Sausage Stars

Before I share this food-based Christmas memory, I wanted to thank all the people who have come up to me over the past few weeks to say you’re enjoying the blog.  When I see the numbers of readers, I often wonder who is reading.  I appreciate the time you’ve taken to learn a little about life through my eyes from both past and current experiences alike.


We’re heading into the last few days before the special time of year when we slow down and spend time extra with family and friends. Often that means making food and bringing it along to a gathering.

Tomorrow at work we have our annual Christmas lunch potluck.  I was late to sign up and as a result I missed the opportunity to make the usual dishes I have prepared over the past few years.  This led me on a journey back to the recipe book I mentioned in blog post #4 (Apple Muffins and Feminist Advances).

When I went to the book, I found a treasure from bygone Christmases–Sausage Stars.  These are an appetizer I haven’t made for nearly 2 decades, but one which was a crowd pleaser for many years.

I whipped them up tonight for tomorrow.  The girls each helped a bit.  Later I shared a few with the family at dinner, it was a completely new recipe for them and everyone liked it.  For me it was a reminder of times long past through flavour and scent.

Here’s the recipe:

Sausage Stars

2 cups of cooked crumbled sausage
1 package of shredded Tex Mex cheese
1 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup sliced green olives, further chopped
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 package of wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Squeeze sausage from casing (or buy sausage meat out of casing), brown in frying pan and blot dry of grease.

Combine cooked sausage, cheese, ranch dressing, green olives, red pepper.

IMG_9303

Using muffin tins, press wonton wraps into cups to form star.  Either spray lightly with cooking spray, or lightly brush olive oil on each wrapper.  Place wonton wrappers in muffin tins in over for 5 mins, or until slightly golden.

Once wonton wrappers are cooled (after a few minutes), place them on a baking sheet, drop the sausage mixture into each wonton wrapper.  Place baking sheets in oven and cook for 5 minutes or until mixture is bubbly.

Makes 4-5 dozen.

Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake

Typically, I’m not much of a baker.  As you may have guessed from previous posts, I enjoy making meals.  However, at Christmas I will make an exception and bake.

Last year, I went looking for something new. A special dessert to go with Christmas dinner.  This recipe I found for Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake sounded completely decadent and it definitely was.

As often happens at Christmas, I had no room in my fridge to store it after it was prepared.  Since it was cold outside, I improvised and used Mother Nature as my overflow fridge.

I placed the cheesecake on top of our BBQ in its glass serving dish with cloche.  I was thinking, how perfect, it will stay cold until just the time that I need it.  Snow was falling and it was looking festive in its makeshift fridge.  I even took a photo and posted it on social at the time.

Later when we were going to have dessert, I brought it in to cut, but it was frozen solid.  We let it sit on the table while we all retired to the living room for a few after dinner beverages.

A few hours later I went check it. It had indeed thawed, along with some snow that came in with the dish. The snow carried bits of cheesecake which had also melted and together they formed a slightly creamy cinnamon puddle which had been slowly drip, dripping down off the table and onto one of the beige cloth-seated chairs.

This cheesecake is remembered not only for its deliciousness but also for a little silly absent-mindedness of mine.  And we still have a mark on that chair to remind us.

The cheesecake has already been requested for this Christmas, luckily we bought a larger fridge this year.

Maybe everything will fit in this time.

#SavourySunday: Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

Success with the click of the mouse. Sometimes easy is the best way to go.

Today I found this amazing and simple recipe for Texas smoked beef brisket and the family loved it.  No alterations, followed the recipe to the tee.  Will definitely make again, A Sunday dinner hit.

Slow Cooker Texas Smoked Beef Brisket

The beef was fall apart tender, it would also be great in a sandwich.

IMG_9239

 

 

 

 

 

 

#SavorySunday: Toscanna Soup

This #SavourySunday I’m sharing a tried-and-true recipe that a friend gave me.  This recipe is great for this time of year when the air is chilled, and it’s particularly good when you have it from returning home after a brisk walk by the Bay, which is how I first experienced it a couple of years ago.

My friend said it was a copy-cat from a staple soup on the Olive Garden menu.  I’m sharing this today in honour of my friend because she’s moving about an hour away from me this week and I’ll really miss seeing her as often as I do now.

https://www.allrecipes.com/personal-recipe/64688454/toscanna-soup/

 

#SavourySunday: Slow Cooker Pork Loin

With the first snowfall still lying on the ground, a cozy slow cooker pork loin was ideal for a dinner plan today. This recipe never fails to satisfy everyone in our house. I served this with mashed potatoes, steamed beets, and boiled carrots.

Slight variation from the recipe link: sometimes I add 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the broth the pork loin cooks in.

The gravy (or jus) that comes from this recipe is delish!

The meal was so enjoyed I failed to get a photo 🙂

#SavourySunday: Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Casserole

Who knew I’d be preparing my second #SavourySunday post sitting in the dark, listening to the gentle hum of the generator outside.

Last night we had a tremendous wind storm, winds between 87-119 km/hour in various parts of New Brunswick. More than 95,000 households lost power, ours was just one of the lucky ones. We are 23 hours without power now, and could be up to 72 hours.

We lost our garden shed to the storm, two

The crumpled shed.

40-foot tall trees fell on it and crumpled one side like a paper bag.

While my husband took care of the yard today, I zipped over to a friend’s house and whipped up a new recipe for slow cooker cabbage roll casserole. A quick Pintrest search led me to the recipe and voila, dinner for the family by LED lantern.

I brought it home still bubbling hot and it was a big hit, destined for lunches and leftovers tomorrow.

Now off to listen to podcasts in the dark by the wood stove, almost like the olden days.

#SavourySunday: Seafood Casserole

#SavourySunday will be a new weekly feature of 50 Rules Life.   This week I’m sharing a recipe for a seafood casserole I found online at Saveur (see Seafood Bubbly Bake).

One of the best things about the recipe is you can adapt it to whatever seafood you have on hand, or what you can buy in store or at the market.

I don’t own ramekins so I used a 9 x 12 shallow Corelle casserole dish.  Because of the change of dish, I altered the time in the oven.  In the original version the ramekins were IMG_9080to cook for 20 mins at 400° F, I added another 10 minutes at 300° F.  I didn’t want to over cook the crust on top but wanted to ensure the whole dish was bubbly.

In my version I picked up a whole cooked lobster and shelled it (the advantages of living in New Brunswick).  I ended up with about 6 oz of fresh lobster meat and I couldn’t find just 4 oz of fresh haddock so I picked up a seafood chowder mix which also included shrimp and scallops. We’d had a feed of mussels a few weeks back and had left overs that we had frozen so I thawed these and added them in, along with some more scallops I had on hand.

I had it loaded down with so much seafood that I was worried about having too much for the casserole dish, but it turned out to be just the right amount.

I put some parchment paper on a baking sheet and set the casserole dish on the sheet, topped it with the breadcrumb, cheese and paprika mixture and put in the ovenIMG_9081

I served the meal with a sesame ginger chopped salad and flaky cheese rolls.

Although the recipe says it serves 6, I had enough for 8 servings, undoubtedly due to the added seafood.

We don’t eat this rich every day but given the number of ingredients I already had on hand, and the fact we had an out of town guest, this dish was the perfect choice.

Apple muffins & feminist advances

I wanted to share a recipe this week but I also wanted it to have meaning.   I was in search of a food story tied both to my life experiences and the era from which it came.

To fulfill my quest I turned to an aged resource, a floral cloth-covered book that has moved with me countless times.  Here in this book I collected recipes during my early teen and younger adult years. The beginning of the book is handwritten with attribution to each person from whom I copied the recipe.  Later, when life became busy, recipes were cut and pasted from magazines or calendars that caught my interest.

These were the days before we ‘pinned’ or ‘bookmarked’ recipes.  Like most, I now search online when I want something new to cook, and, as a result, I have not used this cooking resource in years.

That’s why looking through the pages was a stroll down memory lane.  Thinking of the person who each recipe came from brought back both memories of people and food, two of my favourite things.

The recipe I chose to share for this post is Apple Muffins.  Not only is this recipe tied to a memory, IMG_9053but fresh apples are everywhere this time of year, making this post timely and useful.

What makes this recipe interesting in the context of the blog, however, is the memory of where it came from.  And, what made it heartwarming for me was making it with my 16-year-old daughter one Saturday morning.

The Memory

Way back in 1980-1982 when I was in grade 7 and 8, all the girls took home economics and the boys all took woodshop.  That was just the way it was.

In grade 7 home ec they taught girls the best way to wash dishes, to make a meal, and to bake things.  Useful skills for any human.   In grade 8 they taught us to read a pattern, and create a piece of clothing with a sewing machine, a functional skill but perhaps less universally required.

I never knew what took place in shop, it was mysterious. I was never physically in the shop, though I did peek in the door a few times.

When I reflect on grade 7 and 8, I don’t recall the gender division of these classes being a personal issue.   Which is likely why I was in awe in grade 8 when a female student bucked the system, and together with her parents, she insisted to be allowed to take shop.

Looking back this seems like a simple act, but from the many simple acts carried out by just one individual, to significant movements and moments such as the Persons Case or #MeToo, rhetoric, policy, and our lives change.

We’ve come a long way, although there is still a long way to go as the UN’s International Day of the Girl recently shared on their website: “The 1.1 billion girls of today’s world are challenging the status quo. They’re redefining girlhood, and they’re doing so against the odds.”

They’re redefining girlhood just as those that came before them did.  Just as one girl at Rothesay Junior High did 36 years ago.

The Recipe: Apple Muffins

The recipe which triggered this memory is from grade 7 home ec.   As the teacher at the time told us, it could be a recipe for any kind of muffin if you switch out the apples and cinnamon for something else.  Feel free to adapt and enjoy baking it, regardless of your gender.

I baked this with my daughter and we shared stories of what I learned in home ec and how how different life is now for all genders.  She joked that we should do a post from my husband’s shop some day.

Who knows, maybe we will.

Apple Muffins

1 egg, beaten slightly
1 C + 3 tbsps. milk
¼ C butter melted (the original recipe called for shortening)
1 ½ C flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 apple, diced or shredded
½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Stir until flour is moist.  Mix in the apple and cinnamon. Bake 20 minutes.  Makes about 1 1/2 dozen small muffins.

(Author’s note: Just in case you are inspired to make the muffins, the recipe is just so-so, it’s more about the story with this one. I’ll share some great recipes in future posts).