Monthly Archives: December 2014

Orange and Pomegranate Sangria

Orange and Pomegranate Sangria

Orange and Pomegranate Sangria

 

My posts always strictly focus on a recipe, but with 2014 coming to a close, I thought it was important to reflect on the past year. Continue reading

Apple and Sage Brined Turkey

Roast Turkey

With Christmas just around the corner, I spent some time this past weekend working on my menu for Christmas dinner. This is an event all on it’s own for me and it’s where my inner food geek really starts to shine through. Every year I get ridiculously excited dreaming up new ways to play around with my recipes. My one exception to that is my turkey brine recipe. The turkey is the centrepiece of Christmas dinner and I like to lavish a little extra love on it to ensure it turns out perfectly. I’ve kept the recipe the same for the past few years and it always turns out moist and flavourful. Why mess with a great thing? If you’ve never brined a turkey before, you should definitely give it a go. It’s one of those things that seems complicated, but really it only takes 15 – 20 minutes to throw together and the results are amazing. Basically, it’s a salt water solution, sometimes with a bit of sugar added. From there you can add whatever additional flavours you like. The trickiest part of the whole procedure is figuring out how or where to store your turkey while it’s brining. We have a turkey deep fryer so I usually use the pot from that, but you could use a cooler or buy a brining bag. Really, whatever works for you. Once you’ve brined, rinsed and patted your turkey dry, you can carry on with roasting it as you typically would. Continue reading

Cardamom Shortbread with Grand Marnier buttercream

Cardamom Shortbread cookies with Grand Marnier Buttercream

Cardamom Shortbread cookies with Grand Marnier Buttercream

 

This week was my sister-in-laws annual cookie exchange. Usually I’m all over Christmas baking, but this year I’ve been really busy and haven’t had a chance to really think about it. Luckily I have an amazing mom who really likes to bake and was able to help me out for the cookie exchange. Aren’t moms awesome? Even though the cookies were baked for the exchange, I really thought I should do at least a little bit of my own baking, as well. It always helps me to get into the Christmas spirit. And with Christmas only two weeks away (eek!) I could use all the help I could get. I wanted to make something easy and quick and of course, delicious, so I thought I would make my grandma’s shortbread cookie recipe. You really can’t get more Christmassy (that’s a word, right?) than shortbread cookies. Of course, it wouldn’t really be me if I didn’t put my own spin on it, though. So here we go… Continue reading

Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

 Chickpea Cauliflower Curry

Happy Meatless Monday!

We try to eat a vegetarian dinner at our house at least twice a week, although not usually on Monday. Most of the time I’m not organized enough for that. Typically our Meatless Monday happens on Tuesday after I’ve planned the meals for the week and been to the grocery store.  There’s no denying that adding a vegetarian meal into our dinner rotation is better for our health. It’s also better for the planet. And with less meat on the menu, the grocery bill tends to be a bit lower, too.

I think it’s important to continually expose kids to a wide variety of foods, vegetarian or otherwise. A great way to do that is to try making dishes from another country or culture. My son has always been very interested in learning about other countries, so for us it becomes a great conversation topic at the dinner table, as well. One of the recipes I make fairly often is this Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry. It’s loaded with healthful ingredients and is the perfect dish to warm you up on a cold winter night. I love the spice from the madras curry and the punch of flavour from the tomatoes, lime and cilantro. Madras curry  is what I typically have on hand. It’s a fairly spicy curry hailing from the south of India. If you prefer things a bit milder you can certainly use a milder curry or whichever curry powder you’re comfortable with.

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp ginger, grated or minced

2 Tbsp madras curry

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp coriander

1 Cup vegetable broth

398 mL (14oz) Chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 head Cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces

796 mL (28oz) can of whole tomatoes

1 lime, juice only (about 2 tbsp)

1/2 Cup cilantro

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and saute for about 2 minutes until the onions are starting to sweat. Stir in the curry, turmeric, coriander and cumin. Cook for about 1 minute until it starts to become really fragrant. Stir in the broth and then add the cauliflower, potatoes and tomatoes. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the potatoes and cauliflower are just tender. Add the chickpeas and continue simmering for about 15 minutes longer. To finish, stir in the lime juice and cilantro right before serving. Serve over rice or with naan bread.

 

Stuffed Mushroom Caps

 

With Christmas only a few weeks away, the month of December is full of celebrations. We’re always entertaining or going to someone else’s house to be entertained with an appy or treats to share. I love appetizers and would eat most of my meals this way if I could. One of my favourites has always been stuffed mushrooms. I have a few variations that I’ve made in the past, usually seafood or veggie based, but this time I decided to play around with a meatier version and used italian sausage. I used the mild variety but you could use hot italian sausage if you like things a bit spicier.

Most of the time I like having my kids help me in the kitchen, but if I’m playing around with a new recipe idea I like to work on it when my kids are at school. It makes it a bit easier to focus on what I’m doing. Let’s face it, this whole baby brain thing doesn’t seem to ever fully go away. If I don’t act on a thought quickly, it could be lost forever. For this recipe that meant I had to uncork a bottle of red at 10:30 am since my daughter gets home from preschool at 11:30. I’m not shy around wine (obviously, given the name of my blog), but it did feel really weird opening a bottle of red wine that early in the day. Maybe it’s just that it felt odd to cook with it while not being able to drink it. In any case it might be time to change things a bit and start cooking later in the day.

Mushroom caps with italian sausage stuffing

 

24 mushrooms, stems removed

1 lbs Italian sausage

1 Cup onion, diced small

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Cup fennel, diced small

1/2 Cup red wine

1/2 Cup roasted red peppers, diced

1/4 – 1/2 Cup bread crumbs

1/4 Cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 Cup fresh basil, chopped

1/2 Cup parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.

In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Remove the sausage from the casing and add it to the skillet with the onions, garlic and fennel. Continue cooking, breaking the sausage up as you go, until the sausage is cooked through and the vegetables have softened. Stir in the roasted red peppers and then add in the wine, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer for a minute or two. Mix in the breadcrumbs a little at a time until any liquid is absorbed. Gently toss in the parsley and basil.

Italian sausage stuffing for mushroom caps

Fill the mushroom caps with the sausage mixture and place on a baking sheet. Top each cap with some parmesan cheese and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

 

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