Thursday, August 8, 2013

Turkey Breast (Double-Duty Dinners, Part 1)

Roasted turkey with veggies

We all have those weeks where life is just crazy! There is something that either begins or ends close to dinner time, 3 or 4 days of the week. I really don't like those weeks. But, they happen. And this month seems to be full of those weeks for my family. There are nights where it's pretty much impossible to avoid eating out (example: a swimming lesson that ends at 6:00 and a meeting at church that begins at 7:00), but I've been working hard on feeding us at home whenever possible. The easiest way to do that has been through double-duty (or even triple-duty) meals. These are wonderful meals where you cook one thing, usually in the crock pot, then use the leftovers for different, quick, easy meals.I know that side dishes on busy evening can be hard, so I'll try to include easy side dishes, even if the ones pictured aren't so easy.

Turkey dip with sweet potato fries
The first double-duty meal is actually a triple, or even quadruple-duty dinner. Turkey breast, turkey dips, turkey soup, and even easy lunches of turkey sandwiches, depending on the size of your family. I've been making turkey breast in the slow cooker since I got married. My mom made it for us year-round when I was growing up. I know there are people who see turkey as a Thanksgiving-only food, but I'm not one of them.  A friend of mine came across the recipe for turkey dips and posted it on her blog about a year ago. I quickly made it a few weeks later when I found turkey breasts on sale. The big change I made to this recipe was to have the sandwiches the second day. I did this for two reasons: the first being that I really love turkey as a meal by itself. The second was that I wanted to dip the sandwich in just the broth, and skim some of the fat off the drippings, and that's just easier if you let it sit in the fridge over night. I also changed the cheese on the sandwich to something more kid and budget-friendly.

For the turkey soup, I threw all the turkey bones into the slow cooker with carrots, celery, onions, and 12 cups of water, and cooked on low for 12 hours to get nice broth. The recipe is an old post , and is a favorite at our house. We eat it year-round, even in the summer. The soup can even be thrown together in the slow cooker in the morning and it's ready by dinner time.

As promised, I'll share some easy side dish ideas. If you have an hour to work on sides- including prep-time: roasted potatoes, rainbow veggies, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, or roasted cauliflower. If you have less than 30 minutes: frozen vegetables, fruit salad, frozen french fries, green salad, or even chips with the sandwich (my favorite are BBQ chips).

Hopefully these turkey recipes will help if you have a busy week where just thinking about cooking stresses you out.

Roasted Turkey and Turkey Dips
Adapted from Cooking Channel 

4 tablespoons softened butter (or if you forget to set out the butter, like me, just melt it)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
note: substitute 1 tablespoon of dried Italian seasoning if you don't have the fresh herbs on hand
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 bone-in turkey breast

1) Spread the onions in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour the chicken chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce over the onions.
2) Sprinkle the turkey with salt and pepper and place in the slow cooker.
3) Mix the herbs and butter together in a small glass bowl.
4) Spread the butter over the turkey breast, trying to get some of it under the skin.
5) Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
6) Slice and serve with sides of your choice. Save the broth and drippings from the slow cooker in a glass jar in the fridge. Use for dips with leftovers.

***If you figure out an easy way to get a turkey breast out of a crockpot without making a total mess, please let me know.

Turkey Dips
Serves 4

2-4 ounces of sliced turkey per person
4 ciabatta rolls, slices of french bread, sandwich rolls, or crusty bread of your choice.
4 slices of your favorite melting cheese- we like Gouda, double Gloucester, and Munster.
softened butter
Turkey broth/drippings from the previous night. Optional: scoop the fat off the top before heating.

1) Heat the leftover broth and drippings in a saucepan over medium heat.
2) Preheat the broiler to high.
3) Split each roll or slice of bread in half. Spread butter on cut side and broil for about 1 minute. Top with turkey and cheese, and broil another 1-2 minutes, until bread is browned, turkey is warm, and cheese is melted.
4) Place the buttery top of the bun on the side with the cheese and turkey. Serve with broth for dipping.

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