Thanksgiving Soup

November 26, 2011

Bowl of soup

Thanksgiving is past and everyone is ready to move on from turkey leftovers. But the weather outside is frightful, today’s the official “putting up the Christmas tree day” at our house, and the convenience of throwing everything into a pot and calling it soup is too good to pass up. Honestly, I don’t often brag on anything I’ve cooked. In fact, in our household there’s a running joke about how, when anyone says how “delicious,” “wonderful,” or even “NOM-a-licious” something is, I always ask, “Is it good?” (in a voice that really wonders if it is any good). But this soup is REALLY good. Really. And while I was throwing stuff into the pot as I thought of it (or found it in the fridge), I did actually stop and do a search for “pumpkin in turkey soup.” That seemed a little OUT THERE but, as usual, Solomon was right; absolutely nothing new under the sun. Wondering about pumpkin in turkey soup? Read on! Just keep in mind that I was using what I had on hand, so feel free to get creative. (You can substitute with dry spices, sea salt, black pepper, etc)

fresh veggies

Thanksgiving Soup
serves 8-10

3 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 medium purple onion, diced
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, diced and smashed
2 Tbs turkey fat
3 cups turkey stock
3 cups filtered water
3 small sprigs of thyme, chopped
1 small sprig of rosemary, chopped
1 bay leaf
pinch of pink Himalayan salt
pinch of Chinese 5 Spice
1/4 cup sourdough noodles, broken up (homemade)
1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin
3 cups turkey, largely diced
1 cup turkey in gravy (from leftover hot turkey sandwiches)

Melt turkey fat (or butter, ghee, olive oil, or coconut oil) in a stock pot.

turkey fat
(I saved this from the rotisserie dripping pan, which separated from the drippings when I refrigerated it)

Add carrot, celery, and onion and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Celery, carrot, onion.

Add garlic, rosemary, and thyme and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring frequently.

garlic and herbs

Add stock, water, bay leaf, 5 spice seasoning, and pink salt, if using. (I’m using it because I have it and don’t know what to use it for 😀 ).

bay leaf and pink salt

Add sourdough noodles (I had these in the freezer), or rice or whatever you like.

sourdough noodles

Bring almost to boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.

Soup simmering

Add mashed sweet potato and pumpkin puree and mix well.


Add diced turkey and turkey/gravy mix and cook till heated through.

diced turkey

turkey and gravy

Remove bay leaf and serve to your family. They will love you for it!

It's soup!

Freeze leftovers for a day when you need a meal in a hurry. By then, they will have forgotten they were tired of turkey.

This post is part of Fresh Bites Friday blog carnival hosted by Real Food Whole Health as well as The 21st Century Housewife’s “Gallery of Favorites” weekend blog hop. Be sure to go visit them for more great posts!

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Crustless Pecan Pie

November 25, 2011

pecan pie

This recipe incorporates the corn syrup replacement posted by Cooking Traditional Foods found here. Making the replacement was a fairly easy process. The hardest part was keeping an eye on the candy thermometer. Of course, if you don’t have a thermometer, you can use the softball stage to check. To be honest, I was preoccupied during the critical part and the thermometer went slightly above what it should have. Let’s just say it was on the high end of softball stage. I’m pretty sure it was the reason that caused it to be a little hard to get out of the jar. To help it along, I set the jar in some hot water in the sink for a little bit. The one change I made to the replacement recipe was to use turbinado sugar. Other than it being a darker syrup, I think the results were the same.

corn syrup replacement

I opted for a crustless pie, because I was trying to keep our Thanksgiving gluten-free and didn’t have make time to fix a gluten-free crust. I must say, the crustless pie turned out great. I didn’t have any trouble cutting out slices, so I will probably just do this next time I make pie. I always try to give credit where credit is due, if I’m following someone else’s recipe (at least, basically) and I am using the recipe found here.

pecan pie ingredients

Crustless Pecan Pie
makes 1 (9″) pie

1/2 cup corn syrup replacement
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (can use brown sugar)
5 eggs
2 Tbs salted butter (or unsalted and add pinch salt)
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups crispy pecan pieces1

Preheat oven to 325o
Butter a 9″ pie plate.

butter pie pan

Add all ingredients except nuts in a saucepan and heat to medium heat, stirring constantly just until butter is melted and ingredients are well incorporated. (The one thing you don’t want is cooked egg)

cooking filling

Remove from heat and add pecans. Stir to coat well.

add nuts

Pour into pie plate.

pour filling into pan

Bake at 325o for 35-40 minutes or until knife comes out of center clean.
Cool, slice, enjoy!

slice of pecan pie

1 If you aren’t using crispy pecans (soaked and dehydrated) you will need to toast your pecans lightly before beginning. Also, you may opt to use some whole pecans on the top. All I had on hand was pecan pieces.

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This post is part of the Fight Back Friday blog carnival hosted by Food Renegade. Check it out for more great recipes, including what to do with all those leftovers!

Pumpkin Pancakes (GF)

November 24, 2011

gf pumpkin pancakes

More on the fly cooking. This morning I was debating about whether to make a pumpkin pie. I’ve been kind of avoiding the whole sweets thing, because it’s easy for me to go overboard. If I’m going to make something, I will likely make a pecan pie. (I’ve been looking at crustless pecan pie recipes) It will be a good opportunity to try out my corn syrup substitute, which I made using CTF’s recipe but substituting turbinado sugar for white sugar. (Will be posting this recipe if it turns out) However, pumpkin to me is sort of like cranberry sauce. The Thanksgiving meal doesn’t seem complete without it. I decided to do a pumpkin compromise of sorts. I decided I’d attempt to make pumpkin pancakes for brunch, since this Thanksgiving is more relaxed than usual. There are only three of us here, so my schedule is a lot more flexible. Anyway, I looked at some recipes by searching “almond flour” and “sorghum flour,” because I knew I wanted to make them gluten-free. Got a general idea of what to put in the mixing bowl and began to “create.” Sometimes I even turn out something edible. Today was one of those days. The men dubbed it “Nom!”


Pumpkin Pancakes (GF)
makes 9 medium pancakes

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp powdered (green) stevia
1 tsp arrowroot
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dry nutmeg
1/8 tsp dry ginger (powder)
1/8 tsp dry clove

Wet Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk or water
8 drops liquid stevia

In mixing bowl, add dry ingredients and stir well.

dry ingredients

Almost forgot this:

baking powder and soda

In separate bowl, mix all wet ingredients well.

more ingredients

Like so:

wet ingredients

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined.

pancake batter

Put a small amount of butter, ghee, or coconut oil in pan and heat over medium heat. When pan is hot, put batter in pan the size of a medium pancake (not sure how much I put, but guessing 1/2 of a cup). This batter is rather thick, so you have to spread it around with the spoon. I used the back of the spoon to help form it into a circle. Cook until lightly browned on one side, turn and cook till other side is brown and middle is no longer wet. You may need to turn the pan down a little in order to get them cooked all the way through.

I’d call this a pumpkin success!!

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This post is part of the Fight Back Friday blog carnival hosted by Food Renegade. Stop by and see all the other great entries!

Last Minute Dry Brining Turkey

November 23, 2011

fresh herbs

I didn’t have a plan to blog about the preparations for our Thanksgiving dinner. Like my meal planning, it was a spur of the moment thing, in case it might be of help to someone else. One of the things about being an “on the fly” cook is doing last-minute searches for recipes. Which usually works out okay, but sometimes leaves me in a bind. Which is where I found myself when it came time to brine the turkey. This year I wanted to try dry brining (although “dry brining” is a bit of a misnomer, since the definition of brining is to immerse in water). That idea was much more appealing, since I left my “brining bucket” in Missouri and didn’t really want to go buy something to replace it. Dry brining it would be then. Everything was going according to the spur-of-the-moment plan.

Except when I started searching for a recipe to dry brine, I started seeing phrases like “3 days in advance.” This is Wednesday, tomorrow is Thanksgiving; I don’t have 3 days. Can I do a 24 hour brine? Another problem is, the turkey is about half frozen. Off to google I go. Frozen turkey? Not a problem! Simply run under cold water enough to get the innards out and proceed as planned. Well, in theory. Again, this is for someone who still has 3 days left to brine their turkey. After much searching, I found a recipe that calls for a 24 hour dry brine. Sounded good to me! So I did a mishmash of sorts, compiling all the info I’d read (and could remember) and got the innards out of the turkey, mixed up some fresh spices I had on hand, and off I went. Will it turn out okay? I won’t know that till tomorrow. Hopefully, I will be able to report complete success. But, for now, I’ll do what I always do; fly by the seat of my pants and put this post up for others who are frantically doing last minute searches and feeling brave enough to blindly follow in my footsteps.

1 turkey (14 lbs)
2 Tbs sea salt (’cause I don’t have kosher)
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
bag to put turkey in
container to set bag in
fridge to put container in

Prepare turkey by washing, drying, and removing any gizzards, neck, etc., from the cavities.

uncooked turkey

The fresh herbs are what I had on hand. You can use any you like, fresh or dry, in any combination. From what I understand, it goes something like this:

1 TBS salt for each 5 lbs of turkey
1 tsp each spice for each 5 lbs of turkey
Pepper according to taste

Just don’t hold me to that.

I was in a rush, so I kept it simple.
Combine salt and spices in a bowl.

brining spices

Rub mixture all over turkey, covering well, then place in plastic bag and place in container. Unless you want to get all fancy, and put things like apples and oranges and whatnot inside the turkey. Or you may want to loosen the skin on the breast and legs and run your spice mixture around in there. Feel free to get creative. But I do have to say, I have it on pretty good authority that it’s not necessary to go to all that bother. Place container in fridge.

brining turkey

My plan tomorrow is to take the turkey out of the fridge and let it sit out at room temp, about 1-2 hours, wipe off any excess (as in, excessive looking) salt, give it a butter rub-down (including under the skin), then roast at 425o for 30 minutes, then turn heat to 325o and continue cooking till done. This, according to my calculations, should take about 2 1/2 – 3 hours total.
Oh, I also plan to roast it upside down this year, since I won’t be stuffing it. I understand this helps the breast to be even juicier. Or I may just put it in the rotisserie, like I’d originally planned. So now I’m looking forward to actually fixing this bird. I hope I get to update with a nice turkey picture. However it turns out, it won’t affect how I celebrate this Thanksgiving:
I’ll be giving thanks to God for all His many blessings!

Turkey Update: Took the turkey out of the fridge and took it out of the bag. It has a pink look to it, sort of rosy, if you will. The salt that was on the bird is all absorbed. In fact, there was hardly any moisture on the turkey. I did blot the little bit there was and set it back in the dish on the counter. I’ll let it come to room temp or close to it (probably about an hour and a half). I feel comfortable doing this, because A) it was a pasture raised turkey and, B) this is what the instructions call for when dry brining. I’m leaning towards the rotisserie, because of the crispier skin. More to come…

turkey resting

Second Update: Took some finagling, but got the (almost 14 lb) turkey on the rotisserie spit rods. Decided to use some ghee for the rub down. I’m feeling upbeat about this turkey!

Turkey on the spit

About 20 minutes later:

more turkey

I hope this post has helped anyone else who may be frantically searching for last minute turkey prep. Here’s the final result:

turkey's done

Final word on taste coming soon!

It was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing. Moist, flavorful…mmm! I’ll be doing the next turkey the very same way.

Thanksgiving dinner

I hope anyone that was following along and actually using this page for their turkey had equally good results.

This post is part of the following blog carnivals:

Fight Back Fridays hosted by Food Renegade.

3-Ingredient Cranberry Sauce

November 22, 2011


Okay, I admit it; I’ve always been a fan of canned cranberry sauce. You know, that jellied kind? But once I discovered how easy it is to make it from scratch, using fresh, organic, ingredients, I couldn’t go back to canned. I’m posting this recipe for anyone who might be looking for a simple recipe, which is always my favorite kind.

cranberry sauce ingredients
Cranberry Sauce
makes about 2 cups

12 oz (1 1/2 cups) fresh cranberries, washed and dried
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (2 med oranges)
1 cup Turbinado sugar

Squeeze oranges to make 1 cup juice (this took about 2 medium sized oranges with an electric juicer).

juicing oranges

Add orange juice, cranberries, and sugar to saucepan.

Combine ingredients

Stir to mix ingredients well, while heating to medium heat. Once pan reaches temp, it takes about 10 minutes for all the cranberries to pop. Some people like to use a splatter screen. I have lids that don’t seal completely, so I use that. (But keep a close eye on it; it’s easy for it to boil over). Once the cranberries start to pop, remove the lid or splatter screen if using, and stir frequently, mashing the popped berries while stirring. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 more minutes, to reduce sauce.

sauce cooked

Pour it into bowl and let cool. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I usually make mine on Tuesday or Wednesday, for Thanksgiving.

cranberry sauce

For visual appeal, save the halved orange peels and serve cranberry sauce in them. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, if desired.

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Easy Applesauce

November 21, 2011


As I mentioned in an earlier post, we were given apples from 3 different people since moving to Fargo. They were all quite tart and I wasn’t sure what to do with them. Since we try to limit our sweets, the best plan seemed to be making applesauce with them. I figured I could at least put the applesauce in the freezer until I found a use for it. However, I’d never made applesauce before and had to do an online search for a recipe. The problem was, ALL of the recipes I found called for the use of apple juice. One thing we never do is drink bottled juice and I got rid of my juicer shortly before we moved to Fargo. I decided to give it a try without the juice and I’m so glad I did. It turned out great and I was so pleased that it was naturally sweet.

This “recipe” is so easy, I hesitated to share it, but decided to do so for those looking for a simple recipe made with apples and water and/or those looking for applesauce in a hurry. For this applesauce, I used 12 apples (though only 11 are in the picture). Wash them well and let them dry. (These are organic, which I recommend)

washed apples

If you have an apple corer, this helps things go faster. I put a pan on the stove and added 1/2 cup water, then turned it on very low heat. I added each apple as I cored it, peeled it, and cut it up.

cored apple

Each time I added an apple to the pan, I’d give it a quick stir to keep the apples on top from turning brown. I doubt this step is necessary, but I didn’t want to take a picture of a pan full of brown apples! Once the apples were all in the pan, I added an additional half cup of water. I decided to add a cinnamon stick to this batch, because I plan to use the applesauce as bulk in a recipe that already calls for cinnamon.

apples cooking

I put the lid on and then let it simmer for about 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. I know a lot of people make it in their crockpot and leave the apple skin on, because when it is cooked the skin pretty much dissolves. This would be a good alternative if you have plenty of time and, yes, it would be less wasteful and probably more nutritious. But this recipe is about simplicity and saving time.

Once it is finished, I just mash it up with the big spoon I used to stir it. If you like it smoother, a stick blender would work really well. Here’s the end result:

applesauce cooked

It made a little less than 3 cups of applesauce. I’m hoping to try some recipes out using stevia as the only sweetener. Thanks to a tip from my almost-daughter-in-law, Emily, you can replace the bulk of added sweeteners with applesauce. I’ll be posting the successes!

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Sweet Success (Sydney’s)

November 18, 2011

This is just a quick update post. I’ve been slacking so much on my blog, I decided a quick post is better than no post. Anyway, just wanted to show off the great haul I made at Sydney’s Health Market.

turkey uncooked

Even though it was snowing and the roads were slick, the special order turkeys came in today. I had ordered two of them about a month or so ago, and figured today was as good a day as any to get acclimated to the weather and driving conditions here. I’m so glad I went, as I was able to pick up some other great stuff, like this beautiful celery and red onions.

celery and onion

And this gorgeous fruit:


Although that is the beginning of an awesome fruit salad, I plan to use some of the apples to make some more applesauce. I’m hooked on it! I plan to do a post on how I make it, even though (or maybe, because) it’s super easy. I plan to use one of those oranges to make homemade cranberry sauce.. Thankfully, I picked up these awesome cranberries:


Also thinking of some cranberry kombucha…yum!

But the piece de resistance today are these incredible dates:


They are divine! If you live in the Fargo/Moorhead area, you should get yourself down to Sydney’s before they’re all gone!!

Not sure what I’ll use them for, because at the rate they’re disappearing, I may not have to wonder long.

And, just for fun, here’s a pic of the snow we got today. Doesn’t look like much, but it sure made the roads interesting. Right now the sun is out and it’s melting fast, so I’m headed out to do some other errands. Maybe one of them will take me by Sydney’s. I might have to stop in again, before the dates are all gone…

snowy scene

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