A Word on Meatballs and the Resulting Chicken Meatloaf

I have been absent a long long while. And boy have I missed the blogging. I had a baby (boy) in early March and that has eclipsed my free time and basically every other time in between and so I am just now starting to come up for air. Figures that I need to go back to work in 2 weeks. Not a whole lot of quality cooking going on since the bubs arrived but I did stumble upon an accidental improvement to my meatball recipe which I am pleased about. This applies to any sort of meatball too – in fact I was attempting to make chicken meatballs and this is what happened… sorry no photo this time, but I do hope to get back to a semi-regular posting schedule soon. And by soon I mean some time before my son turns 1.

This recipe is essentially a meatball recipe which ended up turning into a chicken meatloaf instead. I was going to make some snacks to go along with the yummy mint juleps we were sipping for the Kentucky Derby  and I thought chicken meatballs would be an interesting alternative, but the chicken sort of broke down and I added an extra egg and viola! SUPER-moist and tasty chicken meatloaf:

1 lb ground chicken (dark meat is better)

1 small onion chopped small

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 eggs

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

2-3 sliced of bread soaked in water

pinch of salt

3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take onion and garlic, lightly salted and saute in the olive oil until soft and lightly browned. I find that cooked garlic and onions adds another dimension of richer flavor versus just adding them raw to the mix. Let the onions and garlic cool slightly. Take the bread and squeeze out the extra water and add it to the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. I like the bread a little chunky and will use whatever we have laying around (rolls, white bread, wheat, egg, etc). You could use breadcrumb instead but I couldn’t tell you what amount to use.

Add the cooled garlic and onions and mix thoroughly. If you can do this in advance and allow the mix to “marinate” in the fridge for an hour or two that is good but it will be fine if made immediately as well.

Pour mix into a loaf pan (I used a glass one but I presume metal would work fine) and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and the meat thermometer reads 180 degrees.

The extra egg and the bread soaked in water (you could also use milk) are what make this meatloaf extra moist, and the cooked onion and garlic add that extra kick to the flavor.

I eat mine with a little lemon spritzed on it, but it would be great with some tomato sauce or salsa, or a brown gravy if that’s what you prefer.

Weekly CSA #2 – More Greens (again)

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The above picture mostly sums up what happened to our portion of the CSA share for week # 2. This week’s share included: kale, sugar snap peas, bok choi, swiss chard, garlic scapes, and one other green which I am forgetting about at the moment. We have already slacked in our usage since we ate out a few times last week so the following is what happened to our CSA items so far:

1. Kale – Used half of it with some fingerling potatoes in my take on mashed potatoes with kale. The pairing, which I’ve read about elsewhere, is actually pretty tasty. Throw in some butter with that and heck yeah, it’s good. I boiled both together in some water for about 8 or 9 minutes and then tossed them back into a pan with olive oil & butter & some salt & a dash of chicken broth, covered it and let them cook another 15 minutes. Took the lid off and let the taters get a little brown. Definitely a good side dish

2. Bok Choi, Chard, & garlic scapes – all three went into the dish above. It is a brown rice bowl topped with all the greens and scapes and a delicious fried egg. I sauteed some shallots and garlic in some olive + sesame oils and then added the harder stems of the chard and choi + garlic scapes (chopped) + some radishes sliced thin. After a few minutes of saute, I added all the leaves and about 1/3 cup tamari soy sauce, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1-2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, and juice of 1/2 lime and let the whole thing cook down, covered, until everything was nicely braised. Cooked the egg in some olive oil and added it on top of the bowl. Great Monday night dinner.

The radishes, for those who have never cooked them, were AWESOME in this dish. All the peppery flavor goes out and they just get mellow and succulent:

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Sadly I haven’t used the sugar snap peas yet… hoping to get there this week.

Cravings – Corned Beef Hash with Eggs + Cheese

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I’ve been craving corned beef hash for weeks now. No idea why, it’s been years since I”ve had it, and NO, I am NOT preggers.  When I was much younger, this was a favorite breakfast treat. It’s in no way a healthy breakfast, but it is definitely high on the satisfaction scale. It’s rich, almost creamy, heavy meaty goodness. And, it’s pretty easy. This recipe will feed 3 hungry people:

1 can Mary’s corned beef hash

3 eggs

1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Place corned beef hash into a frying pan large enough to spread it out into a layer about 1/2 inch-3/4 inch thick. Turn the heat to medium high and start to heat up the hash, stirring occasionally, for about 5-6 minutes or until it is completely warmed through. Make 3 small wells in your layer of hash, and crack an egg into each well. Top the hash with the cheddar and place a lid over the whole pan. Allow the hash to cook for another 5-6 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. The hash will get a nice crust on the bottom and the eggs + cheese just add to the delicious experience.

I like to eat this with toast or a bagel.

Grill Ready Ribs ‘n Chicken

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(Updated with Pic !)  I’m sorry I don’t currently have pics for this post…. if I take one after everything hits the grill I will post it up. I couldn’t reach for the camera while my hands were all meated-up and we’ve been busy hosting parents so the house is a bit busy.

But I digress … it is an abso-freakin-lutely amazing weekend with perfect weather and we are totally taking advantage of it with a back yard BBQ. We impulsively purchased a rib rack last weekend at home depot so we are putting it to good use today with some grilled ribs. The ribs, purchased at Costco for cheap (and they are really nice!) are very easy to prepare:

Dry grill rub – even mix of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, some chili powder, and maybe a touch of salt

2-3 tablespoons of aplle cider vinegar per ziploc

several gallon ziploc bags – depends on how much you are making

Rub the ribs down with the dry rub in the morning and place them in the ziploc with the vingar and allow them to marinate all day until you are ready to grill. 

For friends who don’t eat pork, we are making grilled chicken breast with the following marinade:

1 generous pinch of herbs de provence (we got ours from Herb Lyceum farm – it has some lavendar in it)

1/2 cup white wine

generous pinch of garlic salt

Several chicken breasts

Place all ingredients in the ziploc and marinate for the day ! 

I’ll post an update later today with pictures and more recipes for sides and cocktails.

Happy grilling !

Chicken Breast with Dried Mushroom and Sage rub

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It’s been an insanely busy week so I haven’t been cooking as much, which is unfortunate. I did participate in a book club talk about  The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, which resulted in a huge discussion of local food sources, what it means to go organic and why we should all be cooking more of our own food instead of eating prepackaged items. It’s a hellova read, and made me think a lot more about what I put in my body and where it comes from. 

But I digress, tonight’s dinner was really simple, and designed to be made on the grill. We picked up some chicken breasts (bone in), some corn on the cob and the fixings for a nice salad. Once I had put together the rub for the chicken we realized we were out of gas on the grill, so we ended up making the chicken in the oven and steaming the corn on the stovetop. It was still delicious, but it would have been nice to bust out the grill in honor of the almost spring-like weather we were having today.

Here is the chicken recipe:

1/2 cup dried mushrooms (I used a mix, but if you can get porcini those are best)

5-6 dried sage leaves

3 tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 chicken breasts, bone in

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take the dried mushrooms and the sage leaves and place them in a spice grinder or food processor and grind it into a powder. Pour the mushroom sage powder into a bowl and add the olive oil, mixing to combine:

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Rub the chicken all over with the mushroom sage mix. You can do this in advance and place the chicken into a ziploc in the fridge to allow the mushroom & sage mix to marinate the chicken. Once the oven is heated up, place the chicken onto a baking sheet and sprinkle it evenly with the lemon juice. Bake the chicken for for about 40 minutes until it is good and browned and cooked through.  You could use white wine in place of or in addition to the lemon juice for a little extra flavor. Rosemary may go well with the mushrooms as a substitute for the sage.

A New Spin On Spaghetti & Meatballs

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If you are anything like me, you are participating in the annual cliche of dreading the onset of summer bathing suit season. I’ve been working out more, running, spin class, weights, etc, all in an effort to combat the ever increasing size of my bum. Actually, one of the reasons for writing this blog is to help me catalogue what I’m eating so that I can 1. force myself to be more creative and varied with my diet and 2. find new and imrpoved recipes 3. have a history of recipes and eating habits. I guess it’s my equivalent of having a diary.

 That being said, I’ve never been one for crazy diets (if you check out the carb category on this post you’ll see that I’d never survive a low-carb diet) or really restrictive eating. Instead, I’m opting for trying to update a few favorites to be a little more diet-friendly and here is one of my experiments: Brown rice pasta with turkey meatballs in a chunky tomato sauce. I like the brown rice pasta a whole heck of a lot more than whole wheat pasta. It takes slightly longer to cook but otherwise, it’s actually not bad. I have been using the Trader Joes brand and I am so far very happy with it. The meatballs are baked, not fried, which is my preferred method for making traditional beef meatballs. Here is the recipe for the turkey meatballs and the sauce:

Turkey Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey (don’t use white meat turkey, it wll be too dry)

3 teaspoons of non-fat greek yogurt

1 egg

3 teaspoons of chopped parsley

3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan (cheese is good for you!)

1 pinch of salt

1 small clove of garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl and mix well with your hand. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray (I use olive oil spray). Roll the mix into meatballs, placing each on the cookie sheet about an inch or so apart. Once the oven is heated, place the meatballs in and cook for about 30 minutes, until the meatballs are nicely browned all over:

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While the meatballs are baking, you can start the pasta water and the sauce. The following is the recipe for chunky tomato sauce. It makes a light tomato sauce, with the leeks adding a mellow sweetness to the flavor:

1 can whole plum tomatoes

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 leek, white portion sliced thinly

1 pinch dried basil (3-4 fresh leaves)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste

Open the can of tomato, and carefully crush the tomato with your hands – this is messy so you may want to pour out the tomatoes and juice into a large bowl before you start to crush them. It’s easy to squirt the tomato juice all over so squeeze them slowly! Place the olive oil, garlic and leeks in a sauce pan on medium high heat and saute until the leeks are lightly browned – stir frequently. Once the leeks are lightly browned, add the tomatoes & juice, basil and a pinch of salt. Allow the tomatoes to simmer while the pasta cooks. 

Some notes:

1. The meatballs can be made in advance and frozen. If you do bake & freeze them in advance, once they are thawed out, add them to the sauce to warm through while you cook the pasta

2. I used breadcrumbs with the meatballs but you could easily use 1-2 slices of white bread. If you use the whole slices of bread, soak them in a little milk and forgo the yogurt in the recipe

3. If you prefer, you could use cilantro instead of parsley for a nice fresh flavor in the meatball recipe

Lentil and Brown Rice Bowl with Poached Egg

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We just spent a long weekend in London, which was absolutely fantastic (my favorite city in the world) and much needed (my blackberry didn’t work over there). While we were on that side of the pond, we met up with several friends and family members and had a whirlwind shopping and art museum extravaganza. In between shopping and hitting my favorite art museums (The Saatchi and the Tate Modern), we stopped at this quirky little vegetarian restaurant tucked underneath a church near Paternoster Square. Of course I can’t currently remember the name of the place, but the food was yummy and super healthy. The following dish is a knock off of one of theirs called the “health bowl”  – essentially brown rice, lentils and veggies with an asian dressing. My version has less veggies in it than theirs, and is topped with a poached egg. I guess you could call it an “almost health bowl”. I still think it’s pretty good for you though, especially compared to some of the other things on this blog ! You can customize this one any number of ways, so definitely build upon it. The amazing chef over at www.101cookbooks.com has a number of these kinds of “bowl” recipes and they all look great. Here is what I did tonight (This is enough for dinner for 2 + some leftovers):

The main dish:

2 cups of cooked brown rice

2.5 cups cooked lentils (Trader Joe’s sells them and they are great, or you could use canned)

1 large leek, chopped

2 cups loosely packed watercress

2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 clove of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 heaping tablespoons of plain fat free yogurt (I used greek yogurt)

generous pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

2 eggs

First, make the dressing (recipe below)

Saute the chopped leek and garlic in the olive oil, along with the red pepper flake, under very low heat until the leeks are good and caramelized (this may take 10-15 minutes, with occasional stirring). Once the leeks are ready, turn heat to medium and add the mushrooms. Saute until soft (maybe 4-5 minutes). Add lentils and rice, stirring on occasion until well warmed through. Add watercress and stir, allowing the cress to wilt (maybe 2-3 minutes). It would be ideal to have your poaching liquid ready for the eggs so that you can add them to the water as soon as you add the cress to the pot. This way, everything gets done at the same time. Add the dressing and yogurt to the lentil & rice mix and stir to combine, allow pot to warm through for another minute.

To poach the egg, get a good amount of water boiling in a sauce pan, plus a tablespoon of white vinegar. SLOWLY add the egg to the boiling water, if you can crack the egg into a small bowl and then slowly pour it in this is best. Set a timer for 3 minutes and when that is up, remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon

Place the lentil & rice mix into a bowl and top with the poached egg.

Dressing:

1/2 cup tamari soy sauce

1 or 2 drops of sesame oil (go slow, it’s powerful)

juice of 1/2 lime

2 tablespoons grated ginger

1 teaspoon white miso paste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until the miso is fully incorporated.

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