Monday, March 28, 2011

Meals on Wheels

There are times in life that call for easy to make, easy to freeze, and easy to transport meals. These "meals on wheels" are great when you want to do take a dish to new parents, friends in need, or just to have on hand in the freezer. One of my all time favorites is based on a comfort food dish I ate regularly as a child. I revamped it for nutritional value. My family LOVES it!

Italian De-Lite

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 pound (box) whole wheat pasta (any short tube variety)
  • 2 cans no salt added diced tomatoes (can use the kind with added spices and herbs)
  • 1 bag of fancy shredded all natural cheese (Italian Blend and/or Mild Cheddar)
  • 1 small bag frozen corn
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • Panko or regular breadcrumbs
  • sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Italian herb seasoning, chopped garlic, onion powder, seal salt, black pepper, garlic powder
In a large skillet or sauce pan brown turkey with a little olive oil, add mushrooms, and chopped garlic. Season generously with sea salt, garlic and onion powders, and Italian seasoning. While the mixture cooks, put on a pot of super salted water and cook pasta according to directions for al dente. Drain pasta when cooked and set aside.

When turkey is thoroughly cooked and mushrooms are tender, add both cans of tomatoes, do not drain. Add 1-3 cups frozen corn (depending on your taste preferences) mix and cover. Allow to simmer. Add drained pasta and half of shredded cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil and top with Parmesan cheese. Mix well until pasta is coated and cheese is melted.

Transfer mixture. There are a few ways to do this depending on your plans. This makes WAY more than a family of four will eat at one sitting, so I like to divide it up and freeze some for later. Just scoop into gallon sized plastic baggies or freezer friendly glass food storage containers if you are trying to reduce plastics in your home due to BPA. The portion you plan to bake and eat or deliver, spread into a glass baking dish. Top with shredded cheese, then breadcrumbs, then a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of garlic salt, and finally grated Parmesan.

This can go directly into your oven preheated to 375 uncovered until cheese is melty and bubbly and the top is golden brown. Or, you can deliver it covered with those baking directions to your recipient of choice. It can also be frozen or refrigerated in this state for future use, but it's best to let thaw completely before baking.

Since every ingredient was cooked before assembly, the baking time just needs to be sufficient to heat it through the center and brown the top.

Even the pickiest of eaters love this! And when done with turkey and whole wheat pasta, in exchange for ground been and regular white pasta, it's got everything you need nutrition wise.

*An optional way to boost nutrition and color is to add chopped baby spinach to the mix before adding the pasta, and let it wilt and cook down. It's a great source of iron and an easy way to "sneak" some greens into your kids' food without adding any flavor they could object to. Oh yeah, that's so ninja!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Taste of the Islands

Spring is coming- I swear! Isn't about time for you to get out the tiki torches and put a little umbrella in your drink? Invite the neighbors, blend up some frozen concoctions and celebrate! This delicious appetizer comes to us from our Party Ninja, Concetta.

White Fish Cakes with Pineapple Salsa

Fish Cakes

8 oz of white fish, skinned
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 egg slightly beaten
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper fakes
Vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 cups pineapple salsa (recipe to follow)

Puree the whitefish in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients and shape the mixture into ten 2-inch patties. Saute the fishcakes in vegetable oil until both sides are golden brown about 2 to 5 minutes each side. (recipe says to fry, I do not fry, I saute and they are fine) 8 to 10 portions

Pineapple Salsa
1 1/2 cups can pineapple chunks or fresh pineapple.
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
salt and pepper to taste

Oh yum! I can just hear the steel drums playing in the background while I sip on my tropical drink with the ocean breeze in my hair.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Breakfast South of the Border

It's Spring Break 2011!
Woooohooooo! Margaritas poolside, beer bongs on the beach, pierced belly buttons and scantily clad 19 year olds as far as the eye can see. Oh wait, that was my spring break 1996. Today life is less of a party, but no worries! We can still have a party for your taste buds, and it won't leave you dazed and confused the next morning.

I used to love breakfast food for dinner, or after late nights "studying". As a grown up, a nice healthy and hearty breakfast is something I look forward to on weekends. So today I kicked off my weekend, and my Spring Break, with a festive, spicy and delicious omelet that took me back to my days in Mexico and all of the flavors under the sun. You can add or omit ingredients depending on your preferences or what's already in your fridge. Use only egg whites if that's your thing, or 3 whites and 2 whole eggs...  But, to give it a truly authentic flavor, out of the ordinary, don't skip the salsa verde!

Mexican Omelet
  • 1 whole or 2 egg whites per person (I insist on cage free, vegetable fed, non-drugged birdies)
  • shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • diced green, red, yellow peppers
  • diced red onion or scallion
  • diced tomatoes
  • salsa verde (green tomatillo salsa- can be spicy or mild)
  • a few tablespoons of milk
  • olive oil
  • spices (salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano, chili powder)
  • hot sauce*

Instructions: You know how to make an omelet! But here is my method.
First I saute the veggies in a little olive oil on medium high heat, and season them generously. I like them soft and partially cooked, rather than raw and crunchy. (Hold the tomatoes until you add the cheese.) When they reach the tenderness I prefer, I add the egg mixture (eggs/whites and milk beaten) and reduce the heat to low and partially cover. The eggs should begin to brown slightly on the bottom while the rest cooks through. Sprinkle with cheese and tomatoes, and top with a little salsa verde. Flip (or scramble) for just 1-2 more minutes to be sure all ingredients are hot and egg is firm. Serve hot! Top with a little more cheese, salsa verde and hot sauce if you dare.

Wanna take it one step closer to authentic juevos mexicanos? Serve with warm corn tortillas and make your own little breakfast burritos.