Weekly Winner: A Big Bowl of Satisfaction

ground turkey-quinoaThis is time of year that planning lunch gets hard.   I’m tired of soups and want something I can sink my teeth into.  The problem is it’s not quite “salad weather” yet.  There are still days I want some warmth to my lunches and to have something cooked rather than simply “assembled”.  I also want my lunch to be healthy and something that won’t weigh me down on the off-chance it warms up above freezing outside and I can actually go out and run around.  What’s a girl to do???  It’s simple… and its delicious…. make this Spiced Ground Turkey-Quinoa Bowl with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce.

This recipe, from Fine Cooking, hits all the right notes.  It has some warm elements (the turkey-spinach mixture) and some fresh elements (the tomatoes and olives) and even something creamy to round it all out (the yogurt-tahini sauce).  I also like the fact that everything is not all mixed together.  Keeping everything separate keeps it interesting – every bite has a different taste and a different texture.  There’s nothing new or revolutionary here but it is a nice combination of ingredients that you may not think to put together.  It is quick to make and serves as the perfect bridge from winter lunch to spring lunch.

Spiced Ground Turkey-Quinoa Bowl with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Serves 4


1 cup quinoa

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground turkey

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp sweet paprika

1-1/4 tsp ground cumin

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 oz fresh spinach, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)

2 Tbsp tahini

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

5 oz cherry tomatoes, halved (about 1 cup)

2 oz Kalamata olives, chopped (about 1/2 cup)


  • Cook the quinoa according to package directions
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the turkey, 1 Tbsp of the garlic, the paprika, cumin, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook, breaking up the turkey into small pieces, until fully cooked, about 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted.  Keep warm
  • In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, tahini, and lemon juice with the remaining 1 tsp garlic.  Season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.
  • Divide the quinoa and the turkey mixture among four bowls.  Dollop with the yogurt sauce, and top with the tomatoes and olives.

Weekly Winner:  Terrifically Tangy Thai Turkey

I realize that the words “tangy” and “turkey” are probably best not used together.  It’s generally not a good thing, but stick with me here and you’ll understand.

First off I thought this would be a neat riff on one of my all time favorites, Dan Dan Noodles — only with rice. After all, Dan Dan has the pickled cucumber side and this has a fresh tomato salad on top.  Both have ground turkey and well…. OK so apparently that’s the end of the similarities there.  They are both excellent and while Dan Dan has always been a go-to dish for me, it now has serious competition!  This dish was far better and more complex tasting than its formal name would imply: One Pot Thai Turkey and Rice.  Yawn!  Then again, it actually got me to try the recipe so that’s saying something.  And trust me, you should try this recipe.

The turkey and rice mixture is very comforting and rich, thanks to the coconut milk that you cook the rice in.  The tomato salad topping is incredibly acidic and zesty and pungent thanks to the fish sauce and the large amount of lime juice.  Together, well…. its heaven.  Its one of those combinations that just beg you to over-eat.  Just one more bite.  Well… just a bit more.  You get the idea.

The recipe comes from Martha Stewart Living.  You will definitely want to make this soon, when the tomatoes are at their absolute peak.

One-Pot Thai Turkey and Rice

Serves 4-6


  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 7 shallots, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 long sweet red peppers, thinly sliced (1/3 cup)
  • Coarse salt
  • 16 small tomatoes, cut into wedges (4 cups)
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, torn if large Not in my kitchen, just saying!


  1. Combine lime juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce, and brown sugar in a bowl; stir until sugar is dissolved, then stir in 1/2 cup shallots.

  2. Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high. Add turkey, ginger, garlic, and remaining 1 3/4 cups shallots. Cook, stirring to break up turkey, until browned, about 9 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan.

  3. Add coconut milk, red peppers, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to a simmer (do not let boil); cover. Lower heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

  4. Toss tomatoes and herbs with dressing in a large bowl; season with salt. Serve over rice, spooning dressing from bottom of bowl over top.

Weekly Winner:  Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of….Turkey??

 Without a doubt, this was the tastiest and prettiest dish I made this week.  And it surprised the heck out of me.  This dish absolutely has no right whatsoever to be this good.  But it is!

First of all, the meatballs are turkey….. Turkey!  Not pork… not even beef …. but turkey!  There’s no super-savory additive, no umami-inducing bacon, soy sauce, or anything really.  The magic must lie in the fact that it is all done in one pan.  Which besides making sure all the flavor stays in one place, also makes it super easy!  The rice takes on a wonderful “pilaffy” aroma and taste.  There’s just enough lemon and garlic to make it savory, but not zingy or too acidic.

The recipe comes from Cook’s Country and as is the case with most of their recipes, it is flawless.  It’s perfectly tested, works beautifully and has a short, manageable list of ingredients.  But it tastes so much more complex than the sum of its parts.  It should be a decent dish.  However, there is no reason why it is as wonderfully tasty and comforting as it is.  I’m perplexed … but happily perplexed.  Try it and then explain to me what makes it so good!

Skillet Turkey Meatballs with Lemony Rice

Serves 4


  • 2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced thin
  •  1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)


  1. Pulse bread in food processor to fine crumbs, 10 to 15 pulses; transfer to large bowl. Add turkey, 2 tablespoons scallion greens, egg, 2 tablespoons parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Divide mixture into 20 portions (about 1 heaping tablespoon each). Roll into meatballs, transfer to plate, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook meatballs until well browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towel–lined plate, leaving fat in skillet.
  3. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until edges of rice begin to turn translucent, about 1 minute. Add scallion whites, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, lemon juice, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest and bring to boil.
  4. Return meatballs to skillet, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until rice is tender and meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan, remaining scallion greens, and remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.

Weekly Winner – Best Use of Leftover Turkey

Creamy SW Chicken SoupOK, I seriously meant to post this right after Thanksgiving as I actually made it the day after.  But, you know how things go this time of year.  So anyway, with all the extravagance and overindulgence of Thanksgiving, this soup made the perfect, cozy Friday dinner.

The recipe came from Cuisine at Home magazine and is for chicken, but hey, when life gives you an abundance of leftover turkey, you gotta make do.  Actually I think it was much richer and tastier due to the turkey than chicken would have been.  Either way, a great soup.  Definitely not for the faint of cream or the lactose intolerant among you!

Southwestern Cream of Chicken  (Uh, or… Turkey) Soup

Makes 8 cups


3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 poblano chile, seeded and diced

½ cup diced onion

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 tsp hot chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

6 Tbsp flour, divided

3 cups whole milk

1 cup beer

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup dry converted white rice

3 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Lime slices for serving


Melt butter in a large pot.  Stir in bell pepper, poblano, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin and coriander.  Sweat mixture until peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Whisk in 3 Tbsp four to coat vegetables; cook 2 minutes.  Whisk in milk, beer, and broth until smooth.  Bring mixture to a simmer.  Stir in rice; simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

Combine cheese with remaining 3 Tbsp flour in a resealable plastic bag; toss to coat.  Add cheese to soup a handful at a time, stirring to melt completely before adding the next handful.  Add chicken (or turkey) to heat through – 3 to 5 minutes.

Garnish each serving of soup with lime slice.

Weekly Winner – Fried Rice with Potato Chips. What’s Not to Like?

I’ve been flying solo this week at home which basically means, I can make whatever I want.  And although I still try to be healthy, being by myself has always led to little culinary indulgences.  No one’s around to catch me and The World’s Dorkiest Cat won’t tell on me because he knows there’s a few extra treats in the deal if he keeps quiet.

My greatest junk food weakness has always been potato chips.  I usually refuse to buy them because I simply cannot control myself.  An open bag of chips is evil — it must be killed — and quickly!  But what if it’s a required ingredient in a new, and for the most part, healthy recipe I’m going to try out??  Well then I have to buy it, right?  I knew you’d understand.  And yes, it is true that the recipe only calls for a half cup of chips.  One of those small snack pack bags would have easily handled it.  I just feel you can’t be too safe.  You must be prepared.  That’s all I’m saying.  And the cat isn’t talking.

Without further ado, this week’s Weekly Winner is Turkey Fried Rice with Crushed Potato Chips from Food & Wine Magazine.  It’s definitely a keeper.

And did I mention the potato chips??

Turkey Fried Rice with Crushed Potato Chips

Serves 4


3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced lemongrass, tender inner white bulb only

4 ounces ground turkey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups leftover (cold) cooked rice

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped mint

1/2 cup plain potato chips, lightly crushed

Asian-style hot sauce, such as Sriracha, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat a wok until very hot. Add the vegetable oil, ginger, garlic and lemongrass and stir-fry over high heat until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the ground turkey and salt and break up the meat into small clumps. Stir-fry until the turkey is just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  2. Make a well in the center of the ground turkey. Add the eggs and stir-fry over high heat until just set into large curds, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir-fry until heated through and the grains are separated, about 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce and stir-fry until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and transfer to bowls. Stir in the scallions and mint and garnish with the potato chips. Serve with hot sauce.