Amber Turkey Chili

My favorite chili recipe includes ground beef and spicy turkey sausage, however I have a few friends that don’t eat red meat, so I created this option for them.DSCN0266

1 tbsp olive oil

1 C. chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb ground turkey breast

1/2 lb ground turkey thigh

2 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp ground chipotle

1 tsp dried cilantro

12oz amber ale

28oz can crushed tomatoes

15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

juice and zest from half a lime

For topping:  greek yogurt, shredded cheddar cheese, cracked pepper and wildflower honey

In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion, sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic, sauté for 1 minute.  Add turkey, brown until crumbled and cooked through.  Add chili powder, stir to combine.  Add remaining spices, stir and cook 30 seconds.  Add amber ale and bring to a boil.  Add tomato and black beans, and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and zest.

Top with greek yogurt, shredded cheddar, cracked pepper and wild flower honey.  Add mini corn muffins for a twist.



Grilled Corn Salsa

3 ears corn, husks removed

2 tbsp garlic olive oil

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 C red onion, diced

2 small plum tomatoes, diced

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

3/4 tsp garlic salt

1/2 C cilantro leaves, chopped

Brush corn with olive oil, reserving remaining oil (should be about 1/2 tbsp for salad)  Heat grill to medium (about 375 degrees).  Place corn on grill, cook for 25-30 minutes , turning frequently, until tender and slightly charred. Remove corn from grill and let cool. Remove corn from ears with knife or corn tool and place in medium bowl.  Add remaining ingredients, including reserved olive oil, and mix throughly.   Chill for at least 30 minutes to let flavors meld.

Note:  If you make corn salsa frequently I recommend the OXO Good Grips corn peeler,  $9.99 from  It makes removing corn from the ear much easier!

Grilled Fish Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Sauce

I’m a very big fan of seafood, however don’t cook it a home as often as I would like.  I wanted to create a quick, flavorful option for fish tacos.  You could do this as an easy week-night meal, or for casual summer entertaining.

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp garlic salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp onion powder

2 tbsp olive oil

1 pound tilapia or orange roughy

6-8 corn tortillas

1 avocado, diced

1 green onion, diced

2 oz Queso Fresco, crumbled

4 tbsp lime-cilantro sauce (see below for recipe)

In a small bowl, mix cumin through onion powder.   Brush fish with olive oil and sprinkle with spice mixture.  Heat grill to medium low (about 350 degrees), place fish on grill and cook 5 minutes.  Carefully turn fish and cook for 4-6 minutes or until done.  When you turn the fish, place tortillas on grill to heat.  If you have several burners on your grill, turn one to high and try to get the tortillas slightly charred on the edges.

Remove fish from grill and let cool slightly.  Use two forks to pull fish apart.  Place 1-2 tortillas on each plate, divide fish evenly amongst the tortillas.  Top with avocado, green onion, Queso Fresco and lime-cilantro sauce.  Serve immediately.

I serve the tacos with a simple green salad or my grilled corn salsa (see separate post for that recipe).

Lime- Cilantro Sauce

1 6-oz container plain greek yogurt

pinch sea salt

1/4 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp lime zest

1 tbsp green onion, finely chopped

1/4 C cilantro leaves, chopped

1/4 tsp jalapeño, very finely diced

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Quick Creamy Black Bean Soup

Since we cannot quite seem to get rid of winter here in Chicago, I thought I’d post a quick soup recipe.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/3 C  red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 C chicken broth

2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp lime juice

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat;  add onions and garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes.  Add spices and cook an additional minute.  Add broth and increase heat to medium high;  bring to a boil.  Add black beans and return to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.  Stir in lime juice and cilantro.  Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

For serving I like to top with greek yogurt, pico de gallo and some crushed tortilla chips.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

For a long time I used packaged seasoning mixes when I made tacos, then one day, I stopped to read the ingredients and realized that in addition to a lot of sodium, they contain many other less than desirable ingredients.  So I switched to using Penzey’s Original Taco Seasoning, which is great and I still use in a pinch.  I’d highly recommend it if you are in a hurry, however I prefer to make my own as you can change the amount of something suit your mood, they type of meat or your dining companion’s tastes.

I’m a big fan of Penzey’s Spices, so I always use their spices in my recipes.  They are always exceptionally fresh and come in a variety of sizes; if you are lucky enough to live near one of their stores it is a fun experience to stop in and shop, otherwise you can order online from them.  Shipping is free if you spend more than $30 and the spices usually arrive quite quickly.

Here’s my basic recipe, which I’d recommend with ground beef, ground turkey or chicken.  This makes enough for about two pounds of meat; so this recipe gives you enough for more than one serving.  It keeps will in a small airtight jar.

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic salt


1 tsp paprika

1 tsp minced dried onion

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2  tsp cocoa powder

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more if you prefer spicier tacos)

1/2 tsp cornstarch

Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl,  add cornstarch and mix well.

When making tacos I mix 1-2 tbsp of the seasoning with a pound of ground meat, I tend to use less for ground turkey than I do for beef.  Brown the meat in a large skillet; add about 1 cup of water and 1 tbsp of lime juice per pound of meat, mix well.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the sauce slightly thickens.

Drunken Banana Bread

I wanted to create a somewhat less traditional version of banana bread, so I came up with this, which is nice as a side for a Sunday brunch party, and also makes a nice afternoon snack with tea.   I prefer a slightly lighter banana taste, so if you love bananas, add a 2nd one to the recipe.

1 1/2 C. All-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp Penzeys ground cinnamon

1 large ripe banana

5 tbsp butter, divided

1 1/2 tbsp Cointreau, divided

1/2 C dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 C plain yogurt

1/3 C powdered sugar

1 tsp orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Spray a 9 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

Place the first five ingredients, flour through cinnamon, in a small bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

Slightly mash the banana with a fork.  Heat a medium sauce pan over medium low heat.  Place 3 tbsp (56g) of butter in the sauce pan and heat until melted.  Add banana and 1 tbsp cointreau.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Place brown sugar and 2 tbsp (28 g) butter in a large bowl (I prefer to use a stand mixer).  Beat on low speed until small, pea sized chuncks are formed.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.  Add banana mixture and yogurt; beat until smooth.  Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just blended.

Pour batter into the loaf pan.  Bake for 35- 45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and place on a wire rack and continue to cool.

While loaf is cooling mix the powdered sugar, 1/2 tbsp Cointreau and orange juice in a small bowl.  Drizzle over slightly warm loaf.  Slice and serve.

Recipe notes:  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my preference for herbs and spices are Penzeys, however you can substitute any ground cinnamon.


1/2 C. red pepper, chopped

2/3 C. cucumber, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/3 C. red onion, chopped

4 plum tomatoes, chopped

2 C. tomato juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp worchestershire sauce

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp sherry

4 tbsp creme fraiche

1/2 avocado, diced

2 ounces lump crab meat

Place red pepper through olive oil in a blender, puree at low speed until just slightly chunky.  Add salt through sherry, blend again on low for one minute.  Place in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To serve, top with 1 tbsp creme fraiche,  diced avocado and crab meat.

I’d pair this with a either with a light Pinot Noir or a crisp Chardonnay (I’d skip my favorite oakey, buttery version for this soup).

Summer Bread Salad

I love salads in the summer, however this version happened quite by accident due to a head of lettuce that had gone bad! I had to improvise what was intended to be a chopped salad for our July 4th BBQ. I needed to make it a second time to get all the ingredient portions down and think I like this version even better than the first!

6 C.  sourdough bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (this is about 2/3 of a loaf)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

12-14 baby carrots, sliced

4 oz fresh Mozarella, cut into cubes

1 package grape or other sweet tomatoes, cut into halves

1/4 C blue cheese

3-4 slices cooked bacon, chopped

1 avocado, cubed

4-5 green onions, chopped

3/4 tsp Coleman’s dried mustard

1 tsp dried Italian herb mix

1 1/2 tsp shallot, minced

1/2 tsp dried minced garlic

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp course ground black pepper

1/8 tsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place bread cubes on a jelly roll pan, drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat.   Toast for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. While bread cubes are baking combine garbanzo beans through bacon in a large bowl, stirring to combine. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine dried mustard through sugar, mix well.  Add the vinegars, stirring to combine.  Whisk in the olive oil until well blended.

Once the bread cubes are cool, add them to the bowl with the veggie mix and mix well.  Slowly pour the dressing over the salad and stir until everything is well coated.  Place the salad in the refrigerator and let sit for 30-60 minutes.  Just before serving add the avocado and green onion; mix well.

Turkey Burgers & Potato Salad – A Quick Summer Dinner

These two very quick and easy recipes make up one of my favorite summertime meals!

Potato Salad

2 pounds of red skinned potatoes (you can substitute Yukon Gold if you prefer), chopped

1/2 yellow onion, minced

1/4 C canola oil mayonnaise

1 tbsp champagne vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp dried tarragon (or 1 tbsp fresh)

1 tsp dried oregano

salt & pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot of boiling water; cook until tender, about 15 – 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain and let cool slightly.  Place potatoes in a large bowl and add minced onion, stir to combine.  While potatoes continue to cool, combine mayonnaise, vinegar and mustard in a small bowl.  Whisk until blended.  Add tarragon, oregano, salt and pepper, mix well.  Add dressing to potato mixture and stir to combine.  Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Chipotle Turkey Burgers

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper

dash cayenne pepper

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

salt & pepper to taste

1 avocado, sliced

4 slices baby swiss cheese

Heat a grill to medium-high heat.  Place turkey through cilantro in a medium bowl,  mix until well combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Form into four patties. Place patties on pre-heated grill, cook 15-20 minutes, turning once, until done.  Top each with a slice of cheese and some sliced avocado; serve with condiments of your choice.

Pork Tacos with Avocado Corn Salsa

This recipe was inspired from a recipe in the September 2004 issue of Cooking Light.  I wanted to create a different twist on pork tacos, so I added in a my favorite version of a corn salsa.  Recipe serves 4-6 people.

Grilled Pork 


2 pounds of pork tenderloin

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried, minced onion

1/2 tsp dried, minced garlic

1/4 tsp course ground pepper

1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 C apricot preserves

balsamic vinegar

Mix oregano through pepper, stir to combine.  Add olive oil and mix well.  Rub pork on all sides with spice mixture.  Place the tenderloin on a grill pre-heated to medium-high (approx. 425 degrees).  Cook for 15-20 minutes (time may vary quite a bit depending on your grill), or until temperature reaches about 125 degrees. While the pork is cooking, heat the preserves in a small sauce pan over low heat until they fairly liquid, about 10 minutes.  Add balsamic to taste, anywhere from 1-3 tsp, mix well.  Brush all sides of the pork with the preserves (I leave the tenderloin on the grill while I do this, but it can get a little messy); continue grilling until the temperature reaches 155- 160 degrees.  Remove from grill and let stand for 15 minutes.  Slice or shred pork.

Corn Salsa

4-6 ears of corn, husks removed

1 tbsp Grapeseed Oil

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

juice and zest from half of a lime

1/4 C chopped cilantro

1/2 tsp hot sauce (more if you like things spicy)

1/2 tsp sugar

1 avocado, chopped

1/2 C queso fresco

salt & pepper to taste

8-12 Corn Tortillas (I prefer La Tortilla Factory White Corn Tortillas)

Brush the corn with the grapeseed oil (you can use olive oil instead, the grape seed oil just has a lower smoke point) and  place on a grill pre-heated to medium heat.  Cook for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until corn is done and all sides are slightly charred.  Remove from grill and let cool slightly.  Remove corn kernels and place in a medium bowl (you can use a sharp knife to do this, but if you like corn salad/salsa I highly recommend investing in a nifty little tool that is designed to quickly remove corn kernels from the cob.  I use this one from OXO).

Add the remaining ingredients to the corn and stir well to combine.

To prepare the tacos, warm the tortillas.  Fill each tortilla with pork and top with corn salsa. I sometimes add a bit of Pico de Gallo if I have some already made (or I purchase it from Whole Foods).