Smoked Turkey & Lentil Soup

If you have any leftover Christmas turkey — especially if it happens to be smoked turkey, and especially if you have the carcass and bones — we highly recommend that you make stock, then use the stock to make soup.  The smoky (almost ham-like) flavor of the turkey pairs particularly well with the earthy flavor of lentils in this soup.  Although they are not difficult to make, the stock and soup do take some time.  But a pot of stock simmering on your stove for several hours is definitely not a bad thing.  It makes your whole kitchen smell delicious, and there is no better base for soup than homemade stock.  Plus, you have the added satisfaction of knowing you squeezed every bit of smoky goodness out of your turkey, rather than just throwing the bones away.  And if you don’t feel like making soup, you can portion out the stock into 1 and/or 2 cup quantities to freeze for later use.  Homemade stock makes a surprisingly huge difference in the final flavor of almost any recipe calling for at least a cup of stock.   (Just keep in mind that stock made from smoked turkey (as opposed to chicken or regular turkey) has a pretty pronounced smoky flavor that might not be welcome in certain dishes requiring chicken stock.)  If you have the bird and the time, make homemade stock, is what we are saying.

Continue reading “Smoked Turkey & Lentil Soup”

Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Ready for some football

We got to watch the Steelers play the Cowboys here in Dallas last Sunday.  Although the Steelers lost in overtime, it was an exciting game and we had a really fun time.  We had awesome seats (Club Level, yo!) with lots of Steeler fans and a couple of very nice, respectful Cowboys’ fans sitting around us, which made the loss sting a bit less.  If you’ve never been there, Cowboys Stadium (or “Jerry World” as some call it — after Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones) is quite a place.  It boasts one of the world’s largest high-definition televisions (72 feet tall, 160 feet wide — impossible not to watch, no matter where your seats are), a world-class art collection installed throughout the stadium, stadium-style food with a gourmet twist (Black Angus Burgers instead of regular burgers and “Torpedo” hot dogs with specialty sauces instead of regular dogs  — they even have sushi) and, so I’m told, even a Victoria’s Secret store, among many other features and amenities.  We didn’t get there early enough to do much sightseeing (or photo-taking) and were enjoying our seats during the game too much to do much walking around, but we’ve been there before and have even taken the guided tour.  It really is a spectacular place, in every sense of the word “spectacle.”  So, for those still keeping track of the Steeler Opponent-City Challenge, the current record is:  Steelers:  7-7, Foodie Lawyer:  12-2.  And for anyone curious, we’re going to take a bye week this coming weekend, in light of the holiday and being too lazy to find another food from Cincinnati, since we already did Cincinnati Chili.

Chicken Stock

Dan has been feeling under the weather lately — his annual bout with bronchitis / upper respiratory woes — and this has been a particularly long and nasty illness.  I’m not always the most patient of care-givers, so I decided to be a little nicer  go all Florence-Nightingale and surprise him with homemade chicken soup.  I followed a recipe that called for using a whole chicken that you “hack” (actual word in the recipe) into pieces using a meat cleaver in order to make homemade chicken stock as the base of the soup.  Cutting up a whole chicken is something (not surprisingly) I have never done.  If you follow this blog much, you know I’m not particularly fond of dealing with raw meat in any form, much less hacking up a whole chicken with a giant knife.  But I persevered, the soup was delicious, Dan is feeling a little better, and let us never speak of the hacking again.

Bacon Candy

We had friends over for dinner last weekend and tried a new appetizer:   caramelized bacon from the Barefoot Contessa’s latest cookbook, “Foolproof.”  It sounds a little strange, but if you like bacon even a little bit, you’re going to want to try this recipe.  In fact, if you’re doing any entertaining this holiday season, we’re going to have go ahead and insist that you make this bacon for your guests.  It combines the perfect amounts of all the right flavors — salty, sweet, smoky and spicy — into a highly addictive crispy bite.  And it’s super easy to make.  For half a pound of thick-sliced, applewood-smoked bacon:  combine 1/2 cup light brown sugar and 1/2 cup pecans in a food processor and pulse until the pecans are finely ground.  Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper and pulse to combine.  Add 2 tablespoons maple syrup and pulse to moisten the crumbs.  Cut each piece of bacon in half and place the pieces on a wire rack set on a foil-lined cookie sheet (very important to use the foil — there will be lots of caramelized drippy-ness!)  Use a spoon (and your fingers) to evenly (and generously) spread the pecan mixture on top of each piece of bacon.  Bake in the oven pre-heated to 375 degrees until the topping is very browned (but not burned) — about 25-30 minutes.  Set the bacon aside on a plate to cool, then serve at room temperature.  You may want to cut or break the finished bacon into smaller pieces prior to serving (which would be a good time to also save a few pieces for later — there aren’t likely to be many leftovers!)

Puzzled that I couldn't find a lake one

This is the time of year to celebrate traditions.  One of my family’s Christmas traditions is to work on a puzzle while we’re all home at my parents’ house for the holiday.  (At least until most of us get bored with it and invariably leave my dad to become obsesseed with resigned to finishing it by himself after we all part ways.)  This year, we will do a puzzle and celebrate other family traditions in a most non-traditional (for us) way — we rented a lakehouse for all of us to spend a few days relaxing and enjoying the water, good weather (temps in the 70s!) and each other.  We are very much looking forward to family-time in a vacation setting, and hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday as well, however you celebrate it.  Happy Holidays!


Light Turkey Pot Pie (w/ leftover turkey)

With Christmas a week away, many folks may be planning on turkey for their big holiday meal.  And with our entire nation in need of a little comfort food, a dish that is both comforting and incorporates leftover turkey hits the spot.  Bonus — this version is much lower in calories and fat than the traditional pot pie, without sacrificing any of the flavor.  We adapted the original recipe (found in Cook’s Illustrated’s magazine “Light & Healthy 2012“) by using leftover cooked turkey rather than poached chicken breasts.  Calling this dish “pot pie” is a bit of a misnomer, considering that the recipe calls for a crumble topping — made with flour, Parmesan cheese, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, cayenne, buttermilk and butter — instead of the usual pie crust.  Rather than “turkey pot pie,” think of it more as “turkey cobbler,” in terms of the consistency of the finished dish.  The filling is similar to the traditional version — with turkey, mushrooms, onions, carrots and celery (no peas – I hate them) in a rich and creamy (but butter-free!) sauce.  It doesn’t get much better than savory comfort food that warms your soul, without increasing your waistline.

Continue reading “Light Turkey Pot Pie (w/ leftover turkey)”

Friday Favorites

It feels grossly insensitive to blather on about our favorite things without saying something about the tragic school shooting this morning in Newtown, CT.  Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by this terrible, senseless act of violence.  Love your loved ones harder (especially your kids) and enjoy your own favorites more — life can change in an instant.

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

We’re just finishing up Season 2 of the show “Downton Abbey” and can’t recommend this series highly enough.  There’s a reason that Season 2 was nominated for several Golden Globe awards and Season 1 won for best mini series last year.  The acting, story lines, dialogue, sets and scenery are all top-notch, and it’s one of our all-time favorite shows.  If you haven’t watched it because you’re not that into “period piece” entertainment, give it a shot anyway — it’s so much more than actors dressing up in fancy costumes and speaking in old-fashioned accents.  If you’re not hooked after Dowager Countess asks “What is a ‘week-end?'” in her privileged, snooty tone during the family’s first dinner with Cousin Matthew in Season 1, then it’s probably not your cup of tea after all.  But it’s worth a look.  You’ve still got a little time to get caught up before Season 3 starts on Jan. 6!  (And if you’re like us, you won’t be able to resist watching several episodes in a row, marathon-style.)

We took a break from Christmas shopping last weekend — and took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather — by enjoying some of our favorite Tex-Mex on a patio.  Sizzling fajitas, beefy tacos and the “Texas Martini” (one of the best margaritas around) hit the spot, as did being able to sit outside on a warm and sunny day in December.

Homemade pasta is a relatively rare treat around our house, at least until Dan found and tried this easy-for-homemade dough recipe.  The pasta was really good, especially served with this boar ragu.  It was the first time we had ever cooked with boar (we used pre-ground boar that we found at Sprouts), and we were surprised by how much we liked it.  Dan detected a hint of “gamey” flavor (his palate must be more advanced than mine, all I detected was delicious-ness) but said it enhanced the overall flavor rather than detracting from it.  We’ll definitely make boar ragu again.  And homemade pasta.

The phrase “if you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait five minutes” rang true for us this week.  A few days after our Tex-Mex patio lunch, the temperatures dropped to freezing and we woke up to a very light dusting of snow!  The colder weather is a welcome change and makes it feel more like Christmas-time.

Our first snow also brought our first fire of the season.  Now it’s REALLY beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, our tree is up and (mostly) decorated, although I will likely find myself periodically adding and re-arranging ornaments on it right up until New Year’s, as I do every year.  It’s a sickness.

San Diego Carne Asada Burritos

Meh.  That about sums up both the burritos and the Steelers’ performance against the San Diego Chargers in this week’s Steeler Opponent-City Challenge.  Neither one was a winner, bringing the current S.O.C.C. record to:  Steelers 7-6; Foodie Lawyer 11-2.  And that is all we will say about the game (other than we are happy to see that Big Ben is back.)  As for the food, we chose carne asada burritos, based on our research showing that displaced San Diego-ites struggle to find authentic versions of this favorite in other cities.  (Fish tacos are also really popular in SoCal, but we already have a bitchin’ good recipe for those.)  The recipe needs some tweaking — we felt that each of the components (beef, guacamole and pico de gallo) with a good amount of lime juice as an ingredient, resulted in too much lime overall and somewhat of a one-note final dish (similar to the Steelers’ one-note offense as of late.)  We  liked the technique of cutting the beef into small pieces prior to cooking it, in order to get more sear on all sides of each piece.  But each burrito element needed less lime juice, in order to allow the other flavors to shine independently, while still working together to create a “there’s a lot goin’ on there” finished dish.  (Much like the Steelers need Big Ben’s arm and throwing expertise to combine with some receivers’ sticky fingers to win against Dallas next week.)

Continue reading “San Diego Carne Asada Burritos”

Weekly Menu (Dec. 8)



  • Roasted Game Hen, Potato Latkes, Broccolini


  • Pappardelle w/ Boar Ragu, Salad


  • Skillet Strata w/ Bacon, Scallions & Pepper Jack Cheese; Roasted Pepper, Cucumber & Tomato Salad


  • Garlicky Roasted Shrimp w/ Cumin, Ginger & Sesame; Spicy Green Beans


  • Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup


  • Take-Out


  • Dinner & Shopping

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

With the holidays upon us (how is it December already?), we decided to jump on the bandwagon started by many other bloggers and put together a gift guide.  This being a food blog, all of the items have something to do with food and cooking.  Most are things that we own, love and use often.  We’ve included links where possible, but this is by no means a sponsored post.  Just our thoughts on kitchen stuff that makes us happy and might also make someone on your gift list (or your own self!) happy too.

Continue reading “2012 Holiday Gift Guide”