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.  😊


Turkey Day and Despite a Tough Year, Still Grateful

Thursday is the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  For those that follow me you know this is my favourite holiday.  With all the materialism built in with a lot of holidays I like we have one where is’t just family and good food.

It’s been a tough year for my family.  We have 12 round the table and we weren’t guaranteed we’d have 12 this time round.  Fortunately my sister’s neck is just about good as new and my dad’s life saving surgery went as well as it should have.  And we are fortunate my cousin in Kenya has made a near complete recovery from his car accident.  Thank goodness the two taxi drivers rushed him to hospital barely alive.  This was while others looted his car.  So you can imagine the amount of gray hair that made light of day in our family this year!

We’re very much looking forward to 2016, as you can imagine!

For this post I wanted to reshare a few of my recipes I’ve made over the years for Thanksgiving.  I figured I’d get them in before the holiday rather than after for once.  🙂

Sage pear turkey 5 2014

The Sage Pear Turkey fast became a favourite of mine.  Pear works so well with the sage and stuffing the skin with butter just makes it divine.

Cranberry Raisin Sauce 6 2014

Hopefully this year I won’t forget to serve the cranberry sauce!  I made this last year with port and it was really delicious.  I like to do variations each year for something new.  I’ve done it with orange, ginger, thyme.  Surprisingly cranberry is a good match for many different ingredients.

Stuffing balls 6 2013

Stuffing balls are a fun variation.  These are made with pork.  This year I’ll be separating these out to have sourdough stuffing then pork balls as some can’t have gluten.

I was going to share a blog post of pumpkin pie.  Looks like I haven’t done a post on that!  Guess what will be coming soon?

For those that celebrate this holiday I hope it is a safe and fun one.  And may you not have to travel too far!


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.

Sage pear turkey 9 2014

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.

Sage pear turkey 8 2014

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.

Sage pear turkey 1 2014

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

Sage pear turkey 2 2014

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.

Sage pear turkey 3 2014

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.

Sage pear turkey 4 2014

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.

Sage pear turkey 5 2014

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.

Sage pear turkey 6 2014

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.

Sage pear turkey 7 2014

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.


Snow Delay and Cranberry Raisin Sauce with Port Wine

Ah the best laid plans.  My favourite holiday, Thanksgiving, is tomorrow but Mother Nature has different plans for us.  Because we have family coming from different states we decided, to be safe, to have Thanksgiving on Friday after the storm has passed through and the roads are clear.

It’s our first proper snow storm of the season, I think the most we’ve had is a dusting, and we are looking at 8-12 inches when it’s all finished.  Problem is, despite most of us living here for years, a lot of people suddenly act like they have never seen a snow flake and don’t know how to drive in it!  So I am glad to be tucked away at home for the rest of the day.

Cranberry Raisin Sauce 7 2014

It is a very pretty storm with all the trees and shrubs outlined in snow.  Hopefully I’ll have a chance tomorrow to take some pictures.

Just because there is a snow delay doesn’t mean I don’t have a load of food prep ahead of me so I decided to make the cranberry sauce today.  I got my inspiration from Chef Mimi and her Cran-Cherry Chutsauce.  A fun name, isn’t it?  What I loved about it was that it had port wine in it.  Ooh, I thought, that’s a lovely idea.

My version is with raisins and a Late Bottled Vintage port.  This took less than 15 minutes to make and homemade is so much better than the canned sauce.

Cranberry Raisin Sauce 1 2014

In a small saucepan I added about 1 1/2 cup of whole cranberries and 1/3 of a cup of the port to start and brought that to a simmer.  Chop a quarter of a red onion.  Make sure the onion is finely chopped for this.

Cranberry Raisin Sauce 2 2014

Add 1/4 – 1/3 of a cup of seedless raisins.  I added more than that forgetting the raisins will swell up so I removed a bunch.  Then add the onion.

Cranberry Raisin Sauce 4 2014

Keep simmering until the cranberries start to burst.  You’ll hear a popping sound.  Once they have started to burst add brown sugar a tablespoon at a time.  All told I probably used 2 tablespoons added a bit at a time.

Cranberry Raisin Sauce 5 2014

If it starts to get too stiff add more port a bit at a time.  While this starts to thicken add a teaspoon of fresh thyme and stir well.  Once you get the consistency and flavour you desire remove from the heat.

Cranberry Raisin Sauce 6 2014

I love the silverware from the Victorian era.  This spoon was specifically made for jellies and cranberry sauce and has been in my family for several generations.  They certainly knew how to lay a table.


Cranberry Apple Sauce

A week has passed since our large Thanksgiving dinner and we’re slowly finding space again in our fridge.  I think our puzzle skills have greatly improved this week fitting everything in.  There has been a large dent made in the turkey with dishes created to used up the leftovers.  There was the basic repeat Thanksgiving dinner but you can’t do that all week long so there has to be some creativity.  I made my chili and just added turkey.  I did add the roast potatoes and parsnips to that but that inched the dish closer to the weird side.  But hey it cleared some valuable real estate.  Last night I did a dish with leeks and tonight I think I’ll do up a curry dish.  And don’t forget the sandwiches!  It’s tradition to make turkey sandwiches.  I made mine with homemade rosemary bread, melted cheese and the leftover cranberry apple sauce.  So good I was a bit sorry the sauce ran out.

I found a tip about cranberries from Jovina Cooks Italian which was to use some baking soda to dial down the tartness of cranberries so you use less sugar.  Which in my family is perfect.

I made this cranberry sauce last year and wouldn’t you know it I forgot the orange juice again!  On to plan B.  Apples were one of the ingredients tying the whole meal together to I decided to use a bit of apple cider for this sauce.

Again about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of cranberrys whole into a small sauce pan.

Cranberry apple sauce 1 2013

Add about 1/2 cup of apple cider and bring to a boil then let it simmer for about 10 minutes.   Jovina recommended 1/4tsp of baking soda but I tried 1/8 tsp first as I wasn’t making much and that worked well for this recipe.  It will get all fizzy and bubbly.

Cranberry apple sauce 2 2013

I added about 1/4 cup of sugar, which is such a small amount for cranberries, and stirred well.  Cook until it thickens a bit and then let cool.

Cranberry apple sauce 3 2013

It still had the cranberry flavour but the tartness wasn’t the strong note of this dish.  It was much more mellow without being overly sweet.


Get Stuffed….

I love stuffing especially with gravy.  To me it is great comfort food that is dressed up for the holidays.  I generally make this stuffing for Thanksgiving but when we were back in the UK my MIL did up a lovely roast pork with stuffing balls.  If I was smart I would have asked for the recipe.  I wasn’t.  However, I figured I could adjust my usual stuffing, add an ingredient, and make them into balls.  I think they are great because the best part of stuffing is the browned edges with a bit of crispy to it.  Now everyone gets it with their stuffing.

Unlike the spinach balls, I knew I had all the ingredients!  🙂

It’s important to plan ahead somewhat for this dish as the bread needs to be stale.  I usually get a sourdough boule and break it up a day or two before making this.  Leave it out for all the pieces to get a bit hard.  Because these will make the balls the pieces need to be somewhat small.

I baked these at about 350F/175C.  Because we had so many things going on in the oven this seemed the average temp.  These can be baked at a higher temp, just keep an eye on them.

Chop up about a half an onion finely and a few cloves of garlic.  Saute them in olive oil until softened.

Stuffing balls 3 2013

Add two cups of veg bouillon and simmer for about 10 minutes.  While this is cooking chop about a cup of cranberries and several fresh sage leaves.

Stuffing balls 1 2013 Stuffing balls 2 2013

Mix the cranberries and sage in with the bread and then work in about a pound of sausage of your choice.  I chose mild Italian sausage for this.  I didn’t want any flavours overpowering the sourdough or the sage.

Stuffing balls 4 2013

Now here comes the messy part.  Just take off your rings and roll up your sleeves!  Pour in the broth with the onions and garlic and mix well.  Take a few minutes to do this so you don’t have any dry bread bits.  Add about a cup of shredded Italian cheeses and mix thoroughly.  Form into balls and place onto a cookie sheet.  As these won’t spread while baking you can keep them somewhat close to each other.  This recipe makes a lot of balls.

Stuffing balls 5 2013

I baked these about 20 minutes or so.  Once they are golden brown check one to make sure it is cooked through.

Stuffing balls 6 2013

These could easily be made vegetarian.  Just remove the sausage.  Though I have to say this is the first time I used meat in stuffing and it worked really well with the sourdough.

Stuffing balls 7 2013

It also paired well with the apple sage gravy I made to go with the turkey.


This Is Not Popeye’s Spinach….

My husband and I were grateful to crawl into bed last night and zone for awhile after a busy several days of holiday and whooping it up for his birthday.   The recovery time is not what it used to be!  We did enjoy watching Guy’s Grocery Games on the Food Network last night as a friend of ours, Luca, who is a wonderful local chef won the game.  So that was pretty cool.  But that was the extent of the excitement we could take.  🙂  As many of you know Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday but we had it on Friday this year as it wasn’t our turn to have the kids for the holiday.  My parents and aunt joined us but my sister couldn’t come as we’ve synced up the holidays so when it’s our Christmas they come too and same for Thanksgiving.  That way all the kids have a chance to be together.

We got our turkey at a local farm and we were late ordering it so I was worried how big it was going to be.  Fortunately they still had a relatively small one at 13.9lbs.  So it fit in the fridge!  We did do the traditional mac-n-cheese, gravy, and roasted veg but I wanted to mix it up a bit with other dishes this year.  To keep us sane we did a lot of food prep the day before.  We were still very busy the morning of though.  I was a bit surprised at that since we planned ahead!

When I was a kid the only two ways I would eat cooked spinach was my mum’s spinach quiche and my Grammy’s spinach balls.  Because I really don’t like cooked spinach.  I mean, why would you take a lovely green and kill it that way?  When I had a sense of smell I couldn’t stomach the smell of cooked spinach and the texture threw me.  But mix it with wonderful ingredients and bake it and I’m good to go.  I’m not sure where Grammy got the recipe and if she was the first in our family to put it on the table but it has been passed on to be made for parties and special occasions.  Of course I changed it a bit because I wouldn’t be my mother’s daughter.  I like to think mum got the habit from her mum.  I also made these for Halloween and I was surprised to see one of our friends who doesn’t really care for veg enjoy these.

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C

Cook 20oz of spinach and drain.  Melt 3/4 cup of butter.  Set this aside to cool a bit.  While the spinach is cooking beat 6 eggs together, chop a medium sized shallot and 2-3 cloves of garlic, and grate at least a cup of fresh parmesan.

Spinach balls 1 2013 Spinach balls 2 2013

When the spinach is ready add the spinach and butter and mix well.

Spinach balls 3 2013

It was at this point I realised I should have made sure I had all the ingredients.  This recipe needs 2 cups of stuffing you cook on the stove.  I had about a 1/4 cup.  So there was a mad dash to the store and a mad dash back.  A bit of a rookie mistake! Mix in the 2 cups of stuffing.

Spinach balls 4 2013

Form into balls and place onto a cookie sheet.  These do spread when baking so treat them like cookies.  The original recipe calls for 20-25 minutes to bake, my Grammy had written 30-35 minutes.  If I bake on regular then it takes about a half an hour.  I chose to do convection and it was about 15 minutes.  Good thing I checked.  It depends on your oven.

Spinach balls 5 2013

If you can serve right away.  We had to do these about an hour beforehand because our bottom oven needed to be in constant use while the turkey roasted in the top oven.  We put them on an oven safe plate and popped them back in for a couple of minutes to warm through.


Thanksgiving Turkey and Gravy

My favourite holiday is Thanksgiving.  There is nothing materialistic about this holiday.  We celebrate family by being thankful for what is important.  A healthy family, food on the table, and a roof over our heads.  Our wealth is not in the objects we collect but in the love we have for each other.  And one way I enjoy showing my love for my family is to cook for them.  My husband and I spent two days cooking and cleaning to get the list done.  We joke about two days of work for 1/2 hour of eating.  LOL But we enjoy the results.  Because there is so much food I won’t do it all in one post.  That would be very long post.  🙂

I love doing the turkey and gravy.  Now you always hear about the debate about using brine on the turkey or dry roasting it.  I don’t do either and I’ve never had a dry turkey.  It comes out moist and flavourful.

Heat the oven to 325 F.  The Fanny Farmer Cookbook recommends 15 minutes per pound if less than 16lbs and 12 minutes per pound if more than that.  Our turkey was just a smidge under 14lbs.  Also, I recently read that heirloom turkeys when done can still have pink tinged juices so you want the turkey to be 165 F when finished deep in the meat.  We got our turkey from a local farm two towns over so I was glad I read about this.

Once I put it in the roasting pan I drizzle it with olive oil.  Another tip with the turkey, don’t wash it, just put it in the pan.  Washing it will spray germs.

I liberally apply salt and pepper to the skin.

Whatever is added now is the base for the gravy so it is important to use the best ingredients.  I grabbed some rosemary and lemon thyme from the garden and put the sprigs into the pan.

I chop up some garlic and onions and toss these in.  Next I add a few cups of water and about 3/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar.  It has a lemony taste that I was going for.  Cover and pop into the oven.

To add another layer of flavour to the gravy I simmer the heart, liver, and neck in water while the turkey is cooking.

I keep the turkey covered for most of the cooking time so it steams with all the flavours.  For the last 20 minutes or so I uncover it to brown a bit.  Now as my daughter and I are the only ones that really like the skin my main objective is to keep the turkey moist rather than crisp the entire skin.  There are times I get it really crisp and sometimes it is like this time round not so crisp.  I set the turkey aside covered to rest while I make the gravy.

I remove the sprigs of herbs and add the water from the neck, heart, and liver to the gravy.  I set aside the neck to add to the stock I’ll make.  The dogs get the heart and liver.  🙂  Bring the gravy to a boil and add either flour mixed in water or corn starch mixed in water to thicken.  Add a bit at a time until you get the consistency needed.  I also add a bit of gravy master for flavour and colour.  Season as needed.

It’s important to boil as it thickens so you don’t have a flour taste.  I stir regularly to keep it all the same consistency.

It was wonderful having my parents, my aunt, and my sister and her family around the table with our family.  As some are vegetarian we have a lot of turkey left over!  Time to get creative.