Southwestern Turkey Chowder

It is the 5th of December and we still haven’t had any snow or even cold weather yet. The coolest it has been is in the mid 50’s. This is very unusual for us at this time of year. Despite the warmer weather though, I just felt like making some chowder. Besides, I wanted to use up some more of my turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving too. Maybe I am channeling the cooler weather by making a thick, warm, hearty chowder. I don’t know. What I do know is that my chowder came out delicious. I just had some more for lunch as well. 🙂

Southwestern Turkey Chowder

4-5 cups cooked turkey, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

1-1 1/2 cups pumpkin, diced

1 onion, diced

2 TBSP garlic

1 cup corn

1 bell pepper, diced

1 potato diced

3-4 roasted Hatch chilies, diced

1 cup dry sausage, quartered, optional

olive oil + butter for cooking + lime olive oil (optional)

1 cup flour

8 cups turkey or chicken broth

salt & pepper to taste

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp Aleppo chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp sage

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Get the oils and butter hot in a large pot, then add the celery, onions, corn, potatoes, pumpkin and bell pepper. Saute for about 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the flour and incorporate well, to make it like a vegetable roux. Then add the rest of the ingredients and the stock, except for the cream and the cilantro. Mix everything together well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Continue to cook for an additional 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the cream and a bit more flour, depending on your desired thickness, and incorporate well. Once again, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 20 minutes.

Add the cilantro and mix well, then serve. I stuck with the Southwestern theme and made some bacon-green onion corn muffins and honey butter to go with my chowder. It all went perfectly well with a rich, buttery chardonnay to complete the meal.

I think my channeling for cooler weather worked. Today is already cooler, and it will be even cooler again tomorrow. WHOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!!! Now all we need is some snow.

Happy Holidays Everyone. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – 9

Angles have been a part of Christmas since the very beginning. Without the Angel Gabriel coming to Mary to tell her God’s plan, there would be no Christmas as we know it, if even at all. Angels are messengers from God. Angels are very much a part of Christmas and Christmas decorations.

When I was setting up the coffee cart this morning, these are who I saw as soon as I walked through the doors to greet me.

Fried Zucchini Rounds

I love all kinds of vegetables. And I have always been a big squash fan too. I don’t care if it is zucchini, or crookneck, or acorn, or butternut, or pumpkin, or anything else in the squash family. I love them all. Larry, on the other hand, is NOT such a big fan, though he reluctantly eats them when I cook them. So I was very pleasantly surprised to see him eat almost the whole batch of these delicious fried zucchini rounds I made to go with dinner. He didn’t exactly admit he “liked” them, however, he kept going back for more until most of them were all gone. He decided to save a few to add to his lunch. 🙂

I want to believe these delicious fried zucchini rounds are “healthy” because after all, they are vegetables right?! But alas, they are battered and deep fried, so I suppose that theory goes out the window. They are very good though.

I cut my recipe in half, since it was just for the two of us, and I did not have panko crumbs so I used breadcrumbs instead. You can also mix and match and have both zucchini and crookneck rounds if you like.

Fried Zucchini Rounds

2 medium zucchini, cut into round slices

1 cup flour

3 eggs

1 cup of either breadcrumbs or panko crumbs

1/4 cup Parmigiano cheese

salt & pepper to taste

1 TBSP Italian seasoning or 1 tsp each of dried oregano, basil, thyme and marjoram

red pepper flakes, optional

hot oil for frying

Slice the zucchini into medium thick rounds.

Combine the flour, breadcrumbs and Parmigiano cheese in one bowl and set aside.

Whisk the eggs and seasonings together in another bowl.

Coat the zucchini rounds in the egg mixture, then add them to the flour mixture and coat completely.

Heat cooking or vegetable oil to 350* F or 175* C, then carefully add the coated zucchini rounds into the hot oil. Cook the zucchini rounds in batches until they are all cooked so they do not get over crowded. Remove the cooked ones and place them on a paper towel to drain off the excess grease. Cook them for about 4-5 minutes per batch.

Serve them immediately. These are not particularly good when cold. You can serve them with either ranch dressing or marinara sauce or even a spicy dip. We dipped ours in a some leftover spicy marinara sauce. Spicy Mexican Chicken Stew.

These are like potato chips, only slightly healthier. You can’t eat just one. 🙂

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – 8

The decorations are slowly coming out. I am beginning to see more and more festivity around. There are a lot of wreaths coming out now.

This is our Christmas wreath.

Together, the circular shape and the evergreen material make the wreath a representation of eternal life. It is also a representation of faith, as Christians in Europe often placed a candle on the wreath during Advent to symbolize the light that Jesus brought into the world. By hanging a wreath on the door, Christians welcomed the spirit of Christmas. Along the way, this became a symbol of triumph over death beyond that of Christ. For the families who hang these wreaths, they’re implying that their loved one’s soul lives on.

And other wreaths I am seeing all around, from the stores to the doors.

Enjoy the magic of the season.

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas – 7

The Holiday season, though beautiful, magical and wonderful, is also a very busy time of year. I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking, but have been doing a lot of shopping; to much shopping! So I haven’t had much time in the kitchen these last few days. We have been eating leftovers, and not even creatively; just plain, regular leftovers. How boring is that?

Fortunately, there are plenty of wonders and beauty of the season to share with you. The trees are out and are ready for everyone to take them home and decorate.

We have decided NOT to decorate any of our trees this year ONLY because our wolf baby Juneau is still VERY destructive and has already decapitated and destroyed 3 or 4 of my Santas, as well as EVERYTHING else she can destroy. We just don’t trust her with Christmas trees or other decorations. Not this year. Hopefully next year.

Enjoy the magic and wonder of the season. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Some of the Best Parts of Thanksgiving Are The Leftovers

There are a lot of fabulous things about Thanksgiving – food, friends, family, etc. And all of these, as well as being thankful for what we have, are the main reasons we celebrate. But there are also LEFTOVERS!!!!! Sometimes those are the best. 🙂 Often when we host Thanksgiving, I get so frustrated with Larry because at the end of the evening he has given away most, if not all of the leftovers, especially the turkey. I plan recipes based on the leftovers only to find there are none.

This year, fortunately for Larry’s sake, he did NOT give away all the turkey leftovers. We have already gone through all of the mashed potatoes, but we still have some vegetables (that I cut up but haven’t cooked yet), some stuffing, and thankfully quite a bit of TURKEY! I have already recreated some of the turkey and am looking forward to what I can do with the rest of it.

My first turkey recreation was to turn it into a pasta dish with a spinach almond pesto sauce. As with any other pesto sauce, it is very versatile and can be used for many recipes and dishes. It has just enough lemon to liven any meal up without being over powering of lemon.

Spinach Almond Pesto

2 cups baby spinach, stems removed

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

2 TBSP lemon juice

2 tsp lemon zest

1 TBSP garlic

red pepper flakes to taste

1/3 cup olive oil

2 TBSP lemon balsamic vinegar, optional

1/4 cup Parmigiano cheese

salt & pepper to taste

Place everything in the food processor and blend away until it is a thick paste. Then use however you would use a regular basil pesto sauce.

Pesto is one of my favorite pasta sauces. I love pasta of any kind, and I also love a wide variety of different sauces to go with my pasta, but there is something about a good pesto that will call out to me every time.

First I used about 3-4 cups of my leftover turkey that I shredded, and then I added mushrooms, bell peppers, red onions, crookneck squash, Peruvian peppers and garlic, along with salt & pepper and olive oil. I sauted those all together until the vegetables were tender.

The Peruvian peppers are rather delicate, so add those right at the end of the cooking process.

Once everything was cooked I served it all over some farfelle pasta, which I topped with a dab or two of the spinach pesto. I like to layer my pastas, so it was the pasta, pesto, turkey saute, and a bit more pesto sauce, with more Parmigiano cheese on top for Larry. The meal was completed with some warmed ciabiatta rolls and a glass or two of of a light Sauvignon Blanc. AHHHHH! I love it when a meal comes together like this.

Enjoy the Holidays and then enjoy them again. Stay safe and stay Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Bourbon Pecan Tartlets

Pumpkin pie and pecan pie are every bit as important and anticipated as the turkey is on Thanksgiving Day. Because pecans are harvested from late September through November, they are the perfect nut for the holidays. In fact, pumpkin pie and pecan pie are ranked #1 and 2 respectively as the most popular Thanksgiving desserts. I did not make or serve either this year though. I did variations of the them instead. I had some mini pumpkin bundt cakes (I bought these) and I made some pecan pie tartlets, along with my tiffin cakes A Chocolate Tiffin Cake and some of my famous caramels Video #18 – Making Caramels with Priscilla rather than big pies. I did this for a couple of reasons. We had a small gathering and a lot of food. So I chose to make smaller desserts instead of big desserts to allow everyone to sample little bits of different items. I also made extras of everything to add to my church coffee cart on the following Sunday as well.

Pecan pie has been around since the French inhabited Louisiana, in the 19th century. Pecans are native to North America and were originally grown in the areas watered by the Mississippi River, but after the Civil War farmers brought pecan trees down to Georgia and now pecans are a major staple to the agricultural business of Georgia. Pecans were very popular among the Native American Quinipissa and Tangipahoa tribes.

The word pecan is derived from the French word pacane, which means nut. Because the word pecan derived from the French pacane, many people think that it was the French who invented pecan pie, but there is no evidence to support this theory. It seems pecan pie is 100% an American creation.

People have been baking with pecans since the 1800’s. The earliest rendition of what is considered pecan pie was created by a Texan woman in 1898. Originally, the pie was a simple pie known as a sugar pie. But as with anything, this simple pie has evolved into many different variations. Some recipes are very simple and some are more complicated. Some popular versions today include bourbon, whiskey, shredded coconut, and chocolate. I think I have made all of these variations at some point. You can use Karo syrup, molasses or brown sugar as the base of this deliciously sweet pies too. People who live south of the Mason-Dixon line prefer their pecan pie a little sweeter than those who live north of the divide. I guess I am more a Northerner than a Southerner when it comes to pecan pies. I do not like them overly sweet. Pecan pie is the official state dessert of Texas.

The only difference between making these as individual tartlets vs a whole pie was the size of the pan I used. This time I used my mini muffin pans instead of my tart pans.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

The Dough

2 sticks of cold butter, cubed

2 cups flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

Pulse the butter, flour and sugar together in a food processor until it resembles a fine sand. Then add the eggs and mix together until it forms into a ball. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour before using.

Preheat the oven to 350* F or 175* C.

Once my dough was ready, I formed it into small balls and placed them into the muffin pans and pressed them firmly to fit the pan.

The Filling

3 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup pure maple syrup

2 TBSP bourbon

3 TBSP melted butter

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups pecan halves

whipped cream for topping

Combine all the ingredients together and then carefully fill the dough cups with about 1 TBSP of filling.

Top each cup with a pecan half and bake for about 30 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and the center is cooked.

Allow the tartlets to cool completely before adding the whipped cream topping. if you like, you can add a little dash of bourbon to the whipped cream too.

When I took them into church on Sunday, I heard someone say, “You made these? They look so professional”. I certainly hope so, if not, I didn’t learn very much in all my many years of culinary school and restaurants and catering. 🙂

Life is short. Make sure you enjoy the sweet things in life. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til Next time. Happy Holidays.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – 4

It is time to get the Christmas cards out. I know a lot of people do not send Christmas cards any more, which I find very sad. They are a big to-do at our house. We do cards, a Christmas letter and a picture. They are basically our annual correspondence to our loved ones around the world. I try to get them out around the first of December every year. I am pushing it this year, but I think they will be out tomorrow, which is Dec. 1. 🙂

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