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Salpicon de dinde à la Berrichonne (leftover turkey in a red wine sauce)

The name of this recipe just sounds so much more interesting in French. It’s a really easy and delicious thing to make with leftover turkey, and it’s even better as leftovers itself, so you may want to make it a day ahead and reheat it if you plan to eat it all at once. (Makes 6 servings)

turkey in red wine sauce

3 cups left over roast turkey, cut into small pieces

1/2 lb. bacon, fried until crisp, then crumbled

2 Tbsp butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1/2 lb. mushrooms, siced

1 tsp paprika

2 Tbsp flour

1 cup chicken broth (or turkey broth)

1 cup red wine

2 Tbsp brandy (optional)

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp marjoram or oregano

1 tsp salt

fresh ground back pepper

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Sauté the onion in hot butter until softened, about 3 min. Add mushrooms and cook over moderate heat for about 2 min. Stir in paprika and flour. Cook for a minute, then add chicken broth, red wine and brandy.

Place turkey and bacon in a buttered baking dish. Add bay leaf, marjoram, salt and pepper. Pour the hot sauce over the turkey. Cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 min. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with buttered noodles and peas.


(Recipe from ‘Round the world cooking library: French Cooking)

Turkey in a Bag

We had a spread out Thanksgiving turkey dinner this year: Apple pie and vanilla ice cream Wednesday (with leftovers the rest of the week), added the stuffing on Thursday, and then on Friday we went to Meijer and saw fresh turkey for $0.49/lb. We couldn’t pass that up. At under $7 for a 12lb bird, that’s quite a bit of meat (and cheaper than a package of boneless skinless chicken breasts!).  So Friday night we added turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce to our leftover stuffing and pie with ice cream.

This was my first time cooking a turkey and I wanted to try this turkey in a bag technique from Cook’s Country, which had a variation from the instructions that come with the turkey bags. It turned out great. I would definitely do it this way again (including waiting until Friday to get a fresh discount turkey :)).



1/2 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp butter, softened

1 Tbsp flour

1 tsp pepper

a 12 to 14 pound turkey

1 turkey-size oven bag

1 2-yard package of cheesecloth

heavy duty aluminum foil

cooking oil spray

Bring soy sauce to a boil in a small saucepan and simmer until thick and reduced to 2 Tbsp (5-7 min.). Remove from heat and whisk in butter, flour, and pepper.

Prepare the turkey by removing the neck and giblets from the cavity and discarding the liver. Dry the turkey with paper towels and tie the legs with kitchen twine and tuck the wings under the bird.  (Cook the neck and giblets in a small saucepan if you want to add the water to the gravy.)

Lightly spray the inside of the oven bag with cooking spray. Place the turkey in the bag and rub the soy paste evenly all over the turkey. Fold the cheesecloth into a 10 x 7 -inch rectangle and place it over the turkey breast. Cover the cheesecloth with a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. (This helps the turkey breast cook more slowly so it doesn’t overcook). Tie the bag closed, trim the end to 1-inch and cut four 1/2-inch slits in the top of the bag.

Place the turkey in a bag on a rack inside the roasting pan. Make sure the bag does not touch the walls or roof of the oven. Roast at 350 degrees F for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the breast meat registers 155 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven up to 475 degrees F. Cut open the bag, discard the cheesecloth, foil, and bag, and let the juices fall into the pan. Return turkey to the oven and roast for about 35 to 45 min, until breast meat registers 160 degrees and thigh meat registers 175 degrees. Transfer the turkey to a carving board and let it rest for 30 min (uncovered).

There was a gravy recipe that went with this turkey recipe, but I made my mom’s gravy recipe because it’s my favorite.

(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country Oct/Nov 2010)


It’s like a quesadilla, but with polenta instead of tortillas…get it? Quesadillas (cheese + tortillas), quesalentas (cheese + polenta).  I thought it was clever. But more importantly, it’s a way to use up polenta if you made a lot, like with this recipe for Slow Cooker Polenta.


I had leftover polenta refrigerated in a small round container until firm, turned the polenta out onto a plate, and sliced it horizontally into rounds (quite a bit thicker than tortillas). I heated the rounds in a frying pan with a little oil, then once they were starting to color a little, I put a slice of pepper jack cheese between 2 rounds and cooked a little longer to melt the cheese. With some sour cream mixed with a little chipotle powder on the side, it was a tasty little lunch.

Polenta Squares with Sautéed Mushrooms and Feta

This is an easy appetizer or vegetarian main dish to use up leftover polenta, such as Slow Cooker Polenta, or any polenta made in advance and refrigerated until firm.

polenta squares with mushrooms

Cut the firm polenta into squares, place on an oiled baking sheet and bake the squares at 400 degrees F. Wash and slice 1-2 packages of mushrooms (white button, cremini/baby bellas, or whatever kind you want). Sauté in olive oil (in batches if necessary) over medium heat until starting to brown. Remove from heat and salt to taste. Top the warmed polenta squares with the mushrooms, crumbled feta cheese, and fresh chopped parsley. You can keep them warm in the oven for a while, or reheat them just before serving. They still taste good at room temperature too.

My inspiration for this recipe was a fancier version in Edible Michiana. I tried to make the red wine balsamic sauce to go with it, but I didn’t have cream and added milk instead which made the sauce curdle and ruined it. Oops. It would have been nice to have, but these were still good without the sauce.

Still have more leftover polenta? Try quesalentas!

Slow Cooker Polenta

Polenta, if you’ve never heard of it, is a special type of corn meal that can be cooked into a smooth, creamy mush (for lack of a better word). I’ve had it topped with short ribs at a restaurant, but the first time I ever tasted it was at a friend’s place and people were topping it with sour cream and feta cheese. I thought it was delicious that way, and it’s quick and easy.  This slow cooker method is a really easy hands-off way to cook it (otherwise you will be stuck standing at the stove stirring for a long time) and it turns out just as good.


Make sure to use regular or traditional polenta, not instant polenta or regular course ground cornmeal.

vegetable oil spray

7 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups polenta

1 1/2 tsp salt

1-2 cups (2-4 oz) grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp butter

feta cheese and sour cream to serve (optional)

Coat the slow cooker with vegetable oil spray. Mix water, polenta and salt together in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 4 – 6 hours, or until done. Stir in parmesan and butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. (I used the lower amount of pre-grated parmesan since I was topping with feta and sour cream. If you are grating your own cheese, you probably want to use the higher amount.)

If making ahead, you can keep it on the warm setting for 1 – 2 hours and thin with a little hot water if it gets too thick.

This makes a lot of polenta (8-10 servings). I’ve also cut the amount in half and used a smaller slow cooker, and that worked just fine. Or, you can have leftovers and use the polenta in other ways. If you have some left over,  start by spreading any extra polenta in a shallow dish, such as a 9 x 13 pan. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Still have more? Put it in a round 2 cup plastic container and refrigerate. The next day you can cut the leftover polenta in pieces and bake it or fry it and top it with tasty things. I’ll give some ideas in the next two posts…

(Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution)

Iced Coffee and Caramel Lattes

I’m not a big coffee drinker, but if I’m going to get a coffee drink, my favorite is an iced caramel latte. When we got an espresso maker as a wedding gift, we bought a bottle of Starbuck’s caramel syrup so we could make our own caramel lattes at home. I never did quite catch on to how to make a good espresso, even after a couple of lessons from friends. But then I came across this iced coffee recipe on The Pioneer Woman Cooks and since I want my latte cold anyway, it was just what I needed. It requires no special equipment and since it’s made ahead of time it just sits in the fridge until I’m ready to drink it. All I have to do is remember to buy half and half.

iced latte

To make the coffee, get a large container or mixing bowl, add 1/4 pound of coffee and pour over 2 quarts cold water, stir it up, cover and leave overnight. (You can make as much or as little as you want–Ree’s version makes about 2 gallons with 1 pound of coffee, but I don’t have a container that big and it would take me forever to finish that much coffee.)

The next day, place a few layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter in a fine mesh strainer and slowly pour the liquid through the strainer. Store the coffee in an airtight container in the fridge. It should keep for about a month. You could also make some of it into coffee ice cubes to make an iced late that won’t get diluted as the ice melts.

To make an iced caramel latte, fill a tall glass with ice cubes, pour the chilled coffee concentrate about 3/4 of the way up, add half and half and caramel syrup to taste.

Better Mujaddara (Rice with Lentils and Fried Onions)

I already had a recipe I liked for mujaddara, or mejadra, or megadarra, or however you want to spell it (or pronounce it). But when I saw this one in a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated, I had to try it and it became my new favorite. I used to eat it with plain yogurt, but the yogurt sauce is definitely a step up as well.

Besides being delicious, it’s also a good meal on a budget. In Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, she talks about this dish’s reputation as a “dish of the poor,” yet says it’s still a compliment to serve it. She recounts, “An aunt of mine use to present it regularly to guests with the comment ‘Excuse the food of the poor!’ –to which the unanimous reply always was: ‘Keep your food of kings and give us megadarra every day!'”

Maybe next time I’ll try her recipe or one of the other many variations…or maybe I’ll just stick with this one…


Yogurt sauce:

1 cup plain yogurt

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp salt

Mix together and refrigerate until needed.

Crispy onions:

2 lb. yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick

2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Toss onions and salt together in a large bowl. Microwave for 5 min. Rinse onions thoroughly and dry in a salad spinner to get most of the water off, then finish drying thoroughly with paper towels. Heat the onions and oil in a Dutch oven over high heat, stirring frequently, until onions cook down and are golden brown (about 25 to 30 min). Drain the onions and set on a paper towel lined baking sheet.  Reserve 3 Tbsp oil for the rice and lentils. The remaining onion-flavored oil can be stored in the fridge up to a month and used for other things.

Rice and Lentils:

1 1/4 cups brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed

1 1/4 cups basmati rice

salt and pepper

3 Tbsp reserved onion oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/8 tsp cayenne

1 tsp sugar

3 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro

Bring lentils and 1 tsp salt to a boil in 4 cups water. Reduce heat to low and cook until lentils are tender, about 15 min., then drain. While lentils cook, place rice in a medium bowl and cover by 2 inches with hot tap water and let stand for 15 min. Swish the rice grains to release extra starch and pour off water. Rinse rice in cold water and pour off again. Repeat until water runs clear (4-5 times). Drain rice in a fine mesh strainer.

Heat the onion oil, garlic, spices, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a Dutch oven over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 min. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the rice become translucent, about 3 min. Add 2 1/4 cups water, sugar, and 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Stir in lentils, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 12 min, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat, remove lid, place a dish towel folded in half over the pot and replace the lid. Let stand for 10 min. Fluff rice and lentils with a fork. Mix in cilantro and half the crispy onions. Serve with yogurt sauce and topped with the remaining onions.

(Recipe adapted slightly from Cook’s Illustrated – September & October 2014)

John’s Lemon and Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

If John and I had a battle for the best broccoli, I think he would win. I still like my recipe too, but this one has a lot more flavor. And salt. It’s very tasty.

lemon parmesan broccoli

2 bunches broccoli (about 2 lb)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin

olive oil

3/4 tsp kosher salt (or half as much regular salt)

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp lemon zest

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/6 cup parmesan cheese

Cut the broccoli off the stalk and break into smaller florets. Place on a large baking sheet. Add sliced garlic and drizzle with 2-3 Tbsp olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 min, until crisp-tender and beginning to brown. Immediately toss the broccoli with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, the lemon zest, juice, and parmesan.

(Recipe adapted from


Swedish Tea Cakes

This is one of those cookies, in my opinion, that tastes better than it looks (another is Brown Sugar Cookies). There’s nothing wrong with how they look, but they just don’t look as exciting as say, chocolate chip cookies. I’m not sure why I made these the first time, since I expected them to be rather boring. It was probably because I had jam to use up, which is usually the reason I make these cookies, but once I tasted them, they became one of my favorites. They freeze well (before filling with jam) and you can make them with whatever kind of chopped nuts and jam you have. I like to make them with walnuts and raspberry jam as my first choice, but more recently I’ve made them with pecans and blueberry jam and orange marmalade and that was delicious too. I haven’t tried a combination yet that I didn’t like.

swedish tea cakes

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg yolk

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 egg white, beaten with a fork

2/3 cup finely chopped nuts, for coating

6 Tbsp jam, jelly, or marmalade

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add egg yolk and beat well. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then add to butter mixture. Stir well to form a stiff dough. Roll into balls, using 2 tsp dough per ball.  Dip each ball in the egg white then roll in nuts. Place on parchment lined or greased cookie sheets. Dent each cookie with your thumb.

Bake at 325 degree F for 5 min. Remove and press dents again. Bake 10-15 minutes more, or until golden. Let stand 5 min before removing to wire racks to cool.

Fill each cookie with 1 tsp jam right before serving. Store unfilled cookies in an airtight container. Makes about 20.

(Recipe adapted from Company’s Coming Most Loved Treats by Jean Pare)

Spiced Lamb with Hummus and Pickled Onions

A quick dinner recipe, if you already have the hummus made, or use store bought.

lamb with hummus

Pickled onions:

3/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 red onion, sliced very thin

Whisk together vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir in onions and let stand for 25 min, stirring occasionally. (Can make a day ahead and refrigerate)

Spiced lamb:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb. ground lamb

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp salt

pinch each: pepper, cinnamon, cayenne

3/4 cup hummus

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

pitas, cut in wedges

Heat half the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook the lamb until browned and crisp. Drain, discarding fat, and place lamb in a bowl. Heat remaining oil in the skillet over medium, add onion and cook until golden. Stir in garlic, salt and spices, cook for one minute and then add the lamb. Cook until warmed through, about 5 min.  While the lamb is cooking, cut the pitas in wedges and toast in a 400 degree F oven until crisp, 6-8 min. (Toasting the pitas can be done ahead of time and kept in an airtight container.)

Spread the lamb on a platter, and top with hummus, drained pickled onions, and cilantro. Serve with toasted pitas.

(Recipe adapted from Canadian Living September 2014)