Confetti Turkey Chili

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Hi there! How’s it going?

How was your weekend?

My weekend was super fun because I actually got to do Girls Weekend with my mom and sister in E’s new town (while my poor dad was cleaning out my grandma’s apartment…). It was so nice to have quiet time with just the three of us and play tourist in my sister’s new stomping grounds.

E has a pretty rigorous and time-consuming job, so she gets home pretty late at night and doesn’t want to cook (totally get it). So when we go see her, or when E comes home, we usually bring/send back easy meals that are easy to freeze and reheat. Simple suppers are always at hand and we know that she’s eating a nutritious meal at the end of a crazy long day.

Last week, my mom stocked up on ground turkey meat with the intent of making meatballs to bring up to my sister’s place for the weekend. But after a little discussion, we decided that chili would be a better (and more summer-y!) option.

Confetti Turkey Chili starts out with the “confetti” – the bright bits of color that give this chili a solid veggie foundation.

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Bell peppers, celery, onions, and garlic. Simple, but so tasty. Plus, this is also a great way to sneak in some veggie goodness into your family’s meal (always an added bonus).

When the vegetables get soft, toss in two pounds of ground turkey and use a spatula to break up the meat into smaller chunks.

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You want to cook ground meat (especially turkey) very well, so be patient – this step can take 5-10 minutes.

When the meat has been completely browned, add in a large can of whole tomatoes that you have broken down slightly (more confetti for the chili!).

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My mom actually uses kitchen shears to cut up the whole tomatoes in the can, but you can cut them up in the can with a knife or crush them with your hands. Your choice!

All that’s left is to add in herbs and spices that make it chili!

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Chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. (sorry for the steamy photo!)

All that’s left is to let the chili simmer a little bit, stir in a can of black beans, and let it simmer some more.

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Yum! And I love that you can still see all the beautiful bits of vegetable! I love pretty food, don’t you?

All that’s left is to dish it up, garnish it, and devour.

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I added some thick wedges of avocado and a couple of tortilla chips, but you can add whatever fixins’ float your boat! A dollop of fat-free sour cream or Greek yogurt, some shredded low fat cheese, some pico de gallo, guacamole, diced onions, jalapeños, cilantro, etc. The options are endless.

I hope you enjoy this easy, quick (and healthy) chili recipe.

Happy Tuesday, kiddos!

C

Confetti Turkey Chili

  • Servings: 8 people
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium-sized bell peppers, diced (preferably red, orange, or yellow)

2 medium-sized onions, diced

4 stalks of celery, cut into half-moons

5 cloves of garlic, minced

2 pounds lean ground turkey

1-28oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes, cut with kitchen shears/knife/crushed with hands

3 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon dark chili powder

1½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne powder – if you are sensitive to heat, use half the amount of cayenne

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1-15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Hot sauce to taste

 

Steps:

  1. In a large, high-sided skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the bell peppers, onions, celery, and garlic. Cook until vegetables become soft and tender, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Move the veggies to the outside of the skillet and add in the ground turkey. Using your spoon/spatula, break the ground turkey into small pieces. Cook until completely browned – this can take a while, about 5-10 minutes (so be patient… it’s all worth it!).
  3. When the turkey is browned, add in the tomatoes and the herbs and spices. NOTE – this recipe yields a spicy chili… if you are sensitive to heat, halve the amount of cayenne pepper (you can always add more heat with hot sauce later!). Stir to combine and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add in the black beans and stir to combine. Taste chili to assess seasoning and spiciness and adjust per your tastes – if you want a spicier chili, add in some hot sauce. Simmer the chili for another 15 minutes to let the flavors meld and the beans to heat through.
  5. Serve with the traditional chili fixins’ like avocado, taco chips, and shredded cheese.

Enjoy!

Dolmathes

My mom’s favorite food are the Greek delicacy, dolmathes, AKA stuffed grape leaves. As much as I love the ones that come out of a can, there is really nothing like ones made from scratch. My grandmother, my mom’s mom, makes the best dolmathes … but they are slightly labor-intensive and she doesn’t make them so often.

So my mom got grape leaves and told me that we were going to try to make them ourselves… on a Wednesday, no less.

My mom and I like the meat and rice-stuffed dolmathes, so in a large bowl combine ground beef, finely chopped onion, olive oil, fresh mint, fresh dill, and some salt and pepper.

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Then add the rice!

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My grandmother uses the Italian Arborio rice, but we used plain old white long-grain rice.

And mix with your hands…

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Look how pretty!

The hardest part of the whole dolmathes making process is the rolling. Here is my mama’s way… (PS – excuse the blurry pictures… this was kinda hard to do one-handed).

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On a plate, place a grape leaf that has been cleaned, boiled, and cooled completely. Or a grape leaf that has been cleaned, boiled, cooled, and packed into a jar which you can buy at your local grocery store. Whatever floats your boat.

Place about less than a tablespoon of filling on the bottom of the grape leaf.

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Roll up the bottom of the leaf over the filling.

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And then fold over one side of the leaf over the filling.

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Continue to roll up the leaf over the filling tightly, until you have a ½ inch left at the top.

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Fold over the other side of the leaf.

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Then roll it completely up – it looks like a little burrito!

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Then place them in a steamer – we placed a colander that has feet on the bottom of our large soup pot. Make sure all the dolmathes are close together. This allows them to steam evenly and not unroll.

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My mom used low-sodium chicken broth to steam these babies, but you can use water or vegetable stock if your heart desires. Drizzle the dolmathes with another tablespoon of olive oil and weigh them down with an oven-proof plate. This keeps them from unrolling.

When they are all steamed, pull them out and place them in a pretty dish.

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And smother with avgolemono sauce (a thick, egg-y, lemon-y sauce that is delicious on not only dolmades but everything).

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Perfection!

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My mom and I mastered dolmades… what dish should we tackle next?

 

Your dolmathes makin’ master,

C

Dolmathes

  • Servings: 6 people
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients:

1lb ground beef, 85% lean

½ onion, diced finely

2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely minced

¼ cup long grain white rice

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb jar of grape leaves, drained and placed in between layers of moist paper towel

1-2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth

 

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, combine beef, onion, mint, dill, rice, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Combine thoroughly. Set aside.
  2. On a plate, place a grape leaf in the center. Cut out the little stem end at the bottom of the leaf. Place a tablespoon of filling on the stem end of the leaf. Roll up the bottom, and fold over one side of the leaf and continue to roll. When almost to the top, fold in the second side and continue to roll into a burrito shape.
  3. In a large soup pot, place a footed strainer in the bottom. Place the rolled grape leaves in the strainer, packing them tightly. When all the dolmathes are in the pot, pour over 1-2 cups of chicken broth and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place an oven-proof plate over the dolmathes to weigh them down. Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. When the pot comes to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until cooked through.
  5. Serve immediately with avgolemono sauce.

Enjoy!

Easy Hamburger Sliders

Happy Kids Eat Right Month!

Yes, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics dedicates the month of August (right before school starts up again!) to all the kiddos and focuses on the nutrition needs and palates of the littlest people in our lives. And I have a great summertime dinner that not only pleases kids, but the adults too.

 

Hamburger Sliders.

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Oh so cute and oh so delicious.

And super easy to whip together, which makes them a great option for summer BBQs with a lot of people.

 

Since these are really simple, grab yourself some really good ground beef.

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I really like these vacuumed-sealed pounds of beef. They freeze really well and I always have ground beef on hand for whatever I’m cooking. And I know that the amount is exactly one pound, which makes portioning a lot easier.

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Throw the ground beef into a bowl. Add some salt.

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And some pepper. Look how groovy this pepper mill is? It’s from Greece and is super fun to use. Oh the joys of being in your home kitchen.

Mix the mixture together gently with your (CLEAN!) hands. See – simple! No muss, no fuss, no additional ingredients. Just perfect, simple hamburger meat.

Grab a bit of the mixture and roll into a ball.

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About a golf ball-sized ball.

And then flatten the ball into a patty.

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Using your thumb, make a divot in the center of the patty. This will allow the patty to cook evenly and not have a domed middle.

One pound of ground beef should yield 8 slider patties!

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Place in the fridge for about an hour (or longer if you want!).

Then on a wicked hot grill, cook the patties for approximately 4-5 minutes per side or until they are cooked to your preference (I eat my sliders around medium, medium-well).

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Serve on tiny hamburger rolls and add all your favorite hamburger fixins’… miniature sized!

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I like hot sauce on my sliders.

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And some caramelized onions.

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Yum!

Since they are so small (I usually serve two per person, or one per kid), everyone can customize each slider to their liking. I did one with hot sauce and caramelized onions and my second with ketchup and pickles. It’s perfect for people who like different toppings that they might not want to mix (Pepperonici and cheddar cheese together? No thanks!).

 

Happy Thursday, everyone!

C

Hamburger Sliders

  • Servings: four people
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

1 pound of good ground beef, 85-15

2 teaspoons of Kosher salt

1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

 

Steps:

1. Combine ground beef, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

2. Form 8 golf ball-sized balls. Flatten each ball into a patty, using your thumb to make an imprint in the middle.

3. Cook on your grill for 4-5 minutes per side.

4. Serve on mini-hamburger buns with all your favorite burger fixins’!

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

When I was little, like 5 years old, my grandmother sent me a kid’s cookbook. How I loved that thing. The perfect introduction to the world of food and cooking! It was full of kid-friendly recipes, from French toast to egg salad sandwiches to the most amazing spaghetti with meat sauce.

Or as the cookbook called it, Ready Spaghetti. But we called it Wonderful Dinner Option That Is (And Will Be) A Total Family Favorite For Ever And Ever. But Ready Spaghetti works too.

While we still have the cookbook, the only recipe we still use from it (no surprise there!) is Ready Spaghetti… with a little customization.

 

It all starts with some olive oil on the bottom of a high-sided skillet.

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I test the heat of the oil with a piece of bell pepper.

When the oil is hot, toss in some onion and bell pepper.

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And then some garlic.

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Sauté the peppers, onions, and garlic until they are soft and fragrant.

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Then add the ground beef.

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I use 85-15 (85% lean, 15% lean) ground beef in this recipe. I know it’s a little extra fat, but it does add a good flavor to the sauce (and I deal with the extra fat in a bit).

Break up the beef and cook through (no pink, please!).

When the beef is cooked through, drain in a colander.

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So some of that extra fat gets drained off (and your sauce doesn’t get greasy).

Dump the beef-veggie mixture back into the pan…

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Now, here is the hardest part of this recipe.

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Open a jar of your favorite marinara sauce and pour it in.

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Stir to combine and add a little water or chicken broth if it doesn’t seem like there is enough moisture in the pan.

Then add some salt and pepper.

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Some dried oregano.

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And some hot pepper flake (optional!).

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Simmer for 40 minutes and then add in one pound of cooked spaghetti. Toss to combine and dish out to your family and friends.

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The perfect meal for a cool, stormy summer night!

 

Enjoy!

C

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8 people
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons of olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow), diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 lb of ground beef, 85-15

1 jar of good marinara sauce

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon of oregano

¼ teaspoon of red pepper flake (optional)

1 lb box of spaghetti noodles, cooked to the package instructions

 

Steps:

1. In a large, high-sided skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.

2. Add onion, pepper, and garlic into the skillet and cook until soft and fragrant.

3. Add ground beef to the pan with the onions and peppers and brown thoroughly. Drain beef mixture in a colander to remove excess fat.

4. Pour the beef mixture back into the pan set over medium heat and add the jar of marinara sauce. Stir to combine. Add in water or broth if the mixture looks too thick and/or dry.

5. Add in salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flake.

6. Simmer sauce for 40 minutes.

7. Serve by either spooning over the spaghetti or adding spaghetti directly to the sauce and tossing it together.