Turkey Breast

Turkey Breast on the Grill

While at the store, today, I glanced up and saw thin-sliced turkey cutlets in the meat case. I'm a good one for impulse buys, but I looked at the price and decided against them. I then looked down and saw a turkey breast portion - at three times as much weight for half as much money.

Guess what I bought?!?

Marketing really is everything. The expensive cutlets were packaged nicely and prominently displayed while the breasts were vacuum-packed and piled willy-nilly in the bottom of the case. Of course, had I not seen the nice packaging I may not have looked down to see the other, since I wasn't looking for it.

It really does cost a lot more to have someone cut things for you - just as it costs a lot more to buy things already prepared. Madison Avenue has done a great job of training people to believe they don't have time to cook. The reality is, you can have dinner on the table in the time it takes to cook the rice - from scratch, not microwave-in-bag. It just takes a bit of organization. Really.

I marinated the turkey in olive oil, red wine, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Onto the grill and 20 minutes later, we were eating salads!

The salads were greens, avocado, tomato, watermelon radishes, roasted golden beets, and barley salad. Dressing was Spicy French.

And the leftover turkey will make great sandwiches!

Turkey Breast


Turkey Cutlets

Turkey Cutlets

What do you do when you have a boneless turkey breast that is way bigger than you want to cook?!? If you said make some cutlets and freeze them, you'd be doing just what I did! I don't remember exactly when I made them, because I rarely - if ever - date anything in the freezer, but I decided whenever it was, it was time for them to come out and be eaten. I'm masterful like that, sometimes...

The cutlets were a basic flour, egg wash, and bread crumb cutlet that I individually froze and then vacuum-packed with my handy-dandy FoodSaver. I love that thing.

Today, I thawed them and lightly fried them off in a tiny bit of butter and olive oil. When they were done, I pulled them out of the pan, added another pat of butter, and a handful of mushrooms. When they browned, I added flour, then some turkey broth to make a quick pan gravy.

Meanwhile, I boiled a sweet potato... when it was done, I mashed it with some maple syrup and a splash of Red Breast Irish Whisky. This bottle is bottomless! I have been trying to empty the thing for weeks, adding a splash of whisky to a lot of different things - and I just can't seem to empty it. I suppose I could just grab it and take a slug and get it over with, but, somehow, that doesn't sound like as much fun as it did when I was a kid. It can definitely suck playing the adult!

On the bright side, I have at least one more dish to flavor!

Frozen peas on the side finished the plate.

The freezer is slowly emptying out, which means it's getting time to do a Reading Terminal Market run.

'Tis the season, for sure!

Turkey Pot Pie

Turkey Pot Pie

This is fun - while everyone else in the world is anticipating their turkey, we're already into the leftovers! For lunch, we had our first turkey sandwiches on (homemade) white bread, with mayonnaise, dressing, and cranberry sauce. They're a tradition at our house. And a lovely turkey pot pie for dinner.

I broke down the turkey this morning - after baking a pumpkin cheesecake for Thursday - and we now have turkey in the freezer for a lazy meal, the turkey carcass set aside for Friday Soup, and another packet of turkey to add to the soup. Victor baked biscotti, I washed some things in anticipation of Friday Decorating, and got a package ready to send west. All before noon.

Once upon a time, I didn't get out of bed before noon. That was especially true of the years at Tahoe - well, after my stint at The Old Post Office, where I was at work at 4:30am for a 6am opening. I didn't have a car back then, so I walked  - trying to hitchhike. More times than not, I did get a ride. It was the '70s. I was barely 24.

The Hyatt days were especially raucous. One particular night circa 1977 - somewhere around 4am - I was coming back from work and being out. I had made it around the twists and turns of Highway 28 in Nevada and was coming down the hill into Brockway - in first gear and 5 miles per hour in my 1963 VW Beetle. A policeman pulled me over. He asked me why I was driving so slow. My reply was "Because I'm DRUNK!" He took my license and registration, gave them back, and then said "I don't want to see you driving any faster than you are, right now." And off I drove home - at 5mph in first gear.

Today, the mere thought of being up until 4am sends shivers down my spine - let alone being so drunk I would be driving at 5mph. I can't imagine it. Hell - I can't tell you the last time I was up until midnight on New Year's Eve!

I'll keep the early hours to waking up - without a hangover.

The productive morning gave way to a lazy afternoon and then the making of dinner. I pulled the crust out of the freezer - I had it left over from the Beef Pot Pies last month and the filling was just mixing some turkey and vegetables with the leftover gravy and putting it in the oven.

I did a rustic crust - rolling it out way bigger than the dish, filling it, and then folding it back over. Really simple, and a lot easier than rolling out two crusts. I can't be too productive in one day, ya know...

No turkey tomorrow - at least, not for dinner. I may have leftover pot pie for lunch. Victor will probably go for another turkey sandwich. Thursday we will be ready for the whole megillah, again.

And Friday we start decorating...

This life does not suck...



Turkey Dinner

Talkin' Turkey

Today is Monday. Thanksgiving is Thursday. It's the perfect day to cook a turkey.

We're not hosting, this year, but we still need a turkey of our own for sandwiches, soup, and all of the other fun things one does with leftover turkey. Our tradition is to make soup on Friday while decorating the house for Christmas. To make soup, one needs a turkey carcass. To get a turkey carcass, one must roast a turkey.

We're not going crazy with all of the calorie-laden side dishes - some stuffing, cranberry sauce, and some potatoes will suffice. I hate, loathe, and despise green bean casserole, so we won't have to worry about that abomination being in tupperware in the 'fridge becoming a science experiment. I have tried to eat it. I have even made it - exactly as the 1955 recipe states and using fresh green beans, fresh mushrooms - and even making my own french-fried onions. No matter how it has been made - or who has made it - it sucks.

Enough on that.

I normally add a bottle of red wine to the cooking pan when roasting the bird - this year, I opted for white. I didn't stuff the turkey, either, since I'm going to be breaking it down and freezing most of it.

We usually get a loaf of squishy white bread for a round of turkey sandwiches after the big day. I picked one up at the store - and then put it back. I just couldn't bring myself to buy it. I figured I'd make my standard James beard white bread when our friend Ann mentioned she was making Julia Child's white bread. I have most of her cookbooks, so the recipe was easy to find - it's in Baking With Julia.

White Loaves

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened

Add 1/2 cup of the water into a bowl and mix with yeast and sugar til foamy. Let sit for 5 minutes until creamy. Put the yeast mixture, rest of the water and half of the flour into the mixer.

Mix slowly until blended and then add the rest of the flour and the salt. Mix at medium speed for about 10 minutes. Add the soft butter about a tablespoon at a time, mixing until completely incorporated.

Turn dough out on lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball then place in a large buttered bowl. Cover and allow to rise until it has doubled - about 45 minutes.

Butter 2 loaf pans.

Punch down dough, cut in half, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.

Roll out into a 9 x 12-inch rectangle.

Fold the dough into thirds and fit into loaf pans seam side down.

Allow to rise again until doubled in size - 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and put the rack in the center of the oven.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until browned.

Immediately turn out of pans onto a rack to cool.

The bread was a snap to make - but my damned bread pans stuck - again. I have had these pans forever - maybe longer - and they have been great up until the last three loaves of bread I've made. One more try and they're in the trash.


White Bread

While the bread was a bit of a fail, the turkey came out great!


As I mentioned, I didn't stuff it, so it cooked really quick - plus, it was only a 12 pound bird - possibly the smallest I have ever cooked.

Everything is in the 'fridge, now, and tomorrow I will portion it out, vacuum-seal and freeze some of it and get the soup bits all together. This is so totally stress-free it is almost scary.

On the other hand, I was at the local Wegmans at 11am and talk about stress! People were either rushing through grabbing anything they could see, or wandering aimlessly - with no idea what they were looking for. And it was crowded. I did get my harried cashier to laugh, though, so I consider it a successful trip.

I'm lovin' retirement!



Turkey Scaloppine

The End of Week Eleven

At the end of eleven weeks, we're still on track - averaging a 2 pound a week weight loss.  This is crazy-wonderful. It means that all of this is actually worth it. At least it is when I'm sitting here. I'm not always so sure when we're at the gym.

Today, we walked in feeling pretty good, did our warm-ups, and started in with our trainer. Within minutes I was ready to call it quits and go home. He can hammer home in nanoseconds just how out of shape I actually am. Movements that by all accounts should be simple to do are exhausting - moving a 5kg ball in an arc from side to side over my head for a mere minute has the sweat poring off me. Low plank to high plank to low to high... OMFG! And that was the easy stuff. And all the while he is singing encouragement - instructions to breathe, c'mon, this is an easy one...

What he's really driving home is getting the whole body to work in concert - and I have spent the past 66 years with my body parts playing solos. He's the conductor who is going to have me playing a symphony when this is over. Right now I feel like I'm still at chopsticks.

But the weight is coming off and the body is feeling better - at least it is after we leave - and it's taking less time to recover than it did the first couple of weeks. Maybe a modified chopsticks.

Our mantra continues to be smaller portions. That will always be the biggest issue with us - we like to eat. I very rarely actually clean my plate, anymore. I eat until I'm satisfied instead of gorging myself as in days gone by. And we're both satisfied with less. The body hasn't learned to listen to all of its moving parts, but it gets the idea that it doesn't need as much fuel to run efficiently.

Score one for genetic code.

Tonight's dinner is brought to you by a small turkey breast roast I picked up at the grocery store. It was boneless and skinless, so actually roasting it would not have made for a nice meal. Instead, I cut it into small pieces and pounded them, dredged them in seasoned flour, and into a skillet. Well - half of it. The other half went into the freezer. And we only ate half of what I made. We have lunch, tomorrow!

Turkey Scaloppine

  • 1 lb turkey scallops
  • 8 oz mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 small bunch asparagus
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Marsala
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • sage
  • poultry seasoning
  • salt & pepper
  • green onions, chopped

Pound turkey into scaloppine pieces. Mix salt, pepper, a pinch of sage and a pinch of poultry seasoning with flour. Dredge scallops and set aside.

Heat olive oil and a pat of butter in large skillet. Lightly cook turkey in batches. Set on a plate and set aside. In same skillet add chopped onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and stir in. Add mushrooms and cook until nicely browned.

Add Marsala and reduce by about a third. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add reserved turkey and reduce to simmer. Cook until turkey is completely cooked through and sauce has slightly thickened. taste for seasoning and add additional salt & pepper, as desired.

For a slightly thicker sauce, add a slurry of flour and water.

Really tasty, very filling, and just what the gym instructor ordered.

Bring on Week Twelve. We're ready!



The Diner Version of Thanksgiving

My impulse-buy of the day, yesterday, was a turkey breast.

I had most of the makings of a turkey dinner, already - I just hadn't planned to put it all together as such until I saw the turkey in the meat case of the local market.

Potatoes? Check.

Cranberry sauce? Check.

Bread cubes for stuffing? Check.

I even had leftover corn pudding in the 'fridge and turkey gravy in the freezer. This was a meal that was destined to be.

It was the diner version of Thanksgiving - no green beans, no sweet potatoes, no pumpkin pie for dessert, but it really did hit the spot - and there's leftovers.

Victor has turkey stock boiling away on the stove, right now. I see some serious turkey soup in our future. And maybe a hot turkey sandwich.


The best part of Thanksgiving Dinner is the leftovers. Of all the holidays, it's the one I really like to host. Turkey soup the day after while we start our Christmas decorating is a tradition I love. Carols playing and the scent of turkey wafting through the house while we lug box after box of decorations from the basement is the ultimate in holiday cheer.

While the masses are out clogging the stores, we're decorating the tree, laughing at the ungodly amount of ornaments we have, and remembering where each one came from and the story behind it. We really do have a lot of ornaments - 22 years of collecting - and it doesn't appear that we're done, yet. There's at least a half-dozen that are making their debut this year.

Our ornaments are the reason we finally switched to an artificial tree. Real trees just couldn't keep up with our growing collection - not to mention how dry they got by New Year's Day.


Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall - we decorate. Every room has a tree, every room has decorations. And every year we switch it up a bit. Once upon a time, the tree went in the window. It meant completely redoing the entire room, and running another cable line for the TV. Now, it goes in the corner and the rocking chair goes down to the basement. It's a lot easier, but the room doesn't get the deep-clean it used to get when every single piece of furniture found a new home. I'll live with the dust under the couch.

Decorating can really work up an appetite - and leftovers are just the cure! Just pop into the kitchen for some turkey on a roll, nuke a cup of soup, or have a piece of pie or cake with a cup of tea. It's all good.

Lunch was hot turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Every bit of it came out of tupperware containers. Dinner, tonight will be leftover eggplant lasagne. It was so good - and it's only better after it has had a chance to sit. Warmed up homemade rolls with lots of butter... I'm drooling...

Also, tonight the outdoor lights go on. I have to wait until dark to fine-tune, but they're all in place and ready to go.

Now for cookie-baking!

Turkey Eggrolls

Since we went for Thanksgiving this year, we had to cook a turkey on Friday because... well... Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving without lots of leftovers... And nothing is more in the holiday spirit than on Day Six Of Leftovers swearing you'll never roast another turkey as long as you live... We were only on Day Two of leftovers, but you get the idea. Sometimes a new idea is just what you need to make the leftovers palatable.

Victor had a post on his Facebook page that showed a Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll. I looked at it, and said to myself, "self... you could make this." So I did!

And I really have to say it was pretty darned good! Of course, what could be bad about it? All the fun things from Thanksgiving rolled into an egg roll wrapper and fried?!?

Our dipping sauce was different - Victor used homemade cranberry sauce with sambal oelek - and I made the egg rolls with sweet potatoes, not mashed.

But what fun, eh?!?


Here's the original video. Short but sweet.

Oh... and since man does not live by egg rolls, alone... I made Turkey Soup to go along with it.


The rest of the turkey, stuffing, and gravy will be getting frozen for a quick meal when I'm working late...

And Victor made homemade pasta for tonight...

Gumbo and Hot Sauce



I have to admit I really do lead a charmed life. I mean... How many people have a container of homemade gumbo given to them at work? Count me as being the one!

One of the fun things about my job is that I talk about food all day long. And bein' that I've now been there over 13 years, I've gotten to know some pretty fun people. I've seen people meet, get married, have kids, and send the kids off to school. Back in my little corner of the store, it's like a mini-version of Cheers.

What's fun are the folks I get to see on a regular basis. We catch up on the basics and talk inevitably falls back to what we've been cooking, lately.

One such conversation led to turkeys and turkey gumbo.

First time I ever had gumbo was in Uncle Sam's Yacht Club. It was pretty amazing that the US Navy could come up with a damned good gumbo that fed 5000 people. The secret, of course, was the Louisiana cooks on the boat weren't following an Armed Forced Recipe Card.

But fast-forward past gumbos made with my old roommate and former brother-in-law Tim Beech and bastardized versions made with so much filé powder that they couldn't be scraped from the pot, to Saturday afternoon...

In walk two of my more favorite customers - sans kids, but with a tupperware container of turkey gumbo they had made - along with a bottle of Sauce Boss Liquid Summer hot sauce!!

I was psyched! Really psyched!

We all know I love food. I especially love food that folks make from scratch - that they love making. And sharing! We had talked about the gumbo, and here it was - in my own little hands!

Sunday I baked a loaf of bread, and Sunday night, I cooked up some rice, heated the gumbo, and feasted! It was great. Every single drop.  Even Nonna licked her plate clean! It was rich, flavorful, lots of different flavors and textures... It made my Yankee heart smile.

And the hot sauce is really good, as well. it's made by a Guitar-playin' Gumbo-maker named Bill Wharton - The Sauce Boss. Heat, but with flavor. Unusual in a hot sauce. I can see a few different uses for this.

I don't have the recipe to share, but suffice to say, it was excellent.

Thanks for a great meal!

Turkey Soup


When I typed the title for the post this evening, it came up as "turkey-soup-9." It seems I've posted about turkey soup a few times. I went back and started reading the posts, and they all were pretty much the same. "Best part of Thanksgiving." "Boil the carcass." Talk about originality. It seems I pretty much make the same soup over-and-over again.

I switch out ingredients, change the pasta, add beans or barley, and, generally just clean out the refrigerator, but the basic soup really is always the same.I'm either in a rut or I've achieved perfection. Personally, I'll call it perfection, because lord knows I'm never in a rut. And, it tasted pretty darned good.

Thing is, it's pretty hard to screw up a soup. All ya need to do is throw things in a pot and let Mother Nature take over. Provided you're not trying to replicate a specific flavor, taste, time, or place, you're pretty much guaranteed to have a reasonably good result.

And in not trying to replicate anything, it sorta looks like I've just replicated the past 9 years or so...

So much for not being in a rut...

Leftover Turkey



So yesterday I roasted a turkey.

I was doing my regular Monday grocery shopping when I espied turkeys on sale. Total impulse-buy. Ya have to do it once in a while...

Turkey requires a few accoutrements and we had a few... gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cranberry sauce, rolls... It was a pretty good dinner but with just the three of us, there were a few leftovers - most notably, the turkey, gravy and stuffing.

Since it's been howling rain all day with temperatures plummeting, I thought a turkey pot pie of sorts would be appropriate.I considered making a double crust and doing a traditional pot pie, but I had a bit of a time crunch - not to mention a laziness factor.

I opted, instead, for something a bit different. First, I pressed the leftover stuffing into the bottom of a casserole. I chopped up turkey and put it in a pot with the leftover gravy and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and brought it all to a boil. It went on top of the stuffing and refrigerator biscuits went on top. Into a 350° oven for 25 minutes.

The secret to cooking biscuits or dumplings atop a casserole is to make sure the casserole filling is hot before you put the biscuits on. A cold filling will not cook the biscuit bottom before the top burns.

And yes, I used refrigerator biscuits. They worked, but I'm always just slightly annoyed whenever I use them. Even good ones aren't really that good.

Next time I'll make my own.

In the meantime, here's a picture of the turkey dinner from last night.



I see hot turkey sandwiches in my future...

Butternut Squash Gratin



After torrential rains and wind, this morning, it is a balmy 70° outside. We went from a storm of biblical proportions to blue skies - on November 1st. Thank goodness global warming is only a liberal myth.

The weather may not say it but the calendar is calling for fall - and that means apples, pears, and butternut squash. I decided to work on a gratin that could possibly adorn the Thanksgiving table, this year. I actually have no problem dropping a completely new and untested recipe on a crowd - it works or it doesn't, ya like it or ya don't - but it's also fun to serve something you know is going to work. I wasn't thinking Thanksgiving when I started, but after eating it, I thought it could work with a few revisions...

What I did was thinly-slice about a pound of butternut squash, 1 apple, and 1 pear and layered them in a casserole with salt, pepper, rubbed sage, and gorgonzola cheese. I poured about a cup and a half of heavy cream over it, covered it all, and then baked it at 350° for about an hour.

The concept is good, but it's more sweet than savory. I need to up the cheese and sage, maybe add paper-thin sliced onions, and cut way back on the cream. That being said, all three of us all but licked our plates - it was really good the way it came out, but I still think I'd like to see it a bit more savory.

I did a homemade cranberry sauce to go along with it. We have LOTS of Cranberry Sauce recipes on the site. Choose one or twelve...

In the meantime, I'll work on the gratin and get back to ya!