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Pumpkin Cheesecake for Two

As I mentioned in the previous post, Mr. M came over for thanksgiving so I made him no-bake pumpkin cheesecakes for dessert. It was inspired by a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake trifles by My Baking Addiction blog. I used gingersnaps instead of biscoff cookies for the crust, and instead of layering the ingredients, I pressed the crust into two larger ramekins which I suspect are used for quiche and topped with the pumpkin mixture, then the dessert topping. There was a tiny bit of pumpkin mixture left over that I put in a regular ramekin for my 3 year old. I probably could have fit t it in the large ramekins but it worked out because she still can’t finish a whole dessert. Anyway, Mr. M loved them. By the look on his face he was in pumpkin heaven. He said, “The asteroid can hit now, I’m content. ” lol

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Pumpkin Cheesecake for Two

INGREDIENTS:
6 gingersnaps, crushed into crumbs
1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces (1/2 pk) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 large tub (12 oz.) whipped topping (Cool Whip), thawed, divided

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a medium bowl, combine gingersnap crumbs and butter. Divide the crumbs into the bottoms of your trifle glasses. Gently press crumbs to form an even layer of crust.

2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Beat until well combined and creamy.

3. Use a spatula to fold in half of the whipped topping. Gently combine ingredients until no streaks remain.

4. Spoon on top of the crusts and smooth out. Chill until ready to serve, about 2 hours should be good. Top with the remainder of the Cool Whip before serving.

Bonus Recipe:

I don’t really like pumpkin all that much so I made some fabulous icing to top the leftover Devil’s Food Cupcakes I had defrosted. Strangely enough, I had never made this type of icing before. Holy crap it’s good! Super smooth and creamy, and a lovely balance of chocolate to cream cheese tang. I want to put this stuff on everything! Chocolate cream cheese toast anyone?

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sifted powdered sugar (You can decrease this amount if you don’t care about it being as stiff for piping)
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Instructions
Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy.
Mix in powdered sugar, one cup at a time.
Mix in cocoa powder. Try to resist eating it all with a spoon. ;)

Source: The Cupcake Project

Turkey Roulade with Apple-Cider Gravy

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and I don’t have any family here in town so it was just myself, my daughter and I invited my buddy Mr. M over for dinner. Because we’re just two, plus a toddler, I couldn’t exactly make a whole turkey so I looked up a few turkey roulade recipes. I decided on this one to compliment the Calvados cocktails I wanted to make. I was grabbing some last minute things at the grocery store, then I could not get my daughter down for her nap, so I let her run around while I worked, but that added up to me running late. I didn’t want to chance making the roulade in a hurry so I decided to make the turkey and the stuffing separately. I browned the meat in my cast iron skillet, then popped it in the oven while I made the stuffing.

Normally, I don’t really like stuffing. In Newfoundland and Labrador, Savory (similar to thyme) is the go to spice for making stuffing, or many people will make Stovetop stuffing. I am not a fan of either, AT ALL. The pungent spices and the mushy texture are major turn offs. I haven’t experimented much with sage, but I thought I would give it a shot and try this recipe. I actually like this stuffing. The sweet, tart of the cranberries adds a nice balance. The gravy on the other hand was a little strange for me. I tasted it on its own and it was a little too tangy for my liking, but combined with the turkey it was pretty good. If I make this dish again I would go with a traditional gravy instead. On the side I made some steamed green beans, and my absolute favourite autumn side dish – Sweet Potatoes with Maple-Pecan Butter. I made two desserts: Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes and Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing. I’ll post those recipes later.

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Turkey Roulade with Apple-Cider Gravy

  • One 2-1/2-pound boneless turkey breast half, skin removed and butterflied
  • 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 slices day-old whole-wheat bread, crusts removed and cubed (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1-1/2 cups), plus 1 cup onion thinly sliced into half-moons
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 3 teaspoons dried, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • Kitchen twine
Place the turkey breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound lightly with a meat mallet to an even thickness of about 3/4 inch. Set aside while you prepare the stuffing.

Toast the pecans in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes; set aside. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Place the cranberries in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat, drain, and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring, until golden but not blackened, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the bread, cranberries, pecans, 2 tablespoons of the fresh or 2 teaspoons of the dried sage, and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the broth, depending upon the consistency of the stuffing (you want the mixture to be moistened, but not too wet, since the turkey will release moisture when cooked). Cook over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Sprinkle the salt and pepper over both sides of the turkey breast. Spread the stuffing over one side of the turkey, leaving about 1-1/2 to 2 inches uncovered on all sides. Roll up and secure tightly with kitchen twine, trying to keep all the stuffing intact.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven or medium roasting pan over medium heat until hot. Sear the stuffed turkey breast on all sides until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Sprinkle the sliced onion around the turkey, pour in 1-1/2 cups of the broth, cover tightly and roast in the oven until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165°F, 60 to 65 minutes. Remove the turkey breast from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest while you make the gravy.

Add the cider, 1/2 cup of the broth, the vinegar, and the remaining 2 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried sage to the roasting pan, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by one-third, about 10 minutes. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 minutes more. The gravy should not be thick, just slightly thicker than a jus. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the twine from the turkey breast and cut into 1-1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with the gravy on the side in a gravy boat.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 400; Fat (g): fat g 12; Fat Calories (kcal): 108; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 1.5; Protein (g): protein g 50; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 24; Polyunsaturated Fat (g):3.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 371; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 117; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Berry Pistachio Muffins

Oh the joys of feeding a headstrong toddler. The little miss continues to challenge me with her erratic eating habits so I’ve been researching ways to get more goodness into her. I picked up the premiere English version issue of Ricardo Larivée’s magazine “RICARDO” and found this recipe for Berry And Pistachio Muffins which are low sugar and safe for diabetics. According to their nutritionist they have the optimal balance of carbs, fiber and protein. I’m always hesitant when it comes to “healthy” muffins because too often they end up tasting like berry flavoured cardboard. Not these little babies! I am truly impressed. I’m not a lemon fan so I left out the lemon zest and I didn’t have any pistachios, but they were still filled with citrus flavour and subtle sweetness. Miss M is in a mood and is trying her best to convince me I should make her pancakes for dinner, so she is stubbornly refusing to try the muffins :( I’ll try again tomorrow and see what happens. If not, more for me! Mwahahaha!

Bonus: Review of Ricardo’s magazine

I love this publication! I may be developing a teeny-tiny crush on Ricardo. He has so many helpful things for home cooks, not just foodies, and I like how he includes the related recipes directly after the article or section of the magazine, instead of having to flip to the back. For the Thanksgiving article he gives a total timeline to help you get everything on the table on time. Good stuff!

In every issue:

The Foodie: What’s new, what’s hot, what’s happening on the foodie scene
Top 10: 10 need-to-know facts about a star ingredient
Things We Love: Our favourite finds, including gourmet products, restaurants, books and kitchen accessories
Nutrition & Health: Smart advice and information for healthy eating and living
The Allergy-Friendly Cook: In every issue, a yummy allergen-free recipe
Wine & Drink: New products, new trends + tips and insights
The Ultimate…: A star recipe, guaranteed 100% delicious by the Test Kitchen
Menus: Three menu ideas based on the issue’s recipes
Ricardo For Kids: A cool feature that teaches the ABC’s of cooking to kids aged 8 to 14
Travel: Talked-about foodie destinations, in Canada, across the border and abroad
Home Decor: Stylish ideas and inspirations for the kitchen and entertaining

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Berry And Pistachio Muffins

1 cup of all purpose flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

6 Tbsp lightly packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup canola oil

zest of one orange

zest of one lemon

1 Tbsp lemon juice

3/4 raspberries

3/4 cup blueberries or blackberries

1/4 unsalted pistachios, finally chopped

 

1. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper or silicone liners.

2. In a  bowl, combine the flour, wheat germ, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, yogurt, oil, citrus zest and lemon juice with a whisk. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Gently stir in the berries.

4. Divide the batter into the muffin cups. Sprinkle the muffin tops with the pistachios. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool.

Notes: If using frozen berries, do not haw them before adding to the mixture, and  bake for an additional 6-8 minutes. The muffins keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container.

Pasta with Tomato Bacon Sauce

This one’s another quick, go-to weeknight dinner. So simple and so yummy! I know it doesn’t look like much but I had to force myself not to eat half the pan myself. Instead of penne I used alphabet pasta in hopes it would entice my 3 year old to eat it. No dice. But I loved it! I also made it even simpler, and probably a little healthier by using precooked bacon. I removed it while I was cooking the onion and garlic, then added it again when I added the tomatoes. It took maybe 35 minutes from start to finish. What more do you need? Thanks Chef Michael Smith :)

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Penne with Tomato Bacon Sauce

Ingredients:

8 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1x 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, rosemary or oregano
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly grated pepper
a 1 pound box penne pasta

Directions:

Toss the bacon into a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a splash of water. Cook until the water evaporates and the bacon begins to brown. Continue stirring, lowering the heat a notch, until the bacon is crispy and brown. Drain away most (or some) of its fat, leaving enough behind to sauté the vegetables.

Add the onion and garlic and cook until they soften and begin to caramelize. Pour in the tomatoes, rinsing out the can with a splash of water and adding that too. Sprinkle in the herb of your choice and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes or so.

Cook penne in lots of boiling salted water. Toss with the sauce and enjoy!

Variation: You can use any type of pastas and type of canned tomatoes for this sauce. If you choose whole tomatoes, purée them before you add them to the sauce so the bacon can stay chunky. For a decadent treat and a richer flavour, you can leave all of the bacon fat in the pot. If you don’t have any fresh herbs, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, rosemary or thyme will work well too.

Lazy Cheeseburgers

This may very well be the easiest recipe I have EVER made. I actually felt guilty about it afterwards. lol Taste wise, it isn’t exactly gourmet but it’s good, satisfying comfort food.  This gets my stamp of approval because even my 3 year old liked it! It comes together in a flash and the only thing I needed to chop was the garlic. I may become addicted to this stuff.  Instead of hamburger buns, I served it on top of the cheddar biscuits I made the night before, which gave it an extra shot of flavour. Good stuff my friends.

lazyburger

Lazy Cheeseburgers

Source: Canadian Living Magazine: September 2014
Prep time: 15 minutes Total time: 25 minutes Portion size: 4 servings

Ingredients for burgers:
2 tsp (10 mL) olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh rosemary (or a rounded 1/4 tsp dried)
450 g extra-lean ground beef
1/3 cup (75 mL) ketchup
1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper
4 hamburger buns or kaiser buns, halved
3/4 cup (175 mL) shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups (500 mL) baby arugula leaves or spinach

In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; sauté garlic and rosemary until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef; cook, breaking up with spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and pepper; cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Fill buns with beef mixture, Cheddar cheese and arugula.

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and I ended up craving it for 2 days straight. I guess it must be the cooler weather, I just want to bake up something scrumptious and comforting. This biscuits are delish! I did cut down on the salt a bit – about 1/4 tsp less – and that turned out just right. I rolled them out a little thinner, made 11 instead of 8 and they cooked much quicker in about 17 minutes. I ate 4 straight out of the oven, smothered in butter, I couldn’t stop myself! Have you noticed that food is my life? lol

These would be nice to serve with Thanksgiving dinner perhaps, or make a breakfast sandwich with them. The next day I filled them with a sloppy joe type mixture. I’ll share the recipe in the next post.

cheddarbiscuit

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

By: Ina Garten, (The Barefoot Contessa)

Ingredients (8 biscuits)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1½ tsp. salt
6 oz. (12 Tbs./1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
½ c. cold buttermilk, shaken
1 cold extra-large egg*
1 c. grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 egg
splash of milk
Aromatic Salt or Maldon sea salt, optional

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Toss the cheese with a Tablespoon or so of flour taken from the 2 cups. Set aside.

Place flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender until you have a coarse meal and the butter is the size of peas.

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. Add to mixture and stir until just combined. Add reserved cheese and mix untiljust combined.

Dump out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently about 6 times, but no more than twelve.

Pat dough and gently roll dough out until it about an inch thick. Using lightly floured biscuit cutters, cut eight biscuits from dough and place on a parchment or silpat lined sheet tray.

Beat egg with milk and brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt (if using). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are deeply golden and the biscuits are cooked through.

Good hot, warm, or at room temp.

*Notes: If you only have large eggs, simply add a drop or two of the beaten egg you are going to use for the egg wash (before adding the milk) to the beaten egg in the dough mixture.

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can use this substitution:

1. Place a Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.

2. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.

3. Let stand for five minute. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for.

Splayed Roast Chicken in an Iron Skillet

Our family is quite small because it’s just me and my little girl and sometimes my buddy Mr. M comes over for dinner, so I miss making big Sunday dinners. I rarely make one of my favourite things, which is roast chicken. It takes a while to slow roast so it’s better suited to raining days. So when I saw this technique for quick roasting a chicken, I had to try it. Yesterday I got home and got started on my own version of this recipe, inspired by an older cookbook I had which called for making a garlic and herb butter which you then spread underneath the skin of the chicken and on top as well. I salted the butter itself, and I salted the outside of the chicken. I cut up an onion into quarters and threw that in the cast iron skillet as well with some olive oil, but I really should have waited until 30 minutes before the end I think. I didn’t preheat the pan for 45 – holy crap that’s a long time. I put it in there for maybe 10 minutes while I was cutting veggies and preparing the chicken. I wasn’t too sure about the 500 degrees so I had it at 450. When I took it out and added the chicken there was some major sizzling going on. It was in the oven about 15 minutes I suppose when the fire alarm started going off. The whole thing was smoking like crazy and the whole smelled of garlic butter. I turned on the fan, opened the door and window and hoped for the best because Mr. M was coming over in little over an hour so dinner had to be ready. After the first 30 minutes perhaps I gave up and turned it down to 375. It cooked in about an hour and 20 minutes and really was moist and yummy. I’ll try this again and do steps 1 and 2 properly, plus use just the olive oil and see if that helps cut down the smoke. Butter has a very slow smoking point so I should have known better. lol

Bonus: All about smoking points.  And, what the heck is a ramp? 

Sorry, forgot to take pics. I know, half the point of food blogging is the food porn, but I am without a good camera right now, and I cook to eat not to take pics! lol 

Splayed Roast Chicken With Caramelized Ramps, Garlic and Capers

Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

1 4 1/2-pound whole chicken, patted dry
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh ramps (6 ounces)
1 lemon, quartered
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 tablespoon capers.

1. Rub the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. If you’ve got time, do this 2 to 3 hours ahead and refrigerate the bird uncovered. Otherwise, let it rest uncovered at room temperature while the oven heats.

2. Place a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet in the oven and heat to 500 degrees for 45 minutes. If you salted the chicken in advance, take it out of the fridge so it can warm to room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, prep the ramps: trim the hairy bottoms and remove the outer layer of skin. Separate the leaves from the bulbs, rinse both gently and pat dry. Cut any fat bulbs (wider than a pencil) in half lengthwise. Tear the leaves into large pieces.

4. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin connecting the legs to the body. Splay the thighs open until you feel the joint pop on each side. Place 2 lemon wedges inside the chicken.

5. Carefully transfer chicken, breast-side up, to the hot skillet. Press down on the legs so they rest flat on the bottom of the pan. Drizzle the bird with the oil. Roast for 30 minutes. Toss ramp bulbs (not leaves), garlic and capers into the skillet. Stir to coat them with pan juices. Roast for 5 minutes more, then stir again. Continue cooking until ramps are tender and chicken is no longer pink, 5 to 15 minutes more (for a total cooking time of 40 to 50 minutes).

6. Remove chicken from oven and stir ramp leaves into the pan until just wilted. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes, then serve with the pan juices and ramps, garlic and capers, seasoning everything with juice from the remaining lemon wedges, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings.

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