Air Frier Turkey Tenderloins

With all my food allergies, protein is difficult sometimes. And since I live alone, most meats except for individual things like pork chops or chicken pieces are always too much for one meal. So when I find turkey tenderloins, I always buy several packages and freeze the tenderloins individually. And then look for new and different ways to cook them. If you have an air fryer, this is so easy and quick. Otherwise, it could be cooked in the oven but it’ll just take a little longer. Of course, the essential thing about tenderloins, whatever type of animal they come from is not overcooking them and drying them out. This air fryer method worked very well for that. And, of course, this rub works on any protein, not just animal. And try mixing it up with different herbs and spices.

Preheat air fryer at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.

Spray the air fryer basket with non-stick spray.

In a small bowl, combine:

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic granules (or powder)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Using paper towels, dry:

2 turkey tenderloins

Once dry, rub with:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Then sprinkle the rub mixture over the tenderloins being sure to coat both sides. Using dry hands, rub the herb mixture into the tenderloins. Place in the air fryer basket and cook for 12-15 minutes. Turn and repeat. Check turkey temperature (should be at 165 degrees) before removing. Let rest about 5 minutes before slicing.

Herbed Baked Chicken Breasts

This is a tasty, easy and quick recipe. Feel free to change up the herbs you use so that you get the flavors your family prefers. I like thyme and marjoram so those are the two I used but the paprika and garlic powder are staples for this recipe. It only takes a couple of minutes to get the herb rub together and cut the breasts in half (lengthwise) so total, this recipe takes less than a half hour before ready to eat.

First, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dry off:

2 chicken breasts, about 6-8 ounces each

Using a long knife, hold a breast upright against the palm of your hand and cut in half to produce two approximately equal portions of chicken breast. Repeat with the second breast. Next place the breasts on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil.

Rub to coat the breast pieces evenly. Wash your hands. Next, in a small bowl combine:

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon date sugar (or coconut sugar)

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Sprinkle the herb mix on one breast at a time and rub to coat. Repeat until all pieces are covered on both sides. I sprinkled all the breasts at once so by the time I got to the third one, the herb rub was a paste instead of dry. That’s why I suggest you sprinkle the rub on one piece at a time! Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. The time needed will depend on the thickness of the breast pieces. My pieces were about a 1/2″ thick and took around 16 minutes. Don’t overcook or the breasts will be dry. Be sure to let the meat rest for about 5 minutes before cutting. Serves two generously.

Broiled (or Grilled) Eggplant

Here’s another very easy side dish that’s just yummy if you like eggplant, especially if you love it as much as my grandson does! This would work for zucchini or yellow squash as well.

First, wash, remove stem end, and peel*:

1 large Italian eggplant (or multiple other smaller ones), about 1-1 1/2 pounds

Cut into 1/2″ slices crosswise. Place on a cooling rack over your sink (or if you have a very large sink, in your sink). Once all the slices are on the rack, sprinkle with:

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Be sure to sprinkle on both sides. Then place a baking sheet on top of the slices and weigh them down with something heavy like canned goods or a bag of flour. Let sit for approximately 30 minutes. You’ll see that they are now wet. Remove tray and weight before washing each slice under cool water. Dry using paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

Preheat the broiler in your oven or start the grill. If using the broiler as I did, spray a baking sheet large enough to hold all the slices comfortably with non-stick cooking spray. Place the slices on the sheet and then sprinkle each slice with:

Garlic powder

Ground black pepper

Herb of choice (I used an Italian seasoning mixture but any herb your family likes will work)

Spray the tops of the slices with more cooking spray (I use avocado oil spray but whatever you normally use will work). Place under the broiler for approximately 10 minutes until the slices begin to soften and turn golden brown. Remove and turn them over, return to the broiler and broil for an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately. A nice pasta sauce would compliment them nicely.

If you’re grilling the eggplant slices, spray each side with cooking spray and sprinkle with the herbs before placing on the grill.

*FYI, I peeled strips off my eggplant and found that they were very tough and inedible after broiling.

Italian Millet

Millet is my newest favorite grain. It’s so simple to cook and it takes on other flavors so easily just as rice does. But unlike most rice dishes, millet is lower in simple carbs and higher in complex carbs so a great alternative to those watching their blood sugar levels. Here’s a really easy recipe that incorporates some of the great Italian flavors we all enjoy – sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, onion and garlic. This is definitely NOT a low-fat side dish! I used vegetable stock rather than a meat stock because most vegetable stocks have a nice mushroom flavor which adds umami to the dish. Be sure to use sun-dried tomatoes in oil because some of that oil will be used in cooking the dish.

First, cook per package directions (except using stock instead of water):

1/2 cup millet

in 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

Generally, this means toasting the whole millet in a little oil and then adding it to the boiling stock, covering and cooking on low heat for 30-40 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the millet is soft. I like to take it off the heat at this point, leave the cover for a few minutes and then fluff the millet with a fork.

In the same skillet, heat until shimmering:

2 tablespoon olive oil (from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes)

Add and cook until tender, over medium heat:

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup shredded carrots* (optional)

When the onion is translucent, add:

1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes

2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

1 teaspoon cumin (or turmeric)

2 teaspoons Italian herb mix (or dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, and basil)

Mix thoroughly so that the onion mixture is covered with the herbs. Continue cooking until the tomatoes and garlic are heated through, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cooked millet. If the millet is cold, continue to cook over medium low heat for 3-4 minutes to reheat the millet. Serves 4.

*I like a lot of vegetables in my grains so I added a cup of shredded carrots with the onions.

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.

Easy Summer Pickles

My husband loved these pickles. It was the only way I could get him to eat cucumbers so I made them often. It’s a quick and easy thing to do. The longest part of the process is peeling the cucumbers so feel free if the peels don’t bother you to leave them on. And it’s so variable – by simply changing the type of vinegar and herbs/spices used, the taste changes completely. I’ll give you some variations at the end of the basic recipe.

In a 3-cup bowl combine:

1/2 to 1 cup water, depending on how strong you want the pickle

1 cup vinegar (I use a blend of white and rice – a strong and a mild vinegar)

2 teaspoons date sugar

1/4 teaspoon alum (keeps the cucumbers crunchy)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Add:

6 mini cucumbers, sliced

That’s the basic recipe and they are very good just this way. I like to change it up though so think about adding the following, remembering that spices are always better once they’re a little roasted.

Variations:

1/2 teaspoon of: mustard seed, cumin seed, celery seed, coriander seed or just one of these

2 bay leaves

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced or several scallions, sliced

1 tablespoon of: fresh dill weed or 1 teaspoon of dried dill weed

1 tablespoon of: fresh tarragon or fresh rosemary or fresh thyme or fresh basil or parsley

Using all white vinegar makes for a very pungent pickle where you may want to increase the date sugar or even use a couple of tablespoons of honey or agave nectar

Using all rice vinegar will make a very mild pickle where the date sugar can be totally eliminated

As I said at the top, changing the vinegar, and there are plenty of them out there these days, will totally change the taste of these pickles so use the vinegars your family likes best

Easy Turkey Alfredo Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Alfredo sauce is one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten and it’s so easy to make. I know there are a lot of steps but it’s a very easy process, none of the steps (except maybe cutting the spaghetti squash in half! are difficult). I blogged Chicken Alfredo several years ago so just used that basic recipe for the sauce. I’ve taken out the fresh parsley because I now can’t eat it and stuffed it into a spaghetti squash which reduces the simple carbs and calories. Don’t care for spaghetti squash? No problem, just mix it up and use it as a sauce for your favorite pasta. Delicious! Enjoy.

First thing is to cook the spaghetti squash. Cut a small to medium sized one in half, scrap out the seeds (if you have a sugar spoon [with ruffled edge] it works great for this), and coat the flesh with:

1 tablespoon olive oil or olive oil spray

Place skin side down in a baking dish, add just about a 1/2 inch of water to the pan and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for approximately 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your squash. I know, I know, most on-line recipes say to cook a spaghetti squash for 20-30 minutes. I find when I cook it for that short a time, it tends to be wetter producing more mash and fewer spaghetti strands.

While the squash cooks, make some thick rice milk but blending:

1 cup water

1/3 cup cooked rice (brown or white makes no difference)

Then make the alfredo sauce. Over medium heat, heat:

1/4 cup avocado oil

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

Be sure the heat isn’t too high, we don’t want to burn the minced garlic which will burn very quickly. When the oil starts to sizzle, add:

1 cup thick rice milk (that you just made above)

1/2 cup non-dairy cream cheese

Whisk to combine which takes a moment since the oil must also be incorporated. I thought about reducing the oil to 1 tablespoon (which you should feel free to do if you’re on a low-fat diet) but it does reduce the richness of the dish slightly. Next whisk in:

1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend (or oregano, thyme and marjoram)

Whisk constantly until cheese melts. Take off the heat. In a 12″ high sided skillet, over medium high heat, heat until shimmering:

1 tablespoon olive oil (or spray the pan with cooking spray if low fat desired)

When the oil (pan) is hot, add:

1 pound ground turkey

Salt, pepper and garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon pepper)

Don’t oversalt because the parmesan in the sauce is also salty. Cook, breaking up the turkey into large chunks until cooked but not browned (or it will get too dry). Remove from the heat. Next using a fork, scrap the inside of the cooled spaghetti squash to produce spaghetti-like strands. Try to get as much of the squash out of the shell as possible without breaking or cracking the shell (I did have a large crack in one half and a small in the other and they were still useable). Put the squash into the ground turkey skillet and top with the sauce. Mix to combine. Place the squash shells in a sprayed baking dish and spoon in the turkey/squash/sauce mixture until well filled. Garnish with more parmesan and/or fresh parsley and bake for 15-30 minutes until bubbling. Time will depend on the size of your squash.

Chicken and Rice with Caramelized Onions and Cranberries

This recipe is quite involved and takes some time but it’s not a difficult dish to make. And to be sure, every minute spent on this is well worth the effort! The herbs and spices used amp up the flavor profile and adding some freshly grated lemon zest and lemon juice at the end takes it over the edge! Rather than adding the lemon juice at the end, some sliced lemons on the side would also work.

First, peel, cut in half and then thinly slice:

2-3 medium-sized sweet onions

If you don’t have sweet onions, add 1 teaspoon date sugar when you cook them. Let them sit while heating a medium-sized Dutch oven over medium heat with:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When the oil is shimmering add:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs or boneless, skinless chicken breasts

that are seasoned with:

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

If using skin-on, bone-in thighs, cook skin side down. Loosely arrange chicken in pan (may take more than one batch). Brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes. Remove to a plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from the pan before adding the onion slices. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently until well caramelized (browned). If not using sweet onions, here’s where to add the:

1 teaspoon date sugar

It can take 25-30 minutes to caramelize the onions because they need to cook slowly so that they don’t burn, we want them browned – caramelized, not burned. Once the onions are ready, add to the pot:

4 garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons minced garlic)

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (or cardamom, nutmeg, or allspice)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed

Sauté for about 30 seconds until the herbs and spices are fragrant before adding:

6 ounces sliced mushrooms (Optional, peas would also work)

2 cups chicken stock or bone broth

the browned chicken pieces and any juices on the plate

If using skin-on thighs, be sure the browned side is up. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add to the pot:

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice*

1/3 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries but raisins or dried cherries would also work)

Stir in the rice and fruit, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for another 30 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked. Most of the liquid should be gone from the pot so be careful not to burn the dish. Remove the chicken from the pot, moving the pot off the heat and re-cover so that it stays hot. Remove skin if using skin-on chicken and let sit for 8-10 minutes before slicing the meat (and removing the bones if using bone-in chicken). Add the chicken back into the pot along with:

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon juice

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley (Optional)

Stir to combine. Reheat until the chicken is heated through and serve. Serves 4-6.

*I used pre-cooked brown rice in my dish so I cooked the chicken 30 minutes before adding the frozen rice and then cooked it only an additional 10 minutes.

Since I don’t care for cilantro and don’t think much of parsley either, I sprinkled some green onions on top of my dish.

Turkey and Vegetable Casserole

This is very easy to put together. It takes about a 20 minutes IF your rice is precooked. Mine took a little longer because I didn’t think to cook the rice beforehand. And since I wanted to add a little Minnesota to this recipe, instead of using straight brown rice, I used a brown and wild rice mix which takes longer to cook but adds a whole lot of flavor. Feel free to change up the vegetables used – broccoli would work just as well as zucchini. And the oregano and thyme can be substituted for an Italian herb mix.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 9×12 baking pan or a 2-quart casserole dish. In a high-sided skillet, heat over medium high:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When shimmering add:

1 pound ground turkey (this would work just as well with ground pork, Italian sausage or hamburger, just be sure to drain off the fat after cooking)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Break up the meat as it cooks and cook until no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add:

1 medium onion, diced

2 small zucchini, cut into approximately 3/4″ slices (I quartered mine before slicing so I had chunks)

2 large portobello mushrooms (deveined and diced)

1 medium yellow sweet pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)

3 garlic cloves minced (about 3 teaspoons)

Stir to combine and then simmer for 4-5 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add:

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon siracha sauce or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Stir to combine and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in:

2 cups brown and wild rice mix, cooked

1/4 cup grated non-dairy Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons chopped parsley, flat-leaf or Italian

Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with:

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Bake until mixture is bubbling and the cheese is starting to brown, about 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with another tablespoon or two of parsley before serving. Serves 6.

Honey Mustard Asparagus

Here’s a very quick and easy side dish if you like mustard and asparagus. Use either green or white, makes no difference. If your asparagus is more than pencil size, peel it to get rid of the tough skin. I used spicy brown mustard which is my favorite but feel free to use any mustard that your family enjoys. The same with the herbs – I used thyme because it’s my favorite but most herbs would work well in this recipe, either fresh or dried.

First, prepare by peeling and/or removing the woody portion at the bottom:

1 pound asparagus

Place in a steamer and cook until fork tender but still a little crunchy, about 4-7 minutes depending on the size of the asparagus spears.

While the asparagus steams, make the sauce in a medium bowl by whisking together:

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon honey (agave nectar or date syrup would also work)

1 tablespoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh herbs or 1/4 teaspoon dried herbs (I used thyme)

Once asparagus is cooked, remove from heat and add to the bowl of sauce, toss to combine. Serve hot or cold. Serves 2.