Food Archives - Page 8 of 9 - The Chef In Pearls

Turkey, AGAIN? (Holiday Series Finale)

Most people haven’t thought beyond turkey sandwiches on the day after let alone what’s gonna happen to the leftover leftovers. And by day 3 believe you me your family doesn’t want anything more to do with turkey either. Here’s a way to move beyond that bump in the road.

My one suggestion is to get rid of the turkey. No I don’t mean throw it away.  I mean get it out of your family’s eye sight. Then you can re-introduce it at a later time…in a different form. First things first you have to…

Freeze your leftover turkey. Remove you turkey meat from the carcass. Portion them out into plastic freezer bags and date. Try to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.The USDA says that turkey can last in the freezer for up to 4-6 months. If you want to keep it moist when you thaw, freeze with gravy or some stock.

Now that you know how to freeze turkey you need to know what to do with it once you decide to thaw it. Actually this is one for the day after the big meal or the day before the big freeze. This one may get rid of quite a bit of your leftovers and still keep the family interested. Got turkey? Mashed potatoes? Gravy? Vegetables? Then you’ve got the makings of Turkey Shepherd’s Pie.

2 cups cubed leftover turkey meat

1 1/2 cups gravy

2 cups of leftover vegetables (broccoli, peas, carrots string beans whatever you like or rather whatever you have on hand)

3 cups leftover mashed potatoes

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a 9″x 9″ pan. Heat gravy and turkey together in a sauce pan. Transfer heated mixture to 9″x 9″pan. Top meat with vegetables and then top vegetables with mashed potatoes (Have potatoes at room temperature or warm some. It makes the next step easier to do). Spreading potatoes out to within a 1/2″ of edge of pan. Sprinkle shredded cheese across top of potatoes.  Place pan on top of sheet pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes.

Ok so suppose you still have turkey to freeze after this dish. Consider yourself lucky and proceed to freezing it. What do you do with the turkey when it comes time to thaw. It’s really up to you. Take your favorite recipe and substitute the meat it calls for with your thawed turkey meat.   Like Chili or maybe a Brunswick Stew. Or try adding it to a dish that doesn’t traditionally have meat in it like maybe your favorite Mac & Cheese recipe. Use your imagination. .you never know you create a favorite for your family.

I hope this series has helped with the madness of holiday meals. Let me know how this series may or may not have helped you. Leave a comment.

Happy Holidays from Cassandra as The Chef In Pearls and owner of Gems and Baubles. Now go make some memories!

Cranberries Uncanned (Holiday Series Pt 3)

Cranberries Uncanned (Holiday Series Pt 3)

Are you still eating cranberry sauce from a can? I know I say I won’t judge you but I will give you the side-eye for not going fresh. I mean, once you learn how easy it is to make cranberry sauce from scratch you’ll never go canned again.

I want you to walk away from this post with not only the know-how on how to make cranberry sauce but that cranberry sauce ain’t just for turkey. That’s right i said it. You can do so much more with cranberry sauce like appetizers, drinks, entrees and desserts. The sky’s the limit or at least your imagination.

Basic Cranberry Sauce

1 12oz. bag of cranberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup of water

1-2 cups of granulated sugar

Wash and sort cranberries. Place cranberries in a sauce pan with water and 1 cup of sugar. Allow to simmer. You can add more sugar depending on how sweet you like your sauce. After about 10 minutes of cooking and you can no longer hear the berries popping you can turn off stove. Pour sauce into a bowl and allow to cool. Sauce thickens as it cools.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Here are some other dishes I used cranberry sauce in.

November 23 2014 021

Baked Brie topped with warm Cranberry Sauce

Pork Tenderloin Medallions and Whipped Sweet Potatoes with a Cranberry- Pomegranate Sauce

Pork Tenderloin Medallions and Whipped Sweet Potatoes with a Cranberry- Pomegranate Sauce

Wine Spritzer made with Cranberry, your favorite white wine and topped with seltzer.

Wine Spritzer made with Cranberry Sauce, your favorite white wine and topped with seltzer.

Cranberry Shortcake made with a cranberry, apple & pear compote

Cranberry Shortcake made with a cranberry, apple & pear compote

I hope the post has you ditching the can and being inspired by fresh cranberries.  CIPapproved



2+2+1= Gravy (Holiday Meal Series Pt 2)

So your gravy is…well…not the best.  Lumpy is just the start of what makes your gravy unappealing.  So what do we do to make it better? Well we turn to a little math, If you have this little equation you are well on your way to better gravy. 2 + 2 +1= Perfect Gravy. That is 2 Tablespoons of fat plus 2 Tablespoons of flour plus 1 cup of liquid and you’ve got gravy kinda. The only special equipment I suggest for this gravy making task is a whisk,it  helps to eliminate lumps.

2 Tablespoons  Fat ( butter, olive oil or fat drippings from meat)

2 Tablespoons all Purpose Flour

1 cup Liquid  (stock,broth or meat drippings)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt fat in a sauce pan. Once melted add flour and allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes. Then add liquid while whisking to prevent lumps. Allow to simmer until thickened 3-5 minutes. Taste so that you can adjust seasonings as needed.

Once you have this basic gravy down then you can get a little fancy with it.  You can make a mushroom beef gravy by sauteing freshly sliced mushrooms before melting fat and adding flour and using either a beef broth, stock or dripping from cooked beef. Or maybe you want something a little spicy add cracked peppercorn to the melted fat before adding flour.  The varieties are limitless and left only up to your imagination and taste-buds.

Now you’ll be the champion of gravy at your next holiday meal

A Quickie….Teavana

Teavana 11-9 019-1I grew up in a Jamaican household which means tea was a part of my everyday life. You were not allowed to leave the house without something warm in your tummy. Every ailment was met with a cup of tea…stomach ache… ginger tea…start of a cold… garlic tea. Let’s just say I grew to have a love for tea.


Enter Teavana. ..I had the pleasure of joining The Brains & Beauty Academy meet-up for a tea tasting.  We got a chance to taste many blends including Oprah’s chai tea. I enjoyed the subtleness of it in comparison to their Maharaja Oolong Chai blend, which had a strong spiciness to it. But the tea of the day was their Iced Raspberry Limeade. ..addictive. When you get a chance head over to Teavana at Phipps Plaza for a great cup of tea. This is definitely Chef In Pearls approved.

PhotoGrid_1415753771311Photographs courtesy of Nia Mason Design



Let’s Make a Plan ( Holiday Series Pt 1)

So they passed the baton to you this year. You now have the honor of hosting the holiday meal. Yeah!? Wait a minute you just realized that you’ve never done this before.  Time to panic. I mean you know how to cook but a holiday meal? Get those Martha Stewart ideas out of your head… I mean it’s your first holiday meal. Don’t get me wrong she’s phenomenal but kinda makes you crazy trying to get that picture perfect Holiday dinner.

So how do you go about having an unforgettable Holiday meal? Easy….all it takes is planning. “If you don’t have a plan, plan to fail”. It’s true. So here are some steps to get you going in the right direction.

         1. Create a menu.  Yes, actually know what it is you want to feed people.  My rule of thumb is don’t try new dishes unless you have time to try them out beforehand. Stick to the dishes that are your strong points. This is also your opportunity to delegate. Yes it’s okay to ask your aunt who makes the best macaroni & cheese if she would do the honor of gracing your table with a dish. Or if you like you can cater a portion of your meal. I’m not judging and if the people at your table are then maybe you shouldn’t invite them to next year’s holiday meal.

          2. Have a head count. Nothing worst than having a table full of people and not enough food for everyone.  Talk about embarrassing. Knowing your head count helps you with the next step.

         3. Create a shopping list.  Now that you know what and how much of it you’ll need to cook. You can make a list of all the things you’ll need to actually cook dinner. Re-check recipes to make sure you have everything listed to complete dishes.

          4. Shop.  DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE NIGHT BEFORE TO GROCERY SHOP! Waiting until the last minute causes so many problems. It’s unnecessary stress

a)overcrowded stores

b) unable to get all the items you need cause you’re not the only one wanting them

c). You miss out on taking advantage of sales.

         5. Prep. Check recipes to see what you can make in advance. Make a timeline going from things that take the longest to the least amount of time. This way you’ll know what dishes need to be started first, do things that will help ease your cooking … like  chopping onions and freezing them until you are ready to use.

These are some suggestion to help make your turn at holiday meal hosting easier to handle. If I’ve missed something or you know of anything that can make this easier please leave a comment. I’d love to hear what’s on your mind.

Bring on the Holidays (Holiday Series)

tholiday meal pic

So Halloween is over and now it’s time to prepare for the big guns….Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a time of family and friends and lots of food.  So many make it a very nerve racking time of year and it doesn’t have to be. It’s all about planning and being prepared for anything.  For the next couple of posts I will help get you ready for the holiday meals before you. I’ll take you from shopping lists, how to make the perfect gravy, un-canned cranberry sauce and even dessert. Hope it helps to ease your mind for this holiday season.


It's what sets us we stand out...being different isn't a bad thing...being different makes us who we are

It’s what sets us apart…how we stand out…being different isn’t a bad thing…being different makes us who we are

A Quickie…Potato Wedges

A Quickie…Potato Wedges


As you already know I am a football girl.  To be more exact I am a New York Giants football girl.  Unfortunately I now live in Atlanta Falcons territory.  So when my Giants were scheduled to play dem dirty birds of course I had to hit the kitchen.

I wanted to keep it simple so I went with making a batch of loaded potato wedges. Pretty simple to do and you only need a few ingredients.

baking potatoes

thick cut bacon

green onion or chives

sour cream

cheddar cheese ( shredded)

olive oil

kosher salt

black pepper

Lay bacon strips on a baking sheet. Place in cold oven and adjust temperature to 400(by doing this you actually have strips that don’t curl up)should take 12-15 minutes. Split potatoes in half(cuts baking time down). Drizzle potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & black pepper. Place potatoes cut side down on baking tray and place in oven, roughly 25-30 minutes. Check tenderness with a knife. Remove bacon from oven and place slices on paper towel to drain. While potatoes finish baking dice bacon and cut green onions.  I like to thin my sour cream out with heavy cream to make it easier to drizzle(you can add thinned sour cream to a squeeze bottle for even easier drizzling).  Remove potatoes from oven. You want to work with them while still hot. Place a couple of halves on a plate and slice into wedges.  Sprinkle with cheese, bacon, drizzle sour cream and then top with green onion. Viola.

A Quickie. ….Flatout

A Quickie. ….Flatout

I wanted to add something else to the pantry list, flatbread. I usually keep naan in my freezer. Naan or nan or khamiri is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread. It is typical of and popular in West, Central and South Asia. I keep them for times like today where i needed a quick fix for lunch.


On my last supermarket visit I decided to try Flatout’s Artisan Pizza Crust. I thawed one added sauce, spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic and cheese  (all leftovers from yesterday’s frittata) placed it on a lightly greased baking sheet for about 10 minutes.


Voila. ….lunch.  Cut & plated and added some wine. It’s all about the pantry baby.



Football Season is here!!

Giants football

I am a football fan. More importantly I am a New York Giants fan. I grew up watching football 1. because my bothers played  and 2. because back in the day we were a one t.v. household and my brothers were older and bigger and therefore controlled the t.v.  It was inevitably for me to have a love for football.  And so to this day I love football season and all the excitement it brings.

With football season comes Monday Night Football.  The N.Y Giants had their first game of the season on Monday Night Football.  What better way to enjoy than for me to have the usual suspects over to enjoy it with me, my brother Dion aka Santa Dee, my sister-in-law Cassandra aka Sandy, my girlfriend Nykki aka Nykki and my hubby.  With folks comes the need for food.  Menu sweet and simple:

Chipotle Rubbed Chicken Sliders

BBQ Spiced Chicken Nachos

Seasoned French Fries

Chipotle Rubbed chicken tenders on top ciabatta rolls with carmalized red onions, gouda cheese , pesto mayo, lettuce & tomatoes

Chipotle Rubbed chicken tenders on top ciabatta rolls with carmalized red onions, gouda cheese , pesto mayo, lettuce & tomatoes

closed chicken sandwiches

BBQ Spiced cheken  atop tortilla chips with black beans, diced red onions, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, siracha sour cream, shredded cheese and guacamole

BBQ Spiced cheken atop tortilla chips with black beans, diced red onions, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, siracha sour cream, shredded cheese and guacamole

We ate and drank well but My Dear, Dear Giants did not win.  Trying to figure out how I can get a meeting with management, the staff and the team. Until the next game…..

The Chef In Pearls

Cassandra Mason is a Lifestyle Chef and Gourmet Cooking Instructor who enjoys demystifying the art of cooking for One. You can catch her live demonstrations across major social media as @TheChefInPearls.

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