Archive for September, 2010

September 29, 2010

Spaghetti with Ricotta Meatballs

I was trying to plan dinner for the other night & wanted to do something with the ricotta I had in the fridge (it was on great sale a week or so ago & with coupon had to buy two containers)! I also knew that I had plenty of frozen ground beef (once again – when something is on sale, you must get it… perfect way to cook delicious things on a budget). The logical choice with those base ingredients would be lasagna but I was not in the mood for it! I decided to try ricotta meatballs and got started on a search to try to get a rough idea of what to cook. Surprisingly, I had a hard time finding more than just a few recipes to go from. Simply Recipes seemed to have the best starter recipe for me to work from 🙂

My version of Ricotta Meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 (about) pounds of ground beef
  • 1 cup ricotta (I use part skim)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup? (no idea – I just dumped) breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup? parsley
  • handful chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup? parmesan

Combine the ground beef with garlic, breadcrumbs, basil, parsley, parmesan, & some pepper. Then lightly beat your eggs & add in the ricotta. Combine the ricotta mixture into your meat mix (go ahead – use your hands, you get a better mix & it is just so darn fun!!). Heat a pan (you will make your sauce in here later) with a little olive oil & form your favorite sized meatballs. I like to brown them all around (you will have to probably brown the meatballs in at least two batches) and then bake them the rest of the way (Usually about 10 minutes to brown and then about 20 minutes in a 350 oven?). Once everything is in the oven I made a simple sauce of a can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, some red wine (ehh – it was on the counter, so why not!) Once the sauce was good, in went the meatballs & let it go for another 10 minutes or so.

Ricotta Meatballs over spaghetti

Add some fresh spaghetti, plate it up, add some fresh basil & the moistest, most delicious meatballs that I have ever made were served!!

September 24, 2010

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

This week was the start of fall – but I think that someone forgot to tell the temperatures & atmosphere and all of those things that! Since fall is here, winter squash is starting to go on sale & I just couldn’t resist. I have had it sitting on the counter for a few days and when one of my best friends said she finally could squeeze time in to see me (its rough only living a few miles away & never having free time at the same time!) I decided to get inspired by this great recipe from Simply Recipes (another great resource for anything in the kitchen when you are low on ideas or inspiration or know how or whatever!)

I modified it a bit (so I didn’t have to stop at the store on the way home) and of course didn’t measure – but my version (while in the middle of my annual “back to school” cold and not having much of any sense of smell and dulled tastebuds (but still got a thumbs up from Jess) was…

  • 1 Diced up Onion
  • 5 (?) cloves garlic
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/3 cup (?) parmesan cheese
  • Some of the following (sorry, I’ll try to get better with measuring): red wine, chicken stock lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, salt, pepper, milk
  • Pasta (duh) – I made about 1/2 a box

    Butternut Squash sauce over pasta

Heat Olive Oil, saute onions & garlic until opaque, deglaze pan with some red wine. Add in the diced butternut squash (I pre-roasted mine in the toaster oven – cut side down with water in the bottom of the pan for just a bit for about 30 minutes) & about 1/2 cup of chicken stock (I use water & the powdered kind). Let that simmer for about 10 minutes, then start gently mashing it up. Add in the rest of your ingredients & start the pasta water. Once you put the pasta in (I would love to try this next time using whole wheat pasta for an even more ‘hearty/healthy” fall meal) give the sauce another taste test & do any last minute doctoring. Serve it up & grate some fresh parmesan (I go cheap and try to always keep some from the “regular” cheese aisle in the fridge – wrapped in tin foil it seems to do pretty well for quite a while!)

Bring on the cooler temps & fall cooking!

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September 23, 2010

Enchiladas & Appetizers

Tonight was a mexican night! I have been craving enchiladas for the past few days since I saw this post from Simply Recipes and realized I haven’t had them in a while and I had a can of green enchilada sauce in the cabinet (I know, I’ll try to make one of my own these days!) Enchiladas were also the very first meal that I cooked for Rich & I have not made them for him since then. I had also kept seeing ads and recipes for stuffed hot peppers (baked – not fried) and Rich had also been bugging me for some of those too –  so the menu was set!

When I went to the market yesterday, there were only 5 good looking jalapeno peppers left (and something got to the ones in our garden and none of them grew nicely). I picked them up anyway and was set to go!

  • Jalapeno Peppers (sliced in 1/2 and seeded) – I used 6

    Stuffed Jalapenos

  • about 3 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 cup, combination of: mozzarella & cheddar
  • 1/2 t: salt/garlic/pepper

All that I needed to do to make these was slice  peppers in half, place in greased dish, fill with cheese mixture & bake for about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven until browned. These were delicious & will be made again (be careful when seeding the peppers goes without saying – but I wasn’t super careful and now my fingers I used to do that are burning!)

After a quick little snack – it was time to get down to making dinner (chicken was boiling from the time I got home and was ready to shred: to boil it just put in some salt, garlic, & a few seeds from those hot peppers). Here is my version of Enchiladas (at least the version that I made today)….

  • 2 chicken breast (shredded)
  • 1 can beans (black or pinto or whatever)
  • spices (garlic, chipotle sauce, lime juice, etc – whatever you like)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce

    Chicken & Bean Enchiladas

  • 5 – 6 tortilla shells
  • shredded cheese (5 oz?)
  • cilantro

Then you want to mix the beans with the shredded chicken & seasonings that would be something you would be happy to eat on its own! Pour some sauce in the bottom of your dish, then place shell (warmed up so they are easy to roll) with a nice sized scoop of protein, put some cheese & cilantro and roll it up. When you place it in the dish, put it in seam side down. Repeat…. pour the rest of sauce over rolled shells – top with the rest of the cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes in 350 and then 3 minutes on broil & top with some more fresh cilantro!

This is not the quickest meal (but doesn’t take that long either) but it is well worth it! Its pretty healthy and inexpensive as well. Just as a side note: I was having my students write goals today & I wrote one of my goals that I was going to blog at least twice a week…. just an FYI! Happy Eating

September 15, 2010

Crab Cakes

No, I have not stopped cooking – I have just not made “beautiful” dishes too often since school has started (and we have yet to be home a weekend – maybe the “relaxing fall weekends” will start in October and then go away once ski season starts!)

I have been craving crab cakes for a week or two now (I made some really yummy ones about a month ago when my parents came over) – so I finally decided to make them. Last time they cooked up kind of strange (I did bread crumbs & canned crab with egg & seasoning, etc). So I decided this time to return to a method I have used before: using stuffing mix!

Crab Cakes made with stuffing mix

My recipe is bassically as follows:

  • 1 box of stuffing (I used cornbread – Giant brand was what I had on hand)
  • 1 1/2 packages of lump immitation crab meat (chopped)
  • 2 celery stalks
  • about 1/3 cup Mayo
  • 3 eggs (just seemed too dry with 2 eggs & didn’t want more mayo)
  • some: dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, relish

Then I pan fried (using Olive Oil) for about 3-5 minutes per side and then baked (350ish?) for about 10 minutes. I served them over a “bed of lettuce” with a dressing I whipped up using: mayo, lemon juice, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, & Old Bay (I think that’s all I used!)

I made 6 cakes with this method & recipe. 1 was perfect with the (biggish) salad for me – Rich started with 2 and ended up still taking a third, so I guess they were a success otherwise he would have reached for the ice cream instead!

Crab Cake - made with bread crumbs

Here is what the ones I made last month looked like:

September 6, 2010

Pizza, and I didn’t even have to make it!

As I was searching other blogs I came across this one & it had to make me laugh. I keep telling Rich he should start a blog of all the good stuff I cook for him (and his photos would just be of empty plates since I usually have to fight him off while I take a photo). He is a wedding photographer (who also is available for pregnancy photos, family photos, you name it – he/we do it!) and has helped my food-photo skills out so much this summer, continue to look for improvements from me. You should really check out his facebook page (where he posts his favorite few from each engagement shoot, wedding, or whatever we shoot) as well as taking a moment to visit his website! And if you like what you see & live in Eastern PA, New Jersey, New York, Delaware (ya know, a reasonable drive from the Poconos) go ahead and contact him for your next photography needs!

In addition to being a wonderful photographer, he makes absolutely amazing pizza! This was the first thing he ever cooked for me when we started dating (and now that I spoil him with my cooking so often, one of the few things he ever creates in the kitchen anymore!)

A few weeks ago I was really craving one of Rich’s pizzas and it took a week or two until we actually got around to having it……

Rich's homemade pizza (photo by Rich)

Day 1 he made the dough (I think: yeast, water, sugar, flour, salt – its just your basic dough recipe… but I have never been one to experiment with breads… maybe one day!?) and then put it in the fridge during the next day. Day 2 we  made sauce (a can of crushed or diced tomatoes with 3 [or so] cloves of garlic diced up) he spreads the dough (to make 2 pies) into a greased cookie sheet, spread the dough onto the sheet, added sauce, placed ripped (easier than slicing) mozzarella cheese on top (whatever toppings you want are optional at this point, we usually stick to plain or add some fresh tomatoes/garlic on top). That bakes for about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven (he does it by look & smell more than time usually). Then some fresh basil on top, slide the whole thing to the wooden cutting board & eat before it is cool enough to not burn the roof of your mouth!

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