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October 2016

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Shepherd’s Pie

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but you’ll have to forgive me. Life with a newborn baby has definitely been a game changer. It’s been over two weeks since we welcomed baby E into our family, and I’m slowly getting back into the kitchen. I didn’t really have to cook much the first two weeks, as my parents brought food almost every day and I had some freezer meals ready in our freezer. Earlier this week, my mother-in-law came to visit and brought us some beautiful locally raised meats from the Ranch House Meat Company in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan.

Locally raised meats from Ranch House Meat Company in Shaunavon

Locally raised meats from Ranch House Meat Company in Shaunavon

The quality lean ground beef is exactly what I needed to make my shepherd’s pie recipe. I’ve made this recipe so many times I could probably do it in my sleep. With a newborn in the house, it is pretty rare that the husband and I can sit down together for a plated dinner anymore. This recipe is perfect as it can be easily dished up and eaten, no fancy plating or preparation needed. This also tastes amazing as leftovers the next day.

My husband and I like our food spicy, so I put 6 tablespoons of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce into the meat mixture. If you don’t like spicy foods, I’d recommend just putting 2 tablespoons or so, just for a little kick.

This is probably the quickest and easiest comfort food recipe that I have in my repertoire. Give it a shot and let me know what you think! This new mama is off to have a nap now while my baby naps!

P.S. Have you guys stopped by Mortise and Tenon Shop for any kitchen gear or early Christmas shopping yet? Remember to mention that you were referred by Culinary Cents to receive a 10% discount off your purchase! Check out my post here for some great holiday gift ideas from this local Regina shop!

Cutting board by Mortise and Tenon

Cutting board by Mortise and Tenon

Stacking bowl available at Mortise and Tenon Shop

Stacking bowl available at Mortise and Tenon Shop

shepherds-pie-out-of-the-oven

Shepherd's Pie

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 45 mins

Ingredients

  • FOR THE MEAT MIXTURE:
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cups mixed frozen vegetables
  • 2/3 cup beef broth
  • 2-6 tbsp of Frank's Red Hot Sauce (depending on how spicy you want it!)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • FOR THE MASHED POTATO TOPPING:
  • 6 large potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions

1

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Put potatoes in large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil on the stove.

2

While potatoes are boiling, make the beef mixture. Cook the beef, onions and garlic in a large skillet over medium high heat until meat is no longer pink.

3

Stir in paprika and thyme and cook for 1 more minute.

4

Add the frozen vegetables and mix well.

5

In a medium bowl, whisk together the beef broth, hot sauce, cornstarch and Worcestershire sauce. Add to the meat mixture. Season the meat mixture with salt an pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer so that the mixture thickens slightly.

6

While the meat mixture is simmering, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare the mashed potatoes. Take the potatoes off the stove, drain well. Return potatoes to the pot, add butter and cream and mash well.

7

Assemble the shepherd's pie by spreading the meat mixture evenly over the bottom of a 9-inch baking dish or casserole dish. Top with the potato mixture. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.

8

Remove from oven and top with fresh parsley before serving.

Featured/ Life

Top 5 Christmas Gifts for the Amateur Chef in Your Life

I know what you’re thinking – isn’t it a little too early to think about buying Christmas gifts? No, it is definitely not! I like to think of Christmas in terms of paycheques – for example, for me, it is 5 paycheques until Christmas. I usually start my Christmas shopping in October and set aside a certain portion of my 5 or 6 paycheques for Christmas shopping. I find that this way, I avoid the rush of running around in December navigating infuriating crowds at stores and malls, and I avoid putting all my purchases on a credit card and being surprised by the bill in January.

This year, in addition to starting my shopping early and avoiding Christmas debt, I have also added another goal of trying to shop local as much as I can to support our local merchants and small businesses. One of the local businesses that I admire and have a long history with is Mortise and Tenon located at 2421 11th Avenue in downtown Regina. You’ve all probably noticed some of my blog posts and social media posts over the past month, highlighting some of the kitchen gear that I love from this shop. Mortise and Tenon also carries home decor, clothing, furniture and other giftware, but in this post I will share the top 5 items from this local business that would make the perfect Christmas gift or stocking stuffer for the amateur chef in your life! Also, keep reading until the end, as we have a special offer for Culinary Cents readers to help you stay within budget for your Christmas shopping! 

#1 – A handmade wooden cutting board

 

Mortise and Tenon cutting board

Locally made wooden cutting board, made by Mortise and Tenon

Solid wood cutting boards are an essential tool in the kitchen for every amateur home chef. On any Food Network show, you’ll see that all the chefs use solid wood cutting boards. These beautiful, locally made, handcrafted cutting boards will seriously up your game in the kitchen. The one pictured above is the one that I have and it is made of cherry, walnut and rock maple. Not only is it a functional and essential tool that I use every day, it is also a stunning feature in my kitchen. I also bought one for my sister last year for Christmas, and hers is pictured below.

cutting-board-close-up

#2 – Natural soy candles from Burlap Bag

Baked Bread candle, available at Mortise and Tenon

A Baked Bread scented candle by The Burlap Bag, available at Mortise and Tenon

Now you’re probably thinking, how are candles considered kitchen gear? Well, in my kitchen, candles are essential! Our house perpetually smells like bacon or the heavy aromas of Vietnamese food (the smell of fish sauce can be overwhelming!), and no matter how high I turn on the ventilation or air exchanger, those smells just linger. Food aromas are delicious as you’re cooking and can serve to whet your appetite, but a few hours later, those aromas lose their appeal. I often need to burn candles in the kitchen or dining room after a meal to combat the food aromas, but I find that most candles smell too perfume-y and give me a headache.

These Burlap Bag candles however, are made from 100% natural soy beans and the scents are clean and fresh. Their subtle scents do not give me headaches, but they do an amazing job of filling the kitchen with a natural clean scent. I am currently burning the Baked Bread scented candle, and it literally smells like a loaf of freshly baked white bread! There many other food-related scents available such as Jazz Hands (a blueberry scent), The Bee’s Knees (oatmeal and honey) and Pumpkin Addict (the most natural pumpkin spice ever).

Another reason I love these candles is the unique packaging. These candles can easily be matched to any home decor, and are manly enough that I can display them on my husband’s liquor cart without him complaining!

Baked Bread candle, available at Mortise and Tenon

Baked Bread candle, available at Mortise and Tenon

#3 – Kitsch’n Glam Ceramic Measuring Cups

Kitsch'n Glam measuring cups, available at Mortise and Tenon

Kitsch’n Glam measuring cups, available at Mortise and Tenon

These Kitsch’n Glam measuring cups would make an excellent gift for someone who likes whimsical tools in their kitchen! I mean, stainless steel measuring cups are just so boring! I like these measuring cups because they are more stackable than my stainless steel measuring cups, making it easier for storage. Also, they match my teal kitchen backsplash!

Kitsch'n Glam measuring cups, available at Mortise and Tenon

Kitsch’n Glam measuring cups, available at Mortise and Tenon

#4 – Kitsch’n Glam Ceramic Stacking Bowls

Kitsch'n Glam stacking bowls, available at Mortise and Tenon

Kitsch’n Glam stacking bowls, available at Mortise and Tenon

Also made by Kitsch’n Glam, and just as whimsical as the measuring cups, are these ceramic stacking bowls. My favourite way to use these bowls is when I’m having an Asian meal with multiple sides. One bowl will hold kim chi, one will hold picked Asian greens, etc. They also make for cute little rice bowls as well!

#5 – Kitsch’n Glam Tea Towels

Kitsch'n Glam tea towels, available at Mortise and Tenon

Kitsch’n Glam tea towels, available at Mortise and Tenon

There is nothing I like more in my kitchen than crisp and clean tea towels. However, I don’t know if it’s just the frugal side of me, but I will hold on to old tea towels even though they are frayed and faded. I just can’t bear to throw them away and buy new ones. I only buy new tea towels when my old ones are stained beyond repair (and even then, I hate throwing them away and will keep them ‘just in case I need some rags’).

If you have anyone in your life like me, do them a favour and buy them these Kitsch’n Glam tea towels. These tea towels will instantly refresh the look in any kitchen!

#6 – BONUS! – Custom furniture

Okay, I couldn’t stop at just the top 5, I had to add a bonus sixth item. Mortise and Tenon also makes custom furniture, and if there is someone in your life special enough who you really want to splurge on, I would recommend ordering a custom piece of furniture for them!

We moved into our house exactly 3 years ago, and one of the items that we splurged on was a custom made dining room table, specially ordered from Mortise and Tenon. Obviously food is a big deal in our family, and my husband and I both wanted a big, rustic, solid wood dining room table where our family could make memories for years to come. This dining room table is a showpiece in our home, and I can’t wait to grow our family and have big family dinners around this table. We’ve already had some great Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners around this table, not to mention some serious board game nights as well!

dining-room-table

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All right, now that I’ve highlighted my favourite items from Mortise and Tenon, let me share a special offer with you guys. Between October 21 (today!) and November 30, if you show this post on your phone or mention that you were referred by Culinary Cents, you will receive 10% off your purchase at Mortise and Tenon! 

What are you waiting for? Get out there and do some early frugal Christmas shopping and support local businesses!

 

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie with Chantilly Cream

You’d think that after 6 years of being together and over two years of marriage, I would know all about my husband’s culinary preferences right? Well, apparently not. Ever since I started this blog, I’ve learned new things about him such as he doesn’t like blueberries (I discovered this when I made this blueberry muffin recipe) and his favourite pie is pumpkin pie. I discovered this last week when we were having supper at Earl’s and I ordered the pumpkin pie for dessert and he told me that his favourite pie is pumpkin pie and that the Earl’s one is the best that he has ever had. I’ve heard that you are able to order a whole pumpkin pie from Earl’s but it is $48 for a pie (six slices). The frugal side of me could not justify that at all, so I decided I would make my own. I am pleased to say that I did a trial run a couple days ago, and it received rave reviews from my guinea pig (aka my husband).

As for cost, I had to go buy almost all the ingredients to make this pie (except for the pantry staples like sugar and butter), and I even had to buy a pack of aluminum pie pans and the cost was way under $48. I didn’t keep accurate tabs, but I think it was around $25-$30 and I can probably make 3 pies.

So there are three parts to this recipe: First you have to make the graham crust, then the pie filling, and then the chantilly cream to go on top. If you’re lazy, you can just used store-bought whipped cream to top the pie instead, but you have to buy whipping cream to make the pie filling anyways, so might as well take that extra step and make your very own chantilly cream. And ‘chantilly cream’ sounds way fancier than ‘Cool Whip’! You can also buy a pre-made graham crust but those always taste bland and dry to me. It is really easy to make your own rich buttery graham crust and it only takes three ingredients.

For the graham pie crust, all you need are graham crumbs, butter and sugar.

Easy Graham Crust

3 ingredient graham pie crust // How cute are these Kitsch’n Glam measuring cups? Available at Mortise and Tenon Shop!

All you do is mix the graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter together until you get a coarse, sandy texture. Then the trick is to really pack it down into the pie pan. Use all your muscle and either a flat bottomed measuring cup or heavy bottomed spoon to pack it as tight as you can into the pie pan, including the edges. Then you bake it for 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven, then let it cool while you prepare the pie filling.

The pie filling is pretty straightforward, and I don’t think I have much else to add in addition to the directions below.  Just make sure you buy canned pure pumpkin, not canned pumpkin pie filling.  The pie filling calls for fresh ginger, finely grated. I used my mini micro-plane but you can use any grater you have with the smallest holes. The point is to get the ginger into a pulpy consistency, so it can mix in with the other ingredients.

Ginger Microplane

Once you’ve made the pie filling, filled the crust and baked it, it is best to let it cool at room temperature for an hour or so,then refrigerate overnight. The pie is best served cold and it takes quite a few hours for the pie to chill and set. The first time I made it, I only chilled it for two hours and it wasn’t enough. It tasted way better the next day after having been in the fridge overnight. I actually like the fact that it needs to chill overnight, as I can make it the day before our Thanksgiving dinner and it’ll be one less thing I need to worry about as I’m juggling the turkey and sides the day of!

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

And the chantilly cream is easy to make, simply follow the directions below! Make it right before you’re serving the pie so it’s nice and fresh.

I hope everyone enjoys this pumpkin pie recipe and has a happy Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 slices (makes a 9-inch pie) Cooking Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

  • FOR THE GRAHAM PIE CRUST
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of graham crumbs
  • 6 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • FOR THE PIE FILLING
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 6 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 heaping tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of fresh ginger, finely grated or micro-planed into a pulp
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • FOR THE CHANTILLY CREAM
  • 3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

1

FOR THE GRAHAM PIE CRUST

2

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and white sugar together until combined. I just used a rubber spatula. The texture should be similar to wet sand.

3

Press the mixture into the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. Make sure to pack it tightly.

4

Pre-bake this crust in the oven at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, while you make the pie filling.

5

FOR THE PIE FILLING

6

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well combined (I just used my electric hand mixer)

7

Fill the pre-baked pie crust. This should exactly fill a 9-inch pie crust.

8

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 1 hour. After an hour, the edges should be slightly crispy and the middle should still be slightly jiggly.

9

Cool at room temperature for an hour, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

10

When serving, top with a big dollop of chantilly cream.

11

FOR THE CHANTILLY CREAM

12

Whip the cream with a hand mixer until it begins to firm up.

13

Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until it stiffens up.