Recipes

Turkey Talk 🦃

Thanksgiving is just about a week away and that means we need to talk about turkey! Thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite meals, and one I’ve been making at home for my family for the last few years. Everybody certainly has their favorite ways of doing things, but here I’ll share my turkey tricks that are simple, easy and result in a super tasty bird.

Step 1: DEFROST SAFELY
First and foremost, if your turkey is still hanging out in your freezer, now is a good time to check its weight and refer to the chart below (from the USDA) to ensure that you move it to the fridge in enough time for it to be fully defrosted in time for the big day. A basic rule of thumb I follow for defrosting is FRIDGE DEFROST ONLY! According to multiple reliable resources (the USDA, Butterball, and The NY Times to name a few), defrosting in the refrigerator is the safest way to go, simply because the consistent cold limits the amount of sickness-causing bacteria than can form versus leaving it in a sink of water.

Refrigerator thaw rule = Allow 24 hours for every 5 pounds

So if your turkey is…
4–12 pounds: 1 to 3 days in fridge
12–16 pounds: 3 to 4 days in fridge
16–20 pounds: 4 to 5 days in fridge
20–24 pounds: 5 to 6 days in fridge

Step 2: PREP YOUR BIRD
I’m a turkey purist – I don’t deep fry, and I’m not one for injecting my turkey with bottled marinades and flavors. Instead, I roast my turkey covered in butter and herbs! This easy method has not failed me yet, and results in moist and juicy meat and a crispy skin. See my Compound Butter recipe below!

Use your hands! Rub the entire bird with compound butter and get under the skin with it for moist and juicy meat and crispy skin!

Compound Butter (enough for a 12-14lb turkey – double for larger birds)

◾ 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
◾ Handful of fresh parsley, stems removed and coarsely chopped
◾ 2 Tablespoons of fresh or dried thyme leaves
◾ Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Once turkey is in your roasting pan, spread butter mixture all over the outside of your turkey, taking special care to gently get mixture under the skin without tearing. Inside the bird, I typically just throw in a raw onion, cut in half for some extra flavor. Loosely cover the bird with foil and begin your cooking. Uncover for the last hour of cooking to crisp up skin.


Step 3: HOW LONG DO I COOK IT?
The most useful resource I have ever found online was Butterball’s Turkey Calculator. I referred to this when I first started cooking my own Thanksgivings and found it to be an invaluable tool, particularly for first timers. It’s a simple fill-in-the-blanks page that automatically calculates how much turkey and stuffing you’ll need to feed your number of guests (including estimates if you want leftovers!) – you can find that free calculator HERE.

Cooking times will of course vary depending on the size of your turkey, whether it’s stuffed or unstuffed, and even how well your oven works – but at 325 degrees F, here’s the guide that I’ve always gone by. Just remember to ALWAYS use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature when you think your turkey’s ready – 165 degrees F is the magic number, and you want to hit that temp in the thickest part of the breast, the inner thigh and under the wing. If you’re stuffing your bird, be sure to check that the stuffing temp hits 165 in the middle as well.

Regular Oven
Weight —– Cook Time (Unstuffed/Stuffed)
6-7 lbs. —-— 2-2½ hrs. / 2¼-2¾ hrs.
7-10 lbs. —– 2½-3 hrs. / 2¾-3½ hrs.
10-18 lbs. —– 3-3½ hrs. / 3¾-4½ hrs.
18-22 lbs. —- 3½-4 hrs. / 4½-5 hrs.
22-24 lbs. —– 4-4½ hrs. / 5-5½ hrs.
24-30 lbs. —– 4½-5 hrs. / 5½-6¼ hrs.

Let rest 15-20 mins before carving and you end up with a beauty like this:

When in doubt… there are excellent resources online and by phone provided for free by the USDA (and they’re updated often)! You can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

You can also visit FoodSafety.gov to learn more about how to safely select, thaw, and prepare a turkey. For more Thanksgiving food safety tips, follow FSIS on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety or on Facebook at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.

Feel free to drop your best turkey tips in the comments!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Recipes

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos

Weekday breakfasts have always been a struggle in my house. I can meal plan dinners for days on end – and have leftovers packed and ready for lunches – but when it comes to breakfast during the week, I admit, I fall short. It’s so easy to stop off at a Starbucks on the way to work, or grab a bagel or muffin somewhere, but last weekend, I decided to try something different: BREAKFAST BURRITOS!

Weekends by us are for big breakfasts – usually waffles or pancakes. But this time, I mixed it up a bit and made us breakfast burritos. They’re as simple as you’d expect: scrambled eggs, toppings and cheese, wrapped up in a soft tortilla. As we ate them, I thought ‘why not make more of these and freeze them for breakfast during the week?’, and I did.

Depending on the size of your family and how many burritos you have room for in your freezer, my recipe made about 8 burritos, but you can easily half or double to make less or more. These burritos are great for for the car when you’re rushing to school, or bringing to the office to heat up when you want a healthier-than-pastries option. Browse my little visual how-to, and get my full recipe below!

Breakfast Burritos
Makes about 8 (soft taco size burritos)

INGREDIENTS:
• 8 large eggs
• 4 frozen Brown ‘N Serve Sausages (I used Turkey)
• 1/2 bag frozen Hash Browns (I used Ore-Ida’s Potatoes O’Brien, which already includes chopped potatoes, chopped onion and peppers)
• 8 soft flour tortillas
• Toppings: any shredded cheese you like, fresh spinach, cooked mushrooms, sriracha, ketchup – whatever you prefer!

VARIATION TIPS:
Try one of these great combos with your eggs and mix up your flavors a bit!
• Sausage + Cheese
• Spinach + Mushroom + Swiss
• Ham + Cheddar + Potato
• Sundried Tomato + Proscuitto + Mozzarella
• Bacon + Spinach + Bleu Cheese

HOW TO:
1. Heat up a large griddle or fry pan, add the potatoes and begin to cook per package directions. While the potatoes are cooking, carefully slice the frozen sausages and add to the potatoes. Cook thoroughly and set aside.
2. Crack your eggs in a bowl and add salt and pepper if desired. Beat up and prepare a skillet with cooking spray or butter. Cook and scramble eggs as you normally do, then remove from heat.
3. Lay out a tortilla on your cutting board and begin the build! I started with cheese, then topped with my eggs then my potato/sausage mixture.
4. Make your burrito by bringing two opposite edges of the tortilla in, then start rolling onto itself from one side, being careful to keep those ends tucked in. If you’re having trouble rolling, you could have too much filling inside. Try removing some and roll again. Once you get the hang of it, it gets easy!
5. Wrap each burrito in waxed paper (or plastic wrap) to keep fresh. Place all of your wrapped burritos in a plastic resealable bag and place in freezer. Tip: if you’re making different varieties, write on each wrapper what they are before freezing so you’re not surprised!
6. When ready to take your burrito out for breakfast, remove wax paper/plastic wrapping and wrap lightly in a paper towel. Microwave for 1 min 30 seconds and enjoy!

Recipes

Gruyere/Swiss Grilled Cheese

Yes, it’s another grilled sandwich post, but I just tried a new cheese blend from Trader Joe’s and feel the need to tell everyone how great it is 😂

This cheese is amazing! Sharp, creamy, and great for grilled cheese or melting into your homemade macaroni and cheese. The best part: it’s only $4.99 at my Trader Joe’s!

The how-to is as simple as just making grilled cheese how your normally make it, but some of my suggestions for success are below:

• Prepare your pan – either with butter or your favorite oil non-stick spray
• Use good bread: I used the Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian bread – works perfectly!
• Prepare your bread: always butter the outside of your bread! It makes for a nice, golden brown crust
• Let the cheese start melting on the bottom halves before adding the tops and flipping (otherwise you’ll have shredded cheese everywhere!

Enjoy! 🧀

Recipes

Quick Cuban Sandwich-Inspired Grilled Sandwiches

I say ‘inspired’ because usually, a lot of time goes into a true Cuban sandwich. With tender slow-roasted pork typically as the main ingredient, a good Cuban basically consists of meats, cheese, pickles and mustard on a nice, crusty bread.

My variation, let’s call it a ‘deli-improvised’ version, is quick, easy and full of flavor. And, it makes a great dinner option when you’ve run out of ideas! Bonus: it only uses one pan (easy clean up!). The best tip I can offer is to work quickly, since your pan is heating up as you start piling up your sandwich.

Add these items to your grocery shopping list (amounts will vary depending on how many people you’re feeding) and watch the slide show below for the step by step how-to!

  • Good bread: I used what my supermarket calls “Italian Panne”. It’s a round, crusty Italian bread that’s ideal for panini, avocado toast and grilled cheese.
  • Deli Sliced Boiled Ham – sliced thin
  • Deli Sliced Roasted Turkey – sliced thin
  • Deli Sliced Swiss Cheese – sliced thin (I used Jarlsberg)
  • Sliced Pickles – I used Vlasik Stackers Kosher Dill (they’re sliced lengthwise and fit perfectly on these sandwiches!)
  • Yellow Mustard – up for debate – we only had Spicy Brown in the house at the time and it worked just fine, however I think if you’re a yellow mustard lover, go with that!
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray – to coat pan and bread tops

Recipes

Summer Black Bean Salad

This refreshing salad makes a great side for any summer meal – from sandwiches and burgers to tacos and fish – this recipe can be completely customized to your liking and it never disappoints!

Things to keep in mind: if using avocado, always add it just before serving to avoid browning. Also, this salad is great when made ahead and chilled, so make it the night before (or a few hours before) your meal and the flavors will really pop when it has time to sit and marinate.

The basics: black beans, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, red onion, limes, and garlic.

Summer Black Bean Salad (serves 4-6)

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tomatoes (I used Roma), chopped
  • 2 ears fresh corn, removed from cob – feel free to replace with frozen corn or canned (drained)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 fresh peppers (I used a combo of red and orange, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon if you’re using pre-minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • fresh cilantro, to taste
Chop and dump!

How to – the easy chop and dump method!

  • Rinse and drain black beans, put in a large bowl.
  • Remove corn from cob and add to bowl.
  • Chop all vegetables and add to beans.
  • Add garlic, olive oil, lime juice, and cilantro if using, and stir to combine.
  • When ready to serve, chop avocado and add to salad. Mix again and serve. Store leftovers in a sealed container.
The delicious end result!
Recipes

Bakin’ Bacon

If you’re in the market for flat, crispy bacon – you’ve found the right post!

Baking bacon in the oven is quick, easy, and surprisingly mess-free! I was terrified that I’d set my oven on fire, imagining bacon grease splattering everywhere, but I’m happy to report that didn’t happen at all.

Crispy, and flat! Great for piling on sandwiches 🥓

How to: simply preheat your oven to 400°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Line bacon on top of foil (slightly overlapping is ok) and bake for 20-25 mins (or until done to your desired crispness).

Clean up is easy: remove bacon slices and drain on a paper towel. Allow sheet pan to cool and remove foil with drippings.

Recipes

30 Minute Main: Instant Pot Chicken Legs

Got 30 minutes? Then you can make some really great chicken legs for dinner! These easy chicken legs start out in your Instant Pot and finish off under the broiler (or in a super hot oven) for an end result that’s moist and tender inside, and crispy outside. Starting off in the Instant Pot simply speeds up the cooking process (and retains those juices!), so you’ll have dinner on the table in no time at all. Tip: at the 15-minute mark, make your sides so that your complete meal is done all at once!

This recipe is just three easy steps:

  1. Season your chicken legs
  2. Place into your Instant Pot (on top of the trivet to prevent burning)
  3. When done, finish off in a hot oven or broiler to crisp up the skin

My all-time favorite flavor booster is Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. I literally use it every day! From chicken to steak to roasted veggies and eggs, it adds that perfect little bit of flavor and tastes great on everything. In this recipe, I mixed up my dry rub and ground a hefty amount of this into the mix.


Instant Pot Chicken Legs
Serves 4
Total Time 30 mins


You’ll Need:

  • 3-4lbs Chicken Legs
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: paprika, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper (and if using, Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning)
  • 1 Cup water or chicken broth
  • Your favorite BBQ Sauce (I love Sweet Baby Ray’s)

How to:

  1. Combine all of your spices in a bowl and rub all over chicken legs.
  2. Place trivet inside the Instant Pot and add 1 Cup of water (or broth) to the pot.
  3. Pile up your chicken legs on top of the trivet.
  4. Close lid and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes (turn off Keep Warm feature).
  5. While cooking, preheat oven to 500 degrees F and make your sides.
  6. When done, quick release your pot and allow the steam to fully exit. Once pressure sensor drops and all steam has been released, set a timer for 5 minutes and let it sit.
  7. Once finished, your chicken legs are cooked! You can eat them as is, or if you prefer a crispy skin, line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray. Then, coat legs with your favorite barbecue sauce and place in the 500 degree oven for 10-15 mins.

Recipes

Baby Back Ribs (in the oven!)

Happy 4th of July! 🇺🇸

Nothing quite says American BBQ than baby back ribs. Mine are fall-off-the-bone delicious and super easy to make in the oven. Start with a dry rub first for the most flavor, then finish them off with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Before, during and after! Approx 3-4 hour cook time plus 15 mins under the broiler.

You’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 3-4 pounds baby back pork ribs (2 to 3 slabs)
  • 2 cups your favorite BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s)

How to:

  • Preheat oven to 275° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Mix up dry ingredients and rub each rib slab with mix. Wrap slabs in heavy-duty aluminum foil; place on sheet pan.
  • Bake 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove from oven, and unwrap ribs and discard foil and drippings. Place ribs directly on sheet pan and brush with barbecue sauce on top of each slab. Return to oven; bake at 275°F until ribs are tender and meat is pulling away from bones, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • After cooking, brush with barbecue sauce again and raise oven temperature to 450° F. Cook an additional 10-15 mins. Cut up ribs and serve!

Recipes

Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs

Great Baby Back Ribs don’t need to be a long, strenuous process! This easy recipe is pretty hands-off, and the end result is delicious! I picked up two packs of pre-cut pork ribs and had them on the table within an hour and a half!

Ingredients and How-To:

  • Baby Back Ribs, separated (I used about 3lbs total)
  • Your favorite dry rub. I made mine with eyeballed amounts of paprika, cumin, brown sugar and garlic powder. You can also just salt and pepper them!
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Line a sheet pan with foil, leaving enough extra overlapping so you can bring it up to fold over your ribs, like a pocket.
  • Toss ribs with dry rub and lay on lined sheet pan.
  • Bring up foil and fold over to seal. Bake at 375°F for one hour.
  • Open up foil and brush ribs with BBQ sauce. Put back in oven uncovered for 30-45 mins and serve.