What, No Cake?? Turkey Meatball Cassarole and Pioneer Woman Day

Hiyah! It’s Pioneer Woman Day!

Oh, no you say? It’s Good Friday Lindsey Duh? Well, maybe to you but to me it’s apparently Pioneer Woman Day. Yes today I will not only make her Sour Cream Noodle Bake for dinner (with a few slightly moderations) but also, her legendary Cinnamon Rolls.

Photo courtesy of thepioneerwoman.com

I broke down and bought her cookbook on Amazon the other day after taking it for a test drive at the library. I knew I had to after I had to wrestle it away from Matt who I found reading it to the dog.

Am I the only one that still takes out library books?

Perhaps it’s my inability to commit to most thing, I must try it out before I take the drastic step and use my own, hard-earned money to actually buy a book. There are very few which hold this honor, I though you should know Pioneer Woman, you will now share the shelf amoung my purchased books, alongside Harry Potter and Miss. Bridget Jones.

I digress, I know I have been promising you the buttery homemade Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Orange Zest filling and homemade Whipped Cream Frosting, but alas, I have been busy and keep forgetting to upload the photos. My dearest and sincerest apologies!

Truth is though, I was not all that impressed with the cake. I had planned on using the Magnolia Bakery’s recipe but I was afraid my self rising flour that had resided in the back of my fridge since late 2009, wouldn’t rise so I threw it out and tried a Better Homes & Gardens recipes for their best ever vanilla cake…or something like that.

What is it about light and moist homemade cake that is so elusive?! I can achieve it with chocolate cake, but alas, vanilla is my arche enemy.

Alton Brown did an episode on this, stating somewhere along the lines that homemade cake will never really be able to achieve the light, delicate texture of store bought cake mix because they have the luxury of adding all kinds of magic dust (chemicals) that make it so.

I know the secret should be NOT TO OVERMIX, and I didn’t! I swear to the cake Gods I did not overmix! I very gently folded in the flour until it was juussttt combined and layered into the cake pans, but still, it came out heavy and very buttery – I wanted light and airy darn it!

Whatever, I’m over it. No, it didn’t even bother me that as we finished off the last of it last night after dinner, Matt threw away the bottom “because it was dry.” I didn’t cry or anything, nope not one drop. Didn’t even think about it.

2 nights ago, I set out to make something useful with my bulk buy of turkey meatballs from BJ’s.

I bought these meatballs against my better judgement because, in my head it would be a quick and easy dinner for ziti and meatballs. I made just this with my economy sized bag of meatballs for Matt, my friend Diana, and myself a few weeks ago – the meatballs were not impressive.

I usually make my own meatballs and freeze them. Makes perfect, logical sense. The problem with these turkey meatballs is they were seasoned more along the lines of poultry, than with Italian herbs and spices. Fine, whatever, this gave me an idea.

Enter, my Turkey Meatball Casserole.

The players?

  • 4 cups Pepperidge Farm Stuffing (not cubes, the crumbly kind)
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 6 tbs. butter (don’t cringe please)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • a dozen turkey meatballs
  • 2 jars of turkey gravy (no don’t do that, follow my recipe for Quick Chicken Gravy below)
  • …and some leftover mashed potatoes and roasted beets.

The game?

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Dice all of the veggies and set aside.

Add the butter to a medium pan set over medium heat.

Add the veggies and saute until soft, about 5-10 minutes (I wasn’t paying close attention sorry).

Add the stuffing, remove from the heat and toss in the chicken broth.

Spray your favorite baking pan (I used my rectangular glaze earthenware one, it’s about 13×9..and it’s, my favorite) with cooking spray and lay the stuffing into it.

Next, add your turkey meatballs. If you have your own, homemade meatballs on hand, well by golly you use them!

Now, here is where I made my mistake. Don’t use jarred turkey gravy. I mean you can, but you will be disappointed.

Here is what I suggest instead:

Quick Chicken Gravy

  • 3 tbs. butter
  • 3 tbs. flour
  • 2 cups (roughly) chicken stock
  • 1 tbs. sherry (optional)
  • 1 tbs. herbs de Provence (very easy to find, it’s a combination of french herbs, mostly tarragon, thyme, rosemary, lavender, and sometimes basil and others)

Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it has melted, stopped foaming and is turning slightly golden, whisk in the flour. Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minutes. Whisk in the sherry, continue to whisk (so you don’t get lumps!) and  about 1/2 of the chicken stock. Add the herbs and whisk until well combined. Turn the heat to medium high until it boils. You will not reach your full thickness until this has come to a boil! (words to live by) If it’s too thick for you liking, thin with more stock until your happy. There, easy peasy people!

Now, where were we? Oh yes! Assembly!

Nestle your turkey meatballs into the stuffing and top with gravy.

Cover with foil and bake at 3750 for about 15 minutes, then uncovered, for another 15.

This was good…but it would have been GREAT if I had just made my own gravy…and my own meatballs. BUT, live and learn. This is perfect if you’re a huge Thanksgiving dinner fan (like me) or a particularly googly-eyed stuffing lover (I have no idea who that could be, certainly not me).

Maybe next time, once my giant bag of BJ’s frozen meatballs are gone, I shall make this bigger and badder and BETTER than this time…but that could be a while, I’m rather busy after all…busy and important. (thank you Bridget Jones for giving me this quote which I use excessively)

Final Note:

Today…is my last day at my job. Yes, don’t weep.

I start me NEW job as an event planner (Eeee!!! :D) on Monday and although I’m super excited, I’m also nervous.

What does this new job mean for us?

Well it means I will not longer have the luxury of creating my blog posts at work. Yes, I will actually be BUSY at my new job. Matt and I are looking into getting a new laptop so that I can actually accomplish creating posts at home. We both have laptops from our freshman years at college and they well, they are in rough shape.

I’ll keep you posted and if you don’t hear from me, Happy Easter!

I’m off to go see a bunny about some candy…


About Lindsey @ trail to train

I'm a (somewhat) normal girl with slightly unusal ideas about everything. I do fitness my way because thats the only way I know how and my extensive mishmashed knowledge of food and cooking to make great, fast, healthy meals.
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