Posted by jeffreyww
A good enough pie. Not an outstanding pie. I looked for black olives and discovered none in the cupboard so I went with green ones. The fresh pepper rings are more of those cute Mexican sweet peppers I stuffed a few days ago. The sausage is from my last and best run at Italian sausage.Standard crust: Flour enough for the pie, salt, sugar, yeast, olive oil, and water enough to form a dough. Everything was pretty much by eye. Using last summer’s Awesome Sauce from a jar put up in August. Looking forward to making more this summer, hoping a drought doesn’t strike us again.
A few weeks back I made meatball grinders – subs to most people – and was talking to my mom about them, because after all I used her recipe. She told me that one of her favorite things to do is to buy ground beef when it’s on sale and make and freeze a whole bunch of meatballs. Then they are available to make all kinds of good stuff, like meatball soup and various meatball sandwiches.
Until that moment, I hadn’t given meatballs much thought. I mean they’re good, but beyond the occasional grinder, I didn’t really use them. Then I went tripping around my own blog and found that JeffreyW had a whole bunch of meatball ideas. And that’s how we got to tonight’s recipe exchange idea: Meatballs!
I’ll post a basic meatball recipe below and include the grinder/sub recipe. But first, let me point you to both JeffreyW’s basic meatball recipe and how he’s used them:
“Not Your Mama’s Meatballs” (recipe here)
Meatball Soup (recipe here)
Couscous with Meatballs (recipe here)
For all of JefferyW’s meatball recipes, click here.
Your turn. Do you have a favorite meatball recipe? Beyond spaghetti and meatball subs, what do you use meatballs in? And does anyone have a good vegetarian meatball recipe? Hit the comments and share your ideas.
A quick tip, cookie scoops make meatball production easier and quick.
Now for the featured recipes:
This is a DOUBLE recipe that makes 8 to 10 subs, you can easily halve the ingredients or you can freeze extra meatballs and sauce for later.
- 2 lbs lean ground beef*
- ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
- ½ onion, chopped
- ½ cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp crushed garlic
- ½ tsp oregano
- ½ tsp basil
Mix all ingredients together and mix well. You’re going make 1 ½ inch balls. The easiest way to do this is to use a cookie/muffin scoop (see photo above). Place on the baking sheet and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Don’t overcook, as they will finish in the sauce.
*For spicier meatballs you can substitute 1/4 to 1/2 of the ground beef with spicy Italian sausage.
- 4-15 oz cans tomato sauce
- 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 tsp oregano, crushed
- 3 tsp basil, crushed
- 3 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated
In large saucepan or dutch oven, add ingredients, bring to a low boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add meatballs and stir gently. Let simmer for 10 minutes or longer.
- 8 large hoagie/sub rolls
- 2-4 oz parmesan cheese
- 8 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
Slice rolls, but DO NOT slice completely in half. Place 4 to 6 meatballs in each roll, add lots of sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan and top with slices of mozzarella. Place on baking sheet, cheese side up and bake at 375° for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bread is toasty. Keep a good eye on it, they will burn quickly. Serve with lots of napkins.
NOTE: My mom has this trick of slicing out a wedge on the top of the rolls (instead of slicing them in half lengthwise) to make the pocket (see photo at top). Then they actually sit on their natural flat bottoms while baking. This has the added advantage of creating instant breadsticks from what is cut out that you can brush with olive oil and garlic and bake.
I thought we’d covered oven baked chicken before, but it turns out we have not. Since this is one of my favorite ways to make chicken, I was surprised. So that’s tonight’s theme. There are many different ways to go about making crispy baked chicken, I like Italian bread crumbs and panko for mine. Sometimes I soak the chicken in buttermilk for an hour and use that instead of egg to get the breadcrumbs to adhere. But if I’m in a hurry, it’s just the traditional recipe that I’ve posted below. And by traditional, I mean the one I grew up with, although my mom used rice crispies and cut up chicken pieces.
To change things up, you can add ingredients, like parmesan cheese, sesame seeds (there’s a recipe for that below), corn flakes or rice crispies. I saw a very interesting recipe recently that used toasted pecans, breadcrumbs and panko as the coating. I’m going to recipe test that one when I have a chance.
If you want something a little different, one of my favorites is Crispy Potato Chicken (recipe here).
Craving a Crispy and Spicy Chicken Sandwich? Here’s a recipe that comes close to a famous fast food joint.
And for something completely different, how about Baked Chicken with Peaches? (recipe here)
If you’re looking to barbecue chicken that’s not all scorched on the outside and raw inside, either on the grill or in the oven, I have some simple tips here.
Grilled, baked, fried or barbecued, what’s your favorite style of chicken? Do you have one of those favorite childhood foods you just have to make once a week or so? Share some recipes in the comments.
On to tonight’s two featured recipes:
Oven Fried Chicken
- 2 boneless chicken breasts
- 4 bonelss chicken thighs
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 cups Panko
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup water**
- salt & pepper to taste (at least 1/8 tsp each)
large mouth bowl, large plate and baking sheet lined with foil or parchment
Wash and pat chicken dry. In a large bowl, add water, eggs, oil, salt and pepper and beat well. Mix together and spread Italian breadcrumbs and panko evenly on large plate. Take chicken pieces one at a time and dip in egg wash, coating completely, dredge in bread crumbs until lightly coated on all sides. Place on baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes with foil covering the chicken, uncover and cook additional 15 minutes.
If you want to punch up the coating, you can add additional dry herbs to the breadcrumb mixture, I usually add some extra garlic and onion powder, a touch of cayenne, a bit of dried basil and rosemary.
This next recipe is great when the kids want chicken fingers, or it can be used with breasts and thighs as well, but you’ll need to increase the portions of breadcrumbs and sesame seeds to equal 3 cups.
Sesame Chicken Fingers
- 1/2 cup stone-ground mustard
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tbsp limejuice
- salt & pepper
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tbsp sesame oil or olive oil
- 1 to 1 ½ lbs chicken tenders
baking sheet, greased or lined with parchment or foil
2 bowls and 1 plate
Mix mustard, honey & limejuice in bowl, set aside. On plate mix salt, pepper, breadcrumbs & sesame seeds. In second bowl, add egg, water & oil. Dip chicken in egg wash then dredge in breadcrumbs. Line on baking sheet, bake at 425° for 10 minutes, turn, and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, should be crispy on all sides. Serve with mustard dipping sauce, waffle fries and a fresh vegetable tray for a quick and easy dinner.
Making your own pizzas can be pretty quick and definitely much cheaper than ordering out as long as you plan ahead a bit. Things to keep on hand for the weekly Friday night pizza: shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, tomato sauce, and some type of crust, which I’ll address below. Then you can top with your favorite things. Let your imagination run wild.
My idea of pizza is a good crust, spicy sauce and cheese. Pepperoni is a plus. Nothing more.
What’s a good crust varies by personal preference. I’m as happy with a Chicago-style flaky crust as I am a thin New York-style.
Pizza seems like a good place to have a lively discussion. I bet everyone has a favorite they’d argue for, what’s yours? Is pizza a treat or a weekly item on the menu?
JeffreyW seems to have one for every occasion. For your viewing pleasure: JeffreyW Pizza Gallery.
Now let’s run through a few ingredients.
Sauce is pretty easy, you can use leftover spaghetti sauce – I always make a double batch and freeze half (recipe here).
Or try some of JeffreyW’s Awesome Sauce™ (recipe here)
A simple sauce of one 15-oz can tomato sauce, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic and dried oregano, with a dash of dried basil will deliver a nice pizza. Skip the dried basil if you’re going to use fresh basil as one of your toppings. Always crush the dried spices between your fingers to release the flavor. You can keep a jar of pizza seasoning if that’s easier. Oregano is the key to restaurant style pizza, that’s the signature flavor of a traditional pizza.
So for a quick pizza crust, this one from my Men Who Cook Series works really well:
Todd D’s Pizza Crust
(enough for two large cookie sheets)
- 2 c. whole wheat flour
- 2 c. white flour
- 2 c. warm water
- 2 pkg yeast
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- ¼ c olive oil
Mix together and knead. Add enough flour so that it’s not sticky. The dough should be elastic.
Roll out and place on greased cookie sheets. Top with chopped tomatoes, pizza seasoning and parmesan cheese. Then add your favorite toppings and cheeses.
Bake 25 minutes at 400.
Instead of using a baking sheet, how about using a cast iron skillet. It worked great (see here)
Or try JeffreyW’s (photos of the process here):
I’ve been adding stuff to my pizza dough lately. It may be overkill, given that the sauces and toppings are what a pizza is all about, but if I have fun doing it-why not?
Tonight’s dough got thyme, red pepper flakes, granulated garlic, and fennel seeds. The candidates for inclusion are limited only by whether they might taste good on a pizza. The dough recipe isn’t anything special or “to die for”. You can find hundreds of “the best dough ever” recipes-just pick one and go with it. I put this one together on the fly, some sourdough starter, perhaps a half cup, then a tablespoon of sugar and one of yeast, about a cup of water, four cups of flour, a half tablespoon of salt, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and the additions mentioned above. Mix in the stand mixer for ten minutes, then a turn in a greased bowl for a first rise. After the first doubling, divide into eight portions, form them roughly into balls, and let them rise again, covered, on a tray.
I roll them out on a plastic mat. Let them rest for a few minutes after a first roll to relax a bit, then finish rolling. I manage to get them to about ten inches in diameter. Poke holes all over with a fork or they may balloon out like pocket bread.
I “par bake” them on a stone in a 375 oven for about two minutes a side. You don’t really want them to brown, they will finish cooking when you use them for a pizza. I let the first one tonight get too brown, I had the oven a bit high, and left it a wee bit too long.
They are ready to use right away-freeze what you don’t use for a quick pizza anytime!
You don’t have to make your own crust, you can do what friends of mine do, and keep frozen, store-bought crust dough in the freezer, or you can use pita bread, which JeffreyW does frequently, use refrigerator tube dough, or make french bread pizzas with loaves from the grocery. Now why would you order out? But if you do, you’ll probably find your best pies with a small, local vendor instead of a chain.
I started this blog as a complement to my business of 10 years – I provided weeknight menus and recipes for busy families. It was a lot of fun. I’ve moved on to other things and the blog has evolved from just my simple recipes and flavor palate to guest bloggers, co-bloggers and lots of guest recipes. It’s been a pleasant surprise.
But as the holidays approach and life gets busier, I wanted to come back to those simple recipes and highlight them several times a week. These are quick, fresh recipes that take about 30 minutes. And I swear to you, if you’re not confident in the kitchen, these are foolproof. A way, I hope, to help alleviate some of the stress around this time of year. So tonight’s recipes are in that vein.
First up: the photo above is from JeffreyW, it’s a nice, quick Shrimp and Pasta dish that he liked well enough to make again. (recipe here). Next up is my quick Skillet Lasagna, recipe below.
What are some of your go-to recipes for those nights when there is no time to cook but everyone needs to eat? Do you have family favorites that everyone wants at least once a week? When I was a kid, I would beg my mom to make her rice crispy baked chicken.
Tonight’s featured recipe is one of my favorites because it has a nice blend of flavors for a quick, skillet dish. I use dry spices because they are always in my pantry – make sure to crush them well to bring out the flavor in a dish that doesn’t have the advantage of a long simmer. Use good quality mozzarella and ricotta to take it up a notch. Skip the ground beef for a vegetarian meal (I’d add some nice mushrooms instead) or spice it up with 1/2 Italian sausage and 1/2 ground beef. In other words, don’t be afraid to change it up to fit your needs. For a side, try green beans or zucchini and you’ve got a nice, quick dinner.
- 8 oz bowtie pasta
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- ½ onion, chopped
- ½ green pepper chopped
- 1 tsp basil, crushed
- 1 tsp oregano, crushed
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 carrot, diced
- 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 4 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
- 4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 2 oz grated parmesan
In saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, cooking to al dente (slightly chewy), drain well. Do Not Rinse (it inhibits the sauce from being absorbed by the pasta). Meanwhile, in skillet brown beef, onion & pepper. Add spices, garlic, carrot and sauté for 1 minute. Add sauce, paste, stirring well into meat mixture. Let simmer 10 minutes. Add pasta, stirring gently to mix. Mix together ricotta and spinach, spoon evenly onto mixture (do not stir in, you want to create little cheese balls), top with mozzarella, cover and let simmer on low until mozzarella is completely melted. Serve with parmesan. Serves 6 generously.