Turkey Burgers with Olive and Feta

For the Canada Day weekend we went to the family cottage up north.  The weather was perfect with bright blue skies and temperatures of about 30 degrees Celsius.  I went swimming in the cool and refreshing lake everyday.  There really is no feeling like gliding through the cool water on a humid day –  just you, the water and the sky above.  My Dad likes to swim across the lake, which is about one mile (1.6km) in length.  My Mom accompanies him in a kayak, towing an extra one behind her (for Dad on the way back).

For dinner yesterday, my Mom made her famous turkey burgers with kalamata olives and feta cheese.  With a ciabatta bun, fresh tomato and tzatziki sauce, it is a flavour combination that can’t be beat.  Barbequing at the cottage is great because it doesn’t heat up the inside on a humid day.  Dad loves barbequing and decided to show off his skills for a picture.

Our little dog Beau absolutely adores the cottage, roaming the property like he is the king of the castle.  He loves stopping to smell the flowers and blending in with the limestone rocks.  All the cottage activity keeps Beau happily running around all day.  In particular he loves playing with my cousin Steven’s dog, Sasha, a large Siberian Husky.  Despite their difference in size they play well together – most of the time.

For those who love gardening in difficult terrain, the begonias my Grandma plants every year are the heartiest plants I have ever seen!  In addition to their survival skills, they come in many vibrant cheery colours.  I am going to be up at the cottage for a week with my Grandma, so I am sure I will be helping with some more gardening and watering.

Mom’s Turkey Burgers with Kalamata Olives and Feta

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup kalamata olives

2 tablespoons diced onion

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together.  Form hamburger patties and put on the barbeque until cooked thoroughly.  For the toppings, slice  fresh tomatoes, fresh lettuce and add tzatziki sauce.  When it comes to buns, ciabatta buns work wonderfully. When I was in France with my two best friends we had lovely hamburgers served on a French baguette, so those work quite nicely as well.

Canada Day Cupcakes

July 1st is Canada Day! I hope everyone gets outside and relaxes this weekend.  What better way to relax than with cupcakes? These are delicious little jewels that have a fun, bright, and cheery colour.

Bright red cupcakes for Canada seemed like the patriotic dessert to make.  The bright red colour and the swirls of white buttercream icing represent our country quite well – it is a sweet place to live!  As a Canadian, I enjoy many rights and freedoms.  Including the freedom to make as much buttercream icing as I please!

Canada is a wonderful place to live (for reasons other than an abundance of buttercream icing) because of the quality education, equality, the many opportunities available, and its peace and democracy.  One should never take freedom and democracy lightly – it should be celebrated not just on Canada Day, but everyday.

For the little flags I went on the internet and printed out some flags, and then taped them to toothpicks.  In the Globe and Mail today I saw fondant Canadian images, which also look like great fun.  However, I did not have time to make fondant today.  So, show your patriotic side this weekend and let the Canadian flag wave proudly – whether it is atop a boathouse, in a city park, at a BBQ with friends and family or proudly sitting atop a cupcake. Happy Canada Day!

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons red food colouring

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

1/2 cup pureed strawberries

Instructions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set out cupcake papers and set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3.  In a food processor puree one cup of strawberries that will be reduced to about ½ a cup.  With a strainer, strain the puree to get ride of the seeds.

4.  In your mixer combine the sugar, canola oil, vanilla extract and eggs.  Then add in the buttermilk and strawberry puree.  Add lemon zest.  Slowly add in the flour mixture.

5.  Spoon the batter into the cupcake pans and bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center.

6.  Cool before icing.

Buttercream Icing

Ingredients

Preparation

In large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Alternately beat in sugar and cream, making 2 additions of sugar. Beat in vanilla. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 24 hours; let come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Beat slightly before using.)

 

Midweek Snack – Blondies

Squares such as blondies are an easy midweek snack.  Except for the butterscotch chips, the ingredients are all pantry staples: butter, sugar, egg, salt and flour.  As for the recipe, I looked to Martha Stewart for guidance and inspiration.  If you don’t have severe allergies to nuts and dark chocolate you can add some of those ingredients.  However, butterscotch chips are delicious too!

At some point I hope to make more squares because they are a tasty treat.  I think I have perfected lemon squares and blondies.  So, the next big landmark will be buttertart squares.

I will need to do some more baking this week for the Canada Day weekend.  My family is going up north to the cottage to enjoy the (hopefully) sunny weather.  Baking up north is not a good idea (because the oven makes the cottage intensely warm), so it is best to do the baking at home.  Maybe the call of summer will inspire some delicious hummus dips and cool as a cucumber appetizers.

In Aurora and Peterborough the summer flowers are in full bloom.  On the weekend I was in Peterborough enjoying Jonathan’s Mom’s beautiful daisies.  When I got back to Aurora I was thrilled to see the gorgeous hydrangeas in bloom.  They say that surrounding yourself with plants and flowers can extend your lifespan by thirty years.  I am very lucky to have parents and a future Mother and Father in-law that love gardening and flowers.

So, enjoy some time outdoors with the flowers and a sweet simple blondie.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter; line pan with a piece of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in 1 cup of butterscotch chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with a few extra butterscotch chips.
  3. Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack, and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift cake from pan and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 16 squares.