Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Easy Meatball Subs

I've been trying to break out of a dinner rut lately - we got trapped in the spaghetti, tacos, pizza, chicken something loop for a bit.  We needed something quick since everyone needed to be somewhere, so I made up a batch of super simple meatballs for subs.  We had baked potato wedges and green beans on the side.

Easy Meatballs
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/3 c. Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Gently combine all ingredients in a bowl with your hands (don't squeeze a ton and overwork, or the meatballs will be tough).  Form meatballs with a light touch, and put them on the baking sheet as you go.  I didn't measure them, but I made about 30 meatballs.  Bake about 15-20 minutes until cooked through.  

You can freeze them at this point - right on the sheet, and then throw them in a freezer bag when they're frozen solid - or you can throw them in sauce for dinner!  Serve over spaghetti with sauce, on rolls for meatball subs, on little dinner rolls for sliders, etc.  Double the recipe and make some for dinner tonight, and throw the rest in the freezer for another time.

For Meatball Subs:

1 recipe Easy Meatballs
1 jar of your favorite meatless pasta sauce (I used a tomato & basil sauce)
4-6 sub rolls
4-6 slices Provolone cheese

I simmered them in some jarred sauce until dinner time.  I did it on the stove, but you can throw them in a slow cooker on low, too.  I've tossed frozen meatballs right into the slow cooker and let them go all day on low, and they're fall apart tender by dinner time.  I sliced some provolone cheese, sliced some rolls, and then put the cheese slices inside.  I used small rolls, so I put in about 3 meatballs each, and spooned some sauce over them.  You could also shred the cheese and broil it on top of the sandwiches, but we were in a hurry, so I didn't get too fancy. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dark Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Cookies

It's officially "put pumpkin in everything" season, and "can you bring a treat for _______" season now that school and activities are in full swing! I dusted off this recipe for dark chocolate chunk pumpkin cookies this week.  I don't remember where I first stumbled upon the recipe, but it is a keeper now, for sure.  The whole family loves them!  

I didn't have pumpkin pie spice (see original recipe) the first time I made them, so I subbed the spice mixture below, and just do it that way every time.  The dough needs to chill for a bit, so keep that in mind.  I am famous for reading details like that midway through the recipe and then having to backtrack (oops). The cookies and the dough freeze well, if you can keep from eating them all at once.  I think they'd made a pretty delish cookie bar, too....


Dark Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Whisk together the following and set aside:

2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour (or just use 3 c. AP)
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves

In your mixer bowl:

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar, packed (I used dark - it's what I had)
2 eggs, room temp
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I use Penzey's Mexican single strength vanilla extract - love it)
1 c. (organic) pumpkin puree (not pie filling) - canned or homemade
10 oz. dark chocolate chunks*

* I like to have one of Trader Joe's Pound Plus bars of their super amazing 72% cacao dark chocolate (the red wrapper) on hand and use it instead - I just chop it roughly into chunks, but any dark chocolate chips or chunks work.

Beat the butter on high for about a minute, then add in sugars.  Continue beating for another minute or two, scraping the sides down as needed.  Add in eggs, and continue beating.  Add the pumpkin puree and the vanilla, and mix until combined.  Add in the flour mixture until it is fully incorporated, and then stir in the chocolate chips.  Chill the dough in a covered bowl in the fridge for an hour (or more - even overnight if you're one of those prepared kinds of people).  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop cookies out onto baking sheets lined with parchment or a Silpat mat (you can make big ones, about 2 tbsp., or I make them a little smaller, just about 1 tbsp.).  Bake them about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned - don't let them go too long, though!  They're going to be a little soft, because of the moisture from the pumpkin (yum).  Cool completely on the sheet.  Makes about 4-5 dozen cookies, depending on how large you make them. 

I have frozen the baked cookies and the dough before, both with good results, but they are SO GOOD when they're warm from the oven, so good luck with that. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Kebabs

I rarely wing it with a new recipe when I am cooking for anyone other than the immediate family, but I broke the rules and tried this one over the 4th of July weekend.  I think it turned out pretty well!  I was inspired by the coconut bacon, yes, coconut bacon, from Ney's Big Sky that we had picked up from the farmer's market.

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Kebabs with Veggies & Pineapple

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-2 green bell peppers, cut into 1-1/2" pieces
1-2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-1/2" pieces
1 large red onion, cut into 1-1/2" pieces
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 peeled & cored pineapple, cut into large chunks
1 lb. bacon (coconut or otherwise), uncooked

Cut the chicken into kebab-sized pieces - try to make them close to the same size so everything cooks evenly.  Cut the bacon slices in 1/2 or 1/3, and wrap one piece of bacon around each piece of chicken.  Thread the wrapped chicken pieces onto the skewers to secure the bacon (I used metal - if you use wood, make sure you soak the skewers first so they don't burn on the grill).  The bacon wrapping is optional, but we only live once, so yeah... It's a little labor intensive, so you could recruit a friend or two, or do some a few hours before the meal, and then store them covered in the fridge.

Cut up and "kebab" the veggies - red onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, zucchini, or whatever you like.  I also skewered some pineapple - I thought it would go good with the peppers and coconut bacon.  You can also do these in advance.

Glaze:

1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. paprika (sweet or smoked - I used sweet)
1 clove garlic, minced

Over medium heat, combine the ingredients and stir until combined and slightly thickened.  Remove from heat.

While I was preheating the grill, I whipped up the glaze to brush on the chicken.  I put all of the kebabs on the grill, and camped out to make sure there were no flare-ups with the bacon drippings.  When grilling the veggies, watch them carefully, and move them to higher ground if they start to get too charred before the chicken is done cooking.  We prefer ours with a little crunch, so I moved them to the warming rack earlier than later.

When the chicken was almost done,  I brushed the kebabs with the glaze, and then left them on just for a little bit longer.  I had doubled - or maybe even tripled the amount of chicken since we were feeding a crowd, and this amount of glaze was just enough.  You could halve it, or just make it and be generous with the basting.

To serve, I took everything off the skewers and put on platters, and people helped themselves.  I had a side of quinoa & rice blend to serve with the meat and veggies.  The kids weren't wowwed by the coconut bacon, so I had also grilled some plain chicken breasts for those who preferred them.   It worked, and it was something different!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Layered Mexican Trifle Salad

So this is awesome.  It's a lot of work, but it is awesome.  Feeds a crowd, looks cool, tastes great.  What more can you ask for?  I first had this at a party, and then tracked down the recipe - I believe it was originally from Pampered Chef.  You can mix it up, but I really like this combo.  It's easy to double or whatever is needed, based on the serving dish.  The one pictured was MASSIVE, and was basically a triple batch - so much work, and at the last minute!

Layered Mexican Trifle Salad

Ingredients:

  • Beans: drain, rinse and mix together 1 15 oz. can pinto beans and 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained (I've also used fresh)
  • 1 large tomato, diced (I usually use several Roma tomatoes)
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 3 ripe avocadoes, diced and mashed with the juice of 1 lime and salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion, diced (red or white)
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
  • 2 cups cheddar or jack cheese, shredded
  • Ranch Dressing: Mix the following and set aside:
    • 1 c. mayonnaise (I use Hellman's Reduced Fat)
    • 1 c. sour cream (I use reduced fat OR nonfat Greek yogurt)
    • 1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (could also make your own seasoning mix)


In a small trifle dish (a Pampered Chef one, of course) layer the following, using 1/2 of each item for a layer in this order:  

Beans
Corn
Tomato
Bell Pepper
Avocado Mash
Onion
Chicken
Dressing
Cheese

Then repeat with remaining ingredients.  It's awesome served with tortilla chips and "Scoops" Fritos or other corn chips.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pulled Barbecue Chicken

I'll snap a photo next time we make it, but this is a twist on the usual shredded bbq chicken where you just add your favorite bbq sauce.  Great to feed a crowd, or to make and freeze for a quick weeknight meal.

Pulled Barbecue Chicken

Makes 4-6 servings


2 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of fat
1 8-oz. can reduced-sodium tomato sauce
1 4-oz. can chopped green chiles, drained
3 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. sweet or smoked paprika
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. ground chipotle chile
1/2 tsp. salt
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine tomato sauce, chiles, vinegar, honey, paprika, tomato paste, Worcestershire, mustard, ground chipotle and salt in a 6-quart slow cooker and Stir until smooth. Add chicken, onion and garlic; stir to combine. Put the lid on and cook on low until the chicken can be pulled apart, about 5 hours.  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork (or just keep it in the crock pot if you're lazy like me). Return the chicken to the sauce, stir well and serve.  Serve on rolls or tortillas with sliced jalapenos, sliced red onions, lettuce, tomatoes, some sour cream, etc. Make Ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.