Thanksgiving Sides Pairing

10 Perfect Pairings for Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving dinner is about more than just the turkey — we also come to expect to see the table creaking under the weight of all manner of delicious side dishes paired with the juicy roast bird. From old standbys such as creamy garlic mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce to new favourites like roasted, caramelized Brussels sprouts, check out these 10 awesome ideas to pair with your turkey on Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving recipe Alton Brown green beans casserole

1. Alton Brown’s Best-Ever Green Bean Casserole
Few vegetables pair so perfectly with turkey as green beans, and Alton Brown’s casserole is a universe away from your typical green beans. This kicked-up casserole adds mushrooms, onion and garlic, all nestled beneath a crunchy crust of panko breadcrumbs.

Get the recipe for Alton Brown’s Best Ever Green Bean Casserole.

2. Guy Fieri’s Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are practically a given at any Thanksgiving dinner, and there are seemingly endless variations on how to prepare this tasty tuber. Rather than simply baking or mashing, Guy Fieri serves up this twice-baked recipe that adds extra texture thanks to chopped pecans, all topped with a brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon crust.

Get the recipe for Guy Fieri’s Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes.

Thanksgiving recipes Bobby Flay_Roasted-Brussel-Sprouts

3. Bobby Flay’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Once upon a time, Brussels sprouts were those soggy, boiled-to-mush vegetables that kids would try to hide under their napkins — but no more. Bobby Flay turns that idea on its head with this Thanksgiving-ready side dish of perfectly caramelized and crispy mini cabbages with rich pancetta bacon. Don’t be surprised if this fall side becomes your family’s favourite new Thanksgiving side dish.

Get the recipe for Bobby Flay’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta.

4. Lynn Crawford’s Cheddar Cheese Biscuits
Instead of the same old dinner rolls, kick your Thanksgiving dinner into overdrive with Lynn Crawford’s easy-to-make biscuits, delectably infused with the taste of sharp cheddar cheese.

Get the recipe for Lynn Crawford’s Cheddar Cheese Biscuits.

Thanksgiving Ree Drummond cranberry sauce recipe

5. Ree Drummond’s Cranberry Sauce
Thanksgiving turkey without cranberry sauce is like a ski vacation without snow, and Pioneer Woman host, Ree Drummond offers her own creative take on this time-honoured sauce. With orange juice and maple syrup adding extra sweetness and some grated orange rind for extra zest.

Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Cranberry Sauce.

6. Ricardo’s Roasted Root Vegetables
No Thanksgiving table should be without a healthy serving of colourful, roasted root vegetables. Ricardo serves up a simply prepared but undeniably delicious combo of potatoes, parsnips, celeriac, carrots, turnips and onions, roasted together to mouth-watering perfection.

Get the recipe for Ricardo’s Roasted Root Vegetables.

Sausage and Herb Stuffing; Ina Garten

7. Ina Garten’s Sausage and Herb Stuffing
Stuffing is a Thanksgiving dinner favourite and everyone seems to have their own unique tried-and-true recipe. It’s pretty much a given that the Barefoot Contessa would have a killer stuffing recipe up her sleeve. If you’re looking to try out a new recipe to pair with your turkey this year, look no further than this savoury sweet stuffing by Ina Garten featuring diced apples and spicy Italian sausage.

Get the recipe for Ina Garten’s Sausage and Herb Stuffing.

8. Alton Brown’s Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Simple but delicious, Alton Brown’s recipe for mashed potatoes adds half-and-half cream, sautéed garlic and some grated Parmesan for a savoury side dish that will pair perfectly with any turkey. But be forewarned: don’t be surprised if guests come back for a second helping of these fluffy, flavourful spuds, so you’ll want to make plenty!

Get the recipe for Alton Brown’s Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Thanksgiving-Tyler-Florence-gravy

9. Tyler Florence’s Roasted Turkey Gravy
Nothing on the Thanksgiving table pairs more perfectly with everything than gravy. Whether it’s mashed potatoes, stuffing or turkey, a classic gravy is a tasty addition to dress up any dish. Tyler Florence’s drool-worthy sage- and thyme-flavoured gravy recipe will produce about three cups of aromatic sauce for your lip-smacking pleasure.

Get the recipe for Tyler Florence’s Roasted Turkey Gravy.

10. Ree Drummond’s Mushroom Pilaf
In addition to recipes that offer new spins on old favourites, this filling side dish by Ree Drummond is bursting with the rich, savoury flavour of shitake mushrooms.

Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Mushroom Pilaf.

Looking for some main-spiration? Look no further than Our Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes.

How to Decode Food Labels Like a Pro

There are dozens of unregulated, meaningless terms that pop up on food packaging. It’s not just convenience and processed foods that have hard-to-decipher nutrition labels and buzzwords — whole grains, eggs, milk and more display this industry slang — leaving many consumers confused about what they’re actually eating.

We’re constantly wooed by food packaging, with terms like “superfood” and “fresh” catching our eye, which is exactly what they’re designed to do. Even if you know better (for the most part), it’s easy to be swayed into purchasing something (expensive or unhealthy) that you don’t actually need.

Consider this your back pocket guide to deciphering food buzzwords like a pro.

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Food Packaging Terms:

Natural/All-Natural
Natural and all-natural labels are unregulated terms that mean absolutely nothing, and are frequently used in the wellness sphere. Packages will often showcase pastoral images of grass and farms, while keeping the colour palette in “natural” pastels. Skip anything that’s parading this label around, and look at the ingredient list — the briefer, the better.

Superfood
Another unregulated term that doesn’t legally mean anything. Superfoods often include things like cacao nibs and goji berries, which are nutrient-dense ingredients, but they won’t make you healthier per se. Eating foods rich in nutrients, like fresh vegetables and berries, is a tastier, more economical way to enjoy superfoods. Of course, if you love the taste of cacao nibs and goji berries, go ahead and eat them in moderation as part of a balanced, whole food diet.

Organic/Certified Organic
This term is very tricky and differs in Canada and the U.S. In Canada, by law, foods displaying the organic claim need to contain at least 70 per cent or more organic ingredients (grown according to organic standards), and must also mention who certified it. Foods that voluntarily stamp on the Organic Canada logo must contain at least 95 per cent organic ingredients, all of which are certified by the Organic Canada Regime. The organic ingredients in these products must be produced in accordance with Canadian Organic Standards. Imported products, from the U.S. and beyond, that claim to be organic and display the Organic Canada logo, must include the words “Product of” with the country of origin or state that it was “Imported.”

Finally, “organic” does not mean a product is healthy. A box of organic cookies and non-organic cookies will be identical in terms of sugar, fat and calories — the organic version is just more expensive.

Multigrain
Most shelf-stable bread is full of sugar and preservatives, with “multigrain” varieties rarely being the healthiest option. Many whole wheat, whole grain and multigrain varieties often have food colouring added to make them appear browner. Multigrain doesn’t always mean that the product is made with the whole grain or whole grains. Words such as “bran,” “wheat germ” and “enriched flour” may sound healthy, but they’re never used to describe whole grains.

Instead of shelf-stable varieties of bread, go for a local, naturally fermented sourdough. It’s tastier, easier to digest and won’t leave you looking for a post-carb nap. This bread can be sliced and frozen as it won’t keep on the counter for more than a day due to (thankfully) lack of preservatives.

Reduced Fat
Food product labels claiming to be “reduced fat” often have more calories, additives and stabilizers than their original version. This is most prevalent in peanut butter and cookies, with reduced fat products delivering more calories, sugar, carbohydrates and chemicals than your body knows what to do with. We suggest making your own cookies and choosing a one-ingredient peanut butter.

Immune Boosting
You can’t actually boost your immune system, so back away from any food claiming to do so. You can certainly support your immune system with a healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals and probiotics, like these fun (label-free) Strawberry Kiwi Greek Yogurt Popsicles.

Gluten-Free
Those with celiac disease must avoid all gluten-containing grains, making the popularity of this food trend a good thing for improved accessibility and awareness. However, with only 1 per cent of the population having celiac disease, it’s likely more of a marketing move to make consumers reach for it as the “healthier” option. Like organic cookies being equally as unhealthy as the non-organic version, gluten-free foods can be more refined, sugary and chemical-laden than their gluten-containing counterparts. Head to the produce aisle for honestly gluten-free foods like kale, bananas and beets.

Fresh
When you see the word “fresh” on a food label, which is unregulated and means nothing in terms of nutrition, put it back on the shelf. For truly “fresh” foods, shop the perimeter of the grocery store, choosing foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, eggs and dairy.

Next time you head to the store, arm yourself with this cheat sheet and choose more wholesome ingredients to cook from scratch. Luckily, we have hundreds of delicious recipes to get you started with this — and that’s a statement you can trust.

Wild rice

Delicious Ways to Enjoy Canadian Wild Rice This Fall

As the leaves turn colour and the air gets crisper, it’s the perfect time to bring the harvest’s bounty to your table. Along with fall classics like butternut squash soup and pumpkin pie, why not include wild rice on the menu? This quintessential autumn dish has been a staple food for indigenous communities for thousands of years, and it’s traditionally harvested in the fall season.

“In late August and early September, people would gather together at the rice beds, and harvest it in canoes,” says Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, a member of Alderville First Nation who often harvests rice. “There’s nothing more beautiful than being out on a lake in the fall, gently knocking the grains of wild rice into the canoe.”

Surprisingly, this chewy, elongated grain is not actually a member of the rice family. It’s a semi-aquatic grass that grows annually from seed, mostly in the upper freshwater lakes of Canada, and produces a valuable grain that’s low in fat but high in protein, fibre, B vitamins and minerals.

It’s also incredibly tasty; when cooked properly, wild rice gives off nutty and smoky flavours that blend beautifully with soups, salads, stuffing or as a stand-alone dish.

Wild Rice

“I really like that you can get earthiness out of it, but also an umami flavour,” says Chef Rich Francis, a member of the Tetlit Gwich’in and Tuscarora Nations, and a former Top Chef Canada contender.

As Francis says, wild rice is a longstanding delicacy among indigenous peoples, usually mixed with bear grease or duck fat and then added to soups or stews. Aside from being delicious and nutritious, this flavourful food holds cultural significance for many indigenous communities in Canada, many of which celebrate the crop with traditional songs, stories and dances.

“A lot of our food is based around tradition and ceremony,” says Francis. “Every harvest, they’ll be a rice ceremony. We could trade [the wild rice] and it could be used as currency for our people. It was something that was valued, because it was plentiful.”

Of course, there are many ways to eat this versatile grain, and Francis has created some sumptuous dishes that fuse old and new culinary traditions.

“I’ve used it in sushi, as an Asian-Aboriginal fusion,” says Chef Rich. “Or I’ll make a stock out of sweet grass and medicinal sage, and then cook the rice with the stock and water in the oven.”

Wild Rice Pancakes

Ree Drummond’s Wild Rice Pancakes.

If it’s your first time cooking wild rice, start simply by boiling a batch in water. Just follow Francis’ advice and have “lots of time on your hands” — wild rice requires ample water (approximately 2 cups of cold water per half cup of wild rice) to cook, and it takes anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour for the grain to split and become tender.

“Coming into the fall season, cook up a little bit more and then store it in the fridge,” he says. “Then incorporate it into a soup, or serve it in a cold presentation, like in a salad with blueberries.”

One of his signature ways to enjoy it is as a Wild Rice and Steel-Cut Oat Risotto. Rich and creamy, it’s cooked with wild game stock, double smoked bacon, wild mushrooms and herbs, and is best served with a fillet of herb-crusted salmon on top.

Looking for more easy entrée ideas? Shake up meals by adding cooked wild rice to a main, like this Wild Rice Chicken Skillet simmered in mushrooms, spinach, basil, and chili flakes. Or, try a Wild Rice, Artichoke and Kale Salad topped with a protein, like grilled halibut or chicken. You can even add wild rice to pancakes or stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey. But no matter how it’s served, wild rice is sure to be a fall favourite at any table!

10 Quick & Easy Meals with Rotisserie Chicken

Whether you’re craving chicken noodle soup, cheesy chicken quesadillas or a hearty chicken pot pie, stretching your leftover rotisserie chicken is a cinch with these quick and easy recipes.

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1. Rachael Ray’s Roast Chicken Enchilada Suizas Stacks Casserole
This crowd-pleasing casserole is loaded with tortillas, chicken, poblano peppers, onion, fresh herbs and Swiss cheese.

2. Ina Garten’s Chicken Pot Pie
A creamy trio of peas, carrots and shredded chicken make for all the comforting flavours of a classic pie. Swap in ready-made crusts and suddenly weeknight pot pie is possible.

3. Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken Congee
This easy, savoury rice porridge is slow cooked with leftover rotisserie chicken, then spiced up with slivered ginger, green onions, soy sauce and smoky sesame oil.

4. Michael Smith’s Roast Chicken Noodle Soup
Filled out with carrots, celery, corn, peas and egg noodles, this healthy chicken soup comes together in less than 30 minutes.

5. Rotisserie Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya
Chorizo, rotisserie chicken and bacon fat infuse this jambalaya rice dish with an incredible amount of flavour.

6. Bobby Flay’s Chinese Chicken Salad with Red Chile Peanut Dressing
Cold noodle salad is bursting with fresh flavours and a ton of crunchy textures, thanks to carrots, cabbage, cilantro and mint and a homemade sweet and sour fish sauce to bring it all together.

7. Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake
While technically not a lasagna, this creamy casserole dish combines a mouthwatering combo of wavy lasagna noodles, rotisserie chicken, peas, Parmesan, creamy butter garlic sauce, breadcrumbs and fresh thyme.

8. Chicken Tostada Salad
These neat and tidy taco cups are the perfect finger food: stuffed with shredded chicken, taco seasoning, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and a healthy dose of gooey cheese.

9. Roger Mooking’s Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas
Chicken is sautéed in a spicy chipotle sauce and combined with smashed white beans, corn salad and tomato-watermelon salsa, cheese and three gooey cheese, all rolled up in a flour tortilla and crisped up in a cast iron pan.

10. Thai Fried Rice
This Thai spin on classic fried rice features red bell peppers, celery and cooked chicken, while a dash of Thai red curry paste, ginger and lime juice make a flavourful sauce.

Giant Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll

How to Make a Giant Skillet Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll

Everything is popping up pumpkin these days, and this recipe is no exception. Let’s be honest; there’s nothing that helps us get over the heartbreak of losing those long summer days like warm, cozy pastries and spiced treats. Summer has been fun, but we’d gladly trade in shorts for long pants if it means getting to enjoy a slice of this Giant Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll — especially if it’s dripping with a sweet cream cheese glaze.

Soft cinnamon roll dough kneaded and spiraled in a large skillet or pie pan, this giant treat is just like the traditional version, but with the addition of seasonal pumpkin and much bigger. Instead of individual buns, serve up this dramatic and playful version like a cake and cut into wedges. Try a slice while it’s still a bit warm, and enjoy as the cream cheese glaze melts between the layers. Yum!

Giant Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes
Total: 2 1/2 to 3 hours
Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

Dough:
1/3 cup warm milk (110ºF)
2 1/4 tsp yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, slightly whisked
2/3 cup pumpkin purée
3 Tbsp melted unsalted butter, cooled

Filling:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Cream Cheese Glaze:
4 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
1 to 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 4 tsp cream or milk

Giant Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll

Directions:
1. Warm the milk to 110ºF. Stir in the yeast and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. The yeast should foam up a bit and bubbles should float to the surface.
2. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, sugar and salt in large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer.
3. Once the yeast has bubbled up, stir it into the dry ingredients. Add in the egg, pumpkin purée, and butter. Mix with a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment until combined.
4. Using a dough hook and electric mixer or by hand, knead the dough until it is soft and smooth. If sticky, add in 1 tsp of flour at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
5. Oil a large bowl and place the kneaded dough inside. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or piece of plastic wrap and place in warm corner of the kitchen for 1 to 2 hours, or until the dough rises and doubles in size.
6. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down and knead a few times. Butter a 9-inch skillet or pie pan and set aside.

Giant Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll

7. Slightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to about a 14 by 16-inch rectangle. Use an offset spatula or the back of spoon to spread on the softened butter over the entire top of the dough. Sprinkle the butter with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Pat down the sugar mixture to make sure it is pressed into the butter.
8. Using a paring knife, pastry cutter, or pizza wheel, cut the dough into 2-inch wide strips. Roll-up and coil the first strip around itself and place in the centre of the prepared skillet/pan. Using the other cut strips, wrap around the centre roll. Continue with the remaining strips, until done. Loosely cover with a piece of plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes. As the dough puffs and bakes, the strips may move around slightly.
9. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Once the dough has raised again, place in the oven and bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack.
10. For the glaze, stir the cream cheese with a rubber spatula or spoon until smooth and soft. Add in confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and cream. Mix until combined and desired consistency is achieved. Spread over the pumpkin roll while it is still slightly warm. Cut into slices and serve warm.

Giant Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll

Looking for more delicious fall treats? Try one of these 33 Perfect Pumpkin Spice Recipes

The Best Ways to Reheat (and Reuse) Leftovers

Wouldn’t the world be an amazing place if we had time to cook a delicious family meal every single night of the week? It certainly would. But since many of us have evening commitments and strict daytime work schedules, dinnertime (and prep) always seems to be cut short.

Leftovers are a natural result of busy lives, and they don’t always have to be ho-hum after a quick nuke in the microwave. Here are six popular homemade dishes and how to make the revive them into tasty next-day dishes.

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Pasta
Have you ever noticed that pasta is a lot more firm once it’s been sitting for a while? The extra sauce that was sitting on your pasta dish gets absorbed by the leftover noodles.

To get the flexibility and sauciness back in a pasta, heat about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, heavy cream or chicken broth, let it come to a simmer then add leftover pasta from the fridge, stir and allow to heat through. Top with a little Parmesan cheese if you have it because, well, it never seems out of place on pasta.

Pizza
Sure, a microwave does (sort of) do the trick with day-old pizza. The result may be decent enough with hot toppings and revived cheese, but it gives the crust an almost soggy, spongy texture.

For freshly-made pizza flavor, preheat your oven to a low broil, place two pieces of pizza into a cast iron skillet and let cook in the oven. The cast iron does an amazing job or crisping up the crust, while the low broil gets the cheese bubbly again. For more than an individual serving, use a large pizza stone for the same effect.

Chicken and Fish
To be completely honest, it’s nearly impossible to get the same juicy, tender qualities from cooked poultry and most types of fish the next day. For best results, heat up your protein in a moderately hot oven (about 375°F) in a small baking dish. Add a few spoonfuls of water or stock, cover with tinfoil and bake until warmed through. Giving leftover meats like this a quick chop make them easy additions to simple noodle or cream-based soups.

Pork and Steak
Much like chicken and fish, big cuts of pork and beef are hard to bring back to life after sitting in the fridge overnight. That being said, there are still ways to make them taste pretty delicious.

First, let the meat come to room temperature, then slice it into pieces (somewhere between 1/4 to 1/2” thick). This is a much better way to reheat because cooking a larger piece of meat (like the  tenderloin or roast) will result in an overcooked exterior and too-well-done interior. Heat a spoonful or two of butter in a large pan on medium heat, add the sliced meat and let it cook, stirring frequently until warmed through.

Rice
You can easily reheat rice in the microwave in a covered container, but that will generally give you a slightly overcooked, mushy texture. Instead, preheat your oven to 350°F, and evenly spread cold rice into a medium-sized baking dish. Loosely cover with tin foil, poking a few holes to allow the steam to escape, and let it bake for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir gently with a fork and let bake, uncovered, for 5 more minutes. Hurray for non-mushy rice!

Vegetables
This is quite a broad category, so right off the bat, the more tender vegetables like beans, snow peas, asparagus and wilted greens (spinach, Swiss chard, etc.) don’t lend themselves well to reheating after a first cook.

If you have leftover corn (if it’s on the cob, cut off the kernels), peas or any sort of legume (chickpeas, beans, lentils), you can give them new life with a quick fry in a large pan with some broth and spices.

Root vegetables like butternut squash, yams, potatoes and beets benefit well from a quick re-roast in the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F, lay them out on a baking sheet and let them roast for 12 to 15 minutes. Once removed from the oven, dress them lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

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Recipe: Best-Ever Twice Roasted Baby Potatoes
When it comes to special occasions and holidays, it’s always good to know what to do with leftover potatoes. This application basically transforms baby potatoes into a different dish altogether, so feel free trick your dinner guests!

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 425°F.
2. Remove the leftover baby potatoes from fridge and let them come to room temperature.
3. Use a large spoon to flatten them to about 1/4” thick, and spread them out on a large baking sheet.
4. Drizzle with canola oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast until golden and crispy, about 18 to 20 minutes.
5. Serve a scrumptious side dish or top these crispy, little smashed potato cakes the same way you would a crostini.

Cauliflower Pizza

The Best Cauliflower Crust Rainbow Pizza

You can roast it, rice it, steam it or purée it, but our new favourite way to enjoy seasonal cauliflower is pizza. Quicker than making your own pizza dough from scratch, you’ll love this crispy, chewy cauliflower crust that serves as a sneaky way to eat more veggies.

Once you have the base down, you can customize your toppings based on the season. Use up those last few end-of-summer tomatoes with fresh basil, or pair roast squash with creamy Gorgonzola cheese. Try shredded, roast Brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds for a comforting cool-weather dinner. Get creative with the toppings and turn this recipe into a satisfying, veggie meal for you and your family.

Cauliflower Pizza

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4 (makes 2 pizzas)

Ingredients:

Cauliflower Crust:
1 1/2 lbs (1/2 large) cauliflower, broken into small florets
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup light spelt flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp psyllium powder
1 tsp salt

Toppings:
1 cup diced yellow pepper
1 cup shredded radicchio or red cabbage
1/2 cup tomato sauce or 2 fresh tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil or ¼ cup broccoli
1/4 cup red onion
1 large carrot, julienned or shredded
1 Tbsp balsamic reduction (balsamic glaze), for drizzling

Rainbow Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Directions:
1. Arrange oven racks to accommodate 2 trays. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, pulse cauliflower until finely chopped. Add eggs and cheese; blend until combined. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add flour, psyllium and salt; blend until combine. Place dough onto baking sheet and spread into 8-inch circle or rectangle. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Arrange fresh toppings into any pattern you desire (get creative!). Slice and serve with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

apple poke cake

Super-Moist Apple Poke Cake with Maple Caramel

Savour the season with this ultra-moist cake packed with morsels of tender autumn apples. The tasty made-from-scratch cake puts the boxed version to shame, and packs a sticky-sweet surprise as soon as you cut it. Each slice of soft, sour-cream based cake is injected with a rich maple caramel sauce, and topped with a whipped maple cream for even more Canadian flavour.

Apple Poke Cake
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:
Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 apples, such as McIntosh, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp water
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup 35% cream
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed

Topping:
3/4 cup 35% cream
3 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp sour cream

Apple Poke Cake

Directions:
Cake Base:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Butter and flour a 9-inch square pan.
3. Whisk flour with baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
4. Combine butter with eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat mixture until smooth. Stir in half the flour mixture, then half the sour cream. Repeat additions. Stir until well mixed. Fold in apples, then scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth top. Bake in centre of oven until a cake tester inserted into centre of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Caramel Sauce:
1. Stir sugar with water in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Place over medium-high heat and let caramelize, without stirring, until sugar turns a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Gradually whisk in maple syrup and cream, being careful to avoid splatters. Boil, until mixture is smooth. Whisk in butter, then remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature.

Whip Cream Topping:
1. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream until firm peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in sour cream, then maple syrup.

Assembly:
1. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes in cake, staggering each about 1/2-in apart. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of caramel over top of cake, smoothing with a spatula. Top with whip cream mixture, then drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of caramel.

8 Flavourful Ways to Use Leftover Bacon Fat

Don’t throw the flavour out with the bacon grease. Swimming in all that leftover bacon bit-infused fat is a world of salty, porky goodness you can coax a ton of flavour from. Here are eight ways to use your excess bacon fat in everything from salad to popcorn and even cookies.

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Courtesy of jamieoliver.com

Jamie Oliver’s Insanity Burger
The trick to getting an out-of-this world flavourful burger is to toast the buns Jamie Oliver-style in bacon fat, until lightly golden and ever so crispy.

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Courtesy of rachaelrayshow.com

Rachael Ray’s Maple Bacon Popcorn
Stovetop popcorn drizzled in bacon fat, topped with bacon bits and sprinkled with a salty and sweet maple sugar? Um, yes please.

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Courtesy of curtisstone.com

Curtis Stone’s Peas with Bacon and Mint
Green beans are quick-cooked in bacon grease with sauteed shallots just long enough so they are tender and bright green, giving them a decadent, salty note without adding any extra salt.

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Courtesy of bethdunham.ca

Bacon Fat Cornbread
This savoury skillet cornbread is loaded with crumbled bacon, cheese, fresh corn, green onions and chili flakes, while a splash of bacon fat added to the batter amps up the flavor and helps keep it moist.

888_bacon-roasted-potatoesChuck Hughes’ Bacon Roasted Potatoes
Fingerling potatoes are slow roasted in bacon fat with sea salt, black pepper and sprigs of fresh rosemary for a killer side no matter the occasion.

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Courtesy of foodnetwork.com

The Pioneer Woman’s Spinach Salad
Who says spinach salad has to be boring? This drool-worthy recipe calls for a trifecta of crumbled bacon, warm bacon dressing, and onions and mushrooms that have been sauteed in bacon grease.

888_country-style-omeletteRicardo Larrivée’s Country-Style Omelette
Leftover bacon grease is poured into a hot cast iron skillet and then filled with an egg mixture to create the most golden, puffy and flavourful omelette..

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Courtesy of cooking.nytimes.com

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps
Need an unexpected reason to hoard your leftover bacon fat? Try these bacon-infused gingersnaps with a smoky-salty undertone to offset the sweetness that sets them apart from your average cookie.

How to Shop For The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Everyone knows the best part of Thanksgiving is the turkey — it’s the magnificent centrepiece that the rest of the meal is planned around. Without the turkey, loading up your plate with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy (especially the gravy) just doesn’t seem right. Because the turkey is so vital, you should select your bird with care, and there are many things to consider when making your purchase.

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Fresh vs. Frozen

While neither fresh nor frozen is technically better than the other, there are several differences to consider. Frozen turkeys will have a sweeter taste than a fresh turkey’s gamey flavour,
they are cheaper than most fresh birds and are often more convenient. A frozen bird can be kept in your freezer for up to a year, while a fresh turkey should be purchased only a day or two before your holiday feast and stored in a very cold location. However, defrosting a frozen turkey takes a few days and must be done properly to prevent bacterial growth. (A note: pre-stuffed turkeys can also pose a risk for bacteria, so stuff your own!) Always look for Grade A meat, whether you opt for fresh or frozen.

When choosing a frozen bird, take a look at the shape of the turkey — a plump, round shape is typically best. This means there is lots of tender meat on the bones. A flatter, larger turkey may indicate a bony body, which can mean dry or tough meat. Inspect carefully; avoid freezer burn and ice crystals, and make sure there are no tears in the packaging. Don’t forget to look at the label and choose the freshest turkey possible!

If you opt for a fresh turkey, grocery stores and butchers are can provide decent poultry, but you can also make the trip to a farm. The advantage here is that you can actually ask questions about the turkey; how it was raised and its age. These factors will determine the freshness and taste of the meat. A younger turkey, for example, will be more tender than an older bird.

Organic

What exactly does organic mean? This means the turkey has been fed real grains, without pesticides and with no added growth hormones or antibiotics (which is what makes a turkey plump).
You will get a more natural taste, but pay a higher price for it. Although, around the holidays, most grocery stores have great sales on poultry, so shop around for a good deal. A truly organic turkey will be labeled with “no hormones” or “no antibiotics.”.

Free-Range

Free-range animals are given space to move around outdoors rather than being cooped up in the close quarters of a barn. Having some room for mobility and exercise actually helps to create
leaner and better textured meat. Plus, they are often ingesting natural foods (like grass and flowers) from their environment, which gives them more of a pure taste. Be warned, however, that not all
free-range poultry is necessarily organic. Read labels carefully.

Weight

It may sound crazy when you say you are cooking 20 pounds of meat, but for a big family meal, that is entirely normal. To make sure there is enough to go around (and some for leftover sandwiches, of course), purchase approximately 1.5 pounds per dinner guest. Cooking a large turkey takes several hours, so you may want to purchase two medium-sized birds to eliminate some cooking time.

Alternatives

Sometimes, a giant turkey just isn’t the right fit for your Thanksgiving meal, so here are a few alternatives:

Turkey Breast: If you’re hosting a more intimate dinner, several pounds of meat won’t be required. Opt for a turkey breast, which is white meat only.

Mock Turkey: Often referred to as “tofurkey,” this is vegetarian-friendly option involves no turkey whatsoever. It is usually in loaf form, made from tofu or a wheat protein.

Turkey Roll: These can be tricky to make, but are very easy to buy. It involves cutting the breast from the turkey in one whole piece, flattening it, stuffing it with filling and then rolling it. Fresh turkey rolls are available around the holidays, co check your local farmer or butcher.

For lots of delicious recipes for the holiday bird, check out Our Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes

 

How to Make Easy Butter Chicken Hand Pies

Take your favourite Indian curry on the go with these mildly spiced hand pies that make a perfect school or work lunch. Flaky, half-moon pastries are stuffed with tender morsels of marinated chicken, smothered in fragrant, creamy sauce seasoned with a blend of ginger, garlic, garam masala and touch of lime juice.

Butter Chicken Hand Pies

Prep: 45 minutes
Total time: 3 hours
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
Marinade
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 Tbsp lime juice
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Butter Chicken Sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, grated
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream

Pies
2 10 in. x 10 in. sheets of store-bought, pre-rolled, frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water

Directions:

Marinade:
1. To make the marinade combine yogurt, lime juice, garam masala, paprika, cumin and salt in a medium bowl. Add in chicken and stir to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Butter Chicken:
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add in ginger, garlic and onion. Stir while cooking until mixture is golden brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
2. Add in chicken with marinade and cook until chicken is white and and almost cooked through, about 4 minutes.
3. Add in chickpeas, tomato, chili powder, salt, and garam masala and stir to combine.
4. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through and sauce begins to bind to chicken, about 8 minutes.
5. Stir in cream and cook until sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Assembly:
1. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
2. To make the pies trace 4 circles, 5 inches in diameter, on a sheet of puff pastry. The circles will touch the edges of the dough sheet to ensure 4 equal circles. Using a paring knife, carefully cut out circles. Repeat with remaining sheet.
3. In a small bowl stir egg yolk with water.
4. Preheat oven to 375F. Place 3 tablespoons of cooled butter chicken in the center of a dough circle. Brush egg yolk mixture around the circumference of the dough. Fold the dough over filling to close into a semi circle Continue with remaining dough. Place hand pies on prepared baking sheets.
5. Remove hand pies from refrigerator. Cut 3 small slits on the top of each one. Lightly brush egg mixture over each hand pie and bake until golden brown and flakey, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Anna Olson’s Guide to Baking Ingredient Expiry Dates

Expiry dates and best before dates are placed on products to protect us, but logic tells us that our sliced almonds can’t transform from edible one day to toxic the next simply because of a date stamp on the package.

So here are a few categories where these dates are critical, simply a guideline or can be ignored.

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CRITICAL

Fresh Dairy: Fat lengthens the shelf life of milk ingredients, so skim milk has a closer expiry date than whole milk or whipping cream. Once opened, these ingredients are best consumed or used by the date listed.

Soured Dairy: Sour cream, buttermilk and yogurts have been soured, which thickens them but also makes them last longer in your fridge. While best used by the date stamped, I find these products can still be enjoyed for a few days following, especially when used in baking.

Eggs: Eggs are amazing — their shell is nature’s best sealed container, but the contents within it are fragile. Eggs can remain fresh and safe to use for weeks, but once the best before date is reached, it’s best to add them to your organics bin. If you have separated egg whites left from a recipe, they can be frozen indefinitely.

Leaveners: Yeast, baking powder and baking soda do not spoil, but once the expiry date approaches you may find that the activating power of these products has faded. Baking powder and baking soda can be stored in sealed containers at room temperature but if you’ve purchased yeast in a jar (not the little paper packets), it should be refrigerated once opened.

That said, I find that baking soda, while date stamped up to a year out, starts losing it’s oomph within three months of opening a box. What I prefer to do is replace my baking soda every three months (it’s only $1.69 a box) and move the previous box to my fridge as a deodorizer.

GUIDELINE

The following ingredients will not necessarily spoil by the expiry date, but are best consumed around that time, for optimal freshness and flavour.

Oils: Some oils will turn rancid after a spell, so while the date on the bottle may be far ahead, by that date they might pick up a musty aroma indicating that it’s turning. This won’t hurt you, but the flavour is certainly off-putting and can ruin a dish. While it may be handy, it’s best not to store your bottle of olive oil by the stove – the regular heat exposure can turn it faster.

Nuts and Seeds: It is the oil within nuts and seeds that make them sensitive to spoiling. The oilier a nut (think pine nuts, pecans, walnuts) the shorter the shelf life, where nuts such as almonds or hazelnuts last longer. Storing nuts in an airtight container in a cool, dark place is best, or freeze them indefinitely.

Chocolate: Chocolate really doesn’t spoil, so it is safe to consume it weeks, even months after the expiry, assuming it’s been properly stored in a cool but not cold, dark place. If you see a white dust form on the surface of the chocolate, it’s not mold. This is called “bloom” and is some of the cocoa butter within the chocolate rising to the surface, and is simply a sign that at some point the chocolate changed temperature quickly.

Spices: Your cinnamon won’t spoil, but you may find that it loses its strength after the expiry date approaches, or if you store all of your spices together, they may absorb each other odours after a prolonged time. If you buy your spices in bulk, get them out of their little baggies and into sealed jars — mason or jam jars work well — to keep their flavours pure.

Flours and Grains: Flours will go stale after a while, and while still safe to eat, you may notice that your baked goods aren’t stupendous if made with them. When I purchase a whole grain product (like spelt kernels or bulgur wheat) I transfer the grains to a sealed jar, but I cut out the expiry date from the package and drop it into the jar.

IGNORED

There are some expiry dates that are less worrisome, and typically don’t need to be followed.

Honey: If stored in a cool dark place, honey keeps forever. After all, honey was used to preserve the mummies in ancient Egypt! After a time, you may notice that honey crystallizes, but all you have to do is heat it up and it liquefies again.

Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract has an alcohol base, so it will keep forever. Keep the lid on tight and if it’s already contained in a dark, glass bottle, store your vanilla in a dark place and it’ll keep for ages.

Salt and Sugar: I’ve seen salt labeled with a best before date but so long as they don’t have added ingredients, such as spices and flavours, salt and sugar do not spoil!!

I hope this guide helps, after all, being aware of best before dates means you’re less likely to waste food and enjoy baked goods that are fresh-tasting and fulfilling. Happy baking!

13 Baked Alternatives to Your Favourite Fried Foods

Chicken fingers and fries, spring rolls, calamari, tempura… The list is endless when it comes to your favourite deep-fried dishes. Even though it would be great to indulge on a regular basis, it’s really not wise (for your health, at least) to be consuming these types of greasy foods that often.

So, we decided to find the most delicious and healthy baked versions of your deep-fried favourites that are sure to leave you feeling guilt-free but completely satisfied!

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1. Mouthwatering Baked Buffalo Chicken
2. Nancy Fuller’s Sweet Potato Steak Fries
3. Baked Samosas with Tamarind Chutney 
4. Crunchy Cheesy Oven-Baked Chicken Wings
5. Panko Crusted Baked Shrimp 
6. Chuck’s Crab Cakes
7. Baked Falafel Sliders with Tabbouleh
8. Baked Turkey and Jack Cheese Chimichangas
9. 15-Minute Churros with Caramel Sauce
10. Anna Olson’s Baked Chocolate Almond Doughnuts
11. The Pioneer Woman’s Jalapeno Poppers
12. Valerie Bertinelli’s Southwestern Egg Rolls

13. Almond-Crusted Baked Eggplant

5 Tips for Getting Rid of Cooking Smells

Bacon, fish, onions and fries — all delicious and intoxicating while cooking, but the second the final bite has been swallowed, can quickly turn into stomach-churning odours that need to be nixed, stat. Here are five tips that will help eliminate those pungent cooking smells and ensure your kitchen stays fresh.

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1. Turn it Up
Prevention is the best medicine and this holds true when it comes to fighting the battle of kitchen smells. The simple flip of your stove’s overhead fan will get the majority of smells out before they have time to get cozy. This is one small yet mighty step to ensure last night’s fish and chips aren’t lingering in the air while you sip your morning coffee.

2. Open the Windows
Don’t underestimate the power of fresh air to help eliminate gnarly cooking odours. If you’ve got a small fan, even better — switch it on and set it near the window to help push out the bad and filter in the fresh.

3. Light a Candle
A candle seems like the obvious quick fix, but when attempting to freshen up the kitchen post bacon-frying, it’s important to take a second look at the label. Competing smells can be tricky, so opt for a fresh scent like citrus or even linen. Covering up evidence of a Sunday morning brunch with strong, musky scents or other food smells can be overbearing and defeat the purpose altogether.

4. Simmer Some Spices
The power of cinnamon sticks, cloves and even star anise to get some serious stink out of your kitchen is quite powerful. To get your own inexpensive, DIY smell fixer, simmer a small pot of water or even apple cider on the stove and plop in a mix of the above spices. This concoction is especially intoxicating at this time of year, when warm, spicy scents wrap you up like a blanket when you come in from the crisp air.

5. Clean Up your Act
Cleaning up the dinner dishes right away is a chore many of us would rather save for later. But those grimy, oily pots and pans is a bad smell breeding ground. Cleaning up right away, or even filling pots and pans with hot, soapy water, will stop the smells from continuing to linger and make the eventual dinner clean up that much easier.

Scrumptious Braided Cheeseburger Mac ‘n’ Cheese Roll

As decadent as a meal can get, this cheesy, beefy, buttery pastry roll will be the star of the show at your next gathering. It’s super easy to make and yields an impressive presentation, perfect for entertaining kids and adults alike!

To create this marriage of two comfort foods — a juicy cheeseburger and creamy mac and cheese — frozen puff pastry dough is filled with a mixture of macaroni noodles, beef, cheddar cheese and spinach, then braided to secure all the ingredients in place. It’s then baked until the filling is bubbly and the pastry is a flaky, golden brown. Don’t be intimidated by the braiding — we promise you’ll have it mastered in no time!

Braided-Cheeseburger-Mac-and-Cheese-Roll

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cooked ground beef
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed thoroughly to remove excess water
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 cups homemade or prepared macaroni and cheese (use ½ cup less milk than called for in the recipe if homemade), room temperature or slightly chilled
1 sheet frozen pre-rolled puff pastry, defrosted
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp fine grain salt
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt
1 cup prepared tomato sauce, warmed

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Directions:

Filling:
1. Add cooked and cooled ground beef to a large bowl along with spinach, cheese and macaroni and cheese. Set aside.

Assembly:
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. To place puff pastry sheet in the centre of prepared baking sheet. In the middle of the pastry, form prepared beef and noodle filling into a (approximately) 3×6-inch x 2-inch-high rectangle.
3. On long sides of pastry, make 8 slices (flaps for braiding).
4. Tuck top and bottom ends of pastry over filling. Starting at the top, cross two flaps on opposites sides. Repeat with remaining flaps, making sure there are no large gaps where filling can be seen (a few holes are okay). Tuck in any stray scraps.
5. Keep the roll straight or using your hands, gently curve roll.
6. Brush top of roll with mustard and sprinkle with salt.
7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until filling is bubbling and pastry is golden brown. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (so filling doesn’t all fall out when slicing).

To Serve:
1. Using a large flat spatula, transfer roll to a serving platter. Slice and serve with tomato sauce for dipping.

Looking for more comfort food favourites? Check out these satisfying snacks across Canada.

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Blend at Home

‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice-ing just about everything edible. Well, maybe not everything, but fall is the perfect time for those warming spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to really shine, all of which are involved in the spice blend that goes into the popular PSL.

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Making your own pumpkin spice blend is simple. In fact, it’s so easy you might even be embarrassed that you’ve never done it before. And those pumpkin spiced drinks that you pay extra for at the café? Well, you can do that at home, too. Here’s how!

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Pumpkin Spice Blend

One of the best things about making your own pumpkin spice at home is that fact that you can cater to your tastes. Not fond of cloves? Add less of them. Think that cardamom might be an interesting addition? Try it out! This is just a guideline, so feel free to make it your own!

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Makes: 1/2 cup pumpkin spice blend

Ingredients:
3 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

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Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a small container. Stir, cover and store in a cool, dry place.
2. Use as desired.

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How To Use It

Fruit pies: This spice blend needs a new name. With the word “pumpkin,” it implies it’s only good for one thing: pumpkin pie. Fruit fillings, made primarily of apples, pears, plums or peaches, are perfectly suited for this spice mix as well. I’d recommend using 1 teaspoon per 2 cups of filling.

Overnight oatmeal or hot porridge: Oatmeal and porridge can always use a little sprucing up, so why not use this blend add some coziness to your morning meal.

Squash soup or beef stew: While we tend to think of the ingredients in pumpkin spice as sweet, for many cultures around the world, it’s quite the opposite. Adding some of this spice blend to a pureed squash soup or tomato-based beef stew adds a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to savoury dishes. Consider it your secret ingredient!

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Variation: Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup

Use this easy-to-make simple syrup in your morning coffee, or mixed into whipped cream for extra autumn flavour on top of your pumpkin or apple pie.

Total Time: 25 minutes
Makes: 2 1/2 cups pumpkin spice simple syrup

Ingredients:
2 cups water
2 cups cane sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole allspice
2 whole cloves
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root
1 piece nutmeg

pumpkinspice_syrup_cooking

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a medium pan and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat.
2. Once sugar has dissolved, reduce to low heat and let steep on stove for 20 minutes.
3. Strain mixture through fine mesh strainer into a heat-safe container or Mason jar and discard aromatics.
4. Store in fridge to use as desired. Will keep in the fridge for up to one month.

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Looking for more ways to use your pumpkin spice? Try these 33 Perfect Pumpkin Spice Recipes.

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Noah Cappe’s Tips for a Romantic (and Delicious) Date Night

We can’t all be suave superstars when it comes to planning a romantic night out. Luckily, there’s a guru for that: Noah Cappe, host of The Bachelorette Canada. From choosing the right lighting to romance-inducing menus, Noah shares his expert tips on how to plan a special evening that will capture your bae’s heart.

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Dress to Impress

While we all love to rock sweatpants at home, this is not the time to dress down. Showing up scruffy for a date is a one-way ticket to the friend zone.

“Dust off your fancy outfit and put it on,” says Noah. “Is there anything more beautiful than looking across the table at your partner, and they look beautiful and you feel connected? That’s a moment.”

Getting a little gussied up sends a message that you care about your date. But opt for an outfit that best suits the activity; a suit for a picnic in the park is a date night fail.

Be Choosy About the Dinner Venue

Pick a place with an intimate atmosphere. It may require a bit of leg work, but finding the right restaurant can help avoid date night awkwardness.

“There’s such a movement to pump cool music loud and everyone is yelling over each other,” says Noah. “That’s obviously the opposite of a romantic evening. The focus of a romantic night is about conversation and finding the beauty in the quiet moments. It won’t happen in a place that has a local DJ.”

Phone ahead and ask questions: Does that five-star bistro transform into a noisy nightclub after 8 p.m.? What are their peak hours? Is there a seating section that’s more secluded? Know before you go! Not sure where to start? Try these 10 Romantic Restaurants from Coast to Coast.

Get an ‘A’ for Effort

Nothing stirs romance like showing your date how much you care. Whether you’re dining in or out, pull out all the stops to create a special evening.

“It comes down to effort and thought,” says Noah. “Put time into planning something, even if it’s just putting a folding table in the backyard with some patio lights.”

It doesn’t have to be an over-the-top event: cooking your partner’s favourite dish or a surprise picnic on the beach can be just as meaningful as reservations at a ritzy restaurant.

“It’s never about the four walls — you can create a romantic dinner everywhere,” says Noah.

Lighten up (the Room)

Speaking of ambiance, Noah says lighting is key to setting the scene. No matter where you go, dining by candlelight creates a cozy vibe that’s sure to get sparks flying. “Candles mean romance!” says Noah. “It’s seems cliché, but there’s something so traditional and wonderful about candle lights.”

Mind the Menu

For date nights, what’s on your plate is just as important as where the table is set.

“It comes down to the menu,” Noah says. “I don’t care how many candles you light. If your partner is across from you, shoving a cheeseburger in their mouth, you’re going to struggle to find a romantic connection.”

With menu influencing mood, Noah shares a few guidelines for adding a side of romance to your entrée:

Go local: A menu that showcases local specialties is sure to delight your date, as well as feed the conversation. “In Vancouver, seafood is probably the best call,” he says. “Or if you’re having a romantic dinner in Alberta, a beautiful steakhouse. Work with the environment you’re in!” If you’re hosting a home-cooked meal, incorporate local or seasonal ingredients into the recipes. On the East Coast, impress your date by making Chef Michael Smith’s Lobster a la Rachel, a steaming bowl of pasta smothered in creamy tomato sauce and chunks of lobster meat.

Know thy date: Is your date gluten-free or allergic to seafood? Ask your partner so you can accommodate their dietary preferences. “From a menu standpoint, what’s most important is to know your partner,” says Noah. “My wife is a vegetarian, so taking her to a steakhouse where she can only order two sides isn’t very romantic.” You can even make one of these delicious gluten-free dinners or vegan dishes.

Feature sensual foods: Get the mojo flowing with the magic of food science! Research shows that what we taste can affect how we feel, and certain foods may especially spark l’amour. In particular, eating dark chocolate has been shown to trigger a spike in dopamine, which induces feelings of pleasure. “Chocolate will always be the most romantic, go-to option,” says Noah. “Plus, there’s eight million ways to do chocolate!”

Share a decadent chocolate fondue with cherries, sliced bananas, and strawberries (also believed to be romance-provoking fruits), or a plate of freshly shucked oysters, a notorious aphrodisiac. If you’re playing chef for the evening, get fancy and try marinating oysters four ways with this recipe from Lynn Crawford.

The Bachelorette Canada premieres Tuesday, September 13th at 9 pm E/P on W Network.

pizettes

3 Weeknight Dinner-Worthy Pizzettes

These decadent flatbreads will make you feel like you’re dining at a trendy gastro pub. Simple and quick enough to make on a busy weeknight, you can customize each pizzette to the diner’s taste with just a few ingredients.

Serve as an elegant appetizer or a simple main course with a side salad as the perfect way to enjoy those end-of-summer garden flavours.

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California Club Pizzette

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
1 small soft flatbread or pita or naan bread
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp berry jam (raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, etc.)
1/2 avocado pitted, peeled and sliced
2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled into large pieces
3 Tbsp shaved aged white cheddar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place flatbread or pita or naan on a baking sheet and brush with oil. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp. Remove from oven.
2. While crust is still warm, spread with jam. Top with avocado, bacon and cheddar. Slice and serve immediately.

Apple, Prosciutto Pizzette

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
1 small soft flatbread or pita or naan bread
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp goat cheese
1/2 apple, any variety, cored and thinly sliced
2 slices prosciutto
Small handful arugula

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place flatbread or pita or naan on a baking sheet and brush with oil. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp. Remove from oven.
1. While crust is still warm, sprinkle with goat cheese. Top with apple, prosciutto and arugula. Slice and serve immediately.

pizettes

Garden Vegetable Pizzette

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

For the Spiced Hummus:
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp za’atar or baharat or curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 (19 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup water

For the Pizzette:
1 small soft flatbread or pita or naan bread
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, shaved
1 watermelon radish, shaved or thinly sliced
Small handful salad greens such as baby kale
2 tsp balsamic reduction

Directions:

Spiced Hummus:
1. In a food processor, pulse garlic until minced. Add tahini, lemon juice, za’atar or baharat or curry powder, cumin and salt. Blend until smooth.
1. Add chickpeas and blend until combined. Add water, to thin, beginning with 2 Tbsp and adding until desired consistency. Use immediately or refrigerate airtight for up to 1 week.

Assembly:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place flatbread or pita or naan on a baking sheet and brush with oil. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp. Remove from oven.
1. While crust is still warm, spread with hummus. Top with shaved vegetables, greens and balsamic reduction. Slice and serve immediately.

Red rose cupcakes

Rose Cupcakes for a Bachelorette Canada Viewing Party

Planning a Bachelorette Canada viewing party? Impress your guests by making these simple yet show-stopping “Will You Take This Rose” cupcakes! Bright red with ruffled edges, these cupcakes bring as much love and drama to the table as the new season, which premieres Tuesday, September 13th at 9 pm E/P on W Network.

Red Rose Cupcakes

These gorgeous rose cupcakes are much easier to create than you might think. The intricate textures might seem intimidating, but they only require a simple star tip and a piping bag. Instead of piping a mound of frosting atop a domed cupcake like you might be used to seeing, keep the spiral flat to create a ruffled rosette that takes up the entire surface of the cupcake.

Don’t have a piping bag? Simply snip the corner of a zip-top plastic bag to create your own DIY version.

 

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 24 to 28

Ingredients:

White Chocolate Cupcakes:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
8 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled

Red Rose Buttercream:
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
5-6 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2-4 Tbsp milk
1-2 Tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
Red food colouring

Directions:

White Chocolate Cupcakes:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375ºF. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers and set aside.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until smooth. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
4. With the mixer on low, gradually add in half of the dry ingredients. 5. Slowly stream in the milk and mix until combined. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until the last streaks of flour disappear. Add in the melted white chocolate and mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds.
6. Evenly distribute the batter using a mechanical ice cream scoop into the lined pan. Do not fill the cupcake liners more than about 2/3 of the way full.
7. Bake the cupcakes in the preheated over for 8 minutes. At 8 minutes, turn the heat down to 350ºF and continue to bake until done, about an additional 12 minutes (20 minutes total). When done, they should be slightly golden on top and toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
8. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack before frosting.

Red Rose Buttercream:
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the sugar, vanilla and milk until combined. Once combined, turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat until fluffy (3 to 5 minutes). Add more sugar and/or milk until desired consistency is reached, keeping in mind that there will be more liquid added should you choose to dye the frosting red.
2. Add in the red food colouring, begin with about 1/2 tsp at a time. Continue to add more colour and mix until combined. The colour will darken as it sits. Try adding food colouring until a bright red is achieved, then wait 15 minutes to see if it needs more. For a darker shade, add in a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder.

How to Make a Rose Cupcake

Tools:
Open star cupcake piping tip (Wilton 1M)
Piping bag

Directions:

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1. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip with the buttercream no more than 2/3 of the way full.

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2. While keeping the piping bag perpendicular to your work surface, hover the piping tip over surface of the cupcake.

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3. Begin applying pressure on the piping bag to start the flow of frosting. As soon as the frosting begins to flow, move the piping bag in a tight spiral motion.

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4. As you pipe, the pressure on the piping bag should remain even and consistent. Complete 2 rotations, then ease off the pressure to tapper off the flow of the frosting to create a small tail at the end.

rose-cupcake-step-55. Be sure that frosting is no longer flowing before gently pulling the piping tip away from the cupcake.

Looking for more tasty treats? Try our 20 Best Cupcakes to Wow a Crowd.

 

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Maple Cinnamon Rolls

There’s nothing better than waking up to the smell of fresh, warm cinnamon rolls on the weekend. Setting these homemade rolls apart from the rest is the addition of sweet maple flavour, making them an instant hit. Maple extract is added to the dough, along with pure maple syrup to the buttery glaze for a tasty Canadian twist. These buns get topped with the sticky maple glaze while still warm, infusing them with maple goodness from top to bottom.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 20 minutes
Rising Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes plus rising time
Makes: 12 rolls

Ingredients:

Dough:
3/4 cup warm milk
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp + 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp maple extract
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg

Filling:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Glaze:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup 35% cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup brown sugar

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Directions:

Dough:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine warm milk, yeast and 1 tsp brown sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes until the mixture is frothy.
2. In a separate bowl combine flour, remaining sugar, salt and cinnamon. To the yeast mixture add the egg, butter and maple extract. Mix well to combine.
3. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture. Mix well until dough is smooth and pulls cleanly away from the bottom and sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.
4. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave dough to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Filling:
1. While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a small bowl combine sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter.
2. After 1 hour, punch down dough. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into an 18 x 12-inch rectangle. Spread filling mixture evenly over dough.
3. With the long edge facing you, tightly roll up dough in jelly roll fashion. Cut roll crosswise into 12 equal sized pieces.
4. Place rolls in a lightly oiled 12-inch cast iron pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove damp cloth and bake until golden brown and baked through, about 30-45 minutes.
6. In a small pot over medium heat combine all glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until glaze is sticky and thickened. Pour over warm rolls.