Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce

Round two with the Red Wine. I believe it was a success. This was slightly more complicated than most of my recipes. Well, maybe not so much complicated but time consuming. I've made meatballs before but usually I use ground turkey and I bake them. This recipe called for mixing ground beef with ground pork and ground veal. I couldn't tell you the last time I bought ground beef but I did it. I also got ground pork but I skipped the veal. (Somehow the thought of eating a baby cow is in no way appetizing to me). Anyway. The meat is mixed with fresh and dry bread crumbs, freshly grated parmesan (which is super easy to grate when you have a food processor I found out tonight, thank you Stephanie!), parsley, salt, pepper and an egg. It makes about 20 large meatballs.  These are then browned in equal part mixture of vegetable oil and olive oil. I cooked about 6 at a time on medium low heat. You have to cook them slow so the inside cooks, so it took about 12 minutes each batch. After the meatballs are all cooked the oil is discarded but the pan isn't cleaned. Add some olive oil and about a cup of chopped onion. I cooked the onion until it was translucent looking, then I added some minced garlic. After thats cooked for about 5 minutes, the heat goes up and in goes the red wine. The key here is to have the heat high enough to make the wine evaporate; you want to cook it down until there's almost no liquid left.When that's finished add a 28oz can of crushed tomatos, some more salt and pepper and I used some misc Italian seasoning here as well. The meatball then go back in the pan, put a lid on it and turn the heat down. Let it simmer about a half an hour.
Incidently, that's the perfect amount of time to get some water boiling and the spaghetti noodles cooked. The whole thing was good. My husband said it was the best spaghetti sauce I've ever made. Now, he likes his sauce very sweet. I do not. I liked the sauce but I usually don't prefer it that sweet. Nonetheless, it was fun to try something new with such good results!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Red Wine

 Last week my husband and I went to a swanky Christmas party in Indianapolis. As a gift, we were given this really nice bottle of merlot. I'm a fan of wine; Josiah, not so much. I opened the bottle Sunday night and enjoyed a glass. Most of you know I'm a light weight when it comes to alcohol so one glass is usually all I have. I had a glass Monday and Tuesday night and then got so caught up with Christmas preparations that I forgot all about the bottle. I was quite sad when I remembered it yesterday and realized it was no longer drinkable. However, just because I can't drink it doesn't mean I can't cook with it! This evening I made a red wine sauce with steaks. Woot! It was pretty simple: red wine, shallots, and butter added to the pan once the steaks were finished. I seasoned the steaks with soy sauce and freshly cracked pepper (no salt, since soy is salty enough!) These steaks were ribeye, an extremely good cut; I'm not sure I would try this with a tougher cut. I love them because I don't even need a knife to cut them. I made some simple fried potatoes with onion, garlic, seasoned salt and lots of pepper and broccoli. If you haven't noticed, I make broccoli a lot. I never had it as a kid because my Mom didn't like it, but I love it so I guess I'm making up for all the years I was deprived. :-)

I still have about 2 cups of wine left so I believe I will try out a red wine spaghetti sauce tomorrow night. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Spicy Chicken

I decided to try my Spicy Fried Wings recipe with chicken thighs tonight. Used the same basic recipe with one change: bread crumbs for flour. That change allowed me to bake the chicken instead of frying it. It actually turned out really good. Really spicy again, but good. The chicken was nice and crispy which is easily achievable in the oven as long as you space your chicken out at least an inch apart. I found myself really enjoying the underside though, where it wasn't as crisp. I love that this seasoning is so tasty in addition to being spicy. I added some broccoli that was simply steamed with a little (okay, maybe too much actually) seasoned salt and some Kraft White Cheddar macaroni, which is quite good in case you were wondering. As a side note, I made baked Mac & Cheese for Christmas Eve dinner and it was not good. I don't know if the oven was too hot or what but the top got too crunchy and it wasn't creamy and just not good. I do wish I had a picture of the edible Christmas wreath I made with my nephew, though. We mixed marshmellow with Fruity Pebble cereal and arranged it in a wreath shape. Very colorful. We then used pull apart cherry licorice to make holly and a big bow. My nephew is only 7 and I'm not sure he liked getting his hands so sticky, though I'm certain he enjoyed licking his fingers clean (after we were finished of course!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas goodies

This year for Christmas, instead of making pie or cheesecake, I made chocolate covered peanut butter balls. Think Reese's in ball shape. Very simple: powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter and vanilla. I can't really say the measurements because I just added powdered sugar to two jars of peanut butter until the consistency felt right. I also broke up pretzels and mixed those into the peanut butter mixture. I don't have a double broiler but I do have a Pyrex bowl that fits into one of my pots perfectly so I used that to melt the chocolate. It was a messy process but my they're good. My brother in law is my no holds barred honest taste tester and his response to these was "oh yeah, these good" :-) Mission accomplished.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Deep Fried Goodness

Tonight, for the very first time, I used the deep fryer. My husband and I don't use the deep fryer often; fried food is bad for you we've heard. I defer to his skills when he wants to fry up some wings but tonight I took the reins and did it myself. I took a recipe from the Neely's for Spicy Fried Wings. I didn't have any crushed red pepper (which will change after my trip to Kroger tomorrow) or any Poultry seasoning (which will not change because I don't like it) so I substituted a little of this and that. I also didn't use plain hot sauce, we had some but I decided to use a flavored tabasco sauce that we enjoy. Oh. My. Goodness. YUM. I'm glad I didn't have any crushed red pepper because these were definitely spicy without it. I like spicy food as long as it's not so hot that I can't enjoy it. This recipe was interesting because rather than seasoning the breading, you season the egg mixture. What that translates to is a really tasty breading that leaves a slow burn in your mouth. It's fantastic. It's also not a really thick, heavy breading so you are able to enjoy the chicken.

I made this with some green beans from the can because I can't make the fresh ones well yet and the frozen ones seem to go bad too quickly.  I added some onion, bacon bits and seasoned salt to those. Then I chopped a couple potatos and seasoned them with seasoned salt and freshly cracked pepper and pan fried those (with just a light Pam spray because we don't want to go over board on the frying.)

Great Sunday night meal.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

alfredo hassles

One of my favorite meals is pasta primavera. Today I decided to pair that with some cajun chicken and alfredo sauce.

I usually plan meals around the veggies I buy. Last week, peppers were on sale at Meijer. I love peppers. (I plan on making pizza with roasted veggies this week as well!) I sliced a red, orange and yellow pepper and an onion. I threw those with some frozen broccoli, olive oil, garlic and seasoned salt into an 8x8 pan to bake at 380 for 45 minutes.

The cajun chicken was easy. I have a recipe for a blackening seasoning but why make any of that when I have pre-made blackening seasoning? Simply dredge the chicken in the seasoning and let it fry on each side for about 5 minutes and place the whole pan in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes. Easy. I actually cooked it a little higher this time since the veggies were in there roasting.

I used some tri-colored fusilli pasta. Very good. I got it on sale for 70 cents. My issues evolved with the alfredo sauce.

I have only made alfredo sauce once and had it turn out good. Regardless of that fact, I insist on making it. The recipe is easy enough: heavy cream, butter, garlic, pepper and parmesan cheese. Usually, my problem is that I can't get the parmasen cheese to incorporate into the liquid sauce. This time my problem was slightly different in that the cheese melted and then stuck together in a giant lump and would not melt any further. I ended up dumping it into a bowl with the pasta and mixing it up after 30 sec intervals in the microwave. It never really melted enough but it was separated enough to enjoy. Someday, I'll get it figured out!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Two for One

We've had two great meals this week. I have to compliment my husband on Tuesday's dish. It's always nice to come home from work and smell something cooking. He put some seasoned chicken thighs in the crockpot with a can of cream of chicken soup. Very simple but very delicious. We then ate that over No Yolk noodles, which are basically egg noodles without the yolks (because egg yolks are really high in cholesterol even if they are good). Quick, easy, yummy meal that I didn't have to cook. Thank you, Josiah.

Yesterday, I stood in the kitchen while talking to my sister on the phone trying to figure out what to cook. She went with frozen pizza. I didn't have frozen pizza. What I did have was diced tomatos, chili beans, and canned chicken so my thoughts were chili. My problem was that I didn't have any seasoning packets, which is normally how I make chili, because let's face it, that's the easy way. I pondered this for a moment, considering my spice collection and decided I could figure out how to make chili without it. I sauteed an onion and two cloves of garlic until it was fragrant. I added the canned chicken and let that heat up with the onion/garlic mixture. The spices were fun to figure out. Side note, I built my collection up by buying a new spice every trip to the grocery store, it didn't seem as expensive that way. Here's what I decided on for the chili: smoked paprika, ground cumin, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper and (obviously) chili powder. I added those, stirring after every addition to make sure they were mixed in well, and then added two cans of diced tomatos and one can of chili beans. I turned the heat down and let it simmer for 30 minutes to let the flavors merry together. YUM!

Both of these meals were excellent for lunch the next day too!

Monday, December 6, 2010

country style ribs

Here's a quick easy meal that's delicious!

Season some country style ribs with smoked paprika, garlic powder and salt and pepper and stick 'em in the crockpot for 7 hours on low. Remove them, drain the liquid, add BBQ sauce and cook on high 30 minutes. YUM! Just about fool proof too :-)

On a separate note, I have my first follower, yay! She may be my sister but I don't care :-)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

something new!

how exciting! my first blog :-) i always thought it would be fun to start a blog but didn't really know what to write about. i decided this afternoon that maybe i should just write about something i love, so here we are.

a couple years ago i discover that i really enjoy cooking. and not only that, i'm pretty decent at it. i love getting a new recipe and trying it out. even more, i love trying them out on other people. my mom and husband have often been guinea pigs in my cooking escapades. unfortunately, there's at least one failed attempt every third recipe or so. i'm fairly certain that a couple of those failed attempts are why my brother in law prefers to eat out vs try what i'm in the kitchen attempting. usually, i can follow a recipe pretty easily; it's when i try to be creative and throw things together that disaster may strike.

i like to tell other people when i've made something new, because when the food turns out well i like to brag and when it's bad i like getting help. i'm sure if we're facebook friends you've seen status updates about something i've made or pictures of desserts that have turned out pretty. so i suppose my main purpose in starting this blog is to have another avenue to direct that energy. for those of you who are Julie/Julia fans, please understand that this is not anything close to what she did. i have no intentions of picking up the Art of French Cooking, or any other type of cook book and cooking my way through it. i think i'll just write about new recipes i've tried and how they've turned out. that being said, here's what i tried this week!

i made country fried steak this week, compliments of Paula Dean's recipe on

one thing i always do when taking a recipe from online is read the reviews. that usually helps alleviate any trouble that might arise. the reviews for this recipe were mixed. some people didn't think it had enough flavor, some thought the breading didn't stick well, so i knew what kind of problems i might run into.

it actually ended up turning out pretty good. it wasn't a pretty dish, it had a weird brown/gray color to it, but it was good. i had some steaks that were pretty tender and i seasoned them with salt and garlic powder on one side and seasoned salt on the other. i knew that i was going to have a problem with the batter sticking because i forgot to dry the steaks before starting but oh well. the batter was pretty simple. it was just flour and pepper (freshly cracked because it really is better).

the recipe called for buttermilk which i made because it never gets used before expiring when i buy it: 1tbsp lemon juice in 1c milk, let it sit about 5 minutes. i put the seasoned steaks in the flour first then the buttermilk mixture and then back in the flour. the steaks went into about a half cup of vegetable oil that was already hot in a cast iron skillet. one thing i'm still adjusting to is cooking with an electric stove. i don't like it. it get's too hot so i'm still learning. the steaks fried on both sides for about 5 minutes. i lost part of the breading on one of them but it was all right.

i took the steaks out and let them cool/dry on a papertowel and then added 2tbsp flour and a lot of pepper to the oil. while scraping the pan to get the grits mixed in i noticed i was warping my spoon, note to self: don't use plastic cooking utensils! after switching to a metal spoon, i added a cup of whole milk slowly while stirring. the steaks went back into the skillet with some green onion and it simmered for 30 minutes.

things to change/try next time: season the batter more. i thought the gravy was a little bland so seasoning the batter would help with that. also, i think i'll try using an egg instead of buttermilk to keep the batter on.

all in all a good cooking experience this week :-)