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Thanksgiving Burgers

Thanksgiving Burgers

Thanksgiving is my favorite meal to cook.

Unfortunately, I find myself only doing the whole magilla once a year.

But, you know, every once in a while I just get a HANKERING for those wonderful Thanksgiving flavors!

Serve this with sweet potato fries and you’re all set, any time of year!

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/3 C chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/3 C dried cranberries
  • 1/2 t Bell’s Seasoning
  • 1 box Stove-Top Stuffing
  • 1/4 C chopped, toasted pecans
  • 1/4 C dried cranberries
  • Cranberry sauce

NOTE: I used cranberry sauce I made from scratch. In a pinch you can use canned whole berry cranberry sauce, just put it in a small pan and melt it down a little so it because more saucey.

NOTE: Yes, yes, I know. A box of StoveTop. It’s quick and easy. And so much less fussy than starting stuffing from scratch. And, besides, stuffing from scratch kind of defeats the whole purpose, doesn’t it? I used the cornbread mix.

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Make stuffing according to package directions. When you take the stuffing off the heat to let sit, stir in the 1/4 C each of toasted, chopped pecans and dried cranberries. Allow to cool so it’s easier to handle.

While waiting for the stuffing to cool, mix the first four ingredients in a bowl and form 4 flattish patties. Place on cookie sheet.

Once cooled, form the stuffing into 4 flattish patties. Place on cookie sheet.

NOTE: You want the patties to be about the same diameter and not too thick.

Place cookie sheet in oven and cook until burgers are done, about 30 minutes, flipping the patties once.

Once cooked through, assemble the burger. A stuffing patty, a turkey patty, some cranberry sauce on top. A side of sweet potato fries. Voila! Thanksgiving dinner is served!

Turkey Vegetable Chili

Turkey Vegetable Chili

It’s cold.

I’m sick.

Bubonic plague sick.

Oh, no, not the flu. The flu would be too simple. Here’s some drugs, get some sleep, you’ll be better.

I have the energy sapping, can’t keep your eyes open, will not go away virus that is sweeping the nation.

I needed to make something. Something warm. Something healthy. Something that freezes well.

The solution, this wonderful one-pot turkey vegetable chili. Filled with veggies and turkey. It’s hearty without being too much. Best part, it’s a Weight Watcher’s recipe and each one cup serving is only ONE POINT.  Okay, I made my Grandmother’s Biscuits to go with, so it’s no longer one point, but I’m ill and can afford the extra calories, and besides, I’m shooting for filling, healthy and yummy, not diet conscious.

There’s a lot of energy sapping chopping here, but the end result is totally worth it!

  • 10 oz. extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes (I use mexican style w/ green chiles)
  • 2 medium zucchini – diced
  • 2 medium yellow squash diced
  • 15 oz can black beans – rinsed & drained
  • 2 cans fat free low sodium beef broth
  • 4 celery stalks diced
  • 1 or 2 packages dry chili seasoning or to taste

NOTE: This is the original recipe. I usually use low sodium chicken broth. I use one packet of the chili seasoning.

Ingredients

Saute turkey, pepper, and onion in the bottom of a large stock pot until browned.

Into the pot

Add remaining ingredients and simmer over medium heat until veggies are tender (about 30 minutes).

Cooking

I like to simmer mine for a while longer to help the flavors blend, but it’s definitely not necessary.

Makes approximately 20, one cup servings.

NOTE: When I freeze tis I freeze it in ziploc bags, laying flat, in both one and two cup portions.

Turkey Chops with Mushrooms

Most of you who follow me regularly know about Black Thursday – as we are fortunate enough to still jokingly call it – that was the day we began our paltry poultry journey.  Those of us who are already heart healthy in my house are not as excited about this continuing turn over to life as non-red meat eaters (mostly).

Seems, though, one of us has been cheating on his diet a bit and numbers are a teensy bit higher than they had been.  FOUR WORDS – NOT. ON. MY. WATCH. So we (read I) need to pull the reins a little tighter on what we’re (haha I’m) cooking and he’s eating.

We’ve learned in this process – pork is NOT the other white meat no matter what the pork council tells you; there is MORE sodium in turkey sausage than in pork sausage – 590 mg per LINK (that fact could make your blood pressure go up on its own!); the BOy is still spitting feathers; and turkey and chicken now come in all sorts of interesting cuts, shapes and sizes.

I seem to spend an unending amount of time in the turkey and chicken section of my supermarket. I stand there – staring – hoping for some inspiration. Hoping perhaps one of the items will jump off the shelf, into my cart and tell me how to prepare it. Truth be told, if that were to happen, after I was released from the funny farm, I would never be able to eat poultry again. As it is, I cannot stand chicken or turkey legs. I will not even explain why, it will keep you from eating them as well.

Oh, and please don’t suggest asking my darling husband – Mr. Ambiguous – what he’d like. His answer is likely to be along these lines, “Well, whatever you make would be fine. Turkey would be good. Chicken would be good. Either one would be good.” And then he goes into his Forrest Gump answer, “You could grill it, or saute it, or make soup, or roast it, maybe cutlets, or a whole chicken, which you could flat roast or leave whole, or …” And I just stand there staring at him, open mouthed, thinking to myself, you are the most aggravating human on the planet, and then remembering I go through all of this poultry madness because we were so lucky that he (well, we actually) survived his heart attack.

On one of these shopping trips, staring into poultry cases, I noticed Shady Brook Farms Turkey Chops. These are a cross section cut from the breast. They are the size and thickness of a boneless loin pork chop and can easily fool husbands and sons. I had to try them.

But what to do with them?

  • 1 package of Shady Brook Farms Turkey Chops
  • flour for dredging
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 8 oz. package of sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 C chicken stock

NOTE: There are 4 chops in a package. You can sub boneless loin pork chops or chicken cutlets. If you like to slice your own mushrooms then you need a 10 oz. package of white mushrooms. You can make the 1 cup of chicken stock half white wine and half stock, if you’d like.

Season flour with salt and pepper.  Dredge turkey chops in flour shaking off excess.

NOTE: Sometimes I throw a little dried thyme in there.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray or add a little bit of olive oil. Add turkey chops. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes and turn. Cook another 3 or 4 minutes. Once done, remove from pan. Cover plate with foil to keep warm.

NOTE: You want these to be golden brown, but they go from done to dry quickly!

Add the tablespoon of butter to the pan. Once melted, add the mushrooms and saute for 4 or 5 minutes until they start to turn golden.

NOTE: I try not to add extra salt here, but you certainly can. Sometimes I sprinkle a little dried thyme here as well.

Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the chicken stock and lemon juice and let simmer for 4 or 5 minutes. Add turkey chops back into pan to just heat.

This recipe serves 4 people or 2 REALLY hungry people. Divide turkey chops among plates, cover with mushrooms, spooning sauce over top.

I usuallt serve this with orzo or brown rice and steamed green beans.

Sausage with Fagioli all’Uccelletta

If I had to pick one cuisine to live on for the rest of my life – after I finished mourning the loss of all the wonderful cuisines there are – I would have to pick Tuscan. There is something about the complex simplicity. The range of ingredients. The types of ingredients. How they all dance together. And besides, that style of cooking reminds me of my Grandmother – Glamour Girl.

I was thrilled to pieces when the Cooking Channel added Extra Virgin to their line up. I have always loved Debi Mazar. But now I love Debi Mazar and her wonderful husband Gabriele Corcos. Their banter is hilarious. Their food is sublime. You can watch Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel and follow along their cooking adventures on the blog Under the Tuscan Gun.

On one of the recent episodes, Debi and Gabriele made Sausage with Fagioli all’Uccelletta. I wanted to grab my plate and fork and sit next to them to eat. I went out the next morning to buy the ingredients I needed.

By the way, if you haven’t watched their show, watch. They are so wonderful together – funny, charming, great banter.

This dish is easy enough for the summer heat and hearty and comforting enough for the winter. I have a feeling it will be on our table all the time.

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 8 Italian turkey sausages
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Lb of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on the size
  • 3 dried hot red pepper
  • 2 cans (15oz) of cannellini beans
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 handfuls of parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

NOTE: I used 1 hot red pepper. I wanted to see how extreme it would be with one. It had a nice warmth to it, but I think it could use a little more. Oh, and did I mention how much I hated cutting all those tomatoes in half and quarters?

Heat a large high-sided saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to heat. Once hot, add the sausages and brown on all sides, for about 8 minutes total. Remove the sausages from the pan to plate and reserve.

Add the garlic, and saute until golden and brown. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped tomatoes and red peppers and season with salt and pepper. Lower the flame, and cover the pan with a lid, simmer for 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down and thickened to a sauce-like consistency.

NOTE: I am sure it was the tomatoes, but I would have liked more liquid from them. It may just be my addiction to a wonderful loaf of Italian bread being dipped into any kind of liquid!

Add the browned sausages (and any juice left on the plate), beans, and bay leaves to the thickened tomatoes. Stir well and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Add the chopped parsley before serving.

NOTE: I skipped the parsley and I don’t think I missed it. Debi was right about one thing ~ the smells coming from the pan after you add the tomatoes to the garlic and the juices that came from the sausages was amazing.

I can’t wait to make this again and again. More than that, I can’t wait to try more of their recipes!

Gabriele & Debi – grazie mille!

Turkey Meatballs

First mistake – taking Tom to the supermarket with me. Now, he picks up every box and bag, reads the label, makes a ‘pfffft’ sound and puts it back.

I take something from the shelf, he says, ‘I can’t eat that!’  FGS, the doctor did not say NO SALT the doctor said lower and moderate your salt intake. His salt intake had to have been cut by more than half just by stopping the tortilla chip and salsa binging! I now make fresh salsa and bake tortilla chips for him.

So we walk across the meat department and I am quickly trying to think about what to make for dinner every night this week. Red meat once a week is fine, but he’s trying to avoid it at all costs. Seriously, how much chicken and turkey can eat before you start to cluck?

I made the mistake of asking what he’s like for dinner. “Pasta and meatballs.’ Okay, I can do that. As I reach for the meatball mix my grocer makes, he says, ‘Oh, no, do you have to use red meat?’ Sigh.

So Turkey Meatballs, here we come. I have had them before and they were terrible. Dry. Flavorless. Yucky.  I turned to Giada for help and guidance. If any one could come up with a great turkey meatball she would be the one to do just that.

I looked at three different turkey meatball recipes of Giada’s and tweaked it a bit and came up with this. This recipe is mostly from the Mini Turkey Meatballs recipe found on Food Network.

  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground dark turkey meat 

NOTE: I bought a turkey mix of light and dark, 85/15%. All light would be way too dry. KETCHUP? Really? It wasn’t alot, so how bad could it be?

Preheat oven to 350.

Add the turkey, onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, parsley, Parmesan, Pecorino, salt and pepper to a large bowl and blend.

Shape the turkey mixture into meatballs. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place meatballs on baking sheet. I baked them for about 30 minutes, turning them once.

While the meatballs were cooking a made a quick marinara sauce for them. A clove of minced garlic, a little olive oil, allspice (thanks, mom) and toasting the dried herbs first (only good thing Nonna ever taught me), crushed tomatoes. Simmer while the meatballs are baking.

Once the meatballs were done, I let them sit for a moment or two before their plunge into the sauce.

After the meatballs went into the sauce, and pasta was cooked, I poured the Penne into the sauce and tossed it together. A sprinkle of parsley and a little Parmigiano Reggiano and we were ready to go!

NOTE: Barilla makes a great pasta called Barilla Pasta Plus. Same great Barilla taste, just multi-grain and high in protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.