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Archive for December, 2011

Wanted an easy dish so I dug this one out one night last week and made it for dinner. 3 words or less: Good Comfort Food. 

Pick a white wine you like so you can enjoy it with your chicken & dumplings.

Adapted from Mable Hoffman’s Crockery Cookery

Chicken & Herb Dumplings

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced in chunks
2-3lbs of fryer chicken (thighs, thigh/legs attached)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp thyme
3 bay leaves
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (chardonnay is nice)
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 cup packaged biscuit mix
1-2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
6 tbsp milk
Salt & Pepper

In a pan heat your oil & butter over medium-high. Season your chicken pieces then place in pan careful not to overcrowd pan. Get your chicken nice and crispy brown on one side, than flip the chicken pieces and do the same on the other side. Remove from heat and set aside.

In crock pot add your onions, garlic, marjoram, thyme, bay leaves, broth, wine and a little pinch of salt & pepper. Add your browned chicken pieces on top and cook on low 6-8 hours or until chicken is nice and tender.  Fish out your bay leaves and discard. Turn control to HIGH.

In a small bowl mix together cornstarch and water stirring to combine.  Add to chicken mixture.  Now put the lid back on crock pot while you make your dumplings.

In a medium bowl combine biscuit mix with parsley and milk, mixing with a fork until moistened. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto chicken mixture in crock pot. Put cover back on and cook approximately 30 minutes more or until dumplings are cooked in centers (test with fork or toothpick).

Bring entire crock pot to the table and serve away.   Rice, mashed potatoes, even egg noodles goes nicely with this comfort dish. 

Serves 5-6

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I admittedly have never made a Bolognese Sauce.  How crazy is that?!   The family loves my basic beef spaghetti sauce and as so if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

As I was preparing my menu for the week I found Jamie Oliver’s recipe for an easy Bolognese Sauce and decided it was time to try a new sauce.  This is an Italian Classic sauce made in different ways, using wines and herbs.  Jamie’s version is simple (no wine) and very tasty.   I made it.  The family loved it.  It’s a keeper.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Bolognese Sauce

3 slices bacon, sliced thin
1 medium onion, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped small
2 celery stalks, chopped small
2 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp basil, dried
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 x 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Fresh basil

Add your bacon to a pan and cook over medium heat. After bacon has been cooking a few minutes add your oregano. Cook bacon until lightly browned. Add your onions, carrots, celery, garlic and stir to combine. Cook until vegetables have softened. Add your ground beef & pork, the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Fill half the empty tomato can with water and add to the pan. Stir in a good pinch of salt & pepper.

Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover and simmer for approximately 1 hour stirring occasionally. Remove lid and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the sauce so it does not dry out (add water if you need to). Remove from heat and add your parmesan, stirring to combine. Tear and stir in your basil.

Serve with your favourite kind of pasta, extra parmesan cheese on top, additional fresh basil on top, a drizzle of olive oil and more salt & pepper as needed.  A glass of vino and/or a green salad goes nicely with this meal.  Enjoy.

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This one will surprise you and impress your guests!  It is delicious…but then everything is delicious when there is bacon involved.  This was my first time eating persimmons and the verdict was Double Yum.  An easy 3 ingredient appetizer if you do not count the salt and pepper for seasoning.

Adapted from Rachael Ray

Bacon Wrapped Persimmons
 
1 lb sliced bacon, cut crosswise into thirds
8 persimmons, cored and sliced into 6 wedges each (think delicate and bite sized)
1/4 cup Tarragon vinegar for glazing
Salt & Pepper
Toothpicks
Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 400F

Wrap a piece of bacon around each persimmon wedge. Secure with a toothpick and arrange on rimmed baking pans lined with parchment.

Place pans on top and bottom thirds of oven and roast for 20 minutes. Flip the wedges over, rotate pans and increase heat to 425F to crisp the bacon, cooking an additional 15-20 minutes.

Remove pans from oven, brush wedges with tarragon vinegar, season with salt & pepper and serve immediately.

Serves approximately 10

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I typically host several family dinners during December which makes for a very hectic month.  This year we have decided it is just too much for us and so we are taking a break.   During one of these dinners (yikes about 5 years ago) I made this eggnog delight for dessert.  It was light, fabulous and a recipe I must share.  It’s being put back into the rotation for this year.  No baking required!

Adapted from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Eggnog Cranberry Dessert
1 frozen pound cake (298gr), thawed
2 tbsp orange liqueur
1 1/2 cups whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 pkg (6 serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 cups eggnog
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar

Cut pound cake into 12 slices. Cover bottom of a 9×13 dish with cake slices, trimming to fit if necessary. Drizzle cake slices with orange liqueur. Spread cranberry sauce over cake layer. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top.

In a medium bowl combine pudding mix, eggnog, milk, vanilla and nutmeg. Using mixer beat for 2 minutes until thickened on low-speed. Spread pudding mixture over cranberry layer. Let stand 5 minutes to set. Whip cream with icing sugar until stiff. Spread whipped cream over pudding layer.

Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Does not freeze. Serves 8-10.

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If you like blue cheese and stuffed mushrooms you will love these delectable bites.  Another favourite in our house during the holidays.

Adapted from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Blue Cheese Pecan Stuffed Mushrooms

45 white mushrooms (small – medium size)
8oz cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp blue cheese, crumbled
2-3 tbsp pecans, chopped
1 tbsp green onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp basil, dried
1/4 tsp pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F (180C)

Remove stems from mushrooms and reserve for another use. Set aside caps.

Using mixer (medium speed), beat together cream cheese, blue cheese, pecans, green onion, basil and pepper until blended. Stuff mushroom caps with cheese mixture, mounding slightly. Place stuffed mushrooms on a lightly greased cookie pan with rims, or jelly roll pan.

Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese bubbles a little. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Do not freeze.

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Whipped Shortbread

This year for my Christmas Cookie Exchange I am doing a Trio of Shortbread.  Trying to find something to please everyone!   My mom would make Whipped Shortbread every year at Christmas time.  I always waited with eager anticipation to put the cherries on the cookies, because that was my job.  I’ve tweaked it along the way and here is the recipe I use.  The key to this recipe is turning it from dough into whipped dough.  Patience.

Whipped Shortbread

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar

Candy canes, crushed
Small candied cherries, cut in half

Preheat oven to 300F (150C)

Using low-speed of an electric mixer beat butter until creamy. Mix in flour and icing sugar until dough comes together. At medium speed beat about 5-10 minutes. This step takes time. The dough needs time to turn from cookie dough into whipped dough. Once you’ve reached the whipped stage they are ready to bake. Drop from spoon onto parchment lined baking sheet roughly 3 across (1-2 inches apart).

Press either candied cherry piece or crushed candy canes into centre of each unbaked cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes turning & rotating half way through for even cooking until lightly golden around edges. Let cookies sit for 2 minutes on sheets, then transfer to cookie racks to let cool. Store in airtight container between layers of parchment or wax paper.

Can be frozen. Makes 3-4 dozen.

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