Archive for ‘Dinner’

January 31, 2011

Classic Shrimp and Tomatoes

Ok so I found a recipe on Dinner: A Love Story (the “Love Story”) site and it’s pretty simple and easy. A Greek style dish with sweet shrimp and tart tomatoes and lemon. But it triggered an idea – I have a book called The Olive and the Caper (the “Caper”) written by Susanna Hoffman, who wrote her book after over thirty years of extended stays in Greece and learning from local cooks, fishermen, bakers and housewives. Not only does she explore recipes and the food, but there is some great background on Greece, the food and culture. I do love this book!

On with my point now, I know. While reading the recipe I thought I should check the Caper, for I knew it was likely there would be something similar! Alas! I was right! Classic Shrimp and Tomatoes. Well the Caper recipe included dill – which I had none of, because I planned for the Love Story version. The Caper version called for wine and tomato paste. So I clashed the two and went on my way…

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I know some of you out there do not like capers (Kim!) but don’t run away just yet – use lemon juice instead to get the tanginess.

1lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon olive oil

1- 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 /2 onion very finely diced

1 tablespoon capers and the juice (or lemon juice)

1/4 cup white wine

1 teaspoon dried oregano (neither recipe called for this, but it’s very Greek)

Kosher salt

2 cranks freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400°

 In an oven safe skillet (no nonstick pans) sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil a few minutes until it becomes fragrant. Add wine and sauté for about a minute then add the drained tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, and capers and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp and get them down into the sauce. Cook about 3 minutes, stir and crumble feta on top of the sauce. Bake until the cheese has melted about three minutes.

Top with 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley. Serve with some crusty bread or over penne pasta.

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Takes very little time – this is a great weeknight dinner – I have added it to my regular dinner list.

January 25, 2011

Asian Pork Noodle Soup

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So my kitchen organization and keeping items on hand in the freezer has really paid off! When, on Sunday, my chicken was unuseable, I had to readjust my weekly menu plan. Chicken Noodle Soup was on my list to use up the left over roasted chicken, so that had to be changed too. On Monday we ate the Cornflake Crusted Chicken Tenders. Tonight I pulled out some left over Roasted Pork Shoulder that was in the freezer.  When it comes to pork in soup, I just feel it should be with Asian flavors. So I decided to make it Asian Noodle Soup instead of Chicken Noodle Soup.

Some time ago I made an Asian pork soup soup, and regrettably I didn’t write the recipe down.  So I winged it tonight and took notes. This list of ingredients may sound long, but don’t get discouraged the soup comes together really fast! I would have liked to add cabbage to this soup too, so if you have it, shred some up and toss it in – it’s good!

2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Kikkoman Noodle Soup Base
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups cooked shredded pork shoulder
1 – package of ramen noodles
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Dice celery, onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook this mixture on medium heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Stir often so the onions and garlic don’t burn.

Stir in the sesame oil, Sriracha, broth, soup base, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and let boil 5 minutes. Then add the noodles and cook 3 minutes or so.

Garnish with thinly sliced green onion and chopped cilantro.

January 25, 2011

Cornflake Crusted Chicken Tenders

So my dinner menu had to be changed a bit this week – the whole chicken I bought was no good. My garage fridge may have had something to do with it. So I am going to have to push out the chicken noodle soup to later in the week. For tonight I made the cornflake chicken strips (pictured below with garlic potato wedges).

Most often to get crispy chicken strips, they are fried and unhealthy, and while they are oh so good, they aren’t something you can eat all that often. And any you buy in the store, or even at restaurants,  are full of preservatives or pressed chicken – ick! But it is probably one of the things most kids opt for when out to dinner. I know chicken strips are one of my daughter’s favorites so I knew I wanted to make a good crunchy homemade version, full of flavor and not bland covered in flour that is not well seasoned.  Cornflakes are a great coating for chicken and keep crunchy when you bake them.   As with fried chicken season the coating generously with spices and salt and pepper, otherwise your coating will be bland.

1 pound of chicken breasts or tenders
1/3 c. parmesan
1 1/2 c. finely crushed plain cornflakes cereal (or ½ c. bread crumbs and ½ c. cornmeal)
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
2 eggs
4T. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

Put the cornflakes in a plastic bag and press out all the air and seal the bag. Then toss the bag on the floor and step on it until the flakes are good and crushed (you can use a rolling pin or food processor too). Mix together the flakes, flour, onion and garlic powder and season generously with salt and pepper.

Mix butter and eggs. Slice chicken breasts into thin slices (or using tenders) and coat with the egg mixture then dip the chicken in the cornflake mixture.

Place the chicken on the baking sheet and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

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January 19, 2011

Pan Roasted Pork Saltimbocca

Thomas Keller’s book Ad Hoc at Home is a great book for home cooks who really want to go above and beyond cooking just to eat. You don’t find the complexity from Keller you would anticipate. I was impressed to see Keller is down to earth and not so engulfed in his executive chef status and he can relate to those of us at home. Basic techniques every chef – home or professional should know, are shared in the book. It’s a great book (seems that has been my thing lately – books! So here is a recipe using one of those “basics” Pan Roasting! And this a weeknight friendly meal.

Pan roasting uses two techniques – sautéing and roasting. This technique is good for cooking a thicker piece of meat in a shorter amount of time (sounds to me like a fantastic weeknight cooking method!).   Searing the meat seals in the moisture and finishing it off in the oven cooks the meat the rest of the way through, more evenly than pan frying would.

2T Canola oil  (Canola oil has a higher smoking point than veggie oil and olive oil and flavor is mild)
Thick cut pork chops

For each Chop (1 chop per person):
1 slice of prosciutto, 1 sage leaf and a 1 inch slice of Fontina cheese 1/4 of an inch thick, or a larger thinly sliced piece.

Sauce– 2 chops double for 4 chops 
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1T flour
1tsp white wine vinegar
pat of butter

(You can make a balsamic vinegar sauce instead, omit the cream and white wine and just use the pan drippings, and balsamic vinegar, butter, salt and pepper – simmer the chops in the sauce – pictured below).

Set out pork chops and salt and pepper on both sides. Let sit for 30 minutes before cooking while heating the oven to 350°.

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Slice a 1 inch slit in the fat side of the chop. Keeping the opening only about an inch, use a small sharp knife to cut a pocket inside the chop, big enough to hold the stuffing.

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Roll up cheese and sage in the prosciutto and stuff the rolls into the pocket.

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Heat the canola oil in a sauté pan (oven safe no nonstick or plastic parts) over medium high heat until the oil is good and hot. Sear the chops on all sides about 3-4 minutes each side until you have some nice sear action on your chops.

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Finish the chops off in the oven for 10-15 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 170° (well) 165°(medium well).

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Remove the chops from the sauté pan and cover with foil. Add the wine to the sauté pan and reduce. Add cream, vinegar, salt and pepper. Finish off with a pat of butter. Place the chops over noodles or rice with roasted asparagus, drizzle sauce over chops and asparagus and finish off with some coarse sea salt.

If that doesn’t make your mouth water, I’m not sure what will…

January 19, 2011

Apple Goat Cheese Salad

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This is one of my favorites – I use it all the time for a dinner side salad.

1/2 apple
1/2 head of romaine lettuce
cucumber
tomato
1/4 cup goat cheese

Clean, dry then chop lettuce. Slice cucumbers into half-moons. Slice tomatoes into strips and apples into matchsticks. Sprinkle goat cheese. When ready to serve, toss the salad and dressing.

Vinaigrette

(I don’t measure the ingredients so these are estimates)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing emulsifies.

January 12, 2011

Beef Bourguignon (#1)

To continue with my “Making it with Your Own Hands” goal, here is a recipe that is a good weekend dinner, and is excellent to freeze the leftovers for quick a weeknight meal. In the Basil-Garlic Bread post I mentioned I purchased a Tyler Florence book – Stirring the Pot, which inspired me to become more organized. The thing that intrigued me the most about the book is the suggestion to use a freezer to the fullest, rather than it being a graveyard of freezer burned foods that go to waste in the end.

You know, I always liked the idea of buying in bulk to save money and trips to the grocery store. But it always seems I forget to “thaw” something for dinner and I end up looking in the freezer, walking away and deciding to go get something from the store when I have perfectly good food at home! On top of that, the only beef I will freeze is ground beef because steaks and other cuts have a different flavor after freezing/thawing that I don’t care for. Which Florence has some advice  in his book about freezing meat, and it becomes very apparent to me why I don’t like frozen beef. (Note, I’m not saying you shouldn’t freeze for bulk it just doesn’t work for me. I do freeze whole chickens and pork ribs that are vacuum packed and they seem to work just the same).

Florence suggests:
Beef = 1 week
Whole chicken = 1 month

Food Safety rules (USDA online)
Beef = 4-12 months
Ground Beef = 3-4 months
Whole Poultry = 12 months
Chicken Pieces = 9 months

Florence’s advice is not for safety reasons, but for quality purposes! Think fresh food, not a year old chicken with ice crystals!

Freezer burn is when food dries out. The moisture from inside the food is squeezed out during the freezing process and forms ice crystals – so food is dehydrated during freezing. Makes sense now! Sauces, cooked vegetables, and other prepared meat dishes hold up well the in the freezer. Especially foods with sauces are ideal because there is plenty of moisture in sauce, so the food doesn’t dry out as fast. This is exactly the type of information I want to put to use and share with you. The only problem with Florence’s book is that he doesn’t really dive into that idea – he only touches on it at the beginning and leaves you wanting more ideas…(we I did anyway).

As I mentioned before, I like to cook new things on the weekend – when I have time to spend three hours or more on Beef Bourguignon, or a few hours to roast a whole chicken. On New Year’s weekend I made Ham and Beans and Beef Bourguignon. There was so much left over I was able to add some to the freezer for future dinners. So I saved two bags of Ham and Beans and one of Beef Bourguignon – with enough to make one dinner for both my daughter and I out of each bag. Tonight we took out the Beef Bourguignon, and it was just as good as the first round. Stews have sauces so they freeze well and because there are no potatoes in the Bourguignon it’s a good stew to freeze your left over – or make extra to freeze for another dinner.

You can always add the potatoes the day you reheat a dish. While this recipe is really great, I must say I still have to try Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon to really “test” this recipe. But for now this still is a really great recipe, I like the flavor of the rosemary with beefiness of this meal (that is not in Childs’s recipe).

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Served with parmesan mashed potatoes and peas

(tylerflorence.com)

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 bacon slices, cut into 3-inch strips
  • 4 pounds beef chuck or round, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Cognac (Brandy)
  • 1/2 bottle dry red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 5 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • Bouquet garni (2 fresh rosemary sprigs, 8 fresh thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, tied together with kitchen twine or tied in cheesecloth)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 3 cups blanched and peeled pearl onions
  • Pinch sugar
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish

Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat; drizzle with a 1/2-count of oil. Fry the bacon until crisp and then remove it to a paper towel; you’ll crumble it at the end and use it for garnish. Dry each piece of beef on a paper towel then add the beef to the pot in batches. Fry the cubes in the bacon fat until evenly browned on all sides; turn with tongs. Season with salt and pepper. (Don’t skimp on this step—it’s key.)

After the meat is browned, put it all back in the pot. Sprinkle the flour over the meat; then stir to make sure the beef is well coated and there are no flour lumps. Pour in the Cognac and stir to scrape up the flavorful bits in the bottom of the pan. Cook and stir to evaporate the alcohol. Pour in the red wine and beef broth; then add the tomato paste and bouquet garni. Stir everything together and bring the pot up to a simmer. Cook until the liquid starts to thicken and has the consistency of a sauce; this should take about 15 minutes. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.

Uncover the pot and add the garlic, pearl onions, and mushrooms, along with the pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes longer, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Remove the bouquet garni and then stir in the butter to finish up the sauce. Shower with chopped parsley and the reserved crumbled bacon before serving. Deep and rich flavor!

January 5, 2011

Making it with Your Own Hands

As a single mother, working full-time and having a 30-minute commute home each weeknight, my biggest challenge is making dinners that are ready before 8pm. I can see why there is so much popularity with pre-made foods and eating at fast-food establishments. On top of a full work day, there are errands to run and children’s activities to take care of. By the time all that is done, what energy is left for cooking a homemade meal? Yeah sounds daunting! (Oh wait! You still have to make a lunch for everyone for the next day).

Thinking all this over, and realizing that I have been spoiled over the past 4 years – my sitter has been my sister-in-law and she has provided lunches for my daughter, I realize that it’s about to get tougher!

The challenge we all have with making homemade meals is the misconception that it is more time consuming and more expensive. I spend much less money on food when I make it at home, than I do going out to eat dinner every night. (I am not saying do not ever eat out – because that is ridiculous and it is a lot of fun to try new restaurants or to visit your favorites! Just don’t make it an everyday habit.) On top of saving money you end up eating healthier because now you are in control of the fat, salt, fiber etc… that is in your food. With a little organization and a well-stocked pantry, the goal is more attainable and your misconceptions start to melt away! (I’m a huge fan of organization, by the way, and actually I thrive on it).

Each year I set “culinary goals” for myself (last years was this blog in fact), and with the changes coming up this year, I decided I want to get myself and my kitchen better organized. I want more than half of my weekly meals to be homemade. Meaning I need to find a way to have homemade meals at my fingertips.

Some initial ideas off the top of my head …freezer friendly meals/food, weekly meal planning, creating menus, learning to better stock my pantry and fridge, waste less food, and collect or create recipes that are easy, fast, and fresh.

Also on my “culinary goals” list is to finally join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). With a CSA, you pay a local farmer at the beginning of the season (sometimes in combination with volunteering your time on the farm) and in exchange you get a weekly basket of fresh produce. Some farmers include eggs, while others offer packages that include meat. This all depends on where you live and what the farmers in your area offer. I am so excited about this because not only will I feel better about what my daughter eats, but I will also be challenged to cook and eat things I might not have otherwise chosen. Plus the money I pay goes to help support a local family farm, and in turn contributes to the health of the earth. Each Saturday I take my daughter to the Farmer’s Market; it’s actually something my daughter and I both look forward to doing (perhaps it’s the bounce house, but we do learn along the way). We have a good time and it is really neat to see so much of our community each week supporting the farmers and eating local!

If you have ever read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivores Dilemma you may know why I believe strongly in eating locally and sustainably. A local farm is more likely one that is “sustainable” and not using a bunch of chemicals to grow food. A sustainable farm has its own ecology – a farmer can feed the crop wastes to animals and then feed the animals’ waste to the crops and very little waste is put out into the environment causing pollution. Commercial farmers pump synthetic nitrogen into their crops to help pump out as much produce as possible. There is something about robbing the soil of all its ability to produce plants, flooding rivers with pollution from synthetic chemicals, affecting communities’ tap water and dead zones in the sea that makes me think industrial agriculture is not working as well as we once thought. If you have not read the The Omnivores Dilemma, I highly recommend the book. Reading this book has helped me to understand the whys of eating locally and sustainably, why it is good for our bodies and for our environment. (My personal opinion).

My, ever-changing, personal food philosophy is to make what I eat with my own hands, rather than out of a box or from a fast-food company.

So with all that said, here are my 2011 Food/Culinary Goals:

1. Organize!
2. Clean out and stock up!
3. Find ways to waste less food.
4. Create an arsenal of Go-To recipes for lunches and weeknight dinners to help save time. A restaurant has a menu, why not my kitchen!
5. Make more than half our weekly meals homemade.
6. Eat local, when I can.

Wish me luck – I’m open to all suggestions and information you may have, please share!

Here is one of my new favorite fast weeknight dinners to start off.

1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 shallot
½ box spaghetti noodles
1 can cannellini beans (or other white bean)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup shredded parmesan

(You could also use a can of garbanzo bean and roast them with the cauliflower to mix it up – roasted garbanzos are good!)

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Coat the cauliflower lightly in olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper.  Roast the cauliflower in a 450° oven for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile cook spaghetti noodles according to the package directions, reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water when you drain the noodles.

Put 2T. Olive oil in the pot and sauté the shallots for 2 minutes. Add the roasted cauliflower and sauté for another minute more.

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Drain a can of cannellini, or other white beans, and add the beans to the cauliflower. Add the noodles and pasta water. Add chopped parsley and stir to coat the pasta.

Serve with parmesan cheese and garlic bread.

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(Hopefully these are the last crummy weeknight photos that I have to use – I just ordered a lightscoop which will make it easier to take photos on weeknights when it’s dark and I don’t have natural light…)

Happy New Year everyone! Cheers!

 

December 14, 2010

Classic Bread Stuffing

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While Thanksgiving has come and gone, I still wanted to share this recipe, but I didn’t get the chance until now. This recipe is the one my mom always used, and she either got it from that 1960’s edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook, which is falling apart, or it’s the same recipe my grandma used to make (maybe both).

I am not sure about you, but when Thanksgiving comes around and I think Stuffing, I do not think about all those versions out there with nuts and meats and fruits. I think of plain ol’ classic bread stuffing with onions, carrots, celery and poultry seasonings. Plain and simple, but it is what my family and I like the best. Don’t get me wrong I like the other stuffing out there, but when it comes to Thanksgiving this is the only recipe I use.

1-2 loaves of bread (sourdough or French – I use a mix, the sourdough alone gets too tangy for me)
3T. poultry seasoning
1 large white onion
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1/2 stick of butter
salt and pepper
6 cups of chicken broth

  1. Cube or tear the bread, sprinkle 1T of poultry seasoning over the bread and allow the bread to dry out a day or two – tossing occasionally (so all pieces dry out).
  2. Dice the onion, celery and carrots (mirepoix).
  3. Melt butter in a large pan. Over medium heat, saute the veggies until the carrots are soft and the onion is translucent. Add salt and pepper and 1T poultry seasoning.
  4. Toss the mirepoix with the bread in a large bowl.
  5. Add remaining 1T of poultry seasoning to the broth.  Add 1/2 cup of the broth at a time to the stuffing (stirring between each addition). Continue doing this until the bread is sticky.
  6. Place in a large baking dish and bake 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Notes:

Bread – I use the loaves from the bakery, if the loaves of bread are large I use about 1 1/2 loaves.

Store bought “Poultry Seasoning” is a mixture of sage, thyme, marjoram, black pepper, and nutmeg (I do not know the ratios – McCormick’s doesn’t give that  secret out.

November 1, 2010

Pan Dripping Turkey Gravy

This recipe is a traditional type pan dripping gravy, with a twist. The turkey stock is made with roasted turkey wings to add depth to the stock. This gravy recipe is a collaboration of difference sources. I was watching Tyler Florence on Food Network one year and Tyler made gravy with a roasted turkey wing stock and I have made my stock for gravy with a roasted turkey wing stock ever since. Roasting wings is much easier than making an enitire roasted turkey or chicken. The wings have a lot of flavor so you will not miss out on using the entire bird. The base for my gravy I learned from my mom, which she learned from my grandmother. The milk idea I picked up from a friend one Thanksgiving and the brown gravy mix I have heard numerous people say they add to their gravy for added depth. So this recipe is a melting pot of tips and tricks I have picked up over the years. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8

Turkey Stock:

  • 2 Turkey Wings
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme
  • water
  • salt and pepper

Gravy:

  • pan drippings from roasted turkey
  • butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups turkey stock (see above)
  • 1 packet brown gravy mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Roast wings for 2 ½ hours.
  3. Chop onion, celery, carrots and sauté in butter.
  4. Add thyme bay leaf and wings (with drippings from the roasting pan). Cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim any foam and reduce the heat and simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours until the water reduces.
  5. Strain off the solids and cool the stock if you will freeze it, or use it right away.

Turkey Stock

  1. GRAVY:Once you remove your roasted turkey from the pan, place the whole roasting pan over the med-low heat on the stovetop (my roasting pan takes up two burners so I turn both on med-low heat). Or transfer the pan drippings to a pot.
  2. Once the pan drippings are bubbly add enough butter to make about ½ cup of fat. Whisk in the flour and cook stirring frequently about 2 minutes.
  3. Once the roux is golden brown whisk in the turkey stock, milk and gravy mix packet, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. (I add the milk to help cut the greasiness from the turkey drippings but keep the flavor of the drippings).
  4. Simmer until the gravy has thickened to your likeness, about 10 minutes.
I submitted this recipe for a contest with Food52 which all winners will be added to the Food 52 cookbook that results from the year of contests. As well as the chance to win some money to Williams Sonoma, and other gift packages from Viking cookeware, and OXO. Wish me luck! Hope you try this gravy this holiday season, it’s super good! I will be making my wing stock shortly!
October 3, 2010

Meatballs

Meatballs in Vodka Sauce

Homemade meatballs are pretty easy to make. I think people are intimidated thinking the process of cooking meatballs will be involved and take a long time. However, they are much easier and more approachable than you think!  Also, I just cannot bring myself to buy the frozen meatballs in the freezer section, they are filled with so many preservatives and high in sodium and probably start with highly processed meat. Unnecessary in my opinion, and homemade meatballs taste so much better! I’ve made these meatballs for sandwiches, fondue parties, spaghetti, ravioli. You can even use them for the sweet and spicy meatballs you see at potlucks, mix them with some barbeque sauce, or sweet and sour appetizer…the possibilities are endless!

 This recipe is easy enough for weeknight cooking with the indulgence of homemade comfort food!

1lb ground beef
1 lb mild Italian sausage (not in casings)
1T Herbs de Provence (or dried basil and oregano)
1 egg, beaten
½ c. bread, torn (can also use bread crumbs, finely crushed crackers)
¼ c heavy cream
¼ c. parmesan
1/8 t. nutmeg
S&P

TEAR up bread into small pieces and pour cream over bread. Meanwhile, crumble ground beef and sausage in a large bowl. Add herbs, bread, and parmesan. Whisk egg lightly and add. Toss meatball mixture to make sure ingredients are spread throughout meat.  Do not over work otherwise the meat will be tough.

PREHEAT oven 400 degrees.

ROLL meatballs into a bite-sized balls. Add to a cast iron skillet and brown all sides. Move skillet to oven and finish in the oven 15 min. (Can also place on a baking sheet if all the meatballs don’t fit in one pan or if you don’t have a oven safe skillet).

Serve as an appetizer with dipping sauce, or with pasta and an italian sauce sauce (Vodka Sauce).