On Top of Old Smokey Meatballs

All covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed.  But it’s ok because I made tons!  These meatballs were so easy to make and quick.  Such wonderful flavor!  And one of things that attracts me to a recipe is the ability to really make it your own.  Change it up some. Use spicy Italian sausage for a kick. Or, add your favorite hot sauce to regular Italian sausage. Instead of Italian seasoning, how about the Mexican Blend I always use with some fresh cilantro?  Add ginger and teriyaki sauce, served over steamed rice, for an Asian flavor.  Oh, how about subbing the bread crumbs with finely ground potato chips, shredded cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce.  Tailgate anyone?  So, let everyone sneeze as much as they want, you’ve got meatballs covered!

Ingredients (Meatballs Only):

16 oz pkg premium pork Italian sausage
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix ingredients until blended (the best way is to don some gloves and dive right in).

Shape meat mixture into 2″ meatballs and place on a baking sheet.  Either spray with nonstick spray, or as I did, line with parchment paper.

Bake meatballs 15 minutes or until done (when they reach 160°).  Serve with your favorite pasta sauce (such as my  Busy Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatball – but ignore those meatballs, just this once, and go back another time to try those!)

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Grenache
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6 (with pasta & sauce)
Prep time: 15 minute; Cook time: 15 minutes

On Top of Old Smoky Meatballs

On Top of Old Smoky Meatballs

*Derived from Jimmy Dean

Quick Beef Stroganoff

I love beef stroganoff, and it seems that there are so many different recipes out there with the smallest change making a huge change if flavor.  What attracted me, though, to this recipe from Gimme Some Oven was it’s 30-Minute timeframe.  While this did take me a little longer than 30 minutes, it was so worth it!  And between you and me, I think the reason it took longer was completely my scattered fault.  I just can’t seem to get my ducks in a row, and if I finally get them in a row, they certainly don’t stay that way!  There were some substitutions I made to make it a little healthier or I was missing an ingredient.  There are also many ways you can make this healthier, instead of steak, you can use sliced chicken or turkey.  Or, if you are vegetarian, sub mushrooms and use vegetable broth.  All in all, a wonderful weeknight dish!

Ingredients:

1 lb wide egg noodles
4 Tbs butter, divided
1 ½ lb thinly sliced steak (I bought the fajita sliced steak in the meat department.  They also have super thin carne asada style)
1 white or yellow onion thinly sliced (I used a small one, the size depends on your enjoyment of onions)
4 cloves garlic minced (As always, I used the pre-minced from Spice World)
1 lb sliced mushrooms (You can use a mixture of different kinds of added flavor)
½ cup dry white wine (or you can just use more beef broth.  I had the wine, but it fell into my mouth . . . )
1 ½ cups beef broth
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce (thanks to the kids experimenting, I didn’t have any.  I used A-1 instead and it brought a very nice, unique flavor)
3 Tbs flour
½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt (or you can use light sour cream, the yogurt added a different flavor)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, as optional garnish

Preparation:

Cook egg noodles in boiling water according to package directions (Gimme Some Oven recommends actually adding the egg noodles to the water at the same time that the beef broth is added, and this is a perfect recommendation for timing!)

As pasta water is coming to a boil, melt 2 Tbs of butter in large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add steak in a single layer and season with salt and pepper, let it cook for 3 minutes without turning to get a good sear.  Remove the steak from pan with slotted spoon, transfer to a separate dish.  Discard the cooked butter from the pan.

Return pan to heat and add remaining 2 Tbs butter.  Once melted, add onions and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and mushrooms, stir to combine.  Continue sauteing an additional 5-7 minutes, or until mushrooms have through and onions are soft.  Add white wine (or broth) and deglaze pan.  Let mixture cook down an additional 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together beef broth, Worcestershire (or A-1) sauce, and flour until smooth.  Pour the broth mixture into the pan and stir to combine.  Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next, stir in Greek yogurt (or sour cream) until combined.  Finally, stir in cooked steak.

Serve over egg noodles, garnished with parsley if desired.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec
Merlot
Pinot Noire
Sangiovese

Total time: About 40 minutes

Serves 6

Quick Beef Stroganoff

Quick Beef Stroganoff

 *Derived from Gimme Some Oven

Busy Mom’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

Do you ever feel like, when you are working away, that you are just going to topple over onto your desk in a heap, asleep so fast that as your head makes contact a dribble of spittle has already appeared?  That is how the last month to month and a half has been for me.  We’ve had major construction going on in the 2nd most important area of our house, the family room.  This was due to a large flood on Christmas morning (Yeah!  Merry Christmas!!).  So we’ve been dealing with that, in a small part, since then.  But when the construction finally started, well, it’s just been tiresome.  While our general contractor has been amazing at keeping everyone on schedule, I’m just over it, you know.  I’m ready to have that room opened to the rest of the house again.  I’m ready to have a laundry room again (something I’d never in my life thought I’d be excited about, a new laundry room).  I’m ready to have that 3rd bath available downstairs, as opposed to a 5 and 6 year old trying to race upstairs to pee when they’ve been outside playing with ladybugs and refused to “listen to their bodies”.  And at the tail end of this endeavor has been . . . dun, dun, dun . . . daylight savings.  “Come everyone, let’s Spring Forward!” I can clearly hear a very cheery Mother Nature shouting.  I want to shout back, not so cheerily, “Let’s all put our freakin’ happy faces on as our internal clocks get all screwed up!”  Sorry, I’m a grump today.  This is the perfect dinner for a grump to make.  It comes together quickly and painlessly.  And none of it would have been possible without my little sous chef!

My Sous Chef!

My Sous Chef!

 

Ingredients:

8 oz spaghetti
1 Tbs olive oil (go easy on olive oil because the sausage will have plenty of oil when cooked)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning (or any favorite herb, oregano, thyme, etc.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef broth (can sub with chicken)
2 cups pureed tomato
1 lb sausage meat (you can buy sausage links and remove the casings, luckily I found a package of bulk sausage meat prepared by the butcher)
Parmesan
1 bunch fresh basil (optional, I didn’t have on hand so I omitted)

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of water to boil for spaghetti.  While spaghetti cooks, prepare sauce.

Add 1 Tbs olive oil to large pan heated over medium-high.  When oil is hot, add onions and garlic, stirring to coat.  Add Italian seasoning.  Stir in salt to taste.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.  While onions cook, use sausage meat and form small balls.

Add stock, scraping up any bits from bottom of pan.  Add tomato puree and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.    Add meatballs into tomato sauce and simmer until fully cooked, about 10 – 12 additional minutes.

Serve over spaghetti and top with fresh grated Parmesan and a handful of torn basil.  Serve with hot crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6

Cooking time: About 40 minutes

Busy Mom's Spaghetti & Meatballs

Busy Mom’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

 


Ravioli Lasagna

Who does not like ravioli? And who doesn’t like lasagna? Also, though, who doesn’t like or have all the time it takes to make lasagna? I’m a total cheater when it comes to the rav, so I won’t even go there. That being said, I love ravioli, little pillows puffed with ricotta and maybe a meat, or even just the ricotta and some spices. They are, really, a blank canvas. You can  add a sauce making them as rich and decadent as you’d like. Or, you can add a sauce bursting with fresh flavor from the garden. Filling you up, but not leaving you heavy. Pretty much the same idea goes for lasagna. There are so many amazing, and completely opposite ends of the spectrum options. But, what if you took ravioli and made it into a kind of quasi lasagna? Oh my, now you’re talking!

*For this dish, the recipe called for a 26-28 oz jar of tomato pasta sauce. Being typical of a cook that wants to use what is available to me, I used the 1/2 jar of 24 oz Barilla Organic Olive Oil, Basil, and Garlic pasta sauce and 1/2 of the jar of the 15 oz Barilla Alfredo Sauce already opened in the refrigerator both from a past lazy night of wanting something especially quick. With both of these leftover jars I’d say I used 28 oz., total.

I also loved this recipe for all of the options. While I used just cheese ravioli, I could have easily used chicken or sausage rav. I could have also added sliced, fresh mushrooms; I could have even added frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain. Or, how about pepperoni. Maybe some Italian sausage crumbles? So many options! Oh, Oh, Oh! You could also go with a Tex Mex theme. Simply sub the pasta sauce for a jarred salsa (such as Old El Paso), add corn and change the cheese to cheddar or a Mexican blend. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Hmmm, it JUST got interesting!

There is also the most wonderful make-ahead option. Simply layer the ingredients in the baking dish, cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 ours. Then bake as directed. So this dish COULD be made on a week night! I LOVE that option.

Ingredients (as I made it):

1 1/2 cups pasta sauce (any variety)
1 1/2 cups Alfredo sauce
1 pkg (25 – 28 oz) cheese filled ravioli
3 cups shredded mozzarella (low moisture used)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Heat oven to 350°.  Spray 13×9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread ¾ cup pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.  Arrange the ravioli in a single layer over sauce; top with mozzarella cheese.  Next layer, spread ¾ cup Alfredo sauce over ravioli, top with mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers.  On the final layer, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes (if using frozen ravioli, bake 40 minutes).  Remove foil; bake uncovered 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly and hot.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with warm bread and Daniela’s Caesar salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Cabernet Franc
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 8
Total time: 1:10

Ravioli Lasagna

Ravioli Lasagna

*Derived from Betty Crocker

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera

I am so happy and beyond excited to be able to share my “Guest Blogger” with you today.  I’m going to have to do the typing for her because, well, she’s 5 1/2 and this would take all day.  My youngest foodie D wanted to take a cooking class that was being offered through her school, and I couldn’t think of any reason to say No.  I mean, my little angel girl loves cooking, like her mommy?!?!!  She has always been my little foodie, ready and willing to try anything.  She absolutely adores food and as soon as she finishes one meal, she is already thinking about the next.  On Sunday she was making cookies and I caught her talking lovingly to her dough.  Does it get any better?  I think it just might!  Yesterday was her first day of her cooking class and she came home buzzing with excitement from her class.  They got to eat their food in class, but she also brought a plate home to share with the family.  We all raised our hands in agreement that her food was “super yummy!”  I am pleased to share with you her results.

Caesar Salad

Ingredients:

3 medium heads romaine lettuce; chilled, dry, and crisp
1/3 cup garlic olive oil
2-3 Tbs wine vinegar
1 lemon – halved
2 One Minute coddled eggs
Salt to taste
Dash Worchester sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese (can add more)
1 cup Caesar croutons

Preparation:

Bring a sauce pan of water to boil.  Gently add eggs and turn heat to low, set timer for 2 minutes.  Remove eggs with slotted spoon or wire mesh strainer.  Cool in cold water and set aside.

Into a chilled salad bowl, break romaine leaves into 2 inch widths.  Drizzle with garlic olive oil and vinegar.  Squeeze juice from lemon over the top.  Break coddled eggs over lettuce, toss many times to ensure everything is thoroughly mixed.  Season with salt, pepper, and Worchester sauce.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Toss six or seven times until dressing is well combined and every leaf is coated.  Add croutons.  Serve immediately.

Pasta Primavera

Ingredients:

1 lb Italian style spaghetti
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
1 ½ cup snow peas (can use frozen)
1 cup baby peas (can use frozen)
6 asparagus sliced in 1″ pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 (16 oz) can peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (can sub 1/8 cup if using dried)
2 tsp minced garlic
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
¹⁄³ cup butter
1 cup heavy cream (can sub low-fat milk)
¹⁄³ cup fresh, chopped basil

Preparation:

Cook pasta in large pot boiling water.

Briefly cook the green vegetables and mushrooms in water (or steam).  When crisp tender, refresh by running under cold water.  In large frying pan heated to medium, sauté tomatoes and parsley in olive oil.  Add all of the vegetables and simmer until heated through.

Add cooked pasta, cheese, cream, butter, and basil.  Toss to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, with chilled Caesar salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Fume Blanc
Grüner Veltliner
Muscadet
Sauvignon Blanc

Both recipes serve 6

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera


Sausage “Alfredo”

For some reason I’m drawn to the dishes that are a play or rip-off of other dishes.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I feel like this play-on-another-dish is an underdog and I kind of feel like Robin Hood, giving that dish a chance.  Or I could feel a little like Peter Pan, with the dishes that never want to grow up and be the big, bold dish it could have been.  No, stay, play, have fun!  Or, maybe it’s just that these dishes are easier than the actual dish.  Ya, I have to go with that last one.  As much as I’d like to be Robin Hood or Peter Pan, I just don’t look good in tights.  

Ingredients:

1 Pkg Hillshire Farm smoked sausage
12 oz cooked pasta, drained
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 Tsp garlic salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pt cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups frozen peas

Preparation:

Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

While preparing pasta, cut sausage in ½” – 1″ thick slices.  Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium – high heat.  Sauté sausage for about 5 minutes, until crispy.  Drain any grease.  Add cream, Italian seasoning, and garlic salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Add tomatoes and peas. Simmer 4-5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken.

Stir in Parmesan and add to pasta.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Semillon
White Burgundy

Serves 6 – 8

Total time: 30 minutes

Sausage "Alfredo"

Sausage “Alfredo”

*Derived from: Hillshire Farms

Honey Soy Roasted Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are so easy to work with.  And always are juicy.  I always make sure I’ve got a ready supply in my freezer.  And this is easily one of those “what do I make tonight?” recipes.  If you plan ahead, you can marinate these in the refrigerator while you are toiling away in the office, or you can simply marinate them when you get home and are getting the sides ready.  This recipe is so versatile, you can easily serve with either rice or potatoes.  A green salad.  Maybe a veggie or two, and I’d call it dinner!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
5 Tbs honey
4 cloves garlic minced (time-saving tip: use pre-minced, such as Spice World)
½ tsp ground ginger (time-saving tip: use ginger paste, such as Gourmet Garden)
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 Lbs chicken thighs (feel free to sub your preferred chicken meat)
Salt to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.  Mix everything, except the chicken, in a large zip lock bag.  Add chicken, be sure to mix it around in the bag so each piece is thoroughly coated.  Place bag in the refrigerator until ready to cook (this can either be all day while at work, or simply while getting the rest of the dinner going.  I did not marinate mine all day and it was still wonderful!)

When ready to cook, coat baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Place chicken, skin side up, in baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.  Turn chicken over and continue to cook additional 15 minutes.  Turn chicken once more to skin side up and bake a remaining 10 minutes, to crisp the skin.  Serve with either potatoes or rice.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Pinot Gris / Pinto Grigio
Pinto Noir
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 6

Total cook time: About an hour

Honey Soy Roasted Chicken

Honey Soy Roasted Chicken

*Courtesy: shewearsmanyhats.com