Thursday, November 29, 2007

Leftover Mania and the Wonder of the Freezer

Last night I made a simple meal based on some leftover chili. Never freeze your leftover chili in one big container. To defrost it requires a commitment to eat chili for many days. If you freeze it in 1 cup servings you only have to commit to a lunch or dinner of chili. Or better yet, you can use it in other dishes. I made a frittata or omelet out of 1 cup of leftover chili. I added in some salsa, green peppers and onions, topped it with some cheddar and it was really tasty. It worked out to 4 points per serving with 3 ounces of cheese and 3 eggs. We had a side of refried beans to round out the meal.

Did I mention how much I love my freezer. Tonight we're having leftover Sicilian pasta and sauce (I must have gotten the recipe from a book or mag because it's not on the blog) with some fresh grilled swordfish. All I have to do is quickly grill the fish, heat the leftovers and dinner is ready! Which is a good thing because there has been some talk of heading out to do some Christmas shopping tonight. Bah humbug!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Time for Turkey Tips! - Homemade Broth

Yup, it's that time of year again, when I make 3 turkeys in 3 months. 2 down, 1 to go! I had some beautiful pictures of the turkey I made for friends for the American Thanksgiving but some divine intervention caused them to be erased from my camera. I believe this was due to the inclusion of an incriminating video of a certain Wii boxer hitting his head during game play, resulting in fits of laughter from the spectators. Or it could just be because I should not be allowed to play with the menu on my camera after too little sleep and too much wine... Either way - no pics. And she was a good looking bird too. And really, really tasty!

My friend and host finally came clean this year and told me he has found my stuffing dry in the past. Usually I am manhandling a 25+ pound bird which I feel would never cook if I put the stuffing inside so I make it as dressing in a separate dish and baste it with turkey drippings. This time I had a totally manageable bird of just 16 pounds so I stuffed 'er up! The stuffing was almost too moist! Boy was it good, especially mixed with some gravy and layered on top of turkey for the requisite day after, and after, and after, turkey sandwich.

One thing that I have been doing for the last few years is making a homemade turkey stock or broth the night before. It's pretty easy and a flavourful touch to the big meal. Now for those of you thinking to yourself... 'yeah, because I don't have enough to do before the big day!', don't panic. You can just buy a couple of boxes of chicken broth from the grocery store. It's not the same but it's better than just using water to boil your potatoes in, steam veggies and add to the turkey drippings for the gravy. But if you really want to add a special touch give homemade broth a go. And you can do this anytime ahead of the big dinner. I do it the night before but you can do it earlier. Just buy a turkey neck in the grocery store instead of taking the neck and gizzards out of the bird you are going to roast.

  • Turkey neck and gizzards from the inside of the turkey. DO NOT USE THE LIVER - it will give it a bitter taste
  • 3 or 4 celery stalks, cut in chunks
  • 1 onion, cut in chunks
  • 3 or 4 carrots, cut in chunks
  • Fresh herbs, I use thyme, sage, rosemary and flat leaf parsley, just throw in a couple of stalks of each
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 - 6 cups of water

  • Throw everything in the pot and set it over a medium low heat to simmer, covered. If you get a good boil going it will start to develop a foam on top. Scoop this foam off but don't worry about it too much, nothing you are using the broth for will require it be perfectly clear.
  • Let it simmer for a couple of hours until the neck is falling apart. Once that starts to happen, uncover the pot and let it reduce for 30 - 40 minutes. I like a nice intensely flavored broth.
  • All that is left is to drain the broth and discard the solid bits of veggies, gizzards, neck and herbs. Chill the broth overnight and then in the morning you can scoop off any fat that has risen to the top.
  • I put aside one cup for my gravy. I use the rest to boil the potatoes and turnip in and to steam any veggies I might be making.
  • You can freeze any leftovers but make sure the container you put it in has LOTS of room to expand. I have come across leftover broth in my freezer in a broken jar months later.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lunch Wrap


I finished my cookbook query, I think. Maybe. I have reviewed it once and will do that again before I send it out to literary agents. Wish me luck! It's hard to 'wow' anyone with just one page.

I've been eating out of my freezer so I don't have any new dinner ideas but I do have a lunch idea that is worth sharing. It's a fantastic wrap. Points per wrap is 3!! And it's quite filling.

One whole wheat wrap (I use the Weight watchers ones since they are just 1 point)
1 tbsp hummus, store or homemade
diced up veggies of your choice. I use tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green onion, peppers
1 tbsp of crumbled light feta cheese.

Layer it all in the order above, roll it up and eat. It's one of my favs for a quick, light lunch. Grab a piece of fruit or add a fat free pudding snack and you have a full meal! Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The mad rantings of a cookbook writer to be - and a Pumpkin Soup recipe.

I'm still trying to figure out how to work on my cookbook. One would think you would just sit down, grab some recipes (I have tons), organize them in some fashion and put it out there. Writing is hard work! And organizing your thoughts and ideas is hard work! And I'm lazy! I'm trying to figure out a way to approach this task methodically. I'm torn between a project management approach with a work breakdown structure (WBS to those of you in the know) or my old term paper approach that got me through high school and university. It involves index cards and a filing system. A highly effective system but time consuming. UGH! I have no excuse this week. Tim is away and I can totally focus. I have a freezer full of good food (more about that in a minute) so I can't get distracted by cooking which is still my favorite distraction from reality. Focus, it's all about focus. Did I mention I am typically doing 3 things at once? Right now I am playing ball with the dog, considering knitting patterns for some gifts for friends I'm going to visit next week and writing this. Oh, and I'm job searching and about to go start my breakfast. I'm so screwed.

On a happier note, yesterday I totally ate out of my freezer. I had pumpkin soup for lunch. Holy snappin' arseholes, was it tasty! I have no idea why I haven't blogged about this one before but here is the recipe.

Perfect Pumpkin Soup

Here is a quick and delicious pumpkin soup that makes a great meal. And it’s cheap! It is also an excellent starter when you don’t have fresh salad ingredients on hand. Even though there is real cream in this, don’t sweat it. It’s only 1 cup worth for the whole recipe which works out to 1.33333 ounces of cream per main course dish. But don’t skip it, it really smooths out the soup.

I keep a can of pure pumpkin on hand at all times just so I can throw this together in a pinch. Where do you find can pure pumpkin in the grocery store? Why with the canned pie filling, of course! (I spent 15 full minutes racing up and down aisle looking for it the first time…. I figured it would be with the canned fruits! Nope)

Serves 6 as a main course or 8 as a starter course - 2 Points per serving! (it tastes way naughtier than that!)


· 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
· I onion, chopped
· 1 carrot, chopped (optional)
· 1 rib of celery, chopped (optional)
· 2 tsp or 2 cloves of minced garlic
· 5 cups of low sodium chicken broth (almost 2 large cartons of the store bought kind)
· 1 796ml of pure pumpkin
· 1 tsp of dried sage or thyme or savory
· 1 cup of whipping cream

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat

2. Sauté the onion, carrot and celery until softened, about 3 minutes

3. Add in the garlic and cook one more minute

4. Add in 3 cups of the broth and cook for 5 minutes. Puree the mixture using either a blender, immersion blender or potato masher.

5. Stir in the can pumpkin, the rest of the broth and the sage. Cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Stir in the cream and just heat it through, about another 2-3 minutes.

7. Enjoy!

This recipe freezes beautifully. (See, I can say that for sure, having just eaten some that has been in the freezer for 6 months!)

Nutritional Information 6 Main Servings with Carrot and Celery: 117 Calories, 11g Fat, 5g Saturated Fat, 0g Trans Fat, 27 mg Cholesterol, 87mg Sodium, 4g Fiber, 16g Carbohydrates

Then for supper I had Lamb Ragu on pasta. Wowzers! Both dishes survived the freezer unscathed. So the term "freezes beautifully" really does have meaning.

Today is a holiday, in lieu of Remembrance Day... Maybe I should just take the day off, drink coffee and knit.... FOCUS, FOCUS -man I suck.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Risotto again and the rumblings of a future cookbook

I've been trying to get my act together to work on a cookbook but often I feel as if I am not a prolific cook. This blog does not get the input like my knitting blog does. I try to remember that my knitting blog isn't about trying to share my knowledge of how to knit, it's just a place to show off my work. This blog has always been more about sharing my knowledge and experience with food. Teaching is hard. That's why people make a commitment, go to school and get paid to teach! And writing is even harder. Not everyone can be a writer, even those of us who are passionate about that which we write. It still doesn't mean we are good at it. I looked back and reviewed my entries. There is some good stuff here! Maybe I will take a stab at that cookbook. I have this nasty habit though... I tend to do at least 3 things at once. No wonder I can't focus to write... Wish me luck!

While I'm here I might as well once again preach about the virtues of risotto. It's one of my favorite elegant, quick, easy and cheap meals. Don't be intimidated! Here's my last rant about risotto "Let's Talk Risotto" . I want to share my latest risotto. One thing that really makes risotto sing is to add a dash of wine or I used vermouth this time, even a dry sherry would do. But what if you don't want to add alcohol to your dish? Use a bit of apple juice! This is a standard substitution for white wine. I buy the juice packs and keep them on hand. Then when a recipe calls for white wine and I don't have it, I just pop open a juice pack!

Serves 4 - 5 points per serving


  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup of arborio rice
  • 5 cups of low sodium chicken or veggie broth (you may use more or less, one carton of the campbells broth will cover it)
  • 1/3 cup white wine, vermouth or apple juice
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped broccoli, frozen or fresh
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan

Heat the oil in a pot or high sided saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onions until soft but don't brown them. Add the garlic and saute for one more minute. Add the rice and saute for 2-3 minutes.

Start adding the broth 1/2 cup or so at a time. Stir a bit and keep an eye on the pot. You don't want it to go dry. When the liquid seems mostly absorbed, add more. Keep doing this for about 20 minutes. Then taste a piece of rice. It should taste like it is just got a little bit of give to it. it's almost done but not quite. Which is fine. Now we add the veggies!

You will still be adding broth, add in the veggies too. Let the liquid cook out. Add the wine/vermouth/apple juice. Taste a piece of rice again. It should have no give and no crunch. It should be smooth, like a well cooked pasta.

Remove from the heat and stir in your cheese.

Someday soon I must do a video of this. It's easy but seeing it done will really make you feel comfortable making it.