Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Ribbons

IMG_5988

I wanted to make some turkey meatballs and came up with this recipe trying to make the meatballs as moist as possible for turkey. It’s a three step cooking process that works well with the zucchini ribbons as a side instead of pasta.

  • 1-1/2 pounds of Ground Turkey 85/15
  • 1 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 tbsp of good mustard
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko bread crumbs)
  • 1 tbsp of italian herbs
  • Pinch of cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Add onion, mustard, egg, herbs, breadcrumbs and black pepper. Mix in the turkey. Shape the turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a large plate or baking sheet.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and saute until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the vegetable stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Turn meatballs often to cook on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a pyrex baking pan, leaving the vegetable stock
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake the meatballs for about 15-20 additional minutes. While this is cooking, you can prepare the vegetables for the dish.

IMG_5978

IMG_5980

And for the vegetable portion of the dish, I like to make ribbons out of zucchini by using a vegetable peeler and some diced veggies.

  • Vegetable broth leftover from meatball recipe
  • 1 large zucchini, peeled into ribbons
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 roma tomato, diced small
  • 1 cup of swiss chard or kale, cut into ribbons

IMG_5982

  1. Prepare all vegetables while letting the vegetable reheat using the same pan that you cooked the meatballs in. Bring to a boil and stir often, getting any meatball flavor from the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add all ingredients, stirring every couple minutes. Total cooking time  is about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  3. With a slotted spoon, place vegetables on a plate, top with turkey meatballs, parmesan cheese and pepper.

IMG_5986

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

IMG_7142This summer, I planted a couple rows of Swiss Chard. I used it in several of my dishes, but this was one of our favorites. This simple one dish dinner, one pan meal, was a perfect way to re-vamp the dish.

  • 2 Large Chicken Breasts
  • 3 cups of chopped swiss chard
  • 1 tsp of butter (for swiss chard)
  • 1 rounded tbsp of cream cheese
  • 2 tsp of butter (for pan)
  • 4 toothpicks, soaked in water
  • Cracked Salt and Pepper
  1. Soak toothpicks in water for a couple minutes.
  2. Filet Chicken Breast down the middle, using the biggest part of the breast as the fold. Lay open on a plate
  3. In a medium sized pan, warm butter and saute the swiss chard. Remove and put in a small bowl.
  4. Add cream cheese to the sautéed swiss chard when hot and melt. Let cool.
  5. Fill chicken breasts with creamy swiss chard mixture and sew closed the breast using the wet toothpicks. You want them to be moist so they don’t burn when cooked. Crack Salt and Pepper on the outside, not too much, the flavor is inside.
  6. In the same heated pan, add a 2 tsp of butter on medium heat and cook chicken breasts. I usually cover so they steam and cook. Let one side cook for at least 7-10 minutes, until browned before turning. Then repeat on the other side.
  7. Now, some of that lovely butter, cream cheese, swiss chard magic just falls out. Just embrace it, by browning the chicken in it. It’s worth it.

IMG_7128

IMG_7130

IMG_7141

Polenta with Sausage and Sautéed Swiss Chard

IMG_8546I love polenta. Long ago I bought pre-made polenta in the store. The older Italian lady behind me scolded me for buying pre-made over store bought.  That caused me to want to make great polenta at home, from there, the possibilities of dinner ideas is endless.  Here’s the basic polenta recipe I use.

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons cracked salt salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp of parmesan cheese
  1. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot or deep pan. Add salt.
  2. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. T
  3. Turn off the heat. Add the butter and parmesan cheese.

Sausage and Swiss Chard

  • 2-3 Bratwurst Sausages
  • 3 cups of chopped Swiss Chard
  • 1 tsp of Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese to top

While  the polenta is cooking, I prep the toppings. You can really use anything you want, any type of meat, poultry or vegetable.

  1. Heat oil in a large pan and cook the sausages. Removing from heat when almost complete.
  2. Cut the sausage and return to the heated pan for grilling. This will soak up all the flavor and cook them more complete.
  3. Remove sausage, add swiss chard to pan and sauté until completely wilted.

Squasagna!

IMG_7428

The whole idea started with the boom of my first batch of monster zucchini in my garden. I was inspired to make a lasagna, but instead of pasta – use ribbons of zucchini and squash. The options of ingredients are endless, so use this as a base and create your own.

I chose to put a latin spin on it by using a homemade guajillo sauce made from the cooked peppers, tomato sauce and spices. I also used Monterey Jack and Cotija, but you can use whatever you prefer or none at all.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Medium sized zucchinis and/or squash, boiled whole for 5 minutes, then peeled into ribbons
  • 1 pound ground beef or sausage, cooked (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cups of pasta sauce, tomato sauce or guajillo pepper sauce (latin style)
  • 1/2 onion sauteed and added to the ground beef and sauce
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, pan fried but not completely cooked
  • 1+ cups of monterey jack, mozzerella or cotija (latin style)
  1. First step that I took was to prepare the ingredients before layering them. I wanted to cook the ingredients so that everything was moist and had a separate flavor inside the squasagna.
  2. Zucchini:  I boiled these whole for about 5 minutes. They are still firm, but the boiling cooks them slightly and adds water. I was worried if I used them uncooked that they would be drier inside the lasagna. After boiling, I let cool for 5 minutes before peeled into ribbons. I used a regular vegetable peeler, but a mandolin or large wire peeler would work too.
  3. The Meat Sauce: Although optional to the dish, I cooked 1 pound of ground beef in a skillet, adding in my chopped onion and let it cook with the meat. Then I add my sauce, cooking them together until the meat is cooked. If no meat is added, you can make your own tomato or pepper sauce to add or use a premade pasta sauce.
  4. Mushrooms: Love them, so I sauteed them in a little oil – not all the way cooked. Remove and set aside.
  5. Cheese: Grate different cheeses, as much and whatever type you love the most.

IMG_7404Start with a nice rectangular baking pan. Grease the bottom of the pan with spray or olive oil. Layer the squash on the bottom to create the base. Add a layer of cheese across the entire surface and then add your mushrooms. IMG_7407Then my layer of meat, onions and sauce is added to the middle of the squasagna. After the meat, I add one more layer of peeled ribbon squash and top with cheese. IMG_7408Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the whole lasagna is cooked throughout. This doesn’t take too long since the ingredients are pre-made. IMG_7415We loved this dish, it was so savory good and a healthy twist on the lasagna. I promise you won’t miss the pasta very much at all.

Red Potatoes Au Gratin with Skinny Sauce

Every now and then, I like to make something cheesy and comforting yet without all the calories. I started making this “skinny sauce” and like to use it for my Au Gratin and Macaroni and Cheese. I made 4 portions in this pie pan and calculated it as 175 calories per portion.

  • 2 medium/large red potatoes or 3 cups of potato slices
  • 1 teaspoon of Savory (or Herbs de Provence or Italian Seasoning) for herbal flavor
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Slice Potatoes into wedges. For 4 portions, I sliced 2 medium to large red potatoes. I boiled them in about 3 cups of water with the savory, salt and pepper. Cooked to about 8 minutes, cooked through yet not mushy.20130530-171035.jpg

I drain the water from the potatoes, yet keep a little. Like 1/4 cup of the herbed water. Then I make the sauce in the drained pan.

  • 1-2 tablespoons or pats of butter
  • 1/4 cup herbed water from potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • pinch of cracked salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cream Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon of Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Parmesan Cheese

Heat butter in pan, add water and milk. Let boil and add salt. Add Cream Cheese and Yogurt or Sour Cream and break down with a fork. Let boil for 3 minutes or so and add Parmesan as you stir and thicken the sauce. 20130530-171216.jpgHeat Oven to 375 degrees. Arrange your Potatoes in a Pie pan. I like to save some of the herbs from the water. Pour Sauce over Potatoes in Pan. Sprinkle a little more Parmesan and cracked pepper or cayenne. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn on high broil for 5 minutes or raise heat to 400 to crisp the top. 20130530-171250.jpg

Steak Wrapped Asparagus

20130521-084613.jpg

20130521-084629.jpg

This idea is so simple and can be done with steak or bacon. It’s a great idea for a barbecue appetizer or a side dish.

Simply pre-steam the asparagus, unless you want them to be crunchy. They are much better if they are cooked yet still have a crispness to them.

Wrap thin slices of meat around the Asparagus spears. Sometimes it’s best to use two stalks if they are skinny. try not to wrap it too much, so that the meat gets cooked throughout.

Cook on Medium for about 8 minutes, rotating after 2 minutes on all sides. You can go more or less depending on your meat temp preference.

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry

20130521-084455.jpgI love an easy shrimp stir fry and the ingredients are inspired by the ingredients I love and have on hand. Sometimes, it’s what I consider a fridge cleaner meal – use what you have.

  • 12 Medium Tiger Prawns, sliced in half down the middle
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 2 tsp of diced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of diced onion
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced small
  • 1 cup of diced asparagus
  • 1 tsp of soy sauce
  • pinch of chili pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp water
  • Cracked Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet or wok on medium high heat
  2. Add garlic and onion and sauté for a couple minutes
  3. Add asparagus and zucchini and cook for another couple minutes
  4. Add soy sauce, chili flakes and water, stir often
  5. Add tiger prawns and cook until throughly until completely done
  6. Add salt and pepper if needed.