Monday, December 17, 2018

Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs

I was bringing Swedish meatballs to the potluck at work, and wanted to bring a vegetarian version as well. I really couldn't find a good one online, so as usual, I made one up.

I had a lot of trouble getting the flavor of the meatball the way I wanted it, I accidentally used twice as much black pepper than I intended, and I couldn't get a veggie brown sauce that didn't taste like bitter onion soup - so I almost scrapped the whole thing. However, after a few additions to the meatballs and an herb sauce in place of the brown sauce, they turned out great! I am planning to make bunches to freeze, and make Italian versions for spaghetti as well.

  • 8 oz cooked black eyed peas, drained and mashed
  • 1/2 onion, minced (can saute or leave raw)
  • 3 TBS olive oil or melted butter
  • 1/3 cup bulghur wheat, soaked overnight, drained
  • 1/3 cup oatmeal, cooked or soaked overnight in water, milk, yogurt, or sour cream
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 TBS soy sauce (Kikoman works very well for this)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic salt or adobo
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp thyme, ground
  • 1 TBS parmesan/romano or Jarlsberg, shredded
  • 1 tsp garlic salt or adobo

Heat oven to 300F with a small pan of water on the lower rack.

Mix meatball ingredients together.
Form into 1" balls and place on a well oiled cookie sheet. (They are easier to roll if you cool the mix).
Drizzle or brush olive oil on the balls.
Bake for 30 mins. Make sure to keep the water pan filled as they bake.

Mix gravy ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to simmer.
Simmer until it thickens to the desired consistency.
If you are having trouble getting it thick enough, add a little more flour mixed in milk to the mixture, and simmer some more.

Serve the meatballs with just the sauce or over noodles.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Swedish Meatballs

We had a pot luck at work and someone requested Swedish meatballs. I agreed to make them, even though I had never made them before! So I had to do a little research.

Yes, I visited Ikea.

I saw an article that said that they had gotten chicken meatballs, but alas, when I got there, they had discontinued them sometime in the seven months since that article was written. Oh well. I bit the bullet and took a chance that my digestive system could take a few small bites (I have an intolerance to certain proteins found in pork, beef, and the dark meat of poultry, so I avoid those meats altogether - because it does not contribute to me living my best possible life, if you know what I mean).

I survived and was able to come up with a recipe that I think, although maybe not authentic Swedish meatballs, is pretty close and really tasty!

Swedish Meatballs

  • 3 TBS butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, minced
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or garlic salt or adobo
  • 1/4 tsp tarragon *
  • 1-2 cups bread/cracker crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 3TBS butter or olive oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped into small pieces *
  • 1/4-1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup sour cream *
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce *
*optional ingredients:

Preheat oven to 300F for non-browned meatballs or 350F for browned meatballs.

Heat the butter/oil for the meatballs in a large sauce pan. Add the onions, saute for 1 minute. Add the seasonings for the meatballs. Saute for 1 minute. Scrape out into a large mixing bowl. (Don't clean the pan, you'll use it for making the sauce later and the drippings add to the flavor.)

Mix in the bread/cracker crumbs, then the eggs. Add the meat and mix everything until uniform.

Oil a cookie sheet. Roll the meat mixture into 1" balls and place on cookie sheet about 1/2 apart. The mixture is much easier to form into balls if it is chilled first.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Heat the sauce butter/oil in the same pan you sauted the onions. Add the mushrooms and saute for a few minutes. Add flour and mix until incorporated. Mix together broth, sour cream, and Worcestershire. Whisk into pan. Simmer on low until thickened to desired consistency. 

Serve meatballs and gravy over cooked egg noodles or mashed potatoes. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Easy Creamy Truffles

I had about 8 pounds of a 10 pound bar of chocolate left over - what? I have reasons. Chocolate. Anyway, I needed to use it up, and I had a friend who made some truffles, so I thought that would be a good project -- try to find a recipe that was like Lindor Truffles - cause they are expensive!

I found a good truffle recipe on AllRecipes and just tweaked it a bit for my tastes. I really didn't need to do much to it - just added cream and cocoa powder to make them chocolatier and creamier.

And they are YUMMY! In fact, my husband said he preferred them to Lindor truffles! That's quite a compliment, because he would eat a whole bag of Lindors.

  • 8oz package cream cheese (any variety, low fat is ok)
  • 3 cups chocolate (semi-sweet chips, milk chocolate, white chocolate, even almond bark will work)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3-1/2 cup cocoa powder (if you're making white chocolate truffles, omit this)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cream (heavy, whipping, or even half-n-half; could try a coffee creamer substitute)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla (or other flavoring)
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave. Be careful to not cook the chocolate. Keep the heat on low so that the chocolate just melts.

Soften the cream cheese until smooth. I used an electric hand mixer.
Add the sugar, cocoa, cream and vanilla. Add the lowest amount and add more if necessary for texture and taste.
Mix until smooth and there are no streaks. The mix should pull away from the beaters fairly easily. If it is binding up the beaters, add more cream. If it is too runny, add more cocoa powder.

Add the melted chocolate using a rubber spatula (the mix will get a bit too thick for beaters)
Mix until smooth and there are no streaks. The mix should resemble a very soft, sticky cookie dough. If it is too dry/thick, add more cream and mix in well.

Let the mix rest in a cool place for an hour in the refrigerator or two hours in a cool room. It sets up faster if you flatten it out a bit.

Scoop out and roll into balls. You can use your hands or a melon baller coated with coconut oil.

If coating with chopped nuts, coconut, baking cocoa, or other toppings, roll in the topping immediately after rolling into a ball.
You can coat these in melted almond bark to get a nice, slightly crunchy outer coating that will hold toppings easier. Roll in the toppings immediately after dipping the truffle in the almond bark.

Let these set up on waxed paper. They will set up fairly quickly at room temperature.
Makes about 30 bite-sized truffles

**You can convert this recipe to fudge by substituting the cream and most of the sugar with a can of sweetened condensed milk. Mix the chopped nuts into the mix while it is soft and press the mix into a 9x13 pan coated with coconut oil.**

Friday, November 2, 2018

Nacho Bake

I had some stale tortilla chips to use up, so I just whipped up a nacho bake! It was so good that my son joked that he is eagerly awaiting for more tortilla chips to go stale. You don't have to wait for stale chips to enjoy this easy bake dinner. 
  • 1 lb ground meat (vegetarian option below*)
  • 1 can Fire Roasted Rotel
  • 1/8 cup water
  • taco seasoning (whichever one you like)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  •  4-6 cups tortilla chips (these can be somewhat stale, it'll taste the same)
  • 3-4 cups shredded Mexican mix cheese (I used one with Monterey jack, medium cheddar, queso quesadilla, and asadero)
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup Mezzetta Hot Cherry Peppers, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/8 cup liquid from the jar of peppers
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the ground turkey, water, the whole can of Rotel (liquids and all), liquids from the can of beans, and the  taco seasoning. Cook until browned. This should be a little saucy, so add additional water if necessary as it cooks.

Spread the olive oil in the bottom of a 7x11 (2 quart) baking dish. Fill the dish about half way with tortilla chips. Sprikle cheese over the chips just enough to lightly cover them. Spread the meat mixture over the cheese. Spread the beans and peppers over the meat. Sprinkle more cheese over the top (I use enough to completely cover all other ingredients). Pour the pepper liquid over the top.

Bake at 300F for about 20 mins. It's ok if the cheese browns or doesn't brown; it is good both ways.

Serve as is; or with sour cream, taco sauce, avocados/guacamole, or more chips!
*This can be easily turned into a vegetarian dish by using 2 cans of black beans, mashed, in place of the ground meat, and omit the layer of whole beans.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Enchiladas Verdes

I had a bunch of left over roast turkey from another recipe I was making for a friend so I decided to try my hand at enchiladas verdes!

Here is the recipe I came up with after reading through several recipes I found on the internet (as mentioned previously on this blog, I tend to Frankenstein recipes together to get the exact recipe I want -- or I just make one up myself!)
  • 3 cups tomatillos remove husk, rinse, cut them in half or quarters
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 1” slice of onion optional (or you can remove before blending if someone doesn’t like onions)
  • Water or soup stock enough to just cover the tomatillos (I use either stock from the meat or Better Than Bouillon)
  • 3-5 serrano peppers discard stems, seeds, and pith (the amount you use depends on pepper size and how spicy you want it)
Throw the first four ingredients into a saucepan. Cook until the tomatillos dull and become somewhat translucent. Add the serranos and blend. Cook a couple minutes more and remove from heat or turn the heat to warm if you will be serving right away.

  • 4 cups shredded roast meat - chicken, turkey, or pork
  • 3-4 TBS olive oil
  • 3 TBS minced garlic
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup water or soup stock  (I use the stock from the meat, or Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1 TBS chipotle pepper ground
  • I use 3-4 TBS of Badia fajita seasoning, but you can add your own spices. Try this mix:
                1-2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on how hot you want it)
                1 tsp paprika (can use smoked)
                1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (leave out if you don't want it very spicy)
                2 tsp chili pepper powder
                1/2 tsp cumin
                1/2 tsp onion powder or 1 tsp onion flakes
                1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 tsp granulated garlic
                1 tsp salt
                *Add more of any of these spices until the meat tastes the way that you want it to!
                  You can add a variety of peppers (eg. poblano/ancho) for a richer flavor.

Add meat to a large, hot skillet. Stir until heated. Add oil. Once oil is heated, add garlic and seasoning (except bay leaves). Cook for a couple minutes stirring to keep from burning. Add stock and bay leaves. Turn down heat to a simmer. Add more water if needed. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes to set in the flavors.

  • White corn tortillas
  • Filling
  • Sauce
  • Chopped cilantro
Heat a pan (preferably cast iron) on high. Put a tortilla on the dry pan for 30 seconds, turn over and cook another 30 seconds. There should be some browning, and even a little scorching is good. They should lose some of their translucence but still be flexible. Remove from heat and throw another tortilla on. Repeat process with all the tortillas you will need.
On one end of the cooked tortilla, spread about 1/8 cup hot filling. Roll. Put on a plate and pour the heated sauce on top. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the enchilada.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Titania Pasta Maker

I have been putting off getting a pasta maker for years. The ones that I have found were big, bulky and expensive. And pasta is cheap, so why bother?

Well, I tried homemade noodles a couple of months ago. I have pledged to reduce my purchases of corporate products and non-corporate pasta is expensive! -- but tastes SO GOOD!! So instead of paying $6 for a bag of egg noodles, I just made them myself. My family declared that only homemade noodles would suffice from that day on.

Which is great except for the fact that they are really time consuming when you are cutting all the pasta into strips with a knife.

So a couple of weeks ago, I was in a store looking for a smaller stock pot for canning just a few jars at a time, and instead found a compact pasta maker for $35. It impressed me enough that I bought it without even researching it first. It ended up being probably the most perfect pasta maker I could have gotten.

It is Titania from Imperia. The reviews I eventually read indicated that it was an authentic Italian pasta maker - the one that an Italian household would most likely be using.The pasta is easy to make. It is just flour, eggs, a little salt, and oil. I don't even measure. The consistency should be like bread dough when it is all mixed and kneaded thoroughly.
Now a lot of the reviews complained that the maker took more than two hands to operate. I was able to work the machine without clamping it to anything and while holding the video camera under my chin. And all the while I had three dogs dancing around my feet looking for fallen pasta scraps. I think those facts illustrate the actual ease of use of this pasta maker. I did not let the dough rest. I just rolled a ball of the dough in a little flour before trying to roll it through. You do have to start on a wide setting and work your way down to a thinner setting or your dough will shred and it is much harder to get it through the rollers if you skip too many widths.
I used the noodles I made in the video in this vegetable and chicken broth soup. Celery, carrots, kohlrabi, sweet onion, sauteed with olive oil, and seasoned with a little ginger. A couple chicken bouillon cubes, water and the cooked noodles. It was delicious!

And the noodles from start to finish probably took less time to make and cook than it would have taken store-bought dried noodles to cook. With homemade noodles this fast and easy, I don't think it will be hard at all meeting my family's declaration!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ginger Garlic Wonton Packages

I had some interesting wontons from the local food co-op and knew I had to try to make my own.

Mine were better!

  • 1 head nappa cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bulb garlic, minced or put through a press
  • 2 TBS fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 scallions, chopped - use white and green parts
  • 1/8 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • 2 cups peanut oil
I threw the first five ingredients into my electric chopper to get it into a fine slaw.

Spoon into wonton wrappers.

Fold the corners to the middle like an envelope and seal together with water. I found that wetting my hands slightly before handling the wrappers helped a lot.

Fry in peanut oil on medium high heat. You want them to cook quickly but not burn.

Serve on their own as they are really flavorful, or you could serve with sweet pepper dipping sauce.

These were easy and quick to make, and DELICIOUS!!