Category Archives: drinks

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving (2018)

Happy Thanksgiving

 

I went a little overboard this year and bought a pre-cooked 5 kg honey-glazed spiral cut ham for my Thanksgiving meal. It cost me $22 CDN and I figure I’ll get at least ten meals out of it so it was definitely a good purchase, price wise.

I had a wonderful lie in this morning, and hadn’t done the math needed to figure out how long it would take to re-heat this monster, ahead of time. It turned out to be almost THREE HOURS, with the enclosed glaze being brushed on for the last half hour. Next time I’d up the temperature to AT LEAST 300 deg or even 325 deg, from the 275 deg F written on the wrappings, because, even after the maximum roasting time recommended, it was still only lukewarm inside. So I sliced off and reheated the portion I ate in the microwave. By this point, it was 6 pm. And I was VERY hungry.

The ham was tasty and moist, but the potato and onion gratin was the star of the show, in my opinion. I started out with this recipe, and then made some changes. Because I was starved, I served myself about one quarter of the dish and by the time I was finished, I was so full, that I almost didn’t have room for dessert.

ALMOST

Cause this was a great looking dessert.

I wanted to make some sort of seasonal fruit dessert for Thanksgiving, but all I had in the house were three apples (Red Delicious) in the crisper drawer, and some blueberries in the freezer. I decided on an apple crumble (with sliced almonds in the crust because I didn’t have any rolled oats in the pantry) with a couple of tablespoons of the blueberries added for a bit of colour. I’ll post my recipe for an individual apple crumble in a future post. As well as for an individual blueberry pudding cake I made.

Potato and Onion Gratin

Potato and Onion Gratin – serves 6-8

1 medium (~300 gm) sweet potato, peeled, halved and sliced about 1/4 inch thick *
1 medium white/yellow (~100 gm) Russet potato, peeled, halved and sliced about 1/4 inch thick*
1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced (1/8-1/4 inch thick)
~4 oz (125 gm) cream cheese, cubed
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
4 strips of cooked bacon, thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch thick)

* Use all sweet potatoes or white potatoes, if preferred, or if that’s all that you have available.

Topping

1/2 cup grated old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup fried onions

Combine topping ingredients in a shallow dish.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg Fahrenheit.

Lightly oil a medium sized baking dish with a neutral oil like canola. (Spray with a cooking spray if you prefer.)

Cover the base of the baking dish evenly with about 1/3 of your sliced potatoes. Scatter about half of the sliced onions over the potatoes. Make another layer of potatoes, and then scatter the remaining onions over the top. Finish with the last of the potatoes.

Place the cubed cream cheese in a medium sized, microwave safe bowl, and warm just long enough to soften the cheese. Whisk/stir in the flour and the dried thyme. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, a bit at a time, until it’s smoothly combined with the cheese and flour mixture. Whisk in the milk.

Pour the cream cheese/broth/milk mixture over the layered potatoes and onions. Scatter the bacon over the top. Put the lid on the casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes.

Take the lid off the casserole dish, scatter the topping evenly over the casserole and return to the oven. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread crumbs are golden brown.

Let rest for 10-15 minutes, then serve.

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Baked Meatballs … and Stuff

I’m so bored that the dozens of pictures that I took over the last month or so are languishing on my hard drive, unlikely to ever see the light of day. And the July clear-out post of pictures, scheduled to drop, eventually, is probably going to be deleted, as there’s nothing really new in them.

The most exciting thing I’ve made since my last post (NOT yesterday’s Italian bread post) is a batch of baked beef meatballs which I combined with jarred mushroom spaghetti sauce and rotini pasta for today’s supper. I toasted a couple of slices of the bread for garlic bread.

A few days ago I thawed the last of the hamantaschen pastry from Christmas. Today, I rolled out the pastry, cut out 2 inch circles and shaped them into a sort of ‘bow-tie’ cookie filled with mincemeat, also leftover from Christmas. Tasty but otherwise … meh.

In a recent ‘conversation through blog comments’ with a blogging friend I mentioned my last culinary shopping splurge, at the local LCBO … a bottle of Niagara Pinot Grigio and a bottle of sake. The Pinot was slated for risotto and/or mussels in a white wine and tomato sauce, and the sake was supposed to be paired with something sushi related. It didn’t happen. In the middle is a bottle of Polish made mead in a ceramic bottle gifted to me by my nephew. I’ll have to do something creative with it, one of these days.

And that’s about it, folks.

Strawberry Lemonade

If you have an excess of sweet (or not so sweet) strawberries on hand, make a big jug of strawberry lemonade this summer and enjoy it under a shady umbrella in your favourite outdoor spot.

Strawberry Lemonade – makes 5-6 cups of lemonade

Sugar Syrup
1/2 cup water, boiling
1/4 cup sugar, plus more sugar if needed

In a saucepan on the stove, or in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave, bring water to the boil and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Let cool slightly.

Strawberry Puree
400-425 gm (~2 1/4 cup) chopped strawberries
1/2 cup cold water
2 tbsp (1/8 cup) sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups cold water

5-6 fresh strawberries, for garnish

In a stand/bar blender, puree the chopped strawberries, water and sugar.

In a large jug, add 1 1/2 cups water, sugar syrup, strawberry puree and lemon juice. Stir well, taste, adding more sugar if needed (another 2 tbsp at a rough estimate) and refrigerate.

Serve over a tall glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with small to medium strawberries with a small slit in the base.

NOTE: The strawberry lemonade will look somewhat pink when first made due to all the air incorporated into the strawberry syrup during pureeing. As the bubbles burst and the foam dissipates, the lemonade will darken in colour.

Hard lemonade: Add 1 oz of vodka to each glass of lemonade.

Affogato Espresso

Ported from my LJ

This was a day when I really wanted/needed a shot of espresso and something sweet to go with it. And I had no desserts in the house except for a tub of French vanilla ice cream in the freezer.

An “affogato” is a coffee based vanilla ice cream or gelato dessert. I used espresso, or rather espresso made with instant espresso powder, for a fast dessert that wasn’t overly sweet.

Affogato Espresso – serves 1

1 shot (1 1/2 oz) espresso
2 scoops (1/2 cup) French vanilla ice cream

Note: Since I don’t have an espresso machine, I made my espresso by combining 1 tsp espresso powder with 1 1/2 oz of water that had been brought to a boil. If you like a stronger espresso, use 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder but the lower amount was plenty for me.

For company, serve each person a bowl of ice cream and a freshly brewed shot of espresso which they can pour over their own ice cream.

In a sturdy glass, add the ice cream and pour the shot of espresso over it..

Dig in with a teaspoon, cause you want to savour each mouthful.

You can freeze the ice cream in the bowl and pour cooled espresso over it, or, as I did, pour the hot espresso over the freshly scooped ice cream for an ice cream ‘float’.

Picspam: Frozen Perogies and Fresh Strawberry Margarita

Making perogies from scratch isn’t as challenging as you’d think.

I’ve made them … once.

And they were delicious.

But sometimes you just don’t have the time or energy to make them so you buy a bag of the frozen ones, especially when they’re on sale.

The default way to serve perogies is boiled, sauteed in butter/olive oil until golden brown

… and then topped with sauteed onions, crispy bacon and sour cream. A sprinkling of thinly sliced green onion for colour (and so you can pretend there’s something fresh and healthy on your plate).

But, you may want to switch things up every once in a while.

Home made or canned chili is a great topping.

Or bolognese. Or a duck ragu. How do you serve YOUR perogies?

And, because my strawberries were getting past the peak of their freshness … I pureed the remainder and made a fresh strawberry margarita. (If my blender was able to grind up ice, I’d have the slushy version of this delicious drink which I first had at the Regal Constellation in Toronto at a Toronto Trek convention.)

Coincidentally, it’s a nice Cinco de Mayo drink if you want something sweet.

Fresh Strawberry Margarita – serves 1

125-150 gm fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1/4 cup tequila
2 tbsp Cointreau, Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Garnish
fresh strawberry and/or lime wedge
coarse salt for rimming glass
coarse sugar for rimming glass

Run a lime wedge around the rim of a tall glass, or a champagne coupe glass. Dip the glass into a shallow bowl with coarse salt (or sugar), to create a decorative rim. Set aside the glass.

Add all of the above ingredients, excepting the garnishes, to a blender and puree. Taste and add more lime juice or honey, to taste. Strain through a coarse strainer to make sure any chunks are gone.

Add a few ice cubes to a shaker, pour the margarita over the top, shake for a minute or two and then strain into the salt rimmed glass. Garnish with a fresh strawberry that you’ve cut a slit into from the base, and/or a lime wedge.

Cinco de Mayo 2018 – Bloody Maria ver 2

I haven’t made this drink in ages but, with a week to go until Cinco de Mayo, it seems appropriate to repost this Mexican version of the vodka based Bloody Mary. Besides, I needed to crack open the can of tomato juice I had in the basement, to make gravy with. I didn’t have any horseradish but seafood sauce is a great substitute. I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol so you can double the amount of tequila.

 

Bloody Maria – serves 1

1 oz tequila
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes hot sauce ie. Cholula, Tapatio or Frank’s Hot Sauce
1/2 tbsp seafood sauce (or 1/2 tsp horseradish)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
6 oz tomato juice

Garnish options
Lime wedge or wheel
Celery stalk
Coarse salt for rimming the glass

Decorate the rim of a tall glass with salt by rubbing the edge with a lime wedge and then dip into salt.

In a shaker filled with ice, combine all the ingredients except the garnishes, and shake until well chilled.

Strain into a tall glass filled with ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

Breakfast, Snack, Dessert and Drink Odds and Ends

Breakfast for lunch (aka brunch) or dinner (aka brinner) is one of my favourite meals.

Bacon, eggs and cream cheese …

… sometimes the eggs get scrambled and the cream cheese gets spread on toasted sourdough bread. There’s usually bacon in the picture though.

Two thick cut slices of sourdough bread soaked in a mixture of 1 whole egg, 1/3 cup of milk and a splash of vanilla extract and fried in unsalted butter makes a delicious if not diet friendly serving of French toast (pain doré) with lots of real Canadian maple syrup. And on the side … BACON!!!!!!!!!!!

Snacks

Genoa salami and home made crunchy sourdough flatbreads

Before cooking – gochujang sourdough tortilla, guacamole and shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Desserts

I hate throwing away egg whites, though I have often done so. If I had a decent sponge cake recipe, I’d try to make a small version but I only have a full sized sponge cake pan and my last attempt at the full size (many years ago) was a miserable failure. And don’t get me started on macarons. I’m not THAT desperate. So, I’m stuck making meringues. As often happens, I FORGOT to let the egg whites come to room temperature. And they may have been ‘aged’ longer than advised. Still, even a somewhat grainy meringue bakes up to a tasty treat. I sprinkled toasted coconut on some of the meringues before baking. And I beat in espresso powder on the last third of the beaten whites so they deflated. Who cares?

The last of the home made puff pastry rectangles filled with espresso sweetened whipped cream with a cup of coffee … cause you can never have TOO MUCH caffeine.

I bought an unripe mango and cut it too early so it was hard and somewhat tasteless … no problem. Peel and dice and add 1 cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of yogurt, sugar or honey to taste and about a tbsp of fresh grated ginger. Whizz it up in your blender and you get three refreshing servings of mango smoothie.

Drinks

Mango Smoothie

February Wrap-Up

ANOTHER PICTURE HEAVY POST WARNING:

February’s been a month of snow and rain and cooking.

I’ve already posted a number of things but there have been meals and dishes produced to nourish the body even if they were not post-worthy on their own or repeats of previous posts.

No-knead sourdough with a bit of ground rolled oats added to make for a taste boost. Toasted and spread with peanut butter … a delicious breakfast addition or snack.

I also made another loaf of sourdough quinoa for sandwiches.

I tried out a recipe for Chipotle Yum Yum Sauce posted on “The Frugal Housewifeblog and used it on pork roast and on poached eggs served on toasted sourdough bread … a sort of Tex-Mex eggs Benedict. Fast and easy to make and delicious.  I’m sure I’ll think of other ways to use it in the future.

Devilled eggs made with the Yum Yum sauce in place of the mayonnaise … so good

Meals and stuff

Creamy beef tortellini soup

Teriyaki baked salmon

Japanese chicken and tofu curry (using prepared roux) over rice

Chinese sausage rice bowl

Sliced bread/baguette pizza

Grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup … I added a couple of strips of cooked bacon to the sandwich as well.

Fried eggs, Polish sausage, cream cheese breakfast or lunch

Puff pastry filled with sweetened whipped cream and fresh blackberries

Blackberry lemonade

 

Pineapple Margarita

In a recent back and forth on FB, pineapple margarita came up. Since I had all the ingredients, I made a half batch and distributed the drink among two champagne coupes.

Pineapple Margarita – serves 2

1/2 cup tequila
3 tbsp triple sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier
6 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 tsp sugar (add more to taste)
crushed ice

Place first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice; shake vigorously until blended. Strain into margarita glasses.

Boring Friday

I’m bored again and in the mood to ramble. (Lucky you if you’re reading this.)

After a warmish week which culminated in a HOT Thursday, I woke up to rain and a much cooler Friday.

School/work is done as the last class was yesterday and the chance of getting a call during exam week is slim. Just got my VISA bill, and though expected, the hit is a bit of an ouchy due to the plumbing bill. At least now I can use the upstairs tub after a good snaking out and the downstairs tub won’t be dripping hot water … and money. It’s the last of the big bills (knock wood) til I get my 2nd set of city taxes. Still, it means I have to be very frugal until October when I would be getting my first paycheque of the new school year.

I need to go to the library and pick up a book that I’ve got on hold, but other than that, I have no reason to go out.

So, I guess I’ll do some cooking or rather, baking.

Speaking of … I’ve been scavenging through the fridge and freezer again for meals or components to go with recent purchases.

A bit under two pounds of fresh asparagus for $3.50. Enough for four servings with minimal wastage.

A tray of five boneless and skinless chicken breasts, picked up for 40% off, means I ended up with five top cutlets. One of the cutlets became an asparagus roll-up which was crumbed and baked, along with fifteen chicken tenders from the bottom of the breasts, for supper. The other four cutlets and ten of those tenders went into the freezer. Pretty good for $10. The KFC flyer has a bucket of 8 chicken tenders (ok, they’re bigger pieces) for $10. I laughed.

PS: The bread crumbs used for the cutlet and tenders were made with my own sourdough bread.

The combo pack of six pork chops for under $10 gave me two great comfort meals of pan fried pork chops, baked asparagus, mashed potatoes and pan gravy and there are four more chops for the freezer.

With a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, my fudgy chocolate cupcakes made for a great fast dessert.

The scraps of pasta from my ravioli became tagliatelle and were combined with beef stroganoff from the freezer. Enough for three meals. I’m glad I didn’t throw away those scraps. And, a beautiful fresh mango became a mango lassi when combined with milk, sugar and some yogurt.

I HAVE baked … a tray of hybrid sourdough cinnamon rolls, most of which are looking for a good home.

It’s been a productive week in spite of not working at all.