Turkey Sliders in Stuffing Biscuits

CELEBRATING VICTORIA DAY!

For many Canadians, Victoria Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer. It is Canada’s oldest non-religious holiday and although we still hang on to the British Queen’s name (for old times sake), this truly Canadian holiday has everything to do with the end of the cold weather and short days and a lot to do with some great food.

This holiday is called ‘May Two-Four’ in some parts of Canada, a name that refers both to the date around which the holiday falls (May 24th) and Canadian slang for a case of twenty-four beers (a ‘two-four’), a drink popular during the long weekend.

I’m sure, for many this weekend, barbecuing will be up front and center with burgers, steaks and ribs taking top billing. Brion & I decided to wait a bit longer to start barbecuing and have some turkey sliders today instead.

In keeping with some food history ….

The name ‘slider’ originated in the 1940’s when sailors in the US Navy would refer to mini-burgers as sliders because of their extreme greasiness. In just one or two bites, the burger would just slide right down. Fortunately around 2007, sliders evolved from miniature ‘grease bombs’ to elegant culinary creations that now appeal to people of all backgrounds and tastes.

There’s something inherently appealing about a small burger. For the diet-conscious, the idea of a small gourmet burger is more feasible. When dining out, ordering sliders instead of an average sized hamburger also allows you to try several different varieties as they are often served in pairs.

The modern day slider has been reinvented from the traditional beef patty to being made from chicken, pork and veal as well as various seafood options. Having our turkey sliders in stuffing biscuits definitely added that gourmet touch.

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Turkey Sliders in Stuffing Biscuits
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Instructions
Stuffing
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium. Add all stuffing ingredients & cook about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl & cool completely.
Biscuits
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray two 12-cup muffin pans with baking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda & salt until blended. Add butter; with finger tips, combine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk & one third of cooked, cooled, 'stuffing mixture' until JUST blended.
  3. Divide among the 24 muffin cups (about 3 Tbsp each). Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown; transfer biscuits from pans to wire cooling rack.
Turkey Sliders
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil paper. In a bowl, combine turkey, salt & remaining cooked 'stuffing mixture'. Form into 24 patties (2-inch width); place on foil-lined baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
Assembly
  1. Slice warm biscuits in half. Add turkey patties & dollops of mayo & cranberry preserves.

Chicken Tenders w/ Pepita Seeds

Pepita seeds might not be what you ordinarily think of as chicken coating material, but these nutty, chewy kernels are every bit as tasty and versatile as almonds or pistachios in cooking.

Many people use the words pepitas and pumpkin seeds interchangeably, but they are actually two different things. A pepita is harvested from specific hull-less pumpkin varieties, known as Styrian or Oil Seed pumpkins. Any other variety of pumpkin produces a hulled seed that’s slightly fibrous and less tender.

Pepitas are more versatile in the kitchen than traditional pumpkin seeds since they’re not as tough. Aside from using them as a garnish or a snack, pepitas make good pesto, or as a crust for meat or fish, as a topping on muffins, mixed in granola, baked in focaccia bread or made into brittle.

Crunchy pepita seeds are little powerhouses of nutrition, so using them instead of breadcrumbs along with a light, spicy ‘tempura’ batter to prepare this chicken breast, really takes it from ordinary to special. It’s the whole package …. moist, crisp with the toasty appeal of pepitas.

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Chicken Tenders w/ Pepita Seeds
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Tempura Batter
Chicken Tenders
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Tempura Batter
Chicken Tenders
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine all tempura batter ingredients (except pepita seeds), whisking until smooth.
  3. Pat chicken tenders dry & add to batter. Turn in mixture to coat evenly. Allow to stand in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  4. Place whole pepita seeds on a large tray or plate. Lift chicken out of batter & coat evenly with pepita seeds.
  5. Place chicken on baking sheet & bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown & cooked through.
Recipe Notes
  • Alternately, you could cook the chicken on a griddle using a combo of oil & butter. 

Blackberry & Lime Curd Cupcakes

CELEBRATING MOTHER’S DAY!

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. This day is our time to reflect and show gratitude to the women and mother’s who have been mentors and caregivers; ultimately those who have helped to shape us into who we are today.

This blog is especially to honor: the special memories of my mother for her endless giving of selfless love – my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her kind ways and raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with – to my sisters, who have given so much of themselves to be such great moms.

Spring is here and although the pandemic keeps us close to home, it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate Mother’s Day as well as one of the most ‘fruitful’ seasons of the year by baking something special.

The focus on food shifts to lighter recipes with fresh flavors and colors. Simple ingredient additions or substitutions can make spring and summer desserts stand out. Lime gives sweet dishes more complexity, adding a tart note. Substituting refined sugar with honey or maple syrup changes the texture and sweetness. If you have a recipe in mind and want to give it a spring touch, replacing the main ingredient with a seasonal fruit can be quite effective.

I love fruit curds as they differ from jam by having less sugar. Curd is a sort of cream or custard. The most famous is the lemon curd, although it can be made of orange, grapefruit, tangerine, passion fruit and of course lime. Curd is neither too runny nor thick; it is pourable when hot and soft once cooled. It can be used as a filling for tarts, as a spread for scones or toast or inside cakes or muffins.

I think blackberry lime cupcakes are the epitome of fresh flavor not to mention the beautiful visual presentation. Although lime curd can be purchased readily, preparing your own homemade version is not hard but does take a bit of time.

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Blackberry & Lime Curd Cupcakes
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Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 8 muffin cups with paper baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, yogurt, honey, milk, butter & lime zest; mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes then stir in egg whites until blended.
  3. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt; mix well. Add to oat mixture all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. (do not overmix).
  4. Place a spoonful of the batter in each cup. Top with a small dollop each of blackberry preserve & lime curd. Divide remaining batter between the 8 cups.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool cupcakes in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan & cool completely.
Lime Whip Topping
  1. Prepare as directed on pkg envelope, being sure to measure your lime juice in with the milk (omit the vanilla).
Recipe Notes
  • I had originally though I would top these cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting but thinking they might be too sweet, I went with the lime whip topping instead. 

Peach Gingerbread Oatmeal Cakes

We are already half way through January and I realize for many, gingerbread is a Christmas thing, but ….

Since gingerbread was not part of my Christmas baking list, I decided to add some oatmeal to it and make it a January ‘comfort food’ dessert.

Using molasses in baking is not an ingredient that generally appeals to me, but its kind of edible nostalgia. Pair it with ginger and that spicy, sweet smell evokes memories of my mother’s gingerbread cake and takes me back to a simpler place and time.

Gingerbread and more specifically ginger, have been around for a very long time. As it has made its way throughout the world it has been adapted to meet the taste of different cultures. In some places it is a soft, delicately spiced cake, in others, a crisp flat cookie or a bread.

My choice is to add some peach slices and bake it as little, mini bundt cakes. Nothing fancy …. just good!

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Peach Gingerbread Oatmeal Cakes
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MINI BUNDT CAKES
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MINI BUNDT CAKES
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease mini bunt pans. Place a ring of peach slices on the bottom of 4 mini bundt pans.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter with sugar & molasses on a low heat. Remove from heat & set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, oatmeal & spices. Add beaten egg, milk & molasses mixture. Mix until well blended.
  4. Divide the cake batter over peach slices in prepared bundt pans.
  5. Bake about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Move to cooling rack & flip upside down. Remove pans & allow to cool.
  6. Serve with cranberry sauce, gingerbread syrup, whipped cream or just simply sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Vintage Chocolate Potato Cake

The vegetable cake idea is really not so strange if you consider that most of these dense moist cakes are either spice or chocolate. Who would guess that ‘vegetables’ would be lurking within?

When you think of how many veggies we have incorporated into our desserts, its amazing. Carrot cake is hardly novel having been around for decades but there is also beet torte, zucchini chocolate cake, sweet potato cake or the delicious chocolate sauerkraut cake just to name a few.

The popular chocolate potato cake recipe goes back to the early 1800’s, so its likely the oldest of them all. Like buttermilk, mashed potatoes make baked goods taste better, perhaps because both have the effect of making the cake crumb more tender.

It seems the humble potato is like a blank canvas and wears every role its put in with equal flair. This is a moist, rich cake so icing is purely optional.

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Vintage Chocolate Potato Cake
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 9-inch round cake pan or a 12 cup muffin pan & line the base with parchment paper or paper cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, oil & eggs then potatoes.
  3. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom & salt. Alternately add dry ingredients & the buttermilk to the egg mixture, beginning & ending with the dry ingredients; stirring with a spoon or rubber spatula.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top springs back when touched lightly, 30-35 minutes.
  5. Invert the cake onto a rack & allow to cool thoroughly. Transfer to a plate & dust with powdered sugar if you wish.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to add either some nuts or raisins for some extra flavor.

Beef Stew w/ Cornmeal Dumplings

Dumplings mean different things to different people. Wrap veggies, meat, seafood in dough or just leave them plain …. bake, boil or fry them. Dumplings are what your mother made and that is what you love and consider true comfort food.

The other thing that makes them amazing is that they aren’t necessities …. just pure culinary luxury, there to just enhance the meal.

The dough for most dumplings, has always been based either on cereals such as oats, wheat, corn, etc. or on one of the vegetables from which bread dough can be made from, like potatoes.

Originally made by shaping small portions from a batch of bread dough before specific mixtures were developed. I recall my mother making a big cast iron pan full of dumplings for us on her bread baking day. Its strange how a little ball of dough can evoke such a wonderful memory.

Being a lover of ‘all things corn‘, I decided to make some cornmeal dumplings for our beef stew today. Their still ‘dumplings’, right!!

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Beef Stew w/ Cornmeal Dumplings
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Beef Stew
Cornmeal Dumplings
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Beef Stew
Cornmeal Dumplings
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Instructions
Beef Stew
  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tsp oil. Stir fry beef in 2 batches until browned. Transfer to Dutch oven pot, cover & keep warm.
  2. Heat remaining 2 tsp oil in saucepan, add onion & garlic; cook until tender crisp & browned. Add spices; heat & stir for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add flour & 1/2 cup beef broth to onion mixture; stir for a few minutes to blend. Add beef, remaining broth, carrot, celery & salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover & cook about 30-40 minutes, until beef is tender.
Cornmeal Dumplings
  1. While your stew simmers, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cheese & green onion in a mixing bowl & set aside. In another bowl whisk the yogurt, eggs, oil.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. When stew meat is tender, combine wet dumpling ingredients with dry ingredients, stirring batter until blended. (If you wish, you can transfer tender stew into individual ramekins or a casserole dish at this point).
  3. Roughly drop scoops of the cornmeal batter onto each filled ramekin (or casserole). Place them onto a baking tray & cook in the oven for about 20 minutes or until dumplings test done.

German Spekulatius Scones

Speculaas‘ is actually not just a flavor that’s known in the Netherlands. In Germany & Austria its called ‘spekulatius’ and in Belgium & France it s called ‘speculoos’.

I love spices and everything about them …. their history, their applications and how they can add such a depth of flavor to cooking and baking. I first became aware of this Dutch spice mix (speculaaskruiden) some years ago. It isn’t the same as British Mixed Spice or American Pumpkin Pie Spice but they are similar as they share many of the same ingredients. The smell of speculaaskruiden is amazing …. a deliciously warm and woody aroma. Making your own is not difficult but it does require about nine different spices.

In the mid 18th century, the recipe for ‘spekulatius’ made its way to Germany from Holland. The origin of the cookies name may have derived from the Latin word ‘spekulum’, signifying ‘mirror image’, which alludes to the wooden mold whose mirror image appears on the cookie.

In the course of time, many recipes using speculaas spices have been created. For many German folk, spekulatius are as much a part of Christmas as are Christmas trees. Sometimes bakers make dough three months in advance so the flavor will permeate the dough thoroughly.

As the holiday season approaches, I thought it would be nice to try incorporating the speculaas spice into some breakfast scones. I didn’t have any wooden molds so I baked them in those little sandbakkel tins I had spoke of in a blog at the end of November (Fig, Pear & Gorgonzola Tartlets). The flavor and tenderness of the scones is just amazing.

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German Spekulatius Scones
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine orange zest, sugar & spice mix. Set aside 1 Tbsp. of sugar mixture reserving it for the tops.
  3. To the remaining orange/sugar, add flour, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt; mix well. Add butter, cutting in until mixture forms fine crumbs.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs & vanilla, blending well. Add to flour mixture; stir ONLY until soft dough forms.
  5. Drop by heaping 1/4 cupful's, 2-inches apart on to baking sheet. Sprinkle with reserved sugar mixture & sprinkle with almonds. Alternately you can use some baking tins as I did in which case only use a couple of Tbsp per scone.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes (for the larger size) or until scones are golden on top. Remove to wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

HOMEMADE SPECULAAS SPICE MIX:   (yield: 6 Tbsp)

  • 5 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp  EACH nutmeg & cloves
  • 1/2 tsp  EACH ground aniseed, white pepper, ground coriander, ginger, cardamom & mace
  • Mix spices together & either use right away or store in an airtight jar.
  • This recipe can easily be incorporated into many recipes or just make the amount you need.

Crispy Seed & Fruit Oat Diamonds

Faster to make than cookies, easier to transport than a cake and equally as delicious as both, what’s not to love about dessert squares (or in this case ‘diamonds’).

The classic rice krispie treats recipe found on the back of the cereal box call for very few ingredients. While we will forever appreciate the simplicity of the sweet treat in its unaltered form, its hard not to experiment with a few new ideas.

There’s a good reason why oatmeal cookies are the poster child for rolled oats. Oatmeal can enhance a whole range of dough and/or batters from pancakes to bread & muffins, etc.

The idea of putting oatmeal, rice krispies, pumpkin seeds & candied fruit peel all in one dessert bar is the ultimate rice krispie treat in my opinion.

You can choose to cut them in whatever shape you wish depending on the the baking pan you use. I wanted to bake these in a 9 x 13 pan and cut them into diamonds for this blog recipe. I had previously made the same recipe in a drop cookie form. Same great taste, just a different shape.

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Crispy Seed & Fruit Oat Diamonds
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Batter
Lemon Glaze
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DIAMONDS
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Batter
Lemon Glaze
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease or line (w/parchment paper) baking pan of choice & set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda & oatmeal.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugars until light & fluffy. Mix in vanilla & eggs until well incorporated. Add flour mixture & mix until completely combined.
  4. Stir in seeds, fruit & rice krispies with a spatula.
  5. Press batter into prepared baking pan. Bake 20 minutes, until LIGHTLY golden on the edges. These bars are best if slightly under-baked. They may look shiny & under-baked, but will darken & set up as they cool.
  6. Cool completely then cut into desired size & shape (squares, diamonds or bars). Drizzle with lemon glaze & remove diamonds from pan.
Recipe Notes
  • If you are not a fan of pumpkin seeds or candied fruit peel, just substitute them with your own favorites.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies

We are now officially into fall, so its time to think in terms of a bit of pumpkin. I had not considered pumpkin as part of a sandwich cookie before, but oatmeal with pumpkin and cream cheese makes good sense to me. There’s more to oatmeal cookies than the recipe on the Quaker Oats box. In fact there’s a lot of amazing combinations out there but first a bit of food history.

Oatmeal cookies evolved from oatcakes, a type of plain flatbread made centuries ago by the British and the Scots. Raisins and nuts were added to the mix somewhere around the Middle Ages to make them tastier. When oatmeal cookies became elevated to the ranks of ‘health food’, a recipe for them appeared on containers of Quaker Oats. These recipes were circulated widely and oatmeal cookies were soon common in households throughout North America.

An important part of these cookies lies in the spices. Rather than using a pre-made ‘pumpkin pie spice’, I like to give them a personal touch by using my own combination. This way, you can control the flavor better. Feel free to adjust the spice mix to suit your taste or just simply go with cinnamon.

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Oatmeal Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies
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SANDWICH COOKIES
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SANDWICH COOKIES
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Cookies
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Instructions
Spice Mix
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together spice mix combination from recipe notes & set aside.
Cookies
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & 1 1/2 tsp spice mixture; add oatmeal & pumpkin seeds; mix together.
  2. In a bowl, using a hand mixer, cream butter until light & fluffy. Add sugars & beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add pumpkin puree, egg yolk & vanilla; mix to combine. Add flour mixture, mixing ONLY until combined. Place dough in refrigerator & chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop dough into 2 tsp sized balls & place on cookie sheet. Press with a dampened for to flatten a bit. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until done but not browned. Allow to cool for 1 minute before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
Filling
  1. In a bowl, beat together cream cheese & butter until smooth. Add in pumpkin & mix until fully incorporated. Add remaining spice mixture & powdered sugar about 1/4 cup at a time, allowing each prior amount to fully mix into the filling before adding more.
  2. Spread or pipe filling on half of the cooled cookies & top with remaining cookies. This recipe makes 5 dozen filled cookies so you may want to freeze some.
Recipe Notes
  •  Spice Mixture Recipe (2 1/8 tsp):
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp EACH nutmeg & cloves
  • 1/8 tsp EACH ginger, cardamom & white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground star anise

 

Raspberry Pistachio Muffins w/ Peaches

For some reason, when I was making these muffins, they made me think about when Brion & I had traveled in Europe years ago. You were offered a ‘continental breakfast’ with your hotel stay. Its all pretty common place these days, but as always, the history behind it is interesting.

A continental breakfast is defined as, ‘a light breakfast in a hotel, restaurant, etc., that includes baked goods, jam, fruit, and coffee’. All of which were shelf-stable items in portion sizes that are perfect for large groups of people.

The term continental breakfast originated in Britain in the mid-19th Century. To the British, the continent refers to the countries of mainland Europe. A continental breakfast describes the type of breakfast you’d encounter in places like France and the Mediterranean. Its a lighter, more delicate alternative to the full English or American breakfasts.

Along with being cost effective … you don’t need much staff to tend a few trays of bagels, pastries and carafes of orange juice & coffee in the lobby. Guests like the convenience of the food and the perceived value of getting something for free.

Today, the continental breakfast included in the price of the room is pretty much standard in most hotels worldwide.

Long story short, these little fruit filled muffins fit the bill perfectly!

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Raspberry Pistachio Muffins w/ Peaches
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. In a food processor, pulse pistachios until finely ground. In a medium bowl, whisk together pistachios, flour, sugar, baking powder & baking soda. Add peaches, stirring to coat them.
  3. In another bowl, whisk yogurt, butter, eggs, vanilla & orange zest. Fold in the dry ingredients making sure not to over mix. Divide batter between the 12 muffin cups. Insert 2 or 3 whole raspberries into each muffin. Sprinkle with some slivered pistachios. Push them down a bit into the batter so they don't fall out when the muffins rise.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until risen & golden. Cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish.