Friday, March 27, 2015

Now that's a spicy meatball!

Last summer I found a recipe from the Meatball Shop for the best tasting meatball I have ever had.  They were easy and packed with flavor.   I had made them for our dinner club pasta night and then for my niece's bridal shower.   I think I even impressed our Italian neighbors and friends given that my hubby and I have no Italian blood in our crazy family tree when I served these.

Well now I found another of the Meatball Shops specialties - Spicy Pork Meatballs.  I made a batch this past Sunday with homemade marinara sauce and served them over Pappardelle.  In the pictures attached, the pasta is under all these spicy meatballs.  Hubby and I were having a fasting blood draw this past Saturday morning for our insurance and I  saw this recipe in the latest People Magazine that I was browsing in the office waiting room.  Don't tell anyone, but I ripped the recipe out of the magazine and then went to our favorite little grocery store to grab the ingredients I needed.  I will definitely make these again!
Can't really read it, but here is the recipe we found!

Spicy Pork Meatballs

  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 4 slices white bread, minced in a food processor (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 pickled hot cherry peppers, minced
  • 1/4 cup hot cherry pepper pickling liquid
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

To make the meatballs, preheat the oven to 450ºF. 

Put the ground pork, minced bread, eggs, cherry peppers, pepper liquid, and salt in a large bowl. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined.

Drizzle the olive oil into a large 9 x 13-inch baking dish, coating the entire surface evenly. Roll the meat mixture into 24 golf ball–sized meatballs, packing the meat firmly. Arrange the meatballs into even and snug rows in the oiled baking dish. Roast until firm, about 14 minutes. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the dish.

Basic Marinana Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can of tomato puree
1 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 small pinch of sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
dash of Penzey's pasta sprinkle or Italian seasoning 
Place olive oil and garlic in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl pan to coat garlic and heat, but do not brown garlic.  Add red pepper flakes and salt.  Next add tomatoes, pepper, salt, basil, pasta sprinkle and sugar.  Stir to combine, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer 20  to 25 minutes.   


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Eastern European Dinner Club

Tonight is dinner club night.  Mr. & Mrs. Foodie are hosting and when they host they take turns in deciding their menu.  Tonight's dinner was the creation of Mrs. Foodie.  She has gathered recipes from her mother's kitchen that will feature their family's Eastern European roots.

We have always heard the stories of the family  holiday dinners where Mrs. Foodie's mom will make kielbasa, pierogies, pigs in a blanket.  And like any of our mother's recipes, they make the dish the best way, that no one else can duplicate it. Our assignment was one of the appetizers, Kielbasa ala Rosalie.   Rosalie, Mrs. Foodie's  mom say that when you make the kielbasa you have to boil it to remove the fat.  Now we all know that isn't really happening, but we have to follow her tradition on this one.   But from what we hear she never serves appetizers, this might be part of the main entrée.

This was a pretty easy recipe to make.  I went to our local market this morning and picked up two packages of homemade kielbasa, not the prepackaged stuff.  I had to stop at another store to pick up the currant jelly, not easily found, and when I got home within 15 minutes our part of the dinner is ready to go.  The preboiling, cutting and sauce were done at home.  We took the mixture  and finished it off with the 15 minutes at a simmer at our friends house.  

Kielbasa ala Rosalie!

AKA Sweet and Sour Kielbasa

2 kielbasa
1 12 oz. Bottle tomato based chili sauce
3/4 cup red current jelly
2 tsp whole grain mustard
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Place kielbasa in a skillet and cover with water.  Simmer for 8 minutes.  Drain and cut into 1/4 inch slices.
Combine all ingredients in a large skillet and stir well.  Simmer for 15 minutes,  stirring to coat all ingredients.   Server on a platter with toothpicks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


During the season of Lent it is a great time to pull out all of our Lenten favorites for Friday night dinners.  These include a number of mac and cheese dinners, scallops, swordfish and the household favorite, shrimp.  We have a number of recipes that we turn to but recently we had the time to find some new favorites.  We even created a Pinterest Board  entitled "Lenten Favorites".  Lenten Favorites from Pinterest
More and more shrimp recipes do pop up and get pinned.  I guess it is because my son and I are a bit picky on the seafood front and I know that they will be ok.   I love shrimp, scallops, fried or steamed clams, New England Clam Chowder, and swordfish grilled with a pesto sauce.   There are some white fish dishes that hubby will prepare that I will eat, but they have to be very mellow and not fishy tasty!
Hubby found this recipe and was going to make it with a bottled barbecue sauce until he realized that we had all of the ingredients on hand to make this.  So he whipped this up a couple of weeks ago on a Friday night and served it over rice.  What great flavor from the Worcestershire sauce!  But warning, the house smelled like Worcestershire sauce all night!

Barbecue Shrimp

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
24 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Sliced scallions, for garnish
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the wine and thyme and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and broth and cook until reduced to ½ cup, about 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, for 2 minutes total. Stir in the sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the butter until incorporated and season with salt. Transfer the shrimp to a platter and garnish with scallions.

Adapted from Food And Wine, March 2015

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pretzel Crusted Chicken

Pretzels are one of my favorite snacks.  They are great for dipping and a good snack that is lower in calories when I want something salty.  We generally have a bag of the waffle shaped pretzels in our pantry or a bad of the flavored nibs.  And pretzels are always a vacation snack to enjoy on a hot day with a cold beer or chilled glass of wine.

Now pretzels are showing up as rolls or buns for burgers and such. Restaurants are adding soft pretzels as appetizers.  We found this recipe for a pretzel coating for chicken.   Our picky son is not a fan of shake and bake so this was a tasty substitute.    The mustard sauce added a great topping to bring out the flavor.  Wonder what else you can do with them?

Pretzel Crusted Chicken

1/2 pound hard pretzels, coarsely crushed (4 cups)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 large skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, pulse the pretzels until coarsely ground; you should have coarse chunks and fine crumbs. Transfer to a large, shallow bowl.
Wipe out the food processor. Add the oil, whole-grain and Dijon mustards, water and vinegar and process until smooth. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
Pour half of the dressing into a large shallow bowl, add the chicken breasts and turn to coat. Dredge the chicken in the pretzel crumbs and transfer to a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through. Slice the chicken and serve warm or at room temperature with the remaining mustard dressing.  
Adapted from Food & Wine

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bow Tie Pasta with Sausage, Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cream

We are generally leaving our dinner decisions to the last minute, with work schedules and running our son to and from obligations after school.  We are not as well prepared as we should be with dinner planned out for a week in advance that some people tend to do.  We are lucky when we have a couple of days planned out, but most of the time we are going day to day. When it comes to dinner the joke in our house is "Let's go with your plans!" knowing that the other one does not have any plans yet.  So I took the reins on this one last Wednesday.

I knew before I went to work we would be doing something with Italian Sausage because I pulled a pound out of the freezer.  All I had to do was find a quick recipe that would have dinner on the table as soon as hubby and our son got home from baseball training.  Luckily I received an email from Fine Cooking, a magazine that I subscribe to that morning at work. I did a recipe search with the Italian Sausage as the main ingredient an found this recipe. At lunch time I ran to the grocery store and picked up the small amount of ingredients I knew I would need.  When I got home I was able to quickly throw this together along with a salad and vegetable side dish.  Hubby and my little guy (not so little anymore, but will always be my little man) got home just after six with dinner just minutes away from the table. It was delicious, easy and pleased my guys after a long day!  

Bow Tie Pasta with Sausage, Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cream

  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-1/4 lb. hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (about 6 oz.) oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 lb. dried farfalle 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. 
Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic
and cook for 1 minute. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it into 
bite-size pieces with a spoon, until just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
Spoon off the fat if it's excessive. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium
high, and cook, scraping up any browned bits in the pan, until most of the 
wine is evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the olives and sun-dried tomatoes 
and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the cream, increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring 
occasionally, until the cream thickens slightly, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in 2 Tbs.
of the parsley and 2 Tbs. of the Parmigiano. Keep the sauce warm over
low heat.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the 
cooking water and then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to its pot, add the 
sauce and the reserved cooking water, and set the pot over high heat. Gently
toss the pasta for 30 to 60 seconds and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Divide among warm bowls and sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbs. Parmigiano 
and 2 Tbs. parsley.

Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Recommended from a friend and pleases our son! Chicken and Pasta!

One of my neighbors has started following us on Pinterest and the blog and shared some of the recipes she has found with us. By us, I mean my hubby and I because she knows that both of us have been pinning and cooking.  Hubby likes the crock pot recipes - dinner ready at the end of a busy day! I look for recipes that are not only easy and tasty but will be appealing to our son.  This one hit the nail on the head.  If he could eat pasta every day he would be an extremely happy boy!  He is branching out, but any dinner with pasta is a home run!

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes


3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small jar (3 to 4 oz.) sun dried tomatoes in oil
1 lb. chicken breast tenders
dash of paprika
1 cup half and half
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
8 oz penne pasta
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water, or more
salt to taste


Drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, reserving 2 tablespoons of oil for sautéing. In a large pan, on high heat, saute garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) in the 2 tablespoons of reserved sun dried tomato oil  for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the pan, leaving the oil, and add chicken tenders, salted and lightly covered in paprika (for color) and cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat. Cook pasta according to directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

Slice tomatoes into smaller pieces and add them back to skillet with chicken.  Add the half and half and cheese to skillet and bring to a slow boil.  Reduce to simmer and cook, stirring constantly until cheese melts and creamy sauce forms. Add cooked pasta to skillet with the sauce and stir to combine.  Add 1 tablespoon of basil, and at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine.  Add about 1/2cup of reserved pasta water as sauce may be too thick.This will make it creamier.  Immediately season the pasta with salt and more red pepper flakes, to taste, if desired.  Let simmer for a few minutes to combine flavors. 

Recipe found at