Marinara sauce and meatballs

I wanted to stock the freezer when my husband was out of town recently, so I decided to make tomato sauce and meatballs along with batches of breakfast burritos and veggie burgers. I have never had much luck making homemade sauce, and this is the happiest I’ve been with a batch. Same thing with the meatballs. They’ve never had enough flavor for me, but I love these. I guess the trick is the half pork, half beef mixture, and the use of bread soaked in milk instead of breadcrumbs. I used the leanest beef and pork I could find and they still came out great. Next time I’d probably add some tomato paste to get the sauce a little thicker, but otherwise I followed the recipe as found here. Click for the meatballs.

And the fabulous result:

meatball sandwich

May 27, 2009 at 9:10 pm Leave a comment

Kale risotto

We got kale in our farmers box for the first time this week, and I was a little skeptical that we’d like it since we’re not crazy about some other greens. So, what better way to try it than surround it with creamy, cheesy risotto? I honestly couldn’t taste the kale in this recipe, but it was delicious, as risotto usually is. So I’m still not sure whether I like kale, but this was certainly a winner. We ate it with a salad full of fresh vegetables from our CSA. 

kale risotto
Kale Risotto, from epicurious

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (box)
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch kale
1 1/4 cup onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (or medium grain)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Bring broth and water to boil along with salt in large pot. Cut ribs and stems from kale, and add to broth to cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 10 minutes.
Transfer kale to colander or sieve set over a bowl and squeeze out excess liquid. Add liquid back to broth and keep warm. Chop kale.
Cook onion in oil and 1 tablespoon butter with remaining 1/4 teaspoon sea salt in a wide 4-quart heavy pot, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to moderate, then add garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring, 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add wine and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Stir in 1/2 cup simmering broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente (it should be the consistency of thick soup), 17 to 18 minutes. (There will be leftover broth.)
Stir in kale, cheese, and remaining tablespoon butter and cook, stirring, until heated through and butter is incorporated, about 1 minute. Season risotto with sea salt and pepper and, if desired, thin with some of remaining broth.

May 25, 2009 at 8:58 pm 1 comment

Veggie burgers, take two

This was my second attempt at homemade veggie burgers, and while I liked the texture better than the black bean ones, I wasn’t crazy about the flavor. So I might experiment in the future with something other than the soy sauce recommended by the recipe. I doubled the recipe, and a food processor made it super easy.

vegetables

I actually forgot to double the carrots, but I thought the proportions worked out just fine. I followed the recipe here otherwise pretty closely, adding the step of putting the vegetables in a fine mesh strainer to press out some excess water before adding them to the rest of the ingredients. 

veggie burger2

May 23, 2009 at 8:58 pm Leave a comment

Veggie burgers, take one

Since we’ve started eating less meat this past year I’ve occasionally been ordering veggie burgers at restaurants. It’s hard to believe they usually cost more than a meat burger, and I figured they couldn’t be that hard to re-create at home. I’ve tried out two different recipes, and here’s the first. It’s a black bean base, while the other is more vegetable heavy. I’ll post in a few days once I’ve actually had time to try it. I doubled this recipe, and after cooking, wrapped up the individual patties in plastic wrap and then put them in a freezer bag for later.
I really liked these, but they were still really soft after they were cooked and tended to squish out of the bun. So I liked the flavor but think the texture could be better. Unfortunately I’m not really sure how to fix that!

We served them with baked sweet potato fries, which we make pretty much every time we have a sweet potato in the house (this one courtesy of our CSA, as was the lettuce and tomato). We just toss them with some olive oil, salt, pepper and Penzy’s Galena Street rub.

DSC_0114

Black Bean Veggie Burgers, adapted from allrecipes

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
3/4-1 cup oatmeal

In medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork. Process bell pepper, onion and garlic with food processor. Put in fine mesh strainer and squeeze out an excess liquid. Add to black beans.
In a small bowl, combine egg and spices. Stir the egg mixture into the beans and vegetable mixture. Add oatmeal until mixture can hold together into patties.
Grill on foil or bake at 375 for about 10 minutes, flipping once.

May 17, 2009 at 6:01 pm Leave a comment

Sesame chicken

After months of forgettable cooking and two straight weeks of living on frozen food from Trader Joe’s, I am finally back in the kitchen (and done with my first year of law school!). We started receiving a new CSA that delivers to my husband’s work on Wednesdays, and it allows us to order eggs and meat along with the vegetables and fruit. This week the box contained lettuce, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, a cucumber, radishes and an assortment of root vegetables (sweet potato, carrots and what I think are turnips). At this time last year we were buried with beets and swiss chard, so I’m excited about the different selection.

I found this recipe somewhere on the Internet a few years back, and we have always enjoyed it. Tonight I rounded it out with the sugar snap peas and an onion, but other vegetables could be used in addition or instead. To save money, you’re best buying the sesame seeds at an Asian grocery or anywhere that sells spices in bulk rather than in the spice aisle (unless you shop at Publix, which sells them cheap alongside other ethnic spices).

sesame chicken

Sesame Chicken

1 cup flour
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper
3 chicken breasts (1 package)-thinly sliced (freeze first to make this easier)
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
8 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
6 tablespoons honey
oil for pan
hot cooked rice

In large ziplock bag, combine flour, half of the sesame seeds, peppers and Chinese spice. Place chicken in bag and shake to coat.
Heat oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Place chicken in skillet and brown on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Remove and shake out any excess flour.
Add more oil and add onion, cooking until starting to soften. Add peas and cook about five minutes more. Return chicken to pan. Combine teriyaki sauce, honey and remaining sesame seeds and add to pan. Let thicken slightly and stir to coat. Serve over rice.

May 7, 2009 at 10:26 pm Leave a comment

Cooking when there’s no time to cook

I’ve really slacked on my blog since school started, but I am at least still cooking most nights. But we’ve been so busy we haven’t been doing the CSA thing because food was going uneaten. We’ve slowly been trying to get back into it, and I even spent one Sunday night cooking freezer meals that we’re still eating three weeks later. Now we can supplement with vegetables from the farmer’s market without the whole meal being much work.

On Sunday night, I cooked:

An entire bag of brown rice, which I portioned into 2-serving sizes in freezer bags
Yummy bean burritos
Two quiches-I used this recipe in two premade pie shells.
Chicken Souvlaki dump chicken (sounds appetizing, huh?) It is.🙂
Sweet and hot pasta sauce

And later in the week, I made sloppy joes and froze the leftovers. I did them on the stovetop, not in the slow cooker.
I also made barbecue chicken in the crockpot, which we ate over baked potatoes and then froze the leftovers.

By now we’ve finished the quiches, all but one of the burritos and about half of the meat dishes. We still have pasta sauce and some rice I’m going to use this week in shrimp fried rice. I think I’ll spend another night cooking like this in a couple weeks, since finals will be fast approaching!

October 26, 2008 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

Last-minute meal

Likely because law school is taking so much of my brainpower, I somehow convinced myself that I’d picked up a spaghetti squash at the store a week ago. Since then, my husband had gotten the rest of ingredients for what was supposed to be our dinner a few nights ago. It was getting late when I discovered the missing ingredient, but a quick Google search saved us from takeout. We had a butternut squash, some bacon and one sheet of Trader Joe’s puff pastry, which managed to create a delicious (although not too healthy) meal in 30 minutes. 

Butternut Squash, Bacon and Carmelized Onion “Pizza,” adapted from epicurious

One-half large butternut squash or one small one, peeled and diced
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed for 10 minutes and rolled out slightly
6 slices center-cut bacon
1/2 large onion
1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
8 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 450. Boil squash in salted water for about 10 minutes or until soft. Drain, cool slightly and mash. Working with puff pastry, score around edges a half-inch from edge. Poke interior all over with tines of fork. Bake pastry for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cook bacon in skillet. Once done, remove and set aside to drain on paper towels. Chop. In skillet, cook onions until soft and slightly browned. Put mashed squash on puff pastry and top with remaining ingredients. Cook 5-10 minutes or until heated through and pastry is browned.

September 28, 2008 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

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Weekly menu

-Sesame chicken
-Black bean burgers with sweet potato fries
-Salad with hot bacon dressing and corn on the cob
-Tomato and bacon frittata