Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spaghetti & Meatballs

I’m a pasta-holic! Any way to jazz it up and give it a new twist, I’m there! However, you have to start with the basics before you can advance to the pros! So let’s make some Spaghetti and Meatballs!


1 pound ground beef , ground turkey, or ground chicken (or you can combine 1/3 pound each of ground beef, pork, and veal if you like the flavor combo)
½ cup white bread crumbs
¼ cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
2 tbs fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ¼ tsp Kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cloves grated garlic
½ of a small white or yellow onion –grated
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Fresh Mozzarella (go for either a log or ball because it has less moisture, but if you prefer the kind in water that is okay as well, pat it dry with paper towel really well, and let sit for about 15-20 minutes to ensure total dryness) cut into little cubes (approximately a 1 cm x 1 cm cube – about half the size of something you would find on a cheese plate)

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ of a small white or yellow onion chopped (use the remaining portion from the meatballs)
3 cloves minced garlic
½ cup chicken stock
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt (add more or less to your tasting)
½ teaspoon black pepper (add more or less to your tasting)
½ tablespoon fresh oregano chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
½ tablespoon fresh thyme chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)

For serving:
16 ounce box (1 box) of your favorite spaghetti cooked according to package
Grated parmesan cheese

Now let’s start cooking!!!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray (you may need 2 sheets depending on the size of your meatballs). Also start boiling your pot of water for the spaghetti.

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs EXCEPT the mozzarella. Add 1/3 cup of warm water to the bowl as well. Combine all ingredients in bowl very lightly with a fork. It is highly important not to over mix – otherwise you will have tough meatballs. Now, for your pro step! Take a piece of the cubed mozzarella (this is going to be the center of your meatball). Using your hands, lightly form the meatball mixture around the mozzarella into a 1 – 1 ¼ inch meatball, as you make each meatball place it on your baking sheet. ***NOTE*** it is important to make sure the mozzarella is well sealed within the meatball; otherwise it will leak out of the meatball. You should be able to make about 15- 20 meatballs, however more or less is okay! Once all meatballs are formed place in the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce. But first, season your pasta water with a generous heaping of salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and drop spaghetti into the water.

In a large skillet (about 12”) or even the Rachel Ray type sauté pan (which ever you have is fine) heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat until translucent, this will take about 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn. If you find that they are cooking to fast and starting to brown turn heat down to medium low. Once onions are translucent, add the garlic and cook for about a 1 minute, if you turned the heat down to medium low, raise it back up to medium. Add the chicken stock and cook on high heat, combining the onions and garlic. Let the liquid boil a little; along with reduce/evaporate about 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat back down to medium, stir in the tomatoes, parsley, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Your meatballs should be done cooking by now, reduce the heat on the sauce to low and let all the flavors get happy together while you are waiting for the meatballs. Once the meatballs are done, remove from the oven, let them cool for a minute or two and then with a pair of tongs, gently place them into the sauce mixture. Gently coat the meatballs with sauce, and allow simmering on med-low for 5 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering drain your pasta. Plate out your portions of pasta, and pour the wonderful meatballs and sauce over the spaghetti, top it off with some parmesan cheese! As you dig into the meatball, enjoy the oozing of the mozzarella center :-) That my friends, is a scrumptious serving of spaghetti and meatballs!!!


The Guest Blogger has landed!

I am truly honored and delighted to be Bridgette’s new guest blogger! I share the same passion for food as my dear friend, and am constantly consulting on recipes with her. Now, I shall share my culinary experiences with you!!! ~*~Sundeep~*~

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Martha Stewart's Perfect Mac 'n Cheese

Now, I'm a bit of a Mac 'n Cheese connesour. It's my "go-to" for almost everything. Before becoming pregnant, I could have eaten it daily (right now, it tastes like I'm eating melted butter- EW!) and kind of did. No wonder I'm so chubby.

A few months back, a friend of mine (Adam) made this for his pregnant wife and I. Yes, you can say he was brave, having 2 really pregnant women in his house at once- and attempting to make a recipe that he'd never made before. However, it turned out splendedly, and we spared his life.

I've been craving this, decidedly because he used buttered challah bread for his topping...After making this recipe, I think the challah really made it. I decided to go shopping for ingredients and people to eat it, seeing as it makes enough for 12 people (not really, I say 6 MAX). Let me tell ya, BE PREPAIRED this is an expensive mac n cheese. Holy moly. Also- if you can't find challah, I suggest using King's Hawaiian bread, which I found at Walmart (yes, I know, but it was the 3rd store I'd been to looking for supplies). Get the bread loaf, it'll be easier than the rolls.

I'm going to try this recipe again...I was reading it, via email on my BlackBerry and missed a step (saving some of the cheese for the top, under the bread) AND used more cheese than I was supposed to, oops! Hopefully, next time, it will turn out a bit more creamy. The main problem I have with baked macaroni and cheese is that it turns out a bit dry and/or more gritty...kind of odd.

6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk (I used 2% but might try fat free half and half next time)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (omitted, as we don't like nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (omitted as we didn't have any)
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or* 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano *yeah, I didn't read the or part and did both. oops!
1 pound elbow macaroni

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk.

Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour.

Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.

Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guest Posters!

Stay tuned everyone, I'm going to have a friend of mine, Sundeep, my "brown twin" post a few things here. She's gorgeous, can cook like crazy and is TOTALLY awesome, of course.

If you would like to do a guest post on my blog, please let me know- we can make it happen!

Friday, January 7, 2011

I'm Gettin' Stabby O'er Here!

Don't say anything about my hair or lack of make-up, I'm knocked up and lazy, ok?

Anyway, I come home from visiting a neighbor today and notice fresh footprints in the snow, leading to my front door. Curious, I go in through the garage, as I usually do, and head to the front door.

I totally expected to see a business card or note on the door, selling tree cutting or snow plow services. I get about 3 per week. Those of you who have been to my house, know about the giant dead tree in my front yard. Ha. But no, instead, there is a brown box on the porch. What's in it?



I stumbled upon the Daily Deal at through slickdeals about 30 minutes before the deal was over. Thank you insomnia! I got this beautiful set of 14 knives, kitchen shears and the wood block for $40.95 SHIPPED! I think that's a pretty good deal...don't tell me if it's not. Ignorance is bliss, k?

I look a tad scary here. Hopefully, this'll never make it into the news. EEK.

So- here it is, in all of it's sharp, stabby, metal glory in it's purdy little wood block stand. I'm in love. LOVE I TELL YOU! Love. I've been using hand-me-downs and cheap knives (except for my cook for the cure santoku knife- my favorite) from the Omaha Steak Company. Ha.

This is my KitchenAid corner.

Pizza! Pizza!

I'd much rather have homemade pizza over frozen, and really- most delivery places. This way, I know exactly what goes into making it. I mean, COME ON! Look at that beautiful thing...right above this. Awesome.
Now, Mikey grew up with his mom making pizza like, every Friday night. It's good, but she doesn't seem to understand, or want to understand the concept of more cheese, less sauce...but that's my preference.
So, you'll need the following for each pizza:
  • marinara sauce (we like Barilla marinara or tomato & basil)
  • cheese (we use Sargento Mozzarella & Provolone-about 1 bag per lg pizza)
  • toppings : pepperoni, baby 'bella mushrooms, onion, green pepper, sausage, chicken, olives, pineapple, ham...whatever you like!
  • garlic salt seasoning
To build your pizza:
Stretch dough over pizza pan or stone. Top with marinara sauce- as much or little as you like. Be careful not to put the sauce all the way to the edge, leave a little dough to raise as the crust.

Top with your desired amount of cheese, again, leaving the edge clear to raise as the crust. Then, add your desired toppings.
We like sesame seeds around the crust edge, so if you'd like that, Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, etc., brush the crust edges with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with desired crust flavoring. We also like a bit of garlic salt sprinkled all over the entire pizza. Soooo delicious! Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese and crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.


So- how do YOU top your pizza?