Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Sean Foray into the Kitchen – Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Frosting

It is not the often that Sean actually gets into the kitchen and wants to cook something, so when he saw this recipe for lemon angel food cupcakes and said he wanted to make it I thought it would be a good idea. The recipe comes from the Food Network and it is one we saw Giada di Laurentiis make a few weeks ago. It looked pretty good and used some easy ingredients, including an angel food cake mix, which made it even easier for Sean to try. They looked like tasty treats that would be perfect for dessert and gave Sean a chance to impress us with his kitchen skills.

Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Frosting

For the Lemon Curd:
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, at room temperature

For the Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes:
One 1-pound box angel food cake mix
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup lemon juice

For the Mascarpone Frosting:
2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
Yellow sprinkles or yellow sanding sugar, for decorating

For the lemon curd: Whisk together the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula and making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring until it is smooth. Transfer the curd to a heat-proof bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate the curd until it is chilled and firm, about 30 minutes.

For the cupcakes: Set racks on the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, lemon zest and lemon juice, and 1 cup of water. Beat the mix on low-speed for 30 seconds to incorporate, then raise the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 minute. With a scoop or spoon, fill the liners three-quarters full with batter. Bake for  about 15 minutes, or until the cupcakes are golden brown and the top feels dry. Let the cupcakes cool completely before filling and frosting, about 30 minutes.

For the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip the mixture until it is thick, about 2 minutes. Add the mascarpone cheese and beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.

To assemble the cupcakes: Use a small spoon to make a shallow indentation in the center of each cupcake. Fill each indentation with 1 teaspoon of the lemon curd. Use a spatula or piping bag to swirl a generous dollop of frosting over the top of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles or sanding sugar.

We skipped the decorating with the sugar on top and just went with the cupcakes as they were. The cake had a nice lemon flavor and the curd was awesome inside each cupcake. Top it all off with the rich, creamy frosting and you have a really good dessert to serve. These are perfect for any type of summer party or buffet. We kept them chilled in the refrigerator because of the ingredients of the frosting even if the recipe does not indicate that they need to be stored this way. Anyway, I think the chilling added even more to the overall flavor and firmness.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Cakes, Cooking, Dessert


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Easy and Tasty Skillet Fried Chicken with Black Pepper Gravy

Now that the meatball kick is over, I can get back to some other recipes. I have found myself trying a few different fried chicken recipes lately, and even though it may not be the healthiest choice in the world as far as ways to make chicken, it sure does taste good. There is nothing quite like a piece of crispy fried chicken for dinner or even better, for lunch the next day. I had a craving for fried chicken with some gravy, so I was glad when I came across this recipe on the Food Network for skillet fried chicken with a black pepper gravy. It is a simple recipe that has excellent taste and flavor.

Skillet Fried Chicken with Black Pepper Gravy

One 2 to 2 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, or chicken parts (legs, thighs, breasts and wings)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Canola or vegetable oil, for frying

1 cup milk

1 cup chicken stock or water

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and set the chicken aside. Place the flour in a shallow plate and season the flour with the cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Toss the mixture to combine it well and set it aside.

Pour the canola or vegetable oil into a large cast-iron skillet to a depth of about 3/4-inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted into the oil registers 375 degrees. Set up paper bags or layers of paper towels nearby for draining the chicken after frying.

Starting with the dark meat, one piece at a time, add the chicken to the seasoned flour and turn the chicken to coat it well on both sides. Shake the chicken to remove any excess flour. One piece at a time, add the chicken to the hot oil. The oil should not quite cover the chicken. Do not overcrowd the skillet as it can be dangerous and cause splattering and make the chicken steam instead of fry, leaving your with soggy chicken. Cook the chicken in batches if needed.

Fry the chicken pieces, turning them once or twice, until the coating on chicken is rich golden brown on all sides, about 10 to 14 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the skillet. Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked all the way through and the juices run clear when a piece of chicken is pricked with a knife, about another 10 to 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh should register 170 degrees. Remove the chicken and drain the chicken on the brown paper bags or the paper towels.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Carefully pour off most of the grease into a metal bowl or can, leaving about 2 or 3 tablespoons in the pan with the browned crumbs. Reduce the heat to very low. Add 4 tablespoons of the remaining flour from the coating. Stir together the grease and the flour with a wooden spoon and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the milk and the chicken stock or water. Cook, stirring often, until the gravy is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add a heaping pinch of black pepper. taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

Serve the gravy with the chicken and rice or mashed potatoes.

I only made 5 pieces of chicken, all thighs, so as not to overcrowd the pan and that was more than enough for the three of us for dinner. you can always make a few batches if you need to or use 2 pans at the same time. in any case, this is a very simple recipe that yields excellent fried chicken with nice, crispy skin. The best part of the meal though is the gravy that goes with it. It has a great pepper flavor and is rich and creamy, making it perfect for mashed potatoes or rice (I used masked potatoes last night). you can round out the meal with a nice vegetable (like corn on the cob) and some homemade biscuits and you have a great meal of fried chicken during a weeknight.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Gravy, Poultry


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A Meatball Finale – Turkey Meatballs with Raspberry-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

I took a few days off from blogging to get caught up on some work, but I didn’t forget about my last meatball recipe to share along the way. The classic Italian meatballs sure went a long way and we had them for 4 dinners and a few lunches as well, so we got a lot out of the $14.00 I spent on the ground turkey and turkey sausage. Not only do the meatballs taste great, but you have a lot of things to do with them, including this recipe that Giada di Laurentiis shared on the Food Network for turkey meatballs in a raspberry-balsamic barbecue sauce. Giada’s original recipe offers these up as mini meatballs to use for appetizers, but I changed it around slightly and used bigger meatballs and we had them for dinner when I made them.

Turkey Meatballs with Raspberry-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

2 cups frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
3/4 cup ketchup
2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
3 tablespoons packed golden brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black
Zest of 1 small lemon
24 to 36 Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs
For the barbecue sauce: In a food processor or blender, blend together the raspberries, ketchup, raspberry jam, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and lemon zest until the mixture is smooth. Pour the sauce into a heavy medium saucepan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the sauce until it is slightly thickened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Place the meatballs in the saucepan with the sauce and cook over medium heat until the meatballs have cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the meatballs and sauce into a serving bowl and serve.

As I said, Giada makes her smaller to use as an appetizer and threads them on skewers with mango and radicchio, which would make a very nice appetizer if you want to put some out for a party or buffet. I think they worked just as well as a meal on their own over some rice. The sauce had a combination of the sweetness of the raspberries from the jam and the fruit with a bit of barbecue sauce flavor from the ketchup, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. It was a very nice sauce that tasted great, though I would recommend if you are not a fan of raspberry seeds you really try to find seedless jam to use. Overall, I think it was a pretty good dish and we made this one and some of the turkey meatballs in a simple turkey gravy as well over rice or noodles to finish up the meatballs.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. I have some new things to share that aren’t meatballs so I’ll be posting some new stuff next time out I think everyone will enjoy. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Appetizers, Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Turkey


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Meatballs Run Amok! Pizza Bianca with Kale and Turkey Meatballs

You would think we would have gotten sick of meatballs by now, wouldn’t you? Surprisingly enough we managed to keep on with our meatball theme this week, using another recipe from Giada di Laurentiis that makes use of the classic Italian turkey meatballs I made earlier in the week. For this recipe, just like the one yesterday for meatball paninis, we kept it very easy and decided to go the pizza route. This one is for pizza Bianca, which is a white pie without any red sauce, perfect for those who may not like the acidity or flavor of tomato sauce. You can use some of the meatballs from the original recipe that have not been put into sauce, or just take some of the sauced meatballs and cut them up if you want just a hint of the sauce flavor. In either case, it is a very flavorful pizza.

Pizza Bianca with Kale and Turkey Meatballs

For the Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Pizza:
Extra-virgin olive oil, for oiling the baking sheet and for drizzling
One 1-pound ball pizza dough (store-bought or homemade, such as Food Processor Pizza Dough), at room temperature
3/4 cup coarsely grated mozzarella
8 Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs, halved
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 medium leaves kale, ribs removed, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the sauce: In a heavy small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Add the nutmeg, bay leaf and garlic. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until the mixture thickens to sauce consistency and is smooth, about 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper.

Remove and discard the bay leaf and the garlic.

For the pizza: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a heavy nonstick 16- by 10-inch baking sheet with olive oil.

Using your fingers, spread the dough over the prepared baking sheet into a rectangle shape. Drizzle the dough with olive oil. Spoon the sauce on top and spread the sauce evenly across the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the dough. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Arrange the meatballs, cut-side down, on top of the mozzarella and sauce. Sprinkle the pizza with the Parmesan cheese. Bake the pizza for 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and add the kale in an even layer on top of the meatballs. Drizzle the kale with olive oil and sprinkle the top with salt. Bake the pizza until the kale is crispy, about 10 minutes longer.

Cut the pizza into squares and serve.

One thing I did differently with this recipe, since I did not have any kale on hand, was that I used some spinach instead. Sean and Michelle both like spinach better anyway so this worked well for us, but if you really want the kale I would think it would turn out nice and crispy and taste great on the pizza. Everyone loved this pizza, not just because of the meatballs but because of the white sauce as well. The sauce had just that hint of nutmeg to give it a really unique flavor and it just seemed to go really well with the meatballs and spinach. Sean asked that I make this one again and maybe try another pizza combination with the sauce from this recipe, which sounded like a good idea to me.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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Meatball Frenzy Week Continues – Turkey Meatball Panini

So now that I had all of these meatballs I needed to find things to do with them. Luckily, Giada didn’t let me down and I supplied several other recipes in ways that you could use these great turkey meatballs. The best part about all of them is that they con convert into really easy meals that only take a few minutes to create and you have something entirely new to enjoy for the night. The first up was this really simple meatball panini recipe. I have a panini maker, but you can just as easily do this with a grill, grill pan or skillet with a little bit of effort and it will come out great too. This recipe makes use of the meatballs and a few other simple ingredients to make awesome paninis for the family to enjoy.

Turkey Meatball Panini

1 red onion, peeled, cut into eight 1/4 -to 1/2-inch-thick rounds

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ciabatta rolls, halved horizontally (or other bread of your choice)

1 cup tomato sauce (homemade or your favorite jarred brand)

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

1 1/3 cups arugula

12 Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs, halved

8 thin slices prosciutto

8 slices provolone cheese

Preheat a grill pan or a panini maker. Brush the red onion slices on both sides with the olive oil. Sprinkle the onions with kosher salt and black pepper. Grill the onion slices until they are tender and lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Set the onions aside to cool

Pull out and remove some of he bread from the ciabatta rolls from each half of the rolls. This will give the meatballs a better place to sit in the sandwich. Spoon half of the tomato sauce over the bottom halves of each of the rolls. Sprinkle the sauce with red pepper flakes, if using. Add the arugula, the turkey meatballs, the prosciutto slices, grilled onions and the remaining sauce to each sandwich. Top each sandwich with two pieces of cheese. Add the tops of the rolls and drizzle the tops with olive oil. Using a pastry brush, brush the olive oil evenly over the tops of the rolls.

Place the sandwiches in the panini maker and lower the press and cook until the cheese has melted and the meatballs are heated through, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, place the sandwiches on a grill pan or in a heated skillet and place a cast-iron pan or other heavy pot (anything heavy will really do) to press the sandwiches down and cook through until the cheese is melted and the meatballs are heated through.

Cut the panini in half and serve.

The great thing about paninis, or any sandwich really, is that you can put whatever you like best on them. If you don’t like provolone, use your favorite cheese on it instead or no cheese at all (which is how I eat it). If you don’t have prosciutto, use any type of ham that you like (which I did for Sean; I used Black Forest Ham). you can use any type of other toppings that you really like or use different meatballs and still get good results (those these meatballs are really good and you should try them out). I had mine with just the grilled onions, meatballs, red pepper flakes and arugula. Michelle had hers with the meatballs, arugula, grilled onions and provolone. Sean had his with the meatballs, Black Forest Ham and prosciutto, no onions or arugula. They all looked really good and everyone really enjoyed the sandwiches. It was a great way to re-purpose some of the meatballs for a quick meal.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Poultry, Sandwiches, Turkey


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It’s a Meatball Frenzy Week! – Giada’s Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs

Meatballs are one of those things that everyone seems to have their own way of making. Just like it is with meatloaf, meatballs can have just about anything in them and can be all types of meat combinations depending on your preferences. I have tried a bunch of different recipes in the past, including recipes from Giada di Laurentiis, who this particular recipe is from. Not that long ago an episode of her show features several meatball recipes, including the basic one for turkey meatballs that you start out with and then other recipes you can use the same meatballs for. I decided to start out the week with the basic class turkey meatball recipe and then build out from there.

Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs

For the Meatballs:

1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon ketchup, optional
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2  eggs, at room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground turkey meat (dark meat if you can get it)
1 pound Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
For the Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1  onion, finely chopped 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to season
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons finely ground fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

For the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, basil, parsley, milk, ketchup if using, tomato paste, salt, pepper, eggs, garlic and onions. Using a wooden spoon, stir the ingredients until they are blended. Add the ground turkey and the turkey sausage meat. Using your fingers, gently mix all the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.

Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop or a small ice cream scoop, form the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls (22 to 24 meatballs). Place the meatballs on a heavy nonstick baking sheet, spacing them apart. Drizzle the meatballs with olive oil and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

For the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet with high sides or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onions, salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables until they softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the basil, the fennel, oregano and crushed tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook the sauce over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of basil. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if desired.

Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer until the meatballs are heated through, about 10 minutes. Thin the sauce with chicken stock, 1/4 cup at a time, if needed.

Serve with grated Parmesan alongside.

I have to say that of all the meatball recipes I have tried recently, I think this is the best one and since it uses only turkey meat, it might be the healthiest alternative of the ones I have made. The texture of the meatball is perfect and the flavor you get from the mix of the turkey meat and sausage along with the spices is just perfect. Throw it all in a simple sauce and you have a great meal. I actually doubled the recipe and made a lot of meatballs with this recipe to use for the other meatball recipes Giada tried on that episode, so I’ll be posting meatball options all week with what we had leftover. Of course, you can always just freeze some and use them when you want them. I left about half out of the sauce to use for some of the other recipes.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



Posted by on June 3, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Sauce, Turkey


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Another Great Summer Side Dish – Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

We are just about getting into summer in the area after a really long winter and that means the opportunity to get some of the really great summer vegetables that are around. For my family, that means eating a lot of corn and in all different ways. Yes,corn on the cob is great and it is certainly a family favorite for us, but one of the things that is even better is to roast some corn on the cob, strip it off the cob and use it in some wonderful side dishes. One of my favorites is a black bean and corn salad, which gives you the opportunity to combine some great flavors to get really good freshness for a side dish that is perfect for the summer. I found this particular recipe at TidyMom and decided to give it a try myself with some modifications of my own.

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

3 ears corn, cut off the cob
1 orange bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado sliced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Juice of 1 1/2 limes
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 cup olive oil
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped

Cook the corn, bell pepper and the red onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until the vegetables are beginning to brown nicely all over, about 5 to 7 minutes. Toss in the black beans and cook until the beans are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Turn the heat down to low while you make the dressing.

For the dressing, smash the garlic clove and sprinkle the smashed clove with some kosher salt. With the flat side of your knife, mash and smear the garlic clove and salt until it forms a paste. Whisk the garlic paste, lime juice, salt and chili powder together in a bowl. Slowly and gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting with just a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream until the oil is incorporated into the dressing.

Add the dressing to the bean and corn mixture and toss the vegetables to coat them evenly. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the  corn and beans to a large bowl. Gently fold in the avocado, grape tomatoes, the basil and the blue cheese, if using, and serve warm or at room temperature.

That;s all there is to it and you get a really tasty side dish within minutes. You can certainly grill the corn first if you prefer instead of pan roasting it and then cut it off the cob, but since I don’t have access to a grill to do it this was my best option. I love the dressing with the nice bite of the lemon juice mixing so nicely with the corn, beans, avocado and tomatoes. This side dish can go with anything, from chicken, ribs, burgers and steak to all kinds of other meals. You could even use this as filling for tacos or quesadillas if you wanted something that is more of a vegetarian meal. It is certainly one we will use throughout the summer.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!




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