February – Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

February – Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs, it’s a meal I consider one of the ultimate winter comfort foods. It is certainly a classic. Remember that scene from Lady and the Tramp? A classic! The original calls for ground beef, eggs and breadcrumbs. But what about replacing those meatballs with ground turkey and ricotta? I’ve done this before with turkey burgers and recently saw the same idea using meatballs in a new cookbook, Small Victories (see the link below). No breadcrumbs or eggs required. Even better, these are baked, not fried. The meatballs are moist and flavorful, full of fresh herbs. You could serve them with zoodles (spiralized zucchini noodles) for the ultimate gluten free dinner. This easy recipe makes enough meatballs to freeze a batch for a future meal, any leftover tomato sauce is delicious with baked eggs for brunch.

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Pasta

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Pasta

This recipe makes a large sheet pan of meatballs, 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 28-ox cans of whole peeled Italian tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine or water
  • 7 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, 4 thinly sliced and 3 minced
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of fresh Italian flat leaved parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 2 lb. of ground dark meat turkey

Method:

Meatballs

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle the baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and smear to cover the sheet.
  2. In a large bowl combine the minced garlic, basil, parsley, ricotta, parmesan, turkey and 1 tablespoon salt. Mix everything together until well blended, not too roughly.
  3. Use your hands to to form golf ball sized meatballs, you can wet your hands to prevent it from sticking. Transfer the meatballs to the lined baking sheet. It is ok if they are fairly close together or lightly touching.
  4. Drizzle the meatballs with another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake until browned and firm, about 25 minutes.

    Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

    Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

While the meatballs are baking, start the sauce.

Sauce

  1. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and crush them, the easiest way is with your hands.
  2. Add the wine or water to one of the cans and swish it around, add it to the second can again rinsing to clean out any remaining tomato and add it to the bowl.
  3. Warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook about one minute (make sure it does not burn). Add the tomatoes and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer for about 10-20 minutes.

To finish

Finished Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Finished Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

  1. Remove the desired number of meatballs from the baking tray with tongs and gently add them to the simmering sauce.
  2. Cook for at least another 10 minutes for the flavors to meld, but they can go longer (up to an hour according the recipe but I wouldn’t leave them so long).
Tomato Sauce with Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Tomato Sauce with Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Any leftover meatballs can be frozen.

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs, Tomato Sauce and Pasta

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs, Tomato Sauce and Pasta

This recipe came from the excellent cook book Small Victories by Julia Turshen.

Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Cheese

Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Cheese

Flyng Frisbee Quinn

Flying Frisbee Quinn with Leo and Mazee on a winter beach

I am taking this comforting winter dish to Fiesta Friday #161 hosted by Angie. Her cohost this week is Laura @ Feast Wisely. Click on the link to join the fun and read the recipes brought to the virtual party by other bloggers.

February – White Fish with Magic Green Sauce

February – White Fish with Magic Green Sauce

Have you heard of basa? It is a freshwater fish, a type of catfish and its Latin name is Pangasius bocurti. It was on sale at my local fishmonger recently and although they admitted it was farmed, they said it was raised with best practices according to their supplier. The fish is native to Southeast Asia and farmed in large numbers in pens around the Mekong River system in Vietnam, as well as China and Cambodia. There is some controversy between various seafood watch organizations as to the sustainability and environmental impact of farming it. The Seafood Importers Association of Australasia is a strong advocate, the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Program does not recommend it, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch’s montereybayaquarium.org website rates it as a “good alternative” to catfish but with some caveats.

Basa is described as having large, white fillets with no bones, and flesh that is moist with a light, firm texture and a mild fish flavor. This makes basa a versatile species that can be used in a multitude of recipes and cooking styles.

I had great aspirations and was inspired to cook it according to the recipe posted for Goan Fish Curry by Caroline’s Cooking. But then it was 6 pm and I couldn’t find the coriander seeds and didn’t have a fresh tomato (it being the dead of winter and pouring rain outside). I quickly lost my ambition. The curry will have to wait, maybe this weekend. But, plain pan fried fish sounded very boring. What to do? Searching for inspiration I stumbled upon one of my old blog posts for Magic Green Sauce, written almost a year ago. Magic Green Sauce elevates almost any “plain” food straight up to heavenly. Try it on grilled chicken breasts or tofu, you will not be disappointed.

I made a few alterations to the basic recipe, using what items were on hand. Here is the recipe so you don’t need to look it up:

Magic Green Sauce (makes about 2 cups)

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup packed mixed parsley and cilantro, I added a few sprigs of mint (basil or Thai basil would have been lovely but I did not have any on hand)
  • I small piece (about an inch) of lemon grass (strictly optional but found in the back of the crisper drawer and love its aroma)
  • 1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1-2 limes (I like 2)
  • 1/2 cup water (I used coconut water)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup shelled cashews (original recipe uses pistachios)
  1. Pulse all the ingredients except the nuts in the bowl of your food processor until smooth and well incorporated.
  2. Add the pistachios or other nuts and blend until mostly smooth.
  3. Serve as a dip, a spread, or sauce. You may thin with additional water or oil if needed. I like mine the consistency of a thick mayonnaise.

This will keep for a week and is better if allowed to mellow for a few hours before using, if you have the time.

Magic Green Sauce

Magic Green Sauce

Magic Green Sauce

Magic Green Sauce

I prepared the fish simply, processing a couple of handfuls of cashews till the size of panko crumbs, lightly coating the fish in the nuts to have a crunchy outside. Then quickly sautéing the filets in coconut oil on medium high heat. It took only a few minutes. You could also use a coating of flour or panko break crumbs instead of the nuts. I wanted this to be gluten free.

Sauteed Basa with Magic Green Sauce

Sauteed Basa with Magic Green Sauce

The original recipe for Magic Green Sauce came from the blog A Pinch of Yum, one of my favorites.

Try this sauce with a tray of roasted vegetables as well.

Roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes

Roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes

Magic Green Sauce

Magic Green Sauce

I am taking this dish to Fiesta Friday #161 hosted by Angie. Her cohost this week is Laura @ Feast Wisely. Click on the link to join the fun and read the recipes brought to the virtual party by other bloggers.

November – Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala

November – Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala

This creamy, rich, spicy but with sweet notes, stew is the cure for the blues of any kind. Serve it at the end of a wet or grey day. It is comfort food at its finest and your house will smell exotic. You can even make it a few days ahead as it is improved by sitting in the fridge for a night. I saw the recipe in the New York Times Wednesday food section and knew I wanted to try it. I made some slight changes but it is essentially as written.

Ireland Hiking, perfect food after a hike in the Wicklow Mountains

Ireland Hiking, perfect food after a hike in the Wicklow Mountains

Garam Masala is an Indian spice mixture, the name comes from the words “heat” and “mix” and refers to the heat of digestion. The mixture consists of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, peppercorns, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, and red chile peppers which are toasted until fragrant, cooled, and ground to a fine powder.

Start this the day before you intend to serve it, the meat needs to marinate overnight and the the split peas need to soak.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds of boneless pork stew meat or butt, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more or less depending on your tolerance for spice). I couldn’t find the cayenne so used a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • 1/2 cup of dried yellow split peas
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chili, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can or package of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (not light), solids and liquid whisked together
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Garlic – Coconut Oil for serving

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced very thinly
  • 3 hot chilis, red or green or mixed, halved lengthwise, seeds removed.
Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala

Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the pork with the cumin, salt, garam masala, and cayenne. Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Cover the split peas with boiling water to cover by 2 inches, let soak overnight. Drain before using.
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Heat the coconut oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until they are tender and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the cinnamon stick, ginger, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute for another 5 minutes until the jalapeno is tender. Add the pork and any juices from the bowl and saute until lightly brown and no longer pink, perhaps another 7 or 8 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes, drained split peas, and coconut milk. Taste for salt. The pork should be covered in liquid, add some water if it is not. Bring to a simmer on high heat.
  6. Once simmering, cover the pot and place in the oven for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. My own stew took almost 3 to soften the peas but they could have been old.
  7. Meanwhile prepare the garlic coconut oil garnish. In a small pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. Once they begin to pop, add the garlic and chilis, fry until the edges of the garlic begin to brow. Immediately remove from the heat and cool. You do not want the garlic to burn and turn bitter. Once cool I drained the oil from the solids.
    Garlic Chili Coconut Oil

    Garlic Chili Coconut Oil

     

  8. Serve warm, drizzled with the garlic coconut oil and garnished with cilantro.

I found the stew was delicious over a baked sweet potato.

Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala and Sweet Potato

Coconut Pork Stew with Garam Masala and Sweet Potato

You couldn’t go wrong with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream to cut the heat.

Coconut Port Stew with Garam Masala

Coconut Port Stew with Garam Masala

This recipe is both gluten and dairy free.

October – Turkey Meatloaf

October – Turkey Meatloaf

California is in the midst of a historic drought. Along with taking short showers, letting our lawns die, and passing on tap water at restaurants, our family is considering the water that is needed to produce the food we eat every day. Global agricultural production accounts for 92% of the water footprint, and in the U.S. meat alone is 30%. Doesn’t it make sense to take these facts into consideration when doing meal planning?

Beef requires 1,847 gallons of water to produce 1 pound, shocking isn’t it? Lamb needs 1,248 gal./lb., pork is lower at 718 gal./lb. Most efficient is chicken at 518 gal./lb. Eggs are a winner at 395 gal./lb. Because of these environmental facts, we are limiting the amount of beef and lamb we eat on a regular basis.

I was fine with those environmental limits until I saw a post by the blog The Frugal Housfrau for Steakhouse Meatloaf. I haven’t made a meatloaf in years and suddenly I had to have one! Just looking at her pictures made my mouth water. But, we are limiting beef consumption, remember? Could I adapt her recipe to use something less water hungry like turkey? Yes! My family judged it a success and it made wonderful leftover sandwiches. Turkey can be dry so I made some alterations to her original recipe. The Frugal Housfrau came to the rescue again, she had added ricotta to her chicken/turkey meatballs to keep them moist, and I had borrowed the same idea for my lamb burgers last March. Both of those recipes turned out very well, why not meatloaf which is really a big meatball or burger, right? And for an extra burst of nutrition, flavor, and moistness, I added a grated zucchini to the mix. After all, isn’t zucchini bread a vegetable?

Here goes.

Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 slices turkey bacon, diced
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup, divided
  • 1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 ounces of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs, whipped with a fork to mix
  • 2 pounds of ground turkey, dark meat preferred but either is fine

Topping

  • 1 cup of marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon of hot chili sauce
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, add the chopped bacon. Saute until the bacon is beginning to brown. Remove it to a large bowl.
  3. Add the second tablespoon of oil the the skillet, then add the onions and shallots. Saute in medium until softened, translucent, and just starting to brown and the edges. This will take about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic to the skillet and continue to cook another minute. Add the contents of the skillet to the same bowl and let the contents cool.
  5. Add ketchup, grated zucchini, oregano, mustard, Parmesan cheese, ricotta, beaten eggs, salt and pepper to the bowl. Mix to combine.
  6. Add the ground turkey to the bowl. Mix gently to distribute the ingredients. I find this easier to do with well washed hands.
  7. On a foil lined baking sheet form the meat into a free form loaf.IMG_3637
  8. Bake the meatloaf for 45 minutes to an hour.
  9. Meanwhile mix the topping ingredients together. I was serving pasta with the loaf so used the same marinara I intended to use with my penne.
  10. Pour the topping over the loaf to cover the top. Continue to cook until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. This took another 15 minutes.
  11. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before cutting into slices to serve.
Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf

It was delicious, moist and flavorful. My men folk made grilled cheese and meatloaf panini the following day, I’m sorry I didn’t get any pictures as I was out with some girlfriends.

This recipe is gluten free if you are watching that in you diet, also low carb if you don’t serve it with the pasta. Or use some spiralized zucchini instead of the pasta.

Sprialized zucchini

Sprialized zucchini

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday, I’m a day late but there will be leftovers and the party is still “a happening”, co hosting this week are Kaila and Mila.

Note 10/29/2015: ok everyone, where’s the meat? I forgot the turkey! I apologize if anyone tried to make this recipe. Use 2 pounds of ground turkey, I prefer the dark meat because I think it has more flavor. But, both will be fine. The recipe has been edited.

June in the Kitchen – Lavender Nut Cake

June in the Kitchen – Lavender Nut Cake

My blog has been going for almost a year, yet this is only the second dessert recipe I have posted. My tastes don’t usually run to sweet, more to salty. And in the interests of keeping the “middle-aged spread” to a minimum, I carefully dole out my carbs. Enter this wonderful vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, Paleo friendly, low carbohydrate cake made from cashews. I served it in thin slices for dessert with fresh fruit, but you could cut it into larger slices for breakfast scones.  It would be wonderful anytime with a cup of Earl Grey. It’s dense and flavorful with honey and lavender. And best of all, this is an easy and delicious recipe.

IMG_3322

Lavender season is in full bloom in Northern California so it seemed appropriate to season it with fresh lavender. Make sure you purchase food grade lavender (I purchased dried lavender at Williams Sonoma) or use blooms that have not been sprayed with any pesticides or herbicides.

Lavender

  • 1 1/2 cups of Cashews (or 1 1/3 cups ground). I used unsalted but roast Cashews.
  • 1/4 cup of Arrowroot
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of lavender
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons of honey (or 3 tablespoons of maple syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

IMG_3324

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch metal pie plate with parchment paper.
  2. Blend the cashews in a food processor until powdered.
  3. Whisk all the dry ingredients (powdered cashews, arrowroot, salt, baking powder and lavender) together in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk the wet ingredients together, stir into the dry ones.
  5. Pour into the lined baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.

    Cashew and Lavender Cake

    Cashew and Lavender Cake

  6. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

IMG_3320

IMG_3323

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday for the guests at Angie’s to enjoy.

Fiesta Friday