Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
chicken pot pie with cream cheese biscuits
lobster risotto with peas
cheesy chicken and corn chowder, popovers, salad
simply delicious fettuccine alfredo, broccoli
snow crab legs, corn on the cob
beef fajitas with corn salsa, black beans
hot pepper noodles

Friday, January 31, 2014

Corn Chowder with Poblano and Bacon

Corn Chowder with Poblano and Bacon
This was the perfect dish for our first night in Snowmass. It was a Friday night, which meant we headed up to Elk Camp at 5:30 pm for tubing, snow biking and sliding. Miss F had a blast! By 7:30 pm we were cold, tired and starving. Luckily I had made Corn Chowder with Poblano and Bacon from Apple a Day earlier in the day, so it just needed to be warmed along with a batch of sour cream cheddar biscuits and dinner was served. With hot chocolate to drink. This soup is warm, satisfying and full of flavor.  C had two helpings, which means it was quite a success in our home.  Miss F enjoyed the bacon most of all, and who doesn't?
Corn Chowder with Poblano and Bacon

1/3 pound bacon, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
½ freshly-ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups chicken broth
3 cups unpeeled potatoes, cut into ¾" cubes
12 ounces frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 roasted Poblano pepper, seeds optional
1 cup half-and-half
½ cup grated Monterrey jack, pepper jack, and/or cheddar cheese, for serving

Cook bacon in a large stock pot until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce heat to medium and add the onions and butter. Cook 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and cumin. Cook 3 minutes. Add in broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Add the corn, Poblano, and half-and-half to the soup and cook 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasonings. To serve, ladle chowder into bowl. Top with cheese and bacon.
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes
For Christmas this year, Miss F gifted me a cupcake cookbook by Betty Crocker. Amazingly enough, the recipes don't call for Betty Crocker cake mix. I had some Meyer lemons and Miss F wanted lemon cupcakes, so we consulted the book. I wasn't thrilled with any of the three lemon cupcake recipes in the book, so I took parts from each of them. I decided to make a lemon cream cheese frosting because I thought the tang of the cream cheese would complement the lemon beautifully, which it did. After making these cupcakes, I knew I wanted to make a Meyer lemon cheesecake next. The next time my parents have Miss F and I over for crabs, we are bringing a lemon cheesecake. Half of these cupcakes went to my mom and dad as a thanks for watching Miss F overnight. A win for all!
Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

2 ½ cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 ¼ cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, ¼ cup at a time, beating well after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added, beat for two minutes more. Beat in the lemon juice, then the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time. Beat in the milk, beating just until blended.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool in pans for five minutes, then cool completely on a cooling rack. Frost with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
3 to 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (use two tablespoons if using regular lemon juice)

Cream together the cream cheese and butter with a mixer at medium speed. Add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, beating into the cream cheese and butter after each addition. Stir in the lemon juice. Frost the cupcakes.
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Easy Crusty Bread

Easy Crusty Bread
The name says it all. Easy. Crusty. Bread. This bread may have been the easiest bread I ever baked, but it resulted in one of the most impressive loaves of bread I have ever baked.  After about one minute of actual work with two and a half hours of waiting, you are rewarded with a warm, rustic and deliciously crusty loaf of bread.  No fancy ingredients, no complicated processes, not even any kneading is necessary.  Can it get any easier?  Thanks to Veg Obsession for the amazing recipe.
Easy Crusty Bread

1 ½ cups lukewarm water
2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 ¼ cups bread flour or all purpose flour

In a large bowl, whisk together the water, yeast and salt. Stir in the flour until incorporated and no lumps remain. Place a towel or napkin over the bowl and let the dough rise for 2 hours. After the dough has risen, form into a ball and sprinkle with flour. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a pizza stone in it. Place a pan under the pizza stone with 1 to 2 cups of water to create little bit of steam. Make three slices in the top of the dough with a serrated knife. Sprinkle corn meal or flour on the pizza stone and place t he dough ball on it. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from pizza stone and cool.
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Shrimp Drunken Noodles

Shrimp Drunken Noodles
Drunken Noodles is one of Miss F's favorite dinners and C hates it. Since he is in Colorado during the week, I decided to make it with shrimp, something that would be impossible to do if he was home. The smell of shrimp and fish sauce might cause him to move out permanently. Luckily, there is no scent-ivision via Skype, so Miss F and I enjoyed this dinner with C, free of any complaining about the smell. I actually prefer the shrimp to the chicken, it is the perfect sweet complement to the spicy noodles. Miss F was zeroed in on the bell peppers the last time I made it, not sure what that was about, but I am always a happy lady when she eats her veggies.
Shrimp Drunken Noodles

8-10 ounces flat rice noodles
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons black soy sauce
2 tablespoons Golden Mountain sauce or light soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha
½ tablespoon sugar
1 large plum tomato, cut into 8 wedges
¼ cup Thai basil leaves

Cook noodles in large pot of boiling water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently. Drain. Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for a minute, add garlic and sauté 30 seconds more. Add bell pepper and shrimp and sauté about 2 minutes, flipping the shrimp halfway. Whisk the fish sauce, black soy sauce, Golden Mountain sauce and Sriracha together in a small bowl. Add to the shrimp mixture and cook 3 minutes more. Add the cooked noodles, tomatoes, and Thai basil; toss to coat.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Miss F hates potatoes, she doesn't even really enjoy French fries, crazy right? So I dished her a bowl of this soup after an evening of tubing and called it "bacon cheese soup."  She bought it!  And she ate it.  I am not sure where her potato aversion stems from, she didn't eat any of the chunks of potato (does the same thing whenever I make chicken pot pie.)  This will definitely be added into the regular rotation in Colorado, it is hugely satisfying and having it simmer in the crockpot makes it easy. Thanks to Pink Parsley for this fantastic recipe.
Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 large onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken broth
3 pounds Russet potatoes (about 6 medium), peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces), plus more for serving
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sour cream
salt and pepper

Cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and refrigerate until serving. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat.

Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant, an additional minute or so. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until the mixture is starting to thicken, then transfer to the slow cooker.

Stir in the remaining 3 cups of broth, potatoes, ¾ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper into the slow cooker. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, 4 to 6 hours on low (I think it could even go a bit longer than this and be fine).

Transfer 3 cups of cooked potatoes to a medium bowl with the cream and mash until smooth using a potato masher. Return the potatoes to the slow cooker, along with the shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. Stir to combine and let the soup sit until heated all the way through, about 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, microwave the bacon on the plate until hot and crispy, about 30 seconds. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with bacon and shredded cheese.
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Monday, January 20, 2014

Butternut Squash and Spinach Carbonara

Butternut Squash and Spinach Carbonara
My Carbonara obsession hasn't slowed at all. Recently we went out to dinner with a two other couples. We went out for Italian at Coppa and decided to order things family style. We made the mistake of only ordering one plate of Carbonara, which we quickly rectified once the whole plate was cleaned before anything else. This Carbonara add butternut squash and spinach to make for a great winter pasta. I had never sautéed butternut squash before. It cooks up quite quickly, which is nice since roasting squash can take a bit. Miss F wasn't a huge fan of the squash, but she loved the bacon and pasta.
Butternut Squash and Spinach Carbonara

6 slices bacon (cut into 1 inch slices)
2 cups squash (cut into small pieces)
½ pound pasta
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup baby spinach
pepper to taste
2 egg yolks
¼ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup parmesan

Fry the bacon in a large skillet, set aside and drain all but a tablespoon of the grease. Add the squash to the pan, toss to coat in the bacon grease and sauté until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. While the squash is cooking, prepare the pasta per package instructions, reserving the cooking water. Whisk together the egg yolks, cream and parmesan in a two cup measure. Add the garlic, spinach and pepper to the squash and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add the spaghetti and bacon to the pan and toss. Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture, toss to coat. Add some reserved pasta water if needed. Serve.
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Friday, January 17, 2014

Crockpot Beer Carnitas

Crockpot Beer Carnitas
I always know a meal is a success if C eats the leftovers. He ate the leftovers of these Carnitas as a snack, so I knew it was a winner. Crockpot cooking is perfect for busy days and this recipe is no exception. We had guests stay at our condo while we were out of town and they left a ton of Corona, I knew it was meant to be. I used a smaller pork should, about 3 pounds, so mine cooked in about 8 hours on low. The Carnitas were great in crunchy taco shells, but they would be equally good on flour tortillas or even on a torta with a bolillo bun. I used the leftovers on nachos, which was amazing.  Miss F added beans to hers, no surprise there.  This recipe is from How Sweet It Is.
Crockpot Beer Carnitas

2 teaspoons cumin
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 onion, peeled and chopped
5-6 pounds pork shoulder roast (or butt)
8 ounces of beer, I used Corona

for serving: taco shells, guacamole, shredded jack cheese

Combine cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper together in a small bowl and mix until combined. Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray and layer the onions over the bottom. Add pork to the crockpot and sprinkle the seasonings all over. Pour in the beer, then cook on low for 10 to 12 hours. Check once or twice if possible and if needed, add more beer. Shred the pork with two forks and return to the crockpot for 20 minutes more. Serve in taco shells with guacamole and shredded cheese.
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
I have had these cupcakes in my head for awhile. I enjoy spice with chocolate (cayenne chocolate cookies, anyone?) These cupcakes are rich and have an outstanding depth of flavor. I added cinnamon and a tough of cayenne to my favorite sour cream chocolate cake recipe. The cake is moist enough that it doesn't need frosting, which is perfect for these cupcakes. Just a dollop of whipped cream and a few mini marshmallows and you are set.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 cup hot water

whipped cream
72 mini marshmallows
cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin pans with 24 paper liners.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cayenne and salt. Stir on low to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, sour cream, vegetable oil, vinegar and hot water and mix on medium until smooth. Pour ¼ cup batter into prepared pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes; remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely.

Top each cupcake with a dollop of whipped cream, three mini marshmallows and a dusting of cinnamon.
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Meyer Lemon Doughnuts

Meyer Lemon Doughnuts
C isn't a big cook, sometimes I think he would be fine eating cereal for every meal. Except breakfast, he is a great breakfast cook. He usually makes eggs, bacon and sausage for Miss F on the weekends, usually with a ton of cheese and rolled up in a warm tortilla. I usually sleep through these breakfast productions, I am not a huge fan of traditional breakfast foods. When Miss F has breakfast cooked by me, it is usually of the sweet variety, pancakes, French toast or her most favorite, doughnuts. Miss F's request was for reindeer doughnuts (she is still obsessed with snowman doughnuts,) but I wasn't sure how to make reindeer doughnuts work, so we decided to try lemon doughnuts instead.  What a smart choice that was, these doughnuts were a perfect sweet treat.  Miss F had two, topped with sprinkles, of course.  If you don't have Meyer lemons available, use half as much regular lemon juice in the recipe.
Meyer Lemon Doughnuts
makes eight

1 cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice

½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the doughnut pan with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. In a two cup measure, whisk together the butter, egg, buttermilk, and lemon juice. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir until just incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared doughnut pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let the doughnuts cool on a wire rack.

While the doughnuts are baking, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Dip each doughnut in the lemon glaze after they have cooled.
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Friday, January 10, 2014

Baked Three-Cheese Penne with Chicken and Peas

Baked Three Cheese Penne with Chicken and Peas
We took a lovely trip to Barcelona, Spain for a week. Miss F did amazingly well, but re-adjusting to central time has been a bit of a challenge. I finally served this dinner at 7:30 pm, she was still napping. She started her nap at 1:30 pm. She did wake up eventually, helped me decorate the Christmas tree and had some leftover pasta. C thought the pasta tasted great, but smelled strange. Who knows what he was smelling, I thought it smelled great. I especially enjoyed the crispy topping, I wasn't sure I was going to like it when I read the recipe initially.  I adapted this recipe from Tasty Trials.
Baked Three-Cheese Penne with Chicken and Peas

8 ounces dried penne pasta
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
½ small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup cream
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup grated gruyere cheese
½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 ½ cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon Panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the pasta per package directions, drain and set aside.

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and onions, cook until 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds more. Remove the chicken, onions and garlic to a dish. Stir in the chicken broth and scrape brown bits off bottom of pot with a wooden spoon. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, stir in the cream. Season with cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir in the gruyere, mozzarella, cheese and the peas into the chicken mixture and the drained pasta. Add the pasta mixture to a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, dot with butter. Bake for 20 minutes, serve.
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles

Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles
I always buy rice noodles when I am at the Asian grocer. I am quite excited for crawfish season to begin so I can have some Viet-Cajun crawfish at Ranch 99 Market, with grocery shopping to follow. I have had Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles from Pinch of Yum pinned for quite some time. I knew it would be the perfect use for a nifty little tool my friend Courtney had gotten me as a hostess gift. It is a small peeler and grater that is perfect for prepping the carrots for this dish. Miss F was a fan and so was I. This was an easy meal for a weeknight and it will definitely go into our regular rotation. I am sad I didn't make it sooner!
Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles

⅓ cup soy sauce
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
juice of half a lime
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 pound pork, cut into thin strips
9 ounces rice noodles
2 carrots, peeled and grated

Whisk together the soy sauce, water, oil, sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, hoisin, lime juice, garlic and Sriracha. Marinate the pork in the sauce overnight.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, stir fry the pork until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Prepare the noodles per package instructions. Toss the cooked noodles and carrots with the cooked pork and sauce. Serve.
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Monday, January 6, 2014

2013: A Year In Review

What a wonderful year 2013 has been, I know I said that last year, but this year has been equally amazing. C moved to Aspen for work, we stayed behind in Houston, but we happily visit often. I have been working hard on adapting my cooking skills to 9000 feet altitude. I can proudly say I have mastered chocolate chip cookies and pancakes, everything else is still a work in progress. We also had another banner travel year. We visited Hong Kong, Barcelona, San Antonio, Aspen (several times,) Moab, Miami, Chicago, Vail, two trips to Walt Disney World and many trips to Disneyland. It was fantastic! These are the top twelve posts from this year based on the number of hits they received. Apparently, it was the year of the sandwich, crockpot and pork chop.

Wishing you all an amazing 2014!
#1 Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
#1 2013
#2 Cornmeal Crusted Pork Chops
#2 2013
#3 Shake Shack Burgers
#3 2013
#4 Brazilian Cheese Bread
#4 2013
#5 Ranch Pork Chops
#5 2013
#6 Easier Than a Bread Machine Bread
#6 2013
#7 Ultimate Chocolate Cookies
#7 2013
#8 Creamy Chicken Stew
#8 2013
#9 Crockpot Texas Chicken Sandwiches
#9 2013
#10 Chicken with Mushrooms in a Balsamic Cream Sauce
#10 2013
#11 Crockpot Roast Chicken
#11 2013
#12 Crockpot Beef Stew with Dumplings
#12 2013
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Friday, January 3, 2014

Roast Salmon Steaks with White Wine Sauce

Roast Salmon with White Wine Sauce
This recipe used the last salmon steak in my freezer. Hopefully it will be awhile before the seafood shop messes up my order, I still prefer a salmon filet. This recipe from Martha Stewart is incredibly easy and makes for a lovely quick fish dinner.  Miss F seems wary of salmon steaks, I think it is the exposed skin on the side.  So she enjoyed some mac n cheese with her green beans.  She wouldn't even try a piece because of "the gray stuff" (I hear it's delicious!)
Roast Salmon Steaks with White Wine Sauce

4 salmon steaks
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place salmon on a rimmed baking sheet; brush each on both sides with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast until opaque throughout, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour, and cook, whisking, 1 minute. Add wine, and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until liquid is reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Serve the salmon topped with the white-wine sauce.
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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Turkey Gumbo

Turkey Gumbo
Firstly, happy new year!  C left for Aspen the day after thanksgiving to take ski lessons, so he missed out on the best part of Thanksgiving: the leftovers. So while Miss F and I visited Aspen, we had a second turkey feast, C style. Pop n serve rolls, log cranberry sauce from a can, and copious amounts of gravy. Since there were only three of us eating the turkey, I had a ton of meat leftover. My friend Erica was telling me about the turkey gumbo that her family made with leftovers. And it took me back in time, because I used to make turkey gumbo every year after Thanksgiving, but it has been at least 10 years since I have done it. The roux takes nearly an hour to make, but it is worth it. I set my laptop next to the stove top and caught up on my internet browsing (Pinterest!) This recipe is adapted from Emeril Lagasse.
Turkey Gumbo

¾ cup canola oil
¾ cup flour
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
6 cups chicken or turkey broth
2 bay leaves
Salt and cayenne
Creole spice
2 cups shredded cooked turkey meat
Steamed rice, for serving

In a large soup pot slowly heat oil and flour together over low heat, stirring constantly, until it becomes a nutty brown color and is very fragrant; be careful not to burn. Add onions, pepper and celery and cook, stirring, 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add broth, bay leaf, 2 teaspoons salt, cayenne and Creole spice to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add turkey and simmer 30 minutes more. Adjust seasonings and serve with hot steamed rice.
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