Turkey and Sausage Gumbo

I always use our leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make Turkey and Sausage Gumbo. This recipe comes from my college roommate who was from New Orleans. It’s so delicious and always reminds me of the happy years I spent in Louisiana.

Turkey and Sausage Gumbo


Turkey Stock

1 turkey carcass (with a small amount of meat remaining)

12 cups of water

1 onion, unpeeled and quartered

1 stalk of celery cut into large pieces

1 large or 2 smaller cloves of garlic, unpeeled and quartered


Add all the above ingredients to a large stockpot and bring to a boil.

Simmer, covered, for 2-3 hours.

Strain stock. Throw away vegetables. Refrigerate stock. Skim fat from top of stock after the stock cools and fat solidifies. You should yield about 10 cups of turkey stock which will be an ingredient below.

Turkey and Sausage Gumbo


1/2 cup oil

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup celery, finely chopped

1/3 cup bell pepper, finely chopped (can use red, orange or yellow for color)

24 ounces (two 12-ounce packages) nitrite free Andouille sausage

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon red pepper

2 cups cooked turkey, diced (both light and dark meat)

10 cups turkey stock

hot, steamed brown rice


Heat oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add flour. Stir. Turn heat down to medium-low. Continue to stir constantly until roux is milk chocolate color (this will take about 30 minutes). Remove from heat.

Add chopped onion, celery and bell pepper to the roux. Stir. Place mixture back on heat over medium-low heat and allow vegetables to cook for five minutes while stirring.

Slowly add turkey stock to roux mixture while stirring. When fully incorporated, add sausage and seasonings.

Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 45 minutes. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure there is no sticking, every few minutes.

Add diced turkey and stir. Simmer 5 more minutes or until turkey is heated through. Taste. Salt to taste.

Scoop rice into a bowl. Ladle gumbo over rice.


Fettucine Alfredo

There are many Fettuccine Alfredo recipes out there that try to be a “healthier” version of this classic. Some use low-fat cream cheese as an alternative ingredient to the cream or cut way back on the amount of butter added. I would say this is an indulgent dish. Serve it now and then, however when you do, prepare it correctly with both the butter and heavy cream.

Fettucine Alfredo


1 pound dried fettuccine pasta (can use whole wheat)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup finely grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Fresh basil (for garnish)


Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente (do not overcook as it will continue to cook in the sauce at the end).

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until sauce has slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the cup of finely grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese. Stir until smooth.

Drain pasta in a colander reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Pour drained pasta into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of the hot pasta cooking water into drained fettuccine. Toss well until incorporated into the pasta.

Add Alfredo sauce and mix well.

Arrange the Fettuccine Alfredo on individual plates.

Garnish with the fresh basil.

Serve immediately.


Instant Pot Plain Whole Milk Yogurt

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

I am currently making yogurt in my Instant Pot. I have to say it has taken a lot of trial and error to find a recipe that truly works every time. This one does.

Instant Pot Plain Whole Milk Yogurt (slightly adapted from Whole Natural Life)


1/2 gallon (64 ounces) whole milk

1/4 cup whole fat plain yogurt or yogurt starter (I use two packets of this one.)

To sterilize (7 minutes):

Add two cups of water to your Instant Pot.

Lock the lid. Turn your steam release valve to sealed. Push the Steam button and set the time for 1 minute. When cycle is finished, open by quick-releasing the steam release valve. When all the pressure has been released, remove the lid and pour out the water. Dry the lid and inner pot with paper towels when cool enough to handle.

To pasteurize (24 minutes):

Pour 64 ounces of whole milk into the inner pot. Lock the lid. Turn the steam release valve to sealed.

Push the Yogurt button and then the Adjust button, until the screen says “boil.”

When boil cycle is over the beep will sound. Open the lid and remove the cooking pot and place on a cooling rack.

To cool and then add the starter (1 hour):

Cool yogurt to 110 degrees. Place a thermometer in the yogurt and keep checking the temperature.

When the milk temperature decreases to 110 degrees, you will add the starter. Temper starter by spooning out some of the cooled milk into a bowl and then whisking in the starter. Pour milk with the starter back into the cooking pot, whisk thoroughly.

To culture (8-24 hours):

Place cooking pot back into the Instant Pot and cover with the lid. Press Yogurt button. Then push Adjust button until it displays a number. This is the number of hours your yogurt will culture. Use the “+” and “-” buttons to adjust how long you wish your yogurt to culture.

Once you decide on the time, the screen will display 0:00 and count up to the set time. I suggest starting at twelve hours then experiment with longer times if you like. After twelve hours, the program will end and your Instant Pot will beep. (I culture my yogurt for 24 hours because I like it very tart.)

To cool (8 hours):

Remove cooking pot, cover with foil or a lid like this and immediately place into the refrigerator, cool 8 hours undisturbed.

To strain (8-24 hours):

Then, use a Yogurt Strainer like this and strain the yogurt. Place in the refrigerator for at least eight hours to strain. (I strain mine for 24 hours, however, I like my yogurt very thick.)

To store:

Remove your yogurt from the strainer into a storage container(s) of your choosing. (64 ounces of milk yields about 32 ounces of strained yogurt.)


One Pot Pastalaya

Pastalaya pronounced pasta-lie-a (like jambalaya) is a cross between a pasta dish and jambalaya (the Cajun sausage and rice dish). Is that confusing enough? No matter Pastalaya is delicious! My family devours it, even in its whole food incarnation with whole wheat penne pasta.

Pastalaya (slightly adapted from Budget Bytes)


1 tablespoon canola oil

12-ounce package nitrate free Andouille sausage

2 cloves garlic

10-ounce bag frozen seasoning mix

15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes

1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon thyme

Freshly cracked pepper

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

1 pound whole wheat penne pasta

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1/2 bunch fresh parsley

1/2 bunch green onions


Slice Andouille sausage into rounds.

Place a dutch oven on the stovetop. Add oil and turn temperature to medium. Once hot, add sausage.

Cook sausage over medium heat until it is browned, about 5-10 minutes.

Mince 2 cloves of garlic and add to dutch oven. Saute for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.

Add the bag of frozen seasoning mix and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add diced tomatoes with juices, Creole seasoning, oregano, smoked paprika, thyme, black pepper (about 20 cranks of the pepper mill), chicken broth, water and pasta to the pot. Stir until everything is combined.

Place lid on and turn the heat up to medium-high. The mixture will come to a boil. Remove lid, and stir.

Turn heat down to simmer and replace lid. Allow to simmer 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Stir the pot once every few minutes as it simmers to prevent the ingredients from sticking.

While the pasta is simmering, chop parsley and green onions.

Once the pasta is tender, most of the liquid in the pot should be absorbed. If it’s still a bit soupy, let the pot simmer for a couple of minutes without the lid to allow some moisture to evaporate.

Turn off the heat and stir in the cream. Stir in most of the chopped parsley and green onions, reserving some to sprinkle over the top.

Serve hot with a pinch of fresh parsley and green onions on top of each plate.


Grilled Pork Loin

Pork Loin is an inexpensive cut of meat in our area and frequently on sale for under $2.00 a pound. Last night we had one in our refrigerator and my husband decided to throw it on the grill.

Once the charcoal was nice and hot, he pushed the coals to one side and placed the pork roast on the other side (cooking by indirect heat). It took a little over 1 1/2 hours to reach 150 degrees. He then brought it inside, tented it with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

It was delicious! I was able to freeze the leftovers for other meals. Ideas include pork lo mein and also barbecue sandwiches. Yum!

Grilled Pork Loin (slightly adapted from The Kitchn)


5 pounds pork loin roast

your choice of seasoning


Remove pork loin from the wrapper. Pat meat dry with paper towels. Place on a large platter and season both sides generously. Seasoning options can be whatever you wish, as simple as salt and pepper, your favorite dry rub or be like us and use Montreal Steak Seasoning.

Place pork loin on your grill.

Cook over indirect heat (hot coals on opposite side of the grill from meat) and with grill top closed. Turn roast every half hour.

Remove from grill when internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Bring inside and tent for 15-20 minutes.

Slice thinly. (We served ours on hot rolls with Grey Poupon Country Dijon Mustard.)


One Pot Southwestern Chicken and Rice Skillet

Today, I am introducing you to One Pot Southwestern Chicken and Rice Skillet. It is a delicious one-pot meal. Our family loves it, especially the fact that everyone can individualize their plate with their preferred toppings.

One Pot Southwestern Chicken and Rice Skillet (Iowa Girl Eats)


2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 teaspoons taco seasoning

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup salsa

1 cup brown rice

shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

tortilla strips (optional – I use this recipe)

sliced green onion

chopped cilantro (optional)


Heat oil in large, deep skillet over high heat. Add chicken and onion then season with taco seasoning.

Saute for a few minutes. (The chicken will continue to cook throughout the process.)

Add corn, beans, salsa, and chicken broth to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, then place a lid on top.

Turn down the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Remove pan from burner and let it sit off the heat for 5 minutes.

Serve on individual plates.

Top with shredded cheese, tortilla strips, green onion, and then sprinkle some chopped fresh cilantro on top.


Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

There are a lot of recipes out there for Chicken and Broccoli Casserole. Almost all of them have condensed soup as an ingredient. This one does not. I’ve been making it for years and my family loves it!


1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1/2 cup onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) of chicken broth or stock

2 cups whole milk

2 cups cooked chicken, diced

2 cups broccoli florets, trimmed to the same size

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

dash of freshly grated nutmeg

hot, steamed brown rice


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt butter in large skillet or saucepan. Add onions and saute until translucent.

Add crushed garlic, cook for 1 more minute.

Add flour, stir for a couple of minutes.

Pour in chicken broth a little at a time while whisking. Continue to whisk until no lumps remain.

Add milk and whisk until incorporated.

Bring mixture to a simmer and let thicken while stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Into a buttered 9 X 13 casserole dish layer (cooked and diced) chicken, then broccoli florets. Pour white sauce over the casserole, then sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over top.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve over rice.



I love granola, however, the kind available at grocery stores is so expensive and filled with so many preservatives. Homemade granola is so easy to make so for the last few years I have made my own. This granola recipe is a good one and just as important, an easy one!


4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins  1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup sliced almonds


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Line 2 sheet pans with nonstick aluminum foil, parchment paper or silicone mats.

Into a small saute pan melt coconut oil. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Stir. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Combine oats, shredded coconut, ground cinnamon, and ground flax seeds into a large mixing bowl. Pour maple syrup mixture over oat mixture. Stir well.

Onto sheet pans, pour granola, dividing evenly using an oiled spatula. Either with the oiled spatula or with hands that have been oiled, press granola mixture down flat.

Bake for 15 minutes. Pull granola out of the oven and rotate pans, then place back into the oven. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Remove granola from the oven and let cool. Combine raisins and sliced almonds to cooled pans of granola and combine gently.

Once granola is cooled, store in sealed containers in a cool, dry place.


Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

I have prepared many spaghetti with meat sauce recipes in my 32 years of marriage. This one is my current one and with good reason. It’s delicious!

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)


1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4  teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

8 ounce can tomato sauce

2 teaspoons turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

hot prepared whole wheat spaghetti pasta*

freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

freshly chopped parsley (optional)


In a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground meat, onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper, breaking the meat into small pieces as it cooks, until it is no longer pink.

Drain any excess grease.

Stir in the tomato paste, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cook over medium-high heat, constantly stirring, for about a minute, until the mixture smells fragrant.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, brown sugar and soy sauce. Stir to combine.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes.

Serve over spaghetti noodles. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.


*I am very pleased with the Great Value Whole Wheat Pasta except the spaghetti. Our family struggles with the taste of whole wheat spaghetti when paired with a tomato-based sauce. Instead of resorting to white pasta, or some sort of hybrid, we found the brand Jovial that uses Einkorn whole wheat flour to be delicious. I stock up on it when Vitacost offers a 20% off of a $50 food purchase.

One Pot Taco Skillet

This is a great one-pot meal. Brown your ground beef and onions, and then throw everything else in. It’s that simple, and your family will love it.

One Pot Taco Skillet (slightly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats)


1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1 taco seasoning packet, don’t add water (or homemade)

1/2 cup salsa

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

1 cup brown rice

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Toppings of your choice


Brown ground beef with the chopped onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add taco seasoning, salsa, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil.

Add brown rice and then place a lid on top of the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low.

Simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender.

Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Place lid back on the skillet and the sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Add toppings such as sour cream, green onions, and homemade tortilla strips.