Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meatball Subs

I love leftovers, it is easy and means I don't have to cook and clean a kitchen, yet still have yummy food!! An even better thing is when I can use last nights dinner to make something different the next day. A perfect way to use last nights meatballs is to make a meatball sub for lunch (or diner) the next day!

Meatballs with plenty of tomato sauce
French Rolls
Parmesan cheese, grated
Provolone Cheese, sliced

Cut your french roll about 3/4 of the way through. Place hot tomato sauce along the inside of roll and then put in your meatballs. Top with more sauce, then Parmesan cheese and finally provolone slices. Put sandwich on cookie sheet and put under broiler until cheese is melty and bubbly. Watch it carefully, things burn fast under the broiler!! Now its time to enjoy! Serve with an extra side of tomato sauce for dipping if you desire :)

Spaghetti and Meatballs

So, I don't know about you, but I can't wait for summer so we can have homegrown tomatoes again!!! My mother-in-law has an amazing garden that produces more tomatoes than any garden I have ever seen. At the end of last tomato season I picked bags and bags of tomatoes and made a huge batch of the most delicious tomato sauce!

Well, just because I don't have fresh tomatoes for sauce doesn't mean I can't make my tomato sauce taste great! The following recipe makes A TON of meatballs and sauce. Feel free to cut the recipe in half. I make big batches and freeze half the meatballs. I am not going to lie, this is a bit time consuming and that is why I make a lot and freeze half.

For Meatballs:
1 lb hot Italian sausage, remove casing if necessary
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Parmesan cheese (fresh grated or green can)
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper

Mix all ingredients together. You want all ingredients incorporated, but don't over mix, this will help to keep the meatballs nice and tender. You might need to add a little more parm cheese or bread crumbs in order to get the right consistency to make your meatballs. Roll meatballs into about 1 1/2 inch balls. Use a big pan (the one you are going to make your sauce in) and cover the bottom of pan with olive oil. Make sure pan is hot, add in some meatballs. Brown on one side and then turn over, making a crust all around the meatball. You will have to do this in shifts. Once the meatball is browned, put it to the side. Once all the meatballs are browned its time to make your sauce! At this point I put half the meatballs in the freezer to use for another meal :)

1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp of red pepper flakes(more or less, depending on how you like it)
1 cup (about) of red wine
3 14.5 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 cup basil, chopped
2 sprigs of oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste (or course!)

Add onion, celery and carrots to the pan you used to brown meatballs. Saute for about 2 minutes, add garlic and pepper flakes and saute another minute or so until veggies have a little color on them. Add in the wine while scraping the bottom of pan with wooden spoon to get up any little bits left from the meatballs. Next add in the tomatoes, then basil and oregano. Let it simmer on stove for about 30-40 minutes (or until it doesn't taste like canned tomatoes anymore). At this point, pull out oregano sprigs. Use a stick blender to puree some of the sauce. I like my sauce to have a little bit of texture so I just do a quick blend, the longer you do it the smoother your sauce. Now, put the meatballs back in the sauce and let them simmer in the sauce until they are finished cooking.

In our house we like to serve over angel hair pasta, but its up to you :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Braised Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

I had a great weekend!! Friday night my hubby cooked for me, Saturday went to a friend's party and Sunday was a family day! What could be better??
I got to enjoy a perk to being a chef's wife this weekend when I took my dad into Casey's restaurant. He cooked us the most amazing, delicious 8 course dinner paired with wine for me and a special beer pairing for my dad! I am always amazed when I see him in his element and its a good reminder to me that the late nights and long hours are all worth it. Casey loves his job and he is so good at it! I am a proud wife, for sure :)

My weekend was so busy that it didn't leave much time for cooking, so tonight I got back on track and made something super yummy.
4 chicken breasts (chicken thighs would work too!)
1 onion, cut in half and then sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 cups (or so) mushrooms, sliced
2 cups brussel sprouts, cleaned and cut in half*
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 can cream of mushroom sauce (or 1 cup cream)
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil
Start by putting about 2 tablespoons into a deep pan (I love to use my Le Creuset dutch oven, super expensive but I love it!!) Turn heat to high. Season both sides of your chicken breast with salt and pepper and put in HOT pan. Cook about 2 minutes and then flip chicken over and cook other side for about 2 minutes. Remove chicken (It is not cooked at this point so NO tasting!) Add a little more olive oil if needed to pan and then add in onions and garlic, sauteing them until they are soft. Next add mushrooms and brussel sprouts cooking for about 3 more minutes. Next, de glaze your pan by adding your wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of your pan, this will loosen up any of the chicken bits and will be delicious in your sauce. Add the chicken broth and mushroom soup and stir well to combine. Taste your sauce and add salt & pepper if needed. Now, add your chicken back in smothering the chicken into the liquid. Turn heat to low and cook for about an hour. The sauce will reduce, making it rich and creamy. Serve with a side of mashed potatoes and prepare to fall in love :)

**If you hate brussel sprouts you can omit them, BUT I think you should give them another try.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Trader Joe's Masala Sauce

Trader Joe's has so many delicious and healthy options and so many of them I am sure I don't even know about yet!! One of my favorite finds is the Masala Simmer Sauce. A friend made me dinner when Braydon was born and she used this sauce, I loved it, but didn't shop at Traders then. Well, I do now and I always grab a couple of these simmer sauces when I am there!! Its a great little thing to keep in the pantry and pull out for a quick easy dinner!! You can make chicken masala, shrimp masala, veggie masala or whatever you like! Just pour it over some rice and its an awesome meal!
Check out my favorite way to make it! It is easy and a great way to get your kids to eat more veggies :)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 Jar Masala Simmer Sauce
2 cups chicken broth
chicken or shrimp if desired
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
Salt & Pepper

Start by coating the pan with olive oil. To a hot pan add your onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper and garlic (season with salt & pepper) and saute in pan until soft. Now add your sauce, chicken broth and corn. If you are adding chicken or shrimp its time to add it now!! Let the sauce simmer on low for about 15 minutes (or until your meat is cooked). Now serve it over rice and maybe add a salad and dinner is ready!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Coleslaw and Apple-Cranberry Crisp :)

Sunday night we had some family over for dinner and Casey cooked up some pork shoulder, chicken wings and sausage in the smoker. He loves using his smoker, but it is an all day ordeal. As a matter of a fact, I think he started the pork around 2 am, for dinner at 5:30! Crazy! The food was soooo good though and when he does the meat I usually take on the task of side dishes and dessert!

I made some coleslaw and for dessert an awesome apple cranberry crisp :)


1 head cabbage (I like to do 1/2 green cabbage and 1/2 purple)
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch cilantro, leaves picked and chopped
1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt & Pepper to taste

First put finely chopped onion and garlic into a bowl with vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and salt and pepper. You want to let that sit for 10 minutes while you get everything else ready. Then slice the cabbage. Cut cabbage in half and then each half into halves. Cut out the core and then very thinly slice the cabbage. Once all cabbage is sliced, add chopped cilantro and vinegar mixture and toss together. The last step is to add the mayonnaise. Once everything is mixed, please be sure to taste the coleslaw and add salt & pepper if needed :)

Then the Apple-Cranberry Crisp for dessert! This recipe is so simple, and can easily be modified to suit your own creative genius!! For example try making this dessert with these mixtures, or others: Apple-Blueberry, Apple, Pear, Apple-Blackberry, Peach, Plum, etc!!

For Filling:
5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used pink lady, granny smith are also yummy)
1 cup fresh cranberries
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or try honey, agave nectar or caramel)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of salt

For Topping:
1 stick cold butter, cubed
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large bowl mix all the filling ingredients together until coated and pour into your favorite baking dish (I used a 13x9 in pan). Then mix all ingredients for topping in bowl and use your fingers to mix everything together creating dough( you can also do this in a food processor). Use fingers to clump dough on top of filling. Once it is basically covered put into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. It will be bubbly and brown and ready to serve with some ice cream!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cornbread Pot Pie

A couple of days ago Casey said he was in the mood for some cornbread. I was trying to think of something new to make using cornbread and remembered watching a cooking show (years ago!) where they used corn bread with a chicken pot pie. Since my man loves pot pie and corn bread I thought I would give it a try!!
So for dinner tonight I threw some things together, and let me just was AWESOME!! This was my first time making it, but I think this will become a regular dish in our house. The best part is most, if not all, the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry/fridge!!

For the filling:
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Salt & Pepper

For the Corn Bread Topping:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten

Start by par-cooking the potatoes and carrots in salted water. This means boiling them until they are almost cooked, but still slightly undercooked. They will finish cooking in the oven, but still have a bite to them. Put them to the side. Next, add oil and butter to a saute pan. Once the butter is melted, add onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until onions begin to look transparent. Add the flour, stirring constantly and until it is all incorporated. This is making a rue, which will help to make your filling thick and creamy!! Next add in your chicken stock, stirring constantly to mix with rue and onions, you don't want any clumps. Cook for another minute or so and you will see the broth getting nice and thick. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Add in cooked chicken, carrots, potatoes and carrots. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish.

Time to make the cornbread!! First mix all your dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl combine milk and melted butter. Then add egg and slightly beat. Add wet mixture into dry and stir until moistened. Don't over mix!!! Spoon cornbread batter on top of pie filling. And bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden brown on top :) Take out of the oven and let it sit for AT LEAST 5 minutes before you cut into it. Resist all urges to try just a little bit, wait and it will finish cooking and the filling will set. Then, you can finally ENJOY!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Corn Chowder

Its cold outside and my kiddos have been asking for soup, so I made one of our favorites for dinner tonight! Corn Chowder, I love it because it is soooo flavorful and full of veggies! My kids, and hubby the chef love it too!

Corn Chowder

3 slices bacon (or 2 tablespoons olive oil)
1 onion, diced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
1-2 bell peppers, chopped
2-3 poblano (sometimes labeled pasilla) peppers, seeds removed and chopped**
3 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
3 tablespoons flour
2 boxes chicken stock
3 large russet potatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
1 large bag (or 2 small) frozen corn
1 quart half & half (can also use heavy cream)
Salt & Fresh ground pepper to taste

Start by cubing bacon and cooking in large pot. Once bacon is browned, remove and set aside. Next add onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, poblanos and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Sweat veggies for about 3 minutes on medium heat, they should start to become translucent. Now, add in the flour stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Pour in chicken stock while scrapping bottom of pan. Add potato, bay leaf and thyme, simmer on medium heat until potatoes are not quite cooked. Add corn and cream and heat through. Check seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed! Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs before serving.

This is a hearty soup, that is best enjoyed with some crusty artisanal bread!

**Warning- This pepper can have some heat so be sure to wash hands after handling, before touching eyes or mouth as it will sting!! Once cooked the heat really dies down, even Griffin (who is 1) loves to eat them!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hubby's Flat Iron Steak :)

Happy New Year!! Boy, am I happy that it is January and things have and will continue to slow down at the restaurant. I am ready to have more family time!

The question I am most often asked when someone hears that I am married to a chef is, "does he cook for you all the time?" The answer is........NO! He works so much that when he is home he very rarely wants to spend his time cooking. I understand that and totally don't blame him, so this afternoon when he wanted to make lunch I was thrilled! I watched him cook and realized what he was making was really easy and figured some others would want a recipe from him :) This is my interpretation of what he did (wanted to clarify that for you Hunny).

Flat Iron Steak cut into 6 oz portions
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

For Pesto Sauce:
1 cup basil leaves
3 garlic cloves
zest of 1/2 lemon
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of celery seed
1/4 cup (or so) of extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Marinate steak for 20 minutes in a Ziploc bag with some fresh cracked pepper and balsamic vinegar. Pull out of marinade and season steak with salt and pepper and put it on the grill. Cooking time depends on thickness of meat, but plan on a little over 3 minutes per side. Internal temp should read 120 degrees. Take steak off the grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting the meat against the grain into strips. Then top steak generously with pesto sauce.

To make the pesto sauce start by chopping up the basil leaves (this can be done in the food processor, but I liked the rustic chunky version). Then smash and chop garlic. Add lemon zest, cayenne, celery seed and salt and pepper. Slowly add in olive oil while whisking mixture. The sauce should be like a thick, chunky dressing. Let sauce sit on counter while you cook the steak so the flavors have time to mix and develop.

This was so delicious, I just wanted to keep eating the sauce! The pesto like sauce would be great on top of fish, chicken or veggies as well. It is really healthy, and bursting with flavor! Enjoy!