Making a Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Mac and Cheese 

We’ve all done it.  Opened the door, peered in, shut it again.  Left to wonder what exactly is in that freezer.  Despite best laid plans it’s easy to lose the plot.  Our freezer is nearly 6 feet tall so it’s really not a good idea to lose the plot!  It got to the point where we couldn’t fit anything in and I was wondering how much money we were wasting by not using what we had.  

Off I went to get clear containers to organise the meats, leaving the baskets for all our fruits and veg we had harvested.  I did have to get rid of some things but overall getting it organised and knowing what the heck was in there was a success.  

One of my finds was a vacuumed bag of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  So this post is either well overdue or too early for Thanksgiving.  😄.  Even though we seem to be stuck back in with the sticky heat of summer we did enjoy autumn weather for a few weeks.  It was wonderful and perfect for some comfort food.  Mac and cheese would do the trick.


Would you believe this onion was supposed to be a scallion?  We planted half a raised bed of bunching onions so you imagine our surprise to find proper onions growing.

While making the cheese sauce for this dish, cook up the pasta.  Preheat the oven to 375F/200C. In a separate saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of butter.   Coarsely chop half of a large onion and add it to the butter.


Sauté on low until the onions soften.  Then add a couple of cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add about a cup and a half of chopped turkey.  Season with a couple of teaspoons of fresh thyme and sage.  If you don’t have fresh sage use about a teaspoon of ground sage.  Continue to season with sea salt and pepper.  Then add a half cup/4oz of dry white wine.


To make it a roux add 2 tablespoons of flour.


Stir continuously until the flour is incorporated and cooked, about three minutes.


Next add 1 1/4 cup of milk and heat through.  Don’t boil!  Once the cheese is warm enough to melt cheese add a cup of grated cheddar and half a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Stir until the cheese has melted,


Put the cooked pasta into a baking dish and add the cheese sauce.  Mix well. Top with more grated cheese.


Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and brown the top of the dish.


Serve while hot.  Now we try to eat small portions in our house but with this dish we all had seconds and there weren’t any leftovers!  Guess we needed a break from salads.  😊

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

Summer, at least in relation to school, is coming to an end.  Tomorrow my daughter has her orientation for high school tomorrow and my son has his meet and greet at the middle school.  So we’ve had fun the past couple of days playing games and letting them be lazy.  Because after today we are off and running with a new year. And back to doing the school lunches.  Though with the days starting earlier as they move up schools I’ll have to do them in the evenings but that’s ok.  I’ll survive.  🙂

I’m just thrilled they are still into board games and such.  I hope they don’t outgrow that.  We have so much fun with family time.

Given that all that went on last week, quick meals were the thing.  This dish couldn’t be simpler.  But it has a lot of flavours and falls into the comfort food category.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 1 2015

It’s hard to go wrong when you have sundried tomatoes and garlic.  We also had on hand some apple smoked chicken sausages.  These are fully cooked so this was added at the end.  If you start with raw sausages, brown them first and set aside to cook off near the end.  In a skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add a few cloves of garlic that have been chopped.  Also, add several chopped sundried tomatoes.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 3 2015

Chop up a few mushrooms and slice the sausages and add that to the skillet.  One of the towns we went on our honeymoon was San Gimignano which is famous for the towers.  It also has very good white wine.  I wanted to use this for the sauce.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 2 2015

Add about 1/2 a cup of a good white wine to the skillet. Bring to a simmer.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 4 2015

While this is cooking prepare the spaghetti.  Near the end of cooking add 1/2 a cup of cream and 1/2 a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Mix well.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 5 2015

Add the spaghetti and a handful of fresh basil.  Toss well and serve.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 6 2015

Quick and easy comfort food.  When it’s a tough week, it’s perfect.  In fact I did a similar dish at the end with tomatoes from our garden.  Seems to be my go to flavour profile!

Carbonara With A Twist

I wish that spring lasted longer here.  Winter lasts way too long and summer is always anxious to arrive.  We have been holding off putting in the A/Cs but we might not make it until the end of June like we are hoping.  Yesterday was a scorcher!  I fear summer will be a bit much.

Needless to say my long list for yesterday didn’t get done!  Partly because I grossly underestimated how long it would take to clean out our closet.  Hours!  Just as well as it was to hot to bake.  Hopefully I’ll get that done today.  Wouldn’t want the kids to starve.  🙂

And I didn’t want to be standing over a hot stove either.  We have some black garlic and proscuitto on hand and carbonara is a quick dish to make.  Time for a twist on a great dish!

Carbonara with a twist 1 2015Prep everything ahead of time as this does not take long to cook.  In a bowl whisk three eggs together with salt and pepper.  Great about a cup of aged cheese together.  I used pecorino, parmesan, and romano cheese for this dish.  Cube the proscuitto, about 1/2 -3/4 cups worth.  I finely chopped two bulbs of black garlic and garlic chives.  I love having the fresh herbs from our garden again!

Carbonara with a twist 2 2015

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and slowly saute the garlic. Don’t have the heat higher than medium.  While this is cooking, cook the pasta.  When the pasta is halfway cooked add the proscuitto and chive to the skillet.  The trick with the proscuitto is that you don’t want to overcook it or the flavour will get really strong.

Carbonara with a twist 3 2015

Add a 1/2 cup of dry white wine and lightly simmer.

Carbonara with a twist 4 2015

Once the pasta is cooked add it to the skillet and mix well.  Turn off the heat and add the egg and cheese mixture to the skillet.

Carbonara with a twist 5 2015

Toss and serve immediately.  Garnish with fresh basil and grated cheese.

Carbonara with a twist 6 2015

This is a dish with strong flavours and is great with homemade ciabatta bread.  Here is how to make the traditional carbonara dish.  Both great for when it’s too hot to be standing over a hot stove!

Don’t Judge the Heat by It’s Cover…

Who brought the heat?  I would love to find away to know how hot a hot pepper is by looking at it.  Because boy oh boy it can be quite the surprise!  One of the jalapeños I bit into for this dish set steam coming out of my ears and my good husband went running for the milk.  I hate milk but when your mouth feels like it is on fire you take what you can.

I was digging round in my pins to try something new with bacon and I came across BBQ Jalapeño Poppers from Country Wood Smoke.  I didn’t have the supplies to smoke them so I grilled instead.  Aside from the tear inducing pepper these are delicious and easy to make.

Jalapeno poppers 1 2015

I mixed cream cheese, asaigo cheese, and parmesan cheese together.  The ratio is half cream cheese and then half the hard cheese.

Jalapeno poppers 2 2015

Mix well and add either fresh sage or oregano.  Set aside.  When handling hot peppers I wear gloves because otherwise my fingers burn for days.  Carefully deseed the peppers then stuff with the cheese mixture.

Jalapeno poppers 3 2015

Put the cap of the pepper back on then wrap with bacon.  I recommend toothpicks if your bacon is thick cut so it stays on.  Plus it helps keep the caps on. I found the caps didn’t “glue” on as I had hoped.  I really need to make more of my BBQ sauce but since I’ve been slacking I had to use store bought.  Gasp!  Brush all sides of the poppers with the BBQ sauce.

Jalapeno poppers 4 2015

Place on the grill.  Try not to have the grill too hot because you want the cheese to be hot when finished without the bacon turned to a blackened mess.  Turn the poppers a couple of times as it cooks.

Jalapeno poppers 5 2015

I served these with a fresh salad so the meal wouldn’t be too heavy.  But these are perfect for grilling and summertime meals.

My Family Spoils Me with Amazing Food

Spoilt I tell you, spoilt.  Whenever I have a birthday or it’s a special holiday my family often creates lovely meals for me.  Several weeks ago I had my birthday and I was treated to a 3 course meal. Our son was up first with a fresh salad, my husband knocked it out of the park with an amazing sundried tomato risotto, and our daughter finished it off with her flourless chocolate torte.  And this is after our daughter started my day with breakfast in bed!  How lucky am I?

The other day I thought I would recreate the dish my husband made.  For the steak, I kept it simple.  While the risotto is cooking either pan sear it in butter or grill it.  All it needs for seasoning is sea salt and pepper.  This recipe is for two people.  Just double it for a family of four.

Sundried Tomato Risotto 1 2015I finely chopped half a red onion, several cloves of garlic, and a small handful of sundried tomatoes.  In a large skillet heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil and saute the onions until they begin to soften.  Also prepare about 2 cups of vegetable bouillon in hot water.  Add the garlic and tomato to the skillet.

Sundried Tomato Risotto 2 2015After a few minutes add 1/3 cup dry white wine and 1/2 cup of risotto.  Cook for a minute or so.

Sundried Tomato Risotto 3 2015Add the bouillon 1/2 cup at a time. Bring to a simmer.  While this is simmering grate 3/4 cup of fresh parmesan and asiago cheese.  Set aside.

Sundried Tomato Risotto 4 2015When the risotto is about 3/4 the way cooked add the cheese and any bouillon left.  Continue to simmer until the risotto is cooked, keeping in mind it should be a bit al dente.  At this time cook the asparagus for the side.  I just quickly simmer them in water for a couple of minutes.  They should still be firm.

Sundried Tomato Risotto 7 2015I have to say this is my new favourite risotto, my husband really had a fabulous idea!  I could just eat bowlfuls of this.  🙂

Bacon Cheese and Chive Muffins

In the interest of avoiding a rut with breakfast I asked if the kids wanted something different from the mini quiches and waffles for breakfast.  The answer was yes so I had to find something different that was easy to make and would get them through the morning without having a sugar dump.  It’s hard for our daughter as this year her lunch period is the last one of the day.

I thought muffins with bacon would be fun.  This recipe is part Pillsbury’s The Complete Book of Baking and part my own.  I used them for a base with the basic ingredients and added my twist.

Slowly render about a cup to a cup and a half of bacon with a lot of the fat cut off.  You don’t want greasy muffins.

Bacon cheese muffins 1 2015

While the bacon is cooking mix the dry ingredients together.  You need 2 cups of all purpose flour, 3 teaspoons of sugar, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a handful of chopped chives.  It’s a good idea to actually read the recipe properly.  I thought it said 3 tablespoons of sugar.  Oops!  Fortunately it didn’t ruin the muffins.  I did forget the baking powder and I had to carefully add it afterwards.  Honestly, where was my head?  At this time grate fresh parmesan and jarlsberg cheese to make 3/4- 1 cup of cheese.

Bacon cheese muffins 2 2015

Add 1 beaten egg, 1 1/4 cup of milk, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Bacon cheese muffins 3 2015

Now with muffins you don’t want to overwork the batter.  Gently mix the dry ingredients and wet together.  It’s ok if the batter is a bit lumpy just as long as the ingredients are incorporated.  It will be very wet.

Bacon cheese muffins 4 2015

Fold in the bacon.  This is the part where I forgot the baking powder so I had to sprinkle it over the batter then carefully fold that in.

Bacon cheese muffins 5 2015

Pre-heat the oven to 400F/205C.  Spoon the batter into muffin cups, about 2/3 full.

Bacon cheese muffins 6 2015

Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are golden in colour and the toothpick test comes out clean.

Bacon cheese muffins 7 2015

Treat yourself while they are still warm and have some with butter.

Bacon cheese muffins 8 2015

Not only are these good for breakfast but they would be good with stews and chilli as well.

Ricotta Pasta – Gluten Free and All

Back in October I mentioned trying out a gluten free diet because I was looking to alleviate the chronic pain I was having.  It didn’t really help with the pain but it did let me sleep better which has been a major problem.  So I do gluten free or very low gluten.  I find now my body can’t handle too much gluten.

I did finally get answers, though, about the pain last week.  I have fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.  What a relief it was to get answers.  And to now know what to fight against.  Before I hadn’t a clue and it was really beginning to get to me.  I need to learn how to manage the pain and make sure my diet is such that helps me manage the symptoms.  Fibromyalgia isn’t an inflammation disease but something that affects the brain and nervous system.  They react to various stimuli with pain. Funny I was really glad to find it wasn’t chronic inflammation!  Won’t always be easy but it will get better now.

Part of changing my diet with gluten free is to try to find a decent substitution for pasta.  Not easy because it’s hard to beat good homemade pasta.  I’ve been trying various rice pastas to see what I like.  They aren’t horrible but I’m not a huge fan.  But they’ll do.

We made some ricotta cheese the other day and I wanted to do a pasta dish with the cheese.  Poking about on the internet I saw references to using the ricotta cheese as the sauce.  I think it was from Bon Appetit.

Ricotta pasta 1 2015

In a skillet saute sliced mushrooms, chopped garlic, and fresh thyme.  Cook slowly until the mushrooms brown.  Add equal part fresh ricotta and fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Ricotta pasta 2 2015

Cook slowly until the cheese becomes creamy.  Add the cooked pasta and serve.

Ricotta pasta 3 2015

Perfect comfort food for the chilly nights and super easy to throw together on a week night. 🙂

Cheesy Canapés to Ring in the New Year

Well 2014 is done and dusted.  They go by faster as we get older.  I do wish I can figure out how to slow it down a bit.  Ah well, I’ll just have to enjoy the ride at the speed it goes.

As usual we had a lot of fun with our friends for New Year’s Eve, letting our hair down probably more than is good for us.  And as usual we had a lot of good food, enough for an army!

A few weeks ago apointgourmet posted about Thyme and Gruyere Canapés and I thought they would be perfect for the party.  I could make them earlier in the day and them warm them up at the party.

I decided to use the cheeses I had on hand for this dish which was jarlsberg and parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C

Cheese puffs 1 2015

It’s a good idea to prep the ingredients prior to starting the recipe.  The amount of cheese needed is about 1 2/3 cups with half a cup of that being parmesan and the rest jarlsberg.  Grate the cheese and set aside.  Finely chop fresh thyme to give you two teaspoons and set that aside with the cheese.  Add a pinch of sea salt and a few dashes of cayenne pepper to the cheese.  In a sauce pan bring a cup of water and 4 tablespoons of butter to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add a cup of flour.  Mix well until the dough becomes smooth.

Cheese puffs 2 2015

In a mixer incorporate the dough with the cheese mixture.

Cheese puffs 3 2015

One at a time add 4 eggs and mix well.

Cheese puffs 4 2015

Scoop into a pastry bag with a tip that has a large hole.  This is my least favourite bit as the dough is thick and sticky and likes to find it’s way out the top of the bag.  So annoying!  And it’s hard on my hand squeezing all the dough.  Create dollops about an inch in diameter and place them about 1/2 an inch or so apart.  Beat one egg and egg wash the dollops without letting the egg drip down the sides otherwise the egg can prevent the puffs from rising.

Cheese puffs 5 2015

Bake 25-30 minutes until they are golden brown.  Now the recipe I followed said 20-25 minutes but mine weren’t golden in that time frame, I suspect because of different ovens.  At any rate bake until golden.

Cheese puffs 7 2015

I had also come across an idea to do apples with cheese and pancetta.  So I used that for inspiration and decided to use fontina and prosciutto.  Very easy, just wrap the apple and cheese and bake until the cheese is melted.

Cheese puffs 6 2015

I really liked the balance of the sweetness of the apple and saltiness of the prosciutto.

Cheers!

 

A Short Stack of Grilled Deliciousness…

My husband came home after a 2 week trip for work.  I thought our two dogs were going to burst with excitement.  Leaping about like dolphins.  Needless to say my husband was missed.  By all of us.   The kids will be back today and we get to have our family dinner before a school concert.  It’s nice to get back to normal.  And to have help walking our Murphy dog during the walks.  During his anxiety he got a bit much the other day and I had to carry him for a distance.  When he gets picked up he calms down immediately but I must have been quite the sight carrying a 50lb dog down the street.  Such a dope but he’s our dope.

Earlier this week I wanted to make a light dinner for the kids and I.  As my husband wasn’t here I thought I’d do some eggplant as he’s not the biggest fan of it.  But the kids and I enjoy it particularly on the grill.

Grilled chicken and eggplant 1 2014

I did up a quick marinade for the chicken using olive oil, lemon, and garlic with salt and pepper to taste.  I drizzled the eggplant with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Fire up the grill and cook both ingredients until done.

Grilled chicken and eggplant 2 2014

While this was cooking I did up the dressing with the lemon and olive oil.  Stack the chicken on the eggplant then add tomato and basil.  Add the dressing and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Grilled chicken and eggplant 3 2014

It looks like a small meal and it is but it was surprisingly filling.  And we enjoyed it.  🙂

Eggplant-Aubergine-Al Badinjan Parmesan

Words fascinate me.  With all the different languages one thing can have many different names.  Take eggplant.  Which is a strange thing to call it as the common ones are large and purple.  But various countries in Europe called it eggplant because they used to be the size of a goose egg and even whitish.  In the UK using the word aubergine shows a bit of the French influence on our language but if you continue back the roots are found in the Arabic word al-badinjan.

Years ago when my mum and I would work together we had a little game we’d play.  This was when the internet was new to us and I would look up the word of the day and try to test her.  It would always be a big word or something really obscure and she would have to try to come up with the definition.  I think I tripped her up a small handful of times.  She has an excellent vocabulary and because she took Latin she could figure out the root of the word.  I may not have the vocabulary she does but I love the history of words.

I asked the kids what they would like for dinner this week and our daughter piped up with eggplant parmesan.  As I’ve never made it before I thought why not?  And really it’s not very difficult to make.  The only time consuming bit is the homemade pasta.  For the tomato sauce I used our homemade base and added our usual group of veg and a bit of red wine.

Eggplant parmesan 1 2014

Slice the eggplant about 1/4″ thick or so and remove the skin.  I then sliced them in half so it is more manageable.

Eggplant parmesan 2 2014

Dip them in egg and panko bread crumbs and pan fry in oil until browned then turn them over.  On the browned side I seasoned with salt and pepper and grated fresh parmesan cheese over the eggplant.

Eggplant parmesan 3 2014

After both sides are browned finish off in the oven to complete cooking.  Toss the pasta in the sauce.  I prefer the Italian way of just letting the sauce coat the pasta rather than have the pasta swimming in the sauce.  Grate more fresh cheese over the dish and serve.

Eggplant parmesan 4 2014

Super easy to put together and the kids loved it.  And hey, any time the kids ask for a veg based dish I won’t be saying no!  Though we are lucky, they love their veg.  🙂