No-Fuss Turkey Gravy

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: No-Fuss Turkey Gravy! So today’s post is one that will either have you running out to the store or shopping online. I’m honestly asking myself why I waited so long. My son introduced me to the secret of having incredibly lump-free gravy. He gifted me with a fat separator which takes all the effort out of skimming the fat from the top of the pan drippings. Just in time for the upcoming holidays, too. This gadget is amazing. It looks like a regular measuring cup with the exception of a spout stopper and strainer. Here’s how it works: make sure the rubber stopper is in the spout. Pour the pan drippings into the cup through the strainer. Allow the drippings to “rest” and separate. The stopper actually prevents fat from flowing into the spout. Remove the stopper and slowly pour the clear broth into a pan. Then discard the fat. You may have to repeat the process if you are making gravy for a crowd. It works like magic.

NO-FUSS TURKEY GRAVY

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup water

3-4 cups turkey broth, separated

Parsley flakes

Instructions:

Transfer meat drippings from the roaster pan to a sauté pan on the stove over medium heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in water to create a slurry. Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the pan, blending with a wire whisk. Continue to stir as the gravy begins to thicken. At this time, gradually add the strained turkey broth. Alternate stirring and adding liquid until you get the consistency you want. While the gravy is simmering, it will begin to evaporate, making it thicker. If need be, you can add water to thin it down. (My mother taught me to use the potato water I used to boil the mashed potatoes. It adds flavor.) Before serving, sprinkle parsley over top.

Fifteen-Bean Ham Bone Stew

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Fifteen-Bean Ham Bone Stew! This time of year the nights are chilly and the days can still be warm. A slow-cooker makes preparing a satisfying meal pretty simple. Throw everything together and let it “stew” for awhile. Nowadays you can get an assortment of 15 beans ranging from pinto, garbanzo, and northern to split pea, navy, and lentil in the same package. Add that ham bone you stored in the freezer during the holidays and you’re on your way. By adding sweet onion, diced tomatoes, and bay leaves, you’ll make this a classic favorite every time.

FIFTEEN-BEAN HAM BONE STEW

Ingredients:

20-ounce package of 15 Bean Soup assortment

1 pound ham bone with ham chunks

32 ounces vegetable broth

32 ounces water

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

4-5 bay leaves

14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Rinse beans. Place in a large pot filled with 8 cups of water. Allow beans to soak overnight. After soaking, drain water. Transfer beans to a slow-cooker. Add ham bone with meat. Cover with vegetable broth and water. Add chopped onion, chili powder, garlic powder, and bay leaves. Cook on High setting for 5 hours (or Low setting for 7-8 hours) or until beans are tender. Remove the ham bone. Let the excess meat fall off into the stew or cut it off the bone and put the meat chunks back into the crockpot. Stir in diced tomatoes, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Cook 30 minutes longer on Low setting. Before serving, remove bay leaves. Serve with crusty bread.

Turmeric Chicken Curry

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Turmeric Chicken Curry! For those who dabble in traditional ethnic dishes, turmeric is a well-known spice that typically gives food a rich golden yellow hue. Although turmeric has a slightly bitter taste, curry powder combines it with cumin and chili powder to catapult the flavor from mild to very spicy. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way when adding flavor and color. I find turmeric mildly aromatic with a slight scent of ginger, which is appealing when added to chicken. Also, it can jazz up boring white rice by making an ordinary dish look a bit fancy.

TURMERIC CHICKEN CURRY

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken

1 onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup crushed tomatoes

4 teaspoons turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken to brown, turning once. Add onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Sauté for 5 minutes until onions are soft and fragrant. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, turmeric, cloves, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Haricot Vert

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Haricot Vert! From the French countryside to your spacious farm table, this international string bean (haricot vert) is an all-time favorite side dish that is worth the effort. The first savory bite will have you craving for a second one. Watch this specialty disappear.

HARICOT VERT

Ingredients:

1 pound green beans, fresh

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons pimento, diced

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Snap the ends of the green beans. Discard. In a medium skillet over low heat, combine butter and olive oil. Increase the heat to medium setting. Add garlic and onions. Cook one minute. Add green beans and cook one minute longer until they turn bright green. Immediately add chicken broth, pimento, seasoned salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Leave the lid cracked to allow steam to escape. Cook for 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. The beans should be soft, yet slightly crisp. Bon Appétit!

Gruyère Onion Soup

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Gruyère Onion Soup! Everyone, sooner or later, falls in love with French Onion Soup, in my opinion. After all, who can resist the savory taste of caramelized onions, buttered croutons, and gooey melted cheese smothered in a beef broth that’s been splashed with a well-aged cognac? I wish I could tell you it’s as easy to make as opening a can of soup, but it isn’t. Don’t hate me. Let’s just say this…..if you are looking for an evening of mystery, romance, and excitement, then read on. This “soup de jour” may be the love potion that’ll woo the night away. Bon Appetît!

GRUYÈRE ONION SOUP

Ingredients:

3 Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 cup white wine

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

10 ounces beef consommé

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

4 ounces Montamoré cheese, crumbled

Splash of cognac

4 slices baguette, toasted

4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

4 slices Gruyère cheese

Parsley flakes to garnish

Instructions:

In a shallow bowl, microwave sliced onions on HIGH for 2 minutes. In a large skillet, melt butter on low setting. Do not scorch. Layer onions over butter. Sprinkle with sea salt and Herbs de Provence. Cover and do not stir for 10 minutes. Remove lid and stir occasionally until onions are dark in color, another 10 minutes. Turn heat to High and add white wine and honey. Cook until wine is reduced and consistency is thick. Reduce heat to Simmer. Add apple cider vinegar, beef consommé, low-sodium chicken broth, and worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Ladle soup into four oven-proof crocks placed on a heavy baking sheet. Add Montamoré crumbled cheese. Top with a splash of cognac. Place a toasted baguette slice on top of soup. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Lay one slice of Gruyère cheese over each bowl, with corners slightly overlapping sides. Broil on High for 2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden. Remove carefully! Garnish with parsley flakes and serve immediately.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Zuppa Toscana! The secret to great Italian soups can be found as near as your local Italian restaurant. However if you want to save a little money, now you can create a mouth-watering meal at home in your very own kitchen. Don’t believe me, check your pantry. With basic ingredients plus Italian herbs, you can get outstanding results. Pick up bakery fresh breadsticks or focaccia bread for a hearty meal. Buon Appetito!

ZUPPA TOSCANA

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian sausage, ground

1 sweet onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 potatoes, washed with peel on and cut into chunks

14-ounce can chicken broth

1 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons flour

1 cup heavy cream

2 ounces diced pimentos

2 cups kale, gently torn

4 strips of thick-sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium heat, brown Italian sausage until fully cooked and crumbled. Add onion, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir and continue cooking until onions are soft. Reduce heat to keep warm. In a 2-quart pan, add potato chunks, chicken broth, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Blend flour with enough water to make a paste. Slowly add flour mixture to potatoes, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add sausage mixture. Stir to combine. Simmer 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add heavy cream, diced pimentos, torn kale, and crumbled bacon. Heat through. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve with breadsticks or focaccia bread.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter T

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Tortellini Soup! No matter the weather, a classic Italian soup is always a good idea. Make it a budget-friendly weeknight meal with all the flavor of a Tuscan countryside, without the cost of an airline ticket. Common ingredients like garden veggies, rich plum tomatoes, sweet aromatic herbs and zesty spices blend together to enhance the dish. I love the mushroom-stuffed tortellini pasta. It’s curly ring-shape is very gourmet. When it all comes together at the table, you’ll think you created a masterpiece. Well done!

TORTELLINI SOUP

Ingredients:

1 pound chorizo sausage, ground

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1/3 cup green pepper, diced

28-ounce can Roma tomatoes, crushed

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

14 ounces vegetable broth

8.8 ounce package porcini mushroom tortellini

1 cup fresh spinach leaves, torn

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

Brown chorizo sausage until fully cooked. Meat will be crumbly. Drain well. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine olive oil, chopped onions, and diced green peppers. Cook until soft. Add crumbled chorizo. Stir. Add Roma tomatoes, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, basil, and marjoram. Stir well to mix ingredients. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Gently fold in tortellini and spinach. Cover and simmer 10 minutes longer until tortellini is tender. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese. Serve with crostini.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter S

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Sensational Stuffing Balls! Two words: OMG, YUM! Seriously, this is the answer to a prayer when asked, “What is a good side dish to serve with meat?” Personally, I like the make-ahead option of having a bag of Stuffing Balls on hand in the freezer. I guess you could even serve them as an appetizer for your next gathering. They’re that tasty. As usual, you can opt out of the shortcut version provided here and make your own stuffing with 5 cups of cubed cornbread, wheat bread, or day-old white bread crumbs. You decide. Go crazy with garden herbs, diced apples, or skip the meat completely. I chose golf ball-size over baseball-size, but that’s totally up to you. After all, you’re the one who will reap the accolades.

SENSATIONAL STUFFING BALLS

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 egg, well beaten

1/4 cup chicken broth

12.5 ounce can cooked chicken breast, drained and flaked

6-ounce box chicken stuffing mix

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with foil that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Do not scorch. Add chopped onion and celery. Sauté until soft. Add chopped parsley, black pepper, sea salt, poultry seasoning, beaten egg, chicken broth, flaked chicken, and dry stuffing mix. Stir well to combine. Shape into golf ball-size portions. Place stuffing balls on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until set.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter N

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Normandy Vegetable Soup! Take a stroll down a country lane where small-scale growers of local gardens nourish a family farm with adventurous dishes. Simple vegetable consumption combined with milk, butter, and cheese appeals to the taste buds. Perhaps it’s a throwback to our childhood where nothing went to waste. Or maybe it’s the fact that classic veggies are always a good idea. Normandy Vegetable Soup. Put a twist on your next meal-in-a-bowl.

NORMANDY VEGETABLE SOUP

Ingredients:

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups light cream

2 cups chicken broth

16-ounce bag Normandy vegetables, thawed*

4-6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add chopped sweet onion, herbs de Provence, and olive oil. Sauté 5 minutes or until soft. Set aside. In a 2-quart pan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Do not scorch. Add flour, sea salt, and pepper. Stir for 2-3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly add light cream, stirring often to remove lumps. Bring to a slow boil. Carefully add chicken broth, onions, Normandy vegetables. Bring mixture back to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in sharp cheddar cheese until cheese is melted. Ladle into bowls. Serve hot.

*Normandy vegetables are broccoli and cauliflower florets, sliced carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash. Some varieties include a few red pepper bits, green beans, and lima beans.