Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Salisbury Steak Meatballs

I obviously don't like salisbury steak.... but I like Salisbury because it's next to our beach house.  Does that count?  And I know my family are big fans of all things meat, including but not limited to salisbury steak and meatballs.  This meal combines both, so I decided to try it out for them.

This meal makes a lot of food.  It says it serves 12 and that's no joke.  2 pounds of ground beef get the salisbury steak treatment by getting mixed with brown mustard, ketchup, beef case, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper.  One note - there's no egg, and that makes them kinda crumbly so I would add a couple next time to help them stick together.  Then they get cooked in a sauce with many of the same flavors, like beef broth, Worcestershire, and Kitchen Bouquet, with the addition of some caramelized onions.  You serve the whole saucey, meaty mess over egg noodles and sprinkle it with pasta.  Voila: dinner.

As expected, my family all loved this meal.  It was hearty, filling and fit for a family of carnivores.  If that sounds like you, then go for it!

Recipe:

salisbury steak meatballs
from The Pioneer Woman
serves 12

Ingredients:
2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup brown mustard
1/4 cup +1 tablespoon ketchup, divided
1 teaspoon powdered beef base or crumbled beef bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 half stick (1/4 cup) salted butter
1 whole large onion, halved and sliced
2 1/2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with a little beef broth to make a thin paste
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
1 pound egg noodles, cooked to al dente and drained
minced fresh parsley

Instructions:

1) To make the meatballs, combine the first 8 ingredients in a mixing bowl (not including the 1 tablespoon ketchup or 1 tablespoon Worcestershire) and knead until completely combined.  Form into medium-sized meatballs and place on a plate.

2) Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat, and then add 2 tablespoons of butter.  When melted, add half the meatballs and gently move around the pan to brown.  When brown, remove them to a clean plate and repeat with the rest of the meatballs.

3) In the same skillet, add the onions and book for 3 - 4 minutes until golden brown and starting to soften.  In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup beef broth with the cornstarch.

4) Next add to the skillet 2 cups of beef broth, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon ketchup, and mustard.  Stir to scrape the bits off the bottom the pan.  Bring to a gentle boil and add the cornstarch mixture.  Return the metals to the pan, reduce the heat to low, and allow them to simmer in the sauce for 10 minutes or until meatballs are done and sauce is thick.  Splash in more beef broth if needed for thinning.  Add a little Kitchen Bouquet to give the sauce a deeper color.   Sauce should be thick and glossy.

5) Serve meatballs over a platter of egg noodles, tossed in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  Sprinkle with minced parsley.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Italian Wedding Soup with Veggie Balls

Yes, this is an Italian wedding soup with veggie balls, and no, I'm not sorry about that.  The traditional Italian wedding soup is packed with meatballs - depending on the recipe you're using, either chicken, pork or beef.  No thanks.  The soup usually also has some sort of greens like kale or spinach, pasta like orzo, and carrot.  Those things sound good.  Why ruin it with meat!?  Hence I was excited to see this recipe from Annie's Eats with veggie balls.  Plus she has this crazy method for making your own quick veggie broth by finely chopping up tons of vegetables (this is called a pestata) and simmering them in water and herbs.  Plus, veggie balls.

To be honest, this took hours and by the time it was ready for dinner, we were starving.  May I suggest this soup be made on a weekend? Also I think I used every utensil, pan and machine in the whole kitchen.  So be ready to clean while you work or you might be washing up until midnight. And frankly, if I am to be even more honest, may I suggest that you use a carton of veggie broth and save yourself the time of the aforementioned crazy method?   Skip the peseta. I didn't think it was better than a carton; it didn't have enough flavor for me.

The star of this recipe is obviously the veggie balls.  They're mostly made of eggplant, with parsley to make them taste fresh, garlic and parmesan to spice them up, and panko all around the outside to give them a slight crunch.  They get pan fried till they are browned to perfection.  Then they get plonked into the soup, which has been filled with tortellini, zucchini, kale, and swiss chard.

Again, I thought the broth wasn't the best that it could be, but everything else was fabulous.  I'd definitely make those veggie balls again.  And I think we all know that tortellinis are awesome.  This was a great soup for reheating, also.  I was a little worried about putting the veggie balls into my lunch container because I worried about them getting mushy, but they didn't really, so it made for a perfect lunch.  I know it's getting warm and you might not be thinking of soup, but let's be honest, last night you slept in sweatpants and you're currently wearing a fleece.  Or maybe that's just me.  Anyway, there's still time to make soup before it gets super hot and you look crazy.

Recipe:

Italian wedding soup with veggie balls
from Annie's Eats
yield 8 - 10 servings

Ingredients:
for the soup:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 ounces fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 1/2 quarts cold water
1 bunch swiss chard, stemmed and chopped
1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
1 zucchini, diced
2 parmesan rinds
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
18 - 20 ounces cheese tortellini
for veggie balls:
1 large eggplant, unpeeled
1 cup panko, plus more for coating veggie balls
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
extra virgin olive oil for cooking (I used vegetable oil)

Instructions:

1) In the bowl of a food processor, combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and basil.  Pulse until the entire mixture is very finely chopped and almost forms a paste (known as a pestata).  Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven over high heat and add the pestata into the pot.  Cook until the mixture has released most of its liquid and is beginning to dry out a bit, about 5 - 7 minutes.  Add the water to the pot gradually, scraping and browned bits from the bottom of the pot as you do so.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes.

2) Stir in the chard, kale, zucchini, parmesan rinds and salt.  Cook covered for 25 minutes and then uncovered for 20 minutes more.  Add the tortellini during the last 10 minutes or so of cooking (according to package directions so they will just be cooked when the soup is finished).

3) While the soup is simmering, make the veggie balls.  Chop the eggplant into 1-inch cubes.  Bring a medium to large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the eggplant to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Drain the eggplant in a colander and press down firmly with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible.  Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop the cooked eggplant, then transfer to a medium bowl.

4) Into the bowl with the eggplant, add the panko, parmesan, parsley and garlic.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add in the egg.  Stir until evenly combined, then form the mixture into 1-to-1 1/2-inch balls.  Coat each ball in panko.  Add a generous amount of oil to a heavy skillet (about 1/4 cup) and heat over medium-high heat.  When the pan and oil are very well heated, add the veggie balls in an even layer.  Turn the balls gently as they cook until all sides are browned.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  When the soup is finished cooking, add a few veggie balls to each serving.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Green Smoothie

I told you I was on a smoothie kick lately.  First it was smoothies of my own creation (think lots of berries, almond milk, Greek yogurt and ice), then the peanut butter and jelly smoothie, and now... this green smoothie.  I've always secretly wanted to try one when people posted pictures of themselves with green beverages, even though part of me was also a little nervous.  I had to start my smoothie kick with more "normal" ones, gateway smoothies, if you will.  And then I worked slowly up to... this green monster.

Don't be scared.  Green smoothies - at least this one - don't taste like vegetables.  Even we vegetarians don't want to drink sweet veggies for breakfast.  Yes, it's green because there is spinach in there, but you can't taste it.  You just get the benefits of all their vitamins and nutrients!  What you do taste is the whole fresh orange, banana, and strawberries (I also added a few green grapes that I had left over), all blended with Greek yogurt and ice.  The end result is a sweet, fruity, icy smoothie that is far healthier than it tastes.  Plus it's green, so if you wanted to post pictures of yourself with it in Instagram like everyone else seems to do, you can totally do it.  I didn't, but maybe next time? #greensmoothieselfie?

Recipe:

green smoothie
from Two Peas and Their Pod
yield 2 servings

Ingredients:
1 large orange, peeled and segmented
1/2 of a large banana, cut into chunks
6 large strawberries
2 cups spinach
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup ice

Instructions:

1) Put all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.

2) If you want to save the extra serving for tomorrow (I did), pour extra into an air-tight container and freeze.  Take the smoothie out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you want to drink it.  You can also store it in the refrigerator.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

This is my 501st post!  Is that crazy or what?  I've literally posted more than 500 recipes since 2012.  That's insane to me.  But also so very good.

You know what sandwich gets under-appreciated? Peanut butter and jelly.  It's simple and cheap to make, it's the only sandwich you can throw in a lunchbox and not worry about salmonella if you forget an ice pack, and let's be honest, it's delicious.  As an adult with plenty of leftovers for lunch all the time, I rarely find myself resorting to a PB&J, but I love them nevertheless.  This is why, when I saw the genius idea for a peanut butter and jelly smoothie, I was all over that.

We got a Ninja blender system from the Ajemians for our shower, and lately I have been starting to become a smoothie person.  I really love the little individual-sized smoothie cup, where you blend it right in the cup, add a cover, and go.  No need to haul out the big blender cup and pour the smoothie into a travel mug.  Genius.  I've mostly been just throwing random fruits and almond milk into the blender, but this recipe gave me something new to try.

my beloved to-go blender cup
Also, hello: 23 grams of protein.  This is breakfast that will keep you full until lunch even though it tastes like dessert.

Oh, and there are only 5 ingredients, so this is quick and easy (there's only one step!!!) .  A banana (it's supposed to be frozen, but mine wasn't and all was well), Greek yogurt, almond milk, peanut butter, and frozen berries are all you need for a PB&J smoothie.  I used a mixture of strawberries and blueberries, because that's what I had frozen.  The end result was just as awesome as I expected it to be: a thick, purple, sweet smoothie that somehow was also healthy while tasting like a milkshake.  You should probably swap your morning oatmeal for this.  Or your after-school cookies.  Or your anything.

Recipe:

peanut butter and jelly smoothie
from Sally's Baking Addiction
yield 1 very large smoothie

Ingredients:
1 medium banana, peeled, sliced and frozen
6 ounces Greek Yogurt, flavored or unflavored (mine was plain)
1 cup frozen berries
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon peanut butter

Instructions:

Put all of the ingredients into the blender in the order listed.  Blend on high until thick and smooth.  You may need to stop and stir/scrape down the sides of the blender a few times.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Drop Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Back in February, Mark and I went to Cracker Barrel for dinner with friends.  He ordered biscuits and sausage gravy, and ever since, I have been craving it.  Of course, I am not craving the sausage, but the soft, fluffy biscuits and the creamy, peppery gravy.  With my recent success with tempeh and fake chicken - AKA ficken - I got it into my head to make a vegetarian sausage gravy using fake sausage - AKA fausage.  I can promise you that no one else on the planet uses the word fausage because it's not that appetizing, but I can't help it.  Dammit, I was making biscuits and fausage gravy for dinner.

Whether you use sausage or fausage, this recipe is still pretty awesome.  Let's start with the biscuits.  Drop biscuits are awesome.  They are so much easier than the ones you have to roll out and cut.  You just make the dough and drop spoonfuls onto a pan.  They are wonderful and I admit to eating quite a few without gravy.  Plus you make them all in a food processor.  Simple and quick.

As for the gravy itself, I have to say that I found it way too peppery.  My mouth was burning.  So next time, the 2 teaspoons will definitely be cut down for me.  But with that aside, it's a great gravy: thick, creamy, flavorful, with flecks of pepper and chunks of fausage or sausage.  I was never big on sausage, but I am fairly certain that I could trick you into eating fausage in this gravy and you'd never know.  I have no one else to agree with me here because Mark refused to try it, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  Make fausage gravy or sausage gravy - you won't regret it.  Make it for a crowd; it serves 12.  Brunch, is that you?

Recipe:

drop biscuits and sausage gravy
from the Pioneer Woman
makes 12 servings

Ingredients:
for biscuits:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold but term cut into pieces
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
for gravy:
1 pound breakfast sausage, hot or mild (or fausage!)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk (1% worked fine)
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 teaspoons black pepper or to taste

Instructions:

1) Make biscuits.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of a food processor.  Add butter pieces and pulse until butter is completely cut into the flour mixture.  While pulsing, drizzle in the buttermilk until dough just comes together and is no longer crumbly.

2) Drop in clumps on two baking sheets then bake for 15 - 17 minutes or until golden brown.

3) Make sausage gravy: with your finger, tear small pieces of sausage and add them in a single layer to a large heavy skillet.  Brown the sausage over medium-high heat until no longer plink.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Sprinkle on half the flour and stir so that the sausage soaks it all up, then add a little more until just before the sausage looks too dry.  Stir it around and cook it for another minute or so, then pour in the milk, stirring constantly.

4) Cook the gravy, stirring frequently, until it thickens.  This may take a good 10 - 12 minutes.  Sprinkle in the seasoned salt and pepper and continue cooking until very thick and luscious.  If it gets too thick too soon, just splash in 1/2 cup milk or more if needed.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

5) Spoon sausage gravy over warm biscuits and serve immediately.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Cheddar Rosemary Corn Muffins

Happy Muffin Monday!

I love this Monday, because it's election day in Rutland so we have the day off!

And I love these muffins too.  It was time to try something a little different - something a bit savory, perhaps.  Something with cheddar cheese and rosemary and corn kernels.  Ohhh yes.

These cheddar rosemary corn muffins were a big hit.  People appreciated the savory change in Muffin Monday, and everyone agreed that they were delicious: soft, moist, flavorful, a little bit sweet... everything you'd want in a good corn muffin.  Add in cheese and rosemary, and what more could you ask for?  Plus when you bake them, your house smells amazing.

Thanks to Missy for the picture, since I forgot to snap one until the Muffin Monday crew were actually eating them!

Recipe:

cheddar rosemary corn muffins
from Two Peas and Their Pod
makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarse ground yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Fill a regular-sized muffin pan with paper muffin cups or spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and fresh rosemary.  Set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, and eggs until well blended.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until combined.  Fold in the corn and cheddar cheese.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

4 ) Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a  rack and cool for 5 minutes.  Remove muffins from pan and serve.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Okay so it's 80something degrees out.  March was 2 months ago, so St. Patrick's Day is a distant memory.   No one is craving corned beef and cabbage on a day like today, but I still have to share this recipe.  I had planned to make it for St. Patrick's day, but I had class that night, so it ended up being a couple of weeks later on a night when my lovely friend Courtney was visiting from Colorado.

I have lots of memories of my mom making corned beef and cabbage - or, as we Irish call it, a boiled dinner.  She puts it all in a pot and boils it away for hours.  I was interested in trying out a slow cooker method of cooking it all, so that it would all be done when I got home from work.  I peeled the carrots, chopped the onions and and scrubbed my baby potatoes the night before, so that in the morning, I could just throw everything into the slow cooker with some water and be done with meal prep!

When I got home, the meat and veggies were almost cooked and ready to go.  The last step is to lay cabbage leaves on top of it all to steam them for a couple more hours.  Then: voila!  Dinner.

I obviously only ate the vegetables, and Courtney sampled it all, and we both agreed it was a success.  It was definitely simple and easy, and nice to come home and have a meal ready!  My one change is that I think I would cook it for closer to 6 hours.  My meat was a little dry after the 8 hours of cooking plus 2 more hours of steaming the cabbage.  I think I would add the cabbage at hour 6 and then steam for 2 more.

In other news, Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there - especially my own <3

Recipe:

slow cooker corned beef and cabbage
from Happy Money Saver

Ingredients:
1 2 1/2-pound corned beef roast
2 small yellow onions
10 medium carrots
10 - 15 baby medley variety potatoes
2 cups water
1 head cabbage

Instructions:

1) Rinse and prepare your onion, carrots and potatoes.  Peel and cut carrots into thirds and cut onions in fourths.  Peel and cut up potatoes if you're using russets, or just rinse if you're using baby reds or a medley variety.

2) Place onions and carrots on the bottom of a large slow cooker.   Next, remove the roast from packing, making sure to remove any seasoning packet that may be inside.  Place roast along with juices from package inside the slow cooker on top of the onions and carrots.  Season with the seasoning packet that it came with if you choose.  Add two cups of water.  Place potatoes all around the roast.  Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.

3) After that has cooked for 8 hours, take your head of cabbage and rinse it well.  Cut the head into fourths.  Open the slow cooker and place the pieces of cabbage right on top.  Cook another 2 hours to steam the cabbage.