I recently celebrated my 42nd birthday and I have the ever-increasing gray hairs to prove it. Typically, I let my wife take me out to a nice dinner on my birthday. We might go to Bellevue or downtown Seattle for a great steak at a place like The Metropolitan Grill, John Howie or El Goucho. We might even take a ferry ride and do some wine tasting in Langley (my wife also likes to do some shopping while we’re there) and then hit one of our favorite hidden gems, Gordon’s on Blueberry Hill in Freeland, for some amazing seafood. We don’t do fancy that often but, a birthday is a special occasion so we usually do it up right.
However, this year, I decided I wanted to cook for myself. Perhaps that was because I could then give my greedy belly two great meals instead of just one. So, I stayed home and made a ground turkey tetrazzini for lunch and a steak for dinner that I think may rival some of those top dollar joints. Usually, when I cook for myself, I try to keep it healthier and I’m sure I’ll be posting some of those recipes soon. In fact, I’m planning to often post a health-conscious and a “cheat night” version of the same recipe. But, this was my birthday so, calorie counting went right out the window.
First up, for lunch (although I would typically serve this for dinner), was the oh so delicious Ground Turkey Tetrazzini:
1 (12 ounce) package spaghetti noodles
1 (10.5 ounce) can cream of celery soup
¼ cup of butter (divided)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (12 ounce) package frozen, chopped onions
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup flour
½ cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 ½ tablespoons salt (divided)
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Cooking oil spray
- Bring a large pot of water with 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Break pasta in half and add it to the pot. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) while the pasta is cooking for 10 minutes. Drain the pot. The pasta should be a nice al dente. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking oil spray and lay cooked noodles inside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Pour entire package of frozen, chopped onions and minced garlic into the skillet and sauté, for about four or five minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add ground turkey breast and cook until browned, stirring occasionally to mix well with onions. I know A LOT of people put mushrooms in their tetrazzini but, I’m not really a fan of mushrooms in anything. It’s mostly a texture thing. Sorry, mushroom lovers! If you are, you can add those here. For me, onions add the texture and flavor that I like. If I were going to add anything else it would probably be chopped celery.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Begin adding flour and stir-in to create a roux. Once the consistency is nice and pasty, slowly add in chicken stock and continue stirring. Do the same with the heavy whipping cream. Stir in cream of celery soup. When you have it all well-mixed, pour it over the turkey and onion mixture and mix well.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and parsley.
- Pour sauce and turkey mixture evenly over the top of the noodles in the baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumb and Parmesan mixture over the top.
- Bake in preheated oven, for about 20 to 25 minutes, until sauce is bubbling. I like a crusty top. If you’re worried about burning (a bigger problem at higher temperatures) then you can always cover the dish with tin foil. Personally, if I did this, I would at least remove it for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Let stand for a few minutes to cool down. Cut into desired portions, scoop out with a spatula, and serve!
Next up, for dinner was the equally delicious Herbed Butter Beef Tenderloin Steaks:
Herbed Butter Ingredients
1 ½ sticks butter, soften (not melted entirely, otherwise spices will sink to the bottom)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 beef tenderloin steaks (choosing a great cut is vital)
¼ cup Kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
2 tablespoons herbed butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Herbed Butter Instructions
Thoroughly mix softened butter, minced garlic and dried thyme. Refrigerate until firm.
- Mix salt and pepper in a bowl. Roll and press steak in mixture to thoroughly coat on all sides. Cover steaks and let sit at room temperature for about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat an oven-safe, deep frying pan on medium-high.
- Add olive oil and herbed butter. Roll the pan to coat the bottom with olive oil and melted butter. Place seasoned steaks in the pan and cook, spooning excess liquids onto the meat, for about two minutes per side. This should give both sides of the steaks a nice crust.
- Cover the pan and place in the oven. Bake for about another 5 minutes depending on how well-done you like your steaks. I like mine at a perfect medium but I would err on the side of medium-well over medium-rare.
- Take the pan out of the oven. Again, spoon any excess liquids (also known as yummy flavor juice) from the pan over the steaks and then let them rest for about 10 minutes. Before serving, add another tablespoon of herbed butter on top.
- Side note: On this particular occasion, I used both the left over herbed butter and salt/pepper mixture on baked potatoes and a side of corn.