Greek Turkey Meatballs with Tzatziki Sauce

Despite the fact that the last 4 recipes I have posted have all been desserts, we are actually eating real food too! In fact we’ve had quite a few good meals lately. Unfortunately for the blog we’ve been eating when it’s already dark and my attempts at photographing food with an external flash have come up a little short lately. The good news is that one of our delicious dinners made for pretty delicious lunch leftovers, and I finally was able to get a decent photo. The sun is starting to stay out a little later so hopefully this won’t be an issue for too much longer!

These are flavorful and good-for-you meatballs. On the first night, I served them with roasted potatoes and asparagus (probably not Greek…). For lunch, I laid them on a bed of lettuce, onions, bell pepper, and tomatoes, and served them with (homemade!) pita bread. It was delicious both ways. I actually loved the way the roasted potatoes and asparagus tasted when dipped in the tzatziki sauce. But I also really loved the way the pita bread tasted with the tzatziki sauce. Win win situation if you ask me!

Note: I found the turkey meatball recipe over on Skinny Taste and she also had a tzatziki sauce recipe, but I’m a huge fan of  Elly’s recipe so I stuck with that. Below both recipes are listed as I made them.

 

 

Rigatoni with Chicken, Bacon, and Mushrooms

It’s recipe swap time again! I was excited to see that I was assigned Sarah’s blog for a few reasons. First, Sarah runs the recipe swap! Second, she’s been blogging for over 5 years, so she has lots to choose from. Third, we share a deep love for pasta. Her blog is loaded with delicious pasta recipes, so many that I had a really hard time narrowing it down to just one. In the end I went with what I knew would make a lot and be a crowd pleaser because we have visitors in town!

Jesse’s parents made the long journey to China last week and we have gone non-stop since they arrived. They have done a pretty great job trying (and liking!) lots of new foods, but after 4 days in Hong Kong, I knew they would appreciate something familiar. I made only a few slight changes to this recipe (added garlic and a few minor direction changes). I’m happy to say, they were huge fans of this pasta and so was I (no surprise there).



 

Also, check out what everyone else made for the swap!


Shepherd’s Pie with Ground Turkey


One of the problems I have with moving is that I have a LOT of stuff. Especially when it comes to the kitchen. I am not exageratting when I say that half of our storage unit is San Diego is kitchen stuff. Dishes, pots, pans, appliances, cupcake liners, cooking tools, towels, cupcake liners, baking tools, corning ware, cupcake liners…. See what I mean? So. Much. Stuff. But all of that is fine because it can be stored and it can and will all be used again (and I actually get to go through it when we are back in San Diego and pick out some of the more important stuff to bring back to China!) But what wasn’t so fine was the amount of food in my pantry and refrigerator that couldn’t very make it China, but also can’t be stored to wait for our return.

So during my last week in San Diego I was left with arduous task of sorting food. What could I give away to friends? What (if anything!) could be stored? What could I use before I left? What would (sadly) need to be pitched.

In the end I decided to make a box of dry goods that could safely be stored for 2 months and eventually go back to China with me. I also labeled a few bags and set them just outside of the trash area at the apartment complex (I went back and forth about this, but in the end I would see the same few homeless people going through and picking out bottles/cans every morning and I thought maybe they would appreciate a few boxes of [good] snacks and if not it was right there and could go out with the trash. I would have handed them to them myself but my schedule was crazy that last week). I also was able to give some things away to friends and very few things needed to actually be thrown away.

This meal actually started out as just an attempt to use up remaining perishable foods and it turned into something much more memorable. Warm and comforting. Rich and filling. As an added bonus, I really appreciated having the left overs in a time that may have otherwise been filled with fast food, as I did all of my last minute packing and moving.


Shepherd’s Pie with Ground Turkey

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 small-medium onion, diced
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped*
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
Kosher salt to taste
1 lb ground turkey**
3/4 cup frozen vegetables, I used lima beans, corn, and peas
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch (~1/4 tsp) nutmeg
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp cold water
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2-2 cups mashed potatoes***

* I think that the fresh herbs were what really made this dish shine. You can substitute dry if you need to (adjusting the amounts since dry herbs have a more concentrated flavor) but if you have access to fresh, use them!
**Typically Shepherd’s Pie is made with beef or lamb, but turkey is what I had on hand.
***I had leftover mashed potatoes, but I would guess 4-5 medium or 3-4 large potatoes for this amount of meat, mashed anyway you like, in my case with s&p, garlic, butter, milk, and sour cream.

Directions
Preheat oven to 375.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the fresh rosemary and thyme cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground turkey, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then cook until the meat has browned and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour in the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the frozen vegetables and bring to a simmer. While the broth is coming to a simmer, whisk together the corn starch and cold water then stir into the simmering broth. Cook for 1 minute or until it starts to thicken then reduce the heat to medium-low, add the milk and cook for another minute.

If you were using a skillet, carefully transfer the contents of the skillet to a baking dish, other wise just make sure the mixture is evenly distributed around the bottom of the dutch oven. Carefully spread the mashed potatoes over the mixture (I found it was easiest to drop heaping spoonfuls all over then use the back of the spoon to “meld” the heaps together). Place the baking dish or dutch oven in preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes, then turn oven to broil and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the peaks of the potatoes start to turn golden brown.

Sunny Side Up original recipe, inspired by the many Shepherd’s Pie I’ve eaten throughout my life

Salted Herb Roasted Turkey

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If you’re still on the fence about how to prepare your turkey this weekend, then stop right here. This turkey doesn’t require any special bags or a sanitized cooler. Just a nice coating of salt and herbs and an overnight chill in the fridge. I’ve never brined a turkey, so it’s tough for me to give an honest comparison. But I can honestly tell you that with results like this, it’s unlikely that I ever will go through the trouble. This turkey is just too good.

Salted Herb Roasted Turkey

Ingredients
Overnight salt mix:
6 Tbsp coarse kosher salt (4 tablespoons if finer-grained kosher salt)
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 small bay leaves, coarsely torn
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp finely grated lemon peel

Turkey:
1 14- to 16-pound turkey (make sure to remove all the icky stuff inside!)
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
1 large celery stalk, cut into large chunks
1 whole lemon, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups broth

Directions
Combine all of the ingredients for the salt, set aside.

Rinse the turkey inside and out, but do not pat dry. Coat the turkey inside (both cavities) and out. Use your fingers to loosen the skin over the breast and carefully rubs some of the salt under the skin. Place the turkey on a large plate (preferably with a lip to keep any loose juices on the plate and not on your fridge) and cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the turkey inside and out; pat very, very, dry (I also set it on top of a wad of paper towels for about 15 minutes). Rub some of the butter on the inside of cavities then divide the onion, celery, lemon, and herbs between the cavities. Truss the turkey (tie the legs together and wings in with cooking twine).Rub the rest of the butter on the outside of the turkey, getting under the breast skin as well. Place the turkey, breast side down, in a roasting pan, using extra carrots and celery to keep the turkey off the bottom of the pan if you don’t have a rack in your roasting pan. Pour the broth into the bottom of the pan.

Roast at 425 for 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven, then use wads of paper towels to flip the turkey breast side up. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees. Continue to roast turkey until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees, 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours longers (my 16 pound turkey took another 2 1/2, but keep an eye on it). 3 times during roasting, carefully baste the turkey with drippings and then quickly close the oven door again.

Tent the turkey with foil for 30-45 minutes before carving and serving.

Adapted from Epicurious (Bon Apetit) as seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Me carving the turkey in my messy kitchen

One last thing. The family I work for is out of town for Thanksgiving, and tonight as I was writing this post I got a text. It was a picture of food that the youngest took. I told her I would put it on my blog so here it is. And can I just say I’ve taught her well? Look at that plate presentation (and no, that’s not her glass of wine).