Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hawaiian Style Meatballs

                                          (Yes, these are meatballs...not alien eggs...)

Today's scrumptious culinary treat is Hawaiian Style Meatballs! Simple to make. Easy to eat!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion and garlic powder 
  • 1 cup apricot or peach preserves 
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (omg, keep a bottle of this in your kitchen always!) 
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Mix the ground beef, soy sauce, brown sugar, onion powder and garlic powder thoroughly in a large bowl. Form the mixture into 2 tablespoon-sized balls and place on a foil covered baking sheet. 
  3. Bake in preheated oven until no longer pink in the center...about 15 minutes. Stir the preserves and the cider vinegar together and toss with meatballs in a clean bowl, then return to the baking sheet and bake for an additional 6 minutes. 
I normally serve these over white rice but tonight I made them with mashed potatoes and that worked too. :)

The first time I made this I wasn't thinking and added everything into the meatballs from the start, but they turned out great that way too. The preserves are the secret ingredient in this dish. I use peach, but you apricot folk do as you like. In all honesty, the best tasting preserves I've used has been the Harris Teeter store brand. (When we first moved to North Carolina, we drove past the Harris Teeter every day for a month to go food shopping, because we had no idea it was a supermarket. It sounds like a furniture store or something, doesn't it?) 

There wasn't much I could do with pictures for making meatballs, but I took some anyhow, and I have to say, they are epic. 

                                        A dramatic shot of meatballs waiting to go into the oven...

          A second dramatic shot because I decided the first shot wasn't enough drama all by itself, and meatballs like drama. They also like 400 degree ovens!  

Cooked meatballs slathering themselves in the sweet preserves! 

The tin foil making a dramatic meatball optical illusion. And...back into the oven they go! 

No..wait...a shocking surprise! ONE MORE dramatic meatball picture! 


Okay, so imagine these on top of some white rice and ya got a gourmet Hawaiian meal!
(well..maybe not gourmet...or authentically Hawaiian..but..come on...they're tasty meatballs!) 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps



These can be eaten hot or cold. Make a bunch. 

Ingredients:
  • Cooked boneless breast chicken - cubed. 
  • Large flour Tortillas 
  • Cooked crispy Bacon
  • Green Bell pepper, chopped
  • Red Onion, chopped
  • Shredded Cheddar (or Mozzarella)
  • Black Olives, sliced.
  • Creamy Ranch dressing (or tasty dressing of your choice) 
First of all, yes, every other recipe here is wrapped in a Tortilla. Those things are amazing. I love them. I didn't put a quantity on my ingredients because you can adjust them according to your needs. I usually make 8 at a time, since you can snack on them all week long.  (And you will!)

So for starters, we're going to fry up a strip of bacon, one for each wrap. Here's a picture of the bacon frying because bacon is awesome. (By the way...if you don't have a griddle, you totally should buy one! I wish I had gotten mine twenty years ago. They make your life sooo much easier, and I swear they are easier to clean than a pan.)


While the bacon is frying, you can chop up your veggies and chicken. Put your entire stack of Tortillas on a paper towel and stick them in the microwave for one minute. You want them to be soft and pliable. Tortillas like to be soft and pliable. Gather all your ingredients together and be ready to make like an assembly line.

 

Draw a line of dressing across the middle of the Tortilla and top with a handful of chicken. Then pile on the rest of the ingredients according to taste. Obviously, if you don't like olives or onions, etc, you can omit those things, and add things you do like, because no one is going to question you. There is no wrap police. Yet. They are equally good with cheddar and mozzarella and they are equally good with Creamy Ranch, Caesar and Italian dressings, etc. You may be the master of your own culinary destiny!



For show purposes, I lined everything up for the photo, but normally, I just dump it all in one big row.

To fold a Tortilla for a wrap, you're going to fold the sides in first (barely an inch..just enough to keep stuff from falling out the sides. Then you fold the bottom half up and over your filling and you just scrunch it all inwards. The warm Tortilla will be malleable. If you hold it there a second, you can feel it conform. Fold the sides in again and roll it forward all the way. Again, hold it there a second and squeeze it gently. It's almost like playing with play dough. (I probably should have done these on something other than a white background as it's hard to see. Sorry!)




As you make each one, pop it in the microwave for 45 seconds while you make the next one. (Assuming you are going to eat it now. Otherwise, you can pile them into a big zip lock bag and refrigerate them just like this until you are ready to eat them.)

To be a true Killer Gourmet, slice them at a diagonal and serve with one half leaning against the other. Like so:

 Yay! It's yummy noms!

(For a healthier low fat version of these wraps, omit the bacon and choose a low fat cheese and dressing. They're almost as good. But of course, nothing is as awesome without bacon.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spinach Chicken Crepes

 
It takes about an hour of work to make these sumptuous Spinach Chicken crepes, so I only make them once every two months or so, but they are sooo worth the time. This recipe makes twelve crepes, and I usually cook six and either refrigerate or freeze the other six to eat at a later time. If you are feeling adventurous one day and wanna be all pro in the kitchen...these are the things to make!

Filling Ingredients: 
  • 2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups grated asiago cheese *
  • 3 eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1/2 package fresh spinach (or...half a can works too)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb cooked chicken, chopped   
  • Jar of Alfredo Sauce for topping. 
* - I use the grated 'Italian Mix' cheese sometimes because not every store carries the grated asiago. So long as it contains asiago cheese, it's fine. The mix cheese is very close to the same flavor.

Crepe Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh snipped chives (*green onions work just as well and is what I use here)  
  • olive oil spray
Prepare the crepe batter first. Add the eggs and water and combine well. Add the flour and salt, and process until mixture is very smooth. Stir in the chives or onions. Place in a bowl and let sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, asiago (save a little cheese to sprinkle on top later) and eggs in a large bowl. Add the chicken and onions. Regardless of which kind of spinach you use, canned or fresh, stick it in the microwave for a minute to remove some of the moisture from it. (If you use the canned stuff, drain it really really well first)  Fold the spinach into the ricotta mixture.

                                      (Yes, it sort of looks like greenish gunk at this point)

To make the crepes, lighty grease a pan and heat over med high heat. Temp wise...think pancakes. You want these crepes to come out rectangular in shape. There's a way easier way of making crepes than to hold the pan at an angle and swivel it around. I just pour like a quarter cup of mix onto the pan and then take a regular straight edged spatula and spread the liquid into the shape I want.  Observe my very brief video. (I lay some oil on the side of the griddle and shove it around with the spatula every once in awhile as needed..so ignore the LAKE of oil on the side there, lol)

video

Then you turn them over and let them cook 10 seconds on the other side. I use tiny squares of wax paper to separate them as I stack them. I have no idea if they stick together or why I started doing it that way, but it's habit now. :)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease bottom of baking dish.

Fill each crepe with 1 cup ricotta filling, then roll.




 Place in baking dish, seam side down.



Pour the Alfredo sauce on the top of the crepes and sprinkle with a little cheese.




Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.


 
The filling, the crepes and the sauce are have their own unique, amazing flavors and the combination of tastes is OUT OF THIS WORLD delicious! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spanish Rice Bake







This one takes a little work, but the taste is amazing!


Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoons cilantro
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Drain fat and transfer beef to a large pot over medium low heat.  Stir in the onion, green bell pepper, tomatoes, water, rice, chili sauce, salt, brown sugar, cumin, Worcestershire sauce and ground black pepper.  (The temp is very important here. Too high and it burns the bottom a bit, too low and the rice comes out crunchy. A smidgen just under medium seems to work well.)
  3. Let this simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Press down firmly and sprinkle the top with shredded Cheddar. 
  4. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 10 to 15 minutes. Dust top with Cilantro. 
*A word about Chili Sauce. The taste on Chili Sauces varies greatly from one brand to another. The more expensive ones are a bit more flavorful but they tend to be spicier as well. The Heinz brand I'm using here isn't akin to much more than a mildly flavored ketchup, but it's cheap and it does the job...but if you like your food a bit more spicy, go for one of the fancier (expensive) brands.    

And now for some completely unnecessary pictures.


You can chop up the veggies and toss them in the pot while the meat is browning. 


(Oooh, Pretty!) 


"We wanna go in the pot too!"


It's a FIESTA!


Topped with cheese and ready to go in the oven. You can stick it in the fridge this way and cook it whenever you want! (Well...within a day or two.) 


                                            The finished dish...and it tastes as good as it looks!


.