Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs

Another one of my “go-to” meals are stuffed meatballs – spicy Italian sausage meatballs, sweet Italian sausage meatballs or chicken meatballs topped with an easy pesto-tomato sauce. Several years ago, I was introduced to this easy-to-make sauce while watching a cooking show on the Food Network and it’s still a staple in many of my dishes today. Last night I didn’t have sausage in the refrigerator however I had ground turkey, fresh herbs, cheese and bread crumbs – voilà!

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • Olive oil
  • Extra parsley for garnish
  • 1 tub bite size fresh Mozzarella balls

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except the oil and Mozzarella balls, in a bowl. To form each ball, take a handful of the mixture and wrap it around a piece of mozzarella. Drizzle olive oil over the meatballs and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through and are evenly browned. Top meatballs with homemade pesto-tomato sauce and garnish with extra parsley.

Pesto-Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tub good quality fresh pesto (or homemade pesto)
  • 1 can quartered or halves tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Add the tomatoes to a saucepan over medium heat and mash with a potato masher. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about 8 – 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in a 1/2 cup of pesto. Serve over meatballs with your favorite red wine. Some excellent wine choices would be a Super Tuscan, Sangiovese, Rioja or even a Merlot.

~Cheers! Crystal

Couscous Cakes & Heirloom Salad

Couscous Cakes

My friend Morgan and I often find ourselves playing “Chopped” in the kitchen where we decide to make dinner together with only the ingredients we currently have in the refrigerator / pantry. The menu is never set until we look at the ingredients each of us have contributed and we just “wing it!” We’ve never had a bad “Chopped” dinner date but I must say our couscous cakes with avocados and heirlooms has been the BEST and most beautiful “Chopped” dish to date. This entrée can easily be made into an appetizer or side salad. The creaminess of the avocado married with the crispy texture of the cakes and freshness of the heirloom salad makes this dish a winner in our “chopped” series of recipes.

CousCous Cakes How To

  • 1 1/2 cup couscous, cooked and cooled
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh thyme
  • 1 basket small heirloom tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese balls, cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Cook couscous per the directions on box and let cool. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Once couscous has cooled; combine one egg, shredded mozzarella, basil, thyme, salt and pepper to the couscous. Mix well and form small patties. Cook patties in 1 or 2 batches over medium heat, flipping once until the patties are crisp and golden brown on both sides (about 5 – 6 minutes each side). Repeat the same steps for the remaining patties.

While the couscous cakes are cooking, prepare the heirloom salad. Combine the heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and torn basil with a heavy drizzle of olive oil and a few dashes of red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cut avocados in half, remove the pit and slice lengthwise. Fan avocado slices on plate and place the warm couscous cakes on top. Finish with the heirloom salad.

Makes 6-8 cakes.

CousCous Cakes & Rose

Enjoy! ~ Crystal


Wine Pairing

2012 Muscardini Rosato di Sangiovese

Muscardini Rosato di Sangiovese

Muscardini Cellars is one of my favorite wineries in Sonoma Valley and owner/winemaker Michael is one of the coolest guys around. If you are ever in the Sonoma County area, this is a must on your winery to-do list. Michael’s 2012 Muscardini Rosato di Sangiovese opens up with vibrant strawberry and watermelon notes with a hint of wild berries and citrus. Perfectly balanced with a crisp and clean finish.

This is a perfect spring and summertime wine that makes a wonderful aperitif, yet pairs deliciously with simple fare such as fruit, mild cheeses and charcuterie, fish, salads and lighter fare. The perfect picnic wine! Click here to learn more about Muscardini Cellars!


Herb Cocktails for Spring

Spring Cocktails

Spring is here and with an abundance of fresh herbs at our fingertips my neighbor and I decided to experiment with mint, basil, gin, ginger and freshly squeezed juices. Refreshing and perfect for the warm weather ahead!

Basil LeafHerb Limeade Basil LeafStrawberry BasilBasil Leaf Gin & Ginger


Herb Limeade

Herb Limeade

4 ½ ounces gin
3 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
3 leaves fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ½ ounce honey, heated up (allow to slightly cool)
Splash of club soda
Lemon Sugar Rim

Preparation:
Place the herbs, gin and lime juice in a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add ice and honey and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with lemon sugar. Float soda water and garnish with more mint leaves. Makes 2 cocktails

 Tip: to make sugar stick to the rim of your cocktail glass,  wipe rim with lime wedge. Also, we decided to warm the honey a bit, it allowed for better mixing.

 

Strawberry Basil

Strawberry Basil

3  ounces gin
1 ounce fresh lime juice 
½ ounce triple sec
1 – 3 strawberries
3 leaves mint and basil, roughly chopped.
Lemon sugar rim
Splash club soda

How to Make Strawberry Basil

Preparation:
Combine all ingredients except the club soda in a cocktail shaker. Muddle the strawberries and herbs together. Slice remaining strawberries and add to glass. Add ice and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with lemon sugar. *Note: smaller pieces of herbs made its way into the cocktail so I ended up straining the leaves out after I took the photo above.

Gin & Ginger

Gin & Ginger

2 ounces gin
½ orange, juiced
½ ounce agave nectar
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
3 mint leaves, torn

Preparation:
Place all ingredients in a shaker with a handful of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange slice and mint leaf.

~Cheers to tasty libations and the beautiful warm days ahead of us! Crystal

Which cocktails are you enjoying this spring?

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