Oven Baked Turkey for the Best Sandwiches

I love turkey sandwiches and these days the price of sliced from the deli is sending me home with a turkey breast to bake my own. I use a simple recipe with just a little seasoning and aromatics in a sealed pot to keep the turkey tender and moist.

Select a bone-in turkey breast that will fit in your Dutch oven with about an inch of space around the bird and sides/lid. Choose a heavy pot – I went with cast iron and a bird of 6 lbs. I did butterfly it by cracking the breastbone in order to get it to lay flat to fit.

I usually divide the sliced turkey into portions that will last me for a week of sandwiches and freeze most of the packages. This cook gave me at least 3 pint freezer bags full of slices, a smaller bag to eat from now and a 2 cup bag of shredded turkey for casseroles.

I make my sandwiches on white bread with mayo, a little salt and a sprinkle of celery seeds. Simply delicious!

Oven Baked Turkey for Sandwiches

1 5-7 lb bone in turkey breast
1 large onion
1 large lemon

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Slice the onion and place in the bottom of the pot to give the turkey a platform to rest upon. Halve the lemon and place in the cavity. Put the turkey into the pot. Fit a large piece of aluminum foil over pot, ­pressing to seal, then cover tightly with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook until turkey registers 160 degrees, about 2 ½ hours for a 6lb turkey.

Remove pot from oven and transfer turkey to carving board. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for at least 30 minutes to cool enough to handle. Pull off and discard the skin and slice the breast meat for sandwiches. Pick any remaining meat from the bones and use for things like turkey tetrazzini.

Levantine Roast Chicken

I wanted to make Chicken Shawarma sandwiches but, first, I had to roast the chicken. I made a kicked up spice mixture for the marinade with cumin, paprika, turmeric, garlic and then added Aleppo peppers for an almost fruity heat. The flavor profile owes a lot to the mom of a Lebanese friend of mine who used to feed us when I lived in Oakland, California.

After roasting the chicken, we made a meal of it. I set it over a bed of rice pilaf and served it with the onions that I used to elevate the chicken during cooking. The meat was juicy and had a lovely flavor from the overnight marinade. The onion was tender and melt in your mouth good.

After we ate our fill, Mom and I picked the leftover chicken and tossed it in the pan juices before putting it in the fridge overnight with the leftover onion. I then made a delicious Greek yogurt sauce. For lunch the next day, we enjoyed Chicken Shawarma on pita with chopped tomatoes, rewarmed hunks of the roasted chicken and onion, topped with healthy dollops of the tzatziki sauce.

Just fold and enjoy. So very delicious with an awesome mix of textures and flavors with the spiced chicken and garliky, cucumber yogurt sauce. The best of street food and you didn’t have to leave home for it.

Levantine Roast Chicken

1 – 5lb whole chicken
2 lemons, juiced
½ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (can substitute red pepper flakes)
2 large white onions

Use kitchen shears to cut the backbone off the chicken and then slice into the breastbone and crack the bird open. Remove the breast bone and cartilage. Place chicken in a zip top bag. The backbone and breast bone can be reserved in the freezer until ready to make stock.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric and Aleppo pepper together and stir well. Pour over chicken and seal bag. Massage to coat the chicken and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a large cast iron skillet in the oven. Carefully remove the skillet and place the onions (each cut horizontally into three thick rounds) on the bottom of the pan and set the chicken on top. Pour over the marinade.

Roast for about an hour or until the meat registers 165 on a meat thermometer. For the last 15 minutes, cover the top with aluminum foil if the wings or skin is getting too dark.

Remove from oven and serve over rice pilaf with each person getting a large round of onion and a ladle or two of sauce.

Here is my quick and easy tzatziki recipe:

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 cup Greek yogurt (I use FAGE Total Plain)
4 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon oilive oil

Grate cucumber into a clean dish towel and squeeze out the moisture. Place the cucumber in a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix well. Taste for seasoning.

I recommend you make 24 hours in advance so that the flavors really come together.

Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake

I wanted a quick and easy dessert for dinner. I had a box of Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake mix and a large jar of cherry pie filling. Perfect, especially with me adding in a half cup of dried cherries to increase the umph!

I’ve done this before with blueberries and a box of yellow cake mix (Khaki’s Blueberry Crunch). The final result from today’s is a delicious cross between a cherry cobbler and a black forrest cake.

This style of dump cake is pretty darn versatile – anything that can be made into pie filling can be the base and nearly every kind of cake mix will work. The only limitation is your imagination!

Just pour the pie filling (if using canned, two cans) into the bottom of a buttered 9X13 baking dish. Spread the contents of a box of cake mix evenly over the top and then pour a stick of melted butter on the top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until it is dry on top and bubbly around the edges. Serve with ice cream.

Yum!

Peaches and Cream Ice Cream

I went to the local farm stand near my parents and got some peaches from Chilton County. This area of Alabama has some of the best peaches I’ve ever tasted. As I was eating my third peach (bent over the sink as the juices dripped down my face and arms), I decided I should probably do more than just gorge on them.

I’ve done peach ice cream before (with brandy, with buttermilk, with Greek yogurt) but not just a plain, simple peaches and cream. While you can also use frozen peaches in this recipe, since the peaches in the South are at their peak, I’ll be making mine with these beauties:

This ice cream is velvety in texture. The fresh peach taste is well complemented by the cream – so very good!

Peaches and Cream Ice Cream

2 cups chopped fresh peaches (4 medium peaches), peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar (divided)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine peaches with 1/2 cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Let stand for one hour.

Place mixture in food processor or blender and pulse until peaches are coarsely chopped. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, milk, cream and vanilla to the peach mixture and mix well. Chill for 30 minutes.

Pour into your ice cream maker and churn for about 20 minutes or until desired consistency. Place in an airtight container in the freezer to finish firming up.


Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Scones

It will be Michelle’s birthday at the end of the week. Now that we are all fully vaccinated, she came down to spend the Memorial Day weekend with my family and I wanted to make us a good treat and to celebrate her natal day.

I had a recipe for chocolate cherry scones but I wanted to use my sourdough starter so I had to do a bit of experimenting as I didn’t want them to be too heavy. 

We ate them out on the porch with coffee (Mom and Dad) and tea (Michelle) and juice (me). The scones are very flavorful and quite beautiful. The egg wash and cinnamon sugar made a lovely crunchy exterior and the interior was moist and filled with chocolatey cherry goodness.

Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels, roughly chopped
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sourdough starter
¼ cup milk

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
cinnamon sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and baking soda. Grate in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips and cherry pieces.

Add vanilla and milk to the sourdough starter and stir to loosen it up. Gently stir the mixture into the dry ingredients until dough forms a ball.

Turn onto a well-floured surface; knead very lightly and press together with your hands to form an 8 inch round. Cut into 8 triangles and place on a buttered baking sheet. Chill for 15 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator and brush with beaten egg wash and sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and serve warm.

To freeze baked scones, let them cool completely and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze up to 3 months. When ready to eat, let thaw at room temperature. Heat them up in the microwave for about 30 seconds to eat them warm.

Shrimp Gazpacho

As we get into late May, I begin to long for gazpacho. I’ve posted other recipes here and here but my current dilemma is that tomatoes haven’t come in locally yet. The ones available in the grocery store are from Florida and are varieties designed for transport. They just don’t have the juice or the flavor of those coming from the local U-Pick farm or farmer’s market.

Sometimes you have to improvise. In my case, that means a can of V8 juice, fresh squeezed limes and some ketchup.

When boiling shrimp, I recommend using the liquid Zatarain’s Crab and Shrimp boil but a tablespoon of plain kosher salt works just fine.

You’ll notice there is no salt added to the dish – the many flavors mean it isn’t necessary for taste but I put some on the table, in case the other diners wanted it (they didn’t).

This dish is amazing with the crunchy veggies, tender shrimp, creamy avocado and the lovely tomato based sauce. I could feel myself getting healthier after eating a bowl but, more importantly, the way the flavors complement each other made all of us go for seconds.

Shrimp Gazpacho

1 small head of garlic
1 small onion (red, white, yellow – any works)
1 ½ lbs small to medium shrimp, deheaded with shells on
1 tablespoon Zatarain’s® Concentrated Shrimp & Crab Boil
1 hothouse tomato
1 cucumber
1 green bell pepper
2 avocados
1 – 11.5 ounce can V8 juice, cold
Juice of 2 limes (¼ cup lime juice)
½ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the top off the head of garlic. Place it on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle generously with olive oil and seal the foil around the bulb. Put garlic package on a baking sheet. Quarter the onion and separate the layers. Toss generously with olive oil and place on the baking sheet with the garlic. Roast for about 30 minutes or until tender, flipping the onions layers over midway through cooking. The onion may finish roasting before the garlic so be prepared to remove it early. Transfer onion to chopping board and chop roughly. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze out the softened garlic and place in a large mixing bowl with the onion to cool completely while the shrimp boils.

Bring a quart of water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Stir in shrimp and Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp & Crab Boil. Cover and return to boil. Turn off heat and let stand 2 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and done. Pour off the water and place shrimp in an ice bath for up to 5 minutes. Drain and peel. Cut the peeled shrimp into bite size pieces – cut small shrimp in half and medium into three pieces.

Cut an X into the base of the tomato. Place in boiling water for 30 seconds and remove to a water bath for a minute. Take from the water and peel off the skin. Dice the tomato and place in the bowl with onion and garlic. Peel cucumber. Scrape the seeds out with a spoon and cut the cucumber into small chunks. Core and seed the bell pepper and dice. Take out the pits from the avocados and make slices into the flesh both length and widthwise. Peel the pieces from the skin. Place all the vegetables in the bowl and stir to combine. Add in the shrimp and stir well.

Whisk together the V8, lime juice, ketchup and olive oil. Pour over the veggies and turn to coat. If not eating immediately, place in the refrigerator to stay cold. Stir well before ladeling into bowls.

Serve with crusty bread – I had garlic bread on hand that worked well, too.

Salsa Verde Chicken Chalupas

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Pueblo, Mexico as a victory over France in the battle over Puebla and what better way to join the celebration than to eat a traditional street food of the region.

Chalupas (also known as sopes or tostadas) consist of a fried tortilla base topped with meat, salsa and cheese. They are a quick and easy meal to put together, especially if you cheat with a grocery store rotisserie chicken. Picked from the bone and mixed with some mild salsa verde (I use a can from Herdez), means you really elevate the chicken to the next level.

With a slathering of refried beans, a generous amount of shredded chicken and topped with cheese and avocados – this is super flavorful and delicious meal.

Sala Verde Chicken Chalupas

10 corn tortillas 
2 cups shredded chicken
1 – 7 oz can of Herdez salsa verde 
1 can refried beans
8 ounce block of pepper jack cheese, grated
sour cream or Mexican crema
2-3 sliced avocados

Fry the corn tortillas in a little vegetable oil. Turn over as they start to brown and remove from the oil when crispy. Drain on a wire rack over a paper bag or paper towels.

In a mixing bowl, combine shredded chicken and Herdez Salsa Verde. Stir to coat chicken well and microwave until warm, stirring after 30 seconds to a minute.

Warm refried beans in a saucepan.

To serve, spoon refried beans onto each of the fried tortilla shells. Top with the salsa verde chicken. Sprinkle on cheese, add some sour cream and top with avocado slices.

 

Chorizo Scrambled Eggs with Cheese Grits

Chorizo is a slightly spicy pork sausage seasoned with chili powder, garlic, cumin, oregano and other Mexican herbs and spices. As it can be a little spicy for me, I serve it with grits so I can cut the heat with the corn meal.

This is also the perfect scrambled eggs to put in a flour tortilla for a breakfast burrito.

I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished dish. Take my word for it that it tastes better than it looks.

Chorizo Scrambled Eggs with Cheese Grits

1 cup old fashioned grits (not instant)
2 cups water
2 cups milk
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

1 lb Mexican chorizo sausage
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the grits, bring water and milk to a boil. Whisk in the grits and stir vigorously to remove all the lumps. Once it comes back to a boil, cover the saucepan and lower heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally to keep clumps from forming. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until water is absorbed and grits have thickened. Add in cheese by the handful, stirring constantly until cheese is melted. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if desired. Remove from heat but keep covered to stay warm.

Remove the casing from the chorizo and add it to a skillet. Cut the sausage into pieces and cook all the way through, about 4-5 minutes until the color has browned. Once the meat is browned, add in eggs and let sit for minute without stirring. Using a fork, scramble the eggs with the sausage until at desired doneness.

Place together on a plate and dig in, eating a bite of chorizo eggs with a bite of the cheesy grits.

Limoncello Cheesecake

Michelle made a limoncello cheesecake for my birthday using some of the homemade limoncello I made in the late fall. I’m very thankful to my friend Dar who gave me a terrific recipe (Place together the zest of 12 lemons with a bottle of Everclear and store for 4 weeks. Next, strain out the peel and mix with equal parts simple syrup and set aside for another 4 weeks). As you can see below, it was beautifully yellow and very refreshing sipped right out of the freezer.

For the cheesecake, Michelle used ½ cup of the limoncello and the final dessert was so good. Lemony and light and refreshing. You can see the two layers of filling and topping that combined for one tasty cheesecake.

We had a flat of fresh strawberries, so we added one for decoration

She used a 10 ½ inch springform pan and, once the topping was added, it made for a very full pan. If your pan is smaller, consider cooking ⅓ of the batter in muffin tins to make sure you don’t make a mess of your oven.

Limoncello Cheesecake

Crust:

5 tablespoons melted butter
1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs

Filling:

4 packages of cream cheese, room temperature
5 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large lemons zested and juiced (⅓ cup fresh lemon juice)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Topping:

20 ounces of sour cream (NOT light or low fat)
½ cup limoncello
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 egg

Butter a 10.5 inch springform pan. Mix melted butter and graham cracker crumbs together and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes.

While the crust bakes, combine the cream cheese with the sugar in a mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and salt until smooth.

Remove the crust from the oven and drop the temperature of the oven to 200 degrees F.

Pour filling into prepared pan and place in oven to bake for 2 hours, until the topping is set.

While the filling is baking, prepare the topping by mixing together the sour cream, limoncello, sugar, corn starch and egg.

After two hours, remove almost baked cheesecake from the oven. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Pour topping on to the top of the cheesecake. Return pan to oven to bake for 17-20 minutes or until top is set. Remove from oven and, after ten minutes, run a knife along the edge to keep the cheesecake from cracking. Cool for 30 minutes more before placing in the refrigerator to cool completely, at least 4 hours before serving.

I can’t believe I ate the whole thing

Preserved Lemon Butter Broiled Shrimp

This is a messy but good recipe that comes from my Great-uncle Garrett. He published it in Gulf Stream Cookin’ a “gourmetish” little book the Orange Beach Community Center put together of seafood recipes.

Back when I was a kid, they’d make several pans of these the evening after we’d pull a shrimp trawl and bring them to the table with paper plates and a couple rolls of paper towels. All of us would fall on them like ravaging hordes – peeling as fast as we could and licking our fingers to get all the terrific spice. As I’ve added cayenne pepper to the spices, be careful on how many fingers you lick if you’re not a big heat fan.

My big change is to remake his two sticks of margarine into 2 sticks of preserved lemon butter. I made up the preserved lemons in the fall and they are luscious and golden with an intense lemon flavor. Absolutely perfect for this dish. Here is how to make preserved lemons.

The preserved lemon butter is a step up from regular lemon butter. Mellow but lemony and the added kick from the cayenne makes for one tasty dish.

Preserved Lemon Butter Broiled Shrimp

2 sticks butter, softened
1 preserved lemon
2 lb large shrimp, heads removed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Prepare the preserved lemon butter by finely slicing one preserved lemon, rind and all. Mix with the softened butter until well combined. Place on plastic wrap and roll up, twisting ends tightly. Place in the refrigerator to solidify.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

If you are squeamish about the vein, run a deveiner or a pairing knife down the back to remove it. Leave the rest of the shell on. Otherwise, just leave the shrimp in shells.

Mix together the salt, black pepper and cayenne in a small bowl. Set aside.

Butter a large rimmed baking sheet. Place shrimp close together in rows on the pan. Thoroughly sprinkle with spices until well coated. Place thin slices of the preserved lemon butter all over the shrimp.

Bake until pink, about 5-10 minutes depending on size of the shrimp. Turn oven to broil and broil for 5 minutes. Done shrimp are deep pink and firm to the touch.

Since the shrimp are peeled with the fingers at the table, serve with a good supply of napkins. The more you lick your fingers, the spicier the shrimp will be.

Serve with bread for dipping into the lemon butter.