Friday, February 27, 2015

Turkey Spinach Meatballs

Do you like meatballs? I do. As a matter of fact,  I *love* meatballs! When they’re moist and tender and loaded with yummy veggies, they are a tantalizing taste to behold. And so versatile…spaghetti and meatballs with my Easy Quick Spaghetti Sauce, Meatball Sub Casserole, Meatball Sub Soup, and much more.

When I make meatballs, I usually make a lot at one time, cook them, then bag in meal size portions and freeze. When supper time comes and I may not have anything planned (why not? am I not a “lady of leisure” at home? Hahaha), I can pull out a bag of meatballs, nuke in the microwave for a few minutes to thaw, and make meatball subs within about 30 minutes.

Yes, I *love* meatballs.

So, let’s get cooking!

Prep your veggies: dice the onion and carrots (small!) and mince the garlic. Place the spinach in a bowl with about ½ c or so water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 2 or 3 minutes, then chop slightly.

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. This really is easier done with your hands than with a spoon. Use a 1 oz scoop to portion out evenly, then roll if you’d like. If you don’t have a scoop, just use a spoon and make them to the size you’d like and roll. My sweet daughter Megan loves to help roll the meatballs with me.

Place on a sheet pan, and bake at 350° for about 30 minutes for the 1 oz size; adjust cooking time as needed for larger or smaller meatballs.

We made meatball subs with wheat sub rolls from the thrift bread store. They’re to-die-for tasty, quick, easy, nutritious, and not expensive. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Turkey Spinach Meatballs

1 ½ lb ground turkey
1 md Vidalia onion
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots
5 oz fresh spinach
1 ½ c bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Monday, February 23, 2015

Leftovers Soup

Okay, so this is the first in a new series that will run on Mondays, called Gourmet…Way Before Payday. We’ll start off with this recipe for Leftovers Soup. It’s simple and easy and you use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge or cabinets. Some veggies go better together than others, but hey, who knows, you may come up with a combination that’ll be your family’s new favorite. ;)

Meat is optional; I’ve made plenty of soups like this with no meat. One trick I use is to use ground turkey: when you brown it, keep cutting at it with the spoon or spatula you stir it with to break it up smaller. You can use less and it spreads further. I haven’t been able to afford hamburg in a long time, and ground turkey is less expensive. I buy the 3 lb pack and use usually around ¾ lb, which is $1.92 for the meat in the meal, for six people, plus leftovers.

Another trick I use is to buy beef, whatever cut I can find, that’s marked down because the last sale date is the next day. I check often, but get it only once in a while because usually there doesn’t happen to be any. If I hit it good, I buy it and portion it out into 2 or 3 bags (about ¾-1 lb each) and freeze it. When I need it, I cut it into very small pieces to spread it further in the recipe.

So, let’s get cooking!

On the day I made this particular one, I had a great looking pepper and onion, some carrots that were beginning to sprout, some wrinkly potatoes, and some very pale looking cabbage. It just may have been the rare and elusive Albino Cabbage in my vegetable drawer. ;)

I almost always have cans of diced tomatoes in the cupboard, and they go excellent with a “beef” based soup. What I would have loved to put in it if I had had it that day are: rutabaga, corn, celery…such is the nature of Leftovers Soup.

First step is to dice the veggies you have to work with. I leave the peels on the potatoes because I can’t peel them, but we all could use the fiber and nutrition anyway, right? I dice the pepper and onion (and celery if I had it) smaller, of course, than the potatoes, and the carrots are sliced into rounds.

In a large soup pot or sauce pan, brown the ground turkey (or substitute) if you’re using some, along with the peppers and onions. If using celery, this is when you’d add it, too. If you’re not using any meat, just use 1 or 2 Tbl oil and sauté the peppers and onions until tender.

       While that's cooking, chop the cabbage.

When the ground meat and/or peppers and onions are done, add the stock, diced tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage.

Add the dried basil and black pepper. Bring to a boil and turn down heat to simmer for at least half an hour; an hour is even better.

Serve and enjoy! ~TMMF

Leftovers Soup

¾-1 lb ground turkey (optional)
½ green pepper
1 Vidalia onion
4 or 5 carrots
4 or 5 potatoes
½ cabbage
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
6 c beef stock or broth
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp black pepper

Serves 6-8 with leftovers. This soup cost me $6.60 to make, with the ground turkey in it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin


This is my second time working with spaghetti squash. I don’t know why I never tried it before, but the taste is so yummy, it makes me want to start experimenting with it on my own! This is a recipe I came across somewhere online; someone shared it on Facebook but the photo with recipe didn’t say who created the recipe. I don’t know who to give credit for it, so all I can say is I found it online. The only thing I changed was using fresh garlic instead of garlic salt.

Anyhoo, my daughter Megan, who has Down syndrome, helped me make this and just like last time, she loved scraping the “spaghetti” out of the squash. She actually scraped hers down more than mine and made a hole in the squash rind because of scraping it so thin! We enjoyed working together, and then loved this zippy recipe at supper.

So, let’s get cooking!

First, cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Then lay them upside down on a greased sheet pan. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.

While the squash is baking, thinly slice the onion and then cut the slices into 3 or 4 pieces. Mince the garlic. I used my garlic press when it was time to add it.

In a skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Adjust the red pepper flakes to your desired level of heat. ;) Cook until onions are tender.

When the spaghetti squash is done, turn over and let cool a little so you can handle it, or use a kitchen towel or pot holder. Use a fork to scrape out the “spaghetti.” The middle photo shows the difference after scraping out one (the half on the left). And on the right is the one Megan scraped just as well as she cleans a chicken bone! Clean as a whistle! ;)

So, you’ve scraped the squash into a bowl. Now add the sautéed onion mixture, the sour cream, and half the shredded cheddar cheese.

Mix well and pour into a 7 X 9” baking dish. Sprinkle the other half of the cheese on top.

Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

1 spaghetti squash
1 small Vidalia onion
1 clove garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ c sour cream
1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Now, to announce the winner of the TMMF coffee mug in my give-away: Heidi Strawser!! I had pretty ecru colored cards made and embossed with the names of all who had entered, placed them in a luxuriously soft deep purple velvet bag with polished cherry wood handles gleaming in the sunlight, and had my Chief Assistant reach in and blindly choose one name.

Okay, so really I wrote the names on slips of paper that I tore off because I was too tired to go get the scissors. Then I put them in a used plastic grocery bag. But Megan really did blindly pick one name. That part is true. ;)

Congratulations Heidi!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Easy Quick Spaghetti Sauce

This here is the spaghetti sauce I make all the time for my family. I don’t know if I can say it’s “my original,” because I simply use what’s in most spaghetti sauces. The only thing that really varies is, sometimes I don’t have any meat for it, which is fine by me, and if I have meat, I may use hamburg (too expensive now!), ground turkey, sausage, and even pepperoni or kielbasa, or any combination of those. The pepperoni or kielbasa are my favorites in spaghetti sauce. I *love* them They add a special zip to the sauce.

Even being simple, basic, or whatever you’d like to call it, my family and friends who have had it love it, and it’s so easy and quick, I hope you like it too! Make it ahead, make it and freeze it for future meals (I do this!), make it for supper tonight if you have about 1 ½ hours or less. Just make it! ;)

So, let’s get cooking!

Okay, if you’re using sausage, start that cooking in a skillet now, while you work on the other ingredients. If you use hamburg, ground turkey, or pepperoni, you can go to the next step first. When the sausage is done (use a cover to expedite the cooking process), cool on a plate.

Prep the veggies: Dice the green pepper, Vidalia onion, and carrots. Mince the cloves of garlic.

In a large skillet or saucepan, use a couple tablespoons of oil to sauté the veggies you just cut, until tender and translucent. If you’re using hamburg or ground turkey, skip the oil and brown it now with the veggies. If using the pepperoni (one of those wonderful big sticks of it!), you’ll add it later.

Add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring well to thoroughly blend in (the tomato paste). Bring to a boil and then cover and turn down the heat to simmer. You’ll want this to simmer for an hour now. If using pepperoni, add it now after cutting into 4” lengths.

The sausage will hopefully be cool enough to handle now. Simply slice and add. You can slice it into ¼ inch rounds, or cut those rounds in half, or slice the sausage lengthwise, slice again, and cut (so it’s like circles quartered). I like that last option because it spreads it further.

Add the cut sausage and the spices and sugar. Sugar cuts the acid of the tomatoes.

Cook for a total simmer time of an hour. You can cook it more if you’d like, but you need at least one hour of simmering to make it taste good. This recipe works great in the crock pot, too.

Serve over the pasta of your choice. Enjoy! ~TMMF

My Megan helping. :) 

Easy Quick Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb Italian sausage, or hamburg,
   or ground turkey, or pepperoni
1 Vidalia onion
1 green bell pepper
2 carrots
4-6 cloves garlic
3 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 Tbl sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
3/4 tsp black pepper

*Note: Last month I had been having a special give-away to celebrate two years here at TMMF, However, during that week I got very sick and couldn't even post. So, I am running it again! If you'd like to receive this special The Magic Meal Fairy mug for your own, all you need to do is like the Facebook page (here) *and* share the post on this page for this recipe or the post for Sloppy Joe Casserole 2, or Spinach Mac & Cheese Soup. The give-away will run from 2/13/15 to Thursday, 2/19/15. The winner will be chosen on Friday, 2/20/15 and announced that day and notified. A picture of the mug is below:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Spinach Mac & Cheese Soup

This soup is one of those omgoodness-I-died-and-went-to-heaven recipes that make you want to keep eating more of it. Or have it for breakfast the next day, which I actually did. And was it ever yummy that morning too! ;)

The recipe is from All Things Mac and Cheese. I think I could live off of the recipes on that website! I’ll be making more of their recipes for sure.

I changed a few things around in this recipe for a few reasons: I used fresh spinach instead of frozen because down here they sell frozen any-kind-of-green-leafy-thing there is, except for spinach. If I’m lucky, sometimes I can find the small boxes of frozen spinach in a store here, whereas up north most stores carry the boxed plus bagged whole and chopped spinach.

The original recipe called for 12 oz. of gouda cheese, and at $9.00 a pound, it was somewhat out of my reach. So, in order to keep it as close to tasting what it would have with the gouda, I substituted sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and some mozzarella for the stringiness.

I also cut down on the butter used for the roux, added black pepper, and nixed the nutmeg. The result was fantastic. Even my sons who aren’t much into spinach loved this soup.

So, enough chit chat; let’s get cooking!

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

I used rotini because I didn’t have elbow pasta, and frankly, having grown up on mostly elbows and spaghetti pastas, I have always used a variety of shapes in my recipes. Elbows are boring. Now farfalle, conchiglie, rotelle, cavatappi, radiatori…those are FUN pastas! In English, those are bowties, shells, wagon wheels, corkscrews, and um, radiatori. That one means radiators, but I’ve never heard it called anything but radiatori. ;)

While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, pinch the stems from the spinach.

Grate the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses if you need to. I buy my mozzarella cheese already shredded, but my cheddar I buy in two pound blocks.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Using a whisk, mix in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes until bubbling.

Slowly start adding the chicken stock, whisking constantly, until all is added and the broth thickens. Keep the heat medium while doing this.

When it’s thickened, turn the heat down halfway and add the cream cheese in chunks. Blend in with the whisk until the cream cheese is fully melted and mixed in.

Add the spinach, salt, and pepper and simmer for about five minutes.

Now throw in the pasta and heat for a few minutes.  Well, okay, don’t throw it in. ;)

Turn off the heat and add the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, stirring, until just barely mixed in.

And serve it up to see the smiles and hear happy noises from your family. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Spinach Mac & Cheese Soup

9 oz elbows or other pasta
5 oz fresh spinach
6 c vegetable or chicken stock
6 Tbl butter
½ c flour
8 oz cream cheese
1 c shredded sharp cheddar
1 c shredded mozzarella
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

*Note: Last month I had been having a special give-away to celebrate two years here at TMMF, However, during that week I got very sick and couldn't even post. So, I am running it again! If you'd like to receive this special The Magic Meal Fairy mug for your own, all you need to do is like the Facebook page (hereand share the post on that page for this recipe, or the post for Sloppy Joe Casserole 2. The give-away will run from 2/13/15 to  Thursday, 2/19/15. The winner will be chosen on Friday, 2/20/15 and announced that day and notified. A picture of the mug is below:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sloppy Joe Casserole 2

This is the second Sloppy Joe Casserole I’ve made, and my goodness, if I thought the other one was good…this one is just pure heaven. It’s a savory Sloppy Joe with a cheesy dumpling-like crust on top. Everyone agreed, next time I make it I have to make a double recipe. I had to carefully portion out the meager leftovers the next day. ;)

I found this recipe online, and it is credited to a woman named Darlyne Cole. The changes I made to it were minimal: I used ground turkey instead of hamburg, replaced the garlic powder with fresh garlic, increased the Worcestershire sauce, left out the dry mustard, and added carrots. They work so well with this and boost the nutrition.

So, let’s get cooking!

First, dice the onion, green pepper, and carrots (diced small). Mince the garlic.

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey with the diced carrots, stirring as needed.

After about five minutes, add the onion, green pepper, and garlic, cooking until tender, maybe about five minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir, turn heat to low, and simmer while you prepare the topping.

Grate the sharp cheddar cheese and set aside.

Now, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter, beaten eggs, and milk. Whisk together until just mixed.

Fold in the sharp cheddar cheese. I always use extra sharp for the great taste.

Pour the Sloppy Joe mixture into a 9 X 13 baking dish. You don’t need to grease it.

Stir the topping again just a little bit, and spread on top.

If you had a little extra shredded cheese left over, sprinkle it on top like I did.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Sloppy Joe Casserole 2

1 ½  lbs ground turkey
1 lg Vidalia onion
1 lg green bell pepper
2 wonderful carrots
2 nice cloves garlic
15 oz tomato sauce
¾ c ketchup
2 Tbl brown sugar
1 ½ Tbl Worcestershire sauce
2 c flour
1 Tbl baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 Tbl melted butter
2 lg eggs
1 1/3 c milk
1 ½ c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

*Note: Last month I had been having a special give-away to celebrate two years here at TMMF, However, during that week I got very sick and couldn't even post. So, I am running it again! If you'd like to receive this special The Magic Meal Fairy mug for your own, all you need to do is like the Facebook page (here) and share the post on that page for this recipe, Sloppy Joe Casserole 2. The give-away will run from today, 2/13/15 to next Thursday, 2/19/15. The winner will be chosen on Friday, 2/20/15 and announced that day and notified. A picture of the mug is below: