The Every Day Meatball

Over the years I’ve made Italian meatballs. I’ve made Swedish meatballs. I’ve made meatballs for subs and for appetizers. (Does anyone still do THAT?)

The fact of the matter is that almost every type of meatball you make is ultimately either dipped in a sauce or covered in one. So it seemed to mean that the answer was an all-purpose meatball, like that little black dress that proved so versatile in decades past.

So I looked at all my recipes, and came up with a synthesis of them all, that is generic and yet is substantial in its own right. Add the sauce of your choice or the dip and you got a meal.

This recipe makes a bunch–like about thirty depending on the size you choose to make, so you can freeze them with ease and pull out the number you need for any occasion.

The technique of cooking is an Alton Brown invention which I tweaked to fit the universality of this recipe. Alton made large balls and set them in mini-cupcake tins. But you can accomplish the same thing and may bite-size ones with my method.

So get cooking!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb each ground beef and ground pork
  • 1/2 c finely minced onion
  • 1 c fresh breadcrumbs (leave a few slices of bread out for a couple of hours and then buzz them up in the food processor)
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic (no garlic salt please!) or two cloves micro-planed
  • 1 lg egg
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 c fresh parsley chopped
  • 1/2 c milk more or less

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix meat with onion and breadcrumbs gently with your hands.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the egg with the garlic, W. sauce, and parsley and half the milk
  3. Add to the meat and mix gently again, adding more milk until it comes together easily but not excessively wet. (if the mixture is too sloppy, the meatballs tend to flatten out and lose their nice roundness.
  4. Take two jelly roll pans and line with foil or parchment. Place wire racks in each (I have long ones or two short ones will do)
  5. With a small ice cream scoop or larger depending on the size you wish to make, scoop out some meat mixture and roll a bit in your palms until round and place on the rack.
  6. You can set the balls close together but no touching.
  7. When all are done, place in a 400° pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Cool on the racks when done and then place in a freezer bag.

Serves: about 30 meatballs

Suggestions: These are fine for either Spaghetti and meatballs or Swedish meatballs. Just thaw and place in the sauce to warm up. Also consider making barbecue sauce or mustard sauce dips for parties. Be inventive. That’s what cooking is about. Heat the meatballs in a baking dish, covered for 30 minutes on 275° if using as dippers or for a sub sandwich.

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Noel’s Touchdown Taco Pie

This is a really easy and nice tasting Tex-Mex meal. It comes to us from Colleen Sowa over at JustaPinch.

I made a half recipe by halving all the ingredients and eliminating one of the types of beans (the chili beans).

As with most recipes you can swap out plenty of ingredients. Use the beans you wish and the cheeses.

At the end, I’ll offer you a couple of additions I intend to make next time. The flavors blend perfectly and there are the usual “Mexican” toppings to jazz it up and make it wonderful.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 pkg taco seasoning mix ( I use my own salt, pepper, granulated garlic and onion, chili pepper, cumin mix)
  • 1 can regular size refried beans
  • 1 can regular sized chili beans
  • 1 bag corn chips
  • 1 28oz can enchilada sauce (hot or mild or your own homemade) about 3 1/2 cups
  • 3 cups shredded cheese of your choice

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Cook the ground beef until done, adding the seasonings as the meat cooks.
  3. Put the beans into a sauce pan and add just enough water to make it easily spreadable (1/3 approx) **I also added a fresh jalapeno for more warmth.
  4. Begin assembly but putting a layer of the chips into a casserole dish until it is nicely covered.
  5. Add half the meat.
  6. Add half the bean mixture.
  7. Then half the cheese.
  8. Cover with chips again.
  9. Use half the enchilada sauce.
  10. Meat, beans, chips, sauce and ending with cheese
  11. Bake for about 1/2 hour.

Serves: 6 easily

Serve with: homemade salsa, sour cream, avocado slices or guacamole, shredded cabbage (which works better than lettuce and adds some nice crunch.

NOTE: Next time I’m going to add  layers of corn, cuz I love corn, and I think I may lay a bed of chips on the plate for added crunch as well. In any case the taste is great here, and that’s the most important. Feel free to make your own homemade refried beans if you wish as well. There are not any chilis in this so I did add a chopped fresh jalapeno to the refried beans. Also consider adding some fresh crumbling cheese such as queso fresca at the table as well.

Black Magic Cake

I have made a lot of chocolate cakes in my time. I’ve made the mayonnaise cake and ones from Cook’s.

They were good. They were fine.

They were not this one however.

My husband is not a big cake fan. He ate three pieces of this one.

Best of all, i made it in a baking dish 9 x 13 to be specific, and it was probably 3 inches high and well, I’ll not waste time with layers again!

This is so moist it makes ya cry. It’s so chocolatey that your taste buds shiver.

If you don’t make this and love it, you are not human, plain and simple.

This delight comes from Lisa Glass, at JustaPinch.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 3/4 c cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c strong coffee, cooled
  • 1 c buttermilk (for a substitute if you have none on hand, see my page “tips and tricks” )
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  2. Add all the wet ingredients.
  3. Batter will be quite thin.
  4. Pour it into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan or 2 9 inch cake pans.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven  at 350° for 35-40 minutes for the 9 x 13, or 30-35 for the cake pans.
  6. Cool on a rack. And then frost with the following frosting (or your favorite )

STANDARD POWDERED SUGAR FROSTING

   INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 c  butter softened or melted
  • 2 oz (2 wrapped squares) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 3 TBSP milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine all in a mixer and beat until well mixed.
  2. Let set until it has firmed up (the chocolate with firm up and the butter will as well) meaning wait until it is spreadable without running.
  3. Frost the cooled cake.
  4. Hide a piece in the glove compartment of your car, since your family will sneak it all up within a day. 

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Dunkers of the world unite!

Oh, he he, I forget myself.

For some reason, I seldom think of biscotti except at holidays. I love to munch on a piece when I’m furiously cooking in the morning during the holiday season.

What is terrific about this recipe is that it is easy. But even more important is that it is versatile. You can substitute virtually any dried fruit and any nut or seed for the two found here.

Thus, you can be CREATIVE, and nothing is better than saying, “oh that? Just something I through together with stuff I had on hand.”

So give it a try and join the legions of happy dunkers whether in coffee or milk who know the joys of biscotti.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 lg eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c pistachios
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. In a mixer, combine and beat eggs and sugar until thick, fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Batter should ribbon when the beaters are raised.
  3. Add the vanilla
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and baking powder, and add to the egg mixture. Combine, and then fold in the nuts and cranberries.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Transfer the dough to that sheet and with wet hands, form into a log about 12″ x 3″.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes or until firm to the touch.
  7. Let cook for 10 minutes and then place on a cutting board.
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 325°
  9. With a bread knife, carefully cut slices about 1/2 inch wide. Transfer to the parchment, cut sides down.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes, turn over and bake another 10 minutes
  11. Cool on racks and store in air-tight container.

Serves: 16-20 slices

**Try: blueberries, apricots, cherries, raisins (regular or golden), dates, figs, mango, papaya, peaches, apples,  pineapple, with almonds, macadamia, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts,  pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or even perhaps peanuts or cashews.  Ya see? The possibilities are endless.

Kimi’s Carabbas Chicken Bryan

Okay, this dish is sinfully good. It is not that hard to make, and so make it more often rather than less.

The presentation and the elegance make this a wonderful choice for an important meal, such as anniversaries or birthdays.

It comes from Kimi Gaines who posted it at JustaPinch.

My husband is convinced he was eating cream cheese and not goat which he has sworn he would never like.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 de-boned chicken breasts, split
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • EVOO
  • 8 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 c finely chopped onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 3/4 c dry white wine
  • 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 8 oz goat cheese (I preferred only one ounce per breast flattened into a medallion)
  • 2 TBSP fresh basil (cut in ribbons)
  • 2 TBSP sun-dried tomatoes cut into thin strips

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place each breast half between Saran Wrap and pound out until fairly thin.  Pat each dry and salt and pepper. Either brush with oil and grill or place in saute pan with small amount of EVOO and cook until done 3-4 minutes per side. Remove to a dish and cover with a bit of foil and place in a warm oven.
  2. Saute the onions and garlic in 2 tbsp of the butter until onions are translucent. Add wine and lemon juice and simmer until it has cooked down to half.
  3. Add 3 TBSP more butter and whisk until it is melted.
  4. Remove from heat and add the rest of the butter. As the butter melts the sauce should thicken up. Either strain out the onions and garlic or not as you wish, and stir in half the basil and the tomatoes.
  5. Place the chicken back in the pan, add a slice of goat cheese to each half breast, and simmer lightly until cheese melts. (I found putting a lid on for about a minute sped this up.
  6. Remove chicken to serving platter and spoon over the sauce, adding the remaining basil.
  7. Kimi suggests you serve with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh broccoli. I did steamed new potatoes and the broccoli.

Serves: 4

Screamin’ Skillet Sausage and Peppers

I saw this on a commercial but it was with pasta. I didn’t think much of that idea, but the idea of sausage, peppers and onions, well that did click.

I am addicted to Johnsonville New Orleans style Brats, but feel free of course to use your favorite sausage.

I started with this over rice, but my husband is not fond of rice. Why? Have no clue. He eats pasta and noodles without issue,  but rice he rebels at, though he condescends to eat it with Chinese.

So, I got this idea, and well it worked pretty good. And we eat it about once a month. And he eats the leftovers for breakfast. But then he eats cold Chinese for breakfast. And peanut butter and bologna sandwiches. So he’s not really a good barometer about food.

I am however, and I’m tellin’ ya this is some good stuff.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Tbsp Canola oil
  • 1/2 of a medium cabbage, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large onion cut in wedges
  • 1 large sweet pepper, cut in strips. (use red, orange, or yellow instead of boring green, or a combo)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, microplaned
  • 1 lb of your favorite sausage, cut in bite-sized chunks
  • 2/3 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat up the oil in a saute pan and dump in the cabbage. It’s okay to let it brown a bit, but not too much. Cook until al dente.
  2. While the cabbage is cooking, heat the other 2 tbsp of oil and dump in the onions and peppers. Sear these a bit at first, and then turn down.
  3. Continue cooking and add the garlic and sausage and salt and pepper
  4. When the sausage is more or less warmed, add the cherry tomatoes and heat them through, letting them pop if they choose.
  5. Lay a bed of cabbage on a plate, and spoon on a generous helping of the sausage/pepper/onions and tomatoes.

And then just purr, and eat until you are so full you can roll.

Serves: 3 pigs or 4 normal people

Rockin’ Meatloaf

Everybody makes meatloaf, and most of them are good. It’s hard to make a bad one unless you are a school or hospital. Then you make uneatable gray stuff that is awful.

I don’t like meatloaf with oatmeal and don’t care for breadcrumbs either. I used to make it with saltines scrunched up, but I found this technique on the Food Channel on one of Alton Brown’s shows and it works so much better.

Change the ingredients to fit your likes, but don’t mess with the technique and you will have great meatloaf that slices without falling apart and is not swimming in grease.

Makes great sandwiches.

I usually don’t make a gravy, but I found this one that is superb, so bring on the mashed taters and some steamed broccoli or green beans on the side, and make it a feast.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs. meat, one each of pork and ground beef
  • 2/3 c onions, diced
  • 2/3 c sweet pepper, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms (any kind) diced
  • 1 5oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic or a clove or two of fresh, minced
  • 1 tsp smoky paprika
  • 2/3 c corn, frozen, fresh or canned
  • 1/2 packet of unflavored gelatin

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix the meats together gently. Excessive work on the meat makes it tough. Add the corn
  2. Saute the onions, peppers and mushrooms in a saute pan until softened.
  3. Add to the meat.
  4. In a small bowl mix all the rest together then pour into the meat mixture and combine.
  5. Take a loaf pan and line with Saran Wrap, leaving plenty of extra over the edges. Pack in the meat mixture and when smoothed, turn in the wrap and cover. Put in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 420-425°
  7. Take a shallow baking dish and line with foil. Remove the meatloaf from fridge, open up the wrap and place a finely meshed cooling rack on top. Invert and place in the baking dish. Slide off the loaf pan and remove the wrap.
  8. Place in oven for about 1 hour. Sides will caramelize a bit and all sides will get nicely crusted.
  9. Let sit for 15 minutes, tented. Slide a metal spatula to loosen and then slide onto a serving plate.

If you wish to use a gravy, this one is wonderful! I got it from Blondie Pussycat at JustaPinch.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 TBSP EVOO
  • 1 small onion diced finely
  • 1-2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 cups finely diced mushrooms of your choice
  • 2 cans Golden Mushroom condensed soup
  • 2 c beef stock (homemade or boxed or canned)
  • salt and pepper to taste.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Saute onions until translucent, add the garlic and mushrooms and saute until dry.
  2. Take off the heat
  3. In a bowl, combine the soup and stock and whisk. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and salt and pepper.
  4. Return to the pan and warm up to a slow boil.
  5. Blondie pours it over the meatloaf and returns to the oven for 10-15 minutes, but I just served it on the side.

Serves: 4 easily

NOTES: If you like to change things up from time to time, consider these additions: Tex-Mex spices, such as chipotle and chili sauce. Or do a more French version with dijon mustard and thyme. Or pork sausage for part of the meat. Omit the corn and add spinach, or any other veggies. Lots of folks add shredded cheese, or bacon strips on top. And of course there are fillers that some folks like. Me I like it meaty!