Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno and Cheese Stuffed Meatballs ~The Kitchen Witch~ Appetizer Recipes

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about Christmas this year! Where Big V and I were completely on our own last year in the winter cabin in Ucluelet, this year my son and his friends are coming from the big city to join us for good food, hot tubbing, beach walks, bonfires, board games, hiking, and lots of laughter.

Given that, I am all about zero stress so I plan to make ahead and freeze a whole bunch of amazing appetizers, snacks, (Christmas dinner thanks to my Make Ahead Christmas Dinner Planner), and today's AMAZING recipe for meatballs from Big V!

 Trust me when I tell you, these stuffed little gems of amazingness are even better in person! Meatballs are stuffed with a creamy cheese mixture and then wrapped in bacon, slathered in  barbecue sauce and baked.

The end result is so DAMN GOOD I am going to hold a grudge if you don't try this one yourself!






















Visit the printable recipe here: Meatballs

Or join Big V and I in the Kitchen Witch cottage and cook along with us - makig sure to remember that we can't help but get a little wacky when discussing Big V's balls!

Happy holidays everyone!




Ingredients

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 package Laughing Cow jalapeno flavored cheese, unwrapped (or 1/2 cup cream cheese)
  • 1 tbsp finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 cup shredded sharp or extra old cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 36 strips pre-cooked bacon 
  • Barbecue sauce
Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, using a fork, mash the Laughing Cow cheese until soft. Stir in the diced jalapeno and the shredded cheddar cheese.
  2. Using clean damp hands, roll into small balls about 1/8 of an ince in diameter. Once rolled, place in the freezer for about 10 minutes to harden.
  3. In a large bowl mix the ground beef with the garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Roll into meatballs, about 2 inches in diameter and then using your finger make an indentation in the center of each. Place one of the hardened cheese balls into the indentation and wrap the ground beef around to cover, rolling again. Gently brown in batches of six in a pan over medium heat in 2 tbsp of hot vegetable oil. Turn and move them continuously until browned on all sides and then let rest on a rack while you make the next batch.
  5. Wrap each meatball in a slice of pre-cooked bacon, affix the bacon with a toothpick or skewer, and then brush all over with barbecue sauce. Cool and place in freezer bags for holiday entertaining or bake immediately.
  6. If baking right away, do so on a tinfoil covered sheet treated with cooking spray in a 350 oven for 20 minutes. If frozen, let thaw on the counter and then bake using the same directions.


Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Make Ahead Christmas Dinner Planner - The Kitchen Witch ~ Make Ahead Recipes for Christmas Dinner

The following is my annual Christmas Dinner Planner for roast turkey. I have put it together after years of trial and error.

The end result being the following dinner: Crispy, creamy cranberry brie phyllo triangles, succulent roast turkey with easy and savoury pan gravy, fluffy buttery mashed potatoes, old fashioned stuffing with cranberries and toasted almonds, turnip and apple puree, sweet potato casserole, roasted Brussels sprouts, bean and mushroom medley, hot, buttery buns right from the oven, and a warm cake with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

I can honestly say I follow these directions included in this blog - step by step - each and every time I cook a turkey dinner and they have never led me astray. The recipes are guaranteed to provide your friends and family with an absolutely delicious Christmas dinner. At the same time, because much of the meal is made ahead, the cook will be able to enjoy the day instead of being stuck in a messy kitchen.

I hope this planner is helpful to you.

Please let me know what you think.
xoxo

Merry Christmas!
The Kitchen Witch

If you're just stopping by and want my printable planner and recipes without the whole blog. Click here for the PRINTABLE PLANNER.

Planning and timing your food preparation in advance will result in delicious food and a relaxed cook.

With all of the prep done ahead of time - including setting the table, getting cranberry sauce into bowls, laying out serving spoons etc. all you will have to do on the big day is follow your schedule.
Starting with links that will take you to all the make aheads:



Cranberry Brie Bundles














Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes (can be made two days in advance, cover tightly and refrigerate)


















Green Bean and Mushroom Medley (the vegetables are par boiled in advance and sauteed five minutes before they go to the table )

Sweet Potato Casserole (can be made two days in advance, cover tightly and refrigerate)

Apple Turnip Mash (Some years I choose to make this side instead of sweet potatoes. I actually prefer it but my son is a die hard sweet potato casserole fan - can be made two days in advance, cover tightly and refrigerate)


















My recipe for Sausage and Apple Stuffing can also be made in advance - and I have to tell you, it is one of the most popular recipes on this website. It does my heart proud to know cooks all over the world use my stuffing recipe and love it. I know you will too!

Apple Sausage Stuffing


















Our Christmas dessert is one of old fashioned those tried and true recipes that take few ingredients, very little effort, and turns out AMAZING every single time!
















Hot Caramel Cake or Pudding Chomeur, (can be made a day ahead, cover tightly and refrigerate)

For something a little fancier but equally delicious, how about trying my Pear Upside Down Cake with Maple Mascarpone Cream! 




***
Christmas is all about old fashioned memories. I like to use my vintage corning ware casserole dishes both to store and serve.



Make aheads give the cook time to enjoy friends and family!

    The next day, you will begin by prepping and stuffing your turkey.

    Below is a cooking chart to let you know how long you will be roasting.

    8 to 12 pounds -- 2 3/4 to 3 hours
    12 to 14 pounds -- 3 to 3 3/4 hours
    14 to 18 pounds -- 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
    18 to 20 pounds -- 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
    20 to 24 pounds -- 4 1/2 to 5 hours

    Stuffed Hours8 to 12 pounds -- 3-3 1/2 hours
    12 to 14 pounds -- 3 1/2 - 4 hours
    14 to 18 pounds -- 4-4 1/2 hours
    18 to 20 pounds --4 1/2 - 4 3/4 hours
    20 to 24 pounds --4 3/4 - 5 1/4

    If in doubt, use use a meat thermometer (available at most grocery stores and kitchen shops) to determine the correct degree of doneness. Turkey is done when meat in the thigh reaches 180°F or (meat in the breast in finished at 170°F).

    Setting the Table
    Because I'm an anal retentive neurotic, the setting of my holiday table in advance has become a bit of an obsession.

    No matter, though.

    Any good host will tell you that once the table is set, you have created the mood, and mood, after all, sets the tone for all else to come.

    As an experienced host, I know that the most seemless of dinner parties are always that way because of careful planning...

     The PLAN- this plan is based on a dinner start for 6:15 pm, after cocktails at 5:00.

    10:00 am - Begin the dinner rolls cover the dough, set aside in a warm place for the first rising. Your dough will sit on your warm stove top and simply do it's thing all day. You will let this dough rise three times - which just means it grows about twice it's normal size - kind of like me after eating this dinner. You will simply put your fist into the middle of the dough to take the air out and then let it rise again.

    11:00 am - Remove the giblets from the turkey and cover with 2 cups of chicken stock, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1/4 cup fresh poultry herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) and 4 cloves of garlic. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour. Strain and set the broth aside to use for the gravy later.

    Prep the turkey - Rinse the turkey and then dry it really good inside and out. Next, mix a half cup of softened butter with 1//4 cup of chopped fresh poultry herbs. Add a tbsp of cranberry sauce and 1 tbsp of orange zest. Roll in plastic wrap kind of like a cigar, refrigerate until firm and then cut into discs. Using your hands, place the discs under the skin of the turkey all over and massage to soften. Salt the cavity liberally and then stuff with the dressing you made the day before. Sprinkle the turkey with liberal amounts of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Put breast side up onto a roasting rack in your roaster and cover with lid or tin foil.

    12:00 pm - Turkey goes into oven at 325. Cover and baste every hour If there are a lot of pan juices, remove them as you go and set aside for your gravy.

    1:00 pm - Remove all of the side dishes you prepared earlier from fridge and set on counter.

    3:00 pm - Prep Brussels Sprouts (follow this link to the recipe) set aside until ready to roast.
    3:30 pm - Remove Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes and the other sides from fridge and set on counter.

    3:30 pm - Remove turkey from oven. Using your baster, remove all excess pan juices and set aside to use for gravy. Remove cover from turkey and return it to the oven to really brown up for the last half hour of roasting.

    3:50 pm - form the dough you made for the rolls in the morning into buns. It will have risen three times by now. Cover and set aside to rise again.

    4:00 pm - Turkey comes out of oven. Put on platter, cover with tin foil, leave to rest. (Don't worry, it won't get cold).

















    4:05 - Put pan drippings into a fat seperator. if you have one - it's an easy way to remove excess fat from your gravy.

    Leave about 1/4 cup in the bottom of your roaster pan.

    4:10 - Add 6 tbsp flour to the pan drippings to make a roux, getting as much flavor off the bottom of the pan as you can. Add the de-fatted pan juices, one tbsp cranberry sauce, and the broth you made earlier with the giblets. (add less if you have lots of pan juices) While that heats up, scrape all the good brown stuff off the sides and bottom of the pan. Get every last bit of flavour off that sucker!
    Whisk, whisk whisk! Bring to a boil and thicken with more flour if needed. (If adding more flour shake it up with more chicken stock or extra giblet broth so there are no lumps)

    When it's a nice consistency, transfer to a sauce pan and keep on low until ready to eat.
    Pop your cranberry brie phyllo triangles into the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 400.

    4:20 - Reduce oven to 350, Wash your roasting pan and put it away. No more mess, no more mashing, no hot steamy kitchen, gravy's done.

    4:30 - Put potatoes into a 350 oven.

    4:35 - Relax, put out some appetizers. We always have the cranberry brie triangles and a nice prawn ring with cocktail sauce.

    4:50 - Put turnip mash, and sweet potato casserole into the oven alongside the potatoes give potatoes a stir while adding a little warm whole milk or cream at their halfway point. This will give them a nice creamy consistency)

    5:25 - Remove veggies from oven (making sure they're heated all the way through), cover with foil and a t-towel, leave to rest on the warm stove top (don't worry, these won't get cold either)

    5:30 - Increase oven heat to 400. Put brussel sprouts in to roast.

    5:35 - Carve the turkey

    5:55 - Put your buns in the oven (I always wanted to say that) They just go in alongside the brussel sprouts. Both buns and Brussels will take another 15 minutes.

    6:05 - Saute the bean and mushroom medley.

    6:10 - Pull your buns and Brussels out of the oven, uncover everything else, stick a ladle in the gravy, and serve. (We usually just do it buffet style as that seems easiest)

    6:15 - Toast the cook and Merry Christmas!



    Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given--when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes."~ Joan Winmill Brown, American author and editor.

    ***

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

    Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

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    Friday, December 12, 2014

    French Canadian Tourtieres Recipe ~The Kitchen Witch ~ Christmas Meat Pies

    It was Christmas Eve 1989.

    I had been living in Montreal Quebec for a couple of years working as a police officer - which for those who know me, was the classic example of a square peg trying to fit into a round hole - and had just recently gone on sabbatical in order to return to school.

    For that reason, 1989 had not been a great year and Christmas wasn't looking much better. I was due to fly out of Montreal late Christmas eve to visit friends and family in my hometown of Winnipeg Manitoba, but wasn't looking forward to the questions I knew would be coming about why I had chosen to leave the police force. To make matters worse, it was going to be a long and lonely evening waiting for my 10:00 pm departure.

    A good friend had offered to drive me to the airport a few days before, and I was grateful, at least, to have some company. But that afternoon she called and threw a wrench in my plans - something had come up and she was going to have to take me to the airport in the afternoon. I offered to call a cab but she was insistent that she would drive and that we could grab a drink in the airport lounge.

    She picked me up at my apartment at about 2:00 pm, and then asked if I would mind stopping for a quick hello at her mom's house to say Merry Christmas. I had always liked her family, so I readily agreed. What followed puts a lump in my throat to this day.

    In most French Canadian families Christmas eve, not day, is a big deal and celebrations that begin in the late evening often go all night long. But this Christmas Eve my friend's mom - who was appropriately named Noella, decided to begin a little early - just for me - so that I could enjoy a traditional French Canadian celebration with their family.

    When I walked into their warmly decorated home, candles twinkled brightly, and I was greeted not only by a table literally bending to accommodate all of the food, but by the welcoming voices of people sincerely glad to see me. The moment became a highlight - one of those memories you return to on days when the sky is not as blue...

    ***

    We laughed and we drank and we ate.

    Coquilles St Jaques, Arugula Salad, and Noella's ultimate recipe for tourtieres.















    These delightfully spiced meat pies have become a mainstay, now, in my own Christmas celebrations. Such is the beauty of the connections we make through food, friends, and hospitality. Somewhere in this world is a beautiful woman named Noella; she lives her life with no idea the impact one Christmas eve had on a lonely young person just trying to make her way. Because of that, I live with the constant desire to pass it on.

    Merry Christmas!

    Please enjoy my easy to follow recipe video and cook along with me!





    Tourtieres
    For printable recipe click HERE


    Ingredients
    • 2 pounds lean ground organic pork
    • 2 pounds lean ground beef
    • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
    • 2 large pears, cored and diced
    • 3 minced garlic cloves
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons allspice
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 4 cups beef stock
    • 4 cups of mashed potatoes or 1, 114 gram  package powdered roasted garlic mashed potatoes (I use Idahoan brand)
    • pastry for 4 x 2 crust, 9" pies
    Recipe will make four large pies.

    Directions
    1. Brown meat in a large dutch oven or frying pan. Drain off excess fat and place back in the dutch oven or large sauce pan.
    2. Add onions, pear, spices, salt, pepper, and enough beef stock to cover mixture. Mix well.
    3. Place over high heat and bring to a boil then reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes, stirring frequently until liquid just about gone..
    4. Add mashed potatoes to meat mixture blending well.
    5. Remove mixture from heat and let cool completely before filling the pies.
    6. On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry into 1/4-inch thickness. Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Spoon in filling. Top with remaining pastry.
    7. To make-ahead: overwrap in heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks; thaw in refrigerator. When ready to bake, brush with egg white. Cut steam vents in top. Bake in bottom third of 400°F (200°C) oven until hot and golden brown, about 50 minutes.
    Serve warm with apple sauce on the side.

    Apple Sauce Ingredients
    • 4 apples - peeled, cored and chopped
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    Directions
      1. In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

    ***

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.


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    Saturday, December 6, 2014

    Catalan Chicken ~The Kitchen Witch~ Smothered Chicken with Bacon and Apricots

     As the holidays approach I love to entertain - and my favourite type of entertaining has always been the dinner party. I like to invite 6-8 guests and serve rustic family style meals around our large island table. By keeping it super casual the atmosphere is always relaxed and festive - lending itself to great story telling, board games, and lots of laughter!

    One of the dishes I often serve at my holiday dinner parties is Catalan Chicken - a recipe I adapted from my catering days working for a chef who came from Spain.


     The chicken is sauteed to a golden brown, smothered in a bacon and brandy infused apricot pan sauce, and braised for another hour until tender. Serve on a platter sprinkled with toasted almonds and big bowls of rice or couscous on the side. And don't forget the Apricot Pan Sauce! This recipe makes lots of it. I put it into a nice jug and let my guests pour on as much as they want.

    Learn how to cook this with me in the Kitchen Witch cottage or scroll down for the recipe!




    Visit the Printable Recipe here: Catalan Chicken

    Ingredients
    • 2/3 of a cup dried apricots, chopped
    • 1/4 cup brandy 
    • 3 tbsp olive oil 
    • 6 -8 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs 
    • salt and pepper to taste (app 1 tsp each)
    • 1/2 pound sliced bacon cut into 1/4 inch pieces
    • 2 large diced onions
    • 1 whole head of peeled garlic
    • 4 halved sweet Campari tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 3 thyme sprigs
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 cups chicken stock
    • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
    Directions
    1. Soak 2/3 the dried chopped apricots in brandy for 30 minutes.
    2. In a large oven proof skillet heat the olive oil over medium high, season the chicken with salt and pepper and saute 5 minutes per side until golden brown. Remove the chicken to a plate and drain off the olive oil. 
    3. Add the sliced bacon to the pan and continue to saute over medium heat. 
    4. When it begins to crisp, drain all but one tbsp of fat from the pan and then the diced onions, head of peeled garlic and saute for about another 5 minutes until the onions begin to brown. 
    5. Stir in the dried apricots, campari tomatoes, and white wine. Add the thyme sprigs, bay leaf, chicken stock and the chicken back to the pan. Bring that to the boil, cover, and roast in a preheated 350 oven for one hour. 
    6. Serve with toasted sliced almonds with huge bowls of couscous or rice.  

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish. 


    Cranberry, Jalapeno, and Bacon Bundles "Howitzers" ~ A Recipe from Big V!

    Last weekend my husband said he had an amazing idea for a Christmas appetizer - and given that my son just let us know he's bringing friends to the cabin with him this year,  we need to get started early!


     And what a way to start! These cheesy little jalapeno and bacon infused bundles are crispy on the outside and bursting with flavour from the first bite. But what makes them perfect for the holidays isn't just the way they taste - they're also perfect because they can made ahead and frozen!

    So come on over to the Kitchen Witch Cottage and cook along with Big V as he makes his Howitzers!!




    Get the Printable Recipe Here: Howitzers

    Ingredients
    • 1-1/4 cups butter, melted
    • 1 package (16 ounces, 18-inches x 14-inches sheet size) frozen phyllo dough, thawed
    • 1/2 cups cranberry jelly
    • 6 pieces bacon, fried until crisp
    • 8 ounces Laughing Cow Cheese triangles cut into four portions.
    • 1/4 cup finely diced jalapeno pepper
    Directions
    1.  Take an individual phyllo sheet and brush it generously with melted butter (Keep remaining phyllo covered with waxed paper to avoid drying out.)
    2. Using a sharp knife measure into three by three inch squares and place the squares butter side down into a 24 count mini muffin tin. Cut each slice of crisped bacon into 4 equal pieces and place one into each phyllo cup. 
    3. Top with a cube of cheese, 1/8 of a tsp of finely diced jalapeno pepper, and a 1/2 tsp of cranberry sauce.
    4. Fold over to form a bundle and brush with more melted butter. 
    5. You can freeze these on the tray at this point and then, once frozen, remove to a freezer bag.
    6. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes if defrosted, or 20 minutes if frozen or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 24

    Author:

    Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.