What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Red Onion Mexican Street Tacos! As promised, today’s feature recipe takes us down the road to Jalisco-style tacos. Forget about the “loaded” tortilla shells you may be familiar with, or even default to when making Mexican food at home. This handheld taco steps “outside the box”. The ingredients are fewer, yet focus on freshness. For those who appreciate it, cilantro is a star attraction. Roasted meat, shredded into small pieces, and chopped red onions with a squeeze of lime wedge create a flavor explosion that, honestly, will pull you back enough to slow down and savor every bite. Perhaps you may even chew your food 20 or 30 times before swallowing to appreciate this virtual trip to a seldom-traveled Mexican village.
RED ONION MEXICAN STREET TACOS
24-count street-size corn tortillas
1 pound seasoned shredded turkey or pork carnitas
1 red onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 limes, cut into wedges
Jalisco Pico de Gallo*
Warm shredded carnita meat in a microwave-proof covered casserole dish until steamy and heated through. Set aside. To warm street-size corn tortillas, place a dry iron skillet on the stove top over medium heat. Cook tortillas 30 seconds per side. Wrap a stack of five or six in aluminum foil to keep warm in a 200° preheated oven. When ready to assemble, place a portion of carnitas on each corn tortilla. Layer with chopped cilantro and red onions. Squeeze a lime wedge over all. Top with Jalisco Pico de Gallo.
*Follow the link for recipe.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Xtra Healthy Turkey Spaghetti! It’s true you can limit your weekly intake of meat by choosing vegetarian recipes and meatless meals. On the other hand, by making a simple substitution of turkey over beef, you’re getting a leaner, less fatty meat without sacrificing taste. But the debate continues. Some report that nowadays leaner beef choices still make beef the winner when it comes to fat, sodium, and cholesterol. To be honest, I already had baked turkey on hand, so I took advantage of it and went for something a little different. Variety, in my kitchen, is the spice of Life.
XTRA HEALTHY TURKEY SPAGHETTI
1 pound of shredded turkey, precooked
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1/3 cup onion, chopped
15-ounces prepared marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce
6 ounces angel hair pasta
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Grated parmesan cheese, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray four individual casserole pans with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add poblano pepper, green pepper, and chopped onions. Sauté until tender. Stir in the shredded turkey and marinara sauce. Turn heat off and set aside. Prepare angel hair spaghetti according to package directions. Drain thoroughly. Add cooked pasta to sauce. Stir to mix. Transfer turkey spaghetti to individual casseroles. Divide mozzarella cheese between them. Bake 20-25 minutes until cheese is golden and melted. Garnish with parmesan cheese before serving.
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
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
3-4 cups turkey broth, separated
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Juicy Roast Turkey! There’s nothing worse than dry-as-dust turkey, around the holidays. Watch your guests if they keep asking you to pass the gravy. Today I’m going to give you a few tips to keep that from happening. You can thank me when it’s your turn to host the holiday meal. Number one: Truss loosely, or not at all. The secret is to allow heat to get to all sides of the legs. Cooking the turkey until the legs are done may result in overcooking the breast meat. Number two: Don’t overcook. The timetable on the package is an estimate. Always use a meat thermometer, even if the turkey comes with a pop-up version. Always. Number three: (and this one is the hardest for me) Let the turkey “rest” before carving. I’m talking 20-30 minutes. Evidently, during the roasting process, the oven heat forces all the juices to the center of the turkey. When you allow it to “rest”, after it’s done, the juices seep back into the cavities and make the turkey moist. It’s definitely worth the wait.
JUICY ROAST TURKEY
10-15 pound turkey, thawed
1/2 cup butter
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon thyme
Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash the turkey, pat dry, and transfer to a roasting pan with a roasting rack. Stuff the turkey as desired. Otherwise, salt and pepper the inside of the cavity. In a small saucepan, warm the butter over low heat. Add the lemon juice, zest, and thyme. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. Cover the roaster with the lid. Transfer pan to oven. Bake for two hours, basting the turkey every half hour. This insures even browning of the skin. Remove lid and roast turkey an additional 1 1/2 hours, continuing to baste at half hour intervals. When the meat thermometer reads 185°, remove the turkey from the oven. Transfer it to a cutting board; cover with foil. Let it rest for half an hour. This makes carving easier and produces a juicy roast turkey.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Smoked Turkey Thyme Salad! One of my offseason luxuries is baking a turkey during the summer months. Think about it. There’s less holiday stress, plenty of time, and loads of leftover ideas. Think it’s way too much meat for the two of you? No worries. Divide the cooked turkey into gallon-size freezer bags to use as timesaving options later on. Turkey makes a refreshing substitute for most chicken or pork recipes by simply adding different herbs and spices. I’ve served turkey carnitas with chunky salsa for a Mexican fiesta, shredded turkey and hash browns with eggs for a weekend breakfast, and added garden vegetables for a farm table midday Cobb salad. Today though, in lieu of chicken salad, turkey is the star attraction for a summertime picnic.
SMOKED TURKEY THYME SALAD
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
In a large bowl, combine shredded turkey, liquid smoke, mayonnaise, sea salt, black pepper, chopped celery, and sweet pickle relish. Mix well. Gently fold in chopped hard-boiled egg and minced thyme leaves. Serve over a bed of alfalfa sprouts, or mixed greens, with seasonal fruit.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Desperado Dinner Nachos! The title says it all. I had been running all day long from this to that when I finally returned home to realize I had made no plans for supper. Going back out was not an option. So things got a little desperate. Thank goodness I had some leftover roasted turkey (chicken would work just fine) plus a half a bag of tortilla chips. The rest of the toppings were a given. So you see, sometimes making mediocre effort will suffice, especially if you make it look downright delicious!
DESPERADO DINNER NACHOS
1/2 bag corn tortilla chips
2 cups roasted turkey or rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 cups Mexican-blend cheese, shredded
1 tomato, chopped
1/3 cup pickled jalapeños, sliced
2-3 green onions, snipped
Greek yogurt or Sour cream
Preheat the oven to 400°. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. In a single layer, line the baking sheet with tortilla chips, covering every space. Sprinkle on shredded cheese, reserving a little as a final sprinkling. Arrange roasted meat over cheese layer. Top with chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, and green onion snips. Toss on the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve nachos with yogurt and salsa to taste.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Timely Turkey Tetrazzini! Now here’s a great way to turn leftover turkey into a tantalizing meal. By adding a few ingredients, a magical transformation takes place. Simply add turkey to mixed vegetables for a creamy pasta dish with a buttery breadcrumb topping. Can anyone say YUM?!
TIMELY TURKEY TETRAZZINI
8 ounces spaghetti, cooked
4 ounces can mushroom caps, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups cooked turkey, cut up
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons sherry
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup pimentos, diced
1 tablespoon diced onion
1/3 cup croutons, crushed*
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons butter, melted
*May be substituted for breadcrumbs.
Preheat oven to. 325°. Grease a 9″x13″ casserole dish. Prepare spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. Sauté mushrooms in butter. Set aside. In a large bowl combine cream of chicken soup, yogurt, sherry, sriracha sauce, celery seed, and salt. Blend well. Fold in pimentos and onion. Add sautéed mushrooms and butter. Mix in spaghetti and turkey until completely combined. Spread evenly in the casserole dish. Top with crushed croutons and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle melted butter over all. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Roasted Turkey Breast! Life just got a little easier. Instead of cooking an entire holiday bird, it is just as rewarding to roast a turkey breast. You still get the herb seasonings and butter-basted juicy portions, along with drippings for a savory pan gravy, without all the time and effort. It’s simple, economical, and carves up nicely. One more reason to serve turkey for any occasion.
ROASTED TURKEY BREAST
5-pound bone-in turkey breast, thawed
1/8 teaspoon parsley
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon rosemary
1/8 teaspoon sage
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Preheat oven to 325°. Place turkey breast side up in a roaster. Insert meat thermometer so the tip is at the thickest part of the breast meat. Brush the bird with butter. Sprinkle seasonings over all. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Do not use a lid. Every hour, baste the breast with butter or pan drippings. Turkey is done when the thermometer reads 185°, approximately 2 1/2 hours. There is no substitute for a meat thermometer for determining the doneness of a turkey, in my opinion. Remove from oven and allow it to stand for 15-20 minutes before carving. The skin will be crisp and the breast meat will be moist.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Wrapped-in-Bacon Roast Turkey! Bacon-lovers unite. With the holidays looming on the horizon, this main dish is perfect for those who turn their nose up at Mr. Turkey. By wrapping applewood smoked bacon around the outside of the bird, the inside meat stays moist and a little bit salty while the outside gets crispy. No basting required. I was able to weave the bacon strips on a sheet of waxed paper therefore making it easier to cover the turkey breast. It sounds weird, but rub a little butter on the turkey skin first. It actually helps the bacon stay in place. As it bakes, the house begins to smell amazing. You know you want it.
WRAPPED-IN-BACON ROAST TURKEY
7-8 pound turkey breast, thawed
1 pound thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, sliced
1 yellow onion, quartered
Butter for rubbing
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Place turkey breast, breast-side up, in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck the onions quarters in the cavity of the breast. Brush turkey with butter. Add one cup water to the bottom of the pan. This keeps the bacon from shrinking while creating steam for a crispier skin. Place the woven bacon onto the turkey breast by flipping the waxed paper over it. Peel back and tuck the bacon edges around the breast to cover it evenly. The butter will help move it into place. Bake 3-3 1/2 hours. If the bacon becomes too golden-brown before the turkey is fully cooked, cover it with a loose tent of aluminum foil. Turkey is done when a meat thermometer registers at least 165° in the deepest part of the breast. Remove from oven and allow the cooked breast to stand 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to settle and makes carving easier. To keep the bacon intact, cut through the bacon first before carving the breast beneath. Transfer to a platter with onions and rosemary sprigs.