Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are always hectic trying to get a real meal on the table for me.  We have so many goodies and snacks that it’s easy to forget to eat well.  Then you add all the baking that’s done for friends and neighbors and at the end of the day I just don’t want to cook.  Mel’s Kitchen Café offers up this soup as the perfect solution – it pulls together so fast and if you’re like me and have a lot of leftover turkey lying around in the freezer this would be the perfect place to use it up. 

If you like things a little spicier, adjust the red pepper flakes to suit your tastes.  The 1/4 teaspoon was perfect for us since the kids still haven’t adopted my love of spicy foods.  It added plenty of flavor without much heat.

I tweaked this recipe slightly by pureeing the onions, peppers and tomatoes before adding them to the pot.  My kids aren’t very picky eaters but these three things are triggers with them for some reason.  Pureeing the vegetables first, led to zero questions about the ingredients in their dishes!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 can (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, un-drained
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (or use about 3-4 cups of shredded, cooked chicken)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/- inch pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. In a food processor or blender, puree the onions, pepper and tomatoes until smooth.
  2. In a large pot heat oil over medium heat and add the pureed vegetables. Add celery, and garlic. Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the diced vegetables are tender.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (don’t add the cooked chicken, if using, you’ll add it near the end), stir well, and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for about 40-45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through.
  4. If using cooked chicken, stir it in at this point and let it heat through. Discard bay leaves and serve.

Fresh-Lime Turkey Chili

Lime Turkey ChiligThis chili adapted from the recipe at  Pink Parsley, is the perfect way to start cooking for the cooler season that has finally made it’s way here in South Texas.  With a fresh hint of lime, this still plays at flavors of summer but the hearty, meaty chili definitely says fall!  I shredded cheese on top and served with a big helping of corn bread.

Be sure to give yourself enough time to prepare this recipe; it takes about 30 minutes to prepare and two to three hours to cook.

Ingredients

  • 1 slice sandwich bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more for serving

Options for serving:

  • fresh cilantro
  • Pepper Jack cheese
  • sliced avocados

Directions

1.  Mash the bread and milk into a paste in a large bowl using a fork.  Mix in the ground turkey.

2.  Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno, and cook until they are softened, 5-7 minutes.  Add the chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook an additional 3-5 minutes.

3.  Stir in the turkey and cook, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato sauce, scraping up any browned bits. 

4.  Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, beans, 3 tablespoons of water, soy sauce and honey.  Cover and cook on low 2-3 hours.

5. Stir in the lime zest, lime juice, and (optional) cilantro.

Jerk Turkey Chili

Jerk Turkey Chili

When I found this recipe for jerked chicken at Smells Like Home I knew I wanted to try it out with the turkey breasts I had leftover from Thanksgiving.  I wasn’t even sure what jerked meat was, but it sounded too good not to try and I couldn’t pass up having access to another chili recipe.  Not only did it cook up quick, but the ingredients were inexpensive and easy to find.  Except one.  Pickled jalapenos.  Seriously?  I’ve never heard of them and I didn’t see them in the grocery store so I improvised and bought a single, lonely, jalapeno which worked out great in the recipe.  I only used half which, turned out to have enough flavor of the spiciness, but no actual heat on the tongue.  Add the entire thing if you like it hot, like me, minus the kids! 

As a side note, the original recipe called for a rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded (about six cups worth).  As fabulous as that must be, saying Jerk Turkey is just kind of fun.

Ok, as much as I dislike rambling on and on before I get to the actual recipe I felt very strongly that I had to tell you a secret that I kept from the kids.  I put the onion, bell pepper and diced tomatoes in the food processor before cooking.  Why?  Because they like to think they don’t like these things when they’ve been cooked and I get tired of the “what’s this?” face.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large turkey breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes (I bought the no salt added)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, un-drained (reduced sodium please)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) great northern white beans, un-drained
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon cornmeal or 3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water (optional for thickening)

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add chili powder, thyme, cinnamon, and allspice. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add chicken and stir to coat with spices. Add broth, tomatoes, beans, and jalapenos, bring to a boil, cover partially, reduce heat, and simmer to blend flavors, about 20 minutes.

5. Stir in garlic, cilantro, chocolate, and either cornmeal or cornstarch/water slurry if desired.  If you add the cornstarch slurry, bring the heat up to medium-high and allow the chili to thicken.  Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Individual Turkey Pot Pies

Turkey Pot Pies

What to do with that leftover Thanksgiving turkey?  Everyone has their favorite go to recipe (or sandwich) they make every year that probably tops the big bird, itself.  This would definitely be true about these freaking cute individual pot pies! 

A couple months ago, I watched an episode of Down Home With the Neelys where they let their daughter help make these pot pies for a sleepover with her friends and I thought what a perfect way to use up our turkey this year!  So I found it on-line, book marked it and remembered to use it the day after Thanksgiving!  I found the ramekins at Wal-Mart for $2.50ish a piece which is a lot cheaper than the four-piece, over-priced, Paula Deen set that was also available. 

The Man and I each ate one which was plenty, and one was definitely too big even for my biggest kid, which is perfect because we just topped each dish with tin foil and put it in the fridge to be rewarmed in the oven for lunch the next day.

If you’re all into saving every last bit of food that comes into your home you’d definitely want to save the turkey carcass and make turkey stock, then use it instead of chicken broth and bouillon cube.  But after carving the bird on Thanksgiving I had a hard time even putting the turkey in my mouth at dinner so I did not save the carcass to use.  But I should have.  There’s always next year.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots 
  • 1 rib celery, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cooking sherry
  • 2 Lbs. turkey OR rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 9 oz. frozen peas
  • 2 boxes 9 inch pie crusts (four crusts), room temperature for easy unrolling
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions

Preheat oven to 375*

1.  In a large saucepan heat chicken broth and bouillon cube over medium heat until hot.

2.  In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, chives and garlic, and sauté until tender.

3.  Add the flour and stir together until it becomes pasty and lump-free, about 2 minutes.

4.  Add onion mixture to the hot broth, then add heavy cream, sherry, turkey and peas. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

5.  With a ladle, fill 6 oven-proof ramekins or bowls with the filling. Place on baking sheet. Turkey Pot Pies 6.  Unroll each crust and lightly press a ramekin into the crust to make an impression.  Using a butter knife trace around the impression, slightly larger than the trace mark.  This doesn’t need to be perfect!  Place a cut-out on the top of each ramekin and pinch down, careful not to tear the crust.  If desired, use the extra crust to make designs, initials or cutouts for the tops of each pot pie.

7.  Brush with the egg wash and make 4 small slits on the top. Sprinkle with salt and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.

Turkey & Cranberry Quesadillas

Turkey & Cranberry QuesadillasSource:  Closet Cooking
Obviously there are going to be leftovers after Thanksgiving and a few weeks ago I ran across Kevin’s blog and instantly knew this recipe would be a keeper.  I had no idea just how much I’d love the mix of flavors.  My kids couldn’t get enough and the hubs?  Well, let’s just say he at three quesadillas + a quarter of my son’s who couldn’t finish it all!

The flavors meld perfectly.  Let me say it again.  Perfectly.  I even used the jalapeno like it called for and just chopped it up super fine and sprinkled sparingly on the kids’.  I’m not a huge cilantro fan but this worked so well with the cranberry and subtle flavor of turkey.  So stinking easy, this has easily made it into a yearly favorite!


Ingredients:

butter
16 flour tortillas
2 cups turkey, (cooked, shredded)
cranberry sauce (abouuuut 1/2 cup? I just used the leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner)
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 large handful cilantro, chopped
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (again, about 2 cups)

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in a pan on low-medium heat.
2. Prepare 1 tortilla by layering turkey, onions, cilantro, jalapeno, cranberry sauce and cheese (be sure to leave the cheese for last so that when you flip it in the pan, the cheese melts easily)
3.  Carefully transfer prepared tortilla to buttered pan.
4. Heat the tortilla until bottom of tortilla is a golden brown (go ahead and use a spatula to peek).
5.  Butter one side of second tortilla then place over the first in the pan, butter side up.
6.  Carefully slide the spatula under and quickly flip over (this does take some practice!!  Kevin suggested that you can also put a plate on top of the quesadilla in the pan and then flip it onto the plate and slide it from the plate back into the pan to easily flip it without losing the contents.)
7.  Heat until second (now on the bottom) tortilla is browned.
8.  Remove from heat and cut using a pizza cutter.  Serve warm
This made 9 full quesadillas, or 36 quarters.

Crock Pot Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

Crock Pot Turkey & Wild Rice Soup
The kids loved this one and I thought it was a perfect mixture of texture and taste (yes, even with the spinach)!

Ingredients
2 cups of cooked turkey
8 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup uncooked wild rice
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tsp sage
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 cups spinach leaves (from the bag works great!)
Directions
I used a 5 quart crockpot.
Pour in broth, & add cooked chopped turkey.  Chop up the vegetables (not the spinach), and add to the pot.  Dump in the wild rice, sage, and balsamic vinegar.  Stir.

Add two heaping handfuls of baby spinach to the pot. It will look like a lot, but will shrivel down nicely while cooking.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-6. 
The soup is done when the vegetables have reached desired tenderness. There is a lot of volume here; this is a good candidate for a day when you are out of the house for a long time. No need to worry about it over-cooking.
For direction on how to use a turkey carcass, visit A Year of Crock Potting