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Spinach and Feta Turkey Meatballs

 

Meatballs top the list of my favorite foods, especially when they’re over pasta. My mom’s meatballs are completely amazing, so I’ve never tried to duplicate them, but I’ve got to start somewhere. I put these together based on a recipe for my Greek Turkey Meatloaf, and ended up with a lighter, brighter, Greek-er (is that a word? Anyway.) version of a traditional meatball. They were fantastic. I’m seriously convinced that a combo of spinach and feta makes just about everything better. 

– 1.5 lbs ground turkey 

– 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained pretty well 
– 1/2 tbsp chopped dill 
– Squeeze of lemon – this sounds weird, but just trust me. 
– 1/2 C crumbled feta 
– 1/3 panko bread crumbs 
– 1 egg 
– Salt & pepper 

1. Preheat oven to 400 and lightly grease a baking tray. 


2. In a large bowl, combine turkey, feta, spinach, egg, dill, lemon, salt & pepper. Dig your hands in and just mix it up – it’s kind of gross and satisfying all at once. 


3. Form turkey meatballs into approximately golfball sizes, place on the tray. 


4. Bake for 12 minutes, then flip and bake for 12 minutes more until they gain a little color and are fully cooked through. I put these on top of a mediterranean quinoa and topped them with Tzatziki sauce, and we housed them. Fantastic. 



Chicken stuffed with Zucchini and Mozzarella

Bren and I got some amazing organic chicken breasts from Hillside, so I used them to make one of my favorite chicken recipes of all time. This is a classic Skinny Taste recipe from way back – I’ve made this a ton, and every time I’m reminded of how much I love it. Instead of a traditional egg wash to adhere the breadcrumbs, a mix of lemon juice and EVOO is used, and honestly, it makes such an amazing difference in flavor. Working with raw chicken always skeeves me out, but I just steel myself, because the end result of this recipe is totally worth it. 

CHICKEN STUFFED WITH ZUCCHINI AND MOZZARELLA (serves 4, recipe adapted from Skinny Taste)
– 1.5 lbs chicken breasts, thinly sliced 
– 2 zucchini, grated (leave skin on, but wash these well before you do!) 
– 1/3 C. shredded mozzarella
– 1/3 C. shredded fresh parmesan
– 3/4 C. seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
– 1 tbsp Herbed Butter
– 4 cloves chopped garlic
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1 tbsp EVOO
– Kosher salt & black pepper to taste
– Olive oil non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Rinse chicken, then arrange everything so you don’t find yourself with chicken-y hands and needing to grab something out of a cupboard.


3. Heat butter over medium. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, approx. 90 seconds.


4. Add shredded zucchini, 1/4 C. shredded fresh parm, and stir to combine. Add a little salt & pepper to taste, then cook for approx 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cool, add the mozzarella and mix to combine.


5. Add a thin layer of the zucchini/parm/mozz mixture to coat one side of each chicken cutlet (season chicken cutlets first), then roll each cutlet.

6. Dip each rolled chicken cutlet in the lemon/EVOO mix, then in the breadcrumbs/parm mix. Place seam-side down in a baking dish lightly coated with EVOO. When all of these are rolled, lightly spray them each with the olive oil cooking spray (this will make them a little more golden).

7. Bake 25-30 minutes, then enjoy. We had this with my new favorite salad, zucchini ribbons with lemon, basil and toasted almonds.


Linguini with Baby Portabellos, Spinach & Shallots in a Rosemary Cream Sauce

One of the things I love most about visiting my parents’ house is that you can always find great stuff in the fridge to throw together to make something delicious. Oh, are you starving? Ok, let’s find baby portabellos, shallots, spinach, fresh rosemary, a little heavy cream and good pasta too. That’ll work! This was so easy to throw together and completely allowed me to overlook the heavy cream I added because there was spinach in it, which everybody knows cancels out any fat content in any recipe, ever.

LINGUINI WITH BABY PORTABELLOS, SPINACH & SHALLOTS IN A ROSEMARY CREAM SAUCE 
– 2 cups baby portabellos, washed and sliced 
– 2 cups spinach 
– 2 shallots, sliced 
– 1/3 C. heavy cream 
– 2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (if you don’t have fresh, skip it. Don’t use dried in this recipe) 
– Fresh parmesan, approx. ¼ cup plus more for topping 
– 1 lb. pasta 
– 1 tbsp. butter 
– 1 tbsp. EVOO 
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped 
– Kosher salt & pepper to taste 

1.  Cook your pasta – linguini should cook for about the same time as it takes to make everything else. 

2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and EVOO over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, approx. 60 seconds. 


3. Add the sliced baby portabellos and cook until they’re fairly soft, approx. 5 minutes. These will continue to cook as you add everything else, so don’t overdo it. 


4. Add the shallots, cook until wilted. 


5. Stir in the cream, rosemary and parmesan over medium-low heat. This will look pretty thin, but don’t worry – it’ll cook down a bunch and it coats the pasta really well. I usually stop when it still looks pretty thin before I overdo it and end up with a barely-there cream sauce. If you do that, though, just add a little pasta water to it. 


6. Remove from heat, add spinach and stir well to wilt. 


7. Add the cooked pasta to the spinach – the heat from the noodles will continue to wilt the spinach.

8. Stir everything well, top with a little fresh parm, and give your parents a kiss for being so wonderful.



Roasted Chicken in “Lemon Gold”

Bear with me as I walk you through a hodgepodge of a recipe that will create – not kidding – the best chicken you’ve ever eaten. Don’t get nervous about roasting a chicken in milk. And lemon. And cinnamon. Still with me? Good. This totally bizarre-sounding recipe requires a little bit of faith but the end result….oh, man. The end result. This recipe makes your house smell completely unbelievable – sort of warm, and fragrant, and savory all at once – the chicken is the juiciest I’ve ever had, and the sauce – how in the world can little curdles of milk and lemon and cinnamon be so amazing?? Most of the dinner (with a guy who’s probably the best conversationalist I’ve ever dated) consisted 80% of talking about how incredibly great this was. Make sure you have some good bread on hand, too, otherwise you’ll basically be drinking the sauce out of the bowl. This is the bomb. 

CHICKEN IN “LEMON GOLD” (serves approx. 6) – adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “Chicken in Milk”
– 1 whole chicken (I used a 5 lb. one)
– 4 tbsp. butter 
– 2 tbsp. EVOO 
– 2 lemons, zested 
– Juice of 1.5 lemons (save the other half to put in the chicken cavity) 
– Pretty good-sized handful of fresh sage 
– 9 garlic cloves, peeled 
– 2 cinnamon sticks 
– 1.5 cups milk 
– Kosher salt & pepper 

1. Preheat oven to 375° 

2. Ugh, this is the worst part. Always. Rinse your chicken well, then dry it really well, too. I was a vegetarian for a while, and every time I have to clean a chicken it reminds me why. Just steel yourself and keep your eye on the prize! Stuff the cavity with the half of the lemon that you left unjuiced and some of the sage leaves. It helps if you have everything set out beforehand, so you don’t find yoruself needing some salt while you have all chicken-y hands.

 

3. In a french oven, melt the butter and the EVOO over medium heat. 


4. Season the chicken well with kosher salt & pepper. 

5. When the butter/EVOO mixture is frothy, carefully add the chicken and let it cook for approx. 4 minutes on each side. You can use tongs or two sturdy wooden spoons to turn it over. Let it get really golden and don’t skip this step, because this is where a lot of flavor and color develops. 

6. Remove chicken from the pot and put it on a clean plate. Pour the excess butter/oil from the pot into a heat-proof little dish and set aside – don’t throw this away. What’s left in the bottom of the pan is perfect for cooking the chicken. 

7. Put the chicken back in the pan (I roasted this breast-side up, but next time I’m definitely roasting it breast-side down so it absorbs the max amount of the sauce flavoring) and add the lemon juice, milk, sage leaves, garlic, and cinnamon sticks. Scatter the top of the chicken with the lemon zest. Cook for approx. 1 hour 45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees internally. The lid should be on for the first hour, then off for the last 45 minutes.

8. Baste this “when you remember” (I swear, that’s an actual cooking direction). The lemon juice will kind of curdle the milk, but oddly enough, not in a bad way?? It gets kind of rich and flavorful and…right. How great your house smells about halfway through this cooking is nothing compared to how great this is going to taste when it’s ready. 


9. When chicken is done, carefully remove it and set on a plate and let it sit for about ten minutes. 


10. Make the “lemon gold” sauce from what’s left in the french oven. I fished out most of the garlic cloves (some of these will full-blown melt into the sauce) and gave them to Brendan, but I’ve read about people spreading these cloves on good bread they use for sauce dipping, which sounds awesome. I also threw out the cinnamon sticks and most of the sage leaves from the sauce. Then, because the consistency looked a little too dodgy, I blended this really, really well with a hand blender. 

Lemon Gold sauce, pre-blended

— We had this alongside roasted baby potatoes and wilted arugula, put sauce all over everything, and I added a new dish to the rotation. Hope you like this as much as you weren’t expecting you would!

Kale, Carrot, and White Bean Blend


I had a sleepover at my sister’s the other night, and she brought out this deliciously filling “snack” that could have been dinner if it weren’t for the Grotto pizza we were already sharing. This is one of those super easy recipes that you can just throw together with ingredients you already have, and in no time at all you have a hearty, healthy dish (to go with the pizza that you’re eating).

KALE, CARROT, AND WHITE BEAN BLEND (serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish)

– 1/2 a bunch of kale, “ribs” removed, washed and roughly chopped
– 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
– 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 tbsp. EVOO, 1 tsp. butter

1. Wash your kale and carrots. Even though you’re going to peel the carrots, you should wash them anyway. Any dirt on the skin will get dragged into the carrot itself when you peel them unless they’re clean.

2. Remove the “ribs” from the kale, and roughly chop.

3. Cut the peeled carrots into 1/8 inch rounds.

4. In a large saucepan, bring enough water to cover the carrots to a boil. Add the sliced carrots and boil until just tender (approx. 5 minutes). Drain the carrots and return the saucepan to the burner, now lowered to medium heat.

5. Add 1 tbsp EVOO and a smidge of butter to the saucepan and, when hot, add the garlic and stir until fragrant – appox. 90 seconds.

6. Add carrots to the pan and stir to cover with the EVOO/butter/garlic mixture.  Then add the chopped kale, and stir together with the carrots until slightly wilted.
 
7. Finally, add the can of rinsed and drained white beans, and combine with the kale and carrots until beans are warmed through.  Both the kale and carrots will continue to soften during this time, so make sure the kale isn’t too wilted in the step above.

8. Add seasonings if necessary – kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder – to taste and serve warm. This is even good cold as leftovers the next day.

— Happy 64th birthday to my mom, who would love this recipe! xoxoxo