Turkey and Chicken Pot Pie... leftovers galore!

This is probably the first day of the winter break (ie.  my time off) that I have not gone out of the house.  We all slept in this morning.  It seems that a series of late nights and lots of family visits, presents, food, skating, events, etc. has left us all exhausted.  Even kid #2, at 4 years of age, slept in until 9 a.m. this morning.  That's sayin' something.
So far this holiday, and I'm quite proud of myself for this, I have been keeping up with running and yoga faithfully.  This morning was no exception.  It was yoga day so instead of doing a morning session it ended up being a 'brunch' session.  No problem.  Not like I had anything else to do today.  Beautiful.
We completely unplugged.  It's awesome.  I highly recommend.
Down side:
We still have to eat.  After making all kinds of crazy cookies, scalloped potatoes, roasted veggies for the various christmas dinners AND having people over to eat... well, we're cleaned out.  Nothing.  Nada.
Once again, I'm proud of myself here.  We did not order in.  I made this...

Let's just say that leftover turkey from my Mom's turkey dinner and some frozen cooked chicken that I gleaned off of chicken that had been used for chicken broth came in really handy.  Some veggies, a little pastry and *shizaam*  it appeared.  Well, almost.
Look, if you decide that your leftover turkey needs to be stewed and tucked under some pastry I wouldn't blame you one bit if you opted to purchase some ready made puff pastry and use that.  Let's just  be honest here:
a.  I was wearing yoga gear and hadn't showered.
b.  I was too damn lazy to go buy some even had I been perfectly clean.
Also, I used some broth that I made a couple of weeks ago (I save my chicken carcasses and use them for broth - please be impressed.  Thank You) but by no means is it necessary.  Store bought broth or chicken bouillion cubes dissolved in water would do just fine.  Make sure that you do some good tasting along the way just in case the flavours aren't quite strong enough though.

So, if you are looking for something kinda homey and comfort foodish.  If you are a little sick of turkey sandwiches.  If you aren't looking at each other before a meal saying: 'If I eat turkey one more time, I'm gonna...'  Well then, maybe you could give this a whirl.  Otherwise... pick up the phone... you know the number.

Turkey and Chicken Pot Pie
serves 4 - 6

4 cups turkey/chicken, cooked and cut into smallish pieces
4 cups bouillion or stock
1/4 cup milk or cream
1/4 cup flour
1 med onion, diced
2 med potato, diced
2 med carrot, diced
2 med parsnips, diced
2 cups green beans (or frozen peas if it works better for you), cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp thyme
dash pepper sauce
dash nutmeg
salt to taste


1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
1/4 cup cold butter, diced into cubes
dash salt
4 tbsp cold water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat a large pot and with some oil, saute the onion, potato, carrot, parsnip and green beans. Saute over medium heat until the veggies (especially the carrot and parsnip) are softened a bit.  Lower the heat and add in the garlic and swish around for a few minutes.  Add in the turkey or chicken and swish that around for a few minutes.  Things should look pretty colourful at this point.

Throw in the Worcestershire, Soy Sauce, sugar, thyme, pepper sauce, nutmeg and salt.  Let that mix with everything for a minute and then add in the bouillion.  Stir well and let it come to a low simmer.
In a small bowl, mix together the milk and flour until it forms a thick paste.  If you need extra flour, don't hesitate to throw a little extra in there.  Once the paste is smooth and the pot is gently simmering, add in the paste to the pot and mix well.  Allow the whole thing to simmer gently for about 5 minutes or until it all thickens slightly.  Set aside.
In a large bowl place the flour, salt and the cubed butter.  Using a pastry cutter or a fork (that's all it got!) combine the two together until it's a coarse crumb.   Add the cold water a tbsp at a time mixing well until the dough can form a ball.
Roll out onto a lightly floured surface.  (You only have to roll it out enough to cover the baking dish that you are going to use.  I used a round dish so if you are using a larger baking dish you might want to double the recipe.)

Place the turkey mixture into a baking dish (I used a 9 inch round) and cover with the rolled out pastry - tucking the edges up the sides of the dish.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until the crust looks golden and crunchy.  Like the top of a pie... right???
Remove from oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes before serving.


I got off pretty lucky.
I didn't have a big turkey to soak, roast or BBQ (?).
I haven't yet prepared a Ham big enough to share with about 50 of my nearest and dearest.
I haven't had a big event at my place causing me to stress out for days about enough food and making sure that no one will trip on 'hotwheels' that might be lying around.
I didn't spend hours on Christmas Eve wrapping presents meticulously, listening to carols and drinking mulled wine (although that mulled wine part doesn't sound too bad at all).
In other words Christmas 2010 so far has been deliciously laid back.  Christmas morning we found that Santa put some things in our kids stockings and there was one present under the tree for them (yeah, I know... just one)
Late lunch at the 'in-law's' with about 15 of us.  That was nice and I was only responsible for veggies - a salad (she wanted greek salad!) and some roasted veggies.  So, in negative temps I went outside and fired up the BBQ to grill some peppers and eggplants (I also oven roasted some squash and sweet potato).
Boxing Day at my parents.  I was responsible for bringing a potato dish.  The specific request was for scalloped potato - awesome.  Nice quiet, relaxed day.  

Earlier in the week though I decided that food needed to be had at our house.  Being off work and therefor having some extra time to cook, I figured that it was time to finally try making something resembling Moussaka.  I've always wanted to try it and D has been 'suggesting' for some time that he likes it a lot.  Well, finally time and ingredients aligned and I gave it a whirl.

It's quite a nice dish at this time of year, I think.  It's sufficiently rich and heavy (in a good way) but also well balanced with veggies.  I gave the eggplants a little dredge in some flour and a little fry up in some oil or fat and that worked very well.  It's extremely tasty.  The only suggestion that I would give is to make sure that you let it stand for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it.   Also, make sure that the baking dish is DEEP!

Give it a try for your New Year (or Old Years Night) celebration... which reminds me - I gotta get me some champagne!

serves 6 - 8

75ml/6fl oz oil, olive or safflower or something else (like bacon fat!!!)
1 large onion, finely chopped
675g/1½lb lamb or beef mince
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 400g tin of diced tomato
2 cubes beef bouillion (low salt)
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp pepper sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 large eggplants, cut into 1cm/½in slices
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup flour
2 bay leaves


6 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
3 3/4 cup milk, warmed
1/2 cup parmesan
1 egg

Rinse the sliced eggplant, toss with some salt and let it sit for about a half hour. More if possible. I did mine the night before.

In large pan, over medium heat, put a couple of tbsp of oil and begin to saute the onions. Leave for a few minutes and then add the minced meat and garlic. Stir and saute for about 7 min. or until the meat is cooked through. Add in the cinnamon, allspice, oregano, bay leaves thryme, pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well. Add in the bouillion and the canned tomato. Let the mixture simmer about 45 min - 1 hr.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and combine with the flour. Let it cook together for just a minute. Slowly add in the warmed milk, whisking as you go. Once all the milk is added, let it cook slowly over med/low heat. Keep whisking just so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Once it begins to thicken, add in the parmesan, egg (slowly to that the egg doesn't scramble), salt, sugar and pepper sauce. check the tastes and set aside.

Put the remaining oil in a large frying pan (I used caste iron) and heat. Dredge the eggplant slices lightly in the flour and fry on both sides for a few minutes (until the eggplant looks cooked and soft).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Get a large baking dish, preferably with high sides. I also put my baking dish on a cookie sheet covered with foil - just in case.
Begin lining the baking dish with the meat sauce. Then layer with eggplant slices. Continue until it's all used up. On top of everything pour the Bechamel sauce.
Bake for about 50 - 60 minutes or until bubbling and lightly browned on the top.
Cool for about 20 minutes before cutting into it.

      Cappuccino Flats and a Merry Christmas

      I'm doing what is probably a big No-No in the food blogging world (I don't know that for sure, I'm just guessing).  I'm posting a recipe again.  Twice in one year.  Same recipe.  Not one change save for maybe some better pictures this time around.
      I also have to make a confession:
      I did not make these for the cookie exchange party even though I consider these the best cookies I've ever made... which is precisely why I didn't make them to give away.
      That's right, these are probably the one and only cookie that I jealously hoard.  I only make them once a year (there's actually a good reason for that - chocolate coating doesn't work well in a room temperature kitchen in the summer).  It's kind of like Mallomars in the U.S.  (readers you can enlighten me)... they only show up for a brief time and I want to get all I can.

      I wanted to share these, my favourite cookie recipe, AGAIN with you on this special day... Christmas day.  It's like a little treat for those of you who are scouting the Net today.  The pictures still don't do these cookies justice.  They are soft on the inside with a hint of coffee.  The chocolate on the outside is perfect.  These are cookies that melt in your mouth.
      If you make them keep these things in mind:
      You might want to keep eating of other things at a minimum on the day you make them.
      You might not want to share so keep entertaining to a minimum.
      If you do have people over... hide these!
      You might want to have extra ingredients around... for the second batch that you'll probably want to make right away.

      If you make these, please let me know... especially if you like them.  Consider this recipe my Christmas gift to all of you (well that's kind of cheap of me, since I actually gave it to you last year... hmm, I'll come up with something better).

      Cappuccino Flats (from Better Homes and Gardens)
      about 2 1/2 dozen

      2 squares unsweetened chocolate
      2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
      1 tsp cinnamon
      1/4 tsp salt
      1/2 cup shortening
      1/2 cup unsalted butter
      1/2 cup sugar
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      1 tbsp instant coffee powder
      1 tbsp water
      1 egg

      1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
      3 tbsp shortening

      Place a heat proof boil over simmering water and melt the squares of unsweetened chocolate.  Set aside.
      Combine the flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.  Set aside
      In another bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup shortening, butter, sugar and brown sugar.  Cream together until light and fluffy.
      Mix together the coffee crystals and the water and add to the butter mixture.  Add the eggs to the butter mixture and mix well.
      Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine well.  Form the mixture into two logs and wrap and chill the logs overnight.
      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet.  Slice each log into 1/4 inch sliced and place on the cookie sheet.

      Bake for 10 - 12 min or until edges are just browned and firm.
      Remove from oven and cool on baking racks.
      In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the chocolate chips and shortening together.  Once melted, dip each (completely cooled) cookie until it's 1/2 covered with the chocolate.  Set on some parchment paper until the chocolate is set.

      Butterscotch Brown Butter Cookies

      When I go to a cookie exchange party (ok, all of twice now) it's a funny thing that happens to me.  I'm overcome with insecurity.  I'm terrified that my cookies taste like crap.  I'm afraid that I didn't bring enough.  I'm worried that mine don't look good... I know.  Stupid.  What is that about.  I'm sure that everybody feels that way.  Fortunately, the party I went to didn't make it into a contest because that would have been too much stress for me.  There's already enough stress at this time of year... who needs a cookie contest on top of it.  PRESSURE.

      Having said all that though, what are the things that I look to make when going to a cookie exchange party?
      1.  I think about how many cookies the recipe makes.  Will I have to double it?
      2.  I think about how many kinds of cookies I make and therefor how finicky are these cookies going to be to make.
      3.  I think about how interesting they are and whether someone else might duplicate the recipe - trust me, it's even worse than someone showing up at a party in the same dress.
      And the last thing is...
      4.  I think about whether they will taste good and whether they look good (ie. impressive)

      On another note, the Toronto Star is doing a Christmas Cookie Advent Calendar this year with a new cookie recipe coming out everyday up to Christmas Day.  It's pretty cool.  I found this recipe in among the teens of December and it caught my interest.
      First though I had to go through my checklist....

      Re #1 It makes a good amount of cookies
      Re#2  It sounded pretty straight forward.
      Re#3  'Brown Butter'... sounds exotic!  Who's going to duplicate that?
      Re#4  They have icing on them.  Therefor they instantly look better and more impressive (ie.  I spent time throwing a tbsp of icing on the top)
      And it was decided... then and there.

      Here's talking about the cookies for a minute.  These cookies are cakey... and they totally work.  They are very homey cookies and to be honest, if you have a lot of other things going on they can get a little lost.  I think that these work best with a cuppa in the afternoon and a good book (very little doesn't work well that way though, come to think of it).  I'm just thinking though that up against lemon bars and nanaimo bars and chocolate crackles and crazy sugar cookies and all that crap this little lovely might get lost and it's a shame for that to happen.  I guess what I'm really saying is give these a fair shake on their own, they'll be best appreciated that way... says I.   P.S.  I left the walnuts out b/c I wasn't sure about nut allergies.

      Butterscotch Brown Butter Cookies (from the Toronto Star)
      makes about 3 dozen cookies

      2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
      1 tsp baking soda
      1/2 tsp baking powder
      1/2 tsp salt (coarse or kosher best)
      1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
      1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
      2 lg eggs
      1 tsp vanilla
      250 ml (1 cup) sour cream - 14% only, not 'low-fat'
      2/3 cup walnut pieces (optional)

      1/2 cup unsalted butter
      3 1/2 cups icing sugar
      2 tbsp boiling water
      1/2 tsp vanilla

      Walnut pieces for garnish (optional)

      In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
      Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy.  Add in the sour cream and mix well.  Add the flour to the wet mixture and stir until well mixed.
      Drop by tbsp's onto the cookie sheets and bake for about 11 min or until the cookies are just browned around the edge.

      Remove from oven and cool on cooking racks.
      Melt and heat butter in a pan at medium heat until it begins to turn golden brown.  Remove from heat and stir in the icing sugar, boiling water and vanilla.
      Work quickly to place 1 tsp of the topping onto each cookie.  Let the cookies sit until the frosting sets.

      Cranberry and White Chocolate Drops... finally something Christmasy

      Finally a recipe that almost screams Christmas.  No Banana Bread or rice dishes or brownies for me this week...it's all Christmas all the time!

      Not really.

      I just can't drum it all up.  I'm enjoying some time not hustling my ass out of bed to get out the door at 7:30 a.m. and run to work in sub-zero stupid temperatures (that sounds like the infamous 'Dad-getting-to-school' story don't you think?).  However, I'm just not somebody who goes over the moon for the holiday.  I've already told you all that I'm a bit of a 'bah-humbug'.  So, I can in all honesty take or leave most of it.  I had a bit of a meltdown last week in fact, when I tried buying something in the Eaton Centre.  The line up in that particular store was out the door and the rest of the mall was really no better.  This was the middle of the day, during the week!  Nevertheless, the part that I actually enjoy is the food part and if I could make stuff to give all of you as a gift, I would.  That is the truth!

      Here's the thing... I had a Cookie exchange party to go to today.  Truth be told, my track pants were calling my name but I had made a commitment and I was going to see it through.  I decided to spread out the stress though by making 3 different cookie doughs last night and then baking them off today.  So, it really wasn't that bad.
      Long story short, you're going to be getting a lot of cookies around here for the next while.  Nothing wrong with that, right?

      These cranberry, white chocolate babies just kinda threw themselves together.  I got the basic recipe from the King Arthur flour website.  I fiddles a bit here and there but nothing drastic.  Added in an adequate amount of both the white chocolate chunks and the dried cranberries and... voila!  The nice thing about these is that they are easy drop cookies but they manage to look festive with the white and red mixed in.  I liked the texture of the cookie, although I might look for something just a smidge less cakey in future.  I'm all about the 'gooey'.  If you like a cakey cookie then these are for you...

      Cranberry, White Chocolate Drops (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
      about 3 dozen

      1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
      1/3 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
      1/3 cup packed brown sugar
      1 lg egg
      1/2 tsp salt
      1 tsp vanilla
      1/4 tsp baking soda
      1/2 tsp baking powder
      1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
      2 tbsp milk (optional - didn't use it)
      1 cup coarsely chopped or chunked white chocolate
      1 cup dried cranberries

      Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
      Line a cookie sheet (or two if you have) and set aside.
      Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
      In another bowl combine the sugar, brown sugar and butter.  Cream everything until it's light and fluffy.  Add in the egg and vanilla and whip together until light and fluffy.
      Add the flour to the wet ingredients and combine well.  Add in the white chocolate and the cranberries and Mix until everything is well incorporated.
      Drop by lg tbsp's onto the cookie sheet and bake for about 10 min. or until just lightly browned around the edges.
      Remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and let them cool on baking racks.

      Ricotta, Chicken Pasta and summery dreams

      Winter has hit here in Toronto.  It's cold.  Like stupid cold.  There is snow... not a lot but there is snow.  I've put my bike away for the winter.  We cried and I told it that I'd be out to visit and that our first ride in March would be awesome - we have to hold out for that.  So, here I am, running through the snow to work, motivating myself in the dark and craving cooking summery food. 

      Let's face it, chicken, ricotta, lemon, parmesan... summery food for sure, right?  I should be posting about turnip, parsnip, cabbage (well - I have been posting about cabbage), squash... all that kind of stuff.  What the heck am I doing posting this in December.  You see?  I'm thinking exactly the same thing that you are thinking.  Where's the gingerbread, the turkey, the soup, the ham???  No, Wanda's posting lemony, cheesy pasta - damn, it even sounds good when you write it. 

      Anyway, I craved it and so I made it and it was good.  Everybody ate it which means that it was good and that it didn't seem terribly out of place for the fam.  Truth be told, I bought this organic ricotta stuff and it was a little chunkier than I had hoped.  I imagined something creamier and I would make this again just to try it with creamier ricotta.  I don't think that anyone would object. 
      Trust me the Christmasy/Seasonal posts are coming.  You'll get everything that you crave... well, maybe not the turkey.  But let's face it, Man cannot live on Christmas dinner and treats alone.  I'm going to let you in on a little secret:  it's not even my favourite meal.  Not even on my favourite meal list (doesn't everybody have one of those?).  I think that a hearty lasagna, butter chicken or a Trini Sunday lunch would be right up there instead.  I do have a cookie exchange party in a few days that I've got to get organised for.   That's going to force me into Christmasiness for sure.  This particular party serves a lovely Glugg recipe so I'm totally there.  I'll figure out what I'm gonna make and get pictures for all of you so that you can check it out too. 
      For now though, let's dream of summer and sitting outside on the patio, sipping chardonnay and eating this gorgeous pasta. 

      Ricotta, Chicken Pasta

      serves 4

      4 - 5 cups cooked pasta (rotini or penne)
      1 lb chicken, sliced (I used thighs for this one but a mixture would do fine)
      4 cups chard, thinly sliced
      1 small onion, thinly sliced
      2 cups mushrooms, thickly sliced
      3 cloves garlic, crushed
      zest from 1 lg lemon
      juice from said lemon
      2 tsp salt
      2 tsp sugar
      2 tsp basil
      400g tub of ricotta (smooth)
      1/2 cup cream
      1/2 cup parmesan
      dash of pepper or heat of some kind

      In a large pot of boiling water add some salt and boil the pasta to al dente.
      Drain (reserve some of the pasta water) and set aside.

      In another pot heat some oil over medium heat and add in the onion, chard and mushrooms.  Stir, cooking for about 5 min.  Add in the diced or sliced chicken and the garlic.  Continue cooking for about 5 minutes.  Add in the lemon zest, juice, salt, sugar and basil.  Mix well.
      Add in the ricotta, cream and parmesan.  Mix until creamy and saucy (!)  Check the taste and add some heat if you choose to go there.  Adjust as necessary.  Toss the cooked pasta and serve.

      Trini-Beef Pelau... hope springs eternal.

      I am married to a Trinidadian.
      I lived in Trinidad for well over a year - close to a year and a half (and 'No, I did not miss snow or the seasons.  Even at Christmas!).
      I love Trini food.  I thought that I had died and gone to food heaven.  Everything tasted so good.  I mean everything.  Even at homes where we might just show up out of the blue made us fantastic food.  Pot Lucks - something that fills me with fear here in Canada (true confessions) - were fantastic.  Most people aren't afraid of cooking and don't rely on prepackaged food to get there.  The problem is that I don't cook  Trini food often enough.
      The food looks straight forward, even on paper but when you try to make it you realize how difficult it is to get those flavours and textures just right.  I've watched D's Mom cook, I've watched D's Granny cook (she was famous for her cooking).  In fact, I've watched them cook this particular dish.  I've made this dish many times myself AND STILL I find it hard to get it 'right'.  I don't know what it is exactly but something comes out wrong.  When you do get this right though, it's one of the single most satisfying dishes in the world and any Trini will be happy to confirm it.

      Rumour has it that a few years ago when Jay-Z was in Trinidad for Carnival, somebody's Mom got paid $700 US for a pot of pelau.  Restaurants don't stay open late in T&T (like really late I mean) and Jay-Z and entourage were hungry.  One of the contact people called his Mom, got her out of bed and she cooked up a pot for the lot.  I'm sure that Jay-Z and co. were happy to pay for it too - it's that good.
      You can throw anything in this stuff... chicken, including feet (yeah, haven't actually seen that one yet), pork, carrot... you get the idea.
      Don't let me put you off trying this though - it's well worth it.  The taste is great.  I'm officially resolving to cook more Trini food.

      Beef Pelau (adapted from 'Naparima Girls School Cookbook' and my Mother-in-law)

      1 1/2 - 2 lbs beef chuck

      herb seasoning:
      2 tsp each - thyme, chives, parsley
      2 cloves garlic, crushed
      1 tsp salt
      2 - 3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
      2 tbsp soy sauce
      2 tbsp ketchup

      1/3 - 1/2 cup brown sugar
      1 tin coconut milk (about 2 cups)
      2 cups water
      1 packet of beef bouillion
      1 onion, thinly sliced
      4 slices bacon, sliced
      1 tin pidgeon peas or kidney beans
      2 cups of long grain rice, washed

      In a bowl, season the meat with the herb seasoning.  Set aside.

      Heat a large pot or Dutch oven.  Add in the brown sugar.  Let the brown sugar melt but not start to turn black (this will take a few minutes - be patient).  Add in the onion and the bacon.  The sugar will seize up a bit but be patient and keep stirring it.  Once the onion and bacon cooks down a bit and the sugar starts to liquify again, add in the seasoned meat.  Let all of that cook over med/high heat until the liquid cooks down.

      Mix together the coconut milk, water and bouillion and set aside.
      Once the liquid in the meat cooks down, add in the pidgeon peas or beans.  Again, cook down for just a few minutes.  Add in the rice and mix briefly.  Finally, add in the coconut milk, water and bouillion.  Mix well.  Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer until the rice is cooked and the liquid absorbed (about 30 min. or so).

      Banana Bread and avoidance

      So, we are quickly approaching the middle of December.  I should be doing the following:

      1.  Sending out Christmas cards, possibly with a family portrait and newsletter but definitely with some kind of personal hand written gesture.
      2.  Decorating my house with all things Christmas.
      3.  Be at least halfway through my gift purchases.
      4.  Baking my Christmas treats to serve at the lovely 'get-togethers' that I will be hosting.

      Here's reality:
      re #1.  Haven't even bought Christmas cards - won't be sending any and haven't sent any for the last 5 years!
      re #2.  I stuck a red bow on my door and put up a Christmas tree - not bad, right?

      Nothing else will be happening though, I can assure you.
      re #3.  Haven't even made a proper Christmas gift list.
      re #4.  Decided that I wasn't leaving the house today.  Didn't have butter - an essential for baking - and therefor made fried rice and this stuff...

      Yup, Banana bread.  I searched for it on epicurious.com because I was even too lazy to get out of my chair and look up crap in my cookbooks.  I don't know when exactly you'll be reading posts of my Christmas cookies - turning out beautifully, intricately decorated and so plentiful that they're overflowing my cookie tins.  Maybe next week (I have a cookie exchange party which will pretty much make the decision for me).   Until then, I'm working, life is as usual, time is as usual and we need to eat... stuff with no butter in it 'cause I don't have any.  Banana Bread it is.

      I kitchen-sinked it a bit - throwing in nuts and chocolate chips.  Skip both if you are feeling purist (my own personal default).  I was so lazy today that I even read the recipe wrong.  I thought that I was supposed to bake it for 20 min.  Duh!!! Of course it wasn't ready.  I baked it for another 10 min.... wasn't ready... another 10 min... then I lost count and just baked it until it looked ready and the tester came out clean.  So, we won't be eating 'sugar plums' or ginger breads at our house this week but we've got some kick ass banana bread and we can eat that in front of the Christmas tree and sing a carol in the meantime...

      Banana Bread (adapted just a little from epicurious.com)
      1 loaf

      2 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
      1 tsp baking powder
      3/4 tsp salt
      1/2 tsp baking soda
      2/3 cup milk (could use buttermilk here and then omit the lemon juice)
      1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or vinegar)
      1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (I used 1/2 cup of safflower oil instead)
      2/3 cup sugar
      2 lg eggs, lightly beaten
      3 very ripe bananas
      1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
      1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
      Grease and flour a loaf pan (9x5)
      Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
      Combine the milk and lemon juice or vinegar and set aside - allow it to thicken and curdle a bit.
      Combine the eggs, sugar and butter (or oil).  Add in the milk and mix well.  Add in the banana and combine until well mixed.
      Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix until combined.
      Add in the chopped nuts and the chocolate chips.  Combine and pour the batter into the loaf pan.  Sprinkle a little coarse sugar over the top just before you put it in the oven.
      Bake for about an hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.
      Cool for about 20 min before slicing.

      This stuff will probably taste better the next day.

      Potato and Broccoli Casserole

      This is the time of year, my friends, when I start to crave different kinds of food.  The wonderful, starchy, gooey cheesey stuff that is this kind of casserole. 
      Really, honestly, it's just glorified scalloped potato... no jokes.  Just throw some sauteed veggies in the bottom of the baking dish and bake away.  What I wanted though was a kind of potato topped pie.  Kind of like a Shepherd's Pie but with veggies and cheesey bechamel sauce.  Well, what I got was kinda different than that and, truth be told, it looks like crap in the photo's.  You gotta trust me on this one though.  It was good. 
      First thing that I could've done to take a better picture was not be in a hurry. 
      Second, wait until there was better light - like maybe in April.
      Thirdly, waited for about 15 minutes until the casserole had cooled a bit and wasn't so runny (this kind of lines up with No. 1 I realize)
      So, Yeah, Whatever.

      I had this awesome broccoli and zucchini that had just arrived in the food box.  I had these gorgeous potatoes waiting for good use (p.s. kid #2 eats potato!).  So my grand ideas for vegetable pot pie with potato topping turned into scalloped potatoes with broccoli and zucchini on the bottom.  Not nearly as sexy sounding with crap on the bottom. 

      So, even though the pictures aren't that great and even though it sounds like crap when I describe it, it really was good after all. 
      Moral of this story:
      Not everything that looks good tastes good.
      Not everything that looks bad tastes bad.
      Not everything that sounds like crap tastes like crap.

      Potato and Broccoli Casserole (mine... my own... my precious)
      serves 6 as a side

      5 med potato, sliced med. thick
      1 med/lg head of broccoli, cut into florets
      1 small onion, sliced thin
      1 med zucchini, sliced thick
      1 1/2 cup button mushrooms, halved

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
      In a lg pot of salted water, boil the sliced potatoes for about 7 min.  Remove from heat and drain.
      In a lg pan (or the baking dish you will use if it's also stove top capable ;-) saute the onion,broccoli, zucchini and mushrooms until the broccoli is bright green and the zucchini is looking a little wilted.  Set aside


      6 tbsp butter (1/3 c)
      6 tbsp flour
      3 3/4 c milk, warmed
      1 tbsp mustard powder
      1 tsp nutmeg
      2 tsp salt
      2 cups cheddar (the sharper/older the better)

      In a med pan, melt the butter.  Once melted add in the flour.  Mix together until it's well incorporated and might be a little pasty.
      Slowly, add in the warmed milk.  Whisk continuously.
      Once the milk is all in.  Keep it on med/low heat and whisk until it begins to thicken up - this should take about 5 minutes or so.
      Add in the mustard powder, nutmeg and salt.  Mix well
      Add in the cheese and allow it to melt fully.


      In a lg baking dish, place the sauteed veggies on the bottom.  Top with half of the bechamel sauce.  Top with the sliced potato.  On top of that pour the rest of the bechamel.  On the very top add some sliced mozzarella or grated parmesan cheese.

      Bake for 25 min.  Once out of the oven wait for about 10 - 15 min before serving, otherwise your pics will look like mine - sauce going in all directions!!

      Raisin Bread with Cinnamon Swirl

      So earlier in the week I decided that I was going to make bread on the weekend.  Furthermore, I decided that I was going to make Raisin Bread.  I'm capitalizing 'Raisin Bread' because it's a big deal in our house.  We hardly ever buy it.  In fact, it's only during holiday times when we are feeling especially loose with our budget that we buy things like Raisin Bread.  So, on Sunday afternoon (yes, during my Bollywood movie time - which was off the chain on Sunday people - Bollywood horror flick... I mean!) I made Raisin Bread.

      What I discovered though was that I had trouble finding a definitive recipe for the stuff.  I thought that I had a pretty good collection of recipe books.  I thought that online I could find something that hit me.  I checked them all (my books that is), I checked online (although it wasn't an extensive search by any means, 'cause I got frustrated).  Nothing was hitting me as my Raisin Bread recipe.  I knew what I wanted:
      White Bread
      Raisins in the bread
      Some kind of cinnamon swirl

      Weird that I couldn't find anything that was exactly what I was looking for.  So, I just made a recipe out of a bunch of recipes.  I don't know really what that makes this bread.  Did it turn out exactly the way I wanted it to???
      What would I change?  More raisins, more swirl and more rolling.  Bread.  That was good.  I've altered the recipe below to reflect those changes because, believe me, I'll be making this again.
      For those of you who've been around for a while - reading my blog that is.  You may remember that I resolved earlier this year to work on my phobia of all things yeast.  So, right now.  In November.  I'm kinda proud of myself.  So far, I've made:
      Cinnamon Buns (need to work on that one)
      Pizza Dough
      Hot Cross Buns (those were good)
      Raisin Bread (here and now)
      That officially raises my yeast cooking this year by about 400% give or take.  This is good.  Who says that New Years Resolutions never stick?

      Raisin Bread with Cinnamon Swirl (adapted from a bunch of recipes but mostly an old Five Roses clipping that I had laying around ;-S)
      makes 2 loaves

      5 cups unbleached all purpose flour (1 cup set aside)
      1 tsp salt

      2 pkgs/2 tbsp yeast (I did not use quick rise - just regular)
      1/2 c warm water (not hot)
      2 tsp sugar

      1 cup milk
      1/3 cup unsalted butter
      1/3 cup sugar
      2 eggs

      1 1/2 cup raisins

      3 tbsp butter
      1/2 cup sugar
      4 tsp cinnamon
      dash of salt, nutmeg and cloves

      Mix together the flour (except the extra cup) and salt.  Set aside.
      Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water.  Let it stand for 10 min.  It should have expanded and be foamy.
      Melt together the milk, butter and sugar over low heat.  Do not let it get too hot.
      Add the warmed milk mixture, yeast mixture and the eggs to the flour.  Mix until well incorporated.  Add the additional flour until the dough is a sticky consistency (I used the whole extra cup myself).  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 min.  Seriously, didn't take long for me at all.
      Grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl.  Put a little grease over the top of the dough as well (I just buttered it a little bit).  Cover with a clean cloth and put it in a draft free/warm place to rise for an hour.  It should have doubled.

      Meanwhile melt the filling ingredients together over low heat and then set aside.

      Punch down the dough and add in the raisins.  Knead in gently just until incorporated.  Divide the dough and roll each half into a rectangle.  Divide and spread the filling evenly over each rectangle.

      Roll up the dough like a jelly roll so that it will fit into your pan.  Place each into a greased loaf pan.  Cover and let it rise again for another hour.  Again, it should be doubled.
      Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

      Brush the top of each loaf with egg white.  Bake for about 40 min.
      Do not slice until the loaf has cooled for about 20 min... otherwise... well, just don't do it!

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      St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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      • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
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      About Me

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      Wanda Thorne
      St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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