My Island Bistro Kitchen Food Blog Celebrates 5th Blogiversary

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Five years ago today, January 18, 2012, I established my food blog, My Island Bistro Kitchen.  Where did those five years go – they have just flown by!  Time flies when you’re having fun, they say! So, today, I celebrate my 5th blogiversary!

I attempt to keep the recipes I develop and share real — nothing too wild and wacky.  I am mindful of the different levels of culinary skills and food budgets that followers may have.  While I do try to provide some newer, upscale recipes, it has been my experience over the past five years that the most popular recipes tend to be the traditional dishes that call for common ingredients and are not overly complicated or time-consuming to make. Where possible, I try to use locally produced food ingredients from right here in Prince Edward Island. And, for added interest, I continue to include stories about Island food producers and local culinary events.

To celebrate my five-year anniversary, I have made a cake and decorated it in the trendy “naked cake” style.  Naked cake means that very little, if any, frosting is used on the sides of the cake  allowing much of the cake itself to be visible. In fact, even less frosting is used on one of these cakes than I would normally use to crumb coat a cake I would completely cover with frosting! The absence of a lot of frosting allows the texture, color, and filling in the cake to show. This is a style currently favored by many brides, probably for its romantic and casual look and feel. This style also looks very nostalgic and has a vintage air about it.

Naked cakes are very non-pretentious and, in my opinion, do not require a lot of cake decorating skill.  If you can spread butter on bread, you can decorate a naked cake! Perfection is not a goal in the application of minimal frosting that characterizes this style of cake! The rustic look allows a cake topper to stand out and be the focal point because there is no fancy frosting or a cake covered in piped roses or frosting ruffles to compete for the limelight. Garnishes for these types of cakes usually involve real or natural elements such as berries, fruit, or as I have done with this cake, fresh flowers. Sometimes, chocolate or caramel is drizzled over the top and down the sides of the cake.

Cakes decorated in this style have a very natural look to them. In fact, with dark-colored cakes and  a slim swipe of white frosting, I think they almost look a bit like birch bark. When used on lighter toned cakes, the effect can resemble a white wash look.

This is a good type of decorating to use if the cake is for someone who does not like a lot of frosting that is the hallmark of traditionally-decorated celebratory cakes. In fact, some naked cakes sport only frosting on the top of the cake and in between the layers. Now, those are real naked cakes!

The disadvantage of this style of decorating is that the cake can dry out rather quickly. When completely frosted, the frosting acts as a seal, to help keep the cake moist. Without complete coverage of frosting, care must be taken that the cake does not dry out. I recommend frosting the cake just before serving or, if it must be done in advance, store it in an airtight cake storer/caddy.

The “naked cake” is not a new style as it has been around for a few years now but it is a cake decorating style that has gained traction and this trend shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. While it is not a style for everyone’s taste, it is an option to add variety to cake decorating.

Thank you to those faithful followers of My Island Bistro Kitchen food blog who have been with me from the start.  Thanks also to those who have joined along the way. If you are new to “the Bistro”, a hearty warm welcome!  I hope all will continue to follow “the Bistro” into the future as I have more great recipes in the hopper and under construction and some stories in the plans!

To view other cakes and cupcakes that have been part of my earlier blogiversaries, click on the links below.

1st blogiversary
2nd blogiversary
3rd blogiversary
4th blogiversary

Meal Planning – Week 1

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I am a big believer in meal planning and follow it regularly.  I recommend meal planning for several reasons:

  • Eliminates last minute meal planning – that’s when you leave work with no idea what’s for dinner and, suddenly, as you pass a supermarket with a deli or prepared food section or a fast food outlet and, well, you know the story – that becomes dinner.
  • Saves money and reduces food waste – have a plan in mind for using leftover meat such as ham, turkey, or roast beef. For example, use the leftover meat in sandwiches, casseroles, and/or soups. These are great ways to stretch the food dollar and eliminate food waste.
  • Healthier way to eat – You will eat less pre-packaged foods that often have way too many preservatives, additives, and other unhealthy ingredients. Meal planning means you are in control, to the extent possible, of what is in your food.
  • Less stress – Once you have a plan in place for meals for the week, you don’t have to stress each day over what to make for meals.

The keys to good meal planning are:

  • Make meals with ingredients you know your family will like – doesn’t have to be fancy, new, or creative. Sometimes, the old faithful comfort foods are the best.
  • Make the meal plan on the weekend and formulate the shopping list BEFORE you go to the supermarket and then stick to the plan, avoiding distractions of already-prepared or frozen entrées that supermarkets display to tempt shoppers.
  • Make your To-Do list for the meal preparation for the week – for example, if you are making baked beans on Saturday, get those beans soaking overnight on Friday evening.
  • Read each recipe carefully to ensure you will have all the ingredients and that the method is easy to understand and do-able in the time in which you have to do the food preparation.
  • Watch the supermarket sales flyers. Know your favorite dishes and buy ingredients for them when they are on sale. You’ll be more likely to stick to a meal plan if you already have most or all of the ingredients for a recipe on hand.
  • Plan around what’s in season. One of my favorite soups is cream of cauliflower which freezes well (provided whole milk, not fat-reduced, is used). I make several batches of this soup each fall when the locally-grown cauliflower is in season. I would not make it, however, in January with imported cauliflower that has traveled thousands of miles for days and is highly priced. Good meal planning needs to take place, on an ongoing basis, throughout the year.

Here is my suggested meal plan for the upcoming week, focusing primarily on dinners with some suggestions for a couple of lunches making the most of a boiled picnic ham. I’ve provided a list of the main ingredients that, for the most part, would probably involve a shopping trip to the supermarket for most. However, as always, read each recipe thoroughly and carefully to create your own shopping list as I have not listed what I consider to be “staple” items like milk, butter, eggs, spices, etc.  Click on the green hotlinks to access the recipes.

MONDAY

Blueberry Muffins – These are great breakfast or coffee break muffins and they freeze very well.  Nice treat to start off the week!
Shopping List: Blueberries (fresh or frozen), orange juice, orange rind

Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry Muffins

Dinner:  Meatloaf
Serve with mashed or riced potatoes and your favorite side of veggies. Homemade mustard pickles go great with meatloaf!

Shopping List: Ground beef, onion, prepared mustard, tomato soup, dry onion soup mix, graham wafer crumbs, fine bread crumbs, garlic powder, vegetables of choice

Meatloaf with Riced Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables
Meatloaf with Riced Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables

Dessert:  Gingerbread
At least once every winter, I have to have a dose of this yummy comfort food! Drizzle with brown sugar sauce for an extra-special treat!
Shopping List: Applesauce, molasses, coffee

Gingerbread
Gingerbread with Whipped Cream and Brown Sugar Sauce

 

TUESDAY

Homemade White Bread – This is always such a treat!  This bread will be super good with the ham sandwiches this week!
Shopping List: All-purpose flour, dry yeast, milk, butter/shortening

White Bread
Homemade White Bread

Dinner:  Old-fashioned Boiled Ham Dinner – This is truly dinner-in-a-pot and is my definition of “comfort food”!  The meat and vegetables are all cooked in the same broth in the same pot. Make sure you cook enough veggies for Wednesday night as this always tastes even better the second day. Easy to heat the vegetables in the microwave and, poof, you have two nights’ meals prepared in one effort. You’ll want those mustard pickles or mustard beans with this dinner!
Shopping List: Smoked pork picnic shoulder (ham), parsnips, carrots, rutabaga (turnip), potatoes

Boiled Ham Dinner
Boiled Ham DInner

Dessert:  Blueberry Grunt
This is such an incredibly yummy dessert – serve it with your favorite vanilla ice cream!
Shopping List: Blueberries (fresh or frozen) and lemon rind, vanilla ice cream

Blueberry Grunt
Blueberry Grunt

 

WEDNESDAY

Lunch:  Ham Sandwiches made with homemade white bread!  Don’t forget the mustard!

Dinner:  Leftover boiled ham dinner from Tuesday.

Dessert: Cherry Wink Cookies
Shopping List: Dates, cornflake crumbs, maraschino cherries

Cherry Wink Cookie
Cherry Wink Cookie

 

THURSDAY

Homemade Tea Biscuits
Shopping list: Whole milk, whipping cream, unsalted butter

Tea Biscuits
Tea Biscuits

Lunch:  Ham Sandwiches

Dinner:  Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole – this is a great way to use up left-over cooked ham and stretch its use. Serve these with those tasty biscuits and perhaps a green salad!
Shopping List: Rice, cream of celery soup, sour cream, liquid chicken bouillon, broccoli, canned pineapple chunks, Parmesan cheese, fine bread crumbs, leftover cooked ham, and ingredients for a green salad and dressing

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

Dessert: Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
Shopping List:  Chocolate chips and coconut

Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

FRIDAY

Dinner:  Mac ‘n Cheese with a green salad and homemade tea biscuits
Shopping List: Elbow macaroni, liquid chicken bouillon, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, salad ingredients and dressing

Mac 'n Cheese
My Island Bistro Kitchen Macaroni and Cheese

Dessert: Cinnamon Sweet Bread
Shopping List: Staple baking ingredients

Cinnamon Sweet Bread
Cinnamon Sweet Bread

SATURDAY

Dinner: Maple-Orange Sauced Chicken Breasts with Rice
An extra special weekend treat!
Shopping List: Boneless skinless chicken breasts, onion, fennel, orange juice, orange rind, chicken stock, maple syrup, orange marmalade, rice

Maple-Orange Sauced Chicken
Maple-Orange Sauced Chicken

Dessert: Coconut Cream Pie
One of the best pies going!
Shopping List:  9” pie shell, coconut milk, whole milk or cream, sweetened shredded coconut

Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

SUNDAY

Dinner:  Bistro Burgers with Home Fries
Shopping List: Ground chuck, mayonnaise, maple syrup, ketchup, rhubarb relish, Dijon mustard, sour cream, onion salt, Parmesan cheese, Blueberry BBQ sauce, dry onion soup mix, bread crumbs, Cheddar cheese slices, red onion, tomato, prosciutto, fresh pineapple, bread and butter pickles, hamburger rolls, potatoes (for home fries)

"The Bistro Burger"
“The Bistro Burger”

Dessert: Leftover Coconut Cream Pie

Meal planning can be a challenge, especially with high food prices, ingredient availability (particularly in winter for fresh local ingredients) and, of course, for those who are busy and time-challenged.  However, with having a plan in place and establishing a routine for meal preparation, it is a way to eat better, save money, reduce food waste, and eliminate the stress of last-minute meal preparation that can sometimes result in unhealthy food choices. For those with children, it’s a good way to help them make good food choices and engage them in meal preparation by assigning them tasks to help with the work of making meals.

 

 

Twice-baked Potatoes Recipe

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Twice-baked Potato
Twice-baked Potato

When you live in Prince Edward Island, Canada, where potatoes are one of the main agricultural crops, you find lots of ways to serve potatoes. Twice-baked potatoes, or stuffed baked potatoes, are one of my all-time favorites.  I make up big batches of these and freeze them so they are always on hand, ready to be popped in the oven for dinner.

These potatoes are a little bit time-consuming to make because the potatoes have to first be baked then split in half and the pulp from each half scooped out and mashed, or riced, really well and combined with other flavorful ingredients.  That’s why I make them up in quantity as part of my repertoire of batch-cooking for the freezer.  These are a standard staple, year-round, in my freezer.

Now, for these twice-baked potatoes, you’ll want to use oval-shaped, elongated “baking” potatoes such as the high-starch Russet variety.  A good average size of potato to use would be about 8 oz like the ones marked in the photo below. All of the potatoes in the photo are the Russet variety but most of them are too small to use for this purpose.

Russet Potatoes for Twice-Baked Potatoes
Best Size of Russet Potatoes for Twice-Baked Potatoes

Russets have a light and fluffy texture when mashed and, certainly, when put through a potato ricer.  Russets, by nature, are a dry potato which means they are very absorbent when adding other ingredients such as butter, sour cream, or milk.  I have found that some Russets will be drier than others which may, in the case of twice-baked potatoes, require the addition of more sour cream or milk than the recipe calls for to make them creamy enough for the filling.  Russets have a mild, delicate flavor. This makes them a good choice for twice-baked potatoes because their white-fleshed pulp mixes well with other ingredients such as sour cream, cheese, and garlic and onion flavors.

Twice-baked Potatoes
Twice-baked Potatoes

It’s difficult to give a 100% accurate amount of wet ingredients (e.g., sour cream and milk or cream) to use for the filling in these potatoes because, as mentioned above, some Russets are drier than others. I recommend starting with the amount called for in the recipe and then adding any additional liquid by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached.  Filling for stuffed baked potatoes should not be “soupy”.  It should hold its shape when piped or spooned into the hollowed out potato shells. If you go by the gauge that the filling could be piped, using moderate pressure, through a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip, that’s the consistency you’re aiming for.

Sometimes, I will spoon some filling in to the shells, then pipe a decorative design on the top but, most times, I just spoon the filling in, mounding it up to look full and bountiful.  In fact, I always bake two extra potatoes just for their pulp and don’t intend to stuff their shells.  Some pulp is lost from each potato because a narrow rim of potato needs to be left intact in each shell in order for it to hold its shape and allow it to be filled. This is why it’s a good idea to bake a couple of extra potatoes to ensure you have enough pulp to adequately (and abundantly) fill the shells.

Twice-baked Potato
Twice-baked Potato

The pulp can be mashed (really well) with a potato masher to ensure the lumps are removed. However, if you have a potato ricer, push the potato pulp through the ricer as this will yield  even fluffier potatoes.

Once the potatoes are mashed or riced, it’s simply a matter of adding all the other ingredients and blending them really well into the potatoes and adding the right amount of wet ingredients to get the mixture to a piping consistency. I do not recommend using an electric beater to mix the filling as it can result in over-beating thus turning the mixture into a soupy glue.

If freezing these potatoes, freeze the stuffed potatoes, unbaked, in airtight freezer containers.  Bake from frozen state in preheated 350F oven for 45-50 minutes, or till heated through.

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:
9 medium-sized baking potatoes such as the Russet variety

3 – 4 tbsp butter
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup+ whole milk or cream
1½ tsp liquid chicken bouillon
¾ tsp puréed garlic
½ cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp onion salt
Freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp. fine sea salt

Extra grated cheddar cheese, paprika, chopped chives or parsley, green onions for garnishing tops of each potato (optional)

Method:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Scrub potatoes well. Do not peel. Prick each potato several times with a fork.  Place potatoes directly on oven rack positioned in center of oven.  Bake until fork easily inserts into center of potato, approximately 1 hour. Reduce oven heat to 350°F.

With a sharp knife, cut each potato in half, lengthwise.  Scoop out pulp of potatoes leaving a thin rim around the edges of the potato to allow them to hold their shape.

Mash potatoes well or press pulp through a potato ricer into a large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.  Consistency should be such that mixture could be piped through a cake decorating bag  using moderate pressure and hold its shape when spooned or piped.  If necessary, add more milk or sour cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve desired consistency. Mixture should not be soupy.

Discard four of the shells (they were just baked for extra potato pulp the two potatoes provided). Lightly brush inside of each remaining potato shell with olive oil and place on parchment-line baking sheet. Spoon, or pipe, potato mixture into shells. Sprinkle with finely grated cheese and/or paprika.  Bake for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with green onions or chopped chives or parsley at time of serving, if desired.

To make ahead and freeze: Store unbaked stuffed potatoes in airtight freezer container.  Bake from frozen state, at 350°F for 45-50 minutes, until heated through and lighted browned on top.

Yield:  14 servings, 1 stuffed potato shell per serving

Twice-Baked Potato
Twice-baked Potato

Twice-baked Potatoes Recipe

Yield: 14 servings

Serving Size: 1 stuffed potato shell per serving

Classic twice-baked potato features a creamy and cheesy filling enhanced with onion and garlic flavors. The perfect side dish to any meal.

Ingredients

  • 9 medium-sized baking potatoes such as the Russet variety
  • 3 – 4 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup+ whole milk or cream
  • 1½ tsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • ¾ tsp puréed garlic
  • ½ cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
  • Extra grated cheddar cheese, paprika, chopped chives or parsley, green onions for garnishing tops of each potato (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Scrub potatoes well. Do not peel. Prick each potato several times with a fork. Place potatoes directly on oven rack positioned in center of oven. Bake until fork easily inserts into center of potato, approximately 1 hour. Reduce oven heat to 350°F.
  3. With a sharp knife, cut each potato in half, lengthwise. Scoop out pulp of potatoes leaving a thin rim around the edges of the potato to allow them to hold their shape.
  4. Mash potatoes well or press pulp through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Consistency should be such that mixture could be piped through a cake decorating bag with moderate pressure and hold its shape when spooned or piped. If necessary, add more milk or sour cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve desired consistency. Mixture should not be soupy.
  5. Discard four of the shells (they were just baked for extra potato pulp the two potatoes provided). Lightly brush inside of each remaining potato shell with olive oil and place on parchment-line baking sheet. Spoon, or pipe, potato mixture into shells. Sprinkle with finely grated cheese and/or paprika. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with green onions or chopped chives or parsley at time of serving, if desired.
  6. To make ahead and freeze: Store unbaked stuffed potatoes in airtight freezer container. Bake from frozen state, at 350°F for 45-50 minutes, until heated through and lighted browned on top.
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For more about potato-growing in PEI, follow these links:

Follow the PEI Potato Farmer: From Field to Table
Potato Growing and Harvesting in Prince Edward Island

Pin The Twice-baked Potatoes Recipe To Pinterest!

Twice-baked Potatoes
Twice-baked Potatoes

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

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Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

If you like brown sugar fudge, you’ll love this Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square, even if you aren’t gluten-intolerant or on a grain-restrictive diet! With a cake-type base, it’s the fudge icing that makes this square and takes it from plain to yummy. It’s like having cake and candy at the same time!

I use 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour along with a small amount of coconut flour in this square.  The coconut flour blends well with the shredded coconut in the recipe and gives the square extra flavor.  Super easy square to make.

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

The slightly tricky part is making the icing as it will “set up” very fast.  Make sure you have all the ingredients pre-measured and at hand when you start to make the icing.  It’s essential that the icing sugar be sifted to remove any lumps as there won’t be any time to work out any lumps when beating the icing sugar into the hot butter-sugar mixture. Once the icing starts to thicken, work quickly to spread it over the square.

This square freezes beautifully and is great to have on hand when you just need to have something sweet!

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

[Printable version of recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Ingredients:

Square
½ cup minus 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 extra-large egg (at room temperature for 20 minutes)
½ tsp pure vanilla
1 cup 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/3 cup milk
½ cup shredded coconut

Icing
3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tbsp cream
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Walnut halves for decoration (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or, alternatively, line 9” square baking pan with tin foil and spray with cooking oil.

Square:  Cream butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and beat well to combine with butter-sugar mixture.  Beat in vanilla.

Sift the 1-to-1 gluten-free flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Add the dry ingredients and milk to the creamed mixture in three parts (3 parts dry and 2 parts wet) starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat for 1 minute longer on medium speed. Fold in the shredded coconut.  Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake for 30-32 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of square comes out clean.  Remove square from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Icing:  When square has cooled, make the icing by combining the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until both have melted/dissolved.  Add the cream.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and, with an electric hand mixer, beat in the icing sugar until mixture starts to thicken.  Immediately stir in the vanilla and, working quickly (as this icing will “set up” very fast), spread the icing evenly over square.  Score cutting lines on square and, if desired, place one walnut half on each individual square. Let icing set completely before cutting squares.

Yield: One 9” pan of squares

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Yield: 1 - 9" pan of squares

An old-fashioned fudge square made with gluten-free flour and topped with brown sugar fudge icing.

Ingredients

  • Square
  • ½ cup minus 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 extra-large egg (at room temperature for 20 minutes)
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 cup 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • Icing
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 1 cup sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Walnut halves for decoration (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or, alternatively, line 9” square baking pan with tin foil and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Square: Cream butter and sugar together. Add the egg and beat well to combine with butter-sugar mixture. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Sift the 1-to-1 gluten-free flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients and milk to the creamed mixture in three parts (3 parts dry and 2 parts wet) starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat for 1 minute longer on medium speed. Fold in the shredded coconut. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of square comes out clean. Remove square from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Icing: When square has cooled, make the icing by combining the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until both have melted/dissolved. Add the cream. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and, with an electric hand mixer, beat in the icing sugar until mixture starts to thicken. Immediately stir in the vanilla and, working quickly (as this icing will “set up” very fast), spread the icing evenly over square. Score cutting lines on square and, if desired, place one walnut half on each individual square. Let icing set completely before cutting squares.
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Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Turkey Chowder Recipe

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Turkey Chowder is the perfect way to use up leftover turkey.  It’s a welcome tummy-warming and tasty chowder for cold winter days and is a real treat after skiing, a long winter walk, snowshoeing, or coasting on the snow-covered hills. Serve with warm rolls or biscuits straight from the oven for an extra special treat.

Homemade Chowder
Turkey Chowder

I make this chowder throughout the year, not just after Christmas or Thanksgiving when I have roasted a turkey.  If you don’t have the leftovers from a turkey, simply buy and roast turkey breasts. Dice up the cooked meat and, voilà, you have the needed turkey for a tasty chowder.

Turkey Chowder
Homemade Turkey Chowder

Apart from the soothing, comfort-food taste, two things I like most about this chowder: First, its simplicity of basic ingredients used and, second, the easy method used to make the chowder.

Like any great soup or chowder, this one starts with the aromatics. The flavor base for this chowder is a basic French Mirepoix. This is nothing more than a combination of three humble vegetables finely chopped and sautéed in butter –  onion, celery, and carrots.  These three veggies alone form the foundational flavor base for many dishes. Ever walk into a home or restaurant and pick up the heady scent of these veggies being sautéed? That’s the French Mirepoix in the making and you just know that something good is going to come from it!  It’s important that the veggies be finely chopped so they will release their flavor and aroma early in the cooking process. It’s also important to allow the necessary time for them to sauté. For example, if all you did was dump all the ingredients for this chowder into a pot all at once, the flavor would be very bland. This is because the onion, celery, and carrots need time to release their flavors and this is what will give the deep, well-rounded flavor in soups or chowders.

Homemade Turkey Chowder
Turkey Chowder

Once the French Mirepoix is well underway, add the next layer of aromatics – the dried summer savory and the garlic salt.  Summer savory is a very common herb to use as a poultry seasoning here on Prince Edward Island and I always have to have summer savory for my poultry stuffing/dressing.  Add the next layer of aromatics – mushrooms and red pepper.  Now you have the flavor base for the chowder.

Chowders are, by nature, thick consistency.  My recipe calls for a couple of tablespoons of all-purpose flour.  The flour is simply sprinkled over the aromatic mixture in the pot and stirred in. This is followed by the addition of chicken stock (or turkey stock if you have used the turkey carcass to make your own) and cubed potato. Make sure you stir the mixture well to ensure there are no lumps forming from the flour – nobody likes a lumpy chowder. The base for the chowder should be silky smooth.  Very slowly add the milk all the while continuing to stir the mixture to keep it lump-free. Don’t boil the chowder but, instead, allow it to heat slowly before adding the cooked turkey, creamed corn which lends a sweetness to the chowder, and grated Parmesan cheese.  Taste the chowder and add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  The chowder is done when it is heated through, the Parmesan cheese has melted and been incorporated into the chowder, and the cubes of potato are just fork tender – don’t cook them to mush.

This hearty chowder is perfect served with rolls, biscuits, or your favorite crackers.

Turkey Chowder
Homemade Turkey Chowder

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Turkey Chowder

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter
¾ cup onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup carrots, diced
3 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup red pepper, chopped
1½ – 2 tsp dried summer savory
¾ tsp garlic salt
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup potato, diced
1¼ cups milk
2 cup cooked turkey, cubed
1 – 10oz can creamed corn
Sprinkle salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

Melt butter in large soup pot.  Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle the mixture with summer savory and garlic salt. Increase heat to medium-high and add mushrooms and red pepper and cook 3-4 minutes, continuing to stir vegetables often.

Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and potato. Bring to a boil, stirring to ensure flour is incorporated and not lumpy.  Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly add the milk while stirring the mixture. Cook, stirring mixture, for approximately 2 minutes.

Add the cooked turkey, creamed corn, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan.  Heat to melt the cheese and ensure potato is fork tender but do not boil chowder.  Serve hot with rolls, biscuits, or crackers.

Yield: Apx. 4-5 servings

Turkey Chowder Recipe

Yield: Apx. 4-5 servings

A thick, flavorful chowder that uses leftover cooked turkey, aromatic vegetables, creamed corn, and Parmesan cheese, all seasoned with dried summer savory

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¾ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • ½ cup carrots, diced
  • 3 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1½ - 2 tsp dried summer savory
  • ¾ tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup potato, diced
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 2 cup cooked turkey, cubed
  • 1 – 10oz can creamed corn
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in large soup pot. Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle the mixture with summer savory and garlic salt. Increase heat to medium-high and add mushrooms and red pepper and cook 3-4 minutes, continuing to stir vegetables often.
  2. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potato. Bring to a boil, stirring to ensure flour is incorporated and not lumpy. Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly add the milk while stirring the mixture. Cook, stirring mixture, for approximately 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked turkey, creamed corn, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Heat to melt the cheese and ensure potato is fork tender but do not boil chowder. Serve hot with rolls, biscuits, or crackers.
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Homemade Turkey Chowder
Turkey Chowder

“Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jinglin” Tablesetting

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Just hear those sleigh bells jinglin’, ring ting tinglin’, to…..This is the song this tablesetting brings to my mind. Set with 222 Fifth’s Andover pattern, this dinnerware features a horse and sleigh in front of an old log cabin.  This dinnerware evokes a very nostalgic setting that is reminiscent of Christmas past.

The border on the outside of each plate is a rust-red shade with ivory pinecones and holly.  The horse and sleigh design is gray on an ivory background. This design appears only on the supper plate.  The dinner plate has a plain center which allows the food to present well on it.

The cereal/soup bowl features only the log cabin design in the bottom of the bowl.

I used an off-white tablescloth and matching napkins to connect to the background in the dinnerware. Holly-berry napkin rings make napkin preparation very easy and add, what I call, jewelry to the table.

It seemed only fitting that the centerpiece for the table should feature a sleigh.

And, of course, who should be in the sleigh but old St. Nick!

And, here is a look at the table all set for dinner!

I added a few small tree candles to draw in that feature from the dinnerware design.

This is a very pretty set of dishes and, keeping the centerpiece simple, they get to be the stars on the table.

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To view photos of other Holiday tablesettings, click on the links below:

Glitz ‘n Glamour New Year’s Eve Tablesetting
The Warmth of the Christmas Light Tablesetting
Christmas Eve Tablesetting and Dinner
A Tartan Holiday Tablesetting
Pretty Poinsettia Tablesetting
Poinsettia Trio Tablesetting
The Holiday Table
The Pink and Green Holiday Table
Christmas at My Island Bistro Kitchen
Purple Tablesetting for the Holidays
Evergreens and Reindeer Christmas Tablesetting
Cupcake Tablescape
Twas The Night Before Christmas

Gluten-free Melting Moments Cookies

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Gluten-free Melting Moments
Gluten-free Melting Moments

These gluten-free melting moments cookies prove that being on a gluten-free diet does not mean one has to compromise on favorite sweet treats!

I use a 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour, such as Bob’s Red Mills brand, for these cookies.  I also add a small amount of very finely ground almonds to the batter as this lends a tenderness to the cookie crumb which justifies the name of the cookies because they do melt in the mouth!

Gluten-free Melting Moments
Gluten-free Melting Moments

These cookies are very easy to make. Mix up the dough. Pinch off small amounts of the dough and form into small balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and flatten with the tines of a fork. Bake. It’s really no more complicated than that!

Gluten-free Melting Moment Cookie
Gluten-free Melting Moment Cookie

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Melting Moments

Ingredients:
½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
¼ cup icing sugar (aka confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
¼ tsp pure vanilla
½ cup 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour
¼ cup finely ground almonds
¼ cup cornstarch

Method:

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter.  Add the icing sugar and cream well with the butter.  Mix in vanilla.

In separate bowl, whisk the flour, ground almonds, and cornstarch together. Add to the creamed mixture and blend until well incorporated.

Form dough into small round balls (apx. 5/8 oz dough per ball).  Place balls on prepared baking sheets, about 2“ apart, and flatten each ball with the tines of a fork.  Decorate with small bits of maraschino cherries, if desired.

Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, just until edges of cookies start to tint a golden tan color. Don’t over-bake. Let cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield:  Apx. 1½ dozen cookies

Gluten-free Melting Moments
Gluten-free Melting Moments

Gluten-free Melting Moments Cookies

Yield: Apx. 1 1/2 dozen

These melt-in-your-mouth gluten-free melting moments cookies have a tender crumb and delicate butter and almond flavor.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • ¼ cup icing sugar (aka confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla
  • ½ cup 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour
  • ¼ cup finely ground almonds
  • ¼ cup cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. Cream butter. Add the icing sugar and cream well with the butter. Mix in vanilla.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk the flour, ground almonds, and cornstarch together. Add to the creamed mixture and blend until well incorporated.
  4. Form dough into small round balls (apx. 5/8 oz dough per ball). Place balls on prepared baking sheets, about 2“ apart, and flatten each ball with the tines of a fork. Decorate with small bits of maraschino cherries, if desired.
  5. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, just until edges of cookies start to tint a golden tan color. Don’t over-bake. Let cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
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Gluten-free Melting Moments
Gluten-free Melting Moments

For another tasty gluten-free cookie recipe, click on the link below:
Gluten-free Earl Grey Cranberry-Orange Shortbread

(Mostly) PEI and Maritime Food – Good Food for a Good Life!