Pumpkin Pie

For the past few weeks we have been at home visiting my family in Victoria for Christmas. My hubby is still getting used to the idea of Christmas in the searing heat, without snow, surrounded by gum trees instead of evergreens, eating cold meals instead of hot ones, going outside of a game of backyard cricket instead of being rugged up to go and toboggan down a hill…

So in order to make his transition to these strange warm Christmas’ I wanted to make some of this festive season feel like home for him.

My family was gathering together on Boxing Day to celebrate as a whole, so for Christmas Day lunch we had a HOT meal – turkey, mashed potatoes, bread and pumpkin pie for dessert! Needless to say, the meal made it feel more like Christmas for him.

This pumpkin pie recipe has been acclaimed as ‘One of the greatest pumpkin pies’ by some Canadian friends (and Aussies ones too!). It truly has a great home baked taste. For my Aussie friends who want to give pumpkin pie a try – this is where you need to start, because the recipes that I have seen in my Mum’s recipe books… well, they just don’t come close to capturing the flavour!

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:
1/4 Kent pumpkin
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger

Pie Crust:
190g plain flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoon milk
pinch salt

Cut and peel pumpkin into large chunks and roast in moderate oven for 40 min or until pumpkin skin is starting to brown.
Combine all pie crust ingredients into pie dish and mix together. Once combined, press crust into pie dish and pierce crust with fork. Bake for 15 mins at 190°C. Remove once baked.
Puree pumpkin chunks, you should have about 2 cups of puree. Beat eggs until fluffy, then add remaining ingredients. Blend together until mixture is smooth. Pour into pie crust and bake for 15 mins at 220°C then lower to 180°C for another 40-50 mins. 

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Yo-Yo’s

Recently, my hubby and I moved countries. I’ve returned to my homeland and taken him from his! In the few visits that we had back to Australia in the five years that I was in Canada… there was one thing that always satisfied my hubby’s tummy! Yo-Yo’s.

These tasty biscuits were a staple in my house growing up. They are big biscuits and such a good treat.

Needless to say, in the few weeks that we spent catching up with my family, it was necessary to cook a batch of these shortbread-esque biscuits… but with a much better twist!

Yo-Yos

Ingredients:
190g butter
65g icing sugar
250g flour
65g custard powder
Pinch salt

Filling:
½ cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon custard powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and icing sugar. Mix in flour, custard powder and salt. Roll into balls and place on baking tray. Flatten tops of balls with fork to make biscuits.

Bake  in oven at 150°C / 300°F for 15 to 20 minutes.

Mix icing sugar, custard powder with the butter and vanilla. Join two biscuits together with the icing. To make a white icing –omit the custard powder.

Life With No Onions

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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Pumpkin & Spinach Risotto

I might be breaking all of my blogs rules here by including this recipe

For two reasons:
1. It includes onions and
2. It’s possibly is a recipe that I won’t be making any time soon.

Not because it’s a bad recipe, but because it contains pumpkins. You see… in Australia, most of us grew up having pumpkins as a savoury… but in Canada, pumpkin is a sweet – it comes in muffins, pies and even ice cream treats! So, as much as I love pumpkin, it’s a savoury for me. For my hubby – it’s a sweet!

The other reason why I won’t be making it soon is because it contains spinach too! Not only do we live life with no onions, but my husband has a hereditary condition called Hemochromatosis. Basically that means that his body stores excess iron. So after learning more about this condition, many doctor’s visits and a consultation with a dietitian and a geneticist, we have come to learn that he needs to stay away from foods that are high in iron. Hence, no more spinach.

BUT

I am including this recipe in here because it’s such a quick and simple meal to make. And if I could… I would make it more often!

Pumpkin, Spinach Rissoto

Ingredients:
250g Pumpkin
1 Onion
1 clove Garlic
2 cups Aborio Rice
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
5 cups warm Stock – Chicken or Vegetable
100g Baby Spinach Leaves
½ cup Parmesan Cheese

Cut pumpkin into large cubes. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large saucepan/wok, add diced onions, crushed garlic and pumpkins. Cook until onions are soft. Stir in rice, cook for 1 minute. Add stock and cumin and mix well.

Simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally (if you have a sticky saucepan you will need to stir more often towards the end of the 15 minutes). Roughly chop and add spinach with ¼ cup of the grated cheese for the last minute. Serve & garnish with remaining cheese.

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Toblerone Cheesecake

I’m a chocolate lover… I can’t deny it! And this is an old faithful of mine.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Toblerone! Oh, so good!

And cheesecake, that delicious creamy smooth texture and amazing taste!

Combine these two things… and you will find yourself in cheesecake heaven!

Toblerone Cheesecake

Ingredients:
1 cup Chocolate Biscuits
½ cup Butter
500g Cream Cheese
½ cup Sugar
200g Toblerone Chocolate
½ cup Thickened Cream

Crush the biscuits until it resembles breadcrumbs. Combine with melted butter and press into lightly greased spring form pan. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer for 2 minutes or until smooth. Add sugar, melted Toblerone chocolate and cream. Mix until well combined then pour into prepared crumb base and refrigerate for 2-3 hours until set. Serve with shaved Toblerone.

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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