Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mama J's Cocktail Meatballs

I'm finally getting around to posting the meatball recipe I've been talking about for weeks. Better late than never, right? Right?

Okay then.

So. When Aaron and I first started dating, most of what we ate came from a restaurant, was fast food, or came out of a box. We were 21, what do you expect? Plus, he wasn't a huge fan of home cooking. His mom wasn't a horrible cook, but there are a lot of things she made that he hated (and still hates - see pot roast). But, there were also a few things that his mom made that he absolutely loved. These meatballs are one of those things.

Of course, now I've ruined him for fast food, convenience food, and food that comes out of a box. He prefers eating my cooking to eating out, which while a very nice compliment, means more work for me, even when I don't especially feel like cooking. Luckily, the few things his mom made that he loved are very easy to throw together, so it's win-win. He's not getting these for New Year's Eve like usual, mostly because we can't finish a batch between the two of us and we won't be able to eat the leftovers and stick to our vegetarian for a month plan. But you could make them if you need an addition to your spread; they're quick, easy, delicious, and at a party they're usually the first thing to disappear.

Oh, and yes, I know the ingredients sound weird, but seriously, don't knock it until you try it. The combination makes for a very flavorful sauce. I promise.

Mama J's Cocktail Meatballs

2 lb. ground beef
1 egg
2 Tbsp. bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. seasoning salt (ex. Lawry's)

1 bottle chili sauce (the smallish one)
1 sm. glass grape jelly (I get the one that comes in a reusable glass, but if you can't find it, add most of a small jar - all except about a 1/4 c.)
juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix the ingredients for the meatballs until just combined, and let sit for about 10 minutes. Roll into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Slowly heat the sauce ingredients in a heavy skillet, whisking to combine as the jelly melts.

Drop the meatballs into sauce. Cook gently for 1 hour, uncovered.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Old Bay Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges

Our planned meal last night included cheeseburgers, fries, and raw beet and carrot slaw. Instead, we had chili dogs, paprika roasted broccoflower (delicious!), and roasted sweet potato wedges. This was mostly because I forgot the carrots and the fries at the store and decided I was craving a hot dog more than a cheeseburger. Despite feeding my meat cravings before the month o' no meat, my favorite part of the meal was the sweet potatoes. Even Gabbie ate them, which is no small thing these days (she's decided eating is not for her, thankyouverymuch). Plus, they're super simple and quick. Can't beat that!

Old Bay Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges
adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2009

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a baking sheet, toss sweet potato wedges in olive oil. Sprinkle on Old Bay seasoning, and roast for 30 minutes or until fork tender, turning half-way through baking time.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 12.28.09

I can't believe it's the last week of the year already! The older I get the faster the years go, and having a kid sped up time significantly, I swear! (Unless she's sick, and then time drags on interminably. Go ahead. Aske me about my weekend!)

Anway, as I indicated over at my other site this morning, we're going vegetarian for a month starting on Friday. So. The beginning of this week is fairly meat heavy, and then we're quitting cold turkey (no pun intended).

Monday: Cheeseburgers, fries, beet and carrot slaw

This has been my number one craving for the past few weeks, so I figure I better indulge before I give up meat for a month. Otherwise, it would be one very long, difficult, meat-free month.

Tuesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup

We have a lot of leftover chicken from our chicken dinner last week, and I'm determined to use it. So, tortilla soup it is! I haven't made this in ages. It's been so long, in fact, that I can't remember what recipe I used to use. This one from Cassie's site looks great though, and we're planning on topping it with avocado and cheese. Yum!

Wednesday: Stirfried Turkey in Lettuce Wraps, leftover beet and carrot slaw

Recipe to be shared if we like it. I'm actually quite looking forward to this!

Thursday: TBD NYE Spread.

Probably nachos and margaritas. Definitely a bottle of our favorite sparking wine!

Friday: Football watching spread!

Veggies and Dip, Crispix mix, Pico & Guacamole, and something more main-dish-ish, but also vegetarian.

Saturday: Curried Chickpeas, some kind of salad with tomatoes or broccoli, basmati rice, homemade naan

Recipes also to be shared (probably next week).

Sunday: Pizza, Spinach Salad

I plan to make the dough and sauce from scratch. For the spinach salad, I prefer spinach, walnuts, red onions, and feta, but since I seem to have developed a walnut allergy in recent years, it will be with slivered almonds instead. I usually top it off with a balsamic vinaigrette.

And I swear, I'm going to post that meatball recipe this week!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 12.21.09

Hey! Look at this! I'm actually here writing something. How novel of me.

Anyway, I've nearly completed all of my big writing projects for work (save for some fairly intense edits, but still, the hardest part is over), I had a few days off to spend with my hubby while Gabbie stayed with my parents, and when I cooked dinner last night it was the first time I had cooked anything in over a week. It felt good to cook, so I decided I might as well throw together some sort of meal plan for the week. We'll see if it continues to go well, since I still have those aforementioned edits, the wrapping of presents, and the writing out and sending of Christmas cards to accomplish. Oy vey, I can't wait for this all to be over.

Anyway, here you go!

Monday: Tomato Soup, Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches, and Steamed Broccoli

One of my favorite meals of all time, and perfect on a nice cold day. Even though the soup is homemade, it comes together in no time and is absolutely delicious, probably because it is quite far from the lowest calorie meal I've ever made, what with the 6 Tbsp. of buter and the 1 1/2 c. of heavy cream. It is so good though. My only edits are to omit the sherry, due to a certain toddler who is learning to eat soup, and to puree the whole thing with my immersion blender, because I like my tomato soup to be smooth.

Tuesday: Mushroom Marsala Pasta with Artichokes, Salad, Bread

I haven't made this yet, but it looks delicious, especially since it contains two of my most favorite foods ever - mushrooms and artichokes. Yum! I can't wait to try this.

Wednesday: Fauxtisserie Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, and Steamed Green Beans

Since we'll be at Aaron's Grandma's house for Christmas Eve dinner, and at my parents' and grandparents' houses on Christmas day, I thought I'd make us a "fancy" dinner on Wednesday. I say fancy in quotations, because the chicken is impossibly easy, the potatoes and stuffing are from a box, and the green beans are already snapped and washed, frozen, ready to be steamed. Active cooking time for this meal is less than 15 minutes. You really can't beat that, and there's nothing like a roast chicken dinner every once in a while.

So, there you go. It's a short week for dinners, but everything is easy and delicious. Tomorrow I'm posting that meatball recipe I promised last week. It feels good to have time to post, really to do anything other than write continuously (and not fun stuff) for days on end.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cheddar and Hard Cider Fondue

A couple Saturdays ago, Aaron threw me a great birthday party, and as is usual at our parties, the food was the main focus of most attendees. We did have a good, but really easy, spread this time, including Aaron's Mom's BBQ meatballs, a veggie tray, spiced nuts, parmesan herb twists, cream puffs with chocolate sauce, chocolate cake, and my personal favorite: cheddar and hard cider fondue with soft pretzels and tart apple slices.

I've made this fondue for two occassions now, and it has always gotten a great response - usually both with profuse "mmmmm"s and several requests for the recipe. And it's so easy too! The first time I made it on the stove top, but this time I made it directly in the electric fondue pot, and it worked perfectly both times. If you have a party coming up and are still wondering what to make (or if the craving hits and you need to do a fondue night just for the fun of it), make this.

Cheddar and Hard Cider Fondue
Source: Food Network

One (12 oz.) bottle hard cider (I've used both Woodchuck and Strongbow, both were good)
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (or pressed)
8 oz. gruyere, shredded
8 oz. vermont or new york (very sharp) cheddar, shredded
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
Cayenne pepper

In a saucepan (or in the electric fondue pot) combine hard cider, stock, worcestershire, and garlic and bring to a steady simmer. Simmer for five minutes.

In the meantime, combine shredded cheeses and toss with the cornstarch to coat. After the five minutes of simmering, add by the handful to the hard cider mixture, stirring each addition until melted before adding another. Cook, stirring, until the fondue is smooth, about 15 minutes from first cheese addition. Stir in a dash or two of cayenne and a pinch of salt (or to taste).

Suggested dippers - soft preztels, slices of granny smith apples, slices of baguette, lil smokies or slices of chicken apple sausage.

Come back tomorrow (hopefully) for the BBQ meatball recipe!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday (+1 Day) Meal Planning(ish) 12.7.09

I was so proud of myself yesterday morning. I had a meal plan all set to go. I was going to make the Cream Cheese Chicken
Cassie talked about yesterday. I found a delicious and simple looking recipe for a pea and tofu curry (yes, I understand delicious is in the stomach of the eater), our family-favorite easy burritos, and Baked Bean Soup. I made a grocery list and sent it on to Aaron so he could swing by the store on the way home and pick up the ingredients. I was all set. Finally, I was feeling back on track.

Then Aaron called me and vetoed everything but the burritos. So, I told him that if he didn't like my plan he got to make his own plan. And he did.

We're having the aforementioned burritos, chicken strips with fries and green beans, spaghetti and meatballs, and pizza. Sounds like a total man-plan, doesn't it? Still it works for me, since I'm hosting our office holiday party this year and have a lot of cooking to do on Thursday night in preparation (I'm only responsible for the main dish - thank goodness - and I'm making The Pioneer Woman's lasagna.

So there! You kind of get two meal plans for the price of one. My work here is done.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Caramel Apple Salad

A couple weeks ago I was reading on Angela's site, and then she wrote about Caramel Apple Salad, and I knew that it had to be mine. So, I made it for Thanksgiving, and it was delicious, and you should make it to. So go here, print out the recipe, make it, and melt with happiness. You won't regret it, promise.


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