Ground Turkey Jamboree

This is my adaptation of my mom’s recipe for Meat Jamboree.  This one has less fat, no additives and no gluten.  I hope you enjoy it.

Ground Turkey Jamboree

Ground Turkey Jamboree

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground Turkey
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 1/4 cups Homemade Tomato Soup
  • 2 cups cooked Brown Rice
  • 3/4 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup cooked Green Beans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown chopped onion in olive oil.  Add ground turkey and season with salt and pepper, cooking until turkey is no longer pink.  Stir in tomato soup.  In 2 qt. greased casserole, layer 1 cup of cooked rice, half of ground turkey mixture and 1/4 cup cheese.  Repeat with remaining rice, turkey mixture and another 1/4 cup cheese.  Arrange green beans on top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Remove cover and continue baking for 10 minutes.

Note:  For additional flavor, cook rice in chicken or turkey stock, which makes a delicious side dish on its on.

I hope you enjoy this delicious casserole, the DH loved it!

What is your favorite casserole that your mom used to make?

Homemade Tomato Soup

My mother used to make a recipe for a ground beef casserole that she called Meat Jamboree.  I was a delicious combination of ground beef, canned tomato soup, egg noodles, green beans and cheese.  When I decided I wanted to work on it and make it healthier, I knew I did not want to use canned soup, so decided to make my own.  Here is my Tomato Soup recipe, and next week I’ll share my Ground Turkey Jamboree recipe.

Homemade Tomato Soup with Basil

Homemade Tomato Soup

  • 1 qt. Tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 med. Onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk Celery, chopped
  • 1 med. Carrot, chpped
  • 1/4 lb. Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

In medium saucepan, saute onion, celery, carrot and mushrooms in olive oil, with salt and pepper, until soft.  Add garlic and saute for just a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add tomatoes and simmer covered for about 15 minutes then remove the lid and simmer uncovered 15-20 minutes.  I then used an immersion blender to blend the soup until it was smooth.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could (very carefully) pour the soup into your food processor of VitaMix and blend until smooth.  If the soup is too thin, you can continue to cook uncovered for a short while to thicken it.  I used my home canned tomatoes, but this would also be delicious with fresh tomatoes from your garden (I would peel them and it might take a little longer to cook to the right thickness) or you could use store bought canned tomatoes (probably about 3 regular sized cans would work just fine).

About the time I finished making the soup, a friend of mine came over with some fresh basil from her garden.  I removed the amount of soup I needed for my Jamboree and then chopped the basil (about 2 tbsp.) and added it to my soup, cooking it about another ten minutes to incorporate the basil.  I just thought it was delicious before the basil!

This recipe made about enough soup for 2 people, but it could easily be doubled or tripled to serve more.

What is your favorite homemade soup?

Hydrangeas – Part 1

First off, let me apologize for it being so long since my last posting.  I have been trying to post three times a week, but last week got rather hectic.

I have been thinking very hard about what I wanted to post.  I was walking around my yard yesterday and realized most of my Hydrangeas are about to bloom.  So, out came the camera (of course).  None of my Hydrangeas have opened up completely, so that is why this is part 1.  When they get fully opened, I’ll post part 2, that will be full of pictures of their beauty.

Bigleaf Hydrangea - Lavendar

Bigleaf Hydrangea – Lavendar

Pink Bigleaf Hydrangea – New Blooms

I actually have several different Hydrangeas in my yard, as they are one of my favorite flowers.  I have two of the regular bigleaf varieties with the mophead flowers.  One blooms lavendar and the other was still pink last year.  We shall see if it stays that way or not. I have not added any lime to the soil to raise the ph, so it may not stay pink.  These bloom once a year, in the spring.

Lacecap Hydrangea – ‘Lady In Red’

I also have a bigleaf variety with lacecap flowers.  This one is called ‘Lady in Red’.  It has beautiful blue flowers, but the name comes from the red stems on the new growth.  This one will bloom just about all summer.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

I have several oakleaf Hydrangeas too.  Their flowers grow in a cone shape and are white. They also only bloom once a year in the spring, but can really brighten up a shady area.

I have several panicle Hydrangeas that I have rooted from a very large bush I had.  Last year I had to move the large bush, as the trees around it had grown so large, it was not getting any sun and would not bloom.  While oakleaf Hydrangeas and most bigleaf Hydrangeas will grow in shady areas, panicle Hydrangeas must have a good bit of sun to bloom.  The pancles I have are still too young to bloom, and the large one I moved did not survive.  Hopefully, in a few years, I will begin to see blooms on the young ones.

I think most of my Hydrangeas should be fully opened by next week, so look for some updated pictures then.

What is your favorite color of Hydrangea?

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A Happy Mess

When you are trying to make recipes your own, whether it is to make them healthier, or just to put your signature on them, they do not always turn out like you planned. Sometimes, though, they turn out to be a good thing crazy good!  Such is the case with the revamped cheese straws.  The DH and I were watching a cooking show I had recorded the other night (like he had a choice) and the cook was making cheese straws. So, DH decided he wanted me to make some cheese straws.  I told him I couldn’t have wheat (I have an intolerance for it) and he said, “so change the recipe so that you can eat it”.  The challenge was is on.  I have been reading about substituting chick peas, nut flours and other flours (like rice or oat) for wheat flour.  I know there are some other changes you have to make when you do, but I am still in the learning phase and don’t know all those things yet.  I have tried some other’s recipes with these substitutions, but have not tried making my own…before now.

Not Exactly Cheese Straws

I decided to use mostly chick peas in place of the flour, but also added a bit of pecan meal.  When I got the dough made, it was a little too soft, so I added a bit of brown rice flour.  They end result was not exactly cheese straws, they were more like cheese crisps.  They flattened out completely and were crispy and a bit chewy at the same time…and we (DH and I) absolutely could not stop eating them.  I made the first panful with the cookie press, like you would most other cheese straws, but when they flattened out, I decided to make the rest as crackers.  They are quite greasy and soooo tasty.  They are wheat free and gluten free, but nowhere near fat free.

Cheesy Cracker Crisps

Cheesy Cracker Crisps

  • 4 cups shredded extra sharp cheedar cheese
  • 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup pecan meal
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Put all ingredients except the brown rice flour in your food processor and process on high until it starts forming a dough (make take a couple of minutes), stopping halfway through to scrape the sides of the bowl.  Then add the brown rice flour and process just enough to get it mixed in well.  Form into 1″ balls, place on greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a fork.  Bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until slightly browned.  They will flatten out as they bake.

I think these would probably make a great little appetizer for a party.  Try them and let me know what you think.

What delightful mistakes have you made lately?

I will be sure to let you know when I get my wheat free cheese straws to come out actually looking like cheese straws 🙂

Tuna and Green Pea Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

When I was younger (much younger) my mother would occasionally make us a wonderful green salad for lunch with canned tuna, green peas and mayonnaise.  I always enjoyed that salad, but as I got older, I realized I liked it even better with ranch dressing.  Now that I am eating healthier I make my own ranch dressing, which is even better than the store bought kind.  Here is the recipe.

Tuna and Green Pea Salad

Tuna and Green Pea Salad

  • 1 Bunch Romaine Lettuce, chopped
  • 2 Green Onions, sliced
  • 2 Tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Pouch Tuna (6.4 oz)
  • 1 Small (8.5 oz) Can Green Peas, drained (I always use Le Sueur Very Young Small Sweet Peas)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients and serve with homemade ranch dressing.

Homemade Ranch Dressing/Dip

  • 3/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 3/4 Cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1/3 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Chopped Chives
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Chopped Parsley
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp. Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

Combine all ingredients, whisk to blend and serve.  This make a very thick, creamy ranch with the consistency of a dip.  If you like your dressing a bit thinner, you can add 1-2 cups of buttermilk (depending on the consistency you want).  If you want to use fresh chives and fresh parsley, you will need to double the amounts listed.  To make this low fat, just use fat free sour cream, fat free greek yogurt and light mayonnaise, and it tastes just as good.

Something about the combination of the tuna, green peas and fresh vegetables makes this an absolutely delicious meal.

What is your favorite additions to a green salad?

Dividing Hostas, Bulbs, Tubers and Liriope

I have been asked the question, what time of year should I divide my Hostas, bulbs and Liriope (Monkey Grass)?  I will tell you up front, I am really bad to divide my plants when it is most convenient for me.  That is not always the best time for the plant, however, according to the experts.  Here is what I have found to be the suggested times for dividing your plants that spread.

Dividing Hostas:  It is generally recommended that the best time for dividing Hostas is in the late summer or early fall.  This gives them a chance to recover before the cold sets in and protects newly divided plants from the worst of summer’s heat.  However, they are a very hardy plant and you really can divide Hostas at any time during the growing season.  If you choose to divide them during the spring or summer, be sure to replant them carefully, mulch them well and keep them watered, until they have had time to fully reestablish their roots.  Those are some of my Hostas at the top of my page.

Bearded Iris

Dividing bulbs and tubers:  Spring flowering bulbs should be divided in September or October.  This is sometimes difficult as they have disappeared from view by this time.  You may need to mark the area where they are located while they are blooming, to be able to find them again in the fall.  Summer flowering bulbs can be divided in early April or late fall.  Tubers, like Bearded Iris, are best divided soon after they flower.

Liriope

Dividing Liriope (Monkey Grass):  You can divide Liriope anytime of the year, as it is a very hardy plant.  It will have the least stress if you divide it in the spring after the last frost or in the fall before the first frost, but will do fine in the heat of the summer if you keep it watered well until it has time to reestablish new roots.  As you can see above, we have some concrete blocks that help slow the water rushing under our deck.  They are not very attractive but they serve the purpose.  I divided my Liriope last year (in the middle of the summer, of course) and planted it in the openings of the blocks.  I am hoping they will get big enough to cover most of the blocks.  At least they do soften the hard edges some.

How do you know when your plants need to be divided?  For bulbs, I found the following chart on Garden services.com:

Bulb                      Years to Divide
      Tulips                         3 - 5
      Daffodils                      3 - 6
      Hyacinths                      2 - 3
      Lilies                         4 - 6
      Surprise Lily (Lycoris)        3 - 5
      Iris (Bulbous types)           3 - 6
      Alliums                        4 - 8
      Crocus                         seldom needed
      Grape Hyacinths (Muscari)      seldom needed

I have never divided my surprise Lilies (I have had them for about 8 years), and they have not slowed their blooming.  As a matter of fact, they just keep popping up in new places!  My Iris, however, have to be divided every few years.  When you notice they are blooming sporadically, you will know it is time to divide them.

Hostas really do not have to be divided unless they have overfilled an area.  I have Hostas in my yard that have been there close to 10 years, and still come back beautifully every year without being divided.  The same goes for the Liriope.  I divide Liriope and Hostas only when I need some to plant elsewhere, or when I have friends that want some.

All these plants are wonderful to share with friends and family.  I had not realized until the last few years that I had instilled a love of gardening in my daughter and being able to share the plants in my yard with her and my daughter-in-law is a true joy to me!  So, next time you are ready to divide your bulbs, Hostas or Liriope, don’t just put them all back in your yard, share the joy with others!

Do you enjoy sharing the plants in your yard with others?

Salmon with Citrus Salsa

I had 2 salmon fillets that I planned to cook for dinner last week and had seen some recipes for serving it with a citrus salsa.  When I went to check those recipes again, I didn’t have all the ingredients for any one recipe so I decided to wing it.  This is what I came up with:

Salmon with Citrus Salsa

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 orange
  • 1 grapefruit
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tsp. chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion)

Peel grapefruit and orange, making sure to remove the white pith.  Cut out the sections from the membrane into a small bowl.  Add the lime zest of a whole lime and the juice of half of the lime.  Add your chopped cilantro and onion, stir and set aside.  Rub salmon with the agave nectar and cook on an oiled griddle or skillet (it only takes a little olive oil on your griddle or pan, just to keep the salmon from sticking).  I pan seared them for about 3 minutes on each side, then covered them for another 3-4 minutes (we like our salmon well done), but cook them to your liking.  Serve with the citrus salsa on top.

My husband was very impressed with this meal.  I served it with roasted vegetables and it made a very nice presentation, as well as a delicious meal.  I think you could use whatever citrus you have (oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, etc.) and could probably vary the seasoning a bit, as there were several different recipes I found for citrus salsa.  The pairing of the citrus and the salmon is ideal, though.

What is your favorite side dish with fish?