1 cup of skim milk
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tspn ground nutmeg
1/4 tspn vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
7-8 large pieces of day old seedless Italian bread, like scali. Fresh bread will rip when moistened with mixture, so day old or stale bread is the best.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil.
In a large bowl whisk all the ingredients.
Take a slice of bread and dip it into the mixture, letting the mixture saturate the bread for a few seconds. Then place 2 slices at a time on the heated skillet and let cook for 4 minutes on each side, till golden brown.
I often reference my Mother, the Sicilian Goddess of the kitchen, because she really is an amazing cook. Really I should get her an apron with that personalized. Her meatballs are savory, bite-sized portions of perfection. One thing my Mom taught me about her meatballs, which is something she learned from my Nonna, is that they are not made perfectly round. They are a touch flat. Not sure how this came about; but I love them, and continue to make them the same way. The ingredients are simple and wholesome. Which is the reason for my blog. For me, cooking isn’t meant to be difficult with recipes that have a mile long ingredients list. Good quality food is simple.
Below is my recipe, which is the same as the one I grew up eating, except I don’t fry my meatballs. And they taste the same. This recipe though yields enough for 45-48 1 inch meatballs, about the size of a walnut. YES! This day I made 48 meatballs! Froze 3 portions then used 1 portion for dinner. I consider a dinner portion anywhere between 10-12 meatballs (figuring for a family of four, 10 will be eaten for sure – 3 per adult and 2 per child – and then a couple left over in case someone wants another). Meatballs are super easy to freeze in zip-loc bags after they are cooled. Even easier to reheat in a sauce, over a skillet, in the oven, or the microwave. It’s makes for a quick meal..a homemade meal, anytime!
2.5 pounds ground beef
2 1/2 cups of whole wheat bread crumbs (or plain bread crumbs)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
3 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon of each S&P
Need: Parchment covered baking sheet drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: bread crumbs, cheese, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
Add in the wet ingredients: the ground beef, eggs, and garlic.
Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well incorporated.
Next, using your hands, shape the meatballs into balls, about the size of a walnut/1 inch, and place on baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn them over, place back in the oven for 7 minutes until browned and cooked through.
Stay tuned for my other meatball recipes later this year; especially my veal with ricotta! YUM!
2.5 pounds ground beef
1 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 28 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup of room temperature water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
¼ cup chile powder
¼ cup paprika
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon of each S&P
In a large stock pot, on medium heat, brown the ground beef breaking it up with a spoon. Once browned drain fat off (with the leaner meats there is less to drain).
Return to the heat, add onions and garlic, heat until the aromas fill the air and the color of the onions are translucent.
Then add in carrots.
Add in tomatoes and water. Stir to mix well. Reduce heat to a medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Then add in s&p, chili powder, cumin and peppers. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
Then add in beans. Turn down the heat to low.
Let chili simmer for an hour, stirring to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom. At this point the temperature should be lowered enough to just simmer, not be bubbling all over.
And it’s done!
I love to serve it piping hot with colby jack cheese shredded on top, then a few pieces of chopped scallion and a salty avocado/tomato mash. Then eat it with tortilla chips. YUM!
Today we are all in our Patriot’s gear ready for some football!
This afternoon we will be jetting off to our friends nearby for the game and good family fun. We decided that we’d make our chili to bring over…and some of our sangria. The chili, which smells amazing, is still simmering, so I thought to post my recipe for the sangria. Usually, sangria is my summer time late evening in the sun drink, but it’s also a great winter drink, too! Really can you ever go wrong with wine? NO!
Last night, I took a slim water glass and filled it with 1 cup of good no pulp orange juice then slipped it into the freezer. I LOVE using frozen juices in the sangria rather than ice cubes, cause it keeps it chilled while the juice melts slowly to flavor the drink nicely. Make sure that if you choose to freeze juice that you remember two things…1- all liquids expand when frozen so don’t fill anything to the top, and 2- measure the opening of the container you will be using so you get the frozen items in them. I generally don’t use ice cube trays cause it’s the size of the larger frozen pieces that make the difference. So good luck!!
My Winter Sangria
3 cups of red table wine
3 cups of cold ginger ale (sprite or seltzer water will work, I like using ginger ale so no more sugar is added)
3/4 cup brandy
1 cup of orange juice, frozen
1 tspn of ground nutmeg (I mix it into the brandy and then pour it in)
1 large orange, washed and sliced thin, save some for cup presentation
Since we are drinking them later and it’s still too early for me to drink, there is no photo of it in a glass! But I can assure you that this drink when I tasted it was DEEEELISH! GO PATS!
A great classic cocktail to start off your dinner party, the side car. It’s easy to make and using fresh squeezed lemon juice is the key!
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau (you can also use triple sec)
1 ounce brandy
Sugaring the rim of the glasses- one of my favorite sips is the first one, if you sugar the rim. Place the tip of the glass in lemon juice and then coat it in sugar, colored sugar for the holidays or fun celebrations is a must!
In a cocktail shaker, ice (about 3/4 full), lemon juice, Cointreau, and brandy.
Cover and shake.
Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon zest.
There are many times I get a dinner idea, and when I look in the pantry I don’t have the ingredients to pull it off. This dish is one that I made on a whim wanting to have risotto, but didn’t have any Aborio rice on hand. Believe I was pregnant with my oldest and had a strong desire for rice. Thinking to take a different type of rice, and, since I wasn’t driving to the store I was making risotto my way…with Jasmine rice.
Jasmine rice when cooked sticks together, it smells and tastes great. When cooked in the way I show below (like you would Aborio rice for risotto) does work into the creaminess you would find in a risotto; but this is in no way a risotto. Using Aborio rice is key for a rich, hearty risotto. Just want to make that you don’t think this is a real risotto.
So this is my Italian asparagus rice dish.
My Faux Asparagus Risotto
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup of jasmine rice, rinsed
12 stalks of asparagus, washed and then chopped
3 cups of vegetable stock (you can use either chicken or beef)
2 cups of tepid water (the amount of liquids posted in the recipe is an estimate; you may need more or less depending on how much is absorbed by the rice)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano cheese
1 tsp of each S&P to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
Add onions and garlic, and cook till translucent.
Once their color is achieved move onto the outer parts of the pan creating a circle in the middle. Add the rice to the middle. Gently mix together to get the rice coated with the oil and let cook for about 2 minutes fully mixed with the onions/garlic.
The rice will absorb the oil, so stirring the rice often is important so it doesn’t stick to the pan.
Stir in 1 cup of water until absorbed. Continue to stir.
Then add in the broth, ½ cup at a time. Stirring constantly. Move on to add more broth only when almost all the broth is absorbed. Keep doing this until rice is almost cooked, still has a bite to it. This could take 20-25 minutes.
Add in the asparagus and ½ cup of water and stir until fully absorbed. If you need more liquid to further cook the rice, you can add in the water.
Add in S&P and cook until the asparagus and rice is tender.
Turn off the heat, and add in the cheese and gently stir to mix it all in.
Serve hot sprinkled with additional cheese.
Please excuse my poor lighting. I was having issues in my kitchen. :
This is one of my all time favorite pasta dishes. My type of comfort food, if you will. Which has also become both of my daughter’s favorite meal all year round.
Pasta with Broccoli and Cauliflower (shown topped with toasted breadcrumbs)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large crowns of broccoli, washed and cut into a slightly bigger than bite sized pieces*
1 large head of cauliflower, washed and cut into a slightly bigger than bite sized pieces*
1 medium yellow onion chopped
1 large clove garlic chopped
3 cups of room temp water
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1lb of cooked pasta, preferably a larger cut pasta like the rigatoni shown here.
*You can substitute 2 cups each of frozen vegetables if you don’t have access to fresh.
In a stock pan, one large enough to hold all the vegetables, heat up the olive oil on medium-high heat. Saute the onions and garlic until translucent.
One they are translucent, add in the broccoli and cauliflower. Mix well to coat them in oil. Stir for about a half a minute, then turn down the heat to medium. Add in the water. Then S&P. Stir.
At this point you can start your water for the pasta.
Cover the pot and let cook for 10 minutes at a medium simmer. Continuing to stir every minute or so. As you are stirring the pieces of the vegetables will start to break down into smaller bite sizes.
Turn down the heat to a medium low and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
By the end of the 10 minutes your pasta should be cooked, ready to be drained and for the vegetables.
In a bowl, mix together the stock from the broccoli and cauliflower with the pasta (to coat and to absorb the flavors). Plate the pasta in a bowl, top with the vegetables and you are done!
I love to sprinkle toasted bread crumbs and pecorino cheese on top. Super delicious!
TOASTED BREAD CRUMBS
This will only take 5 minutes.
Set stovetop to high heat.
In a small frying pan place a cup of dried, plain bread crumbs.
Add in 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
Mix until the bread crumbs change color and get coated with the oil.
The heat will start to toast the crumbs. Keep stirring and moving the crumb until it is toasted to a golden brown.
It can easily burn if you let it sit for a second too long, so keep moving it! My trick is to flip it. Like you would sauteing something. It helps to flip the crumb and you can see the toasting color.
Once golden take off the heat and remove from pan.
Before you delve into making these pancakes you should know that using whole wheat flour adds a different texture and flavor. They are denser and actually a little bit sweeter. My children love them, and I do as well since I can eat just one and feel full.
Whole Wheat Pancakes
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2.5 tspns raw brown sugar (or 1 of regular white cane sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tsp canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
Sift the flours, then add in the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a bowl.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the canola oil. Quickly stir in the flour mix and add in the vanilla. Do not overwork the batter.
Heat a griddle or a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Brush with butter or oil. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour out the batter onto the pan. When bubbles start to break through at the top, flip and cook until they are brown on the other side.
Serve right away.
OR I have been known to make a few at a time then placing them in our toaster oven set to 200F so everyone can eat their first set of pancakes at the same time hot.
If you want to store them for another day, which is what we do. We make a double of the pancake batches and freeze for the week. So, if you want to do this, allow to cool completely. Then place in plastic bags, many at a time, and place in a freezer.