I became really interested in cooking when I was in high school. My parents both worked, my older brother and sister had moved away to start their own lives and it was just the three of us left at home. My mom often threw something together for us to eat for dinner, but planning and preparing the evening meal required more energy than my mom had at the end of a long day. More often than not, we went out to restaurants or settled for take-out Chinese or a pizza.
My mother finally came up with the idea to pay me $20 to plan a meal, shop for the ingredients and cook for the three of us a few nights a week. For a high school student, twenty dollars was more than enough money to inspire me to give up after-school television-watching to begin pouring over cookbooks for recipes that I could make. “Gilligan’s Island” was replaced by Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens, where I found recipes for such 70s classics as Swiss steak, Chicken Cacciatore and Tuna Noodle casserole. It was a great gig for me. Twenty dollars in my pocket, and she did the dishes! I have loved to cook ever since.
Today I own over 100 cookbooks, subscribe to several food magazines and am always watching Food TV to get new ideas for being up-to-date with food and restaurant trends.
Recently, I entered a recipe contest with the Cooking Channel. I was thrilled last week when they e-mailed me to let me know I was a semi-finalist in the “meatball” category. Winning would mean a trip to New York to tape a webisode with Kelsey Nixon for “The Perfect Three,” the Cooking Channel’s interactive series that shows viewers three perfect dishes of a given dish or ingredient and challenges them to compete by submitting their own version of the perfect dish. Winners will be brought to the Cooking Channel studio kitchen to make their perfect dish for Cooking Channel’s website. Wish me luck!
Smokey Turkey and Spinach Meatballs
1 lb ground turkey breast
2 slices good quality white bread cut into cubes, crust removed
¼ cup milk
3 slices thick sliced bacon cut into 2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic ¼
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
¼ cup olive oil
6 cups favorite Marinara sauce
1. Place bread cubes in a small bowl with the milk and set aside
2. Place ground turkey in a large bowl
3. Place bacon, onion and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and grind to a fine paste
4. Add bacon mixture to ground turkey along with spinach, cheese, parsley and egg
5. Squeeze excess milk from bread cubes and add to turkey mixtur
6. Place mixture in refrigerator for one hour to blend flavors
7. Using your hands, shape mixture into meatballs
8. Heat olive oil in large saute pan and fry on all sides until brown
9. Add meatballs to favorite tomato sauce and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until cooked through