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

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

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Last week the family I nanny for went on vacation so that meant two things for me. One, STAYCATION – which after the craziness of this summer was very, very welcome. Two, lots of cooking and baking. Well the staycation was awesomely relaxing and my kitchen took the beating like a champ.

Since getting back from China I have really wanted to get back into a groove of meal planning and I figured a week at home was the perfect time to get started. I have to say it’s AMAZING how many more vegetables I include when I plan my meals in advance. Every night I was just enamored with the beautiful colors included in all of my meals. Especially this meal.

I came across this recipe the morning I made my meal plan and it went straight to the front of the line. Besides Jesse jokingly saying, “Wow that appetizer looks great, what’s for dinner” (Do you know what popular chain restaurant he was thinking of?) these lettuce wraps went over really well. I loved the punch of veggies and the fact that I was able to not only cook a meal without dairy or a major carb, but that it was actually really enjoyed by all.

Recipe Note: The most time consuming part of this whole meal is chopping the veggies. I recommend doing all of the chopping and throwing the veggies in a bowl before starting up the stovetop. Once you start cooking everything goes really quickly. Also if you’re feeding people with big appetites, I would recommend multiplying the recipe time 1.5 or 2.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

(Adapted from Good Thymes and Good Food, previously on Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients

Sauce

4 tsp hoisin sauce
4tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
Freshly ground black pepper

Filling

2 tsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 lb. ground turkey, chicken, or pork (I did a combination of ground chicken and pork)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup carrot, very finely diced
1/2 green apple, finely diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Lettuce, for wrapping

Directions

In a measuring cup, whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce, set aside.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the canola oil to the pan along with the garlic, shallot, and ginger. Cook for 30-60 seconds or until fragrant.

Add the ground meat to the pan, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink then create a well in the center of the pan by pushing the meat to the outside edges. Add the onion, bell pepper, frozen peas, and carrot to pan and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally add the sauce, apples, and green onion. Stir to evenly coat and cook for 1 minute to allow the sauce to slightly thicken.

Serve with fresh lettuce.

BBQ Turkey Burgers

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Grilling is great. Living in Ohio there were only a few months out of the year that were ideal for grilling. Winter would be way too cold and summer could be brutally hot (I’m sure a lot of you know what I mean). But man we looked forward to those months. San Diego has grilling weather pretty much year round. So can you believe that we just now bought a grill? Crazy, right? As much as Jesse loves steak and I love experimenting with food, you would think that would have been one of our first purchases. But, I guess other things just got in the way. Regardless, we have one now and it’s awesome.

One of the first things I had to make were these burgers that I have had bookmarked for months. Lucky for me I had just enough left over pulled pork and BBQ sauce. And when I say lucky, I mean lucky. These burgers were awesome. I have a deep love for all things BBQ so I guess it’s not that surprising.

The few changes that I did make were because of what I had on hand, white onions instead of red and green onions, and ground turkey instead of ground chicken. Also, I didn’t plan ahead far enough (or I just missed it on the ingredient list, I’m not sure what happened) so I didn’t have cornbread made. I did however have a good ole stand-by box of Jiffy mix. So I just used a 1/4 cup of that. Worked perfectly. Oh, and I only needed 3 burgers so that’s all I made. Of course they were HUMONGOUS, so I recommend making 4.

BBQ Turkey Burgers

(Adapted from Pink Parsley)

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup crumbled cornbread or 1/4 cup cornmeal or 1/4 cup Jiffy cornbread mix
2 Tbsp minced onion
1 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 lb ground turkey (or chicken)
2/3 cup chopped pulled pork
5 Tbs BBQ sauce, divided
1/2 red onion, sliced into rings
4 slices colby-jack cheese or extra sharp cheddar
4 burger buns
Oil for grill grates

Directions

Prepare your grill.

In a small bowl, combine the cornbread/meal/mix with the minced onion, cilantro, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar. In a medium bowl, combine the ground turkey, pulled pork and 3 Tbsp of BBQ sauce. Then mix the two together until thoroughly combined.

Shape into 4 even burgers. Place burgers and onion rings on preheated grill. Cook on one side for 5 minutes then flip to the other side. Brush the cooked side with the some of the remaining 2 TBSP of BBQ sauce and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip one more time and brush with the rest of BBQ sauce. Place the grilled onions on top of the burgers and then top with cheese. Close the grill lid and cook until the cheese is melted. If you like your buns toasted, now is a good time to throw them on the grill.