Friday, November 29, 2013

Essentials: Turkey Stock

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all had a great day, meal spent with the ones you tolerate and/or love ;).

Did you host? Did you toss out the turkey carcass? For your sake I hope not because you could be making turkey stock right now. Unctuous, yummy, make everything for the next week better turkey stock. I follow the general guidelines laid out by Michael Ruhlman in his Chicken Stock method.


  • Roast turkey carcass, pick as much meat from it as possible.
    • The proportions below are for a 15-20 pounds carcass but you can't mess it up really.
  • 2 onions per cut up roughly
  • 3 carrots cut up roughly
  • 1 Peppercorns bashed lightly
    • I use a mortar and pestle because I'm cool like that but you could bash them with the bottom of a big pot or rolling pin to break 'em up.
  • Optional add ins
    • Bay leaves
    • Garlic gloves bashed slightly
    • Thyme sprig
    • Parsley sprig


  1. Break up carcass as much as possible to lay low in your biggest stock pot
  2. Add just enough water to cover the bones
  3. Put over low heat for 2-6 hours, I often let it go over night.
    • Low heat means LOW HEAT, as in no boiling, not even simmering. Too much heat is what can make the stock cloudy because it breaks up the turkey and veg.
  4. Add the onion, carrots, peppercorns and optionals and let heat for an additional hour
  5. Strain out the solids
  6. If you want to get real fancy strain again but this time through paper towels to get a really clear stock.
  7. Let cool in fridge to separate the fat which can then be pulled or scraped off the top.
    • If you wanna get really crazy/practical this can be used to fry potatoes or roast other veggies. It stores in the freezer for up to a month nicely.
  8. Store in the fridge for a week or freezer for 3-4 months.
Make stock, and make yummy things with it. Eventually you'll get to be known as the one in the family who should get the carcass even when you don't host or make the bird.

The 22 pound turkey we had yesterday provided almost a gallon of stock after straining this morning.

Leave a comment with what you are making with your turkey stock this year.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Recipe: Potato, Carrot and "other" curry

Potato, Carrot and "Other" curry

Curry does not happy that often around our place and when it does it is usually last minute so I wanted to come up with a recipe I could throw together without much planning. Since we almost always have potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic around they became the base. The "other" is extremely customizable based on what you have on hand and tonight for me it was red lentils. I've done chicken, cauliflower, zucchini, beef, pork and chickpeas. If you are fancy and want to make your own curry powder I'd suggest Alton Brown's recipe.

  • 1 large potato chopped
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 medium onion sliced thin
  • 1 Cup Other - chickpeas, chicken, beef, shrimp, cauliflower, etc.
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp Curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb sized piece ginger

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet
  2. Add onion and fry till just starting to brown, add ginger and garlic
  3. Fry till you can just smell the ginger and garlic, add the curry poweder
  4. Fry spices for 1 to 2 minutes until very pungent
  5. Add any raw proteins and cook through, if using lentils add them and a cup of water and simmer for 5 minutes before continuing.
  6. Add potato, carrot and coconut milk
  7. Simmer for 10 minutes or until potato and carrot are cooked through
  8. Allow to simmer to thicken sauce as desired
  9. Serve with Basmati rice

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Menu Time: July 15th - 19th, 2013

Monday - Grilled Chicken salad
The "plan" is to hit the farmers market in Olde Town on Sunday morning to snag some veggies and greens to toss with some grilled chicken. 

Tuesday - Beef and Potato Tacos, Guacamole
Taco night is a little different around here. Instead of frying ground beef we boil it with a dice up potato then drain it and mix in the spices. It makes for tender beef and is a touch healthier. Until you fry the taco.

Wednesday - Whatever is in the house Curry
Usually this is carrots, potatoes, peas and some leftover shredded chicken or pork. It's useful for getting rid of those last bites of leftover protein and veggies.

Thursday - Wheat Berry salad
If I can find Wheat Berries we'll give this a go. 

Friday - Grilled pizza
Another great way to use up some random leftovers. We've accumulated some pizza sauce from the local calzone place in the freezer so we'll defrost one of those for sauce, use whatever leftover meat and grilled veggies we have and call it good.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Recipe: Warm Quinoa, Black bean salad

Every once in a while it's a good thing to go meatless, some might even say vegan. Everything in moderation right?

This is a pretty quick and easy salad that I am certain I stole from somewhere but cannot find the original pre-tweaked recipe anywhere.

We've added corn, tomatoes, zucchini, green onions, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, chicken, steak and pork to this at various times all with great success. The leftovers are also great wrapped up in a tortilla and served as a burrito as well.

Warm Quinoa, Black bean salad
Total Time 20 minutes
Active Time 10 minutes

1/2 Cup rinsed quinoa
1 Cup water
1 Cup cooked black beans (about half a can)
2 tablespoons roasted almonds chopped
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 avocado

1 Tablespoon orange juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring Quinoa and water to a boil in a medium sauce pan then cover and turn to a low simmer, cook 15 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking whisk together the dressing ingredients
  3. After 15 minutes remove the lid and check the quinoa. If there is water remaining turn up the heat and leave the lid off to cook it off. If the quinoa is undercooked add a tablespoon or two of water and cook 2 minute minutes or till tender.
  4. After Quinoa is cooked add the black beans, dressing, almonds and parsley, stir to combine.
  5. Top with cubed avocado.
Makes 2 servings

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Menu Time: July 8th - 12th, 2013

There is no such thing as too much grilled food . . but we're taking a little break this week anyway and only grilling once. This week there are great beef and chicken deals out there to coincide with the Independence Day holiday. Even if you're not grilling this week take advantage and stock up the freezer. We're also starting to get to stone fruit season, Sprouts has had some great deals on peaches and nectarines already this summer.

Monday - Weeknight Coq au vin

What is usually a winter dish for us gets called up this week because I have a hankering for braised chicken. We usually make a quick bowl of cous cous on the side to soak up the sauce and a quick green salad. Find the recipe here.

Tuesday - Dump stuff out of cans and call it a salad.

A quick pot of quinoa, can of black beans, some cumin, orange zest, chopped almonds, diced avocado and tomato and a handful of chives and you are ready for dinner. The leftovers make great burritos with some leftover steak or chicken in them.

Wednesday - Burgers, microwave mac and cheese and grilled veggies

I couldn't abandon the grill completely this week and since it's getting fired up I'll quick grill whatever veggies look good at the farmer's market on Sunday at the same time. Meanwhile a quick Mac and Cheese in the microwave will round it out.

Thursday - Spiced Red Lentil Dal, steamed rice and sautéed spinach.

Super easy, super quick and if you are looking to go vegetarian one night a week not a bad option.

Friday - Spaghetti and meatballs

Comfort food food after a busy week. Having some meatballs stashed away in the freezer makes this a ton easier and quicker. If you don't already have a favorite sauce recipe check out this one.

If you read this far you deserve a treat. Pick up some of those peaches this week and try this;

  1. Split peaches in half, remove stone and brush with a neutral oil.
  2. Heat grill to high and get the grates good and clean.
  3. Place peaches cut side down and grill for about 2 minutes, peaches should still be quite firm. 
  4. Flip peaches over and put a cube of butter and 1/2 tsp of brown sugar into each peach. 
  5. Turn grill down to medium and cook until butter and sugar are melted.
  6. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Menu Time: June 10th - 14th, 2013

It's heating up out there so more grilling and chilling on this week's menu. There's a craving for lasagna at our house and nobody wants the oven on so i'm venturing out and trying a crock pot lasagna recipe. 

Has anyone out there tried one of these before? Super great? Utter failure?

Crockpot lasagna (I'll start with this recipe but mostly wing it and a salad.

We'll be at a baseball game, yeah! There's nothing wrong with hotdogs for dinner every once in awhile.

It's designated grilling night at our house. I'll grab whatever looks good at the meat counter and veggie bin at Sprouts on the way home. This week i'm going to make a lemon, herb, butter sauce to pour over the top of things.

Zucchini soup and grilled cheese. We've been making this soup for years, I can't believe I never posted the recipe.

Grilled pizzas are a great way to finish off any leftover random meat/grilled veggies from the week. Pesto, chicken, grilled green beans and feta? Beef, potato, roasted peppers and cheddar?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Essentials: Pancakes

pancakes on the griddle

I. Love. Pancakes. Partly because I grew up eating them (Mom and Dad!), partly because I can think about pancakes and 15 minutes later be eating them and partly because they are infinitely customizable based on what's in the house.

Making pancakes from scratch isn't hard if you have a few things on hand and personally I think they are better then the ones from a box.

Makes 8-12 pancakes (enough for 2 adults, scale up as needed)

Dry ingredients
1 cup flour ( I like 1/2 cup each AP and whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar

Wet ingredients
1 egg
1 cup milk (8 oz)
2 tbsp oil or melted butter

Mix the dry ingredients up in a big bowl (they should only fill it half way up or you'll have flour everywhere later, trust me . . i've swept up plenty of flour throughout the years). Mix up the wet ingredients in a different bowl then dump into the dry stuff and stir just a couple times. Lumps cook themselves out and chewy pancakes aren't good eats, so just mix enough to get everything incorporated.

Now crank that griddle up to a medium high heat. We use an electric one and depending on what's getting mixed in/added i'll go between 350 and 400. Now get a cup of coffee and walk away for 5 minutes or so, let the griddle get hot and let the batter rest.

After your 5 minute coffee break spoon batter onto the griddle in the size you like, I generally go for about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake but you could go crazy and make one giant pancake, just don't call me to help clean up the batter that flies everywhere when you try to flip it over. Once you see bubbles starting to form in the batter peak under one to see if it's browned the way you want and flip it over. A minute or so on the other side and you are ready to eat.

Mix ins
This is where things can get interesting. It takes a little extra time but is worth it in the long run. Here's a quick list of some popular mixins at my house.

Blueberries - I just throw a handful of frozen ones onto the cakes as soon as they get onto the griddle, they defrost but don't break up that way.

Chocolate chips - add on the griddle or into the mix when stirring it up

Banana nut - Mash a banana up and mix into the wet ingredients, chop a handful of walnuts, almonds or pecans up and mix into the batter. A sprinkle of cinnamon doesn't hurt either.

Bacon - Cook up some bacon on the griddle to your liking before starting on the batter. Lay a cooked strip into the batter after you pour onto the griddle. Don't give my name to the cardiologist.

What are your favorite mix ins for pancakes?

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Menu Time: June 3rd - June 7th, 2013

It's supposed to be warmer this week in the Denver area so we're doing a fair share of grilling again but we'll be pulling the crock pot out for the rigatoni this week.

There are some great deals in the local ads this week, a couple of things on my shopping list are;

Sprouts - Cherries are in season and made the list and baby back ribs for only $2.99 a pounds are making it into the freezer for another week.

Safeway - Country Style ribs make an easy pasta sauce with a big can of tomatoes. Strawberries are $1.50 a pound this weekend so get 'em while they are good.

Monday - BLATs
What's better than a BLT, a BLT with Avocado on it of course.

Tuesday - Rigatoni and pork sauce, green salad
This is probably my favorite pasta sauce from the crock pot and is easy to throw together in the morning during breakfast.

Wednesday - Sous Vide and grilled short ribs, grilled potatoes, celery and carrot slaw
I was the lucky recipient of a Sous Vide supreme a few years back for Christmas and this is one of the best things to come out of it I think. Ruhlman had a great blog post on other ways to cook short ribs a few years back.

Thursday - Grilled chicken tacos, quinoa, black bean, tomato, corn salad
Quinoa is a great quick addition to dinner around here and I often toss in what ever random veggies or beans we have in the fridge to liven it up. 

Friday - Brocoli, red pepper and beef stir fry

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Essentials: Baked Mac and Cheese

Everyone has a favorite Mac and Cheese and for a lot of us it happened to have come in a blue box. That was a familiar option in our house growing up but wasn't nearly as exciting as when the baked version would appear on the table. It's a fairly simple casserole that only has to involve boiling water as the prep for the pasta. No making a cheese sauce first or sauteing onions for this one. Just layer in the ingredients and go. The best part is it's adaptable, you can dump in whatever leftover meat or veggies from the week if you'd like or add fresh ham and peas, a popular option around these parts.
What version of Mac and Cheese was your favorite growing up?
  • 1 lb macaroni
  • 1 lb shredded cheese
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt and Pepper

Optional add ins
  • 1 Cup Peas, 1 Cup Ham
  • Replace 1/4 lb pasta with broccoli, 1 Cup cooked Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Cook pasta till just al dente
  3. Drain pasta
  4. Spray a covered casserole with non-stick spray
  5. Layer 1/3rd of pasta into bottom of dish sprinkle some salt and pepper over pasta, cover with 1/3rd of cheese and 1/3rd of butter, season l
  6. Repeat layers twice more
  7. Pour milk into a corner
  8. Bake for 30 minutes covered
  9. Remove lid and turn oven up to 450 for 15 minutes
To see other Essentials visit this post.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Menu Time: May 27 - May 31, 2013

Happy Memorial day weekend! To celebrate it's a week full of grilled this, that and the other thing. The grill isn't just for burgers and dogs though so throw some veggies on there when you get a chance. This is also going to be a week of lots of salads for us as the garden has lots of greens ready to eat.

Monday - Baby back ribs, grilled green beans, baked potato and a green salad.
 - If you don't have a grill check out Alton Brown's recipe for ribs.

Tuesday - Grilled flat bread, grilled zucchini and red pepper, yogurt and cucumber, hummus.
 - I use a pizza dough recipe for the flat bread, oil up the grates real good and toss it on to cook about 2-3 minutes per side.

Wednesday - Burgers, grilled corn.
 - I shuck the corn, rub some oil on it, salt and pepper and toss it on the grill. turn it fairly often or you end up with half raw corn half popcorn.

Thursday - Chicken and Broccoli stir fry, fried rice.
 - Use more ginger when you make stir fry, it's good for you and tasty.

Friday - Baked mac and cheese with peas and a green salad.
 - Baked mac and cheese is my definition of comfort food and is still one of my favorite meals from growing up. Thanks Mom!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Menu Time: May 13th - 17th, 2013

When you go shopping this weekend pick up an extra lemon, i'll tell you what we're doing with it later this weekend. There are some great deals at Safeway (steak, whole chickens) and Sprouts (Strawberries, Watermelon, Shrimp) this week that we're taking advantage of for this weeks menu.

Monday - Steak sandwiches Broccoli and Carrot slaw (I like rice wine vinegar and sesame oil to top this but you can do any dressing really)

Tuesday - Grilled chicken and shrimp, cous cous, grilled Brussels Sprouts (quarter, blanch, toss with olive oil and throw in the grill pan with salt and pepper, delish)

Wednesday - Roasted sweet potato, quinoa and bacon topping (BACON!)

Thursday - Steak and red bean nachos (Using up any leftovers from Monday night)

Friday - Rice noodles with edamame, carrots, egg and chives (from the garden!)

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Menu Time: May 6th - 10th, 2013

New feature for the blog, well heck just posting is a new feature but let's not go down that road. I'll start/resume posting the menu for the week. My method for making up a menu is pretty simple. I take a quick glance at the fridge, freezer and pantry and get some things in mind that should be used up first. Then i'll take a glance at the ads for the local grocers and see what on sale can compliment what we already have in the house. We try to eat seasonally as much as possible which helps avoid burnout of the same thing over and over as well. Hope you enjoy the first week's go at it.

Monday - Beef stew with drop biscuit topping

We're starting the week off by using up some leftovers. We had beef stew last week and have just enough to throw the leftovers into a baking dish and top it off with some drop biscuits.

Tuesday - Pizza night

You can find my dough recipe here but this week I might try Alton Brown's recipe again, just remember it takes a day in the fridge so start early.

Wednesday - Sautéed chicken breasts with butter sauce, green beans, cous cous

It's not really as complicated as it sounds. I swear.

Thursday - Baked sweet potate with black beans and quinoa.

I'm gonna cheat and use canned black beans, probably cook the quinoa earlier in the week too.

Friday - Rice noodles with beef and snow peas

I've been using this method for pretty much any noodle dish lately since it's infinitely adaptable and stupid simple.