All posts by Debi

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Rich, flavorful, lump-free gravy is at the top of the agenda for everyone cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Am I right?

“Debi, how do you make your gravy?” is a question I get from my cooking class students and friends every year.  In talking with people about gravy making, I’ve learned its a huge source of stress for many.  Please don’t give up and buy that pre-made stuff in a jar. Good gravy is 100% important on Thanksgiving.  You can totally do it, and I will show you how.

My trick? I actually have a few tricks:

  1. I don’t make gravy on Thanksgiving day.   I make the gravy ahead of time by roasting turkey legs and wings. I make a spatchcocked turkey that roasts on a bed of stuffing, so all of those delicious turkey drippings aren’t available for gravy making. They are busy melting  into the stuffing and creating those crispy little edges that are so good.
  2. I toast the flour before making the gravy (instructions follow). Toasting the flour adds a warm flavor to the gravy.
  3. Add the stock slowly, and keep whisking to keep it smooth. Don’t walk away from your gravy pan until it is finished. 

    Follow my Make Ahead Turkey Gravy recipe and you will be a star in your kitchen (not to mention a little less stressed).



Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
Serves: 6 cups
  • 1 pound turkey wings, legs or neck pieces, cut into small pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 5 fresh sprigs thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour, toasted***
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the turkey pieces on a rimmed baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer the roasted turkey pieces to a platter; reserving drippings in a small bowl.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or stock pot over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to pan; saute, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown (about 8 minutes).
  4. Add the stock, thyme, bay leaves, and roasted turkey pieces. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to a medium simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes to enrich the stock with roasted-turkey flavor. Strain the stock into a heat-safe bowl, and keep warm.
  5. Melt the butter in the saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour, and whisk until the mixture is smooth, toasted and golden in color. Slowly pour in the warm broth, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a simmer. Continue to cook, still whisking, until the gravy is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Let the gravy cool to room temperature. Transfer it to an airtight container or resealable plastic freezer bag, label and date, and freeze for up to 2 weeks.
  7. To serve, reheat the frozen gravy in a saucepan or a microwave. Be sure to whisk vigorously as the gravy heats up to keep lumps from forming. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
  8. **The gravy can be served right away instead of frozen. Or refrigerate it in an airtight
  9. container for up to 2 days.
  10. ***To toast flour, place in a dry saute pan over low heat; stirring frequently until flour turns light brown.





Tomatillo Bisque with Chicken & Lime Crema

Tomatillo Bisque

Only a few official days of summer left and then we are on to fall. The subtle reminders are there: cooler evenings, the displays of pumpkins and colorful mums at the entrances of grocery stores, and the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks; all clues that we are making the transition into a new season.

Here in the south though, the days can remain quite warm for a while yet, which tends to leave me feeling a bit confused about what I want to eat.  On the super warm days I am still content with  summer food: something right off the grill with crisp garden ready veggies still do the trick.  But then when we have a few nights that get chilly, and days that aren’t so scorching hot, I’m not really sure what I’m in the mood for.

On those cooler days, the first thing I start to think about is soup. Not the stick-to-your-ribs kinds of soups, but definitely something warm and satisfying.

In comes my  Tomatillo Bisque.   I have been making this soup for years. I often serve it as a first course in the winter months as a lead into a southwestern menu, and sometimes I make it with some added chicken and enjoy it for lunch or dinner all on its own like I’ve done here.

This soup is nice and light, with some really good tang from the tomatillos and lime crema…and of course I love the crispy tortilla strip garnish!


You’ll find fresh tomatillos in the produce section of your grocery store. To check for freshness, look for firm tomatillos with tight fitting paper like husks. You’ll want to keep them refrigerated (unlike tomatoes) until ready to use.

Tomatillos are a key ingredient for green sauces in Mexican and Central American cuisine, but they are also offer fantastic flavor for soup!

Tomatillo Bisque

Tomatillo Bisque with Chicken, Tortilla Crisps, & Lime Crema
  • 16 ounces tomatillos, husked, washed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1½ tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 serrano chile, chopped
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 4 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
  • Canola oil for frying tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced (for garnish)
  • Lime Crema
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  1. Place tomatillos on a baking sheet and broil until lightly charred and softened, about 15 minutes. Remove blistered skin from tomatillos and discard, reserving tomatillos.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and salt, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, oregano, 1 tablespoon of the cilantro, and the chile; continue to cook, stirring frequently, an additional 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Dissolve corn starch in a little cold water and add to the soup and continue to simmer an additional 2 minutes to thicken. Cool soup slightly. Add roasted tomatillos to soup and puree, using an immersion blender, or process in mixer in batches.
  3. (Soup may be prepared 1 day ahead and reheated.)
  4. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with *crispy tortilla strips, chicken, diced tomatoes, a dollop of *lime crema and remaining cilantro.
  5. servings
  6. *Crispy Tortilla Strips:
  7. Fill a large cast iron skillet with 1-inch of canola oil and heat to 350 degrees over medium high heat. Add tortilla strips, and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towel lined plate. (May be fried 1 day ahead.)
  8. For Lime Crema: whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.

Quinoa, Corn,Spinach, & Sundried Tomato Stuffed Artichokes

quinoa stuffed artichokesOne of my favorite ways to enjoy the true flavor of artichokes is to just steam them and dip the leaves indulgently into melted butter with an added  squeeze of lemon–perfection. Stuffing artichokes  with buttery breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs is pretty hard to beat too. While both of these options are delicious, they aren’t exactly what you would categorize with  #light ,  #healthy , #SummerBeachBody tags.

quinoa stuffed artichokesThe  artichokes I’m sharing here today however, are something you can feel great about eating. They are low in fat, calories, and packed with a protein boost from the quinoa.

This recipe came together one afternoon when I was trying to figure out what I was going to make for dinner with the stuff I had on hand. Quinoa (ready in 15 minutes) has become kind of my go-to backdrop on these kinds of days, where often times I throw together a saute of whatever vegetables are in the fridge and toss it together with a few herbs or chiles.

On this particular day,  I spotted the artichokes and decided my usual saute would make a really nice filling. Why not? —-Dinner was saved and we all loved the artichokes. I hope you will too!

quinoa stuffed artichokes

Quinoa, Corn,Spinach, & Sundried Tomato Stuffed Artichokes
Serves: 4
  • 1½ cups water
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ finely chopped shallots
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped sundried tomatoes (oil packed--drained)
  • Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup prepared pesto (good quality jarred or homemade)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 large artichokes, stems trimmed, thorns trimmed from leaves
  1. Heat water to boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low; cover, and simmer 1 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and sundried tomatoes; cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Add corn and spinach, cooking an additional 2 minutes, until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add cooked quinoa to bowl with shallot mixture. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and pesto to bowl; toss well. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Using a spoon, stuff about 1 teaspoon of filling into the bottom of
  4. each artichoke leaf. Place artichokes in a vegetable steamer or into a large pan with a steamer basket insert and steam artichokes 45-50 minutes or until artichoke leaves release easily when pulled.