Sage Pear Turkey

How did it get to Saturday already?  Where did this week go?  My husband is travelling for two weeks and I’ve had the kids this week.  It’s been a whirlwind of band practice, concerts, tennis practice, and herding the pets.  Plus the tax office is starting up with some things and suddenly it’s Saturday.  I hope next week goes by just as fast because then my husband will be home. 🙂

We had a lovely Thanksgiving but we delayed it a day because a snow storm blew through the night before the actual holiday.  We were lucky because we didn’t lose power but a lot of people did and they were stuck with all that food and no way to cook it.  Some got creative and fired up the old grill.

As usual we order our turkey from a local farm.  Usually we order it from Mayfair Farms a few towns over.  When we don’t it’s because I flaked and waited too long.  This year I didn’t, I ordered early and asked for a small turkey, about 12-13lbs.  Yes, that won’t be a problem, I am on the list!  Pat on the back and all.  Well, best laid plans and all that because the turkeys turned out to be even healthier and hungrier than planned.  Our turkey ended up being 17.56 lbs!  Holy moly.  So I quickly put out the word to my family members to bring containers.  Did any of them do that?  Absolutely not.  Sigh.

As I drove out into the woods to pick up our bird it started snowing and by the time I got to the farm it was really pretty.

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Craig and Sarah, who own the farm, have been here for a few years now and have really made it into a growing concern which is wonderful.  And I was greeted by the “guard” dog who definitely had to check me out.

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Each year I try to do the turkey a bit differently from the last to keep it fresh so I thought I would do a sage and pear roast turkey with butter.

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I softened 1/2 cup of butter and worked in a handful of chopped fresh sage.

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Luckily the turkey still fit into the roasting pan.  Not the lid though so I had to use tin foil to cover.  Murphy was really hoping I’d screw up somehow and the turkey would magically fly out of the pan and onto the floor.

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I’ll admit I don’t like this next step of mucking about with raw poultry.  I stuffed most of the butter under the skin and what little was left rubbed into the outside of the skin.  Season with salt and pepper.  I used white pepper because we ran out of regular pepper.

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In the basin of the pan add a peeled pear, chopped, half a red onion, a few cloves of garlic, a handful of sage, and a few teaspoons of fresh thyme.  Add 1/2 cup of dry sherry, and a couple of cups of water.  Cover with tin foil or a lid and begin roasting at 325F/160C.  If the turkey is less than 15lbs, cook it 15 minutes per pound, if more than than, then drop it to 12 minutes.  This is per the Fanny Farmer cookbook.  So our turkey was about 3 1/2 hours.  An hour and a half in I basted.  When there is an hour to an hour and a half left remove the cover.  Normally I wait to the last 45 minutes but because I added so much butter I knew this wouldn’t dry out.

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Now I love turkey skin and let me tell you this was amazing.  Crispy and full of flavour!  And because I put in all the ingredients for the gravy at the beginning it is just about made.  I put it on the boil and add dissolved corn flour a bit at a time to get the thickness I want.  Stir constantly.  I usually add a bit of Gravy Master but not too much because I want the subtle flavours of the pear and sage to come through.

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We did our usual roast veg and I made the stuffing balls I did last year.  I also made a fabulous cranberry port sauce.  That I forgot to serve. Honestly, all that effort.  All well I’ll serve it at Christmas.

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Of course we had way too much food.  I always stress about making sure we have enough food though logically I know we’ll have leftovers taking over the fridge.  But it was wonderful to have family together for my favourite holiday.

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Seared Scallops with Cream and Butter Sauce

I often ask my family what they would like me to cook for meals.  Our son recently began requesting pulled pork sandwiches because that is one of the school hot lunches he likes.  We let them have a hot lunch once a week at school if they choose for something different.  So I told him that I’ll do that in a few weeks once Thanksgiving has died down.  Unbeknownst to me he requested that from a friend’s mom this week.  He got invited to go a book signing for Diary of a Wimpy Kid and she asked what she should make for dinner.  I don’t think he realises what goes into making these sandwiches!  But she was a great sport and made them.  Awesome.  🙂

For last night my husband requested the cream and butter sauce over pasta.  Which I was happy to do but because I’m on very low gluten/gluten free I needed to do something for myself that would allow me to get both dishes done at the same time.  I originally wanted to do some salmon but the salmon at the shop was really sad looking.  However they had some lovely sea scallops.

Instead of pasta I roasted potatoes for my dish.  I made the cream and butter sauce the way I usually do.  In a skillet saute 5 slices of  streaky bacon.  After a few minutes add half an onion chopped.

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After the onions have softened add 3-5 finely chopped cloves of garlic and sliced shiitake mushrooms.  Deglaze the pan with a few teaspoons of sherry and stir well.

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For colour add some red or orange bell pepper.  While the pasta is cooking prep the scallops by patting them dry on paper towels.

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Heat up a skillet with olive oil and starting searing one side of the scallops.  Because of the bacon involved I seasoned mine with a spicy dry rub.

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To get a good sear on the scallops don’t play with them.  Let them be until they freely move in the pan.  Sometimes they will slide round before the sear is complete but definitely don’t try to force them up to flip them over.  Once you have a nice sear turn them over to sear the other side.

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I prefer my scallops to not be overly translucent but cook them to the level you desire, just don’t cook them so that they are tough or dry.  To serve I layered the roasted potatoes with the sauce then topped with the scallops.  Grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.

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I loved this substitution for pasta.  I felt like I ate enough without that awful stuffed feeling.  And cream and butter sauce is such an indulgence.  I could eat bowls of it!  🙂

 

Roasted Mushroom and Parsnip Soup

The gluten free experiment is going well.  I’m starting to feel better with a few bumps along the way but I figure that is normal.  I am discovering there are some missed opportunities  when searching out gluten free snacks and the like.  It is not a guarantee that you will get something that tastes good.  I tried a breakfast wrap at a local bagel place and the gluten free wrap could be best described as wet cardboard.  Some of the tortilla chips aren’t much better.  I tried one type of cracker that said right on the box how important taste was.  My husband said I made quite the face trying to eat those!

I have found a couple of things I like and fortunately we’re having success at home.  Otherwise I’d starve or at the very least be very cranky.  And that just won’t do!

With the cooler weather settling in I was in the mood for a quick soup with a lot of flavour.  Roasted mushrooms and parsnips fit the bill.

Roasted mushroom and parsnip soup 1 2014

Slice up mushrooms of your choice and a few parsnips, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in an oven at 350F/175C until parsnips are cooked and golden.

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Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and add 3-5 cloves of garlic chopped and some fresh thyme.

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Once the garlic has softened add the mushrooms and parsnips.

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As I was only making this for two I added 2 cups of veg bouillon and 1/2 cup of dry white wine.  Bring to a simmer.  Add salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

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Of course if you aren’t doing gluten free then cheesy toast would be perfect with this.  🙂

 

Lemon Cookies with Strawberry Mint Ginger Jam

Stateside we just had our Labor Day Weekend.  The last hurrah of summer.  Best thing about it?  We had the kids!  Saturday was gorgeous so we took advantage of it and spent most of it outside.  Our daughter is trying out for the school’s soccer team and she wanted to practice her shooting.  Off we traipsed to play a bit of footie at the local playground.  Nearly did a split trying to get the ball!  Not a good thing.  Still it was a blast running round with the kids.

And the holiday weekend is never complete without our annual trek to the go-carts.  But dang it if I didn’t get the slow car again!  It was like a Sunday drive.  I want a car with oomph!

The weekend was topped off with marathon sessions of Settler’s of Catan.  That game is seriously addicting.

I came across a delicious recipe for lemon cookies with strawberry jam that looked super easy.  And if you are going to have marathon sessions of games with the kids there needs to be treats available!

First I made the jam.  I usually do the jam with ginger but I wanted to add another layer of flavour.  We have a ton of mint in our garden and I thought it would give a nice balance to this cookie.

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In a small sauce pan add about 1 1/2 cup of chopped strawberries, 2T of lemon juice, and a small handful of mint.  Grate fresh ginger over the strawberries to your taste and bring to a simmer.

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Remove from the heat once it gets to the jam consistency.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C

For the cookie dough you will need:

1 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

zest of 1 lemon

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Cream the butter and sugar together and add the lemon zest.

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Add the flour and mix well.  If the butter is cold like mine was because I spaced on getting the butter out of the freezer in time you may find it crumbly but that is ok.  The cookies may not spread out as much as warmer butter but it will still be delicious!

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Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.  Use a finger to make dents into the dough and fill with a small amount of strawberry jam.  Bake for 9-11 minutes.

While it is baking mix up a glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp almond extract, and 2T of milk.  Mix with a whisk.  If it is still too thick add more milk.

When the cookies are still warm drizzle the glaze over the cookie.

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Not only these really easy to make they are fabulously delicious!  And it was a great way to use up some leftover strawberries.

 

Giving Cornish Pasties a Try…

When we had our family get together a few weeks ago my dad was telling me about someone he knows being confused about how to pronounce Cornish Pasty.  This person would insist on pronouncing it pasty as in paste.  We had a good laugh about that, I asked if dad had explained that pronunciation required dollar bills!

As I did research on recipes for Cornish Pasties I realised that in 2011 it was given a PGI similar to Chianti or Parmesan cheese.  So I went to the official site for a Cornish Pasty to find out how to make these.

I’m not sure how stringent they are in protecting the Cornish Pasty because I have had several in the UK, many variations which include peas or carrots, different ways of doing the beef, etc.  I followed their way as closely as I could.  I’ll show what the actual recipe says and what I did based on the ingredients I had.

For the pastry:

500g strong bread flour (I used our all purpose flour)

120g white shortening

25g cake margarine (I used butter)

5g salt

175g cold water

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Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until the water is incorporated.  Tip out onto the counter.  This will be very crumbly.

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Knead the dough together to incorporate the shortening and butter.  This will be a stiff dough.

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Cover and place in the fridge for 3 hours.  I only was able to have it in there for 2 but it came out well.

For the filling:

450g skirt steak (I had about 390g)

450g potato (they said to use waxy potatoes but I used what we had on hand and used our freshly harvested red potatoes.  Also, to keep the ratio of the filling intact I used about 390g of potato)

250g swede (rutabaga)

200g of onion

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Chop the steak onion into 1/2″ cubes.  Chop the swede and potato into 1/4″ cubes.  Season well with salt and pepper.  The recipe says to have a 2:1 ratio of salt and pepper.

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Preheat the oven to 410F/210C

Divide the pastry into four portions.  Roll out thinly and spoon the filling into the centre.  I found that 1 1/2 cup of filling was as much as the pastry could hold.  Add two dollops of butter.

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Fold over the pastry and roll crimp from one side round to the other side.  Put a few slits in the top.

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One step I forgot was to brush milk over the pastry before baking.  Bake for an hour until golden brown.

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I did find a disconnect between the amount of pastry they say to make and the filling.  I had about a third of the filling leftover and it was reduced based on what I had.  When I make this again I will reduce the filling even more.

We all enjoyed it and I loved the simplicity of the recipe.  And I have to get to Cornwall and see what the real thing is because it looks like I haven’t bought real ones yet!

 

Pear Frangipane and Getting In My Own Way…

This was three days in the making.  Yes, three days.  Not because this an elaborate recipe, there are several steps, but because I was my own worse enemy this weekend.  Normally this is a few hours of work but I started it on Friday and finally finished it yesterday afternoon.

My husband and I were struggling with a summer cold on Friday.  So we were dragging.  But I figured I’d be ambitious and bake a frangipane.  My sister had made this a few times before and it’s delicious.  I finally remembered to buy pears and they were ripe and ready to go.  I got the butter and the flour in the freezer then went to get out the food processor and dropped a pasta attachment on my toe.  Fortunately it only dropped a few inches because that solid steel really hurt!  So off I went to elevate it and ice it. That day was done.

Saturday just got away from us.  We were finding storage solutions for our son’s room so he can organise the crazy amount of Lego he has acquired.  Shopping takes a lot out of you so that day was shot!  Yesterday was the day to make this happen.

This is the recipe I used.

For the pastry you will need:  9T butter, 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/3 cup of water.  Cut the butter in 1/2″ slices and place in the freezer for 1/2 an hour.  Chill the water in the fridge.

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In a food processor pulse the butter, flour, and salt together until the flour and butter are incorporated in a crumbly mixture.

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Slowly add the water while pulsing the food processor.  Stop pulsing when all the water has been added.  You want the pastry to feel dry still.  Tip it onto the counter.

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Press the pastry in a kneading fashion to bring the pastry together.  This will take a few minutes.

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Roll out the pastry until it is about 1/2″ thick and cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.  It can be chilled for up to 24 hours.

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For the Frangipane you will need: 1 cup of almonds, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 T of flour, 1 egg, 5 T butter, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp of almond extract, pinch of salt.

In the food processor pulse the almonds and sugar together until you get a fine meal.

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Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse until blended.  I put in the butter in one lump and it took awhile to blend so I recommend cutting the butter first into small pieces.

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For the pears you will need: 3-4 Bartlett pears, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 T flour, pinch of salt, zest of one lemon, 1T of lemon juice.

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As my pears were really ripe this part was very messy.  But peel and slice the pears.  In a bowl add the sugar, salt, flour, and lemon zest.  Mix well then add the pears and lemon juice.  Set aside.

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Pre heat the oven to 425F/220C.

Roll out the pastry to about 16″.  If the pastry is too hard let it warm up a bit.  In the centre add the frangipane.

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Layer the pears over the frangipane and fold the pastry over the top.

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Beat one egg and add about a tablespoon of water to the egg.  Brush this over the pastry and sprinkle with sugar.

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Lower the temp to 400F/205C.  Bake for 40 minutes.

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Let it cool before serving.  Serve it with whipped cream.

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It was a long weekend but this was a great treat to end it.  My husband made a fabulous cheese souffle for dinner so we had an excellent meal all round!

I noticed halfway of writing this post that I was back to the new style but it gave me the chance to go back to classic.  Luckily I copied what I wrote before I switched back because when you do that it erases any work you have done.  I’d like it to stick to classic!

 

Warming Parsnip Curry Soup

It’s been a wonderful weekend.  The sun has been shining and the temps above freezing.  What a treat!  Even though it’s not our week for the kids we had to help our son get supplies for a water project he has to do for school.  His experiment has to do with hydroponics which we are very curious about.  It gave us a chance to take him to lunch and hang out with him a bit.

I like being able to do one on one with the kids.  Gives them a chance to natter on about whatever they would like and get our full attention.  After we dropped him off we puttered about downtown.  Loads of people were about enjoying the good weather.  It was good for the shops as well.  It’s hard on Main St with the cold weather.  I did more research on tablets and decided on an ipad.  It was my early birthday present and I love it.  And there is a solution to getting my photos off of my slr onto the ipad when I travel.  Now I just need to find the photo editing apps and I’m good to go!  Last night was topped off by seeing a show of Dueling Pianos where they took requests for songs.  Like I said it’s been a fabulous weekend.  🙂

We had the kids for supper on Thursday and with it still being chilly I made parsnip curry soup.  My husband has made this soup several times and it’s wonderfully warming when you are sick.  I thought it would give it a try.  A very simple quick soup full of flavour.  We got the recipe of American’s Best Recipes.  I did change it a bit.

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Peel and dice a pound of parsnips.  Do this first as this takes a bit of time.  Set aside.  Chop half a red onion and coarsely chop a couple of garlic.  In a saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Cook the onion until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

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Add about 2 tsps of cilantro and 2 tsp of cumin.  Stir well then add the parsnips to coat and cook for a few minutes more.  Add two heaping spoonfuls of the curry paste of your choice.  Here you can make it as spicy or mild as you would like.

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Add two cups of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Cook until the parsnips are cooked and softened.

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Add 2 cups of milk, 2 spoonfuls of sour cream, and a few squirts of lemon juice.

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Remove from the heat and blend the soup.  We use the immersion blender and we are ok with it not being 100% smooth but blend to the smoothness you like.

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Heat through and it is ready to serve.  Add a dollop of sour cream and a bit of chive.

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It was enjoyed by all and having fresh bread and butter with it didn’t hurt.  🙂

Now off to play with my new tablet and finish setting it up.  I’m such a geek when it comes to gadgets and tech stuff.  Just wish I knew more about it!

When Life Hands You Lemons Make Grilled Cheese!

Thank you for those that watched my daughter’s episode, the feedback made her smile.  🙂  As you know the trick of adding acid to a dish was mentioned though the surprise was to add it to grilled cheese.  Never thought of that.  But I loved the idea.  Of course I had to wait until the show came out so I didn’t spoil any surprises.

Last night I gave it a go.  When I asked what kind of grilled cheeses I should make our son piped up with ham and pineapple!  Crazy kid but I said sure.  I bought some fontina cheese to go with it and he loved it.  For the rest of us who aren’t as adventurous I thought I would do a mushroom grilled cheese.

I slices up a few mushrooms, chopped about 3 large cloves of garlic, and prepped some fresh thyme.

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I heated up some olive oil in a skillet and sauteed the mushrooms first until they started browning.  Then I added the garlic, thyme, and a few teaspoons of lemon juice.  I think Luca likes to add a bit of lemon juice while you are cooking the actual grilled cheese but I wanted to incorporate it into the mushrooms.

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Once the garlic is cooked set aside until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.  We were also do sweet potato and regular potato fries to go along with the sandwiches and that bit can take awhile!  Especially when we are using a saucepan to fry.  For our mushroom sandwiches I used Jarlsberg.  Butter the outside of the bread and layer the cheese and mushrooms.  We use our homemade sourdough for this.

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To grill we used our cast iron griddle and press.  Make sure both are hot and cook until golden and the cheese is melted.

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My daughter and I added some ham to ours.  This got a thumbs up and our son hopes we make his again as well.  😉  A fun dinner for a laid back weekend.

A Date Walked Into A Bar

The weather the past few days has been my kind of winter.  It’s above freezing and it’s melting the snow.  Yes!  Of course there is a ton of snow to go and it will be below freezing this week but progress is being made.  🙂

We’ve had some lovely days with nary a cloud in the sky.  Our seed trays are set up and the seedlings are showing up to be counted.  There are a few of us in the neighbourhood that have the grow lights going now.  We give off the impression that the munchies are on their way.  But no, the wildest thing we have growing is some spicy salad mix.

The kids are on school holiday this week so I have a feeling there will be several PJ days.  Yesterday I baked some date bars for the week to give them a bit of a treat.  My mum used to make these and every once in awhile they show up as a treat for us as well.  They don’t last long!  My son got hooked on them when my mum had him help bake them a few years ago.  My kind of tradition.

Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C.

This is my mum’s recipe but I’m not sure where she got it from.  I did increase a few things as my baking pan was a bit bigger than what she called for.  In a small saucepan combine 8oz of chopped dates, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 cup cold water.

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Simmer until it has thickened stirring regularly so it doesn’t stick on the bottom.

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While the dates are cooking combine in a large mixing bowl, 2 cups of quick oats, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda.

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Once the dates are ready melt 3/4 cups of butter and mix that in with the oats until it is evenly distributed.  Press half the mixture into an 8 x 11 pan.

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Spread the date mixture over the oats.

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Spread the rest of the oats over the dates and carefully tamp down without squishing the dates up through the oats.  Bake for about 25 minutes.

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Try to let it cool.  🙂  The warmer it is the more flimsy the bars are and it gets a bit messy!

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I should make these more often as they aren’t difficult but they taste wonderful.  🙂

So a side note:  I’ve noticed on a couple of my posts I’m getting a ton of spam messages.  I block, trash, and state they are spam but any advice on how to get it to stop?  It’s annoying.

Cherries – It’s Hip To Be Square

Another week down and another weekend coming to a close in a blink of an eye.  I remember when time used to drag unbearably when I was a child.   I wish we could make time do the same in adulthood.  Or at least have more control over it.  Some things I am ok with rushing through.

I was lucky growing up, no matter how busy my mum got with work and overtime, we would have fresh baked goods.  Cookies were the main thing along with fresh bread but we got to enjoy cakes, bars, and pies as well depending on the holiday.  She would sometimes feel bad that she worked so much but I always said the time she spent with us was quality.  And we knew we were loved by the effort put into our meals made from scratch.  I equate that type of effort for your family with love.  It gives me no end of joy to see our kids grasping that and wanting to learn themselves.  I know they’ll be fine when they are out in the world and they’ll pass it on to their kids.

I had some fresh cherries left over after doing the cherry sauce for the pork and we needed to use them before they went off.  So I flipped through my baking books for inspiration and something the kids would enjoy.  I came across cherry squares in the Pillsbury The Complete Book of Baking.  It does call for the canned cherry pie filling.   No thank you!  The only pie filling I buy is for the pumpkin pie and I have to add stuff to that.  The cherry pie fillings are just sicky sweet and full of junk.  So I decided to make my own filling.  Super easy and not overly sweet.

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I should say the sauce bit is easy.  If you don’t have a cherry pitter, as we don’t, it takes awhile to get all the pits out.   I may need a new gadget!  In a sauce pan add the cherries and about a 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil.

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As the cherries start to break down add about a 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  The ratio was about a cup and a half of cherries to 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Continue to simmer until it thickens into a jammy sauce.

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Set this aside to cool.   For the cake dough add to a mixing bowl 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1tsp salt, and a tsp of yeast.  Mix this well.  In a small saucepan warm up 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/2 cup of butter.  Don’t boil but you want it very warm, warm to the touch.  So not scalding.

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Add the warm liquid to the flour mixture then add 2 eggs and mix well.  Once it is mixed well turn the mixer to medium speed and mix for about 3 minutes.

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Next add a bit of flour at a time until the batter becomes stiff.  This will range from 1 to 1 1/2 cups of flour.

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Cover and to rest and rise until double in a warm place.  This will take 45-60 minutes to complete.

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In a greased 13 x 9 inch pan spread 2/3 of the dough out.  This is a bit tricky as it will slide about in the pan and as it is elastic it takes a bit of doing.

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Spread the cherry sauce over the top.

Cherry squares 9 2014Take the remaining dough and dollop it over the cherries in small clumps.  This leaves about half the cherries exposed.  Let it rise again for 20-30 minutes.  While this is rising preheat the oven to 350F/180c.

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Bake for 35-40 minutes until it is nice and golden.  While it is baking make the glaze to drizzle on top.  Whisk 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp almond extract, and about 4 tsp of milk.

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When it comes out of the oven drizzle the glaze over it and it is ready to serve.  We enjoyed this as the tartness of the cherries balanced nicely with the cake.  It didn’t last long.  🙂