Sausage Rolls

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I made these for our end-of-the-year softball team potluck, and despite me making four dozen of them, they were gone within five minutes of opening up the container. I’ve never made sausage rolls before, but I do love them, so it was easy to figure out what should go in them. I will definitely make them again, and probably tweak what I throw in, just for variety’s sake – you should, too!

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I started by chopping up a bunch of end-of-season herbs from my garden: a bit of sage, parsley, and chives. There is probably about 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs here.

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Then I chopped up 1 package white mushrooms, about 3 cups minced. Ordinarily I’d probably mince up 1 large onion and do half onion, half mushroom, but one of the potluck attendees is allergic to onions so I left it out.

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Then grab some (500g) uncooked sausages. These are a little on the spicy side, but nothing too crazy.

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Slice through the casing and remove the meat.

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Chuck the sausage meat in a bowl together with your herbs, the mushrooms and onions (if you used onions and/or mushrooms), 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, and about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs. Feel free to season with salt and pepper as well. It turned out that I had bought pre-seasoned panko so I didn’t bother.

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Mix the sausage up thoroughly with the other ingredients. I found it was easier (if more disgusting) to use my hands, but you could probably get away with doing this in the bowl of a stand mixer as well.

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Now, remove from the fridge that package of puff pastry sheets that has been defrosting in there overnight.  Slice each sheet into three equal strips.

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Grab some mustard. I bought this fancy Tarragon Dijon stuff and I don’t regret it.

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Brush a line of mustard down the length of each strip of puff pastry.

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Evenly distribute all your sausage meat on top of your mustard line on each strip.

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Bring the edges of each strip of pastry together to seal the meat into a long tube. You may have to stretch the pastry a bit to do this, depending on how full it is.

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Shove your sausage tubes into the freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm up the dough and the meat and make it easier for you to slice them. You can preheat your oven now, to about 425°F. My oven cooks a little hotter (you’ll notice the finished ones are slightly charred on the bottom) so feel free to reduce the heat to whatever you need to if you have the same problem.

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Slice the now-firm tubes into 8 equal pieces – this will give you 48 sausage rolls.

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Bake the rolls for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and puffy and the sausage is cooked through.

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Allow them to cool slightly before you stuff them all in your face. I don’t know how long they will last after baking them, in terms of storage, because I never got the chance to find out.

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Punchy Potato Salad

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With potato salad, like most salads, you can wing it more often than not and it turns out great.  It does help, however, to have a general idea of what sort of flavour theme you want to have ahead of time.  For this one I wanted something creamy but also with enough greenery and fresh things in it I didn’t feel like it was coming straight from a plastic grocery store container.

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I started off by washing and chopping 13 medium sized potatoes.  I like to leave the skins on.

Punchy Potato Salad 1

I then boiled them until they were quite soft.

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Then I hard-boiled 6 large eggs by putting them in a pot of water with a dash of vinegar (the vinegar makes the shells easier to remove) and bringing it to a boil; then I turned the water off and left them for 20 minutes.

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I drained the potatoes and chucked them in a large bowl together with about 3 stalks minced celery.  Then I grabbed a handful of herbs from the garden and minced those as well: dill, chives, parsley, green basil, and purple basil.

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Into the bowl.

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Some chopped baby dill pickles too.

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And of course the eggs, which I peeled and chopped coarsely.

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The dressing was simple: Dijon mustard, Wafu’s sesame dressing, and some aioli I picked up at the grocery store (instead of standard mayonnaise).

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A little black pepper never hurt.

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Mix that all together.

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Oh the creamy, dill-y goodness!

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Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

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I’ve gotten into the habit of occasionally buying those hot roasted chickens from the grocery store.  They’re just so darned cheap and handy, not to mention tasty.  Last weekend, the Pie was out of town, and sometimes I forget to actually eat when he’s not around, so I bought the chicken to give me some incentive.  One leg at one meal, one leg at another, and I was set.  But I still had the body of the chicken left to deal with.  I dismantled the remainder of the carcass, including the breasts, and whipped up this quick pasta dish to greet the Pie when he came home.  He went back for seconds so I think I did a good job.

So.  Chicken.  You’ll need about 2 cups shredded chicken.

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About 1 cup ranch dressing.

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An onion, some garlic, and a head of broccoli.  Chop those up.

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Cook 4 slices bacon.

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Make them super crispy and then put them somewhere to drain.

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Start your pot of boiling water to make your pasta.  You’ll need enough noodles for four.  I used linguini.

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Grab a pot and chuck in a few tablespoons olive oil.  Add in the onions and cook until translucent and smelling fabulous.

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Then add in the broccoli and garlic and stir that as well.

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Next, add in a few pinches dry mustard and pepper and paprika (you’ll see the paprika added in a later photo but that’s because I had to wait for the Pie to pick it up from the store on his way home).

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Pour in about 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup cream, and the 1 cup ranch dressing.

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Chuck in the chicken, then cut up the bacon and chuck that in as well.

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Stir that to heat things up.  You’re not really going to want to cook this for a long time.

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Then add in a few tablespoons pesto.  And some more cream if you want it thicker.

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Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Dump the sauce over top and toss to coat.  Serve immediately, although it’s equally fantastic the next day.

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Slow Cooker Dip Week: Spinach and Artichoke

For our annual potluck, the Pie and I decided to make three hot dips and have them with crackers and vegetables for people to snack on while they waited for the rest of the food our guests to arrive.  As with all slow cooker meals, the prep pictures look prettier than the final shots, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they’re well worth eating — so worth eating, I’m giving each dip its own post this week.  Today we’re making SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP WITH BACON.  This dip, adapted from a Better Homes & Gardens recipe, is easy and fantastically tasty, and we halved it to fit in our 1/4qt slow cooker.

First, cook up a couple slices of bacon.  Drain those on paper towels and crumble them when they’re cool.

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Dice up about 1/2 a sweet onion and a few green onions, and chuck them in the bacon skillet with a little bit of the bacon fat and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.

Dips Week 2

Chuck those in your 1.4qt slow cooker when they’re ready to go.

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Roughly chop up the contents of a 14oz can of artichoke hearts and huck those in, as well as about half a drained 10oz box frozen spinach.

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Chop up a sweet bell pepper finely and chuck that in.

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Crumble up about 2oz blue cheese and pitch that in too, as well as 4oz package plain cream cheese (that’s half a block package).

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Add in as well as much minced garlic as you like, and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard and give the whole thing a good stir before covering and cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 2-3 hours, until everything is all melty and lovely.

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Stir in your crumbled bacon and you’re good to go.

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It’s the one on the right. Stay tuned for the middle dip on Friday!

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Wingin’ it Wednesday: Oliver’s Stew

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Sometimes things don’t always work out exactly how you want them to.  But that’s okay, because you can learn from what you’ve done and move on.  So while this recipe was a little bland for my liking, I’m sure with the right combination of spices it would make a great mid-winter slow-cooker bowl of comfort.  I called it “Oliver’s Stew” because it has a gruel-like consistency that reminded me so much of the musical based on Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist, specifically, this song. Nonetheless, I know some of you out there like your stews to be on the mushy side, so maybe this one is for you.

I started with some chicken thighs, and pulled the skin off them. There are only a few people in the world I will handle raw chicken for. The Pie is lucky to be one of them.

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Then I quickly browned them in a cast iron skillet.

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Cut up an onion and some garlic.

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And gathered some herbs: mustard, rosemary, and savoury.

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A red pepper.

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Some chick peas.

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Some rice.

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And some chicken broth.

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I hucked that all in the slow cooker with some salt and pepper and let ‘er rip. I ended up adding more liquid later on as it all got sucked into the rice.

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Shortly before serving I added some frozen corn and peas for colour.

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And there you have it — the chicken has fallen off the bone and lays in these lovely strips and the peas and corn and pepper add a nice pop of colour.

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Wingin’ It Wednesday: Red Soup, Green Soup

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It’s been so busy here since Victoria Day that we haven’t had a chance to really do a lot of cooking for cooking’s sake.  As a result, when I cleaned out our refrigerator this weekend in preparation for my parents’ arrival tomorrow (!), I found a sizable amount of very sad-looking produce.  When I bought it, it looked sad, as most Newfoundland produce does, and two weeks in my crisper made it sadder still.  Sad vegetables are just begging to be chucked in sauces, roasted, layered in a casserole, or made into soup.  So I made soup.

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I had red vegetables and green vegetables, and so I decided to make two different soups.

Each one started with onions and garlic, obviously.

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The red soup was carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes.

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And I scooped out the seeds of the tomatoes.  Well, some of them. I got bored quickly.

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Chop that up, chuck it in a pot with some broth, some chipotle seasoning, and chinese five spice, then blend it up and you’ve got a savoury soup with a bit of kick.

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The green soup had fennel, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, leeks, and cabbage.

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To even out the flavours I added dill, mustard powder, salt, and a dash of cumin.  Blended up, it’s cool as the cucumbers inside it.

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Then I stored them all in plastic containers and froze them for future enjoyment!

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Pioneer Potato Salad

Pioneer Potato Salad

We had a Valentine’s cold-plate potluck at work on Tuesday and I was assigned to make a potato-egg salad.  And as the best one out there belongs to the Pioneer Woman, that’s the one I made, with some modifications of course.  Ever since the grocery store down the block closed I have found myself without certain key ingredients at unfortunate times.  Today, it was green onions.  So I improvised.

Wash and cube about 5lbs potatoes.  I used two different kinds, for the colour.  You can peel them if you want, but I like the texture and flavour of potato skins so I left them in.  Plop those in a large pot and boil them until they’re tender and mashable.

Pioneer Potato Salad

You’re also going to want to hard boil 4 eggs, through whatever method you use.  When they’re ready, peel them up.  Mine were pretty recalcitrant and refused to be peeled in a civilized manner.  The shells would not come off without a fight.

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I punished them through the vigor of my chopping (even if your eggs are well-behaved, you’ll still want to chop them up).

Pioneer Potato Salad

Finely chop as well half an onion (or 5 green onions).

Pioneer Potato Salad

And a handful of sweet pickles.  You can use dills, if you prefer, but I think it’s better with the sweet ones.

Pioneer Potato Salad

In a bowl, mix together about 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise and 4 tablespoons mustard (I used a stone-ground dijon here, but you can use what you like).

Pioneer Potato Salad

In a wee bowl, arrange about 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  I also added 2 tablespoons dried chives, for colour, as I was missing the green onions.

Pioneer Potato Salad

I also had another wee dish of dried dill, for garnish.

Pioneer Potato Salad

So here is my mis en place.

Pioneer Potato Salad

Mash your boiled potatoes.  I really like the colour combination of the white and yellow ones here.

Pioneer Potato Salad

Stir in your mayo/mustard mix.

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Add in your eggs, onions, pickles, paprika, salt, and optional chives.  Make sure to scrape the bottom so you get everything mixed in evenly.

Pioneer Potato Salad

Plop it in a serving dish.  The best part about this potato salad is it’s good hot, warm, and cold.

Pioneer Potato Salad

Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and some dill, or whatever floats your boat.  It’s not elegant, but it’s good!

Pioneer Potato Salad