CELEBRATING CANADA DAY!
In Canada, July 1st marks the day for Canadians to show pride in their nations history, culture and achievements. From coast to coast the country’s birthday is marked with various events.
This is the date of the historical event in which Canada gained its independence from Great Britain in 1867.
Barbecues are definitely the preferred choice of food event for the day. Although we are experiencing some rainy conditions this Canada Day, nothing says you can’t modify the traditional barbecue with cooking indoors. For something different, I decided to try making some portobello ‘fries’ to accompany our chicken cheese burgers. Technically, they are not really fries at all, but they’re crispy and dip able and that is all anyone expects from a fry.. right? Sliced and breaded with crumbs and cheese then baked makes these portobello fries super tasty.
Of course, the staple at most barbecues, tailgates and picnics is the classic burger. But a burger doesn’t have to be just a burger and cheese isn’t just cheese. For ours, I’m making chicken burgers ‘infused’ with shredded Gruyere cheese. Then taking it to the next level and adding caramelized onions and guacamole.
What a nice ‘Canada Day’ meal it makes!
Chicken Cheese Burgers w/ Portobello Fries
Chicken Cheese Burgers
In a large bowl, combine chicken, Gruyere, bread crumbs, parsley, egg & garlic. Season with salt & pepper. Form into 4 patties & place in refrigerator until ready to grill.
Heat oil in skillet until hot. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Place in a dish; set aside.
In a bowl, coarsely mash avocados with lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro; blend well. Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge until needed.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a wire rack on a large baking sheet lined with foil.
In a shallow dish, whisk together the flour, spices, salt & pepper. In another shallow dish, lightly beat eggs with 1 Tbsp water. In the third shallow dish, combine panko/butter mixture with the Parmesan cheese.
Gently toss mushroom slices in the flour mixture. Coat evenly & shake off any excess flour. Then, dip the floured fries into the eggs, drip off any excess eggs & then place them into the panko mixture. Gently press the panko mixture onto the mushrooms.
Place the fries onto the wire rack, leaving an 1/8-inch space between each. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown & crispy. If you wish, you could serve fries with marinara sauce, ketchup or a roasted garlic mayo.
Once you have all the various components to this meal this far all that is left is to barbecue the chicken burgers over a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes per side or until cooked thru. Instead of baking the mushroom fries you can alternately grill them on the BBQ as well.
Slice & lightly grill Ciabatta buns. Top each bottom half with a chicken burger, a slice of cheese, some guacamole, caramelized onions & a tomato slice, ending with the other half of the bun. The big question is, how to get your mouth around it!
- Whether you bake or grill, either way its all good!
Although ancient in origin, French onion soup underwent a resurgence in popularity during the 1960’s due to the greater interest in French cuisine.
French onion soup is a type of soup usually based on a meat broth and onions. At some point in time, the French decided that the onions should be caramelized to bring out their natural sweetness. Then, to top things off, its garnished with Gruyere cheese on a slice of baguette and broiled in the oven.
These chicken meatballs put a bit of a different spin on that iconic soup. Made with all the classic ingredients, but turned into a main course meal. Nice to serve with either pasta or rice.
French Onion Chicken Meatballs
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & rub with oil.
In a large bowl, combine chicken, Gruyere, bread crumbs, parsley, egg & garlic. Season with salt & pepper. Form into 16 meatballs then place on prepared baking sheet & bake until golden & cooked through, about 25 minutes.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions & cook until very soft & golden, 25 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic & cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add broth & thyme & season with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat & let simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Boil egg noodles in salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes; drain & add to sauce. Grate Gruyere & Parmesan cheeses & combine.
Divide pasta/sauce between 4 serving plates. Top each with 4 meatballs & divide cheese combo between them. If you wish, microwave each plate for a couple of minutes to melt cheese before serving.
Quiche has always been an incomparable, one dish meal in my opinion. It’s kind of a whole food with protein, vegetables, dairy and carbohydrates. Quiche’s convenience wins hands down. After mixing the basics … eggs, milk or cream … any ingredients will work from leftovers to freshly cooked. You can use just about anything that you have in the refrigerator.
While some recipes are crust-free, most quiches have some kind of foundation. Potatoes, rice, cauliflower all make nice ‘crust’ options. Quiche makes a great choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. To keep it interesting, I’m always trying to find ways to tweak the ingredients to make it taste just a bit different each time.
Two of Brion’s favorite foods are broccoli and rice. I decided to make a rice/cheese crust, which I pre-baked so it would get a little crispy. Then, when it bakes with the filling, it holds together quite nicely. The seasoning plays a crucial part in the quiche.
Shrimp Quiche Casserole
Preheat oven to 350 F. Blend crust ingredients. Using the back of a large spoon, press into a greased 8-inch round baking dish & bake for 15-20 minutes.
In a skillet, melt 1 Tbsp butter; saute garlic & mushrooms, stirring for about 5 minutes. Stir in onions, cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Pour 2 cups water into skillet & bring to a simmer. Cook shrimp for about 1 minute or JUST until pink. Reserving 1 cup of the liquid, rinse shrimp under cold running water. Shell & devein shrimp; arrange over rice in baking dish.
Preheat oven to 325 F. (If you have turned it off after pre-baking crust). In a heavy saucepan, melt remaining butter & stir in flour. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, without browning; gradually whisk in reserved liquid & milk. Cook, stirring, for about 20 minutes or until thickened.
Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese, lemon zest & spices until cheese is melted. Stir into vegetable mixture & pour over shrimp in rice crust.
In a small bowl, stir together remaining 1/4 cup cheese & bread crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over 'quiche'.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until quiche is 'set'. Cut into wedges & serve.
Today, December 25th our family celebrates my sister Rita’s birthday. She will forever be the special Christmas gift our family was so privileged to receive on that Christmas day. This time of the year makes us reflect on many different things. This moment, this day, this season will never come again. Treasure it and treasure those you love who make it memorable. I like to keep in mind that the best reflection of Christmas takes place in the mirror of our own hearts.
For many of us, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven. But that doesn’t mean you have to roast the whole bird to get the desired effect. Even though Brion and I probably like the dark meat almost better than the white, we have enjoyed quite a few little turkey ‘breast’ dinners.
This year kumquats are high on my list. They not only add a festive touch but paired with pistachios they seem to really enrich the flavor of the meat. Kumquat season is short and usually begins in November and lasts through the Chinese New Year in January. The name kumquat means ‘golden orange’ in its native Canton.
Although this recipe has about three parts, it comes together real easy. The pistachios form a nice crispy crust while the turkey breast stays tender and moist. It is so nice complimented by all the usual ‘side’ dishes of a turkey feast.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RITA … WE LOVE YOU … ENJOY YOUR DAY!
SEASON’S GREETINGS TO EVERYONE
Candied Kumquats over Pistachio Crusted Turkey Breast
In a shallow dish, combine pistachios & bread crumbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together mustard, olive oil & honey.
Turkey / Stuffing
In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil then stir in contents of stuffing mix. Cover & allow to sit for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork & cool.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter a large piece of heavy foil, making a circle about the same size as the turkey breast. Keeping the whole turkey breast intact, flatten slightly to create a uniform thicken.
Dip the turkey breast in Dijon mixture, being sure to coat both inside & outside well. Next coat both inside & outside with pistachio/bread crumb mixture. Lay breast on buttered foil; top half of the breast with the turkey stuffing. Fold other half on top to enclose the filling. If necessary, use some toothpicks to secure stuffed breast during roasting time. Cup sides of foil fairly close to meat.
Roast, covered for 1 hour, remove top piece of foil & continue to bake another 1/2 hour or until 185 F. is reached on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven & allow to rest a few minutes before slicing.
While the turkey is roasting prepare your kumquats. Heat water & sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Once sugar water begins to boil, add (seeded) sliced kumquats, stirring to coat well. Reduce heat to low & let simmer until liquid is reduced to a syrup consistency. Remove from heat & serve with turkey breasts.
CELEBRATING FATHER’S DAY!
Honoring your father on Father’s Day doesn’t require his physical presence. I feel what is more important, is just the act of doing it. I am very grateful to have had a father who was such a strong role model in my life. Everything he did was driven by his commitment to provide and care for the family he loved.
My father passed away in 2005 and Brion’s in 2011. Both our Dad’s loved to talk and tell stories from their lives. We often wish we could retrace that time and hear their voices again. It seems you never fully appreciate your parents until they are no longer on this earth. It is so important to appreciate every hour they are in your life.
My special meal to honor them on this Father’s Day, is a nice medley of pork, shrimp and mushrooms.
Seafood Stuffed Pork Medallions with Peppercorn Sauce
Shred zucchini, sprinkle with a little salt & set aside. In a bowl, combine the cheeses, crumbled bacon, egg & seasonings. Squeeze as much liquid from zucchini as possible. Add it to the filling & mix well. Divide the filling between mushrooms. Place a small amount of Zesty Italian dressing in a cup. Dip bottom of each mushroom in dressing & allow to dip off for a few seconds. Place stuffed mushroom caps on a small baking dish making sure they will stay upright. Place in fridge until ready to bake.
In a bowl, combine oil, garlic, oregano, basil, Parmesan, salt & pepper. Add shrimp & toss gently; thread onto skewers. Place on a plate & refrigerate until ready to cook.
Stuffing / Tenderloin
In a saucepan, saute garlic & shallots in 1 Tbsp olive oil for a few minutes. Add a few pinches of salt & pepper; stir in breadcrumbs. Add water; stir till all is combined & transfer to a bowl.
In a bowl, cream together butter & cream cheese. Add 1/2 of the capers, the parsley & stir thoroughly. Add the Gruyere & scallops, stirring gently. Set aside.
'Butterfly' tenderloin & pound making it all the same thickness. Spread stuffing evenly on flattened cut side. Starting with the long side, carefully ROLL the tenderloin as opposed to just FOLDING it over. On work surface, lay out bacon strips side by side. Lay stuffed tenderloin at one end & roll up in bacon strips, placing a toothpick at end of each strip.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a skillet, heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, add the roast carefully & saute for about 3-4 minutes on each side to cook the bacon a bit. Place a rack in a shallow roasting pan & lay stuffed tenderloin on it; bake at 400 F. for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F. & bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven, set the roast on a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, & let rest while the shrimp & stuffed mushrooms are cooking. When ready to serve, slice into 1 - 1 1/2" thick 'medallions'.
Increase oven temperature to 400 F. Remove stuffed mushrooms from refrigerator, bake for 20-30 minutes or until filling is golden & mushrooms have softened. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with foil, place skewered shrimp in oven for the last 6-8 minutes of cooking the mushrooms.
This can be made earlier or while the last items are cooking in the oven. In a hot skillet, add butter, shallots & peppercorns; stir until shallots are golden, about 1 minute. Add broth & thyme sprigs; reduce heat & allow sauce to simmer for a few minutes. Remove thyme sprigs. Add cream & salt & pepper to taste. If you wish to thicken sauce, combine cornstarch & water in a small dish, stirring until smooth. Add a bit at a time to your hot mixture, stirring until desired thickness is achieved.
Anyone growing a vegetable garden will now be reaping the benefits of all your hard work. Have you ever stopped and thought about how many summer vegetables are fantastic for hollowing out and stuffing? Any vegetable with a fairly sturdy shape can become an edible vessel for dinner. All we need to do is scoop out the middle and fill the inside with a stuffing of our choice. A little time in the oven until everything is heated through and dinner is ready!
When my siblings and I were growing up, my mother had many unique ways of teaching us how to take responsibility. On one side of her huge farm vegetable garden, she designated a ‘strip’ each for the three of us older siblings. The strips were each about 4 feet (1.22 m) wide and the length of her garden. The deal was that we could grow whatever we choose to, but it was ours to weed and care for all summer. At the end of the season, it was fun to see who had the most success. One of my sisters absolutely loved to grow pumpkins as they grew fast and large. I can’t really remember my mother stuffing a lot of vegetables but the idea of stuffing ‘things’ always appeals to me. The blended flavors make for some pretty tasty meals.
I couldn’t resist making a few kinds even if I’m not a vegetable gardener. These blog recipes have been adapted from tasteofhome.com which just happens to be one of my favorite recipe companies.
Stuffed Onions, Tomatoes & Zucchini with Herb / Cheese Bread Sticks
If your a vegetable lover, this meal is for you.
Tomato & Zucchini Filling
Tomato & Zucchini Filling
Cut a 1/2" thick slice from tops; discard. Trim just enough off bottom for onions to stand upright. Scoop out all but outer 2 or 3 layers from each onion. Chop scooped out onion reserving 2/3 of it for tomato/zucchini filling.
Cook bacon until crisp; transfer to a paper towel, reserving fat in skillet. Add onion, celery, salt & pepper to skillet; saute, stirring until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic & saute, stirring about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a bowl & stir in spinach, bread crumbs, margarine, chicken broth & bacon; cool.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Arrange onion shells, open sides up, in a small baking pan. Add 1/2 cup water & cover tightly with foil. Roast onions until JUST tender. Do not over bake! Remove from oven. Lift carefully to work surface & fill with stuffing. Set aside until tomatoes & zucchini are prepared.
Stuffed Tomatoes & Zucchini
Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato; remove core, discard. Using a melon baller, scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/2" shell. Reserve pulp. Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain. Slice each zucchini into thirds. Using melon baller, scoop out centers, leaving one end of each piece in tact to hold filling.
In nonstick skillet, cook turkey & reserved, chopped onion until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in basil, salt, pepper & reserved tomato & zucchini pulp; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes. Stir in rice, cheese & pesto; heat through. Cool slightly; spoon into tomato & zucchini shells.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place any remaining filling in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Place stuffed onions, tomatoes & zucchini on top. Bake, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes. Do not over bake as it is best when vegetables still have a bit of crispness rather than being completely soft or mushy.
Herb / Cheese Bread Sticks
In a large bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. In a small dish, beat egg & divide. In another dish, whisk yogurt with 1/2 beaten egg. Stir into dry ingredients until mixture forms a ball.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Divide into 12 pieces & roll each into an 8" length. Lay on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with remaining beaten egg & sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack.
- Don't hesitate to add some tomato sauce to your tomato/zucchini filling if you think it needs a little more flavor.