After the holidays, come the leftovers! No matter how much we give away to friends and family, we always tend to be left with more food than we know what to do with. Since our family meal just this Saturday, I had turkey sandwiches on Sunday, warmed up risotto, turkey and Brussels sprouts on Monday; another turkey sandwich on Tuesday for lunch, but by then I had to come up with something creative. Following with the theme of leftovers, here is the breakdown of my week of meals:
Tuesday Dinner: Mexican Soup
A few years ago I came up with what I call a “Mexican” soup. I put a few ingredients together but hadn’t really thought it through. Turned out to be souperbe! I tried to recreate it a few times but just couldn’t get the same flavors to mix together just right. Bottom line, it is simply a tomato vegetable soup with a Mexican twist. So here is how it begins:
Content of my fridge: extra leeks, carrots, parsnip, red bell pepper, onions, garlic, turkey meat and broth.
From my pantry: dried ancho pepper, cumin, oregano, coarse corn meal and a can of diced tomatoes (usually I have some type of beans that I would throw into the pot as well, but not this time).
Needed from the store: an avocado.
Cut up your vegetable into even pieces. In a large pot drizzled with olive oil, sauté the chopped garlic, onions and leek. Add the rest of your vegetables, one teaspoon cumin, ½ tablespoon oregano, the dried ancho chili (or any dried chili of your choice) and the can of tomatoes. Stir to mix and add the measure of two cans of broth to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about 30 minutes. At this point the pepper should be soft. You can add about ¼ of a cup of coarse corn meal and let it cook for another 20 minutes until the corn meal has completely swelled up. Right before serving remove the pepper and add your leftover turkey. You can use chicken, beef or no meat at all. Serve hot with pieces of avocado on top. I didn’t quite nail it like I did that first time but I’m starting to think it was simply a figment of my imagination…
Wednesday Lunch: ate out at Pranzetto for a friend’s birthday.
Wednesday Dinner: Turkey Enchiladas with Mole Sauce
Can anyone else other than me sense there’s a theme going on here? I always wanted to try making these at home. With all the leftovers, I had the perfect chance!
Content of my fridge: turkey, squash, onions, mushrooms, cheese and broth.
From my pantry: soft tortillas that I always keep around to make wraps.
Needed from the store: a jar of mole sauce.
Start by cutting the squash into small cubes and then steam until cooked through. In a pan drizzled with olive oil, sauté the onion and mushrooms. Add the turkey to heat through. In a large bowl, combine the onion, mushrooms, turkey, squash and a small handful of shredded cheese. Put some of the mixture in a tortilla, roll up and place seam down in a baking dish. Make as many as you’d like.
For the mole sauce, follow the directions on the jar and pour over the rolled up tortillas. Top with shredded cheese and bake in the oven at 400ºF until barely bubbly. I served this with my leftover mushroom stuffing, candied yams and a simple green salad. Like the recipe above, you can also use chicken, beef or veggies.
Thursday Lunch: Leftover Mexican Soup
Thursday Dinner: Turkey Curry
From the fridge: onion, garlic, cabbage, turkey, pineapple
From the pantry: a can of coconut milk, curry spices
Slice the cabbage into thin shreds, cut the onion in half and slice it, chop the garlic and in a pan drizzled with oil sauté together until barely soft. Add about a tablespoon of the curry powder / spice / paste of your choice and cook for a couple of minutes until the flavours melt into the other ingredients. Chop about ½ of a cup of pineapple and add it to the pan. Add about one cup of the leftover turkey and half of a can of coconut milk. Adjust seasoning with more curry, salt and/or pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes and serve with rice or nan bread. This basic recipe is incredibly versatile: use leftovers or fresh ingredients, use any vegetables you want, any protein you want and any fruit you want (however, I would not recommend harder fruits like apples).
Friday Lunch: Leftover Turkey Enchiladas with Mole Sauce
Friday Dinner: Spaghetti with a Mushroom-Leek Wine Sauce
Well, it’s Friday. Although it has only been a four day work week it definitely was a busy one, well worthy of a bottle of wine that I picked up on my way home to accompany dinner: C’est La Vie, Sauvignon Blanc – don’t you just love the name?
From the fridge: garlic, leek, mushrooms, turkey
From the pantry: spaghetti pasta, Dijon mustard, thyme
Cook the spaghetti until al dente, following the instructions on the box but making sure your water is well salted. Meanwhile, in a large pan drizzled with olive oil, add a square of butter. When melted, add the sliced leek, chopped and mushroom. Season with salt, pepper and a large pinch of thyme; cook until leeks are slightly browned. Add the rest leftover turkey, just enough white wine to covers the vegetables and two heaping spoonfuls of Dijon mustard. Stir to combine and let simmer for a couple of minutes to let the flavors melt into each other. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan, with a ladle or two of pasta water. Stir and serve. This was a pretty good first try but the recipe needs a bit of tweaking… more on that later. Suggestions anyone?
Saturday Brunch: Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts Hash Topped with a Fried Egg
From the fridge: pancetta, Brussels sprouts, onion, eggs
From the pantry: potatoes, paprika
Steam or boil a potato and a few Brussels sprouts. Once cooked, cut them into smaller pieces and slice a small onion. Chop the pancetta and sauté in a pan. Once it starts to crisp add the onions and cook for a couple of minutes. Bring down to medium heat and add the potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Season with a pinch of paprika, salt and pepper, allow mixture to brown. In another pan fry an egg to your liking. Serve the hash in a plate and top with the fried egg. It is a great start to the rest of your weekend!
After six days of leftovers, the turkey is finally all gone and none of it went to waste! With the exception of a few carrots and an acorn squash, all the fresh ingredients in my fridge were used up.
I must admit that finding something creative and versatile for Thursday and Friday was more of a challenge than I would have thought, but there you have it, a full week of leftovers with only one trip to the store. Now, it is time for me to head back to the market to fill up my fridge!
This weekend is Thanksgiving – Canadian Thanksgiving to be exact. This is by far my favorite holiday along with Halloween. You can bet that October is an exciting month for me! It’s harvest season, so the markets are overflowing with bright fresh ingredients. The temperature is cooling so it’s time to pull out those boots and comfy sweaters. I love Thanksgiving for the food obviously but also because I enjoy taking a moment to think about what you’re thankful for. I even make everyone around the table say this before they can touch their food. I love the time spent with family and friends. For many years, because of university and a part-time job, I could not go spend Thanksgiving with my family but decided that I would host one here in Montreal for all my friends and family that stayed around and couldn’t make it their home for the holiday long weekend. Of course we grow up, get jobs and return to our families. That doesn’t mean the tradition stopped there – but more on that later…
So, this weekend’s Thanksgiving get-together will be slightly different. Mother is coming to visit and my brother-in-law joining us for dinner, so it’ll just be the four of us, with an 18 pound turkey! I may have to digress to explain why we need such a big turkey for so few of us. Yes, I’ll admit it, I especially love the leftovers but there are only so many turkey meals one can fit in a week. The reason is that on Sunday we are meeting up with other loved ones for a hike and picnic up North from Montreal and we said we’d bring sandwiches. So, dinner for three people and turkey sandwiches for fifteen – somehow that bird needs to get cooked! I do not want to go into detail on how to prepare a turkey since there are an infinite amount of resources for that (and probably more accurate ones at that). However, since we are only three, I wanted to try a couple of new things this year.
On the menu we have: roast turkey with a mushroom stuffing – a classic of mine if you ask anyone who had it; butternut squash risotto; candied yams – because it is not a true Thanksgiving dinner without them, and glazed Brussels sprouts since they are in season. For dessert: dairy-free carrot cupcakes with dairy-free chestnut-cardamom icing!
Mushroom Stuffing – a Kristel’s Kitchen original
I never used to like stuffing much. It was the one item at Thanksgiving dinners that I used to avoid because it looked boring and I would rather eat an extra serving of wild rice or yams. When I started hosting Thanksgiving parties, I figured I should give stuffing a try and make it with the flavours I wanted to taste. Mushrooms are the best! They are incredibly diverse and fragrant and I simply cannot get enough of them. So somehow this is the recipe that I came up with which has been perfected over the years. Everyone’s favorite stuffing is always their mothers’ but I am proud to say mine comes in as second best!
- 8 slices of thick-cut bacon or pancetta, diced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celeri stalks, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 cups assorted mushroom, chopped
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 large apple, diced
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 6 slices country style bread, or 3 cups diced
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- Salt and pepper
In a large skillet, cook the bacon until the fat start to render. Add the onions, celery, garlic, and sauté until barely soft. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, add the thyme and cook mixture until barely soft. Add the mushrooms and while they cook, combine the diced apple and cider vinegar in a large bowl. When the mushrooms start to water, remove from heat and transfer to the apple mixture and allow to cool. While the mixture cools, if the bread isn’t stale enough, proceed to toasting the bread slices.
A side-note: this is a great way to use bread that you would otherwise throw out; take advantage of reducing your waste whenever you can. As another example, the celery and apples I used here were also past their prime, but I still managed to make good use out of them.
Back to the stuffing… Once the bread is toasted, dice it and add it to the mix. Stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper is necessary. Add the eggs and mix well to combine. Now you are ready to stuff that bird! Once the roast beast is done to perfection, spoon out the stuffing. It is then ready to serve.
Butternut Squash Risotto
My lovely sister in-law and her husband gave me a subscription to Bon Appétit for my birthday and every month I wait impatiently for my new issue to arrive. Just this week I received the November issue (just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving) and of course it was a special issue for the upcoming American Thanksgiving. Hey, I’m definitely not going to complain about celebrating this glorious holiday twice!
- I obviously did not use any shrimp
- I never use cream when making risotto
- Instead of vegetable broth, I used all that extra stuff they hide inside the bird to simmer up a broth
- I finished the risotto with about ½ cup lactose-free smoked gouda
It’s never quite Thanksgiving without them. Start by peeling and slicing the sweet potatoes. Either boil or steam them until just barely tender (remember to salt your water if you’re boiling). Layout the slices in a baking dish, sprinkle with brown sugar, cardamom and cayenne pepper. Squirt the juice of about half of a lemon onto the yams. Drizzle with maple syrup (don’t use the fake stuff here – it would be sacrilegious) and bake at 400ºF until golden and caramelized.
Trim clean and cut the Brussels sprouts in half. Steam or boil until tender (again, remember to salt the water). I had extra bacon leftover from the stuffing so I decided to sprinkle the broken up pieces of bacon atop the Brussels sprouts with some chopped scallion and a bit of duck fat (you can use butter instead).
Dairy-free Carrot Cupcakes with Dairy-free Cardamom-Chestnut Icing
I am not going to claim to have come up with this recipe but I will thank the Food Network for their help in putting together this dessert. Lucky for me, the carrot cupcake recipe I found was entirely dairy-free and you can find the recipe here. As for the icing, I had to improvise a tad. I went with the traditional butter cream proportions of 1 cup of butter for 4 cups of icing sugar but experimented with it a bit. For those who want to make lactose or dairy-free desserts, this is a reminder that butter is a dairy product and is not lactose free.
For the icing:
- ½ cup margarine (try to find it in bar-form which is firmer than its container-form)
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 3 tbsp chestnut cream
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Let the margarine come to room temperature before whip with an electric beater. Gradually add the icing sugar until well incorporated. Add the cardamom, chestnut cream and vanilla extract. Combine well and proceed to decorating cooled cupcakes.