Meatball Sandwiches

I haven’t made meatball subs since¬†December, and that recipe was really good. I do enjoy trying new recipes, and M mentioned that he’d like the meatballs to be smaller to make the subs easier to eat and less messy. These are baked in a mini muffin tin, so they’ll all be nice and uniform in size. The sauce couldn’t be easier – I basically ignored it for two hours and it just reduced down into a rich marinara. Be sure to keep the heat at low in case you’re anything like me and completely forget it for about 40 minutes! I went next door to share some granola with my neighbor and ended up talking for quite some time ūüėČ

Verdict: The sauce was great but the meatballs were lacking in flavor. The meatballs I made for the subs back in December were much more flavorful. These can be tweaked more to suit our tastes, but what made me want to try these in the first place was that they are baked.

Meatball Subs Рadapted from CookEatLove
Basic Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil leaves
  • 3-6 cloves garlic roasted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • drizzle with olive oil, 5 tbs
  • finally, just before serving add 2 tbs of butter to bring layers of flavor to the sauce.
Directions:
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add crushed tomatoes and raw quarted onions (big chunks). Add  basil, garlic, salt and pepper. When the garlic is done roasting add this as well.  Let the sauce come to a boil, lower heat to low and stir occasionally until desired thickness. Drizzle with olive oil part way through the simmering to taste (I usually simmer for a couple of hours).  Remove the big chunks of onion and just before serving add the butter.
Meatballs: (makes 30)
  • 1.25 pounds ground lean beef (roughly, does not have to be exact, just about those combinations)
  • 1 pound ground pork *see above note
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1¬† tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1/2 clove of minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used hamburger buns toasted in the oven then grated in the food processor)
  • lukewarm water just to moisten a little more

*bread crumbs for rolling the meatballs in before putting them in the muffin tray is optional – if you decide to, just make extra from the ones you used for the meat mixture

Pre-heat oven to 400.  Combine beef,  pork in a large bowl. Add eggs, cheese, basil, garlic and salt and pepper. Using your hands, blend ingredients together. Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add water, a bit at a time until the mixture is quite moist. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds  and place the meatballs in individual, miniature muffin tin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

To Assemble:

*6-8 hoagie buns

*fresh mozzarella cheese

Finally, when you are assembling the meatball subs, use a nice crispier hoagie to absorb some of the tomato sauce.  I dig out a small well in the lower part of the bun to let the saucy meatballs sit. I placed mozzarella cheese in the bottom of the hollowed out rolls, place the meatballs on top and then add sauce and cheese . Sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese and then broil the sub so that the cheese is bubbly.  Finally eat.

Basic Baked Eggs

I knew I would need a heartier breakfast for gym mornings, and I figure the extra calories and fat are ok as long as I’m working hard. Lately I’ve been getting headaches, probably from not having any caffeine or refined sugar these past few days. Thankfully they’re minor headaches and I expect my body to come to terms with the new eating habits soon.

Protein and complex carbs are always good choices pre workout – so I’ve read anyway. I’m no dietician, but it makes sense to me ūüėČ I’m using some of the leftover roasted veggies that I made the other day to make this even more balanced and substantial. This recipe is for one serving, but it’s easily doubled, tripled, ect.

Verdict: I worked out for two hours after having this breakfast, and it made a huge difference in my stamina, reaction time and my overall “good” feeling. I wasn’t sluggish or tired and I felt great. After my workouts I eat an apple ¬†and 1/4 cup of raw walnuts to refuel so I’m not starving until lunch time. During the day I have more energy, I’m never starving and my body just works better – I’m loving it! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Baked Eggs –

  • 1 egg
  • butter for greasing the ramekin
  • small amounts of roasted veggies, grape tomatoes, spinach, ham, herbs, cheese – whatever you would like
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, lightly grease your ramekin.
2. Place a few TBSP of your preferred add ins, crack and egg and drop it on top. Bake in the oven 10 – 15 minutes or until just set – if it looks fully cooked in the oven, it will be over cooked later.
3. Serve with fresh fruit and whole grain toast, enjoy!

Blueberry Morning Smoothie

Quick Post:¬†The name sounds nice, right? Well, there is a really unexpected ingredient in these, but I was willing to try it. PEAS! I needed to about a half cup more almond milk to thin this out for the blender and more banana to sweeten it up. The toast with real fruit preserves helped to get this one down! ūüėČ It wasn’t that awful, especially when I think of all the nutrition packed in this. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Blueberry Morning Smoothie – (never home)maker

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup almond milk (plus more if needed)
  • 1 frozen banana
Directions –
1. Blend all ingredients until combined. Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables over Bulgur

Lunch…I’m not always great at lunch. It’s usually leftovers, sandwiches or salads. This is more work, but I get at least 3 meals out of it. I chopped up some zucchini, summer squash, cremini mushrooms, tossed a handful of baby carrots and grape tomatoes on a baking sheet. ¬†Use whatever veggies you love to roast, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper over all. Bulgur cooks really quickly and by the time all the vegetables were finished roasting I had a really healthy lunch ready to be enjoyed. This was surprisingly good! I knew I would love the roasted vegetables, but the bulgur was cooked in plain ‘ol water with a pinch of kosher salt added. It has a nutty flavor and a meaty texture and keeps you feeling full longer because of all the fiber and protein. I felt full for hours but didn’t feel bloated. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables Over Bulgur –

  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small summer squash
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms
  • handful of grape tomatoes
  • handful of baby carrots
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of bulgur wheat, cooked to package directions
  • handful of baby spinach
  • zest of one lemon
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Clean and prepare your vegetables – slice zucchini and summer squash into coins, slice cremini mushrooms in half and discard stems. Toss baby carrots with a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes. Take the pan out, toss the carrots and add seasoned squash and mushrooms to the baking sheet, roast for another 10-15 minutes. Toss in the grape tomatoes during the last 5 minutes. Serve 1 cup of roasted veggies over one cooked up of bulgur tossed with baby spinach leaves for good measure, and sprinkle lemon zest over top of all. Enjoy!

Chipotle Lime Shrimp

When it comes to flavors like these, I don’t have to modify anything. The creator of this recipe was spot on with all the amounts, but I cooked mine differently. The flavor was nice on these, but next time I might add a little more spice and a little less brown sugar. Other than that the shrimp were really flavorful. We enjoyed these in a tortilaa with our favorite fillings. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Chipotle Lime Shrimp Рadapted from Gimme Some Oven
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 lime, juice and zest

Method:

1. Mix the chipotle powder, cumin, brown sugar, lime zest, lime juice and cilantro in a bowl and and let marinate for 20 minutes.

2. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, saute the shrimp until completely cooked through – about 2-3 minutes. Once the shrimp are cooked, add the marinade into the pan and reduce slightly. Drizzle over top the shrimp and serve.

Green Monster Smoothie

I’m going to be brave and hopefully I will enjoy this. I really need to get more vegetables into my diet! When I eat healthfully, I feel so much better inside and out; and I have so much more energy. I slacked off big time these past few months – food is my weakness. But now that school has started again I have a lot more time to get my workouts in and plan for healthier snacks and meals for me.

Verdict: Wow! Not bad at all ūüôā The more frozen banana the better though, and next time I’ll add some strawberries and maybe some blueberries. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Green Monster Smoothie –

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 large handfulls of spinach
  • 1 frozen banana
Blend all ingredients until perfectly smooth. Drink, enjoy, feel healthier! ūüėČ

Brioche Buns

Yum – hamburgers with caramelized onions, chipotle Gouda, avocado, and tomato…so good. Up until today, I have never caramelized onions before, but it couldn’t be easier. If you have 15 minutes, onion and olive oil – you’re golden! Just be sure to stir them around every once in a while so they brown evenly. My house smells amazing and I am going to have to make these every time we make hamburgers now – for the smell alone! ūüėČ Oh, and if that wasn’t enough to make these burgers special, I made brioche buns. These are light, fluffy and slightly sweet buns enriched with eggs, butter and sweetened with honey. The dough is pretty sticky but so light and pillow soft. These burgers had so many flavors going on – sweet, salty, savory and spicy. I am so hooked on caramelized onions now, I’m going to have to find more ways to use them. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Brioche Buns  Р adapted from Home Cooking in Montana
  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3 TBS honey
  • 2 ex-large eggs, room temp.
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups bread flour(+ more, if needed)
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter, softened
Topping:
  • 1 egg yolk, for brushing(¬†you can mix the yolk with a bit of water, if you like)
Directions:
1. In the bowl of a mixer add the flours(3 cups first), yeast and the salt. Whisk to combine and add the sliced soft butter.
2. In a glass measuring cup, combine milk, warm water, eggs and honey. Whisk to combine and add it all to the dry ingredients.
3.¬†Place a kneading hook and turn on mixer. Mix on low scraping the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the flour. Increase the speed to medium. Knead for 8 minutes…the dough should be tacky and look pretty sticky.¬†If you feel the dough is sticking to the sides too much add 1 TBS of flour at a time until the dough gathers around the hook and slaps around the sides of the bowl. It may still stick a bit to the sides, but not overly. Don’t be tempted to add too much flour or the buns will be dry.~ I probably added another couple of tablespoonfuls of extra flour.
4. Continue kneading for an additional 2 more minutes…¬†for a total of 10 minutes.
5. Scrape the sticky dough that clings to the sides of the mixer bowl and then form all of the dough in a ball. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until at least doubled in bulk and is nice and puffy… 1 to 2 hours.
6. Plop the soft dough unto a floured countertop… sprinkle a bit of flour on top as well. Using a dough scraper, divide dough into 8-10 equal parts. With floured hands form balls and place on lightly oiled parchment-lined baking sheet. Arrange 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheet as they will rise some more.
7. Flatten the balls down a bit( to about 1 1/2-2 inches or so) and brush with egg yolk. Cover loosely( with oiled plastic wrap) and let buns rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours… or until nicely puffed.
8.¬†Pre-heat oven to 400 deg. F¬†with rack in center. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 10-15 minutes(depending on the size of the bread buns…mine took about 11 minutes.)

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Quick Post:¬†This bread is so moist and rich and no one would ever know that there is zucchini in it unless you told them ūüėČ Sneaky, right? My kids love it, too. M on the other hand wont touch it because he knows there is zucchini…oh well, more for me! The original recipe calls for this to be baked in a 9×5 inch pan, but I wanted to make a taller loaf, so I baked it in a smaller 8×4 inch loaf pan. That’s why mine doesn’t have a dome on top – it baked completely flat because it couldn’t rise higher than the loaf pan. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Рadapted from Inspired Taste

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded raw zucchini
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (45 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules (*I used espresso powder)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup¬† light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions –

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a loaf pan (8×4 or 9×5) with nonstick cooking oil.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt, then set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer beat the oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract and coffee granules for about 2 minutes.

Add the shredded zucchini to the dry ingredients and then in batches add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; use a spatula to incorporate everything until just mixed.¬† Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake in the oven for 55 ‚Äď 65 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the bread and then be removed clean.¬† Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Chicken Enchiladas – His Fave…

Out of all the dinners I can think of, this has to be his most requested. I don’t understand why, I mean – they are really good – but it’s chicken. Not beef…weird. He doesn’t even want to try any other kind of enchilada – which bums me out because I love variety and trying out new recipes. Like, I would love to make cheese enchiladas…I haven’t had those in years! Anyway, these are more work than my average dinner, but they are so good. This time I’ve roasted my chicken instead of picking up a rotisserie chicken at Sam’s. I figured I could use the practice because Fall is around the corner and I love roasted chicken.

See the extra toasty bits on the tortillas? That is my favorite part – for some reason it’s sweeter there, and the salty/sweet combo is my fave! These turned out to be a little spicier than I remember – but I didn’t remove any of the seeds or ribs from the jalapenos I used. I used 10 medium sized flour tortillas, ¬†so this could easily serve 6 to 8 people. I suppose you could halve the recipe, but he leftovers are just as good especially if you warm them up in the oven. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa – adapted from Food Network

Tomatillo Salsa:
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked
  • 1 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
Enchiladas:
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock, store bought
  • Chopped cilantro¬†leaves
  • 1 roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 large flour tortillas
  • 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.

Enchiladas:

Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan¬†over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized – this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin¬†then cook for a further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn’t burn then gradually add the chicken stock¬†to make a veloute. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile¬†salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the dish. Take a large baking dishand smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Warm up the tortillas in the microwave. Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it then place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas. Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish with cilantro and tomato.

Simple Roasted Chicken

This is great practice in roasting for me – Fall is just around the corner! I love ¬†Fall because of all the warm, comforting recipes I can make again. The chicken smelled amazing about 10 minutes in and only took about 70 minutes to cook to the 160 degree mark. Once the bird is out of the oven, it continues to cook (“carry-over cooking); so you want to take it out early or it will be toast!
Verdict: Moist, tender, delicious! Trussing the chicken does make a difference and using the probe thermometer makes this a worry free method of cooking the whole chicken. I’m not one to eat the skin, but it was nice and crispy and perfectly browned. Don’t throw the carcass away – there is a lot of great flavor and meat remaining which is perfect for making homemade chicken stock. I’m going to collect a few more for the freezer before making some. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Roast Chicken –¬†
  • 1 – 3.5 pound chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved (*rolled and pierced with the knife)
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • a hand full of cilantro
  • 1 TBSP softened butter
Special equipment:
  • kitchen twine for trussing¬†(*not completely necessary, but it ensures even roasting and nicer presentation)
  • probe thermometer
  • half sheet pan
  • heavy duty foil
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Wrap a half sheet pan in heavy duty foil.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of cilantro, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Insert a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the breast (*it’s the easiest, fool proof way of knowing when the chicken is finished cooking*)

Roast the chicken until a thermometer reads 160 degrees, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Let cool for 20 minutes before slicing.