Category Archives: cooking

Roasted Turkey Leg: It’s not just for Renaissance Fairs!

If you have ever been to a Renaissance Fair, you have undoubtedly seen the hordes of hungry revelers milling about gnawing on giant turkey legs.  Yes, there is something quite medieval about tearing into an oversized drumstick. 

Fast forward to the present day and you will find that turkey legs can have a place at even the most well-mannered table.  Today I am sharing a recipe for roasted turkey legs with root vegetables. 

The recipe I used last night is adapted from one found at The Splendid Table.  You can use a knife and fork for the turkey legs, but feel free to unleash your inner caveman.

Rustic Roasted Turkey Legs with Root Vegetables

Serves 4

  • 4 medium turkey drumsticks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 carrots, washed, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 parsnips, washed, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 8 fingerling potatoes, washed and cut in half
  • 1 stalk celery, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (basil, rosemary,marjoram, thyme, sage, oregano)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of liquid ( chicken broth, white wine or water)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Season the turkey legs with salt and pepper.

3. Toss the vegetables with olive oil, garlic, pepper, Italian seasoning blend.

4. Spread the vegetables in a large baking dish or roasting pan lined with foil. Spread the sliced butter and pour the liquid over the vegetables. Arrange the turkey legs on top.

5. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast, turning the legs and vegetables every 30 minutes, until the meat is fork tender, 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Remove aluminum foil after the first 1.5 hours to allow turkey legs to brown.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes. Serve the turkey legs with the roasted vegetables.

I served this dish with Uyuni Quinoa & Whole Grain Brown Rice from Seeds of Change.  It comes in a bag that you microwave for 90 seconds and voila!  It paired nicely with the roasted vegetables. 

In addition to being delicious and easy to make, this dish is also super-economical at around $3.00 per serving!

I was inspired to make turkey drumsticks a few nights ago when I saw this NYC Facebook friend’s status post: TURKEY ON $3 A DAY (A li’l Fodor’s humor there): Now that the kids are finally down, I’m eyeballing one of the two huge turkey drumsticks I purchased at Keyfood earlier this evening, wondering how to cook it. Any suggestions?

Since this was posted after 10:00 pm, I wanted to make sure this New York City Dad knew that he had 2 hours of cooking time before dinner!  I suggested this recipe, but he thought it looked pretty *involved*.  He ended up simply roasting a leg by salting, adding lemon juice and cumin and baking at 425 for 30 min. and then turning down oven to 350 for 45 min. He reports that it was delicious and awesomely easy.  But even cavemen have to eat vegetables sometimes, right?  So even though the recipe may look involved, never fear!  It’s really just a matter of chopping up some vegetables, (if you only have carrots and onions that would work, too) tossing them with some olive oil and a seasoning of your choice, and roasting the turkey legs on the bed of vegetables, which  really adds less than 10 minutes of prep time.  (Less if you want to go for convenience over price and buy the pre-chopped vegetables). 

My Facebook friend was going to try slicing up some of the turkey leg to see how well it would go over with his kids.  Kids usually love drumsticks, so I’m guessing it would be a hit.  However, I did find this picture that seems to advise against feeding turkey drumsticks to very young children:  (LOL)

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Bread Pudding

My cousin Penney thinks there should be another name for Bread Pudding.  I can see her point.  Many people think they don’t like Bread Pudding because the name is evocative of . . . well, bread and pudding.  It doesn’t really sound like much of a combination, when you think about it.  But when done well, bread pudding transcends the name and becomes . . . well, bread heaven.  Or something like it.  Perhaps my friend Frank said it best, when asked for an alternate term for bread pudding.  “When it’s done right,” he exclaimed, “the word ‘aphrodisiac’ comes to mind.”

That’s high praise for a dessert that has its roots in 13th Century England and was known as “poor man’s pudding”.  Stale, leftover bread was moistened with a little water and had a little sugar and spice mixed in.  Fast forward to the present century, where a rich, decadent custard-based bread pudding can be found on the dessert menus of high-end restaurants across the country.

The ultimate comfort food, bread pudding is beautiful in its simplicity to make.  Unlike most baking, you don’t need to be precise in your measurements, and virtually any technique will work.  You can use a variety of breads, from sourdough to croissants.  I’ve even seen a bread pudding recipe made with Krispy Kreme Donuts!

Here’s a recipe that’s foolproof and always a crowd pleaser.

Start with a loaf of cinnamon bread.  I used the store-bought Cinnabon brand bread for this.  Cut it up in cubes and let it sit in a bowl exposed to air for around 3 to 8 hours.

You want the bread cubes to just be dry enough not to feel doughy to the touch . . . but not hard.

Arrange a layer of bread cubes to cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.  It doesn’t have to be jigsaw puzzle precise, but try to cover most of the bottom without crowding the cubes too tightly. You can go ahead and preheat your oven to 325.

Next, place a row of cubes around the edges of the dish, crust side up.  Don’t worry that the edges are uneven, that’s part of the rustic charm of the dish.  When that is finished, layer the remaining bread cubes in a random pattern in the center, turning some of the crust side up.

Now you’re ready to make the custard.  Aren’t these pretty eggs?  I get them from a neighbor who raises chickens.  They are probably equivalent to a medium egg  in the grocery store, and I used 4 of them.  Whisk lightly.

Add 3 1/2 cups of milk and 4 Tablespoons of melted butter to the eggs and mix together.  (You can also subsitute cream for some of the milk, if you’re feeling wicked).  Add 1  1/2 to 2 cups of sugar, depending on your taste, and mix until it is dissolved.  (Remember there is some sugar in the cinnamon bread.  If you’re using an unsweetened bread, you can add more sugar).

Mix in 2 Tablespoons of vanilla.  (That’s right . . . TABLESPOONS).

Now gently pour the mixture over the bread cubes in the baking dish.  You will have some cubes exposed on top, just make sure you have moistened them with the custard mixture. At this point, you can also optionally add 3/4 cup chopped pecans sprinkled over the top.  Place it on the center rack of the oven and bake at 325 for 55-70 minutes, until the entire top is a rich golden brown.  (My oven took 68 minutes).

While that’s baking, it’s time to make the Whiskey Cream Sauce . . . without which this bread pudding is not complete.  In fact, if you can make only one thing, make the Whiskey Cream Sauce and forget the bread pudding.  It’s that good.  And so easy.  Simply melt 2 sticks of butter, 1 cup of cream, 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of Whiskey in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a slow boil, then remove from heat. (My original recipe called for Jack Daniels Whiskey.  Having none in the house, I turned to a high-quality Scotch.  I must say, after tasting . . . and tasting . . . and tasting it, the Scotch sauce is exceptionally good.  There I go, hitting the sauce again!) Lots of butter, heavy cream, sugar and whiskey . . .what else could be better?  (For your soul, if not your heart!)

The bread pudding will look a little poufy when you take it out of the oven.  Let it sit for 15 minutes or so to deflate.  Serve it warm or cooled with the warm Whiskey (or Scotch!) sauce.  Be still my heart!

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Diet Friday

This week on Diet Friday I have happy news to report.  It IS possible to fall off the wagon engage in controlled indulgence WITHOUT gaining weight.

This week started off with a Mother’s Day brunch at a San Antonio restaurant that features one of my favorite desserts,  a souffle-inspired dark chocolate cake with Nutella ganache and peanut butter mousse.  Oh my stars!  Here it is:

Peanut Butter, chocolate, hazelnut . . . what’s not to love?  And who could resist?  I didn’t . . . I couldn’t . . . I wouldn’t.  Resist, that is.  The good news is that I sampled less than half of this rich confection before I was completely satisfied and passed the rest over to my husband, who was only too happy to finish it for me. 

But wait!  There’s more.  Tuesday night was Bunco night . . . and I was in charge of bringing a bread pudding with N’Awlins flair in keeping with the Mardi Gras theme.  Well, you can’t very well make bread pudding without sugar.  Or bread.  Or Whiskey Sauce, which also requires sugar.  (Not to mention lots of butter and heavy cream).  Here it is:

Bunco ladies can cook, and there were many desserts to sample along with the gumbo and rice.  It would be impolite not to taste, wouldn’t it?  The good news again is that I limited myself to small tastes and didn’t overindulge.  Was it worth it?  You bet!  If you’re going to indulge, make sure it is something fabulous!  Bread pudding is comfort food, and luckily a little comfort can go a long way.  Look for the recipe posting soon!

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Low-sugar Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is a classic dessert, and for years I had every intention of making it. In my pantry, I had the butane kitchen torch  to use for carmelizing the sugar, as well as a full assortment of dandy ramekins.  Then I would think about the eggs, the cream, the sugar . . . and would decide that perhaps creme brulee was not exactly the healthiest dessert choice. 

Sunday night I felt compelled to go through with it.  I actually was pretty good at creme brulee back in the day.  I recalled working in a booth at “Tast of LA” in the early 90’s where a friend was serving up creme brulee.  The sugar was carmelized to order with a butane torch, and that was my job.  The cappucino creme brulee turned out to be one of the big hits of the festival, and after torching thousands, I became an overnight expert on sugar carmelization via a blowtorch! 

For Sunday night’s version, I decided I would keep the eggs and cream, but cut out the sugar.  The recipe below calls for Splenda in place of sugar in the custard.  I did use a teaspoon of real sugar on the top to carmelize.  I’ve never tried carmelizing Splenda, and didn’t want to risk some kind of toxic chemical reaction! 

When I served it to my husband (who doesn’t cook at all) I warned him that this would be a slightly different, slightly healthier (?) version of the creme brulee he normally orders at restaurants.  He looked at me quizically.  Wasn’t creme brulee already healthy?  I stared at him blankly and asked him what part of creme brulee he thought was healthy . . . the heavy cream, the egg yolks, or the sugar?  He had no idea what was in it.  (Did I mention that he doesn’t cook?)  He explained that he always ordered creme brulee in restaurants not so much because he loved it, but because he thought it was the lighter, healthier dessert.  Kinda like eating yogurt.  

So here it is folks.  Definitely not light.  But if you’re watching your carbs, this creme brulee will hit the spot. 

Crème Brulee (low sugar version) 

List of Ingredients 

 

  

  

  •  
    • 1 quart heavy cream
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (you can also use sugarless)
    • 8 large egg yolks
    • 1/2 cup Splenda
    • 8 teaspoons sugar

   

Instructions 

  

  1.       In small saucepan, heat cream with vanilla over medium heat. Remove from heat. Place eight 6-ounce ramekins in a roasting pan; set aside.
  2.       Preheat oven to 300 degrees F, with rack in the center. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks just until blended. Slowly whisk in 1/2 c. Splenda. Slowly beat in hot cream into the yolks, whisking all the time.  Pour custard into the ramekins.
  3.       Place the roasting pan on the center rack of the oven. Pour in enough hot tap water to reach about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custards are just set, about 30 minutes (the timing can vary based on the depth of the ramekins). Remove the custards from their water bath and place on wire rack until cooled.
  4.       Refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours.

5.  Before serving, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar over the top of each individual custard.  Carmelize the sugar using a torch.  (These can be purchased at kitchen supply stores)  If you don’t have a torch, you can also place under the broiler for a few minutes until the tops are shiny. )

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Diet Friday

Another week of dieting, another 1.6 lbs evaporated into the ether!  That brings me to a grand total of 3.6 lbs lost in 2 weeks on The Belly Fat Cure.

If you’re reading Jorge Cruise’s new diet book, (Jorge doesn’t use the word diet, but I do) you may think this result isn’t too impressive.  After all, it shows pictures of people who lost 8 lbs in the first week!  I will tell you that I am perfectly pleased with the results for several reasons:

  • I am a proponent of slow and steady
  • I have not been hungry
  • I have not been hungy
  • I have not been hungry

Putting it mildly, I’ve had a little bit of an issue over the past few years with hunger.  To be more specific, my appetite has been insatiable.  I can honestly say that there has never been a time in the last few years where I have felt full to the point of not wanting to eat more.  I may have stopped after two pieces of pie, but I definitely wanted to eat the whole pie and I probably would have asked for another one.  So I give myself a pat on the back for having the incredible will power and discipline to stop at the second piece of pie, rather than the second pie!

Last night, something very unusual happened.  Monumental, even.  I forgot to eat dinner.  I was out shopping, having a great time, and by the time I got to the Coach store they were locking the doors.  It was 9:00 pm, and I hadn’t eaten since lunch.  Ordinarily, I would be experiencing a big blood sugar crash by this time, with that weak, shaky feeling.  Nothing.  Nothing but the feeling of, Oh, it’s nine o’clock, I should eat something.  And that, my friends, is a very good feeling.

Here’s something I had for lunch last week:I sauteed some baby spinach and mushrooms in olive oil and garlic, seasoned with a bit of sea salt and pepper, then melted in some provolone cheese .  I wrapped it in a warm garlic and herb low-carb tortilla.  Yum!

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Meaty Cheesy Pasta Bake

Ha!  You saw the title and thought that I had already thrown in the chips on this diet thing, didn’t you?  O Ye of little faith, I am still true to the plan.  It’s good to be on the type of diet where you can cook for both yourself and your non-dieting husband and he doesn’t have to sacrifice.  ( If you have any questions about that, ask my husband about the time I made lasagna with tofu sausage.  Not a good day.) 

Tonight I made a meaty, cheesy pasta bake that I adapted from a recipe in “The Belly Fat Cure” diet book.  With only 2 grams of sugar and 2 servings of carbs, it is on the diet.  When my husband tasted it, he said “Now this is what Hamburger Helper SHOULD have been!”  I’m pretty sure that was a compliment.

Here is a picture of the dish before I put the cheese on top and put it in the oven to bake:

And here it is after the cheesy goodness is added and a few minutes under the broiler:

I’ll give you the recipe I used, then I’ll tell you what I’m going to do next time to make it even better.

Meaty Cheesy Pasta Bake

  • 4 cups cooked Barilla Plus Penne Pasta
  • 1 Cup Seeds of Change Romano Cheese Pasta Sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, cooked (I use Laura’s Lean Ground Beef)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used an Irish white cheddar)
  • 2 slices provolone cheese, torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, mix together sauce and chicken broth and bring to simmer; add cooked ground beef and simmer for 5 minutes; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper; remove from heat

Mix the cooked pasta with the meat sauce and pour into a 9×11 baking dish; top with cheeses.  Broil until cheese is melted and browned. (About 5 minutes).

Note:  This was very good, but I would like something a bit thicker and creamier to bind it together.  Next time, I am going to add some sour cream to the mixture before putting the cheese on; I’ll let you know if it does the trick!

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Ridiculous Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk PieI’m almost embarrassed to post this ridiculously easy and scrumptious buttermilk pie recipe.  First of all, I’m not sure it technically qualifies as “pie”, since it doesn’t have a traditional rolled pie crust.  Second of all, if you look at the ingredients it just seems kind of impossible that it would all turn out so well.  Impossible, in fact, was the name given to it by Bisquick . . . Impossible Buttermilk Pie . . . because it “makes” its own crust.  I actually found this Paula Deen version on The Food Network.  If you’ve never had the classic southern buttermilk pie, don’t let the name fool you.  There is no sour buttermilk taste, just a sweet, vanilla-scented custard that my be the ultimate in comfort food. 

I served this pie with fresh whipped cream and blackberries, but it is just fine all on its own!

Buttermilk Pie-Paula Deen Recipe

Prep Time:

5 min

Cook Time:

50 min

Level:

Easy

Serves:

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup biscuit mix (recommended: Bisquick)
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan.

Put all ingredients in a bowl and blend for 1 minute with a handheld electric mixer. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes.

Buttermilk Pie 2

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