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Shepherd’s Pie from Turkey Leftovers

I know that Thanksgiving was a week ago, and it’s likely that your leftovers are already gone. We actually had grilled, whole chicken for Turkey Day, with no regrets, and we ended up buying a turkey roast on sale, after Thanksgiving. We also grilled that, and now I have some leftovers that I’d like to use up.

I really wanted to make a turkey pot pie, but then I thought of all the calories in that wonderful, buttery crust. Ummm, no. That’s just too many calories, especially for someone not abel to get enough exercise. I thought also of making the same with a biscuit crust, and decided against that, too~ especially when I noticed the red potatoes sitting on the counter, waiting to be used. Bingo. That’s when I realized that shepherd’s pie was my answer.

I wanted to make this fairly low calorie, so I’ve made a few tweaks, such as using chicken broth to mash the potatoes. I’ve also added lots of veggies to give us a good dose of vitamins and fiber, to give us some good protection in this very cool autumn, that we seem to be having. Best of all, this is really, very simple to make.

Start with some turkey...

Start with some turkey…

 

Peas, fresh or frozen

Peas, fresh or frozen

 

What you’ll need:

2-5 potatoes, (depending on size) scrubbed and cut into uniformly sized chunks
3-4 cloves garlic, divided use
1/4 cup yogurt
2 teaspoon minced parsley, divided use
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (or fresh, if you can find them)
1 cup cooked turkey, cut into 1-inch dice
2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
1 teaspoon sage or poultry seasoning

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Lighten-up mashed potatoes

Lightened-up mashed potatoes

We’ll start with the mashed potatoes…

Smash and peel 2 cloves of garlic and boil along with potatoes and in a pan of salted water, until fork tender. Drain the potatoes and place them back into the pan. Add the yogurt, 1/2 cup broth and 1 teaspoon of parsley (optional) and mash, until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Add parsley after mashing, if using

Add parsley after mashing, if using

 

This is a good time to preheat the oven to 400º F.

In a large pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, and sauté the onion. Add in the carrots, mushrooms and celery and cook until soft. Mince the remaining garlic and add to the mix, cooking for 1 minute.

 

Add the flour and coat

Add the flour and coat

Add in the turkey and heat until warmed. Salt and pepper to taste, then add in the flour and herbs, stirring to coat.

 

The peas go in last

The peas go in last

Next, pour in the remaining broth, and bring the heat up to a simmer. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. It should make a nice gravy. Add in the peas last, so they don’t get mushy.

 

Cover with the mashed potatoes

Cover with the mashed potatoes

Transfer the turkey/vegetable mixture to a greased 9″ x 9″ baking pan or casserole (or similar capacity dish) and spread it evenly. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top, swirling with the back of a spoon.

Swirl!

Swirl!

 

 

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

Bake for approximately 40-50 minutes, or until the top of the potatoes is golden brown.

 

Looks like comfort food

Looks like comfort food

Serves 6.  Nice with a slice!

Galette~ A Beautiful Creation From Your Summer Bounty

If you’ve never had galette, it may be time you’ve tried it. It is much like a pie, but it’s baked without a pie plate, giving it a lovely, rustic, visual quality. It’s also pretty rich, but it’s so good, that I’ll gladly sacrifice calories from another meal to enjoy it. The recipe is not difficult, though it does take a bit of time to prepare.

Summer produce begs to be made into galette

Summer produce begs to be made into galette

The end of summer is the perfect time to make it, too. There is an abundance of beautiful vegetables just begging to be tucked into a buttery, pastry crust with some goat cheese, garlic and herbs, then baked until golden and fragrant. It is company worthy, though your family will thank you, for making it just for them. It is irresistible!

For the Pastry:

1 cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
¼ cup ice water
(I added the leaves of about 3 sprigs of English thyme to the water)

You’ll also need:

1½ tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1-2 zucchini, (I like to use green and yellow)
3 Roma tomatoes
2 ounces goat cheese (approx.)
OR~ use whatever veggies you want
Other goodies can include basil, thyme, onions, olives…. whatever you like!

1 egg yolk mixed with about a teaspoon of water for the egg wash

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Keep the butter chilled

Keep the butter chilled

Cut the butter into small chunks and keep it refrigerated until absolutely needed. Whisk together the salt and flour. Cut the chilled butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives.

 

 

Add ice water with the fresh thyme

Add ice water with the fresh thyme

When you have a mixture resembling lumps the size of small peas, add the ice water. Blend the pastry just enough to hold it together and knead it about 3 times. (Don’t overwork or it will get tough)

 

flatten pastry into  a disc

flatten pastry into a disc

Shape the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and chill for about an hour.

 

Press the garlic into the olive oil

Press the garlic into the olive oil

Press the clove of garlic into the olive oil and allow to sit.

Prepare a cookie sheet or pizza pan by lining it with parchment paper.

 

Slice zucchini very thin

Slice zucchini very thin

Salt the zucchini

Salt the zucchini

Meanwhile, if using zucchini, slice really thin, sprinkle with salt, let it sit, then rinse and drain. Repeat. This will soften the squash and pull some of the liquid out of it, so it won’t make the pastry soggy.

 

Drain the tomatoes on paper towels

Drain the tomatoes on paper towels

Place about 3 medium, sliced Roma tomatoes (get rid of the seeds, as much as possible) on paper towels and sprinkle salt to taste. Let the juices run out, then pat tops with more paper toweling.

 

mix the goat cheese into the garlic oil

mix the goat cheese into the garlic oil

Mix the goat cheese with ½ tablespoon of the olive oil garlic mixture.

 

Roll out the pastry on parchment

Roll out the pastry on parchment

Preheat oven to 400º. Roll out the pastry until it is about 14″-16″ in diameter on a piece of parchment paper.

 

Spread the garlic cheese over the pastry

Spread the garlic cheese over the pastry

This can sit on any size baking sheet or pizza pan that you may have. Spread the cheese mixture on the bottom of the pastry, leaving a border of about 1½ to 2 inches.

 

Layer the tomatoes on top of the cheese

Layer the tomatoes on top of the cheese

Place the tomatoes in concentric circles on top of the cheese. I added a bit more thyme on top of them.  Layer the zucchini on top of the tomatoes. I also added some thinly sliced red onion and a bit more thyme. Pleat the border up around the veggies, and brush exposed crust with egg wash.

 

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Bake for 30 minutes and check for doneness. I kept mine in for another 7 minutes or so, because I wanted a little bit browner crust.

 

Allow to cool

Allow to cool

A galette is a beautiful thing!

A galette is a beautiful thing!

When it’s done, set it out to cool.

 

I snipped basil on top for garnish

I snipped basil on top for garnish

I added some snipped basil to the top, once it cooled for a few minutes.

Cool. The should be eaten at room temperature. This fact also gives you plenty of time for great picture taking, if you are serving for dinner!

Vegetable galette

Vegetable galette

Just add salad and a glass of wine

Just add salad and a glass of wine

Really, all you need to go with this is a green salad and a glass of wine.

 

Beautiful galette!

Beautiful galette!

Galetter with tomatoes and zucchini

Galetter with tomatoes and zucchini

Bon appetite!!

Avocado Blitzing

Lovely, gigantic avocados

Lovely, gigantic avocados

We were very fortunate to be given some gigantic avocados, so I figure I’d best start using them, before they get too soft. Also, this may be that last batch we get, since this particular variety apparently doesn’t fruit all summer. So, we will be having avocado for dinner every night, for the rest of this week. This is a happy thought!

Simple ingredients for shrimp stuffed avocados

Simple ingredients for shrimp stuffed avocados

What I’m going with the ripest one is make a shrimp salad and fill the halves. It’s a perfect idea for this hot weather, and it’s also really, easy because the shrimp salad part can be made earlier in the day and chilled in the refrigerator. I’m using the following:

1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice + 1 teaspoon or so to coat the exposed part of the avocado
1/2 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined and cooked
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 super-sized avocado, cut in half and seed removed (or use 2 small ones)

Chop shrimp

Chop shrimp

Chop onion, celery, parsley and tarragon

Chop onion, celery, parsley and tarragon

Add everything except avocado into a bowl

Add everything except avocado into a bowl

Mix it all up

Mix it all up

Combine all ingredients except for the avocado in a small bowl.

 

Stuff avocado halves with shrimp mixture

Stuff avocado halves with shrimp mixture

Sprinkle lemon juice over the cut surfaces of the avocado. Fill the cavity of each half with the shrimp mixture. I saved one whole shrimp to garnish each half.

Serve with a green salad and bread

Serve with a green salad and bread

This is our main dish tonight, so I’m serving a simple green salad and some bread to accompany.

Shrimp-stuffed Avocados make a refreshing summer meal

Shrimp-stuffed Avocados make a refreshing summer meal

This is a great Summer meal, without heating up the kitchen!

The Virtual Blog Tour

Okay, today’s post is going to be a bit different than the usual.

The “virtual blog tour” is an excellent, friendly way for writers, artists, and other creative folks to bring attention to their own work as well as that of others. It begins with an invitation from another artist or writer. Then in your blog you acknowledge the person who invited you, answer four given questions about your work and your process, and then invite three other people to participate. These people then do the same thing, referring their blog readers to the blogs of three more people, and so on. It’s a wonderful sort of “pyramid scheme” that’s beneficial for everyone: the artists and writers as well as the readers of their blogs. We can follow links from blog to blog and then we can all learn about different kinds of creative process and also find new writers and artists we may not have known about before.

The person who invited me to take part in the blog tour is Vince Gotera. Vince and I met several years ago in a Facebook group for people who grew up in San Francisco. That’s when I found out that he went to school with my brothers, though they were not close. 

Vince Gotera, poet and owner of the blog "The Man With the Blue Guitar"

Vince Gotera, poet and owner of the blog “The Man With the Blue Guitar”

Vince Gotera is the Editor of the North American Review and a creative writing professor at the University of Northern Iowa. His collections of poetry include the forthcoming Pacific Crossing as well as Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, and Fighting Kite. His work has also appeared widely in magazines, anthologies, textbooks, and online venues. Vince is also a guitarist and bass player; he is the lead guitarist of the band The Random Five. His favorite color is blue in all its various flavors: aqua, cobalt, electric, indigo, periwinkle, robin’s egg, royal, sky. Visit his blog, “The Man with the Blue Guitar” at http://vincegotera.blogspot.com.

 

Now I’m going to dig into the four “virtual blog tour” questions:

1. What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a lot of things now, though mainly looking for a real job. That’s really hard work, especially for the right-brained sort of person that I am, but I feel the need to be fair to my partner. Writing this blog, searching for recipes, testing them out, etc. is more work than work, but I really, truly enjoy it. It’s still only a few months old, but I realize it takes about a year to really start gaining some ground. Meanwhile, I enjoy the process. I also have several other projects in folders, waiting to come to fruition. One of them is a book of my nature photography. Many friends have told me that if I write it, they will buy it, so I have to hope that what they are telling me is true. At this point, I’m still in the photo gathering stage, meaning I haven’t laid it out yet. Creating books can be a very, time-consuming process. I started to create a cookbook a couple of years ago, just because there were NO jobs, and I needed to keep my design skill set up. I’ve since scrapped that, since my food photography and styling has gotten much better. I do think I will publish a Good Reason to Smile Cookbook some time down the road. 

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Actually, I’m not sure it does. There are a lot of food blogs out there, and I guess what I’m trying to do is post for many different people. There is a “local” aspect, which means I’m limited to what I can buy in the markets here, and I really love good, healthy food, so I tend to feature stuff with ingredients from our farmers markets. My mom likes the idea that I get historical sometimes~ posting family recipes and writing in some memories and family history. I have friends from all over the world, which makes it fun, too. Some are vegetarian, so I try to keep them interested, as well. An idea came up that we should have a family recipe sharing day. This came up after I posted my great-grandmother’s Irish Soda Bread recipe. I think it would be wonderful to have special, family recipes shared from all over the world, and I was thinking of making that real sometime around the holidays.

3. Why do you write/create what you do?

To make it simple, because I really love it. I so, totally love food~ actually, sometimes more visually even than tasting it. In fact, sometimes I can even satisfy a food craving, just by looking at a beautiful image of that food. I started doing this blog pretty recently, though it has been in my head for a while. Just for the record, I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and I mean from the time I was a kid. A couple of years ago, I was part of a Facebook Photo-A-Day photography group, based out of Australia. Whenever I posted a food photo, the group members would go a little crazy over them~ they loved them! They’ve given me a lot of encouragement. My partner Monty and I went through a tough time earlier this year, and one morning I had this interesting epiphany, and that’s really what got the blog started. I already had a background in photography, since I studied it in school, and have been going crazy with nature photography for years. I also think it has helped my writing, too. The icing on the cake has been learning food styling. Cooking food and photographing it at the same time is really hard work. I feel that I need to show things step-by-step, and that’s what makes it so much work. But what I love most, is when the food is done, and I get to set up the presentation. I feel so satisfied and happy when a recipe comes out well, and I’m able to get my vision across in a beautiful way. For me, it really is about the photography.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

It’s quite simple really, though it happens differently for almost every post. Sometimes I see a beautiful food, like a peach or a tomato. I have to buy it, and then I’ll start searching for ideas on how to create something or even just find a recipe that uses it. Sometimes I see a gorgeous image of food styling, and I’ll want to mimic something about, whether it’s the colors, lighting or plating. Sometimes, it’s the availability or season of a certain food~ all you have to do is say “passionfruit,” and I’m thinking of all the ways I can make something from it. Passionfruit excites me. Or, sometimes I’ve posted too many desserts, and I feel it’s time to break it up with something savory. It just depends on what’s going on. 

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I’ll be introducing to you the people I’ve invited to participate in a future post. 

 

 

 

Breakfast on a Friday Night

By the end of some weeks, there is not a lot of inspiration left to cook up a “regular” meal. We’re both beat, and we just want something quick and delicious to kick off the weekend. We both grew up frequently having “breakfast for dinner,” on Friday nights when we were kids, and we recently revived that tradition by making “Chorizo & Eggs.”

If you’ve never had chorizo, it is a Mexican pork sausage, that has a reddish color and a spicy flavor, which is from the dried peppers that are included with the meat, within its casing. It usually comes in varying degrees of spiciness,  (I don’t like it too hot) and we started buying it because we found it at Whole Foods. Thus, it is a bit leaner than many other brands, and we like the idea of meat that’s not raised inhumanely. We at least feel better about that. So, we have started keeping one in the freezer for those lazy Friday nights.

This is also a combination of foods that is very popular in California, due to its proximity to Mexico, and it’s kind of fun to share something like this with a broader audience. To serve this California style, it’s best to put the tomatoes and cheese in last, so they barely get warm~ you’ll want to taste the freshness. Just don’t forget that it’s also great for breakfast!

Eggs for dinner~ easy!

Eggs for dinner~ easy!

 

This is easy. For 2 servings you’ll need:

1 chorizo sausage, about 1/3 of a pound

½ of a white or yellow onion (or a small one) finely chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, also finely chopped (I chop this and the onion together to save time)

4 eggs, beaten with a little bit of salt & pepper, and about a tablespoon of water

2-3 ounces Mexican cheese, grated (Asadero is good, if you can find it, but cheddar or Monterey Jack is good, too)

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

3-4 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

3-4 green onions, sliced crosswise

Cook chorizo

Cook chorizo

 

Depending upon how lean your chorizo is, you may need a little bit of olive oil in your non-stick frying pan to cook the chorizo. Remove the sausage from its casing and break it up with a spatula.

Chop onion and jalapeño together

Chop onion and jalapeño together

 

While it’s cooking, chop the onion and jalapeño. Chop them together and save yourself a little time. After all, they are all going into the same pan together.

Stir in the onion and jalapeño and sauté

Stir in the onion and jalapeño, and sauté

 

When the chorizo is about halfway finished cooking, add the jalapeño and onion to the pan. Stir them together and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the eggs to the pan, making sure that you are using medium heat, stirring them in to help keep them from sticking to the pan and to help them cook evenly. Cooking them on lower heat will make the eggs more tender.

Chop tomatoes, green onions and cilantro together

Chop the tomatoes and cilantro, and slice green onions

 

While the eggs are cooking, chop the tomatoes and cilantro together, and slice the green onions. Continue to stir the eggs occasionally.

Stir in cheese and tomato mixture

Stir in cheese and tomato mixture

 

When the eggs are cooked, stir in the cheese, tomatoes, cilantro and green onions. Gently mix them together and heat for about 5 minutes. As mentioned about, I find that this is really best with barely heated veggies.

Chorizo & Eggs with Cheese and Tomatoes

Chorizo & Eggs with Cheese and Tomatoes

 

Divide up the eggs and serve. This is really good with tortillas, if you have some, but it is just as good with some buttered toast.

 

As good for dinner as it is for breakfast

As good for dinner as it is for breakfast

 

Enjoy and have a great weekend!