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 🙂

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

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