Don’t let the ground turkey fool you!

Do you know the difference between Ground Turkey and Ground Turkey Breast?

If you do, you’re lucky, ’cause the stores sure don’t make it easy!

Packaging looks identical…

Cooking with ground turkey Cooking with ground turkey 4

Pricing is identical…

Cooking with ground turkey

What’s the difference? Well…how about fat and calories?

Ground Turkey Breast…

Cooking with ground turkey

Ground Turkey…

Cooking with ground turkey

SO…the difference between these seemingly identical products…

120 Calories per serving VS. 230 Calories
1.5 grams of Fat VS. 17 grams
45mg Cholesterol VS. 70 mg

Just for a frame of reference, ground pork has (per serving) 224 Calories, 18 grams of Fat, and 61 mg Cholesterol.

In other words, if you’re buying ground turkey, instead of ground turkey breast, you mind at well be eating ground pork!

So, in short…read those labels!

Chef Perry


Flank Steak, Asparagus & Red Pepper Stir Fry Recipe (& Tips!)

Flank Steak Stir Fry with Aspargus

Got a stir-fry question SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com subscriber Karen:

Chef Perry, how to make stir fry as nice as in the takeaway?

I’ve bought egg noodles, mixed stir fry veg, prawns and chicken, soy sauce, and 5 spice, I fried it all up in sesame oil infused with ginger and garlic and the whole thing taste really bland, if I add more soy sauce it doesn’t taste any better and then if I add more it just taste salty and gross, the spices don’t add much flavor either they seem more aromatic than tasty.


*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


You’re right, more soy sauce is just going to make it saltier. Second, frozen veggies are going to be bland (sorry). Fresh veggies aren’t going to cost much more, or take long to cut up…but they’re going to have SO much more flavor.

Also, I like to cook my stir-fry meat separate (with spices) from the veggies, and then toss them together at the last minute. This keeps the flavors more separate.

Add some more fresh sliced ginger and chopped garlic, maybe some mushroom powder.

Here’s my own favorite stir-fry recipe (below).


Chef Perry

Flank Steak, Asparagus & Red Pepper Stir Fry
Active Time: 25 min.    
Total Time: 30 min.

3 tbsp. vegetable oil    
1/2 lb. asparagus, chopped
1 lb. of flank steak    
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 tsp. cornstarch    
3 tbsp. water
1 cup long-grain rice

All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce
3 tbsp. soy sauce    
1 tsp. ginger, peeled, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced    
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. chili oil (opt.)

Slice the flank steak in half lengthwise (along the grain) and then cut into thin strips, 2 inches long and 1/4 inch thick (put the steak in the freezer for 15 min. before slicing to make it easier to slice). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Trim asparagus by removing the thick-wood like ends, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Remove the seeds and ribs from pepper; then cut into strips 2-inches long and 1/4-inch wide.

While chopping the ingredients in preparation, bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Parboil the asparagus pieces for 2 minutes, drain, rinse in cold water, drain, and set aside. In a separate pan, prepare rice, following the package instructions.

Prepare the All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce by combining the ingredients in a small dish, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water, stirring to remove any lumps.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster teens!)

Stir-fry the asparagus in a wok (or a thick-bottomed pan that can take high heat) in half of the veggie oil, on high heat, for about 2 minutes until lightly browned. Remove asparagus from pan and set aside.

Add the remaining veggie oil,  sesame oil, and chili oil (opt) to the pan and stir-fry the beef strips for 2-3 minutes until browned but still pink inside; remove meat to a cool plate. Add the bell pepper to the pan, stir and toss over high heat until just beginning to wilt, 1-2 minutes.

Quickly stir the cornstarch liquid and add it to the pan along with the stir fry sauce. Cook until sauce thickens, 1-2 minutes. Return the asparagus and meat to the pan, toss to evenly coat and serve with steamed white rice.

Note: For a quicker, slightly simpler preparation, you can buy bottles stir-fry sauce, but, trust me, not only is it likely to be loaded with salt and sugar…it’s not going to taste nearly as good as what you can make yourself.

Note 2: I’ve made the recipe with some thin-sliced fresh mushrooms added while the steak is cook…very nice!


Easy Stock from Chicken Wing Tips

Chicken Wing Stock

We go through a LOT of chicken stock in my kitchen, and I like to make my own.

I discovered a few years back the those chicken wing-tips that I usually cut off the wings before cooking, have a near perfect ratio of skin to bone for making a rich, delicious stock.

Chicken feet are also ideal for stocks and broths, but we’ll stick to the shallow end of the pool today… :)

Now, I keep a zip-bag in the freezer and toss my wing tips in it whenever I cook a chicken, or chicken wings. About once a month, I’m usually ready to make a half-gallon batch of stock.

Note: If you don’t have the wing-tips, you can use the leftover carcass of a rotisserie or roasted chicken, instead.

Here’s the recipe…


Chef Perry

Simple Chicken Stock
1 gallon water
1 lb chicken wing tips
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs salt
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tsp. black pepper

Note: You can customize your stock based on the recipe you plan to use it for, I made my last batch specifically for some roasted mushroom udon soup, so I also added 2 Tbs of Thai fish sauce, 1 cup of roasted mushrooms, star anise, and fresh cilantro to the stock.

Want to help me feed hungry families, teach at-risk & special-needs kids to cook for themselves and their families, and change lives?

Become a patron!

Heat butter in a pan over medium heat, and sauteed thawed wing tips (sprinkle with 1/2 of the salt) until browned. Transfer to a stock pot with water.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a low simmer, and cook until liquid is reduce by half (about 2 hours).

Strain the stock into a bowl to remove solids. Taste and add additional salt, if needed.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

Refrigerate overnight, and then remove the solid fat that rises to the top.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

You can throw this away, or (better) save to to fry with as you would butter. Jewish cooking calls this fat “schmaltz” and it makes the best scrambled eggs ever!

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster teens!)

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

Stock will keep 2-3 days in the fridge, or several months in the freezer. I like to freeze it in ice-cube trays, so it’s ready in pre-portioned cubes when I need it.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe


Truffled Flower Eggs

Truffle Poached Eggs

Truffle SaltJust for fun…a Truffled Flower Egg.

Not only is the dish sexy and beautiful, it’s unbelievably delicious!

It’s a little bit of work, with a couple of sweaty moments, but certainly one of the best tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth.

I picked this bottle of loveliness up on a very pleasant visit to the Truffle Cafe at Pike Place Market during last summer’s International Food Blogger’s Conference.

I’m pretty sure there was wine tasting involved, as well.

Note to guys: THIS dish, with some freshly squeezed orange juice, and a single red rose in a vase…makes for an extremely romantic breakfast-in-bed.

Just sayin’

Truffled Flower Egg
Cooking spray
2 Tbs. roasted mushroom slices
1/4 tsp. Truffle Queen Truffle Salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp. minced cilantro
Black pepper

Cut a 6-in by 6-in square of plastic wrap, lay it on a flat surface, and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Poaching eggs in plastic wrap

Line a small bowl or ramekin with the oiled plastic wrap. Crack a single egg into the bowl, and top with a sprinkle of truffle salt.

Poaching eggs in plastic wrap

Bring the four corners of the wrap together, tie them with string, or a bread wrap to form a packet , and chill for several hours or overnight.

Roast your mushrooms according to this recipe, and keep warm.

Oven Roasted Mushrooms

Bring a small pot of water to a simmer. Remove the egg pouch from the bowl and cook (still sealed) until whites are cooked through, 3 minutes.

Poaching eggs in plastic wrap

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the egg packet into a bowl of ice water. Let cool 30 seconds.

Truffle poached egg recipe

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.


Arrange mushrooms on a small, warmed plate.

Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the egg, and gently place the egg on top of the mushrooms.

Truffle poached egg recipe

Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped cilantro, a grind or two of black pepper, and serve immediately.

Truffle poached egg recipe

If you really want to take this up a notch (and you’re a fan of the fishy eggs), a small dollop of caviar on top of these eggs is heavenly.

Pretty darn good with just some fried pork belly and toast, too!



Valencian Paella Tomato Soup

A big Thank You to Aneto for including our Valencian Paella Tomato Soup in their new recipe collection!

You can see the step-by-step recipe, with photos, here.

Disclaimer: I received this box of Valencian Paella Cooking Base as a free sample at the 2014 International Food Blogger’s Conference.

Tomato Paella Soup

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster teens!)


Testing Meat Doneness

Testing Meat Doneness

SimplySmartDinnerPlans subscriber, Karen, asks:

“What’s the best way to test a steak, or a chicken breast to make sure it’s done cooking, but not overdone?”

We all know that you should never, ever, ever poke or cut cooking meat to test for doneness. This infographic depicts a method for testing doneness that my father taught me many, many years ago.

I’ve demonstrated this method hundreds of times, both in cooking classes, and as a private chef, and it’s still one of the best ways I know to test for doneness.

Note: Keep in mind, with this or any method, you still want to remove the meat from heat, and allow to rest, while it is just slightly less done than you want the finished product, as hold-over cooking will finish it during the resting process.

Chef Perry

Meat Doneness Test


Roast Beef & Horseradish Cheddar Quesadilla

Roast Beef and Horseradish Cheddar Quesadillas

A few ingredients with big flavors make for big taste. These quesadillas deliver the classic combo of beef and horseradish in a delicious, easy to make, handheld snack.

Disclaimer: Cabot Creamery makes my favorite Horseradish Cheddar, and the cheese for this recipe was provided to me for free, as a member of the Cabot Cheese Board.

Horseradish Cheddar & Roastbeef Quesadillas

Roast Beef & Horseradish Cheddar Quesadilla    

    1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
    2 large flour tortillas
    1/4 lb Italian roast beef (deli)
    1 cup, Cabot Horseradish Cheddar, shredded
    Cooking spray

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 11 minutes

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray, and place 1 tortilla in the pan.

Horseradish Cheddar & Roastbeef Quesadillas

Top the tortilla evenly with onion and cheese, allow cheese to start melting, and add roast beef. Fold tortillas in half.

Cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas.

Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges; serve.

Chef Perry

PS – Want a chance to win a year’s worth of delicious Cabot Cheeses, along with their new cookbook? Check out the details here!



Win a year’s worth of Cabot Cheese!

Cabot Cheese Sweepstakes

The Cabot Creamery Cookbook has launched (and it’s awesome!)

The big sweepstakes started yesterday (Feb. 15)  and runs through April 15.

Get this…a grand prize winner will receive a year’s supply of cheese plus a copy of the cookbook, and 10 winners will receive a $25 gift box and a cookbook. 

I’ve had the cookbook for a couple of weeks now, and I love these recipes!

Over the next two months, I’ll be testing and sharing some of my favorites here on the blog. Don’t miss ’em…and don’t miss a chance for a year’s worth of Cabot’s amazing cheeses!

ALSO…SimplySmartDinnerPlans will be giving away another copy of the cookbook and a $25 Cabot Gift Box, to one lucky winner, here on our blog!

To be enter THAT giveaway, just:

1. Share this post on your favorite social media page (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.) Feel free to use our tags…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simplysmartdinnerplans
Twitter: https://twitter.com/smartdinnerplan
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/hautemealz/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ChefPerry

2. Leave a comment below with your name, and which social media site you posted to.

Good luck!

Chef Perry

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk & foster teens!)


Valentine’s Day Red Velvet Heart Pancakes

Red Velvet Pancakes

Here’s a nice treat for your sweetie to wake up to on valentine’s day. Regardless of which version of these you make, they’re sure to be a big hit!

Red Velvet Pancakes
10 Servings (2 small pancakes per serving)

2 cups Bisquick “Lite & Fluffy” pancake mix*
1/4 cup Baker’s (fine) sugar
1 Tbsp unsweetened baking cocoa*
2 cups milk
2 tsp. Red Beet Powder* (more to color preference)
Fresh made whipped cream, see below
Candy sprinkles, if desired
Heart shaped pancake forms
Strawberry syrup, see below

*This is the version I made for my daughter’s Valentine’s Day breakfast party. As there were kids there with allergies to artificial coloring (red dye), I made this version.

If you don’t have issues with red food coloring, you can simplify this recipe by replacing half of the pancake mix, the cocoa, and the beet powder, with 1 cup of Red Velvet cake mix…I won’t judge you. :)

In large bowl, whisk all pancake ingredients until well blended. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-high heat* (around 350°F) and  spray with cooking spray.

Heart shaped pancake formsFor each pancake, place the heart-shaped forms on the griddle, and pour slightly less than 1/4 cup batter into each form. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbles form on top and edges are dry, remove form, flip and cook other side until done.

Spoon a dollop of whipped cream onto each pancake (or stack), drizzle with syrup, and sprinkle with candy sprinkles.

*To test griddle heat, sprinkle it with a few drops of water. If the water bubbles and sizzles, it’s hot enough.

Strawberry Syrup
16 oz frozen, sliced strawberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring often, until reduced by 1/4 (about an hour).

Allow to cool, and puree. Re-heat before serving.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Place a metal mixing bowl and metal whisk attachment(s) into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. In the bowl, beat heavy whipping cream and vanilla in an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar on low speed until thickened to desired consistency. Cover; set aside.

Oh, and if you’re just not a big fan of sweets, these heart-shaped forms make killer Spam Musubi, as well! :)

Spam Musubi


How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener

Even if you lose your can-opener in the zombie apocalypse, you don’t have to starve!

When the lids are placed on food cans, they’re sealed by rolling the lid over the lip of the can and pressing. You can break that seal by “sanding” away the metal around the top of the rim.

It’s cold outside, and I didn’t want to set up my camera out there, so I brought in a cinder block for the video, but any paving stone, concrete driveway, or even a flat-topped curb would work just fine.

You don’t have to apply a ton of weight to the can, just a steady downward pressure as it’s moving back and forth. As soon as you see moisture on the concrete, stop and inspect the lid.

You’re looking for a thin gap between the lid and the can. When half of the lid shows this gap, you’re ready. The rest of the edge will be thin enough to pop right open.

Wipe down the lid with a damp towel and insert the blade of a butter knife into the gap. Give it a twist, and the lid will pop right off!

BTW – I bought this can of sliced carrots for another video about how much better tasting, better for you, and cheaper it is to dice your own fresh carrots at home. Please don’t eat canned carrots.

If you enjoyed this video, please share it with your friends, and sign for our weekly newsletter and free weekly dinner plans!


Chef Perry



How to Open a Can without a Can Opener