let the gobbling continue – leftovers

640px-Oven_roastedturkey

Are you faced with a hefty supply of leftovers after a holiday meal? You might have a slew of hungry kids on vacation or cheering football fans in the man cave. Get creative and move beyond the hot turkey sandwiches.

turkey shepherd’s pie (serves 6)  This is a stick-to-your-ribs meal your entire family will love. A somewhat rustic version of the traditional dish, it uses cooked turkey instead of raw ground beef or lamb, and chunky potatoes instead of mashed. Shredding both white and dark meat imparts the best flavor by allowing it to soak up the flavorful juices. You can also prepare this with chicken.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded turkey
  • 6 Tbs (¾-stick) butter cut into six 1-Tbs pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced 1/2- inch thick
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • ½ tsp dried thyme (or use 1½ tsp minced fresh)
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • 2 cups chicken stock (Use stock rather than broth for great flavor; Swanson’s is best. If you were clever enough to make your own turkey stock, by all means use it!)
  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Set oven rack to upper-middle; preheat to 375 degrees. Cover potatoes with water by an inch, bring to boil in a large pan with 1 Tbs salt, reduce to medium heat and strong-simmer for 15-18 minutes. Drain very well. Return to pan, gently fold in 5 Tbs of butter, ¼ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper. Cover and set aside.
  2. In a 10-inch ovensafe skillet, melt 1 Tbs butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots. Cook till golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and stir till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add sherry and scrape up any brown bits. When pan is nearly dry, about 1 minute, stir in chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch with ¼ cup water and whisk into broth mixture, return to a boil and stir till thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, peas, and shredded turkey. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spoon potatoes over entire surface of turkey mixture. Brush with beaten egg. Place in oven and cook till bubbling—about 15 minutes. Turn oven to broil and cook until potatoes are golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

cranky turkey sandwiches  Remember Bailey’s Deli on Bennett Drive? I loved their food—especially their amazing sandwiches with traditional turkey and cranberry sauce plus a few surprises. I like a lot of cranberry sauce!

Ingredients

  • Baguette in 6-inch segments (You can use other bread you like better.)
  • Sliced turkey breast
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Cream cheese
  • Sprouts or lettuce

Directions

  1. Slice bread if necessary. Baguettes or rolls should be halved lengthwise. Spread bottom half with cream cheese. Add lettuce or sprouts.
  2. Top with turkey, then cranberry sauce in slices or spread over the meat. (I like to spread a bit more cream cheese on the top half.)
  3. Amounts are up to you. Variations: add sliced tomato and/or red onion and grilling the bread beforehand.

football sliders (serves 4) I adapted this recipe from a Southern standard. These go great with frosty drinks and a nice relish dish of pickles, apple slices, and celery sticks. Make these with turkey or ham. You can assemble these yummy little sandwiches a day ahead. Brush with sauce, cover, and refrigerate. Just bring them to room temperature before baking. Your fans will be cheering you!

Ingredients

1 dozen square white dinner rolls (or dinner-size potato rolls)

  • 6 Tbs mustard (your favorite kind)
  • 12 thin slices ham or turkey
  • 12 thin slices (1/2 lb.) deli Swiss cheese
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tbs poppy seeds
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Slice rolls horizontally and spread 4 Tbs of mustard on cut side tops and bottoms. Arrange all bottoms side by side, cut side up, in a 13 x 9 baking dish. Fold or cut meat, then cheese, to fit on roll. Season with pepper. Cap with roll tops.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine butter, onion, and poppy seeds. Microwave till butter is melted and onion soft, about 1 minute. Whisk in Worcestershire, garlic powder, and remaining 2 Tbs mustard. Generously brush tops and edges of sandwiches. Spoon any remaining solids over tops.
  3. Cover dish with foil; let rest for 10 minutes to absorb the sauce. Bake on middle rack 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for another 7-9 minutes so cheese is soft and tops are firm. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

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Check back often for recipes, leftover ideas, and cooking tips!

pasta

ChickenCacciatore

italian three-cheese chicken cacciatore

This recipe is as much about chicken as it is about pasta. Both play an equal role in its deliciousness! This makes a huge amount and is great if you are having guests over or just for a nice family dinner with tons of leftovers for another night. If you prefer dark meat, you can use bone-in or boneless thighs. You can assemble the whole thing ahead of time, cover with foil, and bake later. Baking time would be a bit more if you do that, though. I wouldn’t add any strongly flavored herbs like basil or oregano as they tend to overpower the lovely combined flavors of the cheeses, olive oil, wine and balsamic vinegar.

1 lb. dried bow-tie pasta (Farfalle)
3 T. Extra-Virgin olive oil
2 lb. skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips (4 breast halves)
2 small or 1 med. large yellow onion, sliced
2 medium green bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced

2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) stewed or diced tomatoes, or use halved cherry tomatoes in season
1/4 C. tomato paste
1/4 C. red wine

1/3 C. balsamic vinegar
1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
1/2 C. grated Asiago or Romano cheese
2 C. (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs, beaten

1 T. dried parsley (or 1/4 C. fresh, minced)

1 T. capers
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

Bring 3 quarts water to boil in 6- to 8-quart pot over high heat. Stir in pasta and return to boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, 9-10 minutes. Drain and set aside until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in large (12-to 14-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium-heat for 1 minute. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown it, flipping occasionally, for 6 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove chicken and reserve until ready to use.

In same skillet, cook onion, garlic, and bell peppers over medium heat, scraping up browned chicken bits and stirring occasionally, until onions and peppers are tender, about 8 minutes.

In a bowl, mix well tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, and balsamic vinegar and add to onion and pepper mixture over medium heat. When bubbling, add reserved chicken, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in reserved pasta until distributed.

Stir together ricotta cheese, Asiago cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper in medium bowl until well-blended.

Spread ricotta mixture over skillet contents in even layer. Bake in preheated oven 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Serve directly from skillet.

Makes 6-8 servings.

PRINT THIS RECIPE: Italian Three-Cheese


 

ground meats

I was away the beginning of July and realized today that I had forgotten to post the blog for this column, which appeared in the Aroostook Republican on July 2nd. Sorry about that.

Hamburger, ground chicken, turkey, and pork add variety and convenience to your meals. They can be frozen and available at any time and are a tasty background for herbs, spices, and vegetables, rounding out any family meal.

sweet-and-sour turkey meatballs
Whenever my daughter, Bennet, visits, she asks for this dish, and I enthusiastically comply since I love it, too. You can double the recipe for a crowd. And it is easy to make ahead and heat just before serving. Bring to room temperature first.

For the meatballs:

  • ¾ lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 10 crushed saltines
  • ½ cup canned milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • ½ tsp dried savory or rosemary
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with foil coated with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, soften cracker crumbs in milk. Beat in egg. Add remaining items, mixing well. Use a cookie scoop or form balls by hand, about the size of a walnut. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or till nicely browned.

While meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce:

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp lite olive oil
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbs white vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place cooked meatballs in a casserole. Mix all sauce ingredients and pour over. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour till bubbly. This can also be heated in a crockpot. Check your unit’s directions for temps and times. Serve over noodles with some buttered corn or green vegetable and crusty bread.

hamburger upside-down casserole
This is my mother’s recipe—simple yet delicious. The kids will gobble this right up.

Boil 1½ cups elbow macaroni or small shells according to box directions to make about 3 cups. Drain and set aside. Spray a 9 x 13” baking pan or large casserole dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°.

In a skillet over medium heat, brown:

  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 lb lean hamburger
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried (or rubbed) sage
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Add two 8-oz cans plain tomato sauce to meat mixture and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Place in the prepared pan or dish. In a large bowl, mix 8 oz of shredded sharp cheddar with the macaroni. Place on top of meat mixture.

Beat 3 eggs with ¾ cups milk and pour over entire mix. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 minutes more till brown and bubbly.

TIP: If you’re as busy as I am, you forget to defrost things for supper like ground meat or stews and end up with a solid block of ice staring at you at 5 p.m.! Solution? Invest in some good quality zip-seal bags and pack your ground meat flat to fill the entire bag and seal well. A half-inch thick quart-size bag of ground meat will defrost in an hour, or much less if you set it under that faucet and run cold water over it for a while. Same with stew or soup. Fill a large bag about ¾-full. Seal carefully, pressing out the air, then lay it flat in the freezer. No microwave defrosting disasters. So easy to make a last minute meal decision!

white bean and chicken slow-cooker chili
This hearty dish is so easy to prepare and if made ahead, gets better when refrigerated overnight. Go ahead and freeze the leftovers.

Brown 1 large chopped onion in 2 Tbs light olive oil over medium-high heat. When onion is translucent, add 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 lbs ground chicken, and 1 tsp salt. Cook about ten minutes, stirring often.

Now add:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs chili powder

Stir constantly until spices are very fragrant, being careful not to burn. Deglaze pan with ¼ cup of lime juice, scraping off brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then add 32 oz chicken broth. Mix well and place in a 3½-quart slow-cooker. Next, add 30 oz of white beans (cannelini), drained and rinsed, and mix well. Cook on low setting for at least four hours. Pass the shredded Monterey Jack, sour cream, and pickled jalapenos. Serve with warm flour tortillas.

marsha’s hamburger pie
When I lived in Silver Spring, Maryland, Marsha and her family lived in the apartment below us. She was a true Southern Belle and the cousin of actress Stella Stevens. Marsha made this for me once when I was down with a bad cold. Believe me, the flavors came through as this is very tasty. You do have to make your own pie crust for this one, but it is totally worth it. You can find Cousin Ralph’s Magical Piecrust recipe at the end of the Memorial Day post in this blog.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cousin Ralph’s top and bottom piecrust, prepared (see directions)
  • ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 or 3 dashes cayenne pepper
  • 1½ lbs ground chuck
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 can beef bouillon (1¼ cups)
  • 1½ cups dry unseasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp each salt and black pepper
  • ¼ tsp each dried thyme and marjoram
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare pie crust adding cheese, paprika, and cayenne to the flour before stirring into shortening mixture. Divide crust in two, roll out and place in a pie pan. Cook onion and beef in a skillet till browned. Mix bread crumbs and bouillon and let sit a few minutes. Add beef mixture and remaining ingredients. Mix well, and pour into pie shell. Roll remaining crust and put over top. Pinch to seal edges. Cut vents.

Bake on the lowest shelf of your oven to set bottom crust. Bake 45 minutes or more till golden brown. Brushing the top crust with whole beaten egg imparts of wonderful sheen and makes your dish look like it was prepared by the finest chef!

PRINT THIS POST! HERE’S THE LINK:  CJ-7-3-14-GROUND MEAT

memorial day ideas

Remembering loved ones, and especially those who have died for us, deserves a special meal and appreciation of family, friends, and country. Memorial Day weekend here is the time for raking the yard, getting the garden in, spreading the last of the snow around to melt, and unofficially welcoming in the summer season. With hopes the black flies haven’t started biting yet, we head outdoors to enjoy the warm air and share a meal or two.

I hope these dishes will bring a smile to your face as they are unconventional but delicious, and can become a tradition you can repeat year after year.

homemade onion dip
Once you’ve made your own, you’ll never go back to the old onion-soup-mix glop again! This one’s much less salty and tastes a lot better, too! All it asks of you is a bit of your time—and it’s totally worth it. Make this a day or two ahead for convenience. It tastes much better if the flavors have time to marry.

  • 2 large Spanish or Vidalia onions (2 cups diced)
  • 2 Tbs light olive oil
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 16-oz. container sour cream, brought to room temperature
  • 1 8-oz. block cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbs Gravy Master
  • ½ tsp garlic powder or use fresh 2 garlic cloves, finely minced (even better)
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • Dash or three of your favorite hot sauce (optional)

Remove cream cheese and sour cream from the ‘fridge at least two hours before starting. Brown onions in oil over medium-high heat, taking care not to burn, till brown and well done. Set aside to cool.

Place all other ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Add cooled onions. Refrigerate, covered, overnight, or at least 4-6 hours. Serve at room temperature with chips, crackers, or pita bread wedges, then watch it disappear!

chinese chicken salad
I got this recipe from my friend, Dawn King and tweaked it a bit. It is so delicious your kids will gobble it up while getting some veggies in the process! You’ll need a tight-fitting plastic container—low, flat, and rectangular in shape—that’ll hold about 6-8 cups. You’ll need to get a small bottle of toasted sesame oil in the ethnic section of the supermarket, but it is totally worth it. It imparts a most memorable flavor.

For the salad, prepare the following:

  • 2 large or 3 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, gently poached, cooled, and diced
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup slivered almonds sautéed in oil till golden brown and cooled
  • 1 sweet onion (Vidalia, if available, is best)
  • ½ head of medium size cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 packages of Ramen noodles (discard seasoning pack)

For the dressing, mix together in a shaker:

  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup light olive or peanut oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce

Directions:
In a plastic container, break up squares of ramen noodles into 4-6 pieces. Pour mixed dressing over noodles, then add tossed remaining ingredients over. Cover and shake vigorously. Flip over and refrigerate at least overnight. If you are worried the lid will leak, be sure to enclose in a large plastic bag. Check in the morning to test that noodles are soft. Remove from refrigerator two hours before serving. Can be served in lettuce cups. Crunchy good!

mamie’s blubarb pie
A divine concoction of blueberries and rhubarb makes this pie a true celebration. Serve with a scoop of lemon sherbet!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
  • 3 cups diced rhubarb
  • 3 cups blueberries
  • Pastry dough, for double-crust 9-inch pie*

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°. Combine sugars, salt and tapioca in a large bowl and mix well. Add fruit and toss until well coated.

Place fruit mixture in 9-inch pie pan lined with pastry dough. Top with second crust, and trim so the top crust hangs 1/2 inch beyond rim, then tuck edge of top crust under bottom crust and crimp or pinch to finish.

Bake 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and bake an additional 25-30 minutes, until pie is golden and the juices are bubbling. Let cool 2 hours and then serve.

*See my magical pie crust recipe below, OR use prepared rolled pie dough.

tip: crumb topping can replace top crust
My mother didn’t much like using a top crust on a pie. She loved to make a crumb topping—sweet, rich, and crunchy. I’ve kind of gone over to her side. This recipe can be mixed up quickly and doubled or tripled, always ready in your ‘fridge or freezer in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Keeps for a month or more. PLUS it’s delicious.

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ stick soft butter (do NOT use margarine)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats (optional)

Mix with fingers till crumbly.

cousin ralph’s magical pie crust
This recipe first appeared on cans of Spry—a solid shortening—back in the 1960s. My wonderfully creative cousin ripped the label off his Spry can and gave it to me when I raved about the crust on the pie he’d served me in 1963. I can’t understand why this method never caught on with the pastry crowd or with anyone, for that matter. When I tell you this is the easiest crust you’ll ever make, I mean it. You’ve probably never made crust like this, and the process flies in the face of all those pastry experts and seasoned bakers out there who’ve always preached that pie crust must be prepared cold—very cold—and that is a real pain to do correctly. This crust uses hot liquids, but it works and is a snap to prepare. It is easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled and freezes well, so you can make it two months ahead and pull it out to prepare a delicious homemade pie any time! Great for chicken or beef pot pies, too. You’ll never go back to that pastry blender!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup solid shortening (plain, NOT butter-flavored)
  • 6 Tbs water
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:
Measure out flour and salt; mix and set aside. Place shortening in a medium bowl and spread it evenly over the bottom. In a small saucepan, bring water and milk to a boil, and pour over shortening. Beat with a fork till smooth and thick. Add flour and salt. Stir gently with the fork, then mix with fingers gently so as not to toughen till well blended.

Form two equal balls of dough, which will be soft and warm. I like to roll it out between two sheets of wax paper to a thickness of about ¼-inch. It’s easy to peel off the top paper, pick the whole mess up and flip it on to the pie pan. Carefully peel the other paper off,. If you tear the crust, it is easily patched. Position, trim and pinch taking care to eliminate any air bubbles. (I prick them with a fork then pat it to close the holes.)

Makes 2 crusts

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I’d love to hear from you if you try this or any other recipes on A Cook’s Journal. Just scroll down to the end of this post to comment. Happy cooking!