Archive for the ‘Poultry’ Category

There are about a zillion ways to roast a chicken.  Although it seems easy enough, I rarely choose to roast a chicken, usually because it always winds up being dry.  I thought that roasting a chicken in a crockpot may prevent dryness, and I was correct.  Of course, so were the rest of the food blogging community who suggested this and provided another zillion ways to do it.

The recipe directs you to brown the chicken in a large pan before placing in the crockpot.  Browning the chicken is a little difficult.  It is hard to move the chicken around, and impossible to get all sides browned.  I did my best, trying to hold the birdie up with two spatulas while the sides browned, but I would not recommend this as the chicken kept slipping away. 

The chicken in the crockpot, surrounded by lemon quarters, garlic and rosemary looks picturesque, like from the pages of some French country cookbook.  The chicken is moist and flavorful with hints of garlic, lemon, sage, rosemary, and the saltiness of the soy sauce adds a tanginess to mix up those traditional flavors of roasted chicken.

Crockpot Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary Roast Chicken (adapted from The Kitchn)

3-4 pound chicken (labeled fryer or roaster)


3 garlic cloves–minced

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 springs rosemary-leaves stripped and minced

2 teaspoons ground sage

3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (keep the rinds)

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 whole lemon–quartered

1 head of garlic–cloves separated and peeled

2 chicken bouillon cubes

3 sprigs of rosemary

Prep the chicken:  Remove gizzards, wash chicken thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. 

Season the chicken:  Combine seasoning ingredients in a bowl, gently rub between meat and skin, being careful not to break the skin all over the chicken.  Any remaining seasoning rub inside the chicken cavity. 

Heat a large pan over  medium-high heat and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Pan-sear the chicken on all sides for 6-8 minutes until the outside is browned. Transfer the chicken to your crockpot–breast side up.

Combine lemon juice, soy sauce, and chicken broth, and add half the liquid to the same pan until just boiling, and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pan with a spatula. Then pour mixture over the chicken in the crockpot.

Put lemon rinds (reserved from squeezing the juice), one whole bouillon cube, and a few of the garlic cloves inside the cavity of the chicken. Place lemon quarters, remaining garlic cloves around the chicken toward the edges of the cooker. Crumble the other bouillon cube over the chicken and rub it into the skin.  Place the lid on the cooker and cook on high for 4 hours. Twenty to thirty minutes before the time is done, pour reserved lemon juice mixture over chicken and add the rosemary.

Remove chicken from the slow-cooker and allow it to rest on the carving board for about 20 minutes before carving.


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We have many favorites out there that we would never think to try to cook at home.  Mozzarella sticks, sushi rolls, spring rolls, etc.  There are many reasons why we have not attempted these things at home:  they appear more complicated to make than they look, the experts on the outside probably will do it better, and why go through all the effort when these things are easily accessible for purchase.  Empanadas are also on this list, but since we do not see empanadas all that often, deciding to bring empanadas home was a wonderful plan.   Cooking homemade empanadas seems adventurous, but I decided to try it out, and although it may be a flop, I wanted to see what went into making these delicious little pastry pockets.  I also thought that if it went well, there could be empanadas on the regular!


Choosing a filling for our empanadas was the first step.  I had several ideas, but settled on turkey piccadilo.  I found a recipe for this Latin dish in a Weight Watchers cookbook.  I eliminated the raisins, bell pepper, rice, red pepper flakes, and tomato sauce, and instead added carrots, cayenne pepper and diced tomatoes. This yields a slightly warmed spiced filling with the added sweet texture of the diced tomatoes.  Using a food processor to chop the onion and carrot finely took seconds, so I recommend this.  Other fillings I may try in the future include black beans with cheddar cheese and chicken with picante sauce slow cooked for 4 hours.

Now for the adventure…empanada dough.  I wanted to blend the butter into the flour with my food processor, but the food processor would not fit the 4 ½ cups of flour and 2 sticks of butter cubes.  So I split the flour and butter in half and blended it in the food processor separately.  Then combined the two batches back together in a large bowl and used my fingertips to blend together.  When I finished, I still had a little flour remaining that had not blended with the butter, but I kneaded that flour back into the dough.  I attempted to roll out even piece of dough to make my empanadas.  In the end I had a mix of sizes, but relatively in the same category of not too small and not too big.  I even changed up my decorative crimp for the edges, sometimes using my finger  to seal the empanada and then rolling the excess dough inward to create an edge, and other times using a pie pastry cutter to get a crimped edge. 

These were relatively simple to make, and I think they will be making another appearance in our kitchen.  I would love to try the different fillings.  The dough is slightly buttery, slightly flaky and slightly crunchy.  The filling could be a little spicier (maybe some more cayenne pepper), but it was delicious. 

Turkey Piccadilo Empanadas (adapted from Weight Watchers)

For the dough:

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs
2/3 cup ice water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

For the filling:

1 pound ground turkey

20 ounce can diced tomato

1 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

1 carrot (or handful of baby carrots)

1 ½ onion

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Egg Wash:
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Dough:  Sift flour with salt into a large bowl.  Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some very small butter lumps. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. In the large bowl (or lightly floured surface) knead the dough mixture gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into two flat disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours total.

Filling:  In a food processor, chop onions and carrots until very fine.  In a large pan, cook ground turkey with salt and pepper.  When the meat is almost cooked add the chopped onions and carrots.  Mix onions, carrots and turkey together and cook until meat cooks in to crumbles.  Stir in spices, and cook about 2-3 minutes.  Then add diced tomatoes.  Turn heat down to low-medium, and allow meat, tomatoes and spices to cook for 5-7 minutes.

Empanadas: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Break off a piece of dough, about 2-3 inches in diameter, and roll out the piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 5-6 inch round that is 1/8 inch thick.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling into the center, and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together around the filling to, and crimp or roll the edges with your fingers for decoration.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place empanada on the baking sheet. Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash. Repeat the process. 

Cook for about 20-25 minutes or until golden.  Allow empanadas to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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I am always looking for the best tomato sauce.  I love tomatoes and I love pasta.  Finding the perfect sauce can be difficult.  There are so many bad sauces out there.  I really do not like tomato sauce in a jar from the supermarket.  There is one brand that I can somewhat tolerate…if I add onion, garlic and wine to it, but most of them are either bland or entirely too salty.  I try new things while making sauce all the time.  Sometimes I add carrots to make the sauce more sweet, sometimes cheese to thicken it up, and sometimes good red wine to give it a lot of flavor.  And of course, I always add onion and garlic.  When I came across this recipe for tomato sauce and saw all the rave reviews and how simple it was too make, I was sold .  The recipe calls for butter, which is what probably makes this sauce so tasty, and although I do not think I can make this my regular tomato sauce, due to all the calories, I really really enjoyed it.  It is the best sauce that I have had in a long time.

Now what to make with this sauce…  My husband likes turkey meatballs.  I load them with garlic, onion, parmesan and parsley, and cook these massive meatballs in a pan with no oil or butter.  Turning to mini-turkey meatballs sounded like more my style. I love how they were bite-sized.  Adding flour to the meatballs provided a nice golden crust when cooked that I really liked too. 

The finished product is a satisfying home-cooked meal.  The tomato sauce tasted just how tomato sauce is supposed to taste (without the added saltiness and fake basil flavors), and finding the mini meatballs hiding among the ziti was delightful.  The melted pecorino was a nice addition, but I do not think it was really needed.  Just adding some grated parmesan on top is good enough.

Baked Ziti with Tomato Sauce and Mini-Turkey Meatballs

(Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking and Smitten Kitchen)


1 pound ground turkey

1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 garlic cloves chopped
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1/3 cup Parmesan
1 egg
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground Black pepper
1 cup flour, spread on a plate

Tomato Sauce 

34 ounce (approximately) whole or plum peeled tomatoes from a can

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion

1 box ziti

1 ½ cups freshly grated pecorino cheese (optional)

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Tomato sauce

Peel onion and cut in half.  In a large sauce pan, add tomatoes, butter and onion.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Then, crush the tomatoes against the sides of the pot with a wooden or silicon spoon.  Cook another 15 minutes.  Remove onion and set aside.


Heat milk and add to bread crumbs.  Let soak for 5 minutes.  Chop garlic and parsley.  Place in a bowl with egg and parmesan cheese.  Add ground turkey and bread crumbs to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Add salt and pepper.  Mix meat with other ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Spread flour out on a plate, and set aside another plate to collect the meatballs.  Roll meat into cherry-sized balls.   Roll the meatballs in the flour.  Then place as many meatballs as can fit in a colander at a time and shake well so that the excess flour is released.  Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a skillet, or spray with Pam, and place skillet on medium heat.  (My skillet is non-stick, and I did not use anything to coat the skillet and the meatballs still cooked with a nice golden crust).  Place as many meatballs in the pan as can fit and still cook evenly.  Cook meatballs, turning them on all sides.

Boil pasta while you are cooking the meatballs.

Once the meatballs and pasta are done, place ziti in a large casserole dish, pour tomato sauce on top and add ¾ of the cheese.  Mix through with a large spoon.  Then add ¾ of the meatballs, and mix them through as well.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  Bake in oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and slightly golden.  You can use all the meatballs if you would like, but the recipe makes many many meatballs and I thought that adding all of them would be overkill.  So I saved the rest for future meals and snacking.

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We are fans of beets, but you do not see them often.   You may see them at salad bars, usually of the pickled variety, but not too many restaurants highlight beets on their menus. I am not sure why they are unpopular, because they are sweet and a great addition to many dishes.   Before attempting this recipe, I had never purchased beets with greens on them from a grocery store.  I was not sure what to look for in a good beet, so I just went with firm beets and healthy looking greens.  A little research revealed that you should select beets that are small or medium in size, whose roots are firm, smooth-skinned and deep in color, and that you should look for greens that are tender and a lively green color.  Beets are in season between June and October, so we were a little early in purchasing the sweetest beets, but they were still pretty sweet. 

My husband has requested more beets in our meals, so I found this recipe that incorporated the greens too.  The recipe only calls for two beets, and beets are usually sold in bunches of three.  So, that one lonely beet is still sitting in my kitchen, looking for a home.  Shredding the beet turned my hands fuchsia, and I later read that throwing cut up beets into a food processor with the disc attachment saves a lot of time, but then you don’t get your efforts stained on your hands, and no one will know that you cooked with beets.    Once shredded, you have a pile of beautiful deep purple shreds.  I loved the color.  In fact the entire meal had great colors, including the vibrant orange butter and bright greens.

Orange butter adds a sweet and creamy addition to this dish, and was very simple to make. Just add orange zest to butter.  I pretty much stayed true to the recipe, but I did add more zest than called for because I got carried away zesting my orange, but it was well worth it.  The orange flavor cut through the vinegar floating through the greens, and was a nice contrast. 

Speaking of vinegar, I made a small error at the grocery store.  For some reason I wrote down “Sherry wine” on my list, and when confronted with Sherry cooking wine on the shelf and no Sherry wine vinegar, I incorrectly assumed that I must have meant cooking wine.  When I got home and found out that I really needed the vinegar, I checked online to see I could substitute the cooking wine instead.  What I found was a resounding NO.  Apparently they are not the same, and it was suggested to use red wine vinegar or white vinegar instead, and I was encouraged to throw away the cooking wine, which apparently is filled with sodium.  Purchasing Sherry wine from a liquor store is a better bet if your recipe calls for Sherry cooking wine.  

Chicken, Grated Beets, and Beet Greens with Orange Butter (Bon Appetit, 2009)

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided

1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange peel

½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (or 6 tenderloins)

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

2 medium red beets with greens, greens stemmed and coarsely chopped, beets peeled and coarsely grated

2 teaspoons Sherry wine vinegar, divided (or red wine vinegar)

1/3 cup water

Mix 1 tablespoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon orange peel in small bowl. I added about ¾ of a teaspoon the orange zest. Add a pinch of salt and ground black pepper.

 Season chicken with salt and pepper, and cook chicken in ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet until golden brown on each side.   Set aside, and keep warm. 

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; stir until tender and beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add beet greens; toss until leaves are tender but still bright green, about 2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon Sherry wine vinegar; stir 30 seconds. I did not have Sherry wine vinegar, so I used red wine vinegar instead.  Add salt and ground black pepper to taste.  Set greens aside with chicken, and keep warm. 

Add grated beets and 1/3 cup water to same skillet; cover and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, and cook until beets are tender and water is almost evaporated, stirring often, about 1 minute. I did not cover the beets, but continued to stir until the liquid evaporated.  Add 1 teaspoon wine vinegar; stir 30 seconds. Add salt and ground black pepper to taste. 

Serve chicken with beets and greens on the side, and spoon orange butter on top of the chicken.

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I have to admit that I am new to Indian food.  Growing up, my family rarely went outside the realm of Greek and Italian food.  It was not until I went to college that I even had Chinese or Japanese food.  I didn’t try Thai food until after college, and I tried Indian food for the first time in law school.  Although I first tried Indian food 3 years ago, it wasn’t until early this year that I had it again, and now I am hooked.   We went with friends to a great place called Kabobeesh, which is stationed in an old diner car in West Philadelphia .  It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the food is incredibly flavorful.  I had a little help ordering from my Husband’s friend, but now I know what I like, and I want to try new things.  I also wanted to try to cook my own Indian food, but I did not own any of the spices that the recipes require.  One day, while waiting for my take out from Kabobeesh, I wandered into an Indian grocery store, and I found spice packs.  Since they were on sale, two for one, I purchased the garam masala spice mix (as I have seen this ingredient in most Indian recipes) and the tandoori chicken spice mix (since my Husband ordered this for dinner on this same day).  The garam masala spice mix that I purchased contains a great variety of spices…coriander, cumin, black peppercorns, nutmeg, etc.  Apparently, if you add it to meat or vegetables, you are going to get some flavor.  Set with spices, I was now on the lookout for my recipe.

Since I am only starting out on my quest to cook delicious Indian food, my eye went for the recipe with the word “easy” in the title.  I added a little more garlic to the recipe, since we are garlic fans, and next time I think I may add more garam masala because although this chicken had tons of flavor, the cilantro overtook the other spices, and I would want to better highlight these spices next time.

The chicken cooks on a bed of onions, which was a neat way to cook the chicken since the onions absorbed a lot of the flavors from the chicken and provided a bonus side dish.  I would definitely use the bed of onions again when cooking other kinds of chicken.

Easy Chicken Masala (from Bon Appetit, February 2010)

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon garam masala

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 large garlic clove, pressed

1 4 pound roasting chicken, cut into 8 pieces, backbone removed

2 small onions, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In glass baking dish, large enough to hold the 8 pieces of chicken, mix yogurt, chopped cilantro, olive oil, garam masala, salt, and garlic.  Then add the chicken, making sure the each piece of chicken is entirely coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

On a baking sheet, with a rim, place onions in thin layer and top with the chicken.  Space the chicken evenly.  Pour the remaining marinade on top of the chicken. 

Roast chicken on top rack of oven until cooked through, about 1 hour.

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Pastichio is the Greek equivalent to lasagna.  It involves layers of pasta and meat sauce, but it has the added extra of the béchamel sauce (cream sauce) on top.  There are many ways to make pastichio, and you will never find two Greek people who agree on the proper way to make it.  Some people added cinnamon to the meat sauce, some add nutmeg to the béchamel, and some, like myself, forgo those spices and rely on good old salt and pepper and use ground turkey, which would make any Greek creator of pastichio cringe at the thought.  I prefer not to use cinnamon and nutmeg because I think they overpower the other flavors in this dish, and all you can think about is…wow there is a lot of cinnamon in here.  I think the salt and pepper brings more of the flavors out of the dish.  I use ground turkey because I rarely have ground beef on hand, it is healthier, and I prepared the dish once with ground turkey and we really liked it.  Traditional pastichio is made with a noodle called #2 macaroni (I just learned the name), which can be found in Greek grocery stores.  However, if you do not have a Greek grocery store near you, then you can substitute penne or ziti.

I was able to add a little something different to my pastichio this time, and it was kasseri cheese, which is a Greek cheese made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. It has a sharp and salty flavor. I had some left over from Easter, and I decided to grate it and add it to the top of the béchamel sauce. 

Something fun about making the meat sauce is changing the red wine you use.  It really does change the flavors a bit, and it is always interesting what you get when you use pinot noir versus merlot.  I even mix French red wine into this Greek dish, and I love the outcome.  This time I added Malbec, from Argentina, and it was probably the best addition yet. 

Pastichio with Ground Turkey

What you need:

Meat Sauce

1 lb ground turkey (or ground beef if you prefer)

1 large can crushed tomatoes

4 cloves garlic chopped finely

1 ½ onions chopped finely

2 bay leaves

Olive oil

½ cup good red wine

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp dried oregano

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp salt


1 box of ziti (or #2 macaroni or other tube pasta)

2 egg whites

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bechamel Sauce

½ cup butter

1 cup flour

4 cups whole milk

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

3 egg yolks

¼ tsp black pepper

Extra grated parmesan (or grated kasseri) for top of béchamel sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Meat Sauce

First, using a large sauce/sauté pan with high sides, sauté your finely chopped onion in olive oil.  When the onions are translucent add the ground turkey, salt and pepper and throw the garlic in on top of the meat.  Brown the meat, chopping it up along the way in the pan. Then, add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano and wine.  Cook for about 20 minutes so that all the flavors combine. 


While the meat sauce is cooking, boil the pasta.  Once the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.  Then, add egg whites to the pasta with 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese.  Toss to combine.  The egg whites will help the pasta stick together in the pan.  Set aside.

Meat Sauce and Pasta Layers

When meat sauce is finished cooking, remove the bay leaves, and add a thin coating to the bottom of a medium lasagna pan.  Then add half the pasta, and make sure that the noodles are lying as flat as possible and covering the entire pan.  Then add the remaining meat sauce.  Spread it out over all the noodles.  Add the rest of the pasta, again making sure the noodles are lying as flat as possible and covering the entire pan.  Set the pan aside.

Bechamel Sauce

Heat 4 cups of milk until hot but not boiling.  Melt butter in a medium to large sauce pan.  Add flour, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Once, smooth, add the milk all at once, again, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.  On low-medium heat, whisk until the sauce thickens.  When the sauce has thickened, remove from heat, and add egg yolks, ½ of grated parmesan cheese, and pepper.  Whisk together until combined.  Then pour this sauce over top the exposed layer of noodles, making sure the entire pan is covered.  Then add a light coating of grated parmesan or grated kasseri cheese to top of sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

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It is again pretty chilly in Philadelphia, but it is the perfect weather for a warm pasta dish.  Bolognese sauce is simply ground meat and tomato sauce. It  is basically a fancy way to say meat sauce. There are many variations of this dish, and if you search online long enough you will find really complex versions of a relatively simple meal.  Typically made with ground beef, I substituted ground turkey to make it a little healthier, and I added a bunch of garlic and some vegetables.  I also attempted zucchini pasta, which is zucchini shredded in such a way that it resembles pasta.  I thought it would be a neat thing to try, as well as a way to add some more vegetables to a meal that is usually lacking in the area of vegetables.

I notice that a lot of people will not order pasta Bolognese in restaurants.  Maybe it isn’t fancy enough or maybe when people are out to eat they want something more than a traditional pasta dish.  Nevertheless, I do order it at restaurants, and I usually enjoy it.  Sometimes it does lack a little flavor (presumably not enough garlic).  It is a dish that is hard to mess up.

Turkey Bolognese with Angel Hair and Zucchini Pasta

What you need

1 lb ground turkey

4 cloves garlic

1 carrot

1 celery stalk

1 onion

1 large can tomato puree

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 cup parmesan cheese

½ package of angel hair pasta

1 zucchini

1 and 1/2 cup dry whtie wine

Finely chop onion, celery and carrot.  Add to a large pan and sauté in olive oil until onion is translucent.  Finely chop garlic.  Add ground turkey, garlic, salt and pepper to the pan.  Cook until turkey is brown.  Add 1 cup white wine. Cook another 10 minutes.  Drain meat, and put back in pan with the tomato puree.  Add ½ cup wine and cook for about 15-20 minutes.

While the meat and sauce are cooking, boil water for pasta and zucchini.  Peel zucchini.  Then grate zucchini on a grater with larger teeth, so that you get strings of zucchini that look like pasta.   Add angel hair pasta to the boiling water.  When pasta is almost done, add the zucchini for about 3 minutes.  Drain pasta and zucchini, and sauce to pasta.  Grate fresh parmesan cheese and serve on top.

My zucchini pasta looked great after I shredded the zucchini.  It looked like light green fettuccini.  However, when it got mixed with the pasta, it folded up and lost its shape.  Perhaps cooking the zucchini and pasta separately, and then serving the pasta with the zucchini on top of it, would provide for a prettier dish.  Either way, it was delightful to taste the zucchini throughout the pasta.  The grated fresh parmesan cheese on top enhanced the flavor of the sauce, which, in my honest opinion, could have used some more garlic.

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