Monthly Archives: September 2013

Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is a yummy meal that synthesizes all your food groups into one. Pick out 3-6 ripe red bell peppers (or you can mix in orange and yellow – just not green) and carve off the tops to fill it with our healthy and delicious turkey stuffing. You can also substitute brown rice for white rice to make it even lighter. Top it off with bread crumbs and shards of parmesan, and when you take it out of the oven, you’ll have a full meal inside of a pepper, with ooey-gooey cheese on top to make your mouth water.
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
  • 3-6 red bell peppers
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 8 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1/4 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 Tbs. hot sauce (we use Crystal)
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 cup of bread crumbs, plus 1 Tbs. per bell pepper
  • 3 Tbs. Parmesan cheese shards
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
    Makes 4-6 servings.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Carve the top out of the bell peppers. Clean out the insides.

Then, chop up the rest of the vegetables. In a large skillet, sauté in olive oil over medium-high heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. At the same time, cook rice in a separate pot.

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Add ground turkey to pan, and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned.

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Add rest of ingredients up to (and including) the 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. Stir, uncovered, and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, until most of the chicken stock has evaporated. Spoon the filling into the bell peppers, and stand upright in a deep pan. You’ll want to pack them in tight so they don’t fall over. Top with extra bread crumbs and shards of parmesan.

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Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake for another 15 minutes. You can broil it for the last 2-5 minutes to make the cheese bubbly.

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Enjoy!

 

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

In South Louisiana, everyone and their mama has a secret family recipe for gumbo. This is my family’s recipe. Gumbo is a veritable one-pot wonder, and has its origins in Choctaw, African, Cajun, and Creole traditions (to name a few). It can be thickened with okra, roux, or gumbo file powder; I personally use all three. While this recipe uses chicken and andouille sausage, you can use any variety of proteins: shrimp, oysters, crabs, tasso. Be warned: this is an all-day process. On football game days, we wake up early and cook it, then bring it to the tailgate. I would encourage everyone to set aside a day to try their hand at making gumbo. It’s hard work that proves worthwhile.

Ingredients:

  • One whole chicken (can be bought as a pre-cooked rotisserie)
  • 4 links andouille sausage
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen okra
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes 
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4-5 Tbs. flour
  • 2 Tbs. Tony Chachere’s Seasoning
  • 2 tsp. red pepper
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbs. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. file powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 cups rice
    Makes 8-10 servings.

If you are opting to roast your own whole chicken, prepare this beforehand and let cool. As gumbo is a labor-intensive process to begin with, I usually buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. Remove the bones, cartilage, skin, and any fat and put it all in a pot. Shred the white and dark meat into bite sized pieces.

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In the pot with the inedible chicken parts, fill it almost full with water. Set on the stove top and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least one hour to make the broth. When done, strain the broth into a clean pot.

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Meanwhile, saute or grill the andouille sausage, then cut into bite size pieces.

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Now time for the roux – this is a butter and flour mixture, cooked until dark, that serves as the base and thickener for the gumbo. Melt half a stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle 4-5 tablespoons of flour into the butter, and whisk or stir with a wooden spoon.

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Don’t leave the stove for 15-20 minutes. Constantly stir the mixture so that the flour doesn’t burn. By 20 minutes, the roux should be the color of brick red-brown.

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Add the bell pepper and onion to the roux, and mix well. Saute for 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.

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Remove vegetables from pan and set aside. Melt another half-stick of butter in the skillet. Add the okra, still frozen, and cover. Every few minutes, stir. It will be very gooey and gummy.

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After 10-15 minutes, once most of the gumminess is gone, add the can of Rotel tomatoes and cook for 5-10 more minutes.

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Now assemble everything – roux/onion mixture, okra and tomatoes, sausage, and chicken – into the pot with the broth. Add all of the spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for at least 1-2 hours, up to all day long. The longer it cooks, the more nuanced the flavors.

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Serve over rice.

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If you’re doing it right, you should see some variation of this:

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From my family’s kitchen to yours – enjoy!

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs

This was a recipe I made up as I went along; and in this case, spontaneity proved worthwhile. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef to create a leaner version of this classic, but didn’t sacrifice any of the moistness or flavor. I also made the tomato sauce chunky with myriad vegetables – a sneaky way to make kids unknowingly eat their vegetables. Japanese Panko bread crumbs are used in lieu of traditional bread crumbs to make the meatballs less dense. Topped over spaghetti, this meal is well-balanced (with lean protein, vegetables, and carbs!) and takes just over thirty minutes to whip up.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus another 2 tsp.
  • 2 Tbs. dried oregano (x2)
  • 1 Tbs. dried basil (x2)
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (x2)
  • 2 tsp. anise seed (x2)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder (x2)
  • 1 Tbs. onion powder (x2)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (x2)
  • 2 carrot sticks, diced
  • 1 cup button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Jar of marinara
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
    Makes 6-8 servings.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix first 13 ingredients (up to salt and pepper) in a large bowl with your hands. Use only 2 tsp of olive oil – this will help to keep the meatballs moist. Be sure not to over-mix, as this will render the meatballs tough.

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Form into small meatballs, about 1.5-2 inches thick.

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Drizzle olive oil into a large skillet, and brown the meatballs for several minutes on each side over medium-high heat. Transfer the meatballs to a sheet pan and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, drizzle more olive oil into large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Saute carrots, mushrooms, and onions for 6-7 minutes. Add garlic, and saute for 1-2 more minutes.

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Add jar of marinara, in addition to all of the herbs and spices used in the meatballs. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, boil spaghetti in a large pot. Salt water liberally, and add olive oil so the noodles don’t stick together. Drain.

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Remove meatballs from oven, and nestle into the tomato sauce. Cover, and cook another 5-10 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

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Serve over spaghetti, with 2-3 meatballs a person. Top with parmesan cheese.

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