Easy Roasted Turkey Breast

Turkey is easy to overcook producing a dry, not very appetizing meat. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, I would suggest you invest in one. It makes cooking meats, especially poultry, much easier.

Turkey can also be rather bland so it needs help to bring out the flavor. This recipe combines a number of herbs to do just that. If you have time, rub the turkey breast, under the skin as well as on the skin, with the herb rub and then refrigerate for several hours.

Watch the turkey breast carefully while baking and take the internal temperature often after about 50 minutes so that it doesn’t get above 160 on the meat thermometer. This is meant for 2 people but the breast can serve up to 4, just increase the vegetables. As with many of my recipes, feel free to change out the herbs to suit your family’s taste as well as the vegetables – any root vegetables will work in this recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking dish a little larger than the turkey breast and spray with non-stick cooking spray or coat with a non-dairy margarine. In a medium bowl combine:

1 large onion, sliced

5-6 celery stalks (I used celery hearts so if you have whole celery, reduce this number), cut into large pieces

12-15 baby rainbow carrots, exclude the orange ones

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into medium-sized cubes*

2 tablespoons olive oil

If some of the baby carrots are on the larger size, cut them in quarters so all the vegetables will cook evenly. Mix the vegetables together to coat them with oil. In a small dish combine:

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 teaspoon dried sage

Mix the herbs together to combine. Add about 1/4 of the herb mixture to the vegetables and mix once again. Pour the vegetables into the prepared baking dish. Using paper towels, dry thoroughly:

2 1/2 to 3 pound turkey breast (this is a half breast)

Pull up the turkey skin and sprinkle the flesh with the herb mixture, reserving some for the other side. Rub into the flesh and then fold back the skin onto the meat and sprinkle a little more herb on the skin. Place the breast on top of the vegetables skin side down and sprinkle the remaining herb mixture on the bottom of the breast, rubbing it in. Flip the turkey breast so that the skin side is up. Roast in the oven for approximately 25 minutes per pound or until internal temperature is 160 degrees.** Remove from the oven and place the turkey on a serving platter, loosely cover with foil and let rest for about 10-15 minutes.

Spoon the roasted vegetables into a serving bowl.*** When the breast is rested, cut and serve. If desired, pan gravy can be made with the fat in the pan by adding gluten-free, all-purpose flour until all the oil is absorbed (probably about 2 tablespoons) and then cook the flour for several minutes over medium heat before adding approximately 1 cup of chicken (or turkey) stock for each tablespoon of flour used. Or, for fat free gravy, heat 1 1/2 cups of chicken (or turkey) stock over medium high heat. Whisk 2 tablespoons of gluten-free all-purpose flour into another 1/2 cup of cold chicken stock and whisk into the stock on the stove. Whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and is thickened.

*If your family doesn’t like sweet potatoes, simply add the orange carrots and perhaps some cubes of red-skin or Yukon gold potatoes.

**FYI, my turkey breast was 2.8 pounds and I cooked it for 1 hour and 20 minutes before it reached 160 degrees. Remember it will continue to cook when removed from the oven and covered with foil.

***The carrots weren’t cooked when I removed the turkey so I increased the oven temperature to 425 degrees and cooked the vegetables for about 20 minutes more. This not only cooked the carrots but it also browned the sweet potatoes making them a little crunchy.

Cucumber Boats

It’s getting very hot here in Minnesota, will hit the mid-90s this coming week. I wanted an easy, lighter meal and had seen cucumber boats on-line stuffed with tuna salad. These work best with regular cucumbers but I generally buy either the English or the mini cukes so that’s what I used. If you also use the mini cucumbers, pulse the salad in the food processor for a few seconds to grind it up. It fits in the smaller boats much better that way. Any kind of salad will do – I made some curried chicken salad but tuna would also work.

First thing, prepare the salad:

1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed from the bones and pulsed in the food processor for a few seconds

4 stalks celery, chopped

1/4 to 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (or walnuts if not allergic)

Mix the dressing in a separate bowl:

1 to 2 tablespoons green curry paste

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup vegan mayonnaise (if not allergic to eggs, feel free to use any mayonnaise)

2 teaspoons mustard

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sriracha (optional)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/4 cup dill pickle relish (optional)

Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and stir to incorporate. Salad is ready. Next, peel and cut lengthwise:

12 mini cucumbers (probably 2 regular sized cucumbers)

Using a small spoon, remove the seeds to create the “boats”. Fill with the salad and serve. May be garnished with sliced scallions, chopped chives or chopped parsley.

Honey Ginger Sesame Noodles

This umami filled dish of noodles takes some preparation in slicing the vegetables but otherwise is very easy to put together. The seeds or nuts add a little protein so if additional protein is desired, some fried tofu, chicken, beef, or pork can be added. And the vegetables can be changed to fit your family’s likes and what you have on-hand. Mushrooms, bell pepper, bean sprouts all would work well.

First, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a small baking pan with parchment and sprinkle with:

1/2 cup raw seeds such as pepitas or sunflower, or nuts if you can have them (peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc.)

Bake for 5 minutes and then toss with:

2 teaspoons sriracha

1 tablespoon soy sauce substitute

2 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Following package directions, cook:

6-8 ounces rice noodles

When cooked, drain, rinse and set aside. In a 12″ skillet with high sides, over medium high heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

When the oils are hot, add:

1/2 large (or medium) onion, thinly sliced

3-4 stalks celery, sliced on an angle

3/4 cup chopped or shredded carrots

2-3 baby bok choy, sliced, including greens

Stir to combine and cook approximately 5 minutes until tender but not mushy. Add:

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 small can diced or sliced water chestnuts

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Cook an additional minute or two. In a small bowl combine:

1/2 cup soy sauce substitute

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon tahini (or seed butter like sunflower or pumpkin)

1 tablespoon molasses

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Whisk to incorporate ingredients and then add to pan of vegetables. Let the vegetables simmer with the sauce for several minutes, 2-3 before tossing in the noodles and, if more heat is desired, add:

1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce

Separate into four serving dishes and top with the seed mixture and:

2 scallions, greens only, sliced

Top with sliced, sauteed meat if desired and enjoy!

Easy Seafood Stew (or Bisque)

I enjoy many types of seafood – from various white fish to multiple shellfish. I happened to have a small piece of swordfish, not enough for a meal, as well as some canned clams and bay scallops on hand, bought a small fresh jar of lump crabmeat and made a seafood stew. Leave out the vegetables and it’ll be a bisque instead. Fairly easy to make and doesn’t take very long either. Feel free to vary the fish ingredients to your family’s taste. I wanted to use a lobster tail but couldn’t find one here in Minnesota. Delicious!

In a medium (4 quart) saucepan, heat over medium high heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When it’s shimmering add:

1/2 medium onion, diced

4-5 celery stalks, diced

2 cups kale, cleaned, stalks removed and leaves chopped*

Stir to combine, reduce heat to medium low and cook for approximately 6-8 minutes or until kale is softened. Remove to a bowl. Add to the saucepan, increasing heat to medium high:

1/2 pound bay scallops

1/2 pound white meat fish (I used swordfish but any white fish – cod, halibut, etc. works), cut into small chunks, about the size of the scallops

1/4 pound small shrimp (optional for those who can eat shrimp)

Stir and saute for 3-4 minutes until fish is cooked and then add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2-3 tablespoons gluten-free, all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (optional)

Stir to combine and let simmer for a minute before whisking in:

2 cups non-dairy milk (anything except soy which won’t thicken)

Continue to whisk until milk heats and mixture thickens. Add:

1 small can minced clams (including the liquid)

4 ounces of fresh crabmeat (I checked out the canned, much less expensive but it also included loads of salt as well as sugar)

the cooked vegetables

1 small to medium potato, diced and cooked (whatever potato your family likes)

Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer for several minutes to allow the fish and vegetables to heat through. If desired, garnish with chopped green onions or chives. Serves 4.

*If you don’t like kale, adding some frozen peas would be just as delicious.

To make the stew into a bisque, simply delete the vegetables.

Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

I know, you don’t have to say it! Another chicken recipe. This one can be fairly quick and easy. It’s a chicken stew with mashed potatoes (or in my case, mashed celery root and parsnips) on top with a few French-fried onions on top, baked for an hour (less if the stew is already hot). Again, like many of my recipes, feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand that your family prefers.

Grease or spray a casserole dish large enough to hold the stew and toppings. This will depend on the amount you need for your family, for me, I made a 4-serving size so used a 2-quart casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a skillet over medium heat, add:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When shimmering hot add:

12 ounces of chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the chicken turning after about 2 minutes to brown on the other side(s). When chicken is fully browned, but not necessarily fully cooked, remove from the skillet and add to the skillet:

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 cup carrot slices

1/2 cup green beans

1/2 cup peas

1 teaspoon dried thyme (or parsley, or herb of choice [I really like sage in my chicken dishes]).

Sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are transparent, reduce the heat and cover for 5 minutes or until the green beans and carrots are tender. Remove the vegetables from the pan. Whisk into the remaining fat:

2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour or enough to absorb all the fat in the pan

Cook the flour for several minutes and then add:

3/4 cup chicken stock

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (anything EXCEPT soy)

Whisk to combine with the flour and get out the lumps and then stir frequently until gravy comes to a bowl and thickens. If it’s too thick, add a little more stock or milk. If it’s too thin, make a slurry of another tablespoon of flour and a little milk and add to the gravy.

Mix in the chicken and vegetables. Top the casserole with:

2 cups mashed potato (or 2 cups celery root puree (see recipe under side dishes)

Sprinkle the top with French-fried onions or paprika. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30-60 minutes depending on if you bake it immediately or put it together to bake later as I did.

Easy Farmhouse Chicken Casserole

I know, again with the chicken! But there are just so many delicious ways to cook chicken and here’s another one. Easy and quick to make with pre-cooked chicken, this casserole covers all the bases with protein, starch and vegetables all in one mouth-watering package. So if you have some chicken (thighs, drums, breasts whatever) or leftover rotisserie chicken, this is a great way to use it up that your family will enjoy.

Make sure your oven rack is in the upper half of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9×13 casserole (or spray with non-stick spray). Over medium high heat, heat a medium sized Dutch oven and add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 slices of bacon, diced

Cook bacon until it’s crisp. If you don’t want to eat the bacon fat, drain it before adding:

1 tablespoon olive oil (3 tablespoons if you drained the bacon fat off)

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 celery stalks, diced

1 cup thinly sliced carrots (or shredded)

1 cup frozen peas

Reduce heat to medium and cook until vegetables are softened. Stir into the vegetables:

1/4 cup gluten-free, all-purpose flour (I had to use 1/3 cup to absorb all the oil)

3 cups chicken stock

1 cup non-dairy milk (anything EXCEPT soy)*

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried sage

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Stir, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to get all those wonderful drippings from the bacon. Cook, stirring frequently until sauce is thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Add:

3 cups diced or shredded chicken

3 cups diced and cooked potatoes (I used a mix of sweet and Russet potatoes)

Turn off heat. Pour (or ladle like I had to) the chicken mixture into the prepared casserole dish. In a medium bowl combine:

1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs

2 tablespoons avocado oil

Using a fork, mix thoroughly so that the bread crumbs are combined with the oil. Add:

1 cup gluten-free French-fried onions (or forget the bread crumbs and just use onions, oh so tasty!)

Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the casserole and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Serves 6-8 generously.

*The original recipe called for cream. Silk now makes a non-dairy cream which you could use in place of the non-dairy milk for a richer sauce. The Silk cream is coconut based.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Vegetables

Chicken is one of my staple proteins. I had some chicken breasts in my fridge that needed to be used but I didn’t have time today to do a lot with it. Chicken soup I thought! Quick, easy, not too much work. Then I thought about the lemon beurre blanc sauce I made a few nights ago to go with some fish and thought I love chicken and lemon. It won’t be too hard to put them together. This soup is the outcome of that thought process. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

First, heat a small Dutch oven over medium high heat. When it gets hot, add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When the oil is shimmering add:

1 small onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 cup shredded carrots

3-4 ounces sliced mushrooms (any kind you like)

Stir to combine and let cook reducing heat to medium until the vegetables begin to soften. Add:

6-8 ounces white meat chicken, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Stir so the chicken goes to the bottom of the pot, or as much as possible. When chicken is browned, add:

2 teaspoons minced garlic

approximately 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest of one large lemon)

3 cups chicken stock

8 ounces of small pasta like elbows (I used green lentil safari)

8 ounces whole chickpeas

Stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to medium low so that the stock is on a low boil to cook the chicken and pasta, about 12-15 minutes. While it’s cooking combine in a small bowl (2 cups):

1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from one large lemon)

1/2 cup oat milk

2-3 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour

Whisk to combine the flour. When the pasta and chicken are cooked, add:

1/2 to 1 cup frozen peas

Cook for 3-5 minutes longer to cook the peas before adding the milk mixture. If necessary pour the milk mixture through a small sieve to keep any flour lumps out of the soup. Stir the soup to mix in the flour and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes while the stock thickens and the flour cooks. Stir in:

2 tablespoons honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4.

Of course you can add any vegetables your family likes. Asparagus would work very well in this soup as it goes great with lemon. And rice would work as well as pasta depending on taste.

Chicken Cacciatore

There are probably as many recipes for chicken cacciatore on the internet as there are recipe sites. But here’s another one that’s easy to prepare and tastes oh so good! The chicken stays fairly moist (because it’s browned before stewing), the portobellos add some depth to the dish and the sauce is rich and succulent. Using boneless, skinless chicken thighs cuts down on the cooking time so this can be ready in about 40 minutes for a fairly quick midweek supper.

Trim fat and dry with paper towels:

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Salt and pepper lightly. Over medium heat begin heating a Dutch oven and add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add the chicken thighs and cook, about 4-5 minutes before turning and browning on the other side. If the chicken sticks to the bottom of the pan when trying to turn it, it’s not ready to turn so brown a little longer. Once browned on both sides, remove to a plate and add to the pan:

1 medium onion, diced

5-6 stalks celery, chopped

3 large or 5 medium portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and chopped

3/4 cup diced carrots

Lightly salt and saute until the onion is translucent and the celery and mushrooms are softened. Add:

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour

Mix to combine and cook out the flour over medium low heat for a minute before adding:

2 cups chicken stock (or 1 cup white wine and 1 cup chicken stock, or 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup mushroom stock)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

14-15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

Stir to combine and then place the chicken thighs into the stock, pushing down to cover. Be sure to add any juices that have accumulated on the plate as well. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes until chicken reaches 175 degrees internally. It will start falling apart when completely stewed so don’t worry if you don’t have a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature. Add:

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Stir to combine. Serve over rice, pasta, or potatoes. I’ve discovered at my local Whole Foods Market, a heart of palm pasta (365 brand) that is very low in carbs and very tasty so I added a bag of it (drained and rinsed) about 10 minutes before the cacciatore was done. Serve with parmesan cheese if desired. Serves 4.

Chicken and Vegetables in Plum Sauce

Had a little of the soy substitute sauce left over from the recipe a couple of days ago so thought I’d make some choy mein. But there wasn’t quite enough sauce for that and I’d gotten a jar of plum jam out of the freezer and added some of that and oh my goodness, how mouth-watering is this! Like adding a little pear or apple to a pork or chicken gravy, adding a little plum to this Chinese sauce turned out luscious. Don’t have any plum jam around the house? Stew up 2 plums (skin too if organic) along with about 2 tablespoons of date syrup and then puree it and you’ve got plum jam!

Just like with most Chinese recipes, the first step is always to cut everything up!

Peel:

1 small to medium onion, slice in half thin slices

1 large o 2 smaller carrots, slice on the diagonal

2 garlic cloves, minced

Trim:

2 whole stalks or 4 stalks from the celery heart (about a cup altogether), slice diagonally

6 ounces of shitake mushrooms, sliced

Put the vegetables in a bowl and set aside until ready to cook. Trim the fat and slice:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts*

Place the slices in a food storage bag and add:

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot

1/4 to 1/3 cup plum jam

Seal and refrigerate 15-30 minutes until ready to cook. When ready to cook, heat over medium heat in a 12″ skillet:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add the vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes. Cover and lower heat to medium low and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until carrots are tender. Remove the vegetables to their bowl, turn the heat back to medium and add to the skillet:

the marinated chicken and marinade

Cook stirring constantly until the chicken is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the vegetables back to the skillet along with:

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Stir to combine and continue stirring until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Serve with brown rice or rice noodles.

*Want a vegan entrée? Substitute firm tofu or your favorite plant-based protein.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Salad

I often buy a rotisserie chicken, it’s a quick and easy meal. I’m careful of course, all rotisserie chickens are not equal. I read the ingredients until I found one that had no soy, canola, or corn oil. But since I live alone, this chicken always has lots of meat left over. I do so love chicken salad but even that can get boring when always made the same. I’ve added curry powder and made curried chicken salad which is delicious but I recently tried using a sweet and sour dressing, much like one used for coleslaw. Delicious, very easy and tasty at the end of summer when we’re getting tired of the same old salads.

I like to pulse my cooked chicken in my food processor to produce a slightly chunky chicken. Don’t take it to the extent of puree, just a fairly rough chop, almost like cooked ground chicken meat. For 4 servings, dice or pulse:

2 cooked chicken breasts, of medium size

Remove from food processor or cutting board into a bowl. Dice or pulse:

4-5 stalks celery, cleaned and quartered

4-5 scallions, cleaned and quartered

1/2 cup shredded carrots (or diced carrots)

Add to the chicken meat. I also add:

1/2 cup cooked baby peas

Mix these ingredients together. In a separate smaller bowl make the dressing using:

1 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 good dash hot sauce (optional)

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons honey, agave nectar or date syrup

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish (or minced dill pickle)

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the dressing to combine and then add to the meat mixture. Mix well, chill and serve over a bed of mixed greens. Tomatoes and avocado on the side are a nice addition to this meal. I’ll often also garnish my chicken salad with pumpkin seeds or mix into the salad sesame or poppy seeds.