We started barbecuing our turkey years ago! It’s so delicious and it frees up your oven for all the other stuff you need to cook. Best of all, it gives my husband something to do! LOL!
I had some red lentils left over from the soup I made a few days ago. I thought I might as well throw those in a pot and get creative. I didn’t feel like going vegetarian this time, so I added some ground turkey, but you could leave that out of the recipe. This turned out to be a very savory, hearty and delicious dinner for my family. They really enjoyed it! This recipe could easily be adapted to make it vegan friendly.
As I frequently do, I thought I would sneak some vegetables into the soup. This kept it to a one pot meal, so all I had to do was serve the soup and folks could grab a slice of the bread I made to go with it. I happened to have sweet potatoes on hand, so I diced a couple of these up and added them to the soup. After cooking with the lentils for quite a while, these sweet potatoes melted like butter in your mouth when eating the soup. Yumm!!!
Now I got creative with the spices in this version. You might not have some of the spices I used in your pantry, but that’s OK. As I always say, play with your food! Give your spices a smell and taste a little and see if you think it would add an interesting dimension to your dish. You might discover a new flavor profile that you love!
Turkey & Red Lentil Soup
1 ½ cups red lentils
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tsp cumin
¼ tsp saffron
¼ tsp cardamom
½ tsp ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced or 1 tbsp canned, diced jalapeno
4 fresh basil leave, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, pressed or diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red onion, diced
1 pound ground turkey
Salt and pepper to taste
I chose to cook mine in my Dutch oven on the stove top, but you could also put this in a slow cooker, but if you’re doing this you’ll want to cook it on low for 6-8 hours. Using the Dutch oven, my cook time was about 2 hours total.
Put lentils and broth in pot and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Add next 9 ingredients (sweet potatoes, beans and spices) to lentil pot. In a frying pan, cook ground turkey and onions. Cook until turkey is browned and onions are soft and translucent. Add turkey and onions to soup pot. Continue to simmer. For the last 30 minutes, tilt the lid to allow some of the liquid to cook off. You may need to increase the heat a bit to maintain a simmer. You want to allow your lentils about 2 hours total cook time. Salt and pepper your soup to taste.
Our family just adores meat loaf. I have a basic recipe that I usually use and it is just delicious! The texture is good. It’s firm without being dry. Using ground turkey keeps it lean, so if you’re watching your weight this is a good recipe for you. We usually serve our meat loaf with mashed potatoes and peas. My younger daughter and I weren’t big pea fans, but when you can mix them with your mashed potatoes they are yummy!
The great thing about this recipe is it is super easy and you can play with in a bit. Last night, I was out of ketchup, so I substituted barbecue sauce. I also laid some slices of turkey bacon over the meat loaf and then topped with the tomato sauce. These were some delicious flavor additions!
Turkey Meat Loaf
1 pound ground turkey (I usually use the extra lean)
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 packet of onion soup mix
1 1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix first six ingredients in a bowl. Drop into a greased baking pan and shape into a loaf. Pour can of tomato sauce over loaf. Bake meat loaf for 45-50 minutes.
Slice and enjoy!
So after a day or two I get bored eating the Thanksgiving leftovers as is. I’m ready to start cooking again and get creative in the kitchen, so what can I make with all that leftover turkey? How about a yummy casserole!?!
This recipe uses pretty basic ingredients that most folks will have in their kitchen. I hope you enjoy it as much as my famly and I do!
Turkey and Cornbread Casserole
1/2 meidum onion, chopped
1 tbsp canola oil
3 cups crumbled cornbread, packed
1 tbsp poultry seasoning (if you don’t have this, see my tip below)
3 1/2 cups cooked turkey
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or use your turkey broth you made with your carcass!)
1 cup sour cream (I use fat free)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
Cook onion in hot oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until tender. Set aside. Combine cornbread and poultry seasoning in a large bowl. Layer half of cornbread mixture on bottom of a 11×7 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Combine onion mixture, chicken, and next 6 ingredients in a bowl. Spoon mixture evenly over top of cornbread mixture in baking dish. Top evenly with the rest of the cornbread mixture. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove frrom oven and top with shredded cheese. Bake uncovered 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted and starting to turn golden. Makes approximately 6 servings.
Poultrry Seasoning Tip: I once found myself without poultry seasoning and looked up how to make it with other spices.
If you’re looking for last minute recipes for your Thanksgiving dinner, check out my previous Thanksgiving series of blog posts. You’ll find everything from hummus appetizer, cranberry sauce, salads, barbecued turkey to a wonderful chocolate pie. You’ll find lots of great recipes that are sure to be a hit!
I hope you have a blessed time with all your loved ones!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it is not too soon to start your preparations. This is a reminder that I have been posting a series of posts that can help you have a stress-free holiday. Please look back over these posts starting November 4 that include tips on menu planning, dish planning and preparation and recipes for all the basic (and not so basic!) Thanksgiving dishes including…
I even covered some ideas for your leftovers!
It’s not to late to review these posts and get your Thanksgiving dinner planning underway! I wish all of you a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving! Please feel free to send me comments with your questions. I’ll try and make time in all my cooking to get back to you ASAP. I am so thankful to all of you that take the time to read my blog!
Please let me know how your Thanksgiving dishes turn out!
This is more of a post-Thanksgiving tip, but it’s something that I usually take care of on Thanksgiving Day following our dinner. So you’ve devoured your dinner and stashed your leftovers for all those creative dishes you’re going to make in the coming days! What are you going to do with the turkey carcass? Toss it? Don’t!!! If you do any amount of cooking, you likely use chicken broth. I know I use it quite frequently. That turkey carcass is going to save you some money!
Put that carcass in a large stockpot and cover with water. Cover your pot and put over medium-low heat bringing to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 2-3 hours. That’s it!!! Easy, right??? Of course, you can jazz it up if you like with salt and pepper, carrots, celery, garlic, etc. I prefer to keep mine very basic, because I freeze it and use it for a variety of dishes. If you know you’re going to make soup with it, go ahead and add the veggies you choose, so their flavors can blend with your stock.
I put my homemade stock into every plastic storage container I can find! Be sure that you do not fill your containers to the top, as liquid expands as it freezes, so you need to leave some room.
This frozen stock can be pulled out and thawed slowly when needed or you can pop it in the microwave and thaw quickly.
I use mine the same way I would use chicken broth in any recipe. Sometimes it does impart a different flavor, especially if you highly seasoned your turkey by smoking or brining. I haven’t had too much of a problem with this though.
The great thing about making your own stock, besides being so easy and a money saver, is now you know EXACTLY what is in it! You control the sodium content and there are no preservatives or other chemicals. I also do this any time I cook a whole chicken and have a carcass afterward. There is a lot of flavor in those bones!!!
In a previous post, I discussed how we really like to barbecue our turkey. Regardless of how you choose to cook your turkey, there are a variety of techniques you can use to keep your bird moist and impart some fabulous flavors to the meat. One of the techniques that we’ve tried a couple of times successfully, is brining.
There is actually some science behind the brining process. It’s more than just some tasty meat! The high salt content of the brining liquid actually dissolves muscle filaments in the meat making it more tender and the salt also allows the protein to retain more fluid. Works just like me! Salt = Water weight gain!
In addition to salt, most brine recipes include a variety of other spice that lend wonderful flavors to your turkey. One of the best recipes we’ve tried comes from one of my favorite Food Network stars, Bobby Flay. That guy can grill and my husband I have the same palette for spicy foods that Mr. Flay has. I would like to share his recipe for Cajon Brined Turkey with you!
Cajon Brined Turkey – Two Ways
Two days before cooking: Combine the Spanish paprika, New Mexican chile powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, chile de arbol and cayenne in a small bowl. Remove 1/4 cup and save for use with another meal.
Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons cold water in a large (at least 16-quart) stockpot or a clean bucket. Whisk in half of the remaining spice rub, the garlic, bay leaves and onion (Tip: Be sure to mix REALLY well or seasonings will just settle to the bottom of your brining container). Add the turkey, cover and refrigerate or set in a very cold place (that stays somewhere between 32 to 40 degrees F) for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours (Tip: Brining bags (can be purchased at Bed, Bath and Beyond) can be great, but set them in a larger container in case it bursts open. A Cooler is a great choice for storing your turkey during brining as this can really hog up space in your refrigerator). Rinse well under cold water and pat dry to remove the salt. Let air-dry in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
In The Big Green Egg: Light a large chimney filled with charcoal briquettes (about 5 quarts) and allow to burn until all the charcoal is covered with a layer of fine gray ash. Empty the coals into the grill. Top with some of the soaked wood chips if using. Put in the ceramic plate, then the grill rack. Put the cover on and let the grate heat up.
Brush the turkey with oil and rub the entire turkey (including the cavity) with the remaining spice rub. Tie the legs together. Adjust the grill vents to get and maintain an internal temperature of 350 degrees F. Roast the turkey for 2 hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165 degrees F. Remove from the grill, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.
In the Caja China: Prepare the charcoal briquettes according to the instructions that come with the box. Put the roasting pan with its rack (comes with the box) inside, and put the turkey breast-side down on the rack. Put on the top and fill with charcoal. After 30 minutes, flip the turkey breast-side up and continue cooking for about 1 more hour, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165 degrees F. Add charcoal as necessary according to the box instructions. Remove from the box, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.
Tip: We don’t have a Big Green Egg or Caja China, yet!!! Check out my blog entry Thanksgiving Tips Part 4 from Saturday, November 7, 2015 for instructions on how to barbecue your turkey on most grills.
I forget exactly how we discovered it, but about 20 years ago my husband and I discovered the joy of the barbecued turkey. This moist, smokey flavored bird is definitely the star of the meal. An unexpected perk to barbecuing the bird, is that you don’t have a huge turkey hogging up your oven. I have never been blessed with two ovens, so on a big cooking day oven space is at a premium. Since I usually put my husband in charge of the barbecuing, it keeps him occupied and out of the kitchen. Prior to putting him to work on the barbecue, he was always sticking his finger in to taste things and stealing yummy bits of food. He likes to set up a little man zone outside on the patio with a cooler of beer and a TV to watch football
So how do we do it?
1. You need a barbecue deep enough to accommodate whatever size turkey you’re cooking. We started with a simple Weber kettle and now we use a CharGriller barrel grill. Those square Meco grills tend to not be deep enough unless you’re cooking a really small turkey.
2. The secret to a moist bird? Stuff it with moist ingredients that will evaporate into the bird as it cooks. We stuff our bird with a variety of fruit, garlic and onions. Remember the flavors of what you stuff it will impart flavor to the bird. I usually use a variety of citrus fruits, apples, and or pears. The stuffing just gets thrown out after the bird has cooked, but all that fruit juice that evaporates into the bird makes for a moist and flavorful turkey.
3. Want that smoke flavor? Add some wood chips to your briquettes. We like to use wood from fruit trees. Our favorite is apple. Some of the other woods, like mesquite, can be overwhelming. The fruit wood provides a mellow, sweet flavor to the bird. Be sure to soak your wood chips overnight, so they don’t just catch fire and burn up right away. You want them to burn slowly and give off lots of smoke. My husband has also been known to pour some brandy or tequila in with the chips as they soak for additional flavor.
4. As I always like to say, play with your food! Over the years, we have tried a variety of things and they’ve all been good. We’ve brined our bird and we have injected our bird. These strategies both add moisture and flavor. Don’t be afraid to try different things! If brining, I will tell you to be cautious with the zip-lock brining bags and how you store your brining turkey. Let’s just say I had one pop open on me and then was dealing with about 2 gallons of liquid on my kitchen floor. It wasn’t a good day, but we recovered. Maybe I’ll include a brine recipe in a future post.
• Turkey – size should be based on the number of people you’re feeding and the amount of left overs you want
• Fruit for stuffing – Any combination of Apples, oranges, limes, lemons, pears,etc, cubed
• Savory ingredients for stuffing – Garlic and/or onion, cubed
• Salt and pepper or barbecue rub (See my very first blog post for a great rub recipe)
To prep turkey, clean out the chest cavity removing neck bone and any organs. I discard these things, but some people cook with them. Ensure the turkey is completely thawed, inside and out. Season the outside of the bird and inside the cavity with salt and pepper or a barbecue rub. Stuff the bird generously with the fruit and savory ingredients. Prior to seasoning, some people like to rub their bird with oil or butter. In an effort to keep fat and calories down, I opt not to do this and my turkey still turns out moist and delicious. This is also the time you would inject your turkey, if you decide to do so. Place turkey in a turkey baking rack, so it can be moved more easily.
Just a teaser here! I’ve been anxiously awaiting this month! Thanksgiving is my jam and I can’t wait to share my cooking tips, tricks, and techniques with all of my food blog friends! So if you haven’t followed my blog yet and you want to learn some skills that will make your Thanksgiving delicious and stress free, follow my blog now! I’m going to have a series of Thanksgiving related blog posts!
MMMMMMM! Turkey! Stuffing! Mashed potatoes! Sweet Potatoes! Salads! Veggies! Desserts! The list goes on and on! Come join the glutenous fun!!!!