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Spaghetti & Mini Turkey Meatballs


My roommate was watching TV and saw this recipe. It is meatballs, made healthier with eggplant and ground turkey. So naturally as girls trying to look good for Vegas in a few months, we will try anything that tells us it is relatively healthy/lower calories and fat. Funny thing, I had the recipe the whole time in a cookbook on my shelf. I did some fiddling with the proportions to make my life easier (because Jennie-O ground turkey comes in packages of 20-oz, not 12-oz… Duh Rocco DiSpirito).

Mini Turkey Meatballs

(Revised from Rocco DiSpirito Now Eat This! Diet)

Makes 24 Meatballs


  • 1 small eggplant (you will need 1/3 C of flesh)
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 20-oz lean ground turkey (1 package)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup low-fat marinara sauce + more for pasta
  • 1/2 lb of whole wheat spaghetti


Turn your broiler on. Place the eggplant on a sheet pan under the broiler to char the skin until it is blackened and the flesh is cooked through, about 10 minutes depending on the size of your eggplant.


Allow the eggplant to cool slightly then cut in half, Scrape out the flesh being careful not to incorporate the skin. Measure out 1/3 cup of the flesh.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a mini-muffin plan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a blender, combine the cooked eggplant, chicken broth, onion, garlic and egg whites. Puree until it is a smooth consistency.

In a large bowl, combine the mixture with the ground turkey, parsley, 3 tablespoons cheese, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.


In each muffin cup, add 1 teaspoon of marinara sauce in the bottom.


Drop a rounded tablespoon of meat mixture into the cups. Top with another teaspoon of marinara sauce. The cups will look overfilled, but the meat will shrink down a bit when they are cooked.



Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are done. While the meatballs are cooking make some pasta to go with it!

The sauce will run off the sides of the muffin pan so have some aluminum foil underneath the pan to save time on cleaning it!


Time to eat: pasta + meatballs + more sauce + more cheese = in your mouth. YUM!


I thought that these were super delicious. You get to eat a traditional comfort food and I felt way less guilty. The meatballs are super savory and juicy from being cooked with the sauce. Thrown on top of some spaghetti and I was in heaven! You couldn’t taste the eggplant so if that scared you no worries, it is just a secret skinny ingredient.


Happy Cooking!

Filed under dinner meatballs spaghetti tomatoes Italian vegetables healthy garlic onions red savory

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Vegetable Pocket with Tomato Cream Sauce

I work for a catering company that serves weddings, private parties, luncheons and so much more. The food that comes out of the catering kitchen is some of the best I have ever tasted, no lie! Maybe I don’t eat at places that warrant food this delicious but I give mad props to Chef Paul and his crew!

One of my favorite things that Chef Paul makes (I have about 15 favorite things) is what he calls a Vegetable Wellington with Red Pepper Cream Sauce. It is vegetables rolled into phyllo dough with a thick pepper cream sauce. The vegetables are still crunchy but tender in the flaky pastry, and then I dip it in the creamy sauce and it is just heaven in my mouth. This is my attempt at creating what I wish I could do daily.

Vegetable Pockets with Tomato Cream Sauce

(Makes 4 pockets)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 plus 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into sticks
  • 1 medium summer squash, cut into sticks
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into sticks
  • 1 large carrot, grated or cut into sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella or provolone cheese, grated
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup half & half
  • 12 sheets phyllo dough, THAWED in the fridge overnight or on the counter for 2 hours
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 4 oz water
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste


Cooking the Veggies

I strongly suggest that you prep ALL of the vegetables before you get cooking. Look at those beautiful colors of nature!

Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shallot and then 2 cloves of minced garlic until they are just translucent, about 2 minutes. Add in the thyme and give a quick stir.

Add in the zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 4-6 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still tender.

Sprinkle on the cheese and add in the 3 tablespoons of half & half. Mix together and let cook for 1 more minute, then kill the heat.

Let it cool for a few minutes and transfer to a medium sized bowl to cool down.

Creating a Sauce

One thing that I often always fail at in the kitchen is making sauces… correction thickening sauces. There is obviously a science to it that I have yet to learn and master but for now I will eat, dip and dine with delicious thin runny sauces.

In a small pot over medium-high heat, add in the tomato sauce and water. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and 1 clove of minced garlic. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until it is reduced (if you can accomplish that, unlike me). Add in the cream and stir to combine.

Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the sauce so there are minimal imperfections. You may have to use a spoon to help the sauce through. Return to the pot to keep the sauce warm.

Making your Pockets

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. When the filling is cooled, it is time to work with the phyllo dough. This was my first attempt ever with phyllo dough and for the most part I think I did something right. Be sure to get your butter melted and ready!

On a nice flat dry surface, gently peel and lay down one sheet of phyllo. Brush cautiously with butter using a pastry brush. Add another sheet on top and repeat until you have 4 sheets all covered with butter.

Add 1/4 of your veggie mixture to the left side of the phyllo sheets leaving at least a two inch boarder.

Fold the left flap over the veggies, then fold over the top and bottom edged, as if you were rolling a burrito.

Roll the veggies and flaps over toward the right until it is all wrapped up. Do not fret about rips and tears, lay them where they should be and the butter will glue it all back together. Place the pocket seam side down on a buttered baking sheet, brush the tops and sides with butter to assist with browning and deliciousness.

Repeat until you have 4 perfect pockets. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the pockets are golden brown and crispy on top. Just look at that crispy awesomeness!

Enjoy your Pockets & Sauce

I would call this a success for my first attempt! The filling was cheesy and the veggies still had a crunch. The phyllo was flaky and one of the bests parts. The sauce gave the pockets another element of savory bliss. They were so satisfying I had to eat two of them. Shocker.

Happy Cooking!

Filed under vegetables dinner peppers onions garlic yellow red green zucchini squash tomatoes yummy vegetarian delicious pastry

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French Dip with Red Wine Au Jus

One of my favorite restaurants in Madison is The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. They have this prime rib wrap that is so mouth watering! The thing that takes this over the edge it the red wine steak jus. I would dip ANYTHING in this! If you are ever in the Madison area, you have to stop at Great Dane. I have never had a bad thing on the menu… And trust me I eat there a lot.

This is my revised version of the sandwich at home in hopes to recreate my love here in my own apartment.

French Dip with Red Wine Au Jus

(Makes 2 Sandwiches)


  • 1 french bread loaf
  • 1/2 pound roast beef, thinly sliced
  • 1 16-ounce can low sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine (I used  Ménage à Trois  Red Wine)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • salt and pepper


In a medium pot, add 1 1/4 cup beef broth and the red wine. Heat oven medium-high heat and let reduce while you prepare the sandwich. In a small  pot, add the rest of the beef broth and all of the roast beef and heat oven medium-low heat.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add in the peppers, onions and mushrooms. Saute for 1 minute and add the rosemary, garlic, 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Saute until the all the vegetables are tender.

Time to assemble. Using a serrated knife, slice the french loaf in about 6 inch slices and slice down the middle. Place half of the meat on each bottom half.

Pile high with the mushrooms, peppers, and onions.

Top with two slices of provolone cheese. This will be the glue to hold it all together. Place on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for until the cheese is melted and just starts to brown, about 3-4 minutes. This will also help to make the outside of the bread crusty and perfect!

While the cheese is melting in the oven, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper to the red wine au jus mixture. When you have the sandwiches on the plates, place the au jus in little dipping bowls and serve. 

These sandwiches are salty and cheesy. The sweetness from the pepper and onions are the perfect marriage to the roast beef. And of course, dipping it in to the red wine au jus softens the crusty bread and makes you want more and more. Seriously, so good!

Happy Cooking!

Filed under sandwich beef au jus red wine bread cheese peppers onions mushrooms juicy

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Chicken Sausage with Roasted Garlic & Caramelized Onion Sauce and Pasta

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you all are feeling chipper and great in this year of 2012. I was watching Rachael Ray and this was what she was making. It looked amazing. Jacki LOVES caramelized onions so I thought this would be great. I like the flavors of the garlic and onions but don’t always like to bit down on them, but this sauce is pureed so it makes it perfect. The chicken sausage is made with ground chicken and your spice drawer and it all comes together with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of parmigiano-reggiano cheese. This recipe takes a up some time so read the recipe first so you know what the game plan is!

Chicken Sausage with Roasted Garlic & Caramelized Onion Sauce and Pasta

(Revised from Rachael Ray)


  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped, plus 1 whole bulb for roasting
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound short cut pasta (rigatoni, rotini, penne)
  • grated parmigiano-reggiano


In a large bowl, combine chicken, chopped garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, paprika, fennel, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Chill in the fridge. (Rachael says for several hours or overnight, but I do not plan meals this far in advance so I just did this step first.)

Roast the garlic. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the bulb of garlic across the top end to expose all the cloves then drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap bulb in foil and roast until tender and caramel in color for about 40 minutes.

While the garlic is roasting, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper.

Stir occasionally for 40 minutes until onions are caramel in color, and very soft and sweet. Deglaze the pan with white wine, and drink the rest of the bottle (kidding… kind of).

In a food processor or blender, squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves from the skin and add the onions. Add in enough stock to smoothly puree the sauce. Add the sauce to the same skillet you cooked the onions in and combine with cream. Reduce to thicken while pasta cooks.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water and cook your pasta to al dente. I used a tri-colored rotini because that is what I had in my cupboard.

While water comes to a boil, heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the chicken mixture and crumble as it cooks.

Combine pasta with sausage and creamy sauce and top with LOTS of parmigiano-reggiano cheese.

Filed under pasta dinner chicken garlic onions cheese sauce