Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

Life has been very busy since the holiday season ended. Of course I’m feeding my family and making daily dinners. I just haven’t had the opportunity to blog the recipes I have been developing. The recipes are on many Post-its in my Recipe Journal. I need to light a fire under my fingertips and get typing.

Over the holidays, my friend and professional photographer, Lana was visiting and she gave me some great DSLR lessons. Since I take all my blog and Instagram pictures in ‘real time’ as I’m cooking my family’s dinner and the end plate is my dinner plate. She helped me with my camera settings, i.e. ISO, f-stop etc. and lighting for my night shoots in my kitchen and at my permanent staging table. What a wonderful difference from the iPhone pictures I was using previously on the blog. The pictures are visually more appealing and more professional. Check out Lana’s Facebook Viva Image Group – Photography and Videography Service

Tonight’s dinner, as with most of the 5 o’clock rush dinners, came to fruition at about 5pm 😉 with what was available in the fridge and freezer. Swedish Meatballs smothered in gravy and served on a spaetzle is very comforting for a late January dinner. And it is very simple to whip up.

If you are a regular reader of the 5 o’clock rush, you will know that I stock pile a LOT of ingredients ahead and save leftover components in the freezer. The kids are disappointed when is no room for ice cream!

The caramelized onions were made ahead from previous recipe. Caramelizing onions are very time-consuming so when I make them I usually double up.

If you have leftover kale from your kale chips or salad, remove stems from cleaned kale and place in a Ziploc freezer bag and it can be chopped to add to soups or sauces

And the balsamic mushroom enhancers are also in the freezer from a previous adventure Flavour Enhancers for Future Recipes ** but with reduced balsamic vinegar for added flavour.

Check out my Instagram @the5oclockrush to see my daily dinners photos.

Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

Makes about 40 Mini Meatballs Serves 4-6
Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

My Dinner Plate Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

Mise En Place

Mise En Place

Mise En Place

  • 1-500g pkge. Bechtle™ spaetzle or egg noodles

Meatballs

  • 1 lb. extra lean ground turkey
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup cooked caramelized onions *
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic mushroom enhancer **
  • ¼ cup frozen kale or spinach, chopped ***
  • 1 tsp. rosemary, stem removed and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper

Gravy

Mise En Place

Mise En Place

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup cooked caramelized onions
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. butter or canola oil
  • 3 cups chicken stock, homemade or terra packed
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic mushroom enhancer
  • 1 tsp. coarse grain Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • green onions, sliced
  • finely chopped rosemary

Garnish

  • fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • olive oil or melted butter
  • sour cream

Place a large pot of heavily salted water on the stove to boil.

In a large bowl, combine extra lean ground turkey, bread crumbs, egg, balsamic mushroom enhancer, kale, and cooked onion; season with salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon or your ‘gloved’ hands, stir until well combined. Using a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop, fill scoop with mixture and form about 40 meatballs.

Meatball Mixture

Meatball Mixture

Using enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add meatballs, in batches, and cook until all sides are browned, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

To make the gravy, melt butter in the same cast iron skillet. Add the finely minced garlic and caramelized onions. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the grainy mustard and balsamic mushroom enhancers. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir in meatballs, rosemary, sliced green onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through and thickened, about 8-10 minutes.

Cook spaetzle according to package instructions.

Drain noodles, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

Serve immediately, garnished with sour cream, if desired.

Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

My Dinner Tonight Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle

My actual Dinner Plate of Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Spaetzle (6:45pm)

* To make a quick version of caramelize onions:

Caramelizing onions is a long slow process to develop the sweet, rich flavours which can take up to 90 minutes to prepare. This is a ‘cheater’ version.

Chop a large onion into a medium to fine dice.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become soft and rich brown colour, about 10-15 minutes. Add a little sugar to speed up the process.

Dinner Tonight-Swedish Meatballs

Dinner Tonight-Swedish Meatballs iPhone photo (6:45pm)

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My Best Roast Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner

American Thanksgiving is in 9 days!

If you haven’t Thaw your turkey! Start thawing it in the refrigerator on a rimmed cookie sheet ASAP.

FYI A completely frozen turkey needs 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey (weight). A thawed turkey sitting around for an extra day or two in the refrigerator is much better than having to deal with a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving day.

Here is a checklist of your Turkey roasting equipment inventory you will need before Thanksgiving:

  • A roasting pan and a V-shaped roasting rack

I purchase 2 disposable roasting aluminium pans; doubled up for strength (because who wants to wash more dishes or those huge roasting pans)

UPDATE: Review for Circulon® Roaster Pan Review and Giveaway 

If you don’t have a roasting rack, chopped extra mirepoix or you can make your own by simply scrunching up a long piece of aluminium foil into a figure 8.

  • A working meat thermometer I invested in The iGrill
  • A baster or brush, preferably silicone
  • Butcher’s string (cotton based food-grade approved) or Architec Stretch Hot Cooking Bands 2
  • Cheesecloth, double thickness and size of the turkey’s breast
  • Cooking Spray
  • A carving set or electric knife, my husband’s new friend
  • And a working oven 😉

This is the third post in My Best Thanksgiving Recipes, Tips and Tricks.

Check out My Best Stuffing for Thanksgiving Dinner and My Best Mashed Potatoes for Thanksgiving Dinner 

The Best Roast Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner

Preheat Oven 450F Serves 6-8
Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

Mise En Place

PC Young Turkey -frozen

PC Young Turkey-frozen

  • 1 16-18 lb. whole turkey, defrosted and at room temperature
  • My Best Stuffing for Thanksgiving Dinner prepared and at room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, cleaned and chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 box reduced-sodium chicken or turkey stock

Calculating your turkey’s cooking time. With my method of roasting a turkey, cooking time averages 20 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey.

How to calculate cooking time: i.e. 16 lb. turkey X 20 min. per lb. = 320 min. divide by 60 min. in an hour = approx. 5 hours

please note if you have a convection oven the cooking time is 15min. per lb.

After you do the math, add some additional prep time 15 min. and that the turkey should rest at least 30 minutes before carving. The total turkey time has worked out for the above example 5 hours & 45 min.

So, if you want to have dinner at 6pm, aim to have the turkey out of the oven at 5pm and work backwards from there. This is the time the turkey needs to go in the oven.

Preparing the Turkey

Preheat your oven 450 F and take the turkey out of the fridge; let the turkey sit out at room temperature while the oven is heating up. Remember to remove extra oven racks and adjust the rack you are using so that turkey has plenty of space to roast.

Place your turkey on a large cookie surface and unwrap your turkey.

Reach into the cavity and take out the neck (it looks like a long curved piece of bone with some meat attached.) Place the neck in a medium size pot with the reserved vegetables from preparing the stuffing. (i.e. parsley stems, celery stalks and carrots) fill the pot with cold water and simmer.

 

 

 

 

Remove any plastic “thingy” holding the legs together. Discard.

Check inside of the neck cavity look for a little bag with the giblets (the heart, liver, etc.) sometimes you find this inside the main cavity. I just throw it away. Others will use the contents for giblet gravy.

Wash your turkey inside out in the sink with cold water. And dry it completely, both inside and out with paper towels.

Using a liberal amount of kosher salt and some black pepper sprinkle your washed and dried turkey inside and out.

Bend under the wing tips and now it is time to stuff the turkey with My Best Stuffing for Thanksgiving Dinner.

 

 

 

 

Trussing, or tying up the turkey into a more compact package, make sure that the breast and thighs cook to the right temperature. The white meat won’t overcook while the dark meat is still cooking. Truss using butcher’s twine or just tie the legs or use the silicone elastic bands.

Mise En Place for Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner

Mise En Place for Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner

Spray the disposable roasting pan and V-shaped roasting rack liberally with cooking spray. And place your stuffed turkey on the rack and into the prepared roasting pan with 2 peeled garlic cloves, 1 onion quartered, 2 stalks of celery chopped, 2-3 peeled and chopped carrots to flavour the drippings.

One of my tricks is that I think to make for juicy breast meat, is to start the turkey breast up and roast for about 20 minutes at 450 F until slightly golden in colour. Then flip the turkey to breast side down for another 20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Remove the turkey from the oven; flip the turkey back to breast side up. Prepare the 1 cup of melted butter, 1 cup white wine and ½ cup of stock in a glass measuring cup. Dip the cheesecloth in the liquid, saturate and place on turkey’s breast.

The second trick is the cheesecloth protects the breast from getting too brown and dried out.

Add ½ cup of chicken or turkey stock to the roasting pan.

Turn the oven down to 325 F. Place the cheesecloth-covered turkey back in the oven.

Roast and baste.

Baste the turkey including the cheesecloth with the wine, stock and butter mixture. And with some of the delicious juices that are gathering at the bottom of the roasting pan. The cheesecloth will get brown, no worries.

Continue to baste.

Start checking the temperature 30-45 minutes before your calculated time just to be sure since every oven is different. Cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165F.  The temperature of the breast should be around 155F.

 

 

 

 

Remove turkey from the oven and place on carving board and/or clean-rimmed cookie sheet. Baste the turkey with drippings to help moisten the cheesecloth before trying to remove it from the skin of the turkey. Cover loosely with aluminium foil and rest at least for 30 minutes even up to an hour. Resting any meat such as a turkey or even a roast beef that has been cooking for a long time redistribute the juices themselves back into the meat. Don’t worry; this large piece of meat will not get cold.

 

 

 

 

While the turkey is resting, is the perfect opportunity to prepare the gravy using the pan drippings, reserved starchy potato water and simmering stock.

My Best Turkey Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner. Stay Tuned!

Carve the turkey by removing the legs and breasts of the bird. Once the breast meat is cut off the bones, cut into slices. Cut the thigh meat off of the bones.

Thanksgiving Turkey 2014

Thanksgiving Turkey 2014

Thanksgiving Turkey 2017

Roast Turkey 2017

Thanksgiving Turkey 2017

Roast Turkey for Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner 2017

My Thanksgiving Dinner Plate for 2017

Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Last night for dinner I made Chicken Stew with Dumplings  Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits.

I decided the last minute to switch from dumplings to biscuits because I felt a little ‘flaky’ instead gooey. LOL! 😉

It was a fake-it, make-it recipe. A well stocked pantry helped out, as I always have Bisquick for that ‘just in case’ moment of a recipe development.

The biscuits turned out awesome especially with a pat of butter! 😀

Over the weekend, we had the pleasure of hanging with our friends and their little bundle of sweetness. My friend Lana is a talented professional photographer. She took a few pictures of me and our dinner of flattened chicken. She said “smile even if I’m just snapping pics of your hands”. Obviously, some pics were taken above MY HANDS! Should have combed my hair and changed my top. Yikes!

I aspire to have great pictures like hers on my blog……ONE DAY.

Always check out my Instagram @the5oclockrush  to see my daily dinners photos. My food pictures are improving. There are ‘real time’ pictures of my dinner plates.

Please check out Lana’s Facebook page Viva Image Group – Photography and Videography Service

Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Serves 6
Preparation 30 minutes Cooking 60 minutes
Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Mise En Place

For Chicken Stew:
 Vegetables for Chicken Stew

Vegetables for Chicken Stew

  • 1 package of pancetta pieces *
  • 5 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons PC Roast Chicken Spice **
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (480 ml) chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • Optional: 1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas
For Biscuits:
Mise En Place

Mise En Place

  • 3 cups Bisquick
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 4 slices, pre-cooked bacon strips, cut into bite size pieces ***
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

To make the Chicken Stew:

In a Dutch oven (or a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid), cook the pancetta until slightly crispy.

* I had Pancetta in my fridge to use up. You can substitute bacon or omit. If you do omit, add oil to pot to saute the vegetables.

Add the celery, carrots, onions, and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate; reserve the pot.

Season the chicken all over with the roasted chicken spice, salt and pepper. In a resealable plastic bag, place the seasoned chicken pieces with flour.

** PC Roast Chicken spice grinder has the typical flavours associated with roast chicken such as sage, marjoram, roasted garlic, thyme etc.

Seal bag and shake until the chicken pieces are evenly coated. Using the drippings and additional oil or butter, brown the chicken, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Add the whole grain Dijon mustard, water and chicken stock.

Add the vegetables and pancetta back to the pot; stir. Cover and place in 350F oven and bake for 60 minutes. (I place the pot on a cookie sheet in case there is spillage and I hate cleaning my oven)

Chicken Stew Ready for Oven

Chicken Stew Ready for Oven

Remove from oven; add the fresh green onions and fresh chopped parsley and dill. Seasoned to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

To make the biscuits:

In a medium bowl, whisk together Bisquick, dill, bacon pieces and cheddar cheese.

*** I always cook the entire package of bacon and IF there is any leftover, I freeze it for future recipes. Or you can use the pre-cooked package bacon. Tip: Use scissors to cut the bacon into small pieces.

With a fork, gradually stir in 1 cup milk to form a moist and soft batter.

Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, place a scoop of batter into a greased muffins pan.

If desired, reserved a small amount of bacon and cheddar cheese to sprinkled on top of biscuits.

Bake at 450 for 12 to 15 minutes.

Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Chicken Stew with Bacon, Cheddar and Dill Biscuits

Confession: As you can see from the pictures above, I didn’t follow my own method of preparation. Originally I was planning on using my new smaller crock pot for dinner. I began preparing the chicken for the crock pot by browning it. I quickly determined that the crock pot was too small. Out came my Dutch oven and continue with cooking dinner in 2 pans.

I decided to write the recipe for my readers as if I began the cooking process in my Dutch oven. One pot, less dishes.

My Best Mashed Potatoes for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving in Canada has been over for weeks. We are already gearing up for Christmas. Yikes!

Thanksgiving in the United States is 9 days away. I will be posting my tips and tricks that I used this past Thanksgiving.

First up, My Best Mashed Potatoes.

My Best Mashed Potatoes for Thanksgiving Dinner

Serves 6 to 8
Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

Mise En Place

Unpeeled and Unsliced Potatoes

Unpeeled and Unsliced Potatoes

  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes per person, unpeeled, unsliced well-scrubbed*
  • ¼ cup salted butter**
  • 2 ½ cups half-and-half cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Chives (optional)
  • Additional pat of butter (optional)

Place your unpeeled, unsliced and well-scrubbed potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to an inch above the potatoes. Season the cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Using a sharp knife, check doneness, the knife should easily go through the potato at the 30-minute mark, larger potatoes will take about 45 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, place the butter, the half-and-half, the salt and the ground white pepper in a microwavable measuring cup. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 3-5 minutes until butter is completely melted or warm through.

The reason I add salt to the butter/cream mixture so it dissolves and can be evenly distributed into the mashed potatoes. Heating the butter/cream mixture is an old restaurant trick to prevent a ‘gluey’ mess of mashed potatoes, hot liquids to hot. Just like making gravy for avoiding a lumpy gravy. 😉

Reserve 1-2 cups of potato water for gravy. Drain the potatoes.

I don’t peel or slice my potatoes before cooking them. Unpeeled and unsliced potatoes will absorb less water while being boiled. Taking the peels off after cooking is quicker and easier. This is another trick to avoid a gluey, watery mash and helps to absorb the dairy. And why do that extra step! 😉

UPDATE: I started off with an inexpensive ricer from IKEA, which is no longer available. This is the version available now Potato press – IKEA  I’m presently using this version Potato ricer white – KUHN RIKON SWITZERLAND which I found at a great price at WINNERS/Homesense in Canada (TJMAXX/Homegoods in US)

Rice the potatoes while they are still hot into a stainless steel mixing bowl. I recommend using a potato ricer, or food mill, place the unpeeled potato into the ricer and use those biceps and push the potato through. Then open up the ricer and presto there is the potato skin only. Remove skin and place another potato in the ricer. Sometimes larger potatoes will have to be sliced to fit in the ricer.

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Add the freshly grated nutmeg to the butter and cream mixture. Add the hot butter, and half-and-half mixture to the hot potatoes gently stirring with a spatula to incorporate. The potatoes will seem soupy at first but will gradually absorb the liquid and turn into a creamy mixture.

Taste your potatoes and add up to another teaspoon of salt if needed.

Make a Bain-marie with a pot and the stainless steel bowl. Place the pot on the back of the stove over gently simmering water to keep warm while making gravy and craving turkey.

Mashed Potatoes in Stainless Steel Bowl for Bain-Marie

Mashed Potatoes in Stainless Steel Bowl for Bain-Marie

Keep warm in the bain-marie until dinner. I serve my Thanksgiving dinner from the kitchen to cut down on dishes later. But you can certainly spoon the mashed potatoes into your serving dish and top with optional finely chopped chives and additional gloss of butter.

* As with the size of turkey to roast, I calculate the number of potatoes to cook by how much each person will eat and how much leftovers I would like. I count on each person eating approx. 1 lb. of turkey and 2 potatoes each.

** I only purchase salted butter, and knowing this I cut down the additional salt I add to my dishes or recipes. If you are using unsalted butter, please taste and adjust accordingly. Really you should always be tasting as you cook.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner 2017

My Thanksgiving Dinner Plate for 2017

Additional Tips:

Mashed potatoes are part of Thanksgiving dinner you can make in advance of serving. The best way to reheat mashed potatoes that have been refrigerated is to place them in a low oven, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Mashed potatoes that have reheated are drier and the cream and butter components might separate. Heat up some more half-and-half or milk to bring them back to their creaminess.

Using a stand mixer or hand-held beaters is an alternative method to achieve mashed potatoes. I personally wouldn’t recommend these methods. I find that this over-mixes the potatoes. And you have taken all these measures to avoid gluey potatoes. So just be very careful!

If you like a little tanginess in your mashed potatoes substitute some or all of the half-and-half with cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt.

Eggplant Stuffed with Italian Sausage, Couscous and Vegetables

I have made stuffed peppers in the past with ground beef and rice. This is a twist on that classic and dinner tonight was really to make good use of my fridge and freezer items.

Always check out my Instagram @the5oclockrush  to see my daily dinners photos.

Eggplant Stuffed with Italian Sausage, Couscous and Vegetables

Serves 4-6
Eggplant Stuffed with Italian Sausage, Couscous and Vegetables

Eggplant Stuffed with Italian Sausage, Couscous and Vegetables

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