Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Perfect Turkey

So, I don't have a picture to share or perhaps I do, but I wouldn't even know where to begin to look for one. Either way this turkey is absolutely amazing! It is so moist and flavorful. I have tried multiple methods of cooking turkeys over the years and have found that this final combination is my favorite. Because I am will not be roasting a turkey this year, I hope someone will find this recipe very useful this year. You can always adjust the brine ingredients to suit your preferences. There is an amazing apple cider brine that works wonders too. Infused with cinnamon and allspice it is a lovely alternative to the traditional herb flavored birds. So, please enjoy!

Brined and Roasted Turkey
3 cups coarse salt
5 cups sugar
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, rinsed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
4 dried bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Sprigs Rosemary
3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
10 or more cups water
In a large stockpot combine brine ingredients, bring to a boil. Cook and stir occasionally until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and cool to room temp.

1 whole turkey--about 15 lbs
3 sticks butter (1 softened, 2 melted)
Fresh Ground Pepper
1 cheesecloth
2 cups dry white wine

Rinse turkey inside and out, remove giblets and neck. Place turkey in brine bag placed inside a large pot or cooler. Cover turkey completely with brine and close bag. Store in ice or at 40 degrees for 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 with rack in lowest position. Combine melted butter with wine. Soak cheesecloth in melted butter/wine mix. Remove your turkey from the brine, rinse well inside and out and pat dry. Tie legs together. Place turkey on a removable rack in roasting pan and tuck wings under bird. Rub softened butter all over turkey and under skin over breast. Sprinkle turkey with black pepper and a little salt. Lay soaked cloth over turkey covering the breast and part of the legs. Reserve remaining soak for basting. Place turkey in oven, legs first. Roast 30 minutes. Baste cheesecloth and exposed turkey with butter mixture. Reduce temp to 350. Continue to roast basting every 20-30 minutes. Don't let the cloth dry out. Continue this process for 2 hours of roasting. When your butter/wine mix runs out use pan drippings to baste. After 2 hours, remove turkey from oven and carefully remove cheesecloth. You may have to baste it one more time before removing it so it doesn't stick to the skin. Baste the skin and return turkey to oven. Cook for about an hour more. Check the temp of the bird by placing a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. It must read 180. If you hit bone, try again. Let turkey rest for about 30 minutes before carving. Use pan dripping for gravy. Total cook time should be about 15 mins per lb.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Avocado and Kale Salad

The general rule of thumb for lettuces and greens is the darker the better. Iceberg lettuce does not pack the same nutritional punch as spinach. In fact, I never buy it anymore. I really hate washing and prepping a head of iceberg. It is just not worth the effort for its lack of flavor and nutritional value. I much prefer dark leafy greens. That being said, there are some leafy greens most people will not touch dressed much less buy fresh and undressed at the grocery store. Kale and collards are intimidating for most people even though we all know they are packed with nutrition. In fact, Kale contains compounds that produce enzymes that fight cancer and is used in anti-cancer diets. It eases congestion, contains powerful anti-oxidant properties, aids in digestion and is a great source of calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. Still, Kale just never appealed to me with it's rough edges, tough texture and bitter flavor. It's just one of those vegetables we know is good for us, but don't eat because we just aren't sure what to do with it. Recently, I tried it raw in a salad form and was really surprised at how delicious it was. Because it is a tough green it stands up well to acidic dressings that can wilt spinach to mush in a matter of hours. It's even tastier the next day. So, here is my version of the delicious salad I tasted and loved.

Avocado and Kale Salad

1-2 bunches of raw kale, washed trimmed of stalks, and chopped into bite size pieces
1 ripe avocado
4 green onions chopped
juice from 1/2 lime (plus or minus for flavor)
salt to taste

Mash avocado with lime juice, salt and onions in a small bowl. In a large salad bowl add chopped kale and toss thoroughly with avocado dressing. Allow to sit and marinate for about 30 minutes before serving.

This recipe is really easy and delicious. My husband is willing to try anything I make, but when I mentioned kale salad he made sure I wasn't going to be offended if he didn't like it. Well, the skeptic gobbled it up and went back for seconds. Even my 3 year old daughter ate two bites without spitting it out! I did have to bribe her with promises of a cookie to try it. Whatever works, right?

A Not-So Triumphant Return

Being very aware of my absence here on Blogger, I must apologize for my lack of effort. However, I do have a good excuse. As most of you who read my blog know I was recently hired by a retail grocery chain specializing in natural foods and products. As part of my employment agreement I am not allowed to promote or disparage the store in any way. So, I was unsure of how to proceed with my food blog. I will not mention the name of the store here, but I will share with you some of the wonderful things I am learning.
My recent job search seemed endless because I was just not getting much of a response, but it turned out well in the end. I am very happy to be working in an industry I love and beginning to feel very passionate about. Eating healthy and enjoying natural non-processed foods is the direction I want to take my family and my friends. My job is definitely a natural fit for me, and I am very excited about my future with the company.
One of the most valuable things I am learning is that it really does not have to be expensive to eat healthy. You just have to get creative and find a store with valuable resources to guide you along the way. There is also no need to feel intimidated by specialty natural food stores. Just because they are special does not always mean they are expensive. Most specialty grocers offer inexpensive products along with specialized foods. If you plan your shopping trip and stick to your list you can find everything you need and not break the bank. It is usually all the wonderful little extras you don't plan for that get shoppers into trouble at the checkout line.
So, if you are lucky enough to have a natural grocery store in your area it is worth checking out. Most stores offer customer service to help you navigate the store and find exactly what it is you need and also offer nutrition and meal planning advice to help you get on the right track. If you still don't think you are ready or motivated to start eating natural foods I suggest watching one of the many great food expose documentaries. Food, Inc. is the most popular, but Fast Food Nation is an eye opener and though I have not seen it yet I have heard Our Daily Bread is also a stomach turner powerful enough to make the biggest junk food junkie read a label. Trust me, you will never look at food the same way again. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

inner-eco™ | dairy-free coconut kefir

Awesome new product I picked up today. Probiotics without the dairy!

inner-eco™ | dairy-free coconut kefir

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ground Turkey Shepards Pie

One of my favorite dishes of all time is a mouth watering Shepard's Pie. The problem is that this dish is usually reserved for special occasions due to its usually ridiculously high fat content. Since I love this dish so much I decided to take a stab at a lighter version in hopes that I could re-create it without losing so much wonderful flavor. Shepard's Pie is traditionally made with ground lamb, but Americans often substitute ground beef. I took it one step leaner and made it with lean ground turkey. I also vowed to make it as simple as possible and using very few dishes. Anyone who has ever made Shepard's Pie knows the dishes can pile up quickly. In place of starchy Russet or Idaho potatoes I use red potatoes and leave the skin on. I cut corners by using frozen mixed vegetables and add flavor to the meat with grated onion and garlic. I cut out the butter and used extra virgin olive oil instead and used 1% low fat milk instead of whole milk or cream. Before you go running from this recipe I suggest you give it a try. My husband raved about it, and he is my very own personal food critic.


1 lb or 6 or 7 medium red potatoes, skin on, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, grated (with a cheese grater)
3/4 c frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, carrots, green beans)
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt and pepper
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup skim or low fat milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 425. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add potatoes to cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add grated onion and garlic. Saute until onion is golden brown (2-3 minutes). Add ground turkey and increase heat to medium high. Stirring until turkey is browned (8-10 minutes). Add flour and mix well. Add worcestershire and broth until it thickens. Add vegetables and salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp salt). Pour mix into 2 quart casserole dish.
Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add remaining oil and begin to mash. Add additional oil by the teaspoon if necessary. Measure out your milk in a large measuring cup and thoroughly mix in egg yolk. Add milk mix slowly while stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon salt). Top meat mixture with potatoes. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes. Turn on broiler for another 5-10 minutes to brown the top (watch closely). Top with fresh parsley. Serves about 6. We managed to get about 8 servings total.

Effects of the consumer's voice

Just when you think your voice doesn't count when it comes to the nutritional value of processed foods...PepsiCo will cut sodium, sugar, fat in drinks, chips. Way to go PepsiCo and Frito Lay! They have a LONG way to go, but it is a perfect example of how consumer dollars really do make a difference. Continue to make healthy choices in the checkout line and help to enforce change!