Winter Produce Experiment

Salad: romaine lettuce, oranges and pecans in homemade dressing (orange juice, olive oil, semillon, salt and pepper)

Pasta: Turkey meatballs with pear; bok choy sautéed in pecans and pear, plus chicken stock added towards the end. Add cooked meatballs to bok choy mixture, then combine with cooked angel hair.

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Summoning Summer

The weather outside is frightful, by the zucchini in my fridge looked delightful. Tonight’s healthy dinner consisted of roasted zucchini with olive oil, turkey meatballs with shredded zucchini, and couscous. A Mediterranean summer night’s dream… well, almost.

Meatloaf Mania

I’m no stranger to turkey meatloaf and meatballs. In the past I’ve written tabloid-like posts about “Killer Meatloaf” and “Best Meatloaf Ever,” which may sound extreme given it’s not the most glamorous dish. But meatloaf is comforting and cozy for fall, and turkey keeps it light.

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I’ve experimented with different ways to keep the lean meat tender and most, and to avoid the rubbery effect. Tonight I used pear instead of apples, along with gorgonzola crumbles. Another trick to add to the list along with shredded apples, honey, or pumpkin.

Happy Fall!

Cleaning out the Fridge

Desperate times call for desperate measures. In the midst of a move, the last thing you want to do is buy more stuff to pack – including groceries. So I had to get a little creative and make sure to use fresh ingredients before they expired…

First “cleaning out the fridge” concept:

Caprese Chicken Breasts – I broiled frozen (nearly thawed) chicken breasts in the oven, and then topped them with a spoonful of ricotta, fresh basil and tomato slices. Rice served on the side was a nice way to scoop up the oozing cheese and basil.

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Next concept for “we’ve moved but don’t have any groceries yet:”

Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Squash – I combined ground turkey with bread crumbs, fresh parmesan, salt and pepper. I roasted the meatballs in the oven along with sliced summer squash that had been coated in olive oil and sprinkled with thyme. Despite my foil “barrier,” the juices from the squash may have added a nice dose of moisture to the meatballs. Either way, the results were quite tasty served with rice. Thyme was one of the first herbs I learned to cook with, and it’s a key ingredient in herbes de provence. For those two reasons, it’s nostalgic and quite pleasing to the senses.

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Last but not least, the “I need to use this milk before it expires” concept:

Milk-Braised Pork Tenderloin – After searching far and wide, I found a recipe on my iPad for “Pork Roast Braised with Milk and Fresh Herbs” from Epicurious, but took a few creative liberties. I used a pork tenderloin, which cooked in about half the time. Also, I used 1% milk, and I didn’t have juniper berries or any of the herbs, except for bay leaves. Even with all the shortcomings, it turned out delicious! I can’t really put my finger on the flavor of the meat and “gravy” but it was a little sweet, slightly caramelized and rich in a good way. I think this particular recipe beats out the first one I tried last year.

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The Golden Egg

Sheets of fresh egg noodles = golden opportunity. Last week I played around with the Pasta Shop egg noodle sheets I purchased at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Pappardelle with turkey meatballs – I cut the first 3 pasta sheets into 1-inch strips and boiled until al dente. For the meatballs, I combined ground turkey, chopped celery, 1 egg, and shredded gruyere, and baked in the oven until cooked through. Serve with shredded gruyere and olive oil. Hearty, but still somewhat healthy.
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  • Butternut squash cannelloni – inspired by “Squash, Sage and Ricotta Cannelloni” from Everyday Food. My version consisted of the remaining sheets of egg noodles cut into about 20 lasagna-size noodles, and Parmesan and Gruyere instead of ricotta. I also didn’t have sage which would have been nice with the butternut squash, but the results were still delicious. If you use Gruyere like I did, make sure you let it get bubbly and golden, which really brings out the flavor. This recipe made lots of leftovers!

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Red Carpet Rebel

Pasta + fresh veggies + turkey meatballs = too hearty for couture. Thank goodness I didn’t have to walk the red carpet like Giuliana, Sandra and JLO, so instead David and I enjoyed a fiber-rich meal while watching the action from our living room. What a treat to take in big forkfuls of pasta while the leading ladies sipped champagne and nibbled on gourmet morsels! (Don’t get me wrong, I’d still trade places in a Hollywood minute.)

The script: Fresh carrots, broccoli and parsley had been waiting patiently in the fridge for their 15 minutes of fame. So I cast turkey meatballs as the lead (with fresh chopped parsley in a supporting role), and sliced carrots and broccoli tips shared the spotlight with the boiled pasta. For the finale I tossed in more fresh parsley, parmesan and olive oil.

Lights, camera… dinner!

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If You Can’t Stand the Heat

The summer heat has finally hit the Bay Area, which has turned our first tomato red (and produced a second!), and inspired some warm weather dinners in the Jackson house.

Last night, I roasted pork chops with honey, pepper and fresh, sliced apricots in the oven at 400 degrees – which turned out deliciously sweet. I served the pork and juices over rice.

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Also, pictured below, is our delightful heirloom tomato caprese salad. David takes credit for this concoction. Just drizzle olive oil over sliced, fresh tomatoes and add fresh basil, pepper and mozzarella cheese.

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Tonight, I made a turkey meatball salad recipe from my archive of Everyday Food recipes. Starting with the basic turkey meatball recipe, you put sliced, roasted bell peppers (from the jar, or homemade) on a bed of lettuce, add the cooked meatballs, and shave parmesan on top of the finished product. Very light (except for the swirling pool of butter), and easy (of course)!

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