Almost-Cream Sauce Spaghetti with Ground Turkey, Mushrooms & Spinach

Almost Cream Sauce Spaghetti with Ground Turkey, Mushrooms & Spinach

Almost-Cream Sauce Spaghetti with Ground Turkey, Mushrooms & Spinach

It’s a very strange day when I crave something creamy. Maybe it’s because I can feel winter barreling at me like a runaway train, or maybe it’s because of all those delicious looking cream-based soups in the sandwich shop I always walk past but can’t eat because, well, because they’re cream. Either way, tonight I wanted to be a part of the lucky dairy-eating-and-don’t-have-to-think-twice-about-it club.

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So, as sort of a compromise between my drooling tastebuds and sense of self-preservation I made a lightened cream-like pasta sauce in which I mixed a slew of other healthy ingredients, making for an extremely well-balanced meal: extra-lean ground turkey, mushrooms, spinach, leeks, garlic and whole wheat spaghetti.

This isn’t an thick and oozy cream sauce, but rather one that just coats the noodles and ground turkey, creating delicious savory flavors and a clean mouthfeel.

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And for the heck of it, I took out some of the filling just before adding the soy creamer which I used to stuff a buttercup squash and bake. That experiment is dinner tomorrow… I’ll let you know how it is.

Here’s the recipe:

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Lunch in a Crunch: 16-Minute Kale & Mushroom Spaghetti

Kale & Mushroom Spaghetti

Kale & Mushroom Spaghetti

Today was one of those crazy busy Mondays where I had so many things I wanted to accomplish that I wasted half the morning trying to decide where to begin. And then, just as I’d finally hatched a plan it was thrown to pieces by a phone call asking me to sub for a kids’ cooking class this afternoon.

The next thing I knew I was working on a lesson plan with five – yes, five – loads of laundry in the washers downstairs all while trying to hurry myself out the door to buy ingredients for the class.

And did I mention I was famished? Sure, I could have noshed on some dry cereal or quickly defrosted something from the freezer, but I really felt like I needed a hot, fresh and filling lunch to carry me through the rest of the day. The problem was I had exactly 16 minutes to prepare lunch before I needed to take my clothes out of the dryer.

So I quickly rummaged through the refrigerator and grabbed the first things I found: half an onion, kale, mushrooms and lemon juice. Perfect, I’d make whole wheat spaghetti with kale and mushrooms.

To speed the process along, I immediately set a pot of water on the stove so it could come to a boil and also heated a bit of oil in a saute pan, the idea being to let the stove do most of the work. I chopped the onion and dropped it into the pan while moving on to cut the kale and mushrooms. In the end the vegetables and spaghetti finished cooking at the same time, which happened to be just moments before my 16 minutes were up. I ran downstairs, grabbed the laundry, and multi-tasked by folding and eating at the same time.

I couldn’t have planned it better if I’d actually tried.

Here’s the recipe:

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Mom’s Kugel

Kugel

Mom's Kugel

One of my all-time favorite foods is kugel. A sweetened noodle casserole, kugel has been a staple at holiday meals throughout my life. There are so many different types of kugel, running the gamut from a little sweet to dessert sweet, but what makes it good really comes down to personal preference.

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My favorite kugel will always be my mom’s, which was the runner-up in last year’s kugel-off. Much to her chagrin, I spiced it up a bit with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. She claims I destroyed the kugel but it got mad raves at Rosh Hashana dinner with people specifically commenting that they liked the (slight) cinnamonny flavor.

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In our family kugel is always served as a side dish although I enjoy eating the leftovers cold, just as I used to in college when my mom would send me back to school with a fresh pan. However you choose to eat kugel, the key is to make it, and I do hope you’ll try this version.

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Here’s the recipe:

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Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Hopefully you can handle this.

Here goes: I keep a journal.

Sort of.

Okay, it’s not a real journal. I don’t gush about my hopes and dreams, but rather a little notebook I carry with me to record dishes and flavor combinations I want to prepare.

Essentially, I like to write down ideas when the inspiration strikes so I don’t forget them later. These can range from a dish I’m enjoying at a restaurant that I want to try to recreate (i.e. zucchini rolls with macadamia nut filling), to a recipe I read in a magazine, to a funky smell wafting through the air as I walk down the street.

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The third item on the never-ending list is pasta e fagioli, a Tuscan white bean soup traditionally made with pancetta although I usually use bacon instead. I think I added it after visiting family in Florida last Thanksgiving. For some reason pasta e fagioli is really popular in south Florida and I eat so much of it when I’m there that I pretty much get my fill for the year. Just like I only eat salmon burgers on vacation, but I’ll save that story for another time.

Back to the “journal.” Every so often when I read the list – and hopefully cross a few things off – I think how nice a thick, rich, steaming bowl of pasta e fagioli would be on a chilly day. I mentally slated it for late October when the weather would be turning cold.

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Well, the weather dude seemed to have a different idea and it got pretty cold this month, so I figured now was as good a time as any to make pasta e fagioli.

But I did discover a silver lining to making pasta e fagioli in August: it’s the perfect time of year to use really incredible fresh tomatoes. Just look at the size of these tomatoes I picked up at the famer’s market, they’re more than 1 pound each!

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Here’s the recipe:

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Basil Butter

Basil Butter

Basil Butter

Sometimes it’s the simplest recipes that add the most pizazz to a meal. Take basil butter: made from just five ingredients with nothing more than a food processor or by hand with a bowl and wooden spoon, this flavored butter is a great way to add depth and color to vegetables, pasta, fish or chicken.

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I made basil butter for a family get-together where we served it alongside fresh corn. The leftover butter came home with me, which I rolled into a log surrounded by parchment paper and froze, making it ideal for cutting off small pieces when needed. A few days later I pulled the log out of the freezer, cut off a tablespoon-sized round and added it to my penne pasta with corn and zucchini for a finishing touch and burst of flavor.

Basil Butter Penne with Corn & Zucchini

Basil Butter Penne with Corn & Zucchini

The basil butter can be stored three days in the refrigerator or a few months in the freezer and can be used as both a flavored spread and as a sauce.

Here’s the recipe:

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