Overnight Shrimp Newburg Strata

Brunch has been sometimes been thought to be distinctly North American but probably started in 16th century Vienna. At that time, the custom was to have five official meals a day. Early breakfast was mostly liquid like hot chocolate or other beverages. The mid morning meal was called ‘gabelfruhstuck’, meaning  fork breakfast. The custom of having fork food in the middle of the morning supposedly spread throughout Europe among the wealthy classes before coming to North America.

Whatever its specific origin, ‘brunch’, as it has become known as, is always the combination of breakfast and lunch foods. It seems to increase and wane in popularity but never really goes out of style. It is always open to new interpretations as well as just staying with the classics.

One such iconic brunch meal is Shrimp Newburg Strata. Evolving from the original, Lobster Newburg that was served at New York’s famed Delmonico restaurant in the United States. It became a standby of the after-theater suppers that were in vogue at the time. 

The limitless choices that can be made for brunch have always made it one of my favorite meals to prepare. Overnight strata is the perfect choice to serve for an Easter brunch. This Shrimp Newburg pairs well with a Waldorf salad and hot cross buns.

Print Recipe
Overnight Shrimp Newburg Strata
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil & saute mushrooms & onion for 3 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
  2. In a buttered, shallow baking dish, arrange half of bread slices. Peel & devein raw shrimp & coarsely chop. Top bread with half of the mushroom mixture & half of the shrimp. Arrange remaining bread slices over shrimp; top with remaining mushroom mixture & shrimp. Sprinkle strata with grated Gruyere cheese.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together milk, eggs & spices; carefully pour over casserole. Cover & chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake, strata, uncovered for 55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Panko-Crusted Green Bean & Mushroom Casserole

Having always had a passion for collecting recipes, I recall one of my mothers cupboard drawers being full of recipe pamphlets. I loved sifting through them to find a recipe I could make. Anyone who’s ever checked out the kitchen section of an antique store can attest, recipe pamphlets were once big business. Long before we had access to the internet, home brands like General Mills & Cuisinart regularly released pocket-sized magazines full of tips, recipes and instructions on their products. Glossy covers depicted the recipes inside, the price was right and they were easy to use. There was no reason to buy an expensive big cookbook when it was all here in a pamphlet form.

The Campbell Soup Company had its own kitchen dedicated to pumping out such pamphlets. In 1955, Dorcas Reilly, the recipe supervisor at the time, devised and tested the infamous ‘green bean casserole’ recipe. Her inspiration for the dish was to create a quick and easy recipe around two things most folks always had on hand in the 1950’s. They were green beans and Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. Reilly’s recipe became immediately popular. This simple combination consisted of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, soy sauce, milk and french fried onions. The idea that it could be made ahead and reheated, made it perfect for holiday dinners. Even in the face of North America’s obsession with fresh, locally grown and artisan foods, its popularity continues.

Like with most iconic dishes, time brings changes and healthier upgrades or just different personal tastes. I’ve never been a fan of those french fried onions, so I opted for a crispy panko topping. Along with fresh green beans and mushrooms I’m using a bechamel sauce. It worked out quite nice.

Print Recipe
Panko-Crusted Green Bean & Mushroom Casserole
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large skillet, fry bacon until almost crisp. Add onions, cook until soft & translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms & garlic; cook another 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  2. Using the same skillet, melt butter & whisk in flour. Once combined, continue whisking for another 2 minutes until mixture has slightly deepened in color. Add half & half, Worcestershire sauce & chicken broth while constantly whisking to prevent lumps. Once slightly thickened, add grated cheese & whisk until melted & smooth.
  3. Add the mushroom/bacon mixture along with thyme, salt & pepper. Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the blanched green beans. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour the bean mixture into a 13 X 9-inch casserole dish. Combine panko crumbs with melted butter & sprinkle over casserole. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • Everything can be done in advance except for adding the panko crumbs. Add those just before baking. Let casserole sit for at least 30 minutes after removing it from the fridge before baking.

Overnight Breakfast Enchiladas

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Brion and I would like to share some more January holiday adventures while they are still fresh in our minds.

Merida, Mexico made a perfect home base for us to enjoy many interesting things. The cultural capital of the Yucatan peninsula, Merida is a city steeped in Colonial history. It has some of the region’s best museums, beautiful historic mansions and architecture as well as many Mayan ruins to make for some amazing day trips.

One tour we took was to the archaeological sites of Uxmal and Kabah.              Uxmal (pronounced Ush-mal) covers around 150 acres. The central area is reasonably well preserved due to the high quality of the buildings which are constructed of well-cut stones set in concete. The most famous structure at Uxmal is the Temple of the Magician. This temple was rebuilt three times; this is where Uxmal got its name, which means ‘thrice built’. The structure towers above the surrounding jungle, crowned with intricately carved stonework.

The city of Uxmal was erected with its buildings at precise angles from and in relation to each other. Astronomical, geometrical and metaphysical calculations were carefully considered when the layout of the site was designed.

Unlike many other Mayan sites, no stone quarry has been found at Uxmal. Where the Maya quarried the stone and how it was moved to this site without the help of the wheel or animal strength is unknown. How such a large city could grow up in an area without springs, rivers or cenotes (sinkholes) to provide water is totally amazing. Uxmal residents were completely dependent upon cistern rain water collection systems. This explains their reverence to the Mayan rain god Chac.

The Kabah ruins are also very interesting in their own right. This city is connected to Uxmal by a Mayan ceremonial causeway called a ‘sacbe’. It’s most famous structure is the ‘Palace of the Masks’. The facade is decorated with hundreds of stone masks of the long-nosed rain god.

My recipe for today is originally meant for breakfast but Brion and I enjoyed it just as much for our evening meal. 

Hope you enjoy my briefed info as well as some more of Brion’s great pictures.

Print Recipe
Overnight Breakfast Enchiladas
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, onion, garlic & all spices; cook 3-4 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add chicken sausage & cook, stirring frequently, for another 5-6 minutes or until cooked through, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Once fully cooked, stir in 3/4 cup of cheese.
  3. Spray a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. On a work surface, lay out tortillas. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sausage filling onto one side of the tortillas; roll each tightly. Place seam side down in the baking pan; sprinkle any extra sausage mixture on top.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together eggs & half & half until completely combined. Pour over enchiladas & sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups shredded cheese. Cover with foil & refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove chilled enchiladas from fridge, bake for 20 minutes covered, then remove foil & bake for an additional 15 minutes OR until center is set (eggs should no longer be jiggly) & cheese is lightly browned. If you prefer, leave the casserole covered & bake longer, before removing foil. Serve with your choice of toppings.

Pork Loin Chops with Crab meat Stuffing

Combining pork with seafood has been going on for centuries in Europe and Asian countries. For example, take the Spanish with their paella — a mix of chorizo, prawns and mussels and the Chinese with pork and prawn dumplings.

During January, Brion & I spent a few weeks at the Los Cactus resort in Varadero, Cuba. Varadero is a 1.2 km wide peninsula situated along Cuba’s northern coast with 20 km of white sandy beaches. This vicinity has a variety of natural attractions as well as cultural and historical. Varadero is primarily visited by European and Canadian tourists.

Cuba is one big classic car museum. These 1950’s cars are everywhere, in every color and in many shapes, makes and models. While in the USA & Canada these cars would be collector’s items, in Cuba, they are used as everyday vehicles as well as taxis, often providing a good income for their owners.

Being so close to Havana we took the opportunity to take a guided day tour of the capital city. One thing we found really amazing in Cuba, was their bus system. The buses were relatively clean and comfortable with professional drivers. Our day trip to Havana was about 10 1/2 hours long, round trip, with an English speaking guide. Brion & I found the day very interesting. It consisted of a walking tour of Old Havana, lunch and then a panoramic tour of modern Havana to Revolution Square, the famous ‘Malecon’ seawall promenade, Christopher Columbus Necropolis and the Vedado Residential area.

This city is a mixture of opulence and decay, old world and new, socialism and capitalism, Europe, Africa and America. In Old Havana, effort has gone into rebuilding for tourist purposes, and a number of the streets and squares have been rehabilitated. The fact is that Old Havana is a large city, and the restoration efforts concentrate in all on less than 10% of its area. It seems whatever your interests, Havana offers an interesting mix of rhythms, rum, revolution and history.

During the tour, our guide took us to the top floor of the Gomez Vila. You climb up to the tower, about eight flights of stairs where there is a rooftop veranda. Here you can get a 360 degree view of the city. Located here as well, is the ‘Camera Obscura’. This optical device of lenses and mirrors projects an aerial image of the city into a giant concave screen taking you on a bird’s eye tour of Havana in real time. The projections are so clear that you can even pick out individuals walking on the cobble stone streets. It is one of the 74 cameras like it worldwide. Amazing!

In Revolution Square, we viewed some iconic images on the buildings of two Revolutionary heroes, Che Guevara and Camillo Cienfeugos. It was very interesting listening to our tour guide in regards to the Cuban Revolution, giving us this history from a Cuban perspective. There is a complex system of three fortifications that protected Havana, it’s port and it’s dockyard. From the seawall we got some photos of Morro Castle at the entrance with its emblematic light house that was built four centuries ago.

Cuban cuisine is a blend of several cultures — Taino, Spanish, African and Caribbean, with each adding their own methods of cooking and choice of spices. The most common spices used are garlic, cumin, oregano and bay or laurel leaves. Black beans and rice are Cuban staples.

The popularity of pork in Cuban cuisine has long historical roots. Spanish explorers brought pigs to the Caribbean islands back in 1492. From what I understand, one of the secrets of moist and flavorful Cuban pork is that the pigs feed on palmiche, the fruit of a palm tree.  The ‘Royal Palm’ is the national tree of Cuba. It is native to the island and is such a characteristic symbol of its scenery. Notice the big clusters of palm nuts at the top of the Royal palm tree in one of the blog pics.

I wanted to share a recipe today that seemed very in keeping with our Cuban travels. These pork loin chops are stuffed with crabmeat filling and drizzled with a raspberry pepper jelly sauce. 

Brion has added a few of his great pics from Cuba for you to enjoy.

Print Recipe
Pork Loin Chops with Crab meat Stuffing
Instructions
Pork Chops
  1. Trim all excess fat from loin chops. Place meat on a sheet of plastic wrap & cover with a second sheet. Using a meat tenderizer, pound meat flat until double in diameter. Set aside.
Crab meat Stuffing
  1. In a saucepan, saute onions & garlic in 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until onions are tender. Remove from heat. Add remaining stuffing ingredients, including the 2 Tbsp of reserved crab liquid. Mix just until incorporated.
Assembly/ Cooking
  1. Lay TWO chops on lightly oiled griddle or skillet. Divide filling between them; place remaining TWO chops on top. Brown the stuffed pork chops on both sides, turning carefully.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place stuffed chops in an ungreased casserole. Cover & bake for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake for 15 minutes longer or until meat thermometer reads 160 F. when inserted into the meat & juices run clear.
Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth, red pepper jelly & raspberry preserves. Divide sauce between 2 serving plates & top each with a stuffed pork chop.

Swedish Meatballs

With New Years Eve gatherings fast approaching, these little gems come to mind in the form of  hors ‘d’ oeuvres. Of course, they are always great for a main dish as well.

The Swedish word for meatball, ‘Kottbullar’, first appeared in print around 1754. They are traditional Swedish ‘old-world’ fare at Smorgasbords and other festive occasions. Initially Swedish meatballs were only enjoyed by upper class Swedes but the increased availability of wood stoves and meat grinders in the 1850’s made meatballs accessible to the middle class as well. In northern Scandinavian countries beef was considered a luxury item, which meant meatballs were highly prized.

The meat content can vary based on geography. In southern Sweden, they are most often a 50/50 mix of beef and pork whereas further north in Sweden 70/30 of beef to pork is typical. Likely other options would be veal, venison, lamb or moose. Size-wise, they are smaller than those of Italy or Germany, typically not larger than a golf ball or smaller than  3/4″(2.5 cm) across.

The cream gravy (sauce) and spices play a big part in the taste of this dish, traditionally served with lingonberry preserves, mashed potatoes and pickled cucumber salad. The ‘pressed cucumber’, as it is called, provides some crunch, saltiness and acidity to the sweet creaminess of the rest of the meal.

In America, Swedish meatballs were very popular in the beginning of the 20th century and again in the 1950’s-1960′.

Brion and I have always enjoyed these tasty little meatballs so we are having them as our main course meal today.

Print Recipe
Swedish Meatballs
Servings
depending on the size you make
Ingredients
Cream Sauce
Servings
depending on the size you make
Ingredients
Cream Sauce
Instructions
Meatballs
  1. Soak breadcrumbs in 2 cups of 1/2 & 1/2 cream. Fry onion in margarine. Combine all meatball ingredients & mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Preheat broiler to a high setting.
  2. Place meatballs in a large baking dish, allowing a bit of space in between each one. Broil about 4" (10 cm) from heat until the tops are browned nicely. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Set oven to bake & reduce temperature to 300 F. Bake until meatballs are cooked through, depending on their size. If it seems they are getting too brown, cover lightly with a piece of foil to finish baking.
Cream Sauce (Gravy)
  1. In a small saucepan, cook margarine & flour until bubbly. Slowly add broth & cream; boil for a FEW minutes, add soy, salt & pepper. Pour over hot meatballs.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe can easily be made in whatever amount you need but I find making the whole thing & freezing them in various amounts works great for quick future meals. Freezing them without any sauce also gives you the option to adapt them to other types of meals.

Roasted Turkey Breast Roulade Baked in Squash

Whether you celebrate Christmas culturally, religiously or not at all, it seems a good time to evaluate your priorities to make sure you are truly doing what matters to you most. Christmas comes and goes each year during which the ‘Christmas Spirit’ is alive and well. Wouldn’t it be nice if that same spirit was applied to our daily lives all year long.

Today, December 25th, we celebrate my sister Rita’s birthday as well as Christmas Day. Our family’s Christmas eve birthday ‘parties’ hold many fond memories for me. After attending Christmas eve church service, upon returning home, we would be joined by family friends to have birthday cake and some homemade root beer. It was very important to my parents that a special birthday acknowledgement was made to Rita apart from the Christmas festivities.

Christmas is a nostalgic time of year for many of us — recalling simple family traditions. When it comes to holiday decorations, the thing I remember most were the ‘multitudes’ of Christmas cards that our family received in the mail. My mother would fasten string between doorways and windows to hang them all on each time we would receive another one. There was a limited amount of other Christmas decorations. We used the same ones year after year and that was what made them so special. They all had their own special place where they belonged, and once they were out, it truly felt like Christmas.

Probably, the most cherished item was a Christmas Manger set. This cardboard tabletop Nativity was published by Concordia Publishing House in early 1940’s from illustrations first produced by artist George Hinke. A base was provided with special tabs to hold the 17 lithographed figures upright; each tab being carefully labeled making it easy to assemble.

George Hinke was born in 1883 in Berlin, Germany where he studied as a painter. He immigrated to the United States in 1923.

I remember this Nativity scene vividly as the cardboard figures were so beautiful and accurately painted. It was sold in a cardboard box that contained assembly instructions. One of the trips Brion and I made to Italy was just after Christmas one year in early January. Thanks to the European mindset, the outdoor Christmas decor had not been tucked away for the season. The detail in some of the Nativity scenes was incredible. They brought back memories of that little ‘Christmas Manger’ set from many years ago.

For our Christmas dinner this year we are having something a little different from the traditional roast turkey. Turkey roulade lets you have all the traditional flavors of Christmas without having to go through the whole turkey cooking episode. Not only is it mouthwatering and tender, it’s easy to make, cooks quicker, a breeze to carve and looks super elegant. Now, there’s the matter of the stuffing. Equally essential to the holiday table, it’s a far more expressive medium than the turkey itself. You could say, it is the personality with countless options. 

Today’s recipe is a turkey breast that has been flattened and stuffed with herbs, cranberries and hazelnuts. The roulade is wrapped with bacon to keep it moist and tucked into a half of a spaghetti squash. The drippings from the bacon and turkey flavor the squash perfectly as it bakes giving a tasty, earthy, vegetable side dish. Brion and I preferred some cranberry sauce and a traditional gravy with this meal but if you want to kick it up a notch you could serve a thin apple cider gravy instead.

                                         HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RITA!                                                                              ENJOY YOUR DAY AS WE CELEBRATE YOU WITH LOVE

        SEASON’S GREETINGS TO EVERYONE FOLLOWING MY BLOG

Print Recipe
Roasted Turkey Breast Roulade Baked in Squash
Servings
Ingredients
Turkey, Stuffing & Squash
Servings
Ingredients
Turkey, Stuffing & Squash
Instructions
Stuffing
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 T. butter. Saute onion, garlic & sage leaves, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Add bread crumbs, toasted hazelnuts, cranberries, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper; cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat & cool completely.
Turkey Breasts
  1. Using a sharp knife, 'butterfly' turkey breasts. Cover with plastic wrap, flatten them slightly with a meat tenderizer. Divide stuffing between the two breasts & spread it out evenly. Roll breasts up, place cut side down onto work surface. Wrap each roulade with 6 slices of bacon, tucking the ends under the turkey rolls.
Squash
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice the spaghetti squash in half & scoop out the seeds. Place both haves on a large roasting pan & drizzle with olive oil. Roast 30 minutes. Remove squash from oven & place the bacon wrapped roulades into the cavity of the squash. Return turkey/squash roulade to oven, lower oven temperature to 350 F. & roast until the internal temperature of the turkey roulade is 155 F., ABOUT 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven & allow to stand about 10 minutes. Slice & place on serving platter.
Apple Cider Gravy
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine turkey stock, apple cider & sage leaves; bring to a boil. Gently boil, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until sauce is reduced & thickened slightly. Remove sage leaves & discard. Drop in butter cubes; whisk to incorporate, add pepper & remove from heat. Serve hot over turkey roulade.

Apricot-Spice Meatball Hors d’ Oeuvres

The humble meatball is one of the most versatile foods. They seem to exist in just about every culture and can be used in any number of ways, not only with pasta and rice but as a tasty little hors d’ oeuvres. 

I find apricots to be a good compliment to meatball hors d’ oeuvres. Using  Mediterranean (also known as Turkish) apricots is a good choice as their flesh is thicker and plumper as well as having great flavor.

Many people prefer to fry meatballs but it seems to me that usually ends up with a charred outside and they are still raw inside. Baking them in the oven will result in a much more even cooking. Personal choice I guess.

This recipe for  APRICOT-SPICE MEATBALLS  is one I’ve used many times over the years.    They work well at Christmas events when hot                      hors d’ oeuvres are in demand. Make the meatballs up, bake and freeze ahead of time — thaw when needed!  At serving time, make the spicy apricot nectar sauce and your ready to go.

Print Recipe
Apricot-Spice Meatball Hors d' Oeuvres
Servings
Ingredients
Spiced Apricot Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Spiced Apricot Sauce
Instructions
Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan with foil; lightly grease. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs & milk. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in egg white, onion, apricots, salt, garlic & chili powder. Add ground pork & turkey; mix well. Shape meat mixture into 30 meatballs. Place on prepared baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked. Remove meatballs from pan to paper towels.
Spiced Apricot Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sauce ingredients. Cook & stir over medium heat until thickened & bubbly.
  2. Place meatballs in a slow cooker. Add sauce, stirring gently to coat. Turn heat setting to low. This should keep meatballs warm, while being used by guests for about 2 hours.
Recipe Notes
  • If you find your sauce gets to thick or you prefer it thinner to begin with, just use a little more apricot nectar.
  • This meat combination makes a real flavorful meatball.

Sweet Potato Boats

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

When I think about Autumn here in Canada, it could be likened to a      van Gogh painting. The landscape transforms into a beautiful tapestry of red, gold and yellow. As the days grow shorter and the mornings darker, your tastes turn from salads and cool drinks to your favorite comfort foods. Smells that bring you back to your childhood……. evoking so much from one moment in time is the sheer essence of Autumn.

The truth being is that fall just gives us a different perspective. The word Thanksgiving  itself makes one pause and ask, what am I thankful for this year? We start to reflect on the year we have had with it’s inevitable highs and lows.

Fall also represents a time of change. As nature bursts with it’s fabulous fall foliage, it gives us a little bit of extra time to make the most of what we have left in this year before the grand finale.

For the last 60 years, Canada has celebrated Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October. It’s one of those holidays that tend to bring families together, both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately though, in this highly technological age, it seems as if we have become more connected digitally than emotionally. Thinking about the food aspect of this holiday, sweet potatoes have become synonymous with Thanksgiving (and Fall).

Native to Central and South America, sweet potatoes are some of the oldest vegetables on the planet. Distantly related to commonplace, starchy Russets and Yukon Golds. Western markets have tagged some sweet potatoes with the deceptive name ‘yams’ to differentiate the southern from the northern crops. True yams are rough-skinned tubers, related to lilies.

Enter the ‘Candied Yam Casserole’. It seems to be the most divisive of the side dishes served, a real ‘love-it-or-hate-it’ kind of thing. Definitely not a venerated Thanksgiving tradition but more of a marketing promotion that caught on. It was 1917 when the first instance of sweet potatoes baked with a coat of marshmallows appeared in a recipe booklet commissioned by Angelus Marshmallow Company. The recipes in the booklet showed you how to incorporate marshmallows into everyday dishes so that their product wouldn’t fail and ‘viola’, the classic and capitalistic pairing was born.

I do remember my mother making this casserole for our special Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, being a kid that loved sweets, it tasted real good. At this point in time, I would rather just have them with salt and pepper for most part.

My blog recipe is one I came across in a Pillsbury booklet from 2010          ( pillsbury.com ). We have enjoyed it several times as it fits in perfect with a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Print Recipe
Sweet Potato Boats
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
Servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork & rub with oil. Place on baking sheet & bake 45-55 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp; remove & drain on paper towel. In bacon drippings, cook onion & celery about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add broth & 2 Tbsp butter; heat to boiling. Stir in stuffing mix, cranberries & 2 Tbsp of the walnuts. Remove from heat, cover & set aside.
  3. Remove sweet potatoes from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375 F. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out potato flesh, leaving a 1/3-inch thick wall on inside of shell; set aside. Place potato flesh in a large bowl. Add 2 Tbsp syrup, remaining 2 Tbsp butter & the nutmeg; mash. Spoon about 1/2 cup of stuffing mixture into each potato shell; spoon mashed sweet potato mixture over stuffing, leaving some stuffing exposed around side of shell.
  4. Line a baking sheet with foil again & spray with cooking spray. Place potato boats on sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle potatoes with crumbled bacon bits & remaining 2 Tbsp walnuts; drizzle with additional syrup.

Victoria Day – Canada’s Ode to Summer

Victoria Day is the distinctly Canadian holiday that officially wraps up winter. Even if the date marks the informal start of summer, you could be planning for a backyard barbecue or an impromptu indoor shut-in due to an array of snow, sleet, rain or hail.

Although we are well into the 21st century, in Canada we still celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday over 100 years after her passing. The only other country in the Commonwealth to observe this celebration is Scotland. This is our oldest statuary holiday in Canada and is celebrated annually on the Monday preceding May 25th. In the maritime provinces it is a non-statuary ‘general’ holiday and in Quebec, ‘National Patriots Day’ is observed instead.

While we might hang onto the British queen’s name for old times sake, the tradition of Victoria Day is truly Canadian and has everything to do with the end of the cold weather and short days, and a lot to do with some great food.

My choice of food for today’s blog should work well with your own ‘barbecue’ meal. It is APPLE-TURKEY SAUSAGE ROLLS  and STUFFED POTATO SKINS.

Print Recipe
Apple-Turkey Sausage Rolls / Stuffed Potato Skins
Servings
Servings
Instructions
Apple-Turkey Sausage Rolls
  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, saute apple, onion, sage, thyme & allspice in olive oil for 5 minutes. Apples & onions should be soft but not browned. Remove from heat & set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooled apple mixture with ground turkey, salt & pepper. Using your hands, gently mix until everything is evenly combined, making sure not to overwork the mixture.
  4. Unroll the puff pastry sheet onto a lightly floured work surface, cut crosswise to make three long, strips ((about 10 x 3.5" each) Brush a line of mustard down the middle of each strip. Divide filling into 3 equal portions. Roll into sausage shapes & place down the middle of each pastry rectangle. Brush edges firmly to seal.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange the rolls, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Brush with remaining beaten egg, & sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cover with plastic wrap & place in the freezer to firm up, about 15 minutes.
  6. Using a very sharp knife, cut each roll into 8 bite-sized pieces & arrange 1" apart on baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown & sausage is cooked through.
Stuffed Potato Skins
  1. Microwave potatoes, uncovered, on high for 14-17 minutes or until tender but firm, turning once. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4" shell ( pulp can be used elsewhere).
  2. Combine oil & hot pepper sauce; brush over potato shells. Cut each potato shell in half lengthwise again. Place on baking sheets coated with baking spray. Sprinkle with the tomato, bacon, onion & cheese. Bake at 450 F. for 12-14 minutes or until heated through & cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream.

Broccoli- Salmon Pasta Shells

When it comes to stuffed pastas, the only limitation is your own imagination. Sometimes it could be inspired by the seasons, maybe what you grew in your garden. Other times, its what you have on hand. Some of the best baked pastas evolve from a little adventure and risk taking.

The filling you choose, gives body and character. The sauce should bring the plate alive and complement the filling, not overpower or mask what is held within the pasta ‘walls’. Generally, there are three types of sauce used when making this entree; either a light tomato sauce, Bechamel or cream sauce or a broth sauce.

I have always favored using ‘Conchiglioni‘ pasta, the name derives from the Italian word meaning ‘seashells’. Their shape, size and consistency are the perfect vessel for bold, rich fillings and flavorful sauces. Baked pastas, or ‘pastas al forno’ as they are called in Italy, date back to the Renaissance when they were being served at the banquets of nobles.

Anyone following my food blogs has long since figured out I have a huge love for ‘stuffing things’. Although this meal may seem a bit ordinary, the recipe is one I developed many years ago and still enjoy using it. You can also find it featured in my eBook  on Amazon,  ‘Living Large on a Lean Food Budget’.

               Today, March 24th, is the birthday of my brother, Tony.

                                                 HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TONY!

                      ENJOY YOUR DAY AS WE CELEBRATE YOU WITH LOVE.

 

Print Recipe
Broccoli- Salmon Pasta Shells
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta shells in boiling, salted water with a small amount of oil added, for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt margarine & remove from heat. Stir in water & sauce mix. Bring to a boil over medium heat & simmer 3 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine salmon, mushrooms, broccoli, onions & half of dill sauce.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Fill pasta shells with salmon mixture. All the filling should fit into 18 shells as they are nicely 'overstuffed'. In a small bowl, mix together remaining dill sauce, reserved salmon juice & mushroom soup. Spread some sauce over bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Lay filled shells single file in pan. Pour remaining sauce over all & top with grated cheddar cheese.
  5. Cover with foil & bake about 45-50 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • This meal is easily portioned and frozen for an easy quick fix for supper later.
  • If you prefer, you could use fresh baked salmon instead of canned.