Turkey Sloppy Joes

I love Thanksgiving Day leftovers.

If you hosted Thanksgiving Day dinner as we did, it’s inevitable there are some leftovers lurking in the refrigerator, including turkey.

In the past, we’ve always used some of the turkey for sandwiches. Sometimes, if there was enough gravy leftover, it was the hot variety, with a little stuffing, of course. (Plain old turkey sandwiches can be a little bland.)

And I can’t forget turkey soup. The carcass is perfect for this. This year, I sent the carcass home with Uncle Curt and Aunt Harriet, so soup isn’t an option.

However, a tip from chef Ryan Scott, former cheftestant of Bravo TV’s Top Chef, has me thinking about something I’ve never tried — turkey sloppy joes, a twist on a family favorite that’s perfect for kicking back and checking out the weekend’s football games. And if you have some leftover dinner rolls from the Thanksgiving meal, they also make great sliders.

If you feel adventurous, give the following recipe a try.

Turkey Sloppy Joes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 cups shredded or diced cooked turkey
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup ketchup
½ teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
8 hamburger buns, toasted
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the turkey, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and black pepper to the skillet and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, ketchup and soy sauce and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir the cornstarch and water in a small cup until the mixture is smooth. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the skillet. Cook and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Divide the turkey mixture among the buns.
Yield: Serves 8.
Note:  For Turkey Sloppy Joe Sliders, divide the turkey mixture among 12 minislider-sized buns.

Baked Oysters — A Thanksgiving Tradition

One of the dishes we’ve always had at Thanksgiving since I was a kid is baked oysters. My grandma always served it at the family gathering we had. And then my mom started to make the dish. I’ve continued the tradition, as have several of my cousins.

Some say oysters are an acquired taste. That may be so, but I didn’t hesitate after my first bite of Grandma’s baked oysters. And neither has my family when I’ve made them.

They’re relatively easy to fix, so if you have a hankering today for something new, give the following recipe a try. Also find another recipe for baked oysters, this one from Sara Baer-Sinnott’s book, "The Oldways Table: Essays and Recipes from the Culinary Think Tank."

Baked Oysters
1 quart raw oysters
1 cup Holland rust
1 cup of butter, softened
2 cups of cracker crumbs
¼ to ½ cup cream
Crush crackers and Holland rust and mix with bread crumbs and butter.
Put a layer of mixture on bottom of a 9-by-9-inch cake pan and cover with oysters. Add remaining mixture of crackers and bread crumbs on top of oysters. Pour oyster juice and ¼ to ½ cup of cream over ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Gifford’s Baked Oysters
12 oysters on the half shell
Rock salt
3 slices Canadian bacon
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
½ cup chopped shallots or onions
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the oysters on rock salt in a sheet pan.
Cook the bacon in a small skillet over high heat until the slices are cooked halfway through. Cool and cut each slice into four equal pieces. Set aside.
Mix the butter, shallots and lemon juice together. Spoon the butter mixture on top of each oyster and cover with a piece of bacon. Bake until the bacon turns brown, and the oysters are warm.
Yield: 1 dozen.

Jazzed-Up Stuffing

Just about everybody has a favorite stuffing they like to make for Thanksgiving Day dinner. I make the one my grandma and mom used to make.

But there are all kinds of stuffing. I was given a cornbread stuffing recipe by a co-worker, Megan LaPlaca, which her mom has been making for years (www.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/group/Features/tag/food/). I can’t wait to try it.

And on my way to work today, I ran across artist Adam Kemp of Grand Forks, who is a native of Great Britain. We talked a little bit about Thanksgiving in his home country, and he said there are places there that celebrate the holiday, mostly for the benefit of Americans who are living overseas.

This Thanksgiving, he’s going to make stuffing for his in-laws, and his plans are to mix things up a bit, making one with walnuts, Italian sausage, celery and a little dried wheat bread.

When you get right down to it, you can put just about anything in stuffing, as the following recipe shows. It sounds a bit similar to what Adam is going to make, containing some of the same ingredients.

If you want to stray from tradition, give it a try. Or tuck it away for later use, maybe at Christmas.

Jazzed-Up Stuffing
½ stick (¼ cup) butter
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 12-ounce package herbed stuffing mix
½ cup chopped walnuts
3 cooked sausage patties or 4 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup chopped, fresh sage leaves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup white wine
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Melt the butter in a large skillet; add the celery, green onions and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Stir in the stuffing mix, walnuts, sausage, eggs, sage, salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and wine; toss to coat bread. Spoon stuffing into a buttered 13-by-9-inch pan; bake 30 minutes.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 449 calories, 44 percent of calories from fat, 22 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 102 milligrams cholesterol, 67 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 881 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Holiday Casseroles

One of my friends took an informal poll today at the gym. He was asking everybody if they liked green bean casserole, which is a tradition in many homes on Thanksgiving Day.

I would guess that at least 90 percent of my fellow exercisers said they dig the dish, which contains green beans, cream of mushroom soup and french-fried onion rings.

While I like the green bean casserole, it’s not one we have at the holidays. Besides the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, we have so many other foods (such as baked oysters, buttercup squash, sweet potatoes and a carrot and onion mixture in tomato soup, just to name a few), that there just isn’t room for much more.

However, another one of my exercise compatriots, teacher Susan Zukowski, mentioned one of their traditional holiday dishes  — corn casserole — which piqued my interest. Susan said it’s her grandaughter’s favorite. Besides corn, it also contains pasta and Velveeta cheese. I’m hoping to get the recipe from her so we can try it sometime.

Although I don’t have her recipe, here’s another that’s probably pretty close to it, as well as one for a green bean casserole, but not the traditional one you might be used to having.

Corn Casserole
1 can whole-kernel corn, undrained
1 can cream-style corn
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup small cubed velveeta cheese
½ cup margarine, cubed
In a bowl, combine both corns. Add macaroni, chese and margarine; mix well.
Pour into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer.
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Green Beans with Mushrooms, Almonds and Carmelized Onions
2 pounds frozen cut green beans
Cooking oil
2 small yellow cooking onions, peeled and finely sliced
1 12-ounce package white button mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
¼ to ½ cup butter (½ to 1 stick)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook beans in microwave according to package directions. Drain well. In a large skillet or saute pan over low heat, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. Once heated, add sliced onions and a sprinkling of salt and saute slowly, about 20 minutes, until onions are wilted and take on a rich caramel color.
Remove onions from pan and set aside. Increase heat to medium and add sliced mushrooms. Saute mushrooms over medium heat until they turn dark brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add butter to pan and melt, then add garlic and saute quickly, 1 to 2 minutes, watching so that garlic doesn’t burn. Add beans to garlic butter and stir to coat. Toss in mushrooms and caramelized onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place in serving bowl and sprinkle with almond slices.
Yield Serves 12.

Enjoying the Bounty

I have three hobbies — gardening, hunting and cooking — and luckily, all of them go together nicely.

I often write that the combination of the three often results in some mighty tasty food. Sometimes, though, you need a little help along the lines of spices and the like, which brings me to Hi Mountain Seasonings.

Over the years, I’ve bought some of the Riverton, Wyo., company’s seasonings and haven’t been disappointed. They’re readily available at Cabela’s, which has a store in East Grand Forks. A friend of mine, Terry Young of Devils Lake, swears by some of Hi Mountain’s seasonings for making homemade jerky.

Now, working in conjunction with Outdoor Edge and renowned meat processor Brad Lockwood, Hi Mountain Seasonings is marketing three new instructional DVDs that will help you process your own big game harvests.

The first DVD in the series, "Deer and Big Game Processing," takes you step-by-step through the intricacies of properly processing any big game animal, from the field to the dinner table. Not only will you learn how to properly field dress, skin, quarter and bone-out big game animals, Lockwood further explains table cuts from each primary muscle area. He shows how to grind and make basic sausage using Hi Mountain Seasonings.

The other two DVDs, "Advanced Wild Game Processing: Sausage" and "Advanced Wild Game Processing: Jerky," takes you through easy-to-follow instructions for making healthy, delicious sausage and jerky from your game using Hi Mountain’s popular seasonings and cure.

I know a lot of hunters already know the basics for processing their meat and making sausage of jerky, but these DVDs might go a long way for the first timer.

The DVDs, as well as Hi Mountain’s entire line of seasonings, are available at www.himtnjerky.com, or call toll-free, (800) 829-2285 to order. Suggested retail price is $19.95 each.

And getting back to combining my favorite hobbies, here is a recipe for a sausage-stuffed squash, which combines garden fare and sausage. In my case, it’s buttercup squash and homemade elk sausage. Of course, any regular store-bought sausage can be substituted.

Enjoy!

Sausage Stuffed Squash
2 small acorn or buttercup squash
1 pound bulk pork sausage, sweet or hot
1 medium onion, peeled, chopped
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 cups bread cubes (optional)
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Split squash through the stem and remove seeds and fibers. Place the squash halves, cut side down, in roasting pan. Add ½ inch of water and bake about 30 minutes or until squash is tender.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown the pork sausage and drain off about half the fat. Add the onion and mushrooms and saute until soft. Add the bread cubes, if using, and cranberries. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When the squash are done, divide filling among the four. If you have extra filling, you can put it in a side dish. Drizzle the maple syrup on top of each squash and dot with butter if desired. Return the stuffed squash to the oven and bake another 10 minutes, uncovered, to crisp the top.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 370 calories, 39 percent of calories from fat, 16 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 49 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein , 363 milligrams sodium, 35 milligrams cholesterol, 6 grams fiber.

Go Jason! Chili-Stuffed Potatoes

I love chili, and I love baked potatoes. Combined, I love them even more. And that’s why I’m a little disappointed that about my weekend plans.

You see, I plan on heading west to do a little bird hunting with my dogs. That’s not what’s so disconcerting. It’s the fact I’ll be missing the Friday night (Nov. 20)  fundraiser for Jason Smith, who was injured outside Ralph Engelstad Arena after a UND hockey game in mid-October.

Jason’s mom and dad, Wilma and John Smith, are old friends of mine. I’ve know them almost as long as Grand Forks/East Grand Forks has been my home, about 35 years.

On Friday night, they’ve scheduled a fundraiser — featuring chili and a baked potato bar —for Jason from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Eagles Club in East Grand Forks. (There also is an account for donations that has been set up in Jason’s name at U.S. Bank in Grand Forks.) Wilma had asked me to serve chili at the event, but I’d already planned my trip.

But for those of you who are free and have a hankering for chili and baked potatoes like me, head over there for some tasty food and offer Jason some encouragment.

And for those who can’t make it, here’s a recipe for chili-stuffed potato skins. I’m hoping to try it after my hunting trip. Some jumbo Pontiacs that another friend (Roger Peterson) gave ought to fit the bill nicely. 

Chili-Stuffed Potato Skins
4 large baking potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced jarred jalapeno peppers
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
14-ounce can refried beans
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry the potatoes, then pierce each several times with a fork. Microwave on high for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Timing will vary by microwave.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high, combine the olive oil, garlic, onion and jalapenos. Saute until the onion just begins to get tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and saute until browned, about another 5 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes and refried beans, then mix well and reduce heat to low. Bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, then cover and reduce heat to just keep warm.
Carefully cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, then use a spoon to scoop out the insides and place them in a large bowl. Leave about ¼ to ½ inch of potato all around the skin. Arrange the potato skins on a baking sheet. Set aside.
To the bowl of potatoes, add 1 cup of the Cheddar cheese, the ricotta and milk. Mix well, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Fill the potato skins almost to overflowing with the meat and bean mixture. Carefully spoon a bit of the potato and cheese mixture over the meat. Sprinkle each with some of the remaining Cheddar.
Bake until the cheese melts and the mashed potato topping just begins to brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 418 calories, 138 calories from fat, 15 grams fat (7 grams saturated, no trans), 60 milligrams cholesterol, 46 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 7 grams fiber, 558 milligrams sodium.

Vegetable Soups

It’s soup weather, and I’ve been getting down. I’ve already made two batches of my Czechoslovakian Cabbage Soup this fall and am eyeing a couple of other recipes that have caught my eye.

The recipes are in a cookbook that was given to me today by Mac and Bettye Salisbury of Grand Forks. The title of the cookbook is "Vegetarian Soup Cuisine: 125 Soups and Stews from Around the World."

The paperback, which was published in 1996, was written by Jay Solomon, author of several other cookbooks, including "Lean Bean Cuisine." The book has seven chapters, each one filled with more than a dozen mouth-watering recipes.

As I said, a couple of them have gotten my attention, including one called Root Vegetable Pot-au-Feu. (Pot-au-feu means "pot over fire" in French.) It’s described by Solomon this way: "This pot-au-feu captures the rugged spirit of hardy root vegetables."

I’m looking forward to trying the recipe because it contains several vegetables that we’ve harvested from my garden, including turnips, parsnips, potatoes and carrots. I might even add some rutabaga.

The recipe follows, as does another for a vegetable vegetarian soup.

Root Vegetable Pot-au-Feu
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup leeks, rinsed and chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water or vegetable stock
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium parsnip or white potato, peeled and diced
1 medium turnip, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley)
1 teaspoon dried tarragon or herbes de Provence
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, leeks, celery and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the water, carrots, parsnip or potato, turnip, wine and seasonings and bring to a simmer. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.
Let the soup stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Ladle into bowls and serve with warm dark bread or French bread.

Vegetable Vegetarian Soup
4 quarts water or vegetable broth
10 carrots, diced
1 head of green cabbage, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 rutabaga, diced
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 32-ounce can tomato juice
½ cup pearled barley
Salt and pepper to taste 
Add all the ingredients to pot filled with water and broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until vegetables are tender. Serve with in bowls with crusty bread.

Chinese Hotdish

When out deer hunting this weekend, my hunting buddy’s mother served his son and I up a nice hotdish that was ready in less than a half-hour.

I’ve always enjoyed Lois Durkin’s cooking when joining her boys and grandsons hunting on her farm near Inkster, N.D. The Chinese noodle hotdish she served us, along with some of her homemade buns, was just what the hunting doctor ordered for us after we’d been sitting in our stands all morning.

If you need a quick meal, one that the kids will like, try the following.

Chinese Noodle Hotdish
½ pound ground beef
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken gumbo soup
1 small onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups Chinese (chow mein) noodles
Saute ground beef and onion in frying pan until meat is browned. Add soups and seasonings. Cook for 15 minutes. Serve.

Black Bean Soup

Every month, Brad Dokken, our outdoor editor, forwards an e-mail he receives from the folks at www.winkelman.com, which includes several tasty recipes from Kris Winkelman, wife of the well-known angler, Babe.

Of course, almost all of the recipes feature something wild, and that’s right up my alley.

The latest featured a recipe for Venison Black Bean Soup, which looks might tasty. It calls for three or four deer steaks, some of my favorite veggies and, naturally, black beans. I can’t wait to try the recipe.

While I haven’t been successful deer hunting yet this season because of the enormous amount of corn that’s still standing in the area where we hunt, elk meat from a recent trip to Colorado should do.

And for those of you who also would like to try making it, here’s the recipe, along with another for black bean soup that features south-of-the-border seasonings.

Venison Black Bean Soup
3 to 4 large venison steaks (grilled and seasoned with Babe Winkelman¹s Northwood¹s Grill Seasoning and garlic powder)
64 ounces of canned beef broth
3 to 4 stalks celery (chopped)
1 cup carrots (chopped)
1 cup onions (chopped)
3 15-ounce cans Southwestern black beans
2 clove garlic (chopped with chili spices)
2 tablespoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon beef base
2 tablespoons butter
Saute carrots, onions, celery, and Garlic with butter. Cut steaks into bite size pieces. Add beef broth, beef base, garlic salt, beans and steak. Simmer over medium heat 1½ hours.
Garnish with parsley and sour cream.

Southwestern Black Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
½ cup brown rice
2 14½-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 cup salsa
2 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon leaf oregano
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and carrots and saute, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Stir in red pepper, and saute 1 minute. Stir in zucchini, rice, broth, tomato sauce, salsa, water and seasonings. Cover, heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Stir in beans and corn. Simmer 15 minutes, or until vegetables and rice are tender. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle each serving with minced cilantro.
Yield: Serves 10.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 158 calories, 13 percent of calories from fat, 2 grams fat, trace saturated fat, no cholesterol, 26 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 230 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.

Crockpot Cooking

If you’re one of those people who is busy most of the time and don’t have time to fix supper when you get home, consider a crockpot or slow cooker.

I’m lucky not to have that predicament. I go home at noon every day to let my dogs out and usually toss something in the oven for supper. But more recently, I’ve been tinkering with the idea of using our crockpot a little more.

In fact, just last night, we had a meal of pheasant and wild rice that was fixed in the crockpot. Along with some freshly picked carrots that I steamed, it made for a very tasty and nutritious meal.

All I did was mix 1 cup of wild rice with a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic soup, some chopped-up onions (1 small), celery (2 stalks) and garlic (2 cloves), a little half and half, wine and water (about 1 cup combined) and some seasonings (a half-teaspoon red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt and a teaspoon pepper). Then, I added the pheasant breasts, legs and thighs and let the crockpot do the rest. (You could substitute chicken in this recipe.)

I’ve been eyeing several other crockpot recipes, including the following for lasagna. You might do the same.

Crockpot Lasagna
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (or 2 teaspoons prepurchased garlic)
1-pound jar tomato spaghetti sauce
8 ounces fresh lasagna sheets (no boil, found in cold section)
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated/shredded
1 pound ricotta cheese
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated/shredded
¼ cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper
Herbs (optional)
Mushrooms, sliced and added at end of frying meat 
Fry the beef, onion and garlic in a frying pan, using a tiny amount of oil. Fry until slightly browned. And pour off any excess oil. Add tomato sauce and heat through. 
Meanwhile, gently combine the ricotta, milk and egg. Then mix in the mozzarella and Parmesan. Retaining about 1 tablespoon of Parmesan for later. 
Using a large serving spoon or ladle, place about ¼ of the meat mixture in the crock pot – spread evenly. Top this with a layer of lasagna sheets, cut to size. (See the notes below.) Top this with 1/3 of the cheese sauce. Repeat layering until you run out. Sprinkle the retained parmesan on top. 
Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
Yield: Serves 4  to 6.
Note: While not critical, the layers should be meat, pasta, cheese, meat, pasta, cheese, meat, pasta, meat, cheese.