Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

That really should say my recipe, my mom’s recipe, my grandmother’s recipe and further back even… Over the years and generations, we each probably tweaked it a bit to our liking but it’s the recipe that’s stayed in the family and one person in each generation carries the torch to cook the bird every year. For my generation, that person is me. ūüôā

Early on, I’d say about 10 years old or so, my interest in cooking started. I’d hang out in the kitchen observing others prepare meals, helping with small tasks and enjoy watching how separate ingredients would be magically transformed into delicious dishes that people oohed and aahed over. The creative¬†outlet and the chance to make family happy (and friends, later) were the hook for me. It’s been a lifelong passion ever since.

I’ve made this turkey every year for at least 17 years now. I’ve typically been the dinner host for family gatherings and even since my husband and I moved to Toronto from Montreal in 2008, we still end up with family visiting. I’d like to think they come to see me but secretly suspect it’s the turkey that draws them near. Or at least the craving for the continuity of family traditions. I look forward to the day that I’ll pass the recipe on to one of my nieces; Sienna seems more interested in cooking than Maddie but you never know. Luckily, I’ve got several more turkeys in me yet. ūüôā

Roasted Turkey


1 frozen turkey (I always get a Butterball and I let it defrost in the fridge anywhere from 3-5 days prior, depending on the size)

1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered

2 lemons, quartered lengthwise

Fresh thyme, a bunch (about 3-4 springs)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (in the microwave) – I don’t always use it all

1/2 tsp dried thyme

Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 325F and get your roasting pan and meat thermometer ready. Make sure you adjust your oven racks too and your sink is empty and clean and so are your hands. Take the turkey out of the fridge, remove the wrapper and rinse out the turkey in the sink, remove the neck and giblets from the cavity, pat dry and place it in the roasting pan. (Warning: This is probably the least graceful prep exercise of anything you’ll ever cook, so best to do it with as few witnesses as possible. I usually get up at 6am to do it since we have a holiday lunch instead of a dinner. The only witness was usually the cat but even he looked at me with disdain during this part).

Next comes the fun part. Slather the softened butter all over the turkey; I use my hands. So fun. Next (after washing your hands of course), add the onion, lemon and fresh thyme to the cavity. Add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper in there too. Sprinkle the outside of the turkey with salt, pepper and dried thyme. Stick the meat thermometer in (I put it between the leg and the body because that’s usually the last spot to cook through), cover the pan/turkey with foil and pop it into the oven. Try not to throw your back out when doing this step. ūüôā

Cooking times vary depending on size and whether the bird is stuffed or not. I usually get a 16-20 lb turkey and at 325F it usually cooks for about 4 hours. I rely on the meat thermometer to gauge when to start the side dishes which usually take about 2 hours start to finish, some started the day before to keep the oven free for turkey morning. See Butterball’s handy turkey calculator here which includes how much turkey to buy, how long to defrost it and how long to cook it.

Once there’s about an hour left, I remove the foil and baste if I’m so inclined. Since I usually carve in the kitchen and place turkey slices on a platter for the table (also make sure it’s all cooked through – no one wants a raw poultry surprise), there’s no pressure of the perfect looking bird. You can do so if you like.

That’s it! It’s the easiest thing to roast in my opinion and the most bang for your buck for the little effort that goes into it. The recipe above always results in a juicy and delicious turkey (if I do say so myself) and a house that smells amazing. The side dishes complement the turkey but the bird is the star of the show! My mom used to return the turkey slices/pieces to the pan and let them simmer in their juices while she finished the side dishes. I never found the patience to do that – once it’s ready I want to eat it now!!

Some pics of the holiday table over the years, some for a small gathering, some for a crowd:

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So, I actually made my own pesto yesterday, and I am officially calling it my very own recipe since I basically threw in what I had on hand. I stirred it into cooked pasta yesterday for a quick and easy dinner, alongside a small salad of garden veggies – yes, I’ve finally been able to pick my mini peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. ūüôā All that’s left of my pesto is in this small container, but it’ll be enough for another pasta dish later today:

And here is the recipe – it only makes about 1/2 cup total (based on the amount of basil I had on hand):


2 1/2 cups basil leaves (I used Thai basil)

1/4 cup nuts (I used equal parts walnuts, cashews and pecans)

1 tbsp chopped garlic (about 4  cloves)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup grated parmesan


Place the nuts and garlic in the food processor and process for 20-30 seconds until everything has been chopped up. Add the basil, salt and pepper and process for another 30 seconds. Stream the olive oil through the tube while the food processor is running. Let it run until it’s at the consistency you like – I let mine go for about 1 minute and it came out thick and creamy (not runny). Scrape the sides, then add the cheese and¬†let it run for another 30 seconds.

So easy!

Pesto can be used for a ton of different things. I like to add a couple of spoonfuls to a pot of cooked and drained pasta for a super quick dinner. It can be substituted for mayo or mustard on sandwiches or wraps. It can be used as pizza sauce. A dollop can be added to a small plate of olive oil to dip bread in. A spoonful can be added to cooked veggies to add some herby flavour;¬†same goes for cooked rice, beans¬†or any other grain (quinoa, etc.). There are a million uses for it and it’s so simple to make – the variations and possibilities are endless. Different nuts can be used, different basils or greens (I’ve seen it done with spinach, different cheeses. Go wild. ūüôā

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It’s been a while since I cooked something out of Ina’s cookbooks. For lunch today, I made guacamole and baked some whole wheat tortilla chips to go with.

This is from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and the recipe is found here.

For the tortilla chips, I bought a pack of 10 whole wheat tortillas, brushed them with vegetables oil, cut them into wedges and baked at 400 for 10 minutes.


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I’m sure you’ve all been there.

I bought a¬†butternut squash a little over 2 weeks ago. It has since been sitting on the counter, taunting me.¬† Every time I walked through the kitchen, there it was. I’d see it out of the corner of my eye and have been agonizing over what to do with it.

I’ve been wanting to start creating my own recipes instead of using cookbooks and my first challenge was butternut squash. I’ve made it in various ways before but wanted to make something out of my own imagination this time.

Today was the day!

I made butternut squash soup – just because the weather is starting to get cool and I was craving something fall-y. Here goes:

Butternut Squash Soup


  • 2 cups butternut squash (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 yellow onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 granny smith apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Chicken stock (approximately 2-3 cups)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chopped vegetables on a sheet pan (I used two pans to make sure all the veggies were in one layer). Drizzle vegetables with a good amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss vegetables to coat evenly. Roast for about 20-25 minutes until very tender, tossing occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat 2 cups chicken stock in a large pot, bring to a simmer.

When the vegetables are done, transfer to a food processor along with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of chicken stock. Process until it makes a thick puree. Add puree to chicken stock in pot, stir until well-blended and heated through.

I served it with a couple of lightly-toasted baguette slices (placed them directly onto the oven rack while the oven was off but still hot – for about 7-8 minutes).

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Don’t you just love it when recipes turn out amazingly well… Ah bliss.

So, on this Labour Day Monday, I decided to knock off two more recipes to bring the completed total to 66 of 90. That’s 24 to go! I have my doubts about a couple due to my inability to find key ingredients (i.e. cheddar grits – cannot find grits anywhere…) but we’ll see as things get closer to the end. Do they have mail order grits? ūüôā

First up were Chive Risotto Cakes.

This is what they looked like when they were first added to the pan. I prepared the mixture earlier in the day and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. The mixture is made up of arborio rice (cooked), with minced chives, shredded Fontina cheese, egg, Greek yogurt, salt/pepper. When ready for cooking, made small patties and coated them in panko crumbs and fried them up.

Here they are after the flip:

Mmmm¬†crispy crust. Surprisingly, we had never had Fontina¬†cheese before (or that we could recall). It’s got a bit of tang to it which really came out. The best way to describe the taste/consistency was almost like a hash brown but with an added richness and zing from the chives. Very good.

Staying warm in the oven:

Success. I’m bringing one for lunch tomorrow. ūüôā

Dessert was a Pumpkin Roulade¬†with Ginger Buttercream. It’s like¬†a Thanksgiving Yule Log – the flavours were very “Fall” which fit perfectly with the weather we’ve been having lately.

Here is the cake (cooked in a sheet pan, laid out on a clean dish towel sprinkled with icing sugar):

Next, while¬†it’s still warm, roll it up in said dish towel to form the roulade shape:

While I waited for it to cool (completely), I made the filling. Mascarpone cheese, icing sugar, bit of cream, minced crystallized ginger. Awesome.

When ready, unrolled the cake, spread the filling, then rolled it up again:

Isn’t it cute? Once it was assembled, I cut off both ends to make it clean (yes, I ate one of the ends –¬†I have to test these things out before serving them – you know, for research purposes). *blinkblink*

The cake was very moist and tasted like pumpkin and holiday spices. The filling was smooth and had just enough richness and the zing of the ginger was fabulous. It would be perfect with coffee.

My husband and I really liked both dishes. The chive risotto cakes could be served as an appetizer (one per person), or served as a side dish or main – very versatile.

Excellent results this evening – I’m very pleased. ūüôā

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Have you ever had one of those mornings where there’s nothing remotely resembling breakfast food in the house and you start getting creative? I’m forced to do this occasionally, usually as a result of laziness and grocery-shopping procrastination…when all that’s left are condiments and canned goods.

So, I turn to the old standards: pantry and baking stuff. I Google “coffee cake”. I have flour, milk, butter, a couple of eggs, the usual baking stuff. My search results all include fruits or sour cream or some other ingredient that I don’t have on hand. Hmm. Next, I Google “cinnamon coffee cake” thinking if the main ingredient is cinnamon, I¬†stand a chance. ¬†And I find this gem of a recipe.

I made it this morning and it was awesome! I love it when my husband wakes up, also knowing that we don’t have breakfast fixings, walks into the kitchen, sees and smells my masterpiece and says: “How did you make that?!?” I respond:¬†“Just something I whipped up.” …and think “You are one lucky man and don’t you forget it. This could have been mustard and canned peas.”

Ok, so maybe I said it out loud.

Just kidding. ūüôā

I’m including the full recipe below:

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes



  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Topping. In small mixing bowl, combine topping ingredients. Blend with fork until crumbly. Set aside.Sift 1 1/2 cups sifted flour with baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a medium bowl, beat together beaten egg and 3/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter. Add milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture and mix well.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square or 9-inch layer-cake pan. Sprinkle topping crumb mixture evenly over batter. Bake at 375¬į for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake tests done. Partially cool in pan on wire rack. Cut coffee cake into squares while still warm.

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For supper tonight, I tackled 3 recipes so my total is now at 54 of 90!

The main course was the French bistro steaks with Proven√ßal butter. Mmm. I took the pic before the butter melted. ūüôā The steaks were¬†seasoned with herbes¬†de provence, salt and pepper to create a light crust, then grilled. The butter is what turned the steak from yummy to AWESOME. It was made with butter, minced garlic, capers, chives, thyme, pepper and lemon zest. The recipe called for anchovies but I omitted that. It tasted wonderful regardless.

The second recipe was the side dish: Orange pecan wild rice. I had never made wild rice as the main ingredient in anything before and the flavours in this recipe were very interesting and quite tasty: wild rice cooked in water, chicken stock, butter and salt. Once cooked, I mixed in the roasted pecan halves, green seedless grape halves, orange zest, orange juice, butter and sliced scallions. MmmMmm.

Paired with Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon.

The third recipe was dessert: Fruit salad with limoncello. It’s listed under the breakfast section in the cookbook but we love fruit for dessert so it was perfect. The fruit which included raspberries, blueberries, strawberries (we omitted the bananas or¬†the portions would be too large) were mixed in a bowl with sugar and the limoncello¬†(lemon liqueur). Then the sauce was greek yogurt (Balkan¬†style) with lemon curd, honey and¬†vanilla. Just fantastic – the sweet fruit balanced the tart lemon flavour – sooo good. The lemon yogurt could easily be¬† served with numerous other things and it’s so easy to make.

All recipes are from the Back to Basics cookbook by Barefoot Contessa¬†Ina Garten. 54 recipes out of 90 done! I was planning on making the Creamy cheddar grits but can’t find grits anywhere. I’ve never had a grit in my life. Looks like I’ll have to wait a little longer…

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Ever have one of those evenings where you get home, need to make supper, and end up getting a little creative to make something palatable?

I had a night like that this week and I must say, the concoction I came up with was awesome. Here’s what I did:

I had spicy italian sausage and portobello mushrooms. So I made rigatoni (a pretty obvious segway, no?).

Sliced the sausage into 1/2 inch pieces, sliced the mushrooms, sauteed in a pan with EVOO.

For the sauce, I had a can of spicy diced tomatoes and red peppers so I dumped that in a pot with a handful of chopped parsley, salt and pepper and some cream (35%).

Mixed it all together and served it over rigatoni. The sausage gave it some nice heat and well, anything with cream in it is tasty.

It was really good with a nice glass of red.

A long day ended on a high note with a satisfying meal. Good times.

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On¬†a happier note, I made another of Ina’s recipe and holy MOLY, it was like I died and went to dessert heaven. Anyone who likes coffee-flavoured anything will love this one.¬†I normally don’t post recipes from other sources, but here it is. Try it. It’s ridiculously good.

Affogato Sundaes (4 servings)


1 pint hazelnut gelato (I used coffee flavoured Haagen Dazs)

1 pint vanilla gelato or vanilla ice cream (I used dulce de leche Haagen Dazs)

8 tablespoons Kahlua or Tia Maria (I used Kahlua)

8 tablespoons freshly brewed hot espresso (I used our regular strong mocha java dark roast)

Sweetened whipped cream

Chocolate-covered espresso beans (I didn’t have any and it was excellent without).


Place one scoop of each ice cream in a bowl. Spoon 2 tbsp Kahlua and 2 tbsp coffee over each portion. Dollop whipped cream onto each serving. Top with espresso beans. Serve.


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A couple of weeks ago, I went out for lunch at an Italian restaurant near the office and had a very tasty rigatoni dish with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. I decided to reproduce this at home and boy, did it ever turn out good. And it’s super simple and quick – the only cooking required is boiling the pasta.


Rigatoni (there’s enough sauce for 1/2 a standard bag of rigatoni)

1 pkg small tomatoes sliced in half (those baby tomatoes in plastic containers, any color – I used the multicolored ones available at Loblaws and it looks great)

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

1 container of small mozzarella balls, drained (these are sold in the cheese section next to the ricotta and bocconcini – if they only have the large balls, that’s fine, just cut them in 2 so that the balls are about the size of a grape. The container is the size of a cottage cheese container.)

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients except pasta into a bowl, stir, then cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 30 minutes for the flavours to blend.

While you wait for that, boil the pasta. When the pasta is done, strain it, return it to the pot, then dump in your mixture. Toss together to heat the mixture through, you can cover it and wait 10 minutes to get it warm, and serve along with a glass of wine and you’re good to go.

This makes enough for 2 very generous portions + leftovers, but it’s much better when fresh.

Note: The sauce is very thin and lightly coats the pasta but packs a lot of flavour.

Very yummy.

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