12.03.2013

BLT(ish) Wontons

Have you ever had one of those moments where you smack yourself and think "Ah! But Of Course that is brilliant!!!" Well, that is this recipe. Every time I make it, I never have enough leftover to get a picture. It is BLT(ish) because I didn't add Mayo, so for diehards this isn't a true BLT sandwich in a wonton.

I got the recipe from hungry girl but she added mayo and too much oil for my tastes so I left most them out and just added mustard. Now you can cook the wontons a day or two in advance but for the mixture, you will need to make it as is. I have also used the wontons to make a desert because once the you bake them, you can add anything!

Ingredients
  • 6 slices center-cut bacon or ½ cup of Feta cheese/chicken/turkey/whatever you want
  • 12-24 small square wonton wrappers
  • 2-3 tbls stone ground Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • Dash each garlic powder, and black pepper
  • 3 large plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups finely chopped romaine or iceberg lettuce (or whatever leafy greens you happen to have around!)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat on the stove. Add bacon and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside to drain and cool on paper towels. 
  3. Spray a 12 or 24-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray. Place each wonton wrapper into a cup of the muffin pan, and press it into the bottom and sides. Lightly spray the wrappers with nonstick spray. 
  4. Bake in the oven until light golden brown, about 8 minutes (or so depending on your oven). Set aside to cool. 
  5. In a large bowl, oil, dijion mustard, pepper, and garlic powder, mix well. Add chopped tomatoes and lettuce. Finely chop bacon (Feta/Turkey/Chicken/etc..) and add to the bowl. Gently stir until uniform. Set aside. 
  6. Transfer the cooled wonton shells to a plate. Evenly distribute the mixture among the shells, about 3 tbsp. per shell. Serve immediately!

7.28.2013

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Syrup


This recipe is a hit! Stacy and I both made it for different people and everyone thought these were amazing! I have made them both with the recommended meyer lemons and regular lemons. I can honestly say that using either one will be great because there is no real difference. It is a bit of a process so whatever you can do a day in advanced would be great. I found this a while back from Anne Burrell and I made a few tweaks to the original. If you have the time and money to find Meyer Lemons, which are sweeter, yet more expensive, then go for it! However if you are kind of on a budget but want to make an impressive brunch meal then use regular lemons.

Ingredients:

Strawberry Syrup

1 qt + 1 cup fresh strawberries topped and quartered
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbl sugar

Pancakes
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp baking powder
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 heaping cup of part skim ricotta (can use any you like)
3/4 cup fat free half n half
1 large lemon zested and juiced (or 2 meyer lemons)
1/16 tsp (pinch) salt for egg whites.

Directions
Finished strawberry syrup

Syrup:

  1. Place sugar, orange juice and strawberries in a bowl and let it sit for at least 30 min or Overnight.
  2. Take a little less than half of the mixture and blend it with a stick blender or regular blender then return to the rest of the strawberries and set aside.*






Pancakes:
Pancake batter with the egg whites


  1. Sift together Flour, Sugar, Salt, and Baking powder into a medium-large bowl. Make a small well for your wet ingredients.**
  2. Separate the egg yolks from whites by carefully cracking each egg in half and passing the yolk between the shells. Make sure a bowl is in place to catch the egg whites and the pinch of salt. **
  3. Put yolks in the little well you created with the dry ingredients.
  4. Add ricotta, lemon juice, lemon zest and milk then mix with the dry until just combined. **
  5. Using a whisk or electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then fold in the whites with the batter gently. It will make your batter look double in size.***
  6. Heat a large skillet and make sure it is buttered or greased slightly to prevent sticking. A good medium to medium-low flame is best here.
  7. Using a ladle, and place nice dollops in  the pan then wait bubbles to reach the surface of the pancakes before you flip them. Repeat until all are made.
  8. Serve with the strawberry syrup and a mimosa or favorite drink!
Pancakes should be a brown on the bottom with bubbles popping up.














Cooks Notes:
* Make the syrup a day in advance so you don't have so much to do in the morning of.
**Can also sift the dry ingredients, separate the yolks and mix the wet ingredients in advance so that you can easily assemble in the morning.
***If you make this in the summer and it is humid out, place your bowl and whisk in the freezer for a few moments to help stiffen the egg whites. Otherwise you will most likely get soft peaks instead of stiff ones.

7.04.2013

Fried Bacon Mac n' Cheese Bites

Yes, the title is correct. Made these for mother's day and we loved them so much we made them again for fathers day. Though the main dish was a really awesome three leaf and shrimp salad, these bites dominated our table.

To make these I used a rendition of Anne Burrell's Bacon Mac n' Cheese recipe from her book, Cook like a Rockstar. Basically you can use any Mac n' Cheese recipe you want so long as it is not the box stuff.

Mac n' Cheese Ingredients from MY favorite recipe.

  • 1 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 strips of bacon (optional if you are a vegetarian!)
  • 3 tbls unsalted butter
  • 1 onion diced
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cups fat free half n half
  • 4 cups cheddar jack
  • 1 cup parmigian
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • Add hot sauce if needed.


Directions

  1. If you are adding bacon then cook the twelve strips of bacon  then drain them on a towel. Reserve half the bacon grease and move to the next step
  2. Begin boiling a large pot of water for your noodles.
  3. If you are NOT adding bacon then add butter to medium pot on medium to medium high heat then add onion and reserved bacon fat with salt and cook for 8 to 10 min till onion is soft and aromatic.
  4. Add flour and stir frequently 4-5 min till the mixture looks like wet sand. You are creating a bechamel sauce here.
  5. Whisk in half n half and season with salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 8-10 min.
  6. Once your water is boiling add the pasta and cook for 1 min less than the directions say on the box. Drain and reserve.
  7. Once the onion bechamel is finished add your cheeses and some of your favorite hot sauce. Stir until the cheese is melted and mixed in well.
  8. Add Mustard, Bacon, and Pasta and mix well. Then transfer to a square baking dish and let cool. Freeze to help solidify the mac n cheese for cutting into bite sized pieces.
    1. Alternatively, you can eat it right here and now as it is amazing!


For Frying

  • 1 qt. (4 cups) of vegetable oil heated to 350 degrees
    • *use an instant read thermometer if you don't have a fryer.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • salt
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1-2 eggs beaten


Directions

  1. Heat the oil to 350
  2. Prepare flour with pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl
  3. Prepare panko with cayenne
  4. Cut the mac n' cheese into bite sized portions.
  5. Roll each piece in this order: Flour, Egg, Panko.
  6. Place bites in the heated oil for 2-3 min till golden brown
  7. drain on paper towels and enjoy!




Will have a wonderful crust!

6.30.2013

Mini Mint Chocolate Cheesecake Popsicles


Hopefully a better pic to come soon! If  we don't eat them all.

Nothing says Summer like hamburgers on the grill and ice-pops in the summer heat. As I have gotten older, I have replace ice-pops with more flavorful summer treats. This was discovered last summer from a Boston Chocolate post on facebook. The original can be found here.

My family and friends LOVE these and we sized them down to make it a after dinner treat. You can do a number of things with the filling and if your not a huge mint fan, then you can make them with lemon extract and lemon cookies or what ever filling you like.

Ingredients

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
3 tbls sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
1 (8oz) tub of cool whip
12 Mint Oreo cookies crushed or chopped

Magic Shell syrup (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium high speed until smooth and creamy. Be sure to stop in between and scrap the sides and bottom to ensure total mix.
  2. Add in the extracts and mix until fully combined.
  3. Fold in whipped topping in sections until fully incorporated into the cream cheese mixture.
  4. Fold in oreo cookies until combined.
  5. Line a mini muffin tin with paper cups or line a regular muffin tin with paper cups. Take a melon ball scooper or spoon and place good sized dollops in each cup.
  6. Press the mixture in gently to the bottom of the cups and add more mixture and press till you reach the top. It is ok if you go over. Basically you don't want any air pockets. A pastry bag works here too.
  7. Clear a space in your freezer and let the popsicles set completely, 3-6 hours.
  8. To eat, remove paper and dip in Magic Shell then eat and enjoy!
Whatever was left. No, we aren't pretty.

Before the Freezer!



4.06.2013

Beer, Whiskey and Irish Cream Cupcakes.

Chocolate Beer cupcake filled with a Whiskey Ganache and topped with a Irish Cream frosting. *commence drooling*
Baking is not something I do often. In fact since I have gotten older I crave sweet cake-y desserts less. But that went out the window as I discovered these from smitten kitchen and fell in love. I made them one st. patty's day and now I try to make them at any holiday occasion. Though it is a process I thoroughly enjoy the end result. It makes more than 24 cupcakes though and I have to give them away (which everyone appreciates!). I adjusted the frosting to make it less sweet but you can make it to your taste. The beer does cook out of the cupcakes but if you are not fond of alcohol in your food then try these Triple Threat Ganache-Filled Cupcakes. No alcohol but still awesome!


Beer Cupcakes

1 cup stout beer
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened dutch-process dark coco powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Chocolate Whiskey Filling

8 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbls butter, room temperature
2-4 tsp whiskey 

Irish Cream Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
2-3 cups confections sugar (aka: 10x sugar)
4 tbls Irish Cream Liquor

Directions:
For Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350, then line muffin tin with cup liners and set aside.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl to blend.
  3. With an electric mixer beat in eggs and sour cream in another bowl till blended.
  4. In a heavy large saucepan bring the stout and butter to a simmer over medium heat.
  5. Add coco powder to the beer/butter mix and whisk until smooth. Turn off heat and let cool slightly. (approx 2 min.)
  6. Add stout mixture to the egg/sour cream mixture and beat until blended briefly on slow speed.
  7. Gently fold in Flour mixture and combine completely.
  8. Divide the batter between the cups so that they are 2/3-3/4 full.
  9. Place in oven for 17 min or until a toothpick out of the center is clean.
  10. Remove cupcakes and cool completely.


Chocolate Whiskey Filling
  1. Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.
  2. Heat cream in the microwave until simmering (NOT boiling) *for better results, heat over a stove.
  3. Pour cream over chocolate and let it sit for 1 min. Then whisk it till smooth and chocolate is all melted (if the chocolate is not melting put in microwave for 15 seconds on high and no more than that!)
  4. Add the butter and whiskey and stir till combined.
  5. Put filling in the freezer for 5-10 min to thicken it then set it aside.


Filling the cupcakes: This part takes the longest!
  1. Once all the cupcakes are made and the filling is ready take a 1 inch round cookie cutter or a sharp paring knife and scoop out the center till you are almost halfway down the cupcake but do not hit the bottom.
  2. Take a plastic storage bag, place the chocolate filling in and snip off a little bit of the corner.
  3. Squeeze the chocolate into the centers of the cupcakes and set aside.

Filling the center

Irish Cream Frosting
  1. Whip the butter in a bowl with an electric mixer till the butter gets very light and fluffy.
  2. Add confectioners sugar slowly (approx 1/4 cup at a time) and beat on medium to blend.
  3. Once the frosting looks thick enough to spread add the Irish cream and beat till combined.
  4. Spread the frosting over the cupcakes and enjoy!


with the frosting!
Cooks Note: These lasted us in a airtight container on the counter for 2 weeks.

4.04.2013

Roasted veggies - A great snack!

Before
I have been in dire need to eat healthier lately, and what better way than to do that by roasting some veggies in the oven? Kris came up with this recipe, and a while back I called her and asked her how to make this and huzzah, I have pictures to prove that I'm making them in my own home.
There is no big secret to roasting veggies you just have to pick ones that cook at roughly the same time.

Ingredients:

2 red, orange, yellow or green bell peppers sliced thick
1 zucchini cut in thick half slices
tomatoes quartered
(Or generally cut veggies of your choice, cut into chunks)

1 tbls olive oil
1 tbls balsamic vinaigrette
salt and pepper
paprika
garlic and onion power (or other seasonings of your choice)



Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Mix veggie chunks in a bowl.
Pour in oil and vinaigrette, and spices, and mix.
Pour onto sprayed cookie sheet.
Put in oven for 10 minutes, then take out to flip, then put in for another 10 minutes.

Remove and then you're done!


After

3.20.2013

Red Onion Bruschetta

Perfect Appetizer!

I love cooking for other people and by most accounts people seem to like what I make and I have not yet killed anyone with my food. All good signs. I try making a variety of foods from different areas around the world and challenging myself in techniques that aren't always comfortable to me like: deep frying or baking.

Yet one type of cuisine has eluded me. I am absolutely horrible at cooking vegetarian meals. Odd since a large portion of the people I know are vegetarians. By vegetarian I am not counting the pasta dishes like oilo, fettucine, or pesto. I also don't include salads in the mix because as my sister in law told me: "Think about it, you are out at a restaurant and all they have on their vegetarian menu is three kinds of salads or spaghetti; you get sick of them after a while". I am talking about inventive, fun, and tasty vegetarian dishes.


Ingredients

1 tbls olive oil
Cook out the balsamic liquid
1 red onion thickly sliced
salt
pepper
1 tbls balsamic vinegar
8 black olives (or whatever olives you have) chopped
1/4 tsp dried thyme (or any dried herb you like)
6-8 slices of rustic bread (such as baguette or ciabatta bread)
2 garlic cloves
6 oz of fresh mozzarella cheese in slices

Directions

1. Heat oil in a pan on med-low heat and add the red onions. Add a little salt and pepper
2. Cook stirring occasionally for 5-7 min or until softened.
3. Increase the heat and cook until the onions start to color.
4. Add Balsamic Vinegar and cook stirring constantly until the liquid evaporates.
5. Stir in the olives and thyme. Set aside covered on low heat till bread is ready.
Make sure garlic is rubbed on all sides of the bread!
6. Toast the bread on one side under a broiler.
7. Cut one garlic clove in half and rub garlic on the toasted side. Toast the other side and repeat with garlic.
8. Divide onion mixture evenly on each slice and place mozzarella on each.
9. Put back under the broiler and cook until melted and slightly brown. Take out and enjoy!
Before putting under the broiler.

Cooks Note: You will have left over onion mixture so I recommend using it as topping on eggs and toast the next morning.

3.06.2013

Great-Grandma's Italian Manicotti

Manicotti with bread, sasuage, veggies and fruit salad.
Every family has those recipes that span generations and is a crowd pleaser with both children and adults. For my family it is our manicotti recipe passed down from my great-grandmother.

I have made this dish in several countries and always people are amazed when you take the time to make your own crepes, it adds a more at home touch and the flavors are better instead of the prepackaged stuff. Actually I didn't even know you could buy the crepes until I saw them in the store once.

If you look online for manicotti recipes, everyone will have different variations. Many crepe batters will use milk instead of water which allows them to use less eggs. I figure that since there is so much cheese in the batter a nice egg-y and salty crepe is a nice contrast plus you are guaranteed to have a thin crepe. In recent years we have discovered the secret to making your own ricotta cheese but for your purposes, the store bought stuff will suffice.

Now, making the crepes is a tedious process. It requires you to stand over the stove for the better part of 45 min to an hour making these. My method is to have a nice glass of Chianti beside me and the end result is worth it. You can also double the batter and filling to make a lot then freeze them on a baking sheet for later.



Manicotti Batter

5 extra large eggs
1 cup of flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
No bubbles at the top and less than 1/4 cup of batter into the pan.

Directions

  1. Beat eggs until smooth
  2. Sift flour and salt together over the eggs.
  3. Beat flour and egg mixture well then add water and mix just a little bit more.
  4. Let sit in bowl till the bubbles at the top of the batter are gone.
  5. Heat a lightly greased 8" skillet pan.
  6. Pour less than 1/4c of batter into the pan and swirl in a circular motion to spread batter evenly around the pan. You want a thin crepe!f
  7. Cook on medium to medium-low heat till the edges begin to pull away and the shine is gone from the top.
  8. flip the crepe and cook for 10 sec. more
  9. Remove from pan onto a clean surface and repeat until the batter is gone.

A nice thin crepe!- Don't want it to be too translucent or else it will tear.
Manicotti Filling

1 lb ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 cup grated parmeasan
1 cup approx. mozzarella
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
put all ingredients in
mix it all up
Final result
Crepes getting ready for filling!
Extra Ingredients
Marinara Sauce- at least one jar but more if you like to heap sauce on your pasta!
Mozzarella cheese for topping.









Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix : eggs, and cheeses together in a small bowl with the nutmeg.
  3. Place a good-sized dollop (approx. 1/4 cup but eyeball it!) into the middle of each crepe.
  4. Fold the  two sides of the crepe to the middle. Press down gently. Repeat
  5. In a 13x9" pan, place your sauce at the bottom then place your filled crepes, seam side down in the pan and cover with sauce.
  6. Place in the oven for 20 min. Then take out and sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top.
  7. Put back in oven and bake for a bit more till the cheese is melted and a little bubbly.
  8. Take out and lets stand for 5 min. before serving.

good sized dollop
Folded nicely












sauce on the bottom with manicotti seam side dow
Layer the sauce on then bake
then add mozzarella cheese and bake more.
Final result!


2.27.2013

"Impossible" Quiche

Impossible Quiche with salad

I was going through my mother's cookbook and we were discussing easy dinner recipes for people with limited time and money. This recipe gets its name from the fact that it make's its own crust which should be "impossible". Originally this recipe dates back to the 70's when bisquick foods were all the rage and considered great family meals (think shake n' bake), I am sure my mother got it from the box.   Though I have no memory, apparently my brother and I would scarf this down believing it to be 'Cheese Pudding Pie' as we did not like eggs when we were younger. Mom was a master at tricking us into eating our veggies and proteins without us knowing any different.

I was thinking of easy simple recipes for my friend Erin who is studying at Duke this year and the types of foods she can make with her schedule. On her return home from Spring break, we made this the night before my fathers hip surgery. It was such a hit and I plan on making this again with variations. You can add onions, herbs, cooked spinach, or cooked broccoli to jazz it up, however be careful with the liquid. Adding Tomatoes, Asparagus and any other watery vegetable will mean you have to reduce the amount of milk that goes it or else it won't set right!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup skim milk
5 eggs
1 stick melted salted butter
1/2 cup lightly packed bisquick mix (doesn't have to be bisquick brand)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup grated cheese

Directions

before cooking
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Melt butter and let stand till it is room temperature or below. Can put butter in fridge for 5 min to speed this along.
  3. In a blender add: Bisquick, eggs, milk, butter, and salt. Blend until smooth and combined.
  4. Mixture into a 9 inch pie plate sprayed with non-stick spray. 
  5. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.
  6. Place in oven for 30-40 min until the top is golden brown.
  7. Let stand for 10 min and serve.

Final result!

2.21.2013

Kale Chips


Kale Chips


Foodies and health guru's alike will spout poetic verses on how kale chips have changed their lives and replaced potato chips. Well to be honest, NOTHING replaces a good greasy potato chip, however I can say that it satisfy's the salt craving that many of us have when we are holed up in the winter months.

There is no big secret to kale chips. You can add whatever spices you like to make the flavor combinations you want. I just stick to the tried and true method of sea salt and a little bit of olive oil. Your oven might require more or less time so keep an eye out!
kale with oil...notice how little there is!

Ingredients

1-2 bunches of Kale leaves
1 tbls olive oil
sea salt

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Remove rib from leaves and cut into large pieces.
  3. Place in bowl and toss with one tbls olive oil.
  4. Spread Kale out in a single layer and sprinkle with sea salt. You might have more kale than can fit on the sheet so do in batches.
  5. Bake in oven for 20 min.
  6. Remove and enjoy!

1.19.2013

Kimchi Pajeon 2: Bite Sized

Kimchi Pancakes with a soy based sauce
Ever since I received a Korean cookbook this Christmas I have been a bit obsessed with making things like Bibimbap, Japche, and Pajeon. I am always looking for new ways to make my dollar stretch and to preserve food for the week. I made Korean Pancakes earlier however after talking to my Korean friends I got a better recipe and thanks to the idea from Tiny Food Party, I made them bite sized! Easy to make for a large group of people or to freeze for later.

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons rice flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon corn oil (vegetable oil will work too)
1/2 cup kimchi minced or sliced scallions (approx. I always add more)
2 eggs
1 tsp cayenne (optional)

Directions:

1. Mix above ingredients until smooth and there are no lumps.
2. Oil a large skillet and heat until hot but not burning the oil.
3. Take a small ladle or large spoon and put approx 2 tbls of the batter in the pan flattening with the back of the ladle/spoon in a circle motion to make a small pancake. Repeat, you should be able to get 4 or 5 in the pan.
4. Cook until the tops of the pancakes are no longer shiny and the bottom is brown. Flip and cook for another 10-20 seconds. Repeat.
5. Serve warm with a dipping sauce or freeze for later.

1.08.2013

Pasta Olio e Aglio and Shrimp Scampi

Christmas Eve dinner: Scampi, roasted broccoli and rosemary bread
Now that the holidays are over and all life has turned somewhat back to normal, I am able to post my family's favorite holiday meals. Christmas eve dinner in most Italian families mean that no meat is served and for us that means HEAVY on the garlic. Olio e Aglio pasta has been a tradition in my mom's family but my grandfather hated it. Called the dish the worst 'next to nothing' he ever ate. Mom decided to add the shrimp scampi in hopes of making a more substantial dish.

The pasta portion is so easy and tasty I would recommend making any time of the year as I often do. I add red pepper flakes to spice it up but that is not necessary. The scampi needs to marinate for at least an hour before going under the broiler so that it can absorb all the garlic and pepper goodness. This dish is extremely easy to put together and only requires a little patience in getting the water to boil.

Pasta Olio e Aglio

Pasta finished
Ingredients:

1 lb of angel hair pasta
LOTS of salt
5-8 cloves of garlic chopped small
1/3 cup olive oil approx. or enough to cover the garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup of reserved salted pasta water

Directions:

Garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes
1. In a small fry pan add garlic, oil and pepper flakes and heat on med-low heat until the garlic starts to turn a light brown. once finished tun the heat down to a simmer.
2. While the oil and garlic are cooking bring about 4 qts of heavily salted water to a rapid boil and add the pasta. Cook until just done.
3. Take a mug and reserve one cup of pasta water. Then drain the pasta and put back in the pot.
4. Take the completed garlic mixture and add it to the pasta with 1/4 of the reserved pasta water and toss. If the pasta is still too sticky add a bit more pasta water but you most likely won't use it all.
5. Place the shrimp scampi on top and serve.

Shrimp Scampi

Ingredients:

1 lb of raw, peeled shrimp
1/4 cup of olive oil
5 cloves of garlic minced
salt
pepper
red pepper flakes
2 tbls Italian breadcrumbs

Directions

1. Peel shrimp and place in bag with garlic, oil, pepper, salt and red pepper flakes. Marinate for at least one hour.
Finished Scampi
2. Put broiler on high and adjust rack. Prepare cookie sheet with foil and non stick spray then spread shrimp on the sheet.
3. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the shrimp then place the sheet under the broiler for 5 min. Check and if it needs more time then only a min more.
4. Remove and add to the pasta. Serve!

Spaghetti and Meatballs with a easy homemade Marinara Sauce


Spaghetti and meatballs with caprese salad and a good piece of ciabatta bread
Who doesn't love a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs? Well, actually if you are a vegetarian then I guess it wouldn't be your cup of tea. In one of our classic skype cooking dates, Stacy and I decided that we were going to make some the quintessential Italian dish. Most people like to buy their meatballs in the store already made so that it will be a quick dinner with little hassle  if you have the time, patience and a good bottle of wine, I say experiment and make your own, you won't regret it!

In every Italian family there are different ways to make meatballs so the recipe can be adjusted to your tastes and desired consistency. I loosely borrowed from Lidia's Favorite Recipes book but had to adjust spices and such. I also believe in making your own sauce instead of heating up the jar sauces because it takes the same amount of time but adds more flavor and personality to your dishes. Don't be fooled, this sauce is easy and delicious!

Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

Marinara Sauce with Meatballs!
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 tbls olive oil
1 to 2 medium onions diced
3-5 cloves of garlic minced
1 tbls rosemary
1 tbls thyme
1 tbls basil
1 tbls oregano
salt
pepper

Directions:

1. In a medium sauce pan heat the oil on medium heat then add the onions to the pan, stir, add some salt and pepper and let it cook for approx. 2 min.
2. Add the garlic and stir for 1 min then reduce heat to medium low, cover and let the onions sweat till translucent.
3. Add the can of crushed tomatoes, increase the heat to bring the tomatoes to a boil. Once boiling cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 15-20 min.
4. Add the spices and a little bit more salt and pepper, cover and let simmer for another 5-10 min.
5. Once ready turn off the heat and either add your pasta or let it sit until you need it.

*I always add the spices in the last 10-15 min of cooking a sauce because if you add them before they will get lost in the sauce and there will be no additional flavor. This is something my mother taught me and her sauces were always the best and not just according to her family!

Making Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 lb of ground beef has no more than 80 % lean. You want the fat it will help hold the meatballs together!
1 c Italian breadcrumbs
1/2  cup parmasean cheese
2 eggs beaten
4-5 cloves of garlic minced
2 tbls dried parsley
1 tsp of salt
fresh ground pepper
all purpose flour for dredging

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare large cookie sheet with sides with foil and spray lightly with non stick spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl crumble beef then sprinkle in bread crumbs, parmasean cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, eggs and garlic. Mix with hands lightly until combined. Be careful to not over mix or the meat will become tough.
Dredging through flour

3. Take meat mixture and roll lightly into 1 1/2 inch balls. Dredge through the flour then set on prepared cookie sheet and repeat.
4. Once all the meat is gone place the sheet in the oven for 15-20 min until the outside is a nice golden brown, turning them halfway through. Start to boil the water for your pasta here.
before going into the oven
5.  To finish the meatballs add them to your prepared and heated up sauce. Cover the sauce and let them cook for another 10-20 min. Take a meatball out and cut it open to ensure there is no pink inside. This would be the time to cook your pasta.
6. Once they have cooked, turn off heat and add some of the sauce to the prepared pasta.


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