Monday, October 14, 2013

Canadian Thanksgiving Casserole

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Canadian and American Flag painted play house in our back yard
(built by my husband, painted by me)

This recipe is in honor of all my amazing family and friends who live in my country's wonderful neighbor to the north, Oh Canada!!! My Canadian husband may not have remembered until I said something a few days ago about today's Thanksgiving, but he was quick to request that I make him a turkey dinner, and knowing that the fastest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, I had to oblige.  I would much rather celebrate the Canadian fall harvest than the man who accidentally sailed his boat into the Bahamas 500 years ago and then tortured and enslaved the people who had lived there for centuries.  So Happy Thanksgiving it would be today.

However, after a long week of baking, exercising and blogging, I really didn't feel like cooking a turkey from scratch.  I have yet to find any organic turkey at my local supermarket, and since I don't cook or eat meat that often, I decided to cave in and buy a precooked, yet delicious, rotisserie turkey breast at the store.  I had initially planned to just serve it with some gravy from a jar (definitely not a normal staple in my home), a side of fresh veggies, homemade stuffing and mashed potatoes.  But then I got to thinking... what if I tried to do something a bit more creative? The thought of mashed potatoes led me to think about changing up a traditional shepherd's pie recipe using turkey instead of ground beef.  And what if I add in stuffing too?  I am sure I am not the first to think of a creative way to basically heat up leftovers, but I thought it sounded like fun. And then of course it would give me something to blog about as well. 

In order to make my meal as healthy as possible, I am sticking to my usual organic, whole food, whole wheat, full of vegetables style of cooking.  I have tried to make my process as simple as possible to understand, although in the end you can always make whatever stuffing and version of potatoes you prefer and just layer it this way.  But here is exactly what I used and how I put it together.  And it was totally worth celebrating!!  Happy Thanksgiving to the land of maple syrup and polar bears!!! I love you Canada!

Canadian Thanksgiving Casserole

Canadian Thanksgiving Casserole

(potato layer- top)
5 medium organic baking potatoes
2 T. olive oil
1/4 C. organic half & half
1/4 C. organic milk
Salt & pepper

(turkey layer- bottom)
1 T. olive oil
1 C. fresh peas
1/2 C. finely diced carrots
4 C. cooked turkey
2 C. turkey gravy
sauteed peas and carrots
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

(stuffing layer- middle)
2 T. olive oil
1/2 C. finely diced red onion
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1/4 C. chopped dried tart cherries
4 C. stale whole wheat bread, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried crushed rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 C. organic chicken broth

Bake the 5 medium potatoes in the microwave.  I did mine all separately, cooking for about 6 minutes each until they were able to be pierced easily with a fork and tender to the touch.  Let cool.

In a large skillet, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and sauté the peas and carrots for about 10 minutes, until slightly tender. Set aside.  In the same skillet heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the diced red onion for about 5 minutes, until slightly translucent.  Add in the chopped pecans and dried tart cherries and cook for another 5 minutes.  In the meantime, toss the stale bread with the sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, garlic powder, garlic salt and black pepper until mixed evenly.  Add the bread mixture in with the onion, pecans and cherries and continue cooking for about 2 minutes more in order to toast the spices a bit.  Add in the chicken broth until the bread is soft, but not wet or mushy. Once the stuffing is thoroughly combined, turn off the heat and set aside. 

In a large casserole dish, or 9 x 13-inch pan, spread the cooked turkey out evenly across the bottom and top with the gravy, cooked peas and carrots, dried sage and ground black pepper.  Mix it around until combined and spread out evenly.  On top of the turkey mixture, spread on an even layer of the stuffing.  Cut up and mash the baking potatoes (I used the skin) with the olive oil, half & half, and milk. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary, and then spread on top of the layer of stuffing. 

Cover with foil and bake in a 375F oven for about 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.  Let stand for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

sauteed onion, pecans and dried tart cherries

baked potatoes

first layer: turkey, gravy, peas and carrots

second layer: stuffing

third layer: potatoes
hot from the oven

ready to eat!!

And of course you cannot have Thanksgiving dinner without dessert, so tonight I served up what I am sure will be a new favorite in my house: Chocolate Coconut Sugar Cookies, which happen to also be vegan!!  

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Sugar Cookies

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