Focaccia Bread

focaccia bread sprinkled with rosemary and sea salt

 

Yesterday, I was craving fresh, hot pizza.  But we had a lot of leftovers to eat for dinner.  Since I never like to let anything go to waste, the pizza would have to wait.  But I still did not want to let that thought go.  So, I compromised. We needed a little bread to go with dinner, anyway.  At least that is how I justified making this easy focaccia to jazz up our plates.  And, today, there is barely any left.  So, I guess I didn’t need to make any justifications, anyway.

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Fast and Easy Turkey Meatballs in Red Sauce

turkey meatballs in red sauce over pasta with a glass of red wine

Sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table.  Am I right?  Springtime in my household presents numerous challenges when it comes to making a warm, satisfying dinner that can be served at different times throughout the evening.  One kid is off to baseball practice not to return until well after 7:30pm but the dancer would like to eat before class which starts at 6:00pm.  And what about the hangry parents?  (Who do you think will finally get to drink that glass of red wine likely after 8:30pm once everyone is home and showering before bed?)  I also like to make lighter versions of favorite meals since it means I may not be eating until well after regular dinner hours.  That’s where the turkey comes in.  But then there is the problem of dense, dry meatballs due to the lowfat nature of the turkey meat.  I solved that problem by adding ricotta cheese and eggs as well as crumble feta for some extra flavor.  Don’t be alarmed form the meatballs, they are super sticky.  Relax.  Just set up your rolling station right next to your pot of simmering sauce and drop the meatballs in as you roll them.   Boil up some pasta and pour yourself a glass of wine and in no time, you will be a dinner hero.

Turkey Meatballs in Red Sauce

(Makes about 15 meatballs with sauce)

Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, crushed and minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1  32 oz. can crushed tomatoes

3 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup red wine

Meatballs:

1 pound ground turkey

2 eggs

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

8  oz. whole milk ricotta cheese

4  oz. crumbled feta cheese

Place a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid over medium heat.  Add olive oil and garlic.  Sautee for 3 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, crushed tomatoes, oregano, sugar, water and red wine.  Stir and bring mixture to a simmer.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients for meatballs.  (Use your hands, its a lot easier than a spoon.)  Form 1″ round meatballs and place them gently into the simmering sauce.  Make one layer along the bottom then gently place more meatballs on top of the first layer.  Add additional layers of meatballs, if necessary.  Place lid on top of pot.  Do not stir.  Allow meatballs to simmer and steam in sauce for 20 minutes.  Remove lid and gently move meatballs around.  Place lid back on top of pot for another 5 minutes.  Remove one meatball to test that meat is cooked through.  Serve over pasta or rice.

 

 

Orzo, Lemon and Chicken Soup

soup with lemon, eggs, orzo, spinach and lemon

There is something so refreshing about adding lemons to any dish or dessert.  You definitely cannot be sad when eating anything where the lemon shines through.  The tart nature of the fruit forces your mouth to smile and kicks your taste buds into gear.  And what is more comforting than a bowl of chicken noodle soup?  I really cannot think of anything except maybe my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven.  Lemon, chicken, noodles and a boost of extra flavor, color and vitamins from some added spinach.  A comforting hug on a cold day.

This recipe has been adapted from one of my favorite soup cookbooks: New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker and Clara SilversteinCheck out their location in Newton, MA http://newenglandsoupfactory.com/

Orzo, Lemon and Chicken Soup

(Serves about 6)

1 package skinless, boneless chicken thighs

olive oil

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried garlic

salt and pepper

10 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup orzo

4 eggs, lightly beaten

zest and juice from 3 lemons

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

2-3 dashes Tabasco Sauce

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

 

  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil and lightly spray with cooking oil.  Lay chicken thighs flat on prepared pan.  Rub the tops with a little olive oil.  Sprinkle the dried parsley, garlic and some salt and pepper on each one.  Bake the chicken thighs until cooked through for about 30-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cook to room temperature.  Chop chicken into bite size pieces and set aside.

  Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large stock pot.  Add the orzo and cook for five minutes.  While stirring constantly, drizzle in the eggs and continue stirring for about 30 seconds, until the eggs cook into threads.  Add the lemon zest, juice cooked chicken and spinach.  Season with Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces.  Heat through.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary.