Mystery Dish: Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa + Cookbook Giveaway

These Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa are tied together with a creamy mint-almond pesto. An easy, healthy dinner that comes together quickly!

Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa | thepajamachef #mysterydish

I had a really tough time with this month’s Mystery Dish. I’m not sure why–pretty much ALL the ingredients on the list are things I love. I was just uninspired I guess. But I don’t think my recipe reflects that… this meal was pretty darn delicious. Andi from Weary Chef was our host and she asked us to use three ingredients from this list: pistachios, wine, mint, gluten-free flour, red pepper flakes, fish, agave nectar, applesauce, blueberries, parmesan cheese, milk, and corn.

A couple weekends ago, we were going to grill turkey burgers [Ben makes a to die for turkey burger with Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper] but we were rained out and I had some ground turkey thawed in the fridge. We could have grilled indoors, but instead I decided to make some Mystery Dish magic with these Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa. And you guys… they are so good! I love a good turkey meatball anyway, but add some fresh mint to your typical garlic and onion mixture and they’re definitely amped up a notch. To fulfill the ingredient requirement, I used gluten free flour to help hold the meatballs together and red pepper flakes instead of normal black pepper. In hindsight, I wish I would have used more flour because the meatballs didn’t hold together super well. Though that was three ingredients, I decided to make the flavors even more apparent by making a mint pesto to serve over the meatballs and to toss with the quinoa I decided to serve on the side. If quinoa isn’t your thing, try rice, pasta, or some other grain/starch. Though my pesto wasn’t a true pesto it was still pretty addictive and a great sauce that was nutty, minty, and creamy all at once.

Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa | thepajamachef #mysterydish

The mint in this dish balances perfectly with the crushed red pepper. I was somewhat generous with the red pepper flakes, but it was definitely an approachable level of spiciness so if you aren’t a spicy person you’ll be okay here. I was supposed to tell you that that description was Ben’s idea, and I was threatened with a lawsuit if I didn’t. :) Ha ha, a lawsuit from my husband. Moving on… I loved how minty this dish is… enough flavor to make things interesting but not so much you think you’re eating toothpaste. I love having a great repertoire of healthy, easy dinners and I know this dish will go into my usual rotation. Hope you give it a try!

And, as a special treat since we’ve been Mystery Dishin’ it up for a YEAR now [whoa], we have a special giveaway for our lovely readers… copies of cookbooks from MasterChef Season 3 Winner Christine Ha and Season 4 Winner Luca Manfe! I wish I could win! Go HERE to enter.

Enjoy!

one year ago: Roasted Peach Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel 
two years ago: Brown Rice, Feta, and Tomato Salad
three years ago: Healthy “Fried” Rice –> I make this ALL the time with different veggies, meat, and/or tofu. A must try!
four years ago: Cornmeal Pizza Dough in the Breadmaker

Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

for meatballs

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour [or other flour, gluten free or otherwise + more if you need it]
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • crushed red pepper flakes, about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste

for quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water [or stock if preferred]
  • 1 cup prepared pesto [above]

for pesto

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint
  • 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons half and half
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan
  • crushed red pepper flakes, about 1/4 teaspoon or to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatballs–garlic, green onion, mint, flour, egg, turkey, and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste. Mix well with your hands, then shape into 16 meatballs. Place half the meatballs in the preheated skillet and cook on each side for about 2 minutes per side until browned all over. Remove meatballs from skillet and place in a large oven safe dish, misted with cooking spray if not nonstick. Repeat with remaining meatballs then bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.

While meatballs are cooking, prepare quinoa according to package directions. Bring rinsed quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes until all water is absorbed.

Prepare pesto by combining mint, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons half and half, and almonds in a food processor. Pulse until combined, adding more oil and/or half and half if desired. Stir in parmesan and red pepper flakes to taste. Pesto yields about 1 cup.

When quinoa is ready, pour about 3/4 cup pesto in the quinoa and stir to combine. Serve meatballs with quinoa and reserved mint pesto, along with sides like green beans or crusty bread.

Be sure to check out what my Mystery Dish pals whipped up this month:

Mystery Dish | thepajamachef.com

  1. Tuna Tacos with Avocado Corn Salsa by The Weary Chef
  2. Blueberry Scones by Yummy Healthy Easy
  3. Parmesan Crusted Tilapia by Culinary Couture
  4. Minty Berry Fruit Roll Ups by I Want Crazy
  5. Baked Blueberry Donuts by Chez CateyLou
  6. Hearty Minestrone Soup by Joyful Healthy Eats
  7. Blueberry Lemon Pannacotta with Pistachio Tuilles by Flavor the Moments
  8. Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa by The Pajama Chef
  9. Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake by I Dig Pinterest
  10. Pistachio Drop Scones with Blueberry Compote by The Well Floured Kitchen
  11. Grilled Corn & Blueberry Flatbread with Whipped Goat Cheese, Pistachios, and Basil Vinaigrette by Baking a Moment
  12. Pistachio Crusted Tilapia and Peach Salad by Blahnik Baker

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

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SRC: Coffee Blondies

If you like coffee, then you will love these rich and sophisticated glazed coffee blondies. They’re delicious!

Coffee Blondies | thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclub

I was really excited to see that I was given Kate’s blog, Kitchen Trial and Error, for this month’s Secret Recipe Club. Kate lives in New York with her family–including two adorable little boys–and she’s always cooking up something new in her kitchen. I’ve long admired Kate’s blog for her lovely photographs and creative, challenging recipes, and was thrilled to get to make something from it! She’s been blogging since 2010 so there were lots of recipes to choose from, and I was quickly overwhelmed [does that ever happen to other SRCers? There’s just so many options!]. So I turned to my Pinterest boards, and found four of her dishes that I wanted to make–Quinoa Cakes, Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwiches Cookies, Fish in Crazy Water, and what I ultimately chose… Coffee Blondies.

Coffee Blondies | thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclub

Kate first made them to fulfill a craving for a flavorful, non-chocolatey dessert. And seriously? These blondies are the perfect way to do so! They’re rich and chewy, and taste like something out of a fancy bakery. Since this recipe uses coffee grounds [and not just brewed coffee], the coffee flavor is very prominent but really isn’t too overwhelming–similar to coffee ice cream.

Coffee Blondies | thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclub

The topping of these blondies is my favorite part, I think! I hardly ever make glazes for things, and truthfully almost just sprinkled powdered sugar on top of the blondies. But then at the last second, I changed my mind. Before I put the blondies in the oven I threw a handful of sliced almonds on top, per the recipe, and then after the blondies were cool, glazed them with a simple powdered sugar glaze. After the glaze hardened, I took one bite and was just overwhelmed by how delicious these blondies are! The almonds and glaze give them a nice crunchy, sugary bite that pairs perfectly with coffee… almost like almond flavored coffee. These blondies are perfect with a refreshing glass of milk, and I bet they’d be awesome with a nice cup of coffee for a double caffeinated treat! Thanks, Kate, for a great recipe!

Coffee Blondies | thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclub

one year ago: Pineapple Cream Pie
two years ago: Grandma’s Blueberry Muffins 

three years ago: Linda’s Caramel Ritz Bits Crackers

Coffee Blondies | thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclub

Coffee Blondies

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 45 minutes + time to cool
  • Print

Coffee Blondies | thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclubfrom Kitchen Trial and Error

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground coffee
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2-4 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan with parchment paper. Spray any exposed sides with cooking spray if you don’t overlap.

In a large bowl, whisk melted butter, brown sugar, coffee, and salt. Add egg and vanilla; whisk to combine. Slowly stir in the flour and baking powder, then spoon evenly into prepared pan. Top with almonds–as few or as many as desired, then bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan before icing.

To make icing, whisk together 1/4 cup powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon water. Add more powdered sugar to make it thicker or more water to make it thinner. I liked it with a generous 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Ice blondies, then put in the fridge for a bit to harden. Cut into bars when icing is dry.

Be sure to check out what else was whipped up for SRC this month below:

Kale Quinoa Salad

When I was asked to cater the bridal shower, I was told that the bride loooved kale and quinoa. This salad was the direct inspiration of that. Well, and of Smitten Kitchen. Ha. But anyways, this kale quinoa salad is just SO good, you guys. It’s so fresh and delightful, I could seriously eat it for breakfast and be happy. With a fried egg on top? Oh goodness, I think I’m going to try that really soon.

Kale Quinoa Salad | thepajamachef.com

Like any kale or quinoa salad, the sky’s the limit on mix ins. I just used some basic, affordable pantry staples: dried cranberries, almonds, and feta, but feel free to adjust based on your preferences. I’m a huge pistachio fan myself and think think that would be yummy. Oh, and don’t skip the dressing! Sometimes I just wanna do a basic olive oil rub on kale or quinoa but taking a couple minutes to mix up this vinaigrette-eqse dressing is totally worth it. Enjoy!

Kale Quinoa Salad | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Mexican Rice
two years ago: Black Bean Wraps

Kale Quinoa Salad [adapted from Smitten Kitchen]
click to print

Ingredients:

for salad

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 8 ounces kale, stems removed and thinly chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries [or cherries]
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

for dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired

Directions:

In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, kale, cranberries, and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: olive oil, viengar,lemon juice, mustard, honey, and dill. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to set. Top with almonds and feta just before eating.

Time: 40 minutes [10 minutes active].
Yield: 6-8 servings.

Chopped Kale Salad with Bleu Cheese & Bacon

Kale. Seriously can’t get enough of it. Ben can’t either. No complaints here.

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

Normally, our kale is cooked–in pasta, fried rice, or as a base for chicken or pork. But this time, I decided to do something different and make a chopped kale salad. That’s right… raw kale, chopped into a billion teeny tiny bites and tossed with a fabulous array of toppings and the most spectacular dressing ever. Intrigued?

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

What makes this salad special and different is ALL the tastes and textures going on. Crisp carrots, sweet apples, salty bacon, pungent bleu cheese, tart cranberries, crunchy toasted almonds. And a sweet peanut butter-maple vinaigrette that is nothing short of amazing. I was literally eating it with a spoon, for goodness sake! It has a peanut butter base, so that’s totally legit, right?

By the way, if you aren’t the biggest fan of bleu cheese, don’t let this scare you. There’s only enough to give a hint of the flavor, but if you like it you can always substitute feta or parmesan. I don’t always include cheese in my salads but it really works in this one, to make it more substantial. Just FYI.

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

I threw this recipe together quickly on a busy night when we were headed to a small group dinner, and it was all but polished off. Fortunately, there was enough leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day, but the salad definitely got a little soggy on day 2 so I would recommend adding the dressing just before serving if at all possible. I only made this a couple weeks ago and am totally craving it now, as I write this at 10:27 pm. I have a feeling this salad is going to become a regular in our house and I hope it will in yours too! Enjoy!

So you tell me… have you ever had a kale salad before? What are your go-to [kale] salad mix-ins?

a year ago… Man Cupcakes
three years ago… Creamy Baked Spaghetti

Chopped Kale Salad with Bleu Cheese and Bacon [dressing adapted from Iowa Girl Eats]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 bunches kale
  • 1 1/3 cups red cabbage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large Fuji apple
  • 3 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • freshly ground black pepper

dressing

  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

Directions:

Wash and dry kale, then tear into small bite-size pieces, discarding thick stems. Add to a large bowl and set aside.

Wash and dry cabbage, carrot, and apple, then shred. I used my food processor but a grater would also work. Add to kale, along with bleu cheese, bacon, almonds, and cranberries.

Whisk together balsamic, olive oil, maple syrup, and peanut butter until smooth to make dressing, then drizzle half over the salad. Toss to combine, and add more dressing as desired. I used about 3/4 of the total dressing made. Season with black pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 10-12 side salads, 3-4 meal size salads.

Linked up with: Tuesday Talent Show.

Mango Coconut Granola

Quiz time… what do I love but never buy?

GRANOLA!

Okay, that might have been a wee bit obvious judging from the title of this post, but alas… no permanent harm done.

Seriously though, I just don’t understand how companies that sell 10-12 ounce bags of granola for SIX to EIGHT dollars apiece each stay in business. [Please excuse my internet shouting. I get worked up about overpriced items. I’m cheap frugal.] I get why they have to charge those prices… many of the granola brands I’m thinking of are organic, have a variety of nuts or special sweeteners or dried fruit, etc. And the company has to pay its employees and stay in business too, of course. That’s all well and good, and these pricy granolas are mighty tasty. But for the time being, I can’t justify paying that much moolah for one portion of my breakfast that will be finished in a week, tops. Yup, grad student speaking here. So what do I do? Make my own!

I’ve actually been making quite a few different versions of granola that I haven’t blogged about over the past threeish months… mainly because I have so many recipes in the queue that are frankly more exciting. This time though, nothing is holding me back! This Mango Coconut Granola is a tropical treat. It is officially my favorite granola of all time, a prestigious title to be sure.

So what makes this granola so great? Well, let’s see. Quiz time again.

Is it:

a) the triple punch of coconut [oil, flakes, extract]?
b) the use of almonds, the greatest nut ever?
c) the use of very expensive dried mango that my grandpa bought me at Costco?
d) all of the above.

If you picked d, you are very, very smart.

Coconut times three plus almonds plus dried mangoes just cannot be beat, even though I realize that if I added up the cost of the ingredients for this granola they might rival the expensive brands. No bother though–making things at home is part of the fun, and if you can have homemade, crunchy, flavorful granola… why wouldn’t you?

So far, my favorite way to eat this awesome granola has been with Mango Chobani and blueberries, but it’s also great with any other fruit/yogurt combo.

By the way, in case you’re interested, I’ve recently started playing with instagram a lot. :) I’ve had it since I got my iPhone but never really used it til this summer. If you want to follow me, I’m @thepajamachef. Be sure to leave your username in the comments too so I can follow you back! Thanks and happy Friday!

Mango Coconut Granola [from Megan’s Cookin’]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup almonds, sliced or chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups sweetened coconut flakes, divided [could use unsweetened]
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar [if using unsweetened coconut, could increase to 1/2 cup brown sugar]
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/3 cup dried mango, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, 1 cup coconut, and brown sugar. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together coconut oil, honey, and cinnamon, then add vanilla and coconut extracts. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well.

Press mixture evenly into baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir, press again, and bake for another 15 minutes. Cool completely, then add dried mango and remaining 1/3 cup coconut flakes. Store in an airtight container.

Time: 45 minutes [15 minutes active]

Yield: about 9 cups.