Monday, February 18, 2013

Turkey Meatloaf w/ Spicy Balsamic Glaze

This isn't the first turkey meatloaf recipe I've written.  Last year I did a Mini-Meatloaf recipe which was a huge hit!  I wrote it for "the single cook" because I read that the individual meatloaves could be frozen and re-heated later.  But I ended up getting more messages and tweets from parents who loved the idea of making the mini-meatloaves for their kids which was great!  

I mentioned in the post that I used my Mom's turkey meatloaf recipe and it came out well but there was one problem.  A problem that plagues most dishes made with ground turkey meat: it was a bit too dry.   Straight from the oven, the mini-meatloaves were perfect but when I went to reheat them, they were kind of tough.

With all of this in mind, I sat down last week to write a new turkey meatloaf recipe, for the single cook, that was moist and delicious. I came across lots of ideas for keeping the meatloaf moist.  Grate in a zucchini. Use oats instead of bread crumbs. And then there was my favorite: mix in a chipotle pepper and some adobo sauce.

All of these were good ideas, and I guess I could have used them all, but because I am scaling down the meatloaf recipe by half for the single cook, I didn't want too much going on in the filling.  I talked this over with my mom and she told me she recently tried adding the chipotle pepper in her meatloaf and it came out really good.  I took her advice, added the chipotle pepper to the usual ingredients, and the meatloaf I created was moist and delicious.  Exactly what I wanted! AND it reheated really well.

So find the recipe below. I used 1 pound of ground turkey instead of the usual 2 which makes about 4 servings.  Perfect for the single cook.  And we have my mom to thank for the spicy balsamic glaze.  We both had been using Bobby Flay's idea to mix balsamic vinegar with ketchup but my mom said she had the extra chipotle pepper on hand so she figured she would throw it in the sauce.  The results were DELISH!! Enjoy!

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ bell pepper, any color, finely diced
1 small onion or shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. ground turkey
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 large egg
1/3 cup breadcrumbs, plain or Italian
Salt, to taste
Spicy Balsamic Glaze, recipe follows


Preheat Oven 350 degrees.

In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil and add the chopped onion and bell pepper. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until soft, add garlic and cook for a minute more.  Remove pan from heat and allow to cool while you prepare the meatloaf.

In a bowl add ground turkey, cumin, oregano, salt, egg, breadcrumbs, and chipotle peppers, and adobo sauce.  Then add the pepper and onion mixture to the bowl and, using your hands, mix all the ingredients together.  Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and press the turkey mixture into a loaf in the middle of the pan (see picture to the right).  Remember it will not fill the entire pan.  Spread half of the balsamic glaze over the top of the meatloaf, and put pan into the oven and bake for 1 hour.

Remove meatloaf from the oven and using 2 spatulas transfer the loaf to a plate or serving platter to prevent from drying out.  Serve with the remaining spicy balsamic glaze.

Spicy Balsamic Glaze

3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons Ketchup
1 small Chipotle Chili Pepper in Adobo Sauce*

*If you only want a hint of heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of adobo sauce.  For more heat, add a larger pepper.  I think 1 small pepper is just right.  Also, the glaze is great with just vinegar and ketchup so eliminate the chipotle altogether if you don't want any heat.

Directions: Finely mince the chipotle pepper and combine with vinegar and ketchup in a bowl.

Tortellini w/ Spinach & Mushroom Cream Sauce

If you're counting calories, this isn't the recipe for you.  BUT if you're looking for a rich, delicious and comforting dish that can be ready in under 30 minutes and is portioned for the single cook, then HELLO!

This recipe is an adaptation of a Pumpkin Tortellini recipe that I made around the holidays from The Food Network Magazine.  After I'd made it, I realized how versatile it was.  Even though it's a cream based sauce, the recipe intro talked about adding the pumpkin to add flavor and vitamins.  With flavor and vitamins in mind, I decided to try spinach and mushrooms, instead of pumpkin, and here we are.

This dish is incredibly simple and delicious which is why I had to share it.  Not to mention, you all asked for it! ;-) And even though it may be a bit indulgent, stay tuned for a lighter recipe that can be made with the same ingredients!

1 9oz Package 3 Cheese Tortellini
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup sliced baby portabella mushrooms (1/2 an 8oz package)
2 cups fresh baby spinach (two large handfuls)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Once water is rapidly boiling, add tortellini and cook for 3-5 minutes and drain.  Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat, add the olive oil and the finely chopped shallot.   Sauté the shallot for about 3-4 minutes add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute more.  Next add in the mushrooms and sauté until softened.

Next, add in the two cups of spinach, the nutmeg, and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Stir until the spinach has just wilted and then add in the heavy cream. 

Once the sauce begins to bubble, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Add in the cheese, stir to combine and check for seasonings.  The cheese will add saltiness, but the sauce may need some additional salt and pepper. Lastly, add drained tortellini to the sauce and stir to combine.  Serve pasta with additional parm for garnish.

Friday, February 15, 2013


This time last year, I was over the moon excited because my very first recipe was published on  The digital content editor happens to be a Howard Alum and, lucky for me, she enjoyed the work I was doing on this blog.  She told me she would like to me to contribute to's Food section and gave me my first assignment: A Valentine's Day Dessert.  I wrote not one, but two recipes: Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Dipped Bananas & Pineapple.  I may have gotten a little carried away but for my first time I can say they were both really good dessert recipes!

So here we are a year later and even though I've been doing alot of savory recipe testing, I figured that my one year commemorative recipe submission to should be a dessert.  I mean it's only right!  And I knew that my tiramisu would be perfect for Valentine's Day.

I scaled down the tiramisu recipe significantly, to about 4 servings, for all the happy couples.  You can make it in one bowl or divide into two bowls as I did in the picture.  But be warned, this tiramisu is very rich so two people can share one of those bowls.  My roommate and I shared one, and the word that kept going through my head, was sinful.

You can click HERE to view the recipe on or scroll below to see the process in pictures.  Hopefully the pictures will show you all how easy it is to make.  Simple and sinful tiramisu! How can you go wrong with that?


Ingredients: (Makes 4 servings)
3 Egg Yolks, from large eggs
½ cup Finely Granulated Sugar
1 cup, 8 oz Mascarpone Cheese*
½ teaspoon McCormick Pure Coffee Extract
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Package Ladyfingers
¼ Cup Coffee Liquor
Coco Powder for Dusting, about 3 tablespoons
1 Milk Chocolate Bar for Shaving
2-4 Strawberries for Garnish

*BelGioioso makes a Tiramisu Flavored Mascarpone.  If you can find it, definitely USE IT and omit the coffee extract.  If not, plain mascarpone with the extract works fine.  You should be able to easily find the coffee extract in your baking isle. Or click here to order online: Neilsen Massey® Coffee Extract (Google Affiliate Ad)

Fill the bottom pot of a double boiler with 2-3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low. Combine the egg yolks and sugar into the top pot, place pot on top of the boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a spatula.  You want all the sugar granules to dissolve and the mixture to be a thick lemon color.

Next, remove the bowl from the heat and add the mascarpone cheese and coffee extract.  Mix with a handheld mixer on medium-low speed until everything is combined.  

In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream with a hand held mixer until stiff peaks begin to form.  Then, with a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture and set aside.

Now pour the coffee liquor into a shallow dish or pan and dip one side of the lady fingers into the liquor, one at a time, and then begin to arrange them along the bottom of your serving dish (liquor side up).  Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers using a spatula.  Then, dip a few more ladyfingers, one side only, into the liquor and place them over the mascarpone to make a middle layer.  

Cover those ladyfingers with the other half of the mascarpone mix and spread with the spatula to create a flat, smooth surface.

Lastly, use a sifter to dust the coco powder on top of the mascarpone, being sure to cover all of it.  I laid down tin foil to help with the mess.

Then, use a carrot peeler to create the chocolate shavings.  Run the peeler down the edge of the chocolate bar and sprinkle the shavings over the top of the tiramisu.  Cover with saran and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Right before serving, I suggest slicing and fanning a strawberry over the top of the tiramisu.  They look like little hearts making it a festive garnish for Valentine’s Day or any day you want to show some love. :-)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Healthy Weeknight Cooking - Some Tips & A Recipe

I’ve been catching up with a lot of my friends lately and it seems that we’re all on the same page about one thing: it’s time to loose some weight! Whether it’s the typical New Years resolutions, the approaching bathing suit season, or looming 30th Birthdays it seems as if all of us have a goal to shed some pounds in the next few months.

From what I can tell, everyone has their gym memberships and workout schedules but a lot of my friends are having trouble in the kitchen and are asking me for some healthy cooking tips.  Now even though I love to cook, I’m a teacher by day, so I know first hand how hard it can be to work, commute home, and find the energy to make a healthy, home cooked meal.  Sometimes you just want to say forget it, and pick up fast food or heat up a microwave dinner.  But it is possible!! I do it all the time so I decided to share a few tips that help me.  The tips are below and if you keep them in mind, you can have a tasty, healthy dinner, like my Rosemary Crusted Salmon and Roasted Winter Vegetables, on the table in no time.

Tip #1 Start Your Prep As Soon As You Walk In- If you’re like me, the first thing you want to do when you get home is get out of your work clothes.  But if your planning on making dinner, get everything going in the kitchen before heading in the bedroom to change.  Pre-heat your oven, put your grill or sauté pan on low, and if you’re making pasta or boiling anything, fill the pot with water and get it on the stove.  THEN go change your clothes.  This will speed up the cooking process A LOT.

Tip #2 Cut Back on Fats, Bump Up the Spices and Herbs- In my salmon recipe below, I created a crust of rosemary, garlic, horseradish (my secret weapon), lemon juice and very little oil.  The garlic and herbs give it so much flavor that I forgot it was healthy.  I also tend to use dry spice rubs when trying to enhance the flavor and cut the fat.  I will rub steak, chicken, and fish with a dry rub and then throw them on my lightly oiled grill pan.  It’s a great way to get a yummy meal without the guilt.

Tip #3 Get Help From the Grocery Store- Don’t be afraid to buy the bags of pre-cut and washed vegetables for sautéing, roasting or grilling.  In this recipe, using a bagged vegetable medley cut my prep time in half.  Also, some cooks think fresh is always better but frozen vegetables have the same health benefits because they’re frozen in their prime without the added salt and preservatives that you find in canned vegetables.  So if you have frozen vegetables in the freezer, throwing them in a stir-fry or soup will only improve the health benefits of your meal.

Tip #4 If All Else Fails, Throw Everything in the Oven- If you’re wondering what I make on these cold winter nights when I’m tired but still trying to eat healthy, its roasted vegetables with roasted chicken or fish.  Like I said above, as soon as I walk in, I’ll crank up the oven, season my vegetables and protein and literally throw it all in the oven.  Next thing I know, my house smells amazing, my food is getting crispy and delicious, all while I relax, check my instgram and watch Jeopardy.  It’s the perfect cooking method for lazy weeknights.

So that was a lot of information but I hope some of you found it useful.  Now I will leave you with a recipe and if you follow my tips, this healthy and tasty meal can be ready in under and hour.

Rosemary Crusted Salmon w/ Roasted Winter Vegetables

 Ingredients: Makes 4 Servings
1 Bag Broccoli, Cauliflower, & Carrot Medley
1 Cup Baby Red Bliss or Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 Cup Brussel Sprouts (Trimmed, Outside leaves removed)
1 small Onion
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus 3 tablespoons
4 tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves
1 tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice (About ½ a lemon)
1 tablespoon Prepared Horseradish
4 teaspoons Kosher Salt, divided
2 teaspoons Corse Black Pepper, divided
1 clove garlic
12-14 oz Salmon Filet (cut into 4 equal portions)
Additional Olive Oil, Salt, & Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spread Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot medley on a foil lined baking sheet.  Then halve the baby potatoes and brussell sprouts and add them to the sheet as well.  Finally halve and quarter the onion and spread the pieces over the other vegetables.  Toss all of the vegetables in 1/3 cup olive oil, season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and put it in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, REDUCE THE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 350 degrees for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

While the vegetables are roasting, pre-heat a cast iron or non-stick (oven safe) skillet over medium heat.  Then prepare the crust for the salmon by finely chopping the rosemary.  Add it to a bowl with the lemon juice, horseradish, salt and pepper.  Then, using a microplane, grate the clove of garlic in the rosemary mixture, add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and whisk everything together thoroughly.

Next, prepare the salmon filets by brushing both sides of the fish with a little olive oil and sprinkling both sides with salt and pepper.  By now your pan should be screaming hot.  Place fillets flesh side down and allow to sear for 3-4 minutes.  Using tongs, flip the fillets over and allow to sear on the skin side.  Tip: you know the fish is ready to be flipped when you can easily remove the fish without it sticking.  If any part sticks, allow to cook for a minute more.

While the skin side is searing, spoon rosemary mixture over each of the fillets.  Then transfer the
salmon to the oven.  Remember it should be 350 degrees by now.  Allow filets to cook for about 5 minutes more.  Then remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a plate or serving dish to prevent from drying out.  Remove the vegetables from the oven as well, the potatoes should be fork tender and all veggies should be golden brown.

Serve salmon with vegetables.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Seafood Guacamole w/ Baked Tortilla Chips

If you're looking for some last minute inspiration for your Super Bowl Party, I've got a few ideas for you! First there's my Seafood Guacamole. This Guacamole is so good that I would be bold enough to say that it will be the best guacamole you've ever had.  When I made it for my family last Thanksgiving, it literally disappeared.  Plus lots of people were asking for the recipe and a couple people even offered to pay me to make it for their next party!  It's THAT GOOD!  But if you're not a seafood fan, or you're allergic, here's my standard Guacamole Recipe. I posted it on here this time last year and it's always good.  But back to the Seafood version.  It was so out of this world that I had to submit the recipe to 

Click the here for the recipe: Seafood Guacamole

Now I didn't just want to send you guys over to without giving you at least one other idea for Super Bowl, so I decided to post the recipe for Baked Tortilla Chips (pictured right). Now I know what you're thinking. Probably the same thing I was... baked tortilla chips?? I was skeptical at first too but my friend Melissa showed me how to make these and after a lot of mumbling and whining she finally shouted: "April! You will like these! Just trust me!" I was visiting her in NYC, it was after hours and I was starving so I reluctantly trusted her and discovered these chips were REALLY good! Soon all the chips were gone and the next thing I knew I was in the kitchen with Melissa helping her make another batch.

I figured out quickly why these Baked Tortilla Chips were Melissa's favorite snack; they're easy and fun to make. I recommend making these tomorrow if you have kids or are expecting some to be at your Super Bowl Party. Melissa is a Kindergarten teacher and she told me later that this recipe was given to her at school and she made them with her students.  So you can put the little guys to work and they will have a lot of fun! But even if you don't have kids, these chips are still fun to make.  When I made them, I felt like a kid but I still managed to give them an adult edge with some black salt I bought from The Filling Station in Chelsea Market during that same NYC trip.  

So do something a bit different this Super Bowl and instead of buying tortilla chips, make these! Oh and did I mention they are healthy(er) than the fried variety??  I know it's Super Bowl so no one really cares but I thought I'd throw that in there anyway :-)
Baked Tortilla Chips

1 package Flour Tortillas (6" works best)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 1/4 cup)
Kosher Salt (or any artisan salt you may have on hand)
Directions: (They're so simple!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place half the stack of tortillas on your cutting board.  Then cut the rounds into quarters by cutting in half horizontally and then again vertically.  Arrange the quarters in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. (You may have to do multiple batches)

Pour a little olive oil into a small bowl and brush both sides of each chip with the oil.  Then sprinkle one side with salt, so that each chip gets a few crystals and pop the chips into the oven.  Bake for about 3-4 minutes, flip the chips over and bake for 3-4 minutes more.  You're looking for a golden brown color.

When done, remove the chips from the oven, transfer to a bowl and serve alone or with your favorite dip.  Repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.  Any leftovers can be kept fresh in ziploc bags.