Turkey Casserole with Broccoli and Cheese

Today is an auspicious day: my paternal grandmother turns ONE HUNDRED AND ONE.

I know, right?  She was born in 1909Happy Birthday Grandma!

Because she’s a hundred and one she’s not really up-to-date on the how-tos of internet surfing, but I figured it’s the thought that counts.  I’ll probably bake her a cake too.

Today’s post is about leftovers, which are rather inauspicious, but it’s in the spirit of the sort of thing my dad remembers his mother making for him when he was younger.

Casserole.  I’m not a huge fan of casseroles.  Believe it or not I’m not a huge fan of turkey, either.  I know, it’s shocking.  It’s always a struggle for me to figure out what to do with my leftovers once I’ve finished a major turkey holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter.  Sure, there’s soup, but aside from the Pie’s favourite Hot Turkey Sandwiches (*shudder*), what else are you going to do?  Turkey salad, turkey sandwiches, cold turkey … and turkey casserole.  But this one I actually like.  I pulled it off the internet a few years ago and the ubiquitous casserole dish finds its way into my refrigerator like clockwork when there’s turkey around.  The original recipe calls for asparagus, but I use broccoli because asparagus is out of season.

Get your mise en place ready, because all the steps kind of follow each other really quickly so it’s good to be prepared ahead of time.First, chop up and gently steam about 2 cups broccoli.

Chop up a bunch of green onions (I used three green onions and a shallot) and a red pepper and set all your vegetables aside.

Cook one cup penne or similar pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Grate one cup cheddar cheese.

Have your garlic-in-a-jar at the ready.

Have also ready the following:

6 tablespoons flour.

1 1/2 cups chicken broth.

3 cups cooked diced turkey.

1 cup soft bread crumbs.

1 tbsp melted butter, cooled.

Also you will need 2 cups milk, but I don’t have a photo of that because the chicken broth was in my only remaining measuring cup.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish.

In a large saucepan on medium-low, melt 6 tablespoons butter (that’s slightly less than half a cup).

Add the red pepper and sauté until tender. 

Add 2 teaspoons garlic and the onions and cook for a further minute.

Stir in the flour until well blended.It should look all mushy.

Stir in chicken broth, cooking until thickened.

Stir in milk and cook, stirring, until thickened and hot.

Add in salt and pepper to taste, together with any herbs of your choosing, such as oregano or basil, then add the broccoli and the turkey.  Heat through.

Stir in the cheese and cook until it’s all melted in. 

Stir in the cooked drained pasta.

Pour it all into a baking dish.

Mix your melted butter with your bread crumbs.

Sprinkle that over top.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly. 

Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

You can keep leftovers covered in the fridge for a couple days, too.

 

 

Chicken Enchiladas

This is one of the Pie’s favourite things to make, and one of my favourite things to eat. Being the Pie, he got the recipe from the internet.  Being us, we’ve modified it a little.

It’s definitely a team effort to make, though.  There’s a lot of timing involved, especially if you’re waiting on other dishes.

First, you need to poach some chicken.  You can do this way ahead of time if you like — which I do.

Plop your chicken (you’ll need enough for about 3-4 cups cooked and chopped) in a saucepan with about half water, half chicken stock, and enough liquid to cover the chicken completely. Bring it to a point where it’s just barely bubbling and leave it like that for a while, until the chicken is cooked through.

Drain your chicken and leave it to cool.

Pull the chicken apart with two forks or your fingers so it looks all shredded.  Set it aside for a spell.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Grate 2 cups cheddar cheese.  We made the mistake of using low-fat cheese, which of course doesn’t melt that well.  Always go full fat when it comes to your dairy.

Mince up a large onion.

Coat a large skillet with oil and fry up the onion until it’s translucent, a few minutes.

Add about two tablespoons minced garlic and cook it for another minute or so.

Pour in a 24oz can of crushed or puréed tomatoes.  Then start adding chili powder to taste, probably about two tablespoons.

Let it simmer, but don’t let it get too thick.  Remove from the heat after a few minutes.

Now, mix about 1/4 of your sauce with the cooked chicken, as well as 1/4 of the cheese. 

Stir it up good and set it aside.

Now using the skillet you cooked your sauce in (now empty, but not cleaned), add a bit of oil and heat it up.

Spread a bit of the sauce in a plate and use it to coat both sides of 12 tortillas with sauce. 

Fry them up in the skillet by plopping them in.  Wait until air bubbles start coming up and flip it.  Repeat. 

Plop it on a plate and line the centre with some of your chicken mixture. 

Roll them up and line a pyrex baking dish with them.  You might find it helpful to spread the bottom of the dish with some sauce first, just to keep things from sticking.

Pour the remaining sauce on top of the rolled enchiladas.

Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

Bake for about ten minutes, until the cheese is all melty.  It’s handy to use a metal spatula to serve it.

We had ours with Mexican rice and Caesar salad.  YUM.

Fancy Cheese ‘n’ Do

Happy Discovery Day Holiday, Newfoundlanders!

In Newfoundland it’s not called “macaroni and cheese”, nor is it even known by the short form of “mac and cheese.”  No, here it’s called “cheese ‘n’ do”.  The ‘cheese’ is pretty self-explanatory, but the ‘do’ comes from what locals refer to as “scooby-do pasta,” which is not formed in the shape of a cartoon dog’s face, believe it or not.  It’s the long macaroni that curls around itself a few times in a helix, otherwise known as cavatappi (“corkscrew”).  I feel like we also called it scooby-do pasta when I was growing up in Nova Scotia, but I need a sibling or parent to back me up on that one.  Feel free to tell me as well that I’m completely wrong.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any cavatappi for this particular recipe (which is odd, this being Newfoundland), so I went with gemelli instead, which is like the double-helix version of scooby-do.

'Do for two.

Mac and cheese is one of the Pie’s favourite meals, and this is one that he has perfected over the years.  We like to experiment with our cheese sauce, adding spices or even other sauces, and we have in the past added sausages and peppers to the mix.  As with most traditional recipes where each of us has preconceived notions of ingredient proportions, my cheese sauce has more cheese in it than he does, and it is a constant fight to get him to add tomatoes.  While I used to think tomatoes were a horrid addition to this casserole, my mother always insisted and now I have seen the light.  The Pie has not yet come around to the idea.  It’s a constant struggle.  Anyway, this is mostly his recipe, though I was allowed to contribute in order to post it.  Now I know all his secrets.

Tonight we took advantage of our overabundance of Ontario cheese, as well as the fresh basil now growing in the kitchen.

Grate up between two and three cups of cheese for this recipe, and what kind you use is up to you (though mozzarella doesn’t work very well, gotta say).  We used a combination of emmentaler, gruyère, and regular old cheddar.  Make sure you have all your additions ready (like if you’re adding meat, it’s cooked and ready to go) before you start melting the cheese.  Once the cheese has melted you have a limited amount of time before it starts to burn so you want to work quickly.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Melt about two tablespoons butter in a saucepan.  Add in two tablespoons flour, and mix well so there are no lumps.

Pour in two cups milk and make it nice and hot, though don’t let it boil or burn.

While that’s going on, cook up a box (450g) of small noodles (like macaroni) according to package instructions.  Drain and return to the pot you cooked it in. 

Whisk  two to three cups grated cheese into your hot milk.  You can retain some of this for sprinkling on top of the casserole but that’s up to you.  Add lots of salt and pepper to the cheesy mix.  We also added several sliced leaves of fresh basil to the sauce at this point.

When the cheese is fully melted and the sauce is thick (careful not to burn it!), empty your sauce into the pot with the noodles and give it a good stir.  Make sure the cheese coats all the noodles and whatever else you put in there.  We like to add a few things to the noodles, so we put in half a can of diced, drained tomatoes.  We also put in some diced cooked bacon.Be thorough in your stirring.Pour out into a sufficiently large casserole dish (9″ x 13″ works well) and smooth out the top.  The noise made when stirring macaroni in a sauce is truly disgusting.  I love it.

You can sprinkle on any leftover cheese at this stage.  Some people like to top their mac with a butter and bread crumb mixture, but we figure we have enough carbs going on, so we just add more fat.  Mmmm.Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until the top is crispy and bubbling throughout.  Remove from the oven and let it cool for ten minutes or so before serving.  If you don’t you will sear the inside of your mouth with molten cheese and everything will get all over the place.  The casserole needs to solidify a bit first.Serve it with some vegetables on the side or whatever you want.  I like to add a few drops of Tabasco to mine for added spiciness.This keeps well for leftovers, if your husband doesn’t eat it all immediately.

Good Ol’ Egg Pie

Ali’s Note: Things are getting uber-busy here at Elizabeth, so after today I’ll be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only.

It seems to be a fad these days to make crustless quiches.  The health benefits are clear, and on the whole the process is a lot easier if pastry isn’t involved.

In my family, we’ve always had crustless quiches, for as long as I can remember.  My mother has only recently begun to perfect her pie crust so most of the time we just did without and it worked just fine.

In our house we call them egg pies, because that’s really what they are.  You can get totally creative with what you put in them — you’re only limited by what you have in your refrigerator.  The only tricks are really to ensure that the egg is more the matrix that holds all of your stuff together than it is the main ingredient, and also to cover your pie for the first half of cooking or the top will get too brown.

This particular pie is pretty simple.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

I had some broccoli florets left over from the red curry coconut noodles of the other day, so I decided to make a broccoli-cheddar egg pie.

Butter a 9″ pie plate and set it aside.

Gently steam the broccoli florets (this is from four small heads of broccoli) just until they’re a bright green.  You don’t want to over-cook them as they’ll cook further inside the egg pie.

Drain and chop them up roughly, then set them aside.

In a bowl, whisk together six eggs.  Add in 1/2 cup milk and whisk that sucker around. Sprinkle in a dash of nutmeg, as well as a pinch of salt and season with ground pepper.  The Pie can’t taste the nutmeg, but I can.

Stir in about 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (really anything but mozzarella works well in these things).

Finally, add in the broccoli and stir that up as well until everything is all eggy.

Pour your mixture into the pie plate and level it out.

Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes.  Uncover the pie and bake again until the top is set and starts to brown, probably another 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven and the thickness of your pie plate.

Eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, hot or cold.  It makes a protein-packed and easily-carried brown-bag lunch as well.

Two other variations you might consider for inspiration:

Cheddar, red pepper, green onion, and chorizo.

Broccoli, mushroom, and feta.

Aeble-what?

I happen to own, because I am that awesome, an æbleskiver pan.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” you ask.

Æbleskiver.  It’s a Danish treat using apple slices (it’s Danish for ‘apple slices’).  They’re like small spherical pancakes/popovers with stuff in them.  It’s a food traditionally served with glogg during Advent.  You might be reminded of the commercial knock-off, Pancake Puffs, which have recently come on the market.  ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTIONS!

I have the pan because my mother gave it to me.  She found it at a second-hand store.  Hers came from a relative.  We use ours to make the family recipe for Molasses Gems (don’t worry, I’ll give you the how-to for those later).

Anyway, I figured I might as well experiment and see if I could put the pan to its intended use.

Peel two apples and chop them into 1/2″ pieces.  I found this made me end up with quite a bit of extra apple, but better to be safe than sorry and you can always serve it on the side.

Your æbleskiver pan is cast iron, and will take a little while to heat up thoroughly.  Put it on the burner at medium high heat and leave it while you do other stuff.  Just remember that the handle will also get very hot, so be careful.  We have these handy silicone sleeves we slip onto our metal handles.  You can pick them up pretty much anywhere.

In another pan, sauté the apples in two tablespoons butter until softened but still firm.  Sprinkle them with cinnamon and set aside.

In a clean bowl, whip two egg whites until soft peaks form and set aside.  The eggs will fluff up the best if you bring them to room temperature first.  To do this I put my eggs in a bowl of warm water before separating them.

In another bowl, whisk together your two egg yolks and one tablespoon sugar until creamy.

In yet another bowl, sift together two cups flour with one teaspoon baking powder.  Slowly add this, alternating with one and one-half cups buttermilk, to the yolk mixture.

Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Test your æbleskiver pan to see if it’s hot enough.  Butter should sizzle on its surface.  Reduce the heat to medium and drop about one-eighth of a teaspoon butter into each little well to grease.  Use a pastry brush to cover all the sides of the well.

Spoon enough batter into each well to fill it halfway.  Drop in an apple piece and press it down bit. Be careful not to burn yourself.

Fill the wells to the top.

Allow to cook until the edges of æbleskiver turn brown and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Run a metal or wooden knitting needle (traditional method), skewer, or fork around the edges to loosen the æbleskiver and flip it over inside the well. 

It takes a little bit of practice to do this without getting batter everywhere.  By the end of it, though, I had it down.  Allow to cook through until you can give it a poke and nothing comes out stuck to your skewer.

Remove the æbleskiver to a plate and sprinkle with (or roll in) icing sugar or dip in jam to serve.  Maybe try maple syrup.  Or home-made fruit sauce.  You can of course experiment as well with what goes in the æbleskiver – try other forms of fruit, like mango or strawberry or perhaps something savoury like a nice hard cheese.  Here we have it with whipped cream, lemon curd, strawberry jam, and leftover apples.

Make sure to repeat the buttering process each time you put batter into the wells of the pan.  You can keep the cooked æbleskiver warm on an oven-safe plate in the oven at 250°F while you’re making the other batches.

This recipe makes about 28 æbleskiver, which is four batches in my 7-well pan.

Pizza Pie

My mother thinks the Pie should feature more in this little DIY show.  So here you go.

Chop up some toppings of your choice.

Pizza is one of Pie’s specialties, one he learned from my dad, the self-titled Pizza King.  It’s pretty easy, but the Pizza King will have you believe otherwise.  The other day was date night for us and we needed something that didn’t require a lot of effort and had us out of the house by 6:30.

You take your recipe for Mack Truck Bread and halve it.  When you are in the process of mixing the flour with the water/yeast mixture, add a tablespoon of olive oil.

Leave the dough to rise for an hour in a warm spot.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Spray a pizza pan and flatten your dough a little bit onto the pan.  Let it rise for another 20 minutes or so on the pan, then flatten it outwards so it fills the whole pan.

Sprinkle some herbs on the dough.  I like to put herbes du provence on the dough.  For some reason the lavender makes for a tasty pizza pie.

Open up a 7.5oz (213mL) can of pizza sauce and smear that baby all over your dough.

Arrange upon the pie the toppings of your choice.  Given that we just had Easter, we have a lot of leftover ham, so that’s what we used. We also used onions and mushrooms, a favourite combination according to the Pie.

Top that with some grated mozzarella cheese (in this case we used marble cheddar) and bake for 25 minutes.

Slice it up and serve it hot.  It’s good the next day as well.

That's a biga pizza pie