Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce


Are your teeth aching from the sweets that abound this time of year?  (I know, I know, I’m partly to blame.)  Are you already missing the flavors of Thanksgiving, or maybe you still have some cranberry sauce without a purpose?  Or, maybe you are just looking for a quick and healthy weeknight meal?  This dish helps satisfy any or all of those problems!  I had leftover cranberry sauce, some celery and a variety of fresh herbs after Thanksgiving and they needed to be used quickly, so I decided to give these meatballs a try.

This is a pretty cool hybrid of meatballs, a classic comfort food, with the flavors of turkey day.  Served with some mashed potatoes and broccoli, this was a great dinner with the flavors of a holiday meal minus all the fuss.  As with many dishes including fresh herbs, you can adjust the herbs to suit your tastes and what you happen to have on hand.  I used a combination of fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley with a touch of dried oregano.  All three of us really enjoyed this dinner, and I think it will be a nice addition to the weeknight repertoire.

Side note: Today’s holiday giveaway is one of the few kitchen unitasker items I just can’t live without – a Whirley Pop!  Enter on the Facebook page (details will be posted before 7 am).

Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce
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Ingredients:
1 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
1 lb. ground turkey
1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
1 large egg
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
2 tsp. minced fresh parsley
½ tsp. minced fresh rosemary
¼ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. poultry seasoning*
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Cranberry sauce, for serving

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425° F and lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment paper.  Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook just until softened, about 4-5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the celery and onion, ground turkey, bread crumbs, egg, fresh and dried herbs, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.  Mix together until well combined.  Form the mixture into evenly sized meatballs, about 1½ inches in diameter.  Place the meatballs, evenly spaced, on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake 10-15 minutes, until completely cooked through.  Serve warm with cranberry sauce on the side.

*I usually have a poultry seasoning blend on hand, but if you don’t, you can make your own with spices you may already have.

Source: Williams Sonoma via Pink Parsley

Greek Chicken Salad


So the big feasting holiday has come and gone.  I hope everyone had a wonderful time with friends and loved ones, and enjoyed great food!  Our Thanksgiving was a blast and everything went very well.  Being together with so many family members makes me so grateful for all the blessings in our life.  Of course, in the wake of the holiday I find myself craving lighter, healthier foods.  I created this Greek chicken salad recently and was thrilled with the result.  It is light and healthy, yet filling, and combines the flavors of some of my very favorite foods like chicken gyros and cherry tomato salad.  The addition of olives and a sprinkle of feta on top give a nice salty counterbalance to the cool, creamy tzatziki.  Served on homemade wheat pita, this makes an awesome lunch or dinner.  So there you go – I thought I had better share at least one healthy meal before I start in on all the holiday baking 🙂

Greek Chicken Salad
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Yield: about 4 servings
Ingredients:
1½ cups cooked chicken, coarsely chopped or shredded
½ cup cucumber, diced
¾ cup tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp. sliced black olives (or Kalamata olives)
1 cup tzatziki sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pita, for serving
Crumbled feta cheese

Directions:
Combine the chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, olives and tzatziki sauce in a medium bowl.  Stir well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve as desired over pita bread, topped with crumbled feta cheese.

*Note: Readers frequently ask if they can use Greek yogurt rather than buying plain yogurt and straining it.  You absolutely can do that, but I prefer to strain my own yogurt because it is simply much cheaper than buying an equal amount of Greek yogurt.

Source: Annie original

Portobello, Broccoli and Red Pepper Melts


I found this recipe a couple of weeks ago and was really looking forward to trying it.  All day at work that day I couldn’t wait to get home and make it.  And then that evening, on my drive home, I turned onto the street that leads to our neighborhood and was hit by a very serious pizza craving.  I was thisclose to throwing the dinner plans out the window, making a right instead of left turn and picking up pizza.  Instead I persevered.  I couldn’t be happier about my decision because I ended up with a meal I am nuts about and will be a frequent repeater on our menu.  It also tasted remarkably like pizza.


How many great things can I say about these sandwiches?  Let’s see – for starters, they are easy and low-maintenance.  Also, these are loaded with veggies.  Sure, there is a bit of cheese and mayo but veggies definitely rule here.  Another bonus – this recipe also requires very few dishes.  Basically all you need is a baking sheet and a cutting board.  While the broccoli roasts, you can prep the other veggies, and when they roast you can prep the other ingredients so the time from start to “yum” is very short.  The thin spread of garlic mayo on the bread adds a lot of flavor, and melted cheese of course makes everything better.  I opted for provolone because I had some on hand and I think it was a perfect compliment, but I’m sure many varieties would work well.  This is clearly a very flexible recipe that can be adapted to veggies, bread and cheese of your preference but I am so smitten with this particular combo, I doubt I will stray from it.

Portobello, Broccoli and Red Pepper Melts
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Ingredients:
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 portobello mushrooms (stems removed), sliced ½-inch thick
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced ½-inch thick
¼ cup light mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
4 thick slices country bread
2-4 oz. provolone cheese, thinly sliced

Directions:
Preheat a broiler with a rack placed 4 inches from the heat source.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place the broccoli on the baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.  Broil until the broccoli begins to brown, tossing once or twice, about 4-6 minutes.

Add the sliced mushrooms and peppers to the pan with the broccoli and toss to combine.  Broil, tossing once or twice, until the vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes more.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise and garlic in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.  Place the slices of bread on a work surface.  Spread each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon of the garlic-mayo mixture.  Top with the cooked vegetables, then the cheese.  Line the baking sheet with a new piece of foil.  Transfer the assembled sandwiches to the baking sheet.  Broil until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, 2-4 minutes.

Source: Everyday Food, March 2008

Linguine with Clam Sauce


Foods can evoke memories in a major way.  Every single time I smell this dish cooking, I’m immediately transported back to our kitchen in my house growing up.  I can hear “All Things Considered” on NPR coming from the radio as my dad prepared dinner for us.  My mom died when I was 10, and my brothers were six and four.  Somehow my dad still cooked well balanced meals for us pretty much every night as we grew up.  Sure, sometimes it was semi-homemade things like Hamburger Helper but looking back with only one child of my own and an extremely helpful husband, I truly don’t know how he did it.  When Mom found out her illness was terminal, she started planning and preparing and doing things to help us after she wasn’t around anymore.  One of those things was to go through all our family cookbooks and put notes on the recipes that we kids liked.

This recipe comes from a now out of print cookbook that our family enjoyed.  It still has Mom’s post-it taped to the cover (as many of our cookbooks do).  The author hosted an old popular cooking show called The Frugal Gourmet that my mom found very amusing.  I remember watching it with her even though I had no interest in cooking at the time, and I thought it was funny too.  I had never considered sharing this recipe before because it didn’t seem blog-worthy.  I mean, it takes about 15 minutes and uses canned clams for Pete’s sake.  But, this is where I share all the recipes I love, easy and complex, fancy and decidedly not so, so I’m sharing it here.  We love this dinner in our household, it holds a special place in my heart, and that’s all that matters to me!

Linguine with Clam Sauce
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Ingredients:
12 oz. linguine pasta
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (6.5 oz) cans minced clams, juices reserved
½ cup heavy cream (or half-and-half)
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions until al dente.  Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until the butter is completely melted.  Add the garlic to the pan and sauté until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the reserved clam juice to the pan, bring to a simmer, and reduce by about half.  With the heat on medium-low, stir in the clams and the heavy cream.  Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Portion the pasta into warmed serving bowls.  Spoon some of the sauce over the pasta and top with grated Parmesan, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Source: The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine by Jeff Smith

Crispy Baked Taco Bowls


Tacos are such a simple, delicious and satisfying meal that many people make taco night a weekly occurrence.  In case you are looking for a way to change up your taco night just a little bit, making crispy baked taco bowls instead of your usual taco shells is a fun and easy twist.  This isn’t even a recipe at all, just a quick kitchen tip that I wanted to share.  All you have to do is place a warmed, lightly oiled 6-7 inch tortilla in between the cups of an overturned muffin tin.  (I prefer to warm mine in the microwave.)  Bake at 425˚ F for 8-10 minutes.  Fill as desired with all your favorite taco fixings.  And while you’re at it, be sure to make some homemade taco seasoning.  No need for those sodium-filled store bought packets!


Note: There are certainly other ways to achieve a similar result.  I have seen other methods involving laying tortillas over ramekins, folding them inside ramekins, etc.  I tried a few of these methods and this was my favorite, but you can be creative with what you have on hand.

Source: Paula of Salad in a Jar

White Fish Tacos


It seems fish tacos are quite a popular dish.  I see them all over the blogosphere and on lots of restaurant menus, but for a long time they just sounded kind of gross to me.  I think part of it was my childhood fear of seafood rearing its head – growing up in Indiana and being served lots of things that should definitely not be called seafood, I think the fear was justified.  Now that I know where to get fresh, good quality seafood, I keep experimenting with things and do my best to keep an open mind.  Well let me just say this dinner wowed us both.  Actually, it wowed us all – Andrew included.  He ate more than one plate of deconstructed taco!

And, this is another one of those dinners that is a triple threat – it is quick, easy, and healthy!  I came home from a long, rough work day and despite my exhaustion and less than stellar mood, these came together in no time.  In fact, they completely turned my mood around (well, the margarita probably played a part in that as well.)  You marinate the fish briefly and while it is doing its thing, you can prep all the toppings and the sauce.  I used halibut for these because it is my favorite type of white fish but you could also use tilapia or cod (or some other variety of white fish I am less familiar with).  Try these soon for a healthy, colorful delicious meal.

White Fish Tacos
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For the fish:
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 tbsp. minced cilantro
¼ tsp. cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb. white fish (halibut, cod, tilapia, etc.)
Salt

Ingredients:

For the cilantro cream sauce:
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. cilantro, minced
6 oz. nonfat greek yogurt (sour cream is fine too)
1 clove garlic, minced
Pepper, to taste

For serving:
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Green onions, chopped
Red cabbage, shredded
(Or whatever sounds good to you!)
6-inch flour tortillas

Directions:
Combine the lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, cilantro, cumin, and garlic in a pie plate or shallow dish.  Whisk together until well blended.  Place the fish in the mixture, turning to coat.  Let marinate 15-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the cilantro cream sauce.  Combine the lime juice, cilantro, greek yogurt, garlic and pepper in a small bowl.  Mix until well blended.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Place the fish in the pan and cook without disturbing, 3 minutes.  Flip the fish and cook on the second side 2-3 minutes more.  Remove to a plate, season with salt as desired, and let rest for a few minutes.  Shred the fish into bite-sized pieces with two forks.

Assemble tacos on flour tortillas with shredded fish, cilantro cream sauce and toppings as desired.

Source: adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Salmon with Strawberry Salsa


I mentioned not long ago that I wasn’t a big fan of fruit and meat, etc. combos but it seems I’m coming around.  This dish totally blew me away.  Honestly, I was expecting this to be so-so for me, and maybe something Ben said he liked to be polite.  But no, we both devoured it.  And so did Andrew!  Even better, it’s incredibly simple to prepare, quick, and healthy to boot.  How can you say no to a meal like that?  I think this would be great for entertaining because it is easy, certainly unique and the bright colors make for a beautiful presentation.

Salmon with Strawberry Salsa
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Ingredients:
For the salsa:
2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 scallions, white and green portions, sliced thin
1 tsp. fresh parsley, minced
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of honey
Salt and pepper, to taste

4 salmon fillets (about 6 oz. each)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
To make the salsa, combine the strawberries, tomatoes, scallions, parsley, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl.  Mix well to blend, then cover and refrigerate while you prepare the salmon.

Preheat the broiler.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the salmon fillets on the foil.  Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over each fillet, and season with salt and pepper.  Broil about 6-8 inches away from heat source (in my oven, this is upper middle rack).  Cook about 10-12 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of the fillets, checking for doneness.  Transfer the salmon to serving plates and top with strawberry salsa.  Serve warm.

Source: barely adapted from Good Things Catered