Turkey Tomatillo Stuffed Peppers

This recipe is one that will leave your kitchen smelling AHHHMAZING. Promise. Is there anything better than the smell of roasting peppers along with freshly sauteed garlic and onion? I don’t think so.

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However, I’ll let you be the judge on this one. It should come to almost no surprise by now that this recipe was the result of me trying to use up everything I had in the refrigerator. I bought some ground turkey from the store earlier this week with really no idea what to use it for. I’ve made turkey stuffed peppers before, and they were absolutely delicious- but that recipe required a few ingredients that I did not have on hand (corn, black beans, etc).

I mentally concocted this out before I began cooking, which happens about 75% of the time. The other 25% is me literally scrambling in the kitchen until I decide I know what to do. However, I think that this playful experimentation is one of the things I love most about cooking. 🙂 I was having an exceptionally monday-like Monday, and was laying in bed at about 7pm on the verge of taking a nap (yes, I nap that late. I’m in grad school!) when I decided to just get up and cook, because I knew it would change my attitude around.

Literally the moment I smelled those roasting peppers, it did. From that point on, the rest of the dish was easy like Sunday morning.

Not to mention, this meal requires two dishes- a casserole dish (or even baking pan) and a large saute pan. That’s it. Meaning only two items of clean-up. When my boyfriend is not around to be guilted into doing the dishes, I try to make as little of a mess as possible.

The dish itself is pretty simple as well. Bell peppers stuffed with ground turkey, kidney beans, tomatillo salsa/ salsa verde, and topped with cheese. That’s it. Easy!

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PS: sorry for the bad quality pictures, as you can tell in the above picture, I didn’t bother to use my own camera for some reason and stuck solely to my iPhone. I didn’t anticipate that this dish would be one worth blogging about, but once I tasted it, I decided that I just HAD to share it with y’all. It’s really that good.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 4-5 bell peppers
  • 1/2 can kidney beans
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup shredded mexican cheese
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • Mexican seasonings (cumin, fajita seasoning, taco mix, whatever you’ve got!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish (I later added some sliced radish as well, good crunch)

Prep:

  • Preheat oven to 425 F
  • Slice around the stem of the peppers and discard the top and the seeds inside. Reach in and take out the white cores of the peppers if desired.
  • Chop onion and mince garlic

Cook!:

  • Place peppers in non-stick casserole dish in the oven until they start to reeally sweat. (About 15 minutes, but they’ll just cook while you perform the next steps)
  • Heat oil in a BIG saute pan and saute the onion and garlic until aromatic (about 1 min)
  • Add ground turkey to saute pan and brown until cooked through
  • Once turkey is “browned” (it won’t look brown- more similar to egg whites but you get the idea) drain excess fat. Add the kidney beans, salsa verde, and season to your hearts content with salt, pepper, and mexican seasoning. Mix well until everything is moist.
  • Remove peppers from oven and stuff with turkey-bean mixture
  • Place back into the oven for 5 minutes, then remove
  • Turn oven to broiler setting. Top the stuffed peppers with some good handfuls of mexican cheese and place back into oven for 2-3 minutes, until you get a nice golden-brown color on top.
  • Top with cilantro, sliced radish, or even a dollop of sour cream and enjoy!

Gluten-free, low-carb, and extremely high in protein! So much protein that you’ll get full off one. Seriously. Best enjoyed after a sweaty yoga session on your kitchen floor- or maybe that’s just me 🙂

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Let me know what you think in the comments! Keep experimenting!

-Pam

The Best of What’s Around- Graze Birmingham

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So last weekend was cool. Really cool. Like amazing actually. I’ve been eyeing this farm-to-table event for about a month now, predominantly trying to convince my friends to go with me, or I was going to go myself. I live about an hour away from Birmingham, not too bad, but it’s a bit of a commitment on a Sunday afternoon. Thankfully my friend Caroline wanted to come with, and she drives to Birmingham three times a week for a fellowship at Children’s Hospital! It did kind of help the case that I won two free tickets from an Instagram contest hosted by Whole Foods Birmingham. I’ve never won anything in my life (I realize everyone says this but it’s true) and when I got that tiny iPhone notification saying I won tickets, I just about screamed- I did scream actually.

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Thanks again, Whole Foods. You the real MVP. While I was there, Caroline and I each picked up a bag of Sambazon acai packs to make acai bowls later in the week! I’ve only made one so far, and it didn’t really go as planned. Will update on this situation later.

Back to the event, so Graze Birmingham was put on by the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network, and was an event that “showcased the people who plant, nurture, harvest, chop, peel, ferment, fire-roast, stew, and serve the absolute best of Central Alabama’s eats!” I did not know much about the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network (ASAN) before this picnic, but from what I have gathered thus far they are an awesome organization aiming to “build a food system where more Alabamians enjoy food that is raised responsibly by a growing pool of well-supported, diverse, homegrown Alabama farmers” via their website. This is crazy important. If the fantastic trends of “farm to table” and “eat local” continue to grow, (and I hope and pray that they do!) we must create a food system where we fully support the local farmers, both ethically and financially, as well as the organizations and establishments that do the same.

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This “farm-to-fork picnic” was hosted by Avondale Brewery. This was especially exciting for me, because as an avid local brew lover in the state of Alabama, the Avondale Spring Street Saison is probably my favorite beverage. They actually were serving a seasonal Farmhouse IPA- which I have NEVER had before. Farmhouse ales and saisons are inspired by the same fruity belgian ale, but don’t always have the hops that an IPA does. This farmhouse IPA was amazing. I hope they start to produce it commercially as well. (If you live in Alabama, check them out!) Pictured below is their classic Saison, along with “Hot Chicks” with Peri Peri and southern slaw from Marble Creek Farmstead + Little Savannah.

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Avondale Brewery made the perfect place for this event. I hate to admit that this is the first Birmingham brewery that I have actually visited (there’s about 4 in Tuscaloosa), but I was SO impressed. On a beautiful September Sunday afternoon (it was a perfect 70 degrees) the back seating/drinking/picnicking area was filled with such an interesting mix. Whether you were a farmer, trendy hipster, young family, or twenty-something couple with a dog, you fit in here. Everyone was so incredibly friendly, and the late afternoon sunset was the perfect complement.

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… and the FOOD! How have I not already mentioned the food?! All of the tapas-style dishes were well executed, but my favorites had to be- in no particular order:

  • Linguine with shiitake and goat cheese
  • Old-fashioned Southern squash casserole
  • Asian-pear bread pudding
  • “Summer daze” cornbread (with layers of zucchini, eggplant, squash, and mushrooms) + “The Hendrix” (vegan spiced poached pear chocolate cake)
  • Field peas, marinated greens salad, + sundried tomato cornbread muffins
  • Snow’s Bend Fresh herb field green salad + juice shooter
  • “Hot chicks” Peri Peri with slaw

BUT. My absolute favorite had to go to Heron Hollow Farm + Organic Harvest Market, Cafe & Nutrition Center Farmers cheese Caprese + vegan champagne raspberry cake

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Both of the dishes. I actually went back for seconds. This dish embodied EXACTLY what I expected from this farm to table event. The chef serving the dish was extremely passionate about the dish and willing to answer my questions about what the heck is in a vegan cheesecake?! He was the first person we spoke to, and probably one of my favorite interchanges of the night. The farmer was there as well, sitting back in his overalls, but came over to speak with me about how he got that farmer’s cheese to be so tasty! I do love traditional caprese with mozzarella, but the creamy and almost umami-ness of the cheese straight from his own dairy cows elevated the dish to another level. But my favorite aspect was how well it complemented the tomato. I felt this dish, or “shooter” as they called it, made these delicious heirloom tomatoes the star, while still complementing it in a complex way- an addition of fresh radish slivers adds a necessary crunch and the tiniest drizzle of balsamic enhances without overpowering.

So. Good. However, I did not have a single thing I didn’t enjoy. The night as a whole was amazing. Perfect weather, awesome venue, happy people, and delicious food.

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I will be on the lookout for more events like this, and will definitely be following the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network (ASAN.) I encourage you to do the same!

-Pam

Shrimp Penne with Cajun Cream Sauce, Tri-Color Veggies and Roasted Garlic

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Tonight’s dish is Shrimp Penne with Cajun Cream Sauce (made from Greek yogurt), Tri-Color Veggies and Roasted Garlic.

As you can probably tell, one plate is a bit bigger than the other. That would be my boyfriend’s plate. I typically make a good amount of food for the both of us, split it about 60/40 and still end up giving him whatever’s left on my plate. He’s a hungry individual. This picture shows the contrast a bit more. Portion control is important!!

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Anyway, earlier that day, we went to Panera for lunch. Now I know it is Panera Bread after all, but they give you SO much bread. I got the Chicken Soba Noodle bowl, and as much as I looove dipping bread in my soup, its not totally necessary when your soup has a million yummy soba noodles soaking up the broth anyway. It’s even less necessary when you order what my boyfriend does- Half sandwich, and a bread bowl of tomato soup. He essentially gets meat between bread, bread with soup in it (topped with bread croutons), and a side of bread. And as college students (grad school for me) we try to be resourceful! So we saved our sides of bread and re-purposed them into garlic bread later that night. It’s a wonderful idea if you don’t mind the looks you get when you’re walking out of Panera with two baguettes wrapped in napkins.

That was a bit off-topic, but its important to think of ways that we can re-purpose food and reduce food waste. But that topic (soapbox) is for another time…

Back to the pasta. This dish is super simple to make, but does require a few moving parts. I try my best to use as little cookware as possible, mostly for clean-up purposes, but this night I just was not having it. Don’t be fooled by the title, this pasta has cajun influence but isn’t really that hot at all. However, there are some “spicier” ingredients (crushed red pepper, cajun seasoning, etc) that should be done to taste. If you’re feelin’ extra spicy, don’t be afraid to be a bit heavy-handed with the red pepper. If you don’t like spice at all, go ahead and omit it completely. Or do what I do- add a little bit at a time and taste, taste, taste. Let your tongue be your guide.

My favorite part of this dish is the hidden sources of protein. Greek Yogurt is seeming to be added to just about everything nowadays, but I couldn’t be more pumped. Adding a couple spoonfuls into this sauce adds about 8 grams of protein. That’s about the same protein content as an entire glass of milk. Protein is extremely important for almost all body processes, and I don’t think people realize how easy it is to incorporate into our diets, without the need for powdery processed protein shakes. Other protein sources in this dish include the shrimp, feta cheese, vegetables and even the pasta. (Gluten is a protein, btw.) This comes out to a grand total of about 40 grams of protein. That’s a lot.

Ingredients: (btw- this picture only shows some of them, and my kitchen was messy. Sorry.)

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  • 1/2 to 1 lb Shrimp (can be fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups penne pasta (I use and recommend Whole Wheat)
  • 3/4 cup pasta sauce (your preference. I used Barilla because it was on sale at Publix)
  • 3 oz plain Greek yogurt (I use about half of one of those individual cups. Tip on what to do with the rest below)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 cup bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup asparagus
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 Small-Medium head of garlic (yes, the whole thing)
  • Half of one lemon
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Parsley for garnish

Prep:

  • Get a big pot of water boiling and add a large pinch of salt
  • Chop bell peppers and asparagus into “matchsticks”
  • Peel and devein shrimp if necessary
  • Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Take about 3 cloves off the head of garlic and throw the rest of the head onto a pan in the oven to roast. Mince the three cloves.

Cook:

  • Cook pasta until al dente (roughly 9-11 minutes depending on the type)
  • Over low heat, add the pasta sauce into a small saucepan. Mix the greek yogurt  and cajun seasoning into the sauce according to taste. (I like my sauce pretty creamy so I add a good amount of greek yogurt)
  • In a large pan over medium-high, heat some oil and add a pinch of minced garlic until fragrant. Then saute the peppers, onion, and asparagus, stirring frequently for 8-10 minutes. (You’ll want that roasted color- similar to fajita veggies)
  • In a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat, add a generous amount of olive oil. Then, add the rest of the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and saute until fragrant. Next, add the shrimp and cook for no more than 5 minutes (Shrimp cooks extremely fast, but you do want it to have enough time to soap up that garlic-pepper oil) Add a big squeeze of lemon for acidity.
  • Drain pasta and throw back into large pot. Add vegetables, cajun yogurt sauce, and feta cheese. Grab the roasted garlic head from out of the oven, slice off the root, peel away the skins and roughly chop the roasted cloves. Add those into the pot as well. Mix this all together until everything has a light coating of creamy sauce.
  • Plate the pasta, and top with sauteed shrimp. Drizzle the dish with the rest of the oil from the shrimp pan and garnish with parsley.

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Ta-Da!!!!

Dessert Tip: Don’t let the rest of that plain greek yogurt go to waste. Mix in 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract and a tiny squeeze of honey. Fill a small bowl or ramekin with chopped fruit, top with yogurt mixture and a few mini chocolate chips. Trust me.

Armed with your new knowledge about protein (and about making the most out of your Panera experience) get to cooking! Let me know what you think in the comments!

-Pam

Pesto Chicken Squash “Noodles”

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Alright. Squash gets a bad rap.

Admittedly, it doesn’t have the most appealing name. Squash. The beauty of the English language uses the same exact word for this nutritious summer time vegetable as it does for a) the act of smushing something and b) a less fun version of tennis (okay, it’s kinda fun.)

Now I’m guilty of squash-shaming myself. My favorite kitchen tool at the moment is my spiralizer. While there are some higher-end models out there (such as the Paderno), I use this funky As-Seen-On-TV product called the Veggetti. It gets the job done, and you can buy it at Walgreens/Publix etc. but after posting this link, I just realized you can get it on Amazon for less than 10 bucks! The Paderno goes for up to $50!

However, when using said spiralizer, I typically stick to zucchini. Most spiralized recipes I find use zucchini as well. It works as a great vehicle for thicker sauces, but also can easily soak up light broths and vinaigrettes. But zucchini is in the squash family, and my local farmer’s market was carrying yellow summer squash instead, so I decided to experiment with it. I had also picked up some hot banana peppers from the farmer’s market the week before, and needed to use them before they went bad. What resulted was a completely spontaneous recipe, and it was absolutely delicious- plus it looked really cool. See?

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The squash stood up to the task. Spiralizing the squashes (with essentially built-in handles) was a breeze, in fact it was easier than most zucchini attempts. Plus the yellow-white color looked even more like traditional noodles than its green cousin. I used two medium size squashes (is this the correct plural term?) which btw- Nutrition Fact! has over 100% Daily Value for Vitamin C (plus good amounts of Potassium and B-6!) It’s also got about 60 calories. Much, much better than that processed white penne.

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Now comes the other ingredients: I had some leftover grilled chicken in the fridge that I tossed on the skillet to warm (I am microwave-less at the moment, which kind of stinks for a girl that loves popcorn as much as I do.) I mentioned the hot peppers above, but I honestly cannot tell y’all how wonderful my kitchen smelled while I roasted those peppers in the oven. Plus a Pesto sauce that I whipped up pretty quickly, without realizing I had no pine nuts. This happens to me roughly 50% of the time I decide to make pesto. I have a medium-size basil plant at my place, and at any given point you are likely to find garlic, EVOO, lemon, and cheese there as well. I hope your kitchen is the same way. That leaves pesto sans pine nuts, but I decided to just leave it at that. It made for a thinner sauce, but I enjoyed really tasting the medley of vegetables without a thick layer of pesto on top anyway. I also add about one part spinach to every 2-3 parts basil. Mostly because I try to be conservative with what I take off my basil plant, and I usually have spinach around that’s about to go bad- doesn’t it always?!

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As you can probably tell by now, this was a very “game-time-decision” type of meal, but I find that I have some amazing culinary breakthroughs in times such as these. While I encourage you to test this recipe out for yourself, feel free to make changes- such as creating a vegetarian/vegan dish by opting out of the chicken and cheese. Or using roasted bell peppers instead of hot peppers if you’re not too into the heat. If you don’t have a spiralizer don’t worry! There are a few other ways of making veggie “noodles”, but I’ve found that my second favorite way is to simply peel big ribbons off of the vegetable using a standard peeler. This makes for more of a fettuccine type noodle, if you’re into that sort of thing- and frankly who isn’t?

Best of luck and have fun experimenting!

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Ingredients: (Serves 2)- Above picture was just for me 🙂

  • 4 medium-sized summer squashes (can be any variety. Yellow squash, zucchini, etc. even a hybrid of the two!)
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 medium-sized hot peppers (if using bell peppers, just use two or three)
  • 1/2 cup onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup pesto (can use already-prepared, or make from scratch as outlined below)
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parsley, for garnish
  • Salt & pepper

Prep:

  • Spiralize the squash. Wash & dry thoroughly, then spiralize. This changes depending on your type of spiralizer, but for my hand-held one, I just stick the veggie in and start turning in a clockwise motion. Once it’s all turned into medium-sized curly ribbons, I like to lay mine out over a pan with a paper towel and sprinkle immediately with salt. This helps to cut down on the water-content, but you can spiralize directly into a hot pan and it still tastes great. All about preference.
  • Roast the peppers: Wash and dry peppers then lay onto a sheet or broiler and pop into the top rack of a super hot oven. (450 F +) Turn every few minutes or so to ensure the whole pepper is roasted. Once roasted to preference, cut open peppers and remove the core and seeds. Roughly chop, and then set aside.
  • Dice the chicken, toss with oil, and season with salt, pepper, and whatever spices you prefer. I like to use lots of black pepper, red pepper flakes, and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning.
  • Make the pesto: as mentioned before. When making pesto, I usually am missing one or more ingredients. As such, my “pesto” is this: I fill the cup of my 1 cup food processor almost full with basil, then throw in about 2 gloves of garlic, the juice of one lemon, copious amounts of salt and pepper, and a handful of pine nuts (if available) into a food processor while pouring in olive oil from the top. Rough description, I know. But that’s kind of just how I cook.

Cook!

  • In a pan on medium-high heat, heat some olive oil (about a tablespoon), and saute the onions and garlic until fragrant.
  • Add the chicken and flip as necessary, for about 5 minutes.
  • Once chicken is cooked through, add the spiralized squash to the pan along with the pesto sauce and a drizzle of olive oil. Add roasted peppers and cook for about 1-2 minutes (that squash cooks fast!) Mix all ingredients together and take pan off heat.
  • Serve topped with shredded mozzarella cheese, and garnish with a sprinkle each of parsley and lemon zest. Enjoy!