Friday, September 30, 2011

That's A Spicy-a Meataballa!

Alright, I'll admit it. We were watching Disney's Lady & the Tramp.  We still have hearts, man.  Souls.  Feelings.  We don't always want to punch some smarts into people.  Sometimes we just want to watch some freakin' feel good Disney movies!  And laugh at the awful, ethnic stereotypes - "Whattsa matta for you, Joe!  I break-a your face!"  That's family entertainment!  And also a direct quote from the movie.  And then we craved meatballs!  So we made them.

We try meatballs anywhere we can... and we are disappointed, every time.  Too dry.  Too mealy.  Too big.  Too bland.  Well I'm going to go out on a limb and say that these are the best meatballs I've ever had.  They were perfect (for what we like).  I spiced the hell out of these balls, because Justin made the sauce, and he was feeling like a less-seasoned marinara than we usually make, so they balanced each other out perfectly.  The combo was killer.  And we're not big on pasta... we eat it now and then, but we don't crave it, so we just ate our Meatballs and Marinara with some rustic buttered bread.

And Fugazi... need I say more? "Waiting Room".  It's my favourite Fugazi song; I'm not alone there.  But I'm not alone there for a reason. -jen

  • 2 cans (28oz each) whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery greens
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons minced garlic (depending on taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 can (14oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 shot (1.5 oz) dry Sherry
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Empty whole tomatoes into a large bowl and break them down with your hands so that they're crushed.  (Careful, they squirt!  Wear an apron or be prepared!)  Set aside.

In a stock pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to medium-high heat.  Add chopped onion and celery greens and sweat until onion is translucent, 3-5 minutes.  Then add minced garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook an additional 2 minutes.  Add fresh basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and black pepper.  Cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Then add Marsala and let reduce for a couple of minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and whole tomatoes that were crushed earlier.  Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, then blend with a stick/immersion blender or pour into food processor and carefully blend (it's hot!) and return to stock pot.

Simmer uncovered for an additional 1.5 hours (You can start making your meatballs here).  Ten minutes before it's done, add Sherry and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.  (For a spicier, more seasoned version of this sauce, we just add an additional 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon Thudium's Herb Seasoning.)

Note: All the simmering and cooking down isn't absolutely necessary if you're in a hurry, but it definitely helps the flavour of your sauce if you have the time.

  • 3 slices bread, cubed small
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1.5 pounds 15/85 ground beef (we used Angus beef, yum)
  • 1.5 pounds Italian sausage
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Romano or Asiago)
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons dry Italian seasoning (or a variation or oregano, thyme, rosemary)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  •  1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, soak bread and milk.  In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients.  Squeeze out some of the milk from the bread and crumble the soaked bread into the mixture, just mixing until combined.  Refrigerate for about an hour.  Place a baking rack over a baking sheet and roll meatballs about 2" in diameter.  Place on rack and partially bake meatballs for 12 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Using tongs, place the hot meatballs into the simmering marinara and cook for another 15 minutes or until internal temperature of meatballs reaches 140 degrees F.  (If you want to bake the meatballs in the oven until completely cooked through because you won't be cooking them in sauce, bake for a total of 20-25 minutes.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Asian Chicken Thighs

I don't have much of an intro for this; it's been a long day.  But these are delicious, and they were a pretty quick fix for us... we usually have all of these ingredients on hand. It'd still be worth buying the stuff if you don't have it, because chicken thighs are cheap and easy (like your mom) and this is better than just plain ol' thighs.

Here is a completely random song that has nothing to do with Asian Chicken Thighs - Millencolin singing "Devil Me". -jen

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Hoisen sauce
  • 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 heaping teaspoon lime relish (or juice and zest of 1 lime)
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
  • a few dashes of Sriracha hot sauce
  • 8 skinless chicken thigh*
* In the picture, you can see I used thighs with the skin on, but I wouldn't recommend it because the skin won't crisp up due to the marinade, and you'll end up with some soggy, gelatinous chicken skin. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a bowl and whisk.  Place chicken and marinade in a Ziploc bag and marinate no more than 3 hours (or your meat will get tough from the vinegar).  Place in a shallow baking dish and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken has reached 160 degrees and the juices run clear.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Once Baked Potato Casserole

I'm not really much of a potato person, but I do love a good twice-baked potato.  They seem like such a waste, though.  You can't scoop all the inside out, or your shell is too thin, and then most people just eat the stuffed innards and toss the skin.  With this recipe, we use it all!  It's like twice baked potato casserole... but, it's once boiled, once baked.  Whatever it is, it's awesome.

If you have cholesterol problems or are a physician, you might not want to continue.

Here's a little Social Distortion.  They go with potatoes really well.  -jen

  • 4 large Russet potatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 6 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon butter, room temp
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • black pepper
Thoroughly clean potatoes and dice into large cubes, leaving the skin on.  Place diced potatoes into a large pot.  Add water just to cover the potatoes and stir in the salt.  Turn heat on high and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cook 10-12 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain.

Meanwhile, chop bacon into small pieces.  Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add bacon when skillet is hot.  Stir to keep from sticking and brown bacon until crispy, 7-10 minutes.  Remove using a slotted spoon and scoop onto a paper towel covered plate to drain.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, 6 tablespoons butter, cream cheese, and cream.  Using a hand held mixer, blend until desired consistency - we like ours chunky.  Stir in shallots, chives, bacon and 1.5 cups of the cheese, setting aside the remaining 1/2 cup.  Pepper to taste.

Using the remaining tablespoon of butter, generously grease a 8x8 baking dish.  Spoon in mashed potatoes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese has begun to brown.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wild American Shrimp Etouffee

My grandma and your grandma we're sitting by the fire...  So, lately, I've been wanting to do some southern-style cooking and the other day something reminded me of a commercial that was running on TV right after hurricane Katrina.  Jen and I always loved it because the one we had seen locally actually used the words, "All up in your etouffeé."  The video I found online is a bit shorter and says, "Right there in your etoufeé" instead but the point is that it inspired me to do some Cajun cookin and I decided on shrimp etouffeé.  I used a pearled barley in place of the rice, as Jen and I prefer it, but you could use anything you want since etouffeé is just a French word that means "smothered".  Smother whatever you wish!

Since the dish was inspired by wild American shrimpers, I figured it would only be apropos to accompany the dish with some Dead Kennedy's "Holiday in Cambodia".  Why, you might ask?  Because of some connective process by which one has to be aware that the biggest competition for wild American shrimpers is Southeast Asian shrimpers.  And Holiday in Cambodia seemed fitting.  If you read the next recipe post, I'll show you how to get from The Dead Kennedy's to Kevin Bacon in under three moves.  -  justin

Shrimp Etouffee
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups pearled barley
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried sweet basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh pepper (Bell, Anaheim, Poblano) - I used poblano
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups seafood stock 
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 lbs peeled, de-veined shrimp
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallions
Bring the water and 3 tbsp of salt to a boil over high heat in a saucepan and add the pearled barley.  When it returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for 30 minutes.  No lifting the lid!  After 30 minutes, set aside to cool.  This can be made far in advance if desired.

Thoroughly mix the salt, cayenne, white and black peppers, sweet basil and thyme and set aside.  In a separate bowl combine the onion, celery, and fresh peppers. 

In a large skillet (preferably cast iron), heat the oil over high heat until it just stars to smoke, around 4 minutes or so.  Mix in the flour gradually, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth and continue cooking over high heat, whisking constantly, until the roux is a dark reddish-brown color, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove from heat as soon as you are at the desired color and immediately add the chopped vegetables and 1 tbsp of the seasoning mix.  Stir in with a wooden spoon and continue stirring until the roux has cooled, approximately 5 minutes or so.  The idea is to stop it from cooking or the residual heat will carry it far beyond where you intend, even burning your roux after it's been removed from the heat.

In a 3 quart saucepan bring 2 cups of the seafood stock to a boil over high heat.  Add the roux in increments, making sure to completely dissolve it before adding the next bit.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes while continuing to whisk.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan or stockpot, melt 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), over medium heat.  Stir in the shrimp and green onions.  Sauté for a minute or two, stirring constantly.  Add the remaining stick of butter, the last cup of seafood stock, and the stock/roux mixture.  Cook until the butter melts into the sauce, about 5 minutes, constantly shaking the pan in a circular motion over the heat, rather than stirring*.  Add at least 1 tbsp of the remaining seasoning mix and stir it in.  There should be 3 tbsp left and I used 2 for some spicy zip!

Serve over rice, or barley, and enjoy with a tall glass of iced tea or a cold, dark beer.

*A note on shaking the pot as opposed to stirring.  There are scientific reasons as to why this is a better way to combine butter in a sauce over medium heat instead of stirring but I don't know them.  What I do know is that it helps the oils released from the melting butter to better incorporate in the sauce than stirring does.  It works.  It just does.  If your sauce comes out looking oily or separated, add 2 more tbsp of stock or water and shake the pot for a couple minutes and the sauce will blend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Roasted Sage Chicken with Mushroom Sage Stuffing

This came out to be such a tasty, home cookin' kinda meal!  We'd just had the whole chicken in the freezer for a while, not sure what we were going to do with it.  Justin had mentioned brining it.  But I left work early today and decided I was cooking up a meal.  We had a lot of the stuff on hand - that's often inspiration enough for us... trying to see what we can use up in the fridge and still create something fantastic.  We had the garlic sourdough bread, the leftover corn bread, we had onions and lemon... so I really just picked up a few odds and ends to complete it.

Oddly, we weren't really listening to much music while cooking this tonight.  So as I posted this, I had this random stream of thoughts that made their way to Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls On Parade" in a ridiculously long, out-of-the-way though process.  Punk?  Well, not really, though I can think of a handful of arguments on how you could call Rage punk.  But I get to break my own rules whenever I want.  And if I want to post some Rage, I'm gonna post some Rage! :)  -jen

  • 1 whole chicken (about 5 pounds)
  • 1 cup sage butter (recipe below)
  • 1/2 a lemon, quartered (use other 1/2 in butter below, zest whole lemon first)
  • 1 large carrot stick
  • 1/2 a medium onion, quartered
  • 1-2 celery sticks
  • a handful of fresh parsley
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • butcher's twine
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Make sure all innards are removed from chicken cavity.  Generous salt and pepper the chicken cavity.  Stuff lemon, carrot, onion, celery, parsley and basil into cavity.

Tie legs tightly together with butcher's twine.  Then gently lift the skin from the chicken and using your hand, rub a generous amount of sage butter under the chicken skin.  Rub remaining sage butter over entire outside of chicken.  Place chicken in a roasting pan and cook for about 90 minutes, or until the breast reaches 160 degrees F and juices run clear.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
  • 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • several cranks of fresh cracked pepper

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1.5 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 cups roughly chopped crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • several cranks of fresh cracked pepper
  • 6 cups stale bread, cubed (I like 4 cups sourdough, 2 cups cornbread)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Melt butter over medium-high heat and add onions, mushrooms, and celery.  Saute until tender, 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in sage, parsley, salt and pepper.  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine bread, chicken broth, and beaten eggs.  Mix in sauted vegetables.

Pour into a buttered 9x13 baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees F.  Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pickle Wheels

In my family, there are two "appetizers" (and I use that term loosely) that we must have at every major holiday.  One is a salsa-tortilla roll-up thing that I may or may not post later... and the other high-class hors d'oeuvres are Pickle Wheels.  They're something that came into our family about twenty-five years ago, when my Aunt Yvonne showed up to a family holiday dinner with these scrumptious little morsels instead of deviled eggs or green bean casserole!  Pickle wheels - dill pickles smothered in cream cheese and then wrapped with the cheapest lunch meat you can find, Buddig's.  Everyone I've ever made these for has whole heartedly balked at the ludicrous idea... until they try them.  Once tried, it's very likely that it will become your favourite little snacky thingie EVER!  My mother would make gorgeous, delicious, decadent holiday dinners... lobster stuffed filet mignon, creamy holiday mashed potatoes with chives and cream and cheese, spinach-stuffed mushrooms... and she'd tell us that Pickle Wheels didn't go with her meal.  We'd whine and beg and plead until she allowed us to make them!  They are a must have at all our holidays... or, like tonight, just when my bro and I and our spouses get together for a game night.  -jen

I know this is ska and not punk, but what else could I use for this recipe except some Skankin' Pickle?!

  • one jar Claussen whole dill pickles
  • 2 packs (8oz each) Philadelphia cream cheese, room temp
  • 4 packs Buddig's beef lunch meat slices
First, you need to dry your pickles by patting with a paper towel.  Then slice a few of the pieces of Buddig's beef evenly in half and set aside.

Using a butter knife, place a dollop of cream cheese on the end of a pickle.

Pat the cream cheese with the flat side of the knife to spread it evenly over the end of the pickle.  I find it easier to just pat it to spread it out than to try spreading it like you would butter on toast.  You want to cover it about an 1/8" thick.  Enough that pickle isn't showing through, but not too thick!

   (Insert dirty comment here)

Then place one half of the beef slice on the end, pressing it gently into the cream cheese.  This will give you a little of a less-messy hand hold on the pickle.  Repeat with the opposite end of the pickle.

Then smear the cream cheese on the exposed middle of the pickle, wrapping a slice of beef around as you go. I usually end up using two slices of beef to go around the middle of the pickle, in addition to the two halves at the ends.

Store pickles, whole, in the fridge for an hour or more to allow the cream cheese to firm back up.  You can make these a day ahead of time.

Then slice up into wheels and serve!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Garlic Cheese and Bacon Biscuits

I have no intro to this recipe, really.  I love cheese and garlic biscuits.  I wanted some.  Been on a bacon kick.  Decided to add bacon.  Made them.  They rocked!

(As much as I love bacon, I don't think I'm ready to make this monster yet, though.  Look, two recipes for the price of one!)

We both reeeeeeeeally liked these biscuits; they didn't last long at all.

Don't remember what I was listening to when making these - it was a while ago; I've been slacking with the posting.  But as I wrote it up tonight, I was listening to a little Lars Frederiksen and The Bastards (and some Rancid, and some Choking Victim, and some Minor Threat...)  But here's a little Lars and a little biscuits.  -jen

  • 10 strips bacon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dill, dried (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • few grinds of fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup monterey jack cheeese, shredded
Preheat oven to 425 F.

Chop uncooked bacon into small pieces.  Cook over medium high heat until crispy.  Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, dill, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.  Mix well.  Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and add milk, butter, bacon and cheese.  Mix by hand just until dry ingredients are combined (mix as little as possible!)  Using a 1/4 cup measurement, drop biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet about an inch apart.

Bake until golden brown, 20-22 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  I recommend removing them from the pan immediately (or at least flip them and let them rest on their tops).  Otherwise the bottom of the biscuits continue to cook and can get too dark.

Makes about 8 biscuits.

Check out that fancy paper plating!  Hey, I've got the rustic veggie thing going on behind it!