Category Archives: Turkey

Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

One would think I should have posted this recipe after Thanksgiving. Sadly, Santa left an unwanted gift for me this year in the form of a stubborn cold. I could eat soup all year long but I especially crave it when I’m not feeling good. I decided to recreate this tasty “soup du jour” from a recent dining-out experience I had while said cold was just starting to incubate. This recipe could easily be made with chicken and chicken stock. However, because I did cook two birds on Thanksgiving and have packages of leftovers and gallons of broth in the freezer, I used turkey instead. Being lactose intolerant, I’m not normally a huge fan of cream soups because they are usually laden with lots of dairy (duh), extra fat and questionable thickeners. In this case, the soup is thickened a bit with flour and then finished off with a touch of sour cream to give it a creamy texture.

The original recipe called for instant rice. I had a bag of Lundberg brand wild and whole grain brown rice blend in my cupboard (purchased at Sprouts) so I opted to cook it separately in a rice cooker. I started the rice first, estimating that by the time I chopped the veggies and sauteed them, the rice would be ready to add to the pot. I wasn’t that far off, actually.

I also subbed dried, and reconstituted, porcini mushrooms only because I was fresh out of fresh mushrooms and didn’t want to make a trip to the store. On a side note, I purchased a huge bag of dried mushrooms at one of those membership-only big box stores years ago. The bag lasts forever (I actually had one bag for an entire decade…but I didn’t cook as much then) in the pantry and allows me to keep a supply on hand for any mushroom-related emergencies that may come up, like today.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions or shallots
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 3 cups (roughly 12 ounces) shredded chicken or turkey
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream


  1. If using wild rice blend, begin cooking it separately according to the package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large stock pot. Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the flour, salt and pepper. Cook for two minutes, stirring constantly until the flour is entirely incorporated.
  3. SLOWLY add the broth one quarter cup at a time. Thoroughly mix each quarter cup of broth into the veggies until a paste forms. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any bits that might have stuck. Once you have a nice consistency in the bottom of the pan, pour in the remaining broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for about five minutes.
  4. Add rice, meat and sour cream. Stir to combine. Adjust cooking time based on what kind of rice you are using (5 to 7 minutes for instant; 15 to 20 minutes for white rice). If rice has been pre-cooked, just gently heat through.

Serves four

Nutrition per serving (approximate)

354 calories; 9 g fat; 87 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrates; 36 g protein;3 g fiber; 378 mg sodium; 577 mg potassium.

Adapted from: Eating Well

1 Comment

Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Brown rice, Chicken, Low fat, One pot cooking, Soup, Turkey


Tags: ,

Elegant Spinach Swirl Turkey Meatloaf

Last night I hosted my mother’s birthday dinner at my house. During the menu selection process, she gave the green light for this elegant meat loaf. I adapted this recipe from a Turkey Store cookbook that I sent away for some 15 years ago. The loaf is actually easy to prepare and looks great on the table. As a matter of fact, I almost posted this recipe as a Thanksgiving Day substitute for folks who didn’t want to go the whole turkey/turkey breast route. The best part is I prepared the whole thing earlier in the day and just popped it in the oven at the appropriate time. This freed me up to spend time with my Mom and the rest of the guests.

The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups cheese. In the past I used to omit the cheese altogether to keep the dish leaner. In honor of La Mama, I added 1/2 cup cheese which was enough to get a hint of a cheesy taste without it being overwhelming. Cheese lovers may want to add the whole amount. I also used homemade marinara sauce in lieu of plain tomato sauce because I happened to have a jar in my fridge.

I paired the meatloaf with baked potatoes and a simple dish of steamed green beans. Mashed potatoes, brown rice or any other green vegetable would work well too. Everyone (even my Very Traditional Brother who admittedly doesn’t usually like meatloaf) commented on much they enjoyed it. Best part of all, La Mama felt spoiled…as she should have.


  • 1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 10 oz. thawed and well drained frozen spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded


Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Mix turkey, bread crumbs, onion, eggs, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. Roll out a 12″ x 18″ sheet of aluminum foil or wax paper. Shape the meat mixture into a 10 x 8 inch rectangle. Arrange spinach on turkey mixture to within 1/2 inch of edges; sprinkle with garlic salt and cheese. Roll up rectangle carefully, beginning at 8 inch side and using foil to lift. Press edges and ends of roll to seal. Place seam side down in pan. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes. Drizzle with remaining tomato sauce. Bake 15 minutes longer.

Serves eight

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 17, 2011 in Low fat, One pot cooking, Turkey


Tags: ,

No-Roux Turkey and Andouille Gumbo

Cajun style gumbo thickened with okra

It has been my tradition every year to make turkey broth from the frame and then use it to make turkey gumbo. Exactly one year ago I spent hours trolling the ‘net for other gumbo recipes. In the long run, I decided I like my recipe the best for ease of cooking and minimal cooking oil.

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know that I make my turkey broth the same way I do my chicken broth. I trim as much meat as I can off the frame, break it up to fit better in the pot and let it simmer for a few hours. Armed with boatloads of turkey broth and lots of dark meat from two turkey frames, I ought to be swimming in gumbo by tomorrow.

I posted my chicken gumbo recipe before so I’ve adapted it for the post-Thanksgiving tradition. Assuming you’ve made the turkey soup and picked out the leftover meat, this recipe may take a couple of hours to cook but it’s mostly unattended and the results are worth it.

I marked this as one-pot cooking because technically, you could cook it all in the same pot. You could brown the sausage first in a large stock pot, added the veggies to saute and then started stirring in the broth. I prefer to saute the veggies in a non-stick pan since I’m still scarred from my first attempts at this recipe when I used fresh okra and it burned. If you ask me, fresh okra is a pain in the pan to cook with; its slimy, takes forever to cook and burns in the blink of an eye. These days I’m pretty committed to using frozen okra. It cooks up quicker and is WAY less messy to work with. Just another little tip from Kat to keep your cooking easy 🙂


  • 3 1/2 quarts turkey broth
  • 2 to 4 cups leftover turkey (white and dark meat)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen okra, chopped (see footnote)
  • 1 can small can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 to one pound andouille or smoked sausage, diced
  • 1 tablespoon The Pampered Chef® Creole Rub, Old Bay Seasoning Mix or other Cajun spice medley
  • Parsley


  1. Chop vegetables and sauté in a non-stick pan over medium heat until onions are soft (about 5-10 minutes)
  2. Add okra and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly until slime is gone being careful not to let the mixture burn (about an hour for fresh okra or 10-15 minutes for frozen and then thawed okra)
  3. Sprinkle flour evenly over vegetables and stir until flour disappears
  4. Add tomato sauce. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Transfer mixture to large stock pot and slowly add 6 cups of turkey stock. Cook 30 minutes.
  6. Add 8 cups of stock, sausage and seasoning mix. Simmer on medium heat for one hour.
  7. Add turkey. Cook for 30 minutes over low heat. Stir often to avoid burning the bottom.
  8. Garnish with parsley. Add salt, pepper and season to taste.
  9. Serve over rice

Tags: ,

Kat’s Fantasy Turkey Dinner on Pinterest

Photo courtesy of

Have you gotten sucked into Pinterest yet? Do you spend a lot of time on the internet? Do you bookmark sites to revisit? Did you ever wish you had bookmarked an awesome site you loved because now you can’t remember where you found it? Well, Pinterest may be the answer. Pinterest’s About page describes the app as “a virtual pinboard — a place to catalog and share the things you love. Pin anything that catches your eye: memorable meals, places to visit, or great shopping finds!”

I have friends who swear that pinning is addictive. Great! Now I have a new way to enable my ever-so-slight OCD problem. Pinterest works sort of the same way that Amazon leads me to overspend. Wow! If you like this, then you’ll like this and this and this and this! And then before you know it I have 5 or 6 books, DVDs or CDs on the same topic in my shopping cart. Pinterest, does the same kind of suggestive “selling” by showcasing what other Pinners find appealing on the web.

Don’t cha know I just had to get on the Pinterest bandwagon. My recipe bookmark folder was getting a little overwhelmed anyway. In lieu of indexing my recipe bookmarks into subcategories, I started fresh by pinning those sites on different “boards” in Pinterest. At this point, you may be thinking that I’m a sheer genius or a tish insane. Sigh! Welcome to the way my brain works.

Of course I created a board to pin all the Thanksgiving dinner recipes that caught my eye. When I look over the recipes I collected, I realize that one theme stands out. Simplicity. I am obviously under the spell of October: Unprocessed. I’m craving simple food. Healthy without a lot of added anything. Roasted to fit in with the fall season. And homemade.

If it were up to me, my Thanksgiving menu would look a lot like this:


I’m usually responsible for the olive platter appetizer. A great “grown up” starter would be Roasted butternut squash bruschetta. Mental note: plant sage next year. This is the first time I realize that sage shows up a lot in fall recipes.

Turkey and dressing:

Even though not having stuffing is a cardinal sin in my family, I would have an unstuffed fresh, not frozen, brined-at-home turkey with wild rice and mushroom dressing on the side.

It would be another sin in our family not to have gravy. Pan drippings and flour make traditional gravy super yummy but also super fattening. I would love to have an apple cider gravy on my table this year. Bonus points that it comes in at about 1/3 fewer calories.

Side dishes:

We didn’t grow up with the standard green bean casserole. It got added in years later by virtue of one of the in-laws who married into the family. We’ve never been a brussels sprouts family either but the flavor profile on this recipe cries out to me. Maybe its the balsamic vinegar. Likewise I don’t recall a lot of cooked carrots (unless they were in chicken soup) but I think roasted carrots would go well with the rest of the meal.

My one indulgence would probably be rolls and butter. I’ve never made rolls from scratch but this year I may try it.


My other indulgence would be dessert, of course. I love pumpkin cheesecake but it has to have real whipped cream like Grandma used to make.

So, there is my Pinterest Thanksgiving Day board in a nutshell. Not all of these recipes will make it to the table this year because I have to defer to family traditions (did you hear the mashed potato squadron screaming their dissent??), but a girl can dream, and pin, and plan.

If you’re on Pinterest already, follow me. If you’re not on Pinterest and would like a Pinvitation, leave a comment with your email address and I’ll invite you.

1 Comment

Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Appetizers, Desserts, Holiday, Side dishes, Turkey


Tags: ,

Chili for a Crowd – an Oldie but a Goodie

Rumpled and crumpled but still yummy after all these years

You know that old recipe that you’ve had for a hundred years. Yeah…the one that you cut out of the paper at least a decade prior to the new millennium. That’s right…its the one that’s been folded in half, splattered with food and crumpled under a pile of other recipes. The one you’ve made so often that you feel ownership even though the recipe itself was so perfect, as it is, that you rarely even tweak it. It’s that same recipe that friends and family frequently request.

Welcome to my all-time favorite chili recipe. I posted about it once before. Since then, I actually found the recipe and it was crumpled up on the bottom of my recipe box. I’m still not sure which decade the recipe comes from but I’m now pretty certain I cut it out of the LA Times. The byline references a cookbook author, Dupree. A quick Google search leads me to believe it could be Nathalie Dupree; my compliments to whoever the author is. This recipe had staying power!

Aside from replacing beef with turkey, which cuts about one-third of the calories, my version is pretty true to the original recipe (below). In my version, I also scaled the ingredients down to single girl quantities and it still yields four very filling servings.

Regardless, if you’re making the scaled down version or the original, this recipe is pretty easy (after all, this is Kat’s Easy Kitchen). Pulling it together takes very little prep and the whole thing comes together in under an hour.


  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 4 medium onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 pounds lean ground chuck
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, chopped, reserving juice
  • 3 pounds home-cooked kidney beans or 3 (16 ounce) cans, drained and juice reserved
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 to 4 ounces canned green chiles, chopped
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Additional herbs


  1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven.
  2. Add onions and garlic; sauté until tender. Remove onions and garlic with slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add meat and brown, breaking up pieces with a spook, over medium high heat. Drain off excess fat.
  4. Reduce heart. Return onions and garlic to pan. Stir in tomatoes and juice, beans, vinegar, spices and chopped chiles. Bring to boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
  6. Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional herbs if desired.
  7. Refrigerate and remove fat if time allows. Chili freezes well.

Makes 12 to 16 servings

Nutritional information:

590 calories; 342 mg sodium; 52 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 80 grams carbohydrates; 45 grams protein, 10.3 grams fiber; 18% calories from fat 


Tags: ,

Three Reasons to Cook Two Turkeys

My first turkey with a wild rice/mushroom stuffing

The tradition in our family has always been to get the largest turkey we can so that everyone has lots of leftovers. On average, we number seven adults and two kids. Realistically, even a 22 to 24 pound bird doesn’t yield a lot of leftovers. Since its my turn to host this year, my solution is two turkeys. This will solve more than just the problem with the leftovers:

Problem 1 – Big turkeys don’t cook as well as smaller ones.

A few years ago we (as a family) got all jazzed up about cooking turkeys in oven bags. Turkeys cooked in an oven bag come out looking so pretty. They brown up beautifully and there is no basting necessary. The problem is we forget, from November to November, that the underside of the turkey never really cooks all the way through. This is probably not the bag’s fault but is more than likely directly related to the ginormous turkeys we get every year. So, by cooking two smaller turkeys we get more meat and more leftovers. Bonus points that since the primary purpose of one turkey is leftovers, both turkeys don’t have to be cooked on the same day. Hah!

Problem 2 – Two turkeys let me get away with a little variety in the stuffing department.

As a card carrying Libra, variety is practically my middle name. I love experimenting with menus but I am definitely related to some die hard traditionalists. The core T-day menu in our family has been the same as long as I can remember (roast turkey, Dad’s mashed potatoes, Mom’s stuffing, corn and brown-n-serve rolls). I have previously been informed that said menu is NOT TO BE MESSED WITH. As evidence, I give you an excerpt from a conversation I had with my Very Traditional Brother on the eve of my first Thanksgiving in Arizona:

Me: I think I’ll bring some broccoli casserole and a salad.

My brother (voice raising to alarmed status): Salad?? Kath, we never have salad on Thanksgiving!

Me: But, we could! We’re all adults and something green on the table would be refreshing.

My brother (voice wary but resigned): Well, you can bring salad. But I’m definitely not eating any.

I’ll bet you can guess what would happen if I suggested we try a wild rice/mushroom stuffing instead of the Traditional Mrs. Cubbison’s Stuffing that my mother makes every year. Actually I did suggest that and I was resoundingly vetoed. (Side note to Mom: I love you and your stuffing very much. xoxoxoxo)

So problem number 2 is solved with a second turkey that I can stuff with whatever I want. Two turkeys also means two turkey frames which directly solves…

Problem number 3 – I won’t have to arm wrestle my Dad for the turkey bones.

We’re a big soup family. Turkeys have big bones and make awesome broth. Usually there is some debate as to who can claim the turkey frame to make said soup. Although I can easily win if I promise to make soup and share, having two turkeys means it won’t be an issue. It also means I can dedicate one entire turkey frame (and its corresponding broth and leftover meat) to my much beloved gumbo recipe. Score!

So, there you have it. I believe that two 12 to 15 pound birds will accomplish everything I want this year. What about you?  What are the turkey traditions in your family?


Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Holiday, NaBloPoMo, Turkey



Skillet Vermicelli with Meat Sauce

Skillet Vermicelli with Meat Sauce

Vermicelli, meat and veggies all cook in one pot

This is another one of the oldie but goodie Weight Watcher recipes from the “most expensive cookbook on the planet.” Built around a cooking technique call sopa seca or “dry soup,” vermicelli is cooked right in the pot along with tomatoes and other ingredients. By the time the pasta is cooked, the liquid has been absorbed and the flavors have melded.

I’ve simplified the recipe which originally called for ground beef. I don’t eat of lot of beef but I’ve very fond of ground turkey and it works great in this recipe. Flats of ground turkey come in 20 oz. portions so half the package is perfect. I’ve also just used a whole one-pound tube of frozen ground turkey (Jennie O brand) with equal success.

I found these cute little 7 oz bags of cut pasta in the Latin Foods aisle of my local grocery store, too. Open the bag and boom! Done, easy! Now that I’m relaxed about portions I realize an extra ounce of pasta split between four servings is not a big deal.

Be sure to use a big, deep skillet or dutch oven for this recipe. It makes four hearty servings but requires a lot of room to stir.


  • 10 to 16 oz lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 – 2 tbls olive oil
  • 1 medium diced green pepper
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 6 oz vermicelli, broken into thirds
  • Grated cheese


  1. In large frying pan heat up oil until hot but not smoking. Add onions, green pepper and garlic. Saute on medium high heat until veggies are soft. Add in meat and spices and cook, stirring frequently until the meat loses its pink color. A Pampered Chef Mix N Chop is perfect for this but a regular spatula will do.
  2. Pour undrained tomatoes into a large measuring cup. Add enough water to bring the total amount to four cups.
  3. Stir in the tomato mixture and pasta. Bring to a boil. Add vermicelli, increase heat to high, and return to a boil, tossing the mixture with 2 spoons to separate the strands.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender and the liquid is reduced to a sauce, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Divide the pasta into four servings and top with grated cheese before serving.

Serves four

Nutritional information – values are approximate per serving (assumes 10 oz ground turkey and only 6 oz of pasta…not the cute little 7 oz bag):

Calories 350.4 Total Fat 9.3 g  Cholesterol 50.0 mg  Sodium 430.3 mg  Potassium 134.3 mg  Total Carbohydrate 46.3 g   Protein 21.4 g

Inspiration: Weight Watchers Smart Choice Recipe Collection – 1994


Tags: ,