Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps

I decided to make these after ordering lettuce wraps while on vacation last week.  The ones I had used grilled chicken breast, but I think the ground meat (you could always use chicken or beef) has more flavor and is easier to work with.  My grocery store doesn’t carry Thai seasoning, so I got if from Amazon here.  These were fun for the kids and were a creative way to eat healthy.  I actually let the kids make theirs in soft taco shells—they liked it better, and they don’t need to worry about carbs and calories.  I make everything in large quantities because we are feeding 6 people, and I like leftovers.  Feel free to cut the recipe in half.  Another cool thing about this recipe is that it’s mostly assembling, not a whole lot of cooking.  Like taco night, it looks pretty and festive, but the actual amount of work is minimal. 

 

Total Time: about 1 hour

Difficulty Level: Easy

Serves: 8-10

 

Ingredients

48 oz lean ground turkey

6 Tablespoons traditional Thai seasoning (get it here)

2 Tablespoons chicken base

2 Cups water

Zest and juice of 1 lime, plus more wedges for serving

1/2 Freshly chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish

1/2 Cup freshly chopped basilimg_9087

1/2 English cucumber, sliced into thin strips

1 Red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

2-3 Scallions, sliced on a large bias

Angel hair cut cabbage

Butter lettuce

1 pound rice noodles, cooked according to package directions

Thai peanut sauce (optional)

 

Instructions

  1. Add the ground turkey and Thai seasoning to a large skillet, and brown over medium heat.
  2. When it’s almost done browning, add the chicken base, water, lime zest, and lime juice.  Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then down to a simmer.  Cover, and cook for 15-20 additional minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, and stir in the fresh cilantro and basil.
  4. To serve, use the butter lettuce as the wrap.  Add turkey, plus cucumber, bell pepper, scallions, cooked rice noodles, and peanut sauce.

 

[originally posted 7/28/16; recipe and photos updated 5/1/17]

 


Sausage + Pepper Cast Iron Frittata

Sausage + Pepper Cast Iron Frittata

I have only had this cast iron skillet since November, but it has already been broken in quite nicely!  The 2 things I’ve cooked most in it so far are Ina Garten’s Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken (a big hit) and frittatas.  I now love frittatas so much that they’ve become a weekly staple.  I pretty much always use Italian sausage, just because I love the complex flavor.  But as far as veggies go, I have tried a lot, and the follow recipe is my favorite combination. 

This meal isn’t exactly healthy, but it’s not terrible for you, either.  It’s got tons of protein, plenty of vegetables, and it’s very filling.  Plus everyone in my house likes it, even Ben.

When I see people scramble eggs on TV, I always get frustrated.  They always just start with the eggs whole and go in there with a whisk.  I have found a way that is so much easier, especially if you’re scrambling 24 eggs at the same time.  Once I crack all the eggs into a bowl, I take a fork and use the prongs to physically tear each yolk before I start whisking.  Once you start whisking, it’s hard to see if any yolks haven’t been broken yet. 

And for removing the sausage from casings, I like to use a pair of scissors.  I start at one end and just cut all the way up.  It may sound like common sense, but it took me a while to figure that out!

Lastly, I’ve tried shredded hash browns for this frittata, and they mostly just got stuck to the bottom of the pan while I was trying to sauté them.  If you use the diced hash browns, they stay together better.

I eat my frittata with lots of ketchup.

 

Total Time:  1 hour 15 minutes1

Serves:  8

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

2 ½ cups frozen diced hash browns

24 eggs

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

6 links of Italian sausage (about 1 pound)

1 ½ cup thinly sliced onion

1 ½ green bell pepper, medium diced

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons granulated garlic

8 ounces freshly grated provolone or mozzarella cheese

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Remove the hash browns from the freezer, and let them defrost while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and use a large whisk or fork to break the yolks and mix everything together.
  4. Coat a large cast iron skillet with plenty of olive oil. Turn to medium heat.
  5. While the oil heats, remove the sausage from the casings.
  6. Add the sausage to the skillet, and use a wooden spoon to break it apart as it cooks. Cook until almost done, about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the sausage from the skillet and set aside.
  8. If necessary, add more olive oil to the skillet. When it’s heated, add the peppers and onions to the pans.  Season the peppers and onions with salt, pepper, plus the paprika and garlic.  Cook for about 5 minutes.
  9. Create a large space in the center of the skillet by moving the veggies off to the side.
  10. If necessary, add more olive oil (if not, don’t). Add the diced hash browns to the skillets and sauté until they become translucent.
  11. Now, mix all the potatoes back in with the peppers and onions so it’s all incorporated and in an even layer.
  12. Add the sausage back to the skillet in an even layer.
  13. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the sausage and vegetable mixture.
  14. Pour the mixed eggs evenly over everything.
  15. On medium heat, let everything cook for about 10 minutes on the stove. Do not stir!
  16. Carefully put the frittata in the preheated oven, and cook until the top has just started to brown, and the center is set (about 25-30 minutes).
  17. Slice, and serve hot or at room temperature.

 

 


Butter Lettuce Salad with Tarragon Grilled Shrimp + French Artichoke Vinaigrette

Butter Lettuce Salad with Tarragon Grilled Shrimp + French Artichoke Vinaigrette

This is the perfect lunch for 2—not really kid-friendly, but that’s okay.  Not everything needs to be.  As someone who loves all things French (but who has never been to Paris), I think this salad seems like something Parisians would eat. 

Do you ever get butter lettuce?  It’s got the creamiest, crunchiest texture that goes really well with both vinaigrette dressings and creamy dressings.  I didn’t want to overwhelm the salad with too many ingredients, so a few different veggies plus the shrimp felt just right.

The difference between a French vinaigrette and a regular vinaigrette is Dijon mustard.  It makes the dressing creamy and luxurious without adding mayonnaise.  The pureed artichoke hearts make the dressing extra creamy.  This salad makes 2 generous entrée portions, but the dressing will make enough for 6-8 servings. 

While I’m letting the shrimp marinate, I prepare the dressing and the salad ingredients.  I like to serve the shrimp at room temperature so they don’t wilt the lettuce.  If you don’t have shrimp or don’t want to use it, try it with some pulled rotisserie chicken instead!

 

For the Butter Lettuce Salad

Total Time:  10 Minutes (not including shrimp and dressing)

Serves:  2 Dinner Sized Portions

Difficulty Level:  Easy

Ingredients

1 head butter lettuce, roughly torn2

3 radishes, thinly sliced

6-8 jarred artichoke hearts, drained

4 scallions, tips cut off

Grilled Shrimp, cooled to room temperature (recipe follows)

Parmesan cheese

French Artichoke Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Directions

  1. Preheat an indoor grill to high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, to a large bowl, add the butter lettuce.
  3. Arrange the sliced radishes and artichoke hearts.
  4. Spray the grill with nonstick cooking spray. Add the whole scallions (with the tips cut off), and sear on high for about 3 minutes, or until you can see some grill marks.
  5. Arrange the scallions to the salad.
  6. Arrange the shrimp on top of the salad.
  7. Use a vegetable peeler to cut shavings of parmesan cheese directly onto the salad.
  8. Drizzle with French Artichoke Vinaigrette, and eat immediately.

For the Tarragon Grilled Shrimp

Total Time:  45 minutes (including marinade time)

Serves:  2

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 pound of raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 ½ tablespoons of dried tarragon

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Add the shrimp, tarragon, olive oil, salt, and pepper to a bowl, and toss to combine. Let marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  (Go ahead and assemble the rest of your salad, and make your dressing while it marinates.)
  2. Preheat and indoor grill to high heat. Once it’s preheated, spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Add the shrimp to the hot grill, and cook until pink (about 6-8 minutes). Watch carefully after 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t overcook.
  4. Remove the shrimp from grill, and allow to come to room temperature before adding to the salad.

 

For the French Artichoke Vinaigrette

Total Time:  10 Minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

½ of a 14 ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained

1 cup of loosely packed whole basil leaves

Zest of 2 lemons

Juice of 3 lemons

3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil (about ¾ cup)

Directions

  1. Add the ingredients except for the salt, pepper, and olive oil to a food processor.
  2. Pulse until the artichokes and basil have been broken down.
  3. Stream in the olive oil while it’s running to blend everything together to a salad dressing consistency.
  4. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pulse again, and serve over salad.

Bonus Post: Monthly Produce Guide

Bonus Post:  Monthly Produce Guide

One of my favorite food blogs is Cookie + Kate.  She has beautiful photos and creative, quality recipes.  All the recipes are vegetarian, and I am not a vegetarian.  I do love trying vegetarian cooking, and her recipes inspire me beyond a bean burrito or cheese pizza. 

Kate also has lots of helpful entries about what types of produce to buy at different times of the year.  She accompanies the lists with recipes from her own blog and recipes from some of her other favorite blogs.  I’m compiling her monthly list here as a reference for you (and for me).

C + K’s January Produce Guide

C + K’s February Produce Guide

C + K’s March Produce Guide

C + K’s April Produce Guide

C + K’s May Produce Guide

C + K’s June Produce Guide

C + K’s July Produce Guide

C + K’s August Produce Guide

C + K’s September Produce Guide

C + K’s October Produce Guide

C + K’s November Produce Guide

C + K’s December Produce Guide

[originally posted 8/31/2016]

[pictures updated 4/6/2017]


Whole Wheat Turkey Lasagna

Whole Wheat Turkey Lasagna

There was a time in my life, not long ago, when I actually said I would never make lasagna when you can just buy perfectly good Stouffer’s.  It was something that seemed very daunting.  But really, it’s one of those recipes that you can use once and remember by heart.  It’s not hard, but it just takes some time, and it dirties a lot of dishes.  It’s the perfect Sunday dinner, just like y Classic Chicken Parmesan (another easy dish that just takes time). 

For this, I basically found a standard dish and used the proportions and cooking time.  Then I changed up the ingredients to my liking.  I love using ground turkey because it’s leaner, and I am so used to using whole wheat pasta now that it’s not even a question of “if.”

Some recipes call for “no-boil” noodles, and some say you should boil before using.  I don’t use no-boil, and I don’t boil them either.  I put them in hard, and I add water to the dish before baking.  It works just fine and saves a step.

This is also a good make-ahead dish.  You can prep the entire thing, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it– even 3 or 4 days if you need to!

This whole dish takes a while from start to finish, but I bet after you make it once, you will never need to look at the recipe again.

 

Total Time:  2 ½ hours1aa

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty Level:  Easy

Ingredients

20-24 ounce package of lean ground turkey

1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce

1 tablespoon of fennel seed

24 ounce ricotta cheese

1 egg

1 pound of freshly grated mozzarella, divided in half

4 ounces of freshly grated parmesan, divided in half

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 ½ teaspoon dried basil

1 ½ teaspoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

12 whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked.

About 1 cup of water (but as needed)

  1. In a medium pan, brown the turkey.  Add the marinara sauce and fennel, and let simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the ricotta, egg, half the mozzarella, half the parmesan, onion powder, basil, parsley, oregano, and garlic powder in a bowl until combined. Set aside.
  3. Let the meat sauce cool for 20 minutes.
  4. In a casserole dish, start your first layer. Spread the meat sauce.  Then add 4 lasagna noodles on top.  For the third layer, spread a good amount of the ricotta mixture.  Keep layering the ingredients in that order until your casserole dish is full.  The last layer should be a layer of meat sauce.
  5. Now top the lasagna with the rest of the mozzarella, parmesan, and some more dried parsley.
  6. Add the water. Use a measuring cup and carefully pour it in on the side so you don’t mess up the top.  You should use about one cup, but keep pouring slowly until water has seeped into the crevices.
  7. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 20 minutes.  Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

How to Poach Chicken in a Slow Cooker

How to Poach Chicken in a Slow Cooker

I decided to go ahead and post this because I’m working on some enchilada recipes.  My go-to chicken recipe is this one, which goes great in casseroles, soups, pastas, salads, and on and on.  But for enchiladas, shredded chicken is better.  I didn’t want to flavor the chicken as it cooks because I’m making 2 different sauces.  Poached, shredded chicken is a good stand-by when you are making a filling with chicken –things like stuffed peppers, burritos, and enchiladas.  (Enchilada recipes are coming soon!)

 

Total Time:  4-6 hours

Yield:  3-4 poached chicken breasts

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients17553608_454223121582996_593082308146932863_n

3-4 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts

6 tablespoons of chicken base

water

 

 

Directions

  1.  Add the the chicken breasts to a slow cooker.  Pour chicken base over.  Pour in enough water to cover the chicken.
  2. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.
  3. Remove chicken, and discard water.
  4. Shred chicken with a fork and a pair of tongs.

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

As an adult, mashed potatoes were one of the first things I tried to master.  It really does seem simple enough, and they’re so versatile that it’s a good recipe to have in your back pocket.  But there are a lot of ways to screw them up, too.  I ended up with bad results ranging from crunchy (undercooked or the wrong kind of potato) to lumpy (undermixed) to goopy (letting the potatoes sit in the water too long or overmixed—that was truly disgusting).  It’s not that they’ve failed every single time in 15 years, but they failed enough times to make me take note of where I was going wrong.

So here are my rules for mashed potatoes.  First, always use white Russet potatoes.  I used to always use Yukon gold, and then I bought Russets by mistake.  But they really make a creamier mashed potato, I think the starch content is perfect.

Second, always either boil your potatoes in chicken broth, or add chicken base or bouillon to your water.  If you want vegetarian, just add vegetable broth.  Potatoes are pretty bland on their own, and boiling them in broth really gives so much flavor.

Third, always peel the potatoes, and dice them small.  Don’t do huge chunks because it takes longer to boil, and it’s more difficult to mash later.  I used to leave the skin on, but I stopped because it was too hard to get the potatoes to the creamy consistency I like.

Fourth, keep it simple.  My standard mashed potatoes are just that:  standard.  I like to have this as a base recipe, and you can add different seasonings to make it interesting.  Here are some good add-ins you can try out depending on what type of main dish you’re serving:  2 teaspoons of chipotle powder (good with a spicy marinated steak); 2 teaspoons of paprika (good with a heavier chicken or pork dish); 2 teaspoons of ground mustard (good with pork or fish); 2 teaspoons of granulated garlic (good with lots of stuff); 2 teaspoons of ground ginger (good with Indonesian Ginger Chicken); or lastly, 1-2 heaping tablespoons of pesto instead of butter (good with Chicken with 40 Cloves in the Crockpot).

Fifth, don’t forget you can always partially make these ahead of time, even a day or 2 in advance.  For big days like Thanksgiving, go ahead and dice, boil, and drain them ahead of time.  For the big day, warm them up in the microwave and mash.

Last, use your stand mixer with a whisk attachment.  This might technically be whipped potatoes, but so be it.  I don’t like mashed potatoes with lumps, and using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment keeps the consistency nice and fluffy.

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes2

Serves: 8-10

Total Time:  1 hour

Difficulty Level:  Easy

Ingredients

3 pounds of white Russet potatoes

8 tablespoons of chicken bouillion granules

Water

2/3 cup milk (any fat content is fine)

3/4 cup Daisy full fat sour cream (it is the best and all-natural)

4 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Peel the potatoes, and dice them into about 2/3-3/4 inch cubes. Add the potatoes to a large pot.
  2. Add the bouillon granules. Add enough water to cover the potatoes about 1 inch above.
  3. Bring the potatoes to a boil, and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Check the consistency with a fork.  Spear a cube, and if it falls in half, they’re done.
  4. Drain immediately in a colander. (The grossest potatoes I ever made by far were when I let the potatoes sit in the hot water for a while after boiling.  All the starch released, and the potatoes were the consistency of paste!  Never again.)
  5. Add the potatoes to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Before using the mixer, use a potato masher or a handheld whisk to mash the potatoes by hand before turning the mixer on.  Turn it on low, and slowly work it up to medium before adding any other ingredients.
  6. Turn the mixer off and add the milk, sour cream, butter, salt and pepper, and any flavor add-ins (if you want to).
  7. Turn the mixer back on, starting a low and working it up higher and higher. Let it do its thing for about 5 minutes (but keep an eye on it).  You may turn it off and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula once or twice to make sure it’s all getting mixed.
  8. Stop the mixer as soon as the lumps are gone because you don’t want to overmix it. The consistency should be uniform and creamy.
  9. Serve hot.  (maybe with some Turkey Meatloaf!)

[originally published 12/22/2016]

[photos and method updated 3/15/2017]