Tag Archives: turkey

Another Fun Double Date Night In

Tonight was another random, last minute, double date night in. Our friends Leigh and Nate’s anniversary was yesterday, so I sent them an email and told them we should get together again soon. They suggested tonight, so we said sure! They came over for a healthful Lasagna (we use the recipe on the back of the Barilla No Bake Lasagna noodles box and substitute ground turkey for the beef/sausage; plus, every time it says to add meat, add meat AND veggies–we used 1 c. frozen spinach, 1 small zucchini, 1 small yellow squash and about 8 chopped baby carrots). Plus they brought garlic bread and we made a salad (see below).

Green Salad with Carrots in the center, surrounded by a Caprese Salad of roma tomatoes, mozzarella, capers and chopped fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil and your favorite vinegar and sprinkle with salt & pepper or your favorite seasoning grinder. Yum!

For dessert, we had a rich cup of French Roast coffee and Double Chocolate Torte (gluten-free vegan recipe from Oh She Glows). Even the dessert is full of good-for-you stuff, don’t knock it before you’ve tried it. Seconds will be had…guilt-free! Delicious chilled, at room temperature, or my favorite way–frozen!

picture courtesy of Oh She Glows

After dessert, they ended up teaching us two new games. If you hadn’t noticed, games are one of our favorite things to do. We played a lot of games during our dating years, especially Settles of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Scrabble and Dutch Blitz. We even had game nights that we co-hosted weekly during our first couple of years of marriage. Six years later, the frequency of games has decreased, but we still enjoy board and card games quite a bit.

Last time Nate and Leigh were here, they taught us Dominion, and it became a fast favorite, to the point we “had” to buy it and have played it for date nights multiple times since then (good for 2 players). Tonight, they taught us Small World and 7 Wonders–both are very good games!

“Risk”-esque game of conquering territories. Only 9 turns per player, but has a bit more of a learning curve than 7 Wonders and takes a bit more time with strategizing.

A fast-paced, easy to learn game for 3+ players, with multiple strategies and outcomes.

Thank God for like-minded friends and lasting memories of fun nights together! And Happy Anniversary, Nate and Leigh!

My Idealistic Thanksgiving Feast

Most people wait until Christmas to have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. I, on the other hand, dream about food often. The funniest part is it usually doesn’t include sugar plums (or desserts in general, for that matter) and I’m usually day-dreaming. Food is, always has been and always will be a passion in my life…especially delicious, nutritious and aesthetically pleasing food!

With Thanksgiving less than one week away, I have been dreaming of turkey and cranberry-everything! If I could create my perfect Thanksgiving feast, I think it would include the following recipes:

Fresh Pomegranate, Sliced Apples and Honey

Ina Garten’s Roasted Turkey Roulade (I would use boneless, skinless turkey breast and a lean turkey sausage instead of pork sausage for the stuffing)

Giada De Laurentiis’ Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini

Roasted Red and Sweet Potato Wedges, Carrots, Garlic and Brussel Sprouts (drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, 450F, 45 minutes)

The Pioneer Woman’s Green Bean Casserole (I actually really like green beans, so I might reduce the cream sauce by half)

Mom’s Cranberry Relish

Ina Garten’s Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Mom’s Cran-Apple Pie with Pecan Crumble Topping and my Great-Grandmother’s Perfect Flaky Pie Crust recipe

Recipe: Ham, Bean and Barley Soup

I’ve had a bunch of dried beans in my pantry for ages and have been waiting for the fall to make a great soup. This recipe is healthy, hearty, and homey! And it makes plenty, so invite a crowd! Here’s what I did:

Sneak Peek at Some of the Ingredients


  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • 1 cup dried red beans
  • 1 cup dried northern beans
  • 1 cup dried mung beans
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • WATER!
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 # turkey ham, chopped
  • 1 c. uncooked pearl barley


First, I took 1 cup each of the following dried beans: black beans, red beans, northern beans, mung beans (the little green ones), and lentils (the little tan ones). I soaked them overnight in a big pot of water.

Beautiful Beans! I felt like I should be doing some kind of Aztec Art, they were so pretty!

Soaking overnight...

Then this morning, I drained and rinsed the beans, and put the big pot on the stove. I melted one stick of butter and added the salt, pepper, spices, and the chopped onion.

Tip: to finely chop an onion, cut a criss cross pattern without going all the way through, then lay the onion on its side and slice. Makes perfect little squares of onions.

Mmm! Onion cooking in butter...one of the most pleasant aromas on earth!

Once the onion was transluscent, I added the rinsed beans, chopped ham, and 8 cups of water.

I used an 8 quart stockpot.

Bring to a boil on high, then turn down to low and simmer for 1 hour. After the hour, add the barley and cook for another 40-45 minutes.

Be sure to invite a crowd...or be ready to eat this for a very long time!

Serve hot! To reheat, I would suggest adding a little water, bringing it back to a boil, then turning down to low to keep it warm.

If you don't have enough bowls to go around, utilize those tea cups from your grandmother! Enjoy!

Recipe by Melissa McKinnon

Recipe: Vegetarian Black Bean and Quinoa Fiesta

Talk about a Vegetarian Delight!

Get ready for a nutritious and delicious explosion of flavor in your mouth. This is a new recipe I created last night that was so yummy I had to share! I can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch today! And it’s ready in less than 30 minutes!


  • 3/4 c. dry quinoa
  • 3/4 c. 2% organic milk
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 2 tsp. organic butter
  • 1 tsp. garlic infused oil (you could use 1 tsp. olive oil and 1 minced garlic clove)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 organic leek (white and light green portion only)
  • 1 can organic black beans (about 10 oz.)
  • 3 oz. feta cheese crumbles (1 good size handful)
  • 2 organic roma tomatoes, chopped
  • sour cream and paprika to top
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced


  1. Prepare quinoa: combine water, milk, and quinoa in a medium pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cover, simmering for 15 minutes (until moisture is absorbed).
  2. Heat large saute pan with butter and garlic oil. Slice leeks into strips or rounds and add to pan. Sautee with salt and pepper.
  3. Drain black beans and add to cooked leeks.
  4. Add feta cheese and stir till beans are warm and feta is melted into mixture.
  5. Add diced tomatoes and warm through.
  6. Serve black bean mixture over the quinoa; top with a dollup of organic sour cream and avocado slices; sprinkle with paprika. Goes well with all natural tortilla strips and Publix Greenwise Organic Salsa.

Servings: 2 good source dinner portions or 4 side dish portions (in case you want to serve tacos, grilled chicken or steak strips on the side).

Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Chili

Coworker and friend Lisa Alexander made Buffalo Chicken Chili for a Chili Cook-Off at the office today. Did I mention she won?! Wanted to share this great recipe! And it’s pretty healthy too! I’ll add my changes in italics.

Lisa’s Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of ground chicken (I used 20 oz. lean ground turkey)
  • 1 red pepper (I used 1/2 red pepper and the white and light green portions of one leek, finely chopped)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 carrots diced, optional (I used 8 baby carrots finely diced)
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. paprika
  • 5 Tbsp. Chili Powder (I used 3 Tbsp.)
  • 2 cans of undrained Chili beans (I used 2 15-oz. cans of red beans)
  • 1 can of red chilis (I used one 4-oz. can of green chilis)
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce (I used 1 28-oz. can of tomato puree)
  • ½ cup of Frank’s red hot sauce, more if you want it hot (I used about 3 oz.)
  • 1 drained can of black beans (I didn’t drain mine, 15-oz. can)
  • salt and pepper (I used 1 tsp. of salt, 1/4 tsp. of pepper and a pinch of sugar)

Ready to go for lunch tomorrow! Yum!!

Lisa’s Instructions:

Take the chicken and cook it in olive oil for 10 minutes until pink is gone. Then mix your pepper, garlic and carrots in your chicken for 5-10 more minutes or until the veggies are tender. (I cooked my turkey in 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in one pan and sauteed my garlic, leek, and pepper in another Tbsp. of olive oil in my 8 qt. stockpan.)

Add all the other ingredients in a large crock pot with your chicken and cook for 1 hour. If you want the sauce to be a white sauce just add blue cheese dressing to the mixture (be careful some people like ranch with their wings). (Once the turkey was fully cooked, I added it and the rest of the ingredients to the stockpan, brought to a boil, then turned it down to simmer till I was ready to eat. I recommend serving blue cheese crumbles and fat free Ranch dressing on the side.)

Garnish with (reduced fat) Blue Cheese crumbles, (fat free) sour cream and chives. (Celery sticks and baby carrots make a great accompaniment to this dish, since it reminded me of eating chicken wings. Cubed or shredded chicken would also be good in this dish. For vegetarian, eliminate the meat, double the veggies and add one extra can of black beans.)

~Thanks, Lisa, for this incredible recipe!!

Turkey Dogs and Slaw Lite!

Turkey Dogs and Slaw Lite

Last night, I met with two new personal trainer clients while Bryan went to the gym. So, after my session, I wanted something quick and easy for dinner. I made turkey hot dogs – 80 calories each, low fat, and delicious! Then I used my food processor to make a quick, light slaw.

Slaw Recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp. mayo
  • 1 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish
  • 1 dash each of salt and pepper
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 1/3 head of cabbage
  • 2 handfuls of baby carrots
  • 1/2 c. raisins

Mix together sauce (mayo, mustard, relish, salt, pepper, and sugar) in a large bowl. Shred your cabbage and carrots in a food processor (if you don’t have one, a grater works, but it’s definitely faster with the food processor). Toss cabbage, carrots, and raisins into large bowl with the dressing and fold together. It’s primarily veggie with just a little flavor. Delicious! Top your hot dogs or eat it as a side.

I had leftovers today and ate them with a potato bun (all we had at home). Yum!

Turkey, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways…

I’ve had a 20 lb. turkey in my freezer since before Thanksgiving. I couldn’t help buying it at $.50/lb! We didn’t get to use it over the holidays, so we thought we’d go ahead and pull it out this week. The plan is to see how many meals I can get out of a 20# bird.

First step: Thaw the turkey! This may take several days, depending on the size of your bird.

Second step: Season the turkey! We combined 2 sticks of butter, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), sea salt, and cracked pepper in our mixer and gave it a whirl. Then, we cut little slices in the turkey’s skin and rubbed the butter mixture up under the skin, then on the skin, and finally rubbed the remaining butter inside the cavity of the turkey.

Third step: Rotisserie the turkey! In my opinion, rotisserie is the simplest and tastiest way to prepare poultry. As the turkey rotates, it continues to baste itself in its juices and all that lovely butter you rubbed all over it. Most rotisseries have a guide printed on the side of them to tell you how many minutes it will need to cook per pound. Ours was 8 minutes per pound.

2 hours and 40 minutes later…

We had a delicious turkey on our hands. We pulled it out of the rotisserie, placed it in a casserole dish, and promptly poured the drippings over the turkey to baste it one final time.

Meal 1: Rotisserie Turkey. The first night, we always just eat rotisserie turkey with veggies and maybe some rice.

Meal 2: Turkey and Dumplins. Pull as much of the meat off of the bones as possible and set the meat aside. Then, place the bones into a large stockpot with the remaining drippings from the turkey (for added flavor). Cover the carcasse with water and add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer covered for several hours. Discard the bones, and reserve the stock for turkey and dumplins. You may need to strain with a sieve or cheese cloth. Reserve any meat that comes off the bones and use in the dish.

Meal 3: Turkey Noodle Soup. In a medium size stockpot, melt 1 stick of butter, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 onion (diced), 1/2 green pepper (diced), 1 c. of diced celery, 1 c. of diced carrots, 1 Tbsp. thyme, salt and pepper. Sautee, then add 8 c. of water, turkey (as much as you like), and 1 box of noodles. Bring both to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer until noodles are done and meat is warmed through.

Meal 4: Turkey Fajitas. Sautee 1/2 red onion, 1/2 green pepper (sliced in strips) in 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add 1 Tbsp. Southwest Seasoning (I used Emeril’s), 6 oz. of shredded turkey, and warm through. Serve with 4 whole wheat tortillas and Yogurt Sauce (1/2 c. plain, low-fat yogurt, juice of 1/2 a lime, 2 tsp. garlic salt, and 2 tsp. cilantro). Serves 2 (2 fajitas per person).

Meal 5: Turkey Salad. Shred 3-4 c. of turkey breast and combine with 1 c. mayo, 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp. sugar, 2 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. celery seed, 1/2 c. finely chopped red onion, 1/4 c. chopped Craisins, 1/4 c. chopped pecans and salt and pepper to taste.

Meal 6: Turkey Chili.

Meal 7: Turkey Sandwiches (Sourdough bread, mayonaise, and turkey). If you like, add sliced cranberry jelly and some red onion.

Meal 8: Turkey Pot Pie.

If there’s any turkey left over after all of that, we will just throw it in the freezer for another delicious and simple week of meals.

Tomato Caper Pasta with Turkey Feta Meatballs by Melissa McKinnon

This is a wonderful and quick meal to get the kids involved in the kitchen. They will especially love to mix the meatballs and roll them into little balls. I shared this one with a coworker and she says her kids ask for it on a weekly basis.

Tomato Caper Pasta

½ onion, chopped
1 T. butter
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. cracked pepper
¼ tsp. celery seed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz. Tomato Sauce (I use Ingles’ Happy Harvest organic brand)
1-2 T. Shiraz, or your favorite wine
1 T. dried basil
1 T. capers, drained
2 c. whole grain pasta, cooked and drained
Fresh parmesan cheese, grated


Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in skillet over medium heat, saute chopped onion and garlic in butter. Add salt, pepper, and celery seed. Cook until transluscent.

Add tomato sauce, Shiraz, basil, and capers. Simmer until reduced to desired thickness.

Stir in drained pasta. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese. Serve hot with Turkey Feta Meatballs (recipe below). Serves 4.

Turkey Feta Meatballs


1 lb. ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. Texas Pete (or your favorite hot sauce)
4 oz. container of crumbled feta cheese

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Take your rings off and mix with your hands. It really is the most effective method. Let it be a stress reliever for you. Roll into 1″ balls.

Heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet over Medium to Medium High heat. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes (4-5 minutes on each side), till browned. Since turkey is poultry, you will want to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked (no pink) to avoid food borne illnesses.

Serve on top of Tomato Caper Pasta (recipe above).