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Vegetarian Meatballs


I am hooked on the show America’s Next Great Restaurant.  I knew that I wanted to watch the show to get more cooking ideas.  I finally watched Sunday’s episode last night and watched the gangster guy make eggplant “meat”balls.  I have never really eaten eggplant before.  Since I tried brussel sprouts, I might as well give eggplant a whirl.

I first found this recipe.  The author’s first sentence (“It’s funny, I’ve never cared for eggplant but I adore these!“) convinced me.  It was so Jerry Maguire. I also made the Roasted Tomato Sauce from the  same blog. That made my house smell wonderful and I will repeat!

I also found this recipe by Mario Batali.   Both recipes directed you to fry the meatballs in a large pan with oil.  I did that….but my “meat” balls fell completely apart. I even remember reading somewhere that if you freeze “batter” ahead of time it helps it stick together better.  No big deal, we ate and enjoyed it regardless.  I did have a few leftover that could not fit in the pan (remember, I always make too much) and I baked those on 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes and they were beautiful.  They did not simmer in the sauce, but the sides were toasty.

Eggplant Meatballs *see recipe links above

Ingredients

2 eggplants

1/4 c Feta

1/2 c (or more) Romano Parmesan Blend (grated to a fine powder)

3 cloves garlic (smashed)

1 1/2 c Bulgher

1 c milk

black pepper

1 egg

1/2 c Asiago

1/2 bread crumbs (if needed)

Dice the eggplant and steam for about 12 minutes.  I peeled 2/3rds of the eggplants, but I do not think it was necessary.


Let the eggplant cool and drain.  Meanwhile have bulgher soak in milk.  Mix the bulgher (letting the milk strain out), garlic, pepper,cheeses and egg.  Add the eggplant.  You can put the mixture into a food processor or use a hand immersion blender (which is what I did, for the FIRST TIME).  Mix till all ingredients are like a paste.


Avoid over-mixing ( I am not sure why, just repeating the advice of those other recipes). If the paste is too wet add bread crumbs.  Shape into meatballs.  I used a cookie dough scoop, but you can also oil your hands and shape the mixture.

I am going to skip that I cooked them in a pan, because they did not hold their shape….

Arrange “meat”balls on a cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes on 350 degrees F turning once at the halfway point.

Eggplant Meatballs

Serve with sauce.  You can use homemade or store-bought.  I made the Roasted Tomato Sauce it was super easy and super yummy!! Slice tomatoes in half, cover with olive oil, italian herbs, and whole garlic cloves.  Cook on 375 degrees F for about an hour cut side up.  Puree.  (I got to use my hand immersion blender again).  After eating this meal, I realize that eggplant could replace ground beef or turkey in just about any recipe.  I am going to try adding it to my black bean burgers. Enjoy!

Rice Cereal Chicken


Sometimes I use recipes as merely suggestions on how to make something.  I almost always change the ingredients to suit my pantry needs.  I will find one recipe and decide to make it, go buy the groceries, re-skim the recipe and look for another one.  I knew I wanted to try making chicken coated in Chex Cereal (which I used store brand Corn flavor).  I searched and a few recipes wanted me to bake the chicken for 45-60 minutes.  YIKES.  When I take the chicken out of the oven, we will be enjoying a fine dinner of shoe leather.  After more searching I found this one and quickly scanned to see that it needed to bake for just 20 minutes.  That’s more like it! The funny thing is, I was preparing the food while scanning the recipe and realized way into making the food that it called for Honey Nut Chex.  I did not even realize it.  Regardless, dinner was fabulous and I would repeat this recipe. I also encourage you to be creative, cook to your preferences.  As always I had leftovers (which I encourage making too much of this dish on purpose since you are dipping each piece, why not make extras)

Coconut Rice Cereal Chicken (adapted from Chex.com)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F

Ingredients

4 large breasts chicken cut into tender size pieces

1 1/2 c unsweetened coconut

2 1/2 cups crushed Rice Chex Cereal (any brand will work)

1 egg

1/4 cream or milk

pepper to taste

1/4 c cheese (Asiago, parmesan, mozzarella)

Method:

Mix the coconut, crushed cereal, pepper, and cheese together in a shallow bowl.  In a bowl large enough to dip chicken in, mix egg and cream (or milk)  till combined.  Dip each tender in egg mixture and roll into cereal mixture.  Repeat till all are covered. This is messy work.  Lay them on a cookie sheet that is well-greased or sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through ( I cut the biggest tender in half to check).  Serve with veggies.  Would be good with a honey mustard dipping sauce, but was awesome without.

Coconut and Cereal

Chicken Tender in Milk Bath

Coated Tenders

Hey, where is the picture of the finished chicken? I am wondering the same thing.  This recipe made the house smell great!  Enjoy!

Inside Out Pizza


It was Friday. It was April 1. We made this:

Cake?
Cake?

Here you can see my daughter giving it a good long stare.  She is studying to see if we really are going to eat cake for dinner.

Inspecting the “cake” with suspicions.

This recipe that was inspired here, was so simple to make and a lot of fun.  The girls were fooled for a short amount of time, but enjoyed the effort of us parents being silly.

Inside Outside Pizza Cake

Materials:

Bundt Cake Pan, well-greased

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough (we used a pre-made White Crust from Wegman’s to look more like cake, but any crust recipe would work)

Pizza Sauce (tomato, pesto, or you could try ricotta)

Turkey Pepperoni or other pizza toppings of your choice, just make sure all toppings are pre-cooked.

1/2 c Mozzarella grated and 8 slices

Directions:

Allow the dough to come to room temperature.  Split the dough in half and line the bundt cake pan with the dough making sure there are no holes.  Layer with sauce, cheese and pizza toppings.

Adding “toppings”

Roll out remaining dough into a doughnut shape.

DOUGH- nut

Place on top of pizza toppings and seal really well.  You do not want anything to leak out or it will not look like a cake.

Sealed up

Bake in a preheated oven (375 degrees F) for 40 minutes.  Flip cake out and place cheese slices on top and return to oven for 5 minutes.  Watch carefully, you want the cheese to just melt and ooze to look like frosting instead of getting all brown and toasty (a travesty: NO TOASTY CHEESE).

Sans Cheese
Cheese prior to melting

Once the cheese has melted, serve.  I mentioned above, my kids were fooled upon first impression, but quickly figured it out.  Regardless, I can see us making this a regular entrée at the house.  Really excited to layer it with meatballs, Philly steak with provolone and onions, sun-dried tomatoes with feta and spinach or cordon blue fillings.  We had a lot leftover for lunches or dinners later.  I love leftovers!!

The yummy layers
Slice of “cake”

ANOTHER Corned Beef Recipe


I jumped on the band wagon.  I made corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day.  I could not resist after reading the history and how much Jewish culture was involved.

I bought a corn beef brisket at Wegman’s, which meant no brining for me.  That was good since I bought this March 16.

 

Raw Corn Beef with spices

 

 

I could not decide how to cook the brisket.  Should I simmer it on the stove, slow cook in the oven or use the crock pot.  I knew I wasn’t going to be home so I thought about cooking it last night and then slowly heating it up for this evening’s meal. As I was posting this corn beef dilemma on Facebook the answer hit me!  I will combine methods!  I love it when I come up with mad genius ideas in the kitchen.

 

 

Brown Sugar, Mustard, and Brisket

 

 

Brisket with Mustard-Brown Sugar rubbed in

 

 

 

 

Brisket in juice in crock pot

 

 

Broiling brisket

 

 

Corned Beef and Brussel Sprouts

 

 

 

Fork Tender

 

 

Corn Beef oven method via a crock pot

Ingredients (served 5):

2-3 pound corn beef brisket with seasonings in package

1 Tbls brown sugar

2 Tbls Dijon Mustard

Method:

Remove the meat from package and gently rinse the meat off being careful to not get raw meat juice all over the place.  Place brisket on top of large foil sheet and rub dry spices all over the meat covering as much as you can.  Flip meat over and run Dijon mustard over meat and sprinkle brown sugar on top and mash it in.  Wrap in foil allowing some space to steam.  ( I did this the night before because my morning was going to be crazy busy).  Place in crock pot and turn on low (or 350 degrees F) and cook for 4-5 hours.   Turn oven to broil and place a flat pan in oven to preheat.  Once oven and flat pan are preheated carefully remove hot cooked brisket from crock pot to oven and broil for about 5 mins each side (this helped carmalize the sides.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Serve with juice in crock pot!

Thanks for reading.  I would love to hear how you made yours so I can continue to improve.  I am tempted to buy more of the corn beef brisket tomorrow because I know the stores do not carry this year round.  It was so delicious.

Breakfast Cake


On WordPress’s, which is my blog host, dashboard there is an option called “tag surfer”.  I am addicted to it.  It allows me to read other blogs that might be similar to mine.  I have found some really great ideas.  I recently read a post by Meb Byrne at Glitter Sleuth for called Vegan Blueberry Oat Cakes.  The picture was intriguing and I am always up for an oat recipe.  She found this from Love Veggies and Yoga.

The recipe is simple and fast.

The other evening I was not in a dinner mood and when I tell my kids we are having breakfast for dinner they jump for joy.  I decided to try this recipe with what I had on hand.

Raspberry Banana Oat

Oat Cake (inspired by Glitter Sleuth and Love Veggies and Yoga)

Ingredients: (made 4 heaping servings)

Splash of skim milk (or almond milk, coconut milk, etc)

1 – 2 cups of old-fashioned oats

2-3 ripe bananas ( I had some in the freezer, they worked really well after I defrosted them for about 90 seconds in the microwave)

Cinnamon (to your taste preference)

1 1/2 c fruit ( I used frozen raspberries)

Method:

Mash the banana in a microwave safe dish ( I used a mini deep dish stone from Pampered Chef)

Sprinkle Cinnamon and add oats and mix throughly

Fold in fruit as best as you can, it is a little sticky.  Add a splash of milk and microwave for 2 minutes.  Check how it looks, I added a splash more milk, just to cover the top layer thinly.  Microwave for 2-3 more minutes till hot.  Serve.

You can also sprinkle brown sugar, nuts, or other toppings as you wish.  This was a huge hit.  Another great use for ripe bananas!

Many thanks to Tag Surfer, Meb Byrne and Averie for this recipe.  YUM!!

Honey, can you get me a beer?


Sure, I will get you a beer.

Mug o' Beer

 

Yes, readers I made beer ice cream.  Guinness Beer Ice Cream.

Dreams can come true

This ice cream could bring even the most stable man to his knees.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I confessed to a friend that I started to drink coffee and somehow we then jumped to drinking beer.  I told her that the only beer I can drink (and by drink I mean have oh, say 4 sips) is Guinness.  She laughed and told me that over 10 years ago, her husband ate Guinness Ice Cream on a patio in Texas.  He had not had any since then, but dreamed of being reunited with the magic of beer dessert.  When I hear something like that, I hear a challenge.  That conversation was on Thursday and on Sunday her husband ate Guinness Ice Cream for brunch.

I adapted (very slightly) David Lebovitz’s Ice Cream recipe that I found here at thekitchn.com. Normally, I would put the recipe for ease.  However, I do not want to break any copyright laws so click on the link and find the recipe, but make sure you come back here to read more of my posts.  You can also purchase his book Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments (which you should own if you own an ice cream maker, great book).

Mr. Lebovitz made his ice cream with milk chocolate and I did not have any on hand.  I added a homemade chocolate syrup (listed below) to the custard once I removed it from the heat before I added the cream.

I am not a beer fan so I am not the best judge of the ice cream.  The friend enjoyed it and my husband asked me to marry him all over again.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

3 T boiling water

2 T cocoa

2 T sugar

1/4 t vanilla extract

1/8 tsp vegetable oil

pinch of salt

Mix all together till dissolved.  Very rich small amount of chocolate syrup.

Sweet and Sour Chicken


I do not like vegetables.

That was me. Through elementary school, middle school, high school, college,  my twenties AND most of my thirties.  I ate a few.  Broccoli, Cauliflower, brown sugar glazed carrots and lettuces.  That’s about it.  I would eat around the vegetable in my meal if it was mixed together.

Fast forward to current events and  I made Sweet and Sour Chicken with zucchini, red pepper, poblano pepper, and scallions.  I wanted seconds and I ate JUST THE VEGGIES.  I have come a long way. ( I also crave Brussel Sprouts)

I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for a guideline.  The more I cook, I read the directions and say “why do it that way?” and change it up as I go.  Martha’s recipe had ketchup and I just did not want ketchup in my sweet and sour tonight. (Remember, how I used to not like veggies? Well, I am not a huge fan of condiments either, ketchup is fair, hate yellow mustard and mayonnaise is just okay, but so not worth the calories).

Sweet and Sour Chicken (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

Veggies of you choice: I used red pepper, poblano pepper, zucchini and scallions. The more the merrier!

Chicken (about 1.5 pounds)

Soy Sauce

Corn Starch

Fresh or canned pineapple

Rice (optional)

My method:

I sliced one of each: zucchini, red bell pepper and poblano pepper.  I removed the seeds on all of them, even the zucchini*.  I chopped the scallions and set them all aside.

Prepped Veggies

I cubed the chicken and placed in a zipper bag.  In a small measuring cup I placed 1 tbls corn starch, 2 tbls soy sauce and 4 oz of water. I mixed till the cornstarch was dissolved.  I added that mixture to the chicken and let it sit all day in the fridge. I pre-heated the skillet so it was pretty hot with a tiny bit of oil add chicken, reduce heat to medium-high heat and browned all sides (let chicken sit in pan for 30-60 seconds before moving, if it sticks to pan it’s not ready to move) add peppers.  Cook the chicken for about 4 more minutes and add zucchini.  Cook for another 4 minutes  add chopped pineapple and scallions.  Cook till the pineapple is browned and warm. I generally use a lid to help keep the chicken moist.  Serve with rice.

I do not have a picture of my finished entrée.  I do have a picture of the very dirty skillet, but I do not think it will inspire you to make the recipe, even though the taste was worth the scrubbing.

 

 

*To seed a zucchini: Peel and slice lengthwise, then quarter.

Whole, Halved, Quartered

Hold knife at a 45 degree angle along the seed line (flat side down) and slice.  Most of the seeds will get cut off without losing too much of the vegetable.

Removing Seeds

Daylight Savings Thyme Bread


I love the beginning of  Daylight Savings Time.  I do not understand the logic, but I love having the sun out later in the afternoons.  The reminder of spring and that dreary cold winter is almost over.  To celebrate one of my favorite days of the year, bread was baked.  Not just any bread.

Daylight Savings Thyme Bread.  I had no idea that adding fresh thyme to bread would taste and smell so wonderful.

Fresh Thyme

Fresh Bread

Daylight Savings Thyme Bread (adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, The Master Recipe: Boule) This made one very large loaf of bread.

Recipe:

1 ½ cups lukewarm water

2 tsp yeast

1 ½ tsp salt

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 ¼ cup all purpose flour if planning to knead and add flour

or 3 ½ cups if planning to do single rise with no extra kneading

2 Tbsps fresh Thyme

1 cup hot water to be used to make steam during baking.

In 5 quart bowl:

Mix the yeast and salt into the warm water until dissolved.

Add the olive oil

Mix in the flour and thyme stirring with large spoon or mixer with dough hook.

Let rise for about 2 hours. Sprinkle liberally with flour and knead for about 5 minutes dusting with flour periodically to prevent sticking.

Let rise for about another 60 minutes.

(If you used the 3 ½ cup flour no-knead method jump back into the recipe here.)

Cover a pizza peel with corn meal  (if you do not have one, you can skip preheating the stone)

Sprinkle the dough with flour again and form it into a loaf on the pizza peel.

Put a baking stone in over on center rack and broiler pan on the lowest rack. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Allow loaf to proof (rise)  for about 20 minutes then slide it from the peel to the pre-heated baking stone.  Carefully pour the cup of hot water into the broiler pan and close the oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Frogurt


You know what you can do when you make homemade greek  yogurt?  You can listen to your daughter and put it in your ice cream maker!

adding yogurt to the ice cream maker

Then pour in peanut butter (we used Trader Joe’s all natural)

Peanut Butter into ice cream maker

Let it stir, churn, mix.

Then serve.

You scream, I scream for FROGURT!

Oh wait!  Maybe add caramel sauce!

Caramel Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt

This tasted so indulgent, but remember I used skim milk.  Plus, I think a lot of the lactose is lost when the whey separates out.

We also made another batch with macerated strawberries.

Frogurt

Ingredients:

Greek Yogurt (homemade or store bought)

Flavor of your choice

Add to already frozen ice cream container.  Once the yogurt is frozen turn off.  Best eaten immediately as it gets very hard in the freezer.

How to macerate strawberries

Slice 1-2 cups of fresh (I guess you can used thawed ones as well) strawberries and add 1-2 T of balsmic vinegar and 1 tbls of agave nectar (or another sweetner of you choice) .

Crush berries and let sit for 30 mintues or up to several hours.  Macerating berries brings out the juice. It is so good.

Please pass the brussel sprouts


I am 36 years old and prior to this weekend I had never eaten, touched or cooked  a brussel sprout before. They have a horrible reputation. I conducted a very scientific study and asked my loyal readers if I should make brussel sprouts. I had an impressive thirteen votes (I know this blog is so close to exploding!) 9 voted for yes, 3 voted no and 1 wondered why I was making you do a stupid poll.  I reluctantly purchased the dreaded brussel sprouts.  Guess what?  Brussel sprouts have a horrible reputation, but they have been maligned.  Seriously, when you say Brussel Sprout, what is the face most people make?

Here is how I prepared them:
I pulled off the outer layer trimmed the end mixed with salt and splash of olive oil, sliced in half and roasted them on 550 degrees F for about 15 minutes.
I had my girls sample them individually,  I did not want one influencing the other. The 11-year-old said “Yum, tastes like French fries.”  The 7-year-old said “Can I have more at dinner?”
My husband said “That is the best tasting brussel sprout I have ever eaten.”

Brussel sprouts  will be a new staple in our house.  In fact, I have now eaten them 3 times since Friday.  I think they taste like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower and have a nutty flavor.

roasted sprouts

I am perplexed to their horrible reputation.