Easy Turkey Chili with Butternut Squash Slow Cooker Recipe

October began with early morning hints of cooler weather to come. This got me to thinking of chili.

(You can skip the turkey and make this a vegetarian dish if you like.)

My three essential kitchen appliances are:

1) the coffee pot

2) the rice cooker

3) the slow cooker (I have two, large and small)

For the record, I’m an intuitive cook, which means I really stink at following step-by-step instructions of any kind. I love simple and easy and failproof. This is all that. Tasty and easy. If you can open a can, you can make this. No, it’s not haute cuisine, but you can prep it and walk away then come home later to a bowl of tasty, comfort food.

You can use whatever veggies you like, whatever spices you prefer. Here’s what I used:

1 package of ground turkey

1 carton of vegetable broth

1/2 can of black beans

1 whole can (small) red beans

1 package of frozen Italian vegetables (cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, Italian green beans)

1 small can white corn (drain water before adding)

1 small can diced tomatoes with cilantro and green chilies

1/2 Butternut squash


a garlic powder blend to season or two cloves chopped garlic

Can serve solo or with rice, bread, crackers, couscous.

I put the ground turkey in the bottom and poured in the vegetable broth and turned the cooker on high. Chopped the butternut squash in half, cubed one half, saved the other for another time. Added cubed squash. Added all other ingredients, seasoned with a garlic powder blend and oregano.

Allow to cook for 8 hours.

The first meal, we ate the chili with crackers; for a bit of variety, I made Israeli couscous seasoned with garlic and served the chili on the couscous. That worked out well for flavor and texture.

Let’s Make Okinomiyaki

One of my favorite Japanese dishes is okonomiyaki. Many years ago, a sweet friend wrote out a recipe. It’s showing it’s age, but it’s so cute, I wanted to share it with you. I’ll also put some links of videos on how to make this savory pancake. If you are a foodie, you’re going to love this. Yukari did this with pork and shrimp. You can change up the ingredients–you can make a vegetarian version, loading it up with vegetables, but, oh man, I gotta tell you, if you like shrimp, scallops, and or bacon, you are going to love this!

It’s best if you can hunt up an Asian market to get a Chinese cabbage or one of those soft squatty ones, I’m not sure what those are called. They aren’t as firm as the standard, round green or red cabbage, though I’m sure those would work okay too. I’ve never tried either.

Basic Ingredients

***You may have trouble finding the yam powder. Ask at the market. They should carry the special sauce in a Japanese food section. When I first got back from Japan, I had to get a friend in NYC to tromp across town to buy it and ship it to me. It was a huge deal. These days, if you need something, you can order it online. So if you can’t find the okinomiyaki (yam) flour in your store, ask, and if all else fails, you can order on the internet.***

***If you get anxious about trying new recipes, relax. This may seem a bit intimidating, especially flipping the pancake–but even if it doesn’t flip prettily, it’ll still taste fabulous. If you really can’t abide mayonnaise, you can skip it. Don’t sweat it. But if you can, go for it. It is so complimentary to the sauce, you’ll be amazed. And you might even splurge on traditional Japanese mayonnaise in the squirty bottle. I don’t know what they put in it, but squirty Kewpie is a staple with this dish. So savory. Hmm. I’m getting hungry! Might be trundling off to the Asian market today!

My humble apologies about the dingy gray of this. I even laminated it to protect it, but it’s seen some use. I’m still glad I have this treasure. Is 1990 considered vintage yet?

Here are some links to YouTube videos on how to cook it. I know visuals help–check them out:



Peggy Sue’s White Sauce

I’m getting some advance reviews of my next book, And I’ll Have a Haint Blue Christmas which I’m determined to get out in time for the holidays this year. My publishers at Hedonistic Hound Press are editing feverishly.

Meanwhile, I’ve had some request for some of the recipes. Someone just asked me for Peggy Sue’s white sauce recipie and I she was kind enough to write it out for me.

It’s got a bit of zing to it, but unless you can’t handle any spice at all, it’s got just enough kick, but not too much. And if you do like spicy you can, of course, go a lot heavier on the cayenne.

So here it is folks, compliments of Peggy Sue:

Makes a super dipping sauce for wings–

really tasty with chicken!

Cabbage Rolls with Sausage and Hamburger and the Secret Ingredient –Chili Garlic Sauce

I was watching a cooking show recently and got excited to try cabbage rolls. There are some great videos out there on social media too with step-by-step instructions.

It’s a bit time consuming, but well worth the effort. You have to work in stages. If you’ve never attempted this before, don’t be intimidated. It’s not hard, just a little time consuming. If I can do it, you can!




hamburger meat

1-2 eggs

spaghetti sauce

chili garlic sauce


yellow onion


spring onions

grated cheese

butter or olive oil

Sorry I don’t have exact measurements — I’m bad that way. You’ll have to eyeball the meats you select and the size cabbage — you know, if you are just cooking for yourself, you might do a half a package of hamburger and a half a roll of sausage and only use some of the cabbage… If you have room in the freezer, I found that one tube of sausage, a poundish of hamburger and a good-sized cabbage worked out quite well.

  1. Cook the cabbage
  2. Make your filling
  3. Stuff the cabbage leaves
  4. Top with sauce and bake

I went to an Asian market and found a squatty, green cabbage. Wish I’d taken a photo, it had smooth leaves, not a Chinese cabbage, though that would work too, and might be easier to wrap with.

Cooked the cabbage and set it aside to cool while I chopped mushrooms, onions. I sauteed them with garlic powder (because I forgot to buy garlic–grr!) and set that aside.

Secret Ingredient — You should be able to find in an Asian market.

I browned a combination of half sage sausage and hamburger, to which I added a few hefty dollops of chili garlic sauce. Depending on how much meat you have, you might add one or two eggs as a binder. I forgot, and it was okay, but it would have held together a bit better in the cabbage with an egg. When this was evenly browned, I added back in the chopped onion and mushrooms.

When the cabbage was cool, I peeled the leaves off and cut out the thick stemmy part at the base of each leaf. If you have the space, you might set the leaves out on a board or pan to dry–they retain a lot of moisture. I was in a hurry and didn’t have a big board or cookie sheet, so I just patted them dry with paper towels.

I filled a leaf with three spoonfuls of the meat mixture, rolled it into another leaf and set it snug in a glass pan. As the cabbage leaves got smaller, I ended up using three or even four leaves to a bundle. My leaves were able to keep the bundle shape without toothpicks, but you can use toothpicks if you prefer, just remember to remove them later!

Yes, I cheated on the sauce. I used a jar of sauce to cover the rolls. I chopped up some spring onions and scattered them on the top, then sprinkled with grated cheese.

I baked the rolls in the oven at 385 degrees for about 35 minutes. Served with basmati rice on the side. Paired with a red blend wine. Heaven! The chili inside the rolls was a nice contrast to the tomato sauce on the outside, gave it a bit of zing.

So since the chili sauce with garlic was a success, I’m thinking that a vegetarian version would substitute zucchini for the meat, and green chili sauce instead of red chili sauce. Zucchini and corn? lima beans? I’m looking forward to trying this next. I love green chili sauce. Will post the update when I do.

Green and red– perfect comfort food for the winter holiday season!

Corned beef and Cabbage In a Slow Cooker

Wishing you a very happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Like corned beef and cabbage but never tried cooking it yourself? I thought this was some tricky thing — it’s easy-peasy if you have a slow cooker!

And if you don’t have one, why not? They’re so convenient and not expensive. You just put in the ingredients, push a button and walk away! You can keep stuff warming overnight– don’t even need to do cleanup! Finish the leftovers tomorrow. Done!

You will need:

a package of corned beef

a small cabbage

1-2 containers of vegetable stock

a few small potatoes

a few carrots

You’ll have to forive me, but I’m an intuitive cook. I can’t tell you how many carrots or potatoes, but you’ll want to have balance with the size of the meat so each serving will get a nice mix of meaty bits, potato, carrot and cabbage. Know what I mean? It’ll depend on your pot size and the meat size.

Corned beef comes in a sort of a baggie package with a seasoning packet. They come in various sizes, so pick a small one if you have a small crowd or a larger one if you are feeding more people. As long as it will fit in your cooker, you’re fine!

Chop up your veggies–the cabbage, carrots and potatoes into bite size chunks and put them in the cooker.

Open the corned beef package and slide out the meat, placing it over the veggies, FAT SIDE UP. Open the seasoning packet and sprinkle it in the cooker.

Add vegetable stock and/or water until it is touching the meat. Turn the cooker on to HIGH. Cook for about 8 hours* or until the meat will pull apart with a fork. Turn down to warm once it is cooked and tender.

*This will vary depending on the size of your cooker and the size of the meat. Veggies should be soft and meat should pull apart easily.

What is that seasoning flavor?

The basics in the corned beef flavor are:

  • Mustard Seeds
  • Peppercorns
  • Anise Seeds
  • Whole Cloves
  • Cardamom Pods
  • Bay Leaves
  • Ground Coriander
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Ground Ginger

So if for some reason you don’t like or are allergic to any of these, you can make your own spice and omit the one you don’t like. Or, if you really like a spice, you might add a little extra. Like it a little spicy? Add more pepper flakes or some hot sauce.

slaintѐ mhaith = good health! cheers!


Well, it was going to be cold Salmon and Soba Salad but it ended up hot Salmon and Lo Mein Instead

Ingredients: sliced salmon, peppers, zucchini, lo mein noodles, sesame seeds, sesame oil
Sorry if my recipes aren’t exact… I’m an intuitive cook–really bad at measuring amounts!

I was clearing off my desk the other day, which led me to another pile of detritus–I ended up sorting through that and found a recipe I’d meant to try that sounded delicious: cold soba and salmon salad. Long story short, I had an incident with a road-rage-filled motorcyclist on the way to the grocery store, so my mind was no longer focused on shopping as I dashed through the store worried that Mr. Rage might be doing harm to my vehicle in the parking lot. A police officer followed me out of the parking lot and partway home to be sure I wasn’t in any danger.

Suffice it to say, my nerves were all jangly as I began to prepare dinner. I hadn’t been able to find soba noodles at all, I forgot the cucumber and was not going to wait to chill the dish as I needed to eat something.

It was just as well that they didn’t have the soba noodles as they are kind of chewy and don’t absorb flavor as well as other noodles in my opinion. I am keen on lo mein, so I was happy, but I’ll put links below for recipes with soba noodles. Also, I couldn’t face waiting for a chunk of salmon from the seafood counter, so I got a package of sliced salmon instead and used the whole package. It was enough for two people but a chunk would have been nicer. The thin slices made for much quicker prep time though.

I got the water boiling for the lo mein noodles while I chopped the peppers — I got an assorted package of multi-colored small peppers–sliced up five of them and two medium sized zucchinis and browned them in a skillet with a generous amount of sesame oil. When they were done, I scooped them out, set them aside in a bowl and popped the sliced salmon into the skillet, breaking up the slices into pieces and essentially warming it thoroughly. By this time, the noodles were done. I drizzled some sesame oil over the noodles in the colander, then tossed them into the skillet with the salmon and added the veggies back in. I sprinkled toasted sesame seeds over it and stirred it all up.

For a quick, healthy, tasty dish–even put together in less than an optimal mind-frame, this came out great! It sure helped to fortify my nerves. It could have used a couple drops of hot sauce or maybe some dill… wish I’d thought to add dill. Maybe a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Links to cold soba recipes I’ve not tried but sound fantastic:



Oooh! And this one has asparagus and spinach! I’ll have to try this one soon!


Quick and Easy Brussel Sprouts/Cabbage/Currants with Sesame Oil


1-2 packages Brussel sprouts

small cabbage (I got the small squatty kind from an Asian market, it has looser leaves than a regular green cabbage but you could use any cabbage)

Sesame oil

currants or raisins, dried cherries, blueberries

Wash and destem the B sprouts, then halve. Wash cabbage and cut roughly the same amount of cabbage as you have sprouts. I used about 1/3 of the small cabbage to one pack of sprouts for one meal for two people. If you are cooking for more people or like leftovers, you may want 2 packages of sprouts and use 2/3 or even all of a squatty cabbage. This is super yummy, so you might want to make a big batch!

Stir fry on a medium heat with a liberal amount of sesame oil. You may want to even add some water to partially steam it. When all the greens seem to be browning up, turn the temp down to low and add in your dried fruit– sorry folks, I don’t measure, I go by eye-ball– a nice visual scattering — I tend to be a bit heavy handed, it’s up to you — if you like fruit, add more. Stir until the fruit has had a chance to mingle with the oil and is well mixed into the greens.

Taco Night –A Variation with Sweet Potato and Fish


Was in the mood for fish tacos but had some sweet potato leftovers.  Breaded tilapia, lime-cilantro rice, black beans and sweet potato was a pretty nifty combo.  Also had tomato with green chilies and lime juice.  Cooked the tilapia with olive oil and lots of lemon juice. Perhaps the Guinness was a bit strong, but it’s what I had on hand. Mighty tasty dinner.  

My Soup Bible Cookbook

Hey all, I have a confession. I’m  a pantster cook. I don’t really follow recipes, I tend to wing it with ingredients on hand. And I have to say, this Japanese Hot Pot cookbook is one of my favorite cookbooks for ideas. Let’s face it, soup is really forgiving; you don’t need to be fastidious with measuring.  I keep vegetable and chicken broth on hand as well as cooking sake, Mirin, oyster sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce. From there I can make a soup base. Add veggies and a meat, simmer and voila, dinner.
The other day, I pulled some frozen mackerel out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge. I had a bag of baby bokchoy that I got at the Asian market, some frozen corn. Adding some noodles at the last  minute and ta da! I whipped up a fish noodle soup that turned out mighty tasty! And I have to thank this gorgeous cookbook. The pictures are mouthwatering, the recipes are simple and I use it mostly for inspiration. Lots of vegetarian ideas here too, folks.. mushroom hot pot, acorn squash hot pot…
Looking for healthy comfort food on a cold night? If this cookbook doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what to say!

JAPANESE HOT POTS Comfort One-Pot Meals by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat

Roasted Peppers with Sausage, Pineapple and Couscous

When I was little, I hated peppers. I could tolerate them chopped really small in spaghetti sauce, but a stuffed pepper? No way. Fortunately, taste buds can change. First it was thin slices on pizza, bits in omelets… and now I’m writing a recipe for roasted peppers.

This is not a vegetarian recipe as I’m (yes, pun intended) hog-wild for Jimmy Dean sausage, especially SAGE. But don’t run off, I’m sure you can substitute just about anything that behaves like sausage.

Ingredients: peppers, pineapple, sausage, couscous, oil

Preheat the oven to around 385 degrees. Wash the peppers, and with a sharp knife cut the tops off and then cut the stems out so each pepper is a little container with a hat with a hole at the top. Clean out the seeds. Set the peppers into a glass baking pan. They should have some wiggle room but be sitting up straight.

Put a couple pineapple chunks into the bottom of each pepper.

Note: I pulled the sausage out for the photo shoot, it’s still frozen. You’ll want it thawed and soft. For four peppers, I used a little less than half of the sausage–it’ll depend on how many peppers you are cooking and how big they are.

Cut an end off the sausage and squeeze/spoon out sausage into each pepper.

Add another pineapple or two on top of each — you’ll want the peppers to be about 3/4 full–save room to add the couscous later.

Put the tops on the peppers, drizzle with oil enough so they won’t dry out and the bottoms won’t burn. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes or until they look mostly cooked and the tops are a tad brown.

Meanwhile, cook your couscous following the package directions.

When the peppers are done-ish, pull them out, pull the hats off, and spoon in some couscous. You can stir carefully so the sausage and couscous are blended in the pepper. You might add another pineapple on top to peak out of the hat. This’ll keep it from getting dry and adds color.

Option: cover with a sheet of aluminum foil, especially if your oven runs hot. You want the sausage fully cooked but don’t want to burn the peppers. Bake for another 12ish minutes.

Serve over a bed of couscous.