Refrigerator Clean-out Turkey Patties   

You know those days where you come home and you are completely worn out? I mean, more than just the usual end-of-the-day tired. I’m talking exhausted, can barely keep your eyes open, WIPED OUT. That was me yesterday. My lovely 3-year-old isn’t much of a sharer, but last week she decided to share her strep throat with me.
 

You guys, I thought it was going to end me.

I had strep when I was in middle school. I remember it being an inconvenience. I remember going about my business of being 13 like it wasn’t that big of a deal. I remember going to the movies, for crying out loud. Nope, not this time. I guess as an adult, strep is a totally different ball game. It laid me out. I was sidelined for a week. I couldn’t do anything. I was *thisclose* to calling an attorney to get my affairs in order. And maybe a priest to read me my last rites. Bottom line: It was awful. So moms, if your child has strep throat, do yourself a favor and go get a hotel room to yourself until it clears up. I only address this to moms, because husbands are apparently made out of steel and seem to somehow resist the death disease.

Anyway, back to the food, which is why you’re actually here. My first day back to regular life went fine, but I was so worn out at the end of the day, I could just cry. And I was starving. But in that state, who has time for a recipe and all that measuring of ingredients nonsense? Not me, that’s who. Instead, I decided to raid my fridge and see what I could throw together. Hence why these are now called “Refrigerator Clean-Out” because that is literally what I did. So creative, I know.

Here’s the scoop:

Finely dice a half a red bell pepper, half a zucchini, and half a leek. Saute over medium heat with some olive oil and salt and pepper, until softened. Just before the mixture is done, add in some minced garlic and cook until done.

Let the veggie mixture cool slightly and add it to a pound of ground turkey. If you are impatient like me and add it right away, your turkey meat will be really sticky. It will still work, but you will just be making it more difficult for yourself. 


Once the veggies are mixed into the turkey, form into patties. Add a little olive oil to a skillet and cook the patties over medium heat for about 7 minutes per side (depending on how big they are). When I flipped the patties, I added a slice of cheese and let it do its melty, gooey, magical cheese thing while the patties continued cooking.

 

I served these with some brown rice and roasted rainbow carrots. (Fun fact: Carrots used to always be “rainbow” carrots, leaning mostly toward purple. Back in the 17th century, the Dutch carrot farmers created orange carrots through selection and hybridization (the Dutch sure love their orange color!). Those carrots were spread throughout the world through immigration and became the carrots known more commonly. The “rainbow” carrots we see are actually the carrots going back to their original roots… pun intended).    

Healthy, Multipurpose Turkey Meat Sauce

OK, so this is my adaptation of a recipe I found a while ago (I can’t remember where). I do remember, though, that the original recipe called this little concoction sloppy joes. I could easily see how this would work perfectly for sloppy joes. The first time I made it, I actually served it over a baked potato and that was pretty delicious. The leftovers have been eaten over pasta and even on their own as-is. That’s why I consider this a “Multipurpose” sauce.

No matter how you decide to eat this, you can know that it will be really yummy and healthy, which is the most you can ask for in a meal.

2 tablespoons olive oil 

1 small onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 carrot, chopped small

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 pounds ground turkey

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

½ cup ketchup (preferably organic. Easily found at trader joe’s)

1 8oz can tomato sauce (no added sugar or sodium, preferably)

Water

salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium heat, saute the onions, bell pepper, and carrot in olive oil until softened. Add the garlic and continue cooking until all the veggies are soft and fragrant.

Add the ground turkey to the skillet with a heavy pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook until no longer pink.  

I forgot to take a picture so pretend there isn’t tomato sauce in the skillet already. 🙂


 

Mix in the garlic and onion powders, ketchup, and tomato sauce. Fill up the tomato sauce can with some water and add that.

Bring the mixture to a boil for a minute or so, then cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Serve in whatever way makes your taste buds dance with joy!

Veggie-Full Turkey Meatloaf Cups

I always know when my husband gets a certain look on his face after taking a bit of something new I made for him. I know in that first bite that I found a winner of a recipe. That’s what happened with these meatloaf cups.

I know what you’re thinking. Meatloaf? What’s so great about meatloaf? And with turkey? Oh, just wait until you try these. My husband immediately requested they get entered into the regular dinner rotation.

Meatloaf can easily become dried out, especially when it’s made of turkey, but these little cups were so tender and so moist. Totally the opposite of dried out meatloaf. They were full of flavor and healthy veggies, and they were super easy. It’s perfect for a weeknight because when you make them in the little cups, you cut down on the cooking time.

Do you need even more reasons to try these? You can make them ahead of time and they are freezer friendly. Boom. Done. Make them.

Now, for the recipe. This is an adaptation of a Bobby Flay recipe I came across randomly on Food Network.

Veggie-Full Turkey Meatloaf Cups

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 zucchini, diced small

4 or 5 mini sweet peppers, diced small

½ onion, diced small

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

1 ½ pounds lean ground turkey

1 egg

2 teaspoons ground thyme

1 cup panko bread crumbs

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

4 oz can of mild green chiles

¾ cup ketchup

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Then saute the zucchini, peppers, garlic, and onion until soft. Add a pinch or so of salt and the red pepper flakes while sauteeing. Remove from the heat and set aside to start to cool slightly.

 

In a bowl, add your turkey, egg, thyme, panko, cheese, chiles, ½ cup of the ketchup, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and the sautéed veggies. Add another heavy pinch of salt and some pepper. Mix until all the ingredients are combined evenly.

 

Divide the meat mixture evenly into the cups of a muffin pan. I didn’t spray the cups first and each one came out perfectly fine. You can also make this as a big loaf, but you will need to increase your cooking time to about an hour and fifteen minutes or so.

Once the meat is divided up, brush on a coat of the balsamic glaze, which is just the remaining ¼ cup of ketchup and ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar whisked together.

Bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes. I checked one at 20 minutes to make sure it was done and it was perfect.

 

Let them sit for a few minutes; it will make it easier to take them out of the cups.

 

These reheat really well, so I could easily see making a big batch of these for premade lunches and dinners. You could even make a bunch and freeze them and just pull out however many you need at a time. They are proportioned, which is really nice.

The Perfectly Roasted Turkey

Let’s talk turkey!

I meant to post this back on Thanksgiving, but I got a little busy. It’s ok, you can save it for next year. Or even if you want to do a turkey for Christmas.

Roasting a turkey seems really intimidating because turkey meat tends to dry out. It really isn’t that hard though and ever since I’ve done it this way, I’ve had a perfectly roasted turkey every year.

Start with a dry brine. You can buy one, like this great one from Williams-Sonoma, or you can make your own, which is what I did this year:

1-1/2 cups of kosher salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

About 4 tablespoons poultry seasoning (it was ½ of the small McCormick container of the poultry seasoning)

Mix together. Clean out your turkey (remove the neck and giblets bag) and dry the outside. Cover the whole bird with your brine. It’s OK to put it on really thick.


Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, make your herb compound butter:

Take 1 stick of room temperature butter (you’ll want it really soft), and mix in:

2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

Heavy pinch of salt

 

Put the butter in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use. The day you need it, take it out of the fridge and bring it back to room temperature. This butter could really be used on just about anything.

 

When you are ready to roast your turkey, unwrap it and rinse off all the brine. Dry it off and rub the whole thing with your compound butter. Make sure you get under the skin. This is pretty easy to do.

 

Put the bird in the roasting bag with some flour (see instructions on the roasting bags). I’ve also tried it where I put the bird in the bag and then put the butter on it. Either way works. I found them both to be about the same level of difficulty.

Put half an onion and all the herbs from one of those plastic packages at the grocery store of the Poultry blend in the cavity. Close the bag and cut a few slits in the top of the bag.

 

Roast at 350 degrees for about 2-3 hours or so depending on the size of your turkey. The roasting bag box will give you the correct instructions.

 

These roasting bags will help you immensely! You don’t have to worry about basting or anything. You just put the bird in the oven and set your timer.

Let the turkey sit for about 30 minutes before you start to carve it.

 

Now pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy your Thanksgiving or Christmas or holiday or really any day. Where is the rule that you can’t just roast a turkey whenever you feel like it? 😊

Shepherd’s Pie

I was going to start out by saying that even though it is really, REALLY tasty, Shepherd’s Pie is not a “pretty” dish. Whenever I make Shepherd’s Pie, it always turns into a big ol’ mess when I serve it up. It does not photograph well. It tastes great. It is complete meal all in itself (protein, veggie, carb). It is primo comfort food. But it isn’t winning any beauty contests here.

I was going to start off that way, until I did a Google Image search for Shepherd’s Pie and found some quite lovely photographs of this dish. I mean, in reality, those are probably styled and photographed by people who know what they are doing. I have a nice camera that I use occasionally, but for this blog, I tend to use my phone because it is easier. I guess that means I don’t always get the best pictures of some things. I think I do pretty well, though, on most posts. Right?

 

Anyway, back to the food… As I you saw in my last post, I made mashed potatoes in the slow cooker. I really wanted to try that to see how it would work before Thanksgiving, but then I was going to be stuck with a bunch of potatoes. That’s when I decided to make Shepherd’s Pie. It is always a favorite in our house, so I knew it would be a good use of the potatoes.

A little background: Shepherd’s Pie (sometimes known as Cottage Pie, when not made with lamb) is an Irish dish. It dates back to the 18th century and was a way for the poor to use up potatoes and leftover meat (usually beef or lamb) and stretch their food supply.

I usually make mine with ground beef, but in an effort to be healthier, I made this one with ground turkey. My husband said it was still really good, but it did taste a little different with the turkey. I used all the same ingredients otherwise and I didn’t really notice a difference. Bottom line: you can use whatever ground meat you want (or roasted. This would be good with Thanksgiving leftovers).

Shepherd’s Pie

1 pound ground turkey

½ onion, diced

1-2 cloves minced garlic

3 medium carrots, peeled and diced

About a cup of frozen peas (eyeball it)

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1-2 cups beef broth *I’ll explain this in the directions. Also, chicken broth is acceptable, but it will taste MUCH different)

2 pounds of potatoes, mashed

In a skillet, add a little bit of olive oil and brown your turkey. Remove the meat from the skillet.

 

Add a little more oil to the same skillet (if you think you need it) and saute your onions, garlic, and carrots until the onions are translucent and the carrots are soft. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Add back in the turkey and the peas and cook until the peas thaw out mostly. 


Sprinkle the flour over all of it and stir to coat. Add the Worcestershire sauce. Then slowly add the beef broth until until the sauce forms. You don’t want it too soupy but you don’t want it too thick either. Find a happy medium so it’s like a gravy almost. That’s why I suggest slowly adding the broth until it is at a consistency you like.

Pour everything into a 9×13 baking dish in an even layer. Then top with your mashed potatoes. I made mine with a little butter, a little milk, and some parmesan cheese, but you can do whatever you normally do.

 

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

 

I know my pictures may not look as pretty as some of the others, but I can promise you this tastes really good!

Sweet Potato Sliders 

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile (thank you!!!) you know by now that I love easy recipes that I can make on a weeknight. And if my whole family loves it? Even better!

Well, these sweet potato sliders definitely fit the bill! They were so yummy! And they are actually really healthy too.

My hubby absolutely devoured his. He said he could eat these at least once a week “for the rest of my life.” Now that is a compliment! For the kiddos, I figured it would be a bit messy to have them eat the actual sliders, so I just cut up the turkey patties and mashed the sweet potatoes. They loved it too, which I will count as a life win, because these two are so picky sometimes I want to tear my hair out of my head.

But on to the sliders…

Sweet Potato Sliders

1-2 medium sized sweet potatoes (you want nice fat ones to make good sized sliders)
1 pound lean ground turkey
3 green onions, sliced small, white and light green parts only
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt cream cheese
Any toppings you want. I used lowfat provolone and guacamole and they were simply heavenly.

Slice your sweet potatoes into about 1/4-1/2 inch rounds. Use the bigger middle part and save the smaller slices for something else. I used two medium sized potatoes and got 16 rounds out of them.

Put the rounds on a baking sheet and brush with a little bit of olive oil on each side and sprinkle with a little salt. Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

Meanwhile, make your patties:

Mix together the turkey, garlic salt, cream cheese, and green onions.

I found this Greek yogurt cream cheese at Sprouts and I am obsessed!! It tastes just like cream cheese, but it is much healthier for you. Way less fat, way less calories, plus added protein.  The cream cheese helps the turkey stay moist (which is difficult for turkey patties). If you can’t find this Greek cream cheese, you can use regular lowfat cream cheese.

Back to the patties…

I find ground turkey to be a bit sticky, so I just did my best and made little patties. Just base the size of the patties on the size of the sweet potato rounds you made.

After everything is done, just assemble them like you would any other burger or slider. Like I said, I used lowfat provolone and guacamole and it was ridiculously good. You could top it with whatever you like!

Pumpkin Chili

I am so impatient. It’s October but it’s still summer weather here. I need Fall! I need seasons!! Well, I can’t wait anymore. Hot weather, be damned! I needed to make some chili!

A couple years ago, some girlfriend and I got together once a month for a Foodie Club. You know? Like a book club with food and recipes. It was a lot of fun and I’ve been thinking about starting it up again. But I digress… 

I came up with this recipe for our chili themed night and it was a big hit. It’s tasty and super healthy. Only about 300 calories per serving (1cup serving) 

It makes a ton too, so lots of leftovers or even freeze it for later!! 

Now, just add this to the pumpkin everything craze!! 

Pumpkin Chili

2 pounds ground turkey (you can use beef if you want, but it will change the end calorie count)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 can (15oz) canned pumpkin

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 (12 oz) bottle of chili sauce (found next to the ketchup)


1 cup beef broth

2 Tablespoons of chili powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, brown turkey. Just before it’s done, spread the turkey out to the edges and add a teeny bit of olive oil (“teeny” is the technical chefy term, here) if you need it for the pepper, onion, and garlic. 


I used two of my favorite kitchen short cuts here: pre-diced onions and pre-minced garlic. BIG time savers! 


Anyway, once the veggies have started softening, mix them in with the meat and add your seasonings: chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, and cumin. And mix well.


Then, add the rest of your ingredients: pumpkin, tomatoes, beans, chili sauce, broth.


Mix together and bring to a boil for  a minute then let simmer for about an hour. The longer this sits, the better. Just make sure to stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.


This is such low calorie, you can too with a little bit of cheese and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

Now serve yourself a bowl and soak up the Fall!