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“Healthified” Chili

Turkey Chili


“Healthified” … it may not be a real word, but I believe it accurately describes this recipe and my year twenty ten goal to make healthier Food choices.  It does not mean that I promise to cook ONLY healthy foods (I still have to have chocolate and such things now and again), but rather I am going to make better choices … eat better food by creating “healthified” versions of my favorite recipes.  

I wanted to cook something substantial, something meaty and satisfying … Chili seemed to be the perfect dish to make over.  Ground turkey proved to be the best substitution for ground beef.  If you are a chili die-hard and find using turkey sacrilegious, a better choice for you might be 93/7 ground beef.  It will cost you a few more of your food budget dollars, but will be a better overall food choice.  I have to take a moment here and share with you a family chili story that has stuck with me.  Years ago, my mother was on Weight Watchers, she was preparing WW chili … now I know I was just a kid, but I was smart enough to know that green beans and tomato sauce was not my idea of chili!  My point is that food substitutions do not have to be that drastic! 

Read the labels on the canned goods before you toss them in your grocery cart.  Be aware of the fat content, salt content, know what you are buying.  Is there a better food choice sitting on the shelf that you missed?  It is small things like this that can aid you in your quest to drop a few pounds. I am not a weight loss expert by any means, but I have had some experience in losing weight.   When you create “healthified” versions of your favorite recipes load them up with ingredients that are good for you.  “Healthified” food can be fun and tasty.


1 and ½   pounds of ground turkey  (ground turkey breast is 99% fat free)
1 large onion, diced
1   14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes  (I use fire roasted for greater flavor)
1 and ½  cups of tomato sauce
3  Tablespoons of diced green chilis from the can , optional  (I use the whole 4 oz can with juice)
2  Teaspoons of chili powder  (I use one Tablespoon as I like it a bit spicy)
1  Teaspoon cumin  (I use 2 Teaspoons)
1  15 ounce can of beans drained  (Use the kind you like … I used Great White Northern)
Salt and pepper to taste. 

Brown the turkey and the onion. 

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chilis, chili powder and cumin.  Let this mixture simmer for at least 15 minutes.  (I prefer to simmer 30- 45 minutes.)  Taste and then salt and pepper to taste.  If you would like more spice fell free to add the spices of your choice.  This is a basic recipe that you can enhance to fit your personal taste.  ( I do add a bit of onion powder and garlic powder.)  Add the beans in just before serving and let them warm through.

I like to garnish with fat free sour cream, chopped green onion and a bit of fat free cheddar cheese.

Turkey Chili




I Heart Cooking Clubs: Nigella’s Caramel Croissant Pudding

A double batch of Caramel Croissant Pudding

This week’s theme at   I Heart Cooking Clubs   is Resolutions.

One of my Culinary Resolutions is to be more thrifty!

Nigella believes that some of the best recipes come from the thrifty refusal to throw anything away.  This dish is best when made with croissants that are a few days old.  You know, the ones you might have thrown away, because really what can you do with 2 stale croissants?   CARAMEL CROISSANT PUDDING … thats what!

All ready to make Caramel Croissant Pudding.


  • 2 stale croissants  (I would use 3 large croissants.)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream   (Room temperature a must!)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon   (I used Frangelico Liqueur)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk   (Room temperature a must!)
  • 2 eggs, beaten    (Room temperature is best.)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear the croissants into bite size pieces and put in a small 2 cup capacity baking dish.  Nigella used an oval cast iron pan.   (I made a double batch and used a quart size Rachael Ray baking dish … hope Nigella is ok with that!)

Put the sugar and water into your saucepan.  Swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the stove over medium to high heat. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture.  Let it bubble away until it reaches a deep amber colour; this will take 3 to 5 minutes.  (I used medium-high heat and it took longer than 3 to 5 minutes.  Watch it closely.)

Take the pan off the heat and add the cream – ignoring all spluttering – followed by the bourbon and milk. Whisk to mix, then still whisking add the beaten eggs. Pour this quickly over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes. 
IMPORTANT NOTE:   Stream in the cream very slowly while you whisk.  Do the same with the bourbon and milk.

Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes and prepare to swoon.  (I made a double batch and it baked about 30 minutes.   When making a single recipe I would check and make sure it is set to your liking … if not bake a bit longer.)

Nigella's Caramel Croissant Pudding is outstanding. It is not overly sweet and I find that very appealing. Next time I may sprinkle my croissants with a bit of cinnamon for some additional flavor.

I Heart Cooking Clubs: Nigella’s Hasselback Potatoes

Nigella's Hasselback Potatoes

This Week’s Challenge:

You know the old saying… So, break out the dip! Dig out those saucers and mini-plates that you don’t use often enough. And maybe even try something new…something you toyed with tasting, but didn’t want to eat it all yourself. Call them what you will…tapas, mezze, pupus (I especially like this one), hors-d’oeuvre, smorrebrod, zakouski, canapé, appetizer…what SMALL PLATES will you dazzle with this week?

So I chose Hasselback Potatoes !!!! 

I used small to medium Klondike Goldust (yellow flesh) potatoes.

Tip for easy slicing of potatoes: Take a thin slice from the bottom of each potato so they will sit flat on your cutting board. This makes the slicing of the layers much easier and safer. Place a chopstick on each side of the potato and with a very sharp thin bladed knife, carefully make slices into the potato about 1/8 inch apart. The chopsticks will not allow you to slice all the way to the bottom!

The olive oil and butter has been heated to sizzling in the baking dish and the potatoes have been coated with this mixture. Each potato received a sprinkling of coarse salt.

Each potato is about 4 to 5 bites! I served with a parsley-sour cream.

Hot Fudge Sauce … I’m in Hot Fudge Heaven!

Hot Fudge Sauce


This past week I made up some of the most sinfully magnificient Hot Fudge Sauce.  You’d be surprised just how many things you have in your kitchen right now that can be doused in hot fudge!   In the 25 minutes it took to whip up this sauce I had fashioned quite an extensive list.   Fresh fruit, a stray brownie, that last piece of pound cake from Christmas, pretzels and of course ice cream, the most obvious choice.   Be careful or you could find yourself lost in “Hot Fudge Land”. 

 To me, hot fudge sauce on ice cream seems so … from an era gone by.  It appears that the simple hot fudge sundaes of yesterday have been replaced with more modern creations, using the same ingredients but sporting new trendy names.  Maybe we have just gone overboard with the likes of “Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream served in a velvety pool of bittersweet chocolate, topped with 24-karat edible gold leaf” … when actually what we have is just an unnecessarily expensive version of a classic hot fudge sundae.  

This sauce is so easy to make and is so versatile.  You can probably make it with ingredients you already have in your pantry.  Don’t settle for the store bought stuff … make your own.

Makes 3 ¼ cups   (I filled 2 pint jars)

Melt 8 ounces of unsweetened chocolate baking squares and ½ cup of unsalted butter in a large, heavy saucepan.  (I “borrowed” my Mother’s copper bottom sauce pan.)  Melt over low heat stirring constantly.  (Use a low setting and be patient.)

 When completely melted add in 2 cups of sugar, stirring constantly over low heat.  (I stirred approximately 4-5 minutes until it was well blended.  The mixture will be thick and “sandy” looking.)

 Add 1 cup of milk (I like to use room temperature milk.) and continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thoroughly heated and the sugar is dissolved. (Once the sugar dissolved, I changed from stirring with  a wooden spoon to a whisk.  At this point, I raised the temperature just a bit above low and continued to whisk the sauce.  I found that you must let the sauce heat through all the way.  The longer you whisk and cook it, the fudgier the finished product will be when cooled.  I probably whisked about 10 minutes to get the consistency I liked.)  DO NOT BOIL THE SAUCE.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract (I used about 1 and ½ teaspoons) and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.  Cover and chill sauce.  It will hold in the fridge up to 2 weeks.  (One recipe filled 2 pint canning jars.) 

Note: To reheat, spoon some of the sauce into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 15 seconds, or in 15 second intervals until warm.

Espresso-Hot Fudge Sauce:  Add 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder with the sugar.

Whiskey-Hot Fudge Sauce:  Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of Southern Comfort with the vanilla and salt.

Brown-Sugar-Cinnamon Hot Fudge Sauce:  Substitute 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar for 1 cup of granulated sugar.  Stir in ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon with vanilla and salt.

Roast Prime Rib of Beef

Roast Prime Rib of Beef


Some years back my Father “out-lawed” turkey on the Christmas day dinner table.  He tolerated it at Thanksgiving, but that was about all he could take.  So, prime rib became our special treat at Christmas, compliments of Dad.  Christmas morning you would find him preparing to load the prime rib into his “set it and forget it” machine!  It was perfect every time.  Sadly, we lost my Father just before the holidays last year and I have eagerly taken on the job of roasting the prime rib. 

When purchasing your prime rib, have a conversation with your butcher!  Let them know your plans and the number of people you will be serving.  Our Gardner Price Chopper has one of the most friendly and knowledgeable meat departments I have ever dealt with.  I consider them “my butcher” and quite regularly take advantage of their expertise.  I requested a 10 pound, bone-in prime rib (bones are the key to great flavor).  “My butcher” indicated that they could cut the meat from the bone and tie it back onto the bone for roasting.  Wow … one less step for me and no extra charge.  

My butcher had this prime rib trimmed and tied ... saved me some time!

To satisfy government home economists, the Beef council tells us that rare beef means an internal temperature of 140 degrees F.  Well, that is if you like well done and very dry meat.  If you like moist, rosy meat (yes I do), rare begins at 120 degrees F and starts to become medium rare at 125 to 130 degrees F.  

This chart is only a guide  … you need to use an accurate meat thermometer and start taking the temperatures one half hour before the end of the estimated roasting time. 

  Approximate Weight Oven Temperature Total Estimated Time Only Meat Thermometer Reading (Rare)
2 ribs 4  to 5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 60 to 70 minutes 120 degrees F 
3 ribs 7 to 8.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours 120 degrees F 
4 ribs 9 to 10.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours 120 degrees F 
5 ribs 11 to 13.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours 120 degrees F 
6 ribs 14 to 16 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 3 to 3 1/4 hours 120 degrees F 
7 ribs 16 to 18.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 3 1/4 to 4 hours 120 degrees F


Beef Roast Cooking Temperatures
Rare 120 to 125 degrees F center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion
Medium Rare 130 to 135 degrees F center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion
Medium 140 to 145 degrees F center is light pink, outer portion is brown
Medium Well 150 to 155 degrees F not pink
Well Done 160 degrees F and above steak is uniformly brown throughout

I got a lot of great information and the charts from a wonderful site ….
What’s Cooking  America

Room Temperature:  To cook evenly, the roast must not be cold – let it stand at room temperature, loosely covered, for about 2 hours.  If you do not let the roast come to room temperature it will not cook evenly and you’ll end up with well-done slices on the ends and raw meat in the center.  

Seasoning:  In a zip lock bag mix together the following:  5 cloves of garlic chopped, ½ cup of prepared horseradish, ½ cup of course salt, ¼ cup of ground black pepper and ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Massage this mixture generously over the entire roast.  (I do this when I first take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature.)

Ready to roast!

Roasting: Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place the roast, ribs down, in a roasting pan. The rib bones are a natural rack; you won’t need a metal one.

Sear the rib roast for 15 minutes at the higher oven temperature (450 degrees F.), then turn the oven to the lower temperature (325 degrees F.) for the rest of the cooking time.

About 1/2 hour before the estimated end of the roasting time, begin checking the internal temperature (use a good instant-read digital meat thermometer). Internal temperature, not time, is the best test for doneness.  Insert your meat thermometer so the tip is in thickest part of beef, not resting in fat or touching bone. Remember, the rib roast will continue to cook as it sets.  I wanted medium prime rib so I took the roast out of the oven when the temperature reached 135 degrees.  I let it set 30 minutes (while my popovers were baking) and the temperature rose to 142 degrees.  So, pay attention to how long you let the cooked prime rib roast sit in relation to your desired level of doneness.

Cooked perfectly to medium -- center light pink and outer portion is brown.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie … a twist on a classic.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

Let me say right off the bat:  I am not fond of pumpkin pie.  If pumpkin pie was the only available option for dessert, I’d be pounds thinner … ‘cause I would be doing without.  For me, it has too much of a one-dimensional texture.  But because I love the drama and festiveness of this most celebrated seasonal recipe, I find myself baking a pumpkin pie during the holiday season. (My pumpkin pie is just one of the 50 million that are baked and consumed annually, according to Libby’s.)

Every once in a while, I stumble upon an article or book that offers a fresh spin on a traditional recipe.  It often renews my interest in certain ingredients and introduces me to new ones.  My most recent recipe find is so amazing that I made a last minute change to this column so I could share it with you … Bruleed Pumpkin Pie!   You begin with a very rich, heavenly spiced, baked pumpkin custard.  Just prior to serving, it is sprinkled with a layer of sugar which is caramelized with the aid of a propane torch or a broiler.  This layer solidifies, creating a delightful textural contrast between the soft pie custard and the brittle sugar topping.  The pie makes a wonderful crackling sound when you cut it!   

What I love about this version of pumpkin pie is that it must be made ahead – as you have to freeze the crust for a few hours and then chill the pie overnight. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that I am now the proud owner of a propane torch … imagine the surprised looks on the faces of my guests when I whipped it out just prior to serving the pie.  It made for wonderful “dessert conversation”.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

adapted from a recipe from the Los Angeles Times

Single pie crust  —  can be homemade or store bought  (shame on me, I used store bought)
1      (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
½    cup heavy cream
½    cup milk
3      eggs plus one egg yolk
2      tablespoons Brandy
1/3  cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1  1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom  (please do not leave out this spice – it adds great flavor)
1/4 to 1/2 cup superfine sugar for bruleeing  (it comes in a “milk carton” type container and it called bakers sugar)

Press your pie crust into a standard pie pan (not deep dish).  Freeze for several hours. 

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F. 

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, cream, milk, eggs, egg yolk, Brandy, light brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom until well blended.   (I bought one of those “airline” size bottles of Brandy at the liquor store for 99 cents)

Pour this mixture into the frozen pie shell.  Bake for 15 minutes, turning once for even browning.  (You may want to cover your crust edges with foil to keep them from browning too fast.)   After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees F  (remove foil from the crust edges) and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes.   Remove and let cool completely to room temperature.    Cover and chill overnight.

Just before serving, carefully fold strips of aluminum foil over the edges of the pie.  Do not cover any of the custard with the foil.   Scatter the superfine sugar (baking sugar)  evenly over the top of the pie and brulee under a hot broiler until the sugar caramelizes.   (Or use a propane torch if you have one.)   Serve immediately, with a dollop of whipped cream.

Pie, torch and sugar ... all set to brulee!

Torch on ... melting the sugar.

Making some progress ... sugar melting in spots.

Almost there ...

Remove the foil and its ready to serve.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

“Bundt” is not a flavor — it’s a shape!

Marble Bundt Cake with Truffle Center

Marble Bundt Cake with Truffle Center


 I have been introduced to a whole new world … the “World of Bundt”.  Bundt is not a flavor  … it is a shape.  It is simply the name used to identify a dessert cake baked in a Bundt pan.  These cakes are typically made from dense, rich cake recipes using Paula Deen amounts of butter or shortening.  These cakes keep well and require little embellishment, maybe just a drizzle of glaze or a dusting of powdered sugar.

If a home has a kitchen, more often than not there is a Bundt pan lurking in the cabinet – in two out of three American households to be exact.  According to David Dalquist of Nordic Ware, there are nearly 60 million Bundt pans across the continent.  Now I am having a hard time believing this, as I am convinced that the only Bundt pan residing in Gardner, Kansas is in my home!  Sadly, I got no response to my request for your favorite Bundt cake recipes … but no worries … I will share with you my number one recipe.  For years Nordic Ware sold only a few of these pans.  That is until 1996 when a Texas woman won second place in the Pillsbury Bake-off  for her entry of Tunnel of Fudge Cake made in a Bundt pan.  (If you would like this recipe, contact me.) This started a nationwide scramble for the pan.

After reading everything I could on “all things Bundt”, I discovered that part of the trick to a beautiful Bundt cake is in preparing the pan.  Many bakers say that their biggest issue with these cakes, as great as they are, is to get them out of the pan in one piece.  Here is the miracle solution … mix equal parts of shortening, oil and flour (I used my food processor.).  Use a pastry brush to reach every nook and cranny. 

Eighty-five percent of Americans say that baking puts them in a holiday mood.  So Gardner, fire up your ovens, grease your Bundt pans and let’s create some Holiday Spirit!

Marble Bundt Cake with Truffle Center

Adapted from recipegoldmine.com
Serves 16

Truffle Center:
3/4 cup whipping cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Marble Bundt Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature  (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups sour cream  (1  16 oz. container)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

For truffle center: Heat the cream to just below a simmer and pour over the chopped chocolate.  Stir to melt completely and then chill until firm, about 3 hours.  (You can use semi-sweet chocolate if you do not like bittersweet. I really like the bittersweet flavor against the sweetness of the cake batter.)

For the cake: Heat oven to 300 degrees F and grease a 12-cup Bundt pan.  (If you do not use the “grease” recipe listed above, you may grease and flour your pan.  I have friends who use the baking spray with flour with good results.  If you use baking spray, wait and treat the pan just before filling with batter.)

Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after adding each egg.   Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to the butter/sugar/egg/sour cream mixture in three additions, mixing gently after each addition.

Remove 3/4 cup batter and set aside. This is extra batter for a cook’s treat.

Remove 2 cups of the white batter and stir in the 4 oz. melted chocolate.  Then stir in the white chocolate chips.  The batter is thick so the chocolate chips will not all settle on the bottom. 

Stir the dark chocolate chips into the remaining white cake batter.

To assemble, layer half of the dark and white cake batters into a prepared Bundt pan.  Run a knife through to swirl gently.

Roll and shape chilled chocolate into “truffles” and lay side-by-side in a circle around the Bundt pan.  Top with remaining batters and run knife through to swirl gently.  (When you swirl the batter be careful not to disturb the chocolate truffle balls in your batter.  You can see in my pictures that my truffle center is not rounded.  I must have been having way too much fun swirling.)

Bake cake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.   Allow your cake to cool for a full 20 minutes before turning it out on a cooling rack.   Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing.  (My cake turned out of the pan with no problem!)  You will unveil a beautiful truffle center in each slice!

For the remaining 3/4 cup batter, scoop into greased and floured muffin cups.   Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 300 degrees F or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Truffle Center

Grab a fork!