Baked Turkey Meatballs w. Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

Turkey Spinach Meatballs

Turkey Spinach Meatballs

My obsession with tearing out recipes from cooking magazines has some serious downfalls (including the hoarding tendencies it brings out in me). The main issue is that sometimes I think I’ve torn out a recipe for something but I can’t exactly remember it. This means I often waste an exorbitant amount of time pawing through my files trying to find something in particular. Usually I’m victorious, sometimes I’m not.

Example: Last Friday, when faced with a pound of thawed ground turkey, I had a vague memory of recently seeing a recipe for turkey ricotta meatballs. I started digging through my “poultry folder,” but came up empty handed. I then dug through the “pasta folder” and the “yet to be filed” pile. No dice.

Undeterred, I scoured my Pinterest boards and went through all of my “likes.” Still nothing.

Disappointed in my lack of success, I eventually gave up on the search and turned to my old friend Google. After some browsing I decided on this recipe from Heather’s Dish. Even though I knew it wasn’t the recipe I had been thinking about, it looked like a winner — easy to make and fairly healthy — two big pluses in my book.

Of course, just this morning I realized that I should have checked my WordPress activity list because here it is, the recipe that inspired me! I guess I’ll have to give it a shot some other time.

I ended up using Heather’s recipe as a starting point, making some changes based on the ingredients I had on hand (and the fact that I forgot to buy ricotta!). I also threw in some extra goodies so at the end of the post I’ve included my version for these delectable little guys.

Turkey Spinach Meatballs -- about to be covered in (more) sauce and baked for 2 hours

Turkey Spinach Meatballs — about to be covered in (more) sauce and baked for 2 hours

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Hello, Delicious! Swiss Chard, Tomato & Bread Gratin

Sometimes I get the feeling that food fate exists, as if there are just things we are destined to eat. Upon my first bite of this dish, I am even more confident in that belief. Why, you ask? Let me tell you a little story. I am a hoarder of recipes, a collector of torn pages from numerous food-related magazines which are then lovingly organized in one of ten different folders I keep by my couch. I like to go through them often, adding new recipes, reorganizing, maybe pulling out one or two to actually make over the weekend. It’s a sickness, I know. I grapple with that daily. And yet, I can’t stop.

Recently, in an effort to un-hoard, I have been trying to either throw out recipes I know (deep in my heart) that I will never make. Or, better yet, trying to resist tearing them out in the first place if I feel even the slightest bit “meh” about them.

And so as delicious as this Tomato and Swiss Chard Gratin sounded, I was hesitant. With all the wonderful carb-loaded things I eventually want to make, would this actually ever be at the top of the list? Will I pass this recipe by to try out yet another macaroni and cheese instead? Would I ever feel the need to buy a bunch of fairly expensive things: plump beefsteak tomatoes, five pounds of Swiss chard and a nice Gruyère cheese just to bake a fancy casserole? Its chances were not looking good.

Three different times, I almost threw the magazine out with that page still inside. But finally about three weeks ago, in a fit of optimism, I yanked it out. Instantly I was annoyed with myself for adding another stack of paper to the already massive pile of recipes waiting to be filed away in their respective folders.

(Oh god, I’m practically begging someone to plan an intervention for me.)

Anyways here’s the shocking news: within two weeks, I had made it! And in not-so-shocking news, it was freakin’ amazing. Like, so unbelievably good. Yes, this is the dish I referenced in my Cider Press post, the dish that was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The bread became almost like custard, the chard and onions added depth, the tomatoes kept it moist and the cheese was (of course) sublime.

I am already dying to make it again. In fact, I’m dreaming about this instead of stuffing to go with my turkey at Thanksgiving…or maybe with leftover turkey layered inside? The possibilities are endless.

Here’s some in-the-making pictures to hopefully make your mouth water…

First layer of bread and tomatoes

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Tales from the Garden: Fresh Tomato Sauce

Considering that over the course of the summer I’ve mentioned my inaptitude in gardening (well, at least gardening for edible things, I can grow some pretty flowers!), I think you can guess that these tomatoes did not come my garden. This, again, is why it’s good to have friends who seem to have a natural green thumb.

So thanks to my friend DB, I spent last weekend surrounded by the final remains of Portland’s Indian summer as we cooked up a batch of fresh tomato sauce.

Look at these beauties!

Once we had picked all the ripe fruit, we debated for a while about whether to take the skins off. We had enough tomatoes that the task did seem daunting. Finally I managed to convince DB it would be worth it in the end — swearing (with little confidence) that it wouldn’t take forever.

Surprisingly I was right — I love it when that happens! A quick “X” at the bottom of each tomato, plus a dunking in boiling water, and the skins slid right off. Within 45 minutes or so, we had every last one peeled and ready to go. We decided not to seed them because they were almost all flesh, perfect for stewing.

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Before summer is gone…

This week I noticed it’s getting dark by 8 o’clock and you can feel a certain chill to the air. My driveway is littered with fallen leaves, I have begun to see Halloween candy in the supermarket and I finally had to start using a bike light for my evening commute.

These things terrify me because it means that fall is approaching. Now I have no problem with autumn — we get along okay. I like the changing of colors and snuggling up on the couch with my kitties while a chicken roasts in the oven. My problem with fall is that winter is close behind it, and well, let’s just say it’s my least favorite season.

But before I get too sad, there’s still some leftovers from summer here to enjoy. One of my favorite things is tomatoes — delicious, sweet, warm tomatoes. Growing up in Alaska, I had no idea how good a tomato could be until I moved to Oregon. I was astonished.

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Chicken for procrastinators

I got off work early last Friday and it was a surprisingly warm day here in Portland. As soon as I got home, all I wanted was to sit outside in my backyard and enjoy the sun for as long as possible. After two hours of relaxing in my lounge chair, thumbing through magazines and drinking some wine, it hit me how hungry I was. I hadn’t even contemplated what I was going to make for dinner and by this time, my motivation level had dropped significantly.

A quick glance through my produce drawer brought to mind an old standby in our house — Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic. This is adapted from a recipe in The America’s Test Kitchen’s cookbook, and it’s even considered “light and healthy.” It’s also easy, versatile and — if I put my ass in gear — I could be eating it in less than thirty minutes.

Now the chicken and sauce alone would take much less than that, but I needed something more substantial. Luckily I keep a jar of farro on hand for times like these. I got a pot of water on the stove and quickly chopped up some veggies to roast (a mixture of brussels spouts, carrots, onion and cauliflower). While the farro cooked, I took a little time-out to have another glass of wine and spy on my neighbors. They are very strange and can put on a good show, so spying is a great time killer.

When everything was about ten minutes away from being done, I got to work on the chicken. The breasts are seasoned with salt and pepper and lightly dredged in flour. I minced two cloves of garlic, thinly sliced four green onions and halved a cup of cherry tomatoes. I kept another handful of tomatoes whole to add a little variation. A lemon and a hunk of parm rounded out my ingredient list.

Get your pan hot (I prefer non-stick) and drizzle in some olive oil. Throw the chicken breasts in. Now the recipe says to pound them but since the oven was already nice and hot from roasting the vegetables, I just figured I’d pop them in there to finish cooking. Once the breasts are just cooked through, take them out of the pan and put them on a plate.

In the same pan, throw in the minced garlic. Be careful because it will cook quickly and you don’t want to burn it. Just give it about thirty seconds or so, until it starts to sweat and smell delicious. Then in go the cherry tomatoes along with a small splash of water or chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and let that cook for a couple of minutes, until the tomatoes just begin to break down. Then toss in scallions, a squeeze of lemon juice and you’re all set!

The recipe calls for blue cheese but I didn’t have any, so once everything was plated up, I hit the whole shebang with some grated Parmesan. Seriously, this dinner is unbelievably simple, but the flavors are so fresh that it never gets old to me. And paired with farro to help soak up some of the sauce, it’s really my idea of heaven.

Bloody Marys are great in any form, even as a steak sauce

It sadly took me way too long to discover how delightful Bloody Marys are. But once I tried my first sip years ago, it was over. I was hopelessly hooked. I have (almost entirely) given up mimosas and Kir Royales at brunch. Instead a delicious spicy tomato cocktail is the first thing on my mind. In fact, I often make myself a bloody when  get home from work. I figure the V8 in it gives me a good vitamin boost and the vodka takes the edge off a stressful day. Two things I consider equally important.

A common sight in my house!

So when I saw this amazing recipe in Bon Appetit, it didn’t even get a chance to languish in my binder of recipes. I don’t think I made it more than a week before buying the celery seeds and firing up the grill.

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