National Meatball Day

raw meatballs on a cutting board with vegetables and herbs on wooden rustic background - National Meatball DayCloudy with a Chance of MeatballsWho remembers the movie – Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs? We personally seen the movie, as we enjoy movies with a twist of culinary action in it (other greats: No Reservations).

A meatball is a small or large ball of ground meat, especially beef, often mixed with other ingredients of choice, like breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings

The preparing of meatballs is an individual’s expression of culinary creativity. Everyone who loves cooking has a different meatball recipe. 

There is no rule to cooking meatballs, as they are cooked by frying, baking, steaming, or braising in sauce.

The meatball dates back all the way to between 221 BC to 207 BC in China, with their culinary – Four Joy Meatballs.

Yes, there really is true love for a meatballs. How so? Just look at the different ways of taking ground beef (or meat of choice) and preparing them into little balls.

This list is not complete, but there are many meatball recipes out there.

Do you question the hedgehog meatballs? Well, it really isn’t hedgehog, but as Anglea Day Kitchen says, “This recipe is so called, because when cooked, the rice sticks out, making them look like hedgehogs.”

Hedgehog Meatballsceramic baking dish with Hedgehog Meatballs

2 1/4 pounds ground beef (can also use chicken, turkey, lamb, or pork)

3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice

1 onion, finely chopped

1 green pepper, finely chopped

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

salt and pepper

Sauce:

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 40 ounce can of chopped tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

salt and pepper

pinch of sugar

Combine the ingredients for the meatballs and mix well. Shape into balls about the size of a golf ball. Prepare sauce, and place meatballs into an ovenproof baking dish, then pour sauce over the meatballs.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

SAUCE:
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the onion for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, herbs, seasoning and sugar.
Simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a blender or food processor, and puree to a smooth sauce.
Pour the sauce over the meatballs.

Meatballs Are Not Only For Spaghetti

Spaghetti with meatballs is not an authentic Italian dish. As is bowls of olive oil set out for for dunking bread at Italian restaurants (USA), so is spaghetti served with a red sauce and topped with meatballs, both an American creation. The pasta recipe may have made its appearance in New York or New Jersey (USA) in the late 19th century.

Sue, owner and writer of “The View From Great Island” says, I love meatballs.  They’re like little soldiers, all lined up, just waiting to be of service…” She even like’s these little bite sized Bourbon Meatballs which are drenched in apricot chili bourbon sauce, and she says, “They’re perfect for the cocktail hour.”

Bourbon Meatballs on a small white plate with dipping sauce

Image credit: The View From Great Island

3/4 pound ground beef

3/4 pound ground pork

1/2 cup  Ritz Cracker, finely crushed into crumbs (you can opt for plain bread crumbs)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

lots of fresh cracked pepper

1 egg

2 tablespoon olive oil

Bourbon Sauce

1 jar apricot preserves

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoon hot chili sauce

1/2 cup bourbon

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup water

Set oven to 350F

Put the above ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large mixing bowl, breaking up the meat as you put it in. Mix together, using the tips of your fingers to gently combine everything without compacting the meat. Form into small 1 inch balls.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs, working in batches. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until cooked through, about 160 degrees.

Place cooked meatballs into the sauce, and let heat through until ready to serve. Serve on a plate with toothpicks, a drizzle of sauce, and lots of napkins. Serve a bowl of sauce on the side for extra dipping.

To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a skillet and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until thick.

Sue even makes Herbed Meatballs and says, “You can eat these meatballs on pasta, on a split French roll with sauce and melted mozzarella, or all by themselves in a little bowl.”

Yes, meatballs are not just for topping a plate of spaghetti any more.

Orange Ginger Pork Meatball SoupOrange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup

1 lb. ground pork

2 green onions

3 clove garlic, minced

1 piece (1-inch) peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped

4-5 teaspoons of orange zest

4 cups vegetable broth

8 oz. snow peas, cut into thirds at an angle

1 cup of cooked brown rice

1 cup cooked black beans

Arrange oven rack 6 inches from broiler heat source. Preheat broiler on high. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil.

In a medium bowl, combine pork, green onions, garlic, ginger, orange zest, and 1/2 teaspoon each of Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper (both optional). Form pork mixture into bite-size meatballs (about 1 inch each).  Arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned.

Meanwhile, in covered 5-quart sauce pot, heat broth to simmering on high. Once the broth is simmering, add snow peas, rice, beans and cooked meatballs. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and snow peas are tender.

There’s even a – Meatball Stuffed Baked Potato – recipe found here at Homemade By Elle.

Enjoy some meatballs however you choose, this day – National Meatball Day!!

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Gluten Free Penne with Smoked Bacon and Butternut Squash

Gluten Free Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon

Butternut squash and also refereed to butternut pumpkin in Australia and New Zealand, is a winter squash. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to pumpkin.

Butternut_squash

The value of the nutrient content increases when cooked

According to Specialty Produce the butternut squash was developed in Stow, Massachusetts in 1940 by Charles A. Leggette.

The squash is a member of the gourd family and is the most widely grown winter squash. In the United States, Florida is the largest squash-producer with California ranking second.

Butternut is rich in fiber, and low in calories. It also is a good source of minerals, including magnesium and potassium. Those who have asthma or breathing problems, this squash can help, because of its magnesium, and vitamins A and C content.

Medical studies since 1994 have reported that low magnesium intake is linked to asthma and chronic obstructive airways. Many studies also have noted that drugs used in the treatment of asthma causes loss of magnesium in the body (The Link Between An Asthma Attack and Magnesium).

Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, who authored the book, “The Magnesium Miracle,” states that magnesium has a calming effect on the muscles of the bronchial airways, as well as the whole body (Treating Asthma With Nutrition).

Let’s breath easier, and get that all over calming effect as we present our featured recipe: Gluten Free Penne with Smoked Bacon and Butternut Squash, and here is what you will need.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces, cooked in a steamer (optional to roast)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound gluten-free penne pasta

1 large yellow onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper corns

1/2 pound smoked bacon, cooked, but not crispy, your preference in flavor, we used a apple-bourbon smoked bacon

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package instruction. Save one cup of the pasta water before draining pasta. Set aside.

sauteing onions Over medium heat in a large ceramic coated frying pain, add oil and diced onion, red pepper flakes and crushed pepper corns, and saute until onion are slightly browned, about 6 to 7 minutes.

adding squash and pastaNext add past, squash, and bacon. Mix until well incorporated. Next add cheese, and slowly add the reserved pasta water. The amount you add determines if you want the dish creamy or not.

Gluten Free Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked BaconPlate and serve.

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Stocking the Kitchen with Useful Gadgets for Healthy Cooking

Stocking the Kitchen with Useful Gadgets for Healthy Cooking

Have you been through Williams-Sonoma, Target, Macy’s, or Sur La Table to see their featured kitchen gadgets? If you are a zealous cook, and have a love for being in the kitchen to cook for others or just to relieve stress, then you can’t help but search out and admire the latest tools of the trade, in this case the most necessary kitchen gadgets.

After you have eyed all of those gadgets, you ask which ones do I really need? Here is a look at four of the most useful kitchen aids that we think will help make your cooking and baking time in the kitchen more of a breeze.

Microplane Grater

The Right Kitchen Gadgets for Healthy Cooking -microplane and box grader

Click To Enlarge For Better Viewing

Microplane graters are very useful for grating a verity of foods , like nutmeg, cheese, and zest from citrus fruit. The microplane is etched instead of stamped, like the box grater is.

The microplanes etched edges are razor sharp, grating the food items even finer, then the the smaller stamped grater side of the box grater.

Orange Ginger and Rainbow Carrot's

 

Citrus zest is a healthy way to add seasoned flavor to your favorite recipes. The microplane can easily zest any citrus rind without piercing the pith.

Try a side of steamed or roasted rainbow carrots, sliced and mixed with ginger syrup and the zest of an orange.

A microplane will also grate the perfect chocolate shavings for a cake, or some hard Asiago cheese to grate over your favorite pasta or even a pizza.

 

Immersion Blender

Immersion Blender

Click To Enlarge For Better Viewing

The immersion blender allows you to puree nutritious soups and dips without straining your wrist.

Some of the hand held blenders have multi-speeds making it easier to work on thick or denser concoctions, taking only 90 seconds to puree thick soups like split pea and ham , or chunky spaghetti sauce into a pureed spaghetti  sauce.

A handheld immersion blender saves you time, as you don’t have to get your blender out to puree the soup or other food items, and less clean-up.

Angled Measuring Cup

angled measuring cup by OXO

Source: Chef’s Resource – chefsresource.com –

 

An angled measuring cup by OXO makes measuring foods that are easy to underestimate when cooking or baking, such as flour, cooking oils, pasta, cereal, and nuts.

The angled measuring cup has measurement markings visible from above, making it easier to add accurate amounts of ingredients to your cooking or baking and eliminating the need to examine amounts at eye level.

 

 

 

Colored Flexible Cutting Boards

Sanitation is important when using cutting boards. Bacteria can reside in grooves produced by cutting, or in liquids left on the board, either it be a wooden or plastic cutting board.

Colored Flexible Cutting Boards

Source: Chefs Catalog – chefscatalog.com –

Bacteria or allergens can easily be transmitted from one part of the kitchen to another or from one food to another by way of cutting knives, hands, or surfaces such as chopping boards.

To reduce the chance of cross contamination, why not use flexible cutting boards, which are of different colors for use with different types of food such as raw meat, cooked meat, dairy and vegetables.

Many professional kitchens follow this standard color-coding system.

Blue cutting boards: raw fish

Red cutting boards: raw meat

Green cutting boards: vegetable, salad and fruit

Yellow cutting boards: raw poultry

Brown cutting boards: cooked meat

White cutting boards: dairy (also for universal if no other board is available)

Remember that stocking your kitchen with the appropriate tools of the trade doesn’t have to be expensive. Shop around and investigate and read up on product reviews, such as those done by Good House Keeping , Eating Well, Consumer Search , with the reviews posted on their websites.

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Yellow Summer Squash Pasta and Sauce

Yellow Summer Squash Pasta and SauceMost yellow summer squash is gmo now days, but not the ones we used. We got these fresh from a vegetable garden, harvested from non-gmo seeds. Without the grated cheese, this can be a Vegan meal.

Yellow Summer Squash Pasta and Sauce - Shaving Squash into SpaghettiThere are several gadgets on the market that one can use to turn a yellow summer squash into spaghetti strands. They can range from $3.99 to about $100.00 depending on the one you buy. We bought a OXO Good Grips Julienne Peeler Stainless Steel Blade , and the cost was $9.99 at Macy’s.

You wash the squash, remove the blade protector cap, grab the squash in one hand and the peeler with the other hand, and start peeling until you reach the seeds.

You can mulch the rest of the vegetable after discarding the seeds or remove the seeds and steam the vegetable flesh in a steamer, and enjoy with a little butter and Italian seasonings.

But before you peel the squash into spaghetti strands, let make some sauce. What you will need is:

1 15 ounce can of stewed tomatoes, with no other flavors or added salt

1/2 cup fresh basil

3 cloves fresh garlic

2 tbsp. tomato paste, no added salt

1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt ( or sea salt) optional

5 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. garlic powder

Open can of tomatoes and pour into a food processor. Add basil, chopped garlic, and puree.

Side not: allow garlic to set 10 minutes after chopping before adding to processor. To get the health benefits of garlic, oxygen needs to active the enzymes within the garlic, to give us it s health benefits. When ever using garlic after mincing, or chopping it, allow it to set for 10 minutes before using it, your body will be thankful you did.

Yellow Summer Squash Pasta and Sauce - Preparing SauceNow add the puree tomato sauce to a medium sauce pot over a med-high heat. You will note that the tomato sauce will be a little soupy. Just add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and stir in, and see how it thickens. Lower heat to simmer and place lid over pot. Just before pouring sauce over sqauch pasta, stir in 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan salt, but is optional.

Yellow Summer Squash Pasta and Sauce - Sautéing Yellow Squash in Olive OilOn med-high heat place a (1) large ceramic coated frying pan, and pour 4 to 5 tablespoons of olive oil into pan. Allow to heat some, then add 1 teaspoon of powdered garlic.

Next, (2) add squash pasta to pan, put timer to 5 minutes, and stir now and again.

Note (3) the olive oil has stuck to the squash, if it hasn’t, then you added to much olive oil. Continue to stir now and again.

After 5 minutes (4) turn squash pasta onto a flat plate or pie pan and set aside for 2 minutes. Then turn pasta squash into a strainer to drain off any water, that may have accumulated, but do not rinse.

Yellow Summer Squash Pasta and Sauce platedPlate squash pasta, top with spaghetti sauce and with your favorite Italian cheese and serve.

Forking Yellow Summer Squash Pasta and SauceIf you can fork the squash pasta like traditional pasta, then it was cooked right. But if  squash cannot be forked and falls apart, it was cooked to long and in too much oil.

 

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Honey-Basil Summer Sqaush

Honey-Basil Summer Sqaush

My mother always made a large sauce pot of green summer squash with tomatoes, tomato sauce, ground hamburger, and other seasonings. Us kids, my brothers and sisters and I, always looked forward to summer, but not the pots of summer squash, we dreaded those meals.

But now as an adult, summer always arrives, with no break from work like we had from school when we were kids. I have acquired a taste for squash. It seems the adult taste buds are a lot different than that of a child’s taste buds.

Our featured recipe is Honey-Basil Summer Squash, and can be a side dish to any main dish platter of beef, chicken, pork or fish.

One cup of summer squash has the following minerals:

Potassium

Phosphorus

Magnesium

Calcium

Sodium

Iron

Manganese

Selenium

Zinc

Copper

All of these trace minerals have many functions in the body. Such as potassium for blood pressure and heart health, and magnesium for muscle relaxation, and calcium to BRAGGS Liquid Aminos soy saucemake the muscles work. All three of those minerals need vitamin B-1 to work properly. Zinc is great for the skin and collagen. Vitamin-C is needed so zinc will be absorbed well.

We also used Bragg’s soy protein sauce in our recipe. It contains 16 essential and non-essential amino acids. Bragg’s soy sauce is made with non-GMO soybean protein only.

Now for the featured recipe and here is what you will need:

wet and dry herb mix for Honey-Basil Summer Sqaush

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoon dried basil or ¼ cup fresh basil, minced

6 tablespoons soy sauce (Brigg’s amino-acids)

2 tablespoons Lime juice

¼ cup rice vinegar

¼ red wine  vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons honey

To make the sauce, combine all the above ingredients in a large bowl, mix up well, and set aside.

steaming squash for Honey-Basil Summer Sqaush

For the summer squash you will need:

2 small yellow squash, sliced diagonally into 1 inch slices

2 small green squash, sliced diagonally into 1 inch slices

1 small Mexican squash, sliced diagonally into 1 inch slices

Add sliced squash to a steamer with already boiling water. Steam the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring them twice to evenly steam them. They should still be crunchy when steamed after 5 minutes.

mixing cooked squash with herb mixture

Place steamed vegetables in to large bowl with the sauce ingredients. Mix the vegetables till well coated.

Honey-Basil Summer Sqaush

Spoon vegetables into a serving bowl and enjoy as a side dish with your favorite main dish selection.

 

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