Now that Halloween is behind us it’s time to think about the holidays ahead. I always feel that Halloween kicks off the holiday season, it does it my house. Once trick or treating is done and the Halloween decor has been put away I turn my attention to planning our Thanksgiving dinner and getting ready for Christmas. It’s a very busy time for me!
I think the weeks leading up to the holidays are busy for everyone, we need to shop, cook, bake, clean, decorate, and more along with all the daily work that we do. One this is certain holiday planning or not we still have to eat. Cooking and planning daily meals can be challenging during this season. I know many times we end up grabbing fast food on the way home or ordering in pizza just to have something to eat for dinner, but I really hate doing this. I get tired of eating out and I really do like my home cooking! So to make my life a bit easier I like to stock my freezer with pre-made dishes that we can pop in the oven on the days I don’t have time to cook.
One of the easiest things to work with are meatballs. I know, you can buy pre-made frozen meatballs at the grocery store, but my family hates them! I don’t like the spongy consistency, I find them very unappetizing. They don’t taste too good either. So I spend about 30 minutes one day and make my own meatballs which I freeze in ziplock freezer bags. They just need re-heating when I need them. Meatballs are great because they are very versatile; you can turn them into different dishes by adding just a few ingredients. I like to make meatball subs, Swedish meatballs, teriyaki meatballs, meatball soup, and of course spaghetti and meatballs. My grandkids love them with mac n’ cheese!
1 1/2 pound ground beef – don’t use the one that’s too lean, you need a bit of fat to hold it together and also give it a good flavor. I use ground sirloin or sometimes ground chuck which is a bit fattier.
1 tbls. minced garlic
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbls. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese – use the fresh cheese not the one in the green cardboard shaker
1. Place meat and spices in a mixing bowl.
2. Mix it all together using your hands. Make sure the spices are distributed through out the meat, but don’t over mix as it will get spongy.
3. Mix in cheese and bread crumbs.
4. Shape into ball. You can make any size ball you want, but don’t make them too big, they won’t cook in the middle. Try to make balls the same size so they cook evenly.
5. Place balls on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
6. Remove from from oven and cool before place in ziplock freezer bags to freeze.
A warm and healthy Beef and Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie loaded with so many beautiful flavors….where do I start? The beautiful beefy filling? The crispy Parmesan cheesy top? Or the creamy layers of pumpkin?
This recipe has been handed down to me by my one and only mother. I may only ever change a couple things, but really, this is perfection.
The beef mixture inside this Beef and Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie is like beast mode a la Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator of Shepherd’s Pie…or Cottage Pie. Whichever one rocks your socks. So much happening it may not be like your normal average Shepherd’s Pie, but since when are we normal anyway?
One slice of this mountain of glory and you’ll be so full and fulfilled in every way possible, you won’t want a nothing else after it.
1 kg | 2lbs butternut or kent pumpkin , washed, peeled seeded and cubed (I usually use 1/2 a kent pumpkin)
2 tablespoons gravy powder , whisked in 1/4 cup boiling water (until free of lumps): or you can substitute the gravy
powder with cornflour/corn starch.
4 cups baby spinach leaves , washed
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 200C | 400F. Combine pumpkin and potatoes with just enough water to cover them, in a large saucepan/pot over medium heat, and boil until tender. Alternatively, microwave or steam them until soft. Drain well, add the butter/spread and mash until smooth and creamy. Season with salt to suit your tastes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a separate large pan over medium – high heat. Add onion, carrots and capsicum, and cook stirring for about 5 – 10 minutes, or until onions become transparent. Add the garlic and cook stirring again, for about 2 minutes. Add beef and fry until meat is browned on all sides (break up all lumps with your wooden spoon). Add the tomatoes, cover pot with lid, reduce heat and simmer until tomatoes soften. When tomatoes are soft, add the peas, salt and vegetable stock powder, and simmer again covered with lid for about 10 minutes, or until all vegetables are soft and cooked through. Add gravy powder or cornflour/corn starch mixture. Cook stirring to combine all ingredients together until a sauce forms, reduces and thickens. Stir the spinach and parsley through, and take off heat.
Evenly spread half the pumpkin/potato mash into a large oven proof baking dish. Spoon the beef mixture over the top, and spread remaining pumpkin mash over the top of the beef.
Sprinkle evenly with parmesan cheese.
Bake until the top of the pie turns a golden brown and sauce is bubbling underneath (about 20 minutes).
Whether you’re looking for a perfect dinner for your cozy night in or looking to impress that hot date, this is THE pasta. It’s warm and cozy and filling, but not heavy. If you want to make it vegetarian you can totally skip the sausage. There’s plenty of squash in there to fill you up!
Love an easy pasta recipe? Try out some of these appetizers ideas!
1 large butternut squash, peeled, halved and seeds removed
1/2 medium red onion
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. bucatini
1 lb. sausage, casings removed
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. freshly chopped sage
2 tsp. freshly chopped thyme
1/4 c. shaved Parmesan
Preheat oven to 425°. Cut squash into 1/2 “ cubes. In a large bowl toss squash, red onion, and 2 tablespoons oil together. Divide between two large baking sheets and season with salt and pepper. Roast until fork tender and golden, 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water, then drain.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add sausage and cook, breaking meat up finely with a wooden spoon, until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet and place on a plate to keep warm.
Return skillet to heat and add butter. Cook butter until foamy, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue to stir until butter starts to smell nutty and turns a deep golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, sage, and thyme and cook until fragrant, 1 minute, then remove pan from heat.
Add bucatini, sausage, squash, and ¼ cup reserved pasta water to skillet and toss to combine. Add more pasta water to help sauce come together as necessary.
Do you get confused between macarons and macaroons? You’re not alone! Many people use the two names interchangeably, when in fact, they refer to very different sweet delights. So read on to find out the differences between these two exquisite confections.
Differences in Ingredients
The main difference between macarons and macaroons is their ingredient list. Macarons are meringue-based and consist of almond flour, egg whites, and sugar. Macaroons, on the other hand, are coconut-based and comprise of grated coconut alongside powdered sugar and egg whites.
Looking at the history of macarons, they are single recipe cookies that were brought from Italy and introduced to France by the famous chef, Catherine de Medici. When macarons got to France, they were upgraded and a new sandwich cookie recipe was created. The method that was created is not the recipe most pastry chefs use today. If you’re looking for a recipe for the kind of macarons you’ve probably sampled at high-end patisseries, see here for a guide to how to make macarons for beginners.
There seems to be some confusion about the origin of macaroons because there are numerous stories. The most famous tale told about the history of the macaroon is that it was an American version of the French macaron. With an increased import of coconut into the Americans in the 1800s, Americans quickly re-invented the original macaron recipe which was later referred to as the macaroon. Or so the story goes.
Main Differences in Characteristics
Macarons are characterized by their delicate egg-shell like crust with an inner meringue texture while macaroons are characterized by their dense and lumpy texture that creates that delectable chewy experience in the mouth.
Macarons come with a delicious filling of fruit jam, ganache or buttercream, and the ratio of cookie to filling must be 2:1 respectively. On the other hand, macaroons’ shredded coconut gives them their signature texture and taste.
Another characteristic difference between macarons and macaroons is that macarons are moderately sweet while macaroons are extremely sweet. Macarons come in a wider variety of colors while macaroons are only known for three popular variations which are; chocolate-dipped, lemon-flavored and original coconut.
Preparation Differences Between Macarons and Macaroons
Macarons are the more challenging and fiddly to make of the two, especially for beginners. They require significant practice and patience to get right. The key step is the “macaronage” process, where ground almonds and sugar must be carefully folded into the meringue before being piped onto baking sheets. The macaroon, on the other hand, can be prepared in under 20 minutes, and there is even one variation that requires no baking at all.
Macarons are best enjoyed within a few hours of baking, and will last a couple of days when kept in the fridge, whilst macaroons can last for more than two months when frozen. The average cost per macaron cookie is almost double the average cost of the macaroon cookie. Whilst the macaron and the macaroon are very different confections, they are both sweet treats worth making the effort for!
2 medium tart red apples, cored and cut into wedges
1 12 – ounce bottlehard cider
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large (2 cups)
In a very large skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan, reserving drippings in skillet. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook 10 minutes or until browned, turning once; remove from skillet. Add apples to the skillet and cook 4 minutes or until browned on both sides; remove from skillet. Drain and discard drippings from skillet.
Add cider, thyme, mustard, and salt to skillet, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Return chicken to skillet. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Add apples and cook, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes more or until chicken is done (at least 175 degrees F).
To serve, divide chicken thighs, Brussels sprouts, and apples among shallow bowls or plates. Spoon cider mixture over top. Sprinkle each serving with bacon.
(Cider-Braised Chicken, Brussels Sprouts and Apples)
Sure, classic cheesecake is delicious. But PUMPKIN cheesecake? Now that’s a dessert worthy of your Thanksgiving table. The gingersnap and graham cracker crust are actually genius, and that shimmering layer of caramel is the literal icing on the [cheese]cake. It’s one of our all time favorite pumpkin desserts—and that’s saying something, considering we have over 80 recipes.
3/4 c. graham crackers, crushed
3/4 c. gingersnaps, crushed
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. granulated sugar kosher salt
3 (8-oz.) bars cream cheese, softened
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice, plus more for garnish
Warm caramel, for garnish
whipped cream, for garnish
Chopped, toasted pecans, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 325° with a rack in the middle position. Grease an 8” springform pan with cooking spray.
2. Make crust: In a large bowl, add cookie and graham cracker crumbs. Stir in butter, granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt and mix until well combined. Press crust into bottom of pan.
3. Meanwhile, make cheesecake batter: In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin puree, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Add eggs, 1 at a time, until well combined, then beat in flour, pumpkin spice, and ¼ tsp. salt. Pour cheesecake mixture over crust.
4. Double-wrap outside of pan in aluminum foil, making sure to cover the bottom. Place pan in a large baking dish, place the baking dish in the oven, and pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the pan. Bake until only slightly jiggly in center, 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes.
5. With oven door propped open, turn oven off and let cool 1 hour in the oven. Remove from water bath and discard foil, then refrigerate cheesecake until cooled completely, at least 3 hours or overnight.
6. Garnish with a layer of caramel and a few dollops of whipped cream around the edge of the cheesecake. Sprinkle all over with pecans and more pumpkin pie spice.