For my mother, with love and hugs

My name is Gina and I am the daughter of the ever so famous Spicegirlfla!  For a special treat for my mom I decided to create my own post in dedication to her.  Since she is in the process of moving our  family to Atlanta she has not been able to post for quite awhile.  I know how much she is missing her blog, riding her bike and being away from those she was close to in Florida.  My mom needs to feel settled and right now her whole world has changed.  She’s been looking and looking for a place to live that will feel just right for her.  In the meantime, as she commented already, she is in temporary housing and all her belongings are in storage.  I just can’t imagine her living without her cookbooks and food processor! Continue reading “For my mother, with love and hugs”

Starting with the Turkey Stock

One of the first things I do in preparing for my Thanksgiving meal is to make a rich turkey stock.  I use it to baste the turkey, add to my stuffing and use as the broth for soup and gravy.  Turkey stock adds a layer of deep flavor versus using a chicken stock and after all; it is a turkey I’m roasting, not a chicken!!

If you’re following along on my Thanksgiving Countdown, I make the stock around the second week in November.  I contact my butcher earlier in the week to check on the availability of turkey wings and drumsticks.  If they don’t have them, he will order it for me.  Note that salt is not added as it will be added when using the stock in the final dish.  The stock could also be made a few days before Thanksgiving and kept refrigerated until needed.

Rich Turkey Stock

2 turkey wings

4 turkey drumsticks

2 turkey thighs (or a combination to equal about 4-5 lbs turkey)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, or 2 medium, root ends cut off, skin left on, quartered

4 large carrot, cut in half

3 large celery, cut in half, leaves included

2-3 garlic cloves, skin on, slightly smashed

1 small bunch parsley

2 slices of lemon

½ teaspoon whole black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large roasting pan, place the wings, drumsticks and thighs evenly in the pan.  Roast until golden brown for about 1 1/2 hours, turning once.

Remove the turkey from the roasting pan, remove the meat from the legs and thighs (if you like to eat dark meat, if not, throw it all in the pot) and place all bones in a large stock pot.   Save the turkey drippings if you are going to prepare gravy.  Add in the carrots, celery, lemon, garlic and onion.  Pour in cold water to cover the turkey and veggies about 2 inches over.  I used over a gallon of water.  Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer and add in the parsley, whole black pepper.  Simmer uncovered for 2 hours.  Strain the stock and refrigerate until cold, scrape off the fat and freeze.  Allow to defrost in the refrigerator a few days before using.  Makes about 4 1/2 quarts.

If you have a Thanksgiving salad to share, stop by my Apple Walnut Salad post and add our Link through Linky Tools!


Last year around this time, my BFF Ayesha came for a visit and we headed down to Key West for a weekend getaway.  Even though I live in Florida, these getaways within my own state still feel like a vacation.  The sun just seems hotter and brighter, the skies are bluer and the carefree attitude of being away soars!!  Afternoon tropical drinks and light, easy meals filled our days.  Ayesha and I share a passion for food, easily being able to spend hours chatting away about recipes, ideas to recreate our own and always seeking out-of-the-ordinary places to dine!

One hot afternoon walking down Duval Street we passed by a Casablanca style bar/restaurant, which unfortunately, the name is long forgotten.   Large fans overhead sent cooling breezes down to the small round tables.  Cuban influence in Key West is very present in music, shopping and food.  This little place caught our attention for a much needed break from the heat and a small bite to eat.  Mojitos are always my drink of choice when dining on Cuban/Latin cuisine; the cooling minty taste is so refreshing on a hot day. 

One of the dishes we ordered were nachos ala Cuban style.  Tortilla chips were replaced with Plantain chips and covered with Picadillo; a Cuban dish consisting of ground beef, tomatoes, pepper, Spanish olives, garlic and spices.  Picadillo is usually served with white rice as in my photo, along with black beans.  I have since served my Picadillo with plantain chips for a casual, fun dish.   In fact, as soon as we got back from Key West, Ayesha and I recreated that Cuban Nacho dish!  The long plantain chips work the best in serving ‘nacho’ style as they hold and scoop up the Picadillo nicely.  I have used either ground beef or ground turkey in my Picadillo and sometimes spice it up a bit as Cuban cuisine is seasoned well but never spicy hot!


Adapted from Estafan Kitchen

 4 teaspoons olive oil

3 lbs lean ground beef or turkey

1 red pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of cumin powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 bay leaves

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

1 ¼ cup dry white wine

½ cup ketchup

½ cup pimento stuffed Spanish olives

Plantain chips (optional, but necessary for preparing “nacho” style)

 In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.  Add the ground beef or turkey and brown the meat, stirring occasional.  Remove the browned meat and drain any excess fat from the skillet.  Add the remaining olive oil and allow to heat to medium heat.  Add the pepper, onion and garlic, sauté until onions are soft.  Return the browned meat to the skillet, add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and simmer the Picadillo for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove the bay leaves and serve over white rice or layer on Plantain chips for serving as nachos.

Turkey Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce

I spent two days visiting my daughter at college.  It is so amazing to see my little girl living on her own, so organized and responsible!  I am so proud of her!  I still can’t help wanting to take care of her and take over as she is so busy with her school, her sorority and jobs!  We did some shopping and some dining; she lives in a great area for both!  She has become quite the cook, creating up new dishes as her budget allows and turning her staple ingredients into healthy meals. 

I noticed her package of frozen ground turkey and thought I’d give her a quick dish to pull together.  I do buy ground turkey knowing that its healthier than ground beef, than I try to figure out what different ways I can prepare it so my son won’t get turned off by the same dish over and over.  These are quick to make turkey meatballs and an even quicker sauce, especially if you have these ingredients on hand.  I do believe, Gina, you will need to stock up on your pantry items for this, but it’s all quite inexpensive!  She’s a girl who likes her Asian dishes, so I do think she will like this one!

Turkey Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce

For the Turkey Meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes or chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped bell pepper (green, red or yellow) save remaining for the sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

For the Sauce:
1 can 20 ounces crushed pineapple
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water or chicken stock
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Remaining bell pepper, chopped or thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In medium bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, egg, onion, chopped pepper and hoisin sauce.  Mix well.  Shape into meatballs, about the size of a golf ball.  Spray a broiler pan or baking sheet with nonstick spray.  If using a broiler pan, pour in about 1 cup of water in bottom pan.  Arrange meatballs in an even layer on pan; bake for approximately 20 minutes or until meatballs are no longer pink in the center.

For the sauce:  Combine the crushed pineapple with juice and cornstarch in a medium to large skillet.  Begin to heat the mixture stirring well.  Add the bell pepper, water, vinegar and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and stir until sauce thickens.  Add in the meatballs and gently stir and allow to simmer an additional 5 minutes to marry the flavors. 

Serve over white rice or a saute of mixed veggies; such as those Asian mixed veggie bags in the produce section.