The word ‘stuffed’ (when describing a dish,) typically conjures up visions of savory cheeses, spinach, and a variety of other delectable ingredients – delicately wrapped inside a piece of tender meat or hearty pasta. Today I made homemade manicotti shells, a la crepe-style, and stuffed them with a mixture of Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, spinach, toasted pine nuts, and crispy pancetta! (Add anything you’d like – mushrooms and/or sun-dried tomatoes would have also been tasty! Leave out the pancetta for your vegetarian friends.) A real show-stopper, especially when your guests find out you made the manicotti shells! It honestly couldn’t be easier: Make the batter, quick griddle the manicotti shells/crepes, mix up the filling – and you’re ready to roll, literally!
1.5 Cups Flour, 1.5 Cups Milk, 6 Eggs – Whisk together until smooth – drop onto lightly greased skillet or griddle – making thin crepe-style manicotti shells. They cook very quickly – maybe a minute or two with a quick flip. Remove from pan to parchment-lined sheet pan.
Spread filling in a thin layer, roll ’em, and place in a baking dish with sauce on the bottom. Top with additional sauce and cheese, and it’s ready for the oven. 375 F (Covered – 30 Minutes) Remove foil and continue baking until bubbly and golden-brown! Buon Appetito!
As the nights get colder, and very cold in some parts of the country, who doesn’t love a warm, satisfying, and delicious pot pie to help you settle into the night? This particular pot pie was made with leftover turkey and green beans from Christmas dinner, and the gravy was made with some of the leftover turkey stock I had made to prepare the gravy. (Shredded chicken and regular chicken broth will work just fine!) In addition to that, I added a half bag of frozen vegetables and some cubed potatoes. Could not have been easier!
To make the gravy, use equal parts butter and flour. (I used 4 TBSP butter/flour with about 4 cups warmed stock.) Start by melting the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk the flour into the butter and keep whisking for a minute or two to cook out the flour taste. Slowly add in the stock, whisking constantly until fully combined. Let “gravy” simmer for a few minutes, adding salt/pepper to taste. (You might want to add a little extra salt/pepper at this point as the frozen vegetables will need the flavor.) Once the gravy is bubbling and thickened a bit, add in all the rest of the ingredients: 2 cups chopped turkey or chicken meat, 1.5 cup frozen vegetables, 1 cup diced potatoes (frozen hash brown size potatoes work here, too,) and any other leftover veggies you want to add in. I also had some leftover green beans that I chopped and added.
For the crust and assembly, it’s up to you. You can put the pot pie mixture into a buttered baking dish and top with your homemade or favorite brand of biscuit dough, or you can go with pie crust – either homemade or your favorite from the store. If using pie crust, you can use both bottom and top crusts. If using biscuit mixture, just lay on top of the pot pie mixture. Before baking, I like to brush dough with an egg wash (1 egg beat with a tablespoon of water) and sprinkle with coarse salt. I use Maldon sea salt. Bake at 400-425 F for about 30-40 minutes until brown and beautiful! Let rest for at least 15 minutes, dig in and enjoy! Any questions, just ask. Buon appetito!
Nothing says Thanksgiving like delicious homemade gravy – poured over almost everything! Don’t be stressed by the ‘on the spot’ timing of gravy making, depending on having enough pan drippings to make a decent gravy, or the fear that the gravy may or may not turn out to your liking! The answer is in making a big batch of homemade turkey stock well in advance of the big day.
Every year, I make my big batch of homemade turkey stock, freeze it in quart size containers, then no worry about having the pan drippings that are going to make or break the star of the show – turkey and gravy!
HERE’S HOW: This time of year, you’ll start to see turkey wings, backs, and thighs in the grocery store. I used 4 turkey wings and a few backs that were already packaged at the store. Place them in a large roasting pan with a couple of cut up carrots and celery stacks (great time to use the leafy greens of celery,) one large onion cut in quarters and a full head of garlic cut in half lengthwise across (skins and all,) several sprigs of thyme and rosemary, generous coating of good olive oil, generous sprinkles of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Into a 400F oven for about 45 minutes to one hour – everything should be golden brown and crispy.
Transfer turkey/veggies into a large stock pot, cover with water by a couple of inches, bring to a boil, then simmer for a couple of hours. Taste along the way to ensure a flavorful broth, adding more salt and pepper to taste as this is going to be the flavor for your gravy. After a couple of hours, remove the turkey wings (and any other parts with meat) to a side bowl. Strain out all the other parts and veggies, reserving the hearty, delicious, flavorful broth. You’ll probably end up with 5-6 quarts of stock, so use a couple for the gravy and store the rest as the base for some delicious homemade turkey soup! (It’s also nice to give a quart or two away to a friend to help ease their Thanksgiving day stress.) The turkey meat from the stock bones makes a great turkey salad!
MAKING GRAVY: This step couldn’t be easier – and stress free! Heat one quart turkey stock in pan on stove top – heated through to simmer. In another large sauce pan, you’re going to make a roux (roo) as the base of the gravy. (Fancy, right?) Add equal parts butter/flour [6TBSP each] over medium heat. (You can substitute good olive oil for the butter.) Using a whisk (or fork) blend together over medium heat until mixed well and bubbly. Continue whisking for a minute or two to cook out the flour taste. From there, start adding broth, ladle by ladle, continuing to whisk with each addition. You’ll probably use the entire quart of stock, so make the gravy to a consistency that’s to your liking. Taste and add additional salt/pepper to ensure full flavor for the big bird! Keep warm on very low temp, or turn off and reheat as you’re ready to gather around the Thanksgiving table.
Okay, I admit it. Never had, nor never wanted a crockpot. I love to cook, so I never saw the point. Given that, we got one this year and I did make a delicious Chicken Chili Verde. Although that worked well for that purpose, I still couldn’t think of any reason to use, or want to use, a crockpot. As my dad and I talk about food and cooking most every time we talk, he told me he had just made stuffed peppers in a crockpot. (That surprised me because I never knew the crockpot to be his go-to cooking method.) . I guess I was hungry when we talked because that sounded so good to me, and I knew I’d make enough for a few to go into my freezer pantry. Today being Father’s Day, though my father is 3,000 miles away, was the day I put crockpot stuffed peppers to the test! Results: AWESOME!
3.5 hours on high in the crockpot, then 20 minutes in the oven at 400F (I couldn’t help myself because to me it’s all about the golden color and added texture/taste.) . Here you have it, healthy, delicious, nutritious Turkey, Quinoa, Spinach, Feta, Crimini Mushroom, and Diced Tomato stuffed peppers!
(I had enough extra stuffing left for about 4 more peppers, so I made those directly in the oven. Same result, but with 2+ hours with lots of checking, covering/uncovering, removing liquid, etc.)
Still not a crockpot convert, but it will be my go to cooking method the next time I’m craving stuffed peppers! (Stuffed peppers allow you the freedom to put whatever you want in them, so get creative and have fun. If you want more information about these peppers, let me know.)
As I’ve shared many times before, I spend a few hours in the kitchen every weekend and we’ve got fresh and delicious home-cooked meals throughout the week ahead – and beyond! Today’s adventure in the kitchen (and this blog post) isn’t about a new recipe I’ve been waiting to try, but all about my regular routine of ensuring I can always answer the question, “What’s for Dinner?” (and lunch, too, for that matter!)
So what does 8 meals for under $20 look like?
I reserved 4 of the chicken breasts to prepare the Goat Cheese-Basil Chicken that will go in the freezer for easy weeknight meals (2 [2 serving] meals) that can be on the table in 45 minutes. Then I roasted the remaining 2 chicken breasts with all the dark meat pieces. The roasted breast meat (and a few of the thighs) were used to make the Chicken Salad (Quart size container – Easily 4-5 servings), and the rest of the dark meat pieces to be served alongside a salad, rice or potato, for another 2 [2 serving] meals. (I saved the back bones to make chicken stock, too!)
Although I’ve shared each of these food prep ideas before, I thought it worth another post to remind everyone that fresh and delicious home-cooked are always within reach – at a fraction of the cost of going out or stopping at the drive-thru window on your way home from work.
I’m reminded about what I wrote in the “About Joe” section of this blog nearly 7 years ago, and it’s still true today. Here’s an excerpt from that section:
I’ll write about shopping smart and turning leftovers into delightful new creations. I’ll share ideas on dishes that can be made ahead and placed in the freezer to ensure a hot healthy meal after a long day at work.
I believe everyone can enjoy home-cooked meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – and feel good about what you’re doing for yourself and others in the process! Food is a great way to share a part of yourself – and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.
Thanks for joining me on my adventures in the kitchen, and I hope you’re inspired to try some of the recipes and prep-ahead ideas to reduce stress, eat fresh, and enjoy great food together!
Last day of winter break before going back to work tomorrow, so what better way to spend part of it than making homemade fresh pasta, Cavatelli to be exact! My absolute favorite! It’s very similar to a (potato) gnocchi, but made with ricotta cheese, and instead of little dumplings, the dough is rolled into little shells. I posted this very easy (3 ingredients) recipe a while back, and today’s updated post shows the same pasta made with my very vintage hand-crank Cavatelli machine. The previous post, Sunday Cooking, shows a picture of hand-rolled pasta shells. A little more free-form than these more uniform shells, but either way, they’re great! (If you do get your hands on a machine, it’s even more important to have very dry and well-floured dough so it doesn’t get stuck in the machine! Thanks, Dad, for that in-the-moment advice!) It’s a good idea to lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan to freeze so they don’t stick together when put in a freezer bag for storage. Take them right from the freezer into a pot of boiling salted water for 4-6 minutes. They’ll float to the top when ready! Buon Appetito!