Southwest Turkey Meatballs

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I can remember a point in my life when I would say, “Corn is not an ingredient!” It was actually a subject I felt pretty passionate about. To me corn was a side dish that went along with mashed potatoes, not a part of soup or salsa. What in the world was I thinking? I can’t tell you why I thought that or what changed, what I do know is that now I love it! Especially when paired black beans and cilantro. Yum!

That combination of corn, black beans, and cilantro was one of the reasons I loved this meal so much. But really, it’s one of those meals that is an all around winner. It’s healthy, it’s filling, it’s quick, and it’s easy. I knew the moment I saw the post on Rachel’s blog (Good Thymes and Good Food, fun blog name, huh?!) it would be a hit in my house and it was.


Southwest Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients
1 cup corn (frozen or fresh cut off the cob)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained & rinsed well
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
juice & zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup panko crumbs
1/2 tsp onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ c. chicken broth

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine the corn, beans, tomatoes, garlic, lime (juice and zest), cumin, and cilantro. Lightly season with salt and pepper, set aside.

In another bowl, using clean hands, combine the ingredients for the meatballs (turkey, egg, panko, onion powder, salt and pepper). Shape into 16 meatballs, about the size of a golf ball.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until they are evenly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes with frequent turning. It’s OK if the meatballs aren’t fully cooked through, they will continue to cook, you’re mostly looking for browning.

Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits. Add the tomato mixture and continue to cook for 5 minutes, or until heated through and meatballs are fully cooked.

Serve over rice (brown rice keeps it healthy!) with extra cilantro and cheese for garnish.

Adapted from Good Thymes and Good Food, originally from Clean Eating Magazine

Beef with Eggplant

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I think I told this story in one of my China recaps but it’s something I just can’t stop thinking about. When we took our weekend trip to Beijing I had my favorite meal of the entire trip. My hopes were not high as we walked through the dark alley and into the restaurant through what looked like an apartment kitchen, but I was once again reminded to not judge a book by its cover. Despite the off the wall location the dinner was a-maz-ing. Noodles that seemed nearly endless topped with peppers and eggplant in an amazing sauce.

I was day dreaming about that meal right before I went grocery shopping, so it was no surprise when the bright purple Chinese eggplants were calling me. I decided to also add beef and since I haven’t found “the” noodle recipe yet, I served this over rice. The awesome thing about eggplant is that it really soaks up whatever seasoning your using. Each bite was like a flavor explosion. Until I can perfectly recreate the noodles from the Beijing meal, I will just make this and love every bite of it.

Beef with Eggplant
(Sunny Side Up Original, sauce loosely adapted from Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp red chile sauce (such as Sriracha)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 pound flank steak (or other beef steak), very thinly sliced
1 medium Chinese eggplant*, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to season beef
Green onions, sliced diagonally for garnish

* Make sure to look for Chinese eggplant. It is a lighter/brighter shade of purple and longer and skinnier. It’s skin is softer and the taste just slightly sweeter.

Directions
In a measuring cup combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha, brown sugar and cornstarch. Set aside. Lightly season the beef with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add half of the beef (so it is not overcrowded) to the wok and cook for 1 or 2 minutes on each side, you want the meat to get pretty brown but it doesn’t have to cook all the way through. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside, covering with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the second half of the beef.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the eggplant and bell peppers (if the pan is dry you can add another drizzle of oil). Saute for a minute or two, then add the sauce. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce begins to reduce and thicken, stirring occasionally. Return the beef to the pan (along with any juices that collected on the plate) and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Serve over brown rice and garnish with green onions.

Homemade Fish Sticks


Every once in a while I like what I call a “kid meal”. For lunch, that will mean a peanut butter and jelly with carrot sticks, a juice box, and fruit snacks. (Are people supposed to outgrow PB&J? Because I sure haven’t yet.) For dinner, it’s something like this meal. Fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. But this isn’t your blue box and yellow wearing fisherman kind of “kid meal”. What’s really awesome though, is that it doesn’t take that much more time.

Here’s the break down of how I put this meal together:

  • Prep green beans, set them aside to marinate
  • Get water boiling and pasta going
  • Prep fish sticks
  • Get the fish sticks and green beans in the oven
  • Drain pasta and prepare mac and cheese
  • Fish sticks and green beans out of the oven
  • Meal served

You can’t tell me that takes much longer than the boxed meal. And of course, making it all yourself means knowing exactly what (and how much) is going into your food. I also think that these fish sticks are well worth any extra effort. The panko really adds a nice crunch and there is no freezer burn after taste.

Homemade Fish Sticks
((slightly)Adapted from Elly Says Opa)

2 white fish fillets (such as tilapia or cod) ~1 pound
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups panko
heaping 1/4 tsp onion powder
heaping 1/4 tsp garlic powder
heaping 1/4 tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 450. Prepare a baking sheet by placing a wire (cooling) rack over the tray and lightly spraying with non-stick spray.

Cut the fish into strips.

In a shallow bowl, mix together the panko, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, and canola oil. Place the egg in separate bowl.

Coat the fish sticks by dipping the strips into the egg first, then the panko mixture. Place the coated strips on the wire rack and bake for about 10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily, rotating pan halfway through.

Have you ever tried Wasabi Mayonnaise? I bought some at Trader Joes and it was AWESOME with the fish sticks!

Pasta with Mexican Black Bean Sauce

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Try not to be too confused by my post today. The story and meal don’t match, but I don’t have a great story about this Mexican Black Bean Sauce. It came together incredibly easily and might have become my new favorite meatless meal. You know I love my black beans and to put it over pasta in the form of a sauce is just pure genius. Now onto my completely unrelated story (that mentions another recipe all together)…

Maybe you heard about a little blackout in Southern California last week. Around 3:30 all the power went out from Tijuana all the way up into Orange County and across to the California Arizona border. To be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t notice the power had gone out. The girls and I were working on homework and since it was daylight we didn’t have any lights on and there was no air-conditioning to go off. A neighbor actually called and asked if ours was off too and that’s when I looked at the clock and noticed. After that it didn’t take long to realize how wide spread this power outage was. And pretty much everyone left work early.

Not knowing how long the outage would last (and hearing it could be a day or two) I wanted to use up some of the things I knew would go bad. Meat and cheese. Thank goodness we bought that grill, because I managed to use it make the super easy Mac and Cheese (that’s how easy it is, I did it without power, partially in the dark, on a grill). Then we dined by candlelight with a few friends and tried to enjoy the slow pace of the evening. I snapped this picture with my phone and just had to share it with you.


Now for the recipe!

Pasta with Mexican Black Bean Sauce
(Adapted from Branny Boils Over)

Ingredients
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (4.5 oz) diced green chiles
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
Chopped fresh cilantro and cherry tomatoes for garnish
Cheese for garnish (optional)
12 ounces pasta, cooked according to box directions

Directions
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent and tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, chili powder, sugar, and oregano. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, and add to the bowl of a food processor* along with the black beans. Process to desired consistency then add back to the skillet and stir into the reserved sauce.

Serve over pasta with cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and cheese garnish.

*If you have an immersion blender, you can use that instead of the food processor and save the dirty bowl.