Things are not slowing down here. I put a bid in on a cute little Victorian house, only to face 15 other bids this past week. I did not realize house hunting was going to turn into a full-time job that feels like an episode of the Bachelor, where I go home without the rose each week. Between that and raising a rambunctious 10-month old Great Dane, the weeks are slipping by. Speaking of the Beast, I had to clean out the freezer to make room for his frozen apples halves (apples were on sale, so I stocked up) and his giant beef bones (again, on sale, so I stocked up and boiled a good two week supply). Deep in the freezer, behind the pumpkin, cranberries and leftovers, was a pint of ricotta.
Decided I needed to use it up, so I dug into the archives looking for my vegetarian meatball recipe. That became tonight’s featured recipe, and I pulled up the previous recipe exchange where it was featured and said, “hey, that looks good.” In other words, tonight is a repeat. Next week, though, I’m planning on sharing some fun recipes I’ve been playing with this week.
To start tonight, how about homemade ricotta? JeffreyW has made it and if you click here and he’ll take you step by step through the process.
He then puts his homemade ricotta to good use with Stuffed Shells, as pretty to look at as they are delicious. (recipe and photos here)
I have a great alternative to regular gnocchi, a lighter, easier version using ricotta cheese and a fire roasted sauce to make a simple, quick Baked Gnocchi. (recipe here).
A quick Skillet Lasagna (recipe here) is great for weeknights and a breeze to make.
And a yummy dessert from JeffreyW, a beautiful Cannoli recipe, pictured above and found here.
Finally, for the pet lovers, a Bixby update from the pup himself. If you click here, be prepared, he’s a Beast, standing at his full height on his hind legs.
What’s on your menu for the weekend? Anyone else house hunting? Have you started your gardens in earnest yet?
Now on to the featured recipe. These are very simple to make and are delicious. It’s a great vegetarian alternative for your pasta dishes. They’re light and once you get the technique down, you can play with the flavors and customize them to your palate.
Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. My second round of these, I added a bit of red pepper flake.
Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
- 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- Salt and pepper
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
- Olive oil
Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.
Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.
Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.
Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.
You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.
To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.
To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.
That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara
We watched an episode on The Food Network where a New Orleans joint offers a dish called Shrimp Magazine – named for the street where the restaurant is sited. I watched the chef prepare the dish on the video a few times and figured I had it down. A few days pass and I am less sure but I forge ahead. The only recipe a search turned up looked close but seemed a little off from my memory. The chef dredged the shrimp in seasoned flour and sauteed them in butter, turning once to brown both sides and then started adding all the rest of the ingredients: Artichoke hearts, diced ham, tons of garlic, lemon zest and juice, grated Parmesan, green onions, chopped basil, white wine, and salt and pepper – serving it all over angel hair pasta. I went with kale instead of artichoke hearts and didn’t add the basil.
I knew the shrimp wouldn’t like being with the kale as it cooked down so I removed it to a dish as soon as it was done and only added it back to the pan with the cooked pasta to toss prior to plating. I used white wine to help break down the kale and added lemon juice and zest along with salt and pepper. I minced at least six cloves of garlic, using some with the shrimp as it cooked, the rest after the shrimp were removed, along with a bit of olive oil.
Everything worked pretty well although I wish the ham had a better dice, I chopped some thin sliced ham that helped the flavor but did nothing for texture. I think next time I may use crispy bacon lardons. Mmm… bacon!
Oh, and I need a better name for it.
I’m having difficulty typing this because at the moment I’m sitting on the couch with a Great Dane draped over my shoulders like Grandma’s shawl. I’m not sure why, just where he landed this morning. And…now he’s snoring. I will do my best.
Sometimes JeffreyW and I have this odd blogging-psychic link and end up cooking similar meals days apart. I knew I was going to do a chili themed recipe exchange as soon as there was a chill in the air and football/baseball/hockey were in full swing (it’s like sports Christmas). So I wasn’t terribly surprised when I opened up the blog earlier this week to see he had created a chili themed post.
Chili is one of those recipes that appears to be capable of causing intense debate, so consider the following as our entries into that debate. Then you can discuss amongst yourselves the merits of your old family recipe for chili. Beans, no beans, fritos, no fritos, vegetarian, spicy or mild. And while your are at it, what’s else is on your plate for the weekend?
Super easy chili, recipe here.
JeffreyW’s Chorizo Chili here.
Even this week’s Dinner menu involved chili: Kid Friendly Chili-Mac, menu and recipes here.
For some great ideas to do with your leftover chili, see Jeffrey’s photos here.
For tonight’s featured recipe, a different take on chili:
White Chicken Chili. For JeffreyW’s version, picture above, click here.
White Chicken Chili
- 3 lbs chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 jalapeno peppers, chopped
- 3 poblano chiles, chopped
- 3 anaheim chiles, chopped
- 2 onions, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- Salt and Ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1½ tsp ground coriander
- 3 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 limes, minced fresh cilantro leaves and sour cream for garnish
Dutch oven, blender
In the Dutch over, heat oil and brown chicken thighs, skin side down, until the skin is crisp. Remove to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tbsp of chicken fat, heat and add chiles and onion to the Dutch oven and sauté until soft, then add the garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Remove half of the sautéed mixture to the blender.
Add 1 can of beans and the chicken broth to the blender. Puree beans and onion mixture until smooth. Add puree to the Dutch oven, along with remaining ingredients, except garnishes. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and add those to the chili and let simmer, covered, at medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and pulls easily from the bone, about 30 to 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
Remove chicken to a plate and let cool enough to remove the meat from the bone and rough chop. Add the meat back to the chili and simmer until chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with fresh lime juice, cilantro and sour cream for each bowl.
That’s it for this week – hopefully I’ll have a Bixby update for you next week! – TaMara
I could have easily called it lemon garlic ginger honey sticky chicken because all of those played a role in the dish. This started with boneless thighs and a couple of lemons and evolved from there. I started thinking sticky chicken because I have done that and had good luck. Mix the juice from two lemons, the zest of one lemon, a couple good squeezes of honey, grated fresh ginger root, grated garlic, some brown sugar, and a slug of soy sauce and use it as a marinade for the chicken. I chopped the chicken into one inch pieces but it would be fine to leave them whole. Let it marinate for an hour then array the chicken on a foil lined baking tray and let it brown in a 400 degree oven, about 30 minutes. Turn once to brown both sides.
While the chicken is cooking, add more lemon juice, honey, and soy sauce to the remaining marinade in a small sauce pan, heat to boiling, turn down to a simmer, and thicken with a cornstarch slurry. I added a couple tablespoons of chili garlic paste to add some zing. When the chicken is nicely browned toss with the thickened sauce and serve over rice. I added steamed broccoli for this dish but it can be served on the side.