Quinoa sausage filling

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 16 oz cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sm-med. apple, diced
  • 1 salad bag of fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C. toasted pine nuts
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 C. dry quinoa

Cook 1 C. of quinoa according to directions, using chicken broth instead of water. Meanwhile:

Start to brown sausage in a large pan (not nonstick), with a little olive oil, medium high heat.

When most of the pink is gone, add in onions, mushrooms and garlic. Add salt and pepper.

Let this mix cook down all the way, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms and onions are soft, the water has evaporated, and a brown fond develops on the bottom on the pan as the meat begins to brown. Let a good amount of fond build up, turning down the heat slightly if needed.

Deglaze the pan with about 1/2 cup of water, scraping up all the brown bits. Add in the diced apple, spinach, and let cook down until the spinach is completely wilted and incorporated into the mixture.

Add quinoa and pine nuts to the pan, mix to combine. Sprinkle generously with grated parmesan, mix.

Notes:

This quantity and proportions served to use up what I had on hand. It made more than a quart of stuffing, which could probably stuff 6-8 delicata halves. I plan to freeze what we don’t use. Halving this recipe would probably be a reasonable place to start if you don’t want to batch cook.

Don’t skip the chicken broth in the quinoa or the parmesan in the mix. I think both are pretty crucial to the overall seasoning.

Freshly made quinoa always seems to be more wet than leftover quinoa. If you use leftover quinoa, you might need to moisten the mix a bit more before adding the parmesan.

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Sloppy Turkeys

 

This has become a household standard. It freezes really well, so I always make a double batch (which is what the recipe below will give you.)

Modified from Rachael Ray.

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2.5 lbs. ground turkey (my store sells those 1.3 lb pkgs , so I just grab 2 of those usually.)
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 2 T. (scant) Montreal Steak seasoning (spice blend)
  • 2 sm. – med. onions, chopped
  • 2 sm. or 1 lg. red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 T. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 – 13 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 4 T. tomato paste

In a large, high-sided pan, add the olive oil and begin to brown the ground turkey over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and steak seasoning.  When turkey has browned (you get more flavor if you really let the meat brown and start to build up some fond on the bottom of the pan), add the peppers, onion, vinegar and worcestershire sauce, deglazing the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes. (Original recipe calls for about half that cooking time, but I like to let the peppers and onions get a little softer.) Stir in the tomato sauce and tomato paste, and lower heat to a brisk simmer, and cook for another 5-15 minutes.  (You really just need to heat through, but I usually like to reduce the sauce a little.)

Serve on toasted buns.
Note:
Play with the proportion of brown sugar to steak seasoning to  taste.  The above will give you a fairly sweet mixture with a good kick of flavor from the steak seasoning.  Reduce the sugar and up the steak seasoning for a more savory and peppery version.

Toddler-friendly Baked Meatballs

One of the only ways we used to get Natalie to eat meat at home (she’d eat anything at daycare, of course) was with these homemade meatballs.  Now that she’s more adventurous, they are still a great protein option to have in the freezer for quick meals or when we’re having something she’s not likely to eat. I’ve been tweaking the mix each time and the last time I think I finally nailed it.

  • 2 lbs ground beef or turkey (I use 90/10 beef, as that is what my grocery offers in an all natural version.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 – 1 C. (approx) fresh veg, whizzed up into tiny pieces in the mini chop or food processor.  I use:
    • fresh parsley (about 1/4 of a grocery store bunch. The parsley I think might be the secret ingredient. The meatballs with parsley added were amazing.)
    • baby spinach ( 1 big handful)
    • onion (1/2 of a medium)
    • carrot (~3 sm-med)
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 C. whole wheat bread crumbs (I just take a couple of slices of WW bread and whiz them up in the mini chop before doing the veg.)

Preheat oven to 400*

Combine everything but the breadcrumbs in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly with your hands.  Add breadcrumbs ( you may need a little more or less than 1 C. depending on the moisture of your mixture.)

Roll into golf ball size balls — I use a 1 1/2 T. scoop to keep the size uniform — and place onto a roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray.  I’ve baked these meatballs on a cookie sheet before, but as they bake, the meat oozes some fat and juice and it makes a really unattractive collar of goo around the meatballs if there is no place for it to drain.  The roasting pan has, by far, been the best way to bake these.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs are deep brown and cooked through.  I get about 46 meatballs from a 2 lb mix.  (I used to make these a little smaller when Natalie was younger — cook time was more like 20 minutes.)  We have a vacuum sealer, so I usually freeze the whole batch of meatballs loose in a big ziploc bag first, then vacuum seal them in batches of 10 or so.

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner: Chicken and Noodles

Last night I finally got to make Pioneer Woman’s Chicken and Noodles.  Made as directed, but with lots of extra carrots, and definitely included the onion.

At the end, it seemed a little flat, so I added a little spoonful of chicken base and the juice of about half a lemon. PERFECT.  I think the lemon is mandatory in the future.

Reames noodles were just as good as she said.  And – bonus – they didn’t seem to soak up all the broth in the leftovers.