Tag Archives: soup

The 18 were stuffed like a Christmas turkey….


Well Christmas has come and passed, all that planning, prepping, cooking, stressing is over and I am almost at a loss without so many people inside my tiny little house. We had 18 people on Christmas day and what a day it was. I was SUPER stressed however for the first Christmas in my life I DIDN’t have a melt down. (Call the guinness book of world records, it is a date in history!!) I had a lot of help from hubs, my sister in law, my kids, thier kids, mom, dad, and probably even the cat!

It. was. amazing.

I am so grateful to have a great and supportive family and what made it even more awesome is I don’t think I said “Oh Sh*t!” once while cooking dinner…. but don’t quote me on that one. 🙂

Not all of it went down as smooth as ice however it went over pretty good. What helped was a few days before company arrived I cooked my “Clint Eastwood Style Chili (which mom aptly named “Chili for wimps” <– mom I have changed the recipe) and for the FIRST time ever it did not burn my face off. (Are you calling Guinness yet? There is another one for the history books)

Secondly ALL the help I had: My sister in law helping me cut, chop, prep, season, stir, mix, advise, check, double check, fix, refix everything I was doing. It saved my life. My mom doing Christmas baking so I would have enough cookies to go around, she even blessed us with her butter tarts AND melt in your mouth shortbread (I love you mom). My dad bringing over the extra stuff I decided I needed on Christmas day ON Christmas Day (a toaster oven, meat thermometer). Both my folks for helping me with the vegetarian dishes, turns out we had LOTS with what I added to it. The kids for helping stir, sort, organise, clean, check and recheck & smash things for baking. As well as clean up like taking out the gabages and dishes and so forth.

Thirdly and most importantly: The whole family having balls (and stomachs) of steel for being willing to eat something I had never attempted before.

For those about to rock (eat) we salute you.

So what did I make??

December 24 after dinner myself, my S.I.L. and kids from all families helped me do my Christmas baking…. 5 hours of it. (I am a slow one in the kitchen, mom will never let me forget!)

  • Gingerbread CupCakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Double Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate chips
  • Apple Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie (x2) made with ice cream

December 25 (the big day for the 18!)

  • Hors ‘d’ouvres –>Vegetarian Samosas, vegetarian spring rolls, spinach & feta spanakopia, mini meat balls, sausage rolls, chips and dip, veggies and dip, crackers with cream cheese and spicy red pepper jelly, assorted cookies and treats (homemade and store bought) Artichoke & Asiago cheese puffs (care of my sister)
  • Turkey – approx 7.6 kg. Cooked over root vegetables, fresh herbs and some broth. I also put an onion and more fresh herbs up its bum to add more flavor.
  • Stuffing – not from scratch. From a box.
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Corn, Carrots, Peas, beans.
  • Buns
  • Broccoli Casserole (Care of mom)
  • Roasted Veggies (Care of mom)
  • Fresh Gravy (made from the broth and drippings (not droppings!) from the bird)
  • Cranberry jelly

Dessert:

  • Pumpkin Pies (x2)
  • Apple Pie
  • Gingerbread Snaps (care of Sister)
  • Sugar Cookies (Care of Mom)
  • Gingerbread Cupcakes
  • Double Chocolate Brownies
  • Ice Cream – Vanilla and Stawberry

And that is how you stuff 18 people like a Christmas turkey!!!!

There were plenty of leftovers, so we could have fit about 4 more people at our table and had them well fed as well. I should mention 4 of the people at our table are older teens/young adults (male) with hearty appetites as well as all the members of the families having healthy appetites. So having left-overs and in the quantities there were is amazing.

We had a big setback, we  planned dinner for about 230 pm however I don’t think we ended up eating until past 4 due to the bird. Not sure what went wrong as everyone said they had never seen it happen before: One leg and part of one side of the bird did not cook on time so we had to keep taking it out and putting it back in again. We don’t know if it was an element, the way I cooked/positioned it in the oven, or if it was the oven itself (its not convection). Luckily we had enough nibbles to keep the hungry monsters at bay. A lot of patience and several people inside who knew a lot about cooking turkeys. A good back up plan is to get the Barbeque ready. Speaking of BBQ the one thing I defrosted and prepped for turkey dinner were ribs and cornbread however time and oven space dictated they be removed from the menu. Good thing we did or we would have been screwed for table and stomach space.

Other things I learned: I learned what a turkey baster was, what it does and how to use it. Yes I am 28 years old and had NO idea what that was. I also learned what the neck, heart and giblets look like from inside the turkey (I nearly fainted, I have an aversion to birds…cooking them… mostly because all I can see are them strutting around outside when I am trying to cook them). I also learned how to get the most out of your turkey thanks to advise from mom, the S.I.L and the people over at Stirr for posting on thier facebook page how to make Turkey Soup. But it was a big thanks to HUBs for making it. I don’t think I could have made it as the carcass was grossing me out.

This is what he did (I helped with the veggies):

What you will need:

  • leftover turkey carcass, GIGANTIC pot, stove, water. Anything you want to toss into the soup for flavoring.

He put the carcass in a HUGE pot of boiling water and just boil the meat off the bones. He had it on there for hours (I am pretty sure) remove the carcass and any fallen off bones.

Next add what you like for flavoring here is what we did:

  • leftover roasted root vegetables (carrots, celery, parsnips, onions)
  • leftover regular vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, green beans)
  • leftover gravy
  • added 4 more carrots, 1 parsnip, a turnip, and an onion
  • One outside Rind of Fresh Parmesan Cheese
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary (just toss it in, the leaves will fall off in the cooking process)
  • a sprig of fresh thyme (again, toss it in the leaves will fall off and you can pull the stick out later)
  • one bay leaf (remove before consuming)
  • a sprinkling of Montreal Vegetable seasoning
  • a squished clove of garlic

Let this bubble for a while (30-40 minutes or until the veggies soften) then you can serve (this makes TONS OF SOUP) or what I did was I put aside a HUGE container of the soup for a healthy meal in the future and then put some in single serving dishes and froze for lunches. With a lot still left over I reserved the rest in a smaller soup pot and placed in the fridge which has given us several lunches and dinners of turkey soup.

What is great is there was no loss of nutritional value as everything was cooked with itself, nothing was strained or drained (granted the saturated fats are probably up there but so is the value of the good stuff) and it made the dollar value of Christmas dinner become VERY economical. So really it is an all around win.

Now with all the visiting relatives gone, I am missing everyone DEARLY. It is like the house (as small as it is) is empty. It really made me see how much I love and care about my family members.

I hope all your Christmas’s, holidays, festivities and food adventures are full of wonderful things.

 

From my table to yours, happy eating.

 

xoxoxo

 

Breaking Boundaries and an introduction to Josephine.


I find I keep marking the opening to my posts as “It has been a while since…” which must be getting a bit tiresome.

I apologise, I do not have set writing days in my calendar, with the life I lead I take time where I can get it. Let’s face it I do put a lot more on my plate when I am eating and in life which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I am a full time parent to 6 kids, a long distance grannie, I have a full time career complete with a 1.5 hr commute. I’m a business owner (and co-owner of another company with hubs) I read, I write, I cook, I spend time with my family, visiting with friends, I recently started up crocheting (though all I did was crotchet myself into a circle) and of course I am also enslaved by a very cute feline.

Have I mentioned I am not 30 yet?? LOL Yes I have one grey hair, and I named her Josephine, we chat, we do coffee, Josephine and I are close, for a human and her grey hair.

So in short on the “un-busiest” of days I am busy.

Regardless I am forever breaking my own boundaries in food whether it be trying a new ingredient, a new dish, a different cooking style or sampling something I have never tried before. I am a bit obsessed with food and I do get really panicky in the kitchen, most people seem natural and at ease whilst cooking away, in my house it is a bit of a gong show. I’ve written before of the interesting language floating out of the room and some of the interesting food that has landed on our families plates and once “tweeted” about my encounter with a durian candy. So when I “break my boundaries” I do it in great fear, always and it doesn’t stop when I turn the burner off, I continue to worry about it LONG after it is done. I probably come across as a complete nervous wreck half of the time and a wild crazy gypsy woman the other half (have you heard me cackle?? I took lessons from mom).

Where do I begin breaking these boundaries? It starts with a recipe and then completely screwing it up by accident or on purpose and serving the end result. So it starts with me and ends with the family, and luckily so far they still love me, will still sit down at our table and eat my (or our) food. I’ve started introducing more meat free dishes into the weekly menu, I find that meat gets too much of the “celebrity status” during the big shows and I want to kind of prove that veggies (or legumes), lentils and playing with herbs can make something amazing. So far no complaints, and NO leftovers which has shocked even me. Mostly I’ve been serving up soups: Caterpillar Soup, Ginger Carrot Soup, Tomato and bean;  I made vegetarian calzones and those were a HUGE hit and now I am looking for the perfect vegetarian lasagne!

My most recent discovery has been the turnip, wow is it ever good? The smell and flavour of fresh ginger and I ate a parsnip raw which was pretty good too. Sounds like pretty plain stuff but to me it was exotic having been grown up on wholesome British/Canadian/Maltese home cookin. Mom tried to get me to try things as a kid and as far as I can remember I wasn’t happy about it, then again, what kid is? Next on the trials is going to be butternut squash, there is this macaroni dish I have been itching to try.

Now I challenge you to pick one thing out of the produce aisle you have either never tried, cooked and give it a shot! Let me know how it goes!!

Happy Eating!

 

ps- as for the durian candy, the aftertaste stayed with me after I ate, into the evening, into the night. And I kept burping it up. I suppose I should mention I didn’t even EAT the candy, I spat it out after 5 chews!

Concerning Caterpillars, a cooking success and where some recipes come from…


My mom told me a story the other day over a soup I made that reminded her of being a little girl. The soup I made for the family and took over to my parents place reminded me of being a little girl, how much I hated it when mom made that soup and how much I crave it now as a grown up (or at least most days I am). It also reminds me of the first time I threw up because I think it was what we had for dinner that night….. which could also explain why I hated it so much.

Anyhow my mom came from a home where Mondays there was a little more food in the house and come Friday, dinners were made with whatever was left from the week. Hence soup made from fresh ingredients straight from the garden, to the cutting board and into a pot into what her mother called “Manestra” or as most know it as “Minestrone.” Like me mom didn’t like the soup all that much though for entirely different reasons, her mom put in many of the ingredients below, celery, carrots as well as cabbage all from the garden. Sometimes there were other additions to the soup which my mom and her sisters discovered on their own like noticing that celery when chopped looks like caterpillars and sometimes that spoonful of celery really wasn’t a spoonful of celery, it ended up being a spoonful of caterpillars thus beginning my mom’s distaste for the soup which as time passed on became a soup that became a reminder of home, being a little kid and being with her mom, dad and siblings.

And so I learn of this tale over a warm bowl of my own version of the soup, greatly enjoyed and has now nestled a little corner of my heart where I have warm loving thoughts of being a kid, sharing in our heritage, memories of my mom and nana all wrapped into one cozy and delicious package.

Happy Eating and Enjoy

Caterpillar Soup (Minestrone Soup)

Kitchen Gadgets required: Stove/hot plate, large pot, cutting surface, and knife, can opener, grater (unless cheese is purchased grated and a vegetable peeler if you have one.

Ingredients:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to your “heat” preference)
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 medium sized onions chopped
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 medium parsnip chopped
  • 2 celery ribs chopped
  • 2 small-medium sized zucchini diced (I took the “skin” off too)
  • 2 stems fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can of 9 bean mixture (I used great value) rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can of Alymyer Italian Stewed or diced tomatoes
  • 2 boxes of Campbells Organic Vegetable Soup Stock
  • 2 cups shell type pasta
  • Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • Flakey Butter Buns

 

Heat the large soup pot over med-high heat add Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 2 tbs) red pepper flakes, garlic, onions, carrots, parsnip, celery, cook until they start to go soft about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, add rosemary, bay leaf and zucchini until they soften. Add the beans, tomatoes and stock, put on the soup lid & bring to a bubble.

Cook soup for 8 minutes @ a rolling simmer add the pasta and cook until el dente’ (approx 7 minutes). Remove pot from heat, take out rosemary twigs (leaves will have fallen off while cooking) and bay leaf.

Ladle into soup bowls and serve with flakey buns and sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Serves 5 with seconds and maybe thirds.

*optional – cook the soup with the rind of fresh parmesan cheese to create a cheesy taste, remove prior to serving.