Day-After Thanksgiving Turkey Soup

Thanksgiving is over, but for those who hosted a holiday meal, there’s the dilemma about what to do with leftovers. If you come from a big family, you’re lucky. You can send some home with them.

turkeysoupEven if that’s the case, there still is the turkey carcass. However, most cooks will tell you that’s no problem. Just make some turkey soup.

That’s what I did today. It was quick and easy, especially since I had some raw sliced carrots and some cooked green beans left over from Thursday’s feast. And frozen peas that we always have on hand cut are an easy addition.

The soup, which was on the table in less than two hours, and is very delicious as well as nutritious.

Day-After Thanksgiving Turkey Soup
1 turkey carcass
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup green beans
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup carrots, sliced
10 cups water
1 cup pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Place turkey carcass in water with onion and celery. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove carcass and let cool. Add vegetables and pasta to pot. Take meat off turkey bones and return to pot. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Serve with crackers.

Pheasant Vegetable Soup

A good cook knows how to make use of what’s on hand. And if he or she has a fertile imagination, the possibilities are endless. That’s especially true when making soup.

soupphezThat’s the situation I found myself in after returning from a pheasant hunting trip a couple of days ago. No only did I have some nice pheasants — actually it was the meat from the backbones of about a dozen birds — the last of my garden beans, some tomatoes that had been ripening after they were picked about a week ago and some freshly dug carrots made my endeavor quite easy.

I decided on a little pearled barley as well as some egg noodles to thicken the soup. The result was a little more than 2 quarts of soup, which will make a nice lunch for three or four days.

Pheasant Vegetable Soup
2 cups cooked pheasant, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
2 cups green beans
½ cup pearled barley
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 tomatoes, skins removed or 1 14½-ounce can
4 cups chicken or pheasant broth
1 cup egg noodles
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in stock pot and cook until vegetables are done
Note: I cooked the backbones in a pot of water, using the broth and the meat for the soup. You also could use chicken and canned broth.

Pad Thai

There is no shortage of Oriental eateries these days, as people’s appetite for food from that part of the world seems to be growing as fast as the globe’s population.

stirfryAnd for that matter, a lot of cooks have taken up woks and added that genre of cooking to their culinary repertoire. In a lot of households, chopsticks are as common as knives and forks.

That’s the way it is in our house. We often have stir-fry, relying on fresh garden veggies during the summer and a greater selection of produce at supermarkets during the winter months.

One of our favorite dishes is Pad Thai, which until a year or so ago, we had to go out to one of our favorite restaurants to find. Now, Therese has a wonderful take on the entree, which I would put up against that of any eating establishment.

Pad Thai
4 to 6 ounces chicken, seafood or tofu
1 bell pepper, cut into slices
1 zucchini, sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 teaspoons of Maesri Pad Thai sauce (without peanuts)
1 heaping tablespoon of Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 package Thai brand stir-fry rice noodles
3 slices bacon, chopped
½ cup peanuts, chopped
Lime wedges
Precook small pieces of meat, chicken, tofu or seafood and set aside. Stir-fry the vegetables with bacon. Don’t overcook. (Don’t use broccoli or cauliflower.)
Add the Pad Thai, Hoisin and soy sauces along with the vinegar to the cooked vegetables. Add the cooked rice noodles to the pan and stir until they are mixed in and coated with sauce. Serve with chopped peanuts and lime wedges.



Steak and Vegetable Layered Casserole

Layered casseroles stack up with the best entrees around. They’re easy to prepare, can be frozen for later use and generally are liked by everyone.

bestelk1Years ago, I had a recipe for a layered casserole that contained tomato soup, vegetables like green beans, potatoes and carrots along with round steak. Much to my dismay, I’ve never been able to find the recipe in my collection or online.

So, the other night, being overcome with a craving for the casserole, I decided to wing it. And the result was mouth-watering. I used some nice elk tenderloins instead of round steak and tomato sauce instead of soup.

Steak and Vegetable Layered Casserole
1 to 2 pounds round steak
2 onions, sliced thinly
3 carrots, sliced thinly
4 small potatoes, sliced thinly
1 14½-ounce can green beans
2 6-ounce cans tomato sauce or 1 10¾-ounce can tomato soup
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon steak seasoning (optional)
¼ cup red wine
Divide vegetables and put half of them on the bottom of a Dutch oven. Add the steak and top with the remaining vegetables. Add the wine, tomato sauce or soup and liquid from beans. Bake for 2 to 2½ hours in oven preheated to 350 degrees. Serve with crusty bread.

French Onion Soup

People who fancy themselves as soup aficionados will say any day is a good one to make soup. And if it happens to be a cold winter day, all the better.

frenchonionsoupI’m one of those who just loves soup, especially homemade. That’s why it’s no surprise to those who know me know that there’s always a pot of soup on the burner or a couple of quarts of it in the refrigerator.

This past week, I made some French onion soup. Not only did I have a hankering for the soup, but a dozen or so of my home-grown onions were beginning to sprout in the three mesh bags that we have in our basement cold room.

I used the wonderful recipe given to me by an old friend, Darrel Koehler. He calls it French-Finn Onion Soup, but other than his heritage (he’s half Finnish), I can’t see any other reason for the moniker. The soup contains basically the same ingredients as most other recipes I’ve seen with the exception of a splash or two of Tabasco sauce.

The result was nothing short of fantastic, especially on a cold February day when the temperature barely climbed about the zero mark.

French Onion Soup
6 or 7 large onions (sweet Spanish or yellow globe), sliced
½ stick butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cans beef broth
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, saute the onions over medium heat until translucent. Don’t brown. Salt and pepper lightly. Sprinkle sugar over the onions in the last stages of sauting. Next, add the beef broth and stir well. Add a few more sprinkles of pepper and several drops of Tabasco sauce, bay leaf, garlic and dried parsley. Simmer for two to three hours on low. Taste before the last hour to adjust seasonings.
To serve, cut French bread into 2-inch chunks and toast in the oven. Place toasted bread in soup, cover with grated cheese such as mozzarella. Place under broiler to melt cheese and then serve.

Shrimp Gumbo

You don’t have to be in Louisiana to enjoy a good shrimp gumbo, especially if you grow onions, green peppers and okra in your garden.

7-gumboThat’s just what we had the other night after I made a trip to both of my gardens and gathered  a nice green bell, some carrots and tomatoes, a few onions and a couple of handfuls of okra.

Just about every gardener in this neck of the wood has all of the aforementioned vegetables in their garden with maybe the exception of okra. Many probably haven’t even sampled that staple of Cajun-Creole cooking much less grown the slender green pods.

I started growing okra a couple of years ago and have found it to be a nice addition to my garden. Not only do I use it in gumbos, it’s great in jambalaya (another New Orleans delicacy) and some stir-fries.

The recipe that follows called for chicken, but I substituted some nice shrimp and white rice instead of brown rice, and the result was fantastic.

Shrimp Gumbo
3 pounds shrimp
3 cups chicken broth
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup brown rice
¼ cup chopped parsley
10 ounces frozen sliced okra
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
1½ cups frozen corn kernels
1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes
Place all of the ingredients in the broth except the shrimp. Cover and simmer until rice is cooked and vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Then add the shrimp. (If desired, thicken broth with a smooth paste made from 3 tablespoons cold water mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour. Serve with hot cornbread.

Skillet Pork Chops with Green Beans and Red Potatoes

One-dish dinners are great for the busy cook. In fact, they’re often the only way to go for those households where both parents work. But you don’t have to fall into that category to enjoy the simplicity of such a meal.

b3c1cc2c-7175-442a-a02a-b317b93e046bThe following is a great option for everyone: stay-at-home moms; single moms or dads who work but also double as chauffeur for their on-the-go kids; retirees such as myself who keep busy with gardening, coaching and the like; and yes, those families where both parents work.

And as with other one-pot meals, cleanup is minimal.

Skillet Pork Chops with Green Beans and Red Potatoes
4 pork chops
1 10¾-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 small onion, diced
4 red potatoes, sliced
1 14½-ounce can green beans, liquid reserved
½ cup fat-free sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute chops with onion in cast-iron skillet in olive oil until browned. Arrange chops (with sauteed onions) in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Layer potatoes and beans on top of chops. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a medium bowl combine soup, sour creams, Worcestershire sauce and half of reserved liquid. Pour mixture over chops and potatoes. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Uncover and add remaining reserved liquid. Bake 30 minutes and serve.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: Chop can be cut into smaller pieces before baking.

Pheasant or Chicken Wraps

Vegetables go great with wild game, which has a more pronounced flavor than its domestic counterpart. Veggies can complement the meat without concealing its taste, which hasn’t been modified by centuries of breeding as is the case with barnyard animals.

BBQ3000ChickenWrapsI’m a big fan of combining vegetables with wild game, which is the topic of one of my sessions at this weekend’s Gardening Saturday event at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

Most recently, I’ve combined peppers and onions with some leftover baked pheasant breast (warmed in the microwave), all wrapped up in a flour tortilla and topped with a buffalo-style sauce.

Here’s another recipe that combines vegetables and game in a wrap style, courtesty of Penzeys, the spice people. It’s quick and tasty-perfect for a light lunch or for tomorrow’s lunch with grilled chicken leftover from today’s dinner.

BBQ 3000 Pheasant or Chicken Wraps
2 whole chicken breasts (4 breast pieces, boneless/skinless)
2 red bell peppers
1 orange or yellow bell pepper
1 small red onion
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons BBQ 3000 or barbecue spice
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 soft tortilla wraps
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 to 1 teaspoon BBQ 3000
Rinse chicken, pat dry. Cut onion in rings, quarter bell peppers. Brush chicken and veggies with oil and then sprinkle with BBQ 3000. Grill over medium heat, 4 to 6 minutes per side. The vegetables need to be off the direct heat so they don’t burn, for about the same amount of time. Remove from grill, let cool. Shred lettuce and warm tortilla shells if desired (5 minutes at 350 degrees wrapped in a kitchen towel works well). Whisk together sour cream, ketchup and BBQ 3000. Slice chicken and bell pepper, dice onion. Spoon about a tablespoon of sauce down the middle of each shell, layer with chicken, peppers, onion and lettuce, wrap and serve. A little dab of sauce is quite useful to help the shell stay shut if you are placing the wraps on a platter.
Yield: 12 wraps.