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Chicken Dumplings

DSC_8372 (1600x1060)I found a frozen block of turkey broth while rummaging through the big box and dragged it out.  I added more broth and a few more chicken thighs, tossed in some veggies and a bag of dumplings that have been in the freezer since I can’t remember when.  It all simmered for a good while but the dumplings never did get quite right, they’ll be better tomorrow when they have had more time to soak.

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Turkey Soup

DSC_7646 (1600x1060)It was pretty cold overnight, down into the teens.  We got a bare dusting of snow but that will go away today.  Strong south wind and warming temps today, we have made it into the 40s but there is a chance for sprinkles later.  Soup sounded pretty good.  This one has the turkey and some baby carrots along with a wild rice mix from Zatarain.  They make good rice mixes and we really like the wild/long grain rice mix they sell.  It’s been absent from the local market so we ordered a case online.

Hearty Turkey Soup on a Cold December Day

It’s still chilly here, though the Arctic blast has moved on. I decided to use up the leftover turkey and test out my new mandolin at the same time and make a big pot of soup for lunches this week.

When I roast a turkey, I always save the wings and legs, freezing them for soup later on.  You can also save the carcass, which I do sometimes, but really most times it seems like too much trouble.   You can also freeze leftovers, but I find dark meat works best because the white meat tends to get tough once it’s frozen, even when simmered for hours in soup.

You can add anything you want. I didn’t have beans, so I substituted whole wheat egg noodles. I cook them separately, so they don’t get too mushy and add them to the bowl and pour the soup over them.

Hearty Turkey Soup

  • Wings and Legs of turkey, cooked
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 carrots,  julienned (frozen ok)
  • 2 stalk of celery and celery leaves,  julienned
  • 1 cup green beans, frozen or canned
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 15 oz can Cannellini beans*
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, add turkey, broth and water.  Bring to a boil and let boil 10 minutes.  Reduce heat and add remaining ingredients.  Let simmer for 20 minutes, remove legs and wings, let cool enough to remove remaining meat (most will have fallen off).  Add meat back to soup and let simmer another 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and serve with Buttermilk Biscuits and Cranberry Sauce.

*Cannellini beans are large and have that traditional kidney shape. With a slightly nutty taste and mild earthiness, they have a relatively thin skin and tender, creamy flesh. They hold their shape well and are one of the best white beans for salads and ragouts.


Originally posted November 2011

Sammich Pr0n – Thanksgiving Leftovers

DSC_7415 (1600x1060)An alternate version might have garlic mashed potatoes and candied yam slices.  This one used the praline sweet potatoes in lieu of both. Also: Chopped turkey, green beans, dressing, and cranberry sauce.  Don’t forget the cranberry sauce!  It holds everything together.DSC_7409 (1600x1060)

Thanksgiving Files: Perfect Turkey

OK, your turkey is probably not going to look like this (unless you’re JeffW) so cut yourself a break. It will taste wonderful, that is all that matters.

Reposted from 2011 Thanksgiving:

Okay, let’s jump into the cooking a turkey debate.  And acknowledge that a perfect turkey is in the eye of the beholder…or cook.

Last year I had my very first deep fried turkey – I know, late to the party as usual – and I really enjoyed it.  But considering deep frying of any kind terrifies me, you will not see me attempting that anytime soon.  There’s a reason only JeffreyW has deep frying recipes on the blog.  I will, however, enjoy the labors of anyone who wants to deep fry one for me (I’m looking at you little brother).

Traditionalists seem to like to roast their turkeys, basting and slaving over a hot oven for the perfect bird.  I’m not a traditionalist by any means.  Have I mentioned I’m lazy?  Yes, I do believe I have.

There is nothing wrong with this and for expert cooks, the perfect bird is attainable.  But for the rest of us mortals, traditional roasting can be a challenge.  It’s too easy to over cook or under cook, leaving your white meat dry or your dark sections pink and unsafe – sometimes in the same bird.   But in case you want to roast, here are step by step instructions:

World’s Simplest Roast Turkey

And here’s everyone’s favorite Alton Brown with a video demonstration:

Alton Roasts a Turkey

Next up are the briners.  I have to tell you I do not understand brining a turkey.  I’ve had brined turkey, it’s not my favorite.  But if you have a desire to brine, here’s our trusty Alton again (seeing a theme here?):

Alton Brine’s a Turkey

One thing you’ll see in all these examples is no one stuffs a turkey with stuffing.  In my humble opinion this is the easiest way to dry out your bird or accidentally poison your guests.  Stuffing needs to reach a temperature of at least 165 degrees to be fully cooked, at this point your bird will be completely dried out.  If you are looking for stuffing that tastes like it has been cooked inside the bird, do what my friend Alton does (no not that Alton), he buys and cooks turkey thighs and legs in chicken broth (or you can use the neck and giblets) and then uses that broth to season both his stuffing and gravy.  And both are wonderful.  Cook the stuffing in a casserole dish, covered for really moist stuffing.  If you like a crunchy top, take the lid off once the stuffing is warmed through and bake until golden brown on top.

So what do you do with that big cavernous space in your turkey if you’re not going to stuff it?  Fill it with flavor.  I use a spice infuser or a spice bag and fill it with all kinds of wonderful spices, depending on my mood.  I’ve also added a whole onion or citrus fruits (all should be disposed of after cooking), to infuse the bird with intense flavor.  Citrus bird is one of my favorites after the traditional rosemary-garlic-sage spices.

This recipe for a citrus bird sounds wonderful and I may try it this year (yes, I do cook a turkey even if I’m having Thanksgiving elsewhere – how else are we going to have leftovers?):

Perfect Citrus Turkey

Picture of Perfect Citrus Turkey and Gravy Recipe

Citrus Turkey from Food Network

So how do I cook my bird?  After many mishaps, I’ve decided that the easiest and most foolproof way is to use a cooking bag.  I usually roast at a higher temperature than on the instructions (375 instead of the 325 they recommend) and the last 15 minutes or so, I open the bag, pull it back and let the skin brown nicely.

Whatever spices I decide to use in the infuser I also mix with butter and put under the skin of the bird at the breast and thighs.  I then coat the bird in olive oil and spices to get a nice browned texture.  This gives me a perfectly flavored bird that I don’t ever have to worry about, so I can then concentrate on all the sides.  It’s never failed me.

So if you are a novice, or even a seasoned cook, but don’t want to take any chances on  disappointing your guests, I say go with a roasting bag.

Are you cooking the turkey this year?  How are you preparing yours?  Want to share a favorite recipe?  Nervous about pleasing a house-full of hungry company?

I may have a few more sides to share or we’ll head straight into desserts.  Until then…

Mmm… turkey dumplings

DSC_4518 [1600x1200]We bought a turkey the other day because the sale price was so good and cooked the bird in the oven, stripped the meat, and made stock with the carcass.  Mrs J has been wanting dumplings for a while now and today I put the dish together with simple rolled dumplings.

DSC_4511 [1600x1200]This is a really good turkey soup even before the dumplings are added.  I diced celery, carrots, onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic and softened them on the stove top in olive oil with a pinch of dried thyme.  These went into the pot with the stock and the already cooked turkey to simmer until the veggies were done.  At this point the mixture can sit until you are ready to drop in the dumplings, they only take 5 minutes to cook up.  The flour in the dumplings will thicken the broth, but if you want just the turkey vegetable soup sans dumplings you can add a tablespoon of flour to the veggies as you saute them.  If you do, add a ladle of broth to the saute pan and stir well to combine with the flour before you dump the lot into the pot.



Mmm… mini pot pie

turkey pot pieWe bought a frozen turkey while at the grocery store the other day, they were on sale post holiday and the low prices made them hard to pass up.  I roasted it yesterday, and then Mrs J demolished the carcass for the meat but not before I carved out half the breast for these pies.DSC_4438 [1600x1200]Mrs J swore off ready made crusts after making those pumpkin/sweet potato pies the other day.  This time she went with the Smitten Kitchen recipe.  She has used it before and we liked the results.  The SK recipe calling for vodka in lieu of water works great, too.  Alton Brown used apple jack in a similar recipe that he used for an apple pie.

The filling for these mini pies was simple enough:  Make a roux then add milk to make the classic white sauce.  The peas and corn were from frozen and I just stirred them in with the diced turkey meat, the fresh carrots needed a few minutes at a boil first.  I also stirred into the mixture a little turkey broth that was left from the last turkey we cooked at Thanksgiving.  Seasonings were minimal, just some salt and white pepper, the broth added a hint of tarragon.

Calling the Butterball Hotline

h/t to commenter J at Balloon-Juice for reminding me how much I miss West Wing.  “…is there a chance I could kill my guests? I’m not saying that’s a deal breaker.”

BTW, the USDA has changed its recommendations since this show was written.

A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher temperatures.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies

nom nom nom

First off, I am still in denial that Thanksgiving is next week. I’ve done a test turkey and JeffreyW has done a test duck. I may use his orange glaze recipe for my next turkey, which I’ll stuff with sliced oranges and spices. And that reminds me, there will be no recipe exchange next Thursday. I did make some excellent turkey soup from my test turkey leftovers, I’ll try and post that recipe sometime next week so you’ll have it if you’re looking for something to do with your leftovers.

For tonight, we’re going to chocolate heaven. I’ve had these on my list to try for months and finally decided it was time. They did not disappoint and were very easy and quite addictive. The original recipe (here: François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies) was suggested to me by fellow blogger Glutenvygirl ages ago. I looked over the original recipe and a couple of similar recipes and then tweaked this one just enough to suit my own tastes.

Fair warning, this recipe is a little messy. Or maybe it’s just me. Cocoa powder and powdered sugar are preternaturally attracted to me. By the time I was done cooking, my Laura Petrie inspired black-kick-around-the-house-outfit looked like there’d been an assassination attempt on it by a snowman and his cooler ninja brother. Although, I should have known better after that disastrous visit to Café De Monde in New Orleans while wearing a black t-shirt and dark blue jeans. C’est la vie.

Next time I try this recipe there will be an apron.

Now I have a challenge for you. Because of various recipes, I have egg yolks and about 14 oz of pumpkin puree leftover in my refrigerator that I need to use up before they go bad. Anyone have any good ideas that aren’t pumpkin pie? Heck, I’d even take a pumpkin pie recipe if it is out of the ordinary.

What’s for Thanksgiving Dinner this year? Staying home or going to grandma’s house (or equivalent)? Anyone trying something new and daring?

Okay, tonight’s featured recipe, which by the way is gluten-free:

Notes: To separate eggs, the easiest way I’ve found is the Nigella Lawson method of using your hand. It is quick and easy. The original recipe called for regular cocoa and 3 cups of powdered sugar, that sounded much too sweet, so I reduced that first thing and since I love dark chocolate I used 1/2 dark and 1/2 regular cocoa. Next time I think I would go full dark chocolate. It was still very sweet, but I’d be afraid of reducing the sugar more because I think you need the volume. That doesn’t mean I won’t give it try sometime. You need to let them cool completely otherwise they stick to the parchment. They were still warm when I pulled the first one off, and it left crumbs and wasn’t as structurally sound as the completely cooled ones ended up being. You’ll need parchment paper for this recipe or a silpat.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies

  • 2 cups walnut halves or pieces
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened Dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Bowl, baking sheet, parchment, wire cooking rack

Toast walnuts for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, cool and rough chop. Reduce oven temperature to 320 degrees.

While walnuts are cooling, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder and salt until well mixed. Add walnuts and mix well. Add vanilla and then egg whites one at a time. Whisk to combine, but do not over mix. You want the batter to be about brownie mixture consistency. A bit moister than regular cookie dough, but not too moist, like cake batter (is that helpful?). Three egg whites might be the perfect, or may need to add one more. Drop mixture by the spoonful on parchment paper and bake at 320 degrees for 14 minutes. Move PARCHMENT paper AND cookies to a wire rack to cool. Do not remove until cooled completely. Makes 2 doz.

Test Turkey

I’m having a difficult time wrapping my brain around the idea that Thanksgiving is next week. It couldn’t be the 29th why? Anyway, I’m in no way ready. I’m busy painting, slowly, room by room. The kitchen will be sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Meanwhile, I made my first turkey of the season last week, because I love turkey. I used an herb-spice butter/olive oil spread and herb-spice infuser in the cavity and then roasted it in the traditional method with a tin foil tent.

For the herb butter mixture, I mixed 2 tbsp of butter with dried sage, rosemary, basil, crushed garlic and lemon zest and added about a tbsp of olive oil. Then I lifted the skin on the turkey and spread the mixture directly on the meat, breast and down to the thighs. I used what was left to spread on the skin, along with a good dose of olive oil. I put a cheesecloth ( you could use an infuser or unbleached coffee filter) filled with large amounts of the same spices/herbs and placed in the breast cavity, along with a quartered onion.

I roasted for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduced the temperature to 350 degrees and roasted until the thermometer read 165 degrees. I covered it with foil as soon as the turkey skin was a nice browned color (about 1 hour and 45 minutes in) for the remainder of the cooking time. I left it covered after I removed it from the oven and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

It was very flavorful. Moist enough. I think I’ll repeat it on Thanksgiving, maybe adding 1 or 2 halved oranges in the breast cavity.

For safe turkey handling tips and cooking temperatures, click here.


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