Well, well, well...it has been WAY too long since my last post! There have been many changes the past five months and it's been a bit of a struggle to get into somewhat of a groove and attempt to bring some degree of normalcy back to the very chaotic schedule we are now juggling! I've always been a creature of habit--I swear by my planner and can't stand deviating...if I can get something done a week ahead of time, that would be my preference. Unfortunately, all of these changes have forced me to deviate a bit and "planning" is becoming more and more impossible--hence the lack of posts/new recipes! Just to back up a bit...my husband and I had a lengthy conversation back in July and he decided that he really wanted to go back to school to pursue a degree in Nursing. He's taken classes here and there, but it's been difficult to really buckle down and focus, while working full-time, finding time for our two small children and attempting to juggle our work schedules so that one of us can always be home with the kids. We decided that I would go back to working full-time hours (and more, when I'm able to get additional shifts) and he would go down to a part-time position and start taking classes on a full-time basis. That certainly has been easier said than done! This next semester is going to be especially crucial for my husband, as he is getting ready to apply to the nursing program by April 1st and should *hopefully* find out by early June if he is accepted. Keep in mind...I'm someone who doesn't do well with the "unknown" and the suspense of waiting to find out whether or not he's accepted and/or what our alternate plan will be since the program he's applying to is very competitive, is absolutely driving me crazy! This blog had always served as somewhat of a diversion for me, which is why I am excited about jumping back in and shifting my focus a bit! I certainly can't promise "fancy meals", by any stretch of the imagination, but my goal is to seek out recipes for everyone else trying to juggle crazy schedules and live on a budget! My husband is going to have late classes, several days a week, so my intent is to find recipes that reheat well or those that can be frozen and ready to serve after defrosting and rewarming!
My first recipe for the New Year is Turkey Tetrazzini. My children requested turkey for Christmas dinner--actually, my son's actual request was for "whole body turkey"...as opposed to just a turkey breast :) The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint my kids, so I began watching the sale ads to see if anyone had turkey on sale. Naturally, no one did...I mean, really...why would they when they know many people serve turkey for Christmas and will pretty much be suckered into paying whatever they charge?!? I'm one of those people who firmly believes that everything happens for a reason and on my way home from work one night, I stopped at Target to pick up some last minute stocking stuffers. I was making my way toward the "Health and Beauty" area, but for some reason, I took the long way around and passed by a frozen display of whole turkeys. I went over to check the price, figuring that Super Target, of all places, would be exorbitantly expensive (as their meats tend to be) and they had turkeys for $.39/lb! I have never seen turkey so cheap and was beyond excited to bring it home and show the kids! The thing is...seeing as how this turkey was just for the four of us, a 10-12 lb turkey would have been more than enough, but I picked the largest one I could find...about 18 lbs. Shockingly, there was a TON left and seeing as how we were going out of town the middle of the following week, I had no idea what to do with all of the remaining turkey?!? I froze the turkey carcass (in anticipation of making soup), along with the obscene amount of leftover turkey. When we returned from my parents' house, after having a wonderful and relaxing visit with them for New Year's, I thawed out the turkey carcass and my bag of turkey. I made a HUGE pot of soup--and when I say "huge", that is a major understatement! (I have 3 LARGE containers in the fridge and had to freeze another 3LARGE containers--and that's after my husband and I ate a ton!) While we were visiting my parents, my Mom suggested that I make turkey tetrazzini with some of the leftover turkey. I naturally went directly to Allrecipes.com and found a recipe that received great reviews, although I only somewhat loosely followed it and took many of the reviewers suggestions, in addition to adding some of my own. My husband seemed to really enjoy it and seeing as how he's a pretty picky eater, it's always a major compliment when he makes a point to comment on something that I make! My kids liked it, as well, and as for myself...I definitely liked it, but think I might try it with chicken next time. I wouldn't hesitate to use it again if I had leftover turkey, but I'm not sure that I would go out of my way to buy turkey for the recipe. It's funny, too, because some of the people who reviewed the recipe mentioned that they felt it was a bit bland, so I made sure I added extra seasoning, however, I would even consider adding a bit more salt next time. The original recipe didn't call for any salt whatsoever. One other major change that I made that is unlike more traditional tetrazzini recipes, was that I substituted penne pasta for spaghetti, per my husband's request, and I would definitely do that again! I hope you enjoy and be on the lookout for more recipes in the very near future!
1 (16 ounce) package uncooked penne pasta (or spaghetti) 10 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 onion, diced 5 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 3 cups chicken broth 2 cups milk 1/2 tsp black pepper 1 tsp salt 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese 4 cups chopped cooked turkey (or chicken) 1 cup frozen peas Italian breadcrumbs
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add diced onions and minced garlic, stirring frequently. Stir in flour, until blended. Add chicken broth, milk, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.
When pasta is done cooking, drain and return to pot. Add chopped turkey, peas and chicken broth mixture to the pasta and stir to blend all ingredients together.
Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and top with Italian breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for approximately 45-50 minutes.
If you were to look up the word "picky" in the dictionary, you would see a picture of my husband off to the left. Growing up, I was exposed to all sorts of different foods and encouraged to experiment with different flavors, but after meeting my husband, I somewhat locked myself into an eight to ten meal rotation and was reluctant to deviate. I have since given birth to two of the least picky eaters on the face of the Earth, thus inspiring me to transform my cooking style. I know many people, like myself, lead such hectic lives, so I strive to find recipes that are quick and easy--especially those that you can whip up with ingredients that you ordinarily have on hand!
A bit about me...I married my husband, Marcus, on June 1, 2003 and we welcomed our son Jacob on March 22, 2005. Our daughter, Madeline, was born on March 1, 2008. I stay home with the kids for the most part, but also work occasional shifts as a registered nurse at a local hospital. I truly hope you enjoy my blog. A special "thank you" to my sister, Sarah, for giving me the idea! Her creativity is hard to live up to, but I'm a very determined person and hope to make her proud :)