Garlic Butter Turkey/Pork Meatballs w/ Zucchini Noodles

Everyone has their own idea of the ideal meatball. For me, it’s a plump, juicy ball of well-seasoned meat that’s so tender a spoon can pass right through it with almost no resistance.

Too often turkey meatballs are dry because ground turkey is leaner than more traditionally used beef or pork. Perhaps you had never considered it but working both ground turkey and pork into your meatballs improves the texture and flavor.

Instead of buying pork sausage meat, we always buy just plain ground pork. I can make my own sausage easily enough with the ground meat, and this gives me more options of how I use it. It’s the perfect complement, in both flavor and fat content, to the turkey. Together, they make a wonderful meatball.

Some years ago, I had posted a blog making zucchini noodles. We found it was a good alternative to pasta for something different. Turkey/pork meatballs compliment zucchini noodles nicely.

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Garlic Butter Turkey/Pork Meatballs w/ Zucchini Noodles
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Meatballs
Sauce / Zucchini Noodles
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Meatballs
Sauce / Zucchini Noodles
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Instructions
Meatballs
  1. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey and ground pork, cheese, grated garlic, Italian seasoning, bouillon cube, red chili pepper flakes, chopped cilantro, & black pepper. Mix well with your hands or fork & form medium turkey meatballs. Arrange the turkey meatballs on a plate & set them aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the turkey meatballs for 8 – 10 minutes on all sides, until browned and cooked through. While cooking, baste the turkey meatballs with a mix of butter & juices. Remove to a clean plate & set aside.
Sauce/Zucchini Noodles
  1. In the same skillet melt the remaining tablespoon of butter; then add lemon juice, hot sauce, minced garlic, & red pepper flakes (if you wish). Add the zucchini noodles & cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring regularly, until zucchini noodles are done but still crisp and juices have reduced a bit. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper & garnish with more cilantro or parsley if you like.
  2. Push zucchini noodles on one side of the skillet add the turkey meatballs back to the pan and reheat for a minute or two. Serve the garlic butter turkey meatballs with lemon zucchini noodles immediately.

Pork Medallions w/ Blackberry Bacon Sauce

It seems there has been a bacon explosion in North America, in more ways than one. Novelty bacon dishes and other bacon-related items have been popularized rapidly via the internet. Fast-food chains boast about double bacon burgers, and upscale restaurants are wrapping steaks in bacon — even adding it to chic desserts. It’s the old sweet and savory marriage of flavors that seems to work so well.

Bacon mania has made bacon the star ingredient. The movement has been traced to the late 1990s when high-protein foods became a more prominent diet focus due in part to the Atkins diet.

The huge popularity of bacon has also encouraged product introductions such as bacon salt, maple bacon donuts, baconnaise, bacon-infused vodka, bacon ice cream, bacon jerky and chocolate covered bacon just to name a few. Condiments are the unsung heroes of the culinary world. A finishing sauce can be an important part of every meal. Whether you’re serving pork tenderloin, pork chops, pork loin, or pork roast, a flavor-filled sauce will guarantee to take the meal from good to great. We found this blackberry bacon sauce to do exactly that.

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Pork Medallions w/ Blackberry Bacon Sauce
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Instructions
Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, cook bacon until almost crisp, remove to a paper towel.
  2. To the bacon drippings, add sliced mushrooms & garlic, sauté until cooked. Remove to a plate, set aside.
  3. To the saucepan, add remaining sauce ingredients & bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer & allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat & allow to cool slightly then place in a food processor & pulse a few times.
  5. Pour sauce through a wire sieve & press to get everything but the seeds for your sauce.
  6. Add bacon & mushroom/garlic mixture. Combine well & set aside.
Tenderloin
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Slice the tenderloin into even, 1 1/2 inch thick, medallions, sprinkle with garlic & onion powder & the salt & pepper.
  3. Then, heat the olive oil and butter in a large heavy skillet, cast iron if you have one. Braise the pork tenderloin medallions, you may have to work in 2 batches. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes on each side, remove from the skillet and cook the remaining pork. Using 2 wooden skewers, thread meat first with one & then with the other. It should resemble the unsliced tenderloin but do leave a tiny bit of space between each piece.
  4. Place on a baking sheet & roast for 30-35 minutes.
  5. To serve, plate the tenderloins and spoon (reheated) sauce over them. Garnish with a few whole blackberries & serve any remaining sauce on the side.

Quiche Lorraine w/ Hash Brown Crust

Quiche seems like a springtime dish, but the truth is its an ‘any season’ dish in my opinion. This version skips the pastry and is built on a crispy, grated, potato hash brown crust.

Hash browns can always be counted on to add heartiness and can be made several different ways, incorporating a variety of ingredients, including leftovers or whatever happens to be on hand in the fridge. Although hash browns are credited as being from the USA, there are similar dishes elsewhere that likely contributed towards the hash browns of today, and should be mentioned:

  • Rösti of Switzerland – like a potato pancake
  • Latkes of the Jewish folks – also like a potato pancake, but with eggs
  • Tortilla de papas (or patatas) of Spain – like an omelet

The original ‘quiche Lorraine’ was an open pie with a filling consisting of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to the quiche Lorraine. The bottom crust was originally made from bread dough, but that has long since evolved into numerous other ideas such as puff pastry or hash brown crusts.

Although quiche is now a classic dish of French cuisine, quiche actually originated in Germany, in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, and which the French later renamed Lorraine. The word ‘quiche’ is from the German ‘Kuchen’, meaning cake.

The specialty quiche from Lorraine features gruyere cheese, onion, bacon as its primary flavors. The nice thing is, quiche is something that anyone can make and can be served as an entrée, for lunch, breakfast, or an evening snack.

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Quiche Lorraine w/ Hash Brown Crust
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Instructions
Potato Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Thaw & pat dry shredded hashbrowns on paper towels. Lightly toss with remaining crust ingredients. Press into the bottom & up the sides of a 9" quiche pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F.
Filling
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp, 5-6 minutes; transfer to a paper towel lined plate & allow to cool.
  2. Wipe out skillet & heat oil. Add leeks & garlic; cook covered , stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until tender.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, heavy cream & smoked paprika. Stir in bacon, leeks & cheese. Spoon mixture into hashbrown crust. Slightly press sliced tomatoes , cut side up, into quiche. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp each salt & pepper.
  4. Bake until set & golden brown about 20-25 minutes. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • To cut out a few calories, I use a low fat milk instead of the heavy cream. It just requires a little longer cooking time but still tastes great.

Shrimp Stuffed Whitefish w/ Hashbrown Crust

When you stuff fish, you expand the flavor profiles available with fish. It’s such a great way to make your fish dinner more interesting and flavorful. You can stuff a whole fish or wrap thin fillets around the stuffing and then bake or grill the fish as usual. 

Whitefish is a freshwater fish that is commonly called Atlantic Cod, Halibut or Flounder. Whitefish, when cooked, are dry and compared to other fishes, the flesh of the whitefish is completely white.

Whitefish can be classified into different, unique species that can easily be identified according to their appearance and where they live.

These flaky white fish fillets are stuffed with a creamy shrimp filling and flavored with onion, garlic and spices. For something different I gave them a spicy hashbrown crust. This seafood dinner is just as tasty as it is eye appealing and definitely not dry.

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Shrimp Stuffed Whitefish w/ Hashbrown Crust
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Instructions
Spicy Hashbrowns
  1. Thaw shredded hashbrowns on a paper towel. In a bowl, place the flour, cheese, onion, garlic, coriander, smoked paprika, salt & pepper & egg. Add 'dried' shredded hashbrowns. Using a fork, mix everything until combined being careful not to break up the hashbrowns. Set aside until stuffed fish is ready to be coated with the mixture.
Stuffed Fish
  1. In a saucepan, add olive oil & heat . Add onions until they begin to soften & caramelize a bit then add garlic. Add shrimp pieces, cream cheese, seasonings & chives; stir until well incorporated. Remove mixture from heat & allow to cool.
  2. Lay out whitefish, remove all bones, skin & wash & dry thoroughly. Place fillets between two pieces of plastic wrap & pound gently to flatten a bit for easier rolling. Lay on work surface & divide shrimp mixture between the two fillets & spread until it is even.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  4. Roll up each fillet with the seam side down in a greased baking dish. Spoon hashbrown mixture over stuffed fillets. Press down coating to ensures it adheres well to top & sides of each stuffed fillet.
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Cut each fillet in half to make four servings. Nice to serve with a few roasted cherry tomatoes & a side of guacamole.

Chicken Pancakes w/ Mushroom Sauce

ENJOYING SHROVE TUESDAY!

Shrove Tuesday is a ‘holiday’ with a movable date, due to its relationship to Easter. The final day before Lent, it has many meanings, both spiritual and practical. The spiritual purpose of Shrove Tuesday is to take stock of the year and determine what things one must bear in mind during repentance.

Practically speaking, Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the great ‘fast’ of Lent. As a result, many would take it as an opportunity to have a final feast and party. Because this holiday marked the last day to use up one’s stocks of fats and eggs, a British tradition was born: Pancake Tuesday. Pancakes make use of ingredients that were banned during Lent and would spoil before its end.

Although many traditions of the past have gone by the wayside, whether you know its history or not, Pancake Tuesday seems to still be a ‘thing’. Brion & I don’t eat pancakes a lot but certainly enjoy them when we do. As always, I can’t resist a new idea, so today we are having some chicken pancakes w/ mushroom sauce. Yum!

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Chicken Pancakes w/ Mushroom Sauce
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Instructions
Mushroom Sauce
  1. In a skillet, heat oil & add mushrooms & onions. Sauté for about 5-8 minutes until moisture releases & evaporates. Whish in flour & allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, thyme, salt & pepper; cook an additional 30 seconds. Add milk, whisking constantly until cooked & thickened. Remove from heat & set aside.
Pancakes / Chicken
  1. In a skillet, heat oil & add ground chicken, herbs & spices. Scramble-fry until chicken is no longer pink. Remove to a dish & set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine flours & baking powder; add cooked chicken & grated cheese.
  3. In a small container, whisk together eggs, milk & oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry & mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Be careful to not over mix the batter. Let mixture stand for about 3 minutes before cooking.
  4. Heat griddle to about 250 -300 F. Place a small amount of butter on the griddle to coat the surface.
  5. Cook pancakes on one side until golden brown then flip to the other side & cook until golden as well. I made 4 large pancakes with this amount of batter.
To Serve
  1. Place one large pancake on each serving plate, top with 1/4 of the mushroom sauce, another pancake & another 1/4 of the sauce. We found this to be a very filling meal!

Spicy Chicken Naan Pizzas

CELEBRATING FAMILY DAY!

Family Day is observed on the third Monday in February in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life of people and their communities. Its timing is said to have been selected to coincide with the American holiday of Presidents Day. About two-thirds of all Canadians will have the day off on Family Day.

Alberta was the first province to adopt Family Day as a statutory holiday in 1990. 

There are no established traditions surrounding Family Day as there are for occasions like Christmas and New Year’s Day. But, as the name implies, many Canadians take advantage of the three-day weekend in February to spend extra time with loved ones. Road trips, winter sports outings, and extended family gatherings are all popular ways to observe the holiday.

Who needs a holiday to eat pizza? Not Brion & I … YUM!

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Spicy Chicken Naan Pizzas
Instructions
Chicken Marinade
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine all ingredients. Seal & turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
Guacamole
  1. In a bowl, mash avocados with lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro. Blend well. Cover & set aside until ready to use. You will have a bit extra for something else.
Pizza Topping Prep
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until fairly crisp, drain & blot on paper towels; chop coarsely. Wipe skillet with paper towel, add marinated chicken & stir-fry until cooked then remove to a dish. Add onion to skillet & sauté until tender crisp.
Assembly & Bake
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. On a large baking sheet, lay a piece of parchment paper. Place the 4 Naan breads on it. Spread each naan bread with guacamole then spinkle each with a bit of cheese. Layer onion, bacon, chicken, tomato & remaining cheese.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes or until hot & cheese is nicely melted. Remove from oven, top with sliced avocado & serve.

Mushroom, Chard & Brown Rice Loaf w/ Mustard Sauce

Veggie loaf, who thought of this? It seems it was one of many recommended meals during WWII to help housewives provide nutritious and varied meals while being faced with food shortages and strict rations.

The veggie loaf was meant to achieve several purposes – use leftovers (veggies & stale bread), replace meat, provide variety and use ingredients that were readily available and economical such as beans and carrots.

From what I recall, there were few vegetarian loaf recipes until the late ’60s. By the end of the 1970s, however, there was at least one veggie loaf recipe in every natural food’s cookbook. Over the years, though, vegetarian loaves gained a bad reputation. Sadly, many early recipes came out of the oven resembling bricks and were just about as appetizing. If you followed a typical recipe as it was written, you wouldn’t have to worry about not having enough food to go around. No one wanted a second helping. Times have definitely changed, with the increased interest in the vegetarian lifestyle of today.

Even though Brion & I are not vegetarians, I have always loved vegetables, so incorporating a veggie loaf into a meal with meat works for me.

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Mushroom, Chard & Brown Rice Loaf w/ Mustard Sauce
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Instructions
Vegetable Loaf
  1. In a small pot, bring 1 cup water & a pinch of salt to a boil. Add rice, lower heat to a simmer & cook rice until water has been absorbed & rice is tender. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions & cook until translucent. Stir in garlic & celery; season with salt & pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms & herbs; cook until mushrooms release their juices & the liquid evaporates, about 5 more minutes. Add chard & cook until wilted. Stir in sun dried tomatoes, then remove from heat & let cool slightly.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F. Generously grease a loaf pan with olive oil.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, mustard & broth. Add vegetable mixture & rice; stir to combine. Pour vegetable mixture into loaf pan & smooth flat with a spatula.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until edges are nicely browned. While the vegetable loaf is baking, prepare mustard sauce.
  7. Allow to cool slightly, then run a knife along the edges & flip onto a serving platter & slice. Serve with mustard sauce.
Mustard Sauce
  1. In a small pot, melt butter then add flour to form a roux. Cook until bubbly & flour is lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add vegetable broth & mustard. Bring to a simmer & cook for about 5 -10 minutes. Remove from heat & serve with vegetable loaf.

Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs & Potatoes

Lemon and chicken are natural companions. Lemon is acidic and helps balance the stronger flavor of the dark meat in thighs and legs, and the fat from the chicken skin. I venture to say lemon mixed with chicken is largely Mediterranean in origin. Versions of lemon chicken usually with the additions of olive oil, butter, garlic, and sometimes white wine are found in Italian, Greek, Levantine, and Persian cooking.

Roast chicken thighs are a simple and satisfying meal anytime. Roasting the potatoes in the same pan with the meat gives the potatoes that extra boost from the lemony chicken juices. In little more than an hour you have a great meal on the table.

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Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs & Potatoes
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oil, lemon zest & juice, oregano, paprika, Dijon mustard & garlic. Add chicken & potatoes to oil mixture & toss to coat.
  3. On a large parchment lined baking sheet, arrange chicken & potatoes. Season with sea salt & pepper. Cover with foil & roast for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove foil & toss potatoes making sure to spoon excess liquid over chicken & potatoes. Arrange lemon slices over chicken thighs & continue to cook, uncovered for another 20 minutes or until potatoes & chicken are cooked.
  5. Remove from oven, tent with foil & let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Asiago Shrimp Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that’s purely Italian in nature. Most traditionally made with Parmesan cheese, which is stirred in right at the very end of cooking to not only boost the rice’s creaminess but also lend its signature salty, nutty flavor to the dish. Don’t get caught up in tradition though, because risotto is one of the most flexible meals you can make.

While there is nothing wrong with Parmesan, the cheese possibilities for risotto are nearly endless and you quickly discover that the world of this comfort-food staple really has no boundaries.

Risotto is one of those gourmet meals that is really not difficult to make, and it doesn’t take long either. You can have it on the table in 30 minutes or less. It takes some work stirring — not the kind of stirring where you must stand at the stove and stir constantly. You can step away for brief moments, but you do want to do lots and lots of stirring. It’s the stirring that breaks up the starches in the rice and makes the risotto so incredibly wonderfully amazingly creamy.

This rich and creamy risotto with tender shrimp, uses Asiago over Parmesan cheese for a semisweet touch, plus tarragon and flat leaf parsley to give the dish some freshness.

Asiago is a whole milk cheese that originated in Northern Italy, around the Po River Valley where Italy borders Austria. Coming from the mountains, Asiago is similar to other mountain cheeses, such as Switzerland’s Gruyere or France’s Beaufort. Asiago is made in large wheels designed for long-term aging to get through tough winters. Dense and flavorful, Asiago’s flavor profile changes as time polishes the wheels over the course of several months or years. Taken from the milk of cows grazing on the grasses and wildflowers of the mountains, Asiago can have a fresh, fruity flavor or a savory, zesty taste on the palate.

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Asiago Shrimp Risotto
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
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Instructions
Risotto
  1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a LARGE POT or DEEP SKILLET over high heat. Add bacon & cook until fairly crisp. Blot on paper towel & crumble. Transfer to a small microwave-proof bowl. Leave about 1 Tbsp bacon drippings in pot & discard the rest. Add mushrooms & cook until browned. Remove to a dish, set aside.
  2. Turn heat down to medium & return pot to the stove. Add butter & melt; then add garlic & onion. Sauté for 3 minutes or until softened. Turn up heat, add rice & stir until grains become partially translucent, about 1 minute (do NOT overcook).
  3. Add wine & cook, scraping the bottom of the pot to get any brown bits, about 2 minutes. Turn down heat to medium-low; add about 3 cups of chicken stock. Leave, uncovered, stirring just once or twice, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Check firmness of rice & add 1/2 cup of broth at a time, stirring in between until absorbed & rice is cooked to YOUR taste.
Spicy Shrimp
  1. While the risotto is cooking, combine spice mix in a plastic bag. Add shrimp & shake to coat well. In a skillet, heat butter & olive oil; add shrimp & sauté for 2-3 minutes, just until cooked. Keep warm.
  2. Add the mushrooms back into the risotto towards the end, just to heat through. Right at the end when the risotto is ready, add a 'splash' more chicken broth to make the risotto slightly soupy, then take it off the stove.
  3. Add butter & Asiago cheese, then stir vigorously (this will activate the starch & make it super creamy). Add shrimp & gently stir to incorporate them into the risotto.
  4. Serve immediately. Garnish with reheated bacon & extra Asiago if you wish.

Creamy Roasted Red Onions

All onions are not created equal so using the best onion for the job can really add a depth of flavor to your meals.

Onions are the workhorses of the kitchen and the foundation of so many billions of dishes across the globe that we forget how lovely and delicious they are all by themselves.

For most of the year, you’ll find red storage onions at the supermarket, which are pungent and spicy. In the summer months, you’ll often find fresh red onions, which are much milder, and lack a bit of the ‘onion-y’ flavor you’ll find in their yellow and white cousins.

The main difference between red onion and white onion is that red onions are a little spicy in taste while the white are comparatively sweeter and less mild.

It is a well-known fact that almost all dishes feel and taste incomplete without the presence of onion in them. Stuffed onions are an impressive side dish and a perfect complement to any main dish. 

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Creamy Roasted Red Onions
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Onions
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Instructions
Onions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Peel onions, trim the root ends so they will sit upright & cut about 1/2-inch from tops. Rub onions with olive oil & season with salt. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly.
  3. Gently remove the centers leaving a shell of about 2-3 layers. Return a slice of the center to form a bottom. Coarsely chop onion centers.
Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, salt, herbs de Provence, garlic powder, minced garlic & chopped onions. Spoon filling into onion shells.
Topping
  1. In a small bowl, combine Panko, butter, cooked bacon & parsley. Spoon carefully over onions.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is heated through & bread crumbs start to brown. Serve immediately.