Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gobble It Right Up!

Spaghetti and Smoky Cheese-Stuffed Turkey Meatballs
In about a month turkey will take center stage for Thanksgiving, but I was in the mood for a preview of fall's favorite fowl. Meatballs are a great dinner idea for fall and winter They are inexpensive to make, quick to throw together, and the flavor combos are endless. I turned up the taste factor on this meatball riff with a generous combination of spices, flavorful smoked mozzarella cheese, shallots, and diced pancetta. The flavor combination on the meatballs is bold, so I decided to go with my Simple and Delicious Marinara Sauce but feel free to use your favorite- either from a jar or from scratch. Either way, you won't be disappointed with this hearty dinner.

- 1 lb ground turkey
- 4 oz. diced pancetta
- 2 Tbsp. finely minced Italian parsley
- 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 oz. smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1 egg
- a splash of milk
- 1 tsp. herbs d' Provence
- salt and pepper
- 1/3 c. dried breadcrumbs
- 16 oz. dried spaghetta
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 6 c. marinara sauce

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9x13" baking dish with a generous coating of cooking spray.

While things are heating up, place ground turkey, pancetta, parsley, red pepper flakes, shallots, egg, milk, herbs d' Provence, and breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle mixture with about a tsp. of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Gently combine ingredients with bare hands, until the mixture is well incorporated. Form one meatball at a time in fingers, rolling gently in the palm to create a golf-ball sized sphere. Gently push a cheese cube into the center of the ball and roll around so that the cheese is totally covered. Place finished meatballs in the prepared baking dish. Once meatballs are formed, bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes until they are cooked through and beginning to brown. Remove from oven.

While meatballs are baking, heat the marinara sauce in a medium sauce pan. When the salted water comes to a rolling boil, cook pasta to al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1/4 c. pasta cooking water. Place the hot drained noodles in a large serving bowl and toss with butter and reserved pasta cooking water. Pour heated sauce over the pasta, then top with cooked meatballs. Serve with bread and salad!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Fast and Furious Pho Noodle Soup
This is one of the quickest and most satisfying soups I've made in a while. Something about steamy, brothy soups are hitting the spot for me right now. The abrupt change in weather to something decidedly "autumn" in tone definitely has something to do with it.  I had quite a bit of homemade broth remaining from a previous soup recipe as well as one lonely pork chop sitting in the fridge. This seemed like the perfect dinner to satisfy my appetite for soup during a time of year when I need to be warmed from the inside out. I served it with a little Sriracha hot sauce for an extra kick.

- 1 1" thick boneless pork chop
- 8 c. chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 c. shredded carrots
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced into 1" pieces
- 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
- 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger 
- 1 tsp. grated garlic
- 1 5 oz. package udon noodles
- salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. While waiting for the broth to boil, season pork chop with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cut across the grain into thin slices, about 1/8" thick. Place slices of pork in a small bowl and toss together with 2 Tbsp. of soy sauce and olive oil. Allow meat to sit and soak while waiting for the broth to come to a rolling boil.

Meanwhile, season the broth with grated ginger, garlic, and remaining soy sauce. Once it is boiling add scallions, carrots, udon noodles, and sliced pork with marinade. Boil for about 4-5 minutes until noodles soften and pork is cooked through. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired.

That's it! So easy and fast! It's fun to eat with chop sticks and then just drink the savory, delicious broth down. You can easily make this recipe with thin sliced beef or chicken!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One Chicken Three Dinners (Day Three)

Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup
One Chicken Three Dinners comes to an end with this deliciously warm and brothy soup. When I was growing up, I watched my mom make soup from scratch (broth included) and thought she was some sort of wizard. Perhaps there is a kind of magic to drawing savory flavor from the bones and bits of chicken we don't usually eat, but trust me, it's not difficult magic. This soup recipe makes good use of the leftover bones, skin, neck, and other chicken pieces reserved from the Buttery Roast Chicken recipe. I ended up with about 12 cups of broth, plenty for this wonton soup recipe and more! I used half of the broth for this recipe and froze the other half for a future soup recipe. And with Fall in full-swing, there will definitely be more soup recipes to come!

- 1 leftover chicken carcass, leftover skin, even the pan juices, broken into pieces
- 2 yellow onions, quartered
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- salt and pepper
- 2 small handfuls of assorted fresh herbs, whatever you have on hand will work (this time around I threw in a few whole sprigs of thyme, rosemary, Italian parsley, and marjoram)
- 1 package square wonton wrappers
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 6 prawns, peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 6 green onions, 3 minced and the remaining three sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. soy sauce, divided
- 1 tsp. cornstarch

Place leftover chicken parts in a large stockpot with quartered onions and handfuls of fresh herbs. Cover with water (about 12 cups) and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer the soup for about 90 minutes. Season broth generously with salt and pepper to flavor it. It will probably take about 1-2 Tablespoons of salt to flavor it enough. Remove from heat and strain broth through a heavy-colander to remove solids. Discard solids. Return about half of the broth (about 6 cups) to the stockpot and reserve the rest. (Allow the reserved broth to cool completely before storing in a heavy-duty bag and freezing for later use.) Bring the broth in the stockpot to a boil.

While the broth is coming to a boil, prepare the wontons. In a medium bowl combine pork, shrimp, sesame oil, minced green onions, egg, grated garlic, grated ginger, and 1 tsp. of soy sauce. Using clean hands, mix the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Lay out a piece of waxed paper to assemble wontons and mix together cornstarch with a few tablespoons of warm water in a small ramekin for sealing the wontons. Using one wrapper at a time, drop about 1 tsp. of pork and shrimp mixture into the center. Dip a finger in the cornstarch mixture and run it along 2 edges of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to make a triangle, pressing down a dry edge against a dampened edge. Moisten one corner of the wonton triangle and bring a moist corner to a dry corner. Press together to create a little "Bishop's Hat" shape. Fill and fold remaining wontons until all the wrappers and filling have been used. Be careful not to overfill the wontons.

Place the assembled wontons into the boiling broth along with the remaining sliced green onions and 2 Tbsp. of soy sauce. Boil for about 10 minutes until the filling is cooked completely and the wontons float to the surface. Remove from heat and serve hot. Season broth with extra soy sauce if desired.

(If you don't have the time or leftovers to make homemade broth, just use about 6 c. of store-bought chicken broth and this makes for a very quick soup.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

One Chicken Three Dinners (Day Two)

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Poblanos and White Beans
Day Two of my Adventure on Chicken led me to put together an easy and filling one-dish dinner perfect for fall. I saved the extra chicken from the other night's Buttery Roast Chicken and Potatoes for this meal, but you can get a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket or just cook a couple of breast pieces to get about two cups of shredded chicken meat. It's easy to throw this together early in the day and then it just takes about 30 minutes in the oven when you get home from work. Easy to put together and enough to feed the whole family . . . you'll love this cheesy take on chicken.

- 2 c. shredded chicken meat (breast or thigh meat or a combo works great)
- 10 6"corn tortillas
- 1 jar green salsa 
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- juice from 1 lime
- 1 15 oz. can white beans in their juices
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 c. shredded pepper jack cheese
- 1 c. or so crème fraîche
- 2 poblano chilis
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- oil for frying

Turn on the oven to broil and place the poblano chili peppers in a baking dish. Place in oven a broil, turning occasionally so that the skin on each side of the pepper turns bubbly and black. When the peppers are completely blackened, place in a resealable container and allow to cool. While the peppers are roasting, heat about 1 Tbsp. of oil in a small non-stick pan over medium-high. Fry tortillas one at a time, continuing to oil the pan as you go, until each is softened and slightly browned. It takes about 20-30 seconds per side. Drain fried tortillas on paper-towels to remove extra oil. Set aside until the peppers have cooled.

While the tortillas and peppers cool, prepare the beans and chicken. Heat about 1 Tbsp. of oil in a small pot, add garlic, and cook at medium heat for about 1 minute until the garlic softens and becomes fragrant. Add beans with their juices, cumin, chili powder, and ground coriander. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture thickens. Stir often to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pot. While beans are cooking, toss together chicken pieces with lime juice. Peel the brown and bubbled skin from the cooled peppers, scrape out seeds, remove stem, and roughly chop. Add peppers to chicken mixture and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spray a 9x13" baking pan with cooking oil and preheat the oven to 350˚F. To assemble the enchiladas. Lay a tortilla on a plate, spread with about 1 Tbsp. of the cooked beans, top with a sprinkle of chicken and pepper mixture, and then cover with about a teaspoon of crème fraîche. Roll enchilada and place in prepared baking pan. Continue assembling and rolling enchiladas until the pan is full and the enchiladas are nestled closely together. Cover the rolled enchiladas with an even layer of green salsa and then sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and begins to bubble on top. Serve with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. Yum!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One Chicken Three Dinners (Day One)

Buttery Roast Chicken and Potatoes
With fall definitely falling upon us, it's time for yummy oven roasted recipes. The taste of a tender and juicy chicken is just so very satisfying on the dinner table with raindrops beating on the roof outside. I had been craving a savory roast chicken ever since reading Julia Child's autobiography where she describes at length the succulent butter-drenched chickens she feasted on in France. Taking a cue from Julia, I put together this yummy and easy roast chicken recipe together with the intention of using every bit of it for two other leftover recipes (skin, bones, and all). This is the first night of the chicken feast, made possible and super delicious thanks to handfuls of fresh herbs given to me from Marion's beautiful garden.

- 1 5 lb. whole chicken, rinsed with innards removed and reserved*
- a small handful of fresh chopped rosemary, thyme, and marjoram
- salt and lemon pepper
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 2 lemons, halved
- 1 stick of butter, softened
- 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
- 5-6 medium carrots, cut into thirds crosswise

Rinse chicken in cold water and pat completely dry with paper towels. Season the inside of the chicken with a sprinkle of salt and several grinds of lemon pepper. Place in a roasting pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 375˚F. In a small bowl blend together butter with about 2/3 of the fresh herbs with a fork. Rub the outside of the chicken completely with the butter- this will make the skin crisp and delicious. Season the outside of the chicken generously with salt and lemon pepper. Spread the legs of the chicken apart and sprinkle the inside of the chicken with the remaining fresh herbs then stuff it with onion quarters and halved lemons. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and pin the skin flap closed with a couple of toothpicks.

Arrange the chicken at the center of the roasting pan and surround with sliced carrots and potatoes. Sprinkle vegetables with salt and pepper and place the pan in the oven. Roast chicken for about 90 minutes, removing every 25 minutes or so to baste with drippings. Chicken in cooked through when a thermometer placed in the center of a meaty part of the bird registers to 180˚F. Remove from oven and tent with foil. Allow meat to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. I served mine with the roasted vegetables and some sauteed kale. It was a very tasty dish!

*After dinner, I removed any extra meat from the bird and saved it in a bag for chicken enchiladas. The bones, skin, chicken innards, and pan drippings I saved in a gallon freezer bag and placed it in the freezer so it would be ready for later.