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Posts Tagged ‘turkey’

Easter Fiesta

Tried some wine, the Moscato was quite sweet and peachy (as expected), the Unoaked chardonnay was crisp and not too dry, and the red was shy on tannin (which I like actually). Who doesn’t love a rooster on your bottle of wine, ha! I bought all of these at Sprouts on sale.

Each paired nicely with dishes I prepared. The Chardonnay with the herb roasted turkey breast. The red with the spiral honey ham. The Moscato with the apple cinnamon crisp (a la mode  ). 

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My friends were welcome to bring something as a side, they brought mac’n’cheese (David’s recipe, which rocks because he puts Cheezits on top… I still have to try to replicate it!), green bean casserole, and apple pie tarts.  We could have fed an army!

It’s not the same as my family gatherings back home in Alberta, with a dish of every sort and cousins to match.  But Mom was here at least and my best friends, Stephanie and David, were enough to have a great time.  I love sharing my kitchen.

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Pasta and Naan

Naan is one of my favorite breads and it’s best fresh out of a tandoori oven at a good Indian restaurant.  I bought this garlic naan at HEB.  I grated some sharp Asiago cheese on top and stuck it under the broiler until the cheese melted and the naan was heated through, this only takes a minute or two.  The naan accompanied kid-friendly turkey vermicelli, dinner was ready in a snap!

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Little Sister helped make the gravy, it was strenuous work for a two year old…

The gravy making was enjoyable for both of us, unlike the day before when we were making lunch and she poured the dry pasta into the cup of milk standing by.  She must have misunderstood me when I said “next we add the pasta”, she litterally added the pasta to the milk and butter in the cup.  I meant to say “next we cook the pasta”.  Toddlers and young children take everything you say to heart, so chose words wisely!

325ºF for 3 hours (14.5 lb gobbler)

  • 4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp rubbed sage or fresh chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds

Combine the butter and herbs and spices in a small bowl.  I like to work it with my fingers to get every bit of butter spiked with flavour.  Create pockets under the skin of the turkey, begin at the breasts near the cavity.  Try to make the skin loose around the drumsticks too.  Evenly shove the butter into the pockets, pressing on the outside of the skin to distribute.  Any leftover butter and be smeared over the skin.

Next, fill the cavity.  I don’t usually stuff the bird with dressing, instead I use large pieces of onion, whole herbs and spices, sometimes citrus fruit cut in half.  The filling will eventually scent the broth so choose a complimentary set of flavours.  Today I used fresh rosemary springs and half a white onion with salt and pepper.

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It’s a rare thing these days, buying stock in a box or can.  Before the holidays arrive full of turkey, chicken, and family members visiting I spend time to prepare and freeze stock.

Stock will keep in sealed containers in the freezer for about 6 months.  Make sure to label anything you freeze for later use.  Portions that are easier to manage are a good idea.  Most of my containers hold 2 pints (about 4 cups), I use this as soup and stew base.  Smaller containers, even freezer bags, work well for gravy.  Sometimes when you roast drier types or cuts of meat, there’s not a heck of a lot liquid left in the pan.  That’s where a bit of stock can extend or replace the pan drippings when making gravy.

To make your stock you need any of the following vegetables, spices and herbs:

  • celery
  • leek
  • onion
  • carrots
  • bay leaves
  • black peppercorns
  • cardamom pods
  • cumin seeds
  • caraway seeds
  • dill
  • fennel
  • rosemary
  • thyme

Then, if you want meat you can collect chicken, turkey or pork bones and freeze them in freezer ziptop bags until you have enough to make stock.  When I buy whole chickens, I save the neck, wings, and legs.  Either roasted or raw, freeze the extra bits for your stock.  Bone marrow helps add richness to the stock.  Beef can be used too, we just don’t have many beef bones leftover at my house!

Salt, should you add any at all, should be minimal.  The stock is a component for something else, the destination might already contain salt so you don’t want to end up with sea water soup.

Ready?  Throw the chunks of veggies, palm full of seasonings, the optional meat components into the biggest pot you own.  Add water until everything is covered.  Bring to a boil slowly, then reduce to low heat for an hour or longer.  The longer you simmer the stock, the more concentrated it will be due to evaporation.

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A surprise breakfast platter, accompanied by a tall iced coffee.  I started out sautéing red onion and chopped cremini mushrooms.  Diced smoked turkey deli meat joined the soft veggies in the pan just moments before whisked eggs are poured in.  I slightly scramble the eggs for two reasons: even distribution of the other goodies, and better texture of the eggs.  Gruyère tops the scramelette and hugs the warm fluffy eggs as it melts.

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A trifecta of spices blended perfectly to create this lean and mean chili.  I always stock the pantry with a couple of types of beans (canned and dried) and canned tomatoes.  With some ground meat I can whip up a chili without needing a trip to the grocery store!  Bonus.

My chili does include at least one vegetable because there’s normally someone hiding in the fridge without a purpose.  This was also a great way to use up my fresh parsley before it went south.

If any one knows what a Peruano bean is, let me know…

  • 1 lb very lean (93%) ground turkey
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 – 3 tsp fajita seasoning
  • bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 can (15oz) Peruano beans
  • 1 can (15oz) Kidney beans
  • 1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 4 oz tomato sauce

Brown the turkey in olive oil and season with salt and pepper, drain on paper towel in a large bowl to remove excess oil and any fat from the meat.

Clean out the pot with paper towel and add just a little olive oil, then the onion and carrot.  Cook for about 5 minutes and then add the spices to bloom in the hot oil.  Add a pinch of salt and stir.

Return the meat to the pot.  Add the remaining ingredients, reserving some parsley to garnish.  Turn down the heat to a tick above low, simmer for 20 minutes. 

Serve with hot biscuits or fresh bread to sop up the sauce.

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If I had a nifty meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer, I would have ground my meat for these burgers, too.  Until I can find a decently priced grinder (maybe in a garage sale?) we’ll just have to trust the butcher case.

Normally I would buy the leanest meat available to cook with – this is not inclusive of burgers though.  Why?  Well I’ll tell ya… A good burger, made with whatever you like, is a juicy burger.  Those burgers that cannot contain themselves in the waxed paper origami dressing they often come in, those are great.  The moisture comes from fat, this is unavoidable.  Sorry, no fat-free burgers will be found here today!  Without the fat you end up with a hockey puck.

Focaccia for my burgers

Most ground turkey meat where I live is at least 90% lean, so this requires some flavourful ingenuity.  To create a better turkey burger you will need bacon and/or cheese, I prefer using both if possible.  Dice up the bacon fairly small and sauté over low heat to release some of the fat and concentrate that bacon flavour.  Shred your cheese, the sharper the better or use blue if you’re into that.  Let the bacon cool so you can handle it.  Combine the turkey meat, cheese, bacon, fresh herb of choice, finely diced onion, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Your hands are the best tool for this and don’t over mix, you want to see the extra ingredients well distributed.  Divide into equal portion patties then cook, flip only once.

Tip: Leave the burgers alone when you put them down to cook.  No squashing, scooting, or poking!  This keeps more juices (aka fat) inside the burger as it cooks resulting in a better burger.

I made some rosemary and herb focaccia bread as my bun for this burger.  I could have eaten the bread all day on its own or with a dab of butter.  Bread machines really do work!

The turkey burger was built with the focaccia, mayo, spicy mustard, more cheese on top, tomato slices and fresh basil leaves.  If you’re a smart bacon lover like yours truly, you would also have cooked some slices of bacon to top your burger while those little diced pieces were frying.  Go ahead and put those slices on the burger now.  Avocado would also work here, if you have it.

turkey burger

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Turkey Pot Pie

Being the thrifty mom I am, I bought pie crusts when they went on sale post-holiday.  Now what can I do with these?  Seeing as my ingenious plan for pie fell flat because I didn’t buy any filling and had nothing on hand to make some from scratch, savory was the way to go.

Often Sheppard’s Pie is what comes to mind when there are lingering veggies as we dwindle our cupboards following the gluttony of December.  Since the pie crusts needed to be used, they would simply replace the mashed spuds atop the meat-veggie-gravy filling.

If you have purchased pie crusts, you will know they come in pairs.  Now what is the second one going to be?  Remember how I thought a fruit pie was out of the question?  Think outside of the pastry box!  I made a flat apple pie.

Roll out the crust and slather with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar.  Fold the crust in half and poke some vent holes with a fork or tip of your knife.  Brush the top with egg wash and bake at 350ºF (175ºC) for 10 minutes, just until lightly golden.  Thinly slice apple and arrange in a pretty fashion on the crust.  Dust with cinnamon and sugar or honey and return to the oven until the apple is soft.  You can then kick back with a slice a la mode.

Oh wait, the turkey pot pie!  Right.

Fill a casserole, I’ve used an oval shaped one, with browned lean ground turkey (leave the turkey out to make it vegetarian!), peas, corn, onion, carrot, celery spinach (for Hubby) and a can of mushroom soup.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Top with a prepared pie crust, brushed with egg wash (or milk).  Bake at 350ºF (175ºC) for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until the crust is done.  Don’t forget to poke a few vents for the steam to escape!

Doesn’t that look like a winter supper?

Enjoy!

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Of the many things I am thankful for, it’s was the opportunity to move to Texas that still resonates with me.  Without that bold change, I never would have met the love of my life, husband and best friend.  Together we have two healthy children, and that was also very important for me this year at our quiet Thanksgiving feast.

Big brother munched on the orange segments from the Arugala salad from Angel Valley Farms, Little sister was entertained during the home stretch to finishing off the gravy and warming the sides.

In the haste of making a pumpkin pie I forgot to add sugar to the custard filling.  It turned out to be a savory pumpkin pie, but pie nonetheless.

With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the pie was alright.  Next time I want to make the pie ahead of time, or *gulp* buy one.  I don’t like buying stuff because I don’t know what could be lurking within the sweet treat.  How careful are bakers when handling nuts, and equipment that once had nuts on them?  I can’t be sure so I bake my own.  The silver lining to this pie flop is that it contains no sugar whatsoever, so my sugar sensitive friends could enjoy it, if they were here for the holidays.

Then there’s big birdy!  I went with the apple and sage flavours from last weekend’s roasted chicken.  I stuffed the cavity with granny smith apple, celery, salt and pepper.  A compound butter (a whole stick) was made with plenty of salt, and lots of sage (a good palmful), pepper, some thyme.  The butter is tucked under the skin and the entire surface of big birdy.  Then I sprinkled more coarse sea salt and pepper on top of the butter slathered skin.  Make sure you first lay thick slices of onion in the roasting pan, then rest big birdy on the onion.  If you have white wine, pour a glass or two into the pan and this will add another dimension to the resulting liquids.  The oven started at a blazing 475°F until the skin started to brown, about 45 minutes.  Then the heat was reduced to 325°F until the thick part of the breast (pectoral) meat reached 180°F.  And voilà…

Once big birdy was out of the oven, it was time to warm the side dishes.  I made the green bean casserole and prepared the sweet potatoes earlier in the day.  Some fresh beets from the farmstand snuck into the oven with the bird for a while, I roasted them whole with the skins on then peeled the skin off and finished them in a foil bag drizzled with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

The normal accoutréments joined the star of the meal: garlic mashed potatoes topped with chives, stuffing with raisins, cranberries, and gravy.  I was full just by looking at my plate, or maybe it was pure exhaution.

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I waited until we were out of pretty much everything before stopping off at Sprouts on the way home this week. They had big red bell peppers on sale for 49 cents each, what a steal! And they were so fresh looking, not old and wrinkled as you might expect for such a bargain price. I’ve been on and off the fence about Sprouts. It’s fairly new in Texas and competes with Whole Foods, Central Market (HEB) and Wheatsville Co-op. If you pay attention to what’s in season and subscribe to the Sprouts flyers (via email – don’t go using up more trees than necessary) you can find good prices for your fresh ingredients. My ultimate goal is to grow more than I buy, whether it’s the grocery store, farm stands, or Sprouts. I’ve learned so far that it’s a process, you can’t just wake up one day and say “I will have a garden and feed my family with what we grow!”. I would need far more land than my tiny backyard and many more hours in the day to accomplish it in any short order. Work with what you’ve got, and find places to subsidize where you are lacking.

These are very approximate measurements as I used what I had left over for some ingredients.

– 1 cup cooked rice
– 1/2 onion, small dice
-1 celery stalk, fine dice
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 smoked turkey sausage link, diced small
– 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
– herbes de provence
– salt and pepper
– red bell peppers
– 1 cup tomato sauce

This is very easy to prepare and even easier to eat.
I had enough for 4 peppers to be filled, this may vary depending on the size of your peppers. If I had enough peppers from the garden I could probably fill a dozen!
Split the peppers in half from stem to end, try to keep the stem end evenly split between the two halves as this helps with the structural integrity once they are baked. Clean out the seeds and set the peppers in a casserole dish large enough to hold them all snugly.
Next, prepare the filling. Saute the onion, garlic, and celery in a little olive oil or butter. Season with salt and pepper. Add some herbes de provence, about 1/2 teaspoon or so, add more if you like more. Add the sausage and let everything get a little golden. Add the rice and tomato sauce, stir gently to combine. Let the stuffing cool slightly before adding the cheese, it will melt throughout anyways you just don’t want huge gobs of cheese.
Stuff the sausage-rice-cheese mixture into the hollow peppers waiting in the casserole dish. Oh yes, you will need a 350 degree oven, sorry I should have said something earlier! If you like, add a sprinkle of cheese on top of each pepper before popping them in the oven.
Bake for about 15 minutes, the cheese should be bubbling and the pepper flesh should give off steam. Broil for 2 – 3 minutes to brown the cheese.

These peppers were so good, I’m glad I made so many because they are going to make awesome lunches for me and my hubby tomorrow.

Enjoy!

P.S. This is my recipe, please share my link not my text. Also, I’m not paid by anyone mentioned, just expressing my ideas. Thank you 🙂

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