Meatballs in Beef Gravy

I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl.  And gravy, well, that just puts it over the top for me!  Gravy makes everything that much better. Like bacon, or something being deep fried. You hear gravy and you just have to go with that option!  This is no exception to the rule. And sorry my friends, this just isn’t one of those healthy dishes. But I know you weren’t expecting that, what with “meatballs” and “gravy” in the name. So, let’s all sit back, ignore the calorie / fat content and just enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
1 small chopped onion (time saver: use frozen or pre-chopped in the produce section)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (time saver: buy the pre-sliced mushrooms in the produce section. Go with your favorite.)
5 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 pinch cayenne (I omitted because my kids are still getting used to spicy heat)
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce (this ingredient adds such a rich flavor to almost everything, even Checks mix!)
3 Tbs ketchup
2-4 tsp beef bouillon powder (I didn’t have the powder, so I used the jarred “Better than Bouillon”, you’ll want to go with the least amount as it tends to get salty)
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
kosher salt (option and to taste)

For Meatballs:

1 lb ground beef (mix what you like, chicken, turkey, pork)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbs minced garlic (time saver: buy the jarred minced garlic)
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup dried bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned to add more flavor)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan (or more, you can never have too much cheese)
1 1/2 tsp season salt (I use Lawry’s)
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp dried parsley flakes (such as Litehouse)

Preparation:

Mix all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Shape mixture into 1″ balls.

Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium-high heat (be sure to use a deep skillet to hold in the gravy with the meatballs). Add meatballs in two batches and brown until just about cooked through, turning frequently for even browning.

To skillet, with about 3 tbs of fat remaining, add onion and saute until softened, scrape any brown bits that have accumulated in the skillet.  Add mushrooms and cooking, stirring until softened.  Add flour, stir 1 minute.

Slowly add beef broth, bring to a boil whisking constantly until smooth, bubbly, and thickened. Add Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and black pepper; bring to a simmer.  Add beef bouillon powder or ‘Better than Bouillon’ and ketchup (can add more if desired).

Add meatballs and simmer, uncovered, 20-25 minutes.  Stir frequently. Season with salt to taste if needed.

At the end of cooking, stir in sour cream until combined and heated through.  Serve over mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves 4 medium portions

Total time: 1 hour

Serves4

Derived from: Kittencalskitchen / Food.com

Crispy Chicken Bites

You know how sometimes in life you just happen upon something and it turns out to be so amazing you are STILL talking about it?  Like the “Cowie” that I bought for my niece when she was two.  Cowie is a stuffed Precious Moments cow that I bought on the clearance table outside of a Hallmark store. I know I didn’t pay over $5 for him (if even that), and I had no idea the impact Cowie was going to have on Alyssa.  Lys immediately started carting Cowie everywhere with her.  I can’t tell you how many times my sister had to turn the car around because Lys had forgotten Cowie somewhere.  How Cowie was in Lys’s backpack through each and everyday as she navigated elementary and junior high school.  Well, Lys is now in high school.  I don’t think Cowie is still tucked away in her backpack, and I know that’s because my sister cannot repair Cowie anymore.  He’s too thread bear and been repaired too many times before.  So, Cowie rests at home now, waiting for the moment Lys will get home and hold him in her hand again. This recipe, admittedly somewhat less dramatic, is like that amazing purchase you make and can’t get over.  When I found this recipe, I read it, I rolled it around in my mind.  Thinking of ways to make it mine. This dinner was THE dinner of the week, if not the month!

Ingredients:

For the Sauce:

3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbs soy sauce (I always opt for low sodium)
2 Tbs barbecue sauce (check out Sweet Baby Ray’s Original)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water

For the Chicken:

1 lb boneless / skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup panko
Oil for frying

Preparation:

To make the Sauce:

Add all sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Set aside until the chicken is done.

To make the Chicken:

Add flour to a gallon Ziploc bag.  In a small, shallow dish (I usually use a Tupperware type dish), whisk eggs together.  In a second gallon Ziploc bag, add the panko.  To bread chicken, first add several pieces to the flour.  Shake your money-maker for all it’s worth!  Then dip the chicken in whisked eggs.  Finally, add chicken to panko Ziploc bag and again, shake it.

Add oil to a large, nonstick frying pan. Heat to medium high. Cook chicken in batches for 6-8 minutes or until golden and crispy. Chicken should be cooked through.

To Assemble:

Add cooked chicken back to pan and pour sauce over, coating chicken thoroughly.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Chenin Blanc
Fume Blanc
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 4 small portions. For lunch tomorrow, double the chicken and adjust everything else

Total time:  About an hour and half

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*Derived from Nora Rušev

Breakfast Pizza

This was another great “make ahead” meal for Tahoe.  One of the things I truly love about this recipe is its versatility.  Don’t like sausage?  Add more bacon.  Or just leave it out completely.  Not a fan of meat in general?  Remove the meat and add mushrooms and shredded potatoes.  You can even go “traditional” dinner pizza by adding Canadian Bacon and Pineapple for a Hawaiian theme.  Add some of the vegetable bounties of summer, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, etc.  Take any of your favorite omelets and, you guessed it, turn it into a breakfast pizza!

Ingredients:

10 slices of bacon
10 links pork sausage
12 eggs, beaten
2 (8 oz) refrigerated crescent roll dough (such as Pillsbury)
1/2 cup salsa (such as Muir Glen)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preparation:

Dice bacon and cook in a large skillet heated to medium-high, until browned.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool.

Remove sausage from casing.  Crumble sausage in same skillet used for bacon.  Cook until no longer pink in the center.  Transfer to plate with bacon to drain and cool.

Drain most of the grease from the skillet and return pan to medium heat.  Cook and stir eggs until scrambled.  Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Roll out crescent dough to cover bottom of 9×13 cookie sheet.  Bake dough until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Let dough cool.  Spread a layer of salsa onto baked dough; top with scrambled eggs.  Sprinkle crumbled bacon and sausage over eggs.  Top entire pizza with cheese.

Bake until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Cool, cut, and serve!

Serves: 8
Total time: 50 minutes

Breakfast Pizza

*Derived from AllRecipes.com

French Toast Muffins

When I first looked at this recipe, I was hesitant.  I’m not a pup anymore.  Remember when you could eat a huge cinnamon roll donut as a kid and be just fine until lunch?  Ya, me, too.  Try that now and I feel heavy and sick to my stomach.  Don’t even get me started on the feeling like a nap is imminent.  These are the reasons I had to pause.  But, I was making this ahead for Tahoe, so coupled with some eggs, if just might work.  And I dare say, it did!

Ingredients:

For muffins:

1 loaf French bread cut into 1/2″ cubes (challah is a great option here)
2 cups milk
6 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (such as Spice Island)

For streusel topping:

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

Preparation:

Spray a 12-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Cut bread into cubes and completely fill each well with bread.  In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.  Carefully pour mixture evenly over each muffin well, compressing the bread cubes to allow more liquid to be absorbed. Cover the tin with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 – 12 hours.  (I refrigerated 2-3 hours and they were still amazing!)

Preheat oven to 350° and prepare streusel topping.  In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and butter.  Use two forks or two knives to crumble mixture into coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle mixture evenly on muffins.

Bake muffins 20 – 25 minutes, or until tops are golden.  Let muffins cool about 5 minutes and serve warm.  These are great made ahead and then popped in the toaster oven.

Serves: 12 muffins
Total time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Serves-4.com

*Derived from The Pioneer Woman

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


Easy Fried Rice

There is not a lot that intimidates me, especially with cooking.  I view life as a “roll-up your sleeves and give it a try” ride.  This has translated very well to my cooking.  Sure, I’ve had my major flubs (#thoseareNOTsnickerdoodles, #omgthatshorrible), but it doesn’t stop me from trying new things or rejected things over again.  And then we come to fried rice.  I know, I know.  Fried rice?!?!  Really?  Fried rice??  You don’t say.  But, I come by my intimidation quite easily, I simply adore fried rice.  You know how you set someone up in your mind as just the end-all, be-all of X (insert talent here).  But you don’t want to actually meet Said Talent of X because what if they turn out to be a real jerk and forever change your opinion of them?  Well, that’s kind of how I feel about fried rice.  Now, before you attempt to cart me off in a straight jacket for a padded cell, let me explain.  I so adore fried rice that I was terrified of messing it up SO bad that it would be forever etched on my brain.  And I would never be able to go to OIC Bowl again and stare lovingly at my bowl of fried rice without images of how badly I ruined it.  So there you have it, rational or not.  This attempt, however, has turned it around for me.  I’ve concurred fried rice, and still love it!

Ingredients:

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded (uncooked) carrots
1 cup sliced green onions, divided
3 cups cooked rice
½ cup thawed frozen peas
¼ low sodium soy sauce

Preparation:

Spritz a large nonstick pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.  Add eggs, making sure to cover the bottom of the pan with the eggs.  When eggs start to set, break them into pieces and cook about 1 more minute, until cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Spritz pan 1 more time; when re-warmed, add carrots and all but 2 Tbs of green onions; sauté until carrots are crisp-tender; about 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in cooked rice, peas and soy cause; cook until heated through, stirring once or twice, about 1 minute.  Gently stir in cooked egg and remaining scallions; heat through.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Grüner Veltliner
Gewürztraminer
Riesling

Serves 6

Total time: 30 minutes

East Fried Rice

Easy Fried Rice

*Derived from Weight Watchers

Honey Walnut Prawns

I love Honey Walnut Prawns. I love them so much I even remember the first time I put one of the tasty morsels in my mouth, “Where have you been my whole life? Why have I not experienced you until now, my sweet little prawn?” Adding to the  mix, we are one prawn loving family. The only caveat is that some restaurants use too much mayonnaise. Maybe it’s because mayonnaise is relatively cheep. Maybe it’s because the chef of that particular establishment really likes mayonnaise. If I can taste the mayonnaise and have a conscience understanding that my prawn is dripping with it, I’m not likely to eat it. I can handle mayonnaise if I don’t put too much thought into it. This recipe does the Honey Walnut Prawn justice and makes me want to eat in more often!

Ingredients:

1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup walnut halves (I, as always, used what I had on hand which was walnut pieces. Daniela gave them a hearty thumbs up after they had cooled)
1 ½ tsp honey
1 ½ tsp condensed milk (personally, I think this is the secret ingredient. SSSHHHHHhhhhhhh)
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup cornstarch

Preparation:

Heat 1/2 cup water in small saucepan and bring to boil. Add sugar and stir constantly, until golden and thickened. Add walnuts and gently toss to combine. Transfer to parchment paper lined flat surface to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, honey, and condensed milk. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Season shrimp with salt and pepper to taste.  Dip shrimp into egg mixture, being sure each prawn is well-coated. With cornstarch in a ziplock bag, add shrimp and gently shake to coat.

Add 8-10 shrimp to the heated skillet at a time. Fry until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to paper towel lined plate.

When all shrimp are cooked, combine shrimp and honey mixture. Gently stir to coat completely. Serve immediately over steamed rice and topped with walnuts.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Blanc de Blanc
Chardonnay
Fume Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc
Viognier

Serves 4 (small portions)

Total time: 30 minutes

Honey Walnut Prawns

Honey Walnut Prawns

*Derived from Damn Delicious