Meal Plan and Turkey Club Pasta

This week’s menu is all about repurposing food. It’s easy to get sick of  the same old leftovers, so why not turn them into something new. The meal plan is as follows:

Monday: Turkey Club Pasta (see recipe below) w/meat from last night’s turkey

Tuesday: We have a dinner party tomorrow night. No meal needed

Wednesday: Honey & Spice Baked Chicken, stuffing and green beans

Thursday: Shepard’s pie w/ leftover potatoes from Sunday’s turkey dinner

Friday: Client Christmas Party

Saturday: School Christmas Party

Sunday: Chicken Chimichangas w/leftover chicken from Wednesday

This is going to be a very busy week so I wanted to make the cooking simple.

For more meal planning ideas, check out Menu Plan Monday at Orgjunkie.com

Last night’s turkey came out great. I don’t know what I was thinking when I purchased a ten pound turkey. Oh yeah. I was thinking ‘It’s three dollars. You’ll eat it.’ One of my favorite sandwiches is a turkey club from Nat Hayden’s in Windsor, CT. In the winter, I love comforting pasta dishes, plus I had all this turkey left over. I wanted a recipe that combined my favorite flavors from the sandwich into a hearty casserole. It was delicious. This would also be good with chicken but the turkey and bacon together in a swiss cheese sauce was a home run.

Turkey Club Pasta

1 lb of rotini pasta
8 to 10 slices of bacon
1/3 cup of flour
3 cups of milk
1 cup of half and half or another cup of milk
8 oz of shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cup of parmesean cheese
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked turkey, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Heat a large pot of water to boiling and add salt to the water. Cook rotini until al dente. You want to take it off the stove a few minutes before you think it’s done because it will continue to cook when you bake it. Rinse pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process.

While pasta is cooking, cut bacon into thin pieces. I used my kitchen scissors for this and it worked very well. Add bacon to a large frying pan or pot and cook on medium to medium high heat until crispy. Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon, putting on paper towels to drain. Reserve four tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan, removing the rest.

Reduce heat to medium or medium low. Add flour to drippings and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until well incorporated. Slowly whisk in milk and half and half. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring constantly until thick and creamy. Stir in mustard, garlic powder, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Finally, return the bacon to the pan and add the turkey.

Pour the pasta into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour sauce mixture over the pasta and smooth with a spoon. The sauce will fill the tube pasta, no need to stir. Bake the dish for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees until heated through and the top begins to brown. Serve with a simple green salad or vegetable.

Don’t throw away veggie scraps

It always amazes me how many veggie scraps I have. When you cut up an onion, you cut off the ends, peal off a few layers and now have a pile of scraps. You cut up a pepper or prepare some carrots and you’ve got scraps. Don’t throw them away or into the compost bin. Use them for flavor.

There are two ways I’ll use my scraps. You can use them as aromatics when making a turkey, chicken or roast. Just lay them at the bottom of the pan or stuff them in the  body cavity. This will add a wonderful flavor to your dish without the extra cost of buying veggies that will do to waste. They will also nicely flavor the drippings in case you want to make a gravy. Yum!

The second way I use my scraps  is when making stock. Whenever you make stock, the recipe always says to add carrots, peppers, onions, celery, which is just going to be tossed out with the bones. Rather than buying veggies for this purpose, save your scraps. They’ll add the same  flavor to the dish without the added cost.

I generally save up all my scraps in a gallon sized bag and place in the freezer. Then you can take out what you need.