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 🙂

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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.

—–

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.

untitled

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.

Random Sampling

October 12, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Miscellaneous Crap | 2 Comments
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Happy Turkey Day fellow Canadians!  Ok, so I’m late, big deal.

We had an absolutely gorgeous weekend – 26°C – the birds were signing, the sun was shining, and I got a speeding ticket.  Great.  My own stupidity. We were heading to my SIL’s for lunch and I was yipping to the kids, just having had turned a corner and started accelerating, trying to keep up with the car in front of me.  I didn’t realize it was a 50 kph zone and … well … he clocked me at 94 kph.  Six more kilometres an hour and I could have been charged with Street Racing.  I’ve been known to go above the posted speed limit on occasion, but I’m not usually that far over.  Luckily the cop was a very nice man who had a full view of my cleavage, and he reduced the ticket to 10 over as I had no priors nor outstanding warrants.  Thank you Mr. Officer.  Mea Culpa I was a bad girl.  When the Officer went back to his car to write the ticket, Lexy suggested I give him the cheesecake we had in the back and maybe he wouldn’t give me a ticket. Now why didn’t I think of that…? lol.

Cait’s loving School, which is great.  She’s proving to be just as smart as her Sister.  When she comes home from the Sitter’s, she’s so excited to tell me about her day and what they learned.  One day recently, she told me she was ‘the best helper ever!’.  She’s already surpassed Lexy in one area, it’s October and she hasn’t yet been sent to the Principal’s office…

It’s been crazy busy at work lately and it seems to finally be slowing down .. a bit.  This year’s been hell in terms of volume of work.  In the seven years I’ve been there, I don’t remember ever being as consistently busy – it’s a good thing.  The fruits of our labour are finally paying off and I’m taking a much-needed break in a few weeks’ time.  Can’t wait.  I plan on camping out at the swim up pool bar for two or three days solid…

That’s all the news that’s fit to print… have a great rest of the week…!

 

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