Posts tagged ‘dinner’

Sicilian Style Meatballs

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I make meatballs different than everyone else.  This is something I didn’t realize until watching a few cooking shows and reading recipes about how meatballs are made.  Apparently, the traditional way to cook meatballs is in the oven – you bake them.

Bake them? Really? That confused me.  Never in my life have I had a home-made baked meatball. It simply isn’t done in my family.  We ball those little suckers up and throw them in pot of bubbling,from-scratch red sauce.  That way the  the gorgeous juices, spices and extra meaty bits give the sauce an extra layer of flavor.

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On my mother’s side I come from a strong Sicilian background.  My great-grandparents immigrated from Sicily to Brooklyn, New York.  They were very traditional and my great-grandmother  loved to cook.  She passed down a lot of her recipes to my grandmother who passed them to my mother who passed them down to me…well kind of.

More, my mother was a great cook when she had time to fire up the burners in the kitchen.  As my sisters and I got older and had our own kids we started asking about how to make certain family dishes. I have taken many of those recipes and made them my own including these (not baked but boiled in sauce) meatballs.

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This hearty recipe is really very simple and packs a lot of bold taste.  I would recommend making a pot of red sauce from scratch if you have the time.  However, in a pinch you can use a bottle or two of the store-bought stuff.  Keep it simple –no fancy frills.  A vegetable-based spaghetti sauce will do the trick (e.g. basil/tomato, mushroom, tomato/onion, etc.)

This recipes makes a lot of meatballs.  Feel free to freeze half of them and use them at a later date.  They do hold up quite nicely.  Or you can cook them all in a double batch of sauce and make meatball subs with the left overs.  Or sprinkle some cheese on them and eat them by themselves in the sauce. They are that good.

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Sicilian Style Meatballs

I eyeball my ingredients.  So, these are rough estimates.  Use more or use less if you feel it’s right.  Make this recipe yours…and as always, let me know how it goes.

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

2 eggs

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup ground Parmesan cheese

a handful of freshly chopped Italian parsley

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

a tsp of an Italian herb blend (no salt)

a dash of salt (remember the Parmesan is salty so don’t add too much)

a dash of red pepper

1/2 to 1 cup water or broth

Scratch Red Sauce or 2 bottles of store-bought

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Make sure your red sauce is in a big pot simmering on a low heat.  The pot should only be about halfway filled since the meatballs are going to take up the rest of the room.

Throw all the ingredients in a big bowl. If you aren’t squeamish wash your hands and then squish all the ingredients together. Or if you don’t want to get messy do the best you can with a mixing instrument.  Go ahead and add more cheese, parsley, or spices if you need to.  Just make sure everything is well blended.

Once your meat and ingredients are thoroughly mixed, wash your hands again.  Then take a small amount of the meat mixture and ball it up between your palms.  They should be about the size of a golf ball.  Remember when you cook them they are going to shrink a little bit.

 Place your uncooked meatball on a flat surface like a cookie tray.  Or put down some parchment on your counter top and place them there.  Continue to roll meatballs between your palms until all the meat mixture is gone.  Then gently drop the meatballs in your red sauce, one at a time.  (As you can see from my picture I am messy.  I got sauce all over the back of my stove. lol.)

Make sure that all of your meatballs are covered with sauce.  If your meatballs aren’t fully covered then add some water or broth until they are.  It shouldn’t be more than a 1/2 of liquid as you don’t want thin out your sauce too much.

Cover the sauce and meatballs and let simmer for about an hour.  Watch your meatballs and stir the sauce very gently (you don’t want your meatballs to break up) 2-3 times to make sure that they are cooking evenly. At the half way point you can add a little bit of water or broth to your sauce if it gets too thick.  However, it shouldn’t if it’s on low heat and simmering.

Enjoy!

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Flavorful, Crunchy Fried Chicken

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My other half LOVES fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  Those are his two favorite foods and if he had it his way that’s all we would eat.  I was not a big fan of fried chicken when the bf and I first got together because beyond the crunchy goodness of the coated skin, usually, there is no real flavor in the meat.   Besides that, it always seemed so greasy and messy.   I love messy when it comes to ribs or desserts or even pizza but not when it comes to greasy.  Greasy is just yucky.

It gives me great pleasure to cook for my family.  I love the look on their faces when they taste something they believe is exceptional.   So, I made up my mind to find the perfect friend chicken recipe; something that was flavorful with every single bite and was also crunchy and not too greasy.  After researching and experimenting here is my recipe/technique for cooking super flavorful, crunchy and not-too-greasy fried chicken.

The trick is letting the chicken marinate before-hand to get some really good flavor.  The rest is fairly easy and straight-forward.  I do not use the typical egg/milk-double-dip method because this chicken doesn’t need it.   I have tried both ways and found this way tastes better and is a lot less messy.  The marinade wets the chicken enough and gives it a good flavor.  While the  skin is still crispy and crunchy from the shake method I use below.

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Flavorful, Crunchy Fried Chicken

12-15 pieces of chicken (legs, wings, and thighs preferred since they are uniform in size)

1 bottle of Buffalo Wing Sauce or Red Hot Sauce (whichever you prefer)

Cajun seasoning

1-2 cups flour

Put all of your chicken in a big bowl.  Pour the wing sauce/hot sauce over the chicken until it is well-coated. (It depends on how big the bottle is but I usually use about half.  Make sure there is liquid at the bottom of the bowl.)   Then sprinkle the chicken with Cajun seasoning.  Stir until all pieces are evenly coated with sauce and seasoning.  Cover bowl and marinade the chicken in the fridge for at least 24 hour (48 hours is preferred.)

Heat  about 2-3 inches of oil in a frying pan.  Take the chicken out of the fridge.  Stir it one more time making sure that all the chicken pieces are wet with the hot sauce marinade.  If there isn’t enough liquid add some more sauce.

Put the flour in a bowl and add about 1 tsp of Cajun seasoning into the flour.  Stir it to make sure that the seasoning is well distributed.

Take your flour and put it in a plastic bag.  I like to use the ones I get from the grocery store (double bagged) or you can use a large freezer bag.  Put 3-4 pieces of chicken in the bag (depending on how big your pan is. I do 3 at time.) and shake them until they are well coated.

When the oil is hot enough (drop a pinch of flour in the oil. If it sizzles it’s ready.) place the pieces of chicken into the pan.  Cook the chicken until the breading is a dark, golden brown.  Every few minutes turn the chicken so that it doesn’t burn on either side.  The chicken should be done in about 15 minutes of cooking time.  Place finished chicken on a paper bag or a few paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Repeat the process until all the chicken is cooked.

Enjoy!

Grilled Steak with a Mushroom, Onion and Bleu Cheese Sauce

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The other half and my nephew don’t like bleu cheese.  They think it’s stinky and tastes funny.  They also dislike horseradish.  These are two of my favorite things especially slathered on a steak and accompanied by a drizzling of steak sauce.  The marriage of pungent, spicy and smoky-sweet make my taste buds tingle.

When I saw this Grilled Rib Eye with Onion Bleu Cheese Sauce  recipe my mouth started to water and I knew instantly that I wanted to try it.  However, there were two obstacles in my path.  The first being that the other people in the house don’t like bleu cheese.  The second being that I am not on a rib eye budget at the moment.

Still, I can afford sirloin.  So, I figured if I tweaked the recipe a little bit and made it more friendly to the the bleu cheese loathers in my way I could, essentially, have my steak and eat it too.

Everyone in the house loves mushrooms.  In the past I have used a mushroom-based sauce for a contemporary Salisbury steak that everyone enjoyed.  So, the idea was to take something familiar and tang it up with a little bit of bleu cheese.  Kind of trick the family into trying something new by putting it into something they have already tested and approved.

Here is my adaption of the recipe.  And by the way, everyone loved it and said they would eat it again.  Even my brother ate it.  He asked what the tang was in the sauce and guessed it was lemon. When I told him it was bleu cheese he looked at me funny because he apparently dislikes the stuff, too.  That didn’t stop him from licking the plate, though.

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Grilled Steak with a Mushroom, Onion and Bleu Cheese Sauce

4-6 small sirloin steaks (about 5 ounces each.) Or you can use whatever you have on hand.  If they are bigger steaks just cut them in half.

1 can Progresso Creamy Portabella Mushroom Recipe Starter

1 cup milk

1 package mushrooms, sliced

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup bleu cheese

1 stick butter (4 Tbsp)

2 Tbsp bacon bits or real crumbled bacon

McCormick garlic pepper seasoning grinder (or any garlic pepper seasoning to taste)

McCormick steak house seasoning  grinder (or any steak house seasoning to taste)

pinch of red pepper (about 1/4 tsp)

 

In a pan on medium heat, add the butter and let melt down, then add the mushrooms and onions.  Saute the mushrooms and onions until they are soft.

While the onions and mushrooms are cooking in the pan.  Grill your steaks.  I used our Foreman grill but you can easily use a grill pan or a cast iron pan.  Season your meat to taste.  Let rest for five minutes.

While the steak is resting, add the milk to the sauce and stir everything together.  Lower the heat.  Add bacon bits.  Add garlic pepper and steak house seasonings to taste.  Then stir in the bleu cheese until it melts into the sauce.  Next, add the can of mushroom sauce and pinch of red pepper.  Stir the sauce letting everything meld together.  Add more seasoning if needed.

Put the steak on a plate and spoon liberal amounts of sauce over the top. Enjoy!