Turkey Meatballs with Tomato & Roasted Pepper Ragu

If you’ve been following me long enough you know that I have a love/hate thing for meatballs. I love them, but I can’t really make them. Now don’t get me wrong, the taste isn’t the issue. It’s making it into an actual ball that’s my problem. These were wonderful and I enjoyed the whole process knowing that I was feeding my family something equally healthy as much as tasty.

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Turkey Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey

3 slices bread*

1/2 cup milk

1/2 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

1 large egg

3 T flat parsley, chopped

2 T fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dried)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 – 1 tsp nutmeg (to taste)

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 cup flour

3 T EVOO

1. Tear the bread up into small pieces and place into bowl. Cover with milk and let stand  until the bread has absorbed the milk. *I used wheat bread which takes a little longer to absorb the milk; about 20 minutes. If using white it should only take about 10 minutes.

2. In a food processor you can throw the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in at once to chop everything up together.

3. In a large bowl combine the turkey meat, soggy bread, diced veggies, egg, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and paprika. Using your hands and blend the ingredients thoroughly.

4. Form golf ball-sized balls and roll them through the flour.

5. Heat the EVOO over medium heat. Working in batches cook the meatballs for about 10 minutes, browning them on all sides. *One of my few meatball tricks has always been to put the meatballs into the oven to brown before finishing up in a sauce or other cooking process. This method would work just as well as cooking them in oil. However, it may even be better to do both methods since these particular meatballs are so mushy. Next time!

6. Place browned meatballs into sauce and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Tomato and Roasted Pepper Ragu

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

3 T + 2 tsp EVOO

1 lb. fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 red jalapeno chili*, finely chopped

2 T tomato paste

1 tsp thyme

2 tsp oregano

1 bay leaf

2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes

salt & pepper

1 tsp basil (fresh if you have it: 1/3 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 450*. Line a cast iron pan or roasting pan with foil and heat in hot oven for about 5 minutes.

2. Rub the 2 tsp EVOO over the peppers and place into hot pan. Using tongs,cook the peppers for 20 minutes, rotating every 5 minutes, or until the skins are blackened and blistering.

3. Remove peppers from oven, place into bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap for an additional 15 minutes. This will steam the peppers and finish their cooking process.

4. Allow the peppers to cool slightly then peel off the outer skins. Remove the seeds. Cut into strips set aside.

5. In a large pot, heat 3 T EVOO over medium heat. Add the onions, jalapeno (*I could only find green- worked fine), and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste, stir in well, and cook for 1 minute.

6. Squeeze the canned tomatoes in your hands over the pot as you are adding them in. This will crush them slightly and add a bit more of their juices to the sauce.

7. Add the herbs. Stir in the fresh tomatoes and the roasted bell pepper strips. *If using fresh basil wait to add until after the first hour of cooking. 

8. Simmer gently over medium-low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, allowing the flavors to blend. Season to taste and add a 1/2 cup water after the first hour. *Or add 3 about ladles pasta water.

*Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve about 4 ladles worth of pasta water (3 for the sauce, 1 for the pasta). Toss the pasta with the pasta water, 2 T butter and some chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley. Serve with ragu and meatballs.

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Thyme & Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

Here’s another recipe I tried from the Take Home Chef- it was amazing! So far this has been my ultra favorite dish that I’ve copied. It is so delish and just absolutely gorgeous. Go on, look at the pictures and tell me if you agree. I’ll wait.

See?! And yes, they tasted as good as they looked 🙂

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Thyme & Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 T EVOO

1 tsp thyme, fresh sprigs are best if you have it, 1 good-sized sprig

salt & pepper

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

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1. Preheat oven to 450*. Place a heavy baking sheet into the oven for 5 minutes until hot.

2. Cut the squash lengthwise into 3/4-inch to 1-inch wide wedges.

3. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and drizzle with EVOO.

4. Arrange the squash in a single layer over the hot baking sheet and sprinkle with the thyme, salt and pepper. Turn the squash to coat with the oil. Bake for 20 minutes.

5. Using tongs, turn the squash over. Drizzle the maple syrup over the squash and continue baking until the squash is tender and golden brown; about 20 minutes longer.

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Roasted Caramel Pineapple

I recently found a new show to love. It’s called Take Home Chef and it’s on TLC. If you are not familiar with this foodie show it can be summed up in just a few words: Hunky Aussie Cooks Awesome Food.

Actually there’s a little more to it. This guy walks around grocery stores with a camera crew. He spies someone shopping and asks them if they are cooking for someone else and if he can come to their house and do the cooking instead. It’s a pretty neat concept and I can guarantee that if I ever see this guy in my grocery store (highly unlikely but one can dream) I am all over him it.

When I first came across this show I thought I’d just love to listen to the guy’s accent, but wow can he cook! Even my hubby got into a few episodes, and so our dinner that day was conceptualized. I have a few of this guy’s recipes to share, but today is the roasted pineapple 🙂 Slurp!

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Roasted Caramel Pineapple

1 fresh pineapple

6 whole cloves*

1/2 stick butter

1/2 cup sugar

Malibu Rum*

1. Cut the outer skin off your pineapple. If you are not sure how to do this you can google or youtube some instructions, but it’s very easy. The first thing I do is cut off the very bottom and the top. Then working my knife carefully down in strips, cut off the outer skin while working around the entire fruit.

2. Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise, then cut a V into the center of both halves to remove the woody core. Discard everything you’ve just cut off.

3. Turn the two halves over so you’re looking at the outsides. Place about three cloves randomly into some of the holes on each half. *If you don’t have whole cloves, just sprinkle a bit of ground clove onto the surface of each half.

4. Melt your butter in a large saucepan or roasting pan over medium heat on the stove. Make sure this pan can go into the oven. Place the pineapple cut side down into the butter.

5. Let the butter brown a bit. Toss in the sugar and stir it up best you can. You can even us more sugar if needed. *The chef, Curtis Stone, said, “Just throw a handful of sugar in there.” And FYI his hands are big, so it looked like a lot of sugar. Cook a few minutes more but don’t let the sugar or butter burn.

6. Preheat the oven to 400* and place the pan inside to cook down the fruit a little and let the sugar and butter carmalize. *I really don’t know how long it’s suppose to be in there. I left it in about 30 minutes and realized later it could have cooked longer.

7. Remove pan and pour a shot or two of Malibu rum over the top of the pineapples and serve. *Because I was feeding this to my kids I wanted the flavors to mingle more and not taste like alcohol so I put the pineapple back into the oven for a bit after I added the Malibu.

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This was delicious but I would definitely try it again. Curtis got such a great, thick caramel syrup under his pineapple and I didn’t- so back to the drawing board I go. Unfortunately this was one of the few recipes from the show that I have been unable to find online. However, you can watch the episode(s) yourself. This one was season 1, episode 4: Natasha. And you can view it via Netflix or even from TLC.com. Enjoy!

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Homemade Eggrolls

I love eggrolls. It is the only time I will knowingly and willingly put pork into my mouth. But I’ve wanted to make my own for some time now, and I’ve found that truthfully it’s just not that hard.

Eggroll wrappers can be found in the produce section of just about any grocery store. It’s usually next to the tofu and über expensive glass jars of salad dressing. After I made my Cannoli Tarts I had plenty of wrappers left over to try this experiment with. I was not disappointed and I don’t think you will be either.

This recipe calls for water chestnuts, which I do not like at all, as well as ground beef. You could easily brown up any kind of ground meat or even dice up some chicken finely and add it in. I went strictly carrot and cabbage and didn’t even bother with the celery, which would have been a fine addition.

This recipe yields a lot of eggrolls; about 26. Adjust the measurements to your desire.

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Homemade Eggrolls

3/4 lb. ground meat

1 large head of cabbage

1 small celery rib

1 medium carrot

1/8 cup water chestnuts, optional

2 packages eggroll wrappers

1/8 cup soy sauce

1 tsp onion powder, divided

1 tsp garlic powder, divided

1/2 tsp sesame oil, always optional but always divine

3/4 cup water

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1. Brown the ground meat; drain well. Season with half the garlic and onion powders. Add sesame oil and half the soy sauce. *If you are not using any meat, still use the sesame oil in your veggie mix. You won’t regret it.

2. Shred the cabbage, celery and carrot. *Or cheat like me and buy shredded bagged cabbage and carrot match sticks. Chop the water chestnuts. Add remaining seasonings and water. Cook in a large pot until cabbage wilts down and is fork tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and add more seasonings, salt, or pepper to taste. Add the ground meat and combine well.

3. Cool mixture in refrigerator or freezer to at least room temperature.

4. Follow directions on package on how to roll the eggrolls. *I do this near the sink where I can wet my fingers as I work. On a cutting board or other clean surface, lay out each wrapper and gently wet all over. This will make it a bit more pliable. Just don’t get them too wet.

5. Use about 1 heaping spoonful per wrapper. Pull up bottom corner, roll once, pull in each side, careful not to tear the wrapper, moisten the top and finish rolling. Seal the edges with a bit of the water.

6. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towel and serve with soy sauce.

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Easy Sopapillas

What’s quick, easy, tasty, and variably low in calories (if you overlook the fact that it’s deep fried?). Why, sopapilla, of course. And not the definitely calorie-laden puff pastry type, but the kind you fry up quickly using corn tortillas and a splash of cinnamon sugar. Serve this with a little chocolate syrup or honey and a dab of homemade whipped cream.

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Sopapilla

corn tortillas, 6 inch or smaller

vegetable oil

cinnamon sugar

chocolate syrup

honey

whipped cream

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Cut the tortillas into fourths, making triangles. Make sure the oil is very hot and at least 1 inch deep.

Put the tortillas in, a few at a time. Keep them separated so they don’t stick together, and flip them over so they cook evenly. Once they start to brown they will begin to over-cook quickly. Pull them out when they are still a nice golden color and let drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar while still warm. Arrange on a plate and serve with sauce and cream.

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This recipe was featured at

Simple Living and Eating: Foodie Friday, 3/1/2013!

Check it out 🙂

 

Sweet Potato Cornbread

I had a feeling when I decided to try this recipe that I would love it, but I had no idea how truly fabulous it would be. While this was baking in my oven, my kitchen filled up with a sweet, heavenly smell that I could not define as sweet potato or pumpkin, or even cornbread. It was just awesome and warm and comforting. Ahh…the aroma itself was rewarding, but the taste was even better 🙂 Make sure you have some butter on hand to smear over each bite.

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Sweet Potato Cornbread

3 large eggs

1/2 cup EVOO

3/4 cup sweet potato puree

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose GF flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

pinch sea salt

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Preheat oven to 350*.   Grease a cake pan or springform pan; dust with cornmeal.

Using a mixmaster, whisk eggs until foamy. Add the EVOO and combine well. Stir in puree, brown sugar, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pie spice.

On lowest setting, add the dry ingredients to the wet in mixer until just combined. Use a spatula to scrape the sides and incorporate all the ingredients together. Batter should be smooth and not over mixed.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes until cornbread is firm and golden. Oven temps can vary. Keep an eye on it and use a toothpick to check the center. My oven baked this recipe closer to 35 minutes.

Allow the cornbread to cool in the pan, on a wire rack, for about ten minutes. Remove from pan and continue to cool. Serve warm with butter.

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Roasted Potato Frittata

Have I ever mentioned how much I love frittata? Oh, I have?? Well, it’s only because it’s so easy and versatile and delicious! You can take just about any ingredients from your refrigerator, leftovers especially, and throw it all together with some eggs and make it into a wonderful and filling pie.

Some say that a true frittata is made with a potato base. I believe that a frittata counts as long as it is baked within an egg custard (sans pie crust, of course, because then it’d be a quiche). Whatever you like in your frittata is good enough for me, but here’s a roasted potato recipe that even staunch frittata-lovers should approve of.

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Roasted Potato Frittata

EVOO

salt & pepper

2 cups seasoned potato wedges, roasted

1 cup sharp shredded cheese*

4 large eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp thyme

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

2 T parmesan

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Preheat oven to 375*. If you don’t already have some leftover potatoes, simply peel and cube a few, toss with EVOO and salt & pepper, and roast until done.

Using a 8 or 9 inch pie plate, lightly grease and set aside.

In bowl, whisk together eggs and sour cream until smooth.

For the cheese: use any really sharp or flavorful cheese such as swiss, Jarlsberg, cheddar, asiago, blue, or limburger. *I love sharp cheddar so much that I always have it on hand, however for this I wanted to use up the plethora of babybell I had on hand. This is an extremely soft cheese, so I placed it in the freezer for about 30 minutes so it would grate easily in my food processor.

Arrange the roasted potatoes in the bottom of the pie plate and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and wiggle the ingredients around a little with a spatula so the custard seeps in around the potato wedges.

Dot the surface with the tomatoes and sprinkle the thyme over it. Top with a sprinkling of the parmesan.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the frittata is set. Cool slightly before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

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Crock Pot Tex Mex Chicken

After my success with the Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki the other day I really was craving another warm, comforting meal from the slow cooker. While this recipe is not even close to the other, my love for Mexican flavors made this a winner.

There are lots of ways to enjoy this slow cooked Tex Mex shredded chicken. I ate mine wrapped in corn tortillas topped with shredded lettuce and sharp cheddar cheese, but it would be equally satisfying on a warm, crisp tostada, or even  as a topper for a nice bed of lettuce greens. You choose.

I also used some leftovers for this meal. It’s a perfect example of utlizing what you have on hand to make something delicious. Other toppers could include sour cream, green onions, black olives, and cilantro (which I always love).

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Tex Mex Chicken

3-4 large chicken breasts

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1 cup tomato sauce/pasta sauce

1/4 cup water

1 (4-oz) can chopped green chiles

1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes with juice

1 (15-oz) can black beans

1 cup frozen corn

Spray inside of crock pot with cooking spray. Place chicken in slow cooker.

Combine onion, chiles, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and water. Pour over chicken.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Replace shredded chicken into slow cooker and add in drained black beans and frozen corn. Stir well. Add some water if needed.

Cook an additional 30 minutes.

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Black Bean Risotto

If you’re looking for a vegetarian and gluten-free meal, I can tell you right now that this risotto will hit the spot. This creamy, savory twist on beans and rice will not disappoint. I served this with a lovely green salad and ALL my boys ate it up.

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Black Bean Risotto

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

4 cups chicken broth

1 T EVOO

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp salt , plus more for seasoning to taste

1/4 tsp pepper

1 (15 oz) can black beans

4 oz. cream cheese

2 T butter

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In a skillet heat 1 T EVOO; saute onion and garlic. Do not brown. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt & pepper, and diced tomato. Stir and heat through. Scoop out and place in bowl. Set aside.

Pour broth into heated skillet and allow to come to a boil. Stir in risotto. Lower heat and cover. Stir often and let cook through, 20-25 minutes.

Cube the cream cheese and stir into the rice, until melted, along with the butter. Drain the black beans and add it to the rice. Add the onion and tomato mixture. Combine well. Heat through.

Salt & pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan for sprinkling on top. *A pinch of rosemary is good in it, too.

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Tuna Steaks with Lima Bean Butter

I’ve been waiting quite some time to share this recipe with you. The pan-seared tuna steaks are awesome, but the real star here is the lima bean butter. A bit heavy on the calorie side, but well worth it when paired with an otherwise very healthy meal of fish and steamed veggies.

I bought the tuna steaks from Trader Joe’s, and if you’ve never purchased their frozen fish before then I suggest you give it a try. Their pieces are usually about 1-inch thick, large portions, and extremely well priced. One package with two large pieces was enough to feed my family of four. Plus let’s not forget the great quality.

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Tuna with Lima Bean Butter

Tuna Steaks*

salt & pepper

1 T EVOO

1 cup lima beans

1 cup butter

1 handful fresh parsley

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

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*The tuna steaks should be about 1-inch thick. Make sure each piece weighs at least 6 oz. This is a standard serving size for each person. You can customize your pieces from here.

Heat EVOO in a skillet over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper both sides and place into hot skillet. Sear for about 4 minutes before turning over. You will actually be able to see the heat climbing up the side of the fish. Turn only once.

A properly seared piece of fish will be slightly browned on the outside and have  a  layer of pink in the middle. It should be tender and easy to cut and chew.

For the butter: cook your lima beans in water or broth. When done, place into a food processor along with the butter (you may need to melt it first but do not add it in very hot) garlic, and parsley. Blend until well combined. Butter will be thick.

Serve over fish.

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