Casseroles are my go-to dish when I have a busy day ahead of me! They’re simple to make and Brion & I just love them. You can prep them ahead of time and then just pop them in the oven for a nice hot meal that is ready when you are or cook them and reheat in the microwave.
This perogy casserole makes life simpler by relying on frozen perogies. This recipe starts with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen, such as frozen perogies (either store bought or homemade), onions, bacon, Alfredo sauce and cheese. The onions, bacon and perogies are browned in a skillet along with some garlic, then layered into a casserole dish with the Alfredo sauce. The final step is a generous amount of cheddar cheese. Bake your casserole until golden brown, then dinner is served.
There are a lot of flavors of frozen perogies in grocery stores these days that you can try this casserole with such as cheese, onion, potato, garlic, bacon, etc. All of which will help switch up the flavor to keep it a little new and different each time you make it.
Perogies are truly one of the world’s best comfort foods and as an added bonus, casseroles are an inexpensive way to stretch those food dollars and still taste delicious.
Sausage, Bacon & Perogy Casserole
In a saucepan over medium high heat, cook bacon for 4-5 minutes or until slightly crisp. Remove from pan & drain on paper towel.
In a pot of boiling, salted water cook perogies for about 3 minutes. Drain. With a spatula gently stir perogies with a TINY bit of butter just to keep them from sticking to each other.
In the saucepan with bacon drippings, place onion & sauté until translucent. Add garlic & sausage; sauté for a couple of minutes. Remove from pan to a dish. Add half of the perogies to the pan & cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until browned. Repeat the process with remaining perogies. Place bacon, onions & garlic in the pan & stir to combine.
Spread 1/3 cup of the alfredo sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Place 1/2 of the perogy mixture on top of the sauce.
Add another 1/3 cup of the sauce, then use the remaining perogy mixture to create another layer. Spread the remaining alfredo sauce over the top of the perogy mixture, then top the casserole with shredded cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted & started to brown.
Top with green onions & serve.
I’m not sure what it is about chocolate that makes it such a good pair with berries. Blueberries for one, are the perfect match for dark chocolate. Bitter, sweet, fruity and awesome!
Some years ago, Brion & I were in California at a winery sampling some of their wines. They offered us some chocolate covered blueberries and that wonderful flavor has never left me.
Since we are already into December and Christmas baking is up front and center, I thought it might be nice to experiment with a different filling for this yeast braid.
Christmas breads are often more decorative and have celebratory qualities to them, such as the Bulgarian Christmas Bread that symbolizes prosperity for the upcoming year. Other classic Christmas breads from around the world include Panettone or Stollen which are filled with fruits and nuts. Whether it’s for the sake of tradition or you just want to make something new and different, this is the best time of the year to get in the kitchen and whip up some beautiful ‘Christmas bread’.
Blueberry Chocolate Yeast Braid
In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 tsp sugar; let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
In another bowl, whisk flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture 1 cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once the flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least one hour, in a draft free place until dough has doubled in volume.
In a saucepan, combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch & lemon juice. Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, for several minutes until it thickens. Remove from heat & cool until ready to use.
Slice cream cheese in about 1/8-inch thick & about 4-inches in length. Lay out on a piece of plastic wrap to form a rectangle about 10 X 4-inches in size. Lay plastic wrap with cheese on a tray & place in refrigerator until ready to use.
On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll risen dough into a rectangle 13 X12-inches in size. With a straight edge, mark it in thirds lengthwise. On the two outer pieces, mark 1-inch strips. At the top & bottom you will need a 1 1/2-inch piece. The center rectangle should be 10 X 4-inches in size.
Cut out the 4 corner 'wedges' as it will make a nice clean braid this way. ( I just made a couple of little sweet dough buns with a bit of jam filling with this excess dough.)
Start with the cream cheese layer. Using the plastic wrap, flip it in the center rectangle. Next, top the cream cheese with blueberry filling then lay the chocolate bar over all to complete the third layer.
Cut the strips on either side of the braid. Pull the end dough pieces up over the filling then start to braid with the side strips until you reach the other end. Using the parchment paper, lift the braid onto a baking sheet. Cover with a dry tea towel & allow braid to rest & rise for about 30 minutes in a draft free place.
Preheat oven to 350 F. before the braid is finished rising.
Carefully brush braid with egg wash & bake for 30 minutes until it is browned nicely.
Remove from oven & cool slightly before serving. If you have leftovers for another day, warm the bread slightly so that the chocolate will be soft & runny. Yum!
Apart from the true meaning of Thanksgiving & Christmas Day, the holidays in general are all about indulging in good food and drink with family and friends. Many households spend time researching recipes, prepping and cooking, making dishes ahead of the big day and deciding which pie really is the best holiday dessert. Turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce are all undeniably delicious, but often, the real food-induced excitement comes the following day.
Holiday leftovers are a celebration in their own right. Often in the busy time leading up to festivities, the actual meal goes by in a bit of a blur and the whole day generally ends in a peaceful and satisfied cozy nest of overindulgence. But with the arrival of the next day comes a new chance to enjoy the tasty morsels that were so carefully prepared for the day before.
This brings us to the leftover turkey sandwich! It truly is one of the joys of the holidays! Although the traditional version is great, it can be made in many different forms such as this hot turkey sandwich loaf.
Hot Turkey Sandwich Loaf
Very lightly grease a skillet with olive oil, put in the bacon & sauté until browned. Add the chopped shallot; sauté until softened, then add the leek. Stir together & remove from heat - you want the leeks to keep their color so don't overcook.
In a bowl, whisk sour cream, eggs, mustard & spices together. Don't overmix, keep the mixture a little 'lumpy'.
Slice the bread, but not all the way through. You need to cut deep enough into the bread to open out the loaf & fill between the slices, while leaving the loaf connected at the base. Place the bread on a sheet of parchment paper.
Into each slot in the bread, place a slice of turkey followed by some of the bacon, shallot & leeks.
Place a large sheet of foil paper on a baking tray. Use the parchment paper to lift the bread & lay on top of the foil. Spoon some of the sour cream/egg mixture into each slot, so that the bread absorbs as much as possible.
Finally, insert the slices of cheese. Enclose the loaf fully in the baking paper & then wrap it in the foil to make a tight parcel.
Place the wrapped bread into preheated oven for about 55 minutes, then OPEN out the foil & parchment paper. Place bread back in the oven until the top of the bread & its filling is golden brown. Remove from oven & serve hot.
Boursin’s story began in 1957, in a small Normandy village, located in France, when cheese maker François Boursin set up a factory producing soft cheese. At that time, he had no idea his name would become internationally famous.
Boursin Garlic & Herbs was launched in 1963 and quickly became a household name across France. Sixty years later, the original recipe remains unchanged and food lovers in more than 35 countries have spread their passion for Boursin all around the world. Perfect on bread, as appetizers or in a creamy sauce for main or side dishes. Since 2011, Boursin has been made in Canada in St. Hyacinthe, Québec, by Agropur, the Canadian dairy co-operative, for Bel Cheese Canada, the Canadian arm of Bel Group, the France-based multinational.
There are seven flavors of Boursin Cheese sold in Canada: Garlic & Fine Herbs, Shallot & Chive, Bouquet of Basil & Chive, Cranberry & Pepper, Cracked Black Pepper, Fig & Balsamic, Apple & Maple.
Boursin is sometimes dubbed a Gournay cheese, Gournay being the name of the region in Normandy where Boursin was first made. The cheesemaker used the name when he was first asked to classify the cheese for customs purposes.
Today, I am doing a bit of recipe development with Apple Maple Boursin. The apple flavor and the silkiness of maple syrup perfectly complement Boursin’s incomparable texture along with some sweet potato, dates and dried cranberries. The whole combination creates an exceptional sweet and savory cheese muffin. Brion & I really enjoyed my new muffin creation.
Apple Maple Boursin Muffins w/ Sweet Potato
In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients. Spread out on a large plate & place in freezer until; ready to use.
Cook, peel & mash sweet potato. Chop dates. Slice, core & grate apple. Grate orange (zest). Chop pecans. Crumble Boursin.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tin with baking cups.
In a large bowl, combine first 12 ingredients using a fork. Make a well in center.
Beat egg until frothy. Whisk in sugar, oil, sweet potato & sour cream. Crumble in 75 gm of the Boursin cheese.
Pour into well & stir only to moisten. Divide between the 12 muffin cups. Remove topping from freezer & place some on top of each muffin.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes then remove from pan. BEST SERVED WARM!
Today, November 23rd, our neighbors to the south in the USA, are celebrating their Thanksgiving Day. It encompasses both religious and secular aspects … being both a harvest festival and a festival of family.
Here in Canada, we have already enjoyed our Thanksgiving in October, but I thought it would be nice to acknowledge their holiday with posting a special meal.
Savory Pork & Turkey Pie is an interesting combination of pork, turkey and stuffing. This recipe was born after a long-time love of homemade pot pies and some trial and error on various meat pies. It’s made with chicken, pork fillet, leftover stuffing, and a flavorful blend of spices and herbs all wrapped in a sour cream cornmeal pie crust. It’s incredibly tasty, even reheated as leftovers.
Of course, it wasn’t that the pie isn’t really good as it is, but the spiced cranberries are certainly the ‘icing on the cake’ you could say. Nobody goes to a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal and says, ‘I can’t wait to try the cranberry sauce this year’! But while it is not the center of the meal, it is certainly an important component of it.
Fresh cranberry sauce has become almost as important as the turkey itself. A Thanksgiving feast doesn’t feel complete without a bowl of cranberry sauce. Undeniably, the tangy condiment has become as much of a showpiece as the traditional turkey it’s served with!
This version of the cherished sauce brings a modern twist to the holiday table. Simmered in spiced cranberry liqueur, the cranberries acquire an exquisite depth and a delicate sweetness. Meanwhile, the cinnamon and orange zest, simmered alongside the colorful berries, bring a bit of nuance and extra layers of flavor. Once done, the sauce ends up having a compote-like texture, which makes it even more luxurious.
Pork & Turkey Pie w/ Spiced Liqueur Cranberries
Sour Cream Cornmeal Pastry
Cranberries w/ Spiced Liqueur
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, cut in butter until mixture resembles both coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it.
After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough. Wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Line the base & sides of an 8-inch spring form pan leaving about a 1-inch dough overhang. Refrigerate until filling is prepared.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour, thyme, sage, savory, salt, & pepper. Add chicken broth and milk all at once.
Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in cooked chicken, pork & stuffing, being careful not to overmix. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary. Pour mixture into pastry shell.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until pastry is golden.
Cranberries w/ Spiced Liqueur
In a medium nonstick saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, take out cinnamon sticks.
Top pie w/ cranberry compote.
Pastetli were invented in the early 1800s in Antonin Carême’s pastry store in Paris, France where they’re called vol-au-vent, French for ‘windblown’ to describe its lightness. While they’re served as an appetizer in France, they’re eaten as a main meal not only in Switzerland but also in Belgium and the Netherlands. It is also from the Netherlands where the Swiss name Pastetli origins from. The Dutch call them pasteitje (little pastry). From there it came to the German Pastete. Just to add a little complication though, a Pastete in Switzerland is rectangle cake shaped puff pastry pie filled with sausage meat, mushrooms in a creamy sauce.
A vol-au-vent is a light puff pastry shell that resembles a bowl with a lid. The shell is generally filled with a creamy sauce (most often a velouté sauce) containing vegetables, chicken, meat or fish. The lid is placed on the filled shell and the pastry is then served as an appetizer, also known as bouchée à la Reine, or as the main course of a meal. When prepared, the pastry dough is flattened and cut into two circles. A smaller circle is cut out of the center of one of the circles, which then will be used as the lid. The circle without the center cut and the circle with the center cut are then joined together around the edges so as the pastry bakes, it rises into a shell with a hole in the top. The lid, which is baked separately, is added later. The pastry shell may be made the size of an individual serving, or it can be made in several different sizes to become a main serving for one or a larger size to be served for more than one.
Vol-au-vents rose to prominence in Paris in the 19th century. In post-war Britain, they were a mainstay of any self-respecting buffet, served to suitably impressed guests alongside welcome drinks at dinner parties. By the 1990s, they had become unfashionable and remained so for decades. Updated vol-au-vents started reappearing in chic restaurants a year or two before the covid pandemic (2020) erupted and have become the retro appetizer or main course to have.
You can even adapt them to make some elegant desserts. Fill with cream and fresh fruit or melt a chocolate orange with a dash of Grand Marnier and orange zest then spoon this quick-fix mousse into the cases and top with sweetened Chantilly cream and chocolate shavings.
For our main course vol-au-vents, I am making an interesting filling which includes, chicken, shrimp, mushrooms and tiny meatballs. Sounds a little odd but is packed with flavor.
Chicken, Veal & Shrimp Pastetli (Vol-Au-Vent)
Add the rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, cloves, chopped celery, carrot and onion to a stock pot. Season generously with pepper and salt. Cut the chicken up: legs, wings and breasts. Also chop up the remaining carcass. Add it all to the pot. Then fill it with water (about 7 cups) until the chicken is fully submerged.
Place the pot over high heat until boiling, then leave it there for 10 minutes. Turn the heat lower and gently cook the chicken for about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the heat and let it cool down for another 45 minutes.
Mushrooms/ Shrimp/ Cheese
Chop the mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Peel & devein shrimp. Grate parmesan cheese.
Puff Pastry Shells
Cut (4) 5-inch circles from puff pastry. Beat the egg & prick holes in the large circles with a fork & brush with egg. Cut 12 more RINGS from pastry about an inch wide. Lay a ring on each of the 4 circles & brush with egg wash. Repeat this until there are 3 rings on each large circle. Bake the puff pastry shells for 25 minutes.
Finish the Broth
Remove the cooked chicken from the hot stock. Reserve stock for later. Remove any chicken skin, bones, veins, cartilage, or sinew (discard all this) & pick the cooked meat from the bones. Shred the larger bits up roughly. Then transfer the chicken meat to a large saucepan.
Strain the chicken stock in a fine sieve or colander over a large pan. You should end up with about 6 cups (1,4 l) of chicken stock. Discard the cooked vegetables.
In a bowl, combine ground veal (pork), salt & pepper, egg & breadcrumbs. Mix well and make tiny balls of ½ oz (15 g) each. You should end up with about 20 of them. Cover the meatballs with cling film and store them in the fridge until later.
Bring the stock to a gentle boil again. Once warm, add the meatballs, shrimp & mushrooms.
Poach them for about 5 minutes. Then remove the meatballs, shrimp & mushrooms using a slotted spoon. Add them to the shredded chicken in the large saucepan.
Take the chicken stock off the heat now. In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk well until you get a wet crumble. Gently cook this over medium-low heat for about a minute. Then gradually add splashes of the warm chicken stock until you get a sticky flour paste. Keep stirring. Don't add too much at once or the sauce will become lumpy.
Whisk well. Gradually add more chicken stock (about 3 to 4 cups) until you get a pretty runny sauce. Bring the sauce to a low simmer & cook for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. whisk in Montreal Steak Spice, onion salt, garlic powder, mustard & grated parmesan.
Add the béchamel sauce to the chicken, meatballs, shrimp & mushrooms. Stir carefully. Cover the pan for another 5 minutes and let the vol au vent filling warm through or place it back over very low heat.
Put the vol au vent puff pastry casings onto 4 serving plates. Top with the chicken, meatball, shrimp & mushroom filling. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired. Serve the vol au vents hot.
The other day I came across a recipe for meatloaf that certainly seemed like something ‘special’. Years ago, every family had a meatloaf recipe that was so dearly loved, it achieved iconic status. Today, I’m not so sure that is the case anymore. Nevertheless, this recipe was called ‘1770 House Meatloaf’ which made me curious as to what the history was behind it. Most every review raved about it being pure comfort food and much more than just meatloaf.
From my research on this meatloaf I found that the 1770 House is an East Hampton Inn and Restaurant famous for this dish. East Hampton Village on Long Island, New York is a beautiful village. It’s been that way for years with a glorious pond right as you come into town where swans swim in summer and skaters take to the ice in winter.
The 1770 House has welcomed guests with hospitality and comfort, a tradition that continues to attract guests from around the world to the intimate Inn, steps from the heart of East Hampton Village. The venerable home, today a boutique hotel and restaurant, seamlessly integrates historic elegance with luxurious, modern amenities and first-class dining.
This glorious colonial house has two restaurants—a more formal fine dining room on the ground level and, down a flight of stairs, a cozy ‘tavern’ with its roaring fireplace and comfort food menu. And always, on this seasonally changing menu, there is Chef Kevin Penner’s remarkable meatloaf with its even more remarkable garlic sauce.
This familiar dish is simple enough that it can be prepared as a weekday meal, but that has been elevated by adding a few key ingredients. The celery and thyme infuse the mix with intense flavor, and the garlic sauce works perfectly. The outcome is a delicious dish with moist texture: not your average meatloaf.
So there you have it …. meatloaf with first-class dining status!
1770 House Meatloaf w/ Garlic Sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion & celery and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent but not browned. Set aside to cool slightly.
Place the beef, veal, pork, parsley, thyme, chives, eggs, milk, salt & pepper in a large mixing bowl. Put the panko in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the panko is finely ground.
Add the onion mixture & the panko to the meat mixture. With clean hands, gently toss the mixture together, making sure it's combined but not compacted.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Pat the meat into a flat rectangle and then press the sides in until it forms a cylinder down the middle of the pan (this will ensure no air pockets). Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the middle reads 155 F. to 160 F. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve hot with the Garlic Sauce.
Combine the oil & garlic in a small saucepan & bring to a boil. Lower the heat & simmer for 10 -15 minutes, until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter. Remove the garlic from the oil and set aside.
Combine the chicken stock, butter & cooked garlic in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat & cook at a full boil for 35 - 40 minutes, until slightly thickened. Mash the garlic with a fork, whisk in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper & taste for seasonings. Spoon the warm sauce over the meatloaf.
- Since there are just two of us, I made the full recipe then divided the mixture into 3 portions. I baked all 3 & used one for our supper meal today, froze the second one for a future meal & with the third, I sliced it for 'meatloaf' sandwiches. Doesn't get better than that!
Oblong and common in Mediterranean cooking, orzo has a look of rice and the texture of pasta. Orzo, also named risoni, is an extremely versatile pasta shape used in a multitude of recipes and cuisines. Translating to mean ‘barley’ in Italian due to its resemblance to the grains of unprocessed barely, it is categorized as a ‘pastina’ meaning ‘little pasta’.
The most common variety of orzo is made from semolina flour, which in turn is made from durum wheat. Because the wheat base gives it a heartier texture, it is better able to absorb the flavors of the ingredients around it as well as providing the pasta with a firmness needed to ensure it maintains its shape while remaining soft and light in texture.
Like most pasta, orzo is boiled in a pot of water to prepare. From there, it can be used in multiple applications. Traditionally it is used in soups and sometimes as a side dish, both hot and chilled, with herbs, olive oil or butter, and parmesan cheese.
Today, I’m incorporating orzo in a ground pork & vegetable, one-pot meal …. pasta, meat & veggies, what more is needed!
Pork Vegetable Orzo
In a large saucepan, crumble fry ground pork until cooked. Steam chard stalks in a microwave dish until almost tender-crisp. Add onions, zucchini & chard to saucepan with pork. Sauté until onion has softened & veggies are tender-crisp.
Stir in garlic, Montreal steak spice & orzo, cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in chicken broth & milk. Once it starts to bubble, continue cooking for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring often. Turn heat to a medium low temperature. It should gently bubble vs. boil as you don't want the liquid to reduce too much before the pasta has cooked.
Remove from heat, stir in parmesan. Cover & gently cook 3-5 minutes until the mixture has slightly thickened. Remove from heat & serve.
The weather is cooling, and fall baking fills the air with the warm aromas of cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Spice cake recipes from turn-of-the-century cookbooks call for early forms of baking soda, which require an acid and the presence of heat to create a reaction that generates carbon dioxide bubbles. Tomato soup being acidic, provides the acid to make that reaction occur, the same way applesauce does. These spice cake balls are using both applesauce and tomato soup, making them super moist and full of flavor.
Who knew that a can of tomato soup could be turned into a cake? Condensed tomato soup appeared in stores in the late 1890s, and recipes for tomato soup cake began appearing in cookbooks in the late 1920s, early 1930s. This cake gained popularity likely in response to the depression, since the original recipe didn’t contain eggs or milk, which were in short supply during that time. Canned goods were an important staple during the depression, and like mayonnaise, the soup serves to bring moisture and bind the cake together. While it does not leave a tomato flavor in the cake, it does give the cake a lovely reddish color.
The Campbell Soup Company didn’t actually produce a recipe until 1940 and by 1960 it was featured on a Campbell’s soup label, making it the first recipe ever to appear on a soup can.
Tomato soup cake has moved beyond its humble origins. It is truly a recipe for all ages and for all seasons, a recipe that has been revised and modified to suit changing needs and tastes, a recipe that has stood and triumphed over the test of time. Around 1966, a cream cheese–frosted version surfaced, which remains the most popular version to this day.
The pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting is truly the ‘icing on the cake‘.
Spice Cupcakes w/ Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting, Divided
Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
Spice Cake Balls
Preheat oven to 350 F. If you are using cake pop pans it is not necessary to grease them. If you are using muffin cups, line with paper cups.
In a large bowl, cream sugar & butter. Mix in applesauce & tomato soup.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking powder & baking soda.
Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients along with walnuts or pepitas. Fold together, mixing lightly. Do not overmix batter.
Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Place cream cheese in a bowl & beat with mixer until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, vanilla & salt. Combine well.
For Pumpkin Spice Frosting: Divide cream cheese mixture (from recipe above) in half. To one half of the mixture add the pumpkin pie spice.
In a piping bag, fitted with a star piping tip, place the white cream cheese frosting on one side & the pumpkin spice frosting on the other side of the bag, Pipe a swirl over each 'spice cake pop'. Decorate with some whole pepitas if desired.