Turkey and Mushroom Risotto

28 Nov

Turkey and Mushroom Risotto

Comforting.  Rich.  Layers of flavor melded together into something oh, so wonderful.  You will want to share this delicious dish, so by making it, you are preparing yourself for the season of giving.  Double whammy: good food and the joy of giving.

Thank you, Bon Appetit, for this stunningly simple recipe.  It is destined to become a holiday classic in my family, in part because I can’t quite picture leftover turkey without seeing this steaming pot of goodness.

I sautéed a few extra cups of mushrooms in butter and garlic to serve on top of the risotto.  You can’t have too much of a good thing.  And, um, I overbought.  Far be it from me to criticize the Bon Appetit folks, but by the time it was all said and done, I was really glad to have the extra mushrooms, because they are a bit scanty in the actual dish.

Reality Check: I would not have been able to peacefully prepare this risotto if my darling little rugrat was scampering around underfoot and climbing up my legs.  So, if you also have little ones, I’d suggest making this dish only when you have some assistance!

Turkey and Mushroom Risotto
makes 4-6 servings

8 c turkey stock (or chicken broth)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 c assorted fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used baby portabella and some white buttons)
2 c arborio rice
2 c shredded leftover turkey (I diced mine finely rather than shredding because I cannot shred meat without getting my fingers dirty, and I wanted to avoid that)
1/2 c shredded Parmesan
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Bring stock to a simmer in a medium pot over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and keep warm (because you don’t want to bring the rice’s temperature down as you add the broth to the rice).

Meanwhile, melt 3 Tbsp butter in a large pot over medium-high heat until it begins to foam.  Add onion.  Saute, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent and just beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and until any liquid released has evaporated, 5-7 minutes.

Add rice; stir to coat.  Add 1/2 cup warm stock and stir constantly until liquid is absorbed.  Continue adding stock by 1/2-cupfuls, stirring constantly and allowing liquid to be absorbed, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes.  Add leftover turkey meat; stir to combine and warm the meat.  Add a little stock or water, if needed, to maintain creamy texture.

Stir Parmesan and remaining 1 Tbsp butter into risotto.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide among warm bowls.  (I do recommend topping with extra mushrooms!)  Garnish with chopped parsley.


Easy Bring-Along: Cranberry Cilantro Salsa

21 Nov

Thanksgiving is Tomorrow!

If you’re still looking for a quick, easy bring-along dish, try this Cranberry Cilantro Salsa.

It’s bursting with fresh flavors, it’s so simple, and it’s a fun alternative to Thanksgiving’s more traditional dishes.  It would be delicious on a leftover turkey sandwich with fresh greens, but you can also dip tortilla chips in it or pile it over softened cream cheese and enjoy with crackers.

Oh, and did I mention it’s easy?  Seriously.  A tiny bit of chopping you can accomplish in less than 5 minutes, then you toss it all in the food processor and pulse, pulse, pulse away.  Now if only I could get the final result to retain those same gorgeous pre-pulse colors.

Cranberry Cilantro Salsa
12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 bunch green onions, cut in 3″ lengths
2 jalapenos, seeded (or not, if you want more heat) and minced
2 limes, juiced
3/4 c white sugar (it really helps balance the tartness of the cranberries; I wouldn’t skimp)
1 pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely minced.

Simple, Scrumptious Chicken Stew

19 Nov

This simple, yet oh, so scrumptious, Chicken Stew falls into my “will make again this winter and many winters to come” soup category.  I love soups and stews and chilis this time of year.  Nothing better than a pot of something yummy bubbling on your stove all afternoon.

Simple, Scrumptious Chicken Stew

I did find out the Big Guy doesn’t like potatoes in his stew.  So next time I make it, I plan on substituting a few cans of great northern beans, or perhaps sweet potatoes (apparently, sweet potatoes are acceptable, but your basic russet or red is not).

With the addition of some poblano peppers and southwest seasonings like chili powder and cumin, this stew could easily become Mexican Chicken Stew.

But I like it plain and simple, discreetly served with Saltines.  I say “discreetly” because if you open a package of crackers near the Little Guy, he will immediately hate whatever other food is before him and will demand all the crackers he can get.  So, sneak a few Saltines in if you can.  Shredded cheddar totally optional and not really needed, although I did experiment for your benefit with it.

Simple, Scrumptious Chicken Stew

1 chicken
7 cups water, or enough to cover the chicken completely
6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced – or a few cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 lg onions, finely chopped
28 oz crushed tomatoes
15.5 oz petite diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp crushed oregano
5 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

Place chicken in very large stockpot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until the chicken is done.  Remove chicken from pot.  Discard skin. Separate meat from bones and shred or finely chop meat.

Meanwhile, put potatoes and onions in the chicken broth you’ve created and simmer about 15 minutes.  Remove 1 cup of beans and mash with a fork.  Return to pot and stir to combine.  These will help thicken the broth slightly.

Add corn, tomatoes, sugar, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper to broth.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Return chicken to pot (you don’t have to use all of it, depending on how chicken-y you want your stew to be) and simmer slowly, uncovered, for at least 45 minutes.

Freezes beautifully.  As with most stews, it is even better the next day.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos

16 Nov

I love black beans.  I love sweet potatoes.  I love tacos.

So of course I wanted to try this recipe when I ran across it on Joy the Baker’s blog!  My only dilemma was deciding when to do it.  Should I make them when the Big Guy is home for dinner?  Or should I make them when he’s gone, so there’s more (all) for me?

I made them for both of us.  One can only have so many beans.  Or should really have so many beans.  You know what I mean.

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos

The Big Guy is a meat-eater of the highest order, so selling him on any meat-free dish is a challenge.  But he and I both loved this one!  Huge hit.  Plus, it’s an easy gluten-free option if you need to take a meal to a gluten-free family, as I did.  Just use corn tortillas instead of flour.

The cabbage slaw is an amazing, tangy addition to these tacos.  It would be so good on fish tacos, too.  I wanted to add slivers of green apple to it, but just didn’t have the time – so maybe you can try that!

The recipe does include preparing three different parts for your tacos, but don’t worry.  The preparations are all fast and easy.  And this is a recipe you can feel really good about eating before Thanksgiving, too.

Before the Roll-Up

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos
recipe from Joy the Baker

For the Potatoes:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste

For the Cabbage Slaw:
2 heaping cups shredded cabbage (I used a packaged coleslaw mix that has carrots, too – great time-saver)
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onions
2 heaping tablespoons chopped cilantro
juice of 2 limes
salt to taste (approx 1/4 – 1/2 tsp)

For the Beans:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lime

whole-wheat tortillas
sour cream, for topping (highly suggested)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place peeled and diced sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet.  Top with olive oil, salt and chili flakes, and lime juice.  Toss together until all of the potato chunks are coated.  Place in the oven to bake until softened through and toasted brown, about 35 – 40 minutes.   Remove the cookie sheet once or twice during baking to toss the potato chunks around.  This will ensure that the cubes cook evenly.  Remove from the oven and let stand when cooked through.

While the potatoes cook, assemble the Cabbage Slaw.  In a medium bowl, place cabbage, yellow onions, and chopped cilantro.  Add lime juice and salt.  Toss to coat and set aside while the potatoes cook and beans heat.  Letting the cabbage slaw sit will help soften the cabbage.

To cook the beans, heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add onions and cook until transluscent, about 3 minutes.  Add ground cumin and stir until fragrant.  Add beans and lime juice.  Cook until heated through.

Pile the sweet potatoes, beans and slaw all together on a tortilla and thoroughly enjoy!  Sour cream takes it to the Next Level.

Whole Wheat QuickBread with Molasses

14 Nov

Whole Wheat QuickBread with Molasses

I’ll make what may seem like an obvious statement here.  You should like molasses if you decide to make this bread.  To be more clear, because that previous sentence is very poorly worded but I cannot think of a better way to express the idea, do not make this bread if you do not like molasses.


Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll tell you that this is a lovely, moist, brown bread.  It’s going to join Honey Oatmeal Bread in our regular rotation.  Both the men in my life just gobble it up.  It’s sorta sweet, but the molasses keeps it from going over the edge.

Whole Wheat QuickBread with Molasses

3 c whole-wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c molasses
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp hot water
2 c milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  If you’re ambitious, sift it all together.

In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, molasses and egg.  Mix baking soda and water and add to the molasses mixture.  Alternating, beat in milk and flour mixture gradually.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

13 Nov

A creamy cup of caffeine-laced autumn flavors…  that’s what this Pumpkin Spice Latte is.  I guarantee it will be a big hit to whomever you serve it.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

I made these when I had friends over for brunch last week – brunch for one of our friends.  I hope to someday be a woman who brunches for no apparent reason other than the fun of eating with friends, but alas, I am not quite at that stage of life yet.

I know there are about a thousand different recipes for Pumpkin Spice Lattes out there, but I like this version because it’s easy.  Does that make me lazy or wise?  Oh, the things I must ponder…

Pumpkin Spice Latte
4 c strongly brewed coffee
6 c milk (use skim so you will feel less badly about later topping your mug with whipped cream)
12 Tbsp sugar

8 Tbsp pumpkin puree
8 Tbsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

optional for topping: cinnamon sticks, sweetened whipped cream, ground nutmeg

Pour the coffee and sugar into a large crockpot.  Whisk to dissolve the sugar thoroughly.  Pour in the milk.  Side note: I also tried whole milk, and skim really did taste best.  I think it allows the pumpkin-y flavor and spices to shine through better.

In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, vanilla and spices.  Whisk into the coffee-milk mixture in the crockpot.

Cover and heat on low for 3-4 hours.

To serve, ladle into mugs and top with cinnamon sticks, whipped cream, and a light sprinkle of nutmeg.

Serving note: When you’ve served down to one inch or so of remaining latte, cut the heat!  It will create an unpleasant film.

Butternut Beef Stew

12 Nov

Butternut Beef Stew

This Butternut Beef Stew just says, “I will comfort you,” with every steaming spoonful.  The aromas that fill your house as it cooks will do some solid reassuring as well.

We both enjoyed it thoroughly.  The Big Guy had a couple bowls, which is a testament to the stew’s goodness, when you consider how a single bowl can fill you up.  It’s stuffed with all sorts of good, simple, hearty ingredients: butternut squash, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, onions, beef.  I found myself wishing for some tomatoes, and more carrots.  I love carrots.  Next time!

This is a crockpot recipe, but you could easily make it on the stovetop.  After you add all the ingredients, just cover and simmer, probably for at least an hour.  This is an almost-universal stew and soup truth: they get better the longer they simmer.

Digging In

Crock Pot Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
recipe from EatLiveRun
serves 6

1.5 lbs beef stew meat, chopped into 1″ pieces
1 tbsp canola oil
5 small red or purple potatoes, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
10 oz sliced cremini mushrooms (I used portabella)
1 2.5 lb butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 quart beef broth (4 cups)
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup flour

Place the flour in a shallow dish with the chopped beef. Toss well to coat.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute for about five minutes until soft.  Add the beef and garlic to the pan and continue sauteing until the beef has browned.

Place the beef, onions and garlic at the bottom of your crockpot (the biggest you have!). Next, add the bay leaf, butternut squash, mushrooms, chopped carrots and potatoes. Pour the beef broth over and add the Worcestershire, soy sauce, sugar and paprika— if you are using a 5 qt crockpot, it will almost overflow but don’t worry, it won’t! Also, it won’t look like there is enough liquid in the pot — there is.

Place the lid on the crockpot and turn the heat to low. Cook for 8-10 hours. Right before serving, add the salt and pepper to taste, and remove the bay leaf!

Freezes beautifully.

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

8 Nov

Need a break from stick-to-your-ribs, wintery foods?  Be honest:  are your jeans telling you need a break from the heavy, beefy, cheesy foods that I, for one, crave as our days get shorter?

My jeans are being brutally honest.  Sigh.  Some things in life you can just count on, and honesty from your jeans is one of them.  Here’s a salad for those face-the-truth days.

 BUT this is not a salad that makes you sad you’re eating a salad.  I reveled in it, I really did.  I plan on getting it on our Thanksgiving table.

It’s fresh and bright.  The celery adds a nice little crunch, but what I most loved was the parsley.  Weird, right?  It’s just so… peppery and confident.  How I want to feel in my jeans, if you must know.

Let me tell you a few things.  This salad is delish scooped up with a spoon.  But I’d also like to try it wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla, and scooped up with tortilla chips.  Hit it with a little chili oil if you’re feeling the need for some spice.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad
makes about 2 servings
2 c cooked quinoa
1/4 c minced yellow onion (mince it so fine you can practically see through it)
1/3 c minced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 c finely diced celery
1 c roasted cinnamon-nutmeg butternut squash*

Mix all ingredients gently.

1/2 c freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk ingredients together.  Pour over salad one tablespoon at a time, until well-coated but not soggy.  I used 5 tablespoons, which left a little less than 1/4 c dressing for later use.

* Peel butternut squash and chop in half lengthwise.  Remove seeds and membranes.  Dice evenly.  Toss with a few tablespoons coconut oil (no need to melt it first).  Season liberally with cinnamon, and lightly with nutmeg.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast for about 35 minutes at 375.

Funny side note?  The orange I found in our fridge was about 2 weeks old.  I zested it when I made Cranberry Orange Butter and then let it lie.  Embarrassing, but true.

Cowboy Quiche (aka Bacon and Sharp Cheddar Quiche with Caramelized Onions)

7 Nov

You are in luck.  I own both the Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks.  And reading her cookbooks is the only way you will find this gem of a recipe.  It’s not on her website; I checked.  It’s not on the Food Network site; I checked.

So, you found it here first, my friends, but all credit must go to Ree.  Another winner from her recipe box.

Melt-in-your-mouth lovely.  With the homiest of ingredients.

Cowboy Quiche

This Cowboy Quiche is one that should make it into your recipe box.  It’ll be on our table regularly.  I mean, who would have thought bacon and caramelized onions and cream and sharp cheddar could be so delicious?

I jest, of course.  We are born knowing these foods are delicious.  My fourteen-month old gobbled up an entire slice.  (Except he wasn’t a big fan of the homemade crust.  What’s up with that?)

Hold on.  I must amend a statement.  This quiche will be on our table regularly, so long as we are also regularly hitting the pavement in our running shoes.  My only issue is its title: Cowboy Quiche.  It conjures images of strong, husky men wearing plaid shirts, hunkered down at a split-pine table.  Not a bad image, admittedly, but girls can eat this quiche, too.  Girls like me with an appetite for rich, indulgent foods and a convenient ability to selectively ignore obvious calorie counts.

Now, I will admit, I do have a little trouble with the actual execution of quiches.  They never bake for me in the suggested time.  For instance, this quiche is supposed to bake 45 minutes.  Mine took 1.5 hours, no joke.  So you might want to consider baking this well before you plan to eat it.  You can always recover it with foil to keep it semi-warm, and it is absolutely amazing even at room temperature.

Maybe if I didn’t have to bake it an additional 45 minutes, it wouldn’t have been quite so brown on top.  But then maybe it wouldn’t have tasted quite so lovely.  We all know that’s when cheese and eggs start to take on an epic taste all their own.

Cowboy Quiche
or, to more aptly describe it, my lengthy title “Bacon and Sharp Cheddar Quiche with Caramelized Onions”

Makes 8-12 slices (I suppose it depends on whether you’re feeding actual cowboys, or just girls who like to eat, or a small toddler, or a combination)

1 deep-dish pie crust
8 slices bacon, fried until chewy (preferably thick-cut)
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 Tbsp butter
8 eggs
1 1/2 c heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste
2 c hand-grated sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 400.

Roll out the pie dough and lay gently in a large tart or deep dish pie pan; press into grooves and trim as needed.  Set aside (don’t bake!  I wanted to bake at this point… but don’t!).

Chop the fried bacon into small bite-sized pieces.  In a heavy skillet or pot over medium-low heat, caramelize the onions in butter until deep golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

Mix the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add the bacon, onions, and cheese; stir to combine.  At this point, you can refrigerate the mixture up to 3 days before using.

If you wish to bake immediately, pour into pie shell.  Cover lightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes (or 105 minutes, whatever…).  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the quiche is set, jiggling very little when shaken, and the crust is golden brown.  Remove from oven when done and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

DELISH.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chili

7 Nov

Pumpkin Chili

Here’s a fun new way to serve chili this fall and winter.  And, um, to sneak veggies into your family’s diet…

Not that I am sneaky like that, of course.  No, I was very upfront about it.  “Pumpkin Chili” was up on the menu board, for all to see.  If the Big Guy never actually looks at that board (no, not a hot button topic; why do you ask?), well, that is his issue.

I couldn’t wait to try this Pumpkin Chili!  Basically, when September hits, I begin taking every possible opportunity to include pumpkin in my cooking and baking.  The pumpkin puree created a super-thick chili (so thick that I added almost half a cup of water before serving) – creamy rather than chunky.  Something new, eh?  I’ve never called chili “creamy” before.  This is a chili you can serve to folks who don’t enjoy a lot of spice.  The chipotle chilies, scraped empty of their seeds, lend just a nice depth and bit of tangy heat.  The smell when the cumin and cinnamon hit the pan together… heaven.  I was transported.

Oh, and a little more need-to-know information about those sneaky veggies?  Carrots and a yellow bell pepper.  Not your everyday chili, my friends.  Ground beef keeps it acceptable for meat-lovers.

Pumpkin Chili
from The Scrumptious Pumpkin (important note!  hers was drunken… check it out!)

1 pound 93% lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon tomato paste (buy the tube… you’ll thank yourself later)
1 cup pumpkin ale (or chicken broth)
15-ounce container pure pumpkin puree
15-ounce container diced tomatoes
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and minced
15-ounce container black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Add the ground beef to a dutch oven or large stock pot and adjust heat to medium-high. Break up the meat into small pieces, and immediately add the minced garlic, diced onion, diced carrots, and diced bell pepper.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 7 minutes, or until the meat is nicely browned and the veggies are softened. Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the bay leaf, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, and tomato paste, and stir to combine.  Add the pumpkin ale (or chicken broth) and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Allow the pumpkin ale or broth to cook and reduce for about 5 minutes.  Add the pumpkin purée and diced tomato.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the minced chipotle peppers, and stir to combine.  Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and allow the chili to simmer gently for about 45 minutes.  Add the black beans, stir, and allow the chili to cook another 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Tasty topped with shredded mild cheddar, sour cream, and Saltines, of course!