Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Ah, it is here...the occasion we wait all year long for. No, it is not Christmas or is the week following Thanksgiving. Sure we love all the delicious fixings that go along with the main course (Turkey, duh). We love visiting friends and family, watching the game and drinking too much. But what we really REALLY love is all the amazing things that get done with turkey leftovers AFTER Thanksgiving.

Here is a short list of ideas on how to use up those turkey scraps. This year I was fortunate enough to be able to take home the make turkey stock. It was SO easy I couldn't believe I didn't try this before. From now on I will make a point of sneaking the carcass out and into my car before anyone realizes what I've done. It was that good. What sorts of things would you do with turkey stock you ask? Soups, gravies, sauces...what can't you do? Well...don't bath with it. Don't wash your car with it, or use it to lube your slip and slide. Don't. I'll slap you.

Turkey Left Over Ideas

Turkey and Sweet Pea "Risotto":

1 cup of left over cook white rice, frozen sweet peas, shredded white and dark turkey meat, 1/2 cup cream and 1/4 cup turkey broth all warmed up in a small sauce pan. That's right, just dump it all into a pan, it is so simple. Once the rice and turkey mixture is warm and at the end mix in some shredded Parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash:

1/2 cup chopped turkey, 1/2 cup cubed (cooked) sweet potatoes, 2 green onions, 1 yellow bell pepper all get sauteed in a greased heavy bottomed pan. Add the potatoes first, then the other vegetables and the turkey last. Season liberally with salt, pepper and garlic powder. The hash is best when all the ingredients take a little browning and get nice and crusty! Eat with some over easy eggs and toast!

Curried Turkey Salad:

In a medium sized bowl mix: 1 cup chopped/shredded turkey, 1/4 cup mayo, 1 tbsp low fat sour cream or plain nonfat yogurt, 1 celery rib chopped finely, 2 green onions, 1tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp garlic powder. Let this sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or dig in with a fork while standing over the kitchen counter...). Scoop onto a plate of leafy greens and some diced green apples and craisins. Obviously this makes one damn good sandwich as well!!

Turkey Mole:

You'll want to pour this over some steamed white rice so make sure you get that out of the way before you start. There are many authentic mole recipes available online, but a quick short cut is to pick up jarred mole paste from the grocery store and mix with chicken broth. Add 2 cups of the prepared mole sauce, 1 can of chopped tomatoes, and 3 cups of shredded turkey and warm through on the stove or in a crockpot (I'd go for the crock pot because it wont likely overcook the turkey). Serve over white rice, garnish with cilantro leaves and salsa.

That's what I got so far for you. My advice is get creative, but don't ignore the obvious choices either. Leftovers make GREAT turkey soup (replace egg noodles with orzo or stuffed pasta like tortellini). Have a great casserole you'd normally use chicken for? Use turkey! The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bruschetta Madness!

Lately I have been doing a lot of entertaining. Somehow, our my house became our default spot for Thursday girls nights. Not that I mind of course, entertaining is one of my all time favorite things to do. And if I don't have to go out after a long week at work to enjoy the company of my girlfriends than that is alright by me!

A thing we gals like to do is set a theme for our girls night dinners. So far we have done "Kids Night" where indulged in chicken nuggets, tator tots and of course mac and cheese (homemade, obviously!).

"Sushi Night" where we all brought one item needed to make California and veggie rolls, it was so much fun teaching ourselves (and by teaching ourselves I mean my girlfriend Maile teaching US) how to roll the sushi. Recently we did a pizza bar where we all got to assemble our own individual pizzas and baked them to order. It is a lot more fun and interactive than one person cooking in the kitchen away from the group and you should just hear the great gossip we come up with while we cook! 

So this Thursday I was thinking of doing small bites for a change. And I remembered a few years back when my dear friend Jessica was turning twenty....uh...twenty ONE, yeah....and her mother asked me to cater the party at their vineyard in Paso Robles. I made my very favorite small bite... Bruschetta.

Now, I happen to love Bruschetta for many reasons. I love bread. I love finger food. I love topping things with other delicious things and I love the idea of a totally blank canvas. Tiny one bites can be anything you want them to be. Case in point, I saw Giada De Laurentis make this amazing looking cheese tart with blue cheese, pears and prosciutto and I thought...that NEEDS to become an appetizer. I tried them out for Jessica's birthday party and they were a huge hit. They are amazingly simple to put together and full of so much flavor. Sweet, savory and surprisingly bright flavors.

So my favorite one bite has inspired next weeks girls night. Try it out and see if you're inspired. Turn your favorite sandwich into an hors d'ourve, play with flavor profiles and textures too. I've included this "bruschetta" like recipe to get your creative juices flowing!

Tell me what you're putting on toast these days!

Pear Gorgonzola and Prosciutto Bruschetta


1 large baguette
1 8 oz container of cream cheese, room temp
1/4 c gorgonzola crumbles
1 tsp fresh thyme
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 medium sized pears, your favorite variety, quartered and sliced thinly
6 thin slices of prosciutto
local honey ( I used a raspberry honey from our farmers market)

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, Gorgonzola  thyme and black pepper. Taste. I omit salt because I like the natural saltiness from the cheese, but please correct the seasonings accordingly.  Set this mixture aside at room temp. Meanwhile, in a large pan, saute the sliced pears over high heat until slightly browned around the edges. For a crisp, fresher taste and texture you may skip this step. I happen to love the deep sweetness that comes from a cooked pear.  Cut the baguette into thin slices and toast in the oven, set aside.


Have your cream cheese mixture out and ready along with your cooled pears and the prosciutto (I like to loosely separate the prosciutto ahead of time so I'm not fumbling with it later). Spread a thick layer of your cream cheese onto the toasted baguette, top with the prosciutto and then with the pear slices. Move to your serving platter and drizzle honey over each brushcetta generously.