Monthly Archives: December 2019

Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup — Season Generously

Just got myself an Instant Pot and have been too intimidated to use it. This recipe might just get me to pull it out of the cupboard.


Soup! My all-time favorite meal. You can mix and meat and/or veg into a bowl with broth and it’s always delicious. Don’t believe me? Try any number of my 30 soups I’ve made (recipes here)! This one is no exception. I used the leftover stock from Thanksgiving that I made and it made it that […]

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Middle Eastern Kebabs

This recipe was completely improvised at the last minute to use up some excess ground beef I had after making meatballs for a friend. I looked at my pantry and refrigerator and ten minutes later these kebabs were born. Everyone who ate them loved them. My mother used the recipe to make them for Thanksgiving with ground lamb instead of beef and grilled them on a outdoor grill, but I prefer the ones with beef and the kebabs hold up better on an indoor grill pan.  So, here’s the recipe with beef.  Feel free to try out with other meats like chicken or turkey too.

Middle Eastern Kebabs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Make ahead: You can grill the kebabs up to an hour before serving, then just warm them for an extra five minutes in the oven to finish when ready to serve.

Za’atar is an herb & spice blend found in Middle Eastern markets containing thyme, marjoram, oregano, sumac, toasted sesame seeds and other ingredients.

Harissa is a Moroccan chili paste found in Middle Eastern markets as well as many grocery stores

Serve the kebabs with a yogurt sauce by mixing Greek yogurt, 1 clove of grated garlic, chopped mint, salt & pepper.


  • 1 lb ground beef (large grind if available)1 Tbsp Za’atar1 Tbsp Harissa1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce3 cloves garlic – grated or mashed1 inch piece of fresh ginger – grated½ Cup finely chopped cilantro2 eggs1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper1 tsp salt (add per taste)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients
  3. Mix with hands until just combinedForm small flat kebabs no more than 2 inches in lengthHeat an indoor grill pan on medium high heat, and spray with cooking oil or brush with canola oilPlace kebabs on hot pan and brown on one side (approx. 2 mins)Turn kebabs over and brown on the other side (approx 2 mins)Place grilled kebabs on a sheet pan in one layer and continue grilling till all are doneOnce all kebabs have been grilled, finish cooking in the oven for 5 – 8 minutesServe plain or on warm pita bread, with a minty yogurt dip (see notes above)


Turkey Empanadas

Thanksgiving is an all day affair in our family. We start with appetizers and cocktails at 1pm and end the evening with a game of Taboo late into the evening. In between, there is lots of food, wine, football, ping pong and fun. And of course, there is always the traditional turkey.

My son and I are not fans of turkey. There, I admitted it. I love Thanksgiving and most of the traditional meal, but have just never warmed up to turkey. It is the only day in the year that I will eat this fowl. I do not order turkey burgers or use ground turkey for meatballs. If I’m going the healthy route, I will always choose chicken instead. So, as you can imagine, I rarely bring home turkey leftovers. This year, I must have had one too many glasses of wine because my leftovers bag had lots of turkey in it. Not quite sure what to do with it, I decided to experiment a bit. Since one the appetizers served each year is an assortment of fresh empanadas ordered from a restaurant which makes really great ones, I decided it would appropriate to try my hand at making some from scratch and give the leftover turkey some new life.

And that is how this recipe came about. The experiment was more successful than I imagined and I hope you will try them also as they were really easy to make.  These went really fast so you might want to make an extra batch.

Turkey Empanadas

  • Servings: 12 empanadas
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Flaky pastry filled with a spicy turkey filling

Empanada dough recipe courtesy of  Link :

Mustard greens may be substituted with kale, spinach or Swiss chard


  • 1 recipe empanada dough (see link in recipe notes above)
  • 3 Cups cooked turkey diced into small pieces (I used white & dark meat combo)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, chopped (with 2 Tbsp of adobo sauce)
  • 5 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 leaves mustard greens, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • egg wash – 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp of water


In a large sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 2 mins until they have softened and have started to brown.  Add the chopped chipotle, thyme sprigs, and cumin.  Stir and cook for one minute.  Add the adobo sauce and stir.  Then add the chopped greens and stir until all leaves are wilted. Then add the cooked turkey, salt and pepper and stir.  Add 1 Tbsp cold water, cover and cook until turkey is thoroughly heated through – approximately 5 minutes.  Allow to cool for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Divide the prepared and refrigerated empanada dough into 12 equal portions and keep covered under a damp towel.  Take one portion of dough and roll out into a 5 inch circle on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fill with 2 Tbsps of prepared turkey filling in the center.  Fold the dough over to form the empanada, and press to seal. Then use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges for a decorative touch.  Place on a cookie sheet and cover with a damp towel.  Continue until all empanadas are finished. You will need two cookie sheets for 12 empanadas.   Brush each empanada with the egg wash.  Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown in upper & lower thirds of the oven switching the sheets halfway through baking.  Serve with a sauce made by blending garlic, parsley, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil.  I served mine with an Indian cilantro chutney.     


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