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rosemary chicken and grits

I’m a big talker.

See, I like to ponder aloud things that I should do or will do when I have time. Somehow, that magical window of opportunity vanishes before most of my plans come to fruition. Turbo has gotten wise to my wolf-crying ways and either ignores my grand plans or encourages me to put my money where my mouth is.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Happily, I’ve found a group of friends who share this somewhat debilitating behavior trait. Apparently when people like this get together, the plans get bigger and even less attainable. We’ve intended to visit apple orchards, hold weekly happy hours, host Christmas cookie swaps and so on. To date, one of the few plans we’ve managed to execute is a trip to Ketner’s Mill Fair.

The event is nothing spectacular – a large “country arts fair” with a boat load of crafts, questionable fair food, exceptional people watching and stone ground grits – made on site by their large mill…hence the name. I’ve got a bag of them in the pantry.

And that, boys and girls, is how this recipe was born.

A little perusing on one of my favorite sites unearthed a delicious dairy-laden recipe, which I modified. Any God-fearing Southerner would be appaled to know I made grits without butter or cream, but it’s true. And neither Turbo nor I missed it. I may have to return my citizenship for that comment but I stand by it. The mushrooms and broth give plenty of richness, and a teensy bit of almond milk gives enough “cream” to the sauce.

So here you go my dairy-free friends…mangia!

(That’s Italian for “eat until your pants get tight.”)

First, I boiled both beef and chicken stock with wine in a heavy saucepan – aka my cast iron skillet – until reduced.

broth and wine

Then I sauteed strips of chicken with a little rosemary, thyme and oregano. I didn’t measure (sorry) but just sprinkle until the aroma makes you swoon in anticipation.


Add some prosciutto. I like saying prosciutto. Has a nice ring to it, no? But if you can’t find it, any pork product will do like bacon, serrano ham or pancetta (Italian bacon).

chicken and pancetta

Once browned, set aside and try to keep any shifty looking kitchen loiterers at bay. (Turbo is an incurable picker.)

chicken and pancetta done

Guess I can’t blame him. Next, it’s mushroom time…


Mmm. Golden brown. Then add your reduced broth and a little bit of almond milk. I recommend not confusing your regular almond milk for vanilla flavored. I did.

adding broth and milk


We still ate it. It was pretty good.

Anyway, let this delicious concoction simmer until reduced to sauce consistancy. It’s not going to be super thick because of the lack of cream, but give it about 10 minutes or so. If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can whisk in about 1 tablespoon of flour.

last step flour

Word of caution, the flour turned into tiny little lumps in my sauce. I tried mashing them with a fork but it was tedious so I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. They must have disolved because it tasted delicious but just wanted to warn you. For that reason, flour is optional.

Meanwhile, start the grits by pouring them into boiling water and stirring.


Stir OFTEN with a whisk until thick.


Add your chicken and prosciutto back to the mushroom sauce and season with salt and pepper.

adding chicken and prosciutto

Once grits are done, spoon onto plates and top with chicken/mushroom combination.

rosemary chicken and grits


Recipe: Serves 2


  • 1/2 cup grits
  • 1 cup water


  • 1 cup beef stock or canned beef broth
  • 1 cup chicken stock or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 slices prosciutto
  • 1 boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 8-10 shitake or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or rice or soy)
  • 1 Tbsp flour (optional)
  • Rosemary, thyme, oregano to taste
  • Olive oil

Boil beef and chicken broths with wine in heavy saucepan until reduced to 1 cup (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.

Sautee chicken in olive oil (two turns of the pan) with rosemary, thyme and oregano. When browned on both sides (about 5 minutes) add proscuitto and cook until browned. Transfer to plate with slotted spoon. Add mushrooms to same skillet and sautee until golden (about 4 minutes). Add stock mixture and milk and simmer until reduced to sauce consistancy (about 10 minutes). If you prefer thicker mixture, whisk in flour. Season with salt and pepper.

To cook grits, whisk into boiling water and stir frequently with wire whisk until thick (about 30 minutes).

Spoon grits onto plate and top with chicken/mushroom mixture.



 broccoli before

My sister-in-law jokes that growing up, my mother-in-law swore that every childhood illness could be healed with a good night’s sleep and broccoli. If that’s true, then during the month of February you can catch me in bed every night at 8 p.m., and I’ll be serving up broccoli for breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks. Why? Well, if I might indulge in a little self pity, I’d love to summarize my month:

January 8: Fuss spikes a fever the day before her baptism. Hubbie has to truck down to the urgent care clinic as my family is pulling in the driveway. Diagnosed with ear infection and a shot of antibiotics saves the big day.

January 9-12: Fuss runs low-grade fever for five days. Feels ABSOLUTELY horrible. I know this because…

January 15: I get Fuss’ “bug.” Feel like death warmed over. Run low-grade fever for five days. Finally go see the doctor: bronchitis.

January 23: After a faux recovery, Fuss spikes another fever (on a weekend, of course).

January 24: Fuss’ fever goes as high as 104 degrees (at 2 a.m. of course). Worried sick. Meanwhile, Turbo gets horrible stomach bug and has to be quarantined in our bedroom. I disinfect the entire house, twice, then yell at him for touching things.

January 25: Go to the pediatrician. Yep, it’s pnemonia. Will this ever end?

January 26: Turbo feeling better but Mom feels sorry for me so comes in town to help. I get first night’s sleep in almost a month. Heavenly.

January 27: Mom gets Turbo’s stomach bug. Drives back to Carrollton with soda crackers and ginger ale. Feel really guilty…and even more paranoid that Fuss will get sick with yet another bug.

So, that pretty much sums it up.

And while everyone seems to be on the mend for now, I think I’ll stick to my broccoli regime just in case. To spice things up, I’ll need new and exciting ways to cook it…like this dandy little recipe. It’s inspired by the Barefoot Contessa, although hers is called Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli. Obviously, some tweaking was in order.

You start with the magical little green trees.

broccoli before

Place in an oven safe dish and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and a little garlic.

broccoli and olive oil

Roast in a 400 degree oven until nice and crispy, then top with toasted pine nuts and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

broccoli and pine nuts

Mmmmm. Short, simple, perfection. Enjoy and remember, eat your greens!

broccoli plated

Roasted broccoli with lemon and pine nuts (Serves 2):

  • Approximately 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • Olive oil to coat
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut enough broccoli florets from the thick stalk for 2 people (approximately 2 cups). Place in shallow dish and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Toss to coat. Roast in oven until desired crispness, approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and toss with lemon juice and pine nuts. Eat three times daily to avoid stomach bugs and pneumonia. Hey, you can never be too careful.

panang curry final

A couple of months ago I hardly knew what curry was, now I’m blogging about how to make it. Ain’t life funny? A recent writing assignment took me to far-flung corners of my city that I hardly knew existed. I was introduced to the complex, spicy, creamy flavors of Thai food and I fell in love…head over heels.

Now I realize my recent obsession is way behind the rest of the world. I tried Thai cuisine nearly 10 years ago but wrote it off because of a disdain for coconut milk. Thankfully, tastes change. After almost a year without dairy, anything I can eat that’s described as “creamy” simply knocks my socks off.

The dish that really made my skirt fly up was a saucy little number called Panang Curry. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. So a little googling turned up a recipe, and, after a lot of experimenting I had something similar to what I ate in the restaurant. Now I must share it with you because even though it sounds terribly exotic and intimidating, it’s actually very simple to make.

And like any recipe in my kitchen, it’s flexible. You’ll see what I mean in a bit… Let’s just say after a virus hit our house like the bubonic plague I wasn’t feeling top-notch when I made this dish.

You start by sauteeing chicken in the pan. Shocking, right?


Then you add the savory stuff: shallots, garlic, and ginger.


Let it sizzle until shallots are tender.

chicken and shallots

 Then add peanut butter, turmeric, cumin and chili paste.

chicken and spices

Now I didn’t have cumin (it’s still a mystery as to where it is) and my peanut butter was running low so I only used about half of what it called for. It was still yummy. Also, it called for two teaspoons of turmeric, which I measured in meticulous fashion.


I love eyeballing measurements in my hand. Makes me feel gutsy and a little daring.

That probably means I need to get out of the house more, but let’s just get back to the dish.

Next you whisk in water, coconut milk, lime juice and brown sugar. You only use half a can of coconut milk, but freeze the rest for another time.

coconut milk

Now if you were holding true to authentic Thai cuisine, you’d use kaffir lime leaves. But if you’re fresh out of kaffir lime leaves, or if you’ve never heard of them and wouldn’t know them if they walked in and tapped you on the shoulder, you can substitute with lime juice and grated lime peel. Or, if you’re a real a stickler like me, you could use this…

lime juice

I know, I shudder every time I use this stuff but sometimes a girl’s gotta improvise, right?

Anyway, now that you have a lovely sauce, you add the chopped carrots and bell pepper. Or, if you’re fresh out of bell pepper like I was, just use carrots.

panang curry final

Once the veggies are tender you’re good to go. And, as if this dish weren’t easy enough, the sauce can be made up to three days ahead. So take a walk on the wild side and try this dish soon…your taste buds will thank you.

Here’s the handy-dandy printable version (highlight it and right click to print the selection):

Panang Curry

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated, peeled ginger
  • 4 tsp diced garlic
  • 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp hot chili paste (or less according to heat preference, I recommend sambal oelek)
  • 1 cup water
  • Half a can of coconut milk (I used 14 ounce can, shake well before opening)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves or 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice and 1 1/2 tsp grated lime peel
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2-3 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until just browned, about 5 minutes. Add shallots, garlic and ginger and cook until shallots are tender, about 3 minutes. Add peanut butter, turmeric, cumin and chili paste. Stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Whisk in water, then coconut milk, lime and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer. Add carrots and bell pepper and simmer over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Adjust heat to medium low if curry begins to boil and stir occasionally. Season to taste with salt. Serve warm over rice.

Can be made three days ahead. Cool slightly, cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.


Okay all you dairy lovers out there…eat your heart out.

I give you…the froozie!

I can’t claim that name. I’m “borrowing” it from a local grocery store that was recently bought out by Whole Foods. I hope they don’t sue me for all that I’m worth. That would be, like, hundreds. Well, if you count my 401(k).

Anyhoo, we’ve gotten on a smoothie kick at our house. Why are we making smoothies when there’s 3 inches of snow on the ground? I haven’t the foggiest.

The hubby came home on Monday with a bunch of fruit and announced he was on a smoothie kick. Who am I to argue?

Actually, I intended to post about this last summer when the peaches were at their peak. I cut them up, arranged on a cookie sheet and froze them.

peaches on cookie sheet

The next morning, I threw them into a plastic baggie. And there they sat…for 4 months. So they’re pretty psyched to finally see some action.

The froozie is so simple to make, I could almost cry. Into a blender goes 1/4 cup frozen blueberries…

frozen blueberries


frozen blackberries



Okay, you caught me. Mine isn’t frozen.

But the peaches are. I used 1/2 cup of the little lovelies.

frozen peaches

and last but certainly not least, frozen strawberries.

frozen strawberries

Add one cup juice.

fruit and juice

Apple juice is really divine, but orange juice is good too. This morning I used pineapple juice because I was feeling experimental.

Highly recommend apple…I’m just saying.

Blend until smooth and pour.


I enjoyed mine with a delicious slice of banana bread that my mom lovingly made for me during Christmas using fake butter. Thanks Mom! You’re the best.

Now, enjoy the breakfast of champions and Happy New Year!!!!

Frozen fruit smoothie

  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, blackberries, banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries and peaches
  • 1 cup apple juice

Combine all ingredients into a blender. Process until smooth. Enjoy slowly to avoid brain freeze.

So, what’s for dinner tonight?

Am I the only one who hates that question? It’s usually met with some sort of resistance from Turbo, although he’s getting better. If it’s something weird, I just say “it’s a surprise.” But when it’s quesadilla night, I breathe easy. I mean, who can argue with this?

dinner 2

The best part of this recipe is that it’s insanely easy. In fact, the hardest part is spelling it.

Q-U-E-S-O… no, wait, that’s not it… Q-U-E-S-A… hmm, still doesn’t look right.

Oh who cares? You’ll be eating it, not writing it. As for me, well, thank goodness for spell check.

This recipe was adapted from one of the best restaurants in Athens, GA – The Grit. It was tricky making it tasty without the cheese but after a few tries – and a lot of spice – I got it. You honestly don’t miss it. No, really! 

It begins like all great recipes in the history of mankind; with a generous handful of cilantro.

handful of cilantro

To which you add pine nuts, garlic, honey, chipotle peppers and sauce, half a lime and black pepper. Shew, that was quite a list. I’m exhausted.

pesto ingredients in food processor

Grind it all up.


Then mix with white beans (I use Great Northern). You can used canned, but if you have some leftovers from previous post those are good as well. My apologies for the lag time in postings. There was this little thing called Christmas. I know, totally caught me off guard too.

beans and pesto

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet, add two tortillas and spoon the bean mixture onto one side.

pesto in tortillas

Fold tortillas over and, once golden, flip to the other side. On medium heat this should only take a minute or two. OK, I’ve never actually timed it. I just do it when the tortilla gods speak to me.


If you don’t hear voices in the kitchen, then just use your best judgement.

Just be sure to go slowly so the beans don’t fly out of their cozy little tortilla nest. If a few fall out, scoop them out so they don’t burn and start stinking up your kitchen. (Speaking from experience here).

Now…it’s time for the piece de resistance. The secret sauce. The….the….the….chipotle mayo.

The creaminess of the mayo makes up for any cheeseless shortcomings. It’s essential to life and, thankfully, extremely easy to make. Using canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, I just spoon out a few peppers and sauce into the mayo and pulse until blended.

chipotle mayo

Yum. I got the mayo recipe from my friend Robyn. She is a kitchen goddess and can make deliciousness appear out of the most humble ingredients. I have no idea how she does it…

Once your golden quesadillas are on the plate, spoon some mayo and salsa on the side. This dish is also great with fiery turnip greens from last post. Again, my apologies for the hang time.

And that, my friends, is how you find happiness on a plate. Here’s the recipe.


White Bean Cilantro Pesto Quesadillas

  • Handful of cilantro (about 20 stems)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 tsp garlic
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can of white beans or 1 1/2 cups homemade
  • 4 Tbsp mayo
  • salsa on the side

For the pesto, combine cilantro, honey, garlic, pine nuts, lime, black pepper and 1 chipotle pepper plus 2 tsp of adobo sauce. 

Combine pesto and beans in medium bowl. Add olive oil to large skillet. Add two tortillas and spoon bean mixture on one side. Fold tortillas over and press with spatula. Once golden, flip to other side.

To make mayo, place 3 chipotle peppers in food processor along with 3 tsp of the sauce and 4 Tbsp mayo. Pulse until combined and set aside. Reserve the rest of the peppers and sauce for another use. It will keep in the refrigerator in sealed container for a month or so.

Serve with side of mayo and salsa.

beans and greens top

A couple of years ago Turbo and I took a trip to Tuscany. It was a family affair: mother- and father-in-law, sister- and brother-in-law. Between the six of us, we ate about an acres worth of olive oil, and drank enough vino to stun a small horse. It was fantastic. If the secret to life can’t be found in Italy, then I don’t know where it’s hiding.

Not surprisingly, my favorite part of the trip was the food. But it did surprise me to discover that traditional Tuscan fare isn’t heavy on pasta. Instead, they’re known for their hearty dishes, namely these delicious white beans. The recipe for the beans came from my foodie mother- and father-in-law, who masterfully recreated the dishes when we returned. But full disclosure, this dish was also inspired by my favorite Mexican restaurant and the food stand at Ketner’s Mill Fair, which served “beans and greens.”

So if you’re trying to sound sophisticated, this dish is Tuscan white beans and fiery chipotle turnip greens. If not, it’s beans and greens. Either way, it’s a winner.

This dish needs several hours of simmer time, so to make it worth your while you’ll want to make about a pound of beans and a mess of greens for leftovers. Plus, the beans are perfect for the white bean and cilantro pesto quesadilla I’ll be posting later….stay tuned!

So you start with, um, beans. I used Great Northerns.

beans drained

You’ll want to pick through them and soak in a pot overnight. If you’re in a hurry, you can cover with 6-8 cups hot water, bring to a boil for 2 minutes then cover and let stand for one hour. This softens them up and cuts cooking time.

Either way, when you’re done prepping them you’ll need to drain water, throw back in the pot and top with about 3 cups broth.

beans in broth

Throw in 2 bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme. You can also add rosemary. I didn’t but later thought it needed it. Just do how much ever feels right. Maybe tablespoon? You can be loose with this one. It’s an Italian recipe after all…

beans with bay

Now these bad boys will need to simmer until soft, which took about 2 hours for me. This would also be a great crock pot recipe but I’ve yet to try it, as I’m a slow cooker rookie.

Meanwhile, you gotta cook the greens, which you can cover with about an inch of water in large pot and simmer until softened – about 45 minutes.


(I highly recommend buying your greens pre-cut and washed in a bag. Sooo much easier and about the same price.)

To add the fire, I used canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. These aren’t too hard to find. Even my grocery store has them in the Mexican food aisle. 

Grind peppers in food processor, then set aside about 3-5 tsp. of peppers and 2-4 teaspoons of the sauce. (You can keep the leftovers in fridge for some yummy sauces I’ll post later.)

chipotle sauce

Then saute half an onion, chilis and 1 teaspoon garlic until onions are translucent. Stand back, this can really singe your nose hairs.

onions and chipotle

Add a can of diced tomatoes and cook for about five minutes…

tomato chipotle onion

Then add your greens.

beans final


Once both are done its time to make rosemary infused olive oil, just like with the soup. It’s just 1/4 cup olive oil heated over medium heat with a spring of rosemary.

oil and rosemary

After about 2 minutes, discard the sprig and add oil to the beans.

You’re ready to mangia (that’s Italian for “dig in”). Here’s the breakdown:

White Beans and Fiery Greens:

  • 1 lb. Great Northern white beans, dried
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. rosemary, dried
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 lb. bag of washed and chopped turnip greens
  • 1 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 medium sized onion, diced
  • 1-14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic

Pick through beans and soak in cooking pot overnight with enough water to cover. Drain and return to pot with broth. Add next three ingredients and gently simmer until soft, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, place greens in large stockpot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil then simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.

Grind chipotle peppers in food processor until smooth. Set aside 3-5 tsp. of peppers and 2-4 tsp. sauce, depending on spice preference. Saute onion, chipotle peppers and sauce and garlic until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes, stir and simmer to let flavors combine, about 5 minutes. Drain greens, add to onion/tomatoes/peppers mixture and stir to combine. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add sprig of rosemary. After about 2-3 minutes, add to beans. 


Tomato Soup

Well, my flirtation with butter was brief. Friday night we were awakened to the siren scream of dear Fuss. She fussed off and on until about 3 a.m., slept until 6 a.m., then fussed some more. This went on for several nights. Now she’s pretty much sleeping through the night except for an 11 p.m. waking. Now why on earth her tummy only bothers her at 11 is beyond me. Is it teeth? Is she just knocked off her schedule? Or is it the dreaded tummy pains? Who knows! But for now I’m back to strictly dairy free.

But that’s ok because I have some recipes that will simply knock your socks off, including this tomato soup.

What’s that you say? Can’t have tomato soup without cream or cheese? Au contraire. And the best part; it’s as easy as it is delicious.

It all begins with 2 large cans of whole, peeled tomatoes that have been run through the food processor.


To which you add 2 cups of cubed ciabatta, 2 teaspoons minced onion, garlic and dried oregano.

Tomatoes with bread and garlic

Give it a good stir and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, pour into a large pot and simmer covered for about 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally to break up the bread.

Tomato soup, before

When it’s done, it’ll look like this.

Tomato soup, after

While the soup is simmering, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat…

Olive Oil

Add a sprig of rosemary. If it starts popping like crazy, back off the heat.

oil and rosemary

Let it simmer for 3 or 4 minutes and BAM – you’ve just infused olive oil.

Doesn’t that make you feel official?

It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Next you add the oil to the soup and give it a stir.

Oil in Soup

It’s ready to go…but if you’re really in the mood for a treat, take some leftover bread cubes – or any bread for that matter – drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper…


and toast them in the oven (or toaster oven) for some mighty impressive and simple croutons.

I got that trick from the Barefoot Contessa. Can’t you just see Jeffrey coming through the door right now to sample this lovely concoction?

Tomato Soup

OK, maybe not. But I swear, one bite and you’ll be hooked. (And this reheats well for lunches too!)


Tomato Peasant Soup

  • 56 oz. canned, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups small cubes ciabatta bread
  • 2 tsp. minced onion
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Run the tomatoes through a food processor and pour into large bowl. Combine tomatoes, bread, garlic, onion and oregano and refrigerate, covered, overnight.

Pour into a large pot and simmer tomatoes, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the bread. Heat olive oil in the skillet over medium heat, add rosemary and simmer 3-4 minutes. Add oil to soup and stir.

Serve with toasted croutons.

turkey while you sleep

Excuse me, can someone please tell me what happened? How is it possible that Thanksgiving is less than one week away?

When I tested this recipe two weeks ago, I was so proud of myself for being ahead of the game. The holiday seemed like something in the very distant future. Funny how time flies… 

Anyhoo, if you haven’t already made your turkey plans, I urge you to check this one out. You could do it in your sleep…literally. When I invited my two friends over for a casual get-together, they were floored that I had made a turkey.

Once they read this post, the secret will be out. Let’s keep it between us, okay?

I stumbled across this recipe in the Jackson, Mississippi Junior League cookbook, “Come on In.” (It’s a good one if you’re in the market for a new book.) I don’t know who to thank for this marvelous recipe, but if I could track her down I’d squink on and on to her about how fabulous this turkey is.

The term squink was coined by a Yankee transplant in Mississippi and refers to a Southern woman’s uncanny ability to fuss over people. You have to hold your face really tight, flex one hand downward, and draw your words out like, “Oooohhhhh, I just loooooove this recipeeeeeee.”

I’m not nearly as skilled at this as my mother, but for this recipe, I’d try. I mean, the bird isn’t exactly a taste bud revolution, but the technique is so brilliantly simple it must be praised. One disclaimer – the author says this isn’t a carving turkey because it’s so moist it falls off the bone. I didn’t find that to be true, but if you’re making it for the big day, maybe plan to preslice and serve on platter.

So without further ado…here’s how you make a turkey while you sleep…

First, you have to clean the bird. This task isn’t for the faint of heart. (Don’t worry, no picture.) Remove the neck and giblets, wash it and pat dry with paper towels. Warning: be sure to remove items from BOTH sides of the bird. I almost missed one. Also, if you’re using a frozen turkey you’ll need to factor in a defrosting time of about 3-4 days in the frig. You can do it faster with cold water in the sink but it’s a pain because you have to change the water out.

All you need for this recipe is celery, fake butter and salt.

butter celery salt

Oh, and a turkey.

turkey before

Sprinkle the salt inside the turkey cavity and insert 2 celery stalks. Include the leaves if you’ve got them – mine were lacking foliage.

turkey w celery

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and, if you haven’t already done so, place your turkey on a rack in a roasting pan.

Do you love my vintage one? It was my grandmother’s.

Next give it a good rub down with melted MSPI-friendly margarine. (Side note…mine was a little dry, so maybe olive oil would be better???)

Pour boiling water into the pan, cover it tightly and cook for 2 hours.

After the cooking time is up, turn the oven off but DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR. If you do, catastrophic things will happen.

Ok, not really. But I bet that makes you really want to open the door. Oh, that’s just me? Okay…moving on.

All you do now is go to sleep! Leave your turkey tucked in the oven until the next morning (8 hours). When you get up, it’s ready to slice. Because there’s nothing better than slicing turkey with your morning coffee.

turkey done

That’s not true, but we do what we have to do, no?


Turkey While You Sleep:

  • 1 uncooked turkey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 stalks of celery with leaves
  • 1/2 cup unsalted MSPI-friendly margarine, melted
  • 2 cups boiling water

Remove neck and giblets, wash turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt inside turkey cavity and insert celery stalks. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place turkey on rack in roasting pan and rub with melted butter. Pour boiling water around turkey, cover pan tightly, and cook 2 hours for 14 pounds or less, 2 1/2 hours for more than 14 pounds. (If you’re on the cusp, go with less time. As I mentioned mine was a tad dry.)

After cooking time, turn off heat, but DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR. Leave turkey in closed oven overnight (for 8 hours). Turkey is ready to slice the next morning with drippings for gravy if you like.

spaghetti final

Sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll ask Turbo to do dinner.  I’ll lie in the tub with a glass of wine and deep condition my hair, leisurely flip through my magazines or paint my nails.

Oh, I’m sorry, I think I dozed off there for a moment.  I had the loveliest dream…

So as I was saying, I’ve got a stack of magazines waist-high, I haven’t had a hair cut since the baby was born and I only get to file my nails when they’re a hazard to myself or others.  And while I don’t send my hubbie into the kitchen nearly enough, I am pretty fortunate that he enjoys making his world-famous spaghetti sauce.  In six years of marriage there have only been a handful of times when we didn’t have a stockpile of it in our freezer.  It’s my go-to dinner when Turbo asks what’s for dinner and my first response is, “Uhh…”  It’s become particularly important since MSPI put the kibosh on my former go-to option: DiGiorno pizza and a salad. This spaghetti freezes like a dream and it’s so good we’re still not sick of it. (I tend to say “Uhh” a lot).

This is a great weekend dish because it requires some simmer time, but overall it’s pretty easy.  You start by browning Italian sausage…

Italian Sausage

Meanwhile, dice up some onions, bell pepper and throw in a large stock pot with a boat load of garlic.  Let that get acquainted over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.

Bell Peppers, Onion, Garlic

Your sausage should be done, so drain and set aside and brown ground turkey in the same pan.  That’s not for some special flavoring technique, it just prevents dirtying another pan.

Turkey Meat

Now chop some celery.  This gives a nice peppery flavor.  Celery?  Pepper?  I swear it’s true.


Throw it in with the other veggies, along with the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, onion powder and bay leaves.

Tomato and Celery

Give a healthy stir and check on your turkey meat, which should be browning nicely by now.

Any vegetarians brave enough to make it to this point might want to avert their eyes for this next step.

Adding meat to sauce

Give it a good stir…

Much better.  Now let this simmer for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.  Then add a 12 ounce can of tomato paste and diced mushrooms and simmer for yet another half hour.  You can see why this is good for the weekends.

But the finished product is worth the wait.

finished product

Tear off a piece of crusty bread, pour a generous glass of red wine and mangia!

Turbo’s World Famous Spaghetti Sauce

  • 4-5 links of Italian sausage
  • Ground turkey meat, approximately 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. garlic
  • 3 (14.5) ounce cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5) ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 2 ribs of celery
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 (12) ounce can tomato paste
  • Approximately 20 button mushrooms, sliced

Brown sausage over medium high heat.  Add onion, bell pepper and garlic to large stock pot with olive oil and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent.  Meanwhile, drain sausage and brown turkey meat in same pan.

Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, celery, onion powder and bay leaves to stock pot.  Stir and cook on medium. When hamburger is browned, drain meat and add to stock pot along with Italian sausage.  Simmer for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.  Add tomato paste and mushrooms.  Simmer for another half hour, stirring occasionally.

tacos final

When I graduated college I moved to San Diego with two of my best friends.  The plan was hatched late one night in my friend Callie’s kitchen.  Actually, Brooke and Callie had already come up with the brilliant scheme, and I was invited along that fateful evening.  My clever compadres decided on San Diego because it was voted one of the top places to live in the U.S., eeking ahead of Austin, TX by just a hair. 

Our main motivation for the move was that we didn’t want to be sitting in the carpool line years from then, kicking ourselves for never doing anything adventurous while we still had the chance.  Now that I’m in that carpool line, I’m grateful for my 22-year-old wisdom – particularly because San Diego introduced me to one of my favorite culinary achievements: the fish taco. 

Before this South-of-the-border sensation swept the nation, it was one of the best kept secrets of San Diego.  All across town restaurants would host Taco Tuesdays, where you could down these golden-fried gifts from the sea for just $1.  That’s right, $1.  (Well, at least when I was there.)  If you happen to visit the city, do yourself a favor and visit World Famous for their lobster tacos.  “Heavenly” is the only description I can muster.

Anyway, in the short 9 months I lived in California I learned to make a pretty mean fish taco (if I do say so myself).  Now that I’m living in landlocked Tennessee, I’ve turned it into a turkey taco.  That’s because Turbo has a strict rule against eating seafood when he’s not within walking distance to the ocean. 

To construct a proper taco, you need to start with pico de gallo, which is just one diced tomato…

diced tomato

half a diced onion (purple is better but white will do)…

diced onion

and a bouquet of cilantro.  I never measure, just use your best judgement. You can never have too much cilantro.


Chop all of these ingredients and mix them together with juice from one-half lime and a dash of salt. 

pico de gallo

Yum.  Now let that sit while you brown the turkey meat…

taco meat

and make the cilantro lime mayo dressing.  Yes, the very same from the chicken sandwiches.  

I might have an addiction to cilantro.  Thinking about forming a support group if you’d like to join…

Cilantro lime mayo

Everything you put inside your taco is completely up to you, except for one ingredient: shredded cabbage.  If you don’t have any cilantro, make the white sauce out of mayo, lime and jalapenos (pickled or fresh).  Don’t feel like making pico?  Fine, leave it out.  But whatever you do, don’t scrimp on the cabbage.  You can buy a head for 99 cents and it will last almost forever.  Just ask Turbo, our fridge is like a science experiment. 


As for other fillings, I use avocado (when I have it) and black beans.  You can use canned or make your own.

Now just zap some tortillas in the microwave for, say, 15 seconds or so, pile the aforementioned toppings sky-high and eat till your little heart’s content.  Take a lot of napkins to the table and, as the sauces drip down your arms, think of sunny California and smile…

Happy Friday!

Turkey Tacos (serves 2-4)

Pico de gallo

  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 8-10 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • Dash of salt


  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 packet MSPI-friendly taco seasoning
  • Water
  • Shredded cabbage
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 can black beans (or 1 cup homemade)
  • 2 Tbsp mayo
  • 1 lime
  • 8-10 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
  • Dash of chili powder (optional)
  • Flour tortillas

Mix all ingredients for pico and set aside to rest.  Heat black beans over medium-low heat.  Brown turkey meat on medium heat.  When ready, drain fat and return to pan.  Add one packet of taco seasoning, fill empty packet with water and add to pan.  Stir and simmer until warmed through.

Slice head of cabbage into thin strips, about 1-2 cups for two people.  Make white sauce by combining mayo, lime, cilantro and chili powder (optional).  Slice avocado.

Heat tortillas in microwave for about 15 seconds.  Layer meat, beans, cabbage, white sauce, pico and avocado on top.