Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meatballs in Gravy over Mashed Potato

The plan was to alter our food again on Monday -- eating low carb at night, concentrating on fresh meats and veg. Monday I didn't feel good, my leg was killing me and I just didn't think I could stand much longer -- so we went to Firehouse Subs. Tuesday we did ok - I made wonderful Chicken Caesar Salads. So tonight I'm going for the potatoes! And gravy!

(I used the basic recipe for The Pioneer Womans BBQ meatballs but made some changes)

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 small onion very finely diced
Lawry's Season Salt
Lots of pepper

Mix together in a large bowl. Mixture will be gooey. Shape into golf ball size balls and place in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

This gravy is awesome. I think I originally got the concept from Rachael Ray but over the years changes have been made here and there so I call it my own at this point.

Brown Gravy

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
garlic powder
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 quart beef broth
salt and black pepper to taste

Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until the mixture is golden-brown and smells like cooked pie crust. I love that part. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in a cup of the beef broth, and then add the rest of the ingredients.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Eggplant Rollatini...

....takes bloody forever to put together! Did you know you could only get 5 slices of eggplant on one baking sheet at a time?? Was it worth it? It was good. I probably won't make it again. It's easier to get it from Casa Italiana two blocks down the road and theirs is really better.

I sliced a couple of peeled eggplants lengthwise. Dipped them in egg and breadcrumbs and baked until golden. I basically spread a thin layer of a mixture of ricotta, spinach, garlic, and mozzerella on each slice and rolled up. I used some homemade sauce I made a few weeks ago and topped the rolls with the sauce and some mozzerella.

It made a lot. I ended up with two pans with 8 rolls each. Considering we only ate two each it's really not a practical dish for us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

BBQ Meatballs

I saw this recipe and said, 'so what.' I can make meatballs. I'm like the Queen of Meatballs. What do these meatballs have that mine don't?? Curiousity got the best of me and I made them last night.

I told myself that I was going to follow the recipe (for once) but decided at the last minute to double the sauce. My advice: DON'T DO IT. It's more of a glaze than a sauce (at least mine was) and it was a bit too much.

We liked these. Ok...we liked these a lot. I'll make them again. I would even make them for other people. I liked the consistency of the meatball and in spite of the numerous steps it didn't take that long to throw together.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup oats
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons very finely minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
plenty of ground black pepper

1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
4 to 6 tablespoons onion
Dash of Tabasco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all meatball ingredients. Roll into medium-small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in freezer for five minutes. Remove from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour. Brown meatballs in canola oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish.

Combine all sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


I made a batch of this to take to work tomorrow....and then....I had to make a batch for Mark because he totally inhales this stuff. Unfortunately I always forget to stir in the tomatoes 'right before serving' and it turns a bit soupy but I'm ok with that!

Sorry no picture -- it was kind of....well....white....and it didn't look that great in a photo. But trust me it tastes good!


1 pound bacon
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 tomato - peeled, seeded and diced


Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain on paper towels. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise and sour cream. Crumble bacon into the sour cream and mayonnaise mixture. Mix in tomatoes just before serving.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easy Monday Meal

Today was my first day back to work after a bit of a vacation. I couldn't sleep last night sick to death about having to go back in there today -- so I got (I think) 4 hours of sleep. After work I needed to finalize our taxes so I was late getting home. Mark is on the road so I needed something to throw into a pot and let it cook itself until he arrives home.

I love lentils and sausage. I know it's probably a 'cold weather' meal, but, when do we get cold weather?? Of course as many of our family will tell us...our house is like a meat locker due to the a/c being on as low as it it! No wonder my bread dough won't rise, huh?

Tuscan Lentils and Sausage
adapted from Food alla Puttanesca

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
about 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 lb hot Italian turkey sausage
32 oz can diced tomatoes
pinch of dried basil
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dry lentils
2 cup water
5 oz fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Squeeze the sausage out of its casings and cook, crumbling with a spoon until no longer pink. Add the onions and cook for about 5-8 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, crushed red pepper, basil, salt and pepper and saute 1-2 minutes more. Add the lentils, canned tomatoes, and water, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. Add spinach and cook 10 minutes more, until spinach is wilted and lentils are tender.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Dinner

Appetizers -

Deviled Eggs and Stuffed Celery (no picture - I was busy eating!)

Cocktails -

Anything you wanted -- martini's, manhattans, margarita's, magners, bourbon, beer, etc. My mom's bar is usually very well stocked!

Ham and Scalloped Potatoes (not pictured)

Corn Casserole
Asparagus (not pictured)
Pineapple Casserole (not pictured)

Angel Food Cake with Pineapple Cream and Raspberries

Honey Yeast Rolls - Finally!!

Well...I did it. I made something with yeast. I utilized the recipe from Brooke at '...and a cookie for dessert'

I liked the recipe because it utilized the bread machine and I've had so much trouble getting dough to rise. And ya know, my mom never baked bread. She is a great cook but I never 'saw' bread being made -- so when someone says (for instance) 'the dough should be slightly sticky...' I have no idea what that looks like! But anyway -- these turned out nicely and I already have plans to make some hamburger and hotdog rolls the same way!

Honey Yeast Rolls
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup warm water (105°-115° F)
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 cups bread flour, separated
vegetable cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and warm water. Add the honey, oil, salt, and egg and mix well. Add 3 cups of the flour and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining 1 cup flour and mix until it is incorporated into the dough. Switch to the dough hook, and continue kneading on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.*
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.Punch the dough down and divide into 12 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and place into a round, lightly greased baking dish, spacing evenly. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 20 minutes. Mix together the melted butter and honey, and brush lightly over the tops of the rolls. Bake at 400° for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*To utilize your bread machine, put all ingredients (through flour) into the machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer and select the dough cycle. Once dough is done, proceed with paragraph 3 of the recipe.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mozzarella Quesadillas

As irritating as she can be, I tend to like Rachael Ray recipes. We like recipes with lots of sauce and lots of flavor and they usually don't disappoint. This recipe, however, did disappoint. Absolutely no flavor at all. I've thought about what to do differently next time and decided there wouldn't be a next time -- too many other recipes in my to-do pile. The only good thing about the recipe was how wonderful and creamy the fresh mozzarella got as it melted.

Just in case you want to play around with this -- here's the recipe. Maybe some additional garlic?

Caprese Mezza Luna
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray, 2007

1/3 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
4 large flour tortillas, about 10 to 12 inches
1 ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
12 leaves fresh basil, shredded
2 vine ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a small pot with garlic until it bubbles, simmer a minute. Brush a skillet with garlic oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the first tortilla and blister it 30 seconds, flip and cover half of the surface with arranged layers of mozzarella, basil and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and fold over the quesadilla, cook 30 seconds on each side to set. Remove from pan and repeat. In less than 10 minutes, you'll have 4 half moons (mezza lunas). Cut into quarters and serve.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Camping on the Suwannee

Riverfront property on the Suwannee River. Beautiful, however, the river was running FAST and rising noticeably from the time we arrived.

Our caravan of campers. We're really roughing it, huh?

Good location for an afternoon nap.

Hardly anything better than grilled hotdogs for lunch!
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Beef Stew Ala Campfire

Last weekend my brother braised a chuck roast and produced a wonderful tender roast and some very flavorful pot liquor to go along with it. Beef broth with seasonings, soy sauce,'s all good. Then Monday night (while we were camping in Suwannee) he broke out the dutch oven and placed it over a fire that had been going all day.

He sauteed --

Fingerling potatoes

in some oil.

Then added the beef and beef broth to the pot. That simmered for a bit until the veg was tender and then added a slurry of cornstarch and beer.

The final result was served with chunks of crusty bread that had been toasting slowly on the grill. Both the stew and the bread had a nice smokey flavor to it. It would have been nice to get a final picture of it had I not dove head first into my bowl forgetting all about my camera!

Camping - All About the Food!

If you've ever gone camping you know that the day you arrive is a long day. Setting up camp can take upwards to 2 hours -- so when dinner time rolls around I usually want something that's quick and easy. Whether you cook this in a cast iron dutch oven over a campfire or a pan on your electric stove, this is good stuff.

Jambalaya (adaptation of Rachael Ray's 'Everything Jambalaya')

2 cups white rice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan
1 tablespoon butter
1 lb smoked sausage, cut into bitesize chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I leave out because we don't like)
1 fresh bay leaf or dried bay leaf
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper sauce
2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (14 ounce) can chicken stock or chicken broth
1 palmful of cajun seasoning (I actually used two but we're spice hounds)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lb medium shrimp, raw,deveined and peeled
coarse salt

Place a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.
Add oil and butter to the pan.
Cook sausage for a couple of minutes until browned.
Add onion, celery, pepper, bay, and cayenne.
Saute vegetables 5 minutes, sprinkle flour over the pan and cook 1 or 2 minutes more.
Stir in tomatoes and broth and season with cajun seasoning, garlic, and Worcestershire.
Bring liquids to a boil and add shrimp.
Simmer shrimp 5 minutes until pink and firm.
Remove the pot from the heat and place on a trivet.
Ladle jambalaya into shallow bowls over white rice OR using an ice cream scoop, place a scoop of rice on to the center of the bowlfuls of jambalaya.