CITRUS BRINED ROAST TURKEY & GRAVY adapted from Pioneer woman
Prep Time: 24 hours 45 mins

5 bay leaves
5 garlic cloves, minced
Peel of 3 oranges, plus 1 orange, cut into wedges
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 lime, cut into wedges
3 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
3 tablespoons tri-color peppercorns

  • Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot with 2 gallons cold water stirring until the sugar and salt COMPLETELY dissolve.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover.
  • Let cool completely.
  • Pour the cooled brine into a large brining bag or pot.
  • Add the turkey and refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.


  • When ready to roast, remove the turkey from the brine.
  • Submerge the turkey in a pot of fresh cold water.
  • Allow to sit in the clean water for 15 minutes to remove the excess salt.

18-20 pound turkey (reserve the giblets and neck for the gravy)
2 oranges, zested and juiced RESERVE zest and 2nd orange
1 lemon, zested and juiced RESERVE zest
2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 tablespoons finely chopped FRESH Thyme leaves, plus 4 to 5 sprigs (2 for garnish)
2 tablespoons finely chopped FRESH Tarragon leaves, plus 4-5 sprigs (2 for garnish)
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
3 cups homemade chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine

  • Preheat the oven to 275 ̊.
  • Remove the turkey from the water, pat dry and place breast-side up on a roasting rack set in a large roasting pan.
  • GENEROUSLY season with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Add juice from 1 lemon and 1 orange to the turkey cavity.
  • Cover with heavy duty foil.
  • Roast 10 minutes per pound.
  • Remove turkey from oven and increase the heat to 325 ̊. Discard foil. Don’t worry that the turkey is so pale!


  • Combine the butter, thyme leaves, tarragon leaves, salt and pepper in a bowl until well blended.
  • Smear the butter mixture all over the skin and into the crevices so that the turkey is totally covered.
  • Slice the reserved orange into wedges and place in the cavity of the turkey along with 3 each of the thyme and tarragon sprigs.
  • Cross the legs and tie them together with kitchen twine.
  • Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh behind the leg joint.
  • Pour the chicken broth and wine into the bottom of the pan.
  • Roast for 5-7 minutes per pound, basting the turkey every 30 minutes, until the thermometer reads 165 ̊.
  • Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.
  • Save the drippings for gravy.


Giblet pieces and neck, saved from the uncooked turkey
Drippings from roasted turkey
1/2 cup WONDRA flour (more if needed)
4 cups no-sodium chicken or turkey broth
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon each FRESH chopped Tarragon and Thyme leaves

  • In a small saucepan cover the giblets and neck with water by 2 inches.
  • Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour to cook meat and create the broth for the gravy.
  • Remove the giblets and neck from the broth and set aside to be chopped into sell pieces when cool enough to touch.
  • Set the broth in the saucepan aside for later.


While the turkey is resting pour all the drippings from the turkey roasting pan into a bowl and let the drippings sit and separate naturally, then use a ladle to carefully separate the fat from the liquid drippings (the fat will be on top, while the drippings will settle at the bottom).

  • When ready to make the gravy, return the pan to the stove over medium low flame.
  • Add 1 cup of the fat to the pan.
  • Sprinkle the flour all over the fat and immediately begin whisking it around to make a smooth roux that is not too oily or pasty by adding more fat or flour as necessary.
  • Whisk it slowly for a few minutes, allowing it to cook to a deep golden brown color.
  • Once the roux is ready, pour in 1 cup of the drippings (the gel from under the fat) and the chicken or turkey broth, whisking constantly, cooking 7-8 minutes until thickened.


  • While gravy is simmering, use your fingers to remove as much of the neck meat as you can and chop up the giblets into fine pieces.
  • Add as much of the meat to the gravy as you desire.
  • If the gravy seems too thick, add more broth and/or a little of the reserved giblet broth (the water used to cook the giblets.)
  • Taste and adjust seasoning.

To complete our Thanksgiving meal I also traditionally make Sourdough Oatnut herb dressing, Homemade Cranberry Sauce and our Family Favorite Mashed Potatoes.


1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon creamy horseradish
2 tablespoons QUALITY honey
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon avocado oil
8 (6) ounce salmon fillets
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon FRESH minced oregano
3 green onions, minced

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Whisk together the vinegar, white wine, chicken broth, horseradish, honey, garlic and avocado oil in a sauce pan.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil, cooking and stirring 5 minutes until thickened.
  • Place salmon skin side down on a greased baking sheet.
  • Season generously with FRESH ground pepper and salt, to taste.
  • Spoon glaze over salmon fillets and top with oregano.
  • Bake uncovered 12-15 minutes until salmon flakes easily with a fork.
  • Garnish with minced green onions.

NOTE: A weeknight short cut is to use a bottle of Bertolli Balsamic glaze instead of the individual components.  Just heat it up and pour it over 😀


3/4 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound hamburger
1/2 pound ground pork
1 sleeve Keebler club crackers, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 Jumbo eggs
1 tablespoon liquid Smoke – MYSTERY ingredient

6 medium red potatoes, washed and cut into pieces (see note)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4-1/2 cup Buttermilk

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons self-rising flour
1 tablespoons cream sherry
2 cups hot water
1 tablespoon better than bouillon beef base
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
salt and pepper to taste

  • Combine all the hamburger steak ingredients until well mixed. Form six steaks.
  • Bake 30-45 minutes at 350°.
  • In a large skillet melt the butter for the gravy.
  • Saute the onions until browned.
  • Add the bouillon base, cream sherry and hot water. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, add flour and continue cooking to desired consistency.
  • Bring potatoes to a boil until tender. Drain WELL.
  • Combine potato ingredients and beat until smooth.
  • Enjoy

NOTE: If making this dish for company I like to use russets and bake them first.  Scoop out insides to prepare potatoes and pipe back into the shells to heat before serving. 😀


1/2 pound ground sirloin
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 SMALL onion, FINELY chopped
2 LARGE cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons avocado oil

  • In a large bowl mix together ground meats, seasonings, chopped onion and garlic until well blended.
  • Form into golf ball sized meatballs.
  • Heat oil in cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Sear meatballs, turning often, until browned.
  • Transfer to paper towels to drain.

2-3 pounds FRESH Roma or cherry tomatoes, chopped rustic
1/4 cup chopped FRESH flat leaf Parsley
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH oregano
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH basil
Avocado oil
1 bulb garlic, sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • Cover large baking sheet with foil.
  • Arrange tomatoes, onions and garlic in a single layer.
  • Drizzle with avocado oil.
  • Season well with herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Roast for 3 hours until tomatoes are shriveled and soft.
  • Cool completely.

Pureed Slow Roasted Tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream

  • Puree tomato mixture before running through a food mill to remove seeds and large chunks.
  • Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add chicken broth and pureed tomatoes.
  • Bring to a SLOW simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Whisk in heavy cream and simmer 5-10 minutes more.


Compliments of Martha over at Seaside Simplicity I bring you her Baked Ricotta Dip. I have found A LOT of uses for the leftovers also. And yes, with just two of us there ARE leftovers. 

The first time I used the leftovers as a thin layer in my Ravioli Lasagna between the first layer of ravioli and the meat sauce.  Next time I will make a batch in a large flat baking dish that can be easily transferred to a thin layer in the lasagna.

The second time I added some leftover Cara Mia Artichoke Bruschetta from Star and 8 ounces of tomato sauce. I then served it over some simple pan seared chicken breast for a complete meal.

2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Pour into a 8″ greased baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with additional Italian seasoning and bake about 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
  • Serve with Crostini or sourdough chunks.
  • If you don’t like garlic, it can be completely omitted or decreased in amount and you’ll still have a delicious warm cheesy dip.
  • If you love a good strong garlic flavor like we do, mix an additional 4-6 cloves of minced garlic with a tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil and pour over the top for the last 10 minutes of baking time.
  • For a slightly sweet version, omit garlic and Italian seasonings and add a tablespoon of a good QUALITY honey, with additional honey to drizzle on top, great for brunch!
  • Cut French bread in 1/2 inch thick slices.
  • Brush both sides with olive or avocado oil.
  • Sprinkle with Italian seasoning (optional).
  • Bake at 400° for 3 minutes, flip and bake an additional 2-3 minutes. 


I didn’t have any crostini, but did have some good sourdough bread that was beginning to stale so used that and it was great!

RED BLUE CHEESE DRESSING – antique recipe find

This is another of the antique recipes from the “anniversary” notebook hubby got me. I was beyond curious when I read a blue cheese recipe that called for “catsup” and had to try it!  I personally am not a fan of blue cheese, but hubby loves it and said this was a good variation.

2 tablespoons Tarragon Vinegar
2 tablespoons Avocado Oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
1 cup Cream Sherry
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 green onion, minced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon sweet Paprika
8 ounces Stilton Blue Cheese (Gorgonzola works well also)

  • In a small food processor combine everything except the oil and cheese, pulsing until well blended.
  • Add cheese and pulse again until cheese resembles coarse sand..
  • Drizzle in oil to desired consistency.
  • Chill until ready to serve.


Classic steak au poivre is a simple dish of seared peppercorn-crusted steaks with a creamy pan sauce.

Steak au poivre AKA pepper steak is a classic French dish of peppered steak, traditionally a filet mignon, coated with coarsely cracked peppercorns and then cooked. The peppercorns form a crust on the steak when cooked providing a complementary counterpoint to the rich flavor of the high-quality beef.

You can use heavy cream for a sweeter more delicate sauce OR crème fraîche for tangier pan sauce, based on your personal preference. Both work well!

Pre-salting the steaks seasons them well while allowing the surface of the meat to dry out so that the peppercorns can stick better. Encrusting the steaks on only one side allows you to sear the meat better and build up better flavor for the pan sauce. (The other half of the peppercorns goes into the sauce, so you don’t lose that great spice flavor.)

4 – 6 ounce boneless medallion steaks, such as filet mignon
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 ounce whole peppercorns black or tri-colored, plus more as needed, cracked and divided
3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 thyme sprigs
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 SMALL shallot, minced
2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream or 6 tablespoons crème fraîche

  • Season steaks all over with kosher salt. Set on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and allow to air-dry, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Spread cracked peppercorns in a shallow dish and firmly press one side of each steak into the pepper to encrust it in an even layer.
  • Set each steak aside, peppercorn side up, reserving any remaining cracked peppercorns.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add steaks, peppercorn side down, and cook until peppercorns are well toasted, about 3 minutes.
  • Carefully turn steaks, trying not to break the peppercorn crust.
  • Add butter, thyme, and garlic and cook, basting steaks with a spoon, until steaks are well seared on the second side.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Transfer steaks to a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Check internal temperature. They are medium rare at 125° and are ready to be served. If they haven’t reached temperature, transfer to oven and continue cooking until the correct internal temperature is reached.
  • Allow steaks to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from skillet and discard garlic and thyme.
  • Add shallot and any reserved cracked peppercorns, return to medium heat, and cook, stirring, until shallot is tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Add brandy or cognac.
  • Cook until raw alcohol smell has burned off and brandy has almost completely evaporated.
  • Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits.
  • Whisk in cream or crème fraîche, then simmer, stirring often, until sauce has reduced enough to glaze a spoon.
  • Season to taste.
  • Arrange steaks on plates and pour sauce on top.

NOTES: To prevent unexpected flare-ups when working with a gas range, turn off the burner, add the alcohol, then reignite the burner.


1/2 cup SMUCKERS apple jelly
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
3 pound boneless pork loin roast, tied
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Whisk together the jelly and vinegar.
  • Generously season pork roast with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Spray roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Roast pork roast 1 hour until temperature reaches 145°, brushing with glaze after 45 minutes.
  • Transfer pork to cutting board and cover with foil to rest 10 minutes.
  • While roast rests, pour all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings into saucepan over low heat.
  • Whisk the cornstarch into the 2 tablespoons of drippings to make a slurry.
  • Add slurry to thicken to desired consistency.
  • Slice roast and serve immediately.



12 ounces bacon, chopped

  • Cook bacon over medium heat until crispy.
  • Drain on paper toweling.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup FRESH parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons FRESH chives, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream and buttermilk together until smooth.
  • Fold in the parsley, chives, garlic, FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 bunch green onions, THINLY sliced
1 cup carrot matchsticks
2 cups shredded sharp white or yellow cheddar cheese
2-3 cups grilled or rotisserie chicken pieces (see note)

  • In a large bowl toss together the lettuce, green onions, carrots, tomatoes, 3/4 of the bacon pieces, chicken pieces and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese.
  • Add dressing, tossing to coat.
  • Garnish with remaining cheese and bacon.


  • I like to make this salad the same day I go to Costco.  I pick up a rotisserie chicken from their deli and it’s the perfect time to pick the chicken from the bone, make a salad and make FRESH chicken stock from the carcass.
  • I sometimes add chopped avocado or even radishes.


Hubby has been begging for some good Roquefort salad dressing. What’s the difference between that and blue cheese you ask? Well, Roquefort is a type of Blue cheese as is Gorgonzola. Roquefort is a French sheep’s milk cheese and Gorgonzola is Italian and made from cow’s milk. Roquefort has a sharper flavor, but is not as strongly flavored as robust and aromatic Gorgonzola. There is also Stilton  blue cheese.  Any of these work wonderful for this dressing.

2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3-4 ounces Roquefort

  • Mix everything together in a food processor.  For a chunky dressing leave a few chunks if you to add in after you process everything.
  • Chill AT LEAST 4 hours before serving.



16 ounce can apricot halves, drained WELL
2 tablespoons QUALITY balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine
1 tablespoon water
1 large garlic clove, FINELY mined
1 teaspoon FRESH minced thyme
2 tablespoons avocado oil

  • In blender, everything except the avocado oil; blending until smooth.
  • With blender running, slowly add oil, blending until smooth.

NOTE:  Canned peaches or pears work really well also for a bit of a different flavor profile.


4 boneless, skinless thin sliced chicken breast steaks
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup +1 tablespoon WONDRA flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 shallot minced
1 tablespoon WONDRA flour
1 cup chicken broth
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
1 tablespoon FRESH minced chives
1 tablespoon COLD unsalted butter

  • Generously season chicken steaks with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Heat oil and butter in skillet over medium heat.
  • Dredge chicken in beaten egg and the 1/4 cup flour, shaking off excess.
  • Sear chicken breasts in skillet for 2 minutes per side.
  • Remove chicken steaks to plate and keep warm.
  • Add shallot and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes until softened.
  • Add the 1 tablespoon of flour and cornstarch, stirring to coat shallot 30 seconds or so.
  • Slowly whisk in broth and bring to a simmer 5-10 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice, chives and butter.
  • Season to taste.
  • Serve over chicken.