one side and add the chopped Garlic. Sauté the Garlic for a few minutes, be careful not to burn the Garlic. Stir all the Mushrooms, Onions and Garlic together. Cook until all vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add Salt and Pepper, Nutmeg and cook an additional 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary .  Set aside.

For the Béchamel:
• ¼ cup Butter
• ¼ cup Flour
• 2½ cups Milk (not Skim Milk)
• Pinch of Nutmeg
• Pinch of Salt
• ½ cup grated Parmesan

 

 

Melt Butter in a Saucepan. When bubbling, add Flour and stir to incorporate. Stir frequently and don’t let the mixture brown – congratulations, you’ve just made a Roux! Cook for 2 minutes. Heat the Milk in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Slowly whisk the Milk into the Flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time. The mixture will tighten immediately, then add another 1/4 cup, whisk. It will start loosening.  When the mixture is loose, and smooth, but not too thin, add more Milk until all the Milk is in. Don’t pour into the Milk too quickly or it won’t thicken. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, add the Nutmeg, Salt and Pepper. Add the Parmesan and Cook one minute longer and when the Cheese has melted, taste for seasoning, adjusting if needed, set aside. When almost cool, cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming on the sauce.

In the Spinach pot, add enough of the Béchamel to moisten but not leave it ‘saucy’. Stir in 3/4 of the beef mixture and stir.

 

 

To the remaining beef, add 2 jars of prepared spaghetti sauce and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

Add 4 Tablespoons of the Tomato Sauce mixture to the spinach, Béchamel and beef mixture. Just enough to add taste, but not make it saucy. Set aside.

Preparation:
Fold the lasagne sheets in half and place in boiling water 2 at a time for 1 minute. Remove from the boiling water and place in cool water to stop the cooking process.

Put some of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the cooking dish to prevent the noodles from sticking.

Place the lasagne sheet with the short end towards you. Place approximately 3 heaping spoonsful of the meat mixture on the bottom portion of the noodle (closest to you). Gently roll the Lasagne sheet away from you to form a tube. Place seam side down in the pan on top of the spaghetti sauce.

Cover with remaining spaghetti sauce and drizzle remaining Béchamel over the top. Top with 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan and 1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella.

Bake for 30 minutes at 300°F. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

The girls loved it, and the best part is Caity didn’t realize she was eating Mushrooms 🙂

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:)

July 12, 2017 at 4:38 am | Posted in All Things Doodle, Birthdays, Family Ties | Leave a comment
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Happy Birthday to my biggest-little one on her 14th Birthday.  Love you more than words can say 🙂

Blown Away …

June 26, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Family Ties | Leave a comment
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I have two girls, both of which I am enormously proud. However, this post is dedicated to my biggest-little-one, Lexy.

I would have thought that the words would have flowed so easily, but truth be told, I’ve had some difficulty composing this post. It isn’t very often that I’m at a loss for words, but this is one of those times.  You see, my daughter graduated last week from Grade 8 and she blew me away.  I’ve always known how smart, and funny, and kind, and caring she is.  She has challenged me since she was born – she always had an argument at the ready for anything I had to say.  On more than one occasion, I’ve had to concede.  This kid will make her mark in the world, and as her Mother, I can’t wait to find out how.

Lexy changed schools this year since neither her, nor her Sister needed daycare any longer (keep that in mind at the end of this post). She was very hesitant to change schools, because her old school and old friends were her comfort zone.  She knew everyone and fit in well.  At the beginning of this past school year, both Lexy and Caity would hang around at lunch and recess together because they were the outsiders, not having made any friends yet.  I shouldn’t have worried.  Both girls soon were invited to Birthday parties and after school to their new classmates’ homes for projects or play.  Lexy immersed herself in the extra credit assignments offered in her classes.  She signed up for, and got, the female lead in the play at her school.  I had heard her sing before, to the radio, but never really on her own.  When I heard her belt out “The One-Feathered Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz”, I cried – I had no idea she could sing so well.  That was the first time I was blown away by this kid.

When Lexy first learned to read, she was absolutely positive that she could not, would not, ever be able to read. It was impossible, hard and impractical.  Why couldn’t I just continue to read stories to her?  I remember one day as I was helping her read a story, it felt like a light bulb was turned on – all of a sudden she could read most of the words.  Pretty much since then she has read anything and everything she could get her hands on, and always at a much higher grade level than she was in.  Her Teacher commented earlier this year that her reading list rivaled his own.

Along with the prolific reading came her writing ability. Since she was little she would create stories with vivid descriptions and characters.  Her skill with writing was also far beyond her years.  She said she planned on becoming an author.

As a result of her performance in the play, and her amazing writing ability, her Teacher suggested she apply for our local school of performing arts’ theatrical programme.  That was the second time I was blown away by this kid.

At her Graduation last week, not only did Lexy graduate with honours (not a surprise), but she received awards for English, Music, Performer of the Year, and the Kiwanis Citizenship Award for Student of the Year.

Lexy accomplished all of that in just one year, while at a new school. That was the third time this year that my kid blew me away.

I could not have been more proud of her than I was, than I am. She left me at a loss for words because there isn’t anything sufficient to adequately describe how I felt, how I continue to feel.

But I just have one thing to say to her… OK Lex, now what are you going to do for an encore? 😉

 

For the Record, Donut’s Birthday is Cancelled…

February 6, 2017 at 12:39 am | Posted in Birthdays, Caityisms, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Happy Birthday my darling Donut.  Today my littlest-little-one is 10.  Where’d the time go?  I officially have no more kidlets left with single digit ages.

birthday-girl

I’ve been attempting to write this post for about a week or so.  I’ve had a million thoughts go through my head, but nothing seemed fitting.  I don’t know that I have the words to tell you what I want to say about you on your big Birthday.

You know already that I love you … I tell you that many times a day.  You know already that I’m proud of you and your accomplishments and you know how beautiful you are – because those things too, I tell you every day.  You’re funny, you’re smart, you’re sweet and you’re kind.  You’re a big goof-ball.  You seem to be surprised when you do something well – but I’m not.  I know what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

I hope you have a wonderful 10th Birthday and that all of your dreams come true.

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Love, Mama xoxo

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 🙂

Time For Thanks Giving…

October 5, 2016 at 12:03 am | Posted in Daddy-O, Depression, Food, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Fall is here and even though we can still wear shorts and t-shirts, it’s turkey time again. Actually, wearing shorts the second week of October isn’t all that unusual.  In Southern Ontario where we live, we often get an ‘Indian Summer‘ – a blissfully warm few days of gorgeous sunshine which follows the first frost of the season.  I haven’t noticed any frost lately, but it has been quite cool.  This past Summer was so hot, the cool weather was a blessed relief.

My Sister passed away last week.  She died from complications during a normal surgical procedure.  Saying she and I never got along was a mild understatement.  I shed about 5 tears.  Anyone who knows me, knows that is unusual because tv commercials can make me cry. Watching a particularly heart-wrenching episode of Grey’s Anatomy makes me sob.  I was despondent when my darling Dad passed away last year.  For my Sister, 5 tears.  I am free. Enough said.

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend and I’m hosting dinner – I’m so excited, I haven’t looked forward to anything in a long time.  I love cooking Turkey – the house always smells so wonderful that you can’t wait for dinner.

I told Lexy she was cooking the Turkey this year.  She’s a little panicked, thinking I was serious 😉

I wanted to post some of the side dishes I plan on serving.  I’ll add pictures later.  As I’ve said in previous posts,  I started this blog to record my children’s antics and to house some of the family recipes for them when they’re older.  As I found out last week, one never knows when your time will be up.

Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash

1 – Medium sized Butternut Squash, scrubbed and sliced in half length-wise, seeds removed

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Water (enough to go halfway up the Squash in the Slow Cooker)

In a bowl, combine Butter, Brown Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice, mix until combine and spread over Squash halves.

Place the Squash halves cut side up in the slow cooker – cut into smaller pieces if they don’t fit properly – note they will shrink a bit as they cook.

Carefully pour water down the side of the Slow Cooker making sure you don’t pour directly on the Squash.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until the thickest part of the Squash is very soft when poked with a knife.

Carefully remove the Squash from the slow cooker, trying not to lose the sugar/butter mixture or burn yourself.  Note, you can keep the Squash in the Slow Cooker until you’re ready to eat, just make sure the cooker is turned off.

Using oven mitts if the Squash is too hot to hold in your hands, scrape the soft flesh into a large bowl with a spoon, careful not to get the tough skin and stir to combine all the yummy juices and spices.

I used to just use Cinnamon and Brown Sugar, but I also liked a bit of Nutmeg flavour.  Then I had a brain wave and decided to use Pumpkin Pie Spice which already has both of those plus Ground Ginger, Allspice and Cloves.  It’s a heady mixture that pairs amazingly with the succulent Squash.  Just go easy on it, a little goes a long way.  I suggest you start with 1/2 of the 1/4 teaspoon first, mix it with The Brown Sugar and sample – see if you like the flavour strength.  If not, add a bit more until you’re satisfied.  It’s so good – even Lexy likes it.

The next dish is one of my favourites and can be cooked when the Turkey is done – if your oven is like mine, the Turkey will take up the whole oven.  This dish is the ultimate comfort food, dreamy vegetables baked in herbs – amazing with gravy or on their own.  The beauty of this side dish is it doesn’t matter if you have this exact combination of root veggies, pick your favourites.

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Large Parsnips, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Medium Red Onions, peeled and cut into quarters

1 Rutabaga (or large Turnip), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Yellow Fleshed Potatoes such as Yukon Gold (a Canadian invention by the way), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Carrots, peeled, cut into 1″ pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme

3/4 teaspoon dried Oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary

1 teaspoon coarse Salt

Several rounds of Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Preheat your oven to 450F

Place all of the chopped veggies in a bowl.  The above quantities are an approximation – you will need enough veggies to fill a sheet pan completely, but loosely (to allow for flipping the veggies during cooking).

Drizzle the oil over the veggies and sprinkle on the seasoning, salt and several good rounds of fresh ground pepper, mix well to coat.

Place a length of non-stick Aluminum Foil on your sheet pan.  Dump the seasoned veggies on the pan and spread out evenly.

Place in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes and stir. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the veggies are fork tender and not burned.  Stir and flip the veggies so they caramelize and brown on all sides.

Place in a serving bowl and enjoy.  Try not to eat too many before they get to the table.

The veggies will hold in a covered dish on the stovetop for 4-5 hours if you want to make them in advance.  They can be served at room temperature.

Turkey Stuffing (for inside the bird)

My Mom’s recipe, it flavours the bird from the inside and tastes incredible.

1 Package Pork Sausage (Maple Leaf makes a great Pure Pork Sausage just for this purpose)
2 Slices dark Rye Bread (Dimpflmeier makes wonderful Rye but regular sandwich bread or pre seasoned turkey stuffing bread is also fine for this)
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Large Onion Diced
1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
Ground Black Pepper
Garlic Powder

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, several rounds of freshly ground Black Pepper, and 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder.

Tear the bread into bite sized pieces and add them to the mixing bowl. Mix the mixture thoroughly but not too much that it all breaks down. Form into a loaf and stuff into the cavity of the bird (make sure there are no giblets in there first!).

When the Turkey is cooked, remove the stuffing – it should come out whole like a meatloaf. Slice and serve with dinner.

Dressing – for Outside the Bird

ingredients1 loaf Turkey Stuffing Bread (if you can’t find the pre seasoned bread, use a loaf of white bread and make sure you have lots of Poultry Seasoning)

Poultry seasoning (if you don’t have pre seasoned bread)

1 large onion diced

1 large clove Garlic, minced

2 half sticks unsalted butter, cut into slices – half for inside the mixture, the rest on top

4 packages OXO Chicken Bouillon powder and hot water prepared to package directions, set aside – note, you may not need all of the Bouillon; or you can use boxed low sodium Chicken Broth (Campbell’s)

Water, enough to fill the pan half way up the loaf

Saute onions until translucent and then add garlic. Saute for a few more minutes until the garlic is softened.  Remove from heat.

Make the bullion as directed on the package in a measuring cup.  Alternately pour a cup of boxed Chicken broth into a measuring cup.  Set aside.

torn-breadIn a large bowl, tear 1/3 of the loaf into small, bite-sized pieces.  If you used regular white bread, sprinkle liberally with Poultry Seasoning, then proceed to the next step.

If using the pre-seasoned loaf, scatter half the onion mixture over the bread.  Sprinkle some of the bouillon liquid or Chicken Stock over the bread and onions until the bread is just moistened.  The bread should hold a shape if you squeeze it in your hand, but it shouldn’t release any liquid. Add a few pats of butter. Mix to incorporate.

onion-bread-and-chicken-stockTear another 1/3 of the loaf and add the remaining onions and garlic and more bouillon or Chicken Stock as above.  If using the unseasoned loaf, add another round of Poultry Seasoning.  Mix.

Tear the remaining pieces and repeat as above.

Tear two pieces of Aluminum Foil and overlap slightly.  Dump the mixture onto the centre of the foil and shape into a loaf that will fit into the baking dish with some room on the sides of the dish.

ready-for-the-ovenPlace pats of butter all over the top and wrap the foil around the loaf so that the opening is at the top.  The dressing will steam in the oven, so the water can’t get in it.

Fill the pan with water, half way up the foil making sure water can’t  get into the package.

Place, covered, in a 350F oven for half an hour.  Remove lid and open the package for browning.  Place in the oven for another 1/2 hour.  The dressing is done when the top is crispy and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle.  So good with gravy 🙂

Thank You, Gord…

August 22, 2016 at 7:51 am | Posted in Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Twitter/Tragically Hip

(c) Twitter/Tragically Hip

I’m not a Tragically Hip Fan.  That is, I didn’t used to be.  I could never get past Gord Downie’s voice – just like Mr. Neil Young, you either loved them or hated them.  I was somewhere in between.  I could appreciate the music, the lyrics spoke to you – and there was always a song or two that you could completely relate to.

Like the rest of the nation, I watched the Tragically Hip’s Farewell concert on CBC on Saturday night – without hyperbole, it was a moving experience.  The humanity of it cannot be put into words, Gord’s the poet – so we let him do it.  Through the TV screen you could feel the magic.  You could feel the love.  You could feel the raw emotion as more than 25,000 people (6,000 of which were packed into the K-Rock Centre) came to bid farewell to a Canadian legend, to see Gord and the boys play one last time.

I am converted.

(c) Trudeau/Twitter

(c) Trudeau/Twitter

I read somewhere in Twitterverse that Gord Downie isn’t dying, he’s living. When he has every right to stop performing and just hang with his family and friends – he chose to give his fans a chance to say goodbye.

If there’s one thing to take away from all of this, if there is one message to convey – show the people you care about that you love them.

Thank you, Gord.

 

Time Marches By Too Quickly…

July 12, 2016 at 12:17 am | Posted in All Things Doodle, Birthdays, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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I’ve had a lot of difficulty composing this post, after all it isn’t every day that your biggest-little one turns 13.  I’ve had a lot of things in my mind that I want to say to her.  She’s heard them all before a million times – yet one can never hear that they are loved too many times.

I’m not sure where to start. My beautiful daughter has far exceeded my expectations. Her sweet smile is all I need at the end of a tough day.  Lexy is so bright and intelligent and charming – she has a soft spot for babies and animals and they naturally gravitate to her.

I am so unprepared for her to grow up – I’ve said this every year. I wanted her to stay three, because when she was three, she was goofy, and cuddly and wanted nothing more than to be with her Mom.  Now she’s a teenager (EEK!), who’s still just as goofy, cuddles on occasion and wants nothing more than to be with her iPod… sometimes it feels like she no longer needs me.

I’ve tried to teach her the best I can about the things I know. How important family is, especially Sisters.  When you have a good family like ours, they will stick by you, no matter what.  I’ve tried to teach her to be respectful of others, to be kind, and have empathy for those less fortunate than yourself and to be a good person.

Happy Birthday Doodle – I love you more than yesterday and almost as much as tomorrow… Love, Mom xo

More Cheesecake…

July 3, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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It seems like I bake a lot more than I do.  I created this blog originally to capture the crazy antics my kids were doing.  My blog evolved over time to include family recipes – so that my girls would always have them for when the are older.  Hopefully some day they’ll make some of my recipes for their kids…

Ingredients (Crust):

  • 1½ Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1/8 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Shredded Coconut

Ingredients (Cake):

  • 3 Packages (8 Ounces each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • ¾ Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Package less 1 cup (reserve for the Ganache topping) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (PC Decadent Brand if you can find them, otherwise Nestle Tollhouse will do)

Ingredients (Ganache Topping):

  • 3/4 Cup Whipping Cream
  • 6 Squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
  • 1 cup reserved Chocolate Chips
  • Scant 1/8 Tsp Cinnamon

Let all ingredients come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place a cake pan filled with warm water on the bottom rack, just below the rack where you will put your cheesecake. This will create a humid environment and can prevent cracking.

IMG_1673Method (Crust):

In a separated 9” Springform pan, place a piece of non-stick foil over the bottom plate before putting the two pieces of the pan together.  Crumple any excess foil up over the edge.

Spray the entire inside of the pan with non-stick vegetable spray.

Place Graham Cracker Crumbs into the prepared pan

Melt Butter and add to Graham Cracker crumbs.

Add Cinnamon, Sugar and Coconut.

Mix by hand for best results.

This mixture should feel like damp sand and should hold a shape if you were to press it in your palm.

Press into the bottom the Springform pan using your hand or the bottom of a metal measuring cup.  There should be enough crumbs to go up the sides of the pan by about a ¼”.

Bake for 10 minutes then remove from oven.

IMG_1672Method (Cake):

In a mixing bowl, beat Cream Cheese, Sugar and Vanilla together on medium speed until combined.

Add Eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition – careful to not over beat.

By hand, gently stir in Chocolate Chips.

Pour batter into the pan and tap several times on the counter to bring any air bubbles to the surface.

 

Bake for 50 minutes, turning after the first 30 minutes.

At the end of baking, turn the oven off, but keep the Cheesecake in the oven for another 1/2 hour – don’t open the door! Don’t even peak! Just let it be…

When the 30 minutes are up, take the cake out of the oven and allow the cake to cool for an hour on the stove top or counter.

At the end of the hour, run a knife around the edge of the cake, but don’t take the ring off.

Place the cake, uncovered, in the fridge to cool for two hours.

Remove the cake and cover with either foil or plastic wrap.

Chill at least eight hours or overnight keeping the ring attached.

IMG_1677Method (Topping):

Remove the cake from the fridge but don’t take off the ring.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to a boil.

Remove from heat and stir in Cinnamon.

Add the baking squares and reserved chocolate chips and continue to stir slowly until incorporated (this takes a minute or two).

 

The sauce should be very thick when all of the chocolate has completely melted.

Pour over the top of the Cheesecake.

Chill at least 2 hours for best results, run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake.

When you’re ready to unmold the cake for serving, remove the Springform ring and place a piece of paper towel on the top of the cake, invert the cake in your hand and remove the bottom Springform plate.

While the cake is still upside down, place a cake plate or serving platter on the bottom of the cake and invert carefully.

To serve, use a hot, dry knife to slice each piece.

Sometimes, depending on my mood, before the ganache sets, I’ll sprinkle the top with roasted, slivered almonds.  Or mini chocolate chips.  Or toasted, chopped hazelnuts … or … fresh, ripe raspberries!

For an extra treat, serve with some fresh Whipped Cream and sliced Strawberries.  Yum Yum!

So Hungry…

May 31, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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What does one do with a pound of yummy leftover pulled pork?  Leftover Pulled Pork

We’ve already had Tacos.  Don’t feel like sandwiches.  That leaves no alternative, I think tonight’s menu will have to be Empanadas … 🙂 I’ve made them before and quite liked the a basic Empanada recipe I found, so I thought I’d give it another go.

Ingredients for the Dough:

Make 2 batches of dough for approximately 48 Empanadas

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups cold unsalted butter cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup Ice water (approx)
  • 2 Cups Leftover Pulled Pork
  • ½ Cup Shredded ‘Mexican Inspired Cheeses’ (Pepper Jack, Mozzarella, Cheddar mix)
  • 1 cup frozen Corn 🌽
  • A dash of your favourite Barbeque Sauce if the Meat isn’t moist enough
  • 1 Egg, Beaten with a Teaspoon of Water

Get the Pulled Pork Recipe here (you’ll need to prepare this the day before).

Empanada Dough BallIn a food processor, combine Flour, and Salt for about 10 pulses.  Add the Butter cubes, spreading them out as much as possible.  Pulse about 20 times until the Butter has broken down to pieces approximately the size of a pea and started to incorporate into the butter.

Transfer the Flour/Butter mixture to a large bowl.  Crumble the mixture through your fingers to break down any remaining large pieces of butter, but be careful not to do this too long or the butter will become too soft.

Beat egg yolk into Ice Water and drizzle over flour mixture, mix with a spatula until the Dough looks ragged and there isn’t any remaining Flour in the bowl.  You may not need all the water or you may need more – it will depend on how hot it is in your Kitchen and what the Humidity level is.

Cutting the CirclesTurn the Dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball.  Cut the ball into two pieces.  Flatten each piece into a 6″ circle.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the Fridge for 1-2 hours to firm.

After the Dough has chilled, remove one circle from the Fridge.  Roll the first circle on a lightly Floured surface until it’s approximately 1/8″ thick.  Using a 3″ Biscuit Cutter, cut as many circles out of the dough as you are able.  You can throw the scraps away.  I re-mashed them and re-rolled to get another couple of circles.  This is a major no-no in the baking world because now the Butter has melted and the Gluten has activated – it’s possible a couple of your Empanadas will be tougher because of this.  Doesn’t matter, I’m still hungry 😉

Repeat the process with the second disc.

Empanada Dough CirclesPlace all of the discs on a plate and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.  See all the butter specks in the pastry?  <— That’s what makes a flaky pastry 🙂

For the Filling:

Add the Barbeque sauce (if using), corn and Cheese mixture to the Pulled Pork, mix well.

Assembly:

Crack the Egg in a bowl and add the Water.  Whisk well with a Fork to make the Egg Wash.

Take a circle and moisten the rim with a bit of Water.

IMG_1481Put a spoonful of the Pulled Pork mixture into the centre of the circle and fold the Dough over onto itself, creating a half-moon.  Use a fork to seal the edges and set aside.  Once all of the Empanadas have been made, place them in the freezer for 15 minutes or the Fridge for 30-45 to chill again.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Take the Empanadas out and line two baking sheets with Parchment Paper or Non-Stick Foil.  Lay the Empanadas on the baking sheets, brushing them with a bit of egg wash. Bake until golden brown, approximate 20 minutes, spinning the rack after 10 minutes.  When the pastry is golden, the Empanadas are done.  Let cool for five minutes before eating.  Enjoy 🙂

Each batch of dough Makes approximately 20-24 Empanadas.  Serve with a Barbeque-based dipping sauce combined with your favourite Salsa.  You can also use any remaining sauce from your pulled pork.  Enjoy, I know I will 🙂

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