Le Turkey Trot

Yeah, it’s Saturday.

That leftover turkey that we didn’t eat on Friday because we had enough on Thursday and didn’t want to look at it again, was looking right at me when I opened up the fridge looking for lunch.

What to do with it?

No, I didn’t  want to head back to the store. Not for the nth time this week.

So I rummaged around to find a few things to riff with…let’s see…

Mashed potatoes & ricotta with shaved parmesan an egg, salt and flour make a lovely gnocchi dough. Dumplings would be lovely on a grey day like today.

In the past, I have looked up a zillion recipes, but in the end I wind up estimating because I rarely plan to make it, I just make it with what I have. Today, I used

  • about 16 oz of ricotta
  • an egg
  • a cup and a half of AP flour
  • 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes
  • teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

I mixed it up in a bowl. It’s a sticky, wet dough. I decided not to get fussy. I just wanted to eat, not win a pasta making contest. So I rolled it out onto a tray that I had covered in a dusting of flour.

From there, I created ropes with my hands and then and cut off little pillow shapes approximately the same size and shape.  To cook them, I added them to a big pot of boiling, salted water and waited for them to float. That was all there was to it.

When they were all cooked I added them to a dish that I could put into the oven.



Even dogs sleep after turkey.

I took my leftover turkey and shredded it by hand, adding it to the dish and giving Ozzie (the very patient dog, sitting at my feet, staring up at me, intently with those beautiful brown eyes) what I didn’t want to put in the casserole. Rummaging further in the freezer, I found a 1/2 a bag of frozen peas — so I threw that in. I was looking for the classic Turkey Tettrazini cheat — Cream of Mushroom Soup — but we don’t have that in the house. However, I did find — way in the back —  a can of some Broccoli Cheese soup that I must have purchased for some recipe and never used. Carpe diem?!

I poured that into the pot right over the dumplings and shredded turkey and peas and added a little left over cream (from the mashed potatoes earlier in the week.) Popped it into the oven at 400 degrees while I cleaned up the dishes. It took about a half  hour to get all hot and bubbly.  It came out smelling divine. I shredded a little bit of fresh parma on top and served it for lunch.

The verdict? My son, who loves to eat around the vegetables even at 15 — ate the whole thing. Almost licked the bowl! My daughter, the vegetarian — ate some unadorned gnocchi/dumplings that I left on the side with a little vegan butter and shredded parm.

Not bad for a Saturday leftover riff, eh?

What’s in your fridge?


I’m calling it the “Turkey Trot” but you can call it delicious. 


Baked Tofu & Quinoa with Chickpeas and Spinach — Koko Likes

Bought tofu, pressed it for two hours last night and soaked it overnight in a Teriyaki Ginger Sauce… following this recipe. Will take some pictures and share if we like it!

Baked Tofu & Quinoa with Chickpeas and Spinach — Koko Likes.

via Baked Tofu & Quinoa with Chickpeas and Spinach — Koko Likes.

Triple Treat Rice Salad

Rice Salad Redux: Triple Treat

OK, OK, I know, we talked about rice salad two months ago! But summer is the time of year where you don’t want to spend time slaving in a hot kitchen. You want to make things that can last a few days as leftovers — that you can eat on a whim.

As you know, I rarely make the same exact recipe. I vary everything depending on my mood and my desire to get in the car and supplement the ingredients I have on hand. Lazy, I know, but practical.

Well, I riffed again and this one was pretty yummy and oh, so summery that I had to share more details. I think I’ll call this one “Triple Treat.” Why? Well, there are 3 kinds of grains in this one. (And you know, if I write it down, I’ll remember that I didn’t add garlic this time and it’s still awesome!!!) Anywho…

The grains:

  • white basmati rice (about 3 cups cooked)
  • wild rice (one cup dry, about 2 cups cooked)
  • rainbow quinoa (one cup dry about 3 cups cooked)

All good rice salads start with cooked, cooled rice. I make the rice in my rice cooker (the best investment I have made over the years — I get perfect rice all the time.)  When everything stops steaming you put it in a big bowl. Then you add the eye candy. I added:

  • two big bright orange carrots chopped into tiny pieces
  • a head of celery chopped into tiny pieces
  • one half a big sweet onion chopped (tiny!)
  • a cup of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • a big handful of fresh chives from my garden, cut into tiny pieces with my scissors

Then the sweet stuff:

  • about 1/2 cup of raisins
  • about 1/2 cup of dried plums (tiny pieces — you can find them near the dried plums in a small canister)


  • about 1 cup of sunflower seeds
  • about 1 cup of chopped walnuts

Then the dressing!

This time, I wanted a sweeter taste. So, I did this to my taste, and this is where you really have to taste and adjust as you like:

  • 3/4 walnut oil
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • few shakes of peach flavored vinegar (probably 4 tablespoons?)
  • salt (teaspoon?)
  • sugar – 1/4 cup (?)
  • squeeze of lime

I mixed the dressing up and kept adding a little salt and sugar until I got the taste I was looking for. A real mix of sweet and salty. I poured my concoction  over all the other ingredients that I had assembled in a large bowl and gently mixed it through the rice.

Rice salad usually tastes better the second day you have it. Why? The flavors meld together, the dressing gets absorbed into the grains and you can then season again with a little more salt & fresh pepper when you serve it.

Try this and let me know how you like it! It’s filling, the quinoa has protein in it and the melange of flavors will have people begging for more!

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad (with bacon!)

Does this look amazing or what?

I’ve “massaged” my kale (with avocado and salt — yummy!) — I’ve steamed it in chicken broth and dressed it with garlic — but I’ve never seen a salad with raw Brussels sprouts and kale shaved and combined. This I have to try.  I’ll bet you could use any dressing that suits your mood. By the way, I always learned that you called these petite cabbages “brussel sprouts” — but according to The Grammarist — it’s actually correct to call them Brussels sprouts.  I guess you learn something new every day.

Shaved kale & brussel sprouts in a salad!

Here’s the original recipe.  Can’t wait to try it!

Summer Eggplant Risotto

20140608-142105-51665329.jpgI poked around in the fridge for inspiration. Leftovers can always save time when you are hungry!

The other night, I diced an eggplant and sautéed it with some garlic, roughly chopped sweet onions, and a can of Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes. (They are my favorite!) I served that over pasta — but the kids didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as I did. I had about a cup and a half of that mixture left over and since it had sat for 2 days in the fridge, the flavors had intensified.

Over in the pantry was a bag of arborio rice (Italian short grain rice) and a container of chicken broth.  Why not put my leftovers into a risotto?  Certainly, people make risotto with eggplant all the time!

So, here’s what I did.

I took two tablespoons +/- olive oil and poured it into my big skillet set at medium high.

1 1/2 cups of arborio rice went right in the pan to toast up before cooking. (Browning the rice a bit gives your dish a nuttier taste.)

After about 5 minutes of “frying’ the rice I added about 1 cup of chicken broth and stirred it while it cooked. I lowered the heat to medium and over the next 20 minutes or so, I continued to add more broth (I used 32oz – 4 cups total) slowly, stirring as the rice absorbed the liquid. What you’re looking for is a creamy consistency — not the dry, white rice that you get in a Chinese restaurant! Keep in mind that risotto is supposed to be cooked “al dente” — which means that it is a little firm and chewy even though it is a very starchy, rice dish.

I added my left over eggplant/garlic/onion/tomato mixture right into the pan. Then I shaved parmesan cheese right into the rice, a few pinches of salt, and I stirred it together. All in all, it took about 25 minutes from the time I started until I was ready to eat. Not bad, eh? It was as good as it looks. And I have some left over — tomorrow, I can just add a little broth and zap it in the microwave.

Next time I make this, I want to add fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella right at the end.




Stuff y’ur caps and peel your zucchini…

Crab stuffed Mushrooms

Crab stuff mushroom cap with a side of zucchini ribbons… oh yeah!

We were hungry. I hadn’t gone shopping. I had to make dinner. What to do?? Quick! Look in the cabinet. Mull over what was in the fridge. Have a sip or two of wine. A piece of cheese. Think, think…. Aha! Those portobellos I bought to grill like hamburgers? Mmmmm…. And that’s how it started. A quick look at our rations and I pulled together:

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cans of canned crab meat
  • a cup of ricotta cheese
  • half cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
  • dried oregano and parsley, salt, pepper, dried garlic
  • about a cup of crushed garlic croutons (’cause I ran out of breadcrumbs.)
  • an egg
  • thinly sliced mozzarella cheese

This is so stinking easy to make and it tasted great. I just drained the crab meat and added it to a bowl along with all those other ingredients (except the mozzarella – that went last.) I mixed it all up — probably using about 1/2 teaspoon or so of each of the spices… but of course, I do everything to taste.  Stuffed the portobellos by patting the mixture inside the cap and put all four of them into my big old wrought iron pan. Added about a cup of white wine to the pan. Put it in an oven heated to 400 and let it go for 20 minutes. Then I added a slice of mozzarella cheese to each and let that continue to cook for another 5 -10 minutes. In the meantime — I had a few zucchini in the fridge. My absolute favorite way to eat zucchini these days is also probably the simplest preparation of all. I washed them and cut off the ends. Using my basic vegetable peeler — I peeled ribbons of the squash right into a hot pan that had a bit of olive oil in it.  Then I shaved some fresh garlic into the same pan and added a few pinches of salt. It only takes a few minutes of tossing these thin ribbons around to cook them.  I’ve served this with pesto sauce, with red sauce, with cooked tomatoes — and always a little shaved cheese on top.  This tastes like pasta to me and is so much healthier for you, you can’t go wrong. The whole dinner took me about 1/2 hour to prepare and get on the table. Not bad, eh?

And simple peel the zucchini.... go as far as the seeds

And simply peel the zucchini…. go as far as the seeds.. then discard the core.

Shave fresh garlic cloves using your shaver... great for hard cheeses, too

Shave fresh garlic cloves using your shaver right into the pan…

Just sauté the zucchini & garlic...

Just sauté the zucchini & garlic…

Get creative. I added thinly sliced tomatoes, some pesto sauce, left over cooked eggplant...and topped it with cheese!

Get creative. I made this again tonight and I added thinly sliced tomatoes, some pesto sauce, left over cooked eggplant…and topped it with shaved cheese!

To die for salad #1: Shrimp over Argula & Fennel with corn.

Summer Salad with Shrimp, Corn, Arugula, Cukes

Go ahead, smell your computer screen!

I love salad.

I could probably fill a blog up with my salad executions as I rarely make the exact same thing twice(!)

So if you are looking for inspiration, go no further than your nearest farmer’s market. Poke around and see what’s fresh. If you want to make something that sort of looks like the one I picture here, here’s what you need:

  • Fresh young arugula
  • Young fennel
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Uncooked, peeled and deveined frozen shrimp
  • Seasonings
  • Oil

Pretty straightforward prep work. Wash and spin those salad leaves. Make sure that you don’t overspin them, but they need to be dry. Peel and slice those cukes.  Add a few well sliced cuts of fennel if you like that anise taste. (If you want to mellow that flavor, you can simply sauté it is a little olive oil for a few minutes on the stove and then let cool before adding to your salad.) Salt some boiling water and add an ear or two of corn. Boil for 3-5 minutes — take them out to cool and dry off.

Defrost your shrimp by putting them in a bowl and running water over them. Or be lazy and leave them in the bowl with cool water for 10 minutes and rinse them out.

So, I use The Pampered Chef Chili Lime Rub and coat my shrimp generously before throwing into a hot pan that’s been lightly coated with olive oil. Keep moving them around until they pink up. It takes only a few minutes, so watch that pan!  When close to done, just take it off the heat and put them on a plate to cool a bit. Take your cool corn and remove the kernels with a knife. (If you do this a lot, I have a tool for that as well. Shocking, right?)

When you are ready to assemble just take a big bowl and toss everything in.

Now the key ingredient?  WALNUT OIL and SALT.  I love La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil and Maldon’s Salt.  (I can buy both at my local Wegmans but you can readily buy these online if your story doesn’t carry them.)  I toss everything — and I mean everything — with just these two simple ingredients. Actually I glug in some oil (you need to be the judge there) and then after I toss this, I pinch some salt between my fingers and casually sprinkle it on with one hand while holding my white wine in the other! What is so special about this salt? My friend Robin sold me on it when she showed me how the crystals are thin and triangular shaped. They are crunchy. You don’t need a lot to really get a bang of taste out of this seasoning. Trust me. You will want to keep this on your table and you will find yourself pinching some and putting it on everything including watermelon!

Riffing ideas?

OK, like I said, I rarely make the same thing twice. I’ve made this same basic salad and added sliced, hard boiled eggs, cilantro, red onion, julienned carrots, sourdough croutons, walnuts… you name it. Sometimes, I roast the corn before I remove the kernels.

Your job is to take the basics and improvise. But try that oil and salt. Trust me, it is decadent!

PS Kirby cucumbers are even better in this salad than regular, large cukes. Look for them!







Sweet Potato Pancakes


Sweet! Easy to make and better than white flour based cakes!


If you have a craving for something — different — and don’t have any desire to work hard, take your basic potato pancake recipe and mess around with it.

I just shredded a couple of peeled sweet potatoes (yams), added an egg, two tablespoons of coconut flour, two tablespoons of coconut oil, a teaspoon of baking powder and baking soda — little pinch of salt… and voila! Pancakes.  I add a little brown sugar if we’re having a breakfasty meal and garlic and onion if we’re looking for a more savory dish.

To riff on this one — use a different kind of flour — try a different oil. If you are gluten free — try sorghum or almond flour. Yum! If you aren’t — regular flour or wheat flour is delicious.

When it comes to toppings, I go with whatever I’ve got in the fridge:

– sour cream with a little honey stirred in

– cream cheese

– butter

– fig jam

And if you decide to serve this for dinner, you can sauté some kale with garlic and serve it on the side.