• Meatballs

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    I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever made beef meatballs before (I make some mean turkey meatballs that I’ll post next time I make them), as that is usually something my husband and son do together. Since I’ve been doing most of the cooking lately, here’s my first attempt at pinning down my husband’s recipe. He’s more of a cook by feel cook, where I’m much more comfortable with a recipe.

    I consulted Lidia Bastianich’s cookbook to help determine how much breadcrumbs and salt etc., and after preparing my version, I learned a few things. The more fat the meat has the more fluffy the meatballs are, and the leaner the meat, the denser the meat is. I happen to like dense meatballs, so I used the 93% lean meat. I also think the more breadcrumbs you use the denser the meatball is too.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 pounds ground meat (I used 93% lean, but use less if you like fluffy meatballs)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 c. Italian seasoned bread crumbs (more bread crumbs you use, the denser the meatball. If you use less bread crumbs, be sure to add more salt, because the seasoned bread crumbs do have salt in them already)
    • 1/2 tsp. salt (use more if you use less than 1 cup of bread crumbs)
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese (we prefer pecorino romano)
    • 2 TBSP. Italian seasoning
    • 1.25 tsp. garlic powder
    • Flour
    • Olive oil for browning the meatballs
    • Sauce (we used 2-3 jars)
    • 1 lb. Pasta

    Directions:

    1. Combine all ingredients through garlic powder, until just combined, being careful not to over work the meat
    2. Put 1/2 cup or so of flour in a bowl
    3. Roll the meatballs to your desired size and then dredge them in the flour
    4. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat and brown the meatballs…they will not be fully cooked
    5. Once all the meatballs are browned, pour your favorite sauce into the pan. We use Ragu Traditional, and since we like sauce we used 2-3 jars of the sauce.
    6. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for a long time…until done. I actually simmered them for about 2 hours, and they were delicious.
    7. Serve over pasta or make meatball subs by putting the meatballs in a roll and melting some cheese over it.

    Meatballs:

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  • Chicken with Ginger and Lemon Grass

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    This recipe is from the best-ever Curry cookbook by Mridula Baljekar. We’ve prepared quite a few recipes from this cookbook, and they’ve all been quite good. Each recipe has not only a photo of the finished product but a few step-by-step photos.

    I really like the cookbook, but I have a few complaints. The first is that the recipe for the cover photo dish is not in the cookbook. I have checked numerous times, and it’s not there. The second is that sometimes the finished product photo isn’t exactly how the dish really looks. We got the cookbook at Costco, and that may explain some of the issues.

    I adapted this recipe for boneless chicken breasts. The finished product photo for this recipe makes the sauce look creamy. There’s nothing in the recipe, as written, that would give it creaminess. The sauce has great flavor, but was too watery for my taste, so I removed a few tablespoons of the sauce and mixed it with a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch, then I put the cornstarch mixture back into the pan, brining it up to a boil, and that lead to a more creamy sauce.

    We like this recipe, but if we make it again, I’ll add some veggies to the dish, and -s said “use more lemon grass.” -s also said “it’s good, but not craveable good.”

    I HATE fish sauce. Well that’s quite a bold statement. I don’t mind fish sauce when it’s in a dish prepared for me at a restaurant. I have a very sensitive sense of smell, and whenever I use fish sauce at home it nauseates me. The smell just lingers too, and I can’t stand it. So whenever a recipe calls for fish sauce I substitute soy sauce. I’m sure there’s a flavor component missing when I do this, but I’d rather miss the flavor than smell that awful smell!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. chicken breasts, sliced
    • 1 TBSP canola oil
    • 3/4 inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 inch piece lemon grass, shredded
    • 2/3 cup chicken stock
    • 1 TBSP soy sauce
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 2 oz. peanuts
    • 2 green onions, sliced
    • zest of one orange
    • Rice: I put the zest of one lemon in the rice while it cooked

    Directions:

    1. Slice the chicken
    2. Heat oil in a wok or large pan. Add the chicken, ginger, garlic, chilli and lemon grass and cook until nearly cooked.
    3. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, sugar, salt and lemon juice.
    4. Let mixture simmer until cooked
    5. Serve over hot rice and sprinkle with peanuts, green onion and orange zest

    Chicken with Ginger and Lemon Grass:

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    best-ever Curry cookbook:

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  • Chex Muddy Buddies

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    This recipe comes straight from the Rice Chex cereal box. Quick and yummy is the name of the game.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter
    • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 9 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
    • 1.5 cups powdered sugar

    Directions:

    1. Into a large bowl, measure cereal; set aside
    2. In a 1 quart saucepan, heat choclate chips, peanut butter and butter over low heat, stirring frequently, until melted
    3. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
    4. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
    5. Pour into 2-gallon food-storage plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated.
    6. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

    Chex Muddy Buddies:

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  • Grilled Flatbreads with Tomatoes and Basil

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    This recipe comes from the July 2005 issue of Cooking Light. We made this back in 2005 and just made it again. Since we were having the flatbreads as our main course, I felt that the recipe needed just a little help. The big change I made to the recipe this time around is that I added fresh mozzarella cheese, which really put this recipe over the top. It’s exceptionally tasty!!!

    The faltbreads would work really well with hummus or any time you would use fresh pitas.  The flatbread is much better than any store purchased pita bread!

    Ingredients for Flatbreads:

    • 2.25 cups bread flour, divided
    • 3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP warm water (100 to 110 degrees), divided
    • 1 package dry yeast
    • 1 TBSP olive oil
    • 3/4 tsp. salt
    • 1 TBSP bread flour

    Topping:

    • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
    • 1 TBSP olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 4 cups sliced tomatoes (I used grape and cherry tomatoes)
    • 1 cup finely chopped basil
    • fresh mozzarella, sliced

    Directions:

    1. Lightly spoon four into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup water and yest in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; let stand 30 minutes. Stir in 2 cups flour, remaining 1/2 cup water, 1 TBSP oil and 3/4 tsp salt. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; sprinkle with 1 TBSP flour (dough will feel slightly tacky). Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). You may need to add a small amount of water to your dough, depending on the weather conditions.
    2. Place dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
    3. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
    4. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each portion into a 6 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough circles on a grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill 2 minutes on each side or until golden and crisp.
    5. To prepare topping, combine the vinegar, 1 TBSP oil, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and garlic in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add tomatoes and toss gently to coat.
    6. On each grilled flatbread, place fresh mozzarella, a 1/2 cup of tomato mixture, and 2 TBSP of the fresh basil.

    Grilled Flatbreads with Tomatoes and Basil:

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  • Balsamic BBQ Sauce

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    This recipe is courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis and is located at foodnetwork.com. It’s very good, and the sauce can be used for either chicken or beef. We grilled chicken tonight, but in the next few nights we’ll use the remaining sauce and grill some beef. The sauce is sweet, tangy, and rich which I really like. Even though there’s ketchup in the sauce it’s not a ketchup-y sauce. It’s incredibly easy to make, and we’ll definitely make this one again.

    I liked the spicy cucumber salad from last night so much that I made another batch of the salad to serve with the chicken along with some grilled zucchini.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 3/4 cup ketchup
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper

    Directions:

    1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
    2. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 12-20 minutes.
    3. Reserve some sauce for table side sauce.
    4. Grill meat, basting with the sauce.

    Balsamic BBQ Sauce:

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  • Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce and Spicy Cucumber Salad

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    This recipe comes from the July 2005 issue of Cooking Light. We made this recipe right when we got the issue back in 2005, and after tonight’s dinner the family said “we should have this more often.” It’s super tasty, easy to make, and is great on a hot summer day. You can easily adapt this recipe for vegetarians by substituting tofu for the chicken, and I imagine using beef would be quite tasty too. You can also double the sauce recipe if your or family likes sauce.

    The accompanying spicy cucumber salad is fresh and light tasting, and like the sate is excellent. I served the sate and salad with rice noodles, but you can use rice or leave the starch out completely. After we finished dinner I had some of the dressing from the salad on my plate and I mixed it with the noodles, then put some of the peanut sauce on top and it was superb. We all liked the extra punch the cucumber dressing gave the peanut sauce, so the next time I prepare this recipe, once the salad is made, I’m going to put some of the dressing into the peanut sauce. Try it, and I guarantee you’ll like the addition to the peanut sauce.

    This recipe used wooden skewers, and I soaked them in water for over 1 hour, which is supposed to prevent the skewers from burning. They still burned, so next time it’s back to the old standby…metal skewers.

    Sate:

    • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
    • 1 TBSP brown sugar
    • 2.5 TBSP soy sauce
    • 2 TBSP ginger, minced
    • 1 tsp. grated lime rind
    • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced

    Directions for Sate:

    1. Combine chicken and next 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.

    Peanut Sauce:

    • 1 TBSP brown sugar
    • 1.5 TBSP soy sauce
    • 2 TBSP natural-style peanut butter
    • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
    • 1 garlic clove, minced

    Directions for Peanut Sauce and Chicken:

    1. Combine 1 TBSP brown sugar and the next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves.

    2. Thread chicken strips onto skewers. Grill until chicken is done.

    Spicy Cucumber Salad:

    • 1/2 c. rice vinegar
    • 1 TBSP sugar
    • 1 TBSP minced seeded jalapeno pepper
    • 1 tsp. grated lime rind

    Combine above ingredients in a large bowl, then add the following ingredients and toss to coat

    • 3 cups thinly sliced English cucumber
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

    Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce and Spicy Cucumber Salad:
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  • East-West Flank Steak

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    This recipe comes from Southern Living, but I’m not positive about the year published…I think it was April 2004. The flavors of the steak are excellent. The steak should marinate at least 8 hours in the fridge, but we usually do an over night marinade. It’s really easy to prepare and cook, and it’s perfect for those hot summer nights. Serve the steak with some grilled zucchini or veggies of your choice. The important thing to keep in mind when slicing flank steak is to slice against the grain, because if you slice with the grain, you will have stringy shoe leather meat.

    The leftovers work great as a topper for salads, tacos, and even a steak and egg dinner. We’ve prepared this recipe numerous times, and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 2 TBSP brown sugar
    • 2 TBSP lime juice
    • 1 TBSP grated fresh ginger
    • 1 tsp. dried crushed red pepepr
    • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 4 green onion, finely chopped
    • 1 (2 pound) flank steak, trimmed

    Directions:

    1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a shallow dish or large zip-top freezer bag; add steak. Cover or seal, and chill 8 hours, turning occasionally.
    2. Remove steak from marinade, discarding marinade.
    3. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes; cut into thein slices diagonally across the grain.

    East-West Flank Steak:

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  • Pasta Salad With Grilled Veggies

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    With the remaining fresh veggies and herbs from our purchase at the market, I decided to make a pasta salad with grilled veggies. It turned out really well, and it was great as a light dinner on a hot summer day. I made a homemade vinaigrette that went really well with the grilled veggies. The veggies I used were the ones we had in our fridge, but don’t let that limit your creativity…use whatever you have and whatever you enjoy!

    Ingredients:

    • 1-2 large cloves of garlic, smashed with the back of the knife, turning garlic into a paste
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • 2 TBSP fresh basil, chiffonade
    • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
    • 1/2 c. canola or veggie oil
    • 1/2 tsp. sugar or to taste
    • 1 lb. pasta of your choice
    • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella or feta cheese
    • Grilled veggies: zucchini, yellow squash, onion, eggplant, sliced and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper
    • Basil for garnish

    Directions:

    1. Combine the garlic, salt, pepper, basil, vinegar, oil and sugar in a jar with a tight lid. Shake well to emulsify the dressing.
    2. Slice veggies and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper
    3. Cook pasta according to directions
    4. Grill veggies
    5. Cut your cheese choice into chunks
    6. Combine pasta, grilled veggies, cheese, and as much dressing as you like.

    Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies:

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  • Basil Pesto

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    We’re eating our way through all the yummy produce from the weekend, and tonight’s feast was basil pesto. The basil and tomatoes were fresh from the market. Pesto not only tastes wonderful, but it is extremely versatile. You can add it to pasta, soup, meats, or keep it vegetarian. If you happen upon a large quantity of basil, you can make extra batches and freeze it by making the pesto as directed, but leave out the cheese and oil. Then fill some ice cube trays or ziploc bags with the pesto, and when you’re ready to use the pesto during the dregs of winter when you can’t find fresh basil, simply defrost the pesto, put in the food processor add the cheese and oil. Viola, just like fresh summer basil pesto!

    This is a classic version that’s super tasty and a staple on our dinner table.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups fresh basil
    • 6 oz pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
    • 1/4 cup walnuts, pine nuts, pecans or almonds
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • salt to taste
    • pepper to taste
    • 1 pound pasta of your choice
    • 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    • grilled chicken

    Important notes — add pasta water to thin if necessary, don’t add salt until after cheese is incorporated because cheese can be very salty

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to directions
    2. Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken and grill, then cut into bite-sized pieces
    3. Place basil, cheese, nuts, and garlic in a food processor; process until well blended. With processor on, slowly pour oil through food chute, process until well blended. Add pasta water, if desired to thin pesto.
    4. Combine pasta, tomatoes, chicken, and pesto; toss to combine.

    Basil Pesto:

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  • Thai Red Curry

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    We went to the local Farmer’s Market this weekend and picked up some wonderful produce: Thai basil, eggplant, zucchini, green peppers, red peppers, onion, garlic and broccoli. What to do with such wonderfully fresh ingredients…curry. As we have recently moved, we haven’t unpacked our cookbooks, so I had to just throw this together, and it turned out fantastic. This dish is easily adapted for vegetarians, and you can use any produce you like…just use your imagination. This was wonderfully fresh tasting, and we’ll definitely make this one again.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 TBSP sesame oil, or oil of your choosing
    • 1 TBSP Thai red curry paste
    • 3 TBSP soy sauce
    • 1 TBSP brown sugar
    • 1 can of light coconut milk
    • 1 lb of chicken, beef or tofu
    • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 onion, sliced
    • 1 green pepper, sliced
    • 1 red pepper, sliced
    • 1 cup zucchini, sliced
    • 2 cups of broccoli florets
    • 1 cup of eggplant, sliced
    • 1/4 cup of Thai basil, chopped
    • Rice

    Directions:

    1. Prepare all fresh ingredients
    2. Bring pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli and eggplant, then set aside
    3. In a wok, heat sesame oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute. You can either grill your meat or saute the meat with the garlic and onions. If you use tofu, you may want to add closer to the end so the tofu retains the shape and texture.
    4. Add peppers and zucchini and continue to saute, until veggies are tender.
    5. Add curry paste, brown sugar, and soy sauce, and saute until the ingredients are incorporated.
    6. Add the coconut milk.
    7. Add the blanched broccoli and eggplant.
    8. Bring coconut milk up to a simmer and then stir in 1/2 of the basil.
    9. Serve over rice and top with basil.

    Thai Red Curry:

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