Turkey Bacon Meatloaf

DSC_0022Back in February, Katy and I gave the paleo diet a whirl in an effort to get in shape for a Mexican beach vacation. If you are unfamiliar, it is a diet based on the ways of our caveman ancestors. Lots of meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. No dairy or grains and absolutely no processed food. To be honest, we each did our own modified variation of the diet, taking some liberties with what was acceptable and what wasn’t. I allowed beans, rice and quinoa, and yogurt. I figured those are all healthy foods, and it helped keep me sane. I really felt great during the diet and I’m continuing to avoid processed food like white flour, refined sugar, and processed meat.

Anyway, I made this recipe up during the diet, and even though bread crumbs are cheating, who cares right? It’s a 1/4 cup! It makes enough for 2 people plus a little leftovers, so scale up if you’re serving more people.

Ingredients:DSC_0001

  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 green onions (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease a cookie sheet with butter. Use a sheet with raised edges so grease doesn’t spill off.

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Cook the bacon on medium heat until some of the fat has rendered off and it just begins to brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towel. While the bacon is cooling, mix everything but the turkey and egg in a large bowl. Then chop three strips of bacon into 1/4″ bits and add to ingredients. Next, add the egg and ground turkey and mix all ingredients thoroughly with your hands.  Shape into a loaf and place onto the cookie sheet. Cover with the remaining bacon strips and bake for 45 minutes.

I love this recipe because the turkey stays moist, and the bacon adds awesome flavor (it always does)! Little bites with cranberry and onion add sweetness and texture, and the cumin and red pepper give it a nice little kick 😉 Have fun cooking and enjoy! Thanks for reading.

 

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Turkey Meatball Hoagie with Homemade Red Sauce

For us, summer has been packed with family outings, traveling to see friends, and entertaining guests here in Austin.  That means we’ve been partying like animals and eating like pigs (the tastiest animal).  So it’s time to get back on track and start eating healthy again, which means lean meats and whole grains. If you are doing the same, or just like to always eat healthy, try out this recipe that tastes delicious but doesn’t leave you feeling like a whale at the beach.

Ground Turkey Meatballs 

  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small carrot, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prep your area first by getting out a sheet of parchment paper and an oven safe dish or walled cookie sheet. Grease will pour off into your oven if you use a flat cookie sheet! In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the olive oil and mozzarella. Pack the mixture into golf ball sized balls, or about the size of your middle finger touching your thumb, and set them on the parchment paper. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate while you make the sauce. If using canned sauce go straight to cooking. Put the olive oil in a skillet and bring it to high heat to get a good sear. Put three meatballs in the pan, rolling over after about 45 seconds. Remove and put directly into oven dish.

Once all the meatballs are seared and in the dish, move it into the oven and bake it for 18 minutes. Keep the oven on. Prepare a wheat hoagie roll with meatballs cut in half (so they don’t roll), sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Place it in the oven open-faced for 1 minute then take it out and enjoy! Sprinkle oregano on top for even more flavor.
Homemade Red Sauce
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 32oz crushed tomato can
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In a saucepan, cook down the onion and garlic until soft, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients into the saucepan and let it simmer very low for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, remove the bay leaf and put about half of the mixture into a food processor. Blend until smooth and put in a new bowl. Repeat with 2nd half of mixture.

Mexican Street Corn


This might be one of the best effort-to-flavor ratio snacks ever. Take 5 minutes to whip up a few cups and you have a savory sweet snack with a little spice and a citrus tang. You can make it out of the can, but if you have the time either boil the corn on the cob or better yet, roast it on the barbecue. I used corn that was roasted the night before that we didn’t eat and simply warmed it up for the recipe.

Mexican street corn:

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 2 limes
  • 4 ounces of Cojita cheese
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper

Roast, boil, or microwave the corn to get it nice and toasty. Split it equally into 4 cups (one cob makes about one cup). Put one tablespoon of mayo on each cup of corn, salt and pepper to taste, sprinke on some cayenne pepper, then crumble tone ounce of cojita cheese on top of each cup. Put a wedge of two of lime on each rim and serve hot. Mix it all up and you have a great blend of flavors without breaking a sweat, or the bank.

Enjoy! 🙂

Slow-cooker Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a big fan of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Guy Fieri might be the biggest douche bag on TV, in close competition with the Jersey Shore cast. He just bothers me, with his frosted tips and abundance of “bling”.  Plus what kind of chef doesn’t eat eggs? Either way, I like the show because it goes around the country finding the lesser known but equally awesome little restaurants that don’t get the notoriety as a celebrity chefs restaurant. On more then one occasion I’ve seen a diner cooking up cabbage wraps in classic European fashion, and I kept telling myself I need to try making them. Well this past weekend I got around to it, and let me say, they were delicious.

A flavorful combination of meat, cabbage, and sauce that works together perfectly and is super easy to make, especially with a slow cooker. The meat is spiced and mixed with rice, the cabbage soft but crunchy (somehow?), and a sauce that is worthy of making by itself.

Ingredients: 

  • 12 cabbage leaves
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (no less than 90/10)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 20 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons worcestershire

I removed the cabbage leaves from the raw head of cabbage but later read a good tip to core it out and steam the leaves. After a point the raw cabbage gets impossible to peel off so I would suggest doing the steam method, but removing raw worked too. In any event, you need to bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to soften the leaves. Drop them in for 2 minutes then remove, strain, and set aside. At the same time, cook your rice making at least 1 cup cooked rice.

In a large bowl, mix the cooked rice, egg, milk, onion, garlic, ground beef and salt and pepper. The reason the beef needs to be so lean is that its wrapped raw, so a fatty mix will make for a very greasy roll.

Next, set out the cabbage leaves and scoop about 1/3 of a cup of meat mixture into the lower center of the leaf. Roll the bottom of the leaf over the meat, tuck in the sides, then finish rolling over to seal the meat inside. It looks like a mini green burrito.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you roll all the meat and leaves together, load them into the bottom of your slow cooker and start the sauce. Mix the tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, and worcestershire together and whisk quickly. Pour it over top of the rolls so they are completely covered. Set the slow cooker to 250° and let them cook for 8 hours and enjoy!

 

How to pickle

Pickling is one of the oldest methods of food preservation and has been utilized by almost every culture. The term pickle comes from the dutch word “pekel” which means brine. Makes sense. It’s simple and affordable and adding pickled veggies really boosts the flavor of so many dishes. Here is the recipe I have fine tuned for a couple of batches now and I really enjoy.

Ingredients: (makes 2 pint jars) 

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups white vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, halved
  • 3 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorn

For making pickles also add 1/4 teaspoon dill weed or 2 sprigs fresh dill

Directions:

Bring water and vinegar to a boil and add salt and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium and add in all the spices leaving out the garlic(and dill). Let the spices steep in the brine for 10 minutes. I use one of these tea catchers to hold the spices so I don’t have to strain them at the end. 

While the spices are steeping, chop your onions, jalapenos, cucumbers, or whatever ingredient you wish to pickle. Stuff them tightly into a mason jar with 2 cloves of garlic chopped into halves. Add dill at this point as well if needed. Strain the spices from the liquid with a slotted spoon or colander, and pour into the jars almost to the rim. Seal them quickly, being careful as the glass gets hot, and leave out on the counter overnight. Move to the refrigerator and enjoy after letting them sit for at least 48 hours and for up to 3 months, although they never last that long 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Piragis – Latvian bacon rolls

Do you know that smell that instantly takes you back to your childhood? The one where you are 7 years old all over again watching your grandma whip up your favorite treat? For me that is the smell of fresh Piragis, or loosely pronounced pee-dugs. They are these delicious little rolls stuffed with bacon, ham, and onion and my Omi(Latvian name for grandma) always made the best ones. For those who don’t know, Latvia is a small Baltic country between Lithuania and Estonia and across the sea from Sweden. Still confused? It’s northern Europe.

I remember watching Omi make these all the time, and eventually I started to help out. Always wanting to just make the biggest piragi possible, I was probably more of a nuisance than a helping hand. Either way, they are staple in Latvian culture and always around for family gatherings. Having grown up loving piragis, I wanted to learn how to make them on my own to hold on to the culture. I searched the internet and asked Omi her secrets to making them and I feel like after a few attempts, I now have a solid recipe worth sharing.

Dough ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups white flour
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup warm water

Filling ingredients

  • 1 finely chopped white onion
  • 1 package of bacon, frozen and then slightly thawed
  • 1 pound ham (preferably on the bone, thick sliced deli works too)
  • salt and pepper

Glaze ingredients

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

The dough

Put the yeast in the quarter cup of warm water (with the small amount of sugar, if desired). Set aside and wait until it starts to bubble up.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a saucepan or the microwave until hot to the touch. Remove from heat, pour into a large mixing bowl, and add in butter, salt, and sugar. Let cool until lukewarm. Now add the bubbly yeast and the beaten egg.

To this add about 1½ cups flour and whisk until smooth. Now add the rest of the flour about a half cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. At this point switch to a large spoon or rubber spatula as dough will stick in the whisk. Once all the flour is mixed in completely cover the bowl with a damp cloth or towel and let the dough “rest” for 10 minutes. Meanwhile prepare a floured surface (board or clean counter) for kneading. After 10 minutes, turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead lightly for 3 or 4 minutes until the dough is smooth, but still somewhat soft.

Grease a large bowl with a stick of butter and put the dough into the bowl and turn it and flip it until all surfaces have been greased. Cover the bowl with warm damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (30 – 90 minutes, depending on the warmth of the environment). While the dough is rising begin cooking the filling.

ingredients

milk, butter, salt, sugar, egg, yeast, and warm water mixed together

whisked together with 1 1/2 cups of flour

flour fully mixed in

after 90 minutes the dough has doubled in size

The filling

Take your pack of bacon out of the freezer about 10 minutes prior to cutting to let it thaw. This makes it much easier to cut. Finely chop the bacon, ham, and onion into small pieces and saute in a large pan. Add salt and pepper to taste and let cook for about 20 minutes. When the fat has rendered off, use a slotted spoon to transfer the filling into a new bowl.

ingredients

this is when the kitchen starts to smell sooo good

looks like someone wants to help out....or maybe just try a sample

ready to make the piragis

Making the roll

When the dough has risen, set the oven to 400°F, and then punch down the dough. Take half of the dough and roll it out onto a floured surface. I used a pint glass to cut out equal sized circles of dough and then flattened them further with my hand. Next, scoop about 1 to 2 teaspoons of filling onto the bottom half of the dough circles then fold over and pinch closed. Dipping your finger in water and dabbing it on the upper rim of the dough will help it hold together. Make sure they are pinched tight with no holes and lay the rolls seam side down onto an non greased cookie sheet until all the dough is used up.

At this point, mix the glaze and paint each roll liberally with the egg wash. Place on middle rack and bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown. Once baked, remove from the tray with a spatula and let sit 5 minutes before eating.

set up workspace

pinching into a crescent shape

rolled up piragis waiting for egg wash

ready for the oven

they're best fresh out the oven!

Hope you enjoyed reading and you make some great piragis! Thanks for taking the time to read our site.

On a side note….