Turkey Chili

I really didn’t know what inspired this recipe. It could have been the crappy weather. It could have been the massive text message my mom sent me a few weeks ago fawning over my aunt’s chili recipe. It could have been my recent obsession with chilies and spices. Either way, I got such an intense craving for it that I almost made it when I got home from work a week and a half ago. I know it would’ve meant that I would’ve been eating at midnight but I didn’t care. I was dying for it. But I waited. And I’m so happy I did.

This chili is special. It’s hearty and comforting and filling and warm and sweet and spicy! Boy was it spicy- but not too much- just enough to clear up your sinuses and give it a little kick. I’m happy I made this last night because I got to enjoy cooking it. Dicing the onions, peppers and chilies, crushing the tomatoes with my hands, and layering the spices was a fun way to experience this dish. And even though it doesn’t take too long to cook, it would’ve been a lot to handle when I come home as a raving, starving lunatic after on one of my hectic work days.

This recipe is a star- don’t underestimate it. If you’ve been looking for a great chili recipe you might be able to stop your search here.

Turkey Chili- 3 servings

(adapted from Ina Garten’s Chicken Chili recipe)

3/4 lb ground turkey
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 yellow and 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 canned chili, roughly diced
1 can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 tbsp, chopped cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt and Pepper- to taste
1 tspn, cayenne pepper
1/2 tspn, red pepper flakes
1 tspn, chili powder
1-2 dashes, hot sauce
1/2 can red beans

1. In a small or medium pot heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions and peppers and cook until softened, about 10 mins, stirring occasionally. After the onions and peppers have softened add the chopped chilies, beans, and minced garlic and cook for another minute.

2. At this point you can add your spices. All of my measurements are approximations because I went a little crazy. I also added a dash or two of hot sauce. I wanted my chili spicy!! If you want more spice, hot sauce might be a good option for you.

3. Add the crushed tomato’s and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and allow to cook uncovered for 30 minutes. At this point, if you’d like, you can add the chopped cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice. I suggest it strongly.

4. While the sauce is simmering start browning the ground turkey, making sure to break down the pieces so they are small. This chili is super versatile- you can add ground chicken, beef, roasted chicken or turkey (thanksgiving left-over chili??). Use whatever you have lying around and go crazy.

5. Add the browned chicken to the sauce and stir well. Allow to cook uncovered for another 20 minutes. This would be a good time to put the homemade tortilla strips in the oven.

6. When the chili is ready to be served, top with tortilla strips, a generous helping of shredded cheese, and a dallop of sour cream.


The Perfect Meatloaf

The Perfect Meatloaf

The Perfect Meatloaf!

My dad is an awesome cook. He’s not what I would consider the “typical” man: he cooks, cleans, and gardens better than some women I know (don’t I sound like such a daddy’s girl!). I always remember being amazed at the simple yet utterly scrumptious foods he made. The perfect home fries, super crunchy chicken wings, the creamiest shrimp pasta, and my absolute favorite: the perfect meatloaf.

I always got excited whenever he decided to make it. He didn’t make it often but when he did, it was magical. It was super moist and packed with flavor. His is usually made with beef (which makes it absolutely to die for!) but I had tons of turkey meat in my freezer and a very intense desire for meatloaf. It took me months to wrangle the recipe out of him but I got it… and here it is:

The Meatloaf before baking for an hour

The Meatloaf Mold

Meatloaf – 12-16 servings

2 lbs of meat (beef, turkey or chicken*)
1 pouch of onion soup mix
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of water
2/3 cup of ketchup
3/4 cup of bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly. I added a few more spices like rosemary, thyme, etc. to taste so feel free to do the same according to your tastes and preferences.

2. Spray non-stick spray in a glass baking dish and mold the meat mixture in as you’d like.

3. Place mixture in pre-heated oven for about 1 hour, checking occasionally. The meat should be done but if you really want to be sure, you can slice the meat down the center to make sure it is fully cooked.

The Meatloaf Mix

The Meatloaf Mix- before I got my hands all messy!

I know what you’re thinking… onion soup mix?? Trust me- give it a try and you will not be disappointed. *Also, as a side note, I once accidentally made chicken meatloaf and it was not a winner (I’m so sorry Liz!!! This is one of the reasons my family thinks I can’t cook… I made them eat the most horrible chicken meatloaf ONCE!!! And they still won’t let me live it down!!!) So I would be extremely careful using chicken in this recipe.

This recipe produces 12-16 healthy servings of meatloaf- so I halved the recipe and had about 6-8 VERY healthy serving of meatloaf. I love leftovers so I was looking forward to thinking of fun ways to use the rest of the meatloaf (nothing goes to waste in my house!)… so for lunch the next day I made Meatloaf Subs!

A Slice of Meatloaf

Look at that perfect slice of Meatloaf... doesn't it look so soft and yummy!

Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs!

Turkey Meatballs! Yum!

Turkey Meatballs are the reason I always keep ground turkey in the house. They’re a go-to. When plans changed this summer and my mom came over with my cousins for dinner, I needed my fool-proof back up plan: my turkey meatballs. Just looking at that picture makes my mouth water- they are that good. Need proof? My little cousin, Jeremy, who loves to make fun of me endlessly (as all little cousins do), had a bite and said “wow… this is good!… I didn’t know Chris could cook!”

There isn’t any one way to make them- I change the recipe all the time- but one thing that I’ve found that is a necessary in this meal is the use of 99% fat free ground turkey. I recently made them with 93% fat-free ground turkey because it was on sale, and while they tasted good (a little richer than normal) they fell apart easily and didn’t have the flavor and consistency I was used to. Besides that, make them in a chicken broth with rice, in a tomato sauce with pasta, or sauté them with lots of different vegetables- they are beyond versatile. My favorite way is in a chicken broth sauce with grape tomatoes and brown rice. They’re heavenly!! My second favorite? Saving 3-5 of the meatballs (which is almost impossible) and having them the next day in a portabella cap. Divine!!

Turkey Meatballs – serves 4

1 cup rice
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp ketchup
1 and 3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
3/4 tspn salt
3/4 tspn fresh ground black pepper
1 pd ground turkey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1. In a medium bowl stir together breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, salt and pepper.  Add turkey and combine.  Scoop turkey into balls. I like to make them small because they cook quicker but still retain their flavor.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Put in the first batch of meatballs in one layer and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.  Turn meatballs and brown tops, about another 2 minutes.  Remove and add the second batch. Do this until all are browned. Add all of them back to the hot pan and add chicken broth. Bring to a boil and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan.

3. At this point, you can add grape tomato’s that have been sliced in half, or sliced mushrooms, or sliced zucchini or any of your other favorite vegetables. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

4. Serve over rice and top with freshly grated Romano.  Spoon any left over juices in the pan over the meatballs and rice.

I know I say this a lot but I always mean it: it was quick and easy to make and the results are spectacular. Give them a try and I promise they will become a part of your go-to dinners as well.

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