Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Smart Cooking

I can hardly believe that my fingers are typing a post about cooking. I can honestly say I have never felt cooking was my forte or anything I would ever be writing about, but I have truly worked hard at perfecting my culinary skills. After choosing to stay home with my children, I have taken my role as homemaker very seriously. I have really gotten into meal planning and being resourceful about having good meals on the table. This has taken some work and creativity considering I have two small "helpers" and right before dinner is when they often need the most attention. So I started making meals ahead and freezing them. I also shop on a pretty tight budget and so like being able to buy in bulk when there is a sale and use ingredients in several meals. Yesterday was a shopping and cooking day for me. So I thought I would share the recipes I made and how they work together. They both come from the book There's a Chef in My Soup by Emeril. I highly recommend this cook book, and it was put together with kids in mind.

Here are the recipes:
Lean Mean Turkey Loaf
1 1/2 lb pounds ground turkey (I used 97% lean)
1/2 c chopped yellow onion
1/2 c plain bread crumbs
1/4 c chopped celery (I'm not a cooked celery fan, so I omit this and double the red pepper)
1/4 c red or green bell pepper
1 lrg egg
1/4 c ketchup
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp Baby Bam (recipe coming at the end)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1. Make sure the oven rack is in the center position and preheat the oven to 375 F.
2. Place the turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add the onion, bread crumbs, celery, bell pepper, egg, 1 T of the ketchup, the garlic, Baby Bam, salt, and ground pepper, and mix with your hands until the ingredients are well incorporated.
3. Transfer the turkey mixture to a 1 lb loaf pan and form it into a loaf shape.
4. Pour the remaining Ketchup on the turkey and smear evenly over the top with the back of a spoon.
5. Bake until brown on top, cooked through, and an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reaches 165 F, about 45 - 50 min.
6. Remove the loaf from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

My-Oh-My Spaghetti Pie
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 cups broccoli flowerets
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp Baby Bam (recipe coming at the end)
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 lb ground beef (I used the lean ground turkey)
8 lrg eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
3 cups cooked spaghetti (I use Barrila P
lus penne because it is easy to pick up for the kiddos, and has added protein.)
1 heaping cup grated mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)

1. Make sure oven rack is in center position and preheat the oven to 375 F.
2. Blanche the broccoli. (slightly cooked but still crisp and green)
3. Drain the broccoli and then rinse with cold water.
4. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, 1 tsp of the Baby Bam, the parsley, the basil, 1/4 tsp of the remaining salt, the pepper, and ground meat, and cook stirring until the meat is no longer pink and the onions start to brown.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, the remaining 1 1/2 tsp Baby Bam, and the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt. Add the Parmesan Cheese and whisk well to combine.
6. Spread the cooked spaghetti evenly in a 2 qt. casserole dish.
7. Pour the meat over the spaghetti and toss with a fork to combine.
8. Place the broccoli on top of the speghetti and meat.
9. Pour the egg mixture over the top.
10. Sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella cheese and bake it in the oven until golden brown, about 20 - 25 minutes.
11. After removing from the oven, let firm for 5 minutes before serving.

Baby Bam
3 T paprika
2 T salt
2 T dried parsley
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried oregeno
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp celery salt

I made both recipes yesterday. We ate the meatloaf and I froze the speghetti pie for later. These recipes work well together. You can usually get 3 lbs of ground turkey at a discount, one nice sized onion yields enough for both recipes, etc. Also while you are making the pasta for the pie you can boil enough to make some mac and cheese to go with the meatloaf or for lunch the next day.

I have a binder I am working on that keeps recipes that work well together...together. So I don't have to have several cook books out at a time. I hope to share more recipes that work well together in the near future.

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