Thanksgiving

This past weekend in Canada they celebrated Thanksgiving.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving in Canada is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than it is a story of the pilgrims arriving.

These days, Thanksgiving involves a gathering of family and friends, sharing things that you are thankful for and a feast that includes turkey and pumpkin pie!

After spending five years in Canada and seeing a few varieties on how this weekend is celebrated, it quickly became one of my favourite holidays. It is a holiday that brings people closer and gives you time for reflection. It’s almost impossible to feel down after celebrating Thanksgiving.

Even though we made the bold jump across the oceans back to my homeland, we are still linked strongly to Canada. So this year I wasn’t going to let Thanksgiving pass without us recreating our own Aussie version. This tradition wasn’t going to die in our lives.

Now… to decide on the feast:

Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Stuffing
Carrots
Cranberry Sauce
Gravy
Bread Rolls – the fresh fluffy one!
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie… or maybe a Crumble..

That looks like a good traditional Thanksgiving feast. But that didn’t come easy. I couldn’t find a turkey anywhere… you can’t just buy pumpkin pie off the shelf (or canned pumpkin filling to make one)… even the cranberry sauce I couldn’t find (only to later realize that I was looking in the wrong section at the supermarket!).

So… we found a frozen turkey breast roll which was great because you didn’t have to deal with bones at all! The only down side was that it didn’t taste as good as the real thing! I bought pumpkin and made a pie from scratch… I even got cranberries and made a cranberry sauce!

This was a first for me – creating a whole Thanksgiving feast. I made up my own recipe for the stuffing and the cranberry sauce. I whipped together the desserts like I was a professional – even though this was the second time I’ve made pumpkin pie in my life!

The guests arrived, the feast was devoured – with plenty of leftovers of course. Thanks was given and laughter was shared. As friends and family, we gathered… we upheld the tradition of thanksgiving and have established a tradition of our own to continue.

But next year… I will make more pumpkin pie!

Things that I am thankful for:
1. A chance to Skype with Cam’s family while they were
enjoying their Canadian Thanksgiving feast.
2. Being back in Australia and enjoying restful and rejuvenating days.
3. Friends who have opened up their home to us
and allowed us to make it our home.
4. The privilege of knowing a beautiful soul that was tragically
taken away from us too soon. *
5. The beach.
6. Chocolate.

Sausage & Cranberry Stuffing

10-12 slices of Bread
8 Sausages
2 Carrots
½ stick of Celery
1 tablespoon Garlic Salt
1 teaspoon Parsley
½ cup dried Cranberries
1 cup Chicken (or vegetable) Stock

Roughly dice bread into cubes. Lay on a baking tray and cook in moderate oven until they resemble croutons – approx. 15-20 minutes. Finely slice and dice carrots and celery. In frying pan, cook sausages. Remove sausages from pan. Add carrots and celery to frypan and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cut sausages into smaller pieces. Return sausages to frypan, add seasoning and cook for a further 2 minutes. Season more if desired!

In a baking dish, place bread cubes. Pour sausage and vegetable mixture on top. Add cranberries. Mix well. Pour over stock. Bake in oven at 180°C / 350°F for 1 hour.

Note: I used beef and garlic sausages for additional flavour – but feel free to use whatever sausages are your favourite. Also – for onion lovers, add a finely diced onion in with the carrots and celery.

* In the lead up to the Thanksgiving weekend, I heard of some tragic news. On Friday morning in Melbourne, a 22 year old woman was shot and died at the scene. I happened to know this woman. She was killed by her ex boyfriend who has been charged with her murder. I was her leader at a camp for several years. There were four girls that were affectionately known as ‘my girls’ to me… she was one of them. I kept in touch with them after each camp and looked forward to the next camp and leading them again. It has been 10 years since I last lead them on a camp. And I have watched her grown into a beautiful woman. We kept in touch, not frequently, but thanks to Facebook we were connected. I was blessed to have her as a part of my life.

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Chicken & Veggie Lasagna

I might be on a bit of a chicken mince band wagon at the moment… but once you find a good thing, you have to stick to it.

So after an amazing success story with my Lemon Zucchini Chicken Meatballs, I thought that I should find another use for chicken mince.

So I started to think – what does one make with beef mince? Shepherds Pie. Spaghetti Bolognese. Lasagna!

Lasagna. Lets attempt that!

I’ve never made a lasagna before – maybe its because I’ve lived at camp for so long and always had lasagna available to me – who knows, but I thought that I would attempt this! And personally, I liked this Chicken & Veggie Lasagna better than any beef version I have ever had.

With some thought and seeing what was available in the fridge, this is my lasagna creation!

Also – on a side note… I had difficulty deciding how lasagna is spelt… is it with an ‘a’ or ‘e’ at the end. With some quick internet searching, I discovered both are correct – so you can let me know if you prefer lasagna or lasagne.

Chicken Lasagna

500g Chicken Mince
1 Carrot
1 Zucchini
1 Sweet Potato
4 Tomatoes
140g Tomato Paste
2 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Italian Herbs
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Rosemary
Salt & Pepper
200g Mozzarella Cheese
100g Parmesan Cheese
8-10 Lasagna Sheets

Grate carrot, zucchini and sweet potato with small grater. Finely dice garlic. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté garlic. Add grated vegetables and fry for 2 minutes. Add chicken mince. Fry until chicken is cooked. Dice tomatoes. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to chicken mixture. Add herbs and spices and mix well.

In a lightly greased oven proof dish, place a thin layer of the chicken mixture. Layer pasta, then chicken mixture, then sprinkle cheese. Repeat. Add one more layer of pasta and then cover with grated cheese. This will make a crunchy top layer.

Bake in preheated oven at 180°C / 350°F for 45-50 minutes.

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Lemon Zucchini Chicken Meatballs

The other day I discovered an incredible thing – Chicken Mince!

Ok… really, it’s not that big of a discovery.

I have known about Chicken Mince for quite some time but I have never bought it!

So the other day I decided that it was time to stop walking past it and pick it up.

Then it was time to figure out what I should cook with it.

And this my friends, is what I created…

Lemon Zucchini Chicken

Ingredients:
500g Chicken Mince
1 Zucchini
½ Lemon
½ cup Breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper

Using a small grater, grate zucchini and squeeze excess juice out. Combine chicken mince and zucchini. Squeeze approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into chicken. Add salt and pepper as desired. Mix well.

Roll into small balls. Makes about 15 balls. Roll meatballs in breadcrumbs until covered.

Heat fry pan with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add meatballs. Turn occasionally. Cook until outsides are browned. While browning, squeeze remaining lemon juice over meatballs to add additional flavour. Once meatballs are browned, transfer to an oven proof dish and cook in moderate oven 180ºC / 350ºF for a further 15 minutes.

Life With No Onions