Saturday, November 22, 2008

Keeping Warm In The Snow

The snow came early this year and it's been an unusually cold November. What better way to stay warm than to curl up with a nice blanket and a plate of scrumptious shepherd's pie.

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
black pepper to taste
3/4 cup chicken stock (only required if using ground beef)
1 can corn

4 to 6 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • For extra light and fluffy mashed potatoes, rinse the potatoes under cold water then steam the potatoes in a colander over boiling water or in a steaming basket for 10 minutes. Then rinse the potatoes under cold water again until the potatoes are cold. Return them to steam for another 10 minutes or until fork-tender. (Rinsing the potatoes after they have cooked for a few minutes removes the starch that makes mashed potatoes so dense and heavy).
  • If short on time or if you want to save yourself a bit of effort, place the potatoes into a deep microwave-safe dish and add just enough water to cover the potatoes. Use the microwave button for potatoes or microwave for about 5 to 8 minutes or until fork-tender.
  • Once potatoes are cooked, drain out any remaining water and mash the potatoes and butter together until smooth. Then add the milk, sour cream, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper stirring until well-mixed.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, heat a large skillet on medium heat and brown the ground beef or turkey with the onions. Sprinkle the garlic powder and thyme over the meat while it cooks.
  • Once the meat has cooked, if using ground beef, drain the liquid, then stir in chicken stock and corn. If using ground turkey, just stir in the corn.
  • To assemble, pour the meat mixture into a 3-quart casserole dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, then sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. (We like it cheesy, so we slice up the cheese and put it right on top so it forms a crusty cheesy layer.)
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cheese browns a bit and the mixture is bubbly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oatmeal Cake and Caramel Sauce

When I first read about Lori's oatmeal cake at her blog, My Wooden Spoon, I was skeptical as to how something containing oatmeal could actually be good. I continued to read the recipe and thought that it sounded easy enough and maybe it could be good with the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, so I decided to try it. Well, Lori was right. The cake is delicious! We had to make an effort to not eat the whole cake in one sitting! Here's the recipe with a few small modifications to suit us, including a different caramel sauce only because I had already made some for something else.

For the oatmeal cake:

1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour an 8x11-inch casserole dish.
  • Mix the water, oats and butter and let stand for 15 minutes.

  • In another bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

  • Add the oatmeal mixture to the sugar mixture and mix well. Bake in an 8x11-inch casserole dish at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.
For the caramel sauce:

1 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk

  • In a two or three-quart saucepan, melt the sugar over medium-high heat. You can add 1 tablespoon of water to help the sugar melt more evenly if you think it will burn. Whisk or stir the sugar to help it heat evenly.
  • Cook the liquified sugar to a dark copper-brown colour. Then add the butter and stir it in.
  • Pour in the evaporated milk, then turn off the heat. Be careful as the sauce will froth up when you add the milk. Whisk the sauce until it is smooth. If you like it thicker, you can continue to heat the sauce until it thickens.
  • Drizzle over the warm cake. You can store the rest in a jar for a few weeks. It will probably be a bit thicker, but you can reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp is one of those delicious things you can enjoy at almost any time of the year, but is especially nice in the fall when the weather starts to get a little bit colder. Nothing warms you up like a bit of fresh apple crisp with that crunchy, crumbly topping and the taste of cinnamon and apples. This recipe, adapted from All Recipes, can be made with any fruits you like, whether it's apples, pears, peaches or any other fruit.

8 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Place the apple slices in a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples. Pour the water evenly over top.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine the rolled oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together to form the crumble. Sprinkle evenly over the apple mixture.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes.
The apple crisp can be enjoyed by itself or with ice cream and caramel sauce.