Sage pear turkey 5 2014

Turkey Day and Despite a Tough Year, Still Grateful

Thursday is the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  For those that follow me you know this is my favourite holiday.  With all the materialism built in with a lot of holidays I like we have one where is’t just family and good food.

It’s been a tough year for my family.  We have 12 round the table and we weren’t guaranteed we’d have 12 this time round.  Fortunately my sister’s neck is just about good as new and my dad’s life saving surgery went as well as it should have.  And we are fortunate my cousin in Kenya has made a near complete recovery from his car accident.  Thank goodness the two taxi drivers rushed him to hospital barely alive.  This was while others looted his car.  So you can imagine the amount of gray hair that made light of day in our family this year!

We’re very much looking forward to 2016, as you can imagine!

For this post I wanted to reshare a few of my recipes I’ve made over the years for Thanksgiving.  I figured I’d get them in before the holiday rather than after for once.  :)

Sage pear turkey 5 2014

The Sage Pear Turkey fast became a favourite of mine.  Pear works so well with the sage and stuffing the skin with butter just makes it divine.

Cranberry Raisin Sauce 6 2014

Hopefully this year I won’t forget to serve the cranberry sauce!  I made this last year with port and it was really delicious.  I like to do variations each year for something new.  I’ve done it with orange, ginger, thyme.  Surprisingly cranberry is a good match for many different ingredients.

Stuffing balls 6 2013

Stuffing balls are a fun variation.  These are made with pork.  This year I’ll be separating these out to have sourdough stuffing then pork balls as some can’t have gluten.

I was going to share a blog post of pumpkin pie.  Looks like I haven’t done a post on that!  Guess what will be coming soon?

For those that celebrate this holiday I hope it is a safe and fun one.  And may you not have to travel too far!

Jerk chicken 5 2015

Jerk Chicken and What Kind of World

Tragedy brings out the best and the worst of us.  And it was true to form this past weekend.  After the attacks in Paris I, like millions of others, added the French flag to our profile pic on Facebook.  But I also quickly, like many, realised the hypocrisy of not speaking out against the terror in Beirut and many other countries.

And that’s when it started getting ugly.  When you combine fear with bigotry some seriously hateful things start getting posted.  It saddens me no end we have a serious humanitarian situation and we have people running for president saying we should only accept Christians.  Never mind that this isn’t a Christian nation as laid out in the Treaty of Tripoli which said this was a secular nation.  And it was ratified by 100% of the senate of the time.  That concept is being lost to the mists of time.  The West has a lot of responsibility of the vacuum that keeps being created in the Middle East but yet a lot would wash their hands of the crisis.  A situation where you have children so scared they put their hands up in fear because they think the journalist cameras are guns.

I am well aware there aren’t any easy solutions laying about.  But I do wish the powers that be would start thinking of the ramifications before they keep repeating history.  I mean how many times do we put people in power to only have to forcibly remove them.  Or how many times do we change the governments or boundaries without fully understanding the region.

Because not only do I want peace and not have people living in fear, I would love to be able to not have to figure out how to explain to my kids how much humanity is still getting it wrong.

While all this was going on we were preparing for my husband’s birthday party.  The theme?  A pirate murder mystery night.  There was a lot of planning for this as I had to assign characters for our guests and get the packets ready for each person so they knew what their objectives were for the murder and investigation.

One of our friends had great fun with doing themed food of cannon balls, shark teeth, etc.  She also did a great Minecraft themed party for her son a few weeks ago.  This is definitely up her alley.

One of the dishes I made was jerk chicken.  A great time to try using our dried habaneros.  I also used some dried cayenne.  Sinuses would be cleared for miles around.

Jerk chicken 1 2015

The recipe I used as a guide was from and I followed it for the most part.  I didn’t have bay leaves but I’m not a fan of that ingredient.  I didn’t have any dried thyme either.  But I have to say the ingredients weren’t missed.

In a spice grinder, finely grind 3 habaneros and 2 cayenne peppers that have been dried.  Add that to a medium sized bowl.  Then grind rosemary and allspice so you have about a tablespoon of each.  Again add that to the bowl.  Add a tablespoon of ground ginger and a tablespoon and a half of sea salt.  Next you will need 1 1/2 teaspoons each of onion powder, black pepper, and ground cinnamon.  Add 3/4 teaspoon of each of ground nutmeg and paprika.  Finish with 1/3 cup sugar, a juice of a lime, and 1/3 cup of olive oil.

Jerk chicken 2 2015

Mix well and add about a pound and a half of chicken that you have cubed.  Make sure the chicken is well coated.  Then remember not to touch your eyes.  Ahem.  Even after washing your hands.

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Let this marinate for a couple of hours.  I chose to grill this on the stove top.  But given the potency of the hot peppers I should have done this outside.  It was like I pepper sprayed the kitchen!  What a way to welcome guests.

Jerk chicken 4 2015

I did want to do a mango dipping sauce but the mango I bought refused to ripen so it was just the chicken.

Jerk chicken 5 2015

This was a hit.  Fortunately our friends could handle the heat.  Because, while the flavours were balanced, this is not for the weak of heart.


Maple miso stir fry 7 2015

Maple Miso Stir Fry

Well we weren’t lucky enough for the storm to shift this time.  Nothing historic but we got what they said we would.  Fortunately it was the dry fluffy stuff so it’s not hard to shift.  It was the bitter cold this morning that was a bit much.  It was -8F/-22C.

You get warm shovelling!  There was an article last week that suggested exercises to do while shovelling.  I’m guessing the author has never shovelled in their life.  Never mind they suggest people over 60 be careful because it increases your chance of heart attacks.  Simple shovelling raises the heart rate and it’s hard work!  I’m not doing deep knee bends and lunges while I shift the stuff.  I mean, really.

Here is our front garden after a week of snow.

Maple miso stir fry 8 2015

In one of the cooking competitions some one mentioned a maple miso glaze which intrigued me.  The problem with these competitions they throw out ideas but don’t tell you what they do so with just the inspiration I thought it would be fun to try with a stir fry and roasted chicken.

In a dish mix about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with miso.  I used about 4 tablespoons of miso but it was incorporated about a tablespoon at a time.  Add a teaspoon or two of amino acids and a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.

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Add a handful of chopped scallion and 3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped.

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Stir well.  Marinate the chicken for at least an hour.

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Roast the chicken in an oven at 350F/175C until done or mostly done.  When the chicken is on the bone it might not be cooked all they way through once the glazed skin is done.  That’s ok because the chicken will be stir fried.

Maple miso stir fry 4 2014

Heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok.  Add the chicken first to cook through.

Maple miso stir fry 5 2015Then add the chopped veg and the rest of the marinade.  Add a few splashes of lime juice and some chopped fresh cilantro.

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Serve with rice noodles and chopped peanuts.

Maple miso stir fry 7 2015

This is a mild stir fry but full of flavour.  And perfect for bunking down during a storm.  :)

Rosemary garlic pork 5 2015

Rosemary Garlic Pork

Apparently we missed one hell of a game last night.  We don’t have cable any more so I started the day checking out the ads from the Superbowl.  I’m guessing the game was way better than the ads.  I made the mistake yesterday of going to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  It was mobbed.  Not only was the “big” game last night but we are also now in the middle of yet another big snow storm.  So there was game shopping on top of the panic shopping people do before a storm.  This storm didn’t shift to the east this time so we’ll be getting a lot of snow today.

My husband lucked out with the travel and was able to come home safely.  I had a good time with the kids last week but it’s great to have him home with us.  I was struck the other day how much our kids are growing up.  After taking them out for a light meal we drove back and bad music was playing on the radio.  Our daughter decided that we needed to listen to some real music.  So she put on Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and she and I belted out the song.  Slightly to our son’s dismay!  She took us through the 80’s and we ended with the Cupid Shuffle dancing in the kitchen.  Then we topped it off watching Master Chef Junior.  Those kids are incredible cooks.  We are just blown away that an 8 year old can do restaurant quality dishes and an 11 year old did up a branzino.  It’s insane.

To welcome home my husband I decided to make a pork loin with garlic and rosemary.   I found this recipe from Daily Dish Magazine to use as an inspiration.

Rosemary garlic pork 1 2015

Coarsely chop the rosemary and garlic.  This recipe takes a lot of garlic which is fabulous.  I used almost a whole bulb of garlic.  Place in a bag and add about 3/4 cup of dry white wine, 1/2 a cup of olive oil, and a few squeezes of lemon juice.  Season the pork loin with sea salt and pepper and marinate for at least an hour.

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In a skillet heat up olive oil and pan sear the pork loin on both sides.

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Finish in the oven at 350F/175C.  In a small skillet heat up the marinade and begin to reduce down.

Rosemary garlic pork 4 2015

Add butter a tablespoon at a time until there is a nice balance of the wine, lemon, and butter.  While the pork is resting saute some swiss chard with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Slice the pork and serve over the chard.  Top with the sauce.

Rosemary garlic pork 5 2015

It goes very well with roasted potato and parsnip.  It was wonderful catching my husband up with how our week went and listening to him tell us about his.  :)

Ginger snaps 5 2015

It’s an HISTORICAL Snow Sto…I’m sorry?…Oh, It’s a Normal Snow Storm…

This was supposed to be an historical storm, in our area they were predicting over two feet.  Which some areas will see that but the storm shifted so most of us will see about a foot.  Not too bad.  I mean it is New England, we get snow but of course people went crazy with shopping for supplies.  How much they are planning to eat today, I have no idea.  People are funny.

My husband is travelling this week.  He was able to fly out before the flights were cancelled, fortunately.  So Sunday we made sure I can get the snow blower going and we had working shovels.  And thank goodness he thought of the oil!  We were on empty so we were able to get some delivered.  I am very lucky I have him, he takes good care of us.  :)

Sunday we did our usual puttering about the kitchen making things for the kids’ lunches and breakfasts.  I really enjoy that time with him.

I was flipping through the “The Complete Book of Baking” by Pillsbury and came across the recipe for Ginger Snaps. Boy did this bring back memories.  My mum would make these when we were growing up.  I love them but it was something that had faded away in the brain so I hadn’t made them before.

In the mixer cream together 1 cup of sugar and 3/4 cup of butter that has been softened.

Ginger snaps 1 2015

Add in 1/4 cup of molasses and 1 large egg.  Mix until incorporated.

Ginger snaps 2 2015

Add 2 1/4 cups of flour, 2 tsps of baking soda, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of ground ginger, 1/2 tsp of ground cloves, and a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg.

I’d have a photo here but after about ten tries to get it to upload I’m giving up.  Took me long enough for the photos I can show!  Internet is being wonky today.

Chill the dough for at least an hour.  Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Roll the dough into 1 inch diameter balls and roll into some sugar to coat.  Space the balls about 2 inches apart.

Ginger snaps 4 2015

Bake 8-12 minutes.  If you want them to stay chewy then pull them out by 10 minutes otherwise they start getting crunchy.

Ginger snaps 5 2015

They are so good right out of the oven!  And they go well with hot chocolate. :)

Roasted tomatillo salsa 8 2014

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and Tacos with a Cuban Flair

Our tomatillos are coming along like crazy so it is time to pick them and make delicious food.  There isn’t any way to use them all at once so I’ll be freezing a bunch this week to keep up with it all.  We had roast pork left over as well as the marinade from the Cuban sandwiches I made so I thought with these ingredients and a tomatillo salsa we’d have a delicious dinner.

I enjoyed puttering about the kitchen making the various components to this dish.  First on the list were the easy tortillas.  Though it is hot work in the summer!  I found this tomatillo salsa recipe that was easy to make and needed some hot peppers.  Which are ready to pick in our garden!

Roasted tomatillo sauce 1 2014

Remove the husks of about a pound of tomatillos, rinse and slice them in half.  Place them face down on a baking sheet.  Add two jalapenos and two cloves of garlic with the skins still on.

Roasted tomatillo salsa 2 2014

Broil until the three ingredients are charred.  Keep an eye on them while broiling as you don’t them to be charcoal!

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The original recipe calls for using a mortar and pestle.  One I don’t have one and two I’d rather have this quick and easy.  I do have, however, a blender!  Top the peppers, skin the garlic, and remove the toughest char on the tomatillos.  Add this to the blender.  Slice about 1/4 of a small onion and two tablespoons of fresh cilantro.

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Add the juice of half a lime.

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Season with salt then pulse in the blender.

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The hard part is over!  Not that it’s been that hard up to now.  :)  For the tacos prep the veg you want in the dish.  In addition to the mushrooms, onions, and sweet pepper I picked a Ring O’ Fire pepper and a poblano pepper.

Roasted tomatillo salsa 9 2014

I sliced up the remaining pork and sauteed it with the onion in a little bit of olive oil.

Roasted tomatillo salsa 10 2014

Add in the peppers and mushrooms and saute for a couple of minutes.  Then add about 3/4 cup of the marinade and simmer until the sauce reduces by more than half.  Spoon some down the middle of the tortilla.

Roasted tomatillo salsa 11 2014

Sprinkle shredded cheese over the filling and spoon the tomatillo salsa over the cheese.

Roasted tomatillo salsa 12 2014

Add the sour cream and enjoy!

Roasted tomatillo salsa 13 2014

The tomatillos worked really well with the citrus of the marinade.  A bit messy to eat though!


Grilled leeks 3 2014

Grilled Leeks and Dealing With Customer Service

We all have those days where one thing is planned and after a few left turns you end up with something completely different. 

I had planned to do the oven roasted tomato sauce with pasta that I made last week.  I have an irritating quirk that I’ll take the time to make a grocery list and still forget something.  This time I forgot pasta.  I had to come up with plan b as our pasta attachment is making weird loud noises.  Not a good sign!

So I decided to do grilled leeks, the oven roasted tomato sauce over grilled steak, and roasted potato medallions. 

As I was prepping the food for the grill the skies opened up and sheets of rain just poured down.  I thought I was heading for plan c thinking I’d have to grill them on the stove top.  Workable but just not the same.  Fortunately at the last minute the skies cleared.

I kept the steak simple with just salt and pepper as I was going to use the sauce with it. 

Grilled leeks 1 2014

Cut the leeks to size and coat them in some olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  The ratio is 2 to 1.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Grilled leeks 2 2014

The leeks need to be grilled on medium heat, turning them as they cook.  Sear the steak on high heat.

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Then I nearly derailed dinner again.  I got my mobile phone bill and saw they were overbilling me.  Whenever we travel overseas I get an international plan for the time we travel.  I call when we get back I call to get the plan canceled and prorated.  I’ve never had trouble with this before but they didn’t do as I asked so I made the mistake calling while I was finishing dinner.  It should have been a five minute call to be done while the steak was resting.  Wrong!  I had the bad luck of getting someone with a bad attitude and not the brightest bulb.  So while I was alternating being on hold and trying to get a supervisor I was plating and taking pictures.  Not the best combo!

Grilled leeks 5 2014

And I missed most of dinner with the family which, while my fault for calling, wasn’t cool!

Grilled leeks 6 2014

I did get a good resolution with someone else in the end and I got a thumbs up from the family on the sauce with the steak and the grilled leaks.  Just could have done without the twisty turns.  :)

Blackcurrant bars 6 2014

Blackcurrant Bars – On The Tart Side Of Life

We are looking at a blow for freedom as my mum likes to say.  What is it you ask?  Why getting rid of cable!  The bane of many of us.  I’m sure many of you have heard loads of horror stories lately about what happens when customers try to cancel the cable.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that we won’t have issues.  But it’s time to cut the cord as they say.  We only watch a handful of channels so it isn’t economical to have it.  Today we’ve been testing a digital antenna all round the house to find the best spot.  Where we live, we only get PBS but that is fine because with Hulu Plus and Netflix, we are pretty much covered.  The dogs spent the day looking at us funny while we stood in different rooms seeing if there was any improvement!

This weekend we also had a fun date night and went to see the movie Chef.  I really liked that movie.  Aside from a display of fabulous food the music was outstanding!  It was hard not to get up and dance. 

All the blackcurrants have been picked now.  I froze a bunch for later in the year but I saw a link to blackcurrant bars.  When I went to pin it it said it was a spam link but it sparked an idea.  I used my mother’s date bar recipe for the bar portion of it and then made up an apple blackcurrant jam. 

I did the jam ahead of time because the week got a little nutty.  Okay, a lot nutty.  Thank goodness for weekends!  But you can make the jam just before you bake the bars. Either way is fine. 

Blackcurrant bars 1 2014

In a small saucepan add a cup to a cup and a half of blackcurrants and a diced apple.  Add about a 1/4 cup of water and a few splashes of lemon juice.

Blackcurrant bars 2 2014

Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer until the fruit breaks down while stirring frequently.  Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of brown sugar depending on your taste.  Some like it to be really tart. 

Blackcurrant bars 3 2014

When you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Melt 6 tablespoons in a small bowl.  In another bowl mix 1 cup quick oats, 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup flour, and 1/2 tsp of baking soda.  This is half the recipe of the date bars as the jam amount for the black currant is about half of what the date bar has.  Add the melted butter and mix well.  Press half into the baking tin.

Blackcurrant bars 4 2014

Spread the jam over the oat mixture.

Blackcurrant bars 5 2014

Put the rest of the oat mixture over the jam and bake for about 25 minutes until golden.

Blackcurrant bars 6 2014

This was definitely tart!  But my husband loved it.  :)

Wish me luck with the cable company! 

Eggs Benedict 7 2014

Eggs Benedict with Avocado

There was a break in the humidity this weekend which allowed us to take advantage of weather to do a lot of little chores in the garden.  I am a bit worried about the potatoes as the leaves are looking a worse for wear.  After some research I realised that we aren’t given enough nutrients for them.  Hopefully I can get that sorted this week. 

Still no sign of the parsnips.  I mean none sprouted.  I find it really strange so I’m wondering if the packet of seeds was any good.  Keeping fingers crossed we chased off the rabbits again this year.  We were dealing with squirrels and the rabbits snuck in.  One was bold.  I ran towards it making all sorts of noise and it just looked at me.  Guess I need to work on my technique. 

After several hours of puttering about I was in the mood for a hearty lunch.  I had an avocado and some homemade ciabatta bread so it was a small leap to eggs benedict.  Makes sense, right?

As delicious as this meal is there is some of juggling with the prep to get it all done at the same time.  I made a half recipe from the Fanny Farmer’s Cookbook as a 1/2 cup was enough.  Set up the ciabatta to be toasted and buttered, then set up the eggs to be poached

If you are new to hollandaise sauce definitely use a double boiler.  When I started I didn’t have one and so learned in a small saucepan. 

In the pan over very low heat whisk two small egg yolks.

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These need to be whisked but not so much you scramble them.  Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and slowly add 1/8lb of melted butter while stirring.

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Slowly add a tablespoon of hot water, dash of cayenne pepper, and salt to taste.  Stir for a minute or so until thickened.  

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Layer the bread, avocado, poached eggs, and the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

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This is such a treat when the egg is cut into and the yolk blends with the hollandaise sauce.

Eggs Benedict 7 2014

After a hard morning working in the garden this was a great reward. 

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 8 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Ginger Crumble, Now That’s a Mouthful!

The past couple of days our strawberries have been coming in and they are so delicious.  The netting over them has worked very well and the birds just have to do without!  Unfortunately they weren’t ready for the crumble we made for Father’s Day so I had to buy the strawberries.

Conor Bofin recently posted a recipe for rhubarb crumble with ginger.  As soon as our rhubarb was ready I was planning on doing a strawbery rhubarb crumble as crumble is a favourite in our house and our son loves to make the topping.  Conor’s idea of adding ginger was a light bulb moment.  Ginger goes so well with fruit so I had to add it to our recipe.

Even though our strawberries weren’t ready the co-op had some lovely organic ones.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 1 2014

Quarter a pound of  strawberries and place them in a small pan on medium heat.  As it starts to warm up add 1/3 cup of brown sugar.  Stir well as this starts to simmer.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 2 2014

Grate fresh ginger over the strawberries.  I used a chunk that was about 1 1/2″ all the way round.  If you really like the bite of the ginger use more.

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Simmer until it becomes a chunky jam.  You don’t want the strawberries to disappear completely.  Set aside and slice the rhubarb into half inch bits.  I used 3 stalks for this.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 4 2014

Mix in with the strawberries and add to the baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Our son made the topping from the recipe in the Pillsbury The Complete Book of Baking.  1 cup of rolled oats, 3/4 cup all purpose flour, 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of softened butter.

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Bake for 25-35 minutes.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 7 2014

I was curious as to why the topping didn’t come out as golden as it usually did.  We found out the sugar was left out!  Oops.  But hey he’s 9 and I figure it doesn’t hurt for him to see why all the ingredients are important.  And I love the fact he wants to bake so I’m not stopping him!  Plus we were serving it with ice cream.  So we were fine.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 8 2014

Adding ginger was a hit and it really worked well with the ice cream.