Turkey Dinner, Done a Little Differently

Soooo much turkey this holiday season! So many dinners, all turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, and some variation of vegetables. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that (because it will always be a classic!)– but for my turn to do a family turkey dinner this year, I wanted to do something a bit different.

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This year I made:

  • Mexican Thanksgiving Turkey and Gravy (Recipe from The Splendid Table)– I omitted the banana leaves while cooking the turkey.  I also added a little extra seasoning to the gravy to bump up the flavour even more, I added 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp red wine, 1/2 tsp each cumin, granulated garlic, oregano, and a pinch of allspice, and cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Chorizo, Apple, Pecan, and Cornbread Stuffing (Recipe also from The Splendid Table)– can’t find Chorizo in your local supermarket?  (I couldn’t), make your own: Homemade Chorizo (Recipe from Food Network)
  • Cilantro-Lime Rice (Recipe from Martha Stewart)– be sure to add a little extra grated lime zest to boost the lime taste
  • Sweet Peppers and Onions, Fried with Garlic
  • Homemade Guacamole (Recipe to be posted soon)
  • Warm corn tortillas

Enjoy!

ovenpancakes

Oven Pancakes

I can’t quite remember how we had gotten on the subject of pancakes, but I’m glad it happened none the less– a co-worker passed this recipe along to me as being a favourite in their house.  Other recipes might call these “Dutch Babies” or “German Pancakes”.

I was pretty skeptical to start with.  Pancakes in the oven?  That seems too easy, I quite liked that idea.  But that they expand rapidly while baking, then sink back down?  I really wasn’t sure what to think about that.  It is fun though!  I enjoy the crispy outside and soft custardy texture.

These really are a different kind of pancake, oh and delicious!  If you’re looking for Christmas morning breakfast or brunch ideas (or really any other day of the year)– this would do the trick.

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 25 min    YIELD: 
Ingredients:
  • 6 tbsp margarine or butter, melted
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
 Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Measure and combine dry ingredients.
  3. In separate bowl, beat eggs well and add to dry ingredients.
  4. Combine melted (cooled) margarine with milk and vanilla, and add to the egg/flour mixture.  Beat mixture well.
  5. Grease 9 x 12 rimmed pan, and pour mixture into pan.  (I used a smaller pan for the pancakes in the photo, because that’s all that was clean)
  6. Bake 15 minutes at 450 F, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake for another 5 minutes.
  7. (It may be tempting) but don’t open the door while it’s baking.
  8. Remove from oven, cut into individual portions and serve with good ol’ maple syrup or your favourite pancake toppings (we really enjoy our blueberry syrup around this house!)
mwstuffing

Mushroom Walnut Stuffing

Just in time for upcoming holiday feasts!  This one takes a little bit more effort to put it together, but it’s well worth it.

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 70 min    YIELD: 8 servings
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced small
  • 3 celery stalks (about 2 cups), diced medium
  • salt and pepper
  • 10 oz of cremini mushrooms, diced small
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 loaf crusty/stale bread (around 8 cups), cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 egg
 Directions:
  1. If your bread isn’t sufficiently stale, turn the oven on low and toast the bread cubes for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions, celery and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until onions and celery soften, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside for now.
  3. Add another tbsp of oil to the pan still over medium-high heat, as well as mushrooms and finely chopped sage.  Season with salt and pepper.  Brown the mushrooms, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add wine to the mushrooms, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the pan.  Cook until wine is nearly evaporated.
  5. Remove from heat and transfer to bowl with onion and celery mixture.  Add cubed bread and walnuts.
  6. Mix in enough broth just to moisten.  The mixture should be moist but not excessively soggy.  Beat the egg, and add to the mixture.  Toss well to combine.
  7. Now, stuff the turkey!  And/or spoon into a lightly greased baking dish to cook separately.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake uncovered until top begins to brown– 30 minutes.
gbread2

Garlic Toast

A super simple and quick side to serve with steak, BBQ, pasta, salad, etc… This is one of the first things I figured out how to make for myself in my adult life– that I enjoy so much that I can honestly confess that I don’t think it can be done any better.

I prefer using focaccia bread, but this is also nice on slices of french bread.

gbread1

Please do yourself a favour and don’t consider substituting the fresh cloves of garlic for anything else.  It might be tempting to use that jar of pre-minced garlic, or maybe use powdered garlic from the pantry– but just don’t. do. it.  Call me a garlic-snob if you want, but there is really no comparison to fresh!

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 10 min    YIELD: 8 servings
Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp margarine or butter
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • pinch salt
  • focaccia bread (or other favourite bread)
 Directions:
  1. Turn oven on to broil at 425 F
  2. Mince fresh garlic and combine well with butter, parsley, and pinch of salt.
  3. Liberally spread garlic butter on sliced focaccia bread and place in a single layer on a baking pan.
  4. Broil until bread is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Keep a close watch because it can go from brown to black before you realize!
honeygcarrots2

Heirloom Honey Glazed Garden Carrots

I’ve always been a picky eater… proof in point: I used to absolutely refuse to eat cooked carrots (in raw form, however, they were considered perfectly edible).  My mom seemed convinced I would grow out of it when I was young, and I’d like to say I’ve proved her wrong, but I will concede that I will eat these cooked carrots.  To her disappointment, I’m sure, I do still pick them out of most everything else.

This is my go-to side dish recipe for the “big” dinners (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.).  AND it’s also my favourite use for heirloom garden carrots from the garden.

honeygcarrots

So here it is, a carrot dish good enough to convert someone who wouldn’t eat cooked carrots.  Oh, and it is good!

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 30 min    YIELD: 4 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs carrots
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
 Directions:
  1. Wash carrots, cut into approximately 1″ sized pieces.  Cut different varieties of heirloom carrots into a mix of shapes for a rustic presentation or not, it all tastes about the same.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add carrot pieces.  Stir once or twice and cook just until carrots start to brown, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add broth, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.  Cook uncovered until carrots are just tender-crisp and liquid becomes syrupy, about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add butter just before serving
pumpkin scones2

Pumpkin Scones

Exclamation Mark!  Why? because of pumpkin season, and that means pumpkin baked goods, among other pumpkiny things… and one of my favourite pumpkiny things: Pumpkin Scones.

pumpkin scones

Thank you to google for helping me stumble upon this Starbucks pumpkin scone copycat recipe from Cooking Classy and adjusted the recipe slightly.

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 40 min    YIELD: 12
Ingredients:

Scones:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 3 tbsp granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter or shortening
  • 3 tbsp milk + 1/2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup and 1 tbsp pumpkin purée

Glaze:

  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp (or as needed) milk

Pumpkin Spice Icing:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • milk just as needed
 Directions:
  1. For Scones: preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor pulse together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well blended (if you don’t have a food processor you can whisk by hand in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry cutter). Add butter and pulse mixture several times to cut butter into mixture (large pieces of butter should no longer be visible). Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl and create a well in centre.
  2. In a bowl whisk together chilled pumpkin purée, buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract and honey. Pour mixture into well in flour/butter mixture. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon to incorporate, then knead in bowl (or on work surface) by hand several times to bring mixture together. Dust a work surface with flour then invert dough onto surface. Pat and shape dough into an even 8-inch round. Using a large knife, slice into 8 equal wedges (dust knife with flour as needed while cutting, it will be fairly sticky).
  3. Transfer scones to a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush tops with 1 tbsp half and half then bake in preheated oven 13 – 15 minutes until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 10 minutes (no longer) before spreading with glaze.
    1. In small bowl, combine all ingredients and allow to sit for at least ~15 minutes before using.  Use right away on pizza or as desired, keep refrigerated for 2-3 days, or (what I like to do) make a bigger batch of it then portion it out and freeze it for future use.

    2. For glaze: In a mixing bowl whisk together powdered sugar and half and half, adding more half and half as needed to reach desired consistency (it should be fairly thick not runny). Spoon and spread mixture scones to evenly coat tops (use all of it). Let glaze set at room temperature.
    3. For pumpkin spice icing: In a mixing bowl (I just used the one from the glaze above without cleaning out) whisk together powdered sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and half and half. Transfer mixture to a small Ziploc bag, seal bag, cut a small tip from corner and drizzle mixture over tops of scones. Allow icing to set. Best served day prepared.

    pizzasauce1

    Pizza Sauce

    Why buy pre-made pizza sauce when it’s so easy to make yourself with pantry-friendly ingredients?  Who knows.  Well, ok, I do know: because it’s very convenient to go to a store and buy a bottle and of course I’m guilty of his too on the occasion.  HOWEVER, with a little planning ahead, I prefer to make my own.  Simply put, I believe it just tastes nicer, and (like everything that a person makes for themselves) I know what’s in it.

    pizzasauce2

    Make this sauce while you’re waiting for pizza dough to proof.

    PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 15 min    YIELD: 2 pizzas
    Ingredients:
    • 1 can of plain tomato paste (156 mL)
    • 4 tbsp water
    • 3 tsp finely grated parmesan cheese
    • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (or substitute 1 tsp of dried garlic powder)
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp dried marjoram
    • 1 tsp dried basil
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
     Directions:
    1. In small bowl, combine all ingredients and allow to sit for at least ~15 minutes before using.  Use right away on pizza or as desired, keep refrigerated for 2-3 days, or (what I like to do) make a bigger batch of it then portion it out and freeze it for future use.
    pizzadough1

    Quick and Easy Pizza Dough

    As far as bread recipes go, I consider this one relatively quick and easy.  Though (*disclaimer*) the dough still requires some time to rise, so it’s not going to be a magical solution a serious time crunch for a quick dinner, unfortunately.  That is, unless you make this ahead and have it ready in advance.  This makes recipe makes too much for a dinner with just me and my husband, so more often than not I’ll freeze half the dough for another time.  Just defrost in advance, and pick up from Step 4 below.

    pizzadough2

    PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 1 hour    YIELD: 2 crusts
    Ingredients:
    • 2 and 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast (or 1 package)
    • 1 warm water (~110F)
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 and 1/4 cups white flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp white sugar
     Directions:
    1. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup of warm water (Note: if the water is too hot, it can kill the yeast and the dough will end up flat and hard as a rock… trust me I learned this sadly from experience).  Let stand around 10 minutes, until the yeast is creamy-looking.  Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the cup of yeast and water.  (Also make sure your yeast hasn’t expired, as it won’t rise properly… yes I learned that lesson as well)
    2. In medium-large bowl combine flour, salt and sugar.  Stir in the yeast mixture and mix until a ball of dough forms.  (Just an aside, this is both quicker and easier if you use a stand mixer with a dough hook… it requires much less elbow grease).
    3. Splash the dough-ball in a bit more olive oil just to coat and make it a bit less sticky and help the ball from drying out, then set aside in a covered bowl in a warm place to proof until about doubled in size, or 30 minutes.  I like to turn the oven on such that it’s just slightly warm, then put my bowl in there while the dough rises.
    4. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Turn out the dough on a well-floured surface.  Split dough into halves for making 2- 12″ diameter crusts; quarters for 4- 8″ diameter crusts; or leave as whole for one rectangular 16″ x 10″ pizza pie on a cookie sheet.  Roll dough to about 1/4″ thick.  Prep pans by coating with olive oil and adding a light sprinkling of cornmeal– this provides a fantastic crisp crust and helps the dough from baking to the pan as well.
    5. Once in the pan(s), add sauce and favourite toppings then bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  OR if making ahead, portion out dough after it has proofed and freeze for future use.

    Is it hot outside and/or looking for pizza that’s a little different?  Consider trying it on the BBQ.  Instead of Step 4 above, roll the dough quite thin ~1/8″, and (this is absolutely important) make sure to have all your toppings prepared and ready to go.  This all happens really fast, so preparation is key.  Make sure the grill is quite hot (550F), brush one side of the dough lightly with olive oil and place the dough carefully directly on the grill for 4 to 5 min just until the it firms up and has some light grill marks.  Brush the other side of the crust with a little olive oil and turn over.  Now, put sauce and desired toppings on the crust and grill for another 5-6 minutes until bottom is browned.  The crust is amazingly crispy when cooked this way.  Enjoy!

    Idressing1

    Italian Salad Dressing

    I think of this recipe as akin to the house dressing at the Olive Garden.  With that in mind, it goes great in a lettuce, tomato, red onion (thinly sliced) salad complete with garlic croutons and topped with some grated parmesan cheese.

    Idressing2

    Why eat out when you can mimic the best part of the Olive Garden experience (IMO) at home, using some freshly grown lettuce from the garden?

    PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 15 min    YIELD: 1 bottle
    Ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
    • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 tbsp corn syrup
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • 5 tsp grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp italian seasoning mix
    • 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
    • pinch black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
     Directions:
    1. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Note the xanthan gum is optional, however it does help to make the thick consistency of the dressing.
    2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.
    garlicscapesto

    Garlic Scape Basil Pesto

    I’m still over the moon with my recent discovery of Garlic Scapes.  Craving some garlic’y pasta goodness, I decided to try  my hand at Garlic Scape Basil Pesto.  I adapted my regular go-to recipe for Basil Pesto for the substitution.

    garlicscapesto2

    PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 15 min    YIELD: ~2 cups
    Ingredients:
    • 7 to 8 large garlic scapes
    • 1  and 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
    • 1/2 cup pine nuts
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
     Directions:
    1. Cut garlic scapes in approx 1/2 inch to 1 inch long pieces then add to food processor, along with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, salt, and lemon juice.  Process, and gradually add olive oil and mix until mixture is a fine consistency.
    2. Add grated parmesan and mix to combine.
    3. Stir the pesto into your favourite cooked pasta, or portion and freeze for future use.