Thursday, August 28, 2014

Homemade Meatballs

Everyone needs a good go-to meatball recipe. Here is mine. It is savory and simple. You will want to eat them plain...it will be hard to stop...and I won't judge you for it. In all seriousness, though, give them a try and let me know what you think!

Ingredients
1 lb. (lean) ground beef
½ lb. pork sausage
½ sweet onion, diced

2 green onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and diced (or you can use 2 tbsp jarred minced garlic)
¾ c Parmesan cheese, grated/shredded
¾ c Italian bread crumbs
2 eggs

2 tbsp parsley (fresh or dried)
1½ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon pepper
dash red pepper flakes
¼ c water

olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in sauté pan. Sauté onions and 1 teaspoon salt until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook an additional minute, stirring frequently. Set aside and let cool.

In large mixing bowl (I prefer to use my KitchenAid so it does most of the work for me), blend together the meats, cheese, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, remaining salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. Add in your onion mixture and water then mix one final time.


Roll meat mixture into preferred size (I make them about the size of a golf ball). This recipe should make about 25-30 meatballs.


Using same sauté pan, heat more oil over medium-high heat. Brown meatballs on all sides (about 3-4 minutes total in pan) and spread out on a lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. 


Serve however your heart desires! In the picture above I added them to some garlic & basil marinara and let the sauce heat through for about 20 minutes (to add a little more flavor). They also freeze well if you want to double the batch and save some for an easy weeknight meal later on.

Enjoy, y'all!  




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Monday, August 25, 2014

Fried Okra Tacos

I love okra season. I wish it was year round...but because that's not possible, during the months of August and September I make it as often and in as many ways as I can. I also freeze several bags so I can enjoy in December (even though it's not quite the same). 

My hands down absolute favorite way to enjoy okra is fried up in these tacos. Melt in your mouth good. Please trust me on this and go get the ingredients tomorrow! You will never look at okra the same way again, y'all.

Ingredients
For the okra:
1 lb okra, washed and cut into ½ inch slices
¾ cup self-rising buttermilk cornmeal

1 tsp each salt & pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder & red pepper flakes
a handful of pickled jalapenos (optional)
canola oil

For the taco fixings:
flour tortillas
tomatoes, chopped
green onions, diced
black olives, sliced
lettuce, shredded
Monterey jack cheese, shredded
avocado or guacamole 

Heat oil in cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Meanwhile, take cut up okra (and jalapenos if you want an extra kick of flavor), corn meal and spices and shake together in a large ziplock. 

Once oil is nice and hot (this is key to good frying) pour okra into pan. Let cook on one side 7-8 minutes, flip once and cook on remaining side 7-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Load up your tortillas with all the fixings and top with okra. Enjoy, y'all!


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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tomato, Scallion & Ham Quiche

Quiche plays a big role in many of our weekends around here. So many ways to change it up depending on what ingredients you have on hand. The Tomato, Scallion & Ham Quiche was my latest creation. Easiest part: pre-made pie crust (there's nothing wrong with taking a shortcut sometimes).

Ingredients

6 large eggs
1 cup half & half
2 scallions, diced
1 roma tomato, sliced
½ cup honey ham, diced
½ cup colby jack cheese
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt & pepper
1 refrigerated pie-crust, thawed (and placed in glass pie plate)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat eggs, half & half and spices until blended. Place ham, cheese and scallions in bottom of crust. Evenly spread tomatoes on top. Pour egg mixture over other ingredients and cook for 35-40 minutes, or until eggs are set.

Enjoy, y'all!


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Sweet & Spicy Turkey Burgers


                                 
Meet the Sweet & Spicy Turkey Burger. There really isn't much that beats a good American beef burger but every once in a while we like to shake it up around here. This will now be my go-to turkey burger recipe. It's full of flavor with a little kick and a little sweetness from the red pepper jelly (used in place of your usual burger condiments - mayo, mustard or ketchup). Instead of fries I served it with roasted okra which still provided a little crunch with a lot less calories!


Ingredients

1 lb. ground turkey
¼ cup red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded & diced
1 tbsp cilantro
2 tsp cumin
 ¼ chili powder
1 tsp each salt & pepper
sliced cheese (we used Boars Head 3-pepper colby jack)
red pepper jelly
bibb lettuce
buns

Mix first eight ingredients together and shape into 4-5 large patties. Note: if making for a little one [who doesn't like the spice] make their patty before mixing in the jalapeño.

Grill burgers 5-6 minutes on each side. During the last couple minutes of grilling add your preferred cheese; toast buns on the grill as well. When finished, spread red pepper jelly on top bun.

Serve burgers with some roasted okra (at least if you make them while it's still in season)!

Heat oven to 500°; put rimmed baking sheet in oven while it's preheating.

Wash okra and cut lengthwise. Mix with olive oil, salt, pepper & a dash of garlic powder. When oven is heated, carefully take pan out and put okra in one layer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, turning once.

Enjoy, y'all!

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie Pasta

Chicken Pot Pie is one of my all time favorites. I was craving the comfort of one this weekend but wanted to jazz it up a little. Although I hated not to indulge in the buttery, flaky crust, the pasta was a nice alternative (with a few less calories and a lot less time to make). It won't replace my CPP recipe by any means but it will definitely be added to the easy weeknight meal list!
 
Ingredients
2 chicken breasts, baked & cut into small cubes
½ bag homestyle egg noodles (or substitute your favorite pasta)

2 tbsp butter
½ cup yellow onion, diced

1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup greens (spinach or whatever you have on hand), chopped in strips
¼ cup flour

2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp each salt, pepper & poultry seasoning

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp butter on medium-high heat. Sauté onion, carrot & celery for 4-5 minutes. Add in garlic and greens and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until greens are wilted down. Set this mixture aside.

Add the remaining butter to the pan. After it is melted add in the flour and spices. Whisk together while slowly adding the chicken broth (note: you can substitute cream or 1/2 & 1/2 for some of the broth if you want a richer flavor). Let simmer for a few minutes, or until it is thickened up. Add your vegetables and chicken into the mixture and stir together.

Drain your pasta and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add in your chicken, veggies & sauce and mix really well. Pour into a baking dish, cover with foil and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy, y'all!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Slow-Cooked Pork Carnitas

Are you looking for a fresh take on a crockpot meal? I love pork carnitas and anything slow-cooked so creating this easy recipe was a no-brainier for me! These carnitas are SO good and all you have to do is chop up a few fixins' to add on at the end...and maybe make a side of this Sweet Corn Quinoa to go with them. It's a low maintenance meal and sure to be a family fave (kiddo approved)!

What You Will Need:
2 lb. pork loin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp each cumin, onion powder, oregano, salt & pepper
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half
1 large orange, juiced
2 limes, juiced
corn or flour tortillas 

Directions:
Step One
Mix dry ingredients together and rub on pork. Pour juices in bottom of crock pot, along with garlic cloves, add in pork and cook on low for 8 hours (you can cook on other settings but I suggest at least 8 for the most tender meat).

Step Two
Around the last hour, take two forks and shred the pork so it can marinate in the juices.

Step Three (optional)
Set oven setting to broil. Place shredded carnitas on a baking pan and broil for about 5 minutes. This will add a nice crispness to the edges and take your tacos to the next level!

Enjoy, y'all!


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Zucchini-Squash-Tomato Parmesan Gratin


Here's a delicious way to use up those summer veggies! This gratin is easy to throw together and full of flavor. Alright, what are you waiting for?!

Ingredients
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 medium size zucchini, sliced thin
1 medium size yellow squash, sliced thin
4-5 small, round tomatoes
1 tsp each salt and pepper
¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded



Heat 1 tbsp butter in skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté onion for 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add in garlic and cook for an additional minute, or until garlic is slightly browned.

Meanwhile, mix sliced veggies with salt in pepper in a large bowl.

Pour onion mixture into bottom of round baking dish and add two-three layers (depending on your dish size) of veggies, alternating to make it colorful.

Drizzle remaining  butter over the top, cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, add cheese and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy, y'all!



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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Simple Swiss Steak with Creamy Grits


Swiss Steak is an old-fashioned classic...a staple on my Mama's and Grandma's menu growing up. It's hearty, flavorful and perhaps most importantly (for folks who don't always have a ton of time to take their eyes off a climbing toddler) pretty easy to throw together with items you already have on hand.

To add a little southern touch I serve mine over a bed of creamy grits. Divine! I also like to switch up the type of steaks I use. I am pretty thankful for my in-laws for many reasons, but one thing I must mention is their desire to make sure we have some good beef to cook with (they own cattle a company with the BEST beef I might add)! They bring it out to us from Arkansas at least twice a year. Thanks, Granne & E!

Ingredients - Swiss Steak
2 NY strip steaks, cut into small strips (you can swap out round steak/minute steak)
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp each salt, pepper & garlic powder
2 tsp butter
1 small sweet onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (I prefer Muir Glen brand)
½ c beef broth (you can swap out chicken broth since you use it for the grits too)


Ingredients - Creamy Grits
½ c stone ground grits
1 ½ c chicken broth
¾ c 1/2 & 1/2 (you can swap out heavy cream or milk)
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
½ each pepper & garlic powder

Preheat oven to 325° 

Heat 1 tsp butter in a non-stick skillet (cast-iron preferred) over medium heat. Meanwhile, mix steak and seasonings in a bowl. When pan is hot, add beef and cook for 3-4 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove meat and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the other tsp butter. Add in onions and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, then add in tomatoes and beef broth. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes or until liquid is slightly reduced. 

Layer meat on bottom of 2.5 quart baking dish and pour onion & tomato mixture on top. Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until meat is tender.

For the grits, add all ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. 

Enjoy, y'all! 



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Friday, August 8, 2014

Simple Summer Sides


Pictured above: Sweet Corn Quinoa & Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Summertime and the living is easy. Same goes for cooking! You can enjoy the fresh flavors of the season without spending too much time in the kitchen.

Here are two ideas for simple {and flavorful} sides to add to your menu...made even better if using some of finds from your local farmer's market! Side note: quinoa is so flavorful and packed full of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. We love using it as a side dish because it is so versatile and good for you!

Sweet Corn Quinoa
Ingredients
1 cup quinoa (I like Trader Joe's Tricolor Quinoa)
2 cups chicken broth
2 ears fresh sweet corn
1 ½ tbsp butter
½ tsp each salt, pepper and parsley flakes

Thoroughly wash and drain quinoa (do not leave this step out - trust me). Add quinoa and chicken broth to pan and bring to a boil. Once at a good boil, turn to a simmer and cook 15 minutes (or until all liquid is absorbed).

Meanwhile, cut kernels off corn and saute in 1 tbsp butter with your spices for about 4-5 minutes.
Set aside.

Once quinoa is cooked through, add in corn mixture and remaining butter. Give it a good stir and let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Cucumber-Tomato Salad
Ingredients
1 medium-sized hothouse cucumber, cut into quarters
2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half

¼ cup sliced red onion
¼ cup olive oil & vinegar dressing
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste 

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for at least 2 hours to absorb the dressing!

Happy cooking, y'all!


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