Turkey Tetrazzini: My favorite thing about Thanksgiving!

Turkey Tetrazzini

I know Thanksgiving has long since gone, but since I just finished eating the last of the re-purposed leftovers, I don’t feel like I’m too out of the loop posting a turkey recipe. After all, even though chicken tetrazzini doesn’t have the same ring, it will taste just as good so really this recipe shouldn’t be stuck as a once-a-year indulgence.

If you’re unfamiliar with tetrazzini, it’s a glorious combination of noodles, diced turkey meat and rich cheesy sauce. It would be wrong to simply call it a casserole, though it’s baked to golden perfection in much the same way. I think it’s the ingredients that elevate it — tetrazzini uses a good amount of Parmesan, half-and-half (or heavy cream) and Sherry, making the sauce undeniably delicious.

Since there are tons of recipes for tetrazzini, I always have a hard time remembering each year how I made it the year before. This year I decided to go right to the best source — my mom. Growing up I was fairly obsessed with tetrazzini. I would beg her to to make it and then hoard the leftovers for my school lunches. (And being a good mom I think she let me get away with it.)

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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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Was it Worth it? Turkey Fried Rice…with Potato Chips

  • The Source: Food & Wine June 2012
  • The Cook: Just me…all alone…
  • The Menu: Turkey Fried Rice with Potato Chips *only adaptation was adding blanched green beans and asparagus, some spicy mustard greens and a bit of Thai basil. I just can’t help but add in extra vegetables, especially when my dinner involves copious amounts of carbs with the addition of potato chips!
  • The Background: It was 85 degrees outside, I was exhausted from work and my long hot bike ride home, and I was so hungry I contemplated just eating the chips for dinner.
  • How it began:

Which one of these things is not like the others?

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A dinner so delicious I changed out of pajamas for it…

This post was almost titled “Clearly the world is against me: An ode to turkey lettuce wraps.” Besides being too long, it sounded a little too fatalistic.

Now you may ask, why would the world be against these deliciously beautiful  things?

While I don’t have the answer to that, the least I can do is fill you in on the story.

The first night I was planning to make these, I had gotten off work and was waiting for my husband to pick me up. However, he hadn’t checked his phone to see when I was ready so I waited for a half an hour before he rescued me. By that time I was borderline “hangry” and so he insisted we eat at the taco cart instead. He’s a smart man.

The following day I was determined to make this recipe, come hell or high water. I got home, changed into pajamas (I am a big fan of being as comfortable as humanly possible as often as possible) and started cooking the rice and the turkey. I was pulling out the ingredients for the sauce when I realized something was missing…fish sauce. We had a giant bottle of it somewhere in our fridge, I was sure. There was no way we had used it all — we bought the biggest jug of it we could find at Fubonn.

I searched high, I searched low, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Then visions of my husband danced in my head. I sent out a text and got a quick reply. “Uhhh…sorry, I took it to work.” Just as I suspected. Now strangers at the restaurant were enjoying delicious things made with my fish sauce. Things like General Tso’s sweetbreads.

I sighed. I put on real clothes and headed to the store. I was back in less than 15 minutes. I got on with my life…

Back to the wraps. They are easy, healthy (taken from America’s Test Kitchen’s 2010 Light & Healthy cookbook) and require very few ingredients, all of which create a perfect meal in my book… Let’s get started.

Chop one bunch of green onions and tear up about a half of a cup of cilantro leaves. The recipe calls for basil which I never seem to have handy, but cilantro I always seem to have floating around. I minced up a jalapeño and got out a couple of limes for zesting and juicing.

Then take a pound of ground turkey and squish it with the back of a spoon. The cookbook says this helps the meat get a nice consistency for wrapping in the lettuce. I don’t know about that, but it’s fun to squish meat, so I do it. I’m easily entertained.

Then, before you get too far along and realize you don’t have an important ingredient (ahem), make your sauce. Combine 1 tsp of cornstarch with 1.5 TBS brown sugar in a small bowl. Add 3 TBS of lime juice and 3 TBS of fish sauce, mix well.

Then in a hot skillet with a little oil, start browning the turkey, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. I usually hit it up with some red chili flakes as well along with the jalapeño. If you want to use some Thai red chilies, feel free. You can adjust the heat according to how brave you are. I’m a bit of a sissy so I tread with caution.

Then throw in the lime zest (about 2 limes worth). I also throw in half of the green onions and basil/cilantro at this time. Because I’m a rebel.

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