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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Moroccan Lentils with Turkey Meatballs

Moroccan Lentils with Turkey Meatballs_menumusings
So let's face it, it's almost time for pumpkins and Thanksgiving.  Wow!  How did that happen?  I mean, you can't walk down the isles of the grocery store without seeing your favorite products in the pumpkin spiced variety.  That's a sure sign that the holidays are on the way, no matter what part of the country you live in or what the temperature is.  And that means it's time to pull out your recipes for chili, soup, and warmly spiced comfort meals.  But if you are anything like me and have no desire to eat "the same old thing" all the time, it's much more fun to cook NEW stuff! 
#healthy #glutenfree #dairyfree #kidfriendly #turkey #moroccan #cleaneating #meatballs #african #lentils #highprotein #easy
Supposedly, one of the fastest-growing food trends of the year is Moroccan Cuisine.  Now that's something I can get behind!  Being located on the northern tip of Africa, and having coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, the country of Morocco is perfectly located to be a culinary melting pot of cultures from around the world.  The ancient spice trade routes have blended the cuisine of this crossroads civilization with that of its neighbors resulting in influences from its European and Mediterranean neighbors, Arabian, Moorish, Iberian, North African, Jewish, and Indian alike!  When you talk about Moroccan cuisine, you have to start with the spices, which were known for their medicinal value in addition to being essential to cooking.  The spices used are sweet and savory, earthy and bright, and just a bit on the floral side.  The dishes are beautifully textured and use a combinations of fruits, nuts and spices in unexpected combinations.  The Moroccan cuisine uses similar spice combinations as Indian food, but perhaps not the same intensity.  So it can be argued that the Moroccan food tastes like a milder version of Indian food.  
Oh by the way, my kiddos both gave this a thumbs up and one even said how "cool" it was to come in and be able to eat "neat" stuff from around the world.  That's a Mom Win for sure!!!  😁👌 
Don't let this long list scare you.  It's just dumping spices together. 
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Ingredients:  (serves 4-6) 
Turkey Meatballs - 
Moroccan Lentils with Turkey Meatballs_menumusings
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp garlic paste (or equivalent amount) 
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Lentils - 
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic paste (3 lg cloves) 
  • 1 cup chopped onion (medium onion)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne* (may leave out if heat sensitive)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup lentils 
    • I used a trio of lentils (red, black, green) 
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 (14.5oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup peeled and finely diced red potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp parsley chopped, plus more for garnish 
Step-by-Step:
Let's make the meatballs first.  These are very easy.  Dump - roll - bake.  
Preheat oven to 350F and let's get started.  Combine the ground turkey with all the ingredients in the "meatball" list and combine gently, taking care not to overwork them.  
1 pound ground turkey
1 large egg
1 cup oatmeal
* I use oatmeal so that my recipe remains gluten free and also to add texture to my turkey meatballs, since turkey can be very smooth and bland feeling.  Oatmeal also stabilizes blood sugar and lowers cholesterol.  Feel free to use bread crumbs if you prefer. 
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp garlic paste (3 large cloves garlic, finely minced)
1 Tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
 Take care not to overwork the mixture.
16 formed meatballs on parchment
 Pop them into the oven for 10 minutes.  Remember, they will NOT be fully cooked yet.
350F x 10 minutes.
Begin working on the lentils.
Add olive oil to a large, heavy bottomed pan.  Saute onions, garlic and sliced carrots in the olive oil for 8 - 10 minutes over medium heat until softened. 
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp garlic paste
1 cup chopped onions
3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
Add all the spices listed for lentils once the vegetables are softened:
1/4 cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.   Stir to incorporate.
Sauteed vegetables with added spices
Add the lentils then the chicken stock.
1 cup lentils
4 cups chicken stock
*These are the lentils I used.  Feel free to choose the kind you prefer. 
Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes uncovered.  Add in diced potatoes and continue to cook an additional 10 minutes uncovered. 
1 cup peeled and finely diced red potatoes (about three small potatoes)
Add in diced tomatoes, parsley, baked meatballs, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
1 (14.5oz can) petite diced tomatoes
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
baked meatballs
Moroccan Lentils with Turkey Meatballs_menumusings
Simmer in sauce until done.
Garnish with more chopped parsley and serve immediately.   I served mine with a Citrus Spiced Couscous, as this is one of the major dishes of Morocco.  I personally think it would also be wonderful over basmati rice, although maybe not as authentic. 
Moroccan Lentils with Turkey Meatballs_menumusings
Bonus Recipes:
Maple Mustard Glazed Chicken - easy, gluten free, low fat, family friendly, dairy free
maple mustard glazed chicken_menumusings
Korean BBQ Shish Kabobs - gluten free, kid friendly, dairy free
korean bbq shish kabobs_menumusings
Happy Hour Pizza Rolls - super fun and easy appetizer, kid friendly, party food
happy hour pizza rolls_menumusings
Ritzy Cheddar Baked Chicken - easy, kid friendly, weeknight
Ritzy cheddar baked chicken_menumusings
Brady's Brussels Sprouts Hash - healthy, flavorful, clean, side dish
brussels sprouts hash_menumusings
Frankenstein Pudding Cups
frankenstein pudding cups_menumusings
Pumpkin Pie Spiced Martini
pumpkin pie spiced martini_menumusings
Food Nerd Notes:
Lentils are an edible legume.  They resemble a flat baby pea. They are widely cultivated through Europe, Asia and Northern Africa.  These small "pea cousins" have been used as a meat substitute for millennia and have been found in Egyptian tombs for over 5,000 years.  Although very small, lentils pack a huge nutritional punch!  They are terrific for your digestive health as they contain high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber.  This helps prevent colon cancer, reduces chances of heart disease, and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.  The high levels of folate and magnesium are heart healthy and help keep arterial walls strong.  If you are a diabetic or hypoglycemic, the complex carbohydrates in lentils can help stabilize blood sugar levels, curb your appetite and control your cholesterol.  Other than soybeans, lentils are the vegetable with the highest amount of protein (a whopping 25%)!  Also, lentils contain the antioxidants Vitamins A and C and cancer fighting phytochemicals, tannins.  So overall these make a fantastic addition to your diet unless you have kidney problems or gout. 

Written Method: 
Let's make the meatballs first.  These are very easy.  Dump - roll - bake.  
Preheat oven to 350F and let's get started.  Combine the ground turkey with all the ingredients in the "meatball" list and combine gently, taking care not to overwork them.  Divide into sixteen meatballs and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes.  Caution - they will NOT be fully cooked at this point.  They will finish cooking in the sauce.  

Begin working on the lentils.
Add olive oil to a large, heavy bottomed pan.  Saute onions, garlic and sliced carrots in the olive oil for 8 - 10 minutes over medium heat until softened.  Stir in the lentil spices onto the vegetables, stirring to incorporate.  Add the lentils then the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes uncovered.  Add in diced potatoes and continue to cook an additional 10 minutes uncovered.  Add in diced tomatoes, parsley, baked meatballs, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.  Garnish with more chopped parsley and serve immediately.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Grab-and-Go Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Bowls

Grab-and-Go Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Bowls_menu musings.com
So in between jobs, moving, shoulder surgery, kids going off to college and life happening here, there and everything else, I've been doing a bit of meal prep for a few precious friends.  It gets my mind off of what's coming down the line for me with my dominant arm.  Sheesh.   So anyway,  I'm sure you all know the value of meal prep by now.  You put in the time and effort on the front end, and it helps you make some wiser decisions throughout the week.  It also helps you save money by buying in bulk.  One of the major criticisms I hear from friends is, "I don't want to eat the same thing for several days."  Okay.  I can get that.  So maybe if there's a group of you, each of you could prep a different meal and then share the meals so you have the benefits of time, good choices, diet restrictions and savings but you wouldn't have to eat the same meal you prepped each day.  Genius, right?  

That leads to these beauties.  I think I have always been in love with anything Thai.  Oh, and everything noodles.  So a Thai noodle bowl is right up my alley!  These are actually meant to be eaten cold, which is fantastic for throwing in the refrigerator at work for your brown bag lunch.  They are equally great for your teen's lunch, your girl's group and that poor starving college kid you are sending back to the dorms.  Believe me, it's so awesome to come home and find a great grab-and-go meal that you can just pull out of the fridge and pop the top off of when you are worn out from a long day!


Ingredients: (4 servings)

Grab-and-Go Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Bowls_menu musings.comPeanut Sauce
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 fresh lime juiced
  • 3/4 tsp ginger paste 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 tsp canned coconut milk
  • warm water - to desired consistency 
Ginger Lime Chicken
  • Majority of a can of coconut milk, reserving enough for dipping sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1.25 pounds), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Seasoning of choice (I used Montreal Steak Seasoning)
Thai Peanut Noodle Bowls 
  • 8 oz dry spaghetti noodles
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 cups broccoli slaw (Super Blend)
    • containing:  Brussels sprouts, Napa cabbage, Kohlrabi, Broccoli, Carrots & Kale
  • 1/2 cup peeled, chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 red/orange bell pepper chopped 
  • 1/3 cup shelled edamame 
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 green onions chopped 
  • Optional - sesame seeds, garnish
  • Optional - chopped roasted peanuts, garnish
*I adapted this recipe from a mashup between my Thai Ginger Lime Chicken Skewers with Peanut Curry Dipping Sauce  and Thai Peanut Chicken Meal Prep Bowls from valerieskitchen.com.

Step-by-Step:
I gave you the ingredient amounts for 4 servings.  In the photos, I was making 12 servings, so obviously I will appear to be using much more than the amount listed... because I am!  I am showing you the process of making the recipe.  Under each, I will list amounts for both 4 servings and 12 servings.  I hope it will be helpful.

Marinate the chicken (1 - 8 hours) in a zip top bag in the coconut milk, ginger paste, chopped cilantro and lime juice.  
Chicken breasts + coconut milk
(reserve some for the peanut sauce)

*I planned on 0.33 pounds per person of chicken.  I hope that helps you if you are serving more than just a few.
Chopped fresh cilantro
4 sv - 1/4 cup
12 sv - 3/4 cup or lg handful
Ginger paste
4 sv - 1 tsp
12 sv - 1 Tbsp
I needed to thaw these chicken breasts overnight, so I popped them into the refrigerator.  Buying in bulk is a money saving option for me when cooking larger quantities. 
 If using fresh chicken breasts, you can totally skip that refrigerator step and move straight into the "bite-sized pieces" step.  

Juice of 1 large lime.
Allow to sit and marinate at least 30 minutes or so.
Season chicken with seasoning blend of choice, then oven roast for around 15 min or until internal temperature is 165 F.  This will depend on ovens and size of your chicken pieces.  You could also pat them dry and pan saute them in a bit of vegetable oil if you wish; but oven roasting takes care of all of them at once and uses zero extra oil. 
Pat your chicken pieces dry.  Sprinkle with seasoning blend of choice.  Oven roast.
I set the cooling racks over parchment paper for super easy pan cleanup.
While chicken is roasting,  prepare the peanut sauce.  Combine all ingredients in food processor, adding warm water last to thin out the sauce to desired consistency.  
Creamy peanut butter
4 sv - 1/2 cup
12 sv - 1 1/2 cup
Soy Sauce
4 sv - 2 Tbsp
12 sv - 6 Tbsp
Honey
4 sv - 2 Tbsp
12 sv - 6 Tbsp
Rice Vinegar
4 sv - 2 Tbsp
12 sv - 6 Tbsp
Fresh squeezed lime juice
4 sv - 1/2 lime juice
12 sv - 1 lg lime juiced
Ginger paste
4 sv - 3/4 tsp
12 sv - 2 1/4 tsp 
Garlic paste
4 sv - 1/2 tsp
12 sv - 1 1/2 tsp 
Curry Powder
4 sv - 1/4 tsp
12 sv - 3/4 tsp
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
4 sv - 1/4 tsp
12 sv - 3/4 tsp
Coconut Milk
4 sv - 2 Tbsp
12 sv - 1/4 cup
 Blend until smooth.
 Add warm water until desired consistency is reached.
Warm water.  Amount will vary. (perhaps 1/3 cup - 1 cup)
Distribute sauce in individual 2oz portion cups or a resealable jar.  Sauce may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. 


Have water boiling in a large stock pot.  To boiling, salted water, prepare pasta according to package directions.  Drain cooked pasta and rinse under cold water.  Toss with sesame oil and set aside.  

Cooked, Drained, Rinsed Pasta
4 sv - 8 oz dry pasta + 1 Tbsp sesame oil
12 sv - 24 oz dry pasta + 3 Tbsp sesame oil
Mix broccoli slaw with cucumbers, bell peppers, edamame, cilantro and green onions.  Toss to combine. 
Broccoli Slaw "Super Blend"
4 sv - 2 1/2 cups
12 sv - 7 1/2 cups
Chopped Cucumbers
4 sv - 1/2 cups
12 sv - 1 1/2 cups
Red/Orange Bell Peppers
4 sv - 1/2 bell pepper
12 sv - 1 1/2 bell pepper
Chopped Fresh Cilantro
4 sv - 1/3 cup
12 sv - 1 cup
Shelled Edamame (frozen)
4 sv - 1/2 cup
12 sv - 1 1/2 cups
Toss to combine.  Just look at these colors!
Add broccoli slaw on one side of meal prep containers, noodles on the other.  Make room for the peanut dipping sauce in the middle.  Divide the chicken around the dipping sauce.  Garnish the noodles and chicken with sesame seeds and chopped peanuts if desired.  
Grab-and-Go Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Bowls_menu musings.com
 Store noodles bowls in the refrigerator for up to four days in air-tight meal prep containers.  
Grab-and-Go Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Bowls_menu musings.com
* I'm going to be honest.  When I eat mine, I like to mix it all together and make a salad out of it.  But you enjoy it any and each way you prefer.
Grab-and-Go Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Bowls_menu musings.com
Written Method:
Marinate the chicken (1 - 8 hours) in a zip top bag in the coconut milk, ginger paste, chopped cilantro and lime juice.  Season chicken with seasoning blend of choice, then oven roast for around 15 min or until internal temperature is 165 F.  This will depend on ovens and size of your chicken pieces.  

While chicken is roasting,  prepare the peanut sauce.  Combine all ingredients in food processor, adding warm water last to thin out the sauce to desired consistency.  Distribute sauce in individual 2oz portion cups or a resealable jar.  Sauce may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

Have water boiling in a large stock pot.  To boiling, salted water, prepare pasta according to package directions.  Drain cooked pasta and rinse under cold water.  Toss with sesame oil and set aside.  

Mix broccoli slaw with cucumbers, bell peppers, edamame, cilantro and green onions.  Toss to combine. 

Add broccoli slaw on one side of meal prep containers, noodles on the other.  Make room for the peanut dipping sauce in the middle.  Divide the chicken around the dipping sauce.  Garnish the noodles and chicken with sesame seeds and chopped peanuts if desired.  Store noodles bowls in the refrigerator for up to four days in air-tight meal prep containers.  

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