Turkey Meatballs

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These are my favorite meatballs. They are tender, flavorful, and healthy too, since they are made with ground turkey instead of beef. The crushed red pepper gives them a touch of heat, but not enough to keep my kids from devouring them. They freeze great too, so make an extra batch and store them in the freezer until your next spaghetti and meatball night.

1 package ground turkey (1.5 pounds)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more, if you like them spicy)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with foil.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, salt, onion, garlic powder, oregano, crushed red pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Add the bread crumbs, milk, and parmesan cheese, and stir together until well-blended (but don’t over-mix, or your meatballs will be tough).

Using your hands (don’t be afraid to get messy), form into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through.

Serve on top of spaghetti with your favorite sauce, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

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Sausage and Kale Soup

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Thanksgiving has come and gone, and no matter how delicious your turkey was, it does tend to lose its appeal after eating it five meals in a row. If you’re ready for something different, whip up a batch of this delicious sausage and kale soup. Flavorful Italian sausage combines with potatoes and tender kale (not the kind you see at salad bars) to create a satisfying main dish soup. Be sure to use Yukon Gold potatoes because they have dense flesh and hold their shape when cooked.

6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 package Italian sausage links (mild or spicy)
4-5 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 bunch fresh dinosaur kale (a.k.a. Lacinato kale)
1/4 cup evaporated milk
Ground black pepper to taste

Wash the potatoes and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Cut the thick portion of the stem from the kale leaves and then chop the leaves into 1-inch pieces. Add the chopped leaves to a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Set the potatoes and kale aside.

Remove casing (a.k.a. skin) from sausage by scoring the casing with a sharp knife down the length of the sausage and then peeling off the casing. Add the sausage and chopped onion to a frying pan and cook over medium heat, using a spatula to break up the sausage into small pieces. Continue to cook until the sausage is no longer pink.

Place the cooked sausage and onion in a large pot. Add the chicken broth and potatoes, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are almost tender.

Add the chopped kale and continue cooking until kale is tender.

Remove the soup from heat, stir in the evaporated milk, and season with black pepper to taste. Serve hot with your favorite Italian bread.

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Alfredo-Pesto Linguine with Chicken

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In the mood for really amazing pasta? This recipe is restaurant quality, without the restaurant price. The combination of parmesan, cream, and pesto make a heavenly sauce that is to die for (not literally, I hope, but those of you with high cholesterol should probably skip this one . . . did I mention the sauce has butter too?). You can lower the fat a bit by substituting half-n-half for the heavy cream, but the sauce won’t be as thick.

This is an excellent dish to make for a special occasion, or if you want to impress your dinner guests. The recipe below will make about 4 servings.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
Black pepper
1/2 pound linguine pasta
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
2 tablespoons prepared pesto

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the linguine according to package directions. Meanwhile, melt the butter in your largest skillet, over medium heat. Stir in the cream and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the skillet from the heat and gradually stir in the parmesan cheese. After the cheese is added, put the skillet back on the heat and reduce the heat to low or medium-low (don’t let the sauce boil). Stir in the pesto and cook the sauce, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, or until thickened.

Add the linguine and cooked chicken to the sauce and toss gently to coat. Serve with fresh parmesan cheese and a big green salad. Enjoy!

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