Category Archives: ground turkey

Quick and Easy Taco Salad

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I have been missing my best friend a lot lately. I mean I miss her all of the time, but lately it has been a lot! She lives in Southern California and I am in Western Washington. We haven’t seen each other in 5 years, but we can sure burn up the phone lines when we want to!! You know a true friend  (and she is more like a sister to me than a friend) when you can not speak for a while, but when you do it can last 3 hours! That’s us!!
Anyway, this is a salad that she used to make all of the time. The first time I made it for my family they thought it sounded like a weird combination of flavors, but they ate it so fast I almost didn’t get any! After that I was requested to make this at least every other week (more like every week actually). This salad is inexpensive and extremely simple to make, and a great way to get your kids to eat some veggies if they aren’t big fans. My kids hated tomatoes but ate them up like crazy when I made this salad for them. Kevin had never had it so he was skeptical about having a salad for dinner, but once he had it he said that it was like an entire meal in one bowl. He is right! Meat, veggies, dairy, yummm!! 

You can use packaged dressing and taco seasonings if you want. I make my own now so I have them on hand to use. Here is the link to my Homemade Italian Dressing Mix. I will post the recipe for homemade taco seasoning at the bottom (I don’t have a post for that yet).
Quick and Easy Taco Salad
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 package low sodium taco seasoning or 1/4 cup homemade taco seasoning (see below for ingredients)
1 bag of chopped romaine hearts
1 to 2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 can sliced black olives
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix or 2 tablespoons of my Homemade Italian Seasoning Mix
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Tortilla chips
Hot sauce, optional
Taco Seasoning:

1/2 cup chili powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Brown the ground beef/turkey over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon in to small bits. Add the taco seasoning mix and stir to combine. You can add a splash of water here if needed. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green onions, avocado, and cheese. Toss to combine. 
In a shaker bottle, or medium bowl, combine the dressing mix, olive oils, vinegar, and water. Shake or whisk to combine well. 
Add the taco meat to the salad mix, toss, add salad dressing (as much or as little as you want), toss. Crush up several handfuls of tortilla chips and toss with the salad. Dish up into bowl and top with hot sauce if desired!
Serves 4 to 6
ENJOY!

"Ghoulash" for #Halloween

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Hello and happy almost Halloween. Halloween has always been a favorite of mine, ever since I was little. We were pretty broke while I was growing up, but my Mom always had fun creating costumes for me out of whatever we had on hand or Goodwill finds. I think that is why I ended up being so creative with my kids. I loved making their costumes and come up with crazy ways to decorate the house. Shoot I have even dressed my dogs up (yes…yes, I am one of those people).
I know I have told you that my Mom wasn’t much of a cook (love you Mom) but my Grandmother prided herself in a lot of her traditional holiday meals. Well they were our traditional meals, meaning meals she always made for certain holidays. She always made a huge batch of oyster stew for New Years, fresh bread at Easter with the glazed ham, and this was one of my favorites that she made for Halloween. I can remember when I got older I asked her why she called it “Ghoulash” and she said it was because it was frighteningly good! Gotta love Grandma!!

But she was right. This is the perfect comfort food. It warms you from the cold October nights (well they were cold in Nevada…and here in Washington too), but it is so good you want to eat bowl after bowl of it! I tried to lighten it up just bit by using ground turkey instead of beef, and just a dollop of low fat sour cream on top instead of stirred in. You could do away with the sour cream altogether but it would be hard for me to have this meal without it. 
So give this dish a try on Halloween night. Send your kiddos out trick or treating with a nice warm full tummy. That way they won’t be tempted to eat the candy while they are out and there will be more for Mom and Dad to scavenge through hehehehe.
Do you have any traditional holiday dishes? I would love to hear about them!
“Ghoulash”
1 package lean ground turkey (usually about 1 1/3 pound)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons died marjoram
3 bay leaves
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flake (optional)
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used whole grain pasta)
Saute the ground turkey in a dutch oven, over medium-high heat, until no pink remains. Add the onions and garlic. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onions are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, paprika, cumin, marjoram, crushed red pepper flake, and bay leaves to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and add the elbow macaroni. Replace the lid and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened up. 
ENJOY!!!

Caprese Meatball Subs

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Pardon the in your face picture, but I think I was trying to eat this sandwich through the camera!! I have been having a love affair with anything “caprese” lately. I adore caprese salad and even turned it into a sandwich with my Open Face Chicken Caprese Sandwich! So the other night Subway was mentioned on my Facebook page as an alternative meal due to the fact that I had a major blond moment and forgot to thaw out the meat I needed for dinner that night. Well Kevin isn’t a big fan of Subway so that didn’t go over to well (plus I really needed to cook so you all would have a post to read). Luckily Kevin agreed to go to the store for me on his way home from work and the meal crisis was avoided. Yay!! But that did give me an idea. 
One of the sandwiches I loved at Subway was their meatball sub. I wanted to make a meatball sub, but add a twist to interest Kevin. If you have been with me for a while you know that he used to despise pesto until he tried my homemade pesto. Now he loves it and I have used it in several recipes. Anyway, I remembered seeing a recipe by Kelsey Nixon for Caprese Meatballs in the slow cooker, so I decided to take that idea and use it for my sandwiches. I didn’t do mine in the slow cooker though. I baked them and finished them in my homemade marinara sauce. 

It seems that I have been coming up with some messy sandwiches in the last couple of weeks. Yes, this is messy but the flavors are so good! The mix of the pesto, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and crunchy bread was over the top. I fill up pretty quickly, especially if I am eating bread, so I had half of my sandwich left and Kevin gobbled it right down. I think the only conversation I got out of him during the meal was mmmmmm and WOW this is really good. I was really glad he liked is since I pretty much made it for him!
The recipe is for 2 subs so if you are making more just double or triple it. But it makes 6 good sized meatballs which was perfect on the rolls I picked up from the bakery and with the cheese and sauce they are very filling. Plus they went really well with a nice glass of red wine!!
Caprese Meatball Subs 

1/2 pound lean ground turkey or chicken
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, plus some for sprinkling
2 tablespoons egg beaters (or one small egg)
1/4 cup pesto (see recipe below)
1 thick slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 6 cubes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Marinara sauce (recipe below)
2 sub rolls


For the Pesto:
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, tossing occasionally to ensure even toasting, about 5 minutes. Combine all of the pesto ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor and pulse, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until well combined but still rough-textured (You may not use all of the oil or you made need a bit more to get to the desired consistency). Leftovers can be frozen if needed.

For the Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Recommended San Marzano)
2 6 ounce cans of tomatoes paste
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in half of the minced garlic and cook one more minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomatoes paste, water, half of the chopped oregano, and the bay leaf. (Add more water if sauce seems too thick). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer. Leftovers can be frozen if needed.


For the Meatballs:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non stick spray

Combine the turkeybreadcrumbs, Parmesan, pesto, salt, pepper and egg in a large mixing bowl with your hands, taking care to not overwork the meat. Form golf ball-size meatballs and stuff each with 1 mozzarella cube. Evenly space the meatballs on the baking sheet. Bake until just starting to brown, 15 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and place them in the simmering sauce, cover with the lid.

Split the sub rolls and open them slightly, place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until toasty, about 5 minutes.

Place 3 meatballs on each sub and smother with with the marinara sauce, top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

ENJOY!


Healthy Mexican Pizza

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I love taking my fast food favorites and lightening them up. It takes the guilt out of the equation for me while I can indulge in something that used I used to feel guilty eating. This is a knock off of Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza, something I used to eat all of the time, but the Taco bell version was so full of fat and calories it was insane!! So I gave it up and figured I would never be able to enjoy one again. Then I decided to start picking some of my old fast food favorites and challenging myself to “healthify” them. So not only I, but everyone else could enjoy them without feeling like we needed to eat them in a closet somewhere! I did that with my Healthy Chicken Taco Bowls and to everyone’s surprise here at home they were a huge hit. So when I announced I was again making a healthy version of a fast food fave I wasn’t met with much resistance.

I have become a big fan of black beans and they are one of the things that lighten this dish up and make it healthy. Trust me, you will not miss those fattening re-fried beans at all, which is a huge things for me to say because I used to be addicted to re-fried bean and cheese burritos!! I also use lean ground turkey in place of that greasy beef taco meat they use. Reduced fat cheese, baked tortillas instead of fried, and fresh veggies make this a fantastic tasty fast food at home dish. You can of course add low fat or fat free sour cream if you like as well.
Bye bye Taco Bell, hello healthy and tasty food!!
Healthy Mexican Pizza 
recipe is for 2 pizzas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon Mexican chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
Salt and pepper 
1 15-ounce can of black beans with jalapeno (Recommend Bush’s Beans)
4 soft taco size flour tortillas
1/2 cup chunky salsa (Recommend Pace Garden Pepper Salsa)
1 cup low fat cheddar or cheddar jack cheese, grated
4 green onions, chopped
1 vine ripened tomato, diced
Sliced black olives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Heat olive oil in a skillet, over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Add the ground turkey, chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Breaking the turkey up with a wooden spoon, cook until meat is no longer pink. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
In a sauce pot heat the black beans over medium heat. Using a potato masher or fork, mash half of the beans to make them thicker. Once warm remove from heat.
Spray the bottom of two shallow baking dishes or pie plates with non stick spray. Place a tortilla in each one. Top the tortillas with the beans and then the meat mixture. Place another tortilla on top and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the cheese, green onion, tomato, and black olives. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melted. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing pizza into pieces.
ENJOY!!

Mexican Lasagna

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This is one of those recipes that I have had pretty much as long as I have been cooking. However, I am embarrassed to tell you how I first made it. If you have read my bio you know I admittedly did NOT cook well at all for many many years. I was the Hamburger Helper Queen! That is how this recipe came to be. My desire to “tweek” Hamburger Helper (hanging head in shame). I used packaged taco seasoning, cheeseburger macaroni Hamburger Helper, cheese, and tortillas and just layer them all up. Talk about carb overload!!! Macaroni AND tortillas? WOW

After I lost all of the weight and was just beginning to actually cook real food, my kids actually requested that old awful Hamburger Helper dish. I wanted to make it for them but NOT the old way so that is when I came up with this. I got rid of the packaged taco seasoning to try to cut down some sodium. Of course dropped the Hamburger Helper with the macaroni, added some veggies and low fat cheese, and felt a bit better about serving this to my family.

What is funny is that Kevin and I have been together for 3 1/2 years now and I had never made this for him before last night. I couldn’t believe it. I guess it is just that I have been trying so hard to work on new recipes with lots of “flash” and have left some of my kids comfort food recipes on the back burner so to speak. This recipe is a fun simple meal that my kids will request for birthdays over and over. No steaks, roasts, shrimp on a skewer, fish en papillote for them, they want chili mac or Mexican lasagna!

All layered up and ready to go into the oven.
Mexican Lasagna 

2 pounds lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 package flour tortillas
1 can fat free refried beans
4 cups low fat jack or cheddar cheese (or a combo of both), shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon smoked hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup water, plus a bit to thin out the beans
A good handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped and reserve a small amount for garnish
Low fat or fat free sour cream
Your favorite taco sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large skillet add the meat, onions, jalapeno, and garlic, breaking up the ground beef or turkey until it is an small bits and brown well. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Stir to combine and then add the water. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cilantro and stir.
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pot, heat the refried beans over medium-high heat, adding enough water to thin the beans out.
Tear tortillas in triangle shaped pieces and places one layer of them in the bottom of a deep dish pie pan or medium casserole dish. Pour half of the beans over the first layer of tortillas and then top with some of the shredded cheese. Add another layer of tortillas and then top with half of the meat mixture, sprinkle more cheese over the top. Repeat the process with the other half of the beans and meat mixture. Top off with another layer of tortillas and then sprinkle the top with some of the shredded cheese.
Place dish on a baking sheet and bake in the over for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle cilantro on top. Garnish with sour cream and taco sauce (optional).

Greek Turkey "Tacos"

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Ok, so now I am sure it looks like I am obsessed with tacos, which I assure you I am not. However, Rachael Ray is the self professed “Burger Queen” so who knows, maybe I will be come the “Taco Queen”. Seriously anything you put into a burger you could put into a taco. Both are nice hand held food options. Anything that reduces the amount of dishes to wash is alright by me. But I leave the grilling to Kevin so burgers he does, taco’s I can do.

This recipe was actually my answer to a burger patty I saw available at my local grocery store. They have a lot of pre-made dishes you can buy. Chicken Cordon Blue, Steak Pinwheels and burgers. They have bacon and blue cheese burger patties, cheddar burger patties, and they had turkey with feta and spinach patties. I decided that I wanted to make my own patties so I could add the seasoning I wanted. I was discussing the idea with my daughter Jessi and told her that I wanted to use pita bread instead of a burger bun. She felt that a patty on pita would be a bit awkward to eat so, WALA the Greek taco was born!

I did a search on Greek seasoning and Tzatziki recipes. I saw a couple of advertisements for Greek seasoning blends, but I prefer to control the amounts of each seasoning going into my recipes. You can substitute ground lamb for the turkey in this recipe. I opted for a lean turkey (97%) to lower the calories a bit. Pair it up with some rice pilaf and you have a great meal. I use the rice on the as a side but the kids just added it in with the other ingredients.

I hope you give this recipe a try. Oh and make sure you save your extra Tzatziki sause. It is awesome with veggies for a snack! If you don’t want leftover sauce, just cut the recipe in half, but we always love leftovers. Try using the Tzatziki in the place of mayo on sandwiches too!

If you can’t find Greek yogurt strained plain yogurt can be substituted.

Thanks to our local Greek restaurant Ikonos for the donation of the checkered paper to make this look so nice!

Greek Turkey “Tacos”


Ingredients


For the tacos:
1 package ground turkey (approx 1 1/4 pounds)
8 ounces baby spinach (one very large fistful)
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 onion, finely chopped
8 pita

For the Tzatziki:
3 cup Greek Yogurt, strained as described below (low fat can be used)
juice of one lemon
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded and chopped (save 1/4 of one of the cucumber for garnish)
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (a good handful)
salt and pepper to taste

With a small strainer or coffee filter over a bowl, strain the yogurt for about 2 hours to get as much liquid out as possible.

Peel the cucumbers and then cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrap out the seeds, then dice the cucumber, making sure to reserve half of one half  for garnish. Place the cucumbers in a colander and salt them to draw the liquid out. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Drain them well and pat dry with paper towel.

In the food processor puree the cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and fresh ground black pepper. Stir the mixture into the yogurt. Add salt to taste. Place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the thyme, basil, marjoram, oregano, minced onion and minced garlic, season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until turkey has been broken up and it browned all over. Add baby spinach and stir to wilt it down into the browned meat, then add 2 ounces of the feta cheese. Stir to combine all ingredients well. Remove from the heat.

Heat pita bread in the microwave approx 30 minutes to soften the bread.

Spoon the turkey mixture into the center of the pita, top with Tzayziki, chopped onion, chopped cucumber, and chopped tomato. Fold like a taco and eat.

Serve with rice pilaf.

Makes 8 tacos


Taco



Gyro Sandwiches



Tzatziki Sauce

Turkey Noodle Casserole

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Before we even get started, I know some of you are groaning at just the mention of a turkey noodle casserole. I was kind of “iffy” on this one myself. The word casserole just brings back memories of tons of noodles smothered in cream of mushroom soup with some meat to go with it, usually canned tuna in my house. YIKES! Not a good image. I know that is how things were done in those days, and people didn’t realize how much sodium and fat canned soups contained. This recipe, thank goodness, removed those images from my head and made me gain faith in casseroles. 


I wasn’t the only one that showed a lack of enthusiasm for the idea of casseroles. Pretty much everyone here felt the same way. The dialog went kind of like this, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” “Turkey noodle casserole”….long pause…”Oh”…..longer pause….”Really?” “Yes, why?”..pause..”Oh, just wondering”. I know what they were wondering was, can I eat something else before dinner without Mom finding out and then say I am not that hungry. 


Luckily we were all pleasantly surprised. Everyone liked it, including my Dad, but I felt like the sauce could be a bit thicker. Probably a throw back to the old cream of mushroom soup days, but the sauce is more of a broth really. I might try to make a roux next time and thicken it up that way. I don’t want to change the flavor, just the consistency.


This one is a keeper to me though. Fairly simple and flavorful and something I think anyone would eat, so picky eaters would be happy as well.

Turkey Noodle Casserole

Ingredients

coarse salt
1/2 pound extra wide egg noodles
1 tablespoon EVOO
3 slices bacon or turkey  bacon, chopped
1 package (about 1 1/2 pounds) ground turkey breast
1 pound white mushrooms, wiped, trimmed, and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground thyme or poultry seasoning
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
1 cup plain bread crumbs
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the egg noodles. When it boils, salt the water and cook the noodles al dente. Drain well and return to the pot.

Preheat a  large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO and the bacon. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the fat is rendered and the bacon begins to crisp at the edges. Add the turkey and brown it, crumbling with a wooden spoon. Move the meat over to one side of the pan and add the mushrooms and onions to the opposite side. Cook the mushrooms and onions for 3 to 5 minutes, then stir the meat and veggies together. Season the mixture liberally with salt and pepper, and sprinkle in the ground thyme or poultry seasoning. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, using the wooden spoon to scrape up the pan drippings and browned bits. Stir in the stock and bring to a bubble, then stir in the cream and reduce the heat to low. Add nutmeg and stir. taste to adjust seasonings if necessary.

Preheat the broiler to high. Combine the noodles with the turkey and sauce. Grease a casserole dish with a little softened butter. Transfer the turkey-noodle mixture to the dish and top with Gruyère cheese and then bread crumbs. Place the casserole 8 to 10 inches from the broiler and brown for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crumbs are brown. Garnish the casserole with parsley.

Serve with a green tossed salad.

Serves 4


Florentine Meatballs

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I have to admit, I have made these before, so I knew they were going to be good before I even hit the chopping board to prep. This is one of those recipes that caught me off guard. Simple, tasty, and it got my daughter to WANT me to add spinach to a meal! Now days it is not as hard to do, but when I first made this recipe about 2 years ago that was an amazing thing trust me.


When I say this recipe is easy I am not joking. It is such a nice feeling to make something that doesn’t take a million ingredients and an hour to cook and have it taste really good. 


You will be proud of me. I actually stuck to a recipe this time! yes, I can actually do it from time to time, I promise. Possibly the fact that I was busy creating a pasta side dish was what kept me in line. It let my creative juices flow with that.  Actually I was scrambling because I forgot to pick up something to make for a side. So I roasted some garlic with anchovy and red chili flakes in olive oil and made some pasta. Topped it with shredded parm and VIOLA a full meal! There was nothing left after I packed Kevin’s lunch for the next day. It was the perfect amount for 4 people if they eat 3 meatballs each.


I would suggest you give this one a try.


Florentine Meatballs


Ingredients

  • 1 box frozen spinach, defrosted in the microwave
  • 1 1/3 pound (1 package) ground turkey breast
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups milk, divided
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs, 3 handfuls
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 2 palm fulls
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (10-ounce) sack shredded provolone or blend of Italian cheeses, available on dairy aisle
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, eyeball it
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Wring defrosted spinach dry in a clean kitchen towel. Place turkey in a bowl and make a well in the middle of it. Add the spinach, all but 3 tablespoons of the onion, all of the garlic, 1 large egg, about 1/4 cup milk, bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix well. Form into 12 large balls and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Arrange on a nonstick cookie sheet and roast 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
While balls are in the oven, heat a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Melt butter, add remaining finely chopped onion and cook 2 minutes then whisk in flour. Cook flour 1 minute, then whisk in 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 cup stock. Bring liquid up to a boil then stir in shredded provolone or blended Italian cheeses. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, turn heat to lowest setting.
Place 3 balls on dinner plates and top with sauce, garnish with parsley.


Smoky Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

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Yes, yes, yes, oh sorry for the rant but I love love LOVE how this recipe came out last night. I made Smoky Turkey Shepherd’s Pie. All I can say is yummmmm. I can’t take all of the credit, of course it mostly goes to Rachael Ray for her recipe (DUH), but my fabulously wonderful sous chef, AKA my boyfriend Kevin, helped by chopping most of the veggies for me. And believe me there are a LOT of veggies! But that is one of the things I love about this recipe. The veggies cook in the bacon and turkey for a long time. Then the smoked paprika joins the party and WOOHOOO look out, yummy in the tummy folks!


Now of course a recipe couldn’t be cooked by me without a few missteps and tweaks, sometimes after tasting you just…well I will get to that in a minute. Ok so back on track here. Today’s lesson is, make SURE you have everything for the recipe. Hmm haven’t I have that problem before? Well obviously I don’t learn from my own mistakes, but maybe YOU can.



It calls for three large Idaho potatoes, these are a VERY important part of the recipe. I casually look in my pantry and see I have a bag of russets so I am happy with that and check that off of my list of things to buy at the market. However, when I get down and dirty and ready to roll with this recipe, OOPS, the potatoes are not that good. They are small and most of them weren’t in any shape to be used for anything but a trash can filler. ARG!! 


I salvaged what I could, but it was no where near the amount I should have had, and grumbled at myself under my breath. I began stressing as soon as I saw that I had a problem with the very first ingredient in the recipe. This is about the time Kevin donned his Super Hero cape and swooped in to rescue me. Have I mentioned how much I love this man? Anyway, we got to work and as I pulled everything out and got it lined up in order, he began chopping. I got the bacon done and added the turkey (side note, I would leave quite a bit of the bacon fat in the pan if you want it to really flavor your veggies). Then we added the spices and dropped all those gorgeous veggies in the pot. Oh, it called for a small red bell pepper but we used a pretty good sized one.


From that point on it is just a matter of mashing your potatoes, (heads up don’t forget to save a ladle of the cooking liquid to temper your egg, I didn’t, but I heated up some chicken stock in it’s place. Gotta work on the fly in my kitchen!), finishing up the pot with the flour, stock, and sour cream, and simmering away. Since I had used fewer potatoes than it called for, and didn’t think to reduce the liquid going in, I needed to cook my mashed potatoes over low heat for awhile to try to thicken them up. But that is ok because the more you simmer, the better this stuff gets! My tweak, I added two palmfuls total (aprox 2 tablespoons) of smoked paprika, we like it extra smoky. Just taste it as it is simmering and as you adjust your pepper and salt you can figure out your level of smokiness.


So the reviews, well, Kevin LOVED it and not only had two or three helpings but laid claim to the leftovers as well. My Dad said he enjoyed it, and I was quite happily full with a smile on my face. All in all a very successful night. 




Smoky Turkey Shepherd’s Pie





3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons EVOO – extra-virgin olive oil – 2 turns of the pan
1/4 pound smoky bacon or turkey bacon (for a lighter choice), chopped
1 1/3 pound ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon smoked paprika, available in small cans on spice aisle of market
(You may substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons each sweet paprika and cumin combined)
Coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons, 5 or 6 sprigs, fresh thyme leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery from the heart, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups frozen peas
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream (you can use light or fat free)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg, beaten
10 to 12 blades fresh chives, chopped or snipped


Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook the potatoes until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Heat a deep, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, to the skillet. Add bacon and brown it up, then add ground turkey to the pan and break it up. Season the turkey with smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and thyme. When turkey browns up, add: onions, carrots, celery. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, then add red pepper and peas cook another 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook flour 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and combine. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream and combine.Simmer mixture over low heat.
Preheat your broiler to high.
When potatoes are tender, add a ladle of cooking water to the egg.Drain potatoes and return to the warm pot to dry them out a little. Add remaining 1/2 cup sour cream, butter, half of the chives, and salt and pepper. Smash and mash the potatoes, mashing in the beaten, tempered egg. If the potatoes are too tight, mix in a splash of milk.
Pour turkey mixture into a medium casserole dish. Top turkey with an even layer of smashed potatoes and place casserole 5 inches from hot broiler. Broil the potatoes until golden at edges and remove the casserole from the oven. Garnish the casserole with the remaining chives and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.