Thursday, February 23, 2012

Asian-Style Meatballs

One of my first go-to meals before I really knew how to cook was Asian-Style Meatloaf. Well, I've tweaked my recipe here and there and switched it up into meatballs. They're easier to freeze, eat and control portion size. Whenever I want something like comfort food, but am tired of the same old flavors, this is what I turn to. Sweet, spicy, tangy - this meatball is almost everything but plain and boring. Doesn't hurt that you can whip this whole meal up in 1/2 hour, either. And, on that note, I'll keep this post sweet and simple, here's the recipe!

Asian-Style Meatballs

  • 1 Pound Ground Beef (or Turkey or a mixture of Pork and Beef would be more authentic for an Asian-style, I've done it many ways)
  • 1 Large Carrot
  • 1/4 Cup Crushed Walnuts
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 2 Tablespoons Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Frozen Orange Juice (or Apricot Jam/Orange Marmalade or in a pinch - 1/2 Ketchup and 1/2 Lemon or Lime Juice)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Sambal Oelek (Ground Fresh Chili Paste)
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Ginger (I like 1, but that might be enough for some Ginger lovers)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  1. Set oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mince onion and garlic
  3. Wash carrot and peel, using the peeler shave off the carrot in small pieces 
  4. Mix together all ingredients (do not over mix - if you break down the meat too much it will be mealy, especially with ground turkey)
  5. Form into balls and place on aluminum foiled baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes
If you want a quick complete meal, all you have to do is get your rice into a rice cooker before making the meatballs and 5 minutes before the end of the meatball cooking time, steam some green beans, add a clementine on the side and there you have it! No excuses not to make a real meal. And makes seriously excellent leftovers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Mini-Heart Soft Pretzels

I'm a sucker for a good soft pretzel. Regular old pretzels? Not so much, but a warm, doughy soft pretzel really hit the spot. Whether you go for one sprinkled in coarse sea salt or cinnamon and sugar, dipped in aioli or queso, you can't go wrong. These are made especially adorable thanks to my daughter. Who can resist a mini-heart?

For Valentine's Day this year, my daughter was brainstorming what to bring for her class. Since she goes to an Immersion school, they are trying to make it less confusing and ensure no one being left out, so they are not putting names on the Valentines. So, instead of making individual paper Valentines for everyone, she decided we should bring a treat. That's when it dawned on her that pretzels looked a lot like hearts and where it dawned on me that mini soft pretzels would be the perfect treat to bring in.

Mini-Heart Soft Pretzels

  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup and 2 Cups Warm Water
  • 1 1/8 Teaspoons Dry Active Yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Cup Bread Flour
  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Soda
  1. Proof yeast in 1 1/2 cup water and sugar, stir and let sit until frothy (5 minutes)
  2. Add salt and butter, stir
  3. Using a dough hook, slowly add flour until mixed smoothly and it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (5 minutes)
  4. Let rise for 1 hour
  5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  6. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray
  7. Roll out dough and cut into thin strips about 1 foot long
  8. Mix 2 cups warm water and baking soda
  9. Roll strips of dough and dunk into water and baking soda, minding to stir every now and then when it settles
  10. Form into hearts (flip ends towards the middle and pinch, I found it's best to keep ends behind/on bottom of the middle end) or any shape you want and bake for 3-7 minutes, depending on size
These smell so good, make a ton and reheat really well. If you're planning to make ahead, consider leaving dough in fridge after rolling and shaping into hearts and then baking them when needed. These would be the perfect treat for any party. I'm planning on making these over and over for occasions like Super Bowl parties, or Oktoberfest.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rosemary and Thyme Roasted Whole Chicken with Teeny Tiny Potatoes

This dish is so elegant, you would never know it was so inexpensive and easy. All you need is a small whole chicken, a bag of Trader Joe's Teeny Tiny Potatoes, a generous handful of green beans, some simple seasonings and voila! No one would ever know you spent less than $10 and only about an hour of your time. Your kitchen will smell like the Mediterranean and everyone will be satisfied. You can even save the chicken carcass and leftover bits for stock and really stretch your money.

Rosemary and Thyme Roasted Whole Chicken with Teeny Tiny Potatoes

  • 1 Small Whole Chicken
  • 1 Bag Teeny Tiny Potatoes (Trader Joe's, or any small potato - would work great with CSA potatoes)
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Bunch Haricots Verts (French green beans, or whole string beans)
  • 1 Lemon (I used a Meyer Lemon)
  • 2-4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme + 2 Sprigs for Stuffing
  • Cracked Pepper
  • Coarse Sea Salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Wash chicken inside and out with cold water and pat dry (don't forget to take out the giblets)
  2. Place chicken in roast pan or glass dish, spray the chicken with EVOO (the spray gadget I have is amazing - you can just brush a bit on)
  3. Salt and pepper the chicken inside and out (I was a bit heavy handed and it turned out perfect)
  4. Set oven to 350 degrees
  5. Quarter lemon and onion, stuff into cavity
  6. Wash herbs and add 2 sprigs rosemary and a handful of thyme to chicken cavity
  7. Place in oven and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (until juices run clear)
  8. Pluck 1 tablespoon thyme into medium bowl, set aside
  9. Pluck 1/2 the rosemary and chop finely (I find a lot of people who "don't like rosemary" don't like dry rosemary and don't like that the needles are prickly, so chopping them finely resolves this and you still get the amazing flavor)
  10. Add plucked rosemary, salt and pepper to bowl
  11. Wash and halve potatoes, add to herb mixture
  12. Toss with EVOO, place on foiled baking sheet and roast with chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour, shaking the pan halfway through
  13. I cheated on the haricots verts, as Trader Joe's has them frozen and I ran out of energy - microwaved according to directions and sprayed with EVOO topped with a dash of cracked pepper
My daughter thought this meal was quite civilized and remarked at how fancy it all looked. We used cloth napkins and lit some candles for mood lighting. A simple, elegant and inexpensive way to impress.