Turkey Chili Layered with Smokey Rich Flavors


Did everyone try the South Beach Diet ten years ago?  My close friends and I surely did.  I couldn’t imagine starving myself and depriving myself of much of the food they said we couldn’t eat in those first weeks.  So, naturally I modified and scoured the internet for food they considered acceptable; turkey chili was top of the list.  Soon all my guy friends were ordering batches of it from me on a weekly basis.  I don’t think I ever lost weight from the diet, probably didn’t need to at the time, but these guys sure did and they loved the chili.

So here’s my recipe but first, full disclosure: this recipe is kicked up a bit by roasting, sautéing and grilling my veggies before they go in with the turkey just to give them an extra layer of smokey rich flavors.  I never did this for the boys back in the day.


  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 1 cup celery stalk finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic oven roasted and chopped
  • 2 pounds ground turkey 70% lean
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes chopped with seeds kept in
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh or dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of hot Hungarian paprika
  • 2 to 4 small sweet red peppers or 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
  • dash or two of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of bone broth
  • 1 32oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 15 oz. cans of beans depending on your preference (kidney, black or pinto)
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a large heavy pot or dutch oven heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and celery.  Fire roast the peppers or grill on pan while oven roasting the garlic. I oven roast the garlic by wrapping it in aluminum foil with a little olive oil and place in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or so.  Once those two are done, add your garlic and peppers to the onions and celery.  (You may want to do this ahead of time).  Add your spices and herbs and sauté for another 5 minutes until mixed well.  Add the ground turkey and cook until lightly brown breaking down the meat with a wooden spoon.

Add the tomatoes, broth and tomato sauce, bringing to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the beans (do not strain) and salt and pepper to taste. Stirring, cook for another 10 minutes.  Serve in bowls with grated cheddar, fresh oregano and green onions – or any combination you prefer.  I sometimes top mine with homemade tortilla chips and a slice of avocado, lime and cilantro.

I should note that I also like to make my bone broths ahead of time (following Thanksgiving and Christmas I had a lot to work with) and freeze them in ice trays, ziplock bags and repurposed quart containers.  I also slow-cooked this for another 4 hours in the oven on low (about 275 degrees Fahrenheit) just to be sure all of those flavors get married, make love and have babies!  If you do this too you may want to add another cup of broth, it’s up to you!

I hope you and your friends enjoy this recipe as much as we will tomorrow in the snow!

Happy eating and stay warm!







Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Almonds & a Twist of Coconut & Rum

img_20171222_173337-01783599703.jpegOne of my favorite classic treats are Nestle’s Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies with walnuts.  Another favorite of my sweet treats is coconut with chocolate and almonds (as a kid it was the Almond Joy).   On this day I was craving the comforting feeling of those treats and with a freezer filled with almonds and a vat of coconut oil, I came up with a new twist on a classic:  Chocolate Chunk-Almond Cookies with a Twist of Coconut & Rum.

I don’t know about you but I like my cookies gooey in the center with a crispy edge butter edge and lots of chocolate. In this recipe replaced the butter for coconut and well, you get the rest.  These are now my new favorite and quickly becoming a classic with my family.  They came out perfect, gooey, oozing with melted chocolate and dough in the center and a crispy edge – just the way I like them.  So here’s the recipe with my tweaks and twists on the classic Nestle’s recipe.




Toasted Almonds

Fernandes Rum Trinidad

Fernandes Rum of Trinidad


TBT: La Romana Coconuts


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. I sift mine to ensure its smooth and their are no funny things in my flour.  Beat coconut oil (don’t let this liquefy prior to using), granulated sugar, brown sugar and rum in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.  I use an ice cream scoop.
  3. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. Enjoy with your favorite milk or ice cream or just alone.  I like them best warm, right out of the oven!!


Who am I kidding? I ate more than two. These little babies are my weakness!



Mommy’s Juicy Chicken Recipe


This dish is totally delicious and juicy, just like it’s name.  The secret is in the basting.   Gigi used to say, “Yeah, its mommy’s juicy chicken for dinner!” and that’s how it got it’s name.  Back then I took the whole chicken and cut it into parts and that added an additional hour to my work.  Now my kids are big enough to eat half a chicken each, so no need to do all that carving of raw chicken – unless I’m catering for a friend’s kid birthday party, then it tends to look more like this:



    • 1 tablespoon each of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme and basil, chopped
    • juice of two lemons (save the skins for the cavity of the chicken)
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • half a stick of butter cut into tablespoons
    • 1 large clove of garlic or 3 small cloves
    • ½ teaspoon turmeric
    • ½ teaspoon paprika
    • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
    • sea salt and black crushed pepper
    • ½ yellow onion
    • 1 celery stalk cut into quarters


  1. Salt and pepper chicken and cover in the refrigerator for about an hour while mixing marinade.
  2. Mix all herbs and spices with olive oil, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of butter in glass bowl or measuring cup. Let melt to room temperature or melt in the microwave a few seconds.  Let stand.
  3. Roast garlic in a wrap of tin foil at 400 in the oven with a dash of olive oil. Add to the olive oil, herb mixture and smash.  Take chicken out of the refrigerator and pour marinade over chicken.
  4. Take the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and insert under the skin of the chicken breast.
  5. Take onion, celery and the lemon halves and stuff inside the cavity of the chicken.
  6. Cover in plastic and return to fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

img_20171208_141926_1-01209533875.jpeg img_20171219_165735-011547399312.jpeg

High heat method (this creates a crispy, darker skin):

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and cook whole (thawed) chicken for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and roast for 20 minutes per pound.  Today’s chicken is 7 pounds!

Here are some little personal preferences I do:

  1. I usually cover my chicken with aluminum foil and baste every 20-30 minutes for extra juicy chicken but then you’re doing a dance between crispy and not crispy enough skin.
  2. If you cover your chicken during cooking, remove foil for the last hour (at least) and turn the broiler on at the end and cook for about 3-5 minutes, keeping a careful eye on it.  Also, you can never baste too much, in my opinion.

Other tips for my girls I snagged from the All Recipe’s website Roast Chicken Tips:

How to Tell When Your Chicken Is Done


Regardless of the method used, a whole chicken is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into the inner thigh (close to but not touching the thigh bone) reads at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).

  • The temperature of the meat will continue to rise slightly when you pull it out of the oven (this is called “carryover cooking”), so if the thermometer shows a few degrees below the target, give it a few minutes–the internal temperature might still rise to at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
  • When you remove the chicken from the oven, cover it loosely with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. This redistributes the juices and results in moister chicken.

Now that my chicken is done, I’m going to head out to the airport and pick that little girl in an adolescence body up from the airport.  She’s home for the holidays after a stressful two weeks of finals at BU!  I hope she still loves “Mommy’s Juicy Chicken!”

Lemon & Brown Sugar Baby Bread Pudding


One of my favorite bread pudding recipes has to be the one I created for my daughter Emma’s kindergarten class’ recipe book and bake sale.  While the title says lemon and brown sugar, so much more goes into this delicious warm and cozy treat.  It makes a perfect dessert with coffee and a generous dollop of whipped cream this Chanukah.

Here is the original recipe but today I am out of coconut flakes, blueberries and white chocolate so I’m doing a little creative substitution with dark chocolate, toffee bits, a teaspoon of cinnamon and cocoa powder.  I also cut the recipe in half and used a Greek Easter loaf (Tsoureki) I had in the freezer for just such an occasion of craving!  I’ll put the alternate recipe underneath the images and post.

So we’ll see if its as good as the first one!


  • 1 loaf Challah bread, cut into 2-inch dice
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, for garnish
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish
  • Coconut flakes, for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon of butter for greasing the casserole.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put bread cubes into large bowl. Mix eggs, cream, brown sugar, zest, coconut, white chocolate chips and vanilla together; pour over bread. Mix well and let sit for a minimum of 15 minutes. Butter a casserole dish and pour the mixture into the casserole. Put into the top half of the oven until the center is slightly firm to the touch, about 30 – 40 minutes. Remove and serve warm, topped with whipped cream, blueberries, and powdered sugar.

Here’s a shot of it just before putting it in the oven.  I’m not sure if you can see that the chocolate chips are mixed into the mixture, whereas I just sprinkled the toffee bits on top.

Lemon & Brown Sugar Baby Bread Pudding

Setting in the oven

So, the pudding has been in the oven for about 15 minutes and I went to the office to check on something.  I was nearly knocked over by the fragrance that had escaped my kitchen and made its way down the hall.  That combination of butter, chocolate, cinnamon and lemon is so satisfying.  I can’t wait to see how this one comes out!

Turns out I cooked this one for 35 minutes exactly and here it is!


I took my first bite and it did not disappoint.  It may even be my new favorite.  I didn’t bother whipping up any cream.  Its still morning for goodness sake!

I’m not the only one who wanted in on the action.  Our new family member, Graham, tried to sneak a taste too!  No chocolate for doggies, but he did get a corner of the bread and was simply lick-a-licously satisfied!


Alternate Recipe (halved)

  • 1/2 loaf Tsoureki bread, cut into 2-inch dice
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Hershey’s milk chocolate-toffee bits
  • 1 tablespoon of butter for greasing the casserole.

A Savory Twist on a classic Scottish shortbread with white cheddar and rosemary.

These little shortbreads were great with all the appetizers at our host’s Thanksgiving feast this year.  Although I may have cooked them a little too long, our host and her guests gobbled them up along side a mix of spicy nuts, cheeses, olives and pigs in a blanket (a shameless request of someone whose name shall go unmentioned).


  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add cheddar cheese and rosemary and continue to cream. Add 2 1/2 cups flour; mix well. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead for 5 minutes, adding enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  2. Roll to 1/2-in. thickness. (I place my dough between two long sheets of Saran Wrap and Roll that way therefore I don’t need the extra flour to keep it from sticking). Cut into circular shapes. Place 1 in. apart on un-greased baking sheets. Prick with toothpick. Bake until cookies are lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Cool.  Yield: about 2 dozen.

Continue reading

Post-Holiday Cooking: Here’s a Quick & Easy Sausage & Egg Pie Recipe

wp-1484173950945.jpgFrom stuffing, basting, patting, pricking, roasting and toasting, most of us foodies who refer to the holiday season as the “Olympics of Family Cooking,” have taken a deep sigh of gratitude for the love and joy that was shared amongst our family and friends.

All the gifts have been opened, clothes tried on (and modeled on the living room runway) and Google Home was streaming music at our demand when I noticed that I was starving! But, I was also tired and didn’t have the energy to create breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  But clearly, we all needed to eat.

So, here is a quick go-to recipe I like to use that comes loaded with the right amount of nutrition, salty savoriness, and warmth.  This pie oozes with comfort and cozy post-holiday sit-around-the-house goodness.  I like to think of it as alinner (lunch and dinner) dish or a classic brunch dish too.

– Don’t worry, you’re not required to make your own pie crust, I promise.


1 Pie Crust (for the inquiring minds, yes, I used the type you buy and roll out).
1 tablespoon of butter
1 good-sized shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4-6 sun-dried tomatoes loosely chopped
8 ounces of Italian sausage or chicken sausage (remove the outer skin and crumble)
1 three-finger pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of oregano or thyme (or both)
3 – 4 handfuls of fresh spinach or kale
2 cups of freshly grated California cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup of heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat and saute shallots and garlic until translucent. Add salt, oregano and thyme. Add the crumbled sausage, sundried tomatoes, and cook until browned. Add the spinach or kale and cook until the greens wilt and set aside.

In a pie dish roll out the pie crust and pinch the edges.   Add 1 cup of cheese on the bottom and then add the sausage mixture on top of that.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs and heavy cream and 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese (you can also use almond milk or any other milk/cream variation).  Season with a pinch of sea salt and mix well.  Pour the egg mixture over the sausage mixture.  Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.  I also added a little extra romano in this pie – I mean, can you blame me?  Take a brush and lightly coat the edge of the pie crust with some of your egg mixture for a crispy finish.  (not too much).


Place your pie on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.



Special thanks to Mele Cotte for the inspiration of this recipe.  I use it in many reincarnations.


Here is one I made with Kale