Category Archives: Make Ahead

Coleslaw with Peanut dressing

My veggie bin has been delivering a lot of red cabbage lately and I have found my new favorite recipe to eat up all this goodness.   Super Slaw from Epicurious.  It is amazing!  There’s peanut butter, ginger, garlic and loads of cabbage.  I have been eating it daily.  I make the slaw, put it in a zip lock bag, and the dressing in a air tight container and it seems to last as long as the slaw does, about a week.

Here the recipe if you are not inclined to click on the link above…

Super Slaw – Epicurious

  • 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

This is the part that you can mix anyway you like, I used only red cabbage, sometimes green pepper, sometime red etc.

  • 5 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 2 large red or yellow bell peppers, cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 8 large green onions, cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Store the dressing in one container and the salad in a bag.  Add salad to bowl, add the desired amount of dressing toss and enjoy!

Meal Plan November 21-27, 2011

I put this meal plan together instead of going out for a run this afternoon, bad for the marathon training plan, but good for the meal plan.  I am feeling uninspired again, it may be this between Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  Many of my magazines are either focused on Thanksgiving, which we celebrated back in October, so not really interested in those recipes, or are gearing up for the holiday season and entertaining, where are the quick weekday meals?  With some effort I did find a few that I am interested in trying out.  It seems that many of the recipes are too new for their websites, bummer, no links!

Crispy tofu from chatelaine.comImage from

Lunch:   Quesadillas
Dinner:  Crispy Tofu with Peanut Sauce and Bok Choy

Lunch:  Pancakes
Dinner: Mousaka (Canadian Living Dec 2011 p.161) with Lemony swiss chard (Chatelaine Dec 2011)

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Leek and Potato Tart

I “clipped and saved” this recipe from a Bonnie Stern column in the National Post years ago and I just got around to trying the recipe last week – the clipping is so old it is now yellow and brittle – makes me feel old.  Anyway, I’m glad I saved the recipe – it was fantastic.  My husband, who rarely “gushes” over food was all over this dish.  This tart is great for lunch or a light dinner with soup or salad, or to make ahead and serve as an appetizer when entertaining.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can make it as complicated or easy as you want.  No time to make the pastry – no problem – just pick some puff pastry – the PC brand even comes already rolled out for you.  But, don’t let the pastry scare you, especially if you have an extra 5 – 10 minutes – it’s not that hard to made, and you’ll be rewarded with the tastiest tart and the pride to say you made it all yourself!


  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp butter

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Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving is my favorite cooking occasion. Christmas dinner is a close second, but since this one comes first and really the meal is the center of attention, no gifts trying to take the spotlight, it’s all about the food!

I have been pretty much making variations of the same menu for years. The most important piece in my opinion is the cranberry sauce. It really is the completer piece, and why this post doesn’t start with a photo of a turkey!

Included in this menu are:
Cranberry Chutney
Garlic Brussels Sprouts
and of course pumpkin pie.

Where’s the gravy you ask? It’s my nemesis, I can’t make gravy that either doesn’t look like an oil slick, or lentil soup. I really struggle with it, it may also be cause I really don’t care for it, since I have my trusty cranberry sauce! Either way, no gravy instructions from me!

Prepare the meal in the order presented, it’s a simple plan, but it helps organize the work.


This is your first step, take it out 4-5 days before the meal is to be served, critical if you have an especially large and frozen bird.
I used to get a lovely fresh, free range organic bird, but now I go for the good old butterball. Nothing beats it for moistness, even if you can see the large holes where the butter was pumped in. It is good, the former is better but it’s suitable!

I like to cook my stuffing outside the bird, so basically once you clean it up and pat it dry, place a few cut onions, lemons and fresh herbs like rosemary and sage in the cavity and you are ready to roast.   Add water, wine or port to the roasting pan, and in my case keep checking that there is some in the bottom of the pan or it starts to burn, I add more water every hour or so. Since the bird is not stuffed you only have to go to 165F on the thigh to be sure it’s cooked through.  Roast at 325F for about 2-2.5 hours for 15lb bird.


15lb (7.5 kg) turkey
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 onion, quartered
fresh rosemary and sage
wine or water (keep topping up as it evaporates)

1. Remove neck and giblets from turkey and reserve if making stock. Rub turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fill cavity with oranges, lemon, onions and herbs. Tie legs together to close if  are inclined.
2. Place turkey, breast side down, and roast for 30 minutes, then flip turkey.  If you are intimidated to flip the bird place it breast side up to start, and also if your bird is particularly large, don’t even attempt to turn it over.  Add Port, wine or water to pan.
3. Reduce heat to 325F (180C) and continue to roast for 2 to 2½ hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165F. Baste every 30 minutes, and check pan to ensure there is some liquid, it it’s evaporated add more water, wine or stock.
4. When turkey is ready, remove fruit and vegetables from inside turkey and discard.  Tent the turkey with a  piece of aluminum foil and allow it to rest for at least 10min, but up to 1/2 and hour.

The brussels sprouts…. People hate them, people love them, like cilantro it is the great divider. But honestly, who could sit down to Thanksgiving without the little green mutant cabbages, really?!

This is a great recipe, from the Williams Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook.

Cranberry Chutney

Make about six cups

2 c water
3 c sugar
2 unpeeled oranges, diced, seeded and finely chopped in a blender (or food processor)
two 2 inch pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
4 c cranberries (frozen or fresh)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup raisins

Combine water and sugar in a deep saucepan and bring to boil.
Add oranges and ginger, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20min.
add cranberries, cinnamon, and cloves, simmer for 15min, should thicken.
Mix in raisins and simmer for another 7min or so until large bubbles start to form.
Pour into serving dish and cool.
Can be made ahead and stored in fridge for about a week.

Bread Stuffing,from Bonnie Stern’s Natioanl Post Column

Makes about 10-12 servings.

• 1/3 c vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
• 8 oz  chopped turkey bacon
• 3 onions, coarsely chopped
• ½ lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
• 10 cups crusty bread, cut into chunks (about 1 lb/500 g)
• 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
• 1 tbsp fresh thyme
• ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
• ¼ cup chopped fresh sage
• salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat butter or oil in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add bacon and cook until almost crisp. Remove bacon and reserve. Return pan to heat and add onions. Cook about 15 to 20 minutes until onions are well-browned.
2. Add mushrooms and cook until any liquid evaporates. Return bacon to pan.
3. Add bread cubes and combine well. Add stock to moisten. Add parsley, sage and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Place dressing in a 10×15-inch (4 L) roasting pan and bake, covered, 30 minutes in a preheated 350F (180C) oven. Uncover and bake 30 minutes longer, spooning juices from cooked turkey over the top.
To make this vegetarian, skip the bacon, and use 1/3 c olive oil in the beginning instead.

Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Parmesan
Serves 12, you can ratio to fit your crowd, this one is also from the Williams Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook

3lbs Brussels sprouts
1/4 c unsalted butter
1/4 c olive oil
12 large cloves of minced garlic
1.5-2 c chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 c Parmesan, freshly grated

Trim the ends and cut the sprouts in half lengthwise.
Heat the butter and oil in a large enough pan to hold most of the sprouts in a single layer.
Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 2min.
Add the sprouts, stock to cover the sprouts and cover the pan.
Simmer until tender crisp 5-8min.
Season with salt and pepper and parmesan cheese.
Serve at once!

And for the grand finale…

Pumpkin pie!

I have stated this here before, the canned pumpkin tastes tinny to me, so I always use fresh.  I roast some pumpkins and then freeze the puree in 1 cup portions.  That way I can use it for a variety of recipes.  This year I thought I would go with a recipe that used sweetened condensed milk, everything that I have made with this golden stuff is amazing!  This pie was good, but I think the regular ones are just as good.

Here’s the recipe  Prize Pumpkin Pie from Canadian Living.

Slow Cooker Challenge – Week Three – Sweet and Sour Meatballs

This recipe is a classic recipe that can be found in any local “fundraising cookbook”.  You know the one – your Mom bought it for you at the church bizarre, it has a spiral spine, a picture of baked goods on a gingham table-cloth on the front, and 11 different recipes inside for spinach dip.  Anyway, my point is – this recipe is a cheesie oldie, but a goodie.  It is easy to prepare, young and old will eat it, and when served on a bed of rice and with a salad on the side, can be considered a health meal from the main food groups.  What I love most about this recipe is that you can make it as simple or complicated as you wish.  It’s basically meatballs, jelly and chili sauce – that’s it.  Are you pressed for time, or a first-time cook?  Buy pre-made meatballs a jar of grape jelly and a jar of Chili sauce, throw it all in the crock-pot for 8 hours and you’re done.  Maybe you are into cooking from scratch or prefer a more local approach.  Make your own meatballs, and use your home-made or farmer’s market jelly and chili sauce.  This one can be tweaked to your liking!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

  • 2 lbs meatballs (homemade* or store-bought)
  • 1 jar of grape jelly (grape is the classic, but I’ve made it with whatever jam or jelly I’ve had on-hand)
  • 1 jar of chili sauce
  1. Place meatballs, jelly and chili sauce into slow cooker.  lightly stir everything together.  Cook in slow-cooker on low for 8 hrs, or for 5 hrs on high.   Serve on bed of rice or noodles.  Enjoy

* Classic Home-made meatballs

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1/4 chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove of finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 bread crumbs
  1. Mix all ingredients together until blended.  Roll teaspoon amount in hand to form small balls.

Rapini Sauteed in Garlic and Olive Oil

Similar to  99% of the population, I require my weeknight dinner to be quick and easy to prepare.  One of my favorite tricks for hectic nights is Rapini.  What is Rapini?  Well, Rapini, also know as Cimi de Rapa, Broccoletti, or Rappi, is best described as Brocoli’s chic and sophisticated older brother.  You know the one – he goes to Harvard, plays on the football team and can hold an enlightened conversation on a variety of topics.  Brocoli is fun to go to a party with, but you go to Rapini when you want to show that you’re all grown up.   I find this dish an easy weeknight dish because you can make part of it well in advance (and even freeze it) and then it takes less than 5 min. to saute it.  So here’s the deal – simple and delicious:

Rapini sautéed in Garlic and Olive Oil

  • 1 large bunch of Rapini, ends cut off (about 1 lbs)
  • 1 -2 cloves of garlic (sliced for easy removal after cooking)
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (more to taste if needed)
  1. Blanche rapini by bringing a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add Rapini and cook for 2 -3 min, till Rapini begins to turn a bright green and is tender to a fork.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large fry pan, add garlic and cook until garlic become fragrant (about 1 min).
  3. Add Rapini and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 – 5 min.
  4. Add salt to taste if needed.

Note – a few extra tips on Rapini

  • Blanched Rapini freezes well, and reheats well.  I often buy two bunches of Rapini and blanch them at the same time.  I freeze one bunch in a freezer bag with a small amount of water so that it is ready to go whenever I need it.  Simple defrost from the freezer when needed, and cook from step 2.
  • You can also make this ahead by blanching ahead of time.  The Rapini will keep in the fridge for 24hrs, so you can sautee it when needed.
  • Blanched Rapini is also great to have on hand, as it is great to add in to toasted sandwiches, pizza or fritata’s.
  • One last note – I will warn you – Rapini has more of a biter taste, and I’m not sure most kids will eat it.  My kids are a little freaky, and eat things like olives, asparagus and rapini…

Slow Cooker Challenge – Week 2 – Crockpot Curried Chicken

For week 2 of the Slow Cooker Challenge, I decided to try Curried Chicken.  My preference for using the slow-cooker are recipes where I basically throw everything in, mix it with a spoon, turn on the slow-cooker and forget about it till dinner time – I don’t want to have to fry up the veggies or brown the meat before-hand.  In my mind, this is a simple requirement that embodies the essence of the slow-cooker.  This recipe, from Canadian Family Magazine, met that requirement, and is perfect for a great meal after a hectic day.

Crockpot Curried Chicken

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken chopped into chunks (breast or thigh)
  • 1 C chopped onion
  • 3 C cubed potatoes (about 5 medium)
  • 1 chopped apple (I was out of apples, so I used a pear – worked fine)
  • 2 tbsp Curry Powder (at least)
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 2 C uncooked Minute Rice
  • 2 C frozen peas
  1. Place Meat, Onions, Potatoes, Apple, Curry powder and Chicken Broth into the slowcooker.
  2. Cover with lid and cook for 8 hrs. on low, or 5 hrs on high
  3. Stir in rice and peas.  Cook for an additional 20 min.

How can you not like a recipe that comes with only 3 steps!  I served mine with some lovely warm Naan bread – lovely.  Next time I will try it with regular rice, or make the rice on the side, as it was a fluke that I had minute rice in my pantry this time.

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