Sunday, November 4, 2018

Recipe: Baked Apples with a Turkey Sausage Stuffing

Sweet and Savoury Stuffed Apples

If you're like me, you look for any excuse to extend the festive season and that includes Thanksgiving. A traditional turkey dinner is my absolute favourite meal of the year and there's no way I'd be satisfied unless the combination of sweet and savoury flavours ended up on my dining table multiple times during the year.

That's why I'm always looking for ways to bring that festive feeling to my table with recipes that are quick, healthy and simple enough for a weeknight. 

I have to say, I'm pretty proud of my latest experiment - a stuffed, baked apple with Lilydale's Turkey Breakfast Sausage. It was delicious and made for an amazing side dish at my Dad's birthday dinner. The combination of sausage and apples is perfection if you ask me - and these are easy enough for anyone to prepare on any day of the week!

So get ready to wow your dinner guests - this dish will definitely bring all the special occasion vibes to your table. 



The Star of the Dish: Turkey Breakfast Sausage

I was so excited to partner with Lilydale on this post and found their turkey breakfast sausage to be the perfect star for my dish!

Lilydale is a brand I trust in my kitchen - with 75 years under their belt, they are well-known in the culinary world for their premium products. (They use only responsibly farmed, nitrite-free, 100% Canadian turkey and chicken.)

Bonus- in addition to their variety of breakfast sausages, they also have seasoned, oven-roasted turkey breast available - perfect for those days you're craving a special meal but don't want to slave away in the kitchen for six hours roasting a turkey. 

The ready to eat oven-roasted turkey breast would also be perfect for weekday lunches or dinners and I'm planning to use it in wraps, on salads and in pasta dishes too!


But first thing's first - you have to make these amazing stuffed, baked apples for your next big get-together. I'm willing to bet you'll have some very happy guests.

Baked Apples with a Turkey Sausage Stuffing 

Makes 10 individual servings
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes


Ingredients

1 package Lilydale Turkey Breakfast Sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
10 small apples (I used gala)
2 pieces of bread, toasted and buttered
1 Tbsp canola oil
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, stripped
1 lemon wedge
salt and pepper
pomegranate seeds or cranberry sauce to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit

Instructions

Step 1) Using a sharp knife, cut the casings of the Lilydale Turkey Breakfast Sausages and discard. Place the turkey sausage in a bowl and then mash it with a fork.



Step 2) Add salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Mix to combine.


Step 3) Prepare the apples by making a cut at the top (about a centimetre from the top)  and a smaller cut at the bottom to create a flat surface for the apple to sit on as it bakes.




Step 4) Using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out the core and middle portion of the apple. 

Step 5) Squeeze lemon juice on the cut portions of the apples to prevent browning. After a few minutes, remove the excess juice from the apples and season the insides with light salt and pepper. 



Step 6) In a pan, heat the oil on medium. Add the chopped onions and brown. Add the Lilydale Turkey Breakfast sausage to the pan and mix to combine it with the onions. 

Step 7) Prepare the toast and cut it into small cubes.




Step 8) Add the cubed bread to the pan and mix to combine. Add a splash or two of water to help the bread combine with the meat. Let it cook for a few minutes but you don't want the turkey sausage to be more than halfway cooked. 


Step 9) Using a spoon, stuff each apple with the turkey sausage and bread mixture. Add some thyme to the top of each apple. Place the apples on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.


Step 10) Bake the apples for about 20 minutes or until the apples are tender. 


Step 11) Remove them from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with fresh thyme and pomegranate seeds or cranberry sauce. 


Let's Dig in!

These baked, stuffed apples are guaranteed to make your house smell amazing and they make a delicious side dish or even an entree if you serve two to each person. 


These are such a pretty little showstopper and the taste is worth the little bit of extra effort that it takes to make them. I served these with Lilydale's Seasoned Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast, some mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. It was the perfect way to make a holiday meal a little more accessible for the everyday. 

And trust me, now that this recipe is under my belt, you'd better believe it's going to be getting festive a lot more often around here.


Hope you try this recipe for yourself and let me know how it turns out! Leave me a comment below or on Instagram @angeliesood

A special thank you to my friends at Lilydale for partnering on this blog post. As always - all views and opinions are my own. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Lifestyle: Five Things I've Learned in the First Five Years of Marriage

Learning With Love - A Five Year Reflection


On October 20th 2013, my husband and I tied the knot. It was a beautiful, meaningful ceremony and we were surrounded by the love of friends, family and well-wishers. We were ready, committed and excited to begin our lives together. 



But now, looking back, I realize what a leap of faith that was - because how much can you truly know about being married until you actually live it for yourself?



Experience is a great teacher and I think now I can say, I've learned and grown so much since our wedding day, five years ago.

I'm so thankful for the challenges, windy roads and twists and turns, because those have brought us to where we are today - my husband is my best friend in every sense of the word. 



So what are some of the big lessons that 5 years of marriage have taught me? Sharing them below as a personal reflection on this milestone anniversary. 

1) The first year is the hardest


Yes, you're in the honeymoon phase, but you also get hit with the reality of sharing a life with someone. It's challenging to combine schedules, family time, your likes/dislikes, the finances and to learn all sorts of things about one another that you couldn't have known until you shared a roof. 



My hubby, for instance, learned that I need to be reminded to turn off the lights in a room once I leave and that all of the kitchen cabinets will remain open while I make a big meal. I learned that he wants to watch sports or listen to music at all times and is meticulous about putting things away.

The first year is a great lesson in bonding and romance but you also end up discovering all those little habits that can get under your skin, leading to arguments and annoyance. It's tough and you may even wonder if you ever really knew the person at all. All I can say, is ride it out and get to number 2.



2) Acceptance is Key


One of the biggest lessons I've learned is how to accept your partner for who they really are. Not the person you met on dates or at parties but the person they are all the time - at home with their family, at home alone, at work, in social settings, when they are happy or feeling low - the first year gives you a glimpse into who your person is on so many levels - and who YOU are. Seeing yourself up close and through someone else's point of view, is extremely eye-opening. 



Accepting yourself and your spouse for who he/she is and digesting each other's quirks takes time and endurance. This lesson was one of the most important ones for me, because it gets you to a place where you can be at peace with who you are as individuals and begin to establish who you will be, going forward, as a married couple. If you can start to laugh lightheartedly at the quirks (yours and his/hers), you're getting into a good place.


3) You're Two Different People

This one sounds like rocket science, I know, but really - marriage or any relationship, is about two separate people with different interests, personalities, upbringings, experiences and skill-sets coming together and trying to walk as one.

It will take awhile to walk step by step and get a rhythm. It's healthy to disagree at times and you learn to remind yourself that you can't expect someone to think or react exactly like you under every different set of circumstances.

Learning to celebrate what makes us different, aka giving up on "being right," was tough in practice because we had no idea we were doing it! Once we began to expect the other to have an alternate view, the more happily surprised we were when we seamlessly agreed on something. 


4) Communicating is hard but well worth it


I've heard my whole life how important communication is. Learning to communicate in marriage though, means so much more because there are a lot of tough conversations that have to take place to build a life together. You won't always agree and how you get your point across becomes extremely important. Not only in disagreements, but also in expressing your love and happiness. Two books I read early on, which really helped internalize this lesson were Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus  by John Gray and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. They won't make you an incredible communicator overnight (I'm still working at my own skills), but both are excellent reads that affirm how individuals communicate differently and how we all receive love in different ways. 

5) Changing your thinking from 'Me' to 'We'


I think one of the greatest lessons I learned in these five years is that it takes time to go from the single mindset to one of togetherness. No matter how long you've known the person you're with, or how well you know him or her, this is a life transition that takes time - your brain literally has to rewire to work for your new life and goals.

I am one of the most compassionate, family-minded people you will meet, but it still took some time to truly understand how to adjust my expectations and actions to suit my partner's needs (and I'm sure he'd say the same).

Going from me to we is a shift that happens gradually; communicating and trying to put yourself in the other's shoes really helped with this one. 


It's only now that I really understand what our family priest, Pt. Bhoj, said at our wedding ceremony five years ago: "(it's about) no longer saying MY parents, YOUR parents, MY family, YOUR family - it is OUR parents and OUR family and OUR life together, starting from now."

And really, I couldn't have said it better. 

Looking forward...

These are just some of the more important lessons I've learned in these past five years being married to my love and forever friend. Sitting down to write this post was so important to me, in reflection and appreciation of all the growth that has taken place for me as an individual and all the changes that we have gone through together as a pair.

Have to thank him for walking through this journey with me - it's not always easy and by no means perfect, but as we are learning; year by year, challenge by challenge, it only becomes more meaningful and more and more worth it with time. 


Here's to all of the growth, challenges and changes in all of the beautiful years to come - cheers! 


A special thank you to the talented Joti From Oottum Fine Photography for partnering with me on this post with our 5 year anniversary photos. As always, all views and opinions are my own. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Travel: There's Something For Everyone in Port Stanley, Ontario

Visiting Port Stanley, Ontario 


I absolutely love exploring quaint towns in Ontario's Southwest and one of my favourites to visit is by far, Port Stanley in Elgin County.


Visiting Port Stanley is like taking a trip back through time. In my opinion, the town has a little bit of everything and is great for a weekend away. Whether you're looking for a romantic escape or a trip for the whole family - Port Stanley should be on your radar.

Here's why:


Charming Inns and Bnbs


Port Stanley is a historic village and some of the buildings date back to the 1800s. That old world charm is everywhere and I love strolling along and admiring the beautiful cottages and inns.


We stayed at the Kettle Creek Inn which has lovely rooms and suites. The rooms are newly renovated and the inn also has a beautiful outdoor dining space that you can enjoy during lunch or dinner. The garden also happens to be the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine in the evening.


The rooms were stylish and comfortable. I think the location makes Kettle Creek Inn the perfect base for exploring the pretty town, as it's within walking distance to the main street and one of the beaches as well.


Main Street

There are so many things to do in Port Stanley that you can easily spend a few days here just enjoying the slower pace of life.



To me, the town is unique because it is so pedestrian friendly. I love walking up and down the Main Street and stopping into the cute stores and boutiques.

If you are visiting, make sure you check out my favourite stops: James Street Home Decor for beautiful and unique finds for your home and The New New Age where you will find crystals, gemstones, bundles of sage and vintage clothing.


If you need a boost, stop in at The Harbour Merchant Coffee Company for some Sloane Tea or a Latte. Or if you have more of a sweet tooth, enjoy the vintage vibes at Broderick's for some delicious house made ice cream or frozen yogurt in flavours like Orange Creamsicle and Watermelon.


Pristine Beaches 

A big draw to the beautiful town of Port Stanley are the beautiful sandy beaches. Port Stanley Beach has Blue Flag status, which means it meets global standards for water sanitation, amenities and cleanliness. Also - it is so picturesque!


Port Stanley Beach has some lovely colourful cottages lining it's waterfront area, which are so pretty to look at. Also- this beach has something for everyone!

Photo by Sik Photography

Plenty of space to sunbathe or picnic as well as volleyball and basketball courts that are open to the public.




This is an active beach - but what is so special about it, is that despite all the many things going on, it's incredibly peaceful here! You can definitely catch some rest and relaxation.


I also love to visit Little Beach which is a short walk from the main street. It's a hidden gem, tucked away in a corner but perfect to spend a low key afternoon.


This is a great beach for families who want to have a little space and privacy for some quiet time.

Local Theatre

The Port Stanley Festival Theatre was such a lovely surprise. We truly enjoyed spending an evening watching "Book Club"- a hilarious play about the personal misadventures of some friends who meet for a weekly book club. It was such a fun way to spend our evening in Port Stanley and made us remember our love for the arts! I'd highly recommend checking what's on stage when you're in town and making a night of it.


Vintage Train Station 

Port Stanley has such a cute little train station that is run by volunteers. This is such a great activity for families with little ones. The Port Stanley Terminal Rail offers a 45 min ride through the marina and some woodlands with a guide explaining the sights. It's a nice way to take a load off your feet and enjoy the scenic view. Little ones will enjoy hoping off the train for photo opportunities along the way.



Local Artisans and Farmer's Markets

One of my favourite things to do while visiting new towns is checking out the local farmer's markets.
Just outside of Port Stanley, you will find some great local farm-stands and markets. We stumbled upon a wood craftsman and were amazed and the great furniture we found! Stop and take a look around - maybe you'll find some delicious eats or unexpected gems. Should the mood strike, you can also check out the next town over, Sparta for some lovely art galleries and boutiques.

One of my favourite stops is Steed and Co. Lavender for some beautiful pictures of the lavender fields (they bloom in July) and to try out some of their hand-crafted Lavender products. (If you visit off peak season, you may find sunflowers blooming like I did!)

Wineries

When I travel, I make it a point to try out some local food and wine. In my opinion, there's no better way to get to know a new place. Schedule a stop at Quai du Vin Estate Winery- it's a beautiful family owned and operated vineyard with a beautiful wine shop and picturesque vines. Pull up a stool and sample some delicious vino - I promise, you will want to stay awhile and buy some to take home!



Great Food Scene


Last but not least - you will be eating very well during your visit! I've got some great spots to recommend to ensure your belly is full and very happy!


The Windjammer Inn


The Windjammer Inn is a picturesque little blue house with a Victorian wrap-around porch and some of the best food I've ever had. Make a reservation for brunch or lunch and you won't be disappointed! Everything is freshly prepared, right down to their preserves and jams.



Chef Kim Saunders is such a culinary talent, you can't go wrong with anything on the menu.


GT's on the Beach


Whenever I'm in town, I love dining at GT's on the Beach. It is a local hotspot open seasonally with beach front dining, live music and pure vacation ambience. Expect great pub-style fare here like local perch tacos and awesome cocktails too!



Solo on Main 


Solo on Main is perfect for a special date or family evening out. Here you can dine indoors or out, with a beautiful view of the marina. If you want a delicious, chef curated menu to select from, romantic ambience and great service, dine here!


Plan Your Trip

There you have it - my favourite things about the beautiful Southwest Ontario town, Port Stanley! There's so much to do and see here, I'm sure you'd love it in any season. The beach is the hot spot in the summer months but I think the beautiful Victorian homes would look so lovely covered in a blanket of fresh snow!



If you're planning a trip, let me know how you enjoy your time in lovely Port Stanley, Ontario. Would love to hear from you in the comments below!


A special thank you to my friends at  Ontario's Southwest and Elgin County Tourism  for sponsoring this blog post. As always, all views and opinions are my own.