Hot and Healthy Turkey Vegetable Soup

All it took was some leftover turkey from Thanksgiving and about an hour of time for the inspiration of this amazing turkey soup. It's sweetly simple to make, loaded with flavor, perfect for lunch or a light dinner, serves four generously.

Here's how:


1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped (generous 1/2 c.)
3 medium stalks celery with leaves, chopped (generous 1/2 c.)
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 lb. carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
Approx. 1-2 cups turkey, cut into 1" pieces
Two turkey wings
Bouquet garni made of three sprigs each of fresh parsley, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary
1 can chicken broth
6 c. water
2 cubes chicken boullion
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1. Sauté onion, garlic, celery and carrots in butter and oil until wilted and soft, but not browned.
2. Add turkey, chicken broth, water and cubes of boullion. Bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Add turkey wings. Skim fat and other residue as soup simmers.
4. Lower heat, simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
5. Serve alone or with hot bread and a salad.

Time to get ready for Thanksgiving!

It's never too early to start planning your Thanksgiving meal.  As always, the turkey -- roasted to a golden brown and stuffed with savory bread and sausage stuffing -- will be the centerpiece of your dinner table.

Next, the all-time, most-requested favorite on our table is our Southern sweet potato and pecan casserole. Both crunchy and smooth, sweet and savory, this casserole can be prepped two days in advance and cooked up in 45 minutes on Thanksgiving Day. Recipes below.

Here's a suggested table setting, with mini pumpkins and Granny Smith apples for color:
May you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day, filled with good things, loving family and faithful friends.

Grandma's Turkey Stuffing
(For 18 lb. bird)

1 package seasoned bread crumbs for turkey stuffing (Arnold)
1 stick butter
1 to 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 lb. good quality Italian sausage, out of casing
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmegianno Reggiano cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 eggs, slightly beaten with fork
Onion and garlic salt -- approx 1/8 tsp each
1 cup white raisins (optional)

1. Sauté sausage until cooked, about 10 minutes. Drain fat from pan. Set aside.
2. In large deep sauté pan, melt butter and broth. When butter is completely melted, add breadcrumbs, stir to combine until all liquid has been absorbed.
3. Pour breadcrumb mixture into a large deep mixing bowl.
4. Add seasonings, cheese, eggs and spices, mix well to combine.
5. Add sausage. Combine.

Stuff bird, reserving any extra stuffing for casserole to bake separately @ 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Southern Sweet Potato & Pecan Casserole
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

For casserole:
6 cups cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs, beaten with fork
For topping:
2 cups flaked coconut
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups chopped pecans

Roast sweet potatoes for 40-60 minutes, or until soft. Cool, remove skin, and mash in a large bowl. Combine sweets with next five ingredients. Mix well. Spoon into a lightly-greased 13" x 9" casserole (or oval casserole of similar size).

Reduce oven temperature to 375F degrees.

Combine remaining ingredients, and sprinkle over the top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake @ 375F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Yields 12+ servings.

Step-by-Step Guide to The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Roasting a turkey always looms as a daunting job. But it needn't be, if you plan ahead. Below we outline our fail-safe method for roasting a moist and flavorful turkey. Note: We always buy a fresh turkey. Never frozen.

Size Guidelines. 

For 4-6 servings, buy a 10-12 lb turkey.
For 8-10 servings, buy a 12-16 lb turkey.
For 12-16 servings, buy a 16-22 lb turkey.

Always get a turkey large enough for leftovers!

Stuffed or Unstuffed?

Note: NEVER stuff your turkey the night before. You will risk infecting the turkey (and your guests) with dangerous bacteria. ALWAYS stuff the day you are roasting the bird, even if that means getting up a tad early.

In general, turkeys take about 20 mins per pound. Stuffed turkeys always take longer to roast. Add 1/2 hour to roasting time for a stuffed bird. (I.e., if an unstuffed 12 lb bird takes 3-1/2 hours, a stuffed one will take 4 hours.)

The best way to know if your turkey is done: The turkey should register 165F on a good meat thermometer. Test all over the bird -- the thickest part of the breasts, the innermost section of the thighs, and the wings, between the breast and the wing bone.

After the bird is taken out of the oven, let it rest at least 1/2 hour to let the juices come back into the bird. Otherwise, the juices will flow out of the bird as you cut it and render a very dry bird. If you stuffed the turkey, remove the stuffing from the cavity, put it into a heated casserole, cover and set aside.

(Note: For a fabulous stuffing recipe, see our "Grandma's Turkey Stuffing" post.)

Making the Most Flavor!
Use a roasting pan large enough to hold the turkey with room on the sides. Instead of using a plain roasting rack, make a bed of veggies to cradle your bird.

We use:
4-5 stalks of celery with leaves
4-5 large carrots, peeled and left whole
3 onions, sliced in 1/3 pieces
3 cloves garlic, whole
Fresh parsley sprigs
Fresh thyme sprigs

Place the veggies on the bottom of your roasting pan. Season well with salt and pepper, and a few pats of butter. Make a bed approximately 1" thick.

Now carefully place the turkey on top of the veggies. Season the outside of the bird well with salt and pepper (we use garlic salt for an extra kick), and top with several pats of butter.

Roast for 1/2 hour at 450F, basting halfway through and again after 1/2 hour.  Lower the heat to 350F, and roast, basting often with the juices that are dripping off the bird.  If needed, add more butter. If the skin is getting burned, cover with foil, especially the legs.

Carving Your Turkey

This is not difficult, but it takes a little patience. And sharp knives! If you're able, have your knives professionally sharpened in advance of roasting your turkey.

First, remove the legs by inserting a your carving knife between the breast and the leg and twisting gently. The legs should come loose and detach from the bird easily. Place on your serving platter.

Next, carving from the top of the bird downward, cut off the breast on each side of the turkey. Set aside. Then go to the wings and thighs.

Here's the best video we've found on carving a turkey, and this is exactly how we do it:

Making the Creamiest Gravy!
When you are finished carving, set the turkey aside on a warm platter and make your gravy.

1. Remove the veggies from the bottom of the roasting pan.
2. Separate the fat from the drippings using a fat separator. (OXO Good Grips makes an excellent separator.) Return the drippings to the roasting pan.
3. Over low heat, deglaze the roasting pan using 2 cups chicken stock and 1/2 cup dry white wine. Scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. (That's where all the flavor is!)
4. Make a slurry using approximately 1/2 cup of the pan juices and 1/4 c flour.  Add back into the roasting pan and mix.
5. Stir all thoroughly, add approx. 2-3 tbsp Gravy Master to the pan. Mix well, and transfer all to a saucepan.
6. Put saucepan on low and let the gravy thicken to your desired consistency.

(Also see our "Easy Turkey Gravy" post.)

You're Ready to Serve!

Place your platter of turkey, casserole of stuffing and any other sides you've prepared (suggestions: our Southern Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole, sautéed green beans with garlic and butter, and creamy mashed potatoes), and the piping hot turkey gravy in a gravy boat.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Party Pumpkin Squares

A pumpkin for your thoughts! Pumpkin is such a wonderful food, so loaded with health benefits, and available throughout the year, that it's a wonder we don't eat it more.  Now, during this season of pumpkin pies, pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin casseroles, I pulled out an old favorite of mine from many years ago and decided to give it a few new twists by adding ground cloves and allspice.  The result was "Pumpkin Party Squares," great for a buffet dessert because, like brownies, they need no forks or spoons to eat them .... unless, of course, you put a dollop of freshly-whipped heavy cream on them, as I did, or vanilla ice cream.  The result is a sumptuous dessert and is a real treat on a cold October or November night. A great gift for your Thanksgiving hostess, too!


For the crust:

1 package store-bought pound cake mix
1 egg, slightly beaten with fork
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
2 tbsp. melted butter

For the topping:

8 oz. container of whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten with fork
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin pie filling
1/3 to 1/2 cup of walnuts, or as desired


(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

(2) Mix crust ingredients in bowl and press into a lightly greased and floured 13" x 9" baking pan. Mixture will be crumbly but firm.

(3) Whip the cream cheese, eggs, condensed milk and pumpkin pie filling in a large bowl with an electric mixer or wire whisk until well blended.

(4) Add dry ingredients -- pumpkin pie spice, salt, cinnamon -- and stir to combine.

(5) Pour filling on top of crust. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Bake 45 minutes until set.

Cool, cut into squares, and serve with ice cream or whipped cream, or just as they are!

Italian Plum Cake - A Wonderful Late Summer Pastry

We've been enjoying this lovely European recipe for decades, which is best only at the end of the summer, when Italian plums are in season. Recently, we were delighted to learn that plum cake is a dessert widely eaten on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Seems all ethnicities do come together at the table. (Props to Barrie Rubinstein for this sweet culinary info.)

It's simple, light and airy. The plums are tart, the sugar is sweet. And dusted cloves and cinnamon on top of the cake will fill your house with an irresistible autumn aroma. Enjoy with ice cream, more dusted confectioner's sugar, or plain with a cup of tea.


3 lbs. ripe Italian plums, pitted and quartered
1/4 lb. butter
3 eggs, separated
1-1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1-1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Ground cinnamon for dusting
Gound clovves for dusting
Granulated or sanding sugar for dusting


1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
2. Butter and flour a half cookie sheet.
3. Pit and quarter the plums and set aside.
4. Cream butter, 3 egg yolks and sugar with hand mixer.

5. Mix in baking powder and flour.
6. Beat 3 egg whites and gently fold into batter.
7. Spread on prepared cookie sheet.
8. Place plums on top of sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon, ground cloves and sanding/granulated sugar.

9. Bake for 30 minutes in 350F oven.

Finished, baked and ready to serve!


Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers

Not for the faint of heart or appetite, our blue cheese stuffed burgers, topped with caramelized red onion and sautéed cremini mushrooms, are a hearty dinner for Dads on their special day, and anyone else who loves burgers!  The magic of this meal is the complexity of flavors created by use of spices and herbs. It's easy! Here's how we did it:


1 lb ground beef
1/3 c seasoned breadcrumbs
4 T crumbled blue cheese
Salt & pepper
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 red onion, sliced very thinly
Butter and extra virgin olive oil for sautéeing
Pinch granulated sugar for caramelizing
Whole wheat hamburger rolls (optional)
Vine ripened or heirloom red tomato (optional)
Dry white wine for deglazing
Pinch each of oregano and thyme for seasoning
Onion and garlic salt for seasoning

1. Mix breadcrumbs into beef. Divide into four sections.
2. Add 1 T of blue cheese into center of each patty, fold over and seal.

3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano. Set aside.

4. Heat sauté pan with 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil. Thinly slice red onion, and add to hot sauté pan. Sauté until limp, then deglaze with white wine. When wine has evaporated, lower heat, and allow to sauté gently until brown and caramelized.

5. In another sauté pan, heat 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil. Add chopped creminis, and sauté until until soft (about 7 minutes). DO NOT ADD SALT OR PEPPER until cooking is complete. It will rob the mushrooms of their natural flavor. When mushrooms are done, sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Set aside.

6. In third sauté pan, heat 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil and add burgers to hot pan. Sprinkle with more salt, oregano, onion salt and garlic salt. AlsSear 6 mins on one side, flip and another 5-6 minutes on the other side.

7. Serve on toasted whole wheat buns. Note: Adding tomato slices on bottom of bun will absorb juices of burger and "cook" the tomato. Absolutely delicious!

Serve with a green salad and watch them disappear!

Low-carb, almost no sugar

Our recipe for dry roasted ribs is a delicious alternative to slathering sugary, high-calorie, carb-laden sauce. Containing almost no sugar, all you need is an oven set at 300F for four hours, a little water, and the delicious ingredients that are listed below. We serve them with our Poblano Cornbread. This rub works equally well with chicken, just turn up the heat to 375F after 3 hours and roast for another 30 minutes, until brown and crispy.

Preheat oven to 300F


2-4 lb. rack of ribs
1 T high-quality smoky paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 T cumin, or more if desired
1 T ground chili seasoning, or more if desired
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion salt
Generous grind 5 pepper medley (Williams Sonoma)
2 T dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt or fleur-de-sel (Williams Sonoma)

Take ribs out of refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (about 20 minutes).

Mix spices well in bowl, rub generously into both sides of a rack of ribs. Place ribs on a sheet pan that has been fitted with alum foil to catch drippings and place ribs on a wire rack over pan with 1/4 c water beneath rack. Roast in oven 4 hours, turning every 20-30 minutes, replenishing with 1/4 c water as needed.

Here's what they will look like when they are ready. Carve and enjoy!