arancini mac & cheese

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arancini is a masterpiece of italian cooking, and is one of those divine things we get to experience in life on earth.
in italian, arancini means “little oranges”. they are small fried balls of oozy, cheesy risotto with a gorgeous, crispy outside.
as glorious as they may be, they are a rare thing i will not make in my own kitchen. i don’t really fry anything and these babies take a LOT of time & effort to make. so whenever i am at an italian restaurant that makes arancini for me, i order them as fast as i can.
my gift to you: easy arancini deliciousness that you can whip up on a regular weeknight. AND you don’t have to boil the pasta!
it’s especially kid-friendly and with the addition of the salty pancetta, it was a big pleaser for the man in my house. with your fork, you gently crack open the crunchy panko topping and it gives way to the beautiful, stringy mozzarella cheese hiding underneath.
try not to eat the entire dish.

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arancini mac & cheese
adapted from alexandra cooks

ingredients

7 tbsp butter, divided

1/4 cup flour

3 cups milk (whole or 2%)

3 cups water

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 oz pancetta, diced

3/4 lb (12 oz) elbow pasta (or other small pasta), uncooked

5 oz parmesan cheese, grated

3/4 cup panko

1/4 cup italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

8 oz mozzarella (fresh mozzarella “pearls” are perfect for this recipe, but pre-shredded works fine too)

directions

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees. melt 4 tbsp butter in a large (2 quart) saucepan over medium-high heat. add flour, whisking constantly for about 1 minute. add milk & water, whisking to scrape all flour-butter mixture off the bottom of the pan. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. add salt and pepper. simmer until mixture begins to thicken a bit, about 10 minutes. remove from heat.

2. meanwhile, in a small skillet, crisp the pancetta over medium heat until nicely browned. pour uncooked macaroni pasta into an ungreased 9×13 baking dish, and grate parmesan cheese evenly over the top. once the pancetta is done, sprinkle on top of pasta & parmesan. add remaining 3 tbsp of butter to pancetta pan and melt over low heat. place panko in a medium-sized mixing bowl & pour melted butter over top, and add in chopped parsley. using your fingers, mix to combine. season with just a pinch of salt & pepper.

3. pour milk mixture over pasta in baking dish (it will feel like a lot of liquid, but it will be fine – this cooks the pasta). cover dish with foil and carefully transfer to the oven. bake for 20 minutes.

4. remove from oven, uncover, and gently stir. scatter mozzarella evenly over the top of the mixture. top with panko mixture. bake for 15-20 minutes more – uncovered – until top is golden brown and macaroni is bubbling. let dish sit for about 10 minutes to cool before serving.

enjoy!

pesto turkey burgers

ahhh, pesto. there isn’t much that i wouldn’t enjoy if it has pesto on it.

the little she and i were on a road trip recently and we stopped at a friend’s house on the way for the night. my dear sweet friend made us a wonderful dinner that night (i seriously expected delivery pizza with the notice i gave her) of pesto turkey burgers and sweet potato fries. this was AHmazing after an entire day of road trip food.

these burgers are so light and fresh tasting with the pesto and breadcrumbs mixed in. they are topped with delicious mozzarella slices and arugula that just screams “summer dish”. i made these the night we got home for my other half and even he, a red-meat-and-potatoes guy, loved it.


pesto turkey burgers
makes 4 burgers

ingredients

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese

1/2 cup pesto, plus more for serving

1 egg, beaten

sea salt

4 ciabatta buns

arugula

sliced mozzarella

quick & easy aioli

directions

1. combine the turkey, panko, parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup pesto, egg, and a generous pinch of sea salt in a large bowl and combine by hand. form into 4 patties.  cook on the grill (i find this is easier than in a skillet). on each patty, melt a slice of the mozzarella just before removing from the grill, so it melts nicely.

2. spread one side of each bun with pesto and the other side with aioli – generously of course. top the burger with a small handful of arugula, put the top bun on, cut in half and serve. (oh and fyi, these burgers go really well with this kale salad.)

enjoy!

photos via here & here

baked parmesan romano chicken


this is my favorite, all-time, go-to recipe for chicken parmesan (courtesy martha stewart magazine, years ago, and as usual edited by yours truly just a bit). it is light and crunchy, thanks to the panko breading (my edit, sorry martha) and has so much delicious, italian flavor.
it’s probably the red wine vinegar… i’ll eat almost anything if it has red wine vinegar in it. or on it.

it is perfectly paired with a simply dressed pasta or – as recommended by martha herself – arugula, tomatoes, blanched green beans, and crumbled parmesan cheese topped with olive oil & vinegar.

baked crisp parmesan-romano chicken
serves 4

ingredients

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking sheet

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp coarse salt

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 garlic cloves, minced

3  lbs chicken breasts, pounded to flatten just a bit

1 cup panko (if you can’t find panko, you can sub plain breadcrumbs)

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
directions

1. preheat oven to 400.

2. in a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, and garlic. pour into a large ziploc bag. add chicken to bag, seal, and let marinate in fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

2. in a medium , shallow bowl stir together panko, cheeses, parsley, and pepper with a fork. line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. oil lining (i highly recommend a spray olive oil – much easier & cleaner).

3. dredge each chicken piece in panko mixture to coat; shake off excess. transfer to prepared baking sheet.

4. bake chicken until cooked through, 45-50 minutes. using a spatula, loosen chicken from sheet to serve.

enjoy!

asian turkey meatballs

asian turkey meatballs | via she likes to eat

these little gems were a lovely surprise this week. i was skeptical, them coming – randomly – from the disney family website (i have NO earthly clue how i originally got this recipe, although i think the link was sent to me by a family member). i had read through the ingredients and the instructions and they sounded delicious. and they were. divine. they have all the flavors of a chinese dumpling and the sauce is heavenly.

the meatballs are served best over jasmine rice and a side of the sauce. it’s an easy meal and delightfully yummy.  also, the meatballs and the sauce save pretty well for a few days and are great reheated. oh and kiddos LOVE them. (both of the little shes are in a dipping phase right now – i know you mommies know what i’m talking about – so this was a HIT in the highchair this week.) these also freeze quite well, so they are a good option for make-ahead meals.

*updated march 2016
**to make whole30 friendly, see note at the bottom

asian turkey meatballs
makes about 2 dozen

ingredients

1 lb ground turkey (you can use lean or dark meat)

2 green onion stalks, finely chopped (or snipped with kitchen shears)

1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp soy sauce (or you can use liquid aminos)

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/3 cup ricotta cheese (not skim)

for dipping sauce:

6 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos)

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger, heaping)

directions

1. preheat the oven to 400.

2. in a large bowl, mix together turkey, scallions, cilantro, oils, soy sauce, breadcrumbs, egg, and ricotta with your hands, then form meatballs by rolling 2 tablespoon-sized scoops between your palms.

3. arrange on a baking sheet covered with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper and bake for about 25 minutes, until browned on top and cooked through.

4. while the meatballs are in the oven, make the dipping sauce: in a small saucepan, stir the sauce ingredients together over medium low heat until the sugar has dissolved. simmer 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens a bit.

5. serve with jasmine rice + dipping sauce on the side.

**to make this recipe whole 30 friendly, make the following substitutions for the meatballs: sub coconut aminos for the soy sauce, replace panko breadcrumbs with guiltless superfoods’ 7 seed flour or raw almond flour, omit the ricotta cheese. then for the dipping sauce: sub pure date syrup (this one is my favorite and there is no added sugar) instead of brown sugar  (using 5-6 tbsp), and again subbing coconut aminos for the soy sauce. and don’t forget to skip the jasmine rice if you’re on whole30!